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Thursday, March 29, 2007

A pleasant experience

As many of you know, Katie and I have had some trouble with our I-600A. The joke around our house is that we would like to "take our business elsewhere". .... I guess that's why the government stinks at customer service - they know none of us are going anywhere.

Anyway, today was quite the opposite. We went in, they immediately called us in for our fingerprints, we were done in 5 minutes max. It was a very pleasant experience.

Additionally, (as Tricia mentioned in the comments yesterday) USCIS use a very cool digital computer thingy for taking fingerprints. (Unlike the stone age ink pad that the State of Nebraska uses) It was impressive to see my fingerprints immediately on the screen upon my placing each finger on the scanner. It was moving around the screen in real time. Hard to describe, but very cool.

We would have taken pictures, but they make you strip down naked upon entering their offices. (No, not really....)

Needless to say, we're psyched that we can cross off another task. As far as hearing back on this, we've heard anything from 2 weeks to 75 days. So we wait.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

10 second update

1. No word on reaccredidations.

2. We're going in tomorrow to get our INS fingerprints.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Did you know?

Russian/US history lesson:

On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska for 7.2 million dollars. Critics attacked Seward for the secrecy surrounding the deal with Russia, which came to be known as "Seward's folly." They mocked his willingness to spend so much on "Seward's icebox" and Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden."

Under the aegis of explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering, Russia established a presence in Alaska in the early eighteenth century. Russia initially approached the United States about selling the territory during President James Buchanan's administration, but the Civil War stalled negotiations. Seward, secretary of state under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, supported American expansion and was eager to acquire Alaska. However, convincing the Senate that Alaska was an important addition to the United States proved difficult. The upper house ratified the treaty by just one vote.

The discovery of gold in the late 1890s increased Alaska's value as a U.S. possession and boosted its population. In 1912, the region was granted territorial status. The political situation stagnated until Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands of Agattu, Attu, and Kiska Islands during World War II—one of few battles on U.S. soil since the Civil War. U.S. response to the threat included construction of the Alcan Highway and an increased military presence in the region.

(Copied and pasted from the Library of Congress)

Mom: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cleaning the House

We had an "early spring cleaning" session at our house this weekend.

1. We cleaned out the garage. This was due to the fact that we found out a racoon had been living in there for about 4 days. I could go on about this topic, but this is Molly and Zac's website. (Not a blog for random events at our house).

2. We cleaned out our baby clothes. (some) This may seem like a ridiculous activity for 2 adults that are hoping to adopt 2 children - however we are confident that we won't be receiving any children under the age of 6 months. Therefore, we only got rid of the clothes that were 0-6 months. This may seem like a simple enough task, but many of you may not know our parents very well. These people are card carrying grandkid spoilers. Every color, every size. We've got it all.

Blogger's NOTE: I am fully aware that our parents make up about 24% of our readers. Therefore, I am not naive to think that they won't be reading this soon. Please, let me clarify: We LIKE it that you spoil our children. Keep the gifts coming. Cash is always good too. Love you!!!

As far as the clothes that we did keep, we're very eager to see who gets to wear what and how cute they will look.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Update from Yesterday

Today, there was some official corresponse from Russia regarding the reaccredidations. (somewhat timely). Unfortunately, their official statement was nothing more than "we need some more documents from the agencies".

Specifically, they want documentation that adopted children will have the same rights as biological children. Of course, it is absurd to think anything other than everyone having the same rights.

According to the buzz within frua.org, the consensus is that the Ministry of Justice was too slow getting back to the Ministry of Education on this matter, so the Ministry of Education had to make something up in order to buy some more time. I hope that this doesn't re-start the 3 month time clock. Again, the buzz on FRUA is that this action will not re-start the 3 month time clock for the MOE to get back to us. Of course, we have no way of knowing....

