PK and the Gang

Bringing Eastern Europe to Eastern North Carolina

It’s Getting Real, Folks

When I was in 10th grade, a teacher asked me two questions: “What would I do if the most beautiful woman in the world walked into a room but didn’t speak English?” and “What would you do if you woke up one morning in a country where you didn’t speak the language?” Well, I lucked out and the most beautiful woman in the world spoke English and some German on the side but in the next few days I get to find out the answer to the second question.

Tomorrow, Becky and I get on a plane to go meet PK. The plane flies out of Raleigh a little before 3pm and, after three planes and a long layover in Frankfurt, Germany, we get to Poland around 2 in the afternoon, local time, on Wednesday. We’re both incredibly excited but also quite nervous. First, we’ve had some interesting experiences flying which means we always end up wondering what weird thing is going to happen on our next flight.

When we do finally make it to Poland, we’ll be in a different world. My Polish could all be written down on an index card and you never want to be “those Americans” when it comes to international travel. We trust our agency completely to take care of us. That’s a huge amount of trust – trust that our facilitator or another representative meets us at the airport and trust that they made a reservation for a place for us to stay are currently the ones that weigh heaviest right now. They do this often, so I know it will be taken care of but there’s always that niggling “what if?” in the back of my head. I have come to realize that I may be a small bit of a control freak. We also have to figure out our foreign city on our own when we aren’t doing official business.

Thursday morning, we meet the Commission and then meet PK. We know that, while important, the Commission meeting isn’t something we should be anxious about but, again, there’s that anxiety of a big meeting. Actually meeting PK is the part that I’m the least worried about. I think a lot of the questions in my head will be answered by just seeing her. Currently, my brain is running through the four pages of medical information and four pictures that we’ve seen of her and, as much as I hate to say it, running through worse case scenarios. This little girl is our daughter, I don’t doubt that. Those words on those pages though are big and I find myself afraid that I won’t be…enough. I realize that no one is really as ready as they think they are when they become a parent, that plans just go out the window, but right now it all seems so surreal with way too many variables. I know that a lot of that will melt away when I see that little face in front of me and I can play with with this little person.

That time is going to be too short this trip. In all, it will be just a few hours spread across Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Saturday we will have to walk away from this new, little person in our lives and trust the wonderful staff that has been her family to take care of her until we can come back months later. Sunday morning (6am Polish time), we climb on a plane to journey back home, probably a bundle of nerves and tears again, but for different reasons this time.

As you can see, we can use all your thoughts, prayers and good vibes that you can throw our way. We know that it will be all right but the nerves are definitely real. I know that we will bring back amazing stories and will then be looking forward to the long trip. I also know that I’ll be cramming in several more Polish lessons before then.

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AHHHHHH! (In a good way)

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Crayons we made on Saturday at the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA

It has been a long time since we posted on the blog. Why? Because we were in a waiting period while the Polish government searched for PK. We received two referrals that we had to pass on for various reasons. While this was heart-breaking, those little tykes have a few more people praying for them as they wait for their forever families.

Fast forward several months and it is time for the annual Arthur family vacation. This has been a tradition for several years now where my parents, my sister and her family and Becky and I head off somewhere for about a week around Easter. This year we headed up to Lancaster County, PA and were excited that Becky’s parents had a chance to come down for several days for one big family get together. Right before we pulled out of New Bern, Becky looked at my sister and I and said something to the affect of, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we got a referral while the whole family was together?” We both agreed, of course, but didn’t even think about it again. Thursday, the entire crew headed down to Lititz and right before Becky and I left to hang with her parents, we saw we had gotten an email from the owner of our agency. It just said, “Please give me a call.” In the middle of every irrational fear (Is there a problem with the paperwork? Has Poland decided we’re too weird and doesn’t want to play with us?), Becky called. While on the phone, she signed the details of call – Girl. A birthdate. We’re asked if we’re interested and we quickly agree with a promise of more information in a few minutes.

As soon as we got the email, we stared at a few pictures of a little girl and what there is of her background and history. Both moms teared up, Becky teared up and I about threw up (my natural reaction to these kinds of situations – it’s nothing negative, I promise). Thankfully, we have family with some medical background that helped interpret measurements and history into something we could understand and think and pray on. Friday morning brought on a little more discussion and the realization that this little girl was our little girl. We decided to make the call to formally accept the referral on Monday, after the weekend and at the end of the vacation, which we hoped may give us some time to really wrap our heads around everything.

Before we continue with our story, a few notes about PK: She’s adorable, first of all. She’s had a rough start in life but I have no doubt that,  as Shakespeare said, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” We know her name, birthday and the rest but, until she is ours, we can’t share the information. We still plan on keeping her name but, for now, she’s still PK.

