Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Adoption: The Truths For All Parties

I've been thinking a lot. Lots about my life and everything that exists within it. Mostly, the adoption consumes many of my thoughts and I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't get enough of getting lost in my day dreams. Who is this child that Ty & I will one day be blessed with? Will the Lord bless us with a toddler, a little babe, one with minor disabilities, or one with attachment issues? And oh how I love that He will know the right child for us. But until the day we can get our hands on him...I will continue to day dream, I will continue to be inspired to be a good mama to this child, and I won't stop praying.

I've also been thinking about what it means to be on the other side of adoption. To all you who read this, to all those who know someone that is adopted or someone that is adopting, or maybe you're just interested in one day, some day adopting yourself....you all must have these certain ideas about what adoption means. I was once there too, before the adoption process and before all the required education hours. Well, we figured we'd let you in on a little something: 
it's not as glorious as what everybody makes of it.
I don't say that in any bad way of any sorts. I say that in all honesty. 
And I want you to understand all sides to it.

Yes, it's an exciting thing. Adoption can be a great thing. To the outside world, it's "so much paperwork", "lots of waiting," "a long process," really "neat," and "so cool you're doing that" type of deal. Sure, it can be whatever you let it seem to be or what others can make it out to be. Don't get me wrong, we are thankful for all the lovely comments from people and the support from many, but let me give you some insight of what it means for the rest of the parties because most adoption stories aren't without loss, trauma, or grief.

The Biological Parent(s)
Imagine being raped. Raped at the age of 14, maybe 23, or maybe 42. It's a big deal in many of theses countries, rape that is. Imagine not only being raped, but getting pregnant. And then imagine leaving that child on the doorstep or in a garbage or anywhere someone may or may not find the child. Imagine the feelings that woman has experienced...violated, harmed, grief, sadness, pain, etc. And not just in the moment of it all, but what it means for her lifelong.

Imagine being counseled to give your child up (there are actually services in South Africa for parents who are deciding to give their child up for adoption, classes they must go through, counseling, etc.). Imagine knowing you are giving up your child for their best interest. Imagine being so selfless for the good of that child. Yet, imagine those feelings again...sadness, grief, loss.

Imagine dying from HIV/AIDs (because we all know there's a large number of individuals with the disease in South Africa but what you may not know is that much of the middle generation is gone...gone because of this disease. That means orphans and many of them). Maybe you had the chance to watch your child grow up to be 2 or possibly 4, knowing at some point death was imminent. And it was. Now your child is in foster care or an orphanage. Imagine leaving this world, praying to God that He puts your child into someones arms that is someone special, someone who will be there always, someone who will love your child every day as you wished you could for many more years. The loss of control, the grief, the fear, you name it.

Can you fathom any one of those circumstances? Put yourself in any one of those situations...think about your health, your feelings, your loss, the unknowns. Because they too have feelings on the other end. And although that child may go into a loving home some day, remember that there is the mother on the other side of the adoption journey. And she too has her story.

The Child

You're 4, your parents have both died from the most common thing that gets that generation (AIDS) and you have no family to take you in. You now live in an orphanage or in foster care. What you once knew is gone. Where you once felt at home and at peace, no longer exists. You've lost your parents and you grieve during this traumatic event. You then get put into a new foster care situation or another orphanage. More loss, more trauma, more grieving. You learn to fend for yourself in more ways than one and you don't attach to anybody anymore because why would you? You're only 5 now and that's all you know. Think about it, put yourself in that child's shoes...

You grow up "adopted." What does it even mean to be adopted? Nobody seems to understand. And what about my identity? I live with white parents, I live in a country outside where I was born, I know nothing about my birth parents, and I go to school with all races. Who does that make me? Identity is a real struggle as years go on. Many children know the trauma of being removed from homes, they have attachment issues, and some have life-long identity issues. Imagine having that child in your class who acts out or who gets picked on all the time...maybe there's nothing truly wrong with that child other than the fact that they were adopted and they too, are trying to find themselves in this big world.

