In an earlier post, I explained our reasons behind our adoption decision. It definitely wasn’t spur of the moment. It was a decision that took years to make, years of allowing God to open our eyes and shape our hearts. It was a rough road filled with internal debate and lots of second guessing. Should we adopt? Should we focus solely on our biological children? Should we attempt to help kids in the United States? Should we foster? Are we good enough parents to handle another child?

Finally in May of 2013, we pulled the trigger and submitted our online application to adopt. I (quite foolishly) breathed a mental sigh of relief, thinking the hard part was over. The decision making was over, so the rest was just paperwork, right? Feel free to laugh if you are an adoptive parent. You have earned the right.

Our very basic screening application was approved quite quickly, so our next step was to complete an online formal application. I gathered all the needed info and submitted it. I waited with cautious optimism for the word that we were approved and ready to move forward. In mid-June, I was volunteering in the craft room of our church’s Vacation Bible School when I got the email. When I saw the sender’s name, I started shaking. This was it. We were in, or we were out. I locked myself in a bathroom stall to open the email. APPROVED! I got teary eyed for a moment and thanked God and ran back to 1st graders painting fish shaped piggy banks.

On June 24, 2013, I had my first meeting with our social worker. I got a sitter for the kids and drove an hour in nightmare stop-and-go traffic to get to her office. That visit was simple. She gave me a load of paperwork and went over all of it with me. I signed a few forms, and I was out. Kevin and I had plenty of “homework” to do before our first visit for the home study. Let me explain a little about the paperwork. It’s not just forms. It’s background checks from all the states we’ve lived; it’s physicals and tuberculosis tests; it’s fingerprinting; it’s 14 single spaced typed pages of MY personal history alone; it’s questions that are thought provoking, introspective, and at times, very personal. Finally, six weeks after my first meeting with our social worker, we would look forward to our first home study visit scheduled on August 13, 2013, my 38th birthday.

In the meantime, I met my mom, brother, and sister in law on Thursday, August 8 to drop off my big kids for a week to visit the grandparents in Mississippi. Our meeting spot was at a Steak and Shake in Marion, Illinois, where I would hand off my babies. It was there that I learned that Russ and April were pregnant with their first baby (shout out to Grant!). That weekend, we got a sitter for Waverly, and Kevin and I went to a tattoo shop. (Don’t worry. This was also very well thought out!) I got a tattoo on my inner right ankle of the Chinese character meaning “faith” three days before our first official home study. In retrospect, it was the absolute best decision I could have made. Little did I know how many times I would have to remind myself to have faith during the adoption process.

Back to the process. We had our first meeting on Tuesday, August 13. It went well. Our social worker was very kind and personable, the type of person I would invite over for dinner for an enjoyable conversation. She made us both feel at ease, and she acted very positive about our first meeting together. I do wish she had checked out the rest of the house that day. It was SPOTLESS. That morning, I went and bought curtains for our basement window for no good reason other than MY BRAIN TOLD ME TO. No one would give a child to a family without appropriate window coverings on a basement window. I call this Adoption Induced Insanity. It is truth. I’m sure this is published somewhere in the adoption handbooks. Or at least that’s what my brain told me that day.  Scheduling appointments for the home study proved to be challenging. We were required to have one appointment at her office which was an hour away from our house. It was a logistical joke for Kevin since he had to take the train into downtown Chicago every day. He ended up having to take off work just to make the meeting. We also had three kids in three different schools and an absurd amount of after school activities. My color coded calendar looked like a rainbow threw up on it. There was soccer, baseball, gymnastics, curriculum nights, Kevin’s travel schedule… At a peak busy season of our lives, we struggled to complete the home study. Finally, though, near the end of September, the visits were complete, and all we had to do was wait for the completed home study to be sent to us for approval.

