Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please Pray for this Family

You never really know how good we have it in the U.S. where special needs children are treated and educated.  They are given every chance to thrive.  Please pray for this family as they struggle to make their family complete.

Thursday, March 24, 2011Kirill's Story

Please feel free to share the following on your blogs. It is a summary of our adoption journey so far. Please help us spread the word. We are hoping somehow someone will be able to help us.

Two years ago Greg and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. He opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey.

Our family is more than equipped to handle a child with special needs. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Best Buddies of Alabama. I have volunteered for RISE and Eagles’ Wings. All of these organizations serve individuals with special needs. My husband I have close friends and family who have special needs and we are a big part of each other’s lives. Our wedding party included some of these special people. Our involvement with individuals with special needs led us to adopt a child with special needs; specifically, we chose Down Syndrome.

As we prayed over the faces of thousands of orphaned children with Down Syndrome, we ultimately chose a little boy named Sergey from Russia. Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were heartbroken for our loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt, so the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to his family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were instantly in love with him. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

That was well over a year ago.

Since then so many things have happened. A tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt rocked our world…he was from Russia. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any American adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell more deeply in love with him. This was our son.

During that time, we found out that Kirill is the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated. Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. In seventeen years, they had never had a case rejected IF the family was issued a court date. We were told not to worry, so I didn’t. After meeting the judge’s requests for several supporting court documents, we were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…I was thrilled. This would be our new favorite holiday! Our son was coming home!

Our other son, Clayton, who had just turned three when we started this adoption process, has prayed fervently for his brother. He is now almost five. When we told him Kirill was coming home, oh my…we had an excited big brother on our hands! At one point he even went to his room, dumped out his toy cars and divided them into two stacks…one for him and one for Kirill.

Last week, as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us. Hard.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill has Down Syndrome. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It makes no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

It was like a terrible dream. We were so unprepared for this outcome. As we left the courthouse in a mental fog, the doctors and social workers that had testified came to us and said, “If you appeal, we will fight for you. Appeal. Fight this decision.” Of course we were going to appeal…I could no more walk away from our biological son, Clayton, at this point. Kirill is just as much my son.

So here we are, asking God to move the mountain that is standing between Kirill and us as we appeal to the Supreme Court in Moscow. There are also three other families who are in various stages of adopting children with Down Syndrome from Kirill’s region; one of the families has a court hearing set for next week.

We are hoping that someone will hear our outcry and help us bring our son and these other waiting children home. His adoption will set the precedent for many other children in his region. There are 98 children in his orphanage with special needs alone. It is one of many orphanages in this region that houses children with special needs. This is about more than just one child, the lives of hundreds of children with special need are at stake.  Please help us.

We got a grant!!!!

Just a quick snippet! We got a grant!  Yeah!!!!!  It is from a small local church in our area.  Since we are on two lists with our agency, we will get $500 if we get a referral for one child.  If we get a sibling pair, we will get $1000!!!!!!!! 

Either way every little bit helps, I have to work 6 days to make just over $500 so that is awesome to me.  11 days for a thousand.  Even better!

I also got word that all of our references are in on our other grant, so we will know within 10 business days if we get that one!  Praying hard.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Again, still waiting

Man, that seems like all I do now.  I just want some control!  On Saturday we get an email from our social worker asking if we were still waiting on an appt. for Camden with his doctor.  We were like what?  You didn't give us a form for him to get a physical.  We were kinda stoked about saving $25 on the co-pay of not having to take him.  Well guess, what, we do.  Their mistake, not ours.  They didn't give us the form.  So I was able to get him in on Monday and now we are waiting on the doctor to mail our agency the form, silly that I can't have it back and just take it to them, saves me a few days!  But no, I can't have it back, it has to be mailed.  So we are still waiting on our home study!  Don't they know ours expires 2 weeks from tomorrow!  It should of already of been in Russia by now. 

