The adoption adventure is one that doesn't have a clear timeline. For control freaks like myself that can be very challenging. However, our agency has given us an amazing checklist and "road map" to let us know exactly what needs to be done. Here is an outline of the process and where we stand in the process...
Informational Meeting: (Completed December 6, 2016)
This meeting was held at the office for the agency in central Florida. I call it a "Jitter Meeting" simply because it was basic information, introductions to staff members, and really just an opportunity to get you in their office and get the ball rolling.
Pre-training Application: (Completed December 21, 2016)
This application was a lot more in depth than we thought it would be! They asked us about our experiences with children, family medical history, finances, employment, as well as our desire to adopt and our openness to children with disabilities.
Training: (Completed February 4, 2017)
An absolutely incredible two day training! During the two days we met other couples who are going through the process and we were able to bounce ideas, questions, and reflections off on one another. It was great! We discussed the history of adoption, legal processes, the importance of an open adoption, different risks as far as alcohol and drugs, and so much more! The most eye opening and heart warming part of the training was the parent panels. One day we met with adoptive mothers. We heard their stories, why they chose adoption, how their process went, the bumps in the road, the joys of the whole process, and how they formed a relationship with the birth mother. The second day we met with birth mothers. Listening to these women explain why they chose adoption was beautiful. These women were and are incredibly courageous. The decision they had to make was not an easy one, but one they knew they needed to make (more about birth moms and open adoptions in a post coming soon!).
Paperwork Mountain: (Completed February 22, 2017)
Pages and pages and pages and pages of paperwork. Contracts, surveys, medical documents, financial documents, pet medical records, you name it...we completed it! Drew and I were required to get a drug test, background check, fingerprints, TB test, and physical. The mountain also included a questionnaire for both Drew and I to complete. The questionnaire asked us questions about how we were raised, family dynamics, relationships, marriage experiences, family health, thoughts on discipline, current family involvement, etc. The most important paperwork, in our opinion, was the "openness document". This document asked us on a scale of 1-5 how open we were to different situations; birth mom's health condition, birth mom's family dynamics, birth mom's exposure to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, race, gender and physical disabilities to name a few. Drew and I spent a lot of time in prayer before filling out this paper. We know that the Lord has a child already picked out for us, we are fully trusting in Him that no matter what we checked off on that form he will equip us to care for and love that child!
Home Studies: (Will be completed April 4th, 18th, and May 2nd)
Yeah, we're not nervous about this part at all...ha! During these three visits they will interview Drew and I to make sure we are who we say we are on paper. They will also inspect our house to make sure it is safe for a child to enter. Thankfully we have a checklist to go through before they show up so we can feel somewhat prepared. More on how the home studies go in a future post! Prayers for these visits would be greatly appreciated!
Create the Look Book:
Each adoptive family creates a scrapbook (or Look Book) displaying their life, personality, home, promises to the birth mom, etc. When a mother walks into the agency they give the adoption specialist a list of criteria they want their child's family to have. From that list the adoption specialist pulls all adoptive families that fit that criteria. The birth mom then views the Look Book and chooses a family.
After home studies are approved and the Look Book is completed we are officially a WAITING FAMILY!!!!!!!!
This is the phone call that cannot come soon enough! Once a birth mom views the Look Book and chooses us as the adoptive family we get a call that we have been matched. We will meet with the birth mother and some representatives from the agency to ensure that we feel it is a match we are comfortable with.
The birth mom, agency, Drew and I will create a plan for the day of the delivery. Plans can include if birth mom wants us in the delivery room, if she would rather us just pick the child up, etc. This is a plan where Drew and I will have the birth mother lead completely! After all, it will be her special time with the child and we will do everything we can to respect that time.
A day that Drew and I will not have dry eyes for one minute! A day that we have prayed for for a long time! A day that we will always remember! Within 48 hours or discharge, which ever comes first, the mother had the opportunity to sign all paperwork terminating her parental rights. Once the papers are signed the child is officially placed under our care! As you can imagine, this will be a super emotional time for both the birth mother and Drew and I! A time that we know the Lord will be present during and will give us all comfort.
The Legal Process:
Ninety days after the paperwork is signed in the hospital we will have a court date to make things final and official!
As you can see this is a long process with no set dates. Our prayer is that the Lord will give us comfort throughout the entire process. That He will make His presence known and that we will continue to fully trust in Him and remember that He is in control!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plan for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."