Hinkson Family Circle

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Almost There

We found out the good news that the Corbetts will be in Ukraine with us. Their SDA date is only a few days after ours. We hope to spend some good time with them in Ukraine with our new children. We will all be having an adventure for sure.

I wanted to explain the 1-4 children that I mentioned in the last post. We hosted Alina, Oleg and Vitaly and want to adopt all of them, that would be 3 children. Then we found out that Alina and Oleg have a younger brother (Zhenia) in an orphanage that is 150 miles away. He is 5 years old. We don't know much about him except he has been separated from them for most of his life as their mother died when he was only 2 months old. We want to see how they relate and if there is a relationship there and learn more about him when we get there. If we feel that he is to be in our family we may come home with 4.

Recently we talked to Alina who said that she no longer wants to come to America. She has some close friends in the orphanage that she doesn't want to leave. She also has an uncle who visited her recently that we didn't know about. Oksana feels that she will change her mind when we get there and she feels comfortable with us again but in case she doesn't we may not be able to adopt her or Oleg and that would mean that we come home with Vitaly (1 child). The only thing we know for sure is that the right things will happen and that we have the help of heaven on this one.

Wendy said that she has been reading her blog from a year ago. I hope that I can be 1/10th as entertaining of a blogger as she was. Someday we will look back on this whole "wondering" phase and smile. Retrospect is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25--Waiting....

We are getting excited and more excited and then we calm ourselves down and then it starts all over again. Our bags are packed. Our babysitters are arranged. Meals are frozen, tickets are bought. We are days away from an amazing experience in Ukraine. We are determined that it will be amazing no matter what happens. We could come home with 1 child or maybe 4. The uncertainty is making our lives about as far from boring as possible.

We are so grateful that our married daughters and their husbands and sons will be staying at our house while we go. They know the drill here and we trust them completely to care for our family at home. They are already better parents than we are. What a blessing for them to be willing to drop everything and step in and be the Dad and Mom. I wish the SDA could meet our married kids because they would think that we were pretty amazing parents to have such awesome offspring. We can't take the credit but are enjoying the rewards anyway!

We are hoping that the Corbetts will be in Ukraine the same time as us and that we can get our children, who are in the same area, and have friends to speak English with and enjoy the experience with. Their soon-to-be son, Andre, fell and was in a Coma for a few days which was so very hard to be here and not be able to be there with any parental rights or way to help him. Hopefully this health issue will allow them to go faster than usual. When things like this happen it makes our trials seem so small and insignificant in comparison.

We are so grateful for the support and well wishing that we have recieved. I can tell that we are going to LOVE reading the comments of those at home while we are on the other side of the world. THANK YOU!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

We are at a crossroads in this journey. Yesterday we recieved our long awaited SDA date (the day we meet in Kiev, Ukraine and officially begin the in-country adoption process) We will be meeting on May 11 at 9:00 am and will leave on May 7 to travel to Ukraine.

We have made it through the long process of the homestudy and the paperwork required for that as well as waiting for the longest 4 months ever for the USCIS clearance. Then the supporting documentation (piles of documents to gather, notorize and appostille at the State Capitol.) Submitting this to Ukraine and hoping that everything would be in order so that we could get the SDA appointment date. We have had our ups and downs in the process but are grateful for the guidance and comfort we experience as we go to gather our family in.

Our Son Bryan is serving a mission in Ukraine and it occured to us that almost 1/2 of our projected family is in a far off country.right now. Let the gathering begin!

PS Now that we have more time for details, let me add some more history about our pre-adoption drama.

We began working with Adoptionway in November. We paid our deposit of $1500 to Adoptionway. We did our homestudy and submitted our paperwork for the Homeland security I-600A . Ellie sent me information on how to submit this which is also available for free online. We paid them another $2500 for this, at the time that we terminated our contract.. While we waited for all the clearances, Irina (their facilitator in Kiev) submited the homestudy to the SDA so that we could get a submission date.. We did get a date and our I-600A approval and began to gather the documents for our dossier. This is where it became more difficult to work with Ellie. She kept telling us to go to SLC and get one form (we live in Logan area) and then would say that it wasn't the one we needed afterall and to get another form and then tell us that it wasn't going to work either and to go to SLC and get another form. When I would ask questions about other documents she would take forever (sometines a week) to get back to me and never seemed to know what we really needed. I was becoming frustrated as our submission date drew closer and I was having such difficulty getting responses from Ellie and when I did they were very tentative and she didn't seem like she knew what she was talking about.

