About 3 years ago my husband and I seriously started to consider adoption. We prayed about it and felt that we recieved answers left and right from God saying, "Yes! Adopt!" We researched many adoption options, but decided to adopt through DSS, South Carolina's Department of Social Services, and after some time in prayer I knew that this was the right decision for our family. So I called DSS, the ladies were so sweet, helpful and full of information. We signed up for the next available orientation class in June of 2011, where we then submitted our application. We were told that we would need a lot of patience in order to adopt, and boy they weren't kidding! Our next class wouldn't be until October (2011), 4 months away.
We were then required to take a 14 hour parenting class. We got to meet other waiting parents, that I wish now that I would have gotten their contact information. There they informed us how the adoption process worked, including how the children end up in foster care. Some of the information was quite hard and painful to hear. We filled out tons of paperwork and went over many parenting scenarios from infants to teens, from tantrums to runaways, to bullying to discipline options. We watched videos and heard stories from other adoptive parents and adoptees. We were told of the pain and trauma that a child goes through before coming into our home, I can only imagine the loss of your parents, home, friends, life, everything that you once knew, gone. We were trained on how to deal with this grief, but how can anyone truly be trained on such a thing? The classes were very informative and I'm glad we took them. I left the building on my last day hopeful and optimistic that we would be adopting soon, but there was still much to be done before we could even start our waiting period.
With our classes complete I now had a parenting certificate in one hand and a long to do list in the other of what I must do to complete our homestudy. We needed a copy of my, Mitch's and our 2 children's birth certificate and our marriage certificate to turn in. We needed our finger prints submitted along with a SLED background check. We had to fill out paperwork after paperwork giving detail descriptions of our family life, our marriage, our discipline style, what our family life was like growing up, and details on what our relationship to our parents and siblings are now. We had to turn in our family medical history, answer "what if" questions about our future child...the paperwork was endless! and even then there was more. We had our home inspected by the fire department and then by DHEC. After all that was completed we were then able to meet with our private investigator who interviewed my husband and I together, then separate, and then the children separate. By now I am drowning in paperwork, but after 6 months we finally completed our homestudy and we are now approved to adopt!!
For some reason I thought it would happen right away. Our homestudy was completed in April, 2012 and I was told to wait for a phone call. Every time the phone rang my heart would stop, I would leap for the phone and think, this could be it! The waiting was torture. I was told to check out photo listing websites of waiting children while waiting for a placement, because then i may get lucky and it would at least allow me to feel proactive. I wish now, that I would have never have done that. By doing so, I fell in love with photos, with videos, with could be's and fantasies. My heart was continuously broken by ignored inquires, and phone calls and email responses telling me that we were not a match, mostly because we already had young children in the home. I was forwarded case files of children, whose stories would cause you to lose faith in humanity. How can anybody treat a child so cruel? I finally stopped looking.
One day a friend introduced us to a beautiful young expectant mom, "C" who wasn't ready to have a baby. She asked me to adopt her unborn child. Shocked that she some how just fell into our lives, we wondered if she was a gift from God. We shared many talks and tears. I was convinced she was sure, but I tried to keep my heart guarded from another break. My husband and I took her out to lunch one day, to get to know her better, to allow her to get to know us, and to discuss future plans. I was so excited. I took her to doctor appointments, I was there to hear the baby's heartbeat, and see the ultrasound pictures, I fell in love. I was planning the nursery in my head, I was thinking of baby names, Judah if the baby was a boy, Sloan if she was a girl. I crocheted my baby (her baby) a beautiful blanket. Just as I allowed it all to become real, ready to make the announcement to my family...she changed her mind. I "lost" her baby. I don't blame her, her decision was tough, and I really do wish the best for her and her baby girl.
During our waiting period my husband and I had a trip planned to Haiti. I was thrilled to return for a 3rd time. I was also thankful for the distraction, but my distraction didn't last long enough. I kept making up timelines for when I should be getting a placement. By the end of the summer 2012, I was actually surprised it was taking this long. Friends and family were even questioning this lengthy process, am I even going to adopt, will this ever happen? I thought for sure I would get a placement by the end of the 2012 summer, then I changed my timeline to Christmas, to Valentines, to Mother's Day.
In October of 2012, I felt ready to explore fostering to adopt, along with still being on the straight adoption waiting list. We had talked with several people who thought this was a good option for us, and after sitting down and having a conversation with a foster agency I felt really good about the decision. I called the foster agency back the first week of January (2013) and our foster agent came by our house for an interview and a few sheets of paperwork on the 8th. I just LOVE our foster agent. She reassured me that there was nothing wrong with our family, but that adoption does take time, but a lot of families find it faster to adopt through fostering. Since we were already an approved pre-adoption home the only thing we had to do to become licensed foster parents was sign a few forms, get re-finger printed, and have another SLED check. Our finger prints came back right away, but our SLED check took 4 weeks, and then our home was reinspected by the fire department. My agent told me that my paperwork would be sent off to Columbia and to expect a placement by February!!!!
Sure enough the first week of February we received a call asking if we would take in a 6 month old girl and a 2 year old boy. Oh how lovely I thought! How amazing! We're finally getting a child...no wait, 2 children! But, their case worker informed us that their plan was to be reunited with their family. One of the toughest things I've had to do after almost 2 years of waiting was say no to our first phone call. I couldn't say yes knowing that I would never get to keep them. So they went to another family.
That same week we were contacted by a friend that I hadn't talked to in over a year. She's a foster mom, and was currently fostering a 4 month old baby who had recently become legally free for adoption and wanted to know if we were interested. I remember feeling sick after talking with her, and became overwhelmed with sadness. I think that Mitch was starting to worry that this journey was too hard for me. I didn't want another heart ache. I've been waiting for too long, with so many let downs along the way. What if I don't get this baby either? But, I agreed to meet baby "A". He was and is so perfect, so sweet and so chunky. I loved him. His foster mother warned me that she did not have any say over where he goes or who his adopting parents will be, but that she would do her best to advocate for me, and she did. I inquired for him to our adoption agency and was told that I would be considered. I called my foster agency and told them to take me off the call list until further notice, because I was investing in this sweet boy, who I prayed and prayed would be mine. I visited him every chance I got and took pictures and videos, and when I wasn't there his foster mom sent me pictures and videos. After 3 months of this we were not chosen, another family was.
I trust God, and I have talked with him through out this entire journey telling him that no matter what, I trust Him and His plan for me. And God is so good, and He has an awesome plan for me and our journey, and in part two of our adoption journey I will write about our unexpected blessing of two sweet boys.