Friday, August 13, 2010

ANTC in full swing!

We have this silly contest where a group of friends submits one name each week for our son we are in the process of adopting from Rwanda. Each week Catherine reads the list of names to our daughters, E(9) and C(6). They give their opinions which Catherine transcribes. This week I laughed so hard reading them, I cried. So I thought I'd share.

Andrew - E - Nope. C - Nope. Cuz one of my friends is named Andrew. And that's all. And when you have a party and Andrew comes over and you say "Andrew, come here," they won't know who I'm talking to.

Beau - E - Not really. I just don't really like that name. No offense to anyone named Beau. C - No.

Brody - E. Uh huh. C - Uh huh.

Calvin - E - I guess. It's nice. I like that name. C - Ugh. I do not like Calvin. No.

Cash - E - Not really. C - No. and I was like "Mom, where's my Cash?" and you would say "it's on the table" and I would say "No, my brother" and you would say, "I don't know but there's cash on the table." I'll be right back.

Chase - E - Sure, I like that name. It's a nice name. C - NO. I don't like the name.

Colt - E - Uh, I really don't want him to get made fun of by them calling him "horse-boy" or something. C - Nah. Stop asking me. Ask Evie.

Delan - E - Not really. C - Nah. I don't like it. Let me be done with this commercial and I'll get back to you. (Begins acting out a commercial for her new Rapunzel wig).

Dillon - E - Not really. C - No-wah. Don't like it.

Dwayne - E - not really. Well, actually sure. C - NO. No. No. I don't like "D" names. I can't even pronounce it.

Eliot (the Lord is my God) - E - yeah. I like the meaning. C - I love that name. Cuz that's on the tv show, Leverage. The tough guy, his name is Eliot. So my brother can be tough and brave and curious.

Garren - E - No, not really C - nah, not a big fan.

Harper - E - that's a girl name. C - Harper Law School? No way.

Owen - E - nope. C - nah. Duh, duh, duhhhh (her ominous noise she learned yesterday - once again used inappropriately)

Sid - E - nope. C - what? no. nah, don't like that name much.

Tyresee (Ty-ree-see) - E - Nope. C - I don't really like that name.

Middle Names

Benjamin E - nah. C - Benjamin Franklin? No.

Butler - E - no. C - nah, that's a butler for a king or queen or princess. E - butler is a person who works for rich people C - and we are not rich, so we don't need a butler. we live in a tiny house with tiny pieces of food.

D’Angelo - E - No. C - it sounds like an enchilada. No. Duh, duhh, duhhhhh.

Elijah - C - that sounds like a girl. E - oh, yeah, sure.

Emmanuel - E - yeah. C - that's a horrible name. why would everybody...E - Emmanuel is what they called the Lord C - I don't even know this stuff

Gage (pledge, oath) - E - no, thank you C - no way, jose

Haley - E - no, that's a girl name C - duh, duhh, duhhhhh. Is there anything I can agree on?

Jackson - C - no. don't like it E - No. I just don't like it because it's the name of Jackson and I don't like him.

Josef - C - yeah, love it. yes, yes, yes. E - no, thank you. C - you don't like it? It's Joseph in the story. E - that is Joseph with "ph" C - I don't care. I like it.

Kayode (He brought peace) - C - my brother did not bring peace. and NO. E - sure

Kendrick - E - sure C - yeah

Lincoln E - no, not really. C - nah. that's a no.

Michael - E - not really. C - that's Liz's boyfriend. and if she gets married and you say "Michael, come here" and he will come and I'll say "why are you here? I was talking to my little brother, weirdo." So, no.

Reid - E - Not really. C - no, thank you. How many more left?

Rhys - E - that's a girl name. C - and that's our cousin's name. and at Christmas, I would say "Reese, come here" and he would come and say "yes" and I would say "I was calling the real Reese" and he would say "Oh, ok" - So, no.

