Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It was a good day!

Just a quick update...we heard from our home study agency and they have received our information! This is a huge step!!! As soon as the home study is complete, we will be able to turn in our dossier. We are getting closer on completing our end of the paperwork. I picked up the letter from our bank stating that we have accounts there are in good standing. We are excited...this means that we are one step closer than we were yesterday. Tonight we also filled out the forms for the USCIS. We will be submitting the forms next week. I think Chris is still excited for that part of the process because we will get fingerprinted. I read online today that they do them electronically these days. I thought that was interesting. All in all, it was a good day!
I thought I would post a random picture that Chris took of me after we installed our diswasher. If you look closely, you can see my feet. We have fun at the Ponsler house!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Catching Up

Wow! Where has the week gone? I have been so busy that I had to take a break from updating everyone because I couldn't find the time. On Tuesday, Chris and I decided to take a break from the adoption information since that is all we did on Monday. On Wednesday, I headed to Michigan for work and I was able to spend some quality time with my nephews. They are adorable! Nathan, the oldest, makes me laugh! He wanted to play with me the entire time I was there. I was able to read to him at bedtime. As we were laying there getting ready to read the last book Laura came into the room and put some vasaline on his face around his lips because they were chapped. When she left he leaned over to me and said, "I just love you so much Aunt Sarah. Can you please be here when I wake up?" I went on to tell him I had to go to work and then he gave me a big hug and asked me, "Aunt Sarah, can I give you a gooey kiss?" How could I resist? I told him I would love it and he responded, "Oh, goodie." Children are such a blessing from God.

I was in Michigan for work on Thursday and due to the snow I arrived home a little after eight. On Friday, the team that I work with had a brainstorming session offsite. We met at my boss's house and we actually accomplished a lot of planning for the upcoming year. It was a nice change of pace and I really enjoy the ladies I work with on a daily basis.

Chris and I were able to spend some time together on Friday night since this week has been crazy. We decided that we would go grocery shopping in the morning since we do not have much food in our cabinets or fridge. We were even out of our main staple, peanut butter! After our trip to Kokomo, we came back home and started doing odd and end things. As I put the groceries away, Chris decided to organize the wires that were a mess going to our entertainment center. He also added some door stops, fault switches in the bathroom and a cable for a television in the basement this weekend. We are planning to move our excercise equipment from one of the upstairs bedroom to the basement and we wanted to watch TV while working out because it makes the time go by so much quicker.

The mail came on Saturday and we received the documents that we sent to the wonderful state of Indiana! We were so surprised to received the authenticated documents already. We expected it to take atleast a week if not two.

Today I was able to work on my master's class. I am still behind, but not as far as I was yesterday! The class is fine. I am just finding it hard to concentrate because I much rather work on our adoption stuff.

Speaking of adoption, we completed our first step of our home study information. We had to complete four documents and both of us had to do an autobiography. Although it was time consuming, I think we are ready to start the process because it brings us that much closer to our child! We are planning to complete a few more documents for our dossier this week. We are planning to complete our family photo page and also the letter from the bank stating that we are in good standing. I think I will probably visist the police station during lunch to start my police clearance. I still find it amazing how many steps we have to go through to become parents when I watch TV and a 13 year old becomes pregnant. I pray that the child born to the child will be cared for and loved, whether it be by the child, the family or an adoptive family.

Monday, February 18, 2008

One Small Step...One Giant Leap

What a day!!!! Chris and I were extremely productive today in regards to the paperwork for the adoption. Let me do a quick recap of our day...
We both are early risers so we decided to make use of our time and try to organize ourselves for Adoption Paperwork Day, a.k.a. President's Day. At 10:30 a.m. we left the house with our binder in hand. We decided to go the the State Department of Health first to get our birth certificates at the vital records department. This was the first time that I have been to this building in downtown Kokomo. The lady that helped us was extremely nice and was excited about our adoption.

