PK and the Gang

Bringing Eastern Europe to Eastern North Carolina

Archive for the category “Fundraising”

Holding Our Breath

20771997640_7c1047ffbd_zGoing through the adoption process, it can feel like you spend a lot of time holding your breath. While lot of people hold their breath for months looking at negative pregnancy tests or for results from a doctor, Becky and I were mercifully spared that phase. We went into marriage knowing adoption was how we were going to add branches to our family tree. Our breath holding started with finding an agency and waiting to hear they accepted us. Then waiting for the process to start, followed by towers of paperwork and the anxiety of the home study. You get small chances to catch your breath before you dive under for the next round. There’s holding your breath when you send off stacks of paperwork (that you realize are now your most prized possession) to be signed by shadowy figures with golden stickers and the intake of breath when you’re at USCIS and say mental prayers that the government will process the paperwork quickly and a thousand other times.

You might have seen on Facebook that we recently got the last stack of paperwork back from Raleigh with all of our apostilles. After making a few copies and getting some pictures taken of us and the house, the dossier is done. It is a massive accomplishment and we both breathed a huge sigh of relief. Breathing feels good.

Our next step is to send our dossier to the agency and have them go through it to make sure everything is right and acceptable for Poland. If it isn’t, they let us know so we can get everything perfect. As a guy who finds out that he is wearing his socks inside out more often than I’d like to admit, part of me suspects we may have to redo something. We’ve been in contact with our agency about this and they’re ready to receive the papers and they let us know the next batch of fees.

I don’t know whether it is the fact that we misinterpreted things, have been in the process long enough for a price increase, the drop in the Euro or some combination of the three, but it was a bit more than we expected. It isn’t an earth-shattering amount but enough to sober you up a bit. Adoption paperwork has its surprises. I understand parenting is similar as well.

We’ll press on. The dossier should be in the mail sometime next week. As we send off the stack of documents that I have come to think of as our “paper baby,” we’ll find we’re holding our breath again as we toss up prayers that we’ve done the paperwork correctly, that the papers are safe on their way to Poland, and that our translator doesn’t go insane turning our friend’s recommendation letters, our doctor’s notes, and our life stories into Polish (how does one explain Tourette’s in Polish anyway?). It’s understandable why it takes three months to do her work.

Around late January, we’ll start holding our breath and looking at our phones wondering when they will ring to say that the Authorities in Poland have a child for us to consider. I’m sure I’ll hold my breath when I get the first look at PK’s face on a computer screen.

Until then, thankfully, there are ways to keep busy. I’m convinced the world is not ready for Becky whenever she hits her full-blown nesting phase. There’s Polish to learn and money to save and raise. We’ve reached a major milestone. It reminds me of Samuel raising up a stone as a reminder that they had gotten that far through God’s help. In total, we’ve gotten around half of the funds needed for the adoption. We still have to get the fees we have to send over before each of the two trips and figure out how we’re going to live in Poland for two months.

We have been so blessed by all of your help and support. We have had a GoFundMe page for a while (the link is found at the top of the page) but have hesitated saying much about it. Every little bit helps us get closer to PK. We understand tight finances, believe me. If you can’t give, please consider sharing the page. Every bit of awareness helps. Thank you all for your love and your support and, the next time you see me, make sure I remember to breathe.

Paperwork and T-Shirts

Well, the days tick on and we are slowly but surely making progress. Two weeks ago, we mailed off a few of the documents that we needed to get apostilled and then the I-800A, which will eventually lead to us getting approval from Immigration to bring a child into the country. These forms are starting to make their way back! We have the documents that we need from Connecticut back and two days ago, our FBI checks came back with their apostilles too. The Connecticut documents make both Becky and I happy since they have a big, shiny, gold seal. It just looks official. The FBI pages aren’t nearly as impressive, but what’s important is that they get the job done. While we haven’t heard much back from USCIS and the I-800A, we did receive a letter saying that they got our paperwork and forwarded it to the office in Missouri that processes those. Hopefully, we’ll hear back about our fingerprints before we head to visit Becky’s parents in Connecticut at the end of the month.

The "official" shirt of this fundraiser.

The “official” shirt of this fundraiser.

We’re currently in the middle of our fundraiser with Chrome Buffalo as well. The drive will continue until August 13. This company is awesome. Essentially, they are a husband and wife team who do this because they know from first-hand experience what the cost of adoption is. When they found out that there were some technical issues at the beginning of our drive, they not only fixed the problem but extended the drive by three days to make up for the time. This may sound a bit strange, but Becky and I set a fairly low fundraising goal because we like the company so much. Each drive that meets their goal raises the statistics of the number of successful drives they have facilitated and we wanted to do our part in helping make that number a little higher.

