Just in case you haven’t heard, the Kuppers are giving the grandparents another reason to sing. “She’s a keeper!” says Grammy. “She’s a cutie!” says Papa. My mom posted on Facebook, “Words fail me when I try to convey how I feel now. Excited, very proud of you and Nick, nervous about the unknown, anxious to meet her and get to know the little beauty, thankful that God has obviously had his hand in this process, and overall just ready for the big transition, the new chapter. Wonder if she can comprehend how many people are already praying for her and waiting to welcome her into our huge crazy family?!”
And my dad came thisclose to admitting that he came thisclose to crying — something all the women in my family are convinced his body is incapable of.
I’ve been inundated with messages, texts, e-mail, phone calls and on-the-street congratulations since we announced on Tuesday. Everyone has been so kind and encouraging to us. I know that this is far from the case with many adopting families — so, once again, I have been convinced that I have THE BEST FRIENDS AND FAMILY!
Along with words of mazel tov and yee haw, most people have had a bucketload of questions. Peruse the query menu below; maybe yours will get answered, too.
OMG!!! When do you get her?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a due date like a biological baby? But the truth is, we only have a rough estimate. There are about 5,280 steps to take to adopt internationally, and so much of it is out of our hands. A background check could take weeks longer than normal, for example, or the country where you’re adopting from could have a crazy week-long holiday, shutting down all the government offices for even longer.
But the rough answer is at least a year to 15ish months. Bummer, right? YES! It takes that much time, however, to get about a million documents together, submit a fancy package of even more documents to her native country, get them translated, go to court, complete a home study, etc.
What step of the adoption process are you on now?
We currently have a man flying in from Germany next week to do our home study (the same guy who did Kim and Jed‘s in Ukraine!). He specializes in doing home studies for Americans who want to adopt and live overseas. Apparently, there are enough of us out there that this is his full-time job. This is a big step for us.
We already have signed a small cupboard of contracts, filled out a gazillion forms, gotten medical exams, emptied our savings account, gotten background checks from every place we have spent more than a month in (and all the military wives groan in sympathy).
Next up is completing our dossier! Pretty much that’s collecting every single document that was ever created about us or anyone we’ve ever casually said hi to on a bus and getting dozens of really official stamps before sending them off to our girl’s country to be translated. Can anyone out there say apostille? Because I certainly can’t, and spell-check doesn’t even recognize it!
What country are you adopting from?
International adoption at times can feel like a very covert operation. As in, there are so many rules about every conceivable situation. One of them is, we can’t say online where our girl currently is. But we can say the phrase, “Eastern Europe,” and I can say that neither Nick nor I have ever been there or met anyone who is a native . So that automatically rules at least one country out, for those of you who read my blogs regularly.
What’s your new daughter’s name?
Which one? She currently has at least four first names! There’s the name her birth parents gave her, the name her caretakers at her orphanage gave her (and what she answers to now) , her Reece’s Rainbow code name and the name that Nick and I are tossing around in our heads for when she comes home. We most definitely will keep the name she goes by now as at least her middle name, if not her first. So no, don’t get too excited about the alliterative combo of Avi and Abby, because it ain’t happening.
Why aren’t you posting any pictures of her?
Every country has different rules about pictures posted of its available children. Abigail’s country isn’t the strictest I’ve seen, but it also doesn’t encourage you to broadcast the kid’s image far and wide. In other words, we can’t post pictures of her publicly — they’re even a little picky about re-posting your child’s public profile.
But trust me when I say that, after viewing dozens of pictures and videos, she is SO BEYOND GORGEOUS! Seriously. I might get her into modeling when she gets home!
What do your biological kids think?
Jack, thanks to being seven, is the only one who really “gets it.” And in his world, adoption is normal. AKA he’s been asking for the last two years when we’re going to adopt, and why can’t we adopt Marv? And why is Putin so mean because he won’t allow Americans to adopt Colt? Suffice it to say Jack is thrilled. “I can teach her English!” he yelled when we told him. “And how to read!”
Jude, meanwhile, prays for his new sister (who will be seven months younger than him) every night. And Avinly asks at least twice a day to see pictures of her and then gives the phone or laptop a big kiss.
One reason we feel Abigail will fit into our family is precisely because of our kids — Jack will still be the oldest, Jude will still be a middle child and Avinly will still be the youngest.
Did you know about her medical conditions before you committed to her?
This one came from a very nice Estonian college student on our flight back from Ukraine. When we said, yes, we knew about her lengthy list of issues, he was flabbergasted. Why would you want to adopt a child who may never walk? Who will need doctors and therapists and care for possibly her whole life?
That one’s easy for us. Because she’s our child, that’s why. If Avinly had been born like Abigail, obviously we would have loved and cared for her wholeheartedly. How is Abigail any different?
There’s a super-cool Pandora ad running right now showing how kids know their moms, even when blindfolded. Well, guess what, Nick and I know our daughter, even when “blindfolded” by distance, time and other unknowns.
Will your girl always be in a wheelchair?
Maybe, maybe not. She’s been examined by an orthopedic surgeon in her home country, and he said there is hope that with surgery and therapies, she might be able to walk someday with crutches or braces. We will absolutely provide her with all the medical care she needs (and as a military family, we are in a very stable position to do that). And don’t think I haven’t fantasized a lot in the past month about watching her walk across the stage to accept her high school diploma, the crowd going nuts, and Nick and I in the front row crying and beaming.
