2 Weeks Waiting

Our dossier has officially been in Korea for two weeks now and the suspense is high! I didn’t think much about how I’d feel about our dossier being sent, before that it was just more of a race to check the boxes of things I needed to do to get it sent. I was kind of amazed by how quickly things moved all in one day. Before the dossier could be sent we needed to have our I600-a approved by USCIS. They provided a number to call to check your status (or maybe it was meant for other things but thats how I used it). I made it a thing to call every Tuesday to check where we were at. I slipped in a call the Friday before we were approved and found out we had been assigned an officer (a really promising sign we were almost done). I decided after weighing how annoying I was being to go ahead and call again on my regular Tuesday just in case. I happened to get our officer on the phone and I apologized for calling so soon again and asked how we were doing. She said “oh you just called a couple days ago!” But then went on to let us know she approved us but cautioned our approval hadn’t even left the building yet and not to expect it till that Friday or early the next week (probably more likely then). We couldn’t send the dossier without the actual letter approving us so even though we knew we were approved we couldn’t do anything more until the letter arrived.

Friday morning came and weirdly the mail carrier showed up hours earlier than normal, I thought “ha maybe they’re coming early to deliver our letter” I jumped up to check and one envelope fell under Kyle’s shoe and I thought “just watch it be that one”, I fished it out and sure enough it was from USCIS.

I called our agency right away to see what to do next and they told me if I could send a scanned copy right now they’re sending a package to Korea and our dossier could be included if I got it to them in time. I quickly figured out how to download a scanner app and sent it right over!

Within the hour I got a note that it was in the mail, then I got the DHL tracking number (much to my package stalking hearts delight) and was told it would be there Monday! Monday! For some reason I couldn’t have imagined it getting there so quickly.

On Monday in Korea (Sunday night in California) after watching my DHL updates like a hawk I saw it making it’s way to it’s destination. At that same time one of my first and best adoption buddies was also heading to that location to meet her son for the first time. We had both chosen Korea within a few days of each other and and right after we signed up with our agency we ended up going on vacation near by them and we met up to celebrate. We had talked about how fun it would have been if we were traveling together but I said I’d be there in spirit! I kept thinking how crazy would it be for our dossier to arrive at the agency in Korea at the same time they were there. Well crazy it was! I got the text it was delivered right when they were meeting their little boy! It was the coolest thing! We didn’t get to travel together in the traditional sense but our life story and a ton of photos traveled right along side them!

So now we wait. I thought I’d make a time line so it would be easier to visualize where we are in the process! Our agency anticipates we will wait 1-3 months for a referral to come. I’ve quizzed them exactly what that will be like and if we get any heads up. We don’t get any warning and they don’t even know who is getting a referral until “DHL walks through the door” (the referrals don’t come to them digitally, everything is a hard copy). Then when they get it they will call us and give us a description and ask if we’d like to see the file. Everything is then scanned and sent to us to look over.

I can hardly wait! I’ve heard of other families getting referrals faster than a month and even though I’m not expecting it, I’m being extra cautious to always be somewhere with good reception! I’ve never been so excited for a phone call in my life!

Hopefully we’ll have some exciting news soon!

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Poppy Adoption Fundraiser!

Hey everyone! We’re so excited to share our first fundraiser to bring home our child from South Korea! 

When we get matched with our child, most of the funds are due (which is hopefully coming up soon!). Adoption is an expensive (but so worth it) journey. Currently we are approved in our home study to adopt a single child or twins. We anticipate between agency fees, home study fees, country fees, travel, and miscellaneous expenses (multiple finger prints, home study updates,  USCIS fees) that we will be paying approximately $50,000+ for one child and $75,000+ for twins. As one agency explained to us, Seoul is an expensive place to live and having the children with foster families instead of orphanage care makes it one of the more expensive programs. After a lot of research on attachment and the benefits for the child being with a foster family vs. an orphanage we decided it was so important to give them that great start in life to learn how to attach to a family and how much of a difference that can make that it was worth every cent extra with out a doubt.  
If you’re interested in seeing the breakdown of fees our agency has it published! 
https://aacadoption.com/programs/korea-program/korea-adoption-cost.html

We’ve already been shifting our finances accordingly, applying for grants, working extra, cutting back spending, putting all Christmas and birthday gifts towards the adoption fund, collecting for a huge garage sale, and everything else that crosses our mind to help save for this baby. However we keep having friends and family ask how they can help us fund raise/donate to help us bring our child home so we decided to do a fund raiser that would also double as something tangible to signify and show all of the love and support that we’ve already been feeling from everyone around us. 

