Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teach Me Something Tuesday: Homestudy

We've been getting a lot of questions about what is next and how long does it take, etc. so we thought this week's Teach Me Tuesday should address that.

Right now, we are working on our homestudy. This is a process where we are working with a local agency (Jewish Family Services) and a social worker to prepare ourselves for the arrival of Miss Zoe and transitioning her into our home. This includes lots of paperwork, fingerprints, background checks, reference letters, visits to our home, interviews, etc. Our social worker will write up a report, submit it to Holt and they send it to Korea. We are diligently working on knocking this homestudy out because the sooner we do: the sooner we can have our girl home!

Once our homestudy is complete, it should go something like this:
*Homestudy Complete
*Homestudy sent to Korea
*Complete the I-600 and I-600A (this is basically applying for immigration visa from the US and this is very intricate and has to be signed by like a billion people. A lot of families get held up on this step, so start praying now that it goes smoothly for us.)
*Acceptance paperwork of our child material (formality since we are already matched with Zoe)
*We will receive Zoe's Legal documents
*Emmigration Permit (EP) for Zoe
*Zoe will get a travel physical (blood-work, physical examination) and a Passport
*Zoe will have a travel interview to apply for a Visa Approval with the USCIS
*Travel Call- we can go get our girl!

With the current time-frame, it looks like it could be 5-6 months to complete all of this. The only thing known about the adoption process is that there are a lot of unknowns. We will have a better idea of her arrival date as things progress over the next 2-3 months. Korea also limits the number of EPs a year, so if they run out, we will have to wait until January to be issued one. We are praying against that, but we know it could be a reality with us being matched with her in late May and looking at a 5-6 month time period.

We have a meeting with our Social Worker for our homestudy tomorrow. We are excited that we are moving right along with things. I'll even leave you with a new pic of our little Korean Cutie!

It's a miracle that I even have this picture of her, but that is a story for another day. Check out all that hair. It is a hot mess, indeed, but we can fix that with a headband or some clippies. I love it though! Cute girl. We're coming for you, sweet baby!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We have a name!

Zoe Grace Sloan

We think it is just perfect for her! We just can't wait to have this sweet girl home!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Love Coffee???

We are hosting an online coffee fundraiser. You drink the stuff anyway, why not have a portion of the proceeds go to bringing home our baby girl? And spread the word too! There is a variety of coffee to choose from and $5 from each bag goes to our adoption fund!

Click here: Bringing Home Baby Sloan Coffee Store or copy and paste the following URL: http://www.justlovecoffee.com/BabySloan

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We have a daughter!!!!

Here's the sweet face we fell in love with!

We are just beyond thrilled with the news that we indeed have a daughter! Today was an emotional one. I was unsure of how our phone interview went and I didn't sleep well last night. My stomach was in knots and I even threw up! (lovely, hu?) Thursdays are always super-busy for me anyway, but even more so today with Andrew's last day of preschool (let's just say those teacher gifts didn't get wrapped), Robert's Kindergarten Awards Day and the uniform consignment sale. After all that fun, I headed to the church to pull supplies for Sunday morning children's ministry with Jessica and headed home afterward. I anticipated that we wouldn't hear back from Holt until much later in the afternoon (as they are 2 hours behind us).

I was starting to dwell on the unknowns and it was driving me crazy! I decided to step out on the back porch to get some fresh air and to pray. The weather was beautiful today and I like the quiet of our backyard when the 400 neighborhood kids aren't out there. I realized that I had left my phone inside (for like 1 minute, literally). I came in and heard a beep. It was a missed call on my cell phone. HOLT INTERNATIONAL! Fabulous! THE CALL I've been waiting for all day (well, more like my whole life) and I miss it!?!?!?! How does that happen? I hit send as fast as I possibly could and I got the "Thanks for calling Holt International" from the receptionist. I think I screamed, "um, I have a missed call. I bet it is from _______ (insert name of Waiting Child Manager)!!!!" She barely got out the word "okay" and I said "nevermind, now I'm getting a call on my house phone. Thanks!!!" I'm fairly sure that receptionist gets many a frantic mama on her line each day as Holt also calls parents to tell them their babies are ready to travel. I'm sure she just thought "another crazy mom". Better they know that on the front-end I guess.

