I want to thank The Lemon Treehouse for the adorable "months waiting" cards and Spunk & Love for the precious adoption journal!
Things Learned and Accomplished This Month: At the end of our 3rd month waiting we had our physical home study. My goal was to schedule all our needed appointments for the home study around the time of the case worker's visit. Drs visits, vet records, etc all have to be updated yearly so the goal is to keep the appointments as close to the time frame when you get home study approved as possible. That way when it's time to renew the home study next year, we'll just know we also need to get our physicals and animal shot records, etc.
Our home study went awesome but the only thing we didn't know we were supposed to have is a fire extinguisher! I heard from others that your contractor is actually supposed to include one when they build your home and that your home shouldn't pass inspection without one? I have no clue if that's true or not but we for sure weren't given one and I didn't even know we should have had one for the adoption! We bought one right away (literally the afternoon of the home study visit) and sent her pics to let her know we had one!
Part of our requirements for the home study are updated physical exams. We had to get a TON of blood work done. We even had to get a TB test which is where they put something under your skin and you have to go back in and have them check it or something to see if you have a reaction. I had my appointment the morning before our home study visit but it was taking SO long that it was causing me mega anxiety so they let me come back that following Monday to do the blood work portion. I LOVE that my dr is also the same dr who sees our kids. I know everyone in the office so well and am just so comfortable with them all. They let me come in before they opened and got me a room and I was able to lay down while they distracted me to take all this blood. This baby knows how much I love him b/c I did natural labor three times to avoid the epidural needle and consider the IV the worst part of delivery...yet I had to give massive amounts of blood for him ;)
Part of our home study packet included letters of recommendation. We knew right away who we wanted to ask and we are so thankful for each person who took time out of their busy schedules to write up recommendations on our behalf. I cried reading the letters and seeing the kind words people said about us as parents and our little family. We are so blessed with such an AMAZING support system!!!
My original plan was to start the entire adoption process once the kids started school but we moved things up a bit since the home study portion does take so long. We did put off some items on the list until school started though as some stuff is just a whole lot easier kid free!
Zach and I both had to get fingerprinted for the GBI and FBI to obtain our records (or lack thereof) and we had to get our local background checks done AND a 911 call list. We decided just to spend a few hours on the girls' first day of school together and knock it all out in one shot. It was actually a really fun time! But everything is always more fun with Zach ;)
For either the FBI or GBI one we had to go to this random daycare and a small table inside of it was where they did the fingerprinting. It was SO RANDOM and seemed super sketchy. I mean the sign for the fingerprinting "location" was cardboard and nailed to a desk. But, hey, it worked so we were happy!
We had to go to the courthouse to get the 911 call records and ran into Mr. Rusty in the parking lot. I mean what are the chances of that?!?!
We also had to go to a UPS store to do the other fingerprinting and on our way passed a massive fire. A local Mexican place was completely destroyed, so sad for the family who owns it and those who worked there!
Fingerprinting round two!
UPS guy "This is the first time anyone has asked me to take their picture in this store"
Even funnier? Random lady was mailing off stuff while we got the photo taken and she came over and told me it was not flattering of me and to let her retake another one and then (shocker) she tried to sell me her MLM business haha
Last stop! Sheriff's office for our local background checks...we love our sheriff!
Whew! No criminals here :)
Obviously I wasn't surprised at all that all of our criminal background stuff came back good to go and that neither of us have any sort of record of any kind. The thing I knew WOULD have a rather lengthly list though? The 911 call record. I get why they have to have it (probably to make sure no calls have been made of domestic violence?) but our alarm will sometimes be faulty and go off randomly. I don't trust the alarm company to dispatch so you better bet I'm calling 911 and staying on the phone with them while Zach does a house check with our gun! And they've come out a few times too because the alarm has gone off when we aren't home (so annoying) so we tell them to send someone to check it out! I'm sure our case worker was like "dang this is a good bit of 911 calling" haha! But just because our alarm messes up doesn't mean I'm going to assume it's just messing up every time it goes off! Y'all know I'm paranoid about stuff like that ;)
I took this video to show how HUGE the final home study packet was at competition!
I made 4 copies of the entire packet then mailed it all off to our case worker who would then also have copies done for her to keep and would use it all to put together our final home study report!
