Friday, March 21, 2014

It's beginning!

Yesterday we received the email from the adoption agency letting us know that we are officially beginning this process with them! Let's all just take a moment and cheer!


We are full of praise and excitement, friends! Today we have the day off, so we'll be filling out our first set of paperwork and sending off that first check. It's amazing to think of the journey we've had and the changes we've experienced, and I'm sure I'll sit and write about that one of these days. Today, I thought  I'd line out a bit of what we're expecting over the next few months and year(s).

First of all, Bethany Christian Services has gone through some major changes in the last year or two. Part of that simply has come because the world of adoption is changing. That being said, if you or someone you know has adopted through BCS, you'll notice things are a bit different now.

Step 1 (Application and Assessment)
The first step is the assessment. This includes the formal application, interviews, documentation, verifications, legal clearances, a home safety check, adoption education, and a written Home Study and and approval. All of this is a 90 day process (hopefully!). After it is finished, we are officially adoptive parents material! This first step is $5000, and thanks to the many people who have donated to the adoption fund at our church (this was set up as a memorial after my grandmother passed away last fall), this first step is covered!

Step 2 (Bethany Partner Family Services)
Once we have been approved, we can choose to be included in the pool of Bethany families waiting for an adoption. There are some requirements to be met to be included, but (as far as we can tell), we do meet them. Not everyone necessarily goes on to step 2, though. After being approved, a couple may be able to complete their adoption elsewhere or independently. This second step is $5000.

Step 3 (Adoption Placement)
This is when an adoption actually takes place. This final payment is due once a child is under our care. :) It is usually around $8000 to complete the adoption placement.

That's it...three easy steps! (Ha!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Surprise Interview

Today, after a very long five hours of proctoring the CAHSEE (not the most exciting way to spend a morning), Robby and I rushed off to Fresno for our first official adoption meeting. You may remember me mentioning that two weeks ago we were part of an online orientation meeting, all experienced from the comfort of our couch. Today was much different: it was just me, Robby, and two women from Bethany Christian Services, one of which (we hope, anyway, if all goes well this week!) will be our social worker.

We sat in a small room, the four of us gathered around a table. After some initial greeting, they jumped right in to the questions in front of them. I could sense Robby thinking exactly what I was: Wait a second...are they interviewing us?!?

Honestly, I had thought this would simply be another Q&A time for us, allowing us an opportunity to ask more questions. I thought we would get loaded up with literature to study and websites to visit and be sent on our way. Instead, they wanted to make sure that this is a good fit, on both sides.

Even though the interview was informal and casual, it nonetheless felt very real. They asked about our faith, what led us to adoption, our grief process, our marriage, our financial situation, our health, our jobs, our plans.

The amazing thing is that Robby and I, although we didn't realize this would be an interview, were able to answer the questions just as I would have hoped. We were prepared because God has been preparing us! We were honest with our excitement, as well as our past grief.

It's interesting to compare this meeting with the orientation we had with BCS in January of 2012. That night, I could hardly hold back my tears. All I knew was that I wasn't ready. Today I felt strong, healed, ready.

This week, we will hear back from BCS, letting us know if we'll be continuing the assessment with them. If so, then the next 90 days will be busy!

I'll share more soon, but for now, I need to sleep. It's been a long day!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I lift my eyes up...

I feel like I've experienced a year's of emotions over the past week, especially the first few days after the adoption orientation. I forget, somehow, that every single time we take a step forward, especially if it's moving into something different or challenging (and it always is), all the emotions of our infertility wash over me. Looking back over the past week, I can distinctly see myself going through a cycle of grief. A condensed, intense cycle of grief.

Many times, I tried to write, but I couldn't. And, in this case, that was a good thing. I needed to allow myself to feel what I needed to feel without any filters. I needed to say things aloud that I could never say to anyone else, and not worry about making excuses when I said them.

This is the truth, friends. I am broken. Both of us are. God is healing, we know that full well, but we are daily impacted by our infertility, our failed treatments, our embryos that never came to be.

Because I feel so broken, adoption is especially difficult. And finally this week, something clicked. I realized that I've had in my head this picture of the two types of couples who adopt. These pictures aren't true or right; they simply are what I've built in my mind for some time.

Couple A: This couple is whole. They have, from the beginning or close to it, chosen adoption. Their journey to have children is characterized by joy and love. Their bodies work as they should, so their resources have been spent well. Out of their wholeness, they are able to give without needing anything in return.

Couple B: This couple is broken, often by infertility. They did not choose adoption from the beginning. Their journey to have children has been characterized by tears and disappointment. They have spent so much on fixing themselves only to end up seemingly worse. Now, as they begin something new, they move ahead having experienced deep loss, and they recognize they have a need.

Of course, in this whole scenario, we are Couple B. We come to adoption later in life and in our marriage, after our attempts to have children biologically have failed. We wish we were whole, wish somehow that our past experiences wouldn't impact who we are, but that's not the case. We come offering, yes, offering our hearts and home and love and entire lives. But we also come needing. And that's hard to admit, especially when we walk into something that is supposed to be child-centered and not couple-centered.

It was freeing once I realized this picture in my head! I have been paralyzed by fear and insecurity in all of this because I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I keep comparing myself to model Couple A. (And I'm pretty sure they don't exist since all couples come with some brokenness.) I want to come to an adoption and say, I'm perfect! I'm whole! All my wounds are healed and my brokenness fixed! I don't need anything or anyone; I'm simply here to give!

But I can't. Oh I am being made whole and I am being healed. But I come needing so many things and so many people. I need grace and love. I need support. I need my husband. I need my God.

And I need a mother who out of a fierce, desperate love for her child will trust that we will love her baby just as much as she. I need someone else to provide for me and my husband what we cannot have on our own. If that isn't the definition of need, I don't know what is.

It was a tough week, friends. I felt like I was seeing myself as I never have before. I've always thought of myself as confident and secure, able to do anything I put my mind to! And yet, this week, I had to face the difficult truth that I am full of fears and insecurities. I feel inadequate and vulnerable, and I don't like it one bit.

It was as if God was giving me a glimpse of where I am so He could move me. But I didn't know what to do next! I didn't know how I was going to deal with this new recognition.

And then Monday came. For the last six weeks, the women in our church have been studying Deuteronomy, working through Beth Moore's Law of Love series. Monday was our last lesson, and somehow every point seemed to answer the questions I've had over the last week. Tears were streaming down my cheek the entire time because I knew God was speaking to me.

We looked at the concluding words of Moses to the Israelites and focused on verse 27 of chapter 33: "There is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help." Of all that Beth could have focused on, she spent much of the hour reminding us that we have a God who helps us.

It's interesting to consider the ramifications of this specific word, help. Help doesn't mean someone does it for us. Help means someone comes alongside of us and enables us, sometimes even empowers us. This is true of God! He is the Almighty, and so he certainly could simply make things happen and do the difficult thing for us. (I'll admit I've prayed that He'd just drop a baby in a basket on my doorstep!) Instead, He says He'll help us. He'll ride through the heavens to our aid. He'll give us everything we need to have the victory.

My question had been, "God, how can I possibly do this?" And His answer was simple: "I'll help you."

God will help me. God will help me. God–as in the God who created this entire universe, the God who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise, the God who with a word speaks life into existence–He will help me. He will help us. He'll ride through the heavens to our aid.

I wrote last week that God was going to move the mountain, and that is true. But He'll use us to do it. All we need is faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed.