Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meet the Family Adoption Services

We met face-to-face with Susan and Rick and all of the social workers and staff at Family Adoption Services (FAS) yesterday while we were in town for Christmas, so we now have a little more information to share (although not the answer to the biggest question--"when?").  Basically the way it works at FAS is that when a birth mother comes to them and wants to give her baby up for adoption, they work very closely with this mother, making sure that she receives the care and support she needs during her pregnancy. The mother has the option to choose the adoptive parents or have FAS match the parents with her child. If the mother wants to choose the parents, she is given "dear birth mother" letters from families who the agency feels would be a good match for her child (which we have already written and turned in--I don't think I've had to write so much, since I was in school). They don't tell you if you are chosen, a due date or even an approximate due date.When the baby is born, since, in Alabama, the birth mother has five days after the baby is born to change her mind, FAS cares for the babies during those five days. Once that period has passed, we will get a phone call saying that their baby is here and we can come pick him/her up. So basically, we know nothing until the day before the baby is placed with us. They do this to spare the adoptive families the traumatic experience and loss that happens when a birth mother changes her mind. So, we have to be prepared to get that phone call at any time. This is going to be VERY hard for me, because I am a planner and I like to know WHEN things are going to happen. I like deadlines and checklists so I can manage my time and budget for all of this. We have decided to go ahead and get a nursery together so that we will be prepared and not have to worry about that, at least. The other challenge that is presented is the cost. We had budgeted for a cost of $14,000, which is what it would have cost to have a placement through AGAPE. However, the placement fee at FAS is $22,000, significantly more than we had budgeted for. So, let the saving and fundraising begin, again!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A New Avenue

            Well, a lot has happened in the past week! It really is amazing how God works, certainly in very unexpected ways. I'll start from the beginning...My mom received a letter from a former student's parents a few months ago with an update on the young man's life and their new grandbaby. In the letter, they also shared that they now run an adoption agency (the husband is an adoption attorney) and that if she knows anyone interested to send them their way. At the beginning of our journey my mother mentioned this to me, but I blew it off, stating that we wanted to adopt a child from the foster system. I totally forgot about this, until my mom brought it up again at Thanksgiving. Because of our frustration with how the process has been going, I told her that I'd be willing to talk to them. My mom called the woman who runs the agency (Susan) and gave her my number. Susan called me that same day and talked to me about their organization (Family Adoption Services), which is in Birmingham, AL. They work with birth mothers to find adoptive parents for their babies. Upon hearing that we were open to a child of any race, she became very excited and indicated that we should get all of our paperwork and home study to her "quickly." I will spare you the gory details of what a nightmare it was to get all of our paperwork from our social worker "quickly." The important thing is that she has it as of today! Todd and I feel that AGAPE had a purpose in getting us started on our journey, but that it's time to move on. We are now officially taking a different path on our adoption journey and are pursuing an infant adoption rather than from the foster system. We feel so much more at peace with this new avenue, as Susan has been wonderful so far and we feel much more supported! There's more to this story, and I will share it very soon!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Waiting Game

We get the question everyday..."So, any news?" We would love to be able to answer, "Yes! We're getting a child!", but no such luck. We have inquired about several children, some individuals and some siblings, through,, and some other websites. We've had responses from some to send our home study to the child's case worker, which we have immediately requested from our social worker. Sometimes we get the response that "no more home studies are being reviewed on this child at this time" which I can only assume means they've received tons of interest and will probably choose one of those families. For some of the children, we have had no response at all!

One agency required the home study to be sent via snail mail and refused to accept email or fax. When I asked how long it would be before we should expect to hear back from someone, I was told "a few weeks." WHAT??? (It takes that long to go through the mail room and to be sorted and sent to the appropriate case worker.) It seems that if it were to be emailed or faxed, it would be more time efficient and kids could be placed more quickly. It doesn't appear that anyone is an a hurry to find these children a permanent home, which is really hard for us to swallow! There are hundreds of thousands of children in need of homes. We are finding it difficult to understand why such a long drawn-out process....and this is only to find out more information on the child!

This is as far as we've gotten in the process. Now we continue to wait to be contacted from the case workers who have received our home study. So, we are trying to be patient and understanding while we wait some more. We will also continue to visit these websites to see if any new kids have been posted. We have prayed that God will close the door to any child that is not intended for us. Perhaps, that is what he is doing! We know he has a plan and the perfect child (or children) chosen for us. However, the waiting is getting more and more difficult! Prayers for patience and perseverance would be greatly appreciated...and much needed!