The real tragedy is the hundreds of soon to be parents that have everything submitted and are merely waiting for their agency to become accredited. I'm sure there are some major tears being shed tonight from all those moms and dads that thought this week for "finally it".

Accredidation

I haven't talked much about Accredidation lately.

If you remember, an adoption agency must be accredited by Russia before they are allowed to facilitate an adoption. One of the big deals in Russia is that their accredidations only last one year and the last time they accredited any agency was April 12 of last year. If you do the math, you will calculate that by next month, there will be ZERO agencies that can work in Russia.

If you search my December posts, you will find a joyful post about how Russia started taking applications for accredidations on December 20. Additionally, they made a "law" that stated that Russia must let agencies know of their accredition status within 90 days. If my math is right, that should have happened Tuesday or Wednesday. To my understanding, nothing happened.

Most of the blogs and chat rooms I read are very quiet right now. No doubt everyone is holding their breath all the while preparing for the worst.

I have to admit, this makes me nervous. But right now, I'm assuming that I'm missing something and that March 20 was not the date that everyone was shooting for.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monica Eby Nashville I

Although it's not official, I'm very confident that we've got one more band signed up.
Monica Eby!

Watch and enjoy. I'm currently trying to put together some cool video promos for the concert on June 2nd. More to come!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wayne's World

For those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that not only are Katie and I adopting - but we also are organizing a music concert for the benefit of orphans and adoptions.

I had a funny flash of realization that my life is similar to Wayne on Wayne's World Two. In the movie, Wayne has been called the ghost of Jim Morrison (and a naked Indian) to throw a rock concert for the people of Aurora. (Called WayneStock)



Although the details may vary a bit, it's frightening to think that my circumstances are virtually identical to Wayne' World.

On a more informative note:

We got our response back on our I-600A. (This means that the curse of the I-600A is officially broken). We have our (last) fingerprint appointment scheduled for the end of this month.

We're getting very close to send our dossier to Russia!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New nickname

Apparently, I have a new nickname at work: Brad.

"Brad?" you may ask. But I thought your name was Ryan. "Brad" seems like an unusual nickname....

But what if I said "Brad and Angelina".

Yes, that's right.

Now the real debate here is WHY. Is it because of the adoption similarity? Or could it be because of my uncanny resemblance to Brad Pitt....

I have to confess that I am not a big "celebrity follower". I don't read People magazine. We really don't watch too much TV. (Other than 24) I rarely can tell you the names of actors in the movies that I watch.

Therefore, I don't know much about Brad and Angelina. But what I DO know is that they seem to have a heart for International adoption. I'm not sure as to their intentions, but I applaud their actions.

I haven't seen "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" yet, but because of their actions I'll at least think about renting it next time I'm at Blockbuster.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sad

I read an excerpt from an article that was written in Russia pertaining to International adoption. It just about made me sick.

Apparently, there is a fairly widespread negative view about International Adoption - especially by Americans. Naturally, I take offense to this.... seeing as how I'm an American.... and adopting.... Internationally.

Here's the quote:

The Soviet direction sees the greatest demand of Americans. It is easy, is accessible, rather cheaply. And the main thing is practically guaranteed opportunity to find the child with white color of skin. "From the American point of view you can buy that you want," - speaks Elizabeth Case - "we saw the women in Moscow. They - beauties, they have fine hair, and in general in Russia very much and very beautiful people. Many people want a white child from Russia."

Nevertheless, for some reason children from Russia do not get accustomed in the USA. Since 1996 - 12 deaths. One child was scalded alive in a bath, one was left to die in a cold closet, and one was hammered with wooden spoons. Each such news caused a wave of indignation in Russia. But it was not clear, why these horrors occur to our children.

It is extreme discipline. Special educational methods. The American parents study them at special schools. Sometimes - even in houses of worship. Application of force, mental and physical suppression of the child - here is usual. Agencies on adoptions say, that it is a statistical error, and the majority of Russians in America are happy. But the truth is that from the moment of adoption, about their destiny nobody knows.



