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As we re-group from this week’s unexpected events, we thought this might be a good time to switch gears and share another wonderful find I discovered at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. This time our featured designer is the Spanish carpet manufacturer nanimarquina.
nanimarquina is a rug designer and manufacturer of exquisite handmade rugs, most of which are handmade in India, Pakistan, and Morocco using traditional hand tufted, hand knotted, hand loomed, and Kilim techniques. Their rugs are made with natural materials such as cotton, jute, and wool. Yet aside from making beautiful rugs, nanimarquina is also part of a group of companies working to make a difference within their industry by teaming up to help eliminate child labor in the countries where many of their products are produced. nanimarquina has teamed up with the Care&Fare initiative, to make a difference in children’s lives.
Care&Fair is a group committed to the fight against illegal child labor in the carpet production industry in the countries of India, Pakistan, and Nepal. The main goal of Care&Fare is to give children a chance in life, by providing them an opportunity to attend school and receive an education. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are nearly 250 million children world wide still forced to work in various industries. It is therefore, rewarding to hear that designers like nanimarquina are stepping up to make a difference within their industry to help eliminate child labor. As a member of the initiative, nanimarquina contributes 1% of the income from rug imports to Care&Fair programs. Care&Fair in turn is able to finance schools, hospitals, and health programs for children in India, Pakistan, and Nepal.
The Kala Rug, is a project in collaboration with nanimarquina and Care&Fare. This collection was created from original drawings submitted by children in the Care&Fare schools in India. Proceeds from the sales of this rug will be donated to Care&Fare in order to help finance a school in India.
We have heard stories about families that have gone through one of the most difficult parts of the adoption journey, finding out that the birth parents want to keep the baby. When we decided to adopt, we knew this was a risk we would have to accept, therefore since this blog is about sharing our adoption journey, we will share not just the ups, but also the downs of our journey.
Last week we received a most unexpected call; there was a family looking for adoptive parents to adopt their baby twins and it just so happened that we were prime candidates for this adoption. Even though we did not specify that we wanted to adopt twins, we jumped at the opportunity, since we knew we eventually wanted to adopt two children. We were ecstatic at the thought of welcoming two identical little ones into our family. So we submitted our profile and home study and prayed for the best. The next day we found out the mother was interested in us and wanted to speak to us immediately. So the call was made and a couple of hours later, we received a call from the agency that we were officially matched! Our hearts were pounding with joy, we were going to be the parents of two little twins. WOW was all I could say. Our life would change so quickly.
So immediately we had to rethink, re-strategize, and prepare for twins. Oh and on top of everything else, the babies were due in less than three weeks! So we had to prepare quickly. Immediately we began prepping. We went to Babies-R-Us signed up for the registry and started to look for a bigger car…. and then it happened. While we were at the dealership test driving a car, we got a call from the agency, the mother wanted to speak to us again. Oh no, what could this be? Are the babies Ok, are they on the way? What was so urgent? So we rushed home and immediately set up the call. Turns out the mother wanted to ask us some more questions and find out more about us, because she was feeling really emotional about the babies. So once the call was over we talked to the social worker and we began to feel unsure about the whole thing. The social worker told us that she felt the phone call went really well. We answered her questions and maybe she just wanted to confirm that we would be loving parents for her children. Deep down inside though, we felt that she was having second thoughts, which made for a very sleepless night. The next morning, we got a call from the social worker to see how were doing and she told us that she was getting ready to call the mother and see how she felt after our long discussion the day before. Exactly one hour later, we received another call from the social worker. “Bad news I am afraid, after much thought the mother has decided to keep the babies and not give them up for adoption.” Oh boy, this was not the news we wanted to hear. I suddenly felt like my heart was just yanked out and pounded with a hammer. Even though we never had a chance to meet these little babies, I already felt like I started to grow a spot in my heart for them and now there was a huge empty hole left where the little spot was just pulled right out. In a way we have to feel happy that the children will stay with their mother, but knowing the circumstances which the mother described to us, I can’t help but feel sorry and and only hope that she has made the right decision in keeping them. Thinking about it now, it also feels as if she wasn’t adequately counseled by her social worker as to what to expect when making such an important decision. So what happens next, we asked ourselves? That is the big question, back to the wait list, back to the waiting room, back in line.
How we keep on moving forward, is yet to be seen? It will be difficult, but I guess we just have to accept it and move on, that is about all we can do and hope that the next match will end on a happier note for all involved.
Exciting things are in the works! We have been extremely busy the past few weeks. Aside from making diagrams to explain the adoption process and sending out adoption grant applications, we have been seeking out the best way to bring to you affordable art to decorate your walls. Soon we will have available for purchase art prints of some of the work that is featured in the books as well as some new artwork never before shown. If you are interested in purchasing a print of a particular painting please let me know.
Also if you have not purchased your copy of the books, please do so at our bookstore on Blurb and remember with all your purchases, part of the proceeds will go directly to help fund our adoption expenses.
Plus if you live in Philly, be on the look out for local art exhibits with designforadoption work.
Often times we are asked what steps were involved for us to be placed on the wait list for our adoption. Being that we are visual thinkers, we decided to map out graphically all the steps involved in our out-of-state adoption. We hope that this is helpful in explaining the seemingly complicated application process.
Earlier this year I attended the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York to take in the latest and greatest furniture products from around the world. After looking at hundreds of chairs, light fixtures, and tables, I came upon the most unexpected find. An amazing cradle designed not only to fit into any contemporary modernist aesthetic pallet, but designed primarily with the baby’s comfort in mind. Upon further discussion with the designer of the so-ro cradle, I realized that what made this cradle so unique was not just the beautifully crafted and designed cradle I saw on the floor of the exhibit hall, but also the amazing work that Ane Lillian Tveit has contributed in her dedication to the betterment of disabled children’s lives.
