Monday, April 19, 2010

So... What do You Have to do to Adopt Anyway?

First, I will preface this with a disclaimer that different types of adoption have different requirements. In addition, you may find that different states may have different requirements and you may even find differences between agencies.

But I'll be happy to share the path we took.

First, we planned on adopting from the United States. We weren't sure if we were going to adopt a waiting child/children from foster care or adopt an infant. Waiting children from foster care are children that have had their parent's rights terminated by the state for various reasons. Typically waiting children in the US are toddler age or above and may have special needs (emotional, physical, mental, educational, etc.) Sadly, it is harder to place sibling groups and minority children wait longer.

At the beginning of our journey, I called around to find out which agencies in my area are licensed to do homestudies, what their current wait times were looking like and how much they charged. I called several agencies and ended up going with the worker that was easiest to talk to on the phone. Sounds strange but that was our deciding factor after a lot of prayer. We set up our first appointment and had her mail us a packet so we could get started on the paperwork.

At our first meeting with our social worker, we went over the various types of adoption and discussed which adoption path we thought we were going to take. She went over the risks and benefits of each kind of adoption, as well as the price ranges, typical wait times, etc. She understood that we were open to children 0-8 years old, typical or special needs, any race, either gender. We went over the forms that we needed to fill out and the papers we needed to gather.

That very afternoon we started what is commonly referred to as The Paperchase. We gathered previous years tax forms, proof of health and life insurance, physicals for every family member, copies of paystubs, a budget form, a list of debts and assets, birth certificates, fingerprinting, a background check, a CPS case file check in all states we lived in during our adult life, my divorce decree, our marriage license, a plan for our children if we were to die, fill out a family history/social history form, provide names and addresses for referral letter requests to be sent, etc. We gathered them all before our next appointment.

We also each had to write an autobiography before our next appointment. This part was tough for me because I have a very strained relationship with my family and my childhood was less than stellar. But I wrote it honestly and answered the questions that were asked of me.

Paperchasing was easy for me. I'm a box checker. And conveniently they provided me with a checklist of forms to turn in. *grin* It gave me something to do and I could visably see our progress.

Our agency called our next appointment, the interviewing appointment. The social worker spoke with Brandon separately and then me. And then both of us together. I bawled through my interview and wondered if I was even able to do this, given my crazy family life. Our social worker was very nice and explained that they weren't looking for perfect people, they were looking for people that had a heart for children. And if the person had trials in their life they were looking to see that they were successfully coping and had a support system in place. That was reassuring. She also didn't hold my tears against me. :)

The last appointment was at our home. To be perfectly honest I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. At one point Brandon told me if I washed the floors on my hands and knees one more time I was going to scrub the finish off of them. *blush* I dusted, I organized the food in my cabinets by type and made sure all the labels were facing forward, I cleaned closets, we rearranged furniture, etc. I basically was a nesting nut. Turns out, none of that is needed she was looking for a safe place for children and adequate space. And yes, our social worker assured us that it was normal to be worried about it and clean ourselves into a frenzy. Based on our home size, we decided that our homestudy was going to say that we could accept placement of up to two children. We also talked about the neighborhood, the area activities that we participate in, etc.

The next part was the hardest for me. Waiting for all the paperwork to come back, the social worker to write it up and have her supervisor sign off. I remember getting the call telling us that our homestudy was complete and then she asked if she wanted her to mail it or if we wanted to come pick it up. I couldn't wait to see it, so I said I'd be there. I've never gotten shoes on 2 kids so fast before in my life.

It was kind of weird to read about our family. LOL But I saw the glorious words:

Approved to accept placement and adopt up to two children, 0-8 years old, either gender, any race, typical or special needs.

And then came what we thought was going to be REALLY hard part... waiting for a match and placement.....

A Year since Match Day and Love at First Sight!

** I am posting this late... please forgive me-- we've had LOTS going on. His match day is 4/14 and we met the first time 4/15.***

I'll never forget the day that we matched with Xander. I was working part time, so I drove to our agencies office very early that morning to drop off our profile book after first taking a moment in the parking garage to pray over it. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up. I dropped the book off and practically ran back to the van. Once I was there I remember praying for God to please keep me focused on the tasks I had at hand (driving, work, etc) and checked my cell phone to make sure it was fully charged.

Work was uneventful. I shared the news with some coworkers and they all told me that they were SURE we'd be picked. I thought "Oh that is what they think they are supposed to say, I guess" and kept saying "We'll see--ANYTHING can happen."

At 11am I got off of work and headed home. I regularly checked to make sure I hadn't missed any phone calls.

Brandon went to work, I homeschooled Lainey, and still NOTHING. I knew the appointment was supposed to be while I was at work... and then I started convincing myself that the REAL adoptive parents had already gotten their phone call and they were celebrating.

Then the phone rang. It was our social worker. She let me know that the appointment hadn't taken place yet and they had rescheduled for later that day. I told her to please call my cell phone, repeated my cell phone number twice and told her I was going to run errands to try to keep my mind busy. She laughed, said she understood and we hung up.

And I suddenly felt the intense need to pray for this little baby boy. I prayed hard. I prayed blessings over his future, over his adoptive parents, over his possible future siblings. I prayed for his birthmother, her family, her heart. I prayed that the social worker could comfort her and guide her in her decision making in a way that the birthmother would remember as compassionate, sensitive, encouraging and that the birthmother's decision would be something that gave her peace for the rest of her life.