We are so blessed that we have so many family, friends and strangers that have shown us love and helped us already reach that goal of $250. That being said, adoption is expensive and we will certainly welcome and can put to good use any other money that is raised. We often get asked about the cost of the adoption and I know I have laid some of this out before, but when we send all the paperwork that we are currently trudging through to Poland, we have to send over $6000.  After we accept a referral (and, no, we don’t know how long after the papers get to Poland that it will be when we get a referral – we know of families who waited months and even two years), we have two trips to Poland. Each trip requires us to send over $8000 before we travel and then we have the expenses incurred by having to live in a foreign country for about two months. Thank goodness that there’s a good exchange rate between American dollars and Polish złoty (pronounced zwol-teh)! We currently have a good amount of the $6000 and any funds that we raise will go towards that and the other fees.

If you’re moved to help us out, please, know you have our thanks and love. If you want to buy a t-shirt you can click here to purchase shirts until 13 August. Some folks have asked if they can just make a donation and you can find a Paypal donate button in the sidebar or at the bottom of this post. There’s also our JustLove Coffee storefront and it, too, has a link in the sidebar.

Thanks to everyone who has given, asked how things are going or even just sent a prayer in our direction. Becky and I are constantly overwhelmed by just how loved we (including PK) are.

Until next time!

The I-800A

Today, our I-800A should have arrived at the USCIS office in Texas. For those of you unfamiliar with all the adoption lingo, this means that Immigration has our paperwork asking for provisional approval to bring a child into the country. I don’t know exactly how long this step of the process will take but hopefully in the reasonably near future (which can mean about anything in adoption time), we’ll be contacted in some way to tell us when we need to go to Durham to get our fingerprints taken. This should, fingers crossed, be the last time we do that. It’s the last one that I know of anyway. The trick is that they give you an appointment day and time and Becky and I have a trip to Connecticut coming up. Knowing our luck, we’ll get the appointment for some time when we are gone. I’ve heard various and sundry things about how easy it is to reschedule so prayers and stories of experience are appreciated. At the end of this step, we’ll have a sheet of paper to put in our dossier to let Poland know that the US government is all right with us adopting. Later, when we accept a referral for PK, we’ll submit another form that is for a specific child.

We’ve mailed off a few of the other forms that we need to get out and we’re preparing a massive stack of other papers that need to go to the North Carolina Secretary of State. It is so nice to actually feel like we’re actively doing something to forward this process.

This isn’t a big update but it is nice to be able to say that we’re inching forward! The Chrome Buffalo fundraiser starts on Saturday! Please feel free to share the link with family and friends. As I was writing yet another check for the adoption today, I figured up that we have a little over half of all the money we need for the adoption! We’re hoping that we’ll be able to secure some grants to make up some of the left over amount but any money we get from the sale of the tshirts will be put into good use!

A Whole Stack of Paper and a Whole Lot of Homework

A massive stack of paper! Lighter placed for comparison.

A massive stack of paper! Lighter placed for comparison.

After far too long of radio silence, Becky and I are happy to post another update. Yesterday, we received a large stack of papers in the mail. This was our long awaited home study.  This is the culmination of months of work. The home visit, the trip to Charlotte, the insane amount of paperwork full of intensely personal questions, recommendations from friends, doctors’ notes, and background checks are all bound up in this packet. This is also the document that will allow us to start applying for adoption grants. It is strange to finally hold it in our hands and even stranger to realize that our lives can be bound up in these pages. I’d like to think that it at least would take a full novel to record the antics of the Arthurs.

For a moment after opening the packet and seeing the product of a year’s worth of work, I wanted to take a break. It only lasted a moment though, as Becky can attest, because within a few minutes, I had the pack spread out and was reading through the instructions for the next steps. The journey continues and we’re already in the next steps. As soon as we got the packet, we started preparing to send the different pieces out to various places.

Our next steps:

Another view of the home study packet.

Another view of the home study packet.

  • One copy of the main body of paperwork plus a few other documents goes to US CIS in order to get approval to immigrate a child into the country. Part of this process is getting our fingerprints done for a third time. This time, however, we have to go to Durham to get it done.
  • The majority of the pages has to be sent to the North Carolina Secretary of State to get apostilled. Apostilling is the process of getting notarized papers a seal that will allow them to be used as legal documents in another country.
  • Some papers have to be sent to Connecticut for the same process. Documents can only be apostilled in the state that it was notarized or, in some cases, created in.
  • Some papers have to go to Virginia as well.
  • Finally, some of the pages have to go to the US Secretary of State’s office to be apostilled.

(While that seems easy, there’s a good bit of prep work that needs to be done. Mostly that involves several documents that need to be notarized and we have to get duplicates of some pages.)

