As I mentioned in my last post, after Braeden left to begin his LDS mission at the Provo MTC, we turned our efforts toward our home study for the adoption. This felt like a huge event, and in adoption it is very big. But because we'd had to put off our home study until after the move (it's usually one of the first things you get going on in the adoption process, but it must be done in the place you will be residing when you bring the child home) and then there is a "second gathering" of all the things we were already gathering for our adoption agency, GWCA (out of Texas), but now it was for the home study agency (here in Sumner, Washington), and a lot in the "gathering" requirements were different and added upon, it seemed huge-er. That was a long sentence. Throw in the grandbaby, the holidays, and the mission, not to mention I have two (somewhat) adjusted children with lives and a husband and "regular" things, and we could finally schedule the actual home study visit. And it was scheduled the weekend after getting Braeden off.
So, we attacked most of the remaining boxes still waiting for attention from the move. We cleaned and organized and made Goodwill piles and I did the one decorating thing I was determined to do before the visit.
I put our family pictures up on the stairway wall.
I've never had a stairway wall, or really a hallway, to put pictures up. They were up in different rooms in the house, but not like this. I love it. I left spaces for pictures of Sara and Carly, and a couple more collage frames. Everyone said it made the house feel like it belonged to us. Yay!
Bill, our social worker, came over Saturday afternoon. He asked questions and counseled us. We discussed behaviors, expectations, family and parenting strategies, finances, safety and transition. Brandon and I had each already filled out and submitted a 22 page autobiography form, so he had studied that before he came. He was really great. Down to earth and easy to talk to. He interviewed us as a couple and then the whole family, and then just the kids. Then us again. Then we took him on a tour of the whole house. We had worked right through dinner time until 8:30, so by the time he left we were all starving. I don't even remember what I threw together. Sandwiches? Anyway, the first part of the visit was done and the discussion had brought it home to all of us that this was real and it was happening. I was excited and anxious, but also felt like our little family was pretty great. Not perfect, not unblemished, but pretty great. We were all wiped out.
The next morning he arrived at 8:00 am for the rest of the visit. We'd let him know we had church at 11:30 so an early morning was necessary, so he could drive back to Sumner and be home before the Seahawks/49ers game. We live in Seahawks land now. So Brandon and I divided up and had our individual interviews with Bill. That was about an hour each.
His last question to me was, "What are you looking forward to most in this adoption?"
As I thought about it, I got emotional for the first time during the whole visit. "I think getting to know her, watching her experience new things, and my hope is that we can help her feel that she's a member of a family. That she wasn't just . . . left." I guess I meant that I hope we can teach her what her true value is.
I think if we all realized what our true value is in this life and beyond, there would be a lot less pain and sadness in this world. Some of us are born into families who give us that. Some of us aren't. The happy thing is, it can be shared. And received. Sometimes that takes a lot of work and sacrifice and love.
I have another big stack of documents and forms waiting to go out today. With the home study nearly complete (they are still waiting on some criminal clearances and this stack of papers) they can submit the I-800A Form, the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. That's another big one. Then we gather up the remaining items for our Dossier (Home Study report, family pictures, more passport photos, our medical reports, another chunk of the contract fee, a couple Chuck E. Cheese tokens and a fistful of confetti).
(Not really those last two.)
I've filled out more forms in the last year than in all of my life combined.
I almost forgot to add that my sister directed me to a friend of hers who just adopted a 13 year old boy from China, and her blog has been a tremendous help in answering questions I didn't know I had, and she does a great job of sharing a real experience in adopting an older child. I loved the detail of their trip to China, I love that she shares the ups AND downs. I read her entire blog up-to-date in two days. I'm thankful for her accounts. Find her family's story here.
Wo men kuai dao la.
We'll be there soon.