The Adoption Journey of Chris and Lydia Bischoff

Announcing…

by Chris

Adoption Announcement 2013

Check out some of the other adoption photos we took!


Big News & A New Look!

by Lydia

Progress!!! In our last post, we talked about how we were just stuck in a “holding pattern” of sorts. My fingerprints had been rejected, I had another appointment, but it was weeks away… on and on.

On March 27th we headed back to Dallas, nervous about how everything would transpire. Our immigration officer had told us the day before that she would be able to retrieve my prints from the computer system within an hour of them being taken, so she would be able to tell us if they were clear, or would be rejected again. The appointment was rough, and honestly, not promising. The lady was kind, but really struggled to get a good read on the fingers of one of my hands. (For those that don’t know, my hand is smaller and somewhat deformed from a birth defect.) She even called her supervisor over to try to get some better scans, which he did, but they were not very confident that the prints would be accepted. Fifteen minutes later we called our officer, and of course it was too early, so she couldn’t retrieve them yet. And then, radio silence. We called back no less than 5 or 6 times over the next few days, left messages, and no word. I was getting so anxious… if they didn’t approve my prints I just wanted to get on with whatever we would need to do next, but the “not hearing anything” was driving me batty.

On Monday after Easter, Chris finally got through to her… SUCCESS! My prints were accepted and we were approved! A flurry of e-mails followed and before we knew it, we were sending a scanned copy of our approval to our lawyer in Latvia! We have since been told that our dossier was submitted to the Ministry of Welfare in Latvia and they are reviewing it right now! We should hear something in the next 4-6 weeks (by mid-May) concerning our approval to adopt from Latvia, then if the girls agree to give us a shot, and then, our travel dates! Suddenly, we’re looking at the calendar wondering how we’ll get everything done before we need to go! It is likely that we will travel in early June! We are thrilled and excited, and in a bit of a panic… I guess this is what the 3rd trimester is like… nesting, anxious/excited, wondering how long it will be, mixed with a little bit of “will we be ready?” :-)

As you can see, we’ve got a new look going on, as well! We recently had some photos taken for our adoption announcements, and our new look is based off of our favorite one. A shout out to Danielle Engelhorn for a fun photo shoot!

We’re also announcing a new partnership. We have linked up with AdoptTogether.org! This is a great organization that promotes adoption and also is able to receive donations on our behalf. If you’ve been looking for a tax-deductible way to give toward our adoption, this is it! (Our PayPal account can still receive donations as well, but is not tax deductible.) Check out our profile at AdoptTogether, and then spread the word! It says that we need $25,000 for our adoption… this is what we have left to raise to complete our adoption. But, before we go in June, we will need about $9000 to fund this stage of our journey. Please consider helping give these children one of the greatest gifts possible: a family.


Holding Pattern

by Lydia

Holding pattern describes out adoption journey quite well right now. You know how you’re getting ready to land at your final airport, and the pilot starts circling the airport? You can see it, but for now you’re stuck just going around and around. Yeah, that’s us.

We found out about 1 1/2 weeks ago that I will have have to go back to Dallas and have my fingerprints redone. I guess Immigration wasn’t able to get a good read on my prints, so they scheduled me to go back again for a second try. Argh! And, you can’t really just walk in and do them. You have to have an appointment. So, we’re in a holding pattern until March 27 when I will go and try again. Please pray that they can read them this time!

This has been a huge hold up for us. The rest of our documents are already in L@tvia and should all be translated by now. So, it’s just sitting there, waiting for this one clearance, and then it can go to court for L@tvia to approve us to adopt. After that, it will take another 4-8 weeks to get our referral (or to be “matched up” with the kids). We’ll then get our travel dates which could come with as little as 2 weeks notice, but possibly 4 weeks.

That means we have a pretty good chance of traveling sometime in June. It’s much later than we had hoped, but, well, it is what it is. As long as we get to go at some point (soon), I’m doing my best to be patient. :-)

In the meantime, we’re trying to prepare on this end. We’re keeping busy with preparing our house, buying some things for the girls (we have nothing for kids, really), reading about adoption, praying, and fundraising.

On that note, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in $2 for 2 on 2/22! At the end of the event our cumulative total was, no joke, $2,222! How fun is that? Since then we received a few more donations and are now 29% funded ($3770)! We have almost reached our anticipated budget for plane tickets, which is super exciting! We are so thankful for you and to the Lord for the provision for this adoption. There is no way we could do this on our own.