As life long Californians (and California enthusiasts) we thought the coolest way to welcome the newest little Californian to our great golden state would be to start a fundraiser where those who wanted to could sponsor California poppy seeds to fill our babies future front yard with tons and tons of beautiful California poppies that would come back year after year and serve as a reminder of all of the people who loved them before they even knew who they were. You don’t have to be local to participate, we’ll take care of the planting and care! All you need to do is pick your number of poppies and make your donation! All of the proceeds will go to the adoption costs and any extra will be donated to the amazing organization caring for our child in Korea.

You can donate any amount but since it takes a lot of little seeds to fill an area we’re starting with

10 poppy seeds for $10

20 poppy seeds for $20
50 poppy seeds for $50
100 poppy seeds for $100

and so on and so forth! 

Want us to tear up our grass and fill that area with your donation? 
We’re up for that too!!! Just let us calculate the square footage times seeds and we’ll get back to you with that amount! 

We’ll be saving all of the names and comments from those who donated to put in a book for our baby so they can remember all of the love that was around them as we go through this process! We’re so excited to have you guys on this journey with us and we can’t thank you enough for your kindness during this amazing time! Let’s plant some poppies!!!

https://www.gofundme.com/kyleandamyadopt

The Home Study is Complete!

It’s finally complete! We got our final copy to review and approve and now as soon as a couple small things are changed we get our official copy! I had hoped it would be finished by mid June but I knew I was asking for a lot in a short amount of time but our amazing social worker made it happen!Whenever I thought about the home study I had a loose idea of what it would be like. I knew people talked about a ton of paperwork (which did eventually come!) and after attending foster care workshops I assumed most of it would be a big home inspection. After talking to other families and reading lots of blogs about it I learned the home visit really was a series of meetings where the social worker got to know us.Way before we met with anyone face to face though the homestudy required hours and hours of preparation. We did about 16 hours of education (plus homework), met with a psychologist and did testing (really long testing!), had physicals and blood tests, filled out a gigantic questionnaire about us as individuals, our marriage, each other, our families, our childhood, our parenting philosophy, adoption, our faith, and more, we got finger printed, and became very familiar with our banks notaries!After we submitted all of the paperwork we were able to be assigned our social worker and schedule our home visit! After sitting in front of a computer filling out everything the idea of meeting someone from our homestudy agency in person suddenly made everything feel very real. Even though we had been working on this for months, this was the part that I’d been anticipating the most even though I really felt under prepared for what we’d be talking about during our first 4 hour meeting in our dining room! She was able to get us scheduled pretty quick so I cleaned house, bought new backyard furniture (although shockingly this was not what made us pass the home visit), made blueberry muffins the night before, turned on my favorite french pandora station and opened the door at 10 AM on memorial day to the woman who would be writing the document hopefully approving us for adoption.We started with a really quick house tour and then it was down to talking at the dining table and getting to know each other (or I guess mostly her getting to know us). We talked about a lot of the same things as we’d talked to the psychologist about and that we’d written in our biographies. There is a lot of repetition in the beginning phases! We talked about our marriage, our family, our expectations, and so on. Somehow the time flew by and we were on to scheduling the next visit. After that we had our individual meetings the next week after we got back from vacation. Individual meetings sounded a lot more intimidating than they were. Again it was a lot of conversation about our childhoods, family members, and we had to fill out more questionnaires.Our sweet social worker knew we needed to speed this process along so she stayed the night in town and came back early the next morning for our 3rd required visit.This visit was really the one I had been looking forward to the most. This one was the visit we got to discuss the profile of the child we were hoping for and the special needs we were comfortable with. Honestly, I was trying to dive in to this from the first meeting but all good things come in time! We already had filled out a medical needs check list for our placing agency and she went over that with us and clarified some questions we still had. In the end she approved us for a boy or girl or twins 0-3 years old and a list of special needs we felt comfortable with. After that we discussed our finances, did a quick walk through of the back yard and garage, and that was it! We waved goodbye and we were done with our final home visit!!A few days later she sent us the rough draft and we got a chance to review it and check for any errors. Then it was sent to our placing agency for review, then back to us for final review.We did one last read through of the 15 page story of our lives, emailed our agency, and soon we will receive the official final copy and then it’ll be time to begin the I-600A process! One step closer!

