Friday, December 23, 2011

Coming Soon

Nate and I designed a t-shirt, what do ya think?
We just met with a wonderful couple from our church who will be printing them for us, and they will look like this:



We have a few on order right now, and hope to sell them for around $20 each. Let us know if you want one by e-mailing us at: thekosterklan@gmail.com with your name and size. We will contact you to let you know we got your order and then contact you when we got your shirt so we can arrange how to get it to you (we will order them as we go so we aren't left with a dozen extra smalls or something!).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dossier Dance

We have our home study report which means we are officially on to the dossier (just in case you forgot- that is the final application, the one that goes to Colombia) and Nate let me know just minutes ago that he has mailed our immigration paperwork (which is the part of the dossier that might take the longest, 8+ weeks?) So while we wait for immigration to contact us to set up fingerprinting for their approval, I will be collecting, checking, organizing, double checking, and re-organizing what I can for the dossier :)

Just for an idea as to what goes into the dossier, here is a list
Home study
Psychological report
Birth Certificates (newly issued)
Marriage Certificate (newly issued)
Affidavit of Names
Medical Suitability Certificates (dated as recent as possible)
Employer's References (dated as recent as possible)
FBI Clearance
USCIS Approval (Immigration)
ICBF Application (Colombian Adoption Agency that oversees process)
Photographs (8-10 of us and our home)
Letter of Intent
Copies of Passports
Fee Agreement
Statement of Risks
Post Adoption Agreement
Service Plan (provided by Bethany Christian Services)
Inter country Adoption Services Contract (provided by BCS)
Adoption Tracking Promise Letter (provided by BCS)
Agency License (provided by BCS)

Once we finally have everything together, we will make sure everything is notarized and apostilled that is supposed to, make several copies, and hand it off to Bethany's Grand Rapids office. From there they will review it, send it to the coordinator in Colombia where she will review and translate it, and then it will be given to an adoption house to review and accept!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick Update

The psychologist got our report done over the weekend! We are just waiting for him to finalize it and then we should have it in hand.

The disappointing part however is that our case worker just left for Ethiopia: there must have been some mis-communication because we thought we could still get our home study report, but the other case worker who is covering for her said we would have to wait until she gets back. If you know me, I usually get stressed about things getting done on time, but I am feeling surprisingly patient - I think I have realized that there is nothing I can do, things will happen when they are supposed to!
(next steps: get home study report, send out immigration form and then wait 2 months)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Psych Eval & On Hold

We had our psych evaluation last week (Nate and I have joked about how we think all potential parents should have to go through this process to have kids :) )
Our home study visits may be done, but our case worker needs the results of the psych evaluation in order to complete her report. Colombia takes the psych evaluation very seriously so it is important that the home study and psych evaluation relate.
We need the final home study report to send our I800A paperwork to immigration, and I have that literally all ready to go so the moment we get our report I can mail it out.
(the fbi clearance,which we sent in, and immigration are the holdups for our dossier- each take about 8 weeks? to get back)
So we are on hold until the psychologist gets us the report- which he said may be a few weeks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Q & A

We have been seeing a common round of questions so I thought I would share them :)

Q: What age are you looking for? Boy/girl?
A: To the adoption house in Colombia, we have to say that we are willing to accept a child up to 36 months. But we are able to request the youngest possible (since this is our first child, we would like them to be as young as possible so we can experience as much of the infant stage as we can). We have been told that babies have been referred as young as three months, and it is common for our request to receive a baby within three to nine months old. I would tell you that I would love either a boy or a girl, Nate would tell you he would like a boy! I think as we get closer we might be able to state a preference but i am not sure on that.

Q: What is the time frame looking like?
A: I have no idea. Honestly! We are expecting it to take another two months to get our dossier together (not on our part, it takes time for government approvals) and then ? We have heard that there are a lot of children at the adoption houses, but there are also families in front of us (and only two can apply to an adoption house at a time) so once our dossier is submitted it could be six months or it could be well over a year.