If you would like to help us out and be a part of giving these two precious girls a forever family, you can make a donation through PayPal (use the link on this page), or if you would like a tax deduction, let us know and I can give you information on how you can do that.

Bless you & thank you so much!


2 on 2/22 for 2!

by Lydia

Good morning! It’s 2 on 2/22 for 2! We’re asking you to consider helping our adoption with just $2 today (or, is that 2day?) on 2/22 for 2 amazing young girls! Suggestions for finding $2 include… in the center console of your car, under your couch cushions, in the vent trap of the dryer, or floating around in the bottom of your purse. So, go to www.paypal.com to donate your $2! Send it to the address lydiabischoff (at) gmail (dot) com. (If you mark it as a gift, no fees will be taken out and we’ll receive the whole $2!) You do *not* have to have a paypal account to do this, just a visa or master card… and it’s available to most countries around the world, so all of our international friends, you’re included in the challenge! (And yes, you are free to give $2 for each girl if you want to. :-) )

Our dossier is in Latvia right now and in the process of being translated! The one thing we don’t want to happen is for the process to be held up because we don’t have the funds. We appreciate your interest in this adventure! So join with us and let’s get these girls home!


Hurry up… and wait!

by Lydia

If I’ve learned one thing during this adoption process it’s that things *never* go as they are expected. In our last post we mentioned how Chris was going to Austin to get the last of our paperwork apostilled so we could send our dossier to Latvia. Well, he did go, but of the 43 documents he took, they kicked 29 of them back to us. *sigh*  It’s a long story but there was a problem with our notary who notarized those 29 documents.

The next week was filled with redoing all 29 documents which included our doctor’s statements… not THAT big of a deal, except that my doctor was out for a week with a sick child and it was really difficult to get in to see her for her to sign the new forms. I am thankful that I work in an office with 5 or 6 notaries, and another one was able to notarize everything for me, and was even willing to go to my doctor’s office with me (in the pouring rain) to notarize those forms there. (You’re awesome, Martha!!)

Once those were all done, we sent them via FedEx back to Austin, but this time to an old friend there who took them to be apostilled the next day and sent them FedEx back to us. (Thanks, Waylan!) They arrived Friday and we reassembled our packet over the weekend, checking and triple-checking that everything was perfect.

Sunday evening we took the whole packet of 165 pages with us to our Life Group and the whole group prayed for us and our packet. We are so blessed to have such an amazing group of friends with us!!!

Monday morning found me dabbling in the FedEx world again. I found that 165 pages is really about all you can shove into a FedEx envelope. After packaging and rechecking, I shipped it off to a family I do not know in Pennsylvania. My new friend, Sue, and her family is leaving for Latvia on Saturday and volunteered to hand carry our dossier with them and put it directly into the hands of our lawyer. (That should save us about $150 and 4 days of anxiety.) I stalked our package all the way to PA (I’ve grown very fond of the FedEx Tracking app on my phone), and felt a sigh of relief earlier today when it was confirmed that it was delivered and Sue emailed to say she had it in hand. Now just to make it across the ocean and we’ll be back on track!

I recently read an article on this blog about why people give to adoption. This quote really hit me.

Orphans have a special kind of urgency; their childhood is at risk until they have a secure, nurturing environment to live in. They cannot just wait around until a willing family with sufficient resources can take them in, especially when the needs include medical treatment or accommodation for chronic disability. A candidate adoptive family could say, “We don’t have a comfortable surplus of resources right now, so it’s wiser for us to wait and save”, but each day of delay is a day lost for an orphan that will never come back.

We cannot do this on our own, nor can we let these children go on without a family until we have saved enough money on our own to bring them home. Please continue to pray with us concerning this, and if the Lord lays it on your heart to join with us, we would appreciate it! We have options on how you can make a tax-deductible contribution. We currently have 3% of our next goal met. This goal is for our actual trip to go get the children from Latvia; for plane tickets and court fees and housing while there.

Thank you so much for your interest, prayers, and support!


