PK and the Gang

Bringing Eastern Europe to Eastern North Carolina

Archive for the tag “PK”

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.

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!

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!

Life is a Highway

This is a detail shot of one of the many gnome statues in the city of Wrocław. While we don't know where PK is in Poland, we do know our heart is somewhere in that beautiful country.

This is a detail shot of one of the many gnome statues in the city of Wrocław. While we don’t know where PK is in Poland, we do know our heart is somewhere in that beautiful country.

And we’re a little farther on our journey. Today we mailed off over 40 handwritten pages as well as copies of those pages to the agency (one thing we’ve learned quickly is that the adoption process is all about the duplicates)! It might not seem like much but this part of the journey was a beast. I’ve mentioned before that these questions were intense. The forms covered everything from our upbringing to how we’ve faced stressful situations to our feelings about the birth mother. It is one thing to have a memory or an idea about those sorts of things and it is something entirely other to put pen to paper and make them concrete. You answer honestly and silently pray that no one  notices just how crazy you are until after the adoption is final.

These papers were what was needed to be turned in before the meeting portion of the home study can happen. This basically means that any crazy I was hoping to hide will surely come out then. I know I can appear much more normal on paper. When we were in the UPS Store today mailing it off, Becky looked at me and told me she was nauseous. When I asked why, she said because now she has to get the house spotless before the social worker comes (and this from a gal who enjoys cleaning). I was nauseous because it meant the meeting is actually going to happen (although we don’t have a date for that yet). I’ve written about my slight feelings of anxiousness about the meeting before so I won’t go into detail. The long anticipation of it hasn’t helped. I’m trying to remember what a co-worker of mine, who has been down this road before, told me – “There’s no need to be worried. The social worker is on your side. They want you to adopt. If they do their job right, the Polish government should want to gift-wrap a child and send them to you.” We’re so glad for our allies and supporters in our family, our amazing agency, our workplaces, our church, and on here.

The papers in question

The papers in question

So, what’s next? Becky and I start gathering letters, (more) financial information, and other documents. These have to have copies made, affidavits signed and notarized, documents apostilled, and eventually a trip to Charlotte to meet with the agency, a trip to Durham down the line for more fingerprints and government documents. I’ve gotten scarily revved up about this section. We have a checklist, we know what we need to do and I feel like I can rock this like a boss. I was so focused this morning on a plan of attack for today and in the near future that Becky thought I was upset. I’m not upset. I’m ready to kick butt and take names.

I know we’ve said thank you many times before, but we truly mean it. We were blessed by several coffee purchases (the link to our storefront is on the sidebar, if you want to order some for yourself) and donations. We put some of that money to good use today. We really could not do this without you.

We’re moving on to the next step in the journey! PK, we’re trying as hard as we can to get to you!

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 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!

For the First Time in Forever…

Yes, I just quoted a Frozen song and am unapologetic about it. What of it?

On 6 January, I made a post and thought that I’d hold back from posting anything until there was something to post. I never really expected it would be nearly two months. Today has been a weird day. I woke up and thought that it would be a normal day off – chill a bit, go for a walk, swing by the bank and the grocery store and go back for some vital relaxation time. Instead it included an email to the agency we want to work with and a phone call to them. It’s the first major contact we’ve made with the agency since we first found them.

We have since found out that the fees have increased since we last talked with them. Which is to be expected, to be sure. The price was a bit higher than what we had thought and so the gut-punch of not being where we thought we were is fresh. On the bright side, we shouldn’t be shocked by other prices since we have the new fee list to go off of. We spoke to a social worker who works for the agency (I promise I’ll tell you their name once they’re officially our agency) who was very nice and knowledgeable. The conversation led to what the application would entail – mental disorders, police records, health issues, etc –  and so we brought up Becky’s medical past. Thankfully, the social worker didn’t think it would be a major issue since it doesn’t affect Becky’s daily life. Unfortunately, since very few people have dermatomyositis and even fewer have heard of it, we have to get a letter from a doctor swearing that we’re fine to adopt. To make it even more fun, said letter may have to be mailed to Poland to have them pass off on it so that we don’t get a surprise down the road. It’s playing it safe and I appreciate it but the whole deal is incredibly annoying.

We’re feeling a whole smorgasbord of emotions at the moment. Disappointment since it feels like we’ve dropped the ball at the one yard line on this phase. Apprehension and fear play a part. Becky has said that she doesn’t want a major reason we are adopting to be the reason we can’t adopt and I hate that the decision is out of my hands. I’m also mad. There are certain days that I just get pissed off over the fact that most anyone with a little gumption and a bit of luck can become a parent – no questions, no tests – but all adoptive parents have a gauntlet of red tape to jump through. I’m also hopeful. We have taken a major step and spoken with an actual person who was encouraging and will help us through a big portion of our journey. It’s bureaucracy but it’s a bureaucracy with a pleasant voice attached. I’m so thankful that this agency has reminded us several times now that God’s timing isn’t ours and that it will all work out in accordance to his perfect will in his way in his perfect time.

So readers, those we know and those we don’t, please keep us in your prayers. Pray for patience and encouragement. Pray for creativity as we continue to come up with ways to fundraise. Pray that we look to our Papa in heaven as we trudge on to become Mama and Tata.

The race is on and PK is at the end.


Just who is PK anyway?

So, if we’re going to be spending some time together, I suppose we should make introductions. I’m assuming if you’re here this early in the game, you already know us but if you’d like to meet the gang, you can click on the “Meet the Gang” link at the top of the page. We’re mostly harmless.

My wife, Becky, and I are setting out on an amazing journey that we’re both excited about. We both believe that we’ve been called to adopt and that our child is waiting for us in Poland. We know, Poland isn’t on the top 10 list of international adoptive countries but Becky has Polish heritage so there will be a cultural connection. Poland also has a wonderfully stable program. No adoption program ever runs completely smoothly and we know that we’re bound to run into a hiccup or forty along the way, but we know that God will get us through.

The question remains, though, who is PK? PK is our nickname for our kid. It’s short for Polish Kid. We don’t want to specify if we want a boy or a girl and we want to keep at least some form of their birth name since our child will be over a year old when we bring them home. We still, however, want to have something to call our kid when we chat and daydream and PK just sort of evolved.

We’re not quite up to the amount that we need to kick this journey off but we’ve been amazed at how, in a short amount of time, our friends and family have blessed us. We’re hoping that by the end of the year or early in January we’re able to take off. Whether you support us emotionally or financially or just read along on the blog, we’re so grateful and pleased to have you on the journey with us.

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