And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
If you know us personally, you know that adoption is something that we’ve been considering for a couple of years now. We have three kids already, and while our family is full of love and silliness and learning and growing and craziness, I’ve never felt like it’s complete.
If you’re a parent, you know quite well the constant need to do a head count when you’re out and about, or even while checking on the whereabouts of the kids at home. Usually there’s a subconscious feeling of relief when everyone is present and accounted for. If one child happens to be at a friend’s house, or out somewhere else, things just don’t feel quite right until they are back at home, present for the head count.
Here’s the thing with me — every time I do a conscious or subconscious head count, I don’t stop at 3. I’m constantly looking for the fourth. I have to remind myself that there really are only 3. I am completely happy with our family as it is now, as is my husband. And I don’t have that burning desire to have a brand new baby this instant, like so many families do. But that feeling of missing a child led me to look into expanding our family through adoption and what it would involve.
Our thought process was that if I was having these thoughts and feelings, that perhaps God was trying to speak to us through them. Maybe He had something more in store for us as far as raising kids goes. Maybe there is a child out there somewhere that needs a family like ours. Everything I’ve learned about how God works led me to believe that not recognizing a potential call from Him could lead us to miss a blessing from Him, and to even be disobedient if He was in fact calling us to do something. So, we began to go forward with the knowledge that there is nothing about adoption that is in opposition to God’s plan, and that if that wasn’t where He was actually leading us, we would be okay with it.
So, I made the call to the Children’s Aid Society. Now, if you haven’t researched adoption much, you’re saying “Why on earth would you go to the troubled kids first?”. I totally understand. And I’ll explain.
First, we don’t have tons of money, and we KNEW it was not God’s will for us to go into debt to provide a home for a child. International adoption can cost $20,000+, and private domestic adoption can cost $15,000+. Public domestic adoption (through the CAS) is free. Yep, free. And any expenses you do incur for medicals, inspections, etc., will be reimbursed.
Second, we realized pretty quickly that ANY kid can be troubled. Kids adopted internationally can be just as prone to attachment disorders (especially if they have spent time in institutional care), and can also have been exposed to alcohol or drugs prenatally. Private domestic adoptions are often seen as the only way to adopt a “healthy newborn”, however, the information an adoptive parent receives is only as good as the information a first mother provides. If a first mother wants the best home for her child, how honest is she going to be about prenatal drug and alcohol exposure? As a result, you may end up with less accurate information about a child. Children in the care of the CAS have been removed from their first homes for a reason, obviously. However, they have usually be placed into loving, functioning foster homes, where they have learned to attach to one or two caregivers (which actually makes a HUGE difference), they have been seen by doctors, therapists, and other professionals, giving them a head start on whatever issues they may be dealing with. And as much as “they” try to tell you otherwise, becoming parents to a young healthy baby isn’t actually that difficult through the CAS, as many adoptive parents can attest to.
We had our first meeting, an “intake meeting” with a social worker in January of 2012. She spent 2 or 3 hours with us (staying an hour past her office hours), answering all of our questions. She sent us home with an application, which mainly asked about our family and our reasoning for wanting to adopt.
In March 2012, we attended an Orientation Meeting. This meeting was for everyone in the area who was interested in adopting. Married couples, yes, but also unmarried couples, gay couples, and singles as well. The basic criteria is that you are over 18, can provide for another child, and don’t have a nasty criminal record. We were sent home with a much bigger package of information and forms to complete. This included getting medicals done, having a fire inspection done, getting references to fill in forms, completing in-depth family histories, which included information about how we were disciplined as children and whether we had ever suffered abuse, our drug and alcohol use, Criminal Record Checks and RCMP fingerprinting, and more. It took us a couple of months to get it all completed, and then we sent it in around June or July 2012. Our next step would be to complete the 9-week PRIDE training — a course all about parenting adopted kids and the specific issues surrounding that.
We didn’t hear anything back right away, so I made sure to keep in touch via email with the social worker we had already met, just in case it might help move things along. It wasn’t until November 2012, that we finally received a letter in the mail inviting us to PRIDE, which would start in February 2013.
That’s where we are right now. Tonight will be our first session, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I know we’ll have a ton to talk about afterwards.
During the 9 weeks of training, or perhaps afterward, we’ll need to complete our Home Study. It consists of 3 or 4 meetings with our assigned Social Worker, either in our home or at their office. From what I understand, things can get intense during this meetings/interviews. They’ll ask about our marriage, they’ll interview our kids, they’ll really get into the nitty gritty of our day-to-day lives.
After we pass our PRIDE training and the Social Worker is happy with our Home Study, it will be reviewed and we will either be Adopt-Ready, or not!
I’d like to track our progress here on this little blog. Having been in the position of not knowing in real terms what to expect, I’m hoping our recorded journey may help someone else along the road. I plan to update on a weekly basis, as we continue ahead.
Talk about a long process! We know that God may stop us at any point, but until then, we’re going to follow where He leads. If we end up being given the opportunity to provide a forever family for a child that doesn’t already have one, great! If not, that’s okay too. It’s all in His hands, and we’re just enjoying the journey for now!