We are also waiting for it so we can update our dossier all at once and just drive out to Topeka, rather than sending that much stuff in the mail.  That would be a very large envelope! 

I finally emailed both of our grant applications agencies.  One misplaced our application, but found it after I emailed it, they are rushing it through, the other they were still waiting on our references.  So I called those people, to try and hurry them along.  Hopefully they have gotten that done also.  Praying we get these grants, we need them badly.

We are also going to a fundraising meeting on Friday night, hopefully they can give us some good ideas on some more fundraisers, because other than a car wash, (which I do not want to do), we are out of ideas.

Hopefully next time I write, I will have my home study in hand, and on my way to Topeka!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waiting again

Well it has been a long week!  Things just seem to be dragging along.  We are still waiting on our home study because they are still waiting on a few of our reference letters.  I checked with one person, and they said they mailed it Wednesday, so hopefully it will be there today.  Then that just leaves two more!  Then we can get our home study. Good thing because our current one expires on the 14th of April. 

A positive, we had to pre-pay for our post placement visits with our old agency, not so with our new one, so we took that refund we got and put it in our savings!  Still waiting to hear back from the two grants that we applied too also.  We are just kinda in a stall right now.  Waiting for another referral, waiting for our home study, and waiting for grant applications.  I am tired of waiting!!!

The weather here has been insane to say the least!  On Tuesday it was 80 degrees outside, tomorrow, we are expecting snow AGAIN!  Yes it is almost April, yes it is spring.  That is life in the Midwest though, can't wait for Spring to officially begin!

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patricks Day

A day late, but no worries, we had our home study visit yesterday, this new agency is VERY thorough, she drew a diagram of our house with the location of all smoke detectors in our house, told us to put one down in our basement, even though we NEVER go down there, and was very thorough on her questioning.  So that is done, and now we are just waiting on references to be turned in.  So that hurdle is done, and now we have to start redoing all of our Dossier 1 paperwork again because everything expires on April 23rd.  I am looking forward to getting all this done so we can get settled back down and wait for our referral.

Yesterday was also our 4th anniversary!  I love having a holiday for an anniversary, very hard to forget it.  We unfortunately didn't get to do anything though because our home study went until almost 6 p.m.  Maybe we will get out another day.  How we are doing it is we are staying on two lists.  We are staying on the list for a single girl, and we are also on the list for siblings, with 1 girl, or sisters.  My belief is we will get the sibling referral.  So I am filling out grants like crazy.  I have sent out two, so hopefully soon we will find out some good news. 

Today was a little somber, we had to mail out our letter of decline for the sibling group, it too has to be apostilled, etc. there is no end to that.  I believe the State of Kansas will get out of debt by the amount of Apostilling we are doing and going to be doing again in a few weeks!  Hope everyone had a great day.

Randy, Denise, and Camden

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

100th Post

I purposefully have not been blogging because I saw that we were at 99 posts and I wanted to save the 100th post for great news.  The news I have is bittersweet. 

On Monday March 7th, I got a call from our coordinator which I thought was weird, but thought it might have to do with us switching home study agencies.  Well she was reading our home study and saw that were were approved for two children, and she just happened to have two children, a sibling pair that needed a home.  A boy and a girl.  Well of course Randy was at work, so I asked if we could call her back tomorrow.  So I called Randy and we discussed and decided on Tuesday that we would accept the referral. 

We got all the info that day and man are they beautiful children.  We submitted our information to Dr. Dana Johnson out of the University of Minnesota, they have a great system up there, all information is submitted online with donations.  There is a suggested donation, but no set fee.  We thought we might get the news by Friday.  Wednesday we got the medical info. back.  The boy is perfect, the little girl, there were some concerns.  So he asked if we would get some more information from Russia.  Well we got all the info. back today from Russia, submitted it, and within an hour we had our answer. 

