~ Leap Of Faith ~

The Collins Family

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween in the Philippines

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Since Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, I have been wondering if Halloween is celebrated in the Philippines and if it is, is it similiar to the U.S. holiday? Approximately 90% of the Philippines follow the Catholic faith and the word Halloween is actually a contraction for All Hallows Eve, which is the Eve of All Saints Day.

In the Philippines, Halloween is celebrated on the evening of All Souls’ Day (November 1) instead of on the evening of October 31 as in the United States. In most American communities Halloween parties are held mostly for fun and entertainment, but in the Philippines Halloween is observed in remembrance of the souls of the dead. There are several traditions celebrated by the Filipino people. One tradition is prayer for the departed souls. It is believed by many Catholics that these prayers will help save the souls of their departed loved ones or release them from Purgatory. Another tradition is the burning of candles on the family altar in the evening. This is done to welcome the souls of the dead who, as many believe, are free to roam about on Halloween night. The number of candles lit in a family's home symbolizes the number of people who have died in the family. The most interesting tradition is the way the Halloween feast for the dead is celebrated. The feast is supposedly served to the souls of the departed who are believed to be able to visit their former homes on that night, although it is actually the living who enjoy the feast. A table is set and filled with foods that the departed souls liked best when they were alive. When the table has been set and the food is prepared, the head of the household calls the names of the dead and invites them to eat. The family then goes into another room for a time of prayer. It is believed that while the family prays the departed souls get their fill of food. Once the prayer time is over, the family returns to the table to enjoy a big feast.

Times in the Philippines have changed and it has become very westernized in its practice of Halloween traditions. Around 30 years ago, Halloween wasn't really a big deal and was mainly read about in books or was confined to TV shows. Now costumes and parties have become part of the Halloween tradition and celebrations similiar to that of the U.S. are included. The Filipino traditions however are a great reminder to our family that this holiday, properly understood and celebrated with all of its fun activities, can be a way for us to deepen our understanding of our Catholic faith. The key to this understanding is close at hand for Catholics in our love of the communion of saints. We should be able to laugh at the dark side and dress up in costumes and have parties. We can reclaim our heritage with all the story power, creativity and joyous good fun of Halloween. Let’s use it to help us become the saints we are each called to be.

All Saints Day in the Philippines
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Jaidyn and Addy in their Halloween Costumes. They would pass as saints, wouldn't they? :)
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thank You To All

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Wes and I have loved seeing that many of our friends and family members have visited our adoption blog. Thanks for the kind, loving comments that you all have written to us. We really appreciate your support, prayers and encouragement! And remember, you can keep posting all throughout our process as it will be a great way for us to keep-in-touch throughout our wait. We check our blog often throughout the week and we promise to keep it updated throughout our process.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Earlier today I started working on our I-600A application. The I-600A application is the first portion of the paperwork that has to be filed through the USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services). A U.S. Immigrant Visa is required for each child being adopted from abroad. This visa will allow our child to enter and reside in the United States.

I have finished filling out all of the initial application and tomorrow will begin to gather some of the other documents that have to be included...birth certificates, marriage certificates and copy of homestudy. We have already had to include all of these with our Dossier paperwork, so I am hoping that I made extra copies. Once all of this has been submitted, our local USCIS office in Kansas City, will contact us with a date and time to appear at the USCIS office to be fingerprinted. Once we have been fingerprinted it will take approximately 2-3 months to get our 171-H clearance letter.

I am really not sure why we have to be fingerprinted again, especially since this will be our 3rd time doing so. We just had them done a couple of months ago in Jeff City with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Apparently the FBI agency doesn't work closely with other law enforcement agencies. You would think that they would all share information such as fingerprints and have it in a large database that would be accessible to all law enforcement agencies, but that would probably be too easy.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I Love Garage Sales!!!

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As most of you already know, I love garage sales! I look forward to Friday mornings when the girls and I meet my mom and we drive all over town looking for those amazing bargains. Yes, I do it mainly because of my Ebay business, but at the same time I think it has become an addiction. I look forward to it every week and am a little sad that each weekend may be the last as the cold weather will soon set in.

