Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Nursery...and a little more news.

By Justin


Currently, we have found ourselves in that "no man's land" of adoption known as "the waiting period", or, as we like to call it "the daily struggle to live in the present moment." We have paid our fees and now we are waiting for the call about a possible match. The agency says this is a good time to get the nursery ready. So that's what we've been doing.

Through the extreme generosity of our friend Alison, we now have a crib in our garage that is in the process of being stripped, sanded, and re-stained, all courtesy of Stephanie. It's pretty tough work, but it will look great when finished. We also found a great changing table on Craigslist which is next up for the refurbishing, as well as a very small end table, (presumably for someone with a very small end). We also made a trek to IKEA and found a really cool shelf unit (called an "expedit") and a neat lamp. (For the record, I'm totally convinced that rather than naming things with Swedish words, the folks at IKEA just sit around late at night drinking and looking at pictures of the stuff and just naming it whatever comes out of their mouths, although they may not actually look at the pictures). Still, IKEA is pretty good for getting low-cost home furnishings, as long as you don't mind assembling it yourself. And IKEA is the ONLY place we have been to that actually had a big stuffed kangaroo for sale. Which we bought without reservation. (For some reason, every children's store now is pushing monkeys with furious abandon, as if no other animals existed. This is probably due to the small but vociferous group of monkey lobbyists infiltrating the ranks of the highly profitable childrens market.)



Stephanie has completed the mural on all four sides of the nursery, complete with a kangaroo with the moon behind it, and a border along the ceiling with the "Golden Slumbers" lullabye. It is absolute pure coincidence that this verse was used by the Beatles on side two of Abbey Road. We promise. Just as it is also purely coincidental that the mobile we bought for the crib plays John Lennon's "Imagine".

So it won't be long now until the nursery is totally finished.  In the mean time, we have begun our "Homestudy Update".  Remember when we had to go through all that hassel of getting our FBI fingerprints, our GBI fingerprints, our medical physicals, our drug screening, our sceptic tank inspected, our local criminal background checks, our sex offender checks, Dixie's vet records, our home inspected, our 911 Call History, etc?  Well guess what?  We GET TO DO IT ALL AGAIN!  That's right!  All those things expire every year!  And we get to pay the nice lady who compiles the report again.  Last time it was $2000.  This time it's only $700.  I know people always say "Well get used to it, kids are expensive!" To which I like to say "Yes, but we're doing all this and paying all this just to get to the point where we can actually have a kid."

Our Case Worker at the Agency seems to be doing a pretty good job.  She gave our profile book to a prospective birthmother who met our compatibility, but she ended up choosing another family.  So that was one close call.  Another close call was that a birthmother was interested in us, but the baby was going to be born with some medical issues that we just weren't sure we could manage financially, and we only had two weeks to decide.  We decided to pass, even though we have waited so long already.  It just didn't feel like the right situation.

Finally, we just completed our required Newborn Care Class at the hospital, as well as our CPR Certification Training, so we got those out of the way.  We are also required to take continuing ed classes/activities quarterly until we are matched, so we will be looking for those opportunities.  We have submitted all of our information for our online profiles which will be available for viewing on both Gladney.org and ParentProfiles.com within the next 30 days or so.  Apparently a lot of birthmom's look there first when selecting adoptive parents.





Saturday, February 26, 2011

Another NEW Caricature from the Donation Pile!


The Barbers, (11X14, ink on Bristol)
First of all, the Barbers aren't really barbers.  That's just their name.  He used to work as a sports photographer at Oklahoma State and she likes to read. We are so very thankful for their donation to the adoption cause as we are to all our friends who have supported us with donations and prayers.

Please remember, if you would like an original caricature of yourself or your family, please donate whatever amount you'd like, and Justin will draw you and send it to you!  For those who have yet to receive your artwork-hang on!  Justin has drawn quite a few and has just not had the time to mail them out yet.  But they ARE coming!