Today, just outside of Baltimore, we called and accepted the referral! We thought that after the call we wouldn’t hear anything for another day or so when we would get information about our first trip. The first trip typically happens about a month from accepting the referral. It lasts about a weeks and is basically a meet and greet time with both Polish officials and PK. Imagine our surprise when, a few hours later, we get another call saying that Poland wants us in the country on the 12th. A week and a day. We were still a hour and a half from home and now had to get plane tickets along with more paperwork and, honestly, who knows what else.

Kevin ScreamThank you all so much for the encouragement, well wishes, and offers of help. It has really meant a lot to us during this insanely crazy time. The mood in our house right now is somewhat akin to Kevin McCallister’s scream in “Home Alone.” We’re incredibly excited but terribly overwhelmed. For those of you who have asked what we need here’s the short list: First and foremost, prayer. Like I said, our brains are having an incredibly hard time processing the speed that everything is happening. Pray for calm and that God continues to provide and open doors for us. For those who have asked us about our finances, we’re actually good for this first trip. We do still need to raise $8,000 plus plane fare and living expenses for our second trip. This trip will last about six weeks and at the end of that trip we will bring our daughter home. The last thing, right now, is to ask us how we’re doing and remind us everything is going to be all right. We may just smile and assure you everything is fine but, trust me, our inner monologue is rather insane. Between the speed that things are happening, the excitement and the doubts and nerves (which I’ve been assured is natural for all parents-to-be), we don’t really know whether we’re coming or going.

We can’t thank you all enough. We’re massively excited and could not do this without your support. Look forward to more posts as we dive head first into this next phase of our journey!

 

Today in Poland

Polish Eagle CloseupToday Americans celebrate Veterans Day. We remember and pay respect to those who dedicate their lives to protect our freedoms. In other countries, such as the UK and France, will hold Armistice Day celebrations. Armistice Day celebrates the end of World War I (and our Veterans Day has the same roots) remembering those who participated in the Great War and paid the ultimate price. Poland also has a celebration today. A major celebration. November 11th is Independence Day.

Polish Independence Day also gets its start from World War I. While Poles remember their countrymen who died during the Great War, the end of the War was a time of great celebration because, after over 120 years of not existing on the map, the end of the war brought back the Polish state. Poland, once previously a great European power, had been divided up between Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia. Poles relished the rebirth of their country and celebrated with relish. Of course, they only had a few years to celebrate before Hitler invaded and Poland disappeared again. After the war, Poland became part of the USSR and the November 11th Independence Day was replaced with a day marking the beginning of Communist rule. Independence Day returned when the Third Polish Republic was founded in 1989 and have continued ever since.

Today, Poles celebrate with a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, parades and the Independence Run – a massive race throughout Warsaw. The city of Poznan also celebrates the Feast of Saint Martin, the towns patron saint. This involves a parade where a man dressed as a Roman soldier who receives the key to the city. The Roman soldier represents St. Martin who was a soldier before becoming a Christian (the early church refused to allow soldiers as members) and eventually being chosen as the bishop of Tours. Also popular in Poznan is a croissant-like pastry representing the horseshoe that features in one of St. Martin’s legends.

In Warsaw, though, Independence Day often does not end happily. As the the afternoon turns into the evening, the last several years have seen more and more demonstrations from extreme right-wing groups. Poles are extremely proud of their Polish-ness and, in recent years, these groups have gone out of their way to press their ideas. These groups have had clashes with police or each other that have grown in their intensity over the last few years. Last year there were 41 criminal cases from these clashes and many people were sent to the hospital. Muslim immigrants have been spat on or attacked and last year and this year, IBM told its Polish employees that those who felt safer working from home should do so. The acceptance of Syrian refugees is not a popular topic in Poland and these feelings could serve to fan the flames. The American Embassy even put out a notice to Americans of places and times that should be avoided to keep away from the trouble. Warsaw is where all international adoptions are finalized in Poland so please keep the families there in your thoughts as much as the minorities who have come to approach what should be a day of freedom with trepidation.

A Bumpy Ride

poland-151461_1280 (1)Sometimes the trip to PK seems to take forever. In fact, a lot of the time the days seem to drag out. This past weekend, however, has been an intense rollercoaster ride of emotion.

