we're off!

Just a quick post to let you know we haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. We completed our packing a few days ago, to the camera has been packed up in preparation for the trip. Hence no recent pictures. We leave this afternoon for Scotland. Check back in about three weeks’ time for pictures, humorous anecdotes, and the whole travelogue!

signing off for a few weeks

We’ve decided to at least try and do this independently. I’m sure a professional agency would be able to navigate us through the whole twisted tangle that is international adoption. But I’m really finding the process with Hungary to be fairly straight forward. Already we have most of the paperwork for our homestudy, I-600A, and dossier either assembled or on the way. Hopefully the remainder should be here when we return from holiday in just under three weeks. I reserve the right to change my mind and hire a facilitator or an agency should the process get too confusing.

If we end up not going with an agency, the money that would have been their fee will go directly to college accounts for the child(ren). We’ll need to catch up on a couple years there.

Today I made lots of copies, a few phone calls, and did lots of cleaning. My homestudy visit won’t be for at least another month, probably longer, and yet already I’m cleaning for it. Naturallly, the house will require another going-over before then. But it makes me feel like I’m doing something.

Tomorrow we head for two and a half weeks blissful relaxation on the shores of Loch Ness. Literally. Plenty of time to relax, recoup, and work on the homestudy questionnaire. And we’ll be sure to get in lots of sight seeing and fun family things. See you when we get back!


Tell me I just did not spent $40.50 to have the state of Hawaii mail us copies of something that says, “no record found.” Yes, I did. We had to have criminal background checks done by the last state we lived in. Twenty bucks a pop plus the cost of the money orders.

On the bright side, I’ve spoken to our (I think?) social worker today, and have a lot more info to go on. I’m actually beginning to feel quite good about this. Perhaps that’s only due to the fact that I’m DOING something.


The cat is out of the bag. Jesse told his mom; so I told my mom; so we’re now telling the multitude of people that read this blog. We have decided to adopt a child from Hungary. I’m sure we’ll be writing about this a-plenty, but for more in-depth coverage of this exciting and occasionally tedious new venture, I’ve started a new blog. Why? Because this blog, ohlssons.be, is closed to all but close friends and family. The adoption blog is open to any other adopters wanting to share info, experiences, commiserate, etc. Stop by and check it out.


Finally! I can actually DO something! Today I received a copy via e-mail of our homestudy questionnaire, detailing what paperwork they would need, and what questions we need to prepare. We’ve already begun to order the necessary paperwork (mostly so we’ll have recent copies on hand for Hungary). How unfair is it that my birth certificate from NY costs $32 to get here, while J’s only costs $20? Or that a copy of his divorce decree only sets us back $3.23 (including an SASE, for return mailing), while mine costs 56.95? Or that the state of Hawaii cannot find a record of our marriage, but they’ll have someone check their files?

Tomorrow’s plan: schedule physicals for both of us after we return from Scotland; order the background and child abuse checks; sweet-talk friends into writing glowing letters of reference; make lots of copies. Pack for the trip.



We didn’t blindly choose to adopt internationally. In fact, when we started investigating adoption, I was certain that was the very last thing I would want. Too expensive. Too disruptive to our life. Too expensive. Too hard on the child. Too expensive. Too much paperwork. Too expensive.

But the more I investigated domestic adoption, the more I found it wasn’t right for us. I don’t want to play the baby game. You know, setting up a profile of us looking all happy and sensitive, telling how we’ll be such great parents for YOUR child. If you read those letters, everyone is a perfect mom. Everyone likes to bake cookies and be involved in lots of outdoor activities. Everyone goes to church and plans to raise their child in their faith. Everyone lives in a beautiful home in a quiet neighborhood. And everyone spends oodles of time with the children of friends/family.

The truth is, maybe everyone ELSE can live up to that, but WE can’t. I’m not a perfect mom — sometimes I yell or make the wrong decisions, sometimes my kid throws the world’s worst tantrum and I just don’t know how to handle it. I don’t like to bake cookies because I end up eating half of them myself, and I’m already a bit…. fluffy, shall we say? True, I enjoy the outdoors, but I’d rather be strolling then playing a game of soccer. We are Christian but rarely actually make it to church (I must annoate: we would go to church weekly, and therefore actually fit this category, but the church schedule, coupled with my husband’s erratic work cycle, precludes regular attendance). We have a great house, but it was built in who-knows-when and is old and drafty in the winter, and certainly doesn’t look like ANY of the pictures I’ve seen on other people’s profiles. It’s child safe because we’ve become very adept at gates and locks and make-shift solutions. True, we live in a quiet neighborhood and I spend time with other people’s kids.

I would feel very fake if I tried to post a “competitive” profile amongst all the others. It just isn’t us.

But beyond that, I don’t think we’d stand a chance. We’re overseas, too far away for a birth mother to meet us and approve of us. We can’t be there in a few hours’ time when she goes into labor. We wouldn’t be able to return home until the whole process was over.

