Thursday, March 26, 2009

Curran Fundraiser

It is very difficult for families to raise money for their adoptions, and equally as difficult to ask friends and family when doing fundraisers. After much discussion, we have decided to raise $$ for both our cause, and Autism. We have applied for a grant with the Adoption Foundation of Tennessee. The Director has adopted two children, and understands the financial constraints placed on families during this time. Read below, some of you will be receiving this letter in the mail in the next few days. Feel free to take our letter to work or to any public forum you would feel is appropriate. The race is on April 18th, but the Adoption Foundations of TN will continue to receive funds until the end of April. Thanks for considering us!

March 26, 2009

Dear family and friends,

In Tennessee and around the world, children are dreaming, hoping and waiting for a family. They wait for a place to call home. At the same time, many childless couples long for a child. Often, it’s the cost of adoption that ends a family’s adoption journey.

We have chosen to support adoptive families with our participation in the Breakthrough Run for Autism on April 18, 2009, by partnering with the Adoption Foundation of Tennessee, Inc., raising awareness and money for childless couples.

The Adoption Foundation of Tennessee, Inc. helps families create strategies to generate resources and provides direct financial support to make their adoption dream a reality. As you know, we are also on our personal adoption journey and are very excited to bring home our little boy this year.

We have signed up as a member of “Team Adoption” in this race. We would like to ask you to sponsor us for this event if possible. Together we can help bring children home to their “forever families” one step at a time…literally. Can there be any greater satisfaction, than knowing you helped make that happen?

Thank you in advance for your consideration. If you feel you can help out, please send your donation to:

Adoption Foundation of Tennessee
Attn: Curran Family
131 Cherokee Heights Drive
Maryville, TN 37801

Thank you,

Bill and Michelle Curran

Saturday, March 21, 2009


For those of you that know me, you know that I am not the least bit creative. Alas, I am stuck admiring other people’s decorating ideas and appreciating their creativity. So when it came time to decorate a nursery, I went online to hopefully get some good ideas. Then….I started looking at the price tags for those good ideas. I like to consider myself thrifty, while Bill likes to refer to me as cheap.

Bill picked up a ‘world’ mobile that hangs from the ceiling a couple months ago. Since then, it seems we have been building the room around the mobile. We have a long way to go, but finally we are starting to put together a nursery. If we receive a referral for a sibling set – we will scramble for room #2 later!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Police clearance resolved?!?

Between Jessica, Pam, and my new friend Kim in Tennessee, we have finally figured out the police clearance issues (well, I think!).

I called TBI in Nashville and they are going to mail 6 ‘blue cards’ to Harmony. Harmony will mail these to us and we will run to the city county building and get fingerprinted. When we receive our referral, we will submit the fingerprints and hope they process them within 2-3 weeks. Sound easy? After we receive them back, Bill and I will do a cover page (as we have done several times throughout this process) notarizing the document as an unaltered original. We will send the document to Jessica, and she will then send them back to TN for an apostille. Whew…….

Now, we just need to figure out ‘whom’ to send them to! We also need to figure out if I can get my cover page notarized in a different state if necessary. I anticipate the later question being answered with a “no”. Since I will be traveling a lot prior to the adoption being final, we are trying to get a couple of things completed now. Normally, our homestudy agency could probably just send us to get fingerprinted locally, and it would help with a little of this drama, but I need to prevent taking time off at my new job and save all my vacation time (which is limited) for when our little one comes home. Luckily for us, our agencies are ‘creative’ in finding resolutions!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fundraiser for Kim!

Hi everyone! We have been very fortunate to talk to some wonderful families that have adopted from Russia. Nancy, Nicole, Janette, Ken and most recently Kim have been a wealth of knowledge and support during this process.

Kim and her husband adopted their first little boy from Russia in 2005, and their second little boy was adopted from Kazakhstan in 2007. They are now in process of adopting #3, this time a little girl from Russia!

