Monday, October 16, 2006

Dodger & Dandy

Hey Everybody! Well, we're almost done with paperwork. We went to downtown St. Louis a couple of weeks ago to be fingerprinted. We're waiting for clearance from Citizenship & Immigration Services. To ease the time during the waiting, I got two adorable little beagle puppies for Clarion for her birthday. We're having a lot of fun with them. They're really learning quickly. We hope to have them fairly well trained before the time comes to go to Russia to pick up and bring home our children. Here's a picture of Dodger (male) and Dandy (female). Keep in touch!


Joel & Clarion

Monday, September 18, 2006

Favorable Home Study

Dear Family and Friends,

I haven't posted anything on the blog since May. Please forgive me! We had a busy summer with moving and travels. Clarion and I moved onto the Concordia Seminary campus in July. The move slowed down our adoption paperwork a bit, but things are definitely in full swing at this point.

About three weeks ago our Home Study was conducted. Our case worker from Children's Hope came over and spent about three hours with us. Clarion and I each answered questions about our marriage and about parenting and numerous others. Then she did a walk-through of our house with us, pointing out things we can do for safety measures, etc. It all went very well.

This weekend we received the final Home Study Report. I am happy to announce that it was "favorable." The agency has approved us for adoption. It's great news. This is now a big part of the process that is now complete.

This morning I sent a final, notarized copy of the Homestudy to US Citizenship & Immigration Services. Upon receipt of it, they should notify us to schedule a time for each of us to be fingerprinted. That is part of the process of being approved by CIS. The fingerprints have to be run through the FBI and come back with a report listing no record for either of us. This can take up to 90 days, so all of our paperwork won't be complete until that comes back.

We have a few more documents to finish and some to clean up a bit, then we should be pretty much done with our dossier. We should be able to get this done before (or by the time) our CIS approval comes in. Then it's time to wait for a referral. We've already been waiting several months as we've worked through the paperwork process. Once our dossier is done, the real waiting begins!

Thank you for your continued prayers. I'll try to do more frequent updates to the blog so that you're all well informed. The Lord be with you!

Joel & Clarion

Sunday, May 07, 2006

This is only the beginning!

Hey everybody! Sorry it has been a few weeks since we posted an update. Basically we've spent the last few weeks filling out various forms. This is only the beginning of the paperwork. We've filled out forms for Russian visas as well as some for different types of background checks. We're also preparing to send CHI names and addresses of people to contact for letters of recommendation in our behalf. Today Clarion and I each wrote a 2-4 page autobiography including details about our parents, siblings, upbringing, marriage and much, much more. It was interesting for each of us to reflect back on our lives and see what makes each of us who we are and then to describe how those things will influence the way we raise our children. This is all part of our homestudy.

It's all going well so far! We'll let you know when we have any significant news to pass along.

God bless!

Joel & Clarion

Sunday, April 16, 2006

We have been accepted by CHI

On Friday, April 14 we received a packet from Children's Hope International (CHI). Their review committee has approved our application. Final approval for adoption is based on a favorable Home Study as well as approval by Immigration and Naturalization Services for adoption abroad.

Included in the packet was the "Adoption Guide for Russia's Children," outlining all the details and steps we will need to follow in the months ahead. We begin by filling out some forms to get the immigration process going. Even though the identity of the children we will adopt is not yet known, a lot of immigration paperwork is done in advance to speed up the process once we do know who our children are. We will also fill out some forms to get the home study going. We will be writing an autobiography with details about each of our backgrounds, our marriage, finances, motivation to adopt, and support of family and friends. Once CHI receives these things, they will assign us one of their social workers who will conduct the home study. We have met several of these ladies and had some great talks with them before. Hopefully they don't find us too crazy! Ha!

Thank you for your prayers and support! We have been touched by the many wonderful e-mails we have received from all of you already! More news as it comes!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Letter to Family & Friends: The Adoption Journey Begins

Dear Family & Friends,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior! Clarion and I are pleased to let you know that after months of prayer and discussion about adoption, we have submitted an application to adopt two children from Russia. We are working with an agency called "Children's Hope International" here in St. Louis. They also have offices in several other cities across the US, but St. Louis is the main office. We have been in contact with the staff there for several months and have been very impressed with them from the start. Last year they handled around 250 adoptions from Russia and a couple hundred more from several other countries. We are eager to become parents and finally decided that the time is right! We have applied for two natural siblings no older than age four. We have asked for a boy/boy or boy/girl pair. We even indicated that we are open to adopt twins.

The first step in the process is to send in your initial application. That is as far as we are in the process as of yesterday. We should hear back from CHI within two weeks. They will send us a packet with all of the information, the full details of the Russian adoption program. The two or three months following that are spent completing our dossier. The dossier includes tons of information on us, including a home study done by a social worker as well as financial documents and much much more. Following the completion of our dossier, we spend the next few months waiting for a referral. CHI has staff members in Russia that work with orphanages across the country to find children to match with adoptive parents. That part of the process usually takes at least four months if not six or more. Once you receive a referral, you let them know if you accept it or not. The referral could have quite a bit of info on the children or very little. Unfortunately, I think it's usually limited info. Once you accept a referral, you make your first of two trips to Russia. On the first trip you meet the children and spend a few days with them. Following that you indicate your desire to adopt them. Then comes the hard part--you have to go back home with out them for six weeks or so while the actual adoption process begins. Then you make your second trip to Russia to pick them up. You usually spend about ten days there on the second trip, which is a requirement of the Russian government. You have to appear before a Russian court before the adoption is approved and finalized by their government. Thankfully, CHI will have a staff member with us the whole time we're there to translate and basically assist us to get around.

That's it in a nutshell. Please keep us in your prayers throughout the next year as we work through this process. We hope and pray that all will go smoothly. We are very excited about this opportunity to become parents, especially to provide a loving home for two children who would otherwise probably never be adopted. We'll keep you all posted as we learn more and find out information along the way.

The Lord be with you as you celebrate His glorious resurrection!

In Christ,

Joel & Clarion