Saturday, January 18, 2014

Matthew West- Do Something (Lyrics)

On a more personal note...This is how God answered my prayers this week.

With our part of the Home Study done, I contacted our Adoption Consultants to find out what our next steps would be. I had a hard time getting a hold of our case worker and finally, after a few days, found out that we had been assigned a new case worker because our old one transferred to a different department. That's fine, but we weren't notified and lost a few days of work so I was a little disappointed. Thankfully our new case worker is awesome and spent a lot of time going over what needed to be accomplished with me. Unfortunately, I found out that we would have to repeat a lot of things that we did in our Home Study like doctor visits, employment letters, fingerprints etc. that would have been nice to know about earlier so we could have accomplished both requirements for the Home Study and the dossier at the same time. I mentioned this to her, but she said that the dossier documents are time sensitive and needed to be done after the Home Study so they can be as current as possible before we send them to Ukraine. I guess I just thought we were closer to being done than we actually are. We are still projected to travel this spring, but we have a lot to do in a small amount of time. I felt quite discouraged. I took a few more days off from adoption stuff to catch up on things my other kiddos needed help with (pinewood derby car, science fair, and other things). When those were over I really had a hard time finding my motivation. It was like I had climbed a mountain and got to the top only to see another mountain. My husband had left on a business trip the week before and I really just had my hands full. I knew my motivation wasn't completely gone, but it was like finding a lost sock in a dryer full of clean clothes. It was somewhere in there, but not easy to see. I dropped my kids off at school and then just sat at home and watched TV until I had to leave again to pick up my preschooler. I did absolutely nothing productive all morning. I just felt weighed down and needed some extra help to get moving again. I prayed in the car for God to help me so I could get moving again with the adoption. When I pulled up to the school a song came on the radio (Matthew West's Do Something). I had never heard it before, but it was a direct answer to my prayer. (I posted a video of this song on a separate post on this blog if you'd like to hear it). I just started bawling! God spoke directly to me with that song. Here was my motivation! I finally found the lost sock! I got my second wind to climb that next mountain! I was also inspired to write down several very specific things to pray for:

1)Someone to watch my kids while my husband and I are in Ukraine. (My sister had already volunteered for part of my trip, but I needed at least one other person to help.)
2)Our social/case workers who are helping us prepare our documents.
3)Our caretakers of our future children in Ukraine
4)All of the people (Dr's, Boss, realtors, etc.) that have to prepare documents for us.
5)Help with completing paperwork.

After I put down my pen, I thanked God for answering my prayer and prayed for the things on the list above. Later that day, I saw two quotes that spoke to me and encouraged me to keep going. Another answer to my prayer! The very next day I was talking to a friend at church and she volunteered to watch our kids while we are in Ukraine. I was shocked by her generosity and thanked her, but told her I would keep her in mind, but I had a couple of family members I wanted to ask first to see if they could come watch the kids at our house. Both of these family members, are very busy people and live across the country, so I had put off asking them because I couldn't possibly see how that would work for them. Their names kept coming to mind so I knew I had to ask. I really hate asking for help, but I finally got the courage to do so. Both of them said yes! I was stunned! Another answer to my prayers! While out shopping I received a phone call from another friend who is adopting. She shared with me a short-cut that she had learned for paperwork that would work for us because we are a military family. Another prayer answered! Each time I have been driving in my car Matthew West's song keeps coming on reminding me about my motivation! I have just been amazed and humbled by how quickly and deliberately my prayers have been answered over the past couple of days! I know moving forward on this adoption is what God wants us to do. There have been countless other times that I have been told to keep working. I have had to push through and out of my comfort zone many times, but I know this will be worth it in the end. Many of you have offered to pray for us. Please continue to do so. Miracles are happening and I'm glad to be a part of it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What we had to do for our Home Study

A lot of people have asked us about what a Home Study is. I thought I'd share what we had to do for our specific Home Study here on the blog to clear that up. Each Home Study Agency has their own policies and each State has different requirements, but a lot of it is universal, so if you are planning to adopt, your Home Study might be a little different than ours.

The Home Study is a process AND a written document. When we were shopping around for a Home Study Agency we found that they all averaged between 3 to 6 months to complete in Virginia. Here is what we had to do for ours:

James and I met with our social worker together for our first appointment where we signed a lot of paper work. She also gave us a list of homework to do. Part of that homework was for each of us to write an autobiography based on an outline she gave us. This had to be done before our next appointment with her. Each of us attended an individual appointment to discuss our autobiographies, reason why we want to adopt, and other questions.

Some of the other homework for the Home Study was:

1. Physicals for each member of the family including blood tests and TB tests and a physical form.
2. Send in a recent close up picture
3. Copies of Birth Certificates for all members of the family. (Originals had to be shown to social worker).
4. Copy of Marriage License (Original had to be shown to social worker).
5. Life Insurance (Each applicant has to have at least $100,000 in coverage).
6. Verification of income for previous two years (first page of 1040).
7. Completed financial form. (James was a champ and submitted our past budgets and created a future budget of all monthly expenses with documentation (copies of bills, statements, etc.) all finances had to be verified with documentation for example our bank accounts, our Mortgage, Cars, Rental Home Mortgage, Insurance, etc. Including statements of how much each of our assets are currently worth. Thankfully we do not carry any debt or the list would go on and on...)
8. Child Desired Form. (This one was hard because we had to check whether or not we would except a child whose mother smoked/drank during pregnancy. Family History of psychiatric disorders, and other issues. We did a lot of research on this, but filling out the form was hard.)
9. Official driving record transcripts of at least 10 years. (We both had to do the State of Virginia and I have a Texas driver license and James has a South Dakota driver license so we had to contact those states too.)
10. Proof of Vehicle liability insurance for all adults in the home.
11. A description of each applicant's daily schedule. Including planned leave from work after placement and child care plans following return to work. (I love being a stay-at-home mom!)
12. Back ground checks:
       *National Background Check (we went to the local police station and they fingerprinted us on our FBI form and then we mailed it in with a big check for processing.
       *Child Protective Services Central Registry Release of Information for all states we've lived in for the past 5 years. (VA, AL, TX, and SD. We had to contact each state and fill out forms for each one. It would be nice to have a National registry for this one!)
13. References from 3 personal friends (Thanks! you know who you are!), your employers, and our bishop.
14. Conspicuous Families online education certificate. (This is incase we adopt a child that is not of our race or that obviously looks adopted).
15. We had to read Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen. (411 pages of fun!)
16. Designate a guardian for our children. Proof of this was a copy of our wills. (Thanks sis!)
17. Shaken Baby Syndrome education (we are looking for older children, but you never know I guess...)
18. Corporal Punishment Statement (we had to sign that we would never use Corporal Punishment (spanking, etc.) on our children).
19. Safety Checklist and Written Emergency Preparedness Plan. (I had to write up a document including a floor plan of our house with what we would do in specific emergencies and where we would go incase of evacuation of community, state, etc. I also had to put together a 72 hour kit for each person in the house and an extensive first aid kit (list provided by social worker). Stuff I should have already done anyways.)
20. Copies of pet license and most recent pet vaccinations.
21. Attend Agency training (all day training at the Home Study Agency).
22. Proof of 10 hours of Hague International Adoption Education Training.

This list kept us busy for awhile! After we completed all of this our social worker visited our home and talked to our three boys about how they feel about us adopting. She also walked through our home with a three page checklist to make sure our home was suitable for our future children. This concludes the "process" of the Home Study for us. Now our social worker will write our Home Study Document. This document will be a part of the dossier we will submit to Ukraine. We hope to have the Home Study Document completed by the end of January.