Progress

by Lydia

We are moving along! Slow and steady wins the race, right? This week we finished up all of our paperwork… a 6 month, $11,000 process, but we’re DONE (for this phase)! Chris is on his way to Austin right now to have everything apostilled. This is like an international certification/notary. He’s got 43 documents with him and I’ve got 10 more with me at home, documents that were apostilled in other states. This makes up our “Dossier.” We were so blessed by our church wanting to pray over us and our dossier during the service today!

Later this week we’ll send it off to another family going to Latvia and they will hand deliver it directly into the hands of our lawyer in Latvia next week! We’ve been told it will take 3 weeks to translate, then it’s given to the courts and they can take 4-8 weeks to make a decision and do everything they need to do before they match us to (hopefully) the girls (known as “the referral”) and notify us of when to come to Latvia! We’re hoping to hear something by mid-March (Chris would love that as his birthday present), but it could be more like April.

We are content whenever the Lord brings us our dates… the farther out it is, the more time we have to raise the money we need! We’re looking at needing about $13,000 before we go. This will cover airline tickets, food & housing while there for a month, as well as court costs. Please pray with us concerning this, as we certainly don’t have it at this point!

We’ve also been asked if we have any t-shirts left, and we do! Here’s what we’ve got:

New Ukraine t-shirts (see pic below for colors):

1 – Large Purple (my fav!!)

2 – Large “Ukraine Blue”

1 – Large Black

1 – Large Brown

1 – XL Red

New Latvia t-shirts:

1 Medium “Ukraine Blue”

 

 

Man Up! This has been one of the most popular shirts, especially with the guys.

2 Medium

10 Large

3 XL

 

This awesome shirt (front only) features the outline of the country of Latvia.

2 Medium

1 Large

 

2 Medium of this same shirt but with this Man Up graphic on the back.

 

We’re asking $15 for each shirt. Shipping for 1-2 is $6. Contact me if you want more than 2.

 

First come, first serve! Email me to purchase at lydiabischoff (at) gmail (dot) com.


I Love Adoption

by Lydia

Wow… this hit home tonight. Watch and let me know what you think. But grab some Kleenex first.

I Love Adoption

 


Long Overdue Update

by Lydia

Wow, time has gone quickly, and you are quite overdue an update! So much has taken place since our last entry, and so much that we never expected.

The children who have come with New Horizons for Children for the Christmas hosting season are in the US and about half-way though their time here. So many wonderful stories have been shared of orphan children experiencing the love of a family for the first time. The sad side of this is that we are not one of those families. Let me back up a bit.

Back in the end of October we purchased our first home. It was a huge step for us and we were very blessed to be able to move into a home that we could raise a family in. Just 3 days after we moved in, our case worker came to conduct a home visit required for our home-study. (We had to be living in the home that we would bring the girls home to in order to complete this step.) With boxes everywhere, we sat in the living room with a stranger, telling her everything I could imagine about our lives, and then some. :-)

Our fundraising  for hosting was going great (in fact we were nearly fully funded!) and we were slowly plugging away at our documents for adopting. We were setting up our home and getting everything ready to finally meet the girls during Christmas. Right before I was set to go on Thanksgiving break, just about 4 weeks before the girls were set to come for hosting, I received an email stating the girls had changed their minds and didn’t want to come for hosting. We were both crushed. Frantic emails began to fly, begging for more clarification. We were in discussion with the hosting organization, they were in touch with Latvia… it was crazy. We were even given unprecedented permission to write the girls a letter telling them about ourselves, including our history of connection with Latvia, full of pictures, and asking them to reconsider. After some tense days, waiting for the letter to get to Latvia and a social worker to take it to them, we finally got word back… they still refused to come. There are a lot of assumed reasons, including that they hate to travel, but the fact remained that they just weren’t coming for Christmas.

It took us a bit to regroup (some remodeling therapy exerted on our bathroom helped!), but regrouped we have done. After prayer and soul searching, we have decided to move forward anyway. We are still planning to adopt the girls, if they will have us.

So where are we now? Over the Christmas holidays we received our official and completed home-study and just yesterday we mailed it off to immigration to gain permission to bring up to 3 children to America. We should hear something from them in about 3 weeks and then will have to go to Dallas to be fingerprinted, for the third time. While we wait for that, we are finishing gathering our documents for our dossier. The dossier is the packet of information that gets sent to Latvia for them to review and then “match” us with a child(ren). This packet will include a copy of our home-study, autobiographies, yet another police clearance, our immigration approval, and many other things… all in triplicate and apostilled in Austin. (Apostilling is like an international notarization.) We should have the remainder of these documents assembled in the next 2-3 weeks, depending on when our police clearance comes back.

