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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Good Point

Thanks again for checking in!

We wanted to write an update because this week we've taken some steps forward in the process and wanted to keep you in the loop.

Remember the binder-o-documents we discussed in the last post? Well, we finalized that and turned it in last Monday. It was approved (which basically means we had everything in it we needed) and we were contacted within 24 hours to schedule our first home study visit! That was scheduled for today and we just finished meeting with two representatives from our agency. I was anticipating them walking through our house, asking if we had smoke detectors, making sure everything was clean, and flushing all the toilets to ensure they were in proper working order. Turns out, they did tour our house (which took about 5 minutes), but the majority of the time was spent answering questions. The agency asked us questions about ourselves, our upbringing, our plans for discipline, our jobs, what we hope our children will grow up to be like, what parenting fears we have, etc. I'll be honest, it was fun :). It's fun to dream and be asked to talk about it. These are conversations we have all the time - conversations about the kind of parents we want to be, what we're excited about, what we're afraid of, etc.. But to get asked to talk about them was exciting! So anyways, we answered a bunch of questions and then scheduled home study visit #2 for a week from today. Once they review what we went over today, next week will be to follow up on anything and finalize the information they need to write the home-study. Once our interviews are done next week, our home-study should be written and through all the approvals (has to go back and forth a bit between us and the agency) within about a month. YAY!!

Once the home-study is complete, we move on to dossier prep. More on that later (because we don't know what all that entails yet, either!). 

The visit today with the agency was exciting. It was also a thought-provoking time for us. Not only because we were asked things like "what would you do differently in parenting than your parents did?", but because we had the opportunity to hear some "cautions" from our agency. I appreciate our agency because they paint, what we feel, is a very realistic picture of international adoption. They have done this since our initial information session and throughout the process so far. When I say "realistic," I don't mean bad. I mean that they want us to be fully informed and understand the good, the bad, and everything in between. We appreciate that. Throughout our fertility journey, the only constant was that things were unknown... we never knew what would happen next, when it would happen, and if it had any chance of "working." We would rather hear the scary parts of international adoption than have an unrealistic idea of what everything will be like. Here's an example. When asked what we're excited about in being parents, I said (among many other things), that I am excited to be "that person" that our children run to when they are scared, or excited, or hurt, or confused, or anything... I'm excited for us to be those people who our children trust completely and love fully, and that we can experience the kind of love and relationship that we've heard only exists between a parent and child. Our agency rep said that she completely understood and agreed with what I was saying, but that she wants to make sure I realize that it won't be like that from the beginning. We will get there, sure, but unlike a biological child who has known their parents as their "go to" since their first breaths, we will be strangers to our children for a bit. They've known life in an orphanage, and to come home to a different country, different smells, tastes, sounds, and with people they're now supposed to call Mom and Dad is confusing. It's unsettling. And we might not be able to comfort them like a parent normally would when their child is scared. We won't have that trust yet. 

Good point. 

It is a lot to think about. This was one of a handful of times during the visit that our agency gave wonderful advice/thoughts. I suppose that is why we did research and chose an agency we trust, right!? They help us think about the things we haven't thought about yet. Of course we knew there would be a transition. We know our children won't know us as Mom and Dad when we first meet them, but sometimes hearing it from someone else makes it finally click. 

The thing is, we can't wait to earn that trust. We can't wait to truly become Mom and Dad to our children. It will not be an easy road to travel, but we're excited to navigate it as a family.  

I feel overwhelmingly thankful to have such a strong team guiding us through this. They're responsive, honest, compassionate, and helpful. They've been there, too. Many of the staff members at our agency have adopted internationally, so they know the emotions and the ups and downs - what a blessing to have people working with us who can relate on a whole new level. 

And hey! Thank YOU for being on this journey with us, too! 

Until next time,
Mary and Scott

Monday, February 9, 2015

February Update!

Thank you for checking in again! We cannot tell you enough how much it means to us that you've taken an interest in our adoption process and we appreciate you continuing to follow along!

We have a lot of things to update you on, so here we go!

The paperwork process is well underway. We submitted our contract and first payment to the adoption agency on January 2nd and by that following Monday, we had our paperwork available and next steps outlined for us. The first big step is the home-study and we have been working on that process since the first full week of January. We originally thought that someone would come to our house, make sure it's safe, and write a little report on that... home-study done. Turns out, we were wrong!! This process has included compiling documents, obtaining legal information, and writing responses to several autobiographical questions, etc. We have gotten our fingerprints taken twice, submitted background check paperwork for Indiana, Ohio, New Mexico, and Northern Ireland, both had physicals, obtained four letters of reference, figured out how to obtain said background check from Northern Ireland (which, turns out, is more difficult than one might think!), took Leo to the vet, and dug up all sorts of paperwork we never even knew we had :). We have compiled all of the needed information and are now submitting that to the agency for review. Once the agency reviews and approves that we have everything they need, a representative will come to our house and conduct interviews with us, check out the physical state of our home, interact with Leo, etc., and then write the home-study report. The report will compile all the information from our binder-o-documents along with what they hear/observe when here and that is what the home-study will consist of. Once that is done, we move on to the next step! The home-study will be part of  the dossier that is submitted to Eastern Europe. The dossier is what the adoption decision-makers will use to match us with a child/children. So, that is where we are in the process! We have been working diligently to get all of the paperwork done as efficiently as possible as we're anxious to get our dossier across the ocean!

Fundraising has been the most incredibly humbling experience of our lives. We cannot tell you all what it has meant to us to receive your bracelet orders, reservations for trivia night, and donations to our AdoptTogether account. We currently have enough in our AdoptTogether and adoption checking accounts to cover our next two payments (one at the time of home-study completion and the other when our dossier is submitted to Eastern Europe). Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is over a third of our total needed and we never expected to be where we are financially right now; we cannot thank you all enough for your incredible generosity.

We are anxious for our home-study to be complete because not only will we be one step closer in the process, but a lot of grant applications require that the home-study be complete before submitting, so once that is done, we will be able to pursue grants more fully as well! Scott also passed his test and has received his insurance license (yay!!) - he'll be starting work in Larry's office soon to earn extra income for the adoption!

The home-study, bracelet sales, and trivia night have kept us busy and we are enjoying every step in this process. We know that there will be a time when we're simply waiting. Waiting to be chosen to be Mom and Dad to a sweet child/children, so we are relishing these days when we can do tangible things to move us closer to that!

In related news, have you all seen our new nephew?? Sweet Henry Michael joined our family on January 30th and we just can't get enough of him :). Spending time with this little man, along with all of our nieces and nephews, makes us even more excited to have our children home with us soon.  

Your prayers, support, and encouragement have meant the world to us and we cannot thank you enough for everything. We have all heard that saying that "it takes a village to raise a child" and that could not be more true for us as we move along this journey. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. 

Scott and Mary