I'm especially disturbed by the comments about the 12 deaths. I have heard this before. I'd be curious as to what that breaks down to in terms of percentage. 3,000 adoptions on average for 10 years equals 30,000 adoptions. 12 deaths equals .0004 Although these stories are absolutely appalling, they certainly don't make up a meaningful trend. Yes, there are some wack-o's in the US. (I think most of them are on Dodge Street during rush hour) But 99.9996% of the population is adopting because their heart is reaching out to children.

Here's the other one:

"Application of force, mental and physical suppression of the child - here is usual".

Huh?????? What in the world is this person taking about? Suppression is usual? Clearly, this writer has some biases that are beyond healthy.

I'm going on record for all my International readers that here in the US, mental and physical suppression are not "usual".

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Active Day

I had an interesting adoption day today. We got a letter from our agency (along with a small pile of paperwork) saying that we needed to complete it and send it back. Apparently, we have to have some pre-approval from the Russian regions that we may be adopting from? This is the first time during our process that I'm just going along with what our agency says and not really worrying about the details.

After talking with our agency on the phone, they really made it sound like this part of the paperwork needed a fast turnaround. We managed to complete all the paperwork in less than 30 minutes so that part was easy, BUT one of the forms had to be completed by our homestudy organization (Lutheran Family Services - see yesterday's post). Naturally, things always slow WAY down when we have to start mailing documents back and forth between the various organizations.

Get this: I called Lutheran Family Services and they told my that not only had they already filled out the paperwork but the caseworker would drop it off at our house on her way home from work! Wow! Did I mention lately that we love Lutheran Family Services? (SIDE NOTE: In relation to yesterday's post, we found out that we were supposed to RSVP for the support meeting. Nobody did, therefore, nobody showed.)

I politely told the wonderful worker at Lutheran Family that I'd be more than happy to pick up the forms myself. (good excuse to sneak out of the office for an hour) I did, and it was all overnighted back to the agency.

One more item checked off the list.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A meeting to remember

I haven't mentioned it before, but we did our homestudy with Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. I know a lot of blogs out there don't disclose things like the names of the agency or homestudy.... shoot, some people don't even use their real names. Anyway, I don't see any harm in saying who did our homestudy. After all, they did a great job and we have nothing but GOOD things to say about them.

Anyway, the reason that I mention them is that we got a flyer in the mail a few weeks ago that advertised an "International Adoption group" meeting. (Hosted by Lutheran Family). We weren't sure what it was all about... Is it a "support" group? Is it a networking thing? Is it a class that will educate us?

Obviously, we were intrigued by this - so tonight we arranged to have someone watch the kids and we went to the meeting. We showed to the church where the meeting was held and quickly realized that no one was there.

So that's it. Nobody showed, so we went home.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry if I disappointed any of you. I kinda drug you down this suspenseful path only to drop you on your face. What can I say? I wouldn't make a very good suspense author.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another One to the mix



We've added our FOURTH act to our Voice of the Voiceless Concert:

Sean Keith!!!

www.seankeith.com
www.myspace.com/seankeithband

Not only is Sean a great singer/guitar player/song writer, but he is also one of the most admirable people I know. I could share some pretty awesome stories about Sean, but this is Molly and Zac's website, not his.... so I'll keep it locked up.

The concert continues to grow beyond my wildest dreams. We've got possiblly one more band to sign up. (To be announced later). We will have info booths set up for 4 different adoption ministries and we will have a financial booth that people can donate to any of 5 different adoption ministries. It'll be sort of a multi-band la-la palooza with a big adoption conference going on simultaneously. The people who have helped me with this concert have already decided to make this an annual event.

Natually, we'll have no choice but to make it bigger each year. As Donald Trump once said, "As long as I have to think, I might as well think big".