These children don't always come from happy places, although maybe places that did the best they could for them. They may find themselves in anything but feelings of happiness at times during their lives. They may feel so lost in this big world, just as many of us can at times. They too, are no different than anyone else...it just may be their story is a bit different from yours. But who's isn't?

The Adoptive Parents

We are very excited to be adopting and look so forward to the day we finally get a referral and eventually make it to South Africa to meet our child. We get butterflies, we day dream of all the wonderful things adoption can bring, there's lots of joy and exciting moments, but there is also this feeling of guilt. Sounds weird, right? Within all the excitement and joy brings the guilt of taking this child out of their only known environment, bringing them to a place they have no idea about, setting them up for constant questions and frequent stares, and questioning their own identity. We get it. We weigh out the alternatives and of course, press on with the adoption process. But we too, remind ourselves of the need to be sensitive because neither Ty or myself know what it means to be adopted. But what we do try our hardest to understand it...
We are required to do thirty education hours prior to going overseas. Many are suggested within the first 20, so we learn about every possible thing that could go wrong with adopting a child. They remind you that your child may never attach or bond with you (sounds a bit scary for a mother, right?), they will resist you even if it doesn't look like it because on the inside you can sense it as you hold them (they never lean into you, they constantly stay rigid, etc.), and that your child could end up having many issues through their childhood and into their adulthood (i.e. attachment disorders, addiction in adulthood). I'm convinced these books and movies want you to think nothing goes right and that it will never be easy. Probably better to be prepared than not, right? I've even shed some tears watching these stories unfold! They want to instill a little fear, yet make sure you understand the potentials. I get it, I get. But I'm also going to assume that's possibly why most families ditch the adoption process right about now (which is one of a few reasons why adoption agencies make you go through this part of the process besides to make you fully prepared for anything).

So instead of fearing the possibilities of the adoption journey, we pray and we find joy in what we've been doing for the last year. And yet, another reminder...the adoptive parents are excited, the story will unfold, things will be glorious in one way or another. But do remember that those adoptive parents could be dealing with much more than what it looks like from the outside. Again, be sensitive.

Generally speaking...
there are more sides to the journey than we realize. It's easy to get caught up in the stories, the idea of adoption, and what it means from the outside...all the glorious ideas. We forget there were once other mothers, mothers who may or may not be living. We forget that those children once had completely different lives before their homecoming and we forget what it could mean for an adopted child. So we ask that you just remember all parties involved, what it meant for everybody through the process, and be sensitive to the adoption process. Remember and thank those who were selfless enough to make sure their child would always be in good, loving hands. And we ask that you don't forget the children who have been adopted, who have been through things we may never know, and how life changing this process will be for them.

We don't do this because of the fame, we don't do this because of the need to hear "that's amazing what you're doing." In fact, I don't even know what to say to people who say things like that. Thanks? I guess? Or maybe just nod? We do this because there is an orphan out there in need of a family that the Lord has called us to adopt and because we want so badly to provide this child with love, a home, and a joyous, adventurous life. We will never be truly ready (because who ever is), but we will be ready. As always, we will wait and we will be patient. Patience is key and patience has be testing us beyond what we ever thought possible. Because at the end of all this patience, all this waiting, all this paperwork, all these fees, and all our prayers is YOU. There may be many things between us, but there will be nothing to stop us (not even these movies and books)!
Inch by inch, prayer by prayer, we're that much closer to you little one.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Adoption: Our Special Village & A Large Cost

The Village
I can remember telling family and our close friends about our decision to adopt from the beginning. Lots of why questions, lots of curiosity, some excitement, some resistance, and a little of the unknown. But when you read all the adoption books going into it, they prepare you that everybody will have very different reactions. Some are all for it right away and others don't come around until the child comes home. No worries, we didn't take offense to your reactions. It's all part of the deal.

We were also told about this "it takes a village" statement...

