Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Paper Chase

Eventful. That is the best word I can come up with to describe the past 2 days. There have been a few ups and downs, but we have also completed 2 more milestones on our journey.

Yesterday was our appointment for fingerprinting. This is how they make absolutely certain we do not have some sort of shady past......and I'm sure they also use them for other important purposes. A few weeks ago, we received our appointment letters from USCIS. They were mailed in separate envelopes--one for each us--and were very official. A time and date were set for us, and they are sure to warn you that not keeping this appointment will result in the headache of attempting to reschedule it sometime in the future if they can possibly fit you in.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon. I went to collect these precious documents only to find that they are not where I thought I left them. They are also not in any of the other places that I have been storing such treasures. Now, when I tell you that I have been keeping up with everything during this process, I do mean everything. I have a lovely binder filled with originals, copies, and everything in between all safely enclosed in plastic sheet protectors so they will not be marred by hole punching. The sections are divided according to agency or category, and this keeps the adoption stars in alignment. Therefore, imagine my feeling of panic upon not being able to find these pieces of paper. What would we say to these people? "Yes, we are responsible citizens who plan on bringing a child into this country. But, by the way......we lost our paperwork???!!!" Victor and I searched for almost an hour to no avail. Deciding that perhaps the morning would provide a fresh outlook, I went to bed. Well, Tuesday morning only provided more stress. I did have my proof of receipt from sending in the application, so I decided to try and give the "customer service line" a call. Surely we are not the only ones who have made this error, I thought.

Enter the black hole of the government automated menu. I spent 30 minutes on the phone and NEVER encountered a real person, although Mr. Automaton continued to inform me that representatives were available during the hours given. I do believe he is a big fat liar. I chose every option available under all categories, and there was never a prompt to speak to said representives. It literally just sent me in a continuous circle. Mildly frustrating, yes. And the actual office we were going to had no listed number. I am pretty sure this is because they do not want people to call and ask them ridiculous questions in 52 languages. These are the moments of which great sitcom episodes are made.

I called our social worker and asked if this oversight would be a problem. Her response was not all that comforting even though she was trying to be so. I believe she said, "Oh dear." Apparently when the U.S. government sends you things they really don't want you to lose them, but she told us to show up and pray for them to ink us anyways. At this point I truly was almost in tears because I KNEW they were here somewhere but just could not make them appear. I breathed a prayer that God would please please pleeeeaaaase make them turn up, and I kept looking. Nada.

About an hour before our appointment, I was talking to my friend Gina. I happened to mention my loss. She began drilling me on places I could have put them. "Did you stick them in a book?" "Did you put them in this notebook?" and so on....... Somehow during this dialogue, I happened to remember that I have put a few adoption-related items in the filing cabinet. I went to check, and there they were!!!!! I don't know that I have experienced such elation and embarassment all at once. The face that I never even thought to check in the filing cabinet.....where people file important things.....was just shamefully humiliating. However, I was so happy to have found them I only wallowed in that pit for a minute. I do believe I told Gina I loved her about a hundred times, though. And only a true friend would just be happy for you and not point out what an idiot you are, although she probably said that to Randy when he got home. I will always believe that God used her and that phone call to help me that day. He must have known my poor application-filled brain just couldn't do it alone.

We made it to the appointment and were in and out in 15 minutes. Our fingerprints are all on record now for whatever purposes they need to use them, and one more thing is checked off the list.

Today was our home visit. Yet another big and important day-- we had been cleaning, organizing, and rearranging for several days. I find, though, that no matter how hard I try to prepare for things like these ahead of time I am always flying by the seat of my pants. (It's genetic; I blame my mother. If you have met her, you will agree.) Our social worker was supposed to arrive at 4:30. At 4, I threw the remaining items that needed a home into the closet and shut the door. (Victor commented on how great the house looked when he got here; I just told him not to open the closet. HA!) Even though we have had friends tell us that this appointment would be no big deal, it still feels like a very big deal to have someone you have only known for a few weeks come into your home and decide whether or not it is a fit place for you to raise a child. I did think she would spend more time in each room; after all, I worked like Cinderella for days! But she pretty much just did a walk-through. My consolation in this is that it was neat and clean so as not to frighten her, and now that she is gone we can enjoy the way it looks and feels. At least for a day or two until the tornado blows through again.