Over a week ago, Friday, I had dropped Jaidyn off at pre-school and my mom, Addy, and I were out hitting the garage sales. As I was paying for a couple of items, I started talking with the two women who were having the sale, and I honestly can't remember how it came up but I ended up telling them that we were in the process of adopting from the Philippines. The woman who was taking my money, immediately got excited and told me that she is from the Philippines. To make a long story short...she has been living in the U.S. for 3 years. Her husband is in the army and I am guessing that is how they met. They have two beautiful children a girl and boy who I am guessing are both under the age of 4. She said that all of her family still lives in Manila, Philippines. She asked if we would be traveling soon as they will all be traveling back to the Philippines to stay for a month in December. I told her about how far along we were in the process and that we still had a long wait ahead of us. Too bad we wouldn't be traveling because she would be a great person to help guide us along in travel. She gave me her phone number, so that I could contact her with any questions before we travel. I was so excited about meeting her because I think she could help guide us with travel plans down the road.

If this isn't fate...this past Friday my mom and I were once again out going to garage sales while Jaidyn was at pre-school. And I just so happen to run into Cecilia, the Filipino woman that I met last weekend. She was at the sale with her two children. So once again we started talking and she already gave me some tips about travel in the Philippines, especially as a tourist. She said that if her husband has to go back to Iraq for a long period of time that she will move her family back to the Philippines for that time. She gave me her email address just in case they would move so that I would be able to contact her. So her family may be in the Philippines after all during our time of travel.


Lately I have been doing quite a bit of research about the Philippines. I have become a member of a Yahoo Philippines adoption group and even though the posts are hard for me to follow at times, because I think so many of them have been members for quite some time, I am learning a little bit about the city of Manila as this is where we will be traveling to in the future when we meet our child. I also happened to stumble upon this website link that gives travel advice for the Philippines. This information is current as of today. All I can say is YIKES! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
City of Manila

Here is a small summary...
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines because of the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive credible reports that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners. Some reports suggest that terrorists could target sites in Metro Manila and Mindanao including the Sulu Archipelago. If you do decide to travel, you should exercise extreme vigilance when you are in the Philippines.


We will definitely be using a KBF staff assistance throughout our stay. I haven't heard any horror stories yet, but will definitely take precautions when we travel. I am sure Wes aka Rambo will have everything covered.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Paperwork, Paperwork, and More Paperwork

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When we started the adoption process, I knew that there would be a lot of paperwork to fill out to complete our homestudy and our dossier. Once the agency accepted our initial application both the homestudy packet and Philippine program binder with the dosssier portion were sent to us. Our agency told us that on average it takes couples 3-6 months to complete all of this. Being competitive by nature (probably from sports), I was thinking that Wes and I would not be the average couple and we would have our paperwork completed within 3 months and so 3 months became my goal. Volleyball season starts in August, but doesn't really get going until games start at the beginning of September. My goal was to have all of the paperwork out of our hands by September 1st.

Our first portion to tackle was all paperwork associated with the homestudy. The homestudy exam included a huge packet of questions for both Wes and I to fill out. The questions dealt with childhood experiences, relationships, finances, education, faith, and future plans. We had to have copies of birth certificates, marriage license and police background checks. I also had to do an indepth overview of our finances. Once we sent in all of this paperwork, our homestudy advisor, Judy called to set up an appointment to meet with us. I was so nervous about her coming to our home. I spent the entire week before cleaning our home from top to bottom. I had this vision of her coming in with a white glove doing a full home inspection. Our friend, Rick and Cheryl also had Judy for their homestudy. They put us at ease as they told us that she was fantastic and really put them at ease from the moment she walked into their home. She didn't even ask to look around their home. They had to ask her if she wanted a tour before she left. At first, Rick did tell us to make sure and do a good job of cleaning our attic space above our carport (which I haven't even seen to this day) because Judy likes to climb.

Judy came to our home for the first time and we spent a couple of hours talking about our homestudy paperwork just to make sure that she understood everything so that she could write up our homestudy paperwork. She watched us have interactions with Jaidyn and Addy and then we talked about just life in general. It was much more informal than I had expected. Our second visit with Judy went well also as she had emailed us the homestudy earlier in the week to review and check for errors. She made the corrections and told us she would have the final copy finished and sent to Holt by the end of the week.

While we were waiting to have our homestudy finalized, we began working on our dossier. Putting together everything for our dossier was a daunting task, and took a lot of time. The dossier is the presentation of our family to the Philippine government, so every little detail had to be perfect and precise. It consists of material specifically requested by the government to support our application for adoption.