I've never quite felt that saying or understood that saying completely because when you're adopting, you and your spouse are doing many of these things on your own. Nobody is involved in the home study process with you, nobody is doing the educations hours you're doing, nobody is involved in the daily doses of adoption portal message checks or getting new mail with good news. Everybody is just involved from the outside hearing through our words. So when they say, it takes a village...I never could figure out when that village comes into play. And what is the village's responsibility?

But over the past few weeks, I've realized who and what this so-called village is and their duties are on so many levels. Anything from our 7 references that not only had to take the time to write letters to prove our worth as individuals as well as how we'd be as parents, but get them notarized and to us quickly. We've had family donate some money to get new household appliances (we've been living without a microwave since the beginning of the fall and our dishwasher has been leaking after the cycle is complete), knowing that much of our monthly income has had to go to saving for the adoption. Individuals we've met along the way have provided us with tips, suggestions, ideas, personal stories, and small unique gifts (I'll have to share those another day!). Although everybody's adoption story is a bit different, it is wonderful to hear their stories and keep some of those ideas in the back of our brains for the future. We have specific individuals who receive our immediate updates personally before they go out to the public and those who support us in all sorts of ways! Most importantly, we have been on so many prayer lists through this journey and had many people thinking about us along the way. We cannot thank each and every one of you enough who have been there on all these levels with us...whether it is being involved directly or from a distance, we are so thankful for every bit of what you all have done.

So that so-called "village." They're all out there. They are all participating. They are all involved in one way or another. And they are our village. We love what our village has become at this point, but we also look forward to our village when we bring our child home. We look forward to all who are excited to be a part of our child's life. We thank you now, but we will always be thankful for our village.

The Cost
Before we got married, I had saved up some extra money. All that extra money, we had no idea what we were going to do with it. We thought we would do some traveling, buy a house, and enjoy ourselves for a while. Sure, we did do all of those but the leftover money? We knew there was a bigger purpose for it. So instead we didn't invest it, didn't spend it...we just held onto it.  We didn't know we would adopt as soon as we have decided, but looking back we realized the Lord was telling us to "keep it, I've got plans for that stuff you won't be needing." No wonder we never had a settling feeling about the purpose of that money. We are sure glad we listened. Because He had plans for us to be settled in a home before we started our home study process and then, have enough money to pay for this process along the way. It may not have been anywhere close to what we need for the adoption, but it has provided us with a way to get to this point. And now we pray we either

a) have enough month after month to pay the next big fees OR
b) the Lord has a plan that it could take longer, which would allow us to save more.

Many moons ago, we had someone tell us that, "We hope you don't ask for money to pay for your child" and, "Other people don't fundraise for their kids." And sure, we get it. It doesn't always make sense, but it isn't like people have insurance to cover adoption fees like you do when you have medical insurance. But we've never asked for anything. We don't qualify for grants and we don't get any special discount if we pay early or everything at once. So instead, we continue to work hard and save as much as we can every month. If that means pinching pennies, then that's what it means. So it's exactly what we've done. However, I think on the other hand I've turned it into pushing away some of our village...because when someone told us that (the above statements), my first reaction went to "then we will do this all on our own, you watch us" in such a childish way. But over the last few months, we've realized it's not about doing it solely on our own. Because...that village....they have a purpose. Not necessarily to give us money, but to support us and to make sure we don't do this all on our own. So we ask that if you pray, pray for our financial side to this journey right now as we have more large fees coming up and that we can month by month scrape up enough for the big trip if it comes sooner than later. If you don't pray, well then think good thoughts for us. We will take and appreciate both!

The adoption journey will cost us a large lump sum by the time we return from South Africa.
The total cost can be anywhere from $33,000-$40,000 to adopt just one child. And no, it's not a scam.
We have so many workers States side we must pay and have earned their money, we have social workers and attorneys in South Africa who must be paid for their duties, we pay large fees to the government for processing paperwork, and we pay a large sum for all the traveling expenses for initially two people who become a family a three on the return trip. We cannot save up on clothes or children's items because we have no idea what the age of the child will be, so all the child's "needs" will be last minute purchases to prepare ourselves when we return home.