The written home study came in early October, as did a job offer for Kevin in Ohio. The job offer really was a positive thing. Kevin’s commute was wearing us all down, and I didn’t particularly love where we lived. We longed for a slower pace, and this seemed to be God extending a hand to pull us out of the rut we had fallen into in the Chicago suburbs. Before Kevin accepted, I talked with our social worker, and she assured me that although the move would add a few months of time to the process, it should really go smoothly. Since they had an office in Ohio, she would simply transfer our file, and we would complete some necessary paperwork to become compliant with Ohio law. We would have to do a home study update after we were settled in our new home. I was frustrated with the delay we would experience, but I focused on the positive of moving to a smaller town life.

Kevin started his new job on October 21, 2013. The kids and I stayed in Naperville, planning for them to finish their fall semesters in school before we relocated to Ohio. Adoption was at a stand still, and this turned out to be a good thing. Our days were filled with realtors, painters, repair people, prospective home buyers, inspectors…all this in addition to our already crazy schedule, and minus Kevin during the week. Five days after Kevin started his new job, the kids and I were in Ohio house hunting with him.  We made an offer on a house the next day. Our initial plan was to live apart from Kevin, seeing him on weekends until December 20 or so. At day 25, I called him crying (we were all actually crying) and told him we needed to rethink our moving date. The next morning, I called the movers and scheduled them to come on December 2. (By the way, this had zero to do with adoption. We just missed him terribly!) On December 9, we dropped off the big kids at their new schools, and the movers began unloading box after box after box into our new home.

Eleven days after the movers set down the first box, I contacted our adoption agency. We were finally ready to move forward. However, the best laid plans don’t always go that way.

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The Best Laid {Adoption} Plans, Part 2 coming soon!

2 thoughts on “The Best Laid {Adoption} Plans, Part 1

  1. Praying for you Brandy… So happily excited to see you all again.
    Love looking at him photos….
    Your new son is so sweet and smiley…

    Thinking about the research read in my Early childhood classes… i have Tips…
    I hope you will have a friend who coos and babbles in his Chinese dialect … when he arrives… in your home the first days…
    At 6 months babies begin to pick up the sounds of the caregiver they are with… that is a priblem here with foreig caregivers.. nannies.

    Maybe someone there even knows and speaks English to him… or plays lullabys in English…
    Better yet…
    Record things from the 5 if you. Tape and or, DVD… watching you each… fun family activity….

    Pop it in a player… and send it to him… He will become familiar with your voices. Have the family each pick out a favorite picture book that you each feel you can’t wait to read to him.
    Pin his face photo on a doll or teddy bear as you read you can hold it and say the fun expressions you can’t wait to say to him.
    If they play it for him each day… He will be so happy to see you when he hears your voices again. WHEN he meets you. Keep a copy… Review with each of you when time to meet him. Helps each recall the familiar things to say… in case it doesn’t return. Perfect for his babybook, too.
    Maybe you already began doing this… but nice long ones are a good idea. A cloth bag or firm plastic eith strips to fastenn to the crib rail will let him see it when played from the other side of the rails…. while he lays in bed. Hearing English and being keen on each of you…
    nice and long recordings…
    you are lucky… it looks like he is being taken care of very nicely. My niece adopted 2 Chinese sons… seperately.
    they both needed surgery for clef palets… at that time only (boy) children needing extra medical care were allowed out of country adoptions… Walter is now a freshman in college and Elijah is a junior I think. Wonderful, friendly boys…
    talented in music art and one very scholasticslly advantaged. He was a poster boy… encouaging girls &women to not leave babies on the streets but to give to an agency… he was a favorite of the police who found him and brought him to the home…. very precious boy in a town of one million. He came at age 5… and did very well. . .

    So you really have no language worries… but, this might give the 5 of you a fun and purposeful project to get in the mail before Christmas. With instructions asking it to be played for him each day… maybe with Angie’s boys favorite ‘Land of Nod’ soft lullibies CD, too…

    This is so exciting…. just one year since your move… and a half year to go to hold him in your arms…

    Love you a bunch, Toni Nevicosi

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