Like many families that adopt internationally, Kim and her husband are very creative in possible fundraising. It is uncomfortable for many to solicit funds from family and friends - but Kim and co. has had a pretty cool idea I thought worthwhile to share. Go to and check out the custom blanket that is being auctioned off for $5. Choose from America, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, China, Vietnam and Guatemala. There is not a limit on how many raffle tickets you can purchase.

Kim's blog:

Thanks everyone for your continued support of our adoption journey - as well as your support of wonderful people like Kim and her husband that are true advocates for orphans!

Fun with documents!

Lately we have sent in several new documents for tier 2 of the dossier. Notarized letters of employment (3 changes until correct), notarized medical insurance letters, I-171H notarized as a true and exact copy, a certified warranty deed (this is being returned to re-do), and a notarized residence verification letter.

The residence verification letter was a challenge! It had to be on notarized letterhead from our Mortgage lender – but the wording was such that they were unwilling to be of assistance. Both Bill and I have worked in the mortgage industry and neither of us could blame them for not being willing to do it. So the other option was to ask a Realtor to notarize the document. The Realtor had to sell in the state of Tennessee. My brother has his Realtors license in Texas, and my best friend April is a Realtor in Missouri – but alas, we don’t know anyone in Tennessee that would be willing to sign/notarize a document with the extensive information/wording required. The third possibility was our Credit Union. We were not sure if Russia would recognize a Credit Union as a source, but Jessica (our fantastic Case Worker at WACAP) said it should be okay. I went into our Credit Union with a copy of the deed in hand, and some photos of the home and the letter complete for them to make them as comfortable as possible. All we needed was for them to put it on letterhead, sign and notarize (like they wrote the letter - gulp!). I spoke to the VP of the credit union, and at first she was hesitant - but after we talked awhile, I found out that her son recently lost a baby (he lived only a few hours after birth) so she was luckily willing to help us out. I walked out of there on cloud 9! We sent all these documents FedEx to Jessica that day.

So our next two documents are a challenge as well. We need a medical letter and a police clearance. Both of these are time sensitive, so we are doing our due diligence so when the time comes, we will know exactly what to do. On the medical letter, it is a requirement that the doctor fill in the information on each of the 7 blocks and sign his/her name on each block as well. The signature must be an exact match as his/her medical license. This must be on medical practice letterhead, and must be notarized with the same date that he/she signed the document. We also need a copy of the medical license. Jessica suggested that we contact our physicians to ensure they are willing to do this, because this form in particular has proved to be very complicated in the past. My doctor’s office says yes – I have it in writing!! Bill’s doctor’s office said yes, but after much explanation – his doctor wrote a letter and said that Bill was “fine” and notarized it. The form letter was nowhere to be found! Of course, we told them that it’s very time sensitive and to not do anything right away. What makes this funny (well, kind of funny), is that we also received a bill in the mail for his services! Ha! Let’s see closer to time how this form unfolds.

Lastly, a state wide police clearance is required. This is also time sensitive. Since I will be in Virginia during the entire month of April, I was hoping that before I left I could get this done (at least my part) – knowing that more than likely I will have to do it again in May. It is going to be very difficult to take time off to go get this done after I officially start the new job. We need to save our time off for traveling, when our bundle of joy is sick, etc. Bill’s time is fairly flexible, so this will have to be a task we do separately. To make a long story as short as possible, we cannot figure out how to get a Tennessee state clearance. We had a local police clearance (also previous states we lived in) for our homestudy, and we had an FBI clearance for our USCIS docs, but this is different. Tennessee is not willing to notarize any forms (of course, a requirement for Russia), so more than likely we will have to get fingerprinted again (already 5 sets of fingerprints between the two of us!). To make the matter even more exciting – the fingerprinting probably has to be done in Nashville again (long drive from Virginia). Nashville doesn’t accept appointments, and just sends out a letter that says we have to come in at a particular date/time! Jessica is going to make some calls on Monday, and Pam (and her wonderful assistant Brittany) from Harmony have been making some calls as well. Tuesday we will have a generic conference call with Jessica, and I am certain this will be a topic of conversation!

