Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home Study Recap: The Dirt (The Dust?)

Whew! What a day. The official "home visit" portion of the home study took place this morning. You know, where the social worker visits your home, opens each closet door to make sure you're not concealing anything illegal, confirms that you do, indeed, have a fire extinguisher... it can be a little intimidating.

In all actuality, it went great. Red-faced, I opened our junk closet doors and just as quickly, she gave me a warm smile, promising me that she's not doing a cleaning inspection. She calmed my nerves, and easy conversation made our house tour much like showing a guest around during a dinner party (albeit a thorough tour, but you get the gist).

All was calm until we grew closer to "the" interview. You know, the one where my 4-year-old daughter is interviewed. The one where I'm reminded that 4-year-olds can say whatever, whenever. That anything and everything you might have uttered can be reiterated at the most inopportune times. And that our daughter happens to be one who is, shall we say, quite chatty with those she comes in contact.

Nothing was dramatic. And truly, all went well. But for laughs, let me showcase a few conversations that were had:

Social worker: "Do you want a baby brother?"
Our daughter: "No." (pause) "I want 2 brothers and 2 sisters."

Social worker: "I know you're going to be a great helper when he comes home."
Our daughter: "But I can't change him or give him a bath. He's a boy and I'm a girl and I can't see his privates."

Social worker: "You know, his skin will be a different color than yours. It's going to be brown."
Our daughter: "I'm brown. Brown as a biscuit. That's what Mommy and Daddy say."

Social worker (after discussing getting in trouble): "So when you get in trouble, what happens?"
Our daughter: "I go to the stairs. Or my room. It depends on what's closest when I get in trouble."

The visit wasn't complete without her coloring a picture for the social worker to take home (I'm just sure she framed it - we're talking masterpiece people) and her attempting to play "beauty shop" with me while I tried speaking in a serious tone about our commitment to bringing our son home. Because you know, I can be taken seriously when a 4-year-old is climbing on my back, combing my hair, and attempting to put it in pig tails.

 We also spoke at length about his arrival home, and what that may entail. I'll have to save that for another post, as I'm trying to keep this one light-hearted.

A sweet moment for me took place as I picked her up from school this afternoon. I walked in to find her rocking her baby doll to sleep:

We talked about how she was rocking her 'brother.' Love that girl, and I love her heart. She's going to be such a good big sister to him.

So what's next for us? I'm breathing a big sigh of relief because once the home study is approved and notarized, we just have one more form to get before our dossier can be on its way. Woo hoo! Unfortunately, that little sheet of paper is perhaps the most important one, and it can take some time to get. We submit an I-600A application, go to get fingerprinted federally, and upon approval receive the coveted I-171H form from the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servies).

I can't believe we officially started this process a little over a month ago. My, how time flies! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They are felt and oh-so-needed during this process.

Much love,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Preparing for the Queen

I apologize in advance for the short post but you see, we're preparing for the Queen. At least, we should be. My nerves are slowly increasing - our social worker is visiting our home next Thursday for our final visit before we finish our paperwork. Did you catch that? Visiting our HOME. As in, walking through our house, checking out our digs, looking at our safety standards, ... you catch my drift. In all actuality, I realize it won't be as bad as I'm making it out to be in my mind, but you see, I'm a tad nervous. Some part of me feels like I need to defend myself. I realize, of course, that she isn't going to come in with gloves and run her finger over the top of my frames to make sure I dust. She's not going to sigh deeply over the fact that I have toys stacked up by the couch (at least, I hope she doesn't). But my hyper overactive side of my brain starts to worry over every little detail. Someone out there, please tell me I'm not insane!

So of course, with all this worrying, you assume I have spent my Saturday in an effective manner. I've cleaned, reorganized closets, double checked every smoke alarm and conducted a final run-through to make sure everything is up to code. Oh wait, no...... I haven't done any of those items. I need to, or at least I need to make an attempt to, but I hope our social worker looks at my house through a different set of eyes, because I spent my day a bit differently:

Instead of looking at this image and checking out the mess, I look at this and say, "We had a great time coloring this afternoon before the girls took their naps."

And after nap, we had a great time wearing princess dresses and putting on a performance for all of Meredith's pretend friends.

We had a good time seeing family this evening, going to church and staying out way too late for dinner. And now? I'm blogging, relaxing after a good day. So perhaps tomorrow I can get my house ready. Or maybe I'll have another day of playing with the girls and enjoying memories I can't get back. Something tells me my social worker will understand.