And aside from those practicalities, I don’t like the uncertainty of infant adoption in the states. It scares me that the birth mother can change her mind. Don’t get me wrong: I truly believe that that is entirely her right to do. I don’t fault her for questioning the decision, agonizing over it, and perhaps changing her mind at the last minute. I’ve lost one child, in circumstances beyond my control. It gutted me. It was the worst thing I have ever had to live through. And I’m sure that giving your child up voluntarily is even worse. But, oh, how it would rip me apart to have to return a child I was falling in love with.

So, I didn’t want to go the baby route. But what about older/special needs kids? When you hear about the tons of kids that need homes, that are waiting to be adopted, THESE are the kids you’re hearing about. And they so desperately DO need loving homes. I just don’t feel that I’m equipped to give them what they need. Being overseas it would be a hassle to get them placed anyway. But, in reality, the child we adopt is going to have to be pretty adaptable. He’ll be attending a Belgian (French-speaking) school, and getting some homeschooling to stay up to snuff with English and Social Studies. He’ll be surrounded by kids of different nationalities, and not many of them American. The language barrier itself would be difficult for an older child. Couple that with the strain of a new family, a new continent, et al…. I just don’t think that’s fair. We simply won’t have the tools available to us to raise a child with special needs.


That we are unwilling to do the newborn domestic adoption route, and unable to fill the needs of a special needs adoption, and have pretty much given up hope on having another child biologically, international adoption suddenly became a lot more attractive. But how to address all the issues that initially had us saying nay to international?? Tune in tomorrow.

Or in a few days.

Or next week.

in the beginning

After weeks — more likely months — of what if-ing and what about-s and hundreds of internal and external conversations about the ethical and familial repercussions of choosing this path, Jesse and I have decided to adopt a child. For five years of trying, we have (thankfully) one healthy two and a half year old son of our own making, one heart-rending miscarriage, and too many tears, wasted pregnany tests, and frustrations to count.

We are a military family (but not for much longer) living in the heart of Europe, and plan to remain here to live and work for sometime. We’ve decided on Hungary as the country to adopt from, hence the name of this blog. Unk család means “our family” in Hungarian. I’ll probably mess around with the title a few times until I come up with something catchy and quirky that suits me.

every piddle little step

This post tracks everything — sending for documents, receiving them, appointments, red tape, etc. Every piddly little thing.

8/23/06 – decision to adopt from Hungary
8/28/06 – received homestudy questionnaire; ordered necessary copies of birth certificates and divorce decrees
8/29/06 – ordered criminal background check from Hawaii; requested references from friends for homestudy
9/19/06 – received background checks, my birth certificate, and divorce decrees
9/20/06 – switched to Guatemala (NOT an overnight decision!)
9/21/06 – signed with Reaching Out Through International Adoption; completed fingerprints and military background check; submitted homestudy questionnaire
9/22/06 – completed physical exams for homestudy; mailed I600-A to CIS in Frankfurt
9/26/06 – letter to Seoul Family Court for copy of J’s divorce decree (all docs must be issued within last two years)
9/29/06 – had to redo physical exams because a few answers were missing; gave dr. the form needed to be notarized and should be able to pick it up on Tuesday
9/29/06 – received Jesse’s birth certificate
10/3/06 – picked up notarized dr. recommendations
10/11/06 – received agency package
10/11/06 – last reference submitted
10/11/06 – contact with home study provider; h/s will be sometime in November, hopefully early on
10/26/06 – switched BACK to Hungary
10/27/06 – scheduled home study for 6 & 7 November

should've been

This was supposed to be another mildly-entertaining food entry. Lest you all think all I do with my kid is cook, that’s not so. It’s simply the only time that he’s occupied AND I have time to grab a camera and get a couple shots. So, as I was saying, this was supposed to be a food entry: Liam preparing his Daddy’s meal for work, in fact. But in the end it just didn’t work out. I feared that if I kept letting Liam “help,” Jesse would have been gnawing on an empty Rubbermaid container to get him through the night.

First, Liam helped himself to some (quite a bit) of the ham salad we were making for sandwiches.

Ironically, there is horseradish in this! I expected him to grimace, spit it back into the bowl, and start begging for a drink to wash away the taste. Nope. He went back for seconds.

I tried for another couple shots, but when Liam decided to start chowing down on the fruit I had gotten out for J, I knew it was time to take over. And, you know, photos of me preparing a packed lunch just aren’t the same!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short,
Charles Dickens MUST have had a two year old.

I’ve been somewhat lax in my posting as of late; no reason, just whatever thoughts are occupying my mind right now are not as of yet blog-ready. To tide you over, here are some pics of Liam being the cutest little fiend you ever did see. Note the new haircut — super short, which is a good thing, as it means we can keep the haircut torture to a minimum.

We took Liam with his Retro Red Rider trike to ride the walking path at SHAPE. He had an awesome time. He’s such a pro on this. I just found on their website (when making the link that you won’t follow, anyway) that they have a bicycle. I think I know what Liam’s getting for Christmas…

These other pics are simply Liam rolling around on the couch on a lazy, rainy stay-at-home afternoon.

He’s learning to ham it up for the camera.

And he’s turning into a REAL climber. He likes to climb up somewhere high and difficult, and often can’t figure out how to get himself back out. His new favorite phrase is, “Mama, rescue me.