In terms of finances, we’re doing pretty well. Since it was the girls’ decision not to come and not ours, the money raised and donated for hosting was able to be transferred to our adoption agency, which covered most of our next payment.We also had a very generous donor raise about $1700 on our behalf which was perfect timing and amount needed to pay for our immigration paperwork. So, at this point, we are about $1000 short of having all of our fees paid and current. This is an amazing fact since the total we’ve needed to pay up to this point has been over $11,000! We’re so thankful for everyone who has been a part of this journey with us, and also for the jobs that we have which have afforded us the ability to pay for a great deal of this ourselves.

So, while we wait for the rest of our documents, we continue to prepare our home and also raise money for our first trip to Latvia! While we do *NOT* have dates of travel, we anticipate this taking place this spring, possibly in March.When we do get our travel dates, we usually only have about 4 weeks notice before we travel, so we can’t wait to prepare. The amount of money we will need for this step will be $12,000 – 15,000. This includes airfare for 4, housing and food for 4 for 1 month, as well as the costs for visas, court fees, and the fees of our lawyer there.

How can you help? If you are a Frequent Flier with American Airlines or United/Lufthansa airlines and would be willing to donate miles, this could be of great help! (We’d need about 40k miles for Chris and I.) Or, follow the example of a new friend in Illinois who did a fundraiser of her own on our behalf. Otherwise, we are still receiving donations! If you need a tax-deduction, please let me know and we can arrange that. Otherwise you can make a donation via our PayPal account. Contact me for more details.

Please continue to pray with us! Right now our prayer for the girls is for open hearts and courage to trust for a family, just one more time. Thank you!!!


Yard Sale Success!

by Lydia

Yesterday we held a yard sale at our dear friends’ house to help raise money for hosting/adoption. It was a blast and a success! We had a good amount of items donated to sell and a beautiful day to have it.

We advertised it as an adoption fundraiser, so we had people asking questions about it, which is great, because we got to share our story. One lady was there with *her* adopted daughter and started crying when I told her what we were doing. After we talked, she asked me how much her items totaled. I told her $3. She said, “Well, you’re getting $20. God bless you.” A number of people gave more than we asked and the bartering was easier when we said, “Well, you know, this is a fundraiser to adopt 2 precious girls from Eastern Europe. (Pulling out my phone) Do you want to see their picture?” :-)

And we had a ton of fun, too. We had two Clone Trooper helmets for sale. When things started slowing down in the early afternoon, Chris and our friend Ryan put them on and sat by the curb on a couch that was “On Hold.” Later I told them they should go down the street to the main intersection with the last “Yard Sale” sign we had. They did… and we suddenly had people coming by and telling us that the Clone Troopers directed them! Hey, whatever works, right?! :-)

In the end I think we made $768. Not bad, at all. This morning our church surprised and blessed us by matching our earnings with another $800. Wow. And, our awesome pastor announced that an offering would be taken for our hosting/adoption on Orphan Sunday (in 2 weeks)! We are so blessed! This is in addition to an anonymous $100 donation at church. All I know is God will provide for what He has asked us to do.

And, there’s still time! If you’d like to pitch in to make a life-changing difference in the lives of 2 amazing girls, you can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking HERE, or if you’d prefer to write a check, you can make it out to:

New Horizons For Children
3950 Cobb Pkwy, Suite 708
Acworth, GA 30101

Please include a note that it is for Chris and Lydia Bischoff.

Thank you!!


Q & A

by Lydia

Yes, it’s been a while since our last official blog post. So sorry about that… it’s been busy around here! But we’ll get to that. :-)

Many have been asking us a lot of really good questions, so I thought I would do a Q&A post, and try to bring everyone up to speed in one shot.

Q: You talk a lot about hosting and adoption. Which one are you doing?
A: Good question… it can get confusing. We’re doing BOTH! The beautiful, precious girls are coming this Christmas for 4 weeks as part of a hosting program (just like we did this past summer) under New Horizons for Children. But, our mindset and ultimate hope and goal is to adopt these two sisters and make them a part of our family forever.

Q: When will the girls arrive?
A: The girls (who we are referring to a N & A) are arriving for Christmas hosting on December 15 and will return to Latvia on January 13.

