Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We Won!

Bit-Bit is now free for adoption. We are all relieved.

The egg donor came all the way from another city (thanks to the taxpayers of the state) for her defense-less case just so she could get a day trip. She was in handcuffs and shackles (we were told - we did not attend). She was denied parole, and must now spend a minimum of 48 more months behind bars before she even will be eligible for parole again (musta done something pretty bad in jail). This is good news - she isn't likely to have another child for about 3 years.

May will be spent with the permanency worker doing paperwork.

June's visit will be with permanency worker and the adoption worker.

July-whenever will be with just the adoption worker.

I was hoping to have the adoption wrapped up by the end of summer, but anyone else out there who's adopted from foster care knows how that story goes. It's anyone's guess. But I'm praying it before the end of '08.

Now starts the new sea of paperwork! Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh Yeah, Court Tomorrow

And in case giving 2 final exams tomorrow and grading a monsoon of papers wasn't enough...
Bit-Bit's TPR hearing is tomorrow. I also expect SW will "drop by" for a few minutes at some point tomorrow (though we don't have an appointment scheduled for this month's home visit - the last day for which is, uh, tomorrow!)
All is expected to go quickly and without a hitch. And our judge is spectacular (same one who did Cookie's case and adoption, and who knows the whole story).
But prayers, good thoughts, and positive vibes are always appreciated.
I'll post as soon as I hear the good news!

Things I Never Thought I'd Say (Bathtub Edition)

"No Mia. We don't stick our finger in Bit-Bit's booty."

"No, Mia. We don't pee in the tub...on our sister."

"If you take the time to spread your legs AND squat before you pee, you know you have to pee."

Man, the wisdom just keeps coming.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Peter Rabbit's Mom

Cookie wanted to read TO me (this is a relatively new thing with her and she is actually quite good, and the things she "fills in" the story with can be quite entertaining) last night.

She chose "Peter Rabbit".

And so she opened the book and began:

"Peter Rabbit mommy go to work. Teach students!"

"Mommy go work. STUDENTS!" (she is almost hollering now)

Every other page was "Peter Rabbit mommy go work - teach STEW-DENTS."

Can you tell I'm in the middle of giving final exams? Guess what we are stressed out about DOES rub off on the kid-os, no matter how much we think we wait until they are asleep.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Making Hairbows - HELP

OK, now that school is ending, I'd like to make some handmade hairbows for the girls. I'm not "crafty", but I REALLY want to learn. Can anyone help me by referring me to webites or web-videos that are free that are good places to learn? I really would rather not buy books, as I want to spend my money on ribbons and supplies instead.

Here's some sites I found:

Can anyone help??

Monday, April 21, 2008

Still Loosing - A WW Update

It's been a while since I posted about my weight loss journey, and it's also been a while since I did anything much at all concerning my weight. Between parents in town, a kid with an ear infection, and some home remodeling, I've been out of the routine of going to meetings. However, I am pleased to announce that while being out for 3 weeks, I still managed to loose another 2 pounds.

So, my total weight loss is now 27.2 pounds.

I'm going to work very hard this week because I'd love to reach the 30 pound mark by the time finals are over. Still, I have lost over 10% of my body weight in one semester.

I have gone from a size 22W to a size 16W in bottoms and from a 3X to a 1X in tops.

I still have a lot of weight left to loose, but I'm not giving up.

Cookie has been saying new things to me lately - a couple of which make me smile:

"Mommy, you rock!"

"Mommy, you're pretty. You're a princess!"

And, of course, she now spontaneously tells me, "I love you, Mommy!" That is worth a whole heap of tantrums.

I am feeling prettier. The girls' swimming lessons this summer will be a lot less painful as I put on my bathing suit to get into the pool.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clearplan Fertility Monitor For Sale!

No more kiddos for us! And I still have my Clearplan Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor that costs about $189. I also have about 16 sealed test strips that expired last year (dunno if they would still work). I also found a brand new still-sealed box of test sticks that expired in 2006. Clearly, I was preoccupied with a new baby! The dumb sticks cost me about $45 a box. But the monitor worked well and did in fact show when I ovulated.

I still have the original box and instruction booklet too.

If you know anyone who wants one, I have reset (completely cleared) the memory on this, and it's just like new. I'm putting it on ebay and was hoping to get $60 for everything it when it's all said and done. I'll even include all the sticks even though they're expired. They could at least be used as "practice" sticks. I'll ship anywhere and have paypal. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Links To Adoption Tax Credit Explanations

I did most of my research through the IRS website, but for folks who don't want to spend weeks like I did, I found the following summary to be the most accurate and helpful:

It provides hyperlinks to the actual forms you'll need to fill out (or, as in our case, your tax preparer). I highly recommend using a tax professional when you go to use this credit.

I'll add more as I get a chance as I know others are very interested as they plan on adopting in the near future.

I just learned that you can use the tax credit even if you had expenses on an attempted by failed adoption, too. This is great news for many who run into nonrefundable deposits with agencies only to have birth mothers/parents change their minds.

For those of you who have not adopted, don't forget that you can claim a foster child who is in your care for at least 6 months out of that year. We claimed Cookie in the year before she was adopted and it gave us a nice tax break that year as well. We couldn't claim Bit-Bit because she was born on July 31st.

Hope this helps - anyone have other sites? As I find good ones, I'll create a side-bar with the links.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Questions re: Adoption Tax Credit

For those of you who have received this credit, feel free to comment to add or correct. Here goes:

It is possible to make too much money to qualify for the credit. If your income is over 200K, you're pretty much out of luck.