Happy Saturday y'all. Enjoy your weekend, and don't get too swept up in the mundane details.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

So I met this man the other day...

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. It hasn't been because of a lack in activity on our side. We have experienced quite the opposite. Between the mountains of paperwork, approvals and interviews with our social worker, and then all the rest of "life" on top of that, we've been a little busy.

But I digress. Because we have made progress. In fact, if we can keep moving at this pace, we'll have our actual home visit by the end of this month, which would be wonderful! I took a day off from work this week to focus on adoption paperwork, and it helped so much to cross a few more items off the list (boy, do I love crossing things off a list!).

Part of that list contained getting some documents county and state certified. As I stood in line at the Secretary of State's office to certify the documents, the lady asked the man behind me what he needed done. When he spoke to her, I could tell by his accent that he wasn't from the U.S. And of course, being the nosy person that I tend to be, I turned around, put on my friendliest smile, and said, "Hi, I'm Courtney. I love your accent. Where are you from?"

"Ethiopia," he said, smiling in return.

Well of course he was. Because there were two people in line - the two of us - and of course he would be from the very country I am just dying to know about. Seriously, what were the odds of that happening? I love when God gives us little moments like that.

This poor guy... I tried not to pepper him with questions, but I wanted to know so much! I explained my excitement, asked him about the country, and we both had a nice conversation as we waited for our documents to be completed.

In all odds, our paths probably won't cross again. But I was so grateful to have this chance encounter with him, and that he was willing to talk to this crazy Southern girl who had a million questions.

I won't lie, the paperwork process is grueling, and I'm so anxious to have it all behind us so we can go ahead and get in line. But a fellow America World family recently posted their adoption video and it was such a wonderful breath of fresh air to watch. What a great reminder for our family to remember why we're doing it. That there is a child at the end of this process, waiting for his family.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reading, reading and more reading

As we've begun this process, one of the first items on the check list for our agency is to make sure we understand all aspects of adoption, and begin adoption education classes. Classes online, workshops in Nashville, a massive stack of books to read... it will definitely keep me busy while we're waiting for our referral!

Before class sign-ups though, I've been reading. Reading. And reading some more. If you've known me for quite some time, you know I have a voracious appetite when it comes to reading. I don't know how I find the time to do it, but I so enjoy tearing through books. I had no earthly idea how many adoption books were out there until I began to research. So I'm working through many of them - how to deal with children when they've had a "troubled" background, being fully prepared as a transracial family, helping our daughters learn more about adoption, how Christ has called us to adopt....and on and on and on.

The books can be overwhelming at times. And yet, the stack of books reminds me of when I first became pregnant with my oldest. I can't begin to list all the books I read (and believe me, you don't want to know!), but I know it gave me comfort to read as much as possible.

As I was halfway through a book the other night, it hit me that technically, I'm not pregnant, but yet I am. In a way. I've heard it called a "paper pregnancy," so I guess that's where I am right now. Except I won't have a baby in 9 months. I won't feel him kick. I won't make the drive to the hospital or come home with a newborn.

But I do have him on my mind and in my heart. I will make a mad dash over to Africa as soon as I hear the word that we're approved and our court date is set. And I will come home with a precious son that God has hand-picked, just for my family.

So I sit back, pick up my book and relish in the thoughts of this new and different pregnancy.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Choosing Adoption

I thought as we celebrate today, America's Independence Day, it would be fitting to talk about freedoms (wow Courtney, what a genius concept). I am so thankful to live in a country with so many freedoms. And of course, there are many countries out there, as we well know, who don't have the same rights and liberties as we do.

As Americans, we are faced with a variety of choices: public or private school, Democrat or Republican, organic or not, SUV or compact hybrid. We aren't "capped" on the number of children we can have, we can build our houses large or small, we can vote for our elected officials. I love that we get to choose and that these decisions aren't made for us.

You see, we are choosing to adopt. Adoption is plan A for us. It's not a back-up plan, we aren't having infertility issues or any other health issues. We made a choice. I know people assumed there were health problems, but let me assure you there are none! We are confident that this is God's plan for us, so we're following it.

And because of this great country where we reside, we get to make these choices. So Happy 4th of July, and don't take for granted the freedoms we can take advantage of every day. I can't wait for the day when our son will get to celebrate his first Independence Day!