Thursday, July 30, 2009
I am very excited about Adoptionstock. We'll be hearing testimonies from birthmoms, adoptive parents, and adoptees. We'll be having break out sessions on how to tell your children about their adoption, preparing your profile, and I'm sure a bunch of other things that I'm not even aware of that I need to know.
In an effort to prepare for my MIL, I've straightened up the guest room that will become the nursery. I rearranged furniture. Bought those vacuum bags that store clothes and have begun to empty the closet. I set up the crib, only to discover that its spindles were loose and we needed a new crib. Pottery Barn graciously took the defective crib back, despite our having purchased it over 2 years ago, and will be replacing it in September when their new model of Sleigh cribs comes out. I ironed the bed skirt to Henry's crib bedding. I've selected a color that we are going to paint the room--Sherwin William's Lime Granita. I've pulled out the circus fabric we ordered when we bought the circus bedding and have begun to design the curtains. And I've picked out the coordinating rugs at Land of Nod and Pottery Barn that that will be purchased once gender is known. (And have already begun to rationalize getting that darling Elephant lamp at PB even though we've got lamps coming out our ears. Yard sale, anyone?)
Elizabethtown is expanding its territory. I even thought about parking in the expectant mom parking at the mall today. I mean, I am an expectant mom. They really should be more specific; what mom isn't expecting something?
I'm sure the Adoption Festival will be eye opening. I'll let you in on the 411 when we get back. Pray for Henry. And my mother-in-law. I'm getting ready to type up the four pages of instuctions I wrote up yesterday.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Lots of the children's books are from my childhood. My mother kept EVERYTHING in response to her mother keeping nothing. (Thank you, darling mom.) Every now and then Henry will dig out my old copy of The Digginest Dog (my favorite childhood book) or my beloved Mr. Pine's Purple House. Some of these books are still in print, some not. His most recent discovery on his bookshelf was a true gem.
For starters, the book obviously belonged first to my sister, as it was published in 1964. Second, it claims to be designed and written by Eric Carle, and yet I can find it nowhere in his lists of published works on the Internet. So now you are thinking, "Wow! Sell that book and you'll have a fortune." Well, another neat treat about the book is that while its cardboard pages are in relatively good physical condition, someone has taken a ballpoint pen to most of the pages. (I say someone as it may have been me, Sonya, or Bill. Not wanting to point fingers, I will blame the extra child that lives in EVERY American house named "Someone." Someone also has a cousin named "Somebody". Somebody is largely responsible for all items misplaced. )
The book is entitled "When I'm Big." It is a board book with holes in each page that show a face of both a boy and a girl on the front and back covers. So when you turn the page, you see a girl who says something like "When I'm Big I'm going to be a nurse and help people get well" and a boy who says "When I'm big I'm going to be a cowboy and rope cattle with my lariat." Cute, right?
Henry loves this book. Poking his finger in the hole, pointing to each person's inked up face. I love this book because it is SOOOOOO politically incorrect. Listen to the various aspirations of the book and recognize that each page gives you both a girl and a boy with their career goals.
Page Two-- (I love this one!)
Girl: Secretary (who types letters on a typewriter)
Boy: An Astronaut (who goes to the moon)
Girl: A Lion Tamer (what?)
Boy: A doctor
Girl: A teacher
Boy: A policeman (whose main job is to help children cross the street)
Girl: A musician
Boy: A sailor
Girl: An artist
Boy: A fireman
Girl: A waitress (for the girl who thinks being a secretary is too lofty a goal?)
Boy: A farmer (who is smoking a corn cob pipe)
Girl: An actress (who is smoking a cigarette and carrying a small dog)
Boy: A baseball player
Page Nine--(what I consider to be the book's Pièce de résistance)
Girl: A bride (and then I'll be married, just like Mommy)
Boy: A bridegroom (and then I'll be married, just like Daddy).
As for now, I will simply hope that Henry does want to be just like his Daddy. (Of course, that is because his Daddy ROCKS!)
Monday, July 27, 2009
1. Our adopting a child is not a noble thing. Or at least, it is no more noble than any other couple that starts a family. Parenthood is noble in and of itself. We're not adopting a child because we feel pity for some forlorn child in war-torn Sub-Saharan Africa. Even if we did feel called to adopt internationally, it would be because that is simply how God ordained to draw our family together. I'm pretty sure pity is a poor excuse for love.
2. We didn't come to adoption as a last ditch effort. Adoption is not our "Plan B." We haven't been cornered into adoption by our infertility. Yes, our chances of conceiving naturally are on par with our chances of winning the lottery, despite our not purchasing lottery tickets. Yet, when we've purchased tickets (or used assisted reproductive technology), we've been successful. Maybe not every time, but we do have Henry. Also, we didn't choose adoption because it is less expensive than IVF, either. Because it is not.