As I preach to you all in these posts, there is much more to adoption than most realize. It has been about the support from all of you, it has been about building the strength of our relationship, building our prayer strength, and learning about how we are going to make this child's life as loving, joyous, adventurous, and God-filled as it can be. So we will ask again for thoughts and prayers as well as thank all of you who follow our journey.

♡The Stanleys

Friday, February 13, 2015


I'm fascinated. Fascinated by life, yet also fascinated by death. In the nursing world, we see plenty of both. I'm amazed how I can meet 4-10 patients, all strangers by morning, yet what seems like I've known them forever by night. It's amazing how it can even be appropriate to ask all the questions we ask within minutes of meeting these individuals. Anywhere else, someone may be quite disturbed. As nurses, we come across troubled lives, adventurous lives, purposeful lives, and uncertain lives. Individuals of all backgrounds, all walks of life, all misled paths, and for some, the end of their path. It's a true blessing to be a nurse. Not just because we get to care for someone when they're sick, but because we get to learn from them, we get to hear their stories, their hardships, and their joys. We get to see life within so many.

I think that's what I also love about life. The variety, the differences, and the similarities in each of our stories. And the fact that we all have a story....and oh how I love to hear those stories! Because when we all tell our story, we all have that moment to shine. We get to share experiences, we learn from one another, and we even get to live through each other.
Life: it's a pretty neat thing.

I love that some of my friends are way too similar yet others have only walked through a season of my life. I love that I can love so many things, yet so many people hate all of those things. I love that some people are suppose to be parents while others have no interest. I love that we were called to adopt, yet others don't get why we would. I love that I can't not be doing something, yet others (my husband in particular), can be so content in doing nothing. I love that some of us are meant to be nurses while others are suppose to be teachers (because I really don't want that job). I love that there are things I don't understand in this world and may never understand, yet many others understand perfectly. And I'll say it time and time again...I am fascinated by our similarities, our differences, and our life stories. I fall in love with all stories, all our paths in life. I love that the Lord has blessed us with our journey in life because we all have a purpose here. We were all meant to do something big or maybe just something little, but something for that matter.

And death...like I said before, it's another neat thing. To watch someone die and to walk down that path with them only to know you're still here on this Earth after they pass...it can sure be something amazing, something fascinating. I like to think they (the one dying) remind you how to live and to keep living here on Earth. And although death can be a joyous thing, there are times I find I ask myself "why?" in my career and don't quite understand. But still to this day I struggle with a few things in nursing...massive strokes being one. One where an individual is alive, well, and on their journey in life in which a quick turn by having a sudden bleed that leads them to be unresponsive, nonverbal, and eventually leaving this world. Just as quickly as that. But cancer, that's another one I hate. The struggle to keep living yet all awhile, dying. Those individuals fight until they can no longer or find peace in living while dying. I can only empathize while watching my patients go through their life.
Never have I fully known that walk of life. 

I recently came across a woman on IG who I found to be quite amazing, interesting, inspiring, and one who is doing exactly that...living while dying. She too, has her story, just as the rest of us do. As she fights to live (and live comfortably), she tells her story. She tells of her love, she tells of her illness, she speaks of her little lights (kid), and you see every bit of her relationship with the Lord. You can find her words at Mundane Faithfulness on both Facebook and on her blog. I highly suggest it. You'll get an idea of what it's like to live, what it's like to live while dying, finding peace with death, and you'll get to know someone else's story.

Because all our stories are worthy, worthy in whatever you believe.

Thanks for writing, Mundane Faithfulness. I enjoy reading your words, your life, your story.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gluten Free in Gresham: Liberated Baking!

You guys, all I've been doing is like four things...

1) sitting around doing work or adoption paperwork
2) working on pressure ulcers from long bike rides
3) getting all pruned up in the pool
4) and thinking about all the things that need to get done, but not having enough time or being so unmotivated to get them done. So instead, I sit around which is becoming an issue.