Here is the Philippines Dossier Checklist
Family Pictures
* Two identical sets of 8-10 different photographs, mounted on 8 1/2 X 11 paper
Photopgraphs to be included are of yourselves, immediate and extended family members, rooms inside of house and outside of home.
Birth Certificates
*One certified copy and 2 copies
Marriage Certificate
* One certified copy and two copies
Police Clearance
* One on official letterhead and 2 copies
Medical Forms
*The medical exams included testing for HIV and tuberculosis. We also had to include letter's from our physician showing that Jaidyn and Addy were up to date on all medical exams and shots.
1040 Federal Income Tax Form
* Three copies of 1st page only
Reference Letters
* One original and 2 copies - include employer references for each spouse, friends,and priest who have known applicants 5 years or more.
Psychological Evaluation
* this has to be completed by a licensed psychologist or social worker with an LCSW degree. Report has to be 1-2 pages in length and should include statements of family relationship, early childhood experiences, and coping mechanisms in relationship to crisis.
Application Form For Inter-Country Adoption
Information and Personal Data Form
Self-Report Questionaire
*Wes and I both had a series of questions that we had to answer about our families, reoccuring dreams, friendships, and self.
Letter of Acceptance
* To be written by the designated guardians of our children. Wes and I have chosen my parents, Dave and Rhonda to be the guardians of our children if something should happen to us and we were no longer capable of caring for them.
Type of Child Acceptable To Family
* Complete to match child preference in our homestudy.

Compiling all of this paperwork was very time consuming. We had to spend a day in Jeff City to get our police background completed and notorized. We had to schedule separate medical exams to fit our work schedules and had to go back later in the week to have the tests read and have letters written for Jaidyn and Addy that they were in good health and up-to-date on all of their shots. I made many phone calls trying to find a psychologist who would do an evaluation for an adoption without making it a huge drawn out process. I was also hoping that our insurance would cover this evaluation, but no such luck. The evaluation did take up one whole afternoon, but she came to our home to do it, so that was nice that we didn't have to drive to Springfield or St. Louis to have one done. We should have asked people to write us reference letters when we first started our dossier paperwork, but waited to do this until we were finished with all of it, so it took us several weeks to receive these back from everyone.

We sent our finished Dossier paperwork to Holt on September 11th. So I was a couple of weeks over my original goal, but it is a great feeling to have it done and out of our hands. I received an email from Kristine, the assistant Philippines program director within a week letting Wes and I know that everything looked good and it has been sent on to KBF.

I also received this email from her on Friday, September 28th.

Eva from KBF e-mailed me today, and said that she has now endorsed your dossier and submitted it to ICAB today. It will take approximately 3 months for their approval, and then you will be added to the "Roster of Approved Applicants." We will contact you when we have this good news. Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a great weekend!
Kristine Daniels"

So now we just sit back and wait to hear that we have officially been put on the Roster of Approved Applicants. We should hopefully hear something by Christmas at the latest. Completing the dossier has required a great deal of work and persistence, but we are sure the reward will certainly be worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Family Picture

One day back when I was working on our Dossier paperwork, I had a question about the psychological evaluations that we had to have completed for this process. I called the assistant director of the Philippines program. We were talking about the overall process and time frames. She broke in to our conversation and said that she had some good news and that currently the long wait for a referal has decreased by a couple of months for Filipino-American couples. She must have been looking at our file and came across our family picture right at the same time that she said "Filipino-American". She immediately said, "I don't think that this will apply to your family". I guess blond hair and blue eyes don't really match the description of a Filipino/Asian background. Too bad we didn't have Wes's dad J.R. in the picture. With his nicely tanned skin, we might have appeared to have some Filipino in our family and our wait time could have been shorter. :)
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Mama LaLa & Papa J.R.

The Richardson Family

I am constantly amazed at how many people we have met since we started the adoption process. We had hoped to gain friendships from fellow adoptive families once we started the process, but didn't expect it so soon. When we first were contacted by Holt, they gave us the name and email address of the Richardson family in Richland (keep in mind, this is a town of 1800 people) who have adopted two children from Korea through their agency. We were so excited to have another couple in our same town who had experienced this process. At this time, we still hadn't chose Holt as our agency or chose which country we would adopt from. In fact, we were still coming to the realization that this was God's plan for our family. I emailed Rick and Cheryl and told them a little about our family and how we think that adoption is the route we want to follow to build our family. Cheryl emailed me back and it felt as if we had been friends for years. She immediately welcomed all of my questions. I loved the pictures that she sent me of Emily and Cole. She too, had used a Santa Claus theme for their pictures. Our last pictures of the girls were for our Christmas cards and they both were in little Santa dresses. I also loved the picture of Cole that they received as a referral picture. His hair was standing straight up. So cute! I was so nervous about sending an email to someone who I didn't know, but all that fear went away once I heard back from her. The Richardson family is absolutely amazing. Rick and Cheryl are fantastic and they have so much love for their both of their children, Emily and Cole. Cheryl and I continued to correspond through email and decided that our families should meet.