If I were to be accurate, I would say that adoption chose us. In the beginning, as the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters, God's plan for our family was to blend together both biological and adoptive children. We He created both Sloan and myself, it was with both Henry and our adoptive child in mind.
3. No, we aren't grateful that we have at least one real child. Well, yes, I mean, I am ever so thankful for Henry. He makes me laugh so hard and brings so much joy into our lives I can't imagine how I was ever happy prior to his birth (though I know I was). But before I punch you in the face for saying this to me, let me breathe, and let you in on the 411. Our adoptive child will be a real child. And I will be his real Mommy. The only alternative would be to be an imaginary child. Sloan will tell you that I've had imaginary children for awhile. As in, before we even got married I tried to have discussions with Sloan as to where our children would go to school and would we make them pay for their car insurance on their own when they turned 16. (I also made sure he had a back-up mother for these imaginary children in the event of my death. This still holds true--he is to marry either Auntie Robin or Auntie Stef in the event of my untimely demise. They are aware of this plan. I do not understand why they laugh at me when I talk about it and say things like, "Oh, EJ...")
Our adopted child will be our real son or daughter. And not just in some Velveteen Rabbit because they are loved sort of way. Our child is our child for the same reason Henry is our child-- because God gave us to one another. Will our child have a biological mother that he or she will share DNA with? Yes. Will he or she look like Sloan or me? Probably not. Will my son or daughter have gifts and talents that are rooted in another family? You bettcha. But she will be mine. And I will be hers. And there will be nothing imaginary about our relationship.
I've thought a lot about Joseph lately. Joseph the carpenter, not the one with the fancy coat. In as much as it is important to understand that we are adopted into God's family because of Jesus, I'm also beginning to understand and love that Jesus himself, on earth, was adopted by Joseph. He did not share DNA with Joseph, and yet it is Joseph's status as his father, his real earthly daddy, the one who wiped his nose and taught him how to hold a saw, that ensures that Jesus fulfills much prophecy. Joseph is the reason they go to Bethlehem. Scripture tells us that Joseph is a descendant of David, and refers to Joseph as Jesus' parent. After Jesus' birth, the Bible doesn't say Mary, his mother, and that guy Joseph she was engaged to. No. It definitively calls Mary and Joseph, collectively, Jesus' parents. Jesus' mother and father. And it is through his adoptive status into Joseph's line--the line of David--that we are all blessed.
Chew on that, imaginary people.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Henry enjoys spinning in circles. Spinning on the couch. Spinning while sitting down. Spinning while stomping. Spinning while playing the drums. Often, he screams "Woun, woun, wound" as he's spinning. When I see him doing this, I'll say, "Look at you spinning, Wild Man!" and then he'll run across the room (drunkenly) screaming, "Wi Man! Wi Man!"
Last night, the wild man showed up in the bathtub. As in, Henry would lay on his stomach and start kicking and splashing while yelling at the top of his lungs, "Wi Man! Wi Man!"
Or we'll be sitting nicely on the couch, reading "Go, Dog, Go!" for say, oh I don't know, the 10th time in a day. Then he'll stand on the couch, scream, "Hiding" and then begin to burrow in the pillows. If you lift the pillows to look for him, he will actually go underneath the seat cushions. Through his guffaws of laughter, you'll hear a little voice yelping, "Hiding!"
He has also effectively learned the word help. Remember how his speech teacher wanted him to request help? Well, he's learned the word help. Except when Henry says it, he sounds as though he is sending some sort of distress signal. "HELLLLLLP! HELLLLLLP!" He sounds so pitiful you think assuredly he is trapped under a fallen tree. Nope. He is simply sitting on the couch, pointing at the TV with the wrong remote. "Help", to Henry, does not mean, "Hey, I'm trying my best, but I need a little assistance." Help to Henry means, "Do this thing for me. And do it now." I think he gets this from me as I actually have been known to sit on the couch, throw Sloan the remote and say, "I am ready to watch TV now." (Thanks for your prayers, Mom.)
And each day he will select a toy that he will carry with him all day long. Today it was one of those old school telephones, the ones with the eyes and the red pull string. Not the easiest toy to take with you to the doctor's office or the adoption agency. Yesterday, it was a large orange car. On good days, it is a train or a matchbox car. And if you were wondering what the maximum number of matchbox cars that Henry can successfully carry around at one time--eleven.
