Entries from May 2009 ↓

3 of 4

we met with our local homestudy agent last night for our third of four meetings with her.  She read us a checklist of questions and then certified us to be foster parents.  Between the time that we bring a baby home and the finalization of the adoption in court, we serve as foster parents and have to be certified as such.  We’re not certified to the extent that we could sign up to take in a 14-year-old who needs a temporary place to live or anything, but we’re now approved to be foster parents for our anticipated future circumstances.

waiting on a few more pieces of paperwork to come in before we can mail in our completed application to the placement agency….

difficult questions (or hoops, part deux)

I called the placement agency today and explained the whole opened envelope, missing application thing and they were happy to fax me the 19 page application.  We’ve been working on it tonight and there are some really difficult questions to answer.  First, there’s the vague and unclear “questions” like for our parents and siblings we have to list name, age, birthplace, and occupation (all fairly easy to answer) and then they each get a small line with the one-word prompt, “Health.”  Um…. good?  she’s got a cold?  fair to middlin’?

Then, we move up the ladder of difficulty to questions about all of our assets and liabilities which are requiring us to dig up account numbers and loan balances from deep in our financial files.  And make really tricky guesstimates (how much would you say that all of your “personal property” is worth?  NOT including house, car, boat or RV (yeah, right)).

Next rung is the questions that are difficult to make a decision about–like a checklist of circumstances that we would or would not be willing to consider (from “obesity in [child’s] biological family” to “Child with [known] terminal illness” and everything in between).

Next rung combines a few of the above categories.  Let’s take difficult decision plus vaguely worded question for “What permanent handicaps or medical problems would you be willing to consider?” followed by about a line and a third of space to write an answer.  seriously?  I mean, how many possible handicaps and medical problems are there in the world?

Or how about  these gems that each come with three lines for your answer to be written on:

“What actual steps have you already undertaken in order to get ready to be good parents?”

“Please describe your marriage and the most difficult challenges or experiences you have had to bear in your lives together and how your relationship has been impacted by such.”

“What are your hopes for the child you adopt and expectations for his/her future?”

Think about it.  How would YOU answer those questions about YOUR life in three lines or less?

Amazingly, after much grumbling, and a surprising amount of laughter, we actually finished all of the paperwork tonight.  Now, we just have to collect photos of our house (inside and out), a floor plan of the house, last year’s tax return, medical insurance policy, a doctor’s letter confirming infertility, and three letters of reference (many thanks to those of your who are writing these for us!) and we’ll be all set.  *whew!*

more book reviews

Because I Loved You by Patricia Dreschler
This is a story of open adoption written by the birthmother.  I have to confess that I skipped through and only read her story (it’s
interspersed with essays about how she recommends that other people in her situation might deal with similar situations) and found it to be a
very touching and encouraging story about how two families related to each other and became closer through their shared relationship with
[their] son.  An interesting insight for one way to approach this situation with a healthy attitude towards all involved parties.

The Adoption Decision by Laura Christianson
While I didn’t find a lot of NEW information in this book, I really enjoyed reading it and related to a lot of the things she says in the
book.  This one is a little newer than some of the other books we  read and I kind of wish we’d found this one sooner.  But, like I said, not
a lot of things I hadn’t read before.  Some of the chapters would be good for families and friends to read if they’d like to get a better
understanding of the process we’re going through.  This book DOES have a strong Christian focus and each chapter ends with a reflection on
how the chapter’s topic relates to faith issues.  If that turns you off, just skip past those sections.

hooray! and also AAAAAAAARGHHHHH!!!!

we got a big envelope in the mail today letting us know that our initial inquiry was approved by the placement agency and they’ve invited us to fill out the BIG application. Hooray!  One hurdle down!   The only problem?  The envelope arrived at our house unsealed.  And the big application itself is missing.  And it’s a holiday weekend, so I can’t contact the office until Tuesday.  We could have worked on the application all weekend.  Maybe even have had it FINISHED by Tuesday so that we could mail it in.  But …. nope.     SO FRUSTRATING!!!

