Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Home Studies; A Tutorial

I LOVE it when you guys send me ideas for my next post.... there is so much to touch on when it comes to discussing infertility, adoption, and parenting! Send me your ideas and you know I'll do my best to be as honest as possible ;-)

Heather and her husband are getting ready to adopt through the foster care system and responded to one of my Facebook pleads for new ideas asking if I could help her travel through the home study process. Fortunately (umm... or unfortunately :-/), I'm a pro at home studies!

That's one thing an adoptive parent never wants to be... a pro at home studies. LOL!

Joey and I are actually getting ready for our up-teenth home study visit this week so Heather had perfect timing, as it's on my mind, too!

I'll start with 2 myths that I fully believed when preparing for our first home study;

Myth #1; Your house needs to be spotless so the social worker can see the pristine environment your future child will grow up in....

Yeah, right. I remember our social worker (whom we have been working with through Hannah's adoption AND our current process) mentioning that, while she never wants to walk into a pig sty, it's always nice to see a family in their day-to-day environment. 

Here's my advice; pick up the house. Don't leave your underwear laying around. Other than that, hiring a cleaning lady the day before your visit will only break the bank... not impress anyone.

Myth #2; It's not in your favor to admit to the beer you have with dinner, the fights you have over money, the time you waste on Pinterest, and the attitude a certain family member has toward your adoption. 

Be real. You're not searching for ANY child, you're searching for YOUR child... and YOUR child needs YOU; not who you pretend to be. No one is perfect and your social worker is aware of that.... show her who you are, how you spend your time (productive and unproductive), how you argue, how you make up, and who you surround yourself with.  She's been around the block... she'll no doubt know the amazing qualities that will make you incredible parents but a couple who admits to their faults is refreshing and honest. 

And a few words of advice....

 ~ Have a snack and drink prepared to offer your social worker. She's probably not going to show up famished or parched but food and drinks always calm the atmosphere. We all feel a little more in control and relaxed when we have something yummy in front of us :-)

~ If possible, have copies of your home study documents within reach during your visit. Most likely, your social worker has received all of your documents from a third party (lawyer, agency, DSS, etc) and things always get lost in transit. Having copies of those documents is not only a safety net for you, should a snag appear in the adoption process, but it can really save time if something is missing during your visit.

~ If you have children already, request a time for your visit when your child/ children are most likely to watch a show/ movie, eat a snack, or enjoy quiet time or a nap.  It might even be a good idea to ask your sitter or neighbor's daughter to come over to play games or out back for a little while. Your social worker will want to see you interact with your child, if possible, but they can also be a distraction and frustration for you when you're already anxious.  

~ While your nursery and home don't have to be ready and waiting for your baby at the time of your first visit, let this visit be your permission to dream and plan a little. A home study means that things are moving and you're getting closer and closer to your child.... it's now ok to peruse the Pottery Barn Kids catalogue, go to town pinning your favorite nursery ideas, stocking up on diapers, and choosing a few cute outfits. Your social worker will want to know what your plans are... which room will be his/her room? What have you done/ will you do to prepare your home before your baby's arrival? If you get a quick placement with little notice, will you feel ready?

Your turn.... what's YOUR advice for our new home study-ees??

Saturday, August 18, 2012

How to be an Adoptive Mama... By, an Adoptive Mama

How to be an Adoptive Mama....
By: An Adoptive Mama

* When people comment on how great you look after just having a baby, politely thank them. You may not have birthed that baby but you HAVE planned and prepared for that baby, been up all night every night, stressed over one little cough, forgotten to eat multiple days in a row, and don't even know when you'll have time to pee next... AND, you're out in public!

You DO look great!

* When someone asks you how your baby's parents are or if you talk to them, politely tell them that you and your husband are geting along just fine and actually talk to each other every day, if they can believe it. Your baby's birth-parents/ First Parents are doing ok, too and "yes we speak to them regularly" or "no they've asked for some space while they heal and we'll be here when they're ready." 

If you wanna be nice(er), a gentle reminder on the correct terminology won't hurt, either ;-)

* You will inevitably run across people who think your children look like you, no matter their gender, race, or age.  God CHOSE that baby to be YOUR'S so, "Thank you! But wait until you see my husband... he/she's the spitting image of him!"

* When someone asks you where your child/children are from, tell them that your children are a product of 'the fruit of your labor'... and then ask them where their children are from ;-) 

* When your child asks you why they didn't come from your belly like the other kids, let them know that Jesus HAND-PICKED them to be your baby... and that your belly wasn't the right place for them to grow; Jesus kept them with Him until YOU were ready for them.


* When someone asks you if you 'still want kids of your own', tell them that no matter how your family is built, your children are "On Loan From Heaven" ... and they're really just your's for just a while.