Thursday afternoon, Becky and I got an email around 3:30pm saying that the agency had accepted the dossier and that Friday it should be on its way to Poland. Mission accomplished! The paperwork that we’d been working on for a year and a half was FINALLY finished. Now, we just had to be patient and wait for a phone call saying that Poland had a child for us to consider. We’ve been told that it takes about three months to translate the paperwork and so that would put us around mid-January staring at our phones and willing them to ring. Imagine my surprise when I get a phone call from our agency about ten minutes later saying that they had a child for us to consider.

We had been told that, on a rare occasion, a situation like this could happen. Occasionally, a family has to, for one reason or another, turn down a referral. When this happens, sometimes Poland allows the agency to look through its other waiting families and see if there is another possible fit. Since our agency had accepted our dossier, we were eligible, met the stipulations for this particular child and the fact that they had just read our dossier made them think of us. We said that we definitely would be interested in considering this child. They told us that, instead of the usual 14 days to consider, we had until Tuesday. After that, Thursday is a blur of me acting out of my head trying to process the speed at which this all happened, figure out where we could pull the needed money out of thin air, calling family, reading medical info and watching a video of this little boy who could possibly be our baby. It was hard to get to sleep and I kept telling myself that this needed to not just be a heart decision – the head had to get included as well.

Friday morning brought about strange feelings. It was all still a bit surreal. The rush had worn off some and I think the pressures of everyday life – going to work, giving a lecture, etc. – helped ground us a bit. A look back over the medical records, showed that a bit of information we had glossed over and explained away the night before really was the potential to be a big issue we just weren’t sure we could handle. To top it off, for all the praying we had done, we just didn’t feel a peace about it. Some good conversations and some tears later, we decided to wait until Saturday to really make the decision. When we woke up, both of us were on the same page – he wasn’t ours.

Those words were so hard to say, they were hard to say when we called our families, when I told our agency that we were passing on this referral and they’re hard to type. How do you, in essence, tell a child that you’re not their parents? It may sound silly but the moment we saw his picture, he’s stolen a little part of our hearts. He’s adorable. He’s got a fun personality. He’s just got another family out there, somewhere, that can meet his needs better than we can. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, though. Becky and I have been grieving the last few days for ‘what-might-have-beens’ and been feeling massively guilty. Words just really fail to convey everything that is going on inside. We went to the internet, since it apparently knows all, and searched for people who had experienced what we were going through. One page described it like a miscarriage. I don’t know. Thankfully, Becky and I have been spared the pain of that type of loss. I do know that I still feel like I’ve been punched in the gut and that someone’s tap-danced on my heart. You comfort yourself with the fact that PK is still out there, that this little boy has parents who are dreaming of him like we are PK but, honestly, the best comfort is that even though he isn’t PK, he’s always going to have me rooting for him. When I hear the song that he was rocking out to in the video, I’ll think of him and toss out a prayer. When I’m looking at the adoption Facebook groups that I’m a part of, I’ll hope that one day his face will pop up there with his forever family and thank God that they are better able to care for him than we would have been.

Where does this leave us? Where we were at 3:30pm Thursday. We’re back waiting for our dossier to get over to Poland and to be translated. For now, the roller coaster ride has smoothed out. We’re thankful for this experience, this preview of coming attractions. We’re thankful for the encouragement and the support that we’ve gotten so far. For now, we’ll keep day-dreaming, work on fundraising, and be very grateful that we have months instead of weeks to try and master Polish.

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.

You Can Go Home Again…With Some Delays

Last night/early this morning, Becky and I got back from Connecticut. It was the first time we had seen Becky’s parents in about a year, the first time Becky had been home in two years and it had been a while longer for me. It was nice to visit with friends and family and to relax after some craziness. The few days prior to leaving were rather insane.

Thursday morning, the 20th, Becky and I had an appointment with USCIS for our biometrics, which is just a fancy word for fingerprints and a photo. We drove up to Raleigh the day before. After staying in a motel that can best be described as “slightly murder-y,” we got to the building for our 8am appointment. We were ushered to the room where the citizenship ceremonies were held with lots of other people. A little after 8, a lady came in the room and asked if anyone had an appointment for 8am. Becky and I stood up, along with around thirty other people. We found ourselves in the midst of a cattle call. A bit of paperwork, another set of fingerprints and a photo reminiscent of a mug shot later, and Becky and I were done. This information would be paired with the other information sent to USCIS to see if they would approve us to bring a child into the US.The next evening, we were supposed to fly out to Connecticut.

They're called a murder of crows for a reason.

We don’t know what we did, but the birds were angry.