This is compounded into a bigger-than-normal deal when you take into account that in order to participate in this particular agency’s program, you must first attend an orientation weekend in San Antonio.  These weekends happen about once every 8 weeks or so.  The next weekend is supposed to be “either the first or second weekend of June.” (and yes, it’s the end of May and you’d think they’d have the date set by now, but not when I called last week.)  We were on a tight schedule already to maybe possibly make it into this orientation, but with this unfortunate glitch, i don’t know how possible that will be after all.  If we miss the June orientation, we likely won’t be able to go to one until … August?  Oh, and the June one was supposed to be a May one but they’ve postponed it because they didn’t have enough childless applicants to reach their quota.  So…. if they are short again in August, it could be September before we can even start!

I realize that I should be practicing patience.  I know that I will need to dig deep into patience reserves many times throughout this process.  But argh.  Grumblegrumblegrrr…

Okay, J just came upstairs and saw me getting all upset and reminded me that a) this response from them is already at least a week earlier than the minimum they’d quoted on their website (they’d said 2-4 weeks) and b) even if they have to snail mail (not fax) a second copy of the application, we’ll still receive it before we were originally anticipating that it would arrive in the first place.  maybe they need US to fill up their orientation quota and will schedule it in such a way that it will be possible for us to attend?  and if they don’t need us and if the orientation weekend is full, then no matter when we return the paperwork we might not be able to get into the June orientation anyway.  I’m guessing that a lot of their paperwork will be similar to the things we’ve already completed for our homestudy agency, so maybe we can just use the information from those forms to fill out their forms.

I have to trust that God has a plan here.   I have to remind myself that usually, things work out for the best in the end if I just ride along with the current and stop trying to bash my way upstream.  Or at least, if I go along with the current I’m less anxious and less frustrated with the outcomes because I didn’t rage against them for so long.

And if I end up with a lot of waiting time on my hands, there’s always my big secret quilting project.  I’ll tell you all about that once it gets a little closer to being reality instead of just being a germ of an idea in my head.

hoops (round 1)

we get to jump through lots of hoops in this process.  while my initial reaction to the list of required paperwork was indignation (biological parents never have to do any of this!), I’ve made peace with the fact that this is all in place to protect the children involved and, in some cases, to get to know us better so that a better match can be made.  We’ve already signed lots of agreements, requests for background checks, and two, multiple-page agency applications (all pretty easy).  today we also both went to get fingerprinted at the police station, made photocopies of our birth certificates and marriage license, and requested signed forms from our insurance agencies to prove that we were covered for both auto and homeowner’s insurance.

We still need to get letters of reference from our employers (oh, we’ve also already requested a few personal references from non-relatives), proof of health insurance, a summary of our financial situation, a printout of our most recent 1040, and visit a doctor and get physicals and some bloodwork tests done.

Not to mention the 16 hours of adoption and parenting classes we each have to take.  And the 5-8 page autobiography we each have to write.  And we have to write up (and post somewhere in the house!) a fire escape plan for our home.

I love that our homestudy agent gave us a neat little checklist of all of this stuff.  I do love me some lists.  Especially the ones that have things that I can mark DONE!

2 of 4

We met again with our local agency yesterday evening.  one of the things I learned was that the more accurate terms for these two different agencies are “home study agency” (that’s the one here) and “placement agency” (that’s the one far away).  a friend that I was explaining this to likened it to a “buyer’s agent” and “seller’s agent” sort of arrangement, except way more touchy-feely AND the “seller’s agent” in this situation actually handles both sides of the adoption transaction if both parties are local, but because we’re adopting out-of-state, we need a local “buyer’s agent” to help us.  Please don’t think that I’m insinuating here that we are in the process of buying or selling children, but I just need an analogy that is familiar to people outside of adoption circles.

