So, where are we now in our adoption journey? Right now, we are in the middle of paperwork!! We've started our home study and are in the process of gathering all sorts of information. There are several different background checks we have to do and we sort of have to pull double time there because we've lived in two different states. We've ordered copies of birth certificates, our marriage certificate, been finger-printed, have appts for physicals and many other forms we are in the process of filling out. The next step in this process will be to turn over all the information to our social worker and have our home visit/ interview with her. We've also gotten our application for the consulting group we will be using and are working on filling that out too. It's exciting and overwhelming to see all of these forms. I think I've read them each many times, afraid that I'll mark the wrong box or write the wrong thing and be forced to do them again!
Once our home study is complete, we will be able to start applying for grants and loans, so there will be more paperwork yet to go. We're looking into different ways to receive tax-free donations but those are a bit more complicated and must go through the appropriate channels to count. Part of our goal in early fundraiser was to be able to pay the home study fees and the agency fee with cash. Thankfully, our home study is completely paid for and we have a little over $1,000 for the agency fee so far (it's $3,500.) Because of our move last year, we depleted a lot of our savings, but we know God will provide and Kurt should have a timely bounus to cover the agency fee soon. It's crazy to think, but I added it up yesterday and I think we've spent almost $300 on paperwork fees, so far.
Part of what we will apply for after our home study is complete is an interest free loan. We know we'll get $13K tax credit for adopting and Kurt's job offers $5k towards adoption. However, we can't claim this money up front. We'll need to prove we adopted before that can happen, so the loan will help cover the gap while we wait.
We've had several conversations with the girls and both are excited over the idea of a new baby. They have both said they want a brother too! Hazel seems to understand a great deal and we've had some interesting conversations about what adoption means, how this baby will not be in my tummy, and how he might look different than our family. We've talked a lot about how our hearts are the same and how love is what makes a family. Since Hazel accepted Jesus into her heart this summer, we've also been able to start talking about how we're adopted into Jesus' family. We're all adopted and this just makes adopting a baby make sense!
As the year comes to a close, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how incredible this last year has been. If you'd asked us last December if we'd be adopting next year, we would have said "There's no way!" We had just moved, we were buying a house and had the burden of another...it would have seemed impossible....but then does Jesus changes everything. How incredible that He brought us to a church body that is so willing to adopt--to love, love, love?! How amazing that we heard message after message that challenged and changed us, messages where I wanted to run out of the room rather than "deal with it"! How wonderful that we met person after person who showed us love and welcomed us into their lives? And then Jesus said to our hearts "Go rescue my little one". We want to know how and when but really we don't need to know all that. We just need to "go" and do.
Each time a person has given us a gift of money for adoption or supported our fundraiser, I have been so humbled and moved. It seems as though each gift came right after a moment of dispair or doubt. I'd be wallowing in my own inability to do this and there would be an email or message waiting for me with hope. God is constantly whispering to me, "You can't do this, but I can. I will." Boy, the tears I have already shed from the way people are loving on us and on this little one we don't even know yet!
Right before Christmas, I did some last minute shopping and I saw this canvas print for sale in Hobbly Lobby. As many of you know, both the girls had "literary" nurseries. Hazel's was Peter Rabbit (traditional Beatrix Potter version) and Mabelle's is Olivia by Ian Falconer. I've always, always wanted a "Where the Wild Things Are" baby room. When I saw this print, I new it would be the first thing I bought for this new little one. It's sitting up in our guest room as a beacon of hope for the newest little member of our family. Oh yes, we will love him so...
Two special things also happened at Christmas: First my mom, who has embroidered and quilted blankets for both the girls ran across some cute quilt squares to embroider for a nursery. She told me she bought them to start working on a blanket for the new baby. Again, hope against all odds. Love bursting forth out of darkness. Then, Christmas Eve came and we opened gifts at our house. Since we knew we would be adopting Kurt and I have both refrained from buying anything we don't absolutely need. We agreed that we wouldn't exchange gifts for Christmas and we've both put any birthday money or extras into the adoption fund. So, I didn't expect a gift for Christmas. Well, I've wanted a Vitamix blender for forever...it's one of those crazy things you think you might save up for one day...maybe. I love to make as many things from "scratch" as possible and just thought it was an awesome (made in the USA!!!) gadget. During our move, we got rid of almost all of our "baby" items including our handy little baby bullet. So, on Christmas morning when Kurt pushed this huge box over to me, I had no idea what it could be. In fact, I imagined all sorts of awful things because usually with gifts Kurt is either right on the money or way off :). When I pulled the paper off, I just sat there for a second. The first thing, I thought was "we have to take this back" but I didn't say that out loud. Kurt must have known what I was thinking because he immediately said, "I've had this planned and it's ok." He also added, "I thought we would use it to make baby food!" Well, that's all it took to have me crying (all this crying business is so odd for someone who hates to cry in public and refrains at all costs)! So, I'm enjoying a gift from my sweet hubby that I know he's sacrificed for, making it all the sweeter. We will defintely be making lots of baby food!! We made smoothies last night and they were a big hit all around. I can definitely tell I am a mom because I am already thinking of how many green veggies I can sneak into things!
We'll keep updating on our process. Perhaps by sharing we can also encourage another family to embark on a journey Jesus is urging their hearts to consider. Above all we can share love, and that, after all, is our goal.