After we received two copies of both of our birth certificates, we decided to go ahead and stop in at the department that gives the immunizations and vaccinations at the State Department of Health. I am so glad that we did and I am glad that it was Monday! Let me tell you why... Who knew that the state of Indiana has free HIV testing on Mondays? This is actually something that we need for our medical clearance from our doctor. Score! Now, the real good news...We also have to get several different shots in order to travel to Ethiopia. These include Hepititis A, Hepititis B, Yellow Fever, Maleria, Meningitis, Thyphoid and a Tetnus shot. Well, after talking with the nurses, we found out that if you get the HIV testing there, you can also get FREE Hepititis A & Hepititis B vaccinations! This will save us over $300!! We absolutely love Indiana! The ladies in the department were so nice and want us to bring our child back when we return from Ethiopia. We will be visiting them several times in the next few months. God is already opening doors for us when it comes to financing His plan for us! He is so good!

Since they only do shots between certain times, we had to run a few errands and decided to go back there around 1:45. In the meantime, we decided to complete a few more items from our dossier. We made a pit stop (that reminds me of Amazing Race - I love that show and would love to be on it with Chris someday!) at Walgreens to get 4 passport size pictures of ourselves for the dossier. Since there were several people in front of us, she suggested that we come back later in the day which worked out fine since we had to head back towards downtown Kokomo for the shots.

From there, we still had quite a bit of time so we went to my dad's office to do a few things. First, we talked to the person who is completing our taxes because he had a few questions for us. I have to say that is one benefit of your dad being a CPA. You can hand him all the documents and not pay for him to get your taxes done. We appreciate that service. Thanks, Dad! Next, we had my father print out the first page of our tax returns for the past three years. We need this for our dossier. Finally, we had Brenda (the notary and the mother of some of our high school friends) notarize a lot of documents for us. I think I have said this before, but we have to have everything notarized. It is crazy. We are keeping her in business! Luckily, this is also a free service as long as we take in our child when we return from Ethiopia so she can hold him or her. That works for us!

After spending almost an hour at Dad's office, we stopped for a quick bite to eat before heading back to get the photos from Walgreen's and the State Department of Health. Everything went smoothly and we have received our tetnus shot along with our first round of Hepititis A and Hepititis B vaccination. Our next appointment is April 1st. At that time we will get tested for TB, get our second round for the Hep A/B and also get the shot for meningitis. What a day to look forward too! You would assume that I would be used to shots after going through the IVF cycle, that is not the case, I still hate the site of seeing a needle.

Since we were big kids today and accomplished so much, Chris took me to one of my favorite places - Ivanhoes, in Upland. We used to go there all the time when we were dating and we haven't been there for years, just to get ice cream. It was a great time and we think it would be a great place for the show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (food netowrk show) to visit.
Tonight we were able to organize the information that we did so it will be easy to know what we still have to do in order to complete our dossier. We feel like we are making progress, but we still have a long way to go.

We have heard from several people this week and we have been encouraged to keep moving right along. We are so thankful to have such a great family and group of friends. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Busy Weekend...

Talk about a busy weekend...we have been going non-stop! We decided we wanted to try and get a jump start on all of the adoption information from our Ethiopian Planner. So, on Saturday morning we started bright and early with a trip to Lowe's. For our home study, we needed to make sure that we have a fire extingusher on both levels. We already had one in the kitchen, but we had to purchase one for upstairs. While we were at Lowe's we also decided to pick up some paint to paint the foyer and hallway. We painted this when we moved into our house, but it desperately needed another coat. It looks so much better! Hopefully our social worker will be impressed!

After picking up a few more items at Lowe's, we decided to stop in to visit my mom. She has been so excited about us adopting her 4th grandchild! I think we picked up about 30 dish rags that she has knitted. If you are interested in purchasing any of these, please let me know. We are selling them for $2 each. She also spent her Saturday making some candy. I am going to start selling the candy at work to see how it sells. Hopefully, it will go really fast! If you would like any, please I am taking orders. More details to come in another blog all about fundraising items...