Obviously there's plenty more we're busy with, but sometimes that's all I feel like I'm doing. If Ty knew I was typing this right now he'd die...and I know this because I can get 10 different things accomplished in a day and still say I didn't do anything in the day. I think it slightly bothers him, but he never says a word. Instead, he is my reassurance that I did plenty (whether I believe it or not). 
It's a minor flaw of mine. We all have to have them, right?

Anyway, my Grandma and I have been going out on dates every couple weeks to test out new coffee shops and restaurants. And let me tell you...growing up in the area that I did, gluten free was not easy. It was much easier to just cook it at home. If I did anything outside the home, I felt like all I had was "salad, hold the dressing" because it was most likely not gluten free. It was a buzz kill...that is going from a big eater and food lover to what seemed like eating nothing. Huge bummer, let me tell you. To this day, there aren't tons of places that jump out at me for places to eat in Gresham but what I will tell you is that my Grandma and I found a place we will probably go back to every time on our lunch dates  anyway....

Liberated Baking!

Everything. Seriously everything, is gluten free and/or vegan. All sorts of breads, cakes, cinnamon rolls, different daily soups, cookies, truffles, sandwiches, and other daily specials. Need I go on? That's like heaven for celiac individuals, especially for those in Gresham. That means you don't have to drive to specialty shops in Portland for the good stuff and you don't have to worry about cross contamination.  Don't be surprised if you spot me back at the LB sooner than later. Until then, all you Gresham and surrounding area folks...please eat it up there for me and give them lots of business. If not for me, I'm sure they'd appreciate it anyway :-)

♡C Lou & Grandma Nu

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Lady Behind The Blog: 25 Things

I started reading this book about raising children in this social media world and realized that I actually needed to check myself. In fact, most of you should probably read it because it will make you think twice about the amount of time you're wasting on your computers and phones and what it's doing to your relationships. I may only be like 50 pages into it, but it made me get off Facebook for an unknown amount of time, barely blog, and only utilize IG as my one social media. The free time I have right now...unbelievable. So if you want to know what's up with the Stanleys, you should probably just find me or Ty on IG. It will sum up everything if you don't want to read the blog anyway.

I've been wanting to blog, but when I sit down to do it I end up getting nowhere. So I figured I'd start the month off with some quick "get to know me facts" that are actually pretty much pointless. Who cares anyway? I get to write what I want to on this thing, right? So see ya next year January, hello February...welcome to a bit of the lady behind the blog!

The Intro:
 I started blogging over a year before Ty and I got married, where I kept track of all our adventures and fun little secrets. After we got married, I started this blog with the intention to change the name of it. The name apparently never changed, but maybe someday that will if I can ever decide on something. So now it just keeps track of everything we do publicly, but in hopes it gives others ideas on some DIY projects, PNW activities, traveling ideas, food suggestions, our adoption journey, and simple day to day living. SO that's the quick story on how this all began, but more about my not-so secrets in the most random order ever because that's how my brain functions...

1. I'm rarely on time to anything. Work is the exception. I'm actually early for that.
I've been told I can blame it on my Native American background...they weren't ones for time.
You think people would go for that if I used that as my excuse every time I was late?

2. I typically leave the kitchen a mess. Ty cleans it up.

3. In fact, I hate cleaning in general. Organizing things, fine. But give me a lawnmower, a power washer, or the cars to do all the car cares and I'm a happy camper.

4. Desserts, yes desserts...they steal my thoughts frequently. For some reason they don't stop until I feed those thoughts. I don't look at it as a problem though and don't tell me it's actually a problem. I won't listen.

5. I use to make sure I chewed the same number of bites on each side of my mouth. I got over that, but I still double check and sometimes triple check locks. And I have to put my left foot in first to everything or else I may have to redo it all over (as in take off the right sock and put on the left, then put the right back on). It's annoying, but thank goodness it rarely happens unlike the way it use to be. I think some people call it OCD. I'll call it whatever.

