Saturday, February 27, 2010

Birthday Party!

Last weekend we celebrated Eli's 4th birthday with a Mickey Mouse themed party. He enjoyed having grandparents, cousins, aunts, and a couple friends over for pizza, cake, presents, and fun on the inflatable slide! We actually had the same slide in our backyard for Eli's 2nd birthday, but he was able to enjoy it much more this time around :) The kids played outside on the slide despite the fact that it was rainy and wet almost the entire time! It figures that in the Phoenix area you can almost always count on sunny days... except for the day you plan a party. Oh well, we had a good time anyway and didn't let the rain stop us. Mikayla also enjoyed all of the birthday festivities and is very excited to have her own party "in September," she says.

Mickey Mouse birthday cake by Angie
Mikayla and Eli enjoying some pizza
Tyler, Jackson, and William eating pizza
Eli and Mackenzie have a good laugh together
Mikayla & Mackenzie sliding down
Here go Eli and Emmie!
Oh boy, presents! Thanks everyone!
If you live in the Phoenix area and are ever in need of a bouncy or slide, be sure to contact our friends Melissa and Steve with Dreamland Bouncers... they would love to help you out!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Social Security Numbers for Adopted Children

Okay, this is one of those posts that I am putting on this blog for adoptive parents who are either facing this issue now, or will one day stumble across this due to a "google search" and benefit from hearing about my experience :) I hope it helps you! (For everyone else who is reading, you will probably find this utterly boring and I don't blame you if you stop reading now...)

First off, we have NOT "re-adopted" our daughter yet in the U.S., but I wanted to get her a SS card for tax purposes. The alternative is getting a Tax ID number, but my local IRS office is saying those are taking 10+ weeks to issue, and we need our refund sooner than that. Anyway, I went to our SS card office last week and was told I could NOT get a card without the U.S. adoption decree (many misinformed SS clerks also think you need the U.S. birth certificate, but you do not). I knew the guy was wrong, but I didn't have a all my "proof" with me, so I came home and did some research.

I found these links (directly from the SS website) to be very helpful, so I printed out both and took them with me:
Link 1 - Click Here This just states that you can get a card for your adopted child "even before the adoption is complete." In our case, our adoptions are finalized in Ethiopia, but misinformed SS clerks want to believe that it's not... so this printout comes in handy for those folks.
Link 2 - Click Here - This one is about how to prove citizenship, which you can't until you re-adopt, however I used the second paragraph to show that my daughter CAN be issued a card regardless, the records will just not indicate that she is a citizen)
Link 3 - Click Here - Here's one where an adoptive parent directly asked about getting a card for the child... look at the paragraph about what to do if your child is not a U.S. citizen, you just show the permanent resident card.

Additionally, if you look at the SS application itself, which you can find
HERE, you'll find that you are able to fill out the entire form and have the documents you need for each "area" that they list (ie - there's no way they can turn you down if you have what they ask for). Be sure to mark the box that says "legal alien authorized to work in the U.S." as that is what your child's permanent resident card states - that way you don't have to have another "reason" to need the card (as you would for the 3rd/4th options listed in that question).

For proof of age - you can give the ET passport, ET adoption decree, ET birth certificate

For evidence of identity - look at the sentence that says "if you are not a U.S. citizen..." (show permanent resident card)

For evidence of citizenship - you don't have to prove citizenship to get a card, just make sure to update this in SS records later on once you have the COC

For evidence of immigration status - again, the permanent resident card counts for this

Needless to say, I went back to the same office yesterday and was assigned to a different clerk. This time, I was prepared to "act as my own attorney" in this matter! :) As it turned out, I didn't even need to justify my case, because this clerk knew that I was entitled to get a card. Here is what she needed: my daughters ET passport, the ET birth certificate, the final ET adoption decree, my daughter's permanent resident card, and my ID. That was it people! I got it! You can apply for this right away when you get home - and you are entitled to it. I hope you don't get the run-around like I did the first time!

The moral to the story? There are two.
1. Educate yourself and have all of the above documentation with you, so that you can help to educate misinformed clerks... encourage them to call a supervisor for clarification... encourage the supervisor to call a supervisor, etc.
2. Remember that you may get different answers from different people. If you absolutely hit a wall with one office or clerk, just come back another day to meet with someone else, or try a different office. Chances are, the next person will know what to do!

Finally, keep in mind that if you change your child's name (or any other identifying information) during the re-adoption, you will want to have that updated with the SS office. You will also want to make sure to update your child's citizenship status with the SS office later on when you get the COC.

