Monday, June 30, 2014

Vital Records/Birth Certificate Update

On Thursday, we received some papers in the mail to sign from the Department of Child and Family Services regarding the live birth of our daughter. I was expecting a phone call from vital records, but oh well, this will work too! It took just about a month for them to contact us after we received the court decree at our local juvenile court. And I didn't realize that DCFS handled birth certificates for vital records, but I guess that makes sense?

Now we sit and wait for them to mail us our daughter's original copy of the birth certificate. I hope that doesn't take too long!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Getting Your Adopted Child's U.S. Passport

Wow! This was the least time consuming of all of the offices that we went to so far in this process! And we could have made our time at this office shorter if hadn't used white out on one of the forms!

We went by the passport office (post office in Metairie, LA) and dropped off our daughter's application and passport picture. I do believe that it was the easiest office that we had visited. We literally signed the application in front of the nice lady and paid her $105. We spent maybe 30 minutes there-one person in front of us was raising a stink so we waited patiently for our turn. And now we wait for her passport to come in (takes 4-6 weeks). They do have an expedited process that will take 2-3 weeks if you are in a hurry to get a U.S. passport.

One important detail about applying for a passport is that they will take your child's U.S. Certificate of Citizenship and mail it back when they are finished processing your application. You might want this step to be your last and final step, because you need the Certificate of Citizenship for all of the other offices that you will visit (social security and recognition of foreign adoption).

Tips to make your trip fast at the passport place:
Follow all of the directions on the application
Make sure you fill out your application before you visit the office
Don't use white out
Have all of your child's documents (they can always ask for more information regarding your child)
Write in Black ink
Go around 10-10:30am in the middle of the week (less crowded)
Be nice to the man/lady, they work very hard and deal with difficult people-they like smiling faces :)

Click here to find out where you can apply for your child's passport.

And for those of you who have been following along on our journey, we still have not been contacted by vital records office regarding our daughter's birth certificate. We were never given a time frame of when they will be calling. If we haven't heard from them within the next 2 weeks, I will call and check the status. In the meantime, I will be checking the mail like a crazy person to see if they mailed the birth certificate.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another Great Book to Build Your Toolbox

Lately, I have been reading a new book, Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections. It is a great book that has a little bit information on a lot of different adoption topics. If you are in the process of adoption and want to know more about adoption issues, this book gives a great overview on a variety of topics. This book is a good resource with stories from adoptive families. And like the title says "Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections", this book will give you some ideas on how to deal with certain behaviors or book references that deal with a specific issue to help the adoptive parent bond with their child.

I have been reading a ton of books lately. I don't know if I am just trying to figure my child out or just become more knowledgeable on the subject as a whole. But reading has been a great tool for me with trying to bond with my daughter. I have read a lot before we adopted our daughter, but now I am re-reading and finding new books to read about adopted children and building connections. Reading all these books now that we have adopted our daughter has helped me to have compassion and love for her-I couldn't say that 3 months ago! Learning how to live with her and helping her through this transition in her life has not been the easiest-I bet every adoptive family could say that. Although, I'm still a "newbie" in the adoption world, I feel better prepared to handle adoption issues in the future, of course each adoption is different.

What have you been reading lately, whether you have adopted or in the process to adopt? What books do you find most helpful or have a lot of good information? What book has prepared you the most?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adopt Debt Free: Your Cellphone Bill

Everyone needs to have a cell phone to get around these days. Most houses have disconnected their land line and only use their cellphone as their primary form of communication. So how can you adopt debt free with your cellphone bill?

Please Note: The following information is how Wes and I are able to save money on cellphone costs. It may not be economical for you to have "our plan", especially if you need to run your business with your cellphone.

Cellphone companies are in the business to rip you off and take all your money. I'm pretty sure that is their purpose here on the earth. There is no reason to have a cellphone bill that is $100 or more each month for 2 people. We had to do some extensive research of different phone companies and plans to figure out what we could afford. We decided that pre-paid phones are a great fit for us. So let me share how we use our pre-paid phones.

For the last couple of years, I have been using At&t go phone, no contract, pre-paid plan for $25 a month (includes 250 minutes and unlimited text messaging). About a year ago, we have been needing to save a little more money so I have dropped the $25/month plan and started using Republic Wireless. We get data, unlimited text and call for $20 a month for each phone ($40/month for 2 phones). Republic Wireless encourages you to connect to the wifi around you, which we try to do especially with free internet at the library. If you are looking for free wifi to connect to try Freedompop. Unfortunately it's not in our area so I can't comment on how great it is, but I do hear good things about it.

In addition to using Republic wireless, we use skype or google voice, which is totally FREE!!

