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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just take my fingers already

We made another trip to Lincoln to get more fingerprints taken. If you remember, the last time I had to get fingerprints, they were rejected. Apparently, the Lincoln office is the one that get to make the call on whether or not the prints are accepted. Therefore, its easier and much quicker just to drive to Lincoln the first time and avoid the 2 week delay.

So we'll cross our (inky) fingers and hope that we get our police clearance letter soon!

Also, we're still waiting for the final home study report. Even though it was supposed to be done a month ago....

Meanwhile, it's getting harder for me to find stuff to blog about.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Language 2.0

My last post regarding learning Russian sparked a lot of feedback. Not only did I receive some posts on the site, but I got a few comments and calls from family and friends as well. The overwhelming response was: "Ryan, it is good to learn Russian".

And you know what? I pride myself in being a flexible, teachable person. I'm not going to sit back and say: "I am who I am - I cannot change".

Therefore, I am re-committing myself to learning Russian.

But I need your input. What is the best resource out there? I've seen books, flashcards, CD's, etc. Has anyone out there found something really good? (And preferrable inexpensive?)

(Lynda - Can you tell me what computer program Mark used?)

Friday, January 26, 2007


One thing that Katie and I have not done very well is learning the Russian language. Upon our official decision to adopt (last June) I immediately ran out and bought a "Learn Russian" CD. I listened to it for about a week and then it quickly found its way to the door compartment that holds all my other CDs that I don't listen to.

In my defense, it was a lousy language tape. It was nothing but a never-ending string of Russian words. I'm sorry, but that's not how I learn. I think it came with a book, but I was hoping to learn in the car while driving. Last time I checked, reading and driving is frowned upon. (Although I AM guilty of reading the Wall Street Journal on the way to work from time to time).

Here's the thing: Part of me feels guilty that I'm not learning my children's native tongue. The other part of me says, "We're adopting 2 kids under 24 months. They'll learn English in no time" Speaking honestly (if I may) I simply don't have much of an interest learning Russian. It's not that I don't repect the country. (I do!) It's not that I won't respect and preserve my adopted kids' culture. (I certainly will!) It's just that I suck at the foreign language thing. I'm not a good learner when it comes to language. (Refer to my high school grades if you must)

So does this make me a bad person? Does this make me an "arrogant American"?

Maybe. But I'm really not meaning to be.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Attention Grandparents

I received an email from my mother-in-law yesterday that I found very cool.

Being the wonderful "Nannie" that she is, she continues to want to learn and read about any issues or specifics related to being a grandma of adopted kids. She contacted AARP to see if there were any books, organizations, etc.

What she was told was that AARP has received numerous calls on this topic as of late, and although they don't have anything organized right now, they are seriously planning on writting an article or two on the subject in one of their upcomming newsletters.

So all of you AARP people out there, stay tuned to your newsletters. One of these days, you'll find an article related to adoption.

.... and you can say you read it first here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More Police Problems

Lately, I've been babbling about our police clearance letter that is needed by Russia as part of our dossier. Again, I have no problem with this concept. I think it's a good thing to make sure that criminals can't adopt innocent children.

But here's the problem: The Police department must not care too much about helping me get this report. I mean, really. Do they think it's more important to spend time on little things like murders, robberies, arsons, kidnappings, and drugs? Come on people! Where are your priorities?

I already mentioned that we sent in a request for a letter stating that we don't have a criminal record on the 3rd of January. Then 2 weeks later, we got the request returned to us because they needed $30 instead of $15. (We complied and sent it back the next day) THEN, yesterday we got another letter saying "Sorry, you were told wrong, we need $64 AND we need fingerprints to do a more extensive background check". The irony here is that we've already done fingerprints twice. (Once for the homestudy and once for our I-600A) So now what should have taken a few days is turning into over a month. OVER A MONTH?!?! (Once again, we're not really all that worried, because we're waiting on a few other things right now too. It's just fun to whine.)

But whatever. It's all part of the journey right? It's kinda like a right of passage. If we don't have a few stupid things along the way, then I won't have anything to blog about.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One other thing

As long as I'm picking on the psychologist that we met with yesterday, I wanted to add one more thing. He asked a question to both Katie and I that we thought very strange.

"Are you right or left handed?"


What in the world does that have to do with anything? How can that possiblly help in determining my mental health? I'm serious here. I'm a fairly educated person. I racked my brain yesterday trying to come up with even the slightest reason that he would possiblly ask this and I came up with nothing.

If anyone has any ideas here, feel free to post.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Another Step

Well, we were able to move forward through one more step today: The Psychologist's report. Basically, we need something that shows we are "of sound mind" and "suitable" to adopt.

