Next stop China

Next stop China
Next Stop China!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

So Close It's Unreal

Lots to update on!
I was looking at our last post and I had put that I was planning on applying for our Chinese Visas. Well, that didn't happen until yesterday.  We had to wait for the girls' passports to come back and apply all together.  The girls' passports have been back a few weeks, but I just got around to fixing it all yesterday.  Let me tell you, the paperwork for adoption is overwhelming.  Just the Visa application alone was 5 pages, answers had to be typed in capital letters, to the girls' Visa applications I had to attach a copy of their passport, birth certificates, a copy of Aaron's and my passport and their actual passport.  Not to mention $180 per person to have these processed.  That was a depressing turn of events to have to pay out another $965 yesterday in Fed Ex and Visa Fees!  However, God has been so good to us and has taken care of so much of the expenses.  At some point, I will delineate the money we have received!  Right now things are tight because most agencies that award grants want to send it to a 3rd party, like your agency, or home study agency.  So we will be reimbursed at some point from our agency.

All of our paperwork we have been filing lately must be coming back earlier than expected because now our agency thinks we will likely travel the end of December, first of January instead of the middle of January.  The sooner the better if you ask me.

However, I was thinking last night that if we were to leave, say  12/30, I have 28 days to prepare.  Minus about 8-10 12 hr shifts I have signed up to work, the time is getting short.
Our agency is predicting the week of 12/14 we will find out when we travel.  So that is very, very soon!  Can't wait to meet Maleah!

Our LifeSong for Orphans $4000 matching grant only had about $1500 in it, and they will match up to $4000.  Well, we received another grant I applied for this summer.  The agency asked who I would like the money sent to (other than directly to us of course) and I mentioned that we still had a matching grant available and was there any way that they could send that $1500 to LifeSong and turn it into $3000.  They said they were happy to!  So sometime this week, we will have $3000 in our matching grant.  Still $1000 to go to meet the full match, but I am content with what we have, and I can't complain at all.

So this month will probably be a flurry of activity.  A little overwhelming.  Pray for us and for our trip!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We Are Getting Closer!

A few days ago we got word that our dossier was translated and approved in China!  Which means that we "officially" have our referral of our little girl.  So we were very excited.  I was speaking to our case worker and she said that the last couple that left for China had gotten their LOSC (the name of our approval paperwork) 2.5 months before they traveled, so we are still looking at travelling hopefully January.  It is still a little surreal at this point.

 Monday, we went to the post office and applied for passports for the girls.  Our passports are still good for a few more years, but since the girls are under 16, their passports expire in 5 years instead of 10. Aaron had to go into work late, since both parents' signatures are required to apply for a child under 16's passport.

Today I will be filling out paperwork to apply for VISAs to China.  It is all coming together!  I am also making a photo album to send to our new daughter with our pictures labeled in Chinese and English so that she will at least get to know our faces before we see her in person.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

1st Matching Grant Met!!!

We are so happy to say that our first matching grant from the Hand in Hand organization has been met!   We are so thankful for all of the donations we have received.  This grant will give us  $5000 towards our adoption.  I don't have all of the misc. fees that crop up.  For example, this was really depressing, it cost $911 to have all of our paperwork authenticated.  ahhh!  Since we had to send it to 3 different Consulates, that was 3 different fed ex fees, really 6 different, since I had to fed ex there and back to us.  Then add to that 3 different courier fees and the consulate fees, and then they add fees for each page they authenticate it really gets ridiculous.
Last week, our paperwork finally headed to China!  We are so excited that it passed inspection for 2 of our agency workers, so hopefully things will go smoothly being translated in China.  I did have to go ahead and pay our $6950 agency fee for the adoption to move forward. We had not wanted to borrow money for this adoption, but sometimes this doesn't seem to be avoidable... However, now I have tweaked my goal, that by the time we get our daughter home, I am praying that we will be debt free again except for our house.
Most grants that we receive will be paid directly to our agency, not directly to us.  So since we have paid many of the agency fees already, anything over what we owe the agency, will be refunded to us by our agency.   So it may be a while before we get paid back. But that is ok, I am just so thankful that the Lord is providing.
We still have the Lifesong matching grant that we will be working on now!   You can click on the donate button on the right if you want to donate through them.  This is a $4000 matching grant!
Thank you for all of your prayers.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Very Exciting Things are Happening!!!

So recently we have been awarded two separate matching grants.  What is a matching grant you ask?

     Matching Grants are a quick way to double your donations.  For every dollar raised up to a certain      amount, the grant agency will match the money.  $1=$2, $100=$200, etc. You get the idea.