NEW INFORMATION ABOUT THE ADOPTION
by Justin

Well, after three weeks of unsuccessfully being able to connect with our adoption Case Worker while playing the world's longest game of "Phone Tag", I was finally able to sit down and have a long phone conversation with her last week.  I was wanting to do so in order to try and get to know the person who will be acting as our advocate through this whole process.  I am a firm advocate for face-to face communication, or via the phone at the very least, as email has it's definite limitations, especially when you are wanting to "connect" with someone in order to work together more efficiently.  Besides, every step of our journey so far, through the fertility clinic, the state of Georgia Child Services, and the insurance companies has, at every turn, made us feel like just a number, and in some cases, like a decimal point.  I was definitely NOT wanting this to be the case with the agency in charge of matching us for a child.

The Case Worker, Jennifer, was very friendly and accommodating, and spent an hour and a half answering my myriad questions concerning birth mothers, the process, the waiting time, placement, etc.  Without going into too much detail, a few of the interesting things I took from the conversation were:



1. Our child will probably come from Texas, Florida, or Arkansas.  Seventy-five percent of the birth mothers in the program come from Texas.  (Our agency is based in Fort Worth).  Texas law is very friendly toward adoption, and, being located there, the agency knows the ins-and-outs of the Texas legal system.  If we adopt from Texas, we would then return to Texas approximately 6 months later to finalize in a Texas courtroom.  Florida is also adoption friendly, and one benefit is that we would be able to finalize in Georgia.  Arkansas apparently is one of the best adoption law states.  If we go to Arkansas for placement, we will leave Arkansas already finalized!  The agency of course accepts birth mothers from all over the U.S., so we might end up going who knows where, but there are certain states where the law is NOT friendly toward adoption, and we will definitely NOT be getting a baby in those.  (Our baby will NOT come from Georgia, as Georgia sadly has arguably the LEAST FRIENDLY adoption laws in the country.)

2.  They tell all adoptive parents in the program that they should expect a wait time of @ 12 months before being selected, though this varies by the case.  We are considerably open as far as demographics and birth mother situations, so hopefully that will work in our favor toward getting selected more quickly.

3. Once you are selected and "matched" things can develop very rapidly. 
Most birth mothers are in their final tri-mester when they are matched, so once we are matched we could be looking at less than three months until placement, or possibly less than a few weeks!  So it IS conceivable (no pun intended) that we could have our little one by Christmas, which would be the best present ever.  Crossing our fingers!

As for now, we are pretty much just in a waiting game.  We are about to post our Online Profile, which should help us gain visibility by birth mothers, and we are still working on the nursery.  We have to complete a CPR training class, as well as a Newborns class at the hospital, both of which we are going to try to do in the next few weeks.  And then we will have to take several units of Continuing Ed Training online.  It is amazing what all we have to do (and pay for) when most people can just have a kid, no questions asked. 

Thanks for reading.  We'll check in again soon!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NEW Caricature Post!


Warrick Family, (11X14, ink on Bristol)

Here's another caricature posting of one of our valued donors to the adoption fund!  Mrs. Warrick teaches at the same school as Stephanie, and Steph teaches her daughter.

We are so grateful for their donation, as well as everyone else who has donated so far!

We are getting very close now to our goal, thanks to the help of our wonderful friends.  We'll be posting the next drawing in a couple of days, so stay tuned!



Officially APPROVED!

Now that we are finally completely dug out from the last two SNOW and ICE BLIZZARDS and getting our schedules back to normal, we are taking this opportunity to update the blog and let everyone know what's going on on the adoption front. 

At the first of November we sent our entire Home Study package to our agency for "approval".  As you might recall, the Home Study was the process whereby the social worker comes out to the house and verifies that we live in an acceptable domicile and they run the countless background checks to make sure we have never committed a crime against a child, etc.  In reality, most of the work for the Home Study was done by US, filling out forms, visiting the sheriff's office, cleaning out the garage, (even driving to Chattanooga, TN. for a background check because the state of Georgia takes 6 weeks to do it).
Because our agency is not licensed in Georgia to perform Home Studies, we enlisted a private company to do it.  That company approved us in August.  BUT, the agency demanded that THEY approve our Home Study as well, (for a fee of $500). 

The agency approval process has been extremely tedious and unnecessarily frustrating.  For two months we have been talking in circles with them concerning our insurance, our income, and our criminal background check, (all of which had been approved by the Home Study company with zero problems or hassles).

