Y'all... we are making progress! We met with our home study social worker for the first time on August 22. It felt SO GOOD to check something off of our list.
(**Home study** = a review of us and our home environment that will be sent to the country we are adopting from to help match us with a child/ match a child with us)
We are currently working with TWO agencies. Because our adoption agency, Lifeline is located in Birmingham, Alabama, we had to find a local agency to complete our home study.
Have I mentioned we live in Alaska? Slim pickin's. There is only ONE agency , WACAP, that does home studies for international adoption for people living in Alaska. WACAP is located in Washington state, but contracts social workers in Anchorage so our agency choice was easy (and not really much of a choice). Luckily, WACAP and our social worker Elaine have been great to us so far, super helpful and very efficient. Before we could even formally begin the home study, we had to turn in several documents to WACAP including:
- Copies of our birth certificates
- Copies of our passports
- A copy of our marriage license
- Updated physicals
- 4 Reference Forms
- Our Financial Statement
- Our proof of employment
- Our Fingerprints
- Background checks from every state we've lived in since age 18
- Tax returns from the last 3 years
- A copy of our medical insurance policy
- Our parenting resource plan (thorough questions about how we plan to parent)
- Our autobiographical statements (basically every detail about our lives including questions about our primary caregivers, siblings, relationships...etc which ended up being about 10 pages for each of us)
You best believe I treated myself to a large iced coffee after turning all of that in.
And with that, there are now 3 people who know everything about me:
God, Chris and our social worker, Elaine.
At our house the other night, Elaine asked us some basic questions about why we want to adopt, why we chose international, etc. She also explained the process more in depth to us. In total, the home study will take about 3-4 months to complete. That seemed long to me considering we only have to meet with her one more time individually. BUT as we have already learned, adoption is a whole lot of hurry up and wait. After Elaine has all the required information, she will send the home study report to us to look over, to WACAP in Washington to look over and to Lifeline to look over. When the report is finalized and ready to be sent to the country, it will need to be translated and reviewed, which seems to be where all the waiting really comes into play.
Meanwhile, we have 12+ hours of online video training to complete. NBD. We've got plenty of ice cream.
Elaine also asked some tough questions that we hadn't fully considered. How would we deal with the special needs our child will have? You see all internationally adopted children will have some sort of special need...yep, even a child as young as 1-3! When people hear special needs, I think their minds go to extremes. But, malnourishment, neglect, or abandonment are common issues for international orphans and obviously these things affect children and the way they think and behave.
Then my mind continued to wander.
Our child will be leaving everything familiar in his or her life and going home with two strangers. You and me know that after being adopted, this child will have a better life, but Little Beck doesn't know that. Can you imagine being yanked away from all you've ever known?
You wouldn't even know that there's anything better out there... That there's a home for you where you will not be hungry or neglected or abandoned. That there's two parents for you who will love you unconditionally for for the rest of your life.
So then all these questions popped into my head. What if he or she takes a long time to warm up to us? What if he or she doesn't attach to us? Did we make the right decision? Do we even want to do this? Can we do this?
My mind raced.
And while I think it's important to consider these questions and to be prepared, I came to a realization that I have to remind myself of frequently:
God did not place adoption on our hearts and then say, "Well, Chris and Elizabeth, I'll see y'all later...let me know how this whole adoption thing works out." No. He is with us every step of the way. He will ease and erase the fears and hesitations that tend to show up every so often and make us doubt ourselves.
1 Peter 5:7 says "Cast your anxieties on Him because He cares for you."
Isaiah 41:10 says "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
I could go on and on.
Our doubts, fears and worries about this adoption will continue to appear, and I'm sure we will often be WAY out of our comfort zone, but the fears will never triumph. God's sovereign power will always dominate and of this, we are confident.