So we had made the decision to adopt. But what next?? I was at the starting line, feet in the blocks, ready to run this race. But my husband was just warming up, stretching, slowly walking up to the starting line. Once again, we were on different pages of the adoption plan. I decided to just start asking around about a reliable adoption agency. We had a few friends who had adopted...The Blairs, the Devenoughs, the Grosso family. whose advice we trusted. After investigating a bit more, we decided on Lifelink. I went to their web-site to see what direction we needed to go to start this journey. The first step was the application process. This was to see if we even "qualified" as adoptive parents.
WHAT?? QUALIFIED?? We wanted to add to our family and give a child a loving home. What more did they need to know? I was about to find out!
The application was filled with questions about ourselves, where we worked, did we go to college, how much money we made, how many times have we been married/divorced, where we lived, where we grew up, how many siblings we had, if our parents were still living, how were we raised, how were we punished, how we punished our children, how much we weighed, and on and on and on the application went.
I finished my part and told my husband, who was still sauntering around the starting line, that he could get on the computer whenever he wanted and fill in his portion. I checked the application frequently hoping he had started but a few months passed and I was starting to doubt his desire to adopt.
Christmas morning 2006, (yes this journey started that long ago), after all the gifts were opened, my husband said there was one more gift to open. He handed me an envelope. I was looking at this gift trying to figure out what it could be. The events of the past year were running through my head as I drew a blank to what was inside the envelope. I could see writing, like a list. And then, I thought, "Oh My Goodness!!! My husband has made a list of all of the financial accomplishments for the year! Are you kidding me??" You see, that past year, we had worked really hard to pay off some things and get our finances in order. He had typed it all out to show me all we had accomplished. I couldn't believe it. I was so disappointed......
But then as I opened the folded papers, I saw that I was so wrong. He had completed the adoption application and written a check for the application fee. He was at the starting line standing right next to me! I broke out into tears as we celebrated the start of our family's new journey!
A few weeks after mailing the application, we received a call from Lifelink and Beth, our caseworker. I remember seeing the words "Lifelink" on the caller ID and thinking, Is this really happening? I was jumping around before I answered it. :) Beth said that our initial application looked good and the next step was to set up an interview. Its a good thing she couldn't see me before I answered the phone. She would have thought I was crazy! :)
A month or so passed and we went in for our initial interview. We were asked questions about why we wanted to adopt, if gender mattered, where we wanted to adopt from and what our fears were. We have two bio boys so we were really hoping for a girl. We were open to any country or nationality. Our only fear was, in the future, someone would come back and try to claim our daughter as their own and take her from us. After reviewing all of our answers, they suggested China. Mostly because they allow couples to pick the gender, they have an abundance of female orphans and that the chances of her parents coming to claim her would be slim. It is against the law to abandon your child in China so to step forward to claim a child would mean a penalty fine would have to be paid. I had read somewhere that this fine equals 5 years salary.
So it was set. We were going to get a little China doll. :) The next few months were filled with passports, physicals, immigration paper work, dossiers, family photos and anything else Lifelink told us to do. Our dossier was finally ready to go in May and was sent to China with many prayers of safe delivery. If you haven't prepared a dossier, you have no idea how stressful it was to place that packet into someone else's hand. I know the post office girls thought I was crazy!
We received our official log-in date on June 26, 2007. This meant that China received our paperwork and approved us as adoptive parents. We were told 12 months for a "match" so we spent this time thinking up names, reading up on adoptive parenting tips, travel tips and anything else we thought we needed to know. Little did we know we would have PLENTY of time to prepare.