Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Where we are....

Well, I will say, I knew the paperwork process to adopt was extensive - just based on friends that have done it -- but I didn't realize how extensive it is until I was the one filling out all the papers! We turned in our "application" on August 11 - which basically stated our interest in adopting, and gave our agency information about our family. They responded by giving us access to a "preliminary application"... (which you can see Nate excited to handle here....)
This preliminary application had to be processed and approved before we could officially apply for the Adoption Program through China -- and THEN once that was approved we are finally considered "in" the program - or as we say - "paper pregnant!"
Apparently, I need lots of hydration to complete my paperwork.
From here we will have our homestudy - one for the U.S. and then more paperwork following that for China -- so the process will take months. During those months we will have more paperwork, in person meetings and also take 10 hours of training.

There will be a lot of waiting - something I am not great at.

I am counting on this being exactly where the Lord is really going to stretch me through this process.

I already recognize my desire for control (yes, I know, all my family is shocked), even though I am fully aware that I don't have any control - I like to think I do. I have always struggled with this. I like to plan. I like to prepare. I like to feel "ready".

 I am the reason we [I] made excuses for not starting this process a long time ago -- even though we knew we were called to do this. I didn't feel "ready" or "prepared" or like I could handle it. And I can't - not in my own strength. The Lord is already speaking to my heart and it has only been a little over a month. Trust Me. Let Me handle this. Listen to Me. Have I met your every need before? Can I do it now? Is My strength enough? Do you trust me? Hello. Yes. Yes. Yes.

UPDATED 10.18.2016

Over the last three weeks we have continued the pre-homestudy process....this included doctors visits for the kids, more paperwork.  Notarized documents and more paperwork.  Copies of birth certificates, tax returns, marriage licenses, job information, personal references, addresses from the time we were 18 (which we didn't realize we lived in so many places), background checks, fingerprinting, doctors appointments for us, drug screenings and TB tests.

Seriously, it took WEEKS to get everything coordinated and in one place.  I printed out the list of documents needed, and all the documents we needed signed etc - and then spoke with our agency and honestly thought, "oh - I'll get through this in a week or so if I'm really organized and have it back to her and we will be on our way in no time".  ERRRRRRRK.  I mean, I consider myself semi-highly-organized and it felt like it took FOR.EV.ER.  (I would LOVE to blame this on the fact that Nate had some papers to fill out and I had to ask him (nicely) like 65465488 times to finish them, but it wasn't that).

THEN we had a hurricane in Jacksonville (one that left us without power for 5 days AHHHHHH). Two days before the hurricane hit we went and got our TB tests.  Woops.  You know, the test you have to go back to have read 48 hours later?  My doctor was so very gracious to move my appointment up and LITERALLY wait at the office for me while the rest of downtown Jacksonville had been evacuated because they knew how much I wanted to (a) NOT get stuck again and (B) get my paperwork out ASAP -- to read my test.  (I want to always remember this: they called me that morning and asked me to come at 10:45 and I would get my results then, but then they called back (at 9:30) and told me if I couldn't be there before 10 they would have to do my test again because their building was being evacuated.  I threw the kids in the car (almost literally) and we quickly (carefully) made our way downtown in the rain - Skylar dressed head to toe in a bumblebee tutu costume and hot pink crocks, Wyatt in a pajama top and mismatched shorts and dinosaur rain boots - and I'll spare you the deets of my wardrobe but lets just say - thank you, Jesus, for baseball hats. We pulled in the parking lot at 5 til 10 and the NP checked my arm, printed out my test results on letterhead, gave the kids like 12 lollipops, a mini tour of the office and then we all "evacuated" together.  We were a hilarious sight to see, but I was thankful for them that day! No double shot for this girl!)  Nate, however, wasn't so lucky - and since his office evacuated and basically the entire city shut down for the next few days, he had to have his entire test redone - wait the 48-72 hours and THEN we could have test results.

Once all the medical testing and paperwork was organized and double checked and triple checked and yes, I even had Mimi look over everything to be sure we didn't miss any signature spots (it all looks the same after 752 pages) - we finally overnighted our paperwork.

What's Next?

We wait.  My favorite.

During the wait, we will work on completing our first 10 (of 30) hours of training.  And we will hopefully hear from our social worker and schedule our first (of four) homestudy visits.  Please pray for us! Mainly for Nate, who has to deal with me and my waiting skills.

Homestudy Study Study Study Study Study....


Here we go!  The first set of paperwork for our home study was even bigger than we expected.  (Shocker.)  

We are slowly chipping away document by document.

It has been a little overwhelming, to be honest.  Like, uh - are we sure??  I mean sure we are sure - but are we sure?  Yes.  We have no idea how this is going to work out, how the story will be written --but we know that this is God's plan for our family - and he hasn't failed us yet, and He won't start now.  He goes before us.  He knows the end of the story.  And we are choosing to trust him in the [paperwork] process.

We have claimed this song for the last few weeks -- and I think this will end up being the anthem for our adoption.  

You split the sea so I could walk right through it. 
You drown my fears in perfect love.
You rescued me so I can stand and say - 
I am a child of God.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why Adoption??