6. I use to suck my thumb. Then I got buck teeth. And then that led to headgear in the third grade. Thank God I only had to wear it at night.

7. I always have to be doing something. And sometimes two things at once, which is probably why most things never seem to get completely finished like I'd wish they had.

8. I'm one of those "all or none" type of people. (i.e. knitting for months, then off for months)

9. I pretty much hate all alcoholic beverages. Don't invite me over or out for wine...it gives me the chills thinking about it.

10. I get overwhelmed by large to-do lists that I make, but I continue to make them anyway.

11. I only wash my hair about twice a week. Three times on a good week, but that's rare.

12. And while we're on the hygiene...I only wash my face with water. I don't even own any face wash and haven't in over 10 years.

13. I've been known to make multiple stops to go to the bathroom on a single run...and that can be in less than an hour long run. It's extremely inconvenient. (I was once told I could write a book on "oh the places you can go" if that gives you any hint of how my running life goes...the stories in person are much better!)

14. I listen to the same song for hours and hours, days in and days out. Eventually a new one comes up and I'll do it all over again but with the newest song. And in case you were wondering...I listened to the same song on repeat for my 2-3 hour bike ride last week and again for an hour when I ran thereafter.

15. I'm both a mama's lady and a daddy's girl. There's nothing like a day with both together or separately.

16. I love being an older sister to a younger brother, a sister to my sister-in-law, and a wife to Ty.
Cliche to say he's my other half, but I think he's more like my other 3/4 sometimes. We do about 90% of everything together. It's better that way...experience life with your someone special.

17. If someone isn't sure I can do something, I'll try to one up it and challenge myself even more. Hence the reason for all this biking, swimming, and running lately. I just may be bypassing the sprint triathlon and going straight for the half ironman. The body is an amazing thing, so we'll see what it can do!

18. I sleep on my left side in the fetal position, always. Because if I try to sleep on my back or stomach it makes me feel like I have to pee and we all know that's not a comfy way to fall asleep.

19. If I could, I would have 4 or 5 kids. But because we're not filthy rich or in that matter, wealthy enough to feed that many mouths...we won't be having 5 children.

20. Fridays with the kiddos & visits with my grandparents are in my top favorite things to do. So if I turn you down to hang out with them, don't be offended.

21. Our families are extremely close. Like we have weekly dinners with immediate family, other monthly family gatherings, dates with Grandma, of course dates with the kiddos, my cousin lives in our basement which brings the rest of the family over often, and the list goes on. Sometimes we even combine the Cosby-Stanley sides for gatherings because they all like each other that much. And I don't mind any of it!

22. I've traveled to more countries in this World than I have States here in the US.
I thought in my early years I was out to be the change in the world. That quickly became quite clear
that it was nearly impossible (but when I was 20, what did I know?!). I've decided my calling in this world may be to make small, less drastic changes in this world day by day and that's just fine with me.

23. One of my favorite things is crawling into bed with my husband. There's something about the comfort of our own bed, in his arms, and a good nights rest ahead of me. All of which sound lovely at this moment because it is 11pm and I should be there by now.

24. I don't necessarily specialize in one particular nursing area...I have to know nearly all of them in my job. Anything from cancer patients, to general surgery, to cardiac patients, to neurology, and then a completely different realm in an outpatient infusion center. Keeps me busy to say the least and I love the variety the job provides.

25. I'm a believer in the Lord. He has blessed me with a wonderful 28 years of life.

I frequently get asked "why are you always smiling?" I don't really have a response to the "why" but what I do know is that it brings joy to my day to get a smile back from someone and I like to think if it made someone smile, that could be the only time they do in that day. So I will continue to smile all the time because there are very few reasons in life we have no reason not to.

So I leave you with a big ol' smile as I would if this were in person and I ride out into the day...because we all know now that I can't waste a minute to relax, that I don't have other forms of social media to waste my time on now, that my to-do list is calling my name, that I've got to get my left sock on before my right, and that those kiddos are waiting on their Friday treat. 
So I wish you a very Happy Friday!