(Do you have any to add?!  Sarcastic OR serious ;-) .... I'd LOVE to include them!! Leave a comment and I'll add it.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

To My Babies; What I Want You to Know

A letter to my babies... present and future;

Sweet Babies~

The fact that our family has been grown through adoption is something you know; It's who we are. It's HOW we are.

And it's perfect.

You will grow up having access to your First Families... you each have a box; in that box is every single correspondence we've had with your First Family;  every letter, email, and card they've ever sent you or us, journal entries they've shared with us to give to you, the gifts they've sent you, every monthly update we were required to send to our agency... everything. It's all there for you to read and process when you're ready. You'll know your First Family as you grow up.... your Daddy and I will always know where they are and how they're doing and we'll keep them updated on YOU. We'll visit with them. You will always know them.

I imagine one day you'll have questions for your birth parents; Why did you choose adoption for me? How did you know my Mom and Dad were right for me? Did you love me? Did you think about me? And many more, I'm sure...

But babies, your Daddy and I don't have a box for each of you... a place where we write you letters and store our memories. Still, there are a few things I want you to know... things that will always be in you but things that you'll need to read and be reassured about as you grow. Things that I want you to hear from me... your Mommy.

What I Want You to Know

~ We didn't do anyone any favors when God brought you into our lives and we brought you home. We weren't saving your birth parents or even you from whatever it was that prompted them to place you in our arms. We aren't 'amazing people' because our family is grown through adoption. Adoption IS our family. It's not even a choice your Daddy and I mulled over and debated about... it's just us. You have done more for us than we could ever hope to do for you... and we will spend every day of our lives doing our very best. 

~ YOU were wanted and loved before we ever knew you.... by us and your birth parents. For us, seeing you for the first time only put a precious face to that love. There has never been... and never will be a time that you aren't wanted. You are necessary for our family to be... for it to exist.

~ You weren't our second choice. There's no rank when it comes to how the Lord chooses to build a family but I imagine some kids might struggle with this as they get older. Did you try to get pregnant before you found me? Did you continue trying to get pregnant after me? What made you decide to stop 'trying'? Do you ever wish you HAD gotten pregnant? Your Daddy and I tried our best to listen to God... to follow His lead and trust Him to bring our babies to us, no matter HOW He chose to do it, our babies were missing and our hearts were aching for you.  We followed a path to you that was full of anxiety, impatience, excitement, let-downs, and thankfullness. We had to travel that path, through all of that 'stuff' to be who WE needed to be for YOU. For that reason alone, we would repeat everything ... our quest to grow our family, all over again in a second if it would bring us YOU. Our arms weren't aching for a biological child.... they were aching for OUR child. For you. You were always our first choice.

~ It's ok to ask questions. ANY questions. About your adoption, about relationships, about Jesus, about drugs or alcohol or sex, about ... anything. You can ask me and your Daddy or your Uncles... they're your best resource for adoption. ;-) When you're old enough and have formed your own list of questions, you can ask your First Parents.... you can ask them anything. Your story... your history; past, present, and future are vital pieces of your existence....  Your Daddy and I don't know the answers to some of the questions you'll have but we will do everything we can to help you find the answers. You deserve to know and it's ok to ask. Your birth parents AND us give you permission to ask... anything, anytime.

` Your testimony began before you were even born. I wish I could introduce each of you to every single person who prayed for you.... who prayed for us while we tried so hard to wait patiently for you. The first chapters of your lives started in our living room where friends surrounded me and your Daddy and cried with us and prayed that God would ease the ache in our hearts until you came home. They prayed for your First Parents and that God would ease the ache in THEIR hearts as they struggled to make decisions for you. Each of your homecomings brought friends and family to their knees.... your precious faces in our full arms were proof that God answers prayer.  People who weren't close to God for whatever reason couldn't even deny HIS hand in YOUR homecoming. YOU are proof of that.... over and over and over again.

~ There IS a plan for your life. Your Daddy and I knew that the Lord had plans for you far beyond what we could imagine the first time we looked at your faces. I don't know if you'll be doctors, teachers, waiters, CEOs, Pastors, lawyers, janitors, or musicians..... but no matter what you are, be it with everything that's in you. Sometimes you'll fail... and it'll suck. Lesons learned, tears cried, anger released and you'll be ok. I can't promise 'your plan' will be easy.... mine hasn't always been. But it will be worth it. It's hard to remember in those moments but it's all part of the plan... the plan that's greater than any of us can imagine. YOUR life plan.

I know there's more, babies, and maybe I'll add to this list over time; but this last one... it's the most important. I never want you to forget it and I will spend every day of my life showing you...

I love you.

More than Diet Coke, and cupcakes, and Raspberries, and pedicures, and Sweet Tarts, and shopping, and Lily's, ....

I love you more than anything... I did then, and I do now, and I will 'when'.

~ Your Forever Mama