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The Richardson Family

Rick and Cheryl came over for a barbecue one evening. Wow, what a beautiful family. We spent the entire evening talking about adoption. I loved that their family was so "normal" and "real". Both of them were so open about their adoption process and why they chose international adoption. Listening to their story made Wes and I realize that the fears that we had about adoption were many of the same fears that we had experienced with Jaidyn and Addy. There are no guarantees with any children.

I do want to add that Cheryl caused me to gain 5 pounds within a week. She brought over an entire dish of cookies that night and she insisted on leaving them at our house. And everyone who knows me well, knows that I have no willpower when it comes to CHOCOLATE. So what is a girl to do but eat them...all of them. :) I have forgiven her, but she is no longer allowed to bring cookies ever again.

Jaidyn and Emily (3) paired up immediately. I think they played with every toy that we might possibly own. Cole and Addy clung to their mommy's the entire evening which was probably a good thing because I am not sure Jaidyn and Emily would have welcomed them in to their newly acquired friendship.

Later that evening, Jaidyn asked me when she and Addy would get to play with Emily and Cole"d" next. It cracked me up how she added a "D" to the end of his name. She was so proud of her new friendships.

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Emily & Cole

We have since had a few play dates. We met at the park one day, but got caught in a thunderstorm and spent most of the time underneath the pavilion. I think the storm was their favorite part as the pavilion flooded and the kids enjoyed puddle jumping. Rick and Cheryl also had us out for Mexican food one night. Yum, my favorite! She made a fantastic taco salad that put any of my burnt enchilada meals to shame. She shared the recipe with me, but I have lost it, so this reminds me that I need to get it from her again. :) They also had the girls and I out to swim one afternoon. It was a nice, relaxing day.

We have been so fortunate to have met Rick and Cheryl. They are an amazing couple and we are so glad that through the miracle of adoption we have crossed paths and our lives have been brought together. They have been so great to share all of our adoption moments with. We hope that our families will be able to celebrate many more wonderful moments together.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Choosing The Philippines

After lots of time researching and lots of prayers we decided to adopt from the Philippines through Holt International Children's Services. We felt that we not only best matched this country's criteria, but that it was a great fit for our family.

We chose Holt International Children's Services out of Eugene, Oregon because they are a reputable intercounty adoption agency that is recognized worldwide. They are the largest international adoption agency, having united nearly 40,000 children with adoptive families in the United States. Holt's approach is unique as it's centered on the child. We loved the fact that they have developed many programs overseas to give orphaned and vulnerable children a safe and nurturing environment in which to develop. They also have programs in place to first try and preserve the birth family or pursue a domestic adoption. This also helps assure us that international adoption was the best solution for our child. They also do many Child care projects in the Philippines. While assigned children are waiting for their permanent families, they are many times placed in foster families where they can encounter a family-like environment. This helps the child to better develop and prepares them to bond with their adoptive parents. In situations where institutional care is used, there is a high ratio of child care workers to children.

Adoption is a lifelong process, and Holt offers many programs that are enjoyed by adoptive parents and adoptees well after their adoption is complete. Heritage camps, birth country tours, birth family searches are just some of the things that we hope to someday experience as a family. We also love receiving the quarterly magazine that is devoted to adoption news, family stories and pictures, and resources.