When all of that is done, we’ll have a form from the government that will tell Poland that we have the United State’s clearance and blessing to adopt and we’ll also have the papers we need for two copies of our dossier. The dossier is the paperwork that gets sent to Poland to be translated and guides the Polish government in selecting PK out of all the children who are eligible for adoption. When we send the dossier to Poland, we have to send a large payment as well, which we have the lion’s share of. With your help, we’ve paid almost half of the money that we have to pay the agency.

In order to try to raise some more of the money and due to several folks asking, Becky and I are attempting another Chrome

The "official" shirt of this fundraiser.

The “official” shirt of this fundraiser.

Buffalo fundraiser. Chrome Buffalo is the company that made and sold the t-shirts that we did last year. While the previous design is not being offered in all sizes, we have found another shirt that not only looks nice but has a message that Becky and I feel is very appropriate for our adoption – Love Always Holds Onto Hope. It’s a phrase that has guided us through the adoption and is true on some many other fronts as well. As with the previous drive, we will receive $11 for every shirt purchased and while the anchor shirt is our ‘official’ shirt, there are other great shirts to choose from and I have it on good authority they’re really comfortable. The page says our goal is $250. Honestly, we need a great deal more than that but it is a suggested goal by the company and if we reach the goal posted it helps their statistics. We figure helping the company out a little bit is the least we can do in support of a company that is helping us get closer to PK. The fundraising drive begins on 1 August and can be reached here. Please, feel free to share the link to others you know. If shirts aren’t your thing, we also still have our Just Love Coffee storefront and you can find the link in our sidebar.

We cannot thank you all enough for your love and encouragement as we have gone down this road. Poland is this much closer!

Now that we’ve reached this point, I am going to try to be better about more regular updates and perhaps even some info on Poland, Polish culture and interesting links so that you can learn a bit more about PK’s homeland and culture. I would write more but we’re trying to get two of the above pieces out in the mail tomorrow and so I have other writing to do – government forms!

Back in the Saddle Again

saddle-419745_1280Well, hello there world. No, we haven’t forgotten that the blog exists. We just haven’t had much to write the last few months.

In truth, Becky and I stepped back from the adoption process for a while. This was a combination of many things rolling together over the course of many months. Imagine the stress of making Christmas magical for your family. Now, imagine making Christmas magical for 3,000 people while filling out massive amounts of paperwork. And that was just my October through December. Becky and I eventually sat down to talk and said that while we still wanted to pursue the adoption with all our heart we just needed to take a step back for a while. We weren’t doing ourselves any favors and Lord knows that PK would do better if Becky and I were reasonably sane when we get them. We gave ourselves the break and decided to tackle it all again refreshed and ready to own all of this.

Becky and I want to thank everyone for asking after us and our process. We also thank you all who have asked us in the last few months for being understanding and encouraging when we’ve told you our story. We know that when PK does get here he or she is already very loved.

So where are we now? We’ve spent the past month working on more paperwork, Becky’s gone to the doctor for her check up (I still have mine to go) and we have to get it all notarized. In a week or so, we should have that done and ready to go. After that, is the homestudy that I’ve been somewhat dreading. We’re back in the saddle.

Yes, if you were wondering, we are still fundraising. I’m available again for both genealogy and also transcribing letters. Do you have fragile, old letters from great-grandma that you have trouble reading and want to keep for future generations? With our powers combined, Becky and I can get those letters typed up and printed out for you. It can allow you to get to know the family that you never knew.

We’re also excited by a new fundraising opportunity – Just Love Coffee. They are a company who allow adopting couples, schools, etc. raise money by creating a storefront and selling their coffee. For each purchase through our storefront we get a cut of the proceeds. The coffee is shipped directly to your doorstep! Word on the street is that the coffee is pretty dang good. You can get to our storefront at www.justlovecoffee.com/pkandthegang. I’ll be putting the link into the “Putting the FUN in Fundraising” page soon.

We’re so glad that you are on this ride with us. Strap yourself in because the ride is about take off again!

Blown Away

From the bottom of our hearts, Becky and I want to offer up a massive THANK YOU! In the 10 days of our Chrome Buffalo drive, we have felt truly blessed. We thought that we would try this fund raiser since it was one where no one really had to do anything. We thought that the goal of $150 that was suggested by Chrome Buffalo was fine, any little bit would help and so we gave it a try. In just a little over a week, you all quadrupled that amount through both shirt purchases and other donations. To everyone who helped out in any way, shape or form, we are just blown away.

For the curious, we have mailed off another batch of paperwork. The paperwork seems to be never ending, but I realize that some of that is the fact that we’re getting back into the groove after a few weeks where we were focusing on other things. A few more papers to fill out and then we’ll be ready to have our social worker come to our home study. I know those aren’t supposed to be scary but they sound so…hardcore and a bit intimidating, but hey, I got my FBI clearance so I can handle a round of questions!

Again, you guys are amazing and thank you for helping us get a little closer to bringing PK home!