Sadly we had to decline this sibling pair.  There were some very serious signs that she would have a very hard life, and would not be independent as an adult.  It breaks my heart to have to turn down these two beautiful children, but it would be more than we could handle.  Going from 1 child to 3 would be hard enough without other factors added on.

The bittersweet part is, Randy and I have prayed about it and we have decided to stay on the sibling list.  Rather than go back to the single girl, we are at the top of the list for siblings, so now any day we could get another referral, and we will get the right children for our family.  Though we still want a girl, so it would have to be a boy/girl, or sisters situation.  Please pray for these children that they find the right home, and pray for us as our hearts are broken over having to turn down these two.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thank you...

To the wonderful person(s) who just helped us out.  Thank you for taking a huge burden off of our shoulders.  Thank you for being a wonderful testimony to us as we plan to do the same some day when we can.  Most of all thank you for generosity and kindness.  I don't know who you are but you just made our week.

We have found our new home study agency and some amazing person paid our update fee for us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Next week we got to get busy though, Tuesday we are driving out to Topeka to get our KBI fingerprints done, and Wednesday I have my doctor's appt, with my TB shot.  Randy should be able to get in next week also, the fire department contracts with a doctor and they can usually get in within a day or two.  Then we have to send in our background checks, and fill out a HUGE application.  I don't remember the application being that big for the last one.  We also applied for another grant, praying this one might be the one!

Randy, Denise, and Camden

Friday, March 4, 2011


Last night our adoption support group at our church met with a CPA to talk about all the tax hoopla that is going on.  Randy and I knowing that the refundability ends in 2011 and we will not have our adoption finished by then were really bummed that we would not get any of the adoption tax credit.  Well we were WRONG!!!  The way the CPA explained it, after the refundabilty expires, the tax credit will go back to how it used to be.  Meaning you can still take it just not all at once.  It has to be stretched out over years until you reach the $13,170 maximum for your adoption.

Whatever your tax liability is, the # on line 60 of your 1040 is your tax liability to the government.  Say it is $4,000 that year, well, you get to take $4,000 of the adoption tax credit that year, so basically you do not owe the government at all that year.  If you over paid, you get it all back.  I owe $4,000, I paid in $7,000 I get all $7,000 back.  That would take $4,000 off the $13,170 of the credit, and I can roll $9,170 to next year, and so on.  Now you used to be able to roll it over for 4 years.  He did not know what the new numbers will be, but guessed that it would be between 3-4 years after the refundability expires.  So even though you don't get it all at once, you do get it over a time period.  We were very excited about this, because we were told that unless you actually owed the government money you wouldn't get anything.  So this is a huge bonus!  I hope this wasn't confusing to anyone, I tried to explain it as best as I can.  There are also income guidelines, you get the credit as long as you make less than $182,500 and then it is phased out to $222,500 after that there is no adoption tax credit available.  This figure is for married couples only.  Don't know the numbers for singles.

Sorry for the boring post, but I know there are probably a lot of people out there who won't finish their adoption before the end of the year, and was maybe a little confused about this also.  I know we were!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Well, the decision is made...

We are switching home study agencies.  Our current agency called today with the news of what is the issue.  The family in question is MIA and the IA agency will not return their calls.  So we were referred to another local agency and I talked to her today.  We will pay a small transfer fee of $200 and the home study update fee of $300.  So not too bad given the circumstances.  In my opinion anyway!  I did look on the blacklist just to make sure that this new agency was not on the blacklist, and when I pulled it up there was an agency with their name on the list, but located in Michigan.  I asked just to make sure if they were connected with that agency, and it was a big NO!  They seem very nice, but now we only got 6 weeks to get everything redone including fingerprinted with the KBI.  So the social worker suggested we drive to Topeka to get it done and it will process faster rather than going to our local police station and having them mail it.  So our new packet will be in the mail tomorrow, and hopefully on Monday we can get busy!  Thanks for all the prayers, they are appreciated more than you know.