We’re Adopting!

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If you’re here reading this you probably already know our very exciting news, we’re adopting from South Korea! I’ve shared bits and pieces of our adoption story with everyone individually but by doing that I realized I’ve been leaving out major milestones and have never gotten the chance to fully explain the process to anyone. We are still in the begining stages but we already feel like we’ve acomplished so much! So before we get any further I thought this would be a good time to start blogging our adoption process and sharing our story so everyone we love (and new friends curious about adoption) can be involved every step of the way! To get started, here’s a few of the questions we’ve been asked a lot! I’ll definitley dive in to these things in more detail soon but I thought this was a good way to kick things off!2019-06-15_0004.jpg

Q. Why adoption?
A. Kyle and I have both always known we wanted to adopt and that came up very early on when we were dating. I didn’t think much of it then but looking back it was so amazing that we both felt so strongly about adoption and it was never a question that it was something we wanted to do. We’ve been asked if we’re adopting because we can’t have biological children and the honest answer is we have no idea if we can or can not have biological children! We’ve never tried and we’re totally happy that way. We’ve heard from so many people that the love you feel for a child who is adopted vs. a biological child is no different and that is exactly how we’ve always felt. We know there are a lot of children around the world who are waiting for a forever family and we are so happy we will get to be one of those families.

Q. Why international adoption? There are plenty of children to adopt in the United States.
A. We’ve been on a researching journey for years. For Christmas about 4 years ago Kyle made appointments at information sessions for foster care adoption, several different international adoption agencies, and domestic infant adoption. At that time I was heavily leaning towards foster to adopt but we weren’t quite ready and when we were finally ready we went to another info session on foster to adopt from the county and one from another local agency and they let us know the program had recently changed and it wasn’t a fit for what we were hoping for at that point (plus it required some flexibility that we didnt have the ability to provide with our work schedules). Foster care in California is much more focused on reunification with the birth parents rather than adoption which is fantastic but our hope right now is to adopt. We still are open to being foster parents later in life but the ability for us to adopt was just not there so it ultimately wasn’t a good fit.

Growing up I had always pictured adopting from China and during our first information sessions years ago we got some information that made us feel like it just wouldn’t be possible (they told us it would be an 8 year wait) but after seeing some people on Instagram who didn’t have that wait I began to contact international agencies and found that for many countries the wait was around 2-4 years, including China, something we were totally ok with!

Q. Why South Korea?
A. I was so excited to have international adoption open to us again and I spent a ton of time researching country options. I was pretty committed to China but their program had just gone through changes that left a ton of unknowns and it was unclear what that would look like if we went that direction. One of the women we were talking to asked us if we had checked the waiting child listing for Korea and told us what a great program that was. We began looking in to it and fell in love with the amazing care the kids receive with their foster parents in Seoul and the awesome community of adoptive parents who had children from Korea we were meeting. We continued to do tons of research until one day Korea just felt right. Kyle’s grandmother was from Korea and we just loved that our baby would share that heritage with him.

Q. How long will this take?
A. We started our process officially with our agency in January of 2019 and we anticipate the process taking between 2-3 years but there are sooo many unknowns that are out of our control so we know this is just a guess and it could move slightly faster or slower. We are hoping to have a referral for our baby by the end of 2019 or early 2020 and after that it will be 8-12 months until they come home but we’re trying not to have too many expectations for when everything will happen. We’re just enjoying things as they come!

Q. How old will our baby be when he/she comes home?
A. 2 years old give or take a few months most likely!

Q. What else do we know about our baby?
A. We haven’t been matched with a baby yet so not very much! We’re definitely open to some physical special needs and have specified in particular we’re open to heart issues (after my journey with SVT we’ve become way more comfortable with the heart!) but we have no idea yet what our babies history will be. When we get our referral though we will know their name, age, gender, a detailed medical background, family history, their developmental progress and of course we will get photos and videos! We won’t be able to share photos online though so you’ll get a censored version on here.

Q. Will our baby have a Korean name?
A. They will have a Korean name! We want to keep this important part of our babies story so it will stay in their name somewhere.