Sometimes I just look at him and think, "What are you doing? You are so weird. You're so...male. Thank God I have your Dad to explain you to me. But come to think of it, he's pretty weird too."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Large bank check: Check. (Large amount of money. I'm not taking one of those giant publisher's clearing house checks. Although, that'd be kind of funny if I did...)
It's done, people. Tomorrow I take to Bethany the large packet of papers that is our Formal "formal" application. Then our references will be sent out. Then the interviews can begin.
I am anxious. This anxiety is not from a place of "oh no, what if they don't approve us" because I understand that pretty much this is all a legal formality. We'll be approved. I'm also confident that at the appointed time, our birthmother will pick us.
I'm anxious because when I hand in this packet, I will no longer be in control of this adoption. (The reality is that I've never been in the first place.) Tomorrow, all illusions of my own sovereignty will perish. I will turn in the packet and then we will wait. And wait.
God has shown me His faithfulness in our waiting in the past. I know this drill--pray for patience and God will provide it. And yet I have never REALLY had to trust Him like this.
No. I take that back. I remember what it was like the first few days I was in the hospital with Henry. I remember telling our Pastor that he would have to pray for God's will to be done, because I was too busy praying for Henry's life and that if it was God's will to take Henry home early, I wanted no part of it. Graciously, God's plan for our family was for Henry to hang in there and join us here on earth. I also prayed that no matter what happened, that I wouldn't believe the lie that God had forgotten about us or that this yucko crisis was an indicator of His feelings for me. And He gave me greater faith to trust Him then. So I'm expecting Him to do the same again.
So God, remember that cool thing you did in my heart while we were waiting for Henry? Yeah. Could you do that again? Thanks.
But I'm still aflutter.
As I've begun prepping our guest room for my mother-in-law's visit next week (she is watching Henry while we go on our 2 day adoption training extravaganza), I moved the bassinet into our bedroom. Henry likes to crawl inside of it and yell, "Baby. Baby night-night. Baby wake." It is a bit odd to have already put the bassinet in our room, but really, it would be a hassle to take it back up the third floor. And I'm going to go ahead and put back together the crib, so I can take a picture of it for our profile. There is a part of me that thinks this is premature. That I'm setting myself up for an agony of looking at that bassinet, knowing full well that it will become that place we set the folded laundry until we get around to putting it away, and my heart hurting because there is no baby night-night inside.
And yet. We ARE expecting. We ARE waiting for a baby. (Holy freakin' cow, folks, I'm going to be a mother of two!) If I was pregnant, you wouldn't begrudge me nesting and here I am nesting for our child. It could be that he or she is already growing somewhere in our birthmom, gestating happily, ready to have his or her nose honked by Henry.
My mother told me that the other day, someone asked her and my dad how many grandchildren they had. They responded, "13. Sonya's youngest is a month old and Elizabeth has one on the way."
And we do.
It may be out of our hands, but like the song says, He's got the little bitty babies in His hands; He's got the whole world in His hands.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
We've been knee deep in adoption paperwork since our intake interview on Friday. The interview went well. But, oh. my. gosh. I was SO wrong with thinking there were only 4 more forms to fill out.
Let me give you a run down of what I'm prepping over the next 2 weeks.
1. An emergency evacuation plan. I've had to render a layout of our home, all three floors, draw escape routes, and write up our fire action plan. This has forced us to realize that we need some of those ladder thingys (which has me wondering just how the heck do you crawl down a ladder with a toddler and a baby anyways?)
2. An autobiography. Literally, this is what is typed on the checklist for adoptive parents. We've each had to do one. Thankfully, they give you questions to answer. Even with questions, mine is about ten pages long. Brevity is NOT my strong suit.
How would you answer these questions in less than a paragraph? Describe your parents as individuals and parents. What attributes of their parenting do you wish to emulate? To avoid? Or maybe, What kind of child were you? How did you spend most of your time? (I answered dancing and singing in front of the mirrors in my bedroom, hairbrush in hand.) Describe what the teen years were like for you? What attracted you to your spouse? What are your spouses strengths? Their weaknesses? (Apparently one of my weaknesses is that I expect Sloan to be a mind reader...You mean he's not?) What are the main areas of disagreement in your marriage? (See passage about mind reading.) They also asked lots of questions about our infertility and our views on adoption. Awesome.
3. Medical Examinations. Going on Thursday. Even includes the standard blood workup and urine drug test. Henry needs a letter from his doctor stating that he is healthy and "free of communicable diseases".
4. Family History Data. Basically asking about any and all diseases my family has. Also includes things like hay fever, joint pains (who hasn't had these), and eye strain. Really?