But even if Abigail never stands or walks, we absolutely still want to be her parents.
What adoption agency are you using?
Hopscotch Adoptions based in North Carolina.
How much will this adoption cost?
Let’s pull the band-aid off right now: around $30,000 – 35,000. Some countries are cheaper, others are more expensive. We will be able to save on some costs — flights, for example. But some other costs might be higher because we live in Europe and don’t have American resources close by. AKA we will be visiting the legal office on base and the U.S. Embassy in London a lot over the next year.
WTH?! Where does all that money go?
This is a topic I will be tackling in the next few weeks, because there is no short answer!
How do you plan on paying for this?
Thanks to some awesome advocacy work, Abigail had a $6,000 grant to begin with. And the military has a $2,000 reimbursement program once the adoption is finished. That’s already a hefty bite taken out. We have used even more than that from our savings, and I have alerted my various editors that I would love any extra writing work they can send my way.
There are several organizations that give adoption grants (here’s one). We will most definitely be applying for the ones we qualify for as soon as our home study is finished! The grants, depending on the organization, can be anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand.
Lastly: FUNDRAISERS! We have several events in the works, including a Facebook auction (go here to like the auction page; it starts May 11), a Father’s Day photo session (I’ve been learning Photo Shop lately!), an online book auction and my personal favorite: a Foxy Fathers calendar showcasing America’s hottest adoptive dads. Chortle.
In all seriousness, we have watched many friends fundraise for their own adoptions. If they can do it, so can we.
Wouldn’t domestic adoption be cheaper?
I will explore this question in depth in a future blog. But the short answer is: when you see your daughter, it doesn’t matter what country she’s in or how much the process to go get her costs. You simply do anything to bring her home.
We are easily able to provide for a fourth child, even one with extensive medical needs. It’s just not as easy to have thousands upon thousands upon thousands available up front.
Plus, did YOU have 30 grand in the bank when you birthed each of your children?
Glad you asked! First, if you are a praying person, put our name and family photo on your prayer list, fridge, journal, car dash — wherever you like to leave reminders for yourself — and commit to pray for us. We need wisdom, guidance, government speed, finances, patience and every other virtue your mama taught you.
Secondly, you can share my blogs and our family page. The more people who join us on our journey, the better.
What’s the best way to give?
If you like PayPal, you can donate through there on our family page. PayPal, however, takes out three percent in fees. So, if you’d like 100% of your donation to go to us (and keep in mind it’s all tax deductible), you can send a check made out to Reece’s Rainbow with “Kupper Family — Abigail” in the memo line to:
PO Box 277
Monrovia, MD 21770
(If you have any questions regarding donations, please email Michelle@reecesrainbow.org.)
I’d love to help financially, but I’m all tapped out! Is there anything else I can do?
Heck to the yes! Here are just some ideas to get you grooving:
- Are you a consultant of any kind? Mary Kay, Scentsy, Usbourne, Tupperware, BeachBody, etc.? Consider donating a portion of your sales to us.
- Are you crafty? Do you have an Etsy shop? Consider donating your products or a gift card to an upcoming auction we’re holding!
- Are we friends in England? Nick and I are going to be running quite a few errands in the upcoming months on base, and would love if we could do that kid-free!
- Hold a bake sale, car wash, lemonade stand or garage sale in our full or partial honor. I can hook you up with signage to explain to people why you’re raising funds.
- Make a change jar with our picture on it, dump as you find coins over a few months. Seriously, it can add up quickly!
- Give up a coffee, or burger, or shopping spree, or movie one day a month and gift it to Abigail instead.
- Share our family page via social media.
- Have a good fundraising idea? Lob it my way!
- Host a baby-sitting night where you feed a bunch of pre-registered neighbor/church kids pizza and show them a Disney movie. Date night for Mom and Dad, a $15 charge for you (or whatever you deem appropriate) and pass some of it onto us.
- Are you a musician? Host a concert! Have a tip jar for us. That could work at your public business, too.
- Do you have something awesome like a vacation home, or an awesome, sought-after electronic? Consider hosting a giveaway/raffle among friends.
Of course, Nick and I are not expecting strangers, friends or even family to finance this adoption for us. The joy is in the sacrifice. So if you truly can’t give, don’t sweat it. I’m not your friend because of the possibility that you might give me money! That being said, we have already been blessed with several donations in the past four days that we didn’t even ask for. So humbling!
Even if we didn’t get a lot of donations, we are confident that our God will provide. Like yesterday, when Nick opened two very unexpected checks for over $100 in the mail. Or last week, when an editor unknowingly sent me my biggest contract ever. Or Thursday, when I received a forgotten-about paycheck from a few stories I wrote for a children’s magazine a while back.
He’s got this, and we’re not worried. We’re so confident, in fact, that we made this adoption commitment full knowing that I start grad school in the fall. I’m kind of excited to see how He will provide!
Because, in His goodness, He’s already given us so much: family, friends, the Ducks, our churches, His word, sunshine and rain — and the chance to add another precious one into an already-overflowing Kup.