At last, though, we received our OFFICIAL APPROVAL from the Agency yesterday!!!  This means that we can now send them copies of our Profile Book we created in the Fall which they will be showing to prospective Birth Mothers.  The Agency attempts to "match" Birth Mothers with Adoptive Parents based on the compatibility of both parties from their questionnaires.  Think of it as "Match.com for Adoption".  The books should reach the Agency in a few weeks, so that means our Case Worker can start trying to "match" us then!

This is so far the most exciting portion of our journey!  We are also a bit nervous, because we really can't pinpoint exactly WHEN our baby might be born.  It will depend upon a number of factors such as when we get matched, how far into her pregnancy she is, etc.  but we are definitely optimistic that it will happen THIS YEAR!  As nice as this Christmas was, we are both hoping that it will have been the last Christmas without a child, and that this year will mean all of our family will have to come see us for the holidays!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Still Here, Still Adopting!

Hello friends! 
Well, it’s certainly been a LOOOONG time since we updated the blog, and for that we apologize.  2010 has been a VERY busy year for us with our primary focus being to raise the money to cover our adoption fees.  We currently have about $10,000 to go, BUT we’ve raised the amount needed to continue the process into the Selection Period, so we’ve accomplished our 2010 goal.  For all of you who have donated so far, we cannot thank you enough.  And Justin is very appreciative of your patience as he has been scribbling away on the caricatures, but hasn’t had much time to scan and post them.  He will try to start doing that next week, and we will make a concentrated effort to get as many mailed out to you as we can before the holiday season.  So your caricatures ARE COMING!  Here’s our latest update:



HEY ARTIST, WHERE THE #!$@ ARE OUR CARICATURES!?

By Justin
When last we left you, we were about to undergo our “Home Study”, where we pay a social worker an obscene amount of real American money to come to our house on three separate occasions and “interview” us and look at our house and make sure we’re not complete sociopaths and that we are competent of mind and responsible of nature to parent a child. On more than one occasion, we have wondered whether this type of requirement should be imposed on EVERYONE desiring children, and not just those with infertility issues. At any rate, we “passed” the experience with flying colors, despite the constant efforts at sabotage by our wonderful dog, Dixie, who, despite being raised to treat guests with dignity and proper etiquette, proceeded over the course of three visits to alternately fart AND vomit on the nice social worker lady. Our level of pride in our dog cannot be overstated.

It took us a while to finish up all the copious paperwork for the Home Study because I spent almost the entire summer and fall away from home working my retail caricature locations at Panama City Beach, FL., and the Great State Fair of Texas in Dallas, TX. At one point I had worked 51 days straight, which I believe is a new record for me. Stephanie was able to come to Florida and assist at the PCB location, and I was able to share with her the 114 degree heat index, which was pretty normal for most of the summer there. Despite the extreme temperatures, we considered ourselves fortunate, because the BP oil disaster failed to actually reach the shores in PCB all summer long, though the national media DID try their hardest to scare people away from regions that were COMPLETELY OIL FREE. I actually saw dozens of BP clean-up guys just walking down the road picking up trash, because they had nothing better to do with their time.

The Texas Fair was the best I’ve had in 16 years there, and I was blessed with extraordinarily good weather (though I’m inside there). So when I finally made it back to Georgia and re-acquainted myself with my wife and dog, I found that we had reached our 50% goal for the adoption agency! (we had already paid the first 25% this summer, so all that is left is the final 25%). This is very important, because once this second payment has been made, we are eligible for placement, and our case worker will begin trying to match us! We also finished creating our “profile book” , copies of which will be shown to prospective birth mothers in the program.
Along the way, we’ve been slowly accumulating the necessary things for the nursery, which will be our current guest room. One of the good things about having a baby AFTER most everyone else is that everyone has stuff that they will just GIVE YOU because they don’t need it anymore. Also, “Craig’s List” has proven invaluable for finding new and gently used furniture and accessories at ridiculously low prices. I’m going to delight in someday telling our child that we got most of their stuff out of the trunks of people’s cars at midnight in the Wal-Mart parking lot. “Y’know, Junior, we got your stroller from a guy with a toothpick in his mouth driving a 1980 Chevy Malibu who we met behind the Shoney’s in the middle of the night. And your mom talked him down an extra twenty bucks cause he was desperate for the sale so he could go buy some drugs before his parole officer found out he’d crossed the state line from Alabama.” Yeah, it’ll be fun.