Random fact: If you have a Republic Wireless phone and you travel overseas, you can connect to the wifi around you and make your phone calls-no international special phone needed or buying minutes! This is what we used to make phone calls to our family while we were in Poland or we used skype.

Now for those with kids and teenagers. If your child or teenager really wants to have his or her phone, let them get a job washing cars or mowing grass to pay for it. It teaches them responsibility with their finances. If a phone is worth mowing 3 or 4 lawns a month to have, let them be responsible and work for it. It is a great incentive for them to gain work experience. And instead of paying $30 or more on a cellphone for your child each month, put that money towards their college education. They will definitely appreciate that a whole lot later down the road. Having your child work for his or her cellphone, especially if you as a family are adopting, is one way that the child can help contribute to help bring home the newest family member(s).

Now if you choose to completely do away with your phone, mad props to you! I don't think I am ready for that level of frugalness, although I am getting close. But if you do want to completely do away with your cellphone, keep your old one charged up in the car for emergencies. Even though you may not have any minutes on the phone, it will still be able to dial 911 if there is an emergency.

How much money have we saved with Republic Wireless?

Our monthly cellphone bill (for 2 phones): $40
Average monthly cellphone bill (for 2 phones): $100

That's $60/month! $720 a year! That is a good chunk of change. Is your smart phone worth the cost? I know that I am perfectly fine with mine!

Here are some online articles about cellphones that have helped us:

Are you paying too much for cellphone service? What is your bill like? Can you get it lower?

One-Year Update on Not Having Internet

Wow, has it really been one year of giving up internet?

Big question: How have we survived?

Answer: We visit the library and McDonald's playplace frequently. Yes, our McDonald's has internet and a coffee shop-with really good coffee. Better than Starbuck's. But since we are saving our pennies, I don't buy coffee that often, just a small ice cream for my daughter. I'm a sucker for her cute smile and asking "po-lease (please) mommy".

Not having internet is tough stuff, especially when you have adopted a child-internationally and you want to google different behaviors and strategies on how other people have dealt with them. And running a blog is challenging without internet too.

But throughout this first year of NOT having internet, it really isn't so bad. Yea, we have to make time to respond to email, write blog post, or research different stuff, but not having internet is worth all the money I'm saving. We are saving almost $600 a year! That's huge. And in 10 years that is $6,000, not including interest.

Ok so here is a secret of not having internet, but needing to check email etc... Republic Wireless is a great phone with cheap data. We have $40 a month for 2 phones. So, if I do need to respond to an email immediately, I have that option. Or you could use Freedompop, which is not in our area unfortunately.

Have any of you live without internet in your home? How do you do it? Or what is your excuse/reason for keeping it?

25 Things We Love About Poland

Today might be a bit crazy on this blog for a couple of reasons. We are visiting my parents (child distract-er and free child-sitter) and they have internet. For those of you who are just following, we do not have internet at our house to help save us more money for our adoption and other adoption-related costs. Click here for more information about not having internet. With all those factors, plan on seeing a lot of posts today-it's a post catch-up day!

This was a great news article sent to me from Gabi, one of my blog followers. The title of the news article is 25 Things We Love About Poland. My favorites are #3, #21, and #25.

Click here for the article.

Recognition of Foreign Adoption Part 3

The last, VERY LAST, step of the international adoption process is the recognizing of the foreign adoption in your state’s juvenile court. This part of the process is not talked about very much. To be honest, it was kind of hard to get a lot information on recognition of foreign adoption in our state. Our social worker gave us a website of where we could look for information, but it was very much outdated and other laws have passed since it was posted. The other suggestion that our social worker gave was to hire a lawyer. Boo! I don’t want to spend MORE money! So we decided to file this petition ourselves with our local juvenile court.

We called the clerk at juvenile court and they told us what we needed to do in order to file this petition. Luckily, we had researched a little bit before we left for Poland and started writing the petition as soon as we got back from Poland. We used all of that “extra” waiting time before we left for Poland to research this step, which was a great idea-who wants to write a legal document when you have a newly adopted child?

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we can’t give any great legal advice. Every state has different laws regarding the recognition of foreign adoption and every adoption case is unique to the child(ren). I will share what we petitioned to the court and some links that were helpful to us. Also please keep in mind, we were petitioning in Louisiana in May 2014 (laws change frequently).

Before I share our petition, I want to tell you all how nice it was to adopt from a Hague country. Adopting from a Hague country makes this last step some much easier! We did not have to gather extra paperwork or have to do any extra steps. I don't exactly know what all is involved from a non-hague country, so I can't give any good solid advice on what to do. If you do have experience with a non-hague country, please post your final steps in the comments. 