Seavers - E - yeah, sure. C - yeah. that's a cool name. I like it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The Waiting Game
So, it has been quite a while since we posted here (this is my first post actually). Things have been crazy in our house. No relaxing in the sun for us this summer. Changes in job situations, a hard-hitting, sudden death of a loved one and way too much weekend travel have made June and July the most stressful months we've had in a while. For those of you who know us, you know how we like push ourselves to stress, but this has been a new record - and most of it NOT self-induced. So, it was a good thing that we had gotten almost all the paperwork done before all this hit. And we were actually DTR back on June 29 after a late night at Kinkos. For those that don't know, this is Dossier to Rwanda (I think). It is when all our paperwork reaches the adoption officials in Rwanda. It was hand-delivered to the Ministry on July 6. This is a huge relief but also the start of the real waiting.
Now it is out of our hands. We wait. For months. (we have friends who have been DTR for 10 or more months). Then, once it is our family's turn, the Ministry reviews our file and *hopefully* approves it and sends it to the orphanage. At that point, the nuns will pray and determine a child to refer to us for adoption. Until then - Waiting Game. So, unless we announce it here, via fb or email, we continue to patiently await the newsest little member of our family.

The Name Game
So while we wait, we have begun what is a tradition among our friends in Houston. ANT_. This group of friends has a gmail group (highly recommend you and your friends start one). There have been three babies born to this group in the last 4 years. All of them with names that came from the group (or at least names that the parents liked that the group also recommended). We do it reality tv competition style; thus the name.
Each week the members of the group (I think we have close to 20 members now) suggest a name. They make a separate gmail group so they can bash or jealously praise others entries without influencing the parents-to-be. Then the names are sent to the parents in the regular gmail group to be judged and found worthy (or not). One name is picked each week for an indeterminate number of weeks until we decide to have a bracketed playoff until we are down to the final name. And yes, that will be the baby's actual name.


I think I may have won the first "season." If I am wrong about that, or any of the rules outlined above, my wonderful friends will let me know swiftly with kindness and love.


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Mail

This process reminds me of the reverence I held for the mail at camp growing up.  When it was mail time, I would hold my breath, hoping that I had a letter from home.  Actually, I wanted a package.  A giant box full of junk that I could share with my cabin-mates, silly sunglasses, plastic leis, pens, tiny American flags.  When I was older - 14 or so - I would actually pack the box myself and give it to my mom to mail a few days after I left.  That way, I was certain to receive the necessities needed to make our cabin uber cool-hip-elves for the Christmas in July party.

Up to date I have been rushing to get paperwork notarized and sent, only to receive letters requesting more notarization, which means more FedExing. Nevertheless, those letters, too, excite me.  To me, it is one step closer to our little one. One step closer to an incredibly long journey.  One step closer to completing our little family.  In previous posts I have mentioned the emotion that comes with sending documents to reach such a goal.  I thought I was excited when I received our appointment for our fingerprints to be taken in Houston in early May. (For time line purposes, our prints were taken May 18th).  I was wrong.  Nothing compares to when I received the only "package" USCIS will ever send us.  Our I-171H Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition! Our I-600A has been approved!  My heart continues to race as I type!

We have been approved, which means that our dossier is now complete.  Wow!  I wish I could send it to Rwanda tomorrow.  However, our dossier needs to be authenticated by the Secretary of State in D.C. and then sent to the Rwandan Embassy.  That process should take approximately 3 weeks from today.  I am crossing my fingers that we will be DTR* in 4 weeks.  It seems so long and so short.  Of course, then my patience will be put to the test as we join the ranks of families waiting for their little ones.
Please keep those families, ours and those that have the privilege and honor of placing such precious children with their forever families in your prayers and thoughts.   

*For those not familiar, DTR stands for "Dossier to Rwanda."  It is a great moment for adopting families.  Then the real waiting begins.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Long time. No post.

It has been a while.  In the past month, we have completed and gathered all of our paperwork to compile our dossier, submitted our dossier for certification in Austin thanks to an awesome family (who are currently waiting on their precious little man), submitted additional information to the State Department, had our biometric fingerprints taken and found a fabulous Power of Attorney (POA) to represent our expanding family in Rwanda. 
At home, we are keeping our little one in our thoughts and prayers and just living day to day.  This process is not for the faint of heart.  I always knew it would be emotionally and mentally draining, but to be living through it is pretty raw.  I hope that others have blissfully calm experiences, but for us if the experience isn't hard, tough, draining; if we don't re-evaluate ourselves, our family, friends, motivations, dreams, hopes every ten minutes; and continually place trust, hope, faith in a higher power then it really isn't worth receiving all of our resources.  We are incredibly thankful that this is an endeavor worth undertaking.   