Now onto the exciting news.  We have been approved for a total of $6,500.
The grant agency Hand in Hand has approved us for a grant of $2,500!  The second agency is Lifesong for Orphans in partnership with Chosen and Dearly Loved, which has approved us for a grant of $4,000!  Now comes the part you have been waiting for.  We are not allowed to donate to ourselves.  So we are at the mercy of gracious givers.  This is a great opportunity to raise $13,000.  We are desperately hoping you can be a part of this donation.  Any amount you give up to the total grant amount will be doubled.

In order to be approved for the grants a lot of time has gone into even more paperwork on top of the already large stack of paperwork for the adoption itself.  Once you apply to the various agency (and we have hit several of them) you are then reviewed by a board, committee, or just a kind hearted person who is giving away money to what they feel is a good cause.  The dollar amounts vary from agency to agency.  $500-$15,000.  And believe me any amount is golden in our eyes.  So now that great amounts of time, both ours and the agency folks, has been invested into these applications it would be a shame to waste them.  So I am asking that you prayerfully consider giving to our matching grants.

If you look to the right you will see a donation button for Lifesong which will lead you to PayPal.  Again any amount will be wonderful.  The Lifesong grant has a due date of October 28th.  After that date the money will only be a donation to our adoption and will not be matched by Lifesong. So it is important to not let this opportunity pass.  Lifesong donations are tax deductible as a 501(c)3 organization.

The Hand in Hand donations have to be postmarked by September 10th.

Please send all donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption postmarked by September 10, 2015 to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself) Below is how the envelope should read.

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Aaron and Karen Pirkle
18318 Mimosa Court

Gardner, KS 66030

I know this is confusing, it was confusing for me to make this post.  If you have any questions please call or email or just grab one of us in passing.  Again THANK YOU! And please continue to keep our growing family in your prayers.  This is an unbelievable stressful journey made easier by your concern and prayer.  Thanks for every thing. 

Aaron Pirkle

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ready for Authentication

My mom, the boys, and I have driven all over Alabama this week.  Sunday, the boys and I drove the girls to camp Maywood.
Monday, Mom, the boys and I drove to the Morgan County Courthouse to have all of our Morgan county paperwork county certified.  Then off to Athens b/c I had one paper that was signed by a notary from Limestone Co.
Tuesday we drove up to Madison Co. courthouse because one of our notaries had signed the paper in Morgan Co. but had their notary in Madison Co.   If I had known that, I would have gone to Madison on Monday also.
On the way home, we stopped by a used homeschool curriculum store in Madison and got the Seth's curriculum for the year.
I finally had all of our Alabama paperwork county certified except for our home study, whose notary happens to be in Shelby Co.  Rather than drag this out 2 weeks with mailing here and there, I decided to bite the bullet and just go do it in person.
So, Wednesday, Mom, the boys and I drove to Shelby Co. to have our homestudy notary county certified, then off to Montgomery to have all of our Alabama documents State Certified. That whole ordeal Wednesday took about 7.5 hrs.  It  has been a long 4 days of driving all over.
I also mailed off our TN and IN papers to get state certified and have those back already.  All of our dossier papers are now ready to be sent to various Chinese consulate offices to be authenticated.  Which means, our 10 pages from Alabama will be going to Houston, my Birth Certificate from Indiana will have to go to Chicago, and Aaron's birth certificate and our marriage license from TN will go to DC.  Crazy.
I was excited to send them off, then found out the Houston courier I was going to use is taking a vacation next week, so they won't be taking papers to the consulate until 8/12. Oh well, I am glad to have those papers finished with county and state certifications.  Now I just to have make copies of everything, fill out some papers pay some money, of course, and send them off.
We haven't gotten any money yet from grants.  So far, all we have heard is that they have received all of our paperwork.  I have applied to 8 different grant agencies. I plan to apply for more, but getting our dossier paperwork done was more important.
Our travel date to China should be sometime between November and February.  I am so ready to go!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Applying for Grants

So far I have filled out tons of paperwork for 8 grants.  There are still a few more that I am working on. It will probably still be about a month at least before we hear from any of them. Most have a 6-12 week decision period, I know one I applied for won't even make a decision until the middle of November.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Back on Father's Day, Aaron got the opportunity to go to a wildfire in Florida. So we raced home and got him packed real quick. Unfortunately, for the time period he was to be gone (16 days) I had already signed up to work 5 days, both weekends that he would be gone.  The first weekend, my two oldest were going on a retreat and wouldn't be there to help my mom.   So, I arranged with Aaron's parents for them to keep the 3 youngest that first weekend. So I drove all the kids 2.5 hrs away up to TN, dropped the 3 youngest off, then drove the older 2 to their retreat which was kind of on the way home, then drove me and mom back home. I worked the next 2 days, had Sunday off, worked Monday, then I drove back up to TN on Tuesday and met Aaron's parents halfway to pick up the kids. I was supposed to work Sunday, not Monday, so I had arranged for one of the youth interns to pick up mom and the older two for church Sunday driving them everywhere they needed to go. Thankfully, someone at worked switched a day with me.