Also, please remember to keep your eyes and ears open for anyone you know or in your community that may have a child who needs a home.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We're Approved!

We heard from our social worker today, and we are finally offically approved!! Woohoo! Now, we have to put together a photo book and submit an autobiography so that the other agencies will have a "picture" of our family and it will also be shown to the child once we accept a placement.

We can now begin looking for a child on various websites and if we see one we are interested in, we can let our social worker know. We can also register with to get on their list of prosepective parents, as well as other local agencies' lists.

So, now...more waiting!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Final Garage Sale

Held the final garage sale this weekend in Birmingham and raised another $1000, making a grand total of $3800! We are so thankful for all of our friends and family who have supported us through this fundraising effort--especially our parents who each organized a garage sale, which is no small feat! They organized, collected, and priced items, advertised, and helped during the sales and spend lots of time and energy into it all! We've also had several friends (and even some strangers) who have TOO generously donated money to our fund! We are so blessed to have you in our lives! We have to say, though, that if we never have another garage sale in our lives, it will be too soon! We are garage saled out! Although, the outcome was well worth the hard work!

Update on where we are in the process...still not officially approved. Emailed the social worker two Wednesdays ago and she said that it is in the team review process, which is where all the other social workers review the home study, and they will vote to approve it once all have reviewed it. I will be emailing the social worker again tomorrow for yet another update! We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


We have just completed our second yard sale fundraiser! Yeah! The first one was held in Tupelo, two weeks ago, where we raised over $800! This weekend, we held one in Franklin on Friday and Saturday and raised over $1800!!! So, we are off to a great start in raising money to cover our adoption fees! Thanks so much to all of the friends, family, and neighbors who have helped us earn this money, so far! We could not have done it without your help and support! Todd and I enjoyed meeting all of the neighbors that came out to support us as well! We are blessed to live in such a wonderful neighborhood and to have such amazing friends and family!

We do have one more yard sale coming up in two weeks in Birmingham. My mom and sister are hard at work gathering items to sell. It is not a small feat! Todd and I are exhausted from this weekend, but gearing up for the next one! Stay tuned for an update!

Also, we heard from our social worker last week on Monday. She has the home study report back on her desk. Her supervisor reviewed it and did not note any concerns (I should hope not!) and she just has to correct some errors. It should be any day now. We were really hoping to have heard something by Friday, but no such luck! We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Still Waiting

For those of you who are wondering, we are still waiting to be approved. Talked to the social worker in mid-August and she said it would be a couple more weeks. She emailed us last week with some last minute questions that she couldn't remember the answers to and said that she hoped to be finished and present it to her supervisor this week. We will keep you posted!

On another note, we are holding several garage sales to raise money...first one is this Saturday, Sept 17th, in Tupelo, MS hosted by Todd's parents and Matt and Jamie Baker. Thanks, guys for your support!  If you're in Tupelo this weekend, come on by and see us!

The next garage sale will be in Franklin, TN at our house-- October 1st, and the third one is in Birmingham on October 15th, hosted by Tara's parents. Thanks for hosting, too!

We are still taking donations of items to sell. for the Franklin and Bham sales..anything you're planning on getting rid of or giving to Good Will? We'll take it off your hands! Thanks to all of our friends and family who have donated so far! We are blessed to have so many supporters!

Monday, June 27, 2011

All Done Home Study!

So as of last Thursday, we are finished with the home study! I haven't updated in a while. Todd had his one-on-one two weeks ago. Mine was postponed b/c the social worker was sick, so I just had my one-on-one last Thursday. So, now we are finished. Just have a couple of little pieces of paperwork left to turn in and wait to be approved. It will probably be mid-August (which probably means the end of August) to be approved. The social worker has to type up a pretty in-depth report and then all the social workers at AGAPE will meet and deem us worthy or not of being parents. After that, we wait. Of course, we can look while we wait, but I'm not real sure I want to "look"...I mean, it's not like shopping for a pair of's a can you just pick one. Many have asked "how long?" The answer the case worker gave me is "at least a year". That was a little discouraging...a year!!!???!! It will then be almost two years from when we decided to do this...I'm gonna be an old woman by that time! Just kidding...maybe a little dramatic? Anyway...when all is said and done, it's all in God's hands...if he wants us to have a child next month, then we will. If he wants it to be a year, then it will. And it will all be perfect timing! I might need some of you to remind me of that every now and then! :) We will keep you posted! Until then, we wait!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Home Study #2

So I'm a little slow at posting this, but we had our second home study visit on Friday (June 3rd). The social worker came out to the house this time and did a walk through and another interview with both of us. She asked us about our parenting styles; how we were raised--what we would change and what we would do the same; about values that we would want to instill in our children;about religion and what our expectations would be for our children; and some other stuff.

