Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blessed Thanksgiving!

Most individuals that struggle with infertility will tell you that holidays are hard.  I’m one of them.  They are an annual marker of more time passed, and I’m still not a mama.

This Thanksgiving was definitely more joyful than previous ones, however, as we spent much of it filling out adoption study paperwork!

I indicated in my last post that we were re-considering domestic adoption, as well as an international adoption, with a new agency. We were pre-approved for Bulgaria, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Hong Kong, and Uganda. We could also choose to adopt from South Korea or South Africa.  God used a variety of factors to lead us to international adoption (again).

The week before Thanksgiving, we submitted our formal application, received formal approval, and made our first payment to our agency.  The services contract and notice of privacy practices were printed, signed, and mailed out.  Once again, we’re in this for real!

Last Friday, we got a call from our social worker asking if we would be able to get one of our home visits done on Tuesday.  Um, yes!  Our agency’s “local” office is over three hours away, but she was going to be in our area.  That worked out so nicely!  She was here from seven o’clock to about eight-thirty. 

We felt very comfortable with her and were able to get quite a bit of work done on our home study!  We signed their discipline policy, statement of faith, and a host of other papers that I can’t remember.  She went through some of the early phases of interviews, which including asking us what led us to pursue international adoption, what led us to where we live now, our support networks, and what we know about international adoption.  I was very proud and encouraged by her responses.  She said that our perceptions were wonderful and that she is excited for us!  Our social worker also did the walk-through of our home already.  We knew it was a possibility, so we had cleaned and straightened things up and whatnot.  Honestly, it was very laid back and comfortable,  and the state of my home didn’t seem to be a big deal.  She was looked at every room, asked where our future child’s room would be, and wanted to ensure that we had enough smoke detectors.  It was impressive to her that we had a carbon monoxide detector.  And that was it! 

Of course, we have much more work ahead of us.  We have to send our background check authorizations to every state we’ve lived in over the past five years (that would be four of them).  There are physical forms to be completed at the doctor’s office, big questionnaires with invasive questions, a health insurance affidavit, a financial checklist, family history forms, and a few more things I’m forgetting.  We will also need to decide who we will name as legal guardians for our child should we die – that’s going to be a tough one.  I honestly had never thought of that, but it makes sense that they need that information!  Meanwhile, our social worker will be contacting our personal, work, and pastor references and scheduling two or three more interviews with us.  Finally (I think?) we have to complete 30 hours of adoptive parent education throughout this entire process, and at least 10 hours must be done be the home study can be complete.  Education hours can be completed in a variety of ways: Adoption seminars, reading books, webinars, talking with other adoptive families, etc.

Of course, we also need to do this little thing called “making a decision” on what country to adopt from.  It’s going to be tough.  We have been able to eliminate Colombia, Ghana, and South Africa from consideration as we cannot fulfill their travel requirements. Bulgaria and Ethiopia are out as the ages of their adoptable children aren't very compatible with the ages we are seeking. 

That leaves us with Uganda, South Korea, and Hong Kong.  All three contenders have advantages as well as significant challenges for us.  Next week, I will be calling our agency’s program coordinators for these countries to get further information.  Our social worker will also be sending us a medical conditions checklist that may help us determine what special needs we can consider, which may also help us determine which country has those types of children.

Once our home study is complete, I will begin getting some grant applications submitted.  I know I've stopped doing updates on our adoption fund, but it’s around $16,000 right now (we spent $300 on application fees with our first agency, $550 to apply with our agency, $110 on renewing my passport and $140 on a passport for my husband).  We are looking at spending somewhere between $20,000 and $38,000 on this entire process, so we will need to find a way to come up with more funds.

In closing, we are certainly thankful today.  We are thankful for the transition from ‘infertile/unknown’ to ‘prospective adoptive parents.’ We realize that we are VERY fortunate to have saved a good amount towards our adoption at this point.  God is so generous.  For all He has blessed us with, for the ultimate blessing of His Son, Jesus, and simply for who He is – we give thanks to Him.