Here is our petition for recognition of foreign adoption:

1st Page:_______________________________________





The joint petition of  and , residents of the Parish of , State of Louisiana, respectfully represent that:
1.   Petitioners are seeking the recognition of their foreign adoption of . All necessary information concerning petitioners and the child is set forth in Exhibit “A”, attached and made part of this petition.
2.   Petitioners are each a domiciliary of the State of Louisiana. Evidence of residency is attached in Exhibit “B” and made part of this petition.
3.   The child has been previously adopted by petitioners on ,  in  in accordance with the law of . The foreign adoption decree with a certified translation and the foreign birth certificate listing the petitioners as parents with certified translation are attached in Exhibit “B” and made part of this petition.
4.   The foreign adoption has been completed in accordance with the Hague Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Act. The Hague Adoption Certificate issued by a United States consular officer pursuant to 22 CFR 42.24(j) is attached in Exhibit “B” and made part of this petition.
5.   The child is a naturalized citizen of the United States in accordance with the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. A copy of the child’s IH-3 visa and a Certificate of Citizenship are attached in Exhibit “B” and made part of this petition.
6.   The petitioners have the ability to care for, maintain, and educate the child.
7.   Petitioners wish to have a final decree of adoption rendered and a judgment issued recognizing the foreign adoption under the laws of the State of Louisiana and have a Louisiana birth certificate issued to them as provided by LSARS.40:79(C) and La.Ch.C.Art 1284.1 et seq.

WHEREFORE, petitioners pray that:
1.   A date for hearing in this matter be set, and
2.   At the first hearing of the petition the Court recognize and give full faith and credit to the foreign decree of adoption and render a final decree of adoption, declaring the child to be the child of petitioners to the same extent as if the child had been born of petitioners’ marriage and a Louisiana birth certificate in the name of  be issued to the adoptive parents,  and .
Respectfully submitted,

*  (printed)

*  (printed)
State of Louisiana
Parish of 
Subscribed and Sworn before me this the  day of , 2014. 

Notary Public 
My Commission Expires

2nd Page_____________________________________________

(a)  Adoptive Father
i.     Full Name: 
ii.    Address: 
iii.   Date of Birth: 
iv.  Age: 
v.   Occupation: 
vi.  Marital Status: 
(b)  Adoptive Mother
i.     Full Name: 
ii.    Address: 
iii.   Date of Birth: 
iv.  Age: 
v.   Occupation: 
vi.  Marital Status: 
2.   CHILD
(a)  Full Name: 
(b)  Place of Birth: 
(c)  Date of Birth: 
(d)  Date and Circumstances under which the Child was Adopted and Entered the Home of the Petitioners: 
(e)  Relationship between the Petitioners and Child: The petitioners are the adoptive parents of the child, having completed the foreign adoption as stated above.

3rd Page____________________________________________
1.   Driver’s Licenses of Petitioners (copy)
2.   Foreign Adoption Decree (Polish) with Certified Translation
3.   Child’s Birth Certificate (Polish) with Certified Translation
4.   Hague Adoption Certificate
5.   Child’s IH-3 Visa (copy)
6.   Certificate of Citizenship

And the rest of our petition included all of the documents listed above in that particular order. Didn't my husband do a great job writing that? He is so good with all that legal jargon. It took him a couple of hours writing, plus additional hours for researching current adoption laws. The clerk's office made copies of our originals on the spot so we got everything back-no lost originals! It took the court about a week to mail us the court decree. Now we wait for vital records to contact us about our daughter's birth certificate.

Resources for Louisiana adoption laws that we found helpful:

If you have completed this step and live in a different parish/county or state, please post your resources that were helpful to you or post a link on what you submitted to your court.

Click here to see part 2 and part 1 of recognition of foreign adoption. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Recognition of Foreign Adoption Part 2

On Saturday, we received the court decree of the recognition of foreign adoption by mail. The judge at our local juvenile court signed the decree on Thursday. Happy dance! It only took 1 week for the judge to sign it. Now we wait for a call from Vital Records about my daughter's birth certificate, which should be in the next few weeks.

What's next? Anything else to do or that needs to be done? Technically, NO! We are finished!

But since you asked, here are our plans:
1. Go out to eat and celebrate!
2. Apply for her U.S. passport. Technically you don't have to do this unless you are leaving the country, but we would like to travel in the future and since we are in the paperwork mood, why not? What's one more government office to deal with?

I will be posting a copy of our recognition of foreign adoption petition to the court in the next couple of days. It was super easy to do. No lawyer needed!

Click here to see part 1 and part 3 of recognition of foreign adoption.