I attended a meeting at Wendy's house for the families going this year and heard about the experience that the Corbetts were having. Their first submiison date had been 3 months before and they were on their 3rd submission and their dossier had aleady been refused twice. They were hoping that they were going to have their dossier accepted this time and actually get their SDA date. They had spent over $2000 in Fed Ex and aposstille charges to resubmit all of these papers over and over. I was pretty desperate to get to Ukraine and certainly didn't want to wait around 3 more months for an SDA date. I went home wondering if Ellie was doing some kind of a "learn as you go" system at our expense. I decided that I wanted to see if there was anyone with more experience. When I got home I googled Independent Ukranian adoption. I checked with a couple of options and spent the whole weekend trying to decide what to do.. Our submission date was only 10 days away and I knew that our dossier was not going to be ready in time if I continued to work with Ellie. Between her not knowing what we really needed and taking so long to respond to each question, I was beginning to panic.
By Sunday I felt really good about working with Cathy Harris. She had already helped several famiies to go to Ukraine this year and had adopted 4 times herself from Ukraine. I felt very peaceful that this was the change that we needed to make. I talked to Nanette and Vern Garrett, who have been our dear friends for many years and although they knew that Yuri and Ellie would not be happy if we left, They supported our decision.

On Monday I contacted Ellie and let her know that we would pay the for the work that they had done (as is outlined in their contract) but that we would not be needing their services any further. Discontinuing our association with them was completely legal and although they were very upset at the propect of losing the money they would have made from us adopting 3 children and subsequently threw a huge tantrum, we felt that we were doing the right thing.

I was amazed at what Cathy was able to accomplish in just a few hours on Monday. Cathy completely helped me do the entire Dossier (including 5 documents that were not even on the list that Ellie had sent us) in a total of 2 days. We were able to mail the dossier on Wednesday and have it submittd the following Wednesday. It was accepted the first time and we recieved an SDA date very quickly.

When we left Adotionway we were heavily attacked by Ellie. She sent an email threatening to do several things and stating that she could halt our entire adoption with one phone call. She then sent one saying that I was not a Christian person and a bad person because I had decided to discontine our business relationship. She accused me of working with Cathy for several weeks behind her back. She would not believe that Cathy could finish the dossier for us in such a quick timeframe which substantiated my fear that it would have taken her weeks to finish what we had done in only 2 days. She accused us of leaving only to save money and could not believe that Cathy's group could only charge $1000 for each additional child, when they were charging $4000 for each additional child. I explained to her that although the cost differences were substantial, we left due to competency and communicaton issues. We would have had no reason to look elsewhere if we had been having the experience that we had been promised with Adoptionway.

Working with Cathy Harris was a completely different experience. Cathy was there for me 24/7 She would IMMEDIATELY answer my emails and call me right back with solid knowledgable answers. She emailed me more in 2 days than Ellie had in the entire time we had worked together. In huge contrast to what I had experienced with Ellie, Cathy really knew her stuff. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven.
Adoptionway continued to be a problem. They told Irina (the girl who had turned in our homestudy for us, which required a visit to the SDA) that she wouldn't be working with us afterall and she demanded $1000 from us. Adoptionway refused to pay her for her work and although we had not hired her, and had paid Adoptionway thousands of dollars, we went ahead and gave her $500. Her response was not one of gratitude for this gesture but she was upset that we hadn't given her a full $1000.00. When most Ukranians makes only $100 a month we thought that $500 was generous for a task that took about an hour. She also went to our new facilitator and begged him to hire Oksana who is her partner in the process. Irina does the same job as Kostya and stays in Kiev. Kostya contacted us and asked if that would be OK. We had heard good things about her and agreed to have Oksana represent us in the region.

Ellie continued to accuse us of changing for soley financial reasons. Although this was a small factor in our decision, it was certainly not the only reason. We paid the following by working with Cathy Harris:
$1500 for dossier prep to Cathy Harris
$4500 for faciittors paid to Kostya in Ukraine for his and Oksana's work
This group charges $1000 for each additional child that is adopted as opposed to the $4000 for each additional child which is charged by Adoptionway.

If we had stayed with Adoptionway we would have paid:
$24,000 for the adoption of the 3 children that we hoped to adopt plus $4000 for the possibility of adopting 1 sibling that we didn't end up adopting. I am confident that we would not have had this money refunded. When another family went to Ukraine and ended up not being able to adopt the child that they hosted they asked for a partial refund since the process ended so early, but they were told that in the contract it states that they cannot guarantee particular children and that they could have chosen another child and therefore would not be able to get any refund.

So although the money difference between 28,000 and $6,000 is substantial, we would have paid the amount required by Adoptionway if they had been doing a good job for us.

As you can see, the pre-Ukraine experience has been kind of a nightmare for us. We wish that we had worked with Cathy Harris/Ukrainian Angels from the beginning. It would have saved us a lot of grief and wasted time and money.