From my parents home, we went to Meijer to pick up a fire ladder. This is another requirement for the home study if you have a two-story house. We picked up a few groceries and headed home. We had several small projects that we wanted to finish before we started painting and we were able to finish almost all of them. We put a dimmer switch at our table in the kitchen, switched out several outlets that were cream colored to white, changed some light switches for the same reason, touched up some paint in our game room and patched up some holes in the popcorn ceiling. We still have a few more things that we want to accomplish before our home study. Luckily, we are a good team and really enjoy doing home improvement projects together. The next project that we plan to do is to paint the ceiling in one of the bedrooms.

On the paper front, we plan to tackle a big chunk of it tomorrow. For Chris, Monday is a holiday. Unfortunately, I had to take a vacation day; however, I am excited to get a good part of the dossier complete. We just haven't had the time to do it.

Today we completed the "Adoption Parenting" test that is required by our agency. We received the book on Thursday and we had to read it and answer 78 questions. By completing this test, we have now completed two hours of required training for people who adopt internationally. We plan to take the Hague online training soon because it is required by both our agency and for our home study.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Night Friends

Tonight we had the wonderful opportunity to get together with some friends of ours from North Manchester. Sam and Jolane came to our house and brought their children. We loved having the noise and we absolutely cannot wait to hear the chatter of a child more than just when we have visitors. As the children played, we were able to catch up around the kitchen table. We enjoyed some pizza from East of Chicago and some dessert (cheesecake & homemade smores) from the Pastry Diva in Greentown (which I highly reccommend)!

The kids were adorable! Their oldest son told us about the A+ he received on his 6 page unit test, their daughter told us about the plans for her birthday party and their youngest boy wanted to watch Charlie Brown Christmas over and over.

On Thursday, I met Chris in Indianapolis and we started looking for baby things. There are a lot of things out there that people can buy. We are trying to think ahead and prepare for our home study. We didn't buy a lot, but we decided to start baby proofing our house. We are also starting to look at baby furniture.

Today I sent information to our home study provider. We have to fill out an application this weekend and we should hear back from them in a few days. Chris is off on Monday for President's Day so I decided to take it off and we hope to get a good start on the paperwork. We plan on getting several copies of our birth certificates, passport photos and several other items completed for our dossier (doss-ee-eh).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ethiopian Planner

Earlier this week, Chris and I received our adoption planner! This is a huge part of the adoption process. It is a great tool; however, it reminds us how much we have to do in order to move to the next step. We want to get it done in a timely manner, yet the next step will be to wait. It is crazy...it is like hurry up and wait. I think that will be a common theme for us for the next couple of months.

Last night we printed the planner and had all the pages spread all over our living room floor. We tried to organize it so we can start getting things completed. For example, for the dossier we have to have everything notarized. When I say everything, it is no joke. We have to go to the doctor for an exam and we will need four copies of the report for both of us. The doctor has to sign everything (it can't b e a stamp) and it has to be done in front of a notary. We are going to bring our own notary (thanks Syd for volunteering to help us out). I never thought we would have to ask a friend to accompany us to the doctor's office. It is amazing how willing people have been to help us out. We really appreciate it and it does not go unnoticed.

For work, Audra (the girl that works with me) and I attended a career fair and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaigne today. It is an impressive school and we are spending the night because we are going to be interviewing some students tomorrow. I really enjoy this part of the job. It is always nice to get out of the office for a different change of pace.

Please start praying for our little angel in Africa. Even though we have no idea who our child is at this point, God does. Isn't that amazing? Everytime I think about it, I get the chills. Our child might be born tomorrow and God already knows that the baby will be in our family. Although this path is not commonly traveled, we are already finding a deep love for our child in our hearts. God is so good!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lesson 1: Ethiopian Flag

I am trying to learn about Ethiopia, so I decided to go to the library to get some books about the African culture. My favorite book was actually in the children’s section. I thought I would share what I learned about the Ethiopian flag.

The color green stands for Ethiopia’s fertile land. The yellow stripe represents Ethiopia’s religious freedom. The color red stands for the many lives given up to protect the country. Because Ethiopia was Africa’s first independent nation, many other African states adopted these colors when they gained independence. These three colors became known as the pan-African colors.

