Saturday, July 25, 2009

Adoption Information Meeting

I have been meaning to update about last week's information meeting. The meeting provided an overview of the domestic infant adoption process through Bethany Christian Services. This agency was recommended to us by someone John use to work with who is hoping to adopt through them. I must say I was so nervous about the meeting. How crazy is it that I was worried about my outfit? As if the social worker would take one look at me, decide she didn't like what I was wearing, and reject us outright.

When we got to the church where the meeting was held, we received a handout outlining the steps in the process and the fees. I actually started tearing up as I read over it. The whole thing just seemed so overwhelming. So here is a run down of what we learned:

Total cost: $18,000 - up from $15,000

Step 1: Submit formal application, statement of belief, and $100 application fee.

Step 2: Screening interview - need to bring list of addresses for last 7 years, driver's license, and $900 administrative fee. Sign contract.

Receive packet (90 day time frame from screening interview - I am slightly confused about exactly when we receive this, but I think it is at some point after the screening interview). This packet includes all the paperwork we have to put together. Here is a list:

Certified documents (birth certificates, marriage license)
Criminal clearances
Child protective services clearances (residential history last 7 years)
CSE (child support) clearances
Motor vehicle records
Fire department (has to come to your house)
Health department (also has to come to your house)
Medical clearances (physicals, drug screen, HIV test, tuberculosis test)
References (1 pastoral, 1 work, 3 personal - one of whom must be available to be interviewed in person at our house)
Questionnaires detailing familial/social history
Open adoption checklist
Special needs checklist

Step 3: Complete and turn in all paperwork and go to 21 hours of training. Unfortunately, this training is already full for the fall and so we would have to wait until next March/April to attend.

Step 4: Interviews (1 with me, 1 with John, 1 with both of us, and 1 with our personal reference) and home visit. They will not do this until after you complete the training and submit all paperwork and clearances. Pay $600 home visit fee.

Step 5: Wait (on average 2 years from approval date).

Step 6: Placement, pay $16,400 placement fee.

Step 7: Supervisory visits, 3 over 6 month period.

Step 8: Finalize adoption. Pay $600 finalization fee. We would also need to hire our own lawyer at this point to represent us.

We also learned a little more about the laws in Maryland as far as the process for legally terminating the birth parents' rights. The birth mother and father have 30 days from signing to change their minds for any reason. If the birth father does not sign at the same time as the birth mother, it could take even longer because the court will not terminate their rights until both have signed. Bethany will provide interim care for the child during this time period if you are not comfortable taking the child and risking having to bring them back.

Overall, I was disappointed by the information I learned at Bethany's meeting. The 30 days to revoke consent kind of freaks me out, but of course this is not within Bethany's control. However, the time frame, which bothers me even more, is within Bethany's control. Essentially, we would be looking at a year before we even got approval and then approximately 2 years from there for placement. This seems like a ridiculously long time to me. I had anticipated getting approval by December. So where does this leave us now? Though the meeting wasn't everything I had hoped it would be, meaning we came away knowing this was how we should precede, it provided a first step in learning about the domestic adoption process in Maryland. I have to confess that prior to this meeting, I had done little research. I spent the night after the meeting glued to my computer researching adoption. Prior to doing this, I didn't even know the difference between agency versus independent adoption. As far as the independent route, I also learned that Maryland does not allow a lawyer to act as a facilitator between the birth parents and adoptive parents. They must connect with each first and then go to the lawyer. The lawyer can not put them together as they can in some other states. Wouldn't it be nice if the adoption laws in our country were uniform from state to state? I also looked up some other agencies, but I haven't contacted any of them yet. I guess this is where we are at right now. I need to learn about some of these other agencies as well as the independent adoption process. If you have adopted or are in the process of adopting, I would love to hear from you. If you would be willing to leave me a comment or send me an email, I would love to learn as much as you are willing to share about your adoption process - agency versus independent, domestic versus international, cost, time frame, etc. I would also love to hear any advice you would have for someone just starting this process. We have not ruled out international adoption, which is why I would also be interested in hearing from those who have gone this route. The higher cost and longer time frame are the main reasons we are hesitant to pursue this option. If you have adopted in the DC metropolitan area, and especially if you have adopted in MD, I would love to hear specific recommendations for agencies/lawyers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quick Update and a Prayer Request

I want to thank everyone for their comments, emails, and prayers recently. I am feeling much better than I was when I posted Tough Times. I have had several people tell me the Lord has brought me to their minds over this last week to pray for me. This is just one way I have seen God show His love for me. I have not always believed God loved me - I knew the Bible said so, but I didn't believe it in my heart. It may seem hard to believe, but it has been in the midst of infertility that I have come to know of God's unfailing love for me.

Last night we had dinner with our friends Philip and Joia, who we met when we were stationed at Eglin. Philip is here in DC for military training. We had a wonderful time with them and their children. Visit Joia's blog for some great pictures of our evening. I really need times like this with friends who allow me to have fun holding and playing with their kids. I have this fear that because it has been so long for us (over 4 and a half years of trying) that we will become so accustomed to our life without kids that we won't adjust when/if we finally have them. Times like last night reassure me that this fear is baseless. I still love being around children. Sometimes it hurts, but I still cherish these times.