Father’s Day and Chrome Buffalo

The globe reminds me of the Pan-Am Airlines logo.

This is the “official” design for our t-shirt. I think it rocks but so do all the other designs!

Today is Father’s Day and it’s the first time that it has caused more than a thought of “Did I remember to get a gift for Da?” My Da, by the way, is an awesome man. He’s taught me how to work hard, realize that no one is beneath me, respect those around me and to be willing to stand up for myself, my convictions and others. He’s supported me and come to my performances and programs (some of which were, admittedly, beautiful in the their travesty – but how else are you going to grow?). I can only hope to instill half the lessons to PK that my Da taught me. Today though, I received my first (expectant) Father’s Day present. It’s an awesome pocketknife to replace the one that the State gave me for five years of service that was stolen from my car. This one look like olive wood and is engraved “Kocham Cie,” which is Polish for “I Love You.” It is also one of the few things I can say in Polish without sounding special. Receiving my first Father’s Day gift has made me realize that in a relatively short period of time I’ll have a kid to scar for life.

Today is also the beginning of our Chrome Buffalo drive! Chrome Buffalo is an awesome company. In dealing with the company, we have been showered in love and encouragement. They’ve even included our entire family in their prayers. The company sells artist-designed t-shirts. Becky and I were able to choose one “official” design for our drive but any shirt bought from the site benefits us. For each shirt sold, we get $11. The site suggested a goal of $150. We’ll be thankful for any amount but we certainly wouldn’t complain if we blew right past $150 since we have a ways to go! Currently we have about 1/4 of the money needed for the adoption. Check out the site here and buy a tshirt. Who knows, we might have your last minute Father’s Day gift (You can always print off a picture to give him). Thanks to those of you who help us out financially and thanks to those of you support us with encouraging words, prayers, and letting us prattle on about our journey!

And the homework continues

I really hate it when I go as long as a month and don’t post. Going that long makes me feel like we’ve not been progressing. The truth is that life has been busy (you can meet our newest family member, Keller, and see his own journey here) but we are slowly moving along. Since we last talked, Becky and I have gotten our FBI clearance. When we got our fingerprints taken, the volunteer was amazingly nice and didn’t charge us for either set. The next step for the FBI clearance (and our birth and marriage certificates) is apostilling, which I had never heard of until getting involved in the mountains of paperwork that is adoption. When dealing with adoptions across international borders often you need a step up from notarization. This involves taking the notarized document and mailing it off to a Secretary of State’s (either state or federal level depending on the document) office for a big goal seal that says, “Yes, this official document is official.” I’m just trusting that it needs to be done for a good reason and, at the worst, it helps put food on someone’s table.

Spell check does not like the words "apostille" or "apostilling." It wants to make them both apostles.

While we, obviously, won’t be using Alabama for our adoption. Here’s an example of an apostille.

There’s also online adoption parenting classes that are underway. So far, I have the attachment and the behavioral disorders/mental illness class under the belt. Becky and I were talking and think the goal for the class is to scare you with the worst possible outcome and then try to make you feel like it is not so bad. For example, they tell you about an orphanage in Romania that was in a horrible state and whose children had some of the most extreme cases of attachment disorders and then they let you know that except for a few individuals that most of the kids ended up all right. The cases of behavioral and mental illness throw around possible diagnoses but then talk you down off the edge by saying that some of the issues are just the product of institutionalization and will go away after PK has lived with us for a few months, or that PK could be perfectly fine. Like we said before, just like having a kid the old-fashioned way, becoming a parent is a bit of a grab bag and you never know quite what you’re going to get. I am looking forward to the classes on cultural identity, the class on issues that are particular to Poland and a few of the others. I’m a geek and I’ve always gotten excited about classes. Some things never change.

Monday, we have a Skype talk with the folks at our agency! I can’t tell you how amazing that they’ve been. They’re so encouraging, patient and willing to answer any question we have. Between the staff and the other adoptive parents that we’ve gotten into contact with, I really feel like we’re part of a bigger family. I know the support will be very important when we enter the rounds of waiting once we get our paperwork done…that’s still a ways away, though.

In a few days, Becky and I will be starting a 10-day fundraiser. It’s through another company who has blown us away with both great service and love. They’re Chromebuffalo and they sell artist-designed t-shirts in 10-day runs for adoptive families. We get $11 for each shirt sold. If you’d like to help us get another step closer to PK and get an awesome shirt out of it, head over to our webpage starting on Sunday (I’ll post another announcement on Facebook Sunday, when the site goes live).

Becky and I just want to take the time to thank all of you for your prayers, encouraging words and financial gifts. We have been blown away by the support and truly feel loved. This would not be possible without you all.

Well, it’s back to paperwork for me. Hopefully it won’t be another month before I write again!

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