Apparently, this can be done in less than an hour. (Clearly, there is not enough in my mind to merit more time).

I must admit that I always thought I was a pretty good person until today. We were going along fine:
"Do you like your job?" Yes.
"Do you like your family?" Yes.
"Have you ever done drugs? No.

But then he asked:

"How old were you when you first drank alcohol?" uhh..... uhhh.... I think dad may have let me take some drinks of his Budweiser when I was like 4 or 5..... Is that a bad thing?

"Do you gamble? .... Such as powerball?" uhhh... uhhh... I'm in an office pool that buys powerball tickets.

So how often to you do that? uhhh.... uhhhh..... Twice a week.

Suddenly, I found myself trying to defend the fact that I'm not an alcoholic gambler.

Nevertheless, after what seemed like a long interrogation, I was told that I am indeed "suitable" to adopt. So I guess I'll take my signed report and run.

Now, if I could just get my police clearance...

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Italian

There is a movie being released today called The Italian. Contrary to the title, the movie is about a Russian orphan. I'm sure this movie will be big talk among the Russian adoption community.

I haven't seen it. (Yet) I haven't talked to anyone about it (yet). I've only read two reviews. Here is one of the online reviews:

Six-year-old ragamuffin Vanya (Kolya Spiridinov) must choose between letting himself be adopted by an affluent Italian family, or running away from the children’s home run by a corrupt headmaster (Yuri Itskov) with the help of greedy adoption broker Madam (Maria Kuznetsova), to find the mother who abandoned him. Seeing that the older children must resort to stealing or prostitution in order to survive, plucky little Vanya decides to teach himself to read in order to steal his records and his birth mother’s address. Once he finds the address, Vanya sneaks out of the orphanage and boards a commuter train headed for the city. Fearing that Vanya will make them lose a very lucrative adoption deal, the orphanage master joins forces with Madam to find the runaway child by any means necessary.

I'm pretty sure that Katie and I will be watching this one. If nothing else, I'm sure that within a few weeks everyone will be asking us, "Did you see The Italian? Did you see The Italian?"

It'll be easier just to be able to say "yea, yea, yea."

I hope it's not too depressing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Did you know?

Has anyone ever heard of George Muller? Anyone? Anyone?

Mr. Muller lived during the 1800's and his story is truly inspiring. His story is mostly a "once was lost, but now am found" type. I really became interested in his story when I read that he began an orphange 1845. (I didn't read about it in 1845, he started the orphanage in 1845 - I wasn't yet born in 1845..... whatver..... I think you get what I'm saying).

Apparently, he began an orphanage in Bristol with a mere two shillings. (This equates to about $0.50) Now, I'm sure that inflation plays a factor here, but common sense tells me that 50 cents wasn't much even in that time.

There were times when he literally wouldn't know where the money or food was coming from until moments before meal time. Nevertheless, things continued to build. He eventually erected five large orphan homes where he fed and cared for thousands of orphans over a period of 60 years.

The buildings are still in existance today. See

He died with approximately 160 British Pounds to his name.

I just ordered his autobiography. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's funny how this all works out

I am continually amazed at the number of connections that Katie and I are forming as a result of our adoptions. It seems like daily we meet people who in some way shape or form have a tie with adoption. We may meet someone who has adopted. Perhaps someone who IS adopted. We've met a handful of people who speak Russian fluently. (That's a helpful one.) Two days ago we were at Hobby Lobby and we met someone who just adopted a little girl from Guatemala. They brought her home the week of Christmas and we're very happy and excited with their growing family. Maybe I was clueless before, but it seems that adoption is taking over the world! (And, of course, this is a GOOD thing).

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Paper Chase

Before we began our adoption adventure, I remember thinking to myself, "What's the big deal about the paperwork? Why does everyone complain about it and Why does it take song long? Can't they just sit down at the kitchen table one night commit themselves to filling out forms until it's done?

Well, now I know better. What I've learned is that a lot of the paperwork is dependant on other people.

For example, one of the many documents we need is a letter from our State's Patrol stating that we don't have a criminal record. (Easy enough right?) We sent them a letter along with a check for $15 on January 4th. On Friday (January 13th) we got a returned letter stating that they received our request but that they need $15 for EACH person. So then we sent the letter back, along with another $15 check, but because of the holiday weekend it won't go out till tomorrow. (January 16th). I'm guessing that if we're lucky the turnaround time will be close to 10 days just like the first time. So you can see that what seems simple enough on the surface actually takes close to a month. ONE MONTH! The good news is that we've got all sorts of things going simulaneously, so we're not sitting around depending on this one document.

