This month in our adoption process was from June 24th - July 24th but since our home study visit was on July 28th I decided to extend this post to cover a couple extra days :) You can see our first month waiting here and second one here!
I love the "months waiting" cards I have designed by The Lemon Tree House
Things Learned and Accomplished This Month:
This month was BUSY. I felt the most stressed about everything this month. I knew it was a "season of stress" because once I pushed through and got everything done then really everything about the entire adoption process was off my plate!
The MAIN focus of the month was on finishing up our self studies and getting all of our photos uploaded for the adoption book. We went on the Parker Family Trip this month (post to come) and took a bunch of pics the first night of the trip. In going through all of our pics of the last year I realized what pics we were lacking and tried to take several using my legit camera (better quality images for the book than using the phone for sure!).
Of course Casey is ALWAYS down for a photo shoot ;)
Part of the adoption book photo gathering portion of the month also meant a photo session with Captured by Colson. We were due for pics anyway for Tess's 2nd birthday but the MAIN focus of the session was for some top quality images for the book. Especially of our whole family, of Zach and I together, and of ME by myself. I have VERY few photos of me solo and especially not with a good camera!
Plus she took a few special ones to capture this journey :)
While on our beach trip over 4th of July Zach and I both completed our self studies and read over each other's. Plus we did our question and answer sheet to help Casey Z put together our adoption book. AND we had an awesome vacation too ;)
My completed self study was over 50 pages. Typed. Zach's was almost 30 which is a lot for a guy right?!?!
I booked a day for Kye and I to visit the dr (we both needed to go to the eye dr and to the dermatologist). On our Mommy and Kye day we also knocked out several errands related to the home study. The stress of the home study was really only stressful because it was SUMMER. I have three kids. It's not easy to go run in and grab some random paper when you have three kids in tow and it's 110 degrees. Rrrrright?!?! So just having one kid made it a lot easier! We got some of my dr records for my medical report portion, Tess's birth certificate (Mom fail for not having it already!), and a couple other things I already can't remember. He was a trooper so pizza was in order ;)
I submitted all of our adoption book photos to Casey Z mid-month. She's completely designing our book for us which I'm SO thankful for and truly feel we'll be SO glad we went that route! I can't imagine that stress on top of all the other stress. Money well spent :) She did ask if we had any specifics when it came to the design. I said two things: 1) no chevron and 2) to try to use more recent pics of me when possible b/c I look DRASTICALLY different than I did last summer and I prefer thinner Emily to thicker ;)
When we scheduled our home study with the case worker we scheduled it for a couple days before Tess's birthday party. YES. This meant added stress because I had party stress and home study stress and kid's sale stress (more on that in a minute). BUT I only had to clean my house once for both events and that made it worth it ;)
I'm SO blessed with such supportive family so the day before the home study Casey kept Tess for the day (at least until Carter got sick and then Mrs. Charlotte took her!) and Courtney kept Kye and Britt. All the kids had a BLAST together and I was able to just FOCUS.
I went that morning before I started cleaning and had my physical for my medical portion of the home study. I needed blood work and it took FOREVER. Y'all. I freaked out. Like crying. For real. I couldn't handle just sitting and waiting in the room when I had SO MUCH TO DO at home. I ended up leaving and going back another day for the blood work which I'm so glad I did!
Once home I timed myself. I stopped the clock for any breaks and it took me 7 ½ hours to completely clean my house (and that doesn't include the couple of hours the day prior that I cleaned all the walls or the hour or so the day following that I cleaned last minute stuff). 7 ½ hours. And that was completely kid free! I told Zach I need a cleaning lady or a smaller house ;)
Zach worked hard on the yard and helped me too and we treated ourselves with Moe's and Big Brother!
Home study day arrived and she came at 11:30. The kids and I had baked my favorite cookies (cocoa-no-bakes) a couple days prior so I planned to have those and my "famous" sweet tea. On the morning of Zach mentioned making chocolate chip cookies too as it's a "thing" I guess people do to make their house smell good or something? Since I can't smell I don't know how all of that kind of stuff works but he baked some of those too! Zach also went and picked us all up some Chicken Salad Chick. We were gonna whoo her with food ;)
Home study visit ready and waiting!!!
I didn't want to make a super big deal about it to the kids. I wanted them to be natural but I was a tad nervous b/c our kids get CRUNK when company comes over. Like t's a whole new level of wild and crazy. I simply said two things to them before she arrived. 1. No rough housing and 2. Britt needed to keep her dress down and not show her panties. Not too much to ask, right?!?!
She arrived and it felt very natural and easy the moment we met. I think it was a BIG advantage to send her our self-studies prior to meeting. She knew all about us! She said she pictured Zach much shorter haha. She also told me that my self study was WAY WAY too long. Shocker ;)
It turned out that my 7 ½ hours of cleaning wasn't really needed at all because literally all she had to do was count the smoke detectors in each room. She also had to see our fire extinguisher and check that the doors did have chimes and see our guns safely locked in the safes. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes. She met the kids and talked to them a bit but the two rules? Yeah they went out the window. Kids were WILD and CRAZY and Britt's panties def got put on display with all the rough housing.
At nap time we put the girls down and Kye played upstairs so Zach and I could sit with her and go over things. She had a few follow up questions from our self studies and we had several forms to go over from our paper work for the home study. We ate our Chicken Salad Chick and visited for a good 90 min or so and then she headed back! We felt very good about everything. It was all very natural and easy-going.
As soon as she left though it was SUCH a HUGE sigh of relief. A big weight off my shoulders and apparently everyone else's too because Kye straight up fell asleep and took a nice nap on the couch :)
I know going into the home study experience anyone I talked to about it said NOT TO WORRY but it's one of those things where you can't help but to worry. I'm sure I over cleaned, over stressed, and over did my entire home study packet but how could you not? It's a situation where you are being judged! This person is judging your home, your family, and YOU and deciding if you are fit to adopt a child. It's a big deal!!! I'm super mega thankful that our case worker did make the entire process comfortable for us. She's been AMAZING for putting up with my hardcoreness ;)
This month I somehow found another couple who are raising money for their adoption. They did an Instagram Auction which was really neat but also would be SO MUCH WORK. I did bid on a few things to help them out (if y'all know me at all then you know I am alllll about donating money to help others whenever possible!) and won a couple of the auctions! I'm very excited about our adoption journal and can't wait to see the finished product! I'm not stressing over money yet (I had enough stress with the home study process) but I'm not sure if I'll go the instagram option route. It didn't seem like a lot of the items had very high bids and it seemed like it'd take a lot of time, work and effort for very little reward.
This month I was on some HEAVY meds and one of them was a steroid (more on that in a second). Y'all it was amazing. One morning I woke up at 4:30 just straight up WIRED. I decided to tackle the massive task of organizing my craft/party supply closet in our guest bedroom. I'm SO GLAD I did that!
That same morning I got the entire closet cleaned out and started organizing clothes for the kids sales. I haven't put a whole lot of thought into fundraising yet but the one thing I did decide right away was that this adoption decision is the PERFECT opportunity to go through all the baby girl items and purge them without being upset about it. Can't cry over selling my baby girl items when the money is going towards getting our baby boy right?!?! Y'all. I have SO MUCH STUFF. I'm super thankful I cleaned out the closet because it was the perfect spot to hang everything. This is JUST the fall/winter stuff! Of course the first kids sale drop off date was super close to the same day as our home study visit so it was a top priority right along with Tess's party too. Whew!
When we announced the adoption news on social media it was such a blessing to see the outpouring of love and support. One of the best comments we got were the ones where people said adoption seems like the PERFECT fit for our family and how it wasn't a shocker at all that we'd choose this path.
While I'm super thankful for everyone's support...Satan also saw that announcement. And he acted too. Almost instantly. The same DAY that I posted it on social media was the exact day I got the bug bite that caused "face gate" to occur. I do NOT call that a coincidence, do you?