Q: Why did you choose Colombia?
A: Countries have requirements for adoptive parents (such as age, length of marriage, even body fat percentage) so that narrows it down (ha! i didnt even try to do that). And then some countries only have older or special needs children available, and some of the wait times can be quite long. We wanted a short wait and a young child, and it was basically Colombia and Ethiopia that we felt comfortable with. To give you the short version, we felt that a child from Colombia would "fit in" best with our families and in our community, we love Latin American culture, and we appreciated things like the level of care in the orphanages, as well as other reasons.

Q: How soon will you get to travel?
A: I believe that most families travel once they get a referral within about 4-6 weeks.

Q: How long will you be in Colombia?
A: We will be in the country for somewhere around six weeks- we need to stay in the country during the adoption process. The exciting part is that on the first day, we get to take the baby with us, they don't stay at the adoption house! Most families stay at a hotel with other adoptive families- and the hotel will cook, clean, and do our laundry. We are allowed to travel within the country so are planning on spending time experiencing the culture, etc. I know six weeks might sound like a long time in a foreign country to some, but I am elated. I will miss home and our family and friends, but I know it will be a great opportunity to get to bond with our child and learn more about their culture instead of getting right back on a plane and flying back home.
Right now we are  planning on Nate being there for the first two weeks and then going back home, he is hoping then to come back towards the end again so we can travel home as a family.

Q: Can people come visit?
A: Yes, whoever would want to is welcome! And especially if you speak Spanish :)

Q: Where is Colombia again?
A: Ha, yes Colombia is in South America, but is the most NW country, bordering Panama. Apparently it is within the same time zone as Michigan so that is awesome. And someone told us it is only about a 5 hour plane ride (from somewhere in the southern US).

Q: What is the "training" you have to do?
A: Most of the training has to do with potential adoption issues: grief/loss that the child experiences, attachment issues, potential medical issues, becoming a multi-racial family, etc.

Keep the questions coming!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Colombian Culture

Our case worker and some friends shared a blog of a family down in Colombia right now. It has been awesome to get a view into what it is like down there and getting an idea of somewhat to expect day by day- did we mention that at least I will be down for six weeks? (the bummer part is that I started getting myself ready to go, i was ready to pack my bags the next day after i checked their blog out! which is way to soon, we have a ways to go yet!)

After I somewhat settled down and reminded myself of everything we need to do yet, I was able to focus a little bit better on things we need to do prepare ourselves, such as paperwork, but also the culture! We have soo much to learn yet about Colombia and preparing for our multi-cultural family! We are reading books, researching history, music, culture, learning Spanish (Nate got some cds to listen to in the car, I am trying different websites out), everything we can do to make sure our children know how important their culture is.

Just one of the blogs I have found very interesting in relation to Colombia and adoptions is:
www.raisingcolombiankids.blogspot.com
They have pretty much everything on there you can think of! So I may be passing along some things about Colombian culture that I think are worth sharing. Such as the fact that every Sunday, Bogota shuts down its streets for Ciclovia!

My favorite part was of the grandma breaking it down in the exercise class :)
But seriously, how cool is that!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Step Complete (sort of)

We just had our last home study meeting today!

The last thing we need to do for the home study report are the psych evaluations, which are set up for next week. Once the psychologist has those completed, we will have a completed home study and will be able to start our dossier.
For the dossier, we need a bunch of paperwork, but the two things that will take the longest are the FBI clearance (which we already sent in) and the immigration approval (which we need our home study report for). The immigration approval is estimated to take 12 weeks (maybe less?) to get back (sigh).

So as far as time frame is looking, we will have at least 12 weeks (?) until our dossier is even ready (which gets reviewed by Bethany's corporate office, then by their person in Colombia, is then translated, and then sent to an adoption house).

We also were able to get more information from our case worker about a very rough estimated referral wait (since before all we knew was somewhere between 6 months to 3 years). She let us know that there are some families in front of us (only two can apply to each of the three? adoption houses at a time) and estimated it might be 18 months for a referral once we have our dossier in (time for those families to get a referral and then time for us to wait) (another sigh).

We knew things were going to take time, but I think we were hoping that somehow all of our paperwork would miraculously appear at the front of every line? Since we are such amazing people?! :)