The amount of the credit is $11,390 for 2007
For 2008, the amount will be $11,650

There are proposals on the table to end the credit as early as 2010 as it has no worked the way lawmakers intended. Only 17% of those who used the tax credit have adopted domestically and from foster care.

There are actually two tax issues here. The first covers adoption EXPENSES (and those expenses have to fit into an IRS-approved list). The second covers special needs adoptions even if you incurred no expenses. So, if you adopt from China, you get a tax credit of UP TO $11,390 of your out-of-pocket expenses for that adoption.

If you adopt from foster care, you get the tax credit of $11,390 and don't have to document any expenses as long as the adoption is "special needs" (which most all are). Just make sure your adoption paperwork specifies "special needs". If you get a post-adoption subsidy contract, you're in that category. And by all means, keep your paperwork. I think now that the IRS has cut us this ginormous of a check, someone is bound to check in on us. And next year, we will be doing the very same happy dance of rebate check heaven following Bit-Bit's adoption.

This is all based on your TAX LIABILITY for that year that you adopted or incurred expenses. So, if you did not have $11,390 worth of liability, you can get your credit in chunks for up to 5 years.

So, yes - to answer your question S. - that does indeed mean "big fat checks" for some (YAY) even far beyond the amount of $11,390 especially if those same people had a mortgage, daycare expenses, tithe 10%, have vehicle taxes they deduct, business expenses, and so on. It can really add up. So, some people do end up getting this all in one check.

A guy I worked with adopted from China 5 years ago and told me about the year they got a $13,000-plus refund check. I believed him, but hardly could wrap my brain around it. Now, he and his wife had about $20,000 in expenses for their daughter's adoption, so for him it was like putting money back. For those of us who adopt from foster care and basically have no expenses (we were reimbursed $1000 for legal expenses and found a good attorney who worked with the cabinet a lot and could do the adoption pretty close to the $1000 amount and billed the cabinet directly and we were billed for the remainder - a whopping $86) it's a great start to your kids college funds, or remodeling their bedrooms, or buying that family car you need for your now larger family, or even paying off debt you racked up buying baby gear.

I hope the government does not end this program. I know it did not encourage domestic adoptions the way it intended. But that doesn't mean we have to throw it out. We've known about the tax credit since a little before Cookie's adoption. Knowing about it made our decision to open our home again a little easier. Knowing about it made it a total no-brainer to adopt again. We feel like it's God's way of assuring us that as long as we are willing to lay it all down and follow His will for our lives, He will provide. I had to quit my job almost a year ago. Since then, we're OK. This will better allow me to keep teaching college part-time and see my girls every morning instead of leaving while they are still asleep. I actually get to eat Cheerios with Cookie every morning and watch the birds eating out of the bird feeder on the patio. There are no better conversations I have than with her about cereal and birds.

Two weeks to go until the judge declares Bit-Bit free for adoption!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax-Time Blessings

Our tax return arrived in the mail yesterday. The powers- that- be decided the return was too large to be direct deposited and the letter we received from the powers-that-be stated they "had to do some additional calculations" (meaning we are likely going to be audited one day soon, but we are prepared for that). But, the reason for the large check was...

Our adoption in 2007. If it were a "regular" adoption,we would have been able to use the Adoption Tax Credit to cover some of our adoption expenses. But because we had no adoption expenses (adoption through foster care is free for the most part) - well, we did owe the lawyer a whopping $86 dollars when it was all said and done - we did not qualify.

But wait...

Our adoption was from foster care and it was of a child born severely drug addicted.

Ours was by definition a "special needs adoption".

So we got the entire tax credit.

Added to our regular tithing, mortgage, daycare expenses, etc. - we had NO TAX LIABILITY for 2007.

So that is why we are doing a lot of work now on the house. All lighting fixtures are being replaced and the entire interior re-painted. No new carpeting for now - we have 2 little ones and are not crazy.

But hubby deposited big fat check yesterday and the amounts will go away quickly once some major bills are paid off. But it feels awesome to know that we will owe far less now that we did a month ago. And it feels great to know that Cookie and Bit-Bit are going to want for nothing. They have a beautiful new pale yellow and white bedroom thanks to their grandfather. They have a gazillion new clothes thanks to grandmothers and aunties. And they have subsidies which will allow us to do things like swim lessons all summer long instead of just one session.

Bit-Bit's adoption which will take place later in 2008 will be special needs as well. She has a heart defect which could be left alone (a good % of the population has this defect), but will have to be monitored. It is also a possibility it could enlarge and the gap widen, at which point she would have to have surgery. This would not happen though until about age 7 - so we have a lot of cardiology appointments between now and then just to make sure she's still fine. She too was drug exposed, but not born with drugs in her system since biomom was incarcerated.

We are blessed our kids are so healthy. Bit-Bit has a double ear infection, but we praise God that we get to "celebrate" minor health issues like that as opposed to others we could have been facing had the outcome been different for our kid-os.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gifts for Fathers?

I'm needing your input on things you have bought men - or your dads - that they have really liked. My dad was here this week (as was mom) and he completely re-did the girls' bedroom and our half-bath downstairs. The painting was a tremendous amount of work, and he did it as a labor of love.

I'm awful at expressing gratitude to family members - especially my rather "distant" dad. But I love him lots and lots.

I want to send a letter and a gift, but I'm having a tough time thinking of a good gift. Even at Christmas and his birthday, I'm always stuck. He's "wealthy" and gets himself pretty much whatever he wants. He's also kinda country and redneck and a hunter, so "luxury" changes definition.

Any ideas?