The blue disk stands for Ethiopia’s peace and prosperity. The star’s points, at an equal distance from one another, attest to the equality of all if Ethiopia’s ethnic groups, faiths, and genders. The shining rays are the promise of a bright future.

Chris and I think it is really important to incorporate our child's culture into our lives. My friend, Ashley, recently made burp cloths and since I am not sure what age our child will be, I am not sure if burp cloths will really come in handy for us. So, I decided to come up with my own pattern and create our very own Ethiopian Flag blanket.

I had a lot of fun putting this together and it was made with a lot of love. I really enjoy creating something and seeing the results a few hours later. It provides me a sense of fufillment.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

It is official...

You can say that we are officially expecting! The contract and first payment was mailed to our agency yesterday!!! I was planning to go to the post office at lunch by myself, but I ended up asking Audra to come with me because I needed her to take pictures. I don't think a random person off the street would understand the significance of me placing an envelope in the mail. It worked out well and I told her that I will probably recruit her to be my official "please go with me" friend. We have made contact with an agency in Indiana to complete our home study. I still have to send them the information from CWA. I plan to do that today. After talking about the home study, I think we will be well educated on international adoption! To complete this part of the process, both Chris and I have to read 3 books, complete the online Hague training, attended 2 education seminars on adoption related issues and meet with the social worker 3 times. To be honest, I am looking forward to this to see how a person from the outside will view us. I already reserved one of the books that we have to read from the library. I will probably pick it up today. In addition to these 3 books, we have to read one from our agency called "Adoption Parenting". For those of you who know us, I love to read (I have already read 4 adoption books) and I couldn't tell you the last time Chris picked up a book.

My sister-in-law, Angie, works with a lady that goes to a church where the associate paster and his wife adopted from Ethiopia. He recently called us to share their experience. I was at work, so I plan to give them a call later today. Their child is 16 months old and their "Gotcha Day" was in June 2007! I think it is really neat how God works - maybe our children will grow up having an Ethiopian friend an hour away! I am excited to hear about their experience.

This weekend Chris is going to hang out with the boys, Syd, Greg, and Mike, in Indianapolis. He is taking Guitar Hero and our Wii. I am sure that they will have a great time! I plan to work on my master's class. I haven't put the time into it for the past couple of weeks and I hate falling to far behind. On Sunday, we will go to church and in the evening we will be heading to Purdue to go to a SWE (Society of Women Engineers) banquet to give out a Delphi scholarship to one of my summer students.

I guess that I consider myself PAPER PREGNANT at this stage! According to my co-worker Suzanne, this entitles me to eat for two, be grouchy, be tired, buy new clothes, tell Chris I am to tired to do anything and cry over silly things! I love it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Things are moving fast!

Today around noon we received an email from our agency that there was an orientation tonight at 5:00! I am not sure how often these meetings happen so we jumped at the opportunity. We were both able to get home in time to attend the meeting. It was called a "webinar" and there were four other couples on the call. One couple was from North Carolina and they are also going to be adopting from Ethiopia! (I personally hope we can become friends and be on the journey together!) For 45 minutes we learned about our agency and we were able to ask questions. One couple that joined are actually in Korea and I thought we were far away being from Indiana. My bad.

Sometimes we do not know why God singled us out to take the path of adoption, but we are getting excited! We know that there is still a long journey ahead, but each day brings us one step closer to our child. Right now the ball seems to be in our court. We plan to get our documents notarized tomorrow evening so we can send in our paperwork on Friday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The good news for today...

Chris and I were really surprised that we hadn't heard anything from our agency pertaining to phase 1 of our application. I contacted them today and there must have been a glitch in the system. She sent us phase 2 of the process and I was able to fill it out during my lunch break today. I sent her an email that we completed it and she reviewed it and we have been approved!!! Yeah! I have learned that the beginning of the adoption process is really based on our timing. The second part is up to the person who completes your home study. And the third part is waiting for your referral. This is where the agency matches you with a child. The last part is when it goes to the Ethiopian court for approval and we travel to pick up our child. Wow, that just gave me the chills. I love it!