5. Copies of our birth certificates and marriage license.
6. HIPAA forms. Because I obviously am very concerned about my privacy.
7. Sworn statements of disclosure. Basically asking us if we're criminals. We're not.
8. Fingerprint cards. Going to get inky tomorrow.
9. Child Protective Services forms. Which have to be notarized.
10. Statement of Discipline. Basically a form saying we won't beat our kid. Although if you really read it closely, all we're really saying is that we won't use corporal punishment until the child is legally ours. I guess once we're parents, the state doesn't care anymore.
11. Statement of Intent of Guardianship. Basically a legal form saying who gets the kids if we die. (My brother Bill is totally hosed if Sloan and I, along with Sonya and Biff, get into some sort of freak accident as he will suddenly have our kids plus the Pusey 8. Egads.)
12. Statement of Understanding that if our family status changes we'll let Bethany know.
13. Application Fee. (How nice of them to ask for the money last.)
This list does NOT include all the birthparent letter I've written, the "snapshot" of our bios I had to write, which will be included in our Birthparent Profile. (As in the thing they'll look at to see if they like us.)
As you see, I'm pretty busy. As we do all these things, it has gotten very real. I am a bit like a child on Christmas Eve. What great little baby does my Father have for me? In the past, I have learned that I don't dream big enough for the rich blessings of God. I ask for a trip to Bush Gardens, and he takes me to Europe instead. Knowing this, I'm in full swing prepping for baby mode. We hope to be completed with all the training and interviews and have gotten back our recommendations by the end of summer. And then we just wait until we're picked. So really, I've got to be ready for a baby by September. And that guest room isn't going to turn into a nursery by itself...
But in case you think we are neglecting the pickle for the sake of his little sister or brother, fear not.
Henry's newest love is for the water hose. Unfortunately for Mommy, he figured out how to unwind it and turn it on all by himself. And no, that isn't his bathing suit and he isn't wearing a swim diaper. This game of car wash just sort of happened when I went to get the mail. He began dragging toys (and strollers) down to the driveway to hose them off. Two points for him, they were covered in pollen. Next trip to Wal-Mart, we're getting the boy a regular old sprinkler.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
We are about a third of the way through of the approval/home study process with Bethany Christian Services. What this basically means is that we are about four forms away from being done with paperwork until placement (I think that's right. But really, I'm making that number up.) And oh yeah, there are also four more interviews. (Not making that number up. Two with Sloan and I together. One of each of us individually. And then one at our home, where Henry will also be queried. That should be interesting.) And two COMPLETE days of training at the end of the month. Yowsa.
To quote my prof. Henry Simmons--"Are they slow or just stupid? Why all the interviews? Can't they see from Henry that you and Sloan are the best parents in the world?" (Thank you Jesus for sending people who love me so ridiculously into my world.) But I get all the paperwork. Bethany has to be able, in good faith, to tell the state and our birth mother they have the utmost confidence in our ability to parent and love this child. I mean, they are giving us a person.
But prior to even being allowed to apply for an adoption, we had to go have a 2 hour orientation meeting. Normally, this is hosted ever quarter or so at night and lots of couples attend. Their next meeting isn't until the third week of this month. Because I'm wanting to hurry up this wait time, I scheduled us our own private session. (I promise the case worker suggested it!) Here we learned more about Bethany, the adoption process, the types of adoption that are available, and more about birth mothers in general.
It's not all Juno, people. Birth mothers typically are older, because let's face it, it takes a level of maturity to care about someone other than yourself. And there are easier options for girls to consider. The process also opened my eyes to the real great sacrifice this woman will be making on our behalf. On behalf of our shared child. And so we have begun to ardently pray for her. Praising God that she has chosen life. Asking God that He would bring people into her life to love and encourage her. For her and the baby's health. For an easy pregnancy. For her bravery to be bolstered by the Holy Spirit. And for this entire process to be used to draw her closer to God. That she be able to see His redeeming hand through it all. I am grateful for the orientation as I now find myself praying for her even more than I am praying "Lord, bring us a baby."
The forms aren't all that bad to fill out. Less nerve wracking than the SATS, but not as much fun as the "What book of the Bible are you?" quiz on Facebook. (I'm Genesis. Whatever that means.)
The first form was simply basic information--name, address, why we want to adopt, and what type of adoption we are interested in. Each form has asked us to describe our ideal child. Well, I thought, I'd like for him or her to be kind, trustworthy, obedient, and funny. It would also help them fit into our family is he or she were well acquainted with sarcasm. My case worker told me that, no, that wasn't what they meant. So basically, I've typed "open domestic adoption of a Caucasian infant(s) of either gender" no less than eight times. And yes, I know this limits the number of birth mothers that will look at our profile. And I've had my nieces and nephews ask me why were aren't willing to adopt a child of another race. And the answer is quite simple. I'm pretty sure that if God intended us to adopt a child of another race He'd have told us by now.