After the walk through, we just had to get a couple of things to make the house safer-- extra smoke alarms--one at the ends of the hallways on both floors and carbon monoxide detectors--one for each floor. We also had to get an extra fire extinguisher for the second floor and a lock for the medicine cabinet. So, Todd did all of that this weekend and now we are ready for the next visit, which will be just me and the social worker this Friday. Then, Todd's one-on-one will be next week and then we should be finished.

We'll keep you posted...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Home Study #1

Had our first home study meeting today. We went to AGAPE and met with our social worker. It was basically a "get to know you" session. We were able to ask some questions...the only one we had was "what will the home study process entail?" She asked a bunch of questions about we met, the engagement, our wedding, our jobs, what we do for fun, etc. She also asked us about what we disagree on...neither one of us could think of anything. I mean, we've had arguments before, but not over anything major and nothing that hasn't been resolved. I'm sure there's something, but we just couldn't think of anything...I'm sure thinks we're lying! We've actually both been tyring to think of something all day...nothing! Before we started she told us that if any issues are identified throughout the process that we need to work on before being approved, she would let us know...and that they don't expect perfect people. She didn't tell us anything today, so we must have passed round one!

The second meeting is scheduled for next Friday, June 3rd. It will be with both of us and at our house. The following two will be with each of us separately...Mine on the 10th and Todd's on the 16th, both at our house. So, while shes at the house during one of the visits, she will do a safety check of our home. (there's a long checklist of things they look for). So, we figure today wasn't that bad...kind of like a first date...just wanted to know the surface stuff....we figure she'll start asking us the really personal stuff next time (like about fertility issues, and what gets on our nerves about each other, maybe?).

So, we should be finished with the home study by the 16th. Then we wait for her to type up the home study and officially approve us. Until then we will keep on plowing through the paperwork! We have our physicals scheduled for next Friday, too, so we will be able to check that off the list. We still have to write autobiographies and do a emergency/fire escape plan, too. We'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Let the Home Study Begin

We were contacted by our caseworker last week and scheduled our first home study for May 26th. I'm not real sure what to expect, but I think it will be an interview format to get to know us. We will actually go to AGAPE for this meeting. There will be 3 or 4 more meetings after that, one of which will be a home visit.

In the meantime, Todd and I got our fingerprinting done and are in the process of finding a PCP so we can schedule our physicals (I know, it's sad that we've been up here two and a half years and we still don't have a PCP, of course that just means that we've been healthy, right?).

Our reference letter forms were sent out to friends and family. Thanks to all of you who completed them and turned them in! (hopefully you said good things!) :)

I'll post again after May 26th to let you know how the first meeting goes!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Final Class

Tonight was our last training class. Hard to believe it's been 12 weeks! It FLEW by! The class tonight was CPR/First Aid training. So now we are equipped with the knowledge to save a life! I just hope I never have to use it! And we have a handy little book on first aid and how to id the symptoms of and treat several different emergencies (gun shot wounds, head trauma, hypothermia, etc.). Again, hopefully won't ever have to use that! Not too much exciting to blog about from tonight.

So, we're supposed to be contacted within a couple of weeks by our assigned social worker to start scheduling our home study. We will keep you posted!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last Thursday

So we are officially done with the PATH trainings! We even got a certificate! Wow! We just have the CPR/First Aid class next week to complete, then our home study will begin. For the last session, sessions 8 & 9 combined, there was a panel of adoptive/foster parents for the first part. They shared their experiences with us and we were able to ask questions. It was very helpful! The second part was just an overview of the adoptive process. Lots to take in! I will have to go back and re-read that section for sure!

I have to say, we felt a little emotional after this session. It kinda sunk in and felt very real for the first time. They even presented the group with two little boys (brothers) who are coming into AGAPE's care for a foster placement, but will likely be an adoptive placement. They asked everyone to "prayerfully consider". We don't believe these are the children for us, though, as they are 13 and 9 years old. We really would like to adopt younger children. Still, the fact that they could be calling us in just a few months to ask us to consider adopting a child (or two)...very real!!

After next week, we should be contacted by the case worker who is assigned to complete our home study. That process will begin and they will have 90 days to complete everything. We will have to schedule 4-5 home visits/interviews with the caseworker over the next several weeks. During this time, there will be more paperwork to complete. We will have to go get fingerprinted, get physicals, and prepare our home to meet their "inspection"...and did I mention...more paperwork?

Keep the prayers coming...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Session 7: Surviving Crisis

Seven down, two to go! Tonight was on surviving crisis. Crisis is something that we will inevitably encounter when adopting. Of course, that's true for everyone in life, isn't it? What we learned tonight was that there are some predictable moments of crisis when rearing a child from the foster care system. Things such as holidays, anniversaries of events in the child's life (day they were removed from their birth family, for example), pre-placement visits, and at the finalization of adoption, to name a few. Things that might trigger emotions or memories, basically. We learned that the goal is to attempt to prevent the crisis whenever possible. Talk to the child about an upcoming event and how they might be feeling about it. (Of course, you can't predict every situation.) Pay attention to the child's "warning signs" and try to prevent the crisis from escalating. One of the main things is that you have to remove yourself from the situation--realize it's not about YOU. Then you will not have the emotion to get in the way and you will be more capable of being a bigger, stronger, wiser, person and be there for the child.
You might be wondering, "What kind of crisis situations might occur?" Things such as significant behavior issues, school problems, medical emergencies, the child running away, among others. Of course, again, some of these are crisis that any family will deal with.

Other key points from tonight were:
  • Asking for help is a strength! Utilize the resources that are available to you
  • Have a plan in place for dealing with crisis
  • Crisis is time limited. It will pass (That reminds me of the saying "This, too, shall pass"; can't remember where that is from. Is that in the Bible?)
  • All crisis yields opportunity--mainly opportunity to build a closer relationship with the child (that reminds me of the Bible for sure. How God will use everything that happens for good.) James: 2-3 says "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." I would think that would definitely apply here!
Next week is the last PATH class, sessions 8 & 9 combined. There will be a panel of adoptive and foster parents that will share their experiences and advice. We will be able to ask them questions that we have, too. The final week is our CPR training class.

On a different note, I think Todd is going to try to enter a golf tournament that will benefit AGAPE. He's getting more info tomorrow. We'll keep you posted on that. He will need sponsors to help him raise $1000! Hint, hint...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Last week's Update

I fell a little behind and didn't post after last week's session. Last week was our medication management training. Todd was not there because he's at furniture market in North Carolina. Luckily, for this class, there's a DVD recording of it so he can take it home and watch it on his own time. Nothing interesting to report from this class. Just basically a lot of common sense about safety when dealing with storing and administering medicine to children.

But on a more interesting note, we only have three classes left--two PATH courses and a CPR training. We've already turned in our application and related paperwork, so in three weeks, they can begin our home study process. This involves 4-5 visits with us and interviewing us separately and together. They will contact our references (some of you may be getting a letter or phone call...not sure how that works). Tell them only good things, please? :) This process can take several weeks. During this time, we will have to go get fingerprinted and go get physicals, too. And, there's more paperwork to complete, too that goes with all of this. After the home study is completed, they will type up a nice little report summarizing everything about us and "deeming" us eligible to adopt (hopefully!). They have up to 90 days to complete this report. After that, we'll be eligible to adopt a child. We can adopt from their list or any list we choose. Many of you have asked about a time frame. It looks like it could be August or September before we're eligible to adopt. Then it's a matter of finding the right child (or children). I could be sooner though...difficult to know. So keep praying for us and keep your ears out for any child needing a good home!

I'll try to be better about posting sooner this week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Session Six: Discipline!

Tonight we learned about disciplining the child that has been abused and/or neglected. It's apparently "different" than disciplining "typical" children. I think the strategies make sense for ALL children, really. The focus was on positive behavior management strategies. This is what I use when working with my clients. As much as I would love to spank some of them sometime (just kidding), that just wouldn't be kosher, would it? Positive behavior management is what I use and it works. It's a very simple concept, really, and isn't that hard when working with a child for an hour at a time. In reality, though I can see where it will be very difficult to implement and be consistent within a day-to-day, 24-7 situation...when you're tired and cranky, stressed and in a would much easier to focus on the "negative" behaviors of the child instead of catching the good behaviors.

My big ah-ha moment of tonight was that you can't effectively discipline if you're exhausted. It goes back to the importance of taking care of yourself--mentally and physically--and have some "me-time" (which was one of the characteristics of successful resource parents...previous session). I struggle with this now, even not having children. Making time for myself--to exercise, take a bubble bath, or get a pedi/manicure. I almost feel guilty for spending time focusing on myself instead of on the housework or my business or Todd and put it at the bottom of my priority list. When you look at it as necessary to be an effective parent, it now becomes not selfish, but as if you are doing it for the child.

Todd, on the other hand, learned a lot of new stuff about discipline strategies tonight, as he had no prior knowledge or experience on the matter. He looks forward to the challenge of disciplining a child without using corporal punishment. He said that he will just follow my lead (his words, not mine), which may not be such a good idea, as I will probably screw up plenty, despite my prior knowledge and experience!

Another thing that stuck with me tonight was something the woman from the other couple said. She's been reading a book called Positive Discipline in the Christian Home (which I'm going to have to buy because it sounds really good!). In the book it talks about how God disciplines us--not with shame and guilt. So we should remember that always in disciplining our own children. I thought that was good. Also, did you know that "discipline" comes from the word "disciple", which focuses on teaching...teaching the child the right way to do things, rather than just punishing them for doing the wrong things?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Session Five

The first part of session five was on assessing our family strengths...identifying our support system and the relationships, strong and weak, in our lives. We had to do an "eco-map" which was a visual representation of all of these relationships. I'm not sure we actually learned anything new from this activity. We are blessed with a very strong support system of family, friends, and neighbors, which will all be active parts of our lives and help us throughout this process. One weakness, I guess, is that we don't have family in Nashville to help. (hint, hint: maybe some of you could just move to Nashville!) :) Although, we know that our families are just a few hours away and they will be driving up on weekends to visit and help out in anyway we need!

The second part of the session was on helping the children transition in and out of your home. Of course for us, they will just be transitioning IN to the home (and hopefully not out!). There were some very helpful tips provided to help us with this. No big eye opening moments for me during this session, but still some useful tips were taken away!

Class next week is canceled, due to some scheduling "reconstruction." So we meet again on the 24th!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Understanding the Impact of Trauma

Children who are placed into foster care and/or adoption loose everything they know--their parents, other family members, school, friends, church, possibly siblings. They experience an extreme amount of loss, and therefore grief. Loss = Trauma-- in addition to the trauma they have been living with their whole life, thus the reason for removal. "Survival behaviors." Children develop these behaviors to cope with/survive the chaotic lives they've been living. These behaviors work for them, although they are not healthy. They will likely carry these behaviors into your home and thus disrupt the family life you know. These behaviors can range from withdrawal to aggressiveness, but all have an underlying emotional message. The emotions are too complex for the child to cope and it's our job, as their adoptive parents, to help them "unlearn" the old way of coping and learn a new way--a way that is healthy and socially acceptable--"repair the damage", if you will. Much patience, tolerance, and perseverance needed!

These past experiences, which can include unstable homes, abuse and/or neglect, bouncing around from home to home cause difficulty with forming attachments. It was interesting to learn about the attachment cycle and the impact on a child's (and adults) relationships...must be the psychology nerd in me (that was my minor, after all). We learned that it is OUR responsibility to make sure that the attachment forms, not the child's There are things we can do to help build that attachment. Most importantly--You can't take it personally! They drilled that into our heads tonight. It takes persistence!

Discipline!I was really uncertain about the whole discipline thing after the first/second session, but after tonight, it makes sense. It's just like dealing with the challenging behaviors of a child with Autism (well, sort of). It reminds me of when I worked in the schools and had to work with teachers on managing the challenging behavior of the students with Autism in their classrooms. These kids had special needs, there were reasons related to their disability for the behavior. Did that make acceptable? Absolutely not! But, you had to approach it in a different way. You couldn't discipline these children with same approach as the typically developing kids. You had to figure out the purpose