Q: When will you get them to keep?
A: A lot of that depends on a horrible thing called paperwork. We are in the process of jumping through multiple hoops and have at least 2 different countries involved. Our *HOPE* is that we could go get them and bring them home in the spring, but that would be the first of 3 trips we will have to make before the adoption is completed. And anything can happen to delay this, as well.

Q: The money you’re raising right now through t-shirts and donations, is that going for hosting or adoption? Or is it all the same?
A: It’s not the same. While it’s all about the same two girls, it’s two different entities (well, three, really, if you count the agency doing our home-study). Right now, the t-shirts sales and donations via our YouCaring account are going for hosting. (Donations via YouCaring are tax deductible, by the way.) We have about 25% of the money needed so far for hosting. (Total needed is about $6000.) This is the most urgent need, so that’s what we’re focusing on. We have some other events and fundraisers planned, as well, like a garage sale (October 20, in Tyler) and a ThirtyOne Bags party planned (dates yet to be set – but should be able to be done nationwide). Of course we’re also putting our own money into hosting, as well.

On the adoption front, we’ve started our home-study, which is the first step in any adoption. We hope to have this wrapped up by the end of the month… the big thing with that is that we had to be living in the location where we would bring the girls home to. After this past summer, we realized our apartment was way too small and we needed to move. Through a series of events and a number of answered prayers and divine guidance, we ended up buying a house! It’s in a small city outside of Tyler called Whitehouse and we close on October 26th. We plan to move on the 28th/29th, and then 3 days later on November 1 we’ll have our social worker visit for our home-study. That should be the last thing we’ll need to do to finish our home-study, and then we can move on to the next step. (I hope to get another page going to show step-by-step where we are in this process.) Everything for the home-study we’ve been doing out of pocket and savings. To date this has been over $1000. (We’re very thankful for Chris’ awesome job that has allowed us to be able to do this!) Before the end of the year, we’ll be paying out another $4500, and before we buy plane tickets (which could be around $5000)  we’ll pay another $6500 or so. As of right now, we have *almost* all of the money we need for this stage (not including plane tickets). So hopefully fund raising for the adoption can wait until later in the spring.

Q: Do the girls know you? Do they know that you want to adopt them?
A: No, and no. They will most likely not know anything about us until shortly before they come for Christmas. (Shortly could be a week or two, or could be an hour or two). New Horizons forbids us to talk to the girls about adoption while they’re here, so unless our paperwork goes super fast in Latvia and we get the official Latvian ok before they leave (read: referral, or “matched up”),  they will be asked about being adopted when they get back. And yes, I said “asked,” because they can say “no,” especially N since she is over 12.

Q: This all seems pretty risky, don’t you think?
A: True, it is. We could go through all of this, even up to our second trip to Latvia and the girls could change their minds and say “No.” (This is something a lot of adopting parents are trying to persuade the court to change… it’s too much pressure on young kids, but until it changes, this is what we work with.) But, regardless of the risk, we’re willing to go for it. We do feel like this is the path God has us on, and we’re walking it. There could be a curve in the road beyond where we can see, and our ultimate destination could change, but until that happens, this is the direction we’re headed. Yes, it’s risky, but it’s a risk worth taking.

Q: Why don’t you give more information about the girls? Why don’t you give their names and tell us about their history?
A: I wish we could! We know so many precious things about them, that I want to share it all with the world, but I can’t for various reasons. First, we have to remember that these are real people, not just pictures. We want to respect them and their privacy. Many of you will meet them one day, and how uncomfortable would it be for them knowing that the whole world knows their history? I wouldn’t want to be in that position. Second, we have no rights to the girls yet, so the government of their homeland asks that we don’t disclose too much information in public about their children. Third, there have been incidents where people have posted about adopting and given a child’s name and location and others (extended family that had no interest in the child before) have found out and started fighting to get them back, just so that they wouldn’t go to the USA. So, for the safety and protection of everyone, we keep the blog info fairly vague.

I hope that helps answer some questions. If you have more, please comment below or email me. I will either answer you directly or do another blog post answering more questions.

Please keep us in your prayers as we walk this path! It’s exciting but scary and I never want to forget that it’s God who has set us on this path, seemingly for the purpose of setting two of the lonely into our family (see Psalm 68:6).


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