Nevertheless, you now have some insight as to what this paper chase is all about.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who Else? (Part 2)

I thought the last post was fun, so here are some more famous adopted people:

  • Aristotle - Who knew?
  • Dan O'Brien - The Decathalete. Remember him?
  • Eleanor Roosevelt - More presidential ties. Cool.
  • George Washington Carver - mmmm..... peanut butter.
  • Leo Tolstoy - Not only a great writter, but he was Russian too!
  • Malcolm X - Didn't he have some Omaha ties?
  • Nancy Reagan - I think I've made my point about the White House.
  • Nat King Cole - Great music.
  • Victoria Rowell - "Who?" you may say. You know the undercover cop on Dumb and Dumber? There's that one scene where she's pumping gas and she has a set of skis on the top of her car. Then Harry asks "Are those your skis? And she says "Yea". Whereupon he says "Both of them?" Anyway, that's her. I don't really know much about her, but anything related to Dumb and Dumber is worth mentioning.

So there you have it. Why am I listing these? I don't really know. We are waiting to get our Police clearance letter before we can move forward. Rather than hounding the Nebraska State Patrol, I thought I'd just peacefully post fun facts on my blog.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Who else was adopted?

I thought it would be fun today to list some notable individuals who were adopted:

  • Dave Thomas - Founder of Wendy's. Although I don't like their burgers, I admire the company and the man.
  • Bo Didley - Excellent guitarist. A true pioneer making music what it is today
  • Faith Hill - It's encouraging to see so many performers. Could we have a future star? Who knows...
  • Gerald Ford - Obviously, we've spent a lot of time hearing about his life this past week.
  • Bill Clinton - Another President? Could we be adopting a future president ourselves? Not likely as our constitution requires a person to be a BORN American citizen in order to run for president. We'll see if Arnold Schwartzenager can get that one changed...
  • Edgar Allan Poe - Quoth the Raven: Nevermore.
  • Daryl McDaniels - You may not recognize this one, but I certainly do. Daryl is the DMC part of Run DMC: The greatest rap group of all time. I still can recite every single word to their "Raising Hell" album.
  • Jesse Jackson - No comment
  • Steve Jobs - Still innovating. Will I buy an iPhone? Probablly not. The price tag is alittle steep.
  • John Lennon - Yet another music pioneer. I think I see a trend here.
  • Daunte Culpepper - He did wonderful things for my fantasy football team a few years ago.

I like these last two (2):

  • Moses
  • Jesus

Clearly, adoption is on God's Heart. Why else would the main people from both the Old AND New Testament be adopted?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


One of the biggest concerns that any adoptive parent has is: "Will my adopted child love me as much as a biological child" or worse yet: "Will I love my adopted child as much?"

It is not easy to admit that we have these questions. (Let alone put them on a website for everyone to look at). We always hear stories about how parents magically fall in love with their child immediately upon their birth. It's as if there is some scent that the child gives off that causes the parents to bond with this child no matter what.

But what about adopted kids? Will they give off a scent? (No, not THAT scent) Will I magically fall in love with them? (For the record: I'll be the first to admit that I didn't immediately "feel the magic" with our first two. To tell you the truth, babies are fairly selfish creatures that aren't always fun to be around. That doesn't mean I didn't love them. I totally loved them from day one - but it was more of a "duty" love than a "Hey, you're fun to be around" love.

A friend of mine shared a very encouraging story related to this topic. He and his wife adopted a child about 18 months ago and also have a biological child who is about 1 year. (They didn't plan for it to happen that way, but that's a whole different story) Anyway, the story is fairly simple: It is their adopted child who is cuddly, loving and affectionate; and it is their biological child who tends to be more independant, less cuddly, doesn't want to be held, etc.

He has commented several times that if it were the other way around, they would naturally be concerned with what went wrong. But instead they simply see it for what it is. Every kid is different. It doesn't always have to be "Because they were adopted".

I wanted to share that encouraging story for anyone else who fears not "feeling the love" right away.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Ooooo oooooo oooooo Honey!

Being the cheesy musical family that we are, we found ourselves on the couch last night watching "You're the One That I Want". This is the latest and greatest reality show where people audition to become the next Danny and Sandy on the broadway version of Grease. Basically, when Katie and I watch these types of shows, we sit around and say "Oh! I'm better than that! Oh, I can totally do that!" Every now and then we're hear one and say, "Woah. I can't do that. They're way better than me"

When it came time to tuck the kids into bed, Hallie and I were discussing her favorite part of the day. (A bedtime routine at our house) She was quick to tell me that the singers on TV were her favorite part. Then she went on to tell me that were should name our new brother and sister "Danny and Sandy". So I guess it's back to the drawing board with names. I'm kidding of course....