Hope this info. helps somebody!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Eli!

We celebrated Eli's 4th birthday as a family this past week by going to the Phoenix Children's Museum, eating yummy chocolate cake, and opening some presents. We actually went to the same museum last year for Eli's birthday, and after looking at the pictures he decided he wanted to do that again :) The kids had a great time exploring all of the exhibits - especially running through the "forest" made of hanging pool noodles! Unfortunately, I forgot to put the memory card back in the camera before we left so we didn't get any pictures of our museum visit... boo.

So excited to open presents!

So many cool things: viewfinder, cars, puzzle, clothes, doctor kit, and his favorite... the LeapFrog Tag Reader (he hasn't stopped reading his books!)

Make a Wish!

So proud to be FOUR!
Here are a few tidbits about Eli at age 4 that I would like to remember:

Favorite Toys: cars, action figures, stuffed animals, puzzles

Favorite Activities: playing a variety of "make believe" games with Mikayla (they make up games all day long with their stuffed animals and go on amazing adventures!), racing his cars, riding bikes (though he's still getting used to the bigger training wheel bike), wii boxing with daddy, crafts that involve painting, singing songs, naming the letters & their sounds, counting

Favorite Outings: church, park, zoo, grandma & grandpa's house, nana & papa's house

Favorite Foods: Macaroni & Cheese, Grilled Cheese, Cheese Crisp (noticing a pattern?), Cookies, Marshmallows, Strawberries, Cereal

Favorite People: Mikayla, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Papa, Emmie (his cousin), and all his friends from church

Other Tidbits:
  • Quick to make new friends
  • Happy to stay home and play all day, instead of going out and about
  • Logical and Analytical
  • Loves to laugh, but takes many things in life seriously... even his play!
  • Strong-Willed
  • Cautious
  • Extremely affectionate - loves those hugs and kisses!
  • Protective of his sister
  • Learns new things very quickly, and has an incredible memory
  • Loves animals
We are so proud of the BIG BOY that you have become Eli :) You bring such joy to our lives, and it's amazing to see how you care for other people. You are a little prayer warrior and remind me multiple times a day of the people we need to pray for. Although part of me wants you to stay little forever, I am so excited to see the plans that God has for your life unfold. We love you!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What To Do With All Those Christmas Cards?

I wanted to share an idea with you that was sparked by this post written by my friend Stephanie. Maybe you are like me, and you love getting Christmas cards in the mail each year but really have no idea what to do with them once all the Christmas decorations come down. Some years, I have put them all in an album... thinking one day I might want to look at them again. Usually before that "one day" arrives, it is already the next Christmas and now I have new ones waiting to be put in the album. I'm sure many people just throw them out, but it seems so sad to throw away all those cards and pictures!

So, after reading Steph's post I was inspired to create a prayer board... (yes, the pics on the board are blurry thanks to photo editing, because I wasn't sure if our friends wanted me displaying pics of their children on the internet, but you get the idea)

First, I took all of the "photo cards" we received an I cut off the Christmas-y portion. Not that I don't like Christmas, but I didn't want Christmas decor up in my kitchen all year. If we received a card from someone, without a picture, I cut the names out of the card.

Next, I placed all of the pictures in a ziplock (which is actually hidden on the inside of the keepsake box that you see above).

Then, every Sunday my kids each draw out two pictures (or names) to display on the board. We take time each day during the next week, to pray for our friends and family members. It's a great way to teach our children about the importance of prayer and to remember the needs of others (aka: "it's not always about US"). The kids have LOVED this prayer board, and they always help to remind us during dinnertime that we need to pray for our friends "on the wall." Eli even comes to me at random times when he sees the pictures and asks if I will help him pray for the friends on the prayer board (because he likes to pray for them all by name and needs help remembering the names). The other night I was trying to make dinner so I told him I would help him in a few minutes and he said, "No Mom, we need to pray for them RIGHT NOW!" Do you ever notice how God often gets our attention through our kids? At least He does with me. So, I figured that we had better take time to pray RIGHT THEN. :) And we did!

In case you're wondering, the display box is a product of Creative Memories, whom many of you know I love for their scrapbooking products. I actually won the box last summer from my consultant, Stacey. and just hadn't gotten around to doing anything with it yet... I guess I just needed the right idea to come along!

So what do you do with YOUR Christmas cards once Christmas is over?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Holt's Blog

Remember my last post regarding Haiti? Well, the managing editor for Holt's publications came across it and asked for permission to re-post it HERE. Pretty neat! :)