On top of everything else going on during this crazy month, I had to battle all the face issues. It was intense and a lot and I can still (now what almost two months later?) feel the one spot on my eye. I know without a doubt that all of that was Satan. He attacks us where it hurts and he does everything he can to stop us from doing God's will. I know I'm called for adoption. I know it's the best path for our family. Satan will, and HAS, tried to derail me from that path. Even in the worst of the worst of my face situation I did not let it take away from the plan. If anything recognizing that the tough moments were from Satan and seeing his plan made me more determined and made me even more convicted! I saw a super awesome quote that was very encouraging to me: "When the roots are deep there is no reason to fear the wind."
While at the beach we met a mother and her sons at the playground. She randomly shared with me that one of her sons was adopted. She told me that his birth mom was a friend of hers who had drug use issues and couldn't keep him. She adopted him at 18 months old with drug exposure (his birth mom is now in jail) and told me he's perfectly 100% healthy at 4 years old with no evidence of any of the drugs in his system or long term effects from them. A wonderful reminder from the Lord right there :)
Part of our home study packet involves getting reference letters from people and when I made my list of people who I thought would be good to ask the preschool director was one of the first ones I thought of. Mrs. Sharon has seen my kids in action since Kye was 2 ½ so that's 5 years! She's seen Zach and I as parents and can see, first hand, how our parenting has played out through witnessing our children in a school setting. Plus she's like one of the nicest people on the planet so I knew she'd be happy to write such a letter for us!
I had to stop by the school to give her the questions for the reference letter. Obviously it was summer so no teachers are there or anything. It was a quick, less then 10 min, thing. And she didn't even tell me a specific time to come. She just said she'd be at the office during such and such hours and I just ran by there when I had the time to do so. Probably one of THE biggest "God Moments" was at that chance drop-by.
When I walked in with the kids Mrs. Sharon was in the hallway with a younger girl and she introduced us. We all talked about people we knew and the threads in this small town that bind us all together. I found out she'll be Tess's "helper teacher" this year and towards the end of our conversation Mrs. Sharon mentioned that we're adopting.
Y'all. This girl. She is a straight angel! She told us that SHE is adopted. I mean how amazing to have someone with that first hand experience in Tess's class, right?!?! She said that she has a closed adoption and that she's never wanted to know her birth parents. She said "Blood is skin deep but love is GOD deep." I get chills even just writing that. I made her say it over and over like 10 times so I could remember it and I told her I will be stealing it and using it a billion times and that if she sees it on Pinterest to know I stole it from her haha. Isn't that such an amazing phrase?!?! I called Zach and I was straight CRYING. I called Mrs. Charlotte and she cried right along with me then I'm pretty sure she called like 5 people and told them too. I know that chance meeting was 100% a reminder from the Lord!!!
I also love 1 John 4:18 as a reminder that perfect love casts out fear :)
Goals for the Coming Month: We had a lot of stuff right around the home study visit to knock out for the home study but still had several things left in order to have the home study completed! My goal for the next month was to knock those things out, get the girl stuff sold, gather up all the recommendation letters, and hopefully schedule our last in person home study visit so we can be approved!
Prayer Requests/How You Can Help: Just keep on praying! Once we get approved for the home study I plan to reply to ALL the inbox messages I've gotten with personal stories/advice/suggestions regarding adoption and the process as well as gather any recommendations regarding agencies etc. Working through the home study stuff was a large undertaking and I just wanted to focus on ONE task at a time. Once we're approved we will be a lot less stressed and better able to focus on the next task which is choosing agencies to send out our book to!
I know I asked AWHILE ago for nickname suggestions for the baby. Zach and I semi-discussed them this weekend but haven't made a solid decision yet so if you have any suggestions please keep them coming! You can read the post here!
Also if you're not following along on Facebook it's the best place to reach me AND if you're not following me on Instagram then you're missing my latest obsessions: Insta Stories ;)