My great grandparents were my first exposure to foster care and adoption. I was blessed to have known them. I can still remember going over to my Granny Harper and Pop's house and seeing a house full of kids. Kids from all backgrounds. Older kids. Babies. Toddlers. Some easy to love and some not. Granny loved them all. And she loved them all well - just like they were hers. They didn't have much, but they were a family.

I distinctly remember going over one night (I can't even remember what for) but I walked through the front porch and into the kitchen, and granny had a table full of kids, all eating out of pie tins for plates. Granny and Pop didn't change the world, but they (unknowingly) changed mine. They opened my eyes, even as a kid, to people who were different than me. Kids that didn't grow up the way I did, with a mom and dad who love me. They showed me that everyone, regardless of the life they are born into, deserves love. And I feel like even as a kid, I knew that one day, I would adopt. 


 Nate and I have discussed adoption since our first (real) date, I think. [You know - the date where I put it all out there - because I knew I was moving away to college and I really did't know if I wanted to be interested enough in another person to even attempt the long distance thing? That date. The one where I totally tried to come across as the crazy girl who really didn't want to go to school to be anything more than a mom, but I wanted to move away because I just wanted to breathe on my own, figure out who I am, and boys stink and always break my heart, and I'm only here for the free dinner, and did I mention I really just want to get married and have babies, and adopt babies from other places, and have animals, and more babies, and cook and bake for my family - but I'm moving away and so you really don't want to get involved here....you know, that date?] Apparently, Nate had a thing for crazy girls that just want to bake and have babies - that or he really likes a good show. Both. Anyway, that was the first mention of adoption in our relationship. Then we went to Mexico together and saw sweet babies there and immediately I thought, if this is the guy, what if this is the place? Oh, shoot, wait, I was trying not to like him. Then I saw him with babies and...the rest, they say, is history.


 A year into being married - and I'll spare the details - but we weren't sure if biological babies were in the cards for us. After another year of "trying" - (I hate that expression so very much - like, yes, we are "trying" isn't everyone "trying" and yes we have "tried" and its really fun to "try" until you really want to "try" I mean - seriously - bllleech) -- we decided, maybe adoption is what God is calling us to do for all of our kids. And that was totally fine, honestly. As we started really thinking and looking into what it would take to start the process, we realized (1) we were really "young" for a couple wanting to adopt internationally - most countries have age restrictions and (2) holy cow, expensive. No sooner did we start really looking at our options, I was pregnant. Funny how that works? Or is it?


Two kids later, we really started discussing our family "plan". (Kinda like the conversation we had after having ONE baby -- something like, remember how we both said we wanted lots of babies -- do you see how much work this is?? Should we reconsider??) What does it look like now? What does adoption mean to us now? As parents, I think we look at adoption TOTALLY different than we did when we didn't have kids and we just wanted to be parents. If that makes any sense. Now it wasn't just adopting a child because we felt called, and because we wanted to have a family. We looked at Skylar and Wyatt and thought, how could anyone not want their babies? Or not be willing to make whatever sacrifice they needed to to keep them? Or even - how in the world could a birth mom love her baby so much, that she would give them to a family who could give them something different than what she could. The thought of this really takes my breath away.

We attended an information meeting in Orlando last August - just to see if we were on the right track and what we needed to do to really get started. The lady hosting the meeting said it best, it was like drinking from a fire hydrant. So.Much.Information. We left confused. Were we even called to do this? Yes. Should we be adopting locally instead of internationally? I don't know. Can we do this? Yes. The paperwork! How? When? Where? I don't know!! We knew we were still called. We knew we could do it. We were just scared. So we waited. For a better time.


January. Job Switch. We had been in the same place at UPS for ten(+) years. Stressed - sure. Not the greatest hours - sure. Holiday schedules stink - definitely. But we never worried about what we wanted to do, and when we wanted to do things, or how we would do things. Our security, quite honestly, found in a job.  And then here we found ourselves with a much better schedule, and less stress - and a giant question mark of well, we were about to start this adoption, but can we do this? Should we do this? No. Surely this timing is not right. For months we went back and forth on what was right for our family. This [adoption] can not possibly be what we should be doing right now. It makes no [financial] sense. We had talked, prayed, discussed, looked in to, researched and never ever felt at peace.  In my head, I honestly wanted the lack of peace to be because -- in my must-have-a-plan-that-makes-sense world -- it didn't make sense, therefore why consider something that might take me out of my comfortable little world?  Yet, in my heart of hearts I knew that it was the Lord saying to me (probably screaming, honestly)  I'm calling you to do this! Do you trust me?  Have I failed you yet??  Why won't you just LET me??


Everywhere we went -- ADOPTION.  Song on the radio.  Pastor mentions it (and how we are all called in some way to care for the orphans, or that we have ALL been adopted into the Family of God).  LITERALLY, Skylar meets a new friend, whose mom informs me - oh yeah, we just got home from Thailand - she is adjusting beautifully.  What???   Okay, God! I hear you! I see you!  Finally, one night, we are again discussing logistics -- and how I (it's me -- it is always me) just don't know -- and Nate says - Carrie, I think we just need to do it.  We need to fill out the paperwork and TRUST GOD (what a concept) to work out all that other stuff.  As I started to make another excuse...or reason with him...he says (patiently) - I think we will start tomorrow....

So here we are. Adopting from China.