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The Reams Family bio picture

    We’re Paul and Amy. We’re teachers and artists and lovers and laughers. We have a daughter,
    Lucy, who fills us with delight. We take pictures in fields of flowers. We’re adopting a little boy
    from Africa. And we can’t wait to meet him.

One Step Down

Amy has been a paperwork rock star this week. In addition to her adventures with our notary, she was able to successfully track down and fill out all of the paperwork associated with the first step of our adoption process. Just to be clear: it’s an intense amount of paperwork. Some of it is written in a language that neither of us speak. Yet, Amy located all of the official documents, got them notarized, and, yesterday, got them into the mail and on their way to our agency and then on to [Home Country]. Hooray for Amy!

Reams Photo | San Diego Wedding Photographers | All rights reserved


In which my wife is asked to pee in a cup in front of a notary.

One of the little known parts of the adoption process-at least it was totally unknown to us-is the seemingly insatiable need for notarized documents. [Home country] wants notarized documents. The agency wants notarized documents. Everybody wants notarized documents.

Initially, we were discouraged about this because it can be really expensive to have a notary follow you around everywhere you go. Notaries generally charge about $10/signature. Because we’ll need two notarized copies of every form that both [home country] and the agency need, we are expecting to need about a million notary signatures over the next few months. I only say “about a million” because there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll need more signatures than that.  Seriously, everyone, this notary thing is crazy.  We had to get something notarized so that we could apply for a document that we need notarized.

However, this week Amy learned that the expense is only the beginning of the notary difficulties. The real fun comes in trying to coordinate the notary’s schedule with the schedules of two different doctor’s offices and a husband who is in tech rehearsals. Amy has been amazing at the coordination process. This week, each of us had our physicals and chest x-rays and TB tests so that doctors could sign our notarized health reports. Then, this afternoon, Amy met our notary (he’s really nice-if you ever need a notary, he’s the man) at her doctor’s office. Amy expected to have the doctor come out and sign for the notary at the front desk, but instead the nurses ushered Amy and our notary (who, to reiterate, she had just met five minutes before) into one of the patient rooms.

“We don’t have a record of your urine sample,” was the first thing the nurse told my wife and our notary. “Can you take another one right now?”

“Do you want me to leave the room?” our nice notary asked. No, nice notary, my wife replied. We’re in this together.

But Amy did excuse herself from the nice notary before returning with her sample. And the nurse believed that it was Amy’s sample, even though the notary was not there to witness the sample being given.  Because apparently we do a lot of trusting in normal life without a notary witness.  Documents were signed. Amy and the notary went to my doctor’s office and had a similar, but not quite as dramatic experience. Then, Amy and the notary arrived at my rehearsal where we signed and fingerprinted in my office while sitting between two kids playing video games as teenagers dressed as zombies wandered through the lobby looking for hand sanitizer to remove the fake blood from their hands.  And our nice notary  kept assuring us that this didn’t even get to the top ten of his weird notary stories.

By the way, notaries have some crazy stories.  You should ask one.

May 8, 2013 - 5:15 am

One Step Down » The Reams Family - […] has been a paperwork rock star this week. In addition to her adventures with our notary, she was able to successfully track down and fill out all of the paperwork associated with the […]

In which my wife cries in front of a therapist who is evaluating our mental and emotional stability

This wasn’t our best morning. My wife cried in the lobby of a psychologist’s office while repeating, “I know I don’t look mentally stable, but I am.”

Before beginning on our paperwork for [home country], we have to complete a number of forms for our adoption agency. One of these is a mental health exam, presumably to establish that we are sane enough to be parents. Amy spent a couple of hours on the phone looking for a mental health professional who would be willing to meet with us and write a two sentence letter to establish our sanity. After trying several offices, Amy finally spoke with a counselor who was willing to write the letter after meeting us only once and who was covered by our insurance. Even better, the office had an appointment on Saturday that Amy and I could both make.

So, on Saturday, Amy cut short a visit with her cousins who were in Long Beach from Seattle for the weekend and I got up early and we drove 40 minutes away to our appointment. And they wouldn’t let us in. We never got out of the waiting room. The psychologist apologized repeatedly, but said that she wouldn’t feel qualified to write the letter since she had never seen us before. She wasn’t sure how we’d ended up in the office.  So, we’ll need to find another mental health professional. As we walked down the hall, away from our failed mental health appointment, we laughed through our frustration about the irony of trying, while battling tears and with (slightly) raised voices, to convince a psychologist that we are stable.

It wasn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, especially in the scheme of the adoption process, which is filled with pitfalls and backtracks and “Oh, I can’t sign these forms.” But it was an opportunity for us to vent our frustration with each other or to bask in bitterness towards the therapist. I’m happy to say that, for today at least, we chose to hold on to each other and to laugh instead.


May 6, 2013 - 6:30 pm

Bradford Phelan - Love love love your blog. We are so fired up for y’all. Can’t wait for our sons to play together one day and share their adoption stories with each other. Praying for y’all.

Getting Started

It’s been a busy week. Since last week we have: signed with what we think is a pretty fantastic agency, entered into a vetting process that rivals vice presidential nominees, and filled out more paperwork than I ever thought possible. We’re on the move!

First Fundraiser

Our first adoption fundraiser may well go down as our most fun. It’s going to be pretty tough to beat, anyway.

When Amy and I were dating, we lived in New York City. Amy was staying in the NYU dorms and I was on Manhattan’s East Side, right next to the United Nations building. That first year in New york was rough for me; I’d never lived away from home and family before, and the winter weather was…stunning for a born-and-raised San Diegan like myself. One night, in 2003 or 2004, Amy and I were invited to a house concert featuring a guitarist named Tom Conlon. The concert was great-something about Tom’s music was accessible and encouraging, and easy to listen to. But most of all, there was a difficult to describe “home-ness” to the music. I bought two CD’s that night, and throughout the years in New York, and later when we got married and moved back home, Tom’s music became the music that Amy and I listened to when we felt alone or out of place or just wanted to relax.

Photo credit: Jason Williams

So it was something of a surprise when Amy told me that Tom Conlon was touring on the West Coast and was willing to perform in a fundraiser for us. We set a date and gathered friends-mostly from Amy’s childhood-and had wine and desserts and really good guitar music. Amy and I shared our hearts for adoption and we were really blessed by the response. We raised nearly five thousand dollars! Enough to cover our first agency payment and make a down payment on our home study.

I’ll leave you with our favorite Tom Conlon song. It’s one that we’ve always loved, but has taken on new meaning in these last few months.