The Waiting Child Manager was indeed on that house phone and she said the words we've longed to hear for oh so long! She said we better get busy on that homestudy because we have a daughter waiting for us! I just can't believe it! I was shaking and in total shock. Believe me when I say that God did this mighty thing in spite of the mess we made out of our phone interviews. I was fairly sure we sounded like babbling idiots on the phone!

I frantically called Michael, family members and friends and they all rejoiced with me and the good news. I had to go get Andrew from preschool and was literally shaking. I had to compose myself enough to drive, but once I got to the preschool and saw all those mommies who have prayed for us as we pursued this, I completely lost it! I was a crying mess!!!! Now, remember that today was the last day of preschool for the school year and lots of kiddos are moving on to kindergarten, so one mom patted me on the shoulder and said "oh, honey, it's okay ... our kids are growing up ... you don't have to be sad, he's going to kindergarten and he'll be fine". I just broke out into tears and said "it's not that, we have a daughter" and then suddenly, I'm surrounded by about 30 sobbing moms and I only knew about 1/2 of them. I had teachers and moms in tears. I'd like to publicly apologize to Janie the Director for causing such a sobbing mess at preschool today. People I don't even know were crying tears of joy for us and hugging me. It was amazing to be surrounded with that kind of love! Can I just say that Hope Preschool rocks!?!?!?!

The rest of the afternoon was kind of a blur. Kids and phone calls and bags of stuff from the end of the school year. Andrew had a t-ball game and in true Sloan fashion, we had Pizza Thursday. We prayed together and thanked God for the best gift ... the gift of another precious child. God has been so generous with us! We are so blessed! To top it off, I even got new pictures of our daughter. I just can't stop staring at them. She's beautiful. I'm ready to kiss that face (and fix that hair)! God has truly given us the desires of our hearts! He is so faithful. We are so undeserving, yet He continues to bless us. It's so humbling.

Sweet baby girl, you have a mommy and a daddy and two big brothers who can't wait to bring you home. You are a precious gift from God and we are blessed to be your family! You are loved all the way from Memphis, Tennessee and we can't wait for you to be in our arms forever! We are coming for you sweet girl and we can't wait to meet you and your foster family and experience Korea with you! God has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams and now He is giving us you! We love you! ~mommy and daddy (and robert and andrew too)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teach Me Something Tuesday: Seoul, South Korea Part 1

I thought it'd be fun to learn all about Korea before we go there to get our baby. Put your thinking cap on, cause we're going to learn something folks!

I thought to kick things off, we'd start with SEOUL! Okay, I have to admit here: that every time I say/hear/read that word, I sing "hey sister Seoul (soul) sister" in my head. Okay, carry on...

We will divide the lessons on Seoul into multiple parts because there is a lot to cover on this massive city!

Here's a map of Korea (or South Korea, which ever you prefer to say as those terms are used pretty interchangeably).

If you'll notice, Seoul is located in the north-west corner of South Korea. As Korea's capital and most populous city, Seoul represents the country's center for business, education, and modern culture. It offers many activities for everyone, including museums and palaces, parks and mountains, and amusement parks and night clubs. Mountains circle Seoul on all sides with Namsan (South Mountain) springing up in the center. Although the Han River once marked the southern boundary, the city has sprawled across to the southern side with some 2 dozen bridges crossing it and one subway tunnel underneath.

With a population of over 10 million, it is one of the world's largest cities and is by far the most densely-populated city among OECD nations. The Seoul National Capital Area, which includes the Incheon metropolis and most of Gyeonggi province, has 24.5 million inhabitants, and is the world's second largest metropolitan area. Almost half of South Korea's population live in the Seoul National Capital Area, and nearly a quarter in Seoul itself, making it the country's foremost economic, political, and cultural center.