So now I’m home and slowly emerging from a self-induced “Recuperation Coma” and finally sitting down to scan those caricatures and post them here. I’ll start next week and try to do it regularly from now on. It’s tough to do when you’re on the road and places don’t have scanners, or they’re closed when you’re open, or you’re just so freakin’ tired that you can’t stay awake because you’re only getting four hours of sleep a night…sorry, I was having a flashback. Where was I? Oh yeah…I’ll start shipping out some caricatures again in a few weeks so maybe some of you can have them in your hands by Christmas. Thanks again for your patience.
And now, a picture of me eating a hamburger.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Elena's Kiddos!













Elena's Kiddos, (11X14,ink on Bristol Board)

Here's the latest addition to the "Friends Caricatures" for the Adoption Fundraiser!


Some people have requested that I draw their kids instead of them, so even though Elena is quite beautiful and would have been fun to draw, I obliged by drawing her really cute kids.


Thanks again to all who have donated so far! If you'd like an original caricature signed by me, please hit the DONATE button to the right and give what you can. All proceeds go toward the Galloway Adoption Fund!

"Cramming for the Home Study" by Justin

Well, tonight is our first Home Study “visit” where a social worker comes to our house and, well, visits with us. From what I gather, she is going to go over the mountain of paperwork we’ve been given which, incidentally, rivals Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” in sheer volume, if not drama. Then, I believe, she’ll interview us each separately and then together about, among other things, our expectations in adoption (ten fingers and ten toes), our parenting goals (no juvenile jail), our experiences growing up (blissful unawareness) and our relationship with each other (again, blissful unawareness).
Needless to say, we are a bit “stressed out” about this, even though the social worker appears to be a very nice and normal person, (not from a primitive nomadic tribe or circus family), who has been incredibly helpful to us so far. I’m sure everything will go fine, but I cannot help but view this “visit” as a sort of “judgment” or “inquisition” where we find ourselves on trial. But, I suppose, that is how it should be. We are dealing with the placement of a human life here, and paramount should be the safety of the child, because you don’t want some chicken-suit-wearing, intravenous-drug-using, LA Lakers-loving, sociopaths getting anywhere near a baby.
So, I get it. I really do. This is just a step in the gauntlet we must walk, just as there are difficult steps inherent to biological parents that they, too, must walk. Still, I can’t quite shake the feeling that this visit is kind of like a big test in college, and I have but a few scant hours left to “cram” for it. So I’ve researched some of the “do”s and “don’t”s of childcare in an effort to make sure I don’t say the wrong thing when asked about what I would do in certain situations.


What follows is a list of possible questions I imagine she might ask, followed by the visual image in my head that is evoked as I think of how to answer without screwing up:


Question: "What steps have you taken to ensure that your home is a completely safe environment for your baby?"





Question: "Do you know the proper way to handle/hold an infant?"


Question: "Where do you plan to place the baby for safety?



Question: "What steps will you take to ensure that everyone in the home understands how to play safely with the baby?"



Question: "Are you familiar with the correct procedure for bathing and drying a baby?"



Hopefully, if I can remember these images I might do OK. Wish us luck!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Niki!








Niki, (ink. colored pencil on paper, 8X10).

Here's another caricature of our FB Friends for our Adoption Fundraiser! We are making great strides financially in our quest to bring home a baby for the Galloway household, in large part because of generous people like you who have contributed donations to the cause.

Remember, if you donate any amount of your chosing, you will receive an original caricature drawn and signed by Justin! You don't have to wait until your caricature appears here. Just click on the Donation button to the right!