Q. How much will this cost?
A. We are anticipating spending between $50,000-$60,000 to bring our baby home. (Although we just got approved for twins and if that happens it will be between $75,000-$85,000). We’re planning on saving, fund raising, and applying for every grant out there! As steep as this cost is when you break it down it all goes necessary places. I hear a lot from people that they think people are just out to profit from international adoption clearly with costs like that but when we learned that raising a baby in Seoul is in line with raising a baby in San Francisco it really helped to visualize where a lot of this money goes. We’re so thankful for their amazing foster family in Seoul who we know will be caring for them so well and that is priceless.

Q. Do we have to travel to South Korea?
A. Yes. The program requires two trips to South Korea and they will be toward the end of the process. We will meet our baby on our first, week-long trip and we will be required to make an appearance in court to meet the judge who will be presiding over the decision of giving us custody. The second trip, about one month later will be for their Visa appointment and we will be able to take custody.

Q. What can we do to help?
A. Pray for our little mystery, whoever they may be, their birth parents, foster family, and we wouldn’t mind some prayers too. We also just hope we will have a loving community here to welcome our baby and support them as they grow up. We will also have some fundraisers coming up soon that we hope you guys can be a part of in any little or big way you can (we have so many fun ideas swirling around right now that it’s hard to pick where to start but we promise we’ll share that soon).

Q. What’s next?
A. We just finished all of our home study visits and are waiting for final approval of our homestudy which we’re hoping for next week! After that we’re able to apply for our I600-A which is the last step before our agency creates our dossier which gets sent to Korea and they will match us with our child! Once our dossier is in Korea it could still be a several month wait before our match though so we’re just over here in California patiently waiting for our little mystery to be the newest addition to the bungalow! We can’t wait to find out who our baby is! It’s hard to believe this is all really happening!

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A day in the blossoms & a recipe for almond pancakes

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It’s a pretty magical thing to live where we do come February. As the days begin to warm up I start watching the almond orchards to see when the first little blooms will appear. Soon it’s an explosion of pale pink and white fluff everywhere. Miles and miles on end of flowering orchards that will only last for a few weeks before they are green and have soft fuzzy almonds covering them. A part of me is sad that we don’t have the huge variety of crops surrounding us like we did when I was little but you can’t beat the beauty of early spring when you’re surrounded by nothing but almond blossoms.2018-02-20_0002 2018-02-20_0003I always like to make sure to set aside one day just for us to go play in the blooms and take photos and revel in the beauty all around us. This year we also had the opportunity to bring some of our family and their friends visiting from Minnesota along with us which is always so fun to share this unique Central Valley treat with those not from here. My grandmothers friend explained to us that the same bees that are here pollinating the almond blossoms are later brought to North Dakota (where they have a family farm) to pollinate there in the summer. I always love learning things like that, I had no idea we had traveling bees here working in our local orchards.2018-02-20_00052018-02-20_0007Spending so much time in the almond orchards always makes me in the mood to bake all things almond and this year I found and perfected a delicious almond flour pancake recipe. I don’t have any photos of them because I always devour them before I get a picture but trust me, they are amazing. They are thin but light and fluffy, with just the perfect hint of sweet almond flavor. Make these and imagine you’re here playing in the orchards!

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour

1/4 milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 tsp almond extract

Butter for greasing the pan

Directions Whisk almond flour, baking powder, milk, eggs, maple syrup, almond extract, and salt together in a bowl until batter is smooth. Heat some butter in a skillet over medium heat; drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 3 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side.2018-02-20_00082018-02-20_00092018-02-20_00102018-02-20_0011

 

A Santa Barbara & Ojai Photo Walk

It had been over a year since we’ve had a real vacation together. Our last trip was a 3 week journey through Sweden, France, and Belgium which was an amazing adventure and technically our super late honeymoon. This trip didn’t take us as far away from the bungalow and we weren’t packing our thermals and heavy winter coats. This time we made our way to Santa Barbara, Ojai, and Orange County for a little relaxing and some time spent with my awesome 6 year old Godson.

I was in heaven in Santa Barbara with all of the gorgeous Spanish architecture. Before we bought our home we came so close to buying a stunning 1920’s Spanish home with a huge yard and an old garage that I could have seen turning in to a beautiful studio or outdoor party space. It had been a bit neglected but in my mind it had the potential to be straight out of an Anthropologie catalog. It also could have been transported straight to Santa Barbara where it would have fit right in. Due to some major structural issues we left that house behind and soon found our glorious (yet also in desperate need of some love) home just a couple blocks away from it. It was the right choice without a doubt but a part of me is still is still smitten with that first almost house.