We chose the Philippines for many reasons. The majority of the children placed are 12-24 months of age. While Wes and I both enjoyed the baby stage with Jaidyn and Addy, we really liked it when they both started walking and communicating. They are both at the ages where they are so much fun. The average time frame from the time of application through the time of placement is 28 months. We began our application process in May of 2007. So by my calculations we are looking at around September of 2009 before we meet our child. Yes, this will be a loooonnnnggg wait, but this will best fit our family as Jaidyn will be 5 and Addy will be 3. Our child will be between the age of 1-2, so this will keep them all at least a year apart. Plus we need the extra time to save money. Having such a long wait has allowed us to spread out some of the fees. The Philippines does not offer an escort service so we will have to travel to the country. I am actually very excited about this as I have never left the country. This will give Wes and I an opportunity to actually experience the Filipino culture. The Philippines requires us to travel to the country for a minimum of 5 days. Many countries mandate that you have to travel and stay for an average of 2-3 weeks and some required 2 trips. It will be hard enough for us to be away from Jaidyn and Addy for a week as we travel, but also think it will be important for us to have the extra time to bond with our child before adding two rambunctious kiddos to the mix. The Philippines requires that we must be open to a child of either gender. Even though we can't officially request a gender we can give a preference. Wes and I think that a little boy would complete our family. Maybe it is because I came from a family of 2 girls and a boy. Or maybe I like to think how boring my parents life would have been if it would have just been Jill and I. Jared has definitely made their lives more interesting. Ha! Ha! Jared, if you are reading this. Wes would love to have a son as he already thinks that he is living in a soreighty house and would love to have someone on his side. Our homestudy provider also told us that most people prefer girls so our chances of getting a boy are pretty high. The Philippines program also tries to match families with a different gender than what they already have. However, if we should get a referral for a beautiful baby girl we would feel greatly privileged and know that God has our family perfectly planned out.

Here is a link to Holt's page of frequently asked questions in regards to adoption from the Philippines.

Leap Of Faith

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The Collins Family in May 2007
Perfect & Complete...well almost.

I have started this blog so I can journal our experiences as we take a Leap of Faith towards the miracle of adoption. I want to share with our family, friends and our child how he/she became a part of our family.

We have already been tremendously blessed with two beautiful biological daughters, and at one time thought our family may be complete. This was until April of 2007 when God began to put on my heart the desire to adopt. I was drawn to Dateline and Oprah shows about children living in poverty stricken countries. I began having dreams about our family not yet being complete. Every time I turned around, I was meeting families who had already built their family though adoption or who were in the process. Not able to sleep one night, I got online and requested adoption packets from several different agencies. After sending off for these packets, I fell asleep instantly and had the best night sleep that I had had in over a month.

Over the course of the next week, the adoption packets began to arrive in the mail. They were all filled with many pictures of children, the agency history, the countries that they worked with and their criteria, and most of them sent a DVD with family adoption stories. Wes was working nights during this time so when the girls went to bed, I began looking through the packets. My heart ached for all of the children without families and yet I found joy in every happy ending story. I knew that God had put adoption on my heart and I was ready to take this Leap Of Faith and follow his calling. Now for the tough part...getting Wes on board.

At first Wes was shocked that adoption was even something that I wanted to consider. Why would we want to adopt when we were able to have children of our own? How could I possibly be thinking about adding on to our family when we had two little ones under the age of 2 1/2? Then when I got to the part about how much international adoption costs it was pretty much an immediate NO. Of course, finding the financial means was a huge concern of mine as well. I knew that Wes wasn't going to be easily persuaded, but asked him to take some time, think about it, and pray about it. Within a week he gave me the okay, "Let's Do It!" Wes has been so helpful with all of the paperwork. He got all our papers notorized, rearranged his work schedule so that he could make all medical exams and homestudy appointments, and I have to admit he got all of his needed reference letters back first.

So why have we chosen adoption? Wes and I have come to the realization that this is what God wants for our family. We feel that we have more love to share with another child and that God has called us to notice and feel the needs of others through the miracle of adoption. As Christians, we are reminded of God’s love for orphans. Adoption is one means of caring for these orphans. Adoption is a gift of love on everyone’s part with the child’s best interest of security, belonging, and happiness for the future at heart. We will always have a special place in our hearts for the birthmother and birthfather of our child as they truly made the ultimate sacrifice of love. We pray for their health often. We know that there are a lot of unknowns in the adoption process, but also know that God is with us every step of the way. God has already blessed us as a family in so many ways. We feel that if we didn’t follow this calling from God we would be missing out on another one of his blessings. We are unconditionally committed to sharing love with our child and including them into our forever family. And so here were are, taking this Leap Of Faith.

We would appreciate any prayers as we embark on this adventure. We wait expectantly for all that He has for us along this journey and we would like to welcome you to come along for the ride! Feel free to visit and share comments to our postings.