 The next Friday, again, I met Aaron's parents halfway and dropped off the 4 youngest kids.  Madelyn came home with me because she was leaving for a mission trip to Houston the next day.
I was supposed to work the Saturday she was leaving, so I had arranged for me to drop her off at 5:30 am at someone's house and they would take her to the church at 7:30pm to leave that night. I ended up getting cancelled that day. I did work last Sunday.  Went Monday all the way again to TN to pick up the the boys and left 2 kids there.  They were brought home Thursday.

It was an extremely stressful and busy time.Very hard trying to juggle everyone and get everyone to the correct place when I am the only one here and the only one driving.
Thankfully Aaron got home safely!

Another perfect timing...I had applied for USCIS before Aaron went out of town. Well, USCIS sends you a letter and tells you what time to come for your fingerprints.  They had scheduled us for the morning after Aaron returned from Florida. So we did get our USCIS fingerprints taken again.  I believe this is the 4 time since 2007 we have had to go do that there. I don't know why we have to repeat them every time, but we do. And when you are adopting and dealing with governments, you don't question why, you just do it.

We also have almost all of our dossier compiled. Everything that needs to be notarized is done.
The next step is to send my Indiana Birth certificate up to the IN Sec. of State to be State certified. I need to get Aaron's TN birth cert. and our marriage license certified in TN.  Then all of our documents from Alabama that have a notary on them, I have to take to the courthouse in Decatur, have them county certified, which means that they attach a letter saying that the notary is indeed a notary, then I have to mail all of this to Montgomery to have the county certification state certified, where they attach a letter saying that the county certification is real.

When our USCIS comes back, we will attach it with all of our other documents and send it to the Chinese consulate in Houston where they will authenticate the documents.   You cannot send paperwork directly to the consulate, it has to be delivered by a courier.  So, that means we get to pay a courier a lot of money, I will guess it will probably cost $300-$400 to have all of our paperwork authenticated including the courier fees and consulate fees.

We are getting excited though.  The closer we get, the more real it gets.  I am still hoping to have her home by February.  We'll see!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Home Study in Our Hands!!!!

We have our home study.  I am so happy.  Our social worker had sent us some papers to sign, an addendum, to our home study, that is what delayed it a few weeks.  She sent them a week and a half ago Thur.  Which is 11 days ago.  We were supposed to sign them and then mail them back to her, then she was going to get the home study notarized and then mail it to us.
Well, the Monday after she sent them, we still did not have them and she only sent them from Birmingham.  So, long story short, I realized that waiting for papers, mailing papers and her waiting for them, then waiting for her to notarized, then waiting for the home study to actually get to me might take another few weeks.  So, I bit the bullet and drove the hour to Birmingham 6 days ago, last Tuesday and met her in a parking lot, where I got the 4 copies of our home study.
I mailed our paperwork to USCIS last Wednesday morning!
USCIS normally takes 6-10 weeks for approval. So my goal is to have all of our dossier paperwork gathered and ready for when the USCSI is approved.
We applied for 2 adoption grants and an adoption loan last week.  Now that we have the home study in hand, we can do that.  Unfortunately, it takes about 4-10 weeks for these grant/loan agencies to let you know if you are getting a grant or loan.  So, I am praying that  by the time our USCIS is back and we owe another $10,000+ we will have more money.
So far for our adoption we have paid:
$1506 to Agape for the Home Study
$97 Home Study Fingerprints
$890 USCIS
$179 for mandatory education
$164 for birth/marriage certificates, criminal background checks
Totalling:  $2836

From our donations and fundraisers, we have around $1900 left.
Unfortunately, we owe our agency $3750, so I had to go get a line of credit from our bank.  It was really, really depressing, since we have spent the last 2 years paying off $39,000.

I guess I am disappointed.  I was hoping to do this adoption debt free. Perhaps we will get more donations and enough grants by the end to pay off any loans we might have to get.

Hard to put how I feel into words.

This child is worth all of this. Every bit of money we spend to help her get home.  I am not saying this to remind myself, because I know her worth. I am saying this to remind any one reading this that wonders why we would embark on this journey.