In honor of National Adoption Month, I’ve decided to share our adoption story with you. It’s a long story that really can’t be made short, so I’ll be making this a two-part post.
Today I’ll be sharing with you what led us to adopt, why we chose to adopt through DHS and what our selection process was like.
Shane and I had individually and independently wanted to adopt before we met each other. (At some point, I may have him post his thoughts for me to share with you all.)
We discussed our desire for our “hypothetical” future spouses to be willing to adopt. I knew I might have trouble conceiving, so it was a no-brainer for me. But I didn’t give up on the dream of having “my own” kids…a phrase that now makes me cringe.
We began dating each other when we were 18 and were married at age 19. We were cute, little, naive teenagers who had a perfect plan on paper of what we wanted our lives to look like. We would have two to four biological kids, raise them, and then when they were in college, we would start again, adopting one “hard to place” child at a time, likely a middle-school aged child, raise them, and send them to college as well, repeat as needed.
Dig the orange hair?
To say that I believe that the Lord is patient with us when we tell Him our plans for our future is an understatement.
We had explored adopting from China. I had always felt like my heart was there. But we were discouraged when we found out that the cost was roughly $30,000. We were even more disappointed to find out at age 20 that the minimum age to adopt from China was 30. We couldn’t wait ten years!!!
Fast-forward ten years, at least two miscarriages, one hysterectomy and many, many tears. Still no kids. Shane and I had each turned our backs on the Lord and returned to Him in that time as well. Some people talk about years of marriage flying by…not so with us. Our ten years felt precisely like ten years: the first two felt like eight and the last eight felt like two. (Read: Our first two years were HARD.)
We explored adopting through a private agency where we could create a photo book about us and a birth mother would pick us for her baby. We were excited about open adoption. But again, the prices seemed insurmountable and I had a personal struggle with fund-raising to adopt.
I can’t remember how we heard about adopting through DHS, but I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I called and spoke to the adoption certifier for our county. He was friendly, answered all my questions and then told me that our county was so backed up that we could go through our neighboring county for training and certification. Little did I know what a God-send that would be for us.
We decided to attend the training classes, that were free. We figured we could always back out if it wasn’t for us. No harm, no foul.
In November 2010 we attended our first class and met E’rma, who would forever change our lives. We sat through three hours of hearing her tell her story. She had been abused. She had been a foster child. She is an adoptive mother. Her story took our breath away. I am pretty sure I cried. More than once. Listening to her that night cemented forever in our souls that this was a calling for us.
And we would answer.
We were so green. We knew nothing about the home study process, how to submit for a child that we were interested in or how a committee worked, let alone what court was like, what a CASA was or what a CANS assessment was. We were starry-eyed.
Our classes ended in January of 2011. We were told there was a long wait for the home study to be processed. They weren’t kidding. We finally got a call from our adoption certifier, Kem, in July 2011. You can read my thoughts about the home study here.
Kem called me in November of that year to tell me that we were in the system and could now have access to see pictures and profiles of waiting children. I remember poring over the pictures of each sweet little face and reading about five paragraphs that were supposed to tell us everything we needed to know in order to say “yes” to a child.
We found a little girl that seemed like the “perfect” fit and asked to have our study submitted for her in December 2011. We had NO IDEA that it was OK to submit for more than one child, that it was rare to be selected, how many studies were reviewed, and that if we weren’t selected to go to committee, we’d never hear anything. We waited three months.
Shane and I had joined an adoption support group facilitated by E’rma and Kem and we went to our meeting in February a bit discouraged. It was then that we asked more questions and found out that: A) It was OK to submit for more than one profile, and B) If we hadn’t heard by then, we probably wouldn’t.
Then Kem said the following ten words that changed our lives forever. “I think you need to check out M and K.” (Names omitted for their protection.) She said they were half-brothers, 7- and 2-years old. She said she knew their caseworker was looking for a good fit and she felt we would be strong contenders. So we breathed a quick prayer and said to go ahead and submit our study to Melissa, their caseworker.
A whirlwind ensued. Here we had been waiting for over a year, and then, just like that, the dam of events broke. Melissa called me the very next day following the support group discussion. I was on a lunch break at work and we talked most of that hour. She then put me in contact with their current foster mother. That filled the lunch hour the next day. I still have the stacks of notes I took during those conversations.
When the email arrived in my inbox, I opened the email and with the picture attachment of the boys like it was Christmas. I was practically shaking. I printed it out and took it home. Shane and I pored over it. We had plans to go out of town with close friends the next week. So we took the profile with us to Leavenworth. We prayed. We shared with our friends what we could. We talked with our parents. We prayed some more.
Leavenworth with our dear friends, March 2012…One of our last childless trips
They seemed like the perfect fit for us.
But the craziness was only beginning. In our excitement, we had submitted our home study for more kiddos. We got back from our trip to find that we had been selected to go to committee, not only for M & K, but another sibling set of little boys. My head was spinning. Was this for real??
I tried to place a call to those foster parents as well. I had to leave a message in Spanish on their voicemail, which terrified me. I never got a call back. Probably because I was stuttering like an idiot. And because the Lord had already made the choice for us.
Kem said that the two committees were back to back and that we would be best off to pick which boys we wanted to pursue. How could we choose?? We asked the Lord for guidance, and Kem did say that she really did feel that M & K were a good fit for us, so we chose them.
In her wisdom, she didn’t tell us that it’s rare not to be selected in your first committee. We had no idea what to expect. The weekend before our committee hearing, (that we could not be a part of,) we were counselors for a youth retreat. We had both taken that following Monday off so that we could sit by the phone all day. Looking back, that was comical. There was nothing we could have done. We could have worked, at least a half-day. Instead, I cleaned. Like a maniac. And then we watched a movie in bed and tried not to be nervous.
When the phone finally rang, I confessed we had practically been sitting on our phone all day and Kem chuckled.
“What have you been doing all day??” she asked.
“Cleaning the house. A lot,” I said.
“Well, I guess that’s a good thing, because you have two little boys moving in really soon.”
That’s all I remember of the conversation. We were over the moon excited. That was April 16, 2012. We began coordinating the transition plan. We would meet our boys for the first time on April 27. Our boys.
We could hardly wait!
To be continued…
Blessings and much love,