And for all you visual learners out there, here are some pictures of Seoul.

This is Gyeongbokgung Palace. This is definitely on the visit list and I'm SO having my picture taken with one of those guards. How much you wanna bet that I can make one of them smile?

Seoul hosted the Olympic Games in 1988. This is the Seoul Olympic Stadium seen from the Han River.

Well, that wraps up today's "Teach Me Something Tuesday". Hope you learned something new and enjoyed getting a peek at Seoul. Thanks for joining us on this journey! ~paula

Monday, May 17, 2010

A letter to this precious child...

Dear Sweet baby girl we've come to know and love,

This is a big week for you, yet you probably don't even know it. As three families prepare to have their lives forever changed as your prospective parents, I can't help but think of you, on the other side of the world, oblivious that your future is about to be changed forever. Today, you are an orphan who is lovingly looked after by your foster mom: the only mom you've ever known in your short 6 months. I think about you as she cares for you, plays with you and tucks you in at night and the bond you two must share. We are thankful for the love she and your foster family gives you each day until your forever family comes to bring you home forever!

This week, three families will all go through the grueling process of being presented at committee to be considered as your forever family. We can't speak for the other families and how they must be feeling, but we know that we are filled with anticipation. We are excited for you, sweet one. In just three short days, you will no longer be an orphan. You will no longer be 1 number of the 147,000,000 orphans out there. You are a cherished, chosen daughter of a family who is coming for you! For that we give thanks to our Heavenly Father! What a miracle indeed! On Thursday afternoon, we will have our answer and you will be the newest member of a family!

We are unsure of what the outcome will be, but we have HOPE in the ONE who does know the outcome already. He knows who your forever mommy and daddy are and He's chosen them just for you. We are continually praying for this week, as we know it will change the course of your life forever. If you are our daughter, we will thank the Lord that He has given us the daughter we've longed for for so very long. We will cry tears of joy for this abundant blessing and we will diligently work to get you home in our arms as quickly as possible. If you are not our daughter, we still rejoice knowing that you have a mommy and daddy who are perfect for you! We will always have a special place in our hearts for you because through you, we are one step closer to bringing our daughter home. Sweet girl, you've changed our lives forever. We honestly hope that you are our child and we can't wait to have you in our arms, but regardless of the outcome of this week: you will be someone's chosen daughter and that brings joy to our hearts!

As we pray over you, the committee, your foster family, the other 2 families and for fast paperwork: we are filled with such emotion knowing that you will have a great mommy and daddy regardless of which family is chosen. You are blessed, little one! I pray that God begins a work in your heart now and that He uses you in a mighty way throughout your life! You've got a lot of people praying for you, baby girl!

We love you and that sweet face and those almond-shaped eyes. Blessed is the family who gets to kiss that sweet face.

And because I prefer to post pictures on my posts, I thought I'd share this one. This is a picture of the locks at the top of the Seoul Tower. Couples (mostly) go up to the top of the Seoul Tower and place their lock on the cable wires and then throw the lock off the mountain. This signifies eternal love because the lock can never be undone. When we travel to Seoul to bring our baby home, we plan to place a lock signifying that the love of our family is forever!

Friday, May 14, 2010

In one week...

In one week we will know if this sweet girl is our daughter! We can't share her picture on here b/c well, quite frankly: it's not ours to share (yet), but let me assure you, she is PRECIOUS! I can't wait to get my hands on that hair and look out Becky Lollar, I'm gonna need some bows!

So, here's where we are. We finished up our questionnaires and sent them in (it took us 20 pages). I'd like to give a big shout out to my high school English teacher who made me write all those essays; I put those skills to good use over the last week. We need to schedule our phone interview for early next week and then ... committee meets NEXT THURSDAY (May 20th) to choose her family. Right now, there are 3 families going to committee for her and we should find out that day if she is ours or not.

I called our caseworker for our homestudy and touched base with her about getting that knocked out, ASAP. I really made a mess out of one of the forms, so she is sending me a new one. I'll give the credit to the nerves and sleep-deprivation and the end of the school year craziness.