ANYWAY, we met with our social worker (“agent”) on Thursday and officially signed on with her and paid the application fee.  We’re truly on the path, now.  Woo hoo!  A few posts back, I’d mentioned that I didn’t understand the relief that some adoptive parents feel once they’ve made the decision to adopt–or at least that i wasn’t there yet.  well, i’m there now.  I feel very hopeful and optimistic at this point (despite the pile of homework she handed over to us during our meeting.  maybe at some point i’ll list all of the hoops we get to jump through with this round of paperwork.) and it is such a relief to know that any frustrations that I might feel during THIS process will most likely be directed externally–frustration at the system, at laws, possibly at agency staff (hopefully not that too often) or maybe even birthparents–but I won’t have to be mad at my own body and that will be a relief.

I also feel like that ocean that I’ve been staring at finally is at low tide and I can see the next set of stepping stones that will eventually lead me across.  I realize that our path might change while we’re walking through, but at least for now, I have homework!  and other productive things that I can do to move this process forward!  And really, you COULD say that we’re halfway through!  the title of this post refers to the fact that our homestudy agency told us in our first meeting that we would meet with her a total of four times and that the information meeting was the first of four.  Now, we’ve completed two of four, so…. we’re almost there, right?  (hahahahahahahaha)

Once again, our meeting with the homestudy agency affirmed our decision that we’ve made the right choice.  Our agent manages to balance quite nicely on that fine line between being completely relaxed, friendly and approachable and being professional, knowledgeable and organized.  She’s not afraid to tell us the truth and we very much like that about her.  Gotta go tackle some of those assignments!


we decided back in march that we would wait to tell people about our decision to adopt until we had chosen an agency.  It seemed like a good idea to wait to talk about it until we actually had some “answers.”  now that we’ve picked an agency, I’ve been so excited all week to finally talk about this process with friends and family (welcome, new readers!).  i’ve been hesitant to just blab all of this information to everyone we know for a number of reasons, but it’s been hard not to talk about something that is such a big part of our lives right now.  ahhhhh…… it feels good to share.

and yet more… excerpts from an e-mail

Sometimes I wish I didn’t even have a calendar to mark the slow passage of time until familyhood by.  Life will take its own pace and eventually we’ll get there, by one method or another.  I have to say that this past week, the timelines that I’ve heard quoted by some of the agencies that we’re “shopping” have been very encouraging and i’ve even occasionally gotten that “oh crap!  a baby will really change my lifestyle!  Maybe I don’t want to do this after all….” flash of thoughts that I used to get way back when we first started “not-trying-not-to.”  It doesn’t mean that I want a child any less or that I should reconsider this plan of action, I find it to be a reassuring similarity between the two processes.  At one point, my sister said something to me about how us having to try so hard would mean that we’d be so much more sure of our decision.  And while, yes, we’ve had more time to consider our options than people who get pregnant accidentally or the first time that they try on purpose…. I still have moments of doubt just like they do.  I just maybe have had longer to come up with my own list of reasons that this IS the direction we want to go.  But I’m still treasuring my free time as a childless person.

Paperwork Party

We had our first “paperwork party” last night and filled out application forms for agency #4.  woo hoo!

our decision was affirmed when j got an e-mail yesterday from agency #2.  it was a reply to a message we had sent them on april 20 asking about how to start the adoption process with them.  that’s right.  two and a half week e-mail turnaround time.  that reminded me that agency #1 had actually NEVER responded to a similar inquiry e-mail i’d sent and I’d eventually called to set up our appointment. (in our meeting, she confessed that she never really checks her e-mail and that the phone is more reliable for her.

conversely, i got a reply from the lovely agency 4 this morning in less than an hour.

yep, we’re on the right track for us.

more agency shopping

I called four “away” agencies today and asked them a looooong list of questions (many were suggested questions from our local agency who kindly e-mailed them to me when I asked).  On my social worker’s suggestion, I asked questions even if I knew the answers to them, because the tone of the reply gave me a feel for the general “mood” of the agency.  It was amazing to me how some of the answers were pretty much the same across the board  and some were radically different–at least in tone if not in content.  One agency was really rushed (they had a client coming in for a meeting in three minutes), one agency felt very large and impersonal (funnily enough, they were the one website that claimed, “Don’t get lost in a BIG AGENCY”), others felt very homey and sensible.  Gotta go mull over these answers…..