Last November we went through a series of spiritual experiences that left us knowing that we needed to pursue adoption. Like any big decisions, this came with lots of prayer, research, and enormous amounts of humility. Adoption was not in our life plan, but we knew that God's plan for us included this adventure. And an adventure it has been.
After initial research we were pretty set on adopting through Foster Care. Initially I was a little intimidated to possibly get older children that had been through some pretty tragic lives already. I wasn't sure if I was capable of handling that, but the more we prayed and researched the more prompted we were that this was the right choice for us. Many people may not know but there are so many children in the system that are older and need a home. It is very difficult for these kids to be adopted simply because families tend to watch babies or young children. It is even harder if they belong to a sibling set.
Adopting starts with the decision, but the process is not something that happens quickly. There are many steps involved and a lot of paperwork. After we were sure we wanted to pursue adoption we signed up for a 10-week class that is mandatory for Kansas foster and adoptive parents. I must admit I wasn't too excited about these classes at first. The fact that our whole adoption process couldn't even begin until we were completed with this step killed me. (I'm not the most patient person.) But as we started going to class each week, I began loving what I was learning and soaking it up. These classes were not always easy and there were a few I left and cried the whole car ride home. The classes offer great parenting techniques, but it also teaches you how to handle children who have been through traumatic situations. To know how to handle them, you have to know what they might have gone through. Throughout the 10 weeks we discussed case-study after case-study of different children and it was repeated numerous times that although names had been changed, these were real children and real problems.
It can truly break your heart to hear what these innocent little children have suffered. Even more heartbreaking is that a lot of the times their sorrows are avoidable. It took me a long time to reconcile my heart to take these tragedies and not turn bitter. The easy task is to assume that the parents are awful, horrible humans and to place that hate in your heart. But that hate only builds and projects onto the children and burdens you with the weight of hate. The much harder, but ultimately necessary, thing that I had to learn to do is to remember that the people that caused pain to those children are also children of God and that He loves them infinitely. It is not my job to judge; it is my job to love. So as I learn more and more about what my sweet boys have been through and I see their innocence, it is hard not to hold those hard feelings. But at the same time, I can't help but be eternally grateful for God's protection over these boys and even grateful for the circumstances that have led them into my life.
While we were taking the class, we were allowed to "choose" the children we wanted to adopt. Its sad, but ultimately its like online shopping. We were allowed to narrow the search to children that fit our home, lifestyle, and other desires and then we could pick from there. After we had narrowed our search to the top few children, Michael and I decided to leave the matter to the Lord. We prayed to know who it was that belonged in our family and through many miracles we came to set our hearts upon two brothers, ages 8 and 11. Throughout the process it looked like we were paddling uphill to get these boys, but no matter what obstacle arose, the Lord provided a way for us to overcome it. In a dark moment, I cried to Michael telling him that it was impossible. The boys our hearts had already fallen in love with wouldn't be ours. He always assured me that if the Lord wanted us to have them, then we needed not be so easily discouraged and so easy to lose faith. It was then that my heart and faith completely committed to the cause of getting our boys. And determination pays off.
We completed the class and ENDLESS amounts of paperwork including an essay each about our lives that were 9 and 13 pages single spaced in length. I pity the people that had to plow through those!
Next came the home assessments. I have never been so nervous for anything in my life. My mom came and helped clean (by that time I was throwing up every hour and wasn't really much help) and I made sure my house sparkled. Needless to say, the home assessor was so sweet and nice and spent most of the time sitting on our couch talking with us as if we were old friends. At the very end she did a quick walk-through of our home and left. She didn't open the oven, or the cupboards, or the baseboards all of which I (meaning mostly my mom) had meticulously cleaned. At least my house had a good spring cleaning! :) Thanks, Mom!
And then began the waiting... we waited over a month for the report to be finalized and submitted and for a Best Interest Staffing to be scheduled. Best Interest Staffing (BIS) involves all of the boys case workers, our case worker, DCF workers and important people coming together to read our huge file and to determine if we would be allowed to parent the boys effectively and to decided if we would get them! We waited so impatiently for that day! We weren't allowed to attend, but my heart was there and I was just praying that they would know how much I had already come to love these two boys! And then we waited again... after the decision is made we were not allowed to be told until it was officiated through the Department of Children and Family (DCF). I thought the wait for the BIS was terrible. The wait for the decision was excruciating! I knew it would take around a month, but as the month grew closer and closer I got more and more useless. I couldn't do anything but stare at my phone and pray that it would ring. And then, today it did! We are so excited to finally be able to start to meeting and transition process. In just a few short weeks, we will have two new boys living in our house and creating lots of new experiences. We know there is a lot more work to do and steps to take, but it is such a relief to know that we will have been approved to be their parents. I pray that they will come to know just how much we love them and just how much we want to be their family!