Bill and I are so fortunate to have such good agencies on our side. We really did a lot of “shopping around” and talking to agencies in detail. So far, this has proved to be the most important thing we have done during our adoption journey. After we submit our documents, Jessica still has to send them all over the country getting them apostilled in different locations. Thanks to both Harmony and WACAP!

We are looking forward to getting the next two requirements complete! Until then, we are trying to learn some phrases in Russian (the Judge likes to hear these in court), still working on the baby room, doing research online, reading books, etc. We want to be as prepared as possible for our chid(ren) to come home!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cute Baby Quotes!

When you are a mother, you are never alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. -Sophia Loren

The joy of having a baby today can only be expressed in two words: tax deduction. -Unknown

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. -Mark Twain

Every baby needs a lap. -Henry Robin

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. -Abraham Lincoln

Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other. -Ed Howe

Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last. -Charles Dickens

A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on. -Carl Sandburg

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. -Elizabeth Stone

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We are excited to show off a few of our baby gifts to everyone! Nana Reggie let us pick out the glider – and Papa Bill even put it together for us (I think he felt sorry for me because he has seen some of my handy work)! The stuffed animal is from Great Grandmom Lillian and Great Grandpop Stu, it looks just like their dog Mike! Great Grandma Louise and Great Grandpa Rex bought us a couple baby blankets on my last visit to Missouri - they are so soft! If you look in the left hand corner of the picture, our Puggle Gracie is looking at the stuffed animal. She was whimpering she wanted it so bad!

Our nursery is getting close to being finished. We will complete it and post some photos soon!

We are very thankful for all the support everyone is showing through cards, e-mails and phone calls. We appreciate all of you!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Changes...changes....MORE changes.....

In January 2009, the company I had been working for permanently closed its doors. Like so many other companies that have closed their doors in Tennessee and across the country, several hundred people experienced great hardship, and their lives were altered. Although this was not a great time in our lives, it was primarily upsetting because of the affects it had on our adoption. Russia ‘looks’ for a certain income amount, and without both of our incomes – we simply did not meet the sought after magic number they needed.

Bill reminded me that there is nobility in all work – even if I had to flip burgers at McDonalds (do they still flip burgers?). So luckily I found a job that met the magic number so we could get back on track with our adoption plans.

Lately, I have been fortunate enough to be approached with new career possibilities. It is amazing that in this economy that I am lucky enough to be offered a job. What is even more fortunate, and I may go as far as to call it a “miracle”, is the fact that both companies are fully aware of our adoption and were willing to work with us throughout this process. They are aware that we will make 2 trips, and they are also aware that I would like to take maternity leave after we bring home our little bundle of joy!

After much consideration, last Friday I finally accepted a job. I start in a few weeks and am really looking forward to it! I feel so blessed that I was given this opportunity not only because of our current economic crisis, but also because of our situation.

I have been searching for state comparisons/rankings on educational standards (this is completely new to me) – but this has proved harder than I previously considered (due to No Child Left Behind?). Since this is completely new territory for me, I had to stick with the in state comparisons primarily. Virginia does however have a better teacher/student ratio than Tennessee. Bill’s mom perhaps knows – what do you say Nana?

After we bring the child(ren) home, Bill and I will permanently move to Virginia. Bill is originally from Virginia and is really looking forward to moving back. We will also be much closer to Jeff, Carolyn and Emily so we look forward to having long weekends together. We just need to figure out how to get the rest of our family closer now!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Russia has cool holidays!

Sunday, March 8, is International Women's Day.

Demonstrations marking International Women's Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965, by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women's Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR "in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace."

The day remains an official holiday in …, Russia, and is observed by men giving the women in their lives - mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc., flowers and small gifts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Positive Adoption Language

The way we talk—and the words we choose—say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is.
Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings. Positive adoption language can stop the spread of misconceptions and prevent hurt feelings of the child and/or the birthparent.

