Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Progress, frustration, excitement... and the Santa Ana winds

Thought of the day: Patience IS a virtue.

Sadly, it's just not a virtue that I seem to possess. I have tried all my life to be patient. No matter how hard I try to be patient about things, in general I'm quite unsuccessful! Once I set my mind on doing something, I'm going to do it. When I start thinking about something, I can't get my mind off of it. Knowing this, you can probably imagine that ever since we decided to move forward with our adoption, I have been gung-ho, ready-to-go. I've done extensive research on the various agencies that do placements for Ethiopia and have found one that may just be the one we'll move forward with. That being said, what more is there to do than for me to start the paperchase?!

Recently, I began putting considerable time into planning some fund-raisers we'll do to try and help gather the much needed financial capital for the adoption. Joe and I have talked through this topic a number of times. We started the adoption process with the feeling that "If we can't afford to pay for the adoption out of pocket, we will have to wait and save until we can." However, through all my research and time spent trying to figure out how/when we will reach our savings goal of anywhere from $20,000 - $30,000 that the adoption will cost, we have both had to come to terms with reality. We can afford to support a child financially on a day-to-day basis, but it will take us an incredibly long time to save that amount of money on our own. We live in an area that has an extremely high cost of living. This means that although our combined income puts adoption grants out of the picture (our combined salaries put us in the realm of being "over-qualified"), they do not take into account the housing/living costs of the area in which people live. So, we may make more than a single income family in the middle of nowhere in Nevada (not that it's not a great place to live!), but someone that lives in an area where housing is so much more inexpensive could, in reality, be much more financially well off than our double income situation in a higher cost of living area. Did that make any sense? Therefore, we're left with the options of paying for the adoption through fund-raising, loans and paying out of pocket. Obviously this is quite a personal/private sort of topic, but I feel it's important to share all aspects of this journey as we continue along the path towards creating our family. I just wish there was more fairness in looking at people's financial situation when qualifying/disqualifying them for grants. I guess I do feel better knowing that most families that adopt end up doing fund-raisers, obtaining grants, and borrowing money, so we're not alone.

As far as the fund-raisers go, so far, we have a list of ideas. The list is:
- Ice Cream Social/Spaghetti Dinner/Pancake Breakfast
- Advertise in local papers asking for Garage Sale donations, then have an adoption fund-raiser garage sale. ADVERTISE THE CAUSE!!
- Start a basic website that accepts donations and sells items supporting adoption, with proceeds going towards funding of our adoption.
- Car wash (we'd need manpower though... don't think Joe and I alone could wash enough cars in a day to make much money)
- Kids Carnival (have a bounce house, face painting...??? Don't know how to get the cost low enough to make this possible)
- Bake Sale
- Raffle
- Dog Social – Pet Talent Show
- Teddy Bear Picnic
- Book Sale
- Recyclable bottle donations (ask people to collect their bottles that have a CA cash refund and give them to us to get the money back for rather than putting them in their street recycling bins).

Now, on a lighter note, we have spent a lot of time talking to agencies, current/past adoptive familes, and narrowing our selection more and more. Originally I came to like Children's Home Society and Family Services (CHSFS) quite a bit. However, once I spoke with them more, I learned that, due to their specific agency requirements, we would not be able to start our adoption until at least one of us turns 25. That means we wouldn't be able to get going on the adoption until next October! Grr. Both of us feel that the time to do this is now and we don't want to postpone it a year.

Fortunately, I've found another exciting possiblity. It's a small agency that has a much newer program in Ethiopia. They are called Adoption Avenues. Their average timelines have been much quicker (they are smaller and newer to Ethiopian adoptions so they have a shorter waitlist of adoptive parents). We do have concerns with using an agency that has less experience working in Ethiopia, but they have some great references, their social worker has been extremely friendly and willing to answer any and ALL questions we've had, and we like that it's felt much more personal than the larger agencies we've talked to. There is someone available to talk to 24/7, so if we're in Ethiopia and have a question/problem and need to talk to someone at the agency, there is always someone that can be reached. In addition to all the other positives I've listed about this agency, they are ready and willing to work with us right away! They feel that age isn't the only factor in someone's ability to parent, financially provide for a child, etc. Therefore, unless the social worker that does our homestudy finds another reason that we can't proceed right now, we've got the green light!

This doesn't mean we're starting right now. We're actually still reviewing our proposed timeline. Joe is concerned about starting until we've COMPLETELY FINISHED the house projects (we have to replace the kitchen countertops, install baseboards downstairs, and finish the drywall repairs in the bathrooms). However, I believe that the perfect time to be finishing all those projects is while we're anxiously waiting for our referral and needing something to keep us busy and distracted! It is clear now that we both feel that we would like to get started before April. Since the process is so unpredictable and frequently takes about 2-3 times as long as the forecasted time period, getting started sooner would be good. For now, we're shooting for starting the application and homestudy sometime in January.

While we wait, we're continuing to enjoy the area we now call home. The Santa Ana winds have been making for a warm November (it was 94 degrees the other day!) and we're enjoying strolls on the beach every chance we get. This weekend we'll be welcoming the newest member of the extended family, and we couldn't be more excited about that. Joe's cousin and her husband have just picked up their new little angel from the Los Angeles airport this evening! They adopted her from Kazakhstan and it's been a long, grueling process. I have admired their patience and strength throughout and hope Joe and I are able to get through our adoption process with half as much grace. Meeting their little angel will definitely make the weekend special for us!

As you can see, we're moving forward little by little! I will be sure to post updates over the next couple of weeks as we begin planning our fund-raisers and narrowing in on our "start date." If any of you have some creative ideas for fund-raisers, please let us know! We would appreciate any suggestions since neither of us has planned a fund-raiser before and feel a bit clueless!