Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One big adoptive family!

Looks like we may have an adopted niece or nephew, too!  My brother and sister-in-law's blog is here.

Special Treat...

this morning - it's 7:20 & Shep is still asleep!  Today I'm really excited because we're picking up our last reference letter and having our FBI fingerprints done.  That means we only have our bank statement & Homestudy left (which should both arrive any day now!).  When we send all the paperwork to AAI, they will check it over, send it to Ethiopia, it will be translated to Amharic, and we will be placed on the waiting list.

Yes, I said waiting list.  There are millions of orphans there but not enough workers to process all the adoption paperwork as quickly as we would like.  We have been told to remember this is a 3rd world country so things do not run as efficiently and quickly as we are used to.  So we will wait.  Which is fine.

Thank you, Lord, for getting us through this pile of paperwork.  Thank you for the wait we are about to embark on, because it is also the calm before the storm.  Use it to prepare us for the challenges we will face as adoptive parents.  Amen.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
~ Proverbs 13:12

O.K. time to fix breakfast!  Shep has become a very amusing eater, as he sniffs nearly everything before he puts it in his mouth.  He'll only eat it if it smells good - pretty smart for a 1 year old.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yay for Adoption Tax Credits!!!

We have great news for anyone who is interested in adoption but intimidated by the expenses!  The adoption tax credit has changed in a BIG way under the new healthcare plan!  Here are the details (copied & pasted because it's too complicated for me to paraphrase):

"Adoptive families used to have to carry over unused parts of the credit from year to year when the credit was more than their tax liability for that year. Parents who file for the credit next tax season will be able to get the whole credit back at once.


For example, here's an example of an adoptive family before this went into place:

Money withheld: 4,000

Adoption Credit that year is worth 10,000 (hypothetically)

Tax owed: 3,500

Amount of Credit used: 3,500

Remaining Credit: 6,500

This family would have gotten $4000 back. $500 is because they overpaid the government in the first place. The credit wipes out all their tax and so they get $3500 back due to the adoption credit that year. They would then carry over the $6500 to use in future years until it was gone because the government would only allow you to claim in any one year the amount of your tax liability.
Now this same family if they filed for the credit after it was made refundable:

Money Withheld: 4,000

Adoption Credit that year is worth 10,000 (hypothetically)

Tax Owed: 3,500

Amount of Credit Used: 10,000

Remaining Credit: 0

This family would now get a check for $10,500. They still get the $500 that is their normal refund and they would get the extra $10,000 on top of it. Even though they only owe 3,500 in taxes, the government would now pay them the amount of the credit above and beyond that. They wouldn't have to carry it over from year to year.

This also is huge because there are families out there that owe very few taxes due to large numbers of other deductions/credits or because their income is low enough. The credit was not as helpful to them before because they lost all the unused amount after 5 years. Now they'll be able to get the full credit back the first year if they have enough qualifying expenses (which almost everybody doing international adoption has)."

In addition, North Carolina has a state tax credit for adoptive families :)

Thank you, Lord, for providing for us.  We don't know where we're going to come up with all the adoption expenses up-front but we know we'll be OK in the end.  You are so much bigger than we ever give you credit for.  Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

3 Under 3

It is possible, by this time next year, our family will contain 3 children under 3.  I always felt sorry for the moms who ended up with 3 under 3 & vowed I would take precautions to avoid getting myself into such an exhausting predicament.  Well, you know what they say about God laughing at our plans!  Today is another one of those days when I got really freaked out thinking about this possibility.  Would I be constantly frustrated?  Exhausted?  Unable to care for all our children equally?  Regretting our decision to leave this up to God?  But, today was a good day because I closed my eyes for a minute & asked God for help.  God, are we being reckless?  Are we misinterpreting your guidance?  Sure enough, just as it has so many times before, His PEACE washed over me.  Verses immediately came to my mind:

"In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world." ~ John 16:33

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." ~ Psalm 32:7

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18

So I can smile again, trusting that God knows better than we do how many little ones we can handle at any given time.  And, most importantly, HE is the one in control of this adoption.

Thank you, Lord, for being You.  Where would I be without You?  Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thinking about them...

First, I want to say THANK YOU to all who have responded so graciously to our announcement & to this blog.  It truly means more than we could ever express to have family & friends supporting us along this journey.  It has brought tears & heartache already and we are just beginning so we are grateful to know we have you to lean on.  I really believe the saying is true: "it takes a village to raise a child" & you are our "village"!

As I think about our children (I've found it's just easier to say children - but we won't know until it's "time" whether we are bringing home 1 or 2), this is my prayer for them, whatever they are facing today:

"But now, thi sis what the Lord says - he who created you... he who formed you...
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. 
For I am the Lord, your God.. your Savior."

~ Isaiah 43:1-3

We cannot be with them just yet, but God is ALWAYS with them, has been from the beginning of time.  Thank you, Father, for protecting, loving, holding our sweet babes.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The paperchase is almost over!

Since we began the adoption process at the beginning of January, we have filled out countless forms, submitted to physicals, met with our social worker 3 times, nearly completed our online education course, prayed A LOT and made several adoption payments.   Whew!  It's been a busy 2 1/2 months!  BUT we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel!  Our homestudy and Dossier should be complete within 3 weeks, when we will send them off to AAI (good riddance, paperwork!).  Once they are approved, sent to Ethiopia, and translated into Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia), we will placed on the waiting list.  The estimated wait to be matched with a child is 8-13 months right now.  Sooo, we have been very busy bees preparing our paperwork so that we can "hurry up and wait"! 

If I'm completely honest, I look forward to the wait time because it will be (almost) life as usual again.  I miss being able to concentrate more fully on Shep - he's growing so fast!  We are having a blast now that he can play silly "games" and we love going to the park to play with friends.  I want to savor these moments because I know life as we know it is going to change drastically when Shep becomes a big brother!

Lord, help us to live in the present even as we prepare for the future.  Grow us into a family that glorifies you in all that we do.  And help Billy and I to become the parents our children need us to be.  Please care for our little one(s) in Africa now while they are orphans.  Let them feel your loving arms around them always.  And somehow, put an assurance in them, knowing we are coming for them.  Amen.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." ~ John 14:18