How crazy is it that in 1 week we will know if we are the parents of a 6 month old little girl who is 1/2 way around the world? I think it's awesome - and terrifying - and exciting - and just about every other emotion all at once. But then I think about how none of this is unknown to God. He knew who her forever family would be well before she was even conceived. He knows exactly the child He has for our family. I'm finding comfort in the fact that He is in control.

So, here's where you come in. We need your prayers. Pray for this little girl. Pray for the committee (can I just say I would NEVER want to be on that committee). Pray for us and the other 2 families that are all eager to welcome home this little girl. Pray for super-dooper-ultra-fast paperwork with no holdups so she can be home with her forever family soon!

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." - john 14:18

UPDATE: Our phone interview is set for Wednesday, 5/19 at 4:00 Central (2:00 Pacific) and should take about one hour. Please be in prayer Wednesday and Thursday as these are critical times that will change the rest of our lives and the life of this precious little one!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Holy, moly! I don't think I've EVER written so much in 24 hours and I'm only done with the first set. There are 3 sets in all that need to be completed before committee.

So far, I have completed the Adopting a Child of Color. This form is specifically for families who are adopting children outside of their race. One of the questions is: How will you keep your child in touch with her cultural heritage? That's an easy one, but it still took 3 good paragraphs. The other two forms are the Child Specific Forms (that one has 20 questions) and the last one is Child Behaviors Worksheet. It'll probably take me the rest of this week (and maybe the next) to complete these.

Once our forms are in, we will have our phone interviews. After our phone interviews are done and our answers to these questionnaires are reviewed, the committee will meet to choose a family for this child.

So far, we know that 5 requested the file and as of 5/5: 3 families have decided to proceed and one family has declined. We are still waiting to hear from the last family to either proceed or decline. So, potentially we would be going to committee with 3 other families who also want her just as much as we do.

That catches you up on where we are and what we can expect next. Keep praying mighty prayer warriors! ~Paula

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"

I've known this verse practically my whole life. I've memorized it many times during my school years and ran across it at many times over the years. Proverbs 3:5 instructs us to trust God. Why is that so hard? I think most of us have difficulty trusting God from time to time. But God knows what He is doing. He knows the future, He knows everything, so why do we have so much trouble trusting the One who knows everything?

There are probably many reasons why trusting is difficult. God's ways don't always make sense to us. God told Noah to build an ark. It may have never rained up to this point and the nearest body of water was probably many miles away. It could not have made much sense to Noah at all. We want life to make sense. We always want to set our own terms and timetables.

We have another file of a precious baby girl. We've had it reviewed by two pediatricians and both said "looks like everything was done right and we have every reason to expect a good outcome". So it's time to kick in that mega-trust. Okay, God, we hear You. We trust You. We have decided to proceed with this baby's adoption. We are uncertain of the outcome. We know that other families have her file and that considering her good health, we are prepared for many families to decide to proceed to the committee process. We are not sure if we'll be chosen or if this is just another marker on our road to bringing our daughter home, but we do know that God has asked us to take a leap of faith in this and that He is in control. We are trusting Him and not leaning on our own (limited) understanding. We know that He knows what is best for this child and what is best for our family.

We need your prayers over the next few days as we proceed. We hope that a decision will be made by the committee over the next couple of weeks. This is one giant leap of faith and a scary one, but I'd rather trust God to work "all things for our good" than to not trust Him at all.

Baby girl, this is a whirl-wind journey to bringing you home, but we know that the end result of having you in our arms will be worth every minute of it! We love you with a love so deep that it has to be from God. We're coming baby girl and we can't wait to welcome you home. love, mommy and daddy


Sunday, May 2, 2010


We needed to send in a few recent pics of our family and of our house for our file and thanks to a great friend (and photographer), we have a few new ones to share! Thanks Donny and MaryBeth for your friendship and for offering your services to help bring our baby home.

Paula & Michael
The Sloan 4
The House of Sloan