The next part of the adoption process is completing the International Application Packet. This includes signing a lot of papers (reminds me of getting a mortgage) and getting a notary to witness our signatures. Luckily, my father is in the midst of tax season and one of his employees is a notary and she works 14 hour days so we can visit his office after work together. When we submit this packet of information back to our agency the first part of the agency fee is due.

We will also have to go through an "orientation" with our agency. We have not set the time to do this yet. Hopefully we will do it in the next week.

To be able to adopt a child from an international location, we have to complete 10 hours of training. The government is likely going to be signing the Hague Convention in April and all people who plan to adopt must complete 8 hours of training online. This training pertains to the Hague Convention. For those of you who are not aware of what this is, it is a way to make sure that countries are abiding by the rules for adoption. In corrupt countries, people have kidnapped children and put them up for adoption. Not only does the child suffer, but both the birthparents and the adoptive parents are caught in the middle of a horrible situation. The impact of only working with countries who sign the Hague Convention and follow it will hopefully be the best for everyone involved. For example, the majority of the agencies in the US have already stopped working with Guatemala because they are not following the rules. It is really an unfortunate situation because the kids are the ones who suffer the most. My heart goes out to them because there are lots of people who would take them into their family. We have so much to be thankful for in the US.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Would you consider this normal?

When we bought our house from my parents they had this crazy solar roof on the back of the house. It was supposed to heat some rocks in the basement and then the heat would rise to heat the house. Great idea. right? Wrong. It never worked. Anyways, we finally had the roof redone to look normal this summer. Well, as you can see, that didn't last long. The roofers came to the house today and said they have never seen this before. AGH! I am so sick of dealing with this crazy roof!

Fun Activities at the Ponsler Household

This weekend, Chris and I were able to spend some time at home with one of our dear college friends. Adam came down to our place from North Manchester. He arrived early afternoon on Saturday and we seriously played the Wii for almost 8 hours.

I am not really into video games, but I could call myself an addict to the Wii. Once I start playing, I just can't stop. Chris and I bought the Wii to get our minds off of the unsuccessful IVF attempt and we absolutely love it. We are both extremely competitive and we have a lot of fun playing it together. Unfortunately, Chris beats me at every game we own except bowling. Sometimes I feel guilty for "wasting" time on the Wii, but then that feeling passes. Good thing!!

My parents came over about a week ago to play the Wii after they took Chris and I out to dinner. They loved it! We practically had to kick them out of our house or they would have spent the night here. My mom rocks at bowling and she even had the attitude to go with it!

On Saturday, we also made baklava. Chris studied abroad in Greece for a semester and he found out that he really liked this dessert. Adam has made baklava several times and he brought the stuff to our house to make this weekend. This is right down my alley. I love spending time in the kitchen. Baklava is not hard to make, it just takes a lot of time.

Adam and I mixing the pecans, sugar and cinnamon.

Here are the main ingredients. I told you it was simple!
Adam telling Chris about the recipe and how to work with fillo dough.
Chris and I putting the layers together.
I have never had to cut a dessert before I actually baked it. Interesting...

Chris decided to slap me with the leftover fillo dough. Does this surprise anyone?

The finished product. Baklava that looks like it is straight from Greece.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Journey Begins!!!

Last night, we cleaned the house. I really don't mind cleaning when I am in the mood to do it. (I which that was more often than what it is, oh well!) It is actually a party when we clean at the Ponsler household...music blarring, vaccuum running, washer and drying working, dishwasher doing its job. If you want to join us next time, let me know. I can hook you up for a good time!

After we were done, I decided to lay a blanket in the middle of the floor and light all the candles that I could find. It was so nice to just lay there. It seems like we have the TV on for noise and it was nice to have some relaxing music on and candles. It was one of those times that I thought, it is so nice to be in this moment.

On a different note, this morning we sent in our application to our agency!!!! This is a leap of faith for us. Chirs woke up at 4:00 this morning dreaming about this application. We have been thinking about the right time to do this due to finances and we decided that we would trust God that He will provide. This is the first step of many in front of us. We are really on our way to Ethiopia!