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tell me how you really feel

Being faced with questions, statements and assumptions have resulted in enabling us to focus and put our thoughts and feelings towards an international adoption in written word.  A few of our general responses follow to the general questions or concerns international adoption brings.

International adoption?  Why, when there are so many children here who need homes?

We feel that international adoption is right for us for now.
Yes, there are children here who need help.  There are also senior adults and homeless who need help.  Because we agree that we must change our world from in our home to across the world, we give in different ways to help meet different needs, through volunteering our time and money to ministries and organizations.  But when it comes to growing our family at this time, we desire to adopt a child from Rwanda where there are nowhere near the opportunities for orphans and wards of the state as there are here.

If you are trying to change the world, shouldn’t you start in your backyard?

As for making a difference, we are not doing this to change the world.  While I feel for the plight of the Rwandans and am hopeful for the future of that nation, I am adopting a child - not "saving" a child, not trying to "save" the Rwandan people.  We will be blessed by this child just as much, if not more so, than the other way around.  We are not so self righteous to think "what a great thing we are doing.  Look how wonderful we are. We are helping this poor child."  That is not it at all.  We want to add to our family, and for our family it is through adoption.  The purpose of this blog is not about "look at us!"  There are many adoptive families who support each other by sharing through their blogs.  I also thought it would be a good way to let friends and family see the journey we are undertaking.

We don't expect everyone to embrace or understand our decision or accept it, but know that we have counted all the costs, know them to be high, and choose to do what we think is right.

We know there are those who may disagree with our decision, but we hope those individuals can respect it.  For no other reason than simply because they love us and the girls.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

(Most of) It's in the mail.

I mailed our I-600A* Friday evening.  I took a picture of the FedEx envelope and documents.  Then had a brief exchange with my new bff: the girl behind the counter (TGBTC).

TGBTC:  Can I ask what you are adopting?
Me:  A child.
TGBTC: Oh, my goodness.  Can I hug you?
Me:  Sure.

End Scene.

*While our home study (a required component of the I-600A) is yet to be completed, it is scheduled for the 28th.  So, at the advice of some new but dear friends, I went ahead and sent it in sans home study.  Fingers crossed that I remembered to include everything else.  ** Redacting is fun.  You should try it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why adopt?

"Why would you adopt? Just have another of your own." 
That question makes my heart hurt.  We could have another biological child, God willing.  We have been fortunate enough not to struggle with infertility.  But I can't look at images of suffering, hurting, lonely, hungry, thirsty, dirty, sad children without thinking about doing something.  In response to sharing those thoughts, I was told to donate money.  Which is great.  And we have.  Most recently, we have collected donations for Haiti.  Donated to other worthwhile organizations who help fight poverty, hunger and thirst.  Both domestically and abroad.  But it is not enough for us.

I grew up with one or more pictures of children from across the world on my parent's refrigerator.  Children they had sponsored to be able to go to school, eat regularly, have a safe place to be.  That is a wonderful thing to be able to do for that child.  It is a needed.  But it is not enough for us.

I always wanted to adopt.  There was not a defining moment in my life that resulted in that determination. Although, I love Anne Shirley, Jack Kelly aka Francis Sullivan, and Annie Warbucks deeply.

I don't think Kendall has any deep connection to fictional (or non-fictional) adoptees from his childhood.  But regardless of his inability to understand a trio of girls singing "Tomorrow" at the top of their lungs, adoption is something that we have consistently discussed and desired over the past 11 years.
The choice between giving birth or adopting a child was not a difficult one for me.  I already felt - if we had a biological baby - that I would be turning my back on a baby who would complete our family.  A baby who we need and who needs us. I couldn't/can't do that.  So, the choice was easy for me.  I can't speak for Kendall except to say that he agrees.  Not to the same extent.  He doesn't have some sort of bond, connection to a child he has never seen, doesn't know.  But that is ok.  He didn't really have that bond with our girls until they were 2 or 3.  Or at least well into the pregnancy.  It will come.  We both agree with that fact.  He's just far more practical than I am.  Boring.  And while I dream of "pink ponies, happy sky," I am also well aware that the road we have chosen is not the easy one.  But we have never done things the easy way.  That would have been too...easy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Why blog?

