we typically get asked many of the same questions but not everyone is able to see or hear our response so i'm curating a list of FAQ and answers so that people are more familiar with our journey and adoption! if you have a question please e-mail me at youandusforever (at) gmail (dot) com and i'll add it to our list!

+have you done your homestudy? what tips do you have for us?

YES! we did our homestudy this summer. our homestudy consisted of basically every document that proved our existence (ss cards, birth certificates, marriage license, tax returns, health physicals, criminal background checks, etc), a written portion and an interview by a social worker.

we had to turn in all of the documents and answer about 50 questions about our upbringing and marriage and how we resolve conflicts and where our kids will go to school and what kinds of things do we like to do. we had to answer a few on our own and then a bunch together and then our social worker interviewed us based on the discrepancies. she also walked through our house and made sure our scissors weren't out in the open and medicines were put away and made sure we had working fire extinguishers and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

tips: i stressed WAY too much on this. my suggestion would be to check with your homestudy agency and ask what they expect from you for the actual home inspection part. if you google this, you'll be nailing your bookcases to the walls and gluing your rugs to the floor. NOT THAT WE WOULD KNOW ABOUT THAT. God bless. you have to have a living and bedroom area, they must be separate but you don't have to have a fully furnished bedroom for your perspective child. you must have a working fire extinguisher and a fire escape plan and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. we didn't have a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on our basement level because we thought we only needed those on the living level (we don't even use our basement) and so our social worker asked us to get one and then set up a second interview to ensure that we had installed it.

it was so easy and our social worker WANTED us to succeed. she wasn't there to point out our flaws or inspect the baseboards (because dusty) and didn't eat any of the cinnamon bread i had gotten to be all cute and friendly.

+what agency did you go through? what was your process in picking that agency? 

we are using children's house international (CHI) as our adoption agency. our homestudy agency is a new arrival but in some states, CHI can do your homestudy. not montana obviously because no one even thinks montana is part of the USA. it's fine.

our process for picking that agency is a very long story so here is the cliff notes version:
last summer (2015), i researched a million agencies. so many were not accepting new families for the ethiopia program. so i found one that was and we were preapproved. all agencies require preapproval and it's free. i had looked at CHI but they were not accepting new families and so i thought that meant they were closing that program so i just moved on. some things happened with our first agency that made us reassess and we found CHI again. this time they were accepting families so we preapplied, were approved and so we officially applied with them in april. they only accept a few families at a time to keep their wait times down so my suggestion on agencies is to not discount one you really like just because they say they're not accepting new families at this time. research further and find out why not (again, another agency i loved didn't work in montana so sometimes you just can't go with your first choice for reasons out of your control).

+how do you say "zara?"

zara is pronounced zar-uh. like czar. czar-uh. why is czar a word, even. so weird. read more about her name here.

+adoption is expensive. how did you go into this without all of the money raised and not stress out about it?

heck yeah adoption is expensive! our first agency suggested that we have $6,000-$10,000 in a savings account ready to go. we knew that we wouldn't be able to do this on our own but we also did not want to just ask for money. we wanted to include others in this process and be creative in how we raised the money. we've done LOTS of fundraisers and someday i'll do a breakdown of how much money we made at each fundraiser, but we've had to be creative with how we raise this money. we assumed this adoption would be anywhere from $40,000-$50,000 (we're currently at about $35,000 paid) and knew we couldn't do this without the help from our families and friends and community.

so, even though we went into this with barely any money and we have had several surprises along the way, it has been so good to stretch ourselves and get creative with fundraisers. i've hosted a garage sale, a clothes swap and a spa night. we sold t-shirts and lots of art and wooden signs. we took photos and a friend sold chocolate covered strawberries for us. so it's really all about what you can do and what those around you can do. some people have benefit concerts and hold silent auctions. some people hold bake sales and bake auctions and car washes and there are literally countless ways to raise the money. for us, this amount seemed very unattainable and i couldn't even think about how we'd get the money but God has brought us here and he provides.

+what's next?

as of right now, we just completed our homestudy and accepted our referral so the next thing for us to do is start our dossier (pronounced doss-E-A) and send that off to ethiopia. the dossier is the most paperwork we'll have to complete (or that's what we've been told) and consists of most of what's in our homestudy PLUS lots of other stuff. we'll get an exact list of requirements from our agency and then they'll send that off to ethiopia. we'll also get our court date and start planning our trip to go pick up our daughter!

+when do you leave?

even though we just paid our giant payment, we still have quite the process in front of us as probably won't be leaving for another year. yes this is frustrating but if this is the case, we can end our wedding season in the fall and not lose out on weddings + money. but we still hate waiting and now that we have a referral and have paid all this money, yes. yes we want to go right now.

+are you done fundraising?

#no. hahaha i had a terrible dream right before we paid our biggest payment ($23,375), that our financial advisor with CHI said, "have you started raising the $18,000 you need for the dossier?" i woke up in a complete panic. but no. there is no $18,000 payment. the $23,375 will be our biggest payment at once and that covers lots of things but also her care, food, medicine, etc., for the next 6-months. so, at 6-months, we have to pay for those things on a monthly-basis. so, we'll have a smallish monthly payment until we pick her up. we have to pay for a few more agency things and our immigration paperwork and of course our travel.

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