Friday, October 26, 2012

Vlad Update: Today is the Day!!

Today is the day everything gets mailed to Ukraine!!!!  What a journey so far.  I know, without a shadow of doubt, that without Yahweh involved we would not be this far on the journey. 

We were told out of the gate that the home study process would take at least 90 days.  We left that agency and found another.  It was done in 30. 

We were told that the immigration process would take at least 90 days, more likely 120.  At the beginning of October I spoke with immigration who confirmed that it was taking at least 90 days.  Our application arrived at USCIS on 9/17 and we got our approval yesterday 10/25.  Our officer was amazing, even calling me twice, and really going to work for us.  She allowed me to email in our changes and approved us and emailed me back within 10 minutes.

After getting the approval I decided to check in with Ukraine to be sure everything was in order before mailing it.  Good thing.  I knew that everything had to be notarized but I missed that it was also supposed to be apostilled.  For those of you who don't know what that is - I am probably the only one who didn't - it is certification by the state that all of the signatures on the documents are true.  It's a pretty big deal with gold seals and staples on the gold seals.  Very official looking.  The women at the Secretary of State (Livonia, MI; 6 mile and Farmington Rds.) were great!  Two of them worked together to get them done - 25 documents!

So today I go to DHL.  It seems like there should be some ceremony to it - LOL!  All of this paperwork worked on for 2 months and now so beautifully stamped with gold seals going into an envelope to travel half-way around the world.  An envelope packed with the ability to change a family and the life of an orphan - our new son.

And now we wait!  Yahweh has truly worked in this journey to bring Vlad home.  Getting the first two parts done in one third the time it should have taken.  We are told that this next and last part will take from 10 - 14 weeks.  Our goal is less than 8 weeks so that Vlad will be home by the end of the year.  It is all in Yahweh's hands now.  DHL will get it to Dima, our facilitator in Ukraine, by Monday.  The clock is ticking.  I have peace with the situation.  His Will be done. And that is, Simply My Opinion.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Vlad Update!

This is not really about Vlad specifically but about this adoption process.

I don't know how many adoptable children there are in the world.  I'm guessing a few million.  They are either in some type of foster care or an orphanage.  Foster care families get some amount of money for each child they foster (government subsidized) and orphanages, for the most part, are government subsidized.  Meaning that we, the taxpayers, have this cost to pay.

I don't know how it all became this complicated.  A hundred years or so ago they actually took orphans from the big cities of the east and put them on orphan trains.  These trains would take the orphans out into the Midwest and West and stop at train stations along the way.  People would meet the train, look over the children and take whichever children they wanted.  There were no costs or piles of paperwork attached.  The new parents would just incur the costs of raising the adopted child (which is no small thing).  The government won because the costs of taking care of these orphans were lowered (which means that they needed less taxpayer money).

It is radically different today for some reason that I cannot fathom.  Here is a sampling of costs that we are spending on adopting Vlad.

Home study $2300
Mileage cost for social worker to drive to our home 3 times $111
Various mailings/overnight mailings  $150 so far
Ordering copies of vital records (birth certificates, marriage license, etc.) $75
Ukrainian facilitator (includes all government fee's, court fee's, etc)  $9,000
USCIS (U.S. Immigration including fingerprinting fees) $900
Airfare $5000+
Orphanage fee $1000
Other fees $2000 - $3000

For those who don't want to do the math it comes to around $20,000.  Now if you are doing a stateside adoption you can take off the airfare and Ukrainian facilitator but you have to add in the U.S. adoption agency costs, which are probably about the same.

Where did this all change?  There are so many children and because of the high costs and crazy amounts of paperwork prospective adoptive parents just walk away.  Because the adoption costs are just the beginning.  Anyone who is or has been a parent knows that having a child in your home costs money.  Food, clothing, activities, etc.

Wouldn't it be better for the millions of children to lower the costs and make it easier to adopt?  Wouldn't it be better for the taxpayers who are footing the bill for the foster care system (and orphanages)?  I know that for us we would probably adopt several children but we are having to work like crazy just to adopt one.   How many people out there would adopt if they didn't have to go through what we are going through?  How many would open their arms and their homes to an orphan if they could do it for a few hundred and a background check?

It's SIMPLY MY OPINION but I think we would have a lot fewer orphans in the world and a lot more children placed in their forever family! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vlad Update: Home Study Completed

Patience, according to Paul's letter to the Galatians, is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  It's one of those virtues that Christians should show, no matter what.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

The adoption process is testing my patience.  The hurry up and wait is aggravating. 

Today I picked up our home study from the agency.  They did a great job getting it done in one month.  A process that normally takes 2 - 3 months.  I would highly recommend them to anyone needing a home study done.  They were professional and understood our sense of urgency. 