Whew! Mailing off that packet was a BIG DEAL. Really with adoption SO much of the process is completely out of your hands. The only thing we really get to "control" is our home study packet. From here out it's mostly a waiting game for us. Now things are even more in God's hands than our own. It's a big stress relief to have it behind us, but it's also nerve-wracking too because it's been my SOLE focus and now it's done so my mind is freed up to worry about other things.
The other thing we get to be in control of? This baby's nickname! Zach and I had a date night this month and used that time together to go over all the nickname suggestions! We read over Bible verses pertaining to adoption and discussed what we thought would be the best nickname for our future son. I wrote a post about the nickname we chose here but spoiler alert, it's Tab ;)
Two fav verses related to adoption!
Awhile back I started following another family who is adopting and took part in their Instagram auction fundraiser. One of the items I bid on was an adoption journal. It's basically a baby book but focuses more on the journey of bringing our baby into our family. It's SO CUTE and SO well done! I'm beyond impressed with Spunk & Love and highly recommend them! If you know someone adopting this would be a FABULOUS gift to give!
It has a section to write what lead us to adopt, a place for our thoughts and feelings when we made the decision, things we have done/will do to prepare, how many months we waited to meet our baby, about being matched, the nursery, info on the birth family (which we can remove that page depending on the situation), bringing the baby home, and then when the adoption is finalized! It really covers the entire journey and I'm eager to begin working on it. I know it'll be something Tab will cherish and something his children will also enjoy hearing about someday :)
In totally random news...it's kinda fun to see people's reactions when we tell them we're adopting. SO often people tell me a story about someone who they knew that adopted and how as soon as they were matched or the adoption was final or the adopted baby turned 1 or something they got pregnant. Dude. I'm not trying to get pregnant people! I guess people just assume adoption = fertility struggles which just isn't always the case, especially seeing as I have three bio kids already ;) It did make me sorta freak out though when I was 17 DAYS LATE for my monthly visitor. 17 days?!?! I mean when the heck does that ever happen?!?! It must have been all the stress I was under?!
Neither Zach or I were worried at all. I mean what would be the chances of me actually being pregnant, right? But the longer I kept being late, the more nervous I became. I finally broke down and decided just to buy a dang test. I got the LAST one at the dollar store. So I guess a lot of women were running late this month and nervous haha!
Thankfully it was negative! It did make me wonder if I'd be upset at all over a negative result or would I feel at peace with probably never seeing a positive test again...I was really okay with it! I just feel SO SURE in this decision to adopt that it makes the pregnancy days being done a lot easier to deal with :)
Financial: Well we put up some BIG DOLLAS to pay for the home study. It was $1900 (I plan to do a post that lists all the financial costs to adopt. I think it'll be beneficial for others looking for info and for those who contribute to any fundraising we do to know where that money is going) which covers the home study report completion and her face-to-face visits with us. We'll have to spend more for the post placement visits (which is when she checks in on the baby and does another report in order for the adoption to become final). Basically our case worker helps us get everything ready TO be matched and then helps us get everything ready TO be completed! Our consultant (Casey Z) helps us GET matched :)
I'm thankful we had the money set aside to cover the home study expense (I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a just the right amount of money set aside from my Advocare/Blog Earnings over the past several years to cover both the home study and our contract with CAC!). We did not, however, have money set aside for all the expenses we incurred during the home study process. Fingerprinting? Ain't cheap. Blood work? Vet visits? Physical exams? It all adds up pretty quickly! Usually the summer is Zach's lower time of the year income-wise but the Lord has blessed us BIG TIME. Zach's back surgery was tough on him physically but also financially (can't work then you can't earn income in the world of self-employment) but he has worked so hard and has had an awesome summer with his sales goals. It was perfect timing to help us make up for that lost income and to afford to cover the expenses related to the home study :)
I also spent a lot of time in July working on going through all of the girl's baby stuff. Both of the fall kids sales I participate in were in August so I was able to sell a TON of their stuff (and I have a ton left for Spring sales too!). I really appreciate everyone who came to shop directly from me prior to the sales as it saved me from having to pay the fees that the kids sales charge and I love that so many of the girls' things are going to babies who we'll get to see wear them and enjoy them!