While we were on our trip we decided to do a photo walk with just the two of us and wandered around some of the most beautiful places. There’s nothing as fun as making your own art for your home that also holds special memories. I got my fill of white adobe walls and tiled roofs, hand painted numbers and colorful tile steps. Now I’ll have a little bit of that to hang on the walls in our more Southern feeling (or as our neighbor put it, Gone with the Wind) bungalow with it’s big porch and white pillars. At the end of our day we grabbed a picnic dinner for the beach but as we drove back towards our hotel we spotted Alameda Padre Serra which we had heard we should take to see some great views of the city. We decided to relocate our picnic to Franceschi Park after winding up hill through gorgeous homes and even better views. We snacked on our sourdough and Central Coast Creamery Seascape cheese (yum!) while looking out at everywhere we had wandered earlier that day.

After we left for Orange County we made a quick afternoon stop in Ojai where my Grandmother was raised. I had always heard stories that she grew up in a commune in Ojai that my great grandfather had helped to build in the early 1920’s. I never knew very much about it but with some research I discovered it was the Krotona Theosophical Institute and I quickly jotted them a note to see if I could come take a look as long as I was so close by. They kindly welcomed us and gave us a tour of the breath taking historic library and the rest of the beautiful grounds. I was too in awe to take photos of the inside but afterwards I remembered to get some photos of the exterior architecture and the blooms where my great grandfathers ashes were scattered.

Afterwards we did a little shopping at some of the sweet shops in the downtown area of Ojai and then decided to take the long and scenic way down the Pacific Coast Highway to go see my favorite little guy. As the waves crashed so hard against the rocks next to the road that it felt like they were just about to splash us it felt like the perfect end to that chapter of the trip! Here are a few images that I fell in love with from our photo walk to the Mission, downtown Santa Barbara, The Presidio and our Ojai adventures. Film photos from the rest of our trip coming soon!

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In case you’re looking for some fun places in Santa Barbara here were some of our favorites (we were just too busy enjoying our selves to take photos of these guys)

For a great organic breakfast particularly their huevos rancheros: Savoy Cafe & Deli

For an amazing selection of books: The Book Den

For a beautiful place to wander and enjoy the architecture: Santa Barbara Courthouse

For a sweet treat on a hot day (try their double peanut butter chip ice cream): McConnel’s

For wine tasting: The Urban Wine Trail

For a near by dinner post wine tasting with the coolest exterior: Lucky Penny

 

Lavender Brownies

The shiplap is up and painted and all that’s left to finish is the molding at the trim! Oh and all those little details like putting the pot filler back up, installing the hood, and finding shelving that we love but none the less it seemed like an appropriate time to celebrate with brownies! Since in the California Central Valley spring happens in February, blooms abound, and everyone is pulling out their dresses, something floral sounded good. We are lucky enough to have a couple lavender farms near us (scattered among the billions of almond orchards that are all white and fluffy and gorgeous right now). Sadly the sweet one who made the lavender bouquets for my wedding is no longer open to the public but luckily there is still Pageo Lavender Farm which is where the beautiful local lavender in these brownies came from! The lavender still has a couple of months to go until it blooms but these brownies held me over until my May and June is filled with days enjoying that beautiful relaxing scent. Besides, lavender plus warm chocolate scent? Possibly even better if I dare say so. Add 1 teaspoon for the lavender timid, add 2 teaspoons or more for the lavender enthusiasts!

Lavender Brownies
Lavender Brownies

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons culinary lavender
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease an 8×8 or 7×11 inch square pan (I lined mine with parchment paper so that I could lift them out easily, but you don’t have to).
  • Combine the sugars reserving about 2 tablespoons white sugar and butter.
  • In a mortar and pestle combine lavender and reserved sugar and grind till lavender is fully incorporated. Pour back in to bowl with white sugar, brown sugar, and butter.
  • Cook the butter and sugar in the microwave until the butter is melted and stir. Allow to cool slightly. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix thoroughly.
  • Combine the cocoa, flour, salt, and soda and add to the butter mixture, mixing until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.20160222_163412

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    My wedding lavender-As long as I was reminiscing and missing the beautiful and sweet Lavender Hollow Farm.