♥Cori Lou

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Dossier: The Nitty Gritty + Ways To Bring Life To The Paperwork!

Some of this could be boring for some of you. I'm just preparing you. But I figured if you get bored watching the football game at some point, I could bore you with this instead ;-) For us, it has kept us everything except bored. We are either receiving new documents for appointments and approvals in the mail or responding to online portal messages from our global workers. Or it may be that we are writing letters, filling out documents, making doctor's appointments, having documents notarized, and so on and so forth. And not only is this real life for us, but we also make our references do a bit of paperwork as well! We, first off apologize for all the work it entails for you all, but secondly want you all to know that we are incredibly thankful for all those out there who know who and what we're talking about! I'm not sure what we'd do without those individuals that we've forced letters, notary appointments, and time away from their daily lives to accomplish these tasks. Nothing but love to you all!
When they say it "takes a village"...they weren't kidding and I'm not kidding either.

So if you're not bored yet, then let us let you in on this whole dossier (doss-E-a) business. It's a lot of paperwork that keeps you between now and the time you get to meet your child. It is also necessary.
So we obviously reason with it and just do what we're told. A dossier is a giant pack of documents that meet legal requirements for adopting internationally as well as immigration requirements for the US Government. This is just one packet of documents along the adoption process, but one of the most important ones that goes overseas and one of the last big chunks before you get word about your child. So it's a big deal when it's all said and done.
See below for the info it includes:

The Dossier
*Home Study with Agency & Social Worker License
*Birth Certificates
*Power of Attorney x2
*Medical Letters
*Police Clearances
*Employment Letters
*Certificate of Assets
*Tax documents
*Passport Copies
*Letter regarding motivation for adoption from South Africa
*8 recommendation letters
*Photos of family and home
*USCIS Approval (document that approves of/state our suitability to adopt a child per the government)
*Guardianship letter from the guardians we've chosen for our child
*Marriage Certificate
*Post Adoption Agreements
*G28i Form
*South Africa Regulation In-Country Fees
*South Africa Professional Service Fees
*Copies of our Education Hours
*Service Plan Copy
*Special Needs Letter
*Fee Agreement

Other Requirements:
Over half of these documents must be notarized within a specific time frame, by specific notaries in the county the paperwork may be coming from (we have them from both Portland and Vancouver, then apostilled in Oregon and Washington), and in certain circumstances we must hire travel notaries. Needless to say, we've had to be on our game when it comes to timing and scheduling everything. And because everything is so specific, we fear something could be wrong and the idea of having to do any of this all over could cause nightmares. Learn early on...double and triple check everything before you do it. Just saying.

Bringing Life to the Paperwork:
The paperwork itself isn't "fun" per se and putting together large files to go overseas is a bit exciting personally because I enjoy that sort of thing plus it gets that much closer to our little one, but it is what you make it. And for some, it may be a bit on the boring and tedious side. So instead of drowning in it...first, pray. It will help you begin and find peace before the storm. Then do things like go to a coffee shop to do your reading. Go out on a date after getting good news in the mail. Make a special dinner to celebrate having a big chunk of the paperwork completed. Or just treat yourself to a little dessert for those days you worked long and hard on everything. Make any excuse you want to find a reason to do the paperwork in another location or to celebrate the little parts of the journey. And every bit of those times, you will remember where you are, what you've accomplished, and where it's taking you. Let all other moments allow you to drift off into that dream of meeting your child.
Because those are the moments that will keep you going.

The best part to all of this...we are getting that much closer to you, little babe. Whoever you may be, we dream of you, we think of you, and we pray for you. We pray for your health, we pray the Lord gives your birth parents strength, we pray that whoever watches over you in your early years is a wonderful caregiver for you, and we pray for your safety until the day we get to see you, watch you, and hold you. Until then, we work on our requirements, we fulfill the needs to be your parents, and we prepare for you in every way we can.