Journal - The Planning/Paperwork Pregnancy
Toying with the Idea

December 2005

Around this time, we started to really think about the idea of adopting a son. So many people we know were adopting internationally so it didn't seem like that far out of an idea.

Actually, the thought had crossed our minds at various times. After having Susanna (1999) and Laine (2001) we were all set to deliver a son via C-section on June 24th, 2004. Unfortunately, our son Jack Reece Ellsworth Bucklin was stillborn on June 5th. We were devastated to say the least. As soon as my Dr. would let me, when got pregnant again. Katherine was born in August of 2005. As happy as we were with our newest beautiful, healthy daughter, we still wanted a little boy in our lives. My Doctor however strongly advised against trying a 5th C-section. It was never really an option as we were nervous wrecks throughout this last pregnancy despite the normalcy and extra close monitoring. So with a twinge of sadness, I had a tubal ligation and we put away the idea of having a son.

In June of 2005 we had some friends over to play with their new 5 year old daughter adopted from Russia. It was just so neat to see the bond and hear the incredible story of their adoption and all they had seen and experienced in Russia.

By fall Sharon was researching on the Internet and the topic would come up from time to time in our conversations. It was quite comical to see us tip toeing around the idea. Neither one of us was ready to come out and say "hey, let's do this". Having baby Katherine around keeping us busy, we thought the other one of us would think we were crazy!

While poking around a Barnes and Noble in Hilton Head last Christmas, the topic finally came up for full discussion when Sharon was caught in the act - reading "Adoption for Dummies" No pun intended! So, with much heartfelt talk we discovered we were on the same page and had been each thinking about the idea. What a great way to start the New Year.

Testing the Waters

Spring 2006

After much research on the Internet and talking to friends we had a few agencies in mind. It was all so overwhelming. How to choose.?? We only really looked at 3 agencies.

By late March Sharon had weeded through stacks of adoption literature that clogged our mailbox. We found that one agency was going to have an informational meeting in Appleton so we decided to go.

While we learned a lot, this was not the agency for us. They focused mainly on China and their Russian and Ukraine programs were like second class.

By the time we really got into the research we already knew that we were interested in either Russia or Ukraine.

Scott was more insistent on Russia or Ukraine than I was but our discussions on what we hoped for our son made me agree that these were our best options. For a brief time I lobbied for Colombia. I figured that the babies from there would be well attached because they were cared for by foster type families or more caregivers. The fact that you had to stay in country for about a month would have allowed me to practice my Spanish and maybe visit friends.

In the end though, I agreed with Scott. Our child would most likely grow up in small town Wisconsin and we thought it would be easier to raise a child who would not be a minority. Scott wanted a child who would look like the rest of us so he would be just our child, not our obviously adopted child. Each family knows what they can and will accept and that should be respected. I admire and bless the families that have adopted minority or handicapped children. However we wanted as healthy a child as possible who would hopefully look as Caucasian-European as us. Our family backgrounds are heavily German so we figured Russia and Ukraine were not that far of a stretch

Next we checked out the agency that our friends had used. This agency was located in Atlanta. I called and left messages 2- 3 times before I finally got a call back. I expressed to Scott that this didn't seem to be a good sign. From that agency we learned that Ukraine was ending U.S. adoptions and it would be a long process if we went for Ukraine. This was good information but we just didn't get the warm fuzzies from this agency either. If they were so slow to respond to us then, how would they be once they already had our money? We were glad later that we had followed our feelings and done our research as this agency went out of business shortly thereafter and we would have been out our money or stuck trying to get it back somehow. God was directing us elsewhere.

Well, at least we know a little better what we are looking for at this point. Russia it is!

We learned that the process in Russia is that you basically state your preferences and they pick a child to refer to you. We both found that a bit intimidating. How do you say no? Please don't ask us to play God and reject a child. We both had to have faith in our agency and that someone out there would make a good pick for us. That is perhaps the scariest part - that total leap of faith.

 

Hooked up with an agency!

June - July 2006

By early summer we had found what sounded like a good Agency to us. I don't even really remember how we came across our agency but I do remember gettign their adoption portfolio. Now, because most, if not all of the U.S. agencies are seeking re-acreditation in Russia, we have to say our adoption will be done "independent". We can't mention the name of the agency either at this time. But, in private conversation, we'd be happy to pass that along.

This agency seemed to have it all worked out. The director is a parent who understands adoptive parents well, being their also. The agency also sent along their "adoption storybook" where parents send in photos of their children and their own adoption experience story. These were fun to read and look at the photos. Okay, now we can imagine doing this!

We received a follow up phone call from a very nice adoption consultant named Wendy. Wendy was to become our "go to gal" for all things adoption related for the next few months. She's been great.

By July, we were planning our great 4000+ mile Bucklin summer vacation and we decided that while we had to get back from Maine, we might as well stop in the state where our agency is and visit the  office. After all the research we (SHARON) had done, we were curious and wanted to make sure that we were not somehow dealing with a 5 person operation out of someone's house or something. We were pleasantly surprised. Our agency had a building in an office park and we were given a wonderful tour of all the departments that handled each stage of the process. We were impressed that they had a large basement area that was decorated because they were having a party for parents and kids from Guatemala. The best part was the "wall" where families were tracked until they got home with their children. We marveled at the tiny photos of kids stuck up next to families. That all seemed pretty surreal but we were so ready to have a photo of the Bucklins moving across that wall. We brought our application with us and were ready to give them our final nod and sign up. Here we go!!

Bring on the paperwork!

July 2006

Traveling home to Wisconsin after a vacation out East we made a stop at the offices of our agency. We instantly felt that we could work with this agency. First, they had an awsome playroom for Susanna, Laine and Kate to explore while we met with Wendy and the Director.

Wendy answered all of Scott's many questions and gave us a great tour of the office and how each step is handled. The highlight was seeing what they refer to as "The Magic Wall"

When a family's paperwork is complete, known as your dossier, you get a clipboard on the wall and you move along as your progress. It was an awsome moment to glance up there and see all these families- their photos and children's photos beside them. Blue papers for those wanting boys, pink for girls, other colors for sibling groups, either gender etc. We coudn't wait to get on the wall!

By the time we left, we left them our application and an application fee. We'll soon receive our first mailing of forms!

Paperwork piles and homestudy

August 2006

We spent hours accumulating all of the forms that we needed to get together. There were birthcertificates for all family members, Vet. certificate for the cat as well as letters from the police, sheriff and social services. I felt like I was always tracking down papers. Everytime I thought we were done, the Russians would ask for something else!

We met a total of 4 times with our social worker. One as a couple to discuss our general views on parenthood and our family. Then Scott and I each had to meet once with her to go more indepth about our lives, up bringing etc. Then she came to our house to meet the girls and to see our home. I had no idea what they would be looking for. I actually thought she might look in my pantry or open the fridge so you can imagine the amount of house cleaning and organizing going on! I need not have worried.

We finished up our last homestudy appointment on Sept. 6.

We then had to wait until October to get all the report typed up and ready to send with our dossier. A dossier is basically your packet of documents that gets translated and sent to Russia.

Each document had to be notorized and then we had to send to the WI Secretary of State for an Apostille. An Apostille is a certificate recognizing the notary. These cost $10/each. That was about $900 worth of pretty gold seals on our paperwork!!!

Lucky us, we had our dossier hand carried to Russia by "a friend" on one of her visits to the  offices in Moscow. With that we became paperwork pregnant.