Ane Lillian Tveit was one of the designers featured in the Norwegian booth at the fair. When I first saw the cradle, I was immediately intrigued but I was not quite sure what it was. With its oblong design and sculptural quality, I thought it looked like a cradle but it was unlike any cradle I had ever seen. Fortunately Ane Lillian, an occupational therapist by training, explained to me the theory behind her design. She said, “Babies love to rock” and I was a bit confused. So she went on to explain how different motions, when perceived by the baby, can create different effects on the baby’s comfort. For example, the forward rocking motion of a rocking chair can have a calming or soothing affect on the baby, while side ways or lateral motion can often cause dizziness or discomfort. The so-ro cradle is designed to rock in a forward motion similar to that of a rocking chair, unlike the sideways motion of typical cradles, providing the baby a soothing effect that helps them fall asleep. The cradle is also designed with safety in mind and made with natural materials. Additionally, it is also made to be easily assembled and disassembled for easy storage.
What is not easily apparent at foremost, is Ane’s other work, as an occupational therapist. Ane dedicates much of her work hours to help make better lives for disabled children in Moldova, Eastern Europe, often described as the poorest country in Europe. Her work there has helped countless children by improving their living conditions and by helping contribute to their integration in the Moldovan society. In 2011 Ane was awarded the Children of the Earth Prize for her extensive work in Moldova.
Now that we are active on the wait list, the next big step, or should I say GIANT step, for us is to secure funding for our adoption. So how much does adoption cost, you might ask? Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question, because depending on the type of adoption chosen, domestic vs. international; foster to adopt vs. private adoption, they all come with different associated costs both financial and emotional. In foster to adopt there is the possibility that you may be placed in a situation were you will be fostering many children before one is available to adopt by the state or you might be fostering a child in your house for years and then be told the child is being returned to their biological family. For those that feel comfortable handling this type of situation, this option, is the most affordable since there are many state subsidies which help to defray the costs often times making it virtually free to adopt. During the time you are fostering, the state provides monthly stipends and pays for many of the adoption related expenses. Additionally, in many states, the child will also receive free college tuition if they attend a state school. After we spoke to various state agencies; however, it became apparent that this was not the option we were looking for. What we were told was that if we wished to adopt an infant, it is often times more difficult to go through foster to adopt, since most children in the foster care system tend to be older. It is not impossible, but it may take years to be able to adopt an infant. Therefore we were advised that if we wanted to adopt an infant, we might have more success going with a private agency.
The cost of a private adoption is a pretty daunting amount: from application fees, home study fees, agency fees, legal fees, travel fees and finalization of the adoption, the cost can range anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000. Essentially the majority of the costs are used to pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses, counseling on their decision to give their child up for adoption, and marketing expenses incurred by the agency. The other expenses go toward the home study and application fee, multiple copies of a profile booklet, travel expenses, and legal fees, not to mention all the time spent filling out all the paper work, and running around getting finger printed by different agencies.
At this time it became crucial to create a plan to pay for all these expenses. With the application and home study fees already paid, the remainder of the cost proved to be the tricky part since this is the largest sum.
While doing research to find out how others pay for adoption, we have found many useful suggestions. From savings, home equity loans, employer benefits, bank loans, government tax credits, credit cards, to grants and possibly getting a second job. Yes, we have read many stories about people getting a second job to pay for their adoption.
We all know that the banks pretty much collapsed in 2008 and they are very strict now in lending money (even though we were forced to bail them out!) Before 2008, banks like MBNA and Bank of America used to provide adoption loans. However, banks no longer offer this type of loan. The only two options available are a home equity loan or a personal loan. Since we bought our house in 2008, around the time of the housing bubble burst, our house did not appraise for the percentage required for a home equity. Therefore, the only option for us is a personal loan. A personal loan has the highest interest rate from all loans since it is unsecured. Although, we quickly found out that due to the fact that we own a house and have student loans (yup, our education actually penalized us on this!), our debt to income ratio is too high to get the full amount needed for our adoption. Hmmm imagine that. Does not matter that we have no other debt (which took us years to accomplish), or that we have amazing credit scores, the banks were only concerned about the formulas. Luckily, we did manage to find a small bank and a credit union that were willing to work with us to lend us a partial amount of the adoption fee. I would recommend staying away from the large banks since they are a waste of time!
You can call around to all your credit cards to see what are the best rates for a balance transfer into your checking account or if they have any special promotions. This again would have been easier prior to the credit card reforms since interest rates spiked in 2009.
Employer Adoption Benefits:
Many companies offer employer adoption benefits, which include paid time off and a one time adoption bonus, sometimes up to $10,000! Unfortunately our field is not the field to be in if you are looking for these types of benefits and consider yourself lucky if you get any paid maternity or paternity leave these days. The Dave Thomas Foundation has information on adoption friendly workplaces as well as a tool kit to help you talk to your company about the benefits of promoting an adoption friendly environment.
There are many non-profits and religious based entities out there that offer grants that base the amount rewarded on need or a variety of other qualifications. However, you do need to have an approved home study before you apply for many of these grants and you also need to check ahead to see when the application deadlines are.
Federal Adoption Tax Credit:
Currently the tax credit is set to approximately $13,000 until 2011. This credit is applied for with your income tax return and is a full reimbursement for the amount allotted, which is a new and nice change from previous federal adoption credits. Hopefully, the government will continue this tax credit since it is invaluable to adoptive parents!
Many people also say just be creative, hold a bake sale, sponsor a run, or try selling your personal items on eBay. This is essentially where we are now, trying to use our creativity to raise some extra money by sharing our story with family and friends and by creating an online presence. If you can find something you are good at then do it! You will find the generosity in people’s hearts will go a long way!