Right now I am sitting in Panera in Bowie, MD using the free WiFi. John and I are getting ready to go to a domestic adoption information meeting at a church here in Bowie. The meeting is put on by Bethany Christian Adoption Services, the adoption agency we think we will use. Please pray for God's clear direction for John and I. We sense Him leading us to pursue domestic infant adoption, but we want to be sure. Thank you all for your prayers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sarah's Laughter

I know that many of my readers already know about Sarah’s Laughter, but I wanted to post about it for those who don't. Sarah's Laughter is an organization based in Louisiana whose mission is to "provide support for those struggling with infertility or the death of a baby." One of the ways in which they do this is through devotionals emailed Monday through Friday. I have been so blessed by these devotionals. I wanted to share a portion of the one I received today entitled "Worshiping God through Struggles - Three Hebrew Boys" referring to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:

Do you realize that you have the same choice to make? Worship God in the midst of infertility or bow your knee to despair? “I still love God, but it’s just so hard to worship right now! If I knew He was using this hardship to bring a baby to me, it would be easier to worship Him through the tears. But I don’t know what He’s doing through this situation in my life!” Sound familiar? Most of us get frustrated because we can’t see what God is doing in our problem, and the natural tendency is to withhold praise. Remember that these young men didn’t see the end of the story either. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire..." but even if He does not... They didn’t know if God would save them or let them burn, yet they worshiped Him anyway. How did they do this? God walked with them through the fires.

Scripture tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. When you worship God in the fire of infertility, you may just notice Someone else walking with you through the flames.

May I take just another moment of your time to point out one more miracle that is often overlooked? It’s found in Daniel 3:21 and 3:25

"Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire." (3:21)

"He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm...” "(3:25)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fire tied up. They stood through the trial of their lives, worshiping God, God joined them in the fire, and the hindrances that had them bound up fell away. Choosing to praise and worship God, even in the midst of the greatest battle you will ever face, will cause the shackles of despair, disappointment and doubt to fall away.

I put the last part in bold because it really struck me. Praising God causes the "shackles of despair, disappointment, and doubt to fall away." I find daily encouragement just like this through these devotions and so I wanted to share them with my readers who may not know about this resource. This particular one really hit home with me today - talk about meeting you right where you are.

Click here to visit the Sarah's Laughter website and here to sign up for their daily double portions (email devotional).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lord Reign in Me

When I go for jogs, I like to listen to praise and worship songs on my iPod. Often it is a time for me to spend with the Lord in praise and prayer. I think this is one of the reasons the disruption of my exercise routine was so bad for me. Anyways, the other day I was listening to "Lord Reign in Me" while out for a jog. Even though I had heard the song many times before, on that day I was really struck by the words in the chorus:

Lord reign in me
Reign in Your power
Over all my dreams
In my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won't you reign in me again

And so this became my prayer. I want the Lord to rule and reign in me. I want Him to reign over all my dreams, even my dream of being a mom. He is my King - the Lord of all I am (and of all I am not). Now let's see if I manage to successfully including a YouTube video - this is the first time I have tried it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tough Times

I have definitely been a really bad blogger lately. I am finding it hard to get into a new routine. Going back to work has really messed with my schedule and I am finding it hard to adjust. I feel like I give the majority of my energy to my job. I use to have so much time for Bible study, prayer, fellowship, blogging, and exercise. But I did almost all of them during the day. I have recently managed to start exercising again after a long absence - basically since the beginning of IVF #2. It was just too painful for me to exercise during stims (last cycle my ovaries were touching - did you even know that was possible). After the cycle ended I never got back into my normal routine because of the move. I also know I need to reestablish a time for daily Bible study and prayer. And I want to get back to blogging regularly. I have really missed it and have felt a major void by not doing it. Having a place to give and receive support has been so healing. It helps me to know I am not alone. Right now I need to know that more than ever.

Now that we are settled in, things have really hit me. I really didn't have time to process last cycle's negative due to the move and starting a new job. Starting shortly after my last post, everything hit me - the negative, the end of fertility treatment, the likelihood that we will never have a biological child, and my upcoming unfulfilled due date. It is the last one that is especially hard. I can't get August 11th out of my head. I am haunted by the memories of my m/c. When John and I were at the ER for his esophageal spasms, I couldn't stop remembering the last time I was in the ER. During my time of the month, I am reminded of how it felt to pass our baby. I remember the pain. I remember Dr. S's crushing words. I miss our baby so much. My approaching due date is weighing heavily upon me.

At the same time, infertility is harder for me than it ever has been. My longing for children has not diminished in the slightest. If anything it has gotten stronger. I use to find it hard to pray about my own infertility. I wondered if it was really okay for me to ask God for children. Did doing so mean I was not accepting of His will for my life? I came to understand that it did not mean that at all. Now I find myself praying about children more than ever. I have heard others say that they have begged God for children. Until last night I never had. I have been crying so much lately, I have begun to wonder if I will ever stop feeling this sadness. One of the lines in one of my favorite songs is, "Joy comes in the morning, troubles they don't last always..." (song #6 on my playlist at the bottom of the page). When will my morning come? Will it come? I am struggling to hold on to hope and faith (not saving faith, but faith that God has a plan and a purpose). I want infertility to end. I am tired of running this race.

Over these last couple of days, I have come to realize how much I need to take time to grieve and heal. I jumped back into things too quickly. Once again, I sense the need to step back from some social activities and take time to process everything that has happened. I need to refocus my attention on the Lord, the author and perfecter of my faith. I need the healing only He can provide.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2