I tried not to get emotional going through all the girly baby things. And, really, I had SO MUCH to go through that it did make it easier emotionally. Plus I know I'll have a baby boy to snuggle soon enough ;) I'm sure going through his stuff will be the toughest!
I did set aside a tub for each daughter as well as a "baby girl tub" in general. SO much of their stuff they BOTH wore that I want to make sure both of their daughters get to wear those pieces as well! ANYTHING that made me even a little bit sad I tossed into one of those tubs. I didn't stress over it. I didn't make myself get rid of anything that made me hesitate! If I loved it, I kept it! I also kept some of the smaller stuff for baby doll clothing. I wish American Girl dolls could wear legit baby size clothes!
The HARDEST thing for my emotions were the itty bitty baby BOWS. Random, I know. But both girls rocked these things daily and I'll never have an itty bitty bow baby again. I kept my favorites for them to have for their baby dolls and I did make Casey take a few too before I sold them.
Each sale allows a max of 50 items per seller. I maxed out THREE seller numbers AND put several under Casey's name too. And still had stuff left!
It was a good bit of work but it paid off! By the end of both sales (and after I added up the money from people who bought from me directly) I made $519 for our adoption fund! Whoop whoop!
Encouragement: I've talked a LOT in this portion of these posts about Satan's attack on us in this process. Tab will be such a huge blessing to our family. Our family will grow and learn and come together in a way we haven't before thanks to him. Usually I'm an over-thinker and an over-analyzer. I'll second (and third and fourth...) guess my decisions and wonder if I made the right one or not. I don't like making decisions at all, let alone BIG ONES. If you read our adoption journey story then you know this has probably been the single largest decision that I've ever made! I understood why Zach wanted me to make that final call but whew it's such a tough thing to have on your shoulders.
Since making the decision though, I've been unwavering. Even when it's scary. Even when I feel like I'm going to puke over all the bazillion unknowns. I just have this peace and contentment that I 100% KNOW is from the Lord. Several times this month James 4:7 kept coming to me. One time I literally opened my Bible and a notecard was stuck in it with simply "James 4:7" written on it that I must have written years ago during a bible lesson or something. Over and over again I'm being reminded that if I keep resisting the devil, HE WILL FLEE. I am submitting myself to what I KNOW God is calling me to do and I just have to keep the faith, keep the path, keep on keeping on and eventually Satan will leave me alone (at least in this particular situation, I'm sure he'll find something else to mess with me about though).
I also found this note card in a different spot in my bible...
At first Satan was really hitting us financially. Then he hit me with all my face mess. And this month he hit us in a different way. I think it's SUPER important to be open and transparent throughout this journey. I never want to sugar coat things or come across like this is easy. I want others who may be adopting to know what it's like and what to expect and to know they aren't the only ones to struggle or question or be concerned during the process.
God put adoption on MY heart in a BIG WAY. But that same passion for it hasn't always been on Zach's heart. He's fully supportive and told me when we made the decision that he'd be fully committed to whatever I decided, but it's not something he would have probably ever thought to do if I hadn't brought it up. I think that makes it more difficult for him. I know he's being hit with a lot of knowledge about adoption, just as I am, and it's overwhelming. It's a lot to learn and there are SO many uncontrollable / unknowable situations within it that it's scary. It's scary for me but I have that deep calling to do this so I can fight off those fears easier. I know that fear comes from Satan and is just a way he tries to stop us from doing what God has planned for us. So I can brush it off and keep on moving forward. But that'd be WAY harder to do if I didn't have that deep God-given desire for this path.
It is VERY normal for one spouse to be more "hardcore" about adoption than the other. If you google it a TON of stuff pops up. Forums. Articles. And usually the spouse with the hesitations is the husband. Even though we've been through three pregnancies together, it still really, really crushed me when Zach had some concerns this month. It's probably immature of me to be so upset over him having reservations, but I look at this path like I'm pregnant and there is no turning back! Once you are pregnant it's not the time to say "I'm concerned about x y and z regarding having a baby," you have that talk prior to getting pregnant, ya know?! Since I view this as an "I'm pregnant but the baby is in someone else's belly" situation I don't want to hear hesitations. I want the conversations to be "Before this baby gets here let's work on this or this" not "This or this is an issue, are we sure getting this baby is a good idea?"