The second form was the faith statement. Part of Bethany's mission is to place children in Christian homes, so they get this out of the way right off the bat. It asked questions like "Who is Jesus and what does your relationship with him mean to you?" and my personal favorite, "What is the Holy Spirit and what is his role in your life?" I--the seminary student, the writer, the great contemplater-- slaved over my statement for days. I delved back into my Systematic Theology notebooks. I wanted to correct the question in and of itself by writing a paragraph about how they should have asked "Who is the Holy Spirit". Sloan informed me that this may not be the time to get out the red pen. By the fourth draft, I was quasi-happy with it, still trying to figure out a better way to articulate my relationship with the Holy Spirit. Each answer was at least 4 paragraphs. Sloan spent maybe thirty minutes on his, each answer comprised of 4 concise sentences. When I read his, I was so pissed off because it was WAY better than mine. When it took all of 15 minutes for our case worker to reply to me submitting the statements to say they were approved, I realized that once again, maybe I'm focusing on the wrong things here.
Next was the "formal" application. It was more in depth and we had to give more information about our families, our reason for adopting, and oddly enough, directions to our house and a description of our neighborhood. Once again, I was struck by the Norman Rockwell-ness of our neighborhood (despite the cat neighbors)--with its sidewalks, playgrounds, homecoming parades, and ice cream trucks.
We also had to go into detail about our medical and criminal pasts. So yes, I had to fess up about getting a Minor in possession ticket my freshman year in college. Let's be more specific--an MIP my very first night of college. As in I was walking across the Granville towers parking lot with a solo cup of crystal light and everclear, on my way to a frat party, and I heard a male voice say, "Ladies." There were girls carrying cases of beer. Did they get tickets? No. Because I was the only girl to stop and turn around. Argh. One alcohol class later the charges were dropped, but still, the question wasn't have you ever been convicted (well, that question was asked), but the question was have you ever been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor? Well, thank you, ALE officer, for being my Mr. Meaner.
We also had to select whether or not we would be willing to accept a child with emotional, behavioral, mental, or medical problems. How they are going to be able to figure out an infant has emotional problems my case worker wasn't able to tell me. She informs me that there will be another form (of course there will) where they will go into more depth as to what types of things we are willing to accept. Awesome. I kept looking for the bubble that said "Just give me a friggin' baby" but alas, there was no such bubble.
On the formal application we also had to list our references. The people we are pointing them to say we would be good parents. We listed our pastor and Henry's fairy godmothers--Aunties Shannon, Robin, and Ann. So peeps, you have been served. And not only have you been served, there are now people out and about on this interweb thingy that are praying that as soon as you get your papers in the mail, you complete them PDQ. Let me be even more clear, when our case worker informs me that she has put your references in the mail, (or however she is planning on doing it--she is out of town this week, how dare she!) I intend to email and call you at least once a day until you can assure me that it is en route back to Bethany. Should you need postage, let me know.
At present, we are filling out a more detailed form about our finances. This form has been pretty boring--health insurance, life insurance, amount of mortgage, assets, amount spent on groceries. (Does this include amount spent at Casa Grande? We went last night and when we asked Henry if he wanted to go to Casa Grande he answered, while running to the door, "Yeah, yeah, cheese!") I'm also tallying up all of our assets as well, as in making a list of all the things in our home and how much they are worth. This is actually kind of fun. And dang, I have a lot of jewelry. (Have I mentioned lately how wonderful my husband is?)
So....that's where we are. My mother-in-law is coming down at the end of the month to watch Henry while we go to our all day adoption festival. (Not its official title.) I'm hoping to have had at least most of the interviews completed by then. Also, I know at some point, we're going to have to go get physicals (all three of us), and Sloan and I will have to go get fingerprinted for our FBI background check. I'll also be making a profile--a scrapbook intended to give prospective birth mothers a glimpse of our lives and what life her child may receive. This scrapbook is how we introduce ourselves to birth mothers. Much more civilized than simply hunting her down and screaming, "Pick me! Pick me!"
I'm also hoping that our home study visit/interview will fall close to the weekend my mother-in-law visits. That way I only have to clean my house once. And for those of you living in the Richmond metro area, rest assured, I will be calling you to come help me clean my house. Apparently, I have some friends, who actually enjoy this stuff. So, Colleen, Come on down! You're the next contestant on clean my house! (Don't forget to bring the ammonia and pledge. Cause I don't have that kind of thing around here. Not even sure I'd know what to do with them.)