The next portion of the visit included interviewing each of us while the other one was not in the room and also talking to the kids. She always puts us at ease, so the interviews themselves were not difficult. What I found interesting were the questions she asked that were difficult to answer such as, "Tell me about your son's/daughter's personality. How would you describe him/her?" Wow. You would think as a mom this would be a piece of cake, but just try it! Attempt to describe your child in a sound byte. After a bit of reflection, I think I did well. But it certainly made me contemplate so many things about my children in a short span of time.

The remainder of the time was spent on education and the different things we will be learning when we begin our agency training. Interview #2 is over, and our home study will be complete in a couple of weeks.

I am thankful that so far we are progressing smoothly. Well, smoothly as far as other people/agencies are concerned. The road bumps have been my own fault! My heart leapt into my throat at one point during the interview because she kept talking about the things we will do when our child is here with us. "You will take her to do this," " You will want to spend a lot of time holding/interacting with her, finding out her likes and dislikes." It was the first time, outside of my own mind, that this has seemed a real and tangible event that is on its way into our lives. I can't wait to see how it unfolds!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Breaking News!

There are many things I am supposed to be doing at this moment. Cleaning the kitchen. Digging out the room which is called the office but is really a black hole cleverly disguised as one. Sorting important paperwork. And yet, here I sit--distracted and trying to think of engaging things to write on this space so that you will actually be glad that you interrupted your own "to-do list" to see what I have to say. So let's begin.....

I tried to think of a really good build-up to this statement, but none came. So here it is: We are adopting!!!!! Well, not today. But we have begun the adoption process and are in the midst of our home study. (If you are not familiar with adoption lingo, to which I am also new, the home study is where your fabulous social worker interviews you and your spouse, then comes to your house and interviews you and your children and makes sure you don't have anything too frightful lurking in your closet--both literally and figuratively speaking. This would explain the aforementioned need to clean "the room.")

Now, I am sure you have questions. The first, I would assume, is "Why adoption?" Well, why not? This is something that God has placed in our hearts. We can no longer have biological children, but I have felt for some time that our family is just not complete yet. I feel so strongly that there is a child out there for us that will fit right into that empty space. We have been blessed with so much; it just makes sense for us to open our arms and our hearts in this way. We are surrounded by friends whose lives have been so richly transformed by the miracle that is adoption. We are hoping for the same.

Next, if you are good reporters, comes the "Who," "Where?" and "When?" We have chosen international adoption for several reasons. Mainly, we both feel very drawn towards Latin American children and we just feel this is the right path for us and our family. The agency we have chosen has accepted us into a pilot program in Honduras. We will be one of only ten families blazing the trail, so to speak, to adopt a child from this Central American nation. A few of the advantages are that we are able to request a younger child, and the estimated waiting time will be less than with other countries. We have asked for a little girl under the age of 2. Picky, you say? Not at all. I cannot fully explain it to you. I just know that we will have a daughter. (A good friend told me this is called hearing from God. Actually, her exact response was, "Hellooo???" Perhaps I should listen more often!!) We feel that God has opened this door for us, and we are both nervous and excited as we take the first steps toward expanding our family from four to five.

Ready for the "How?" (Keeping up, aren't we?)

If you would like to know how you can help us on this journey, our first request is that you please cover us in prayer. Pray for the paperwork, for those we will be working with throughout the process, for God to prepare our hearts and our minds. Pray that our children will be ready, too. Pray that financial doors will open so this will be a blessing and not a burden. And most of all, please pray that He will keep our child safe and well wherever she is (even if she is not born yet!) and that she will be brought to us at the perfect time.

If you feel that you would like to help in a practical way, our friends Scott and Lynde Hord have graciously provided an avenue for just that. They have an amazing organization called Abba Java. If you are a coffee lover, you will be most interested. Really. I do not joke about java. This coffee is good. There is a link on the right of this page; click on it, read their story, and then buy some coffee! (Other items such as mugs and t-shirts are also available. Hey, Christmas is coming soon, you know.....) At checkout, there is an option for a portion of the proceeds to go directly to our adoption. We are so grateful for their support.

And, finally, a wonderful way you can help is to just be there. We will need our community of family, friends, and faith as we go through this process. Not all of the blog posts will be adoption related, but most of them will. We hope you will join us for the journey. It should be a great one!!!!