The plane we were supposed to fly out on was late originally due to a crew member not getting to the plane on time. It would have made making the connection tight but doable. Then the plane hit a bird while landing and caused maintenance issues. We were going to miss the connecting flight and, by extension, miss getting to Connecticut and a cook-out with Becky’s high school friends. Some tears and a little light manipulation later, we were scheduled for an early morning flight out the next day and bump to first class on the flight out of Charlotte. Both of those flights were delayed as well, one for birds who decided to camp on the runway and the other because the plane was missing 19 of those emergency cards that tell you what should do in the unlikely event of the plane experiencing troubles. Still, in the end, we got to Connecticut and a pleasant surprise was waiting for us in the airport.

There in the baggage claim were a crowd of people with signs saying “Welcome Home James.” Our pre-adoptive parent instincts kicked in and Becky headed over to them and asked a woman if they were waiting on someone coming home from an adoption. They were – a little boy from Ethiopia was about to meet up again with his family and a massive amount of cousins and friends, many of whom were adopted as well. We, and Becky’s parents, had the honor of watching James get back together with his family and we all about did the ugly cry. It was a nice picture of what we will experience in the future and while I’m thankful we got to see that, I could have done without the drama that got us there. I’m still not sure what we did to anger the birds.

On our return home last night, there was envelope from the Office of Homeland Security. Inside the plain envelope was a single piece of paper stating that we had been approved by USCIS to bring a child into the country. The piece of paperwork we have been waiting for is here! Now we just have to send it and a thick stack of papers to get apostilled in Raleigh. We are planning on tackling that Monday and when they come back, our dossier is done! We can then send it to Poland and we’re officially waiting.

Along with the waiting, we will be filling out grant applications, Becky is planning on a massive amount of nesting and, in all likelihood, more fundraising. Several folks have asked if we had a Gofundme page. I recently put one up, which shows the amount needed for the money we have to send over before each of the trips and a bit more for extra expenses like the apartment we’ll have while we’re in Poland. We’ve been so blessed with your love and support both spiritually and financially. If you wouldn’t mind, please, feel free to share our story as well our blog and the Gofundme page. You can get to that page by clicking the button at the top of the blog or here. There’s a button there that you can easily share to Facebook with.

On the Polish front, today is the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland which precipitated World War II. Also, Becky and I have been asked about what PK’s name is going to be. Since PK is likely going to be at least two and their name will be the only thing they have in the world, we want to keep whatever name they come with. There’s a great website dedicated to strengthening Polish cultural impact through the world. They have lots of great pages dedicated introducing Poland to the world at large and have recently done a page on Polish names. If you want to know more about Polish naming traditions and the baby names that were recently popular, click here. Who knows? Maybe PK’s name is on the list. We’re excited to find out!

Polish Holidays and a Huge Thank You

I want to start this post with a huge thank you! Our Chrome Buffalo drive ended on Wednesday and Becky and I feel so blessed. Through your generosity, we received $330 through the drive site and with other gifts and donations during the drive we raised another $150! This money will go towards sending our dossier to Poland. Next week, we actually head to Durham to have our fingerprints taken by USCIS which will lead to the last form we need for the dossier. After that, we just have one more (very large) stack of papers to send to get apostilled!

Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Black Madonna

Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Black Madonna

While we are doing our own little celebration because we’ve been so blessed, today is a pretty big holiday in Poland as well. August 15 is a kind of double holiday there – the Feast of the Assumption and Polish Armed Forces Day. The feast of the Assumption celebrates the belief that Mary was taken bodily up into Heaven. The Catholic churches will have special masses today and many people will make the pilgrimage to Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa where Poland’s famous Black Madonna is kept. There are several legends surrounding the icon including that it was originally painted by St. Luke on a tabletop belonging to the Holy Family (though studies point towards it actually being a Byzantine icon) that came to Poland in the 1300s. Another legend surrounds how it got its dark coloring and the scars on Mary’s face. Hussites (a protestant group predating the Reformation and very opposed to icons) stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and writhed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes as the painting was done with tempera infused with diluted wax. Another legend states that, as the robber struck the painting twice, the face of the Virgin Mary started to bleed; in a panic, the scared Hussites retreated and left the painting. The painting is still kept as Jasna Gora and many Catholics travel to pay homage the painting.

Today is also Polish Armed Forces Day. It is in honor of the Polish military and a way to remember the victory of the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. During the battle, the largely outnumbered Polish forces held off the invading Red Army, ensuring Polish independence for a time. Many national cemeteries will have a reading of the soldiers who died in battle. Today will also hold a very ceremonious changing of the guard at the Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

I’m loving learning more and more of the culture of PK’s home country and want to share it with you all. While we might not celebrate all the Polish holidays when we have PK here, I’m going to have to start making a note of which days I should wear red and white – the Polish colors.

Again, thank you all so much for all of your support and love! Until next time!

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!

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