Wednesday, April 25, 2012

the past 7 days have been nothing short of eventful for the lotz household. we officially finalized Brody's adoption (hallelujah!), worked with our friends to run a huge (larger than we ever expected) garage sale, and then found out what Baby #2 will be (more on that in a second). throw in there a few baseball games, gathering large furniture donations for the garage sale, and a gender reveal party, and you have yourself a busy and excited family.

i'll start with the adoption finalization: Coacher, myself, Brody, and plenty of our family members met at the circuit courthouse in our city and met with the judge to get this thing done. it was basically a formality, but it was quite a thrill to check it off the list and get this crazy road of adoption behind us.

we didn't really know how to dress for the occasion. i wore a dressy outfit consisting of the few clothes i can still fit into, brad wore a long-sleeve button down shirt with khaki SHORTS and running shoes (pretty much my fault...didn't realize he didn't have long khakis), and brody wore his khakis and a polo. he looked the best out of everyone, by far. anyway, on to the courthouse experience. we sat in a small courtroom about two feet from the judge, yet our lawyer had to ask for permission to approach the judge. it's this sort of thing that makes me weary of the judicial system in general. REALLY? she had to ask for permission to take two steps forward? anyway...

Coacher and i both had to take the stand as witnesses. this was news to me, and i have to admit that it freaked me out. mostly, i was worried they would ask questions about what it was like to worry the entire first 6 months of Brody's life. i could just see myself breaking down on the stand into a ball of sobs and snorts. but it was painless. when each of us took our turn, they told us to state our names and then our lawyer asked us leading questions that required only an answer of "yes." all went well until she asked, "do you believe it is in the best interest of this child to remain in your care?" and that's when the chin quiver started (for which i blame the pregnancy hormones), but i was able to hold it together for a meek "yes."

after that, more pomp and circumstance, followed by the judge's decision to name "Charles Brody Cassius Lotz" as our official son. whew. (how big of a shock is that double middle name?  long and short of it: it was the right thing to do.)

then we celebrated with cupcakes and "frosting shots" at a nearby bakery. Brody LOVES icing, so much so that he can even say it and point to indicate he wants more "ice." here's a pic of him enjoying his treat, and another with his cousin. she sometimes likes him. :o) (these pics aren't so great because a little one-year-old i know dropped my phone and the camera is all scratched up..."uh oh.")

on to the garage sale: we had TONS of people we didn't even know donate great items for the sale, and we ended up with a solid $1000 for our family alone. THANK YOU to all who donated items and shopped the sale. i'd call that a huge success.

lastly: the gender reveal. Brody will have a little brother around September of next year. he couldn't care less. (and, for the record, i don't recommend taking a one-year-old to your ultrasound when he's lacking on idealism caught up with me there and it didn't end well.)

we had a small family gathering at my parents' house for a gender reveal cake. Coacher and i found out at the ultrasound what we were having, but we kept it a secret until cutting the cake. people were supposed to wear pink if they thought it would be a girl and blue if they thought boy. votes were 8-6 in favor of believing it to be a girl (including my uncle's iphoned-in vote). i wore blue (with a pink undershirt, just to keep it interesting), and Coacher wore "pink" (mauvey-maroon was as close as he could get). my neice was pretty disappointed the icing was blue (but she still enjoyed the cake).

 (i have other pics on another camera, but i'll post those later.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

adoption: financial tell-all

Yesterday we got a somewhat unexpected (because is was over 7 months late) bill from our AMAZING lawyer (I really do mean that...without him we would have been lost). Therefore, because my mind is focused (i.e. obsessing) on it and you need to know about this sort of thing if you're considering adoption, I will write.

Here is a quick rundown of our adoption costs:

150.00 -- Pre-application and application fees to our agency

1,400.00 -- Home study fees

250.00 -- Home study update costs because our house sold quickly and unexpectedly just weeks before Brody was placed with us (a less mortgage payment while we were in Kentucky)

12,000.00 -- Placement fee

333.08 -- "Miscellaneious costs" related to foster care for the first 6 days of Brody's life, since we were told of his birth several days afterward.

3,503.50 -- Attorney fees for the "guardian ad litem" in the court case. This attorney is always involved in adoption cases to keep the baby's best interests in the forefront when the judge makes decisions.

881.00 -- This was the first attorney's fee, before the case got really complicated. I would be really ticked about the fact that she didn't even have the case for more than a few days and still charged us 881 bucks, but I think it was this attorney who got the court case moved out of the county where the bio father lived, thus saving Brody's future. So, that's a small price to pay.

10,031.50 -- This was our AMAZING lawyer's first fee. He gets paid $300/hr, and he had to work really hard on this case, making headway through what were often very murky waters. Did I mention we (attorney, Brad, myself, my dad, and coacher's dad) had to go down to Nowhere, Kentucky, for a court case because the biological father's mother filed for emergency custody, telling the courts Brody was in "immediate physical or emotional danger?" The court case we witnessed in this ridiculous town was the most obvious example of "good ol' boy" politics I've ever seen. Yet again, our lawyer was amazing.

9,933.00 -- The bill we just got from this same lawyer. We thought it was coming but hoped they'd forgotten or chosen to show mercy. Not so.

1,500.00 -- Deposit for finalization attorney in Missouri. We're not sure yet if that will be the final amount or if we'll owe more after finalization on April 18. We will probablyowe more.

+ TRAVEL expenses (How many times did Brad drive back and forth between Missouri and Kentucky (8+ hours one-way)? I have no idea. At least 5 times...possibly 10? And that doesn't include my parents' trips. And the hotel costs (which my parents paid for us). At around $90+/day for 4 weeks = 2,500+).

EXPENSE TOTAL: Over $43,000 Holy adoption! (But seriously, have you SEEN this kid? He is SO PERFECT.)

As I mentioned, my parents paid our hotel bill and then also a huge chunk of the attorney fees. (My parents are absolutely the most selfless people I know.) Other family (our family is ridiculously amazing) sent us money in the mail, and still more donated/lent us TONS of baby stuff (since we had about 2 days to prepare and no real home (we'd just sold ours).

We also had a great group of college kids in the ministry in which we volunteer send us money when we were still in Kentucky. College kids sometimes have the reputation of being all about themselves. Not this group. They are so selfless!

We were also able to get a $1000 grant from Affording Adoption Foundation (based in Nixa). We applied for TONS more grants, but because a child had already been placed with us we were automatically knocked out of the running for all others. Stink...

I type all of this for several reasons:

1 - I was stressing about it, even though God has provided through everything and He has proven His timing is absolutely perfect.

2 - To remind future adoptive parents: If you are planning to adopt, get on those grant applications ASAP. Otherwise you will miss out.

3 - Because I just put a "Donate Now" button in the top right corner of this blog. If you are loaded and want to help, please feel free. :o) If you are not loaded and feel that you should give something, feel free to give us a buck. We will be thankful for anything.

4 - To ask for help in the garage sale coming up next Friday/Saturday. If you don't have dollars to donate for #3, but you do have junk, we will take it. We are joining forces with the Castro's (who are on the adoption wait list!), collecting items to sell in order to fund our adoptions. If you have extra stuff lying around that you'd like to get rid of, please let me know. I'll come get it. OR come shop the sale. We should have a nice selection of good stuff.

5 - If you have any extra-amazing fundraising ideas, please send them my way. I'm not one to just sit around and stress...I'd much rather try to make a plan.