We had a bit of a slight set-back a few weeks ago in the adoption process, as it became apparent that Stephy's position at the school was on the list of possible budget cuts in our county. Both art and music were seriously being considered as candidates for elimination. As it turns out, art was spared, at least for one year. We are not holding our breath for anything beyond that. As a result of our not knowing if her job status was going to change, we actually moved back our first Home Study Visit by a few weeks. We just didn't feel we could go into the interviews with the job situation hanging over our heads. Now that we are "in the clear" for another year, we are proceeding as planned and meeting with the social worker on this Thursday, May 20th.
We are getting really excited about being parents! Encouraged that we have reached our first of three financial goals in three months, we are setting out to reach the second one by the end of the summer. We have cleaned out the upstairs guest room and are preparing it to be the nursery. The baby will have a good view of the front yard and the cul de sac in front of the house. That is also Dixie's favorite room, but we're pretty sure she will share it with the baby. She likes babies!





The Importance of Keeping Art in Schools by Justin


Please indulge me just a minute of your time to go off the reservation for a moment and talk a little about something I feel is very important to us all. Perhaps it is the knowledge that I will soon be a parent that is motivating me to write this. Or the fact that my wife nearly lost her job last week. Whatever the reason, it is vitally important that we all see the very real danger of short-changing our kids in their education by cutting art and music from school curriculums.

In order to bring awareness to the fact that the children of our county almost lost their art and music programs this year, Stephy created and began selling T-shirts to support the arts. Soon, students, parents, and other teachers began wearing them. It was just her small part in combating the targeting of art through budget cuts.

As more and more districts across the country opt to eliminate the arts programs from their schools in order to meet their slashed budgets, it becomes more and more important to voice your concerns in your communities and to your school boards. If you feel that art and music are essential to a complete and comprehensive education for your children, make your voice heard. Because if these cuts haven't been discussed in your community yet, be assured, it IS coming, sooner or later.
As artists, we take for granted the importance of art in the world. But for everybody else, please take just a moment to consider that virtually every aspect of your life has a tangible connection to art. The music that you listen to was created by an artist. The packaging on the products you use was designed by an artist. The video games your kids play were designed by an artist. The car you drive was designed by an artist. The house you live in was designed by an artist. The furnishings in your house were designed by an artist. The covers of the books you read were created by an artist. The buildings and restaurants you go to were designed by an artist. The menu you read at your favorite restaurant was designed by an artist. The computer you are using was designed by an artist. Every piece of technology you use was designed by an artist. The street signs you use to navigate and drive safely were designed by an artist. The sets and costumes in the movies and TV shows you watch were designed by artists. The church you worship in and the hymnal you sing from and the robes the choir wears were all designed by artists. Any advertising signs you see anywhere were designed by artists. Your favorite sports teams' logo and colors were designed by an artist. The bed you sleep on was designed by an artist. The jewelry you own was deisgned by an artist. The clothes you are wearing right now were designed by an artist.
In our fast-paced busy world, we tend to take these things for granted. We tend not to wonder who designed the icon graphics we use to get around town, to read maps, to know which restroom to use, to tell what to do at an intersection, or to spot a favorite shop or restaurant. Art is everywhere, not just in museums. So the next time you buy an outfit, or a video game, or see a movie or watch TV, please remember that it would not be possible without the arts. And then decide if it's worth fighting for, for your kids.

Thanks for letting me rant about something that is very close to my heart. If you're interested in getting one of our shirts to wear in your community, please let us know. They're just $10.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lisa's Dog, Reecie



Reecie!, (8.5X11, ink on Bristol Board)

Here's the latest CARICATURE OF OUR FRIENDS for our Adoption Fundraiser! Lisa wanted her beloved dog caricatured instead of herself (even though she is quite beautiful and a beautiful person!). Justin has had a few requests to draw Friend's family members or pets, so you will see some kids and animals appear here who are not on our Friend Lists but belong to them.

Thank you to those who've recently donated!! Justin will move a few of you to the head of the line, so we can get your drawings to you faster. He's been pretty busy the past two weeks with gigs, so bear with us, please.
We recently celebrated our 8th Anniversary as well as Stephy's Birthday. (Thanks to everyone for the Birthday wishes! They really meant a lot.) Again, because of the Adoption, we are doing "Budget Restricted Activities" so nothing elaborate as far as celebrations go. But we have had fun, and that's what's important.