And while we're on that topic, I've appreciated the various comments on the first and middle name debate that we've had. I'd like to officially announce that we've had no further discussion on that topic. I think I'm leaning toward including something Russian somewhere in their name, but I have no official plan mapped out. Maybe it'll be a middle name. Maybe they'll be given two middle names. Heck! Why not 3 middle names?

Friday, January 5, 2007


People continue to ask us where we are at in the process of adopting our 2 kids. (and we love that people are so caring and loving - thank you all)

So, let me tell you where we're at.

We are very close to submitting our I-600A. The I-600A is an Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. In English it is a "pre-approval" to adopt internationally. Because we have not received a referral and therefore have no idea which children we will be adopting, we have not actually applied to adopt anyone yet. Rather we are getting ourselves pre-approved.

If you want to see what an I-600A looks like, go to:

When filling out this document, we will need to include:
1. Proof of citizenship. (Birth Certificate and/or Passport - We're including both)
2. Proof of marriage (Marriage Certificate - that's easy enough)
3. Home Study Report. (We've received the rough draft from our case worker. Should be a matter of days before this is all cleaned up and ready to go)
4. Fingerprints (we've done this once, I guess we'll do it again)
5. A check for $545.00 (All part of the big price tag - well worth it)
6. Another check for $140 for the fingerprints (I'm in the wrong business - where was my guidance councelor when I needed him?)

Then, we wait some more. When its all been processed (maybe a month or 2?) we will receive a I-171H (I think). This will be the official United States government approval that we are eligible to adopt a child.

From there, we submit a bunch of stuff to our agency who, in turn, translates it to Russian and submits it to the Russian government. More on that later...

NOTE: I've been told that even though we are adopting two (2) children, we only need to submit one (1) I-600A. If anyone knows different, please let us know.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Russian Adoption Handbook

Although I said I was going to discuss the I-600A today, I've decided to discuss a better topic instead. (Afterall, it's MY blog - I can do what I want)

ALERT: To anyone who is thinking about adopting from Russia - To anyone who is in process of adopting from Russia - To anyone who has given the slightest inkling of adopting from Russia - YOU MUST pick up a copy of "The Russian Adoption Handbook" by John H Maclean.

See below

You can see that our copy is well loved. The picture doesn't accurately show all the post-its and notes that we've taken along the way.

This book is frequently referred to as "The Bible" by other parents who are in the "Russian adoption community". At first, I was nervous calling this a "bible". "Can I do that?" I thought to myself. "Will I be struck by lightening?" But then I looked up the word "Bible" on and found the 4th definition to be:

bible: (lower case) any book, reference work, periodical, etc., accepted as authoritative, informative, or reliable: He regarded that particular bird book as the birdwatchers' bible.

Ah ha! A perfect description! Indeed this book is a bible. From the paperwork to the available flights and hotels to the psychological phases that we parents go through along the way, he covers it all. I have been nothing but amazed as to the amount of relevent and useful information that the author has compiled. One minor problem is that this book was last updated in 2004. As we all know, this is an eternity in the realm of international adoption. (As the rules change daily!) Nevertheless, this guy knows his stuff.

My favorite chapter (or at least one that I got a kick out of) is the one titled Flight From Hell. Here is an excerpt from this book by John Maclean. (NOTE: I'm not claiming this to be my own. This is from John Maclean's The Russian Adoption Handbook):

The Delta 12:50pm flight is considered a "baby flight" so this is one where you will have plenty of company... The trip itself will be something you will file purge when you get home. On a flight with 20 babies, you will see little heads popping up and down over the tops of seats like prarie dogs on speed. You can relax in the full knowledge that whenever your child is shrieking or throwing food, there is another child on board screaming even louder and chucking whole grocery stores down the aisle. You might want to change your child's diaper out on the wing, but they have a rule against that. Instead you are allowed to use the changing table in the bathroom, which is the perfect size for your kid, but only if he's a hamster.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Putting it together

Yesterday was a fun "adoption day". As we are anticipating the completion of our homestudy report, we went ahead and started to gather up the paperwork pile that is required. (Because you can't submit anything else until the homestudy is done). I listed the requirements in an earlier post. Everybody says that the paperwork is a lot of work.... they weren't kidding! Katie and I spent about 4 or 5 hours on it all yesterday. Step one: Birth Certificates. First, we have to find them all. (Our kids too). Then we have to copy each one 4 times. Then we collate them. Then we have to go to the store to buy another ink cartridge. Then step 2: Marriage Certificates. The process continues as such.

But it was cool, because we really felt like we got a lot done yesterday. Although the homestudy report is not done, we'll be "ready to rock" once it comes in. Well... we're going to try anyway. There is an I-600A that we have to file that may take awhile. Maybe I'll elaborate on that fine form in tomorrow's post.

mmmm.... A blog about government forms. Now that's exciting stuff!