Positive Language vs Negative Language
Birthparent vs Real parent
Biological parent vs Natural parent
Birth child vs Own child
My child vs Adopted child; Own child
Born to unmarried parents vs Illegitimate
Terminate parental rights vs Give up
Make an adoption plan vs Give away
To parent vs To keep
Biological or birthfather vs Real father
Making contact with vs Reunion
Parent vs Adoptive parent
Intercountry adoption vs Foreign adoption
Permission to sign a release vs Disclosure
Search vs Track down parents
Child placed for adoption vs An unwanted child
Court termination vs Child taken away
Child with special needs vs Handicapped child
Child from abroad vs Foreign child
Was adopted vs Is adopted

To Do List While We Wait.......

Get travel vaccines

Review Russian child talk and work on learning as much of the language as we can

Research International Medical Specialist - Done!

Look at preferred contact while in Russia: contact numbers, scheduled times, how much service while in Russia, etc. - Done!

Talk to other families (optional) - In Process!

Get extra passport photos

Get Russian Travel books and do research about customs and what to expect while in country

Obtain new crisp dollar bills to bring to Russia to exchange to Ruble, bill must be crisp.

Find items to interact with our child. We will need an item for each day and will be expected to leave the item with the institution.

Research the effects of institutionalization on children and begin to prepare yourself for meeting a our child - In process!

Now would be a good time to speak with your doctor to confirm they will provide you with a copy of their doctor’s license (which will be required with the medical). Occasionally, a doctor will not provide this and the family will need to seek out another doctor who will. Done!

Read adoption literature:

Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen

Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray

Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss by Claudia Jewett

Adoption Parenting by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae

Have a family (extended family and friends) meeting to discuss adoption language.
Example: “Birth Mother” vs. “Real Mother”

Start working on a “Life Book” a baby/scrapbook for your child.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Referral from Vlad

On Friday, 2/20 we were 'officially' registered in Vladivostok. On that same day, we received a referral of an 11 month old little boy. After much consideration, we decided this little guy was not right for our family, and declined the referral on 2/28. We do not have the resources available to provide the care we felt he would require, and deserves. It's our hope that he finds a family very, very soon. Please keep him in your prayers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Adoption Facts vs. Myths

Myth #1: Adopted kids grow up to have lots of problems.
Life experience should dispel this myth. Ask around and you'll be surprised by the number of well-adjusted people who have been adopted.

Myth #2: You can't really love an adopted child as much as you could love your "own" child.
Oh yes you can! Love is not limited to biology. Love for your children, by birth or adoption, grows from parenting, from nurturing, and from sharing your life. Your child is yours regardless of how he joined your family.

Myth #3: The kids adopted from Russia have all kinds of problems.
There are no guarantees in parenting - or in life, for that matter. Birth children and adopted children can have health, learning, or behavioral issues.

Myth #4: Adopted children should/will feel grateful to their adoptive parents.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but gratitude is not inherent in the nature of most children.

Myth #5: You are more likely to get pregnant after you adopt.
Adoptive children do not cast a fertility spell on their parents. Most couples with fertility issues find the comment to be a constant irritant.

Myth #6:
People who choose adoption for their baby are cold, heartless and selfish.
A mother who chooses adoption for her baby has to carry her baby in her womb for 9 months. She has nurtured that child and has bonded with that child. For a woman to place her baby in the arms of another is one of the most painful acts of selflessness known. She can only do so out of ultimate love for their child in hopes of providing for him or her the family and life she believes her child deserves.

Russian for Dummies

I love you = Ya lublu tebya

I am your daddy = твой папа

I am your mommy = Я твой мама

This is your doggy = Это ваша собачка

This is your kitty = Это ваш котенок

We love you very much = Мы любим вас очень

We will be back to bring you home soon = Мы будем к вам домой довести скоро