Then I went one step further... and I prayed for the baby boy. I prayed for the day that he truly understands what it means to be adopted and that he would feel love from three sides.. from his adoptive parents, his birthmother and God. I prayed that he wouldn't feel shame in his adoption, but peace and understanding that this was God's will for his life.

Suddenly, I no longer felt the need to go out. Emotionally I didn't feel like I should go out. Or could go out. Instead I put the girls down for a nap and whipped out my Bible. I read James 1:27 over and over and Jeremiah 29:11... and then I felt a gentle nudge to check my cell phone... and it was OFF.

Flustered, I turned my phone on... and then I heard the chime that I had a voicemail. My stomach dropped.

I called my voicemail. It was Tami and she was following up, but there was no indication of whether or not we weren't chosen.

I called Tami back and went to voicemail.

I called Brandon and went to voicemail.

I called Tami back... voicemail.

I called Brandon back... voicemail.

I began to cry.. and pray! "PLEASE! Someone answer their phone!"

And then the pacing started.. back and forth. Back and forth.... "Please let my phone ring!"

It did. It was Brandon and I totally couldn't read his tone. Finally after what felt like eternity he said "Stephanie... you are the proud mama of a baby BOY!" And I jumped up and down and squealed.. and ran into the kitchen and did a dance right in front of the microwave (and this has become a tradition-- I've had the great pleasure and honor to do my Microwave Dance for TWO friends!)

Next Brandon said to check my email and that Tami had sent a picture of our new son... Brandon and I discussed his name and if we were going to stick with our choice and we agreed that he is indeed, Xander Jeremiah!

Of course, it took forever to load the picture (thanks Comcast!) but would any speed have been fast enough at that point?

I saw these two pictures:

And it was love at first sight.

I was speechless. He was beautiful and perfect. He was my son... my baby had arrived!

I sat on the couch and prayed.. thanking God for the wonderful blessing that I just saw unfold before my very eyes.. and I remembered that God knew for FAR longer than I did that this was my baby boy. I had prayed blessing over MYSELF when I prayed for his adoptive family (in an unselfish way).. and he was the first of many blessings to unfold from our adoption journey. I'm truly blessed indeed!
The next day, I got to meet my new son. I think this one picture says it all.

Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Year Ago Today..

A year ago today, I was folding whites during naptime and got a call on our home phone. We rarely have anyone call the home number (most people use our cells out of habit) and I thought it was odd. When I walked over to the caller ID it had the name of an agency we had spoken with a few times on the screen! I thought it was odd and it was almost the close of business for the day but I took a deep breath and pushed the button on our speaker phone and sat in the floor. We were having trouble with our handset so thank God for speakerphone!

Tami, the socialworker, introduced herself and asked if we would be interested in presenting our profile for a week old, biracial baby boy. She also gave me some information on the birthmother, the situation and some health concerns. I said yes. And there was a long pause. Tami said, "Shouldn't you call Brandon and ask him?" Oops! I said yes and let her know that I'd call her right back. I called Brandon and I was talking so fast I had to repeat myself several times. I confessed to him that I said "Yes" and that Tami said I should call him and he laughed. He said "Way to go with your gut!" (I'm typically an overthinker when it comes to big decisions.) He said to call Tami back and tell her that we both said yes.

After I made that phone call we went into overdrive. Our profile book was at the printers! And it had to be at the agency the next morning! Brandon took some personal time from work and picked up our profile book. I don't think either of us slept a wink that night. I dropped off the profile book at the agency the next morning. And the real wait began... The next day we got the best phone call of our life....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter/Anniversary Recap

Sadly, we didn't make it to church since I was up with cramps/braxton hicks/contractions for a few hours in the night. I drank alot of ice water (thinking I was a bit dehydrated thus causing an irritable uterus) and that caused me to need a potty break every hour on the hour afterwards. It was a long, lonely night, but I was SO relieved that things seemed to settle down.
So no church. :( I was greeted by a very romantic anniversary card when I woke up. Brandon and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary today as well as the resurrection of Christ! The kids checked out their buckets and treats.

We slowly got moving and dressed and then headed out to Williamsburg. Brandon found out that the same chain restaurant we ate at on our wedding day, also has a location in Williamsburg so that is what he planned for our Easter/Anniversary meal. It was WONDERFUL!

Before going into the restaurant, we used the beautiful grounds to take some pictures. They turned great!

We ate prime rib, crablegs, peel and eat shrimp, along with various sides and then had quite a few dessert selections to choose from. I had fruit fondue.. YUM!

The girls got a kick out of 'James Madison' coming to talk to our table. Lainey wasn't entirely sure who James Madison was but she still held a little conversation with him and asked him a few questions. She was tickled that he said he owned horses and rode his horse named Virginia to the restaurant.

Afterwards, I showed Brandon a historical resort that I thought he might be interested in. I met my friend, Angie, there the weekend we moved in and thought Brandon would like to see it. Then we drove to Colonial Williamsburg to inquire about the activities there. We are thinking about buying annual passes there (with a sweet discount for being homeschoolers!) sometime soon.
After checking out the information desk and a quick diaper change for Xander, we loaded back into the van and headed home.

Once we got home, the girls did a quick egg hunt with plastic eggs in our yard and a little while after that we colored eggs.

It's been a full day. But I'm SO very blessed to have a wonderful, active family to fill my day.

I hope your Easter was lovely and meaningful.

So loved... by my husband and the King of Kings!