(I'm not a big "Donald" fan, but it's still a good quote.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Worth mentioning

A few weeks ago, we sent our agency our dossier in advance to make sure that we weren't doing anything wrong. (Reminder: A dossier is a fancy word for "big pile of paperwork that goes to Russia")
Today, our agency called us back to tell us that everything looked good.

We felt pretty cool because, according to our agency, we only need to make one change. On our letter from the bank, our agency told us it was not necessary to include our bank account numbers. In fact, it's probablly a bad idea to include the numbers. They said on an international level especially, you never know who might acquire our info.

Good point. I guess I never really thought about that.

So we'll be going back to the bank tomorrow to get a letter made with a little less information this time.

Go figure. They actually want less information.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

minor event

We got our receipt in the mail today from USCIS. I should have gotten it on the spot when I turned in the I-600A, but as I posted we had a bad snow storm the day I went into the office. Therefore, I ended up giving our I-600A to a person who normally doesn't handle adoptions. He assured me that he would forward it on to the right people, but you can image my skepticism.

Today, I feel better because the receipt assures us that indeed everything was done correctly.

Now we wait until they schedule a time for our prints to be taken. (Which I've said numerous times on this blog). This time it's for real.

Monday, March 5, 2007

More concert info

Nothing has changed on the adoption front.

So we'll talk more about the concert.

I had another confirmation today:

THE CONFIDENTIALS!!!

Check out:

http://www.the-confidentials.com/

They will be a great addition to the line up.

Hopefully, we'll know the remaining 2 bands by the end of this week.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Marketing Piece

I've put together one of the marketing pieces for our Adoption Benefit Concert this summer. I couldn't save it as a .jpg (b/c I'm not smart enough) so I simply printed out the file and took a picture of it. It's not the best quality, but I think you get the point.

The pieces are continuing to come together on this concert. My goal is to solidify the other 2 bands this week, so that we can move forward on other details. I'm eager to announce when we find something out.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

To Molly and Zac

This is a special message from Hallie and Jake to their future brother and sister.

Whew!

OK - As of yesterday, we've officially submitted our I-600A. Of course, this was a task that we thought we did awhile ago, but.... well, just read the prior posts and you'll be brought up to speed.

My appointment was at 8:40am yesterday. I was a little nervous walking in because I was about 5 minutes late getting there (Omaha is still contending with the boat-load of snow we got on Thursday). I had visions of me walking up to the counter to be greeted by the lady telling me that I'd have to reschedule for a different day because I was 5 minutes late. You know that scene on "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" where Steve Martin goes balistic on that gal at the car rental place? That's what I thought was going to happen.

But as it turns out, quite a opposite occured. None of the 3 people that handle adoptions had showed up to work yet. (B/C of the snow... supposedly) So I ended up waiting till 10:15. Finally, some guy took my paperwork and said they'll be contacting us for fingerprints within 30 days.

30 days.... (sigh).... OK. The hardest part will be figuring out what in the world to blog about for 30 days....

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The I-600A curse

Today, I had our scheduled appointment to drop off our I-600A. We've already been there once this week, (as mentioned in the prior 2 posts) but we didn't have an appointment to drop it off. Yes, you have to have an appointment to hand them a packet of information. It takes at least 15 seconds, you know...

Anyway, the curse of the I-600A continues. We had about a foot of snow dump on us last night. Actually, it's still coming down as I type. Needless to say, I didn't make my 9:30 appointment. (Although my Mazda has zoom-zoom, it does not have 4-wheel drive.)

Minimal worries though. I rescheduled for tomorrow. Of course, I'm assuming that I'll have dug my way out by then. The real humor in this whole thing is that as few days ago, we were out playing in the snow, and I left the snow shovel in the back yard. When I went out to shovel this morning, I had no idea as to where I left the shovel. It was kinda like a body recovery mission. I went back and forth in the snow until I hit something hard with my feet. It only took about 20 minutes to find it.... yea, I know ONLY 20 minutes.