I got home with it and called the USCIS to find out where to send it to in order to have it processed with our application.  The woman was very, very nice but she did not have good news for me.  She said that right now they are looking at anywhere from 90 days on out for application processing times.  And that there is no way to expedite things.  UGH.

So, on the way to and from the post office, where I sent the home study overnight mail, I had a chat with Yahweh.  I told Him that I have done everything on my end that was possible to speed up this process but at this point it is out of my hands and there is nothing more I can do.  It's time for a miracle.  He is the only one who can move this forward faster in order to make it happen before the end of the year, which is our goal.  Now of course, I followed my prayer with "Your will be done".  No matter what I know what happens is His will, not mine.  If He so chooses, I know that no matter what the processing time is, that ours will happen when He wants it to happen. 

We have seen the generous outpouring of love and support, in prayers, in financial help and in other donations through this process.  We are grateful and so very thankful for everyone.  It is now in the Almighty Yahweh's very capable hands and His will be done.

So now I have to have that fruit of the Spirit and wait on Him and His will. 

And that, of course, is Simply My Opinion.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not Your Mother's Au Gratin Potatoes!!

Here is one of the ultimate comfort foods gone gourmet!  Hope you like it as much as we do!

Not Your Mother's Au Gratin Potatoes

Butter the inside of a 3 - 4 inch deep casserole dish.  (I'm a French trained chef so you will definitely see butter as my fat of choice in most dishes). 


1 package no nitrate turkey bacon (you can use regular bacon or with nitrates - we just don't eat pork or nitrates).
6 medium potatoes peeled and sliced thin
1 Tbls. butter
1/2 medium yellow onion small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced

4 oz (1 stick) butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cans unsalted creamed corn
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. paprika
2 lb shredded white Vermont cheddar cheese (or other melt-able cheese of your choice: cheddar, mozzarella, smoked gouda, fontina, etc.)
2 cup bread crumbs, crumbled small
1 cup shredded white vermont cheddar cheese


Saute bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Cool then chop into small pieces.  Set aside.
In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat melt butter.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Do not brown.  Add garlic.  Cook 1 minute.  Add 4 oz butter, heavy whipping cream and creamed corn.  Let cook over medium heat until bubbly.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile peel and slice potatoes.  Also, in a medium bowl add together the bread crumbs and 1 cup shredded cheese.  Mix well.

Add all seasonings and chopped bacon to cream mixture.  Turn heat off on cream mixture and add shredded cheese.  Stir gently until completely melted.  Taste for flavor.  Add more seasonings if necessary. 

Place enough cream mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish to cover.  Add 1/3 of the potatoes.  Add enough cream to completely cover the potatoes.  Add 2 more layers just like the first one.  Pour any remaining cream mixture into the casserole dish. 

Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for an hour.  Check.  If potatoes are cooked, remove foil and sprinkle on bread crumb/cheese mixture.  Return to over to brown 5 - 10 minutes.  If potatoes are not cooked, cover with foil and continue to bake until done.

Remove from oven and serve. 

Enjoy!!!  I made this last Sunday as a side dish to meat loaf.  It was a hit!  Hope you like it!

This is Simply My Opinion!

Vlad Update: Commendable

(When you see Vlad Update you know that the post is concerning our adoption process).

I was at the bank this morning making a deposit into our adoption account.  The banker that usually does our accounts was out and I asked if she was going to be in early next week because I have a stack of documents to get notarized and she is the notary.  The answer was yes and he asked, "why so many documents".  I replied that we are in the process of adopting a Ukrainian teenager.  He said, "wow that is commendable".

Commendable.  What is commendable?  An online dictionary has the definition as this:

com·mend  (k-mnd)tr.v. com·mend·ed, com·mend·ing, com·mends
1. To represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable; recommend.
2. To express approval of; praise. 
3. To commit to the care of another; entrust.

com·menda·ble adj.
I replied to him, it's just the right thing to do.  That is how Tom and I work.  Is it the right thing to do?  Either yes or no.  Is it what Yahweh/God wants us to do?  Yes or no?  We live the Bible in it's most literal sense.  If the Bible says that true religion is taking care of the widows and orphans, then that is what we should do.  It's not commendable to do the right thing.  It's just what we do.  Commendable, to me, means going above and beyond the call of duty.  Adopting an orphan is not above and beyond, it's just the right thing.  It's what He tells us to do.  