For our Anniversary, we travelled to Alabama to Cheaha State Park and hiked the Chinnabee Silent Trail, which was constructed in the 1970's by a troop of deaf Boyscouts. Its a moderately strenuous 12 mile hike, so it wasn't too intense. We saw a few waterfalls, but nothing like the North Georgia mountains. We love to hike, especially on our Anniversary, so we had a great time checking out the spring foliage. We also had dinner at our favorite German restaurant in Atlanta near Stone Mountain, where we got married. We had our Rehearsal Dinner there back in 2002 and our Wedding and Grooms Cakes were baked by the owner, Hilde Frieze. So we have a lot of history there and wanted to celebrate our Anniversary there. They even gave us dessert on the house for the special occasion (Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake. MMMMM!)

For Stephy's Birthday, we were offered free tickets to see the Braves/Astros at Turner Field, so we went with some friends and sat directly behind the Braves dugout, which was pretty cool. (Thanks Ginger!)

Since Justin had worked a gig for Carrabbas restaurant and we had gift certificates, we went there on Monday and ate WAY too much Italian food and drank WAY too much Blackberry Sangria. :)
So now we are proceeding through our Homestudy with hopes that it will be complete before Justin heads back to Panama City Beach for the summer. We'll post the next Caricature in a couple of days. If any of your friends want a caricature and wish to donate to our cause, please pass along a link to this page. We'll gladly take money from strangers!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trisha!


"TRISHA", (8.5X11, Ink on Bristol Board)
Well, here’s the FIRST of the “Caricatures of our Friends” that we’ll be posting here on a regular basis in an effort to raise donations for our adoption! We’ll try to post one every couple of days, and you never know when it will be YOU!

Many thanks to those who have already donated. We cannot express how much your gift has touched us, and we will never forget that you have helped us toward reaching our goal of starting a family. Remember, you don’t have to wait until your caricature is posted here. Justin is DRAWING EVERYONE on our FB Friends Lists and will be posting in a random order. Those who donate will have the ORIGINAL ARTWORK, hand-signed, mailed to them! As always, the convenient PayPal Donation button is to the right.

Over Spring Break, we both journeyed to Panama City Beach, FL. to work our retail caricature stand at Pier Park Mall right on the beach. Most of the money we earned there from caricature sales and tips went directly into the Adoption Fund, and we are happy to report that we have come within a few hundred dollars of our First Payment goal. This First Payment to the Adoption Agency is due by May 19th. While drawing guests at the booth, we both shared our story, when we felt it appropriate, and were amazed by the outpouring of good will and kindness from these total strangers. Upon seeing the ”Artists Adoption Fund” jar, some people immediately put a few dollars in, without hesitation. Some even gave the money to their small children and said “Put this in the jar so they can have a little boy/girl like you”. It was very touching.
We drew people aged six weeks to 94 (the 94 year-old man pictured to the right is a still-working Lutheran minister who actually gave us his blessing!) from Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan, Georgia, even Azerbaijan and Columbia, who contributed to our cause. I can’t tell you how many people supported us because either they had adopted, or were themselves adopted. We appreciated every one of their stories and their willingness to help out people they didn’t even know. (And they all seemed to really like their caricatures!)

On the Adoption Front, we are progressing through the very tedious world of the “Home Study”. If you don’t know what this is, it’s where a social work agency investigates the appropriateness of your home and the fitness of you to be adoptive parents. Your home must be inspected and you must fill out copious forms relating to your background, health, finances, criminal record (or lack, thereof, in our case!), etc.

There are also one-on-one interviews to determine your maturity/ability to adopt a child. We have already had medical exams and fingerprinting sessions, and every day we pick a few forms to fill out. It’s good that they require all this, because it is, after all, a human life you’re dealing with and NOT a product that you can just decide you don’t like and return to Russia.

So it’s good that we are having to go through it, but it IS tedious. We didn't choose to have to go this route, but we have accepted that it is the only way we will ever have a family.
So you do what you have to do. Working away from home in Florida is challenging as well. So is budgeting every little dollar and choosing to forego doing things we want to do. But what gets us through it all is our love for each other and a love for a child who isn't even born yet. Our unwavering mantra which we must have uttered a thousand times already is: “This is for Baby Galloway”. And it is.
Thanks for reading, and mote importantly, for being our friends. Look for the next caricature on Monday, May 3rd!!