I must apologize in advance.  I have read so many of the blogs by people like us venturing into adoption.  They all seem so utterly sweet.  And that is awesome.  But unlike these amazing people who share my desire to grow their family by adopting from a foreign country, I am offensive.  I can't help it (or won't?).  Regardless of intent (typically I don’t mean to offend, unless I find it hysterical), but it appears to be unavoidable.  Even when I am desperately trying not to be blunt, I end up being deliciously, verbosely offensive.  C’est ma vie.  This is my disclaimer.  I am sorry (mostly).

And with that, here is a heartfelt post about why a cynic would pursue such a idealistic path.

The decision for us to adopt was not made quickly, lightly and without an insane amount of research.  However, I was completely caught off guard a few nights ago.  We were having dinner with a group of people, some of whom were aware of our decision.  I didn't think anything of it when the conversation turned to adoption.  A friend looked up blankly, was quickly filled in, and then uttered, "why?"  A seemingly innocuous question.  I stammered out something unremarkable in response and the conversation continued.  But I keep coming back to that question, "why?"  Something that appears to be so basic to me: the need, the desire, the ability.  In my head, my best Amy Poehler was saying, "Duh! Really? Really? Why wouldn't we?"  But what might be right for you, may not be right for some.

I am sure there are a bazillion Bible verses that many of the adoption bloggers I read will cite when faced with criticism/adversity or just ignorance.  And while I would agree almost 100% with what they would say, this is not that blog.  Those blogs serve a different purpose and a different audience.  Those blogs mean the world to the authors, their friends, family, even me.  There may be a time when I feel scriptures, poetry, musical lyrics, or even sit-com theme songs appropriately convey what is on my heart.  In fact, I have done so today.

This is a blog that tries to answer the "why" for those that we love, while loving that fact that they don't view the world exactly like we do.  A blog that - I hope - will stay true to my "quirky" personality, deep compassion (so deep you didn't know I had any, did you?) and cynical nature.

So, as we move forward with trying to find the right person to do our home study, something akin to a rectal exam of our family, I will be blogging a lot more about the "whys."  Why adopt?  Why international adoption?  Why now?  Why us?  But hopefully this post answers the first "why" - why blog.  Because I love you and want you to share in this experience.  And I don't like answering the same questions a million times. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It has begun.

The process of adopting a precious child from another country will be a roller-coaster of emotions. But before we get to the "fun" part consisting of waiting and waiting and waiting and responding "we haven't heard anything, so please stop asking," the mountains of paperwork intimidate me with the uncertainty, complexity and enormity of this undertaking.

The first piece of paperwork due is the 1600A, which is the "application for advance processing of orphan petition." This is the form required by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), enabling a U.S. couple (us) to be determined qualified or not to adopt a (non specific) foreign-born child. Doesn't that sound amazing. (This will be a fun game, guess when I am being sarcastic or not.) No, it doesn't. It sounds boring. But whatever, I feel like Anne Shirley and will begin renaming governmental entities and documents to reflect how they should be called. For example, 1600A shall forever more be referred to as: Critical Appraisal for the Dependably Discreet Parentally Deprived (CADDPD). Taa daa.
In order to file the CADDPD (aka 1600A), you have to have certified birth certificates, certified copy of your marriage license, and home study. (For anyone else independently adopting from a non-Hague country, I am not sure if the documents have to be apostilled yet.)

I have ordered our certified birth certificates. It is now official. I have begun hemorrhaging money. It is pretty exciting.
I will mail the request for a certified copy of our marriage license today as well. Next, we wait for 2 weeks until the next baby step.

America’s Next Top Cockrell

Welcome to this blog.

We want to expand our family and decided that since we have talked about our desire to adopt for the past 11 years, now is the time. While there are many other reasons to adopt - religious, moral, emotional, pragmatic - each alone is enough for us. So, we begin this process independently. It is scary. It is exciting. We are praying constantly and selfishly ask for your prayers as well.

Apparently, in order to start the process of an international adoption you must also start a blog. It is an unspoken, yet necessary, prerequisite for this journey involving mounds of paperwork that will overtake our life for the next year and a half or so. Here it is.