We spent years going to different churches only to be disappointed in their lack of true Biblical knowledge.  It seems to be the thing these days to fit Holy Scripture to the agenda instead of the other way around.  Similar to the Jewish Pharisee's in Yahshua/Jesus' time who told the people that instead of taking care of their parents that they could instead donate that money to the Temple and it would count as righteousness to Yahweh/God.  Today we are told to donate for various things that the churches want or need and that will count as righteousness.  And we ignore what He says on the matter.  

My point is that doing what He says to do is just the right thing.  It's not special, it's not commendable.  It's just being obedient to Him.  Period.  
There are millions of orphans around the world just like our Vlad.  In America they live in the foster care system where they will get booted out at 18 and be completely on their own.  In other countries they live in orphanages and get booted out at various ages.  In Ukraine, it's 16; in China, 14.  No resources, no family to fall back on, no skills or education.  
Does it cost time and money to adopt?  Yes.  We truly believe, however, that if it is His Will that He will make it happen.  We do our part and He will do His.  We choose how we spend our time and our money.  Can I give up some things on my want list?  Of course.  Can I spend my time filling out paperwork instead of doing something else?  Of course.  Does that make me commendable.  No.  It is simply choosing my priorities and making Him a priority instead of something else.  
We are not doing anything that others can't do as well.  I wish that more people would.  This is Simply My Opinion

Monday, September 24, 2012

Welcome to "Simply My Opinion"!

Welcome to my new blog.  Simply My Opinion.  As opposed to my other blog.  Yes I have another blog.  That one is for exposing the truths and lies about Christianity and the Bible today.  It's pretty controversial and makes most people upset because it goes against their deepest core beliefs.  More than anything I want the truth - God's Truth.  To me, not much else matters if it doesn't line up with that.

This blog is going to be a bit different.  I've started a new chapter in my life and want to keep a record of it.  Someone told me awhile ago that I should start writing about it but you know how that goes, you put it off and pretty soon a year has passed.  Today seems to be the day.

This blog is going to be about this and about that.  What I think is important right now.  One day it might be home schooling, the next a delicious home cooked meal (I'm a chef) and the next might be about our adoption journey.  Today is just some background on who I am.

As I said, I'm a chef.  I've loved cooking all my life and decided to go to culinary arts school.  I worked in a restaurant for awhile, first as a Garde Manger (pantry chef for those who don't speak French) and then as Pastry Chef.  I also did a lot of odd jobs around the restaurant and learned a lot about food.  In April of this year my husband went back to work and we switched roles at home.  You see, although we are in our 50's we still have two children at home.  Did I say that we have 6 altogether?  More on that another day.  Anyway, we decided when they were young that we would home school them and Tom has held up that end of things until now.  He is now the breadwinner (interesting saying) and I'm home baking the bread and teaching our children.

I LOVE IT!  Yes, I do.  After years of working I get to stay home and cook and clean and take care of the children.  And it's GREAT!  Well, the cleaning part not so much but it's not that bad either.  So we have an 8th grader and 6th grader and in home schooling I get to learn all over again.  I'm having fun with algebra and history and I get to teach them Bible, too.  N + 63 = 94.  Love it!!

And we are adopting!  Six children was just not enough.  HA! No, it's not really like that.  We didn't intend to adopt, it just kind of fell into our laps.  Well, Vlad fell into our family.  It's a God thing for sure.

Oh!  That's an important part of who I am.  I am the daughter of the Most High God - Yahweh!  God of the Bible.  Yes that's His Name.  I talk about Him by His Name, not His Title.

Tom and I have learned (mostly the hard way) that we have to be obedient to Him when He tells us to do something.  Toward the end of July I heard about a teenage boy from Ukraine that needed a family in a hurry to finish out hosting him this summer.  He was currently with a family in Minnesota and it wasn't working out because they had other things going on.  We stepped up and brought him into our home for what was supposed to be 3 weeks.

Well after about a week with us Tom turned to me one morning before work and said that we needed to adopt him.  Yahweh was telling both of us that this boy was ours and we needed to make that happen.

(That reminds me that I need to write something about faith and works but not right now so you'll have to wait for that one).

Anyway, we were completely unprepared for this venture.  I guess that most people, when deciding to adopt, spend a year or so saving money and doing paperwork and home studies, etc.  We are in the middle of trying to do this in a couple of months.  Vlad went back to Ukraine on August 27th and we miss him so much.  Our goal is to have him back with us by the end of the year.  What a crazy thing this is. 

So get ready for lots of my opinions and stories here.  You never know what I'm going to talk about.

This a good place for me to state my opinion because people have the option of either reading it or not.  A lot of what I say can be controversial.  You can argue the point with me or not.  I don't mind a good debate either as long as there is no name calling.  Attack the argument, not the person. 

Bottom line ~  it is Simply My Opinion!