I think this month Satan said "eh these fears aren't working on Emily, I'm gonna toss 'em at Zach and see what happens." I'm thankful Zach and I share the bond we do and that he does share his heart with me, even when it's not something I always want to hear. I felt so united in this process from the start and felt like it took our relationship to an even higher level and our bond even closer, so I think our tougher talk just knocked me down a few notches. I wasn't anticipating such a conversation, so it threw me off.
Kye questions things a lot, especially the Bible and I've always told him that it's GOOD to question because that is how you learn more and it can make you have an even deeper understanding and connection. Zach shared his heart and took some time to pray about things and came to me and said he is fully, 100% committed to this process and that I won't ever, ever have to doubt that in him moving forward. I can't expect Zach not to question and I have to trust that his questioning will also lead him to deeper understanding and connection with the process.
The selfish part of me was still hurt by the conversation we had and struggled to bounce back to the pedestal we'd been on. But I've had time to process it and think about it (time is such a blessing, right?!?!) and I realized him questioning and having concerns IS very similar to how it is when I'm pregnant. Zach feels stress when I'm pregnant. He worries about providing for another child. Zach prides himself on being the breadwinner for our family and he takes that role VERY seriously. Tab? He's not just another baby to provide for...he's also going to take a TON of money to get in our arms! That's double the financial pressure on Zach so, naturally, it's double the stress too.
Also, much like pregnancy, Zach feels less attached to the baby than I do until it's born. When I'm pregnant I feel the baby inside of me. I'm connected to the baby. Of course I'm more attached b/c I'm physically attached to it! This time around neither of us have a physical baby to be attached to yet. But I know what it's like to carry a baby and feel that connection. I get overwhelmed just thinking about our baby's future birth mom and how she'll feel all those connections that I've felt three times over and she'll then hand her baby to us to raise. That's HUGE. And that's a concept that Zach just can't possibly begin to understand and appreciate on the same level I can.
I also can't expect Zach to never waiver on this when there is so much we continue to learn. When we decided to go forward and adopt we had no clue about drug exposure. We had no clue about potential crisis situations our baby may be born into. These are real things. Scary things. And as we learn about those types of things, it's only natural to be worried about them. I know I have to have patience and grace and understanding as we BOTH navigate these unchartered waters together.
So it was a bump in the road this month that was discouraging for me but was probably important for Zach and his part of this journey. Yes, we're on it together but it doesn't always mean we'll be at the same place at the same time! I'm thankful we worked through it and are back to a great place in our relationship.
Goals for the Coming Month: Hopefully we'll be officially HOME STUDY APPROVED! Then my plan is to focus on funds. What are the options for us? Look into low or no interest loans, any grants we may qualify for, as well as fundraising options too. I also have a TON of people who reached out when we first announced our plans to adopt. But at that point I was just VERY overwhelmed and didn't want to talk to a ton of people yet. Once we are approved I then want to go back through all those messages and start gathering information from people who have "walked the walk." I know I can learn a ton from them that could really be beneficial to us in this experience!
We also need to start working on things around the house to be able to move Britt upstairs and get the nursery ready! It's a big shift for us because it means we won't have a guest room anymore and have to figure out what to do with everything in that room ;)
I also plan to get with Casey Z and put our CAC account on hold until we are ready to be matched early next year then we'll open it up again! That gives us the next few months to work on finances, learning more, and preparing our home!
Prayer Requests/How You Can Help: Now is the time to offer up ANY and ALL fundraising suggestions/ideas/recommendations! I know I want to do t-shirts FOR SURE. I pretty much buy a shirt from any fundraiser I see and I love the idea of people wearing them and sharing it on social media and being able to post all the pics and such and have those pics for Tab to see all the support for him joining our family :) But I'm not really sure where to begin with that? Any sites you have used and recommend? Any dos or don'ts I should be aware of? Any other fundraising suggestions or suggestions for grants or loans?
Please continue to keep us in your prayers and to specifically pray for Tab's birth mom. Even though she may not be pregnant right now, pray that she'll be healthy and get the proper health care for herself and the baby :)
As always, I'm SO thankful for y'alls support and love. I truly am continually blown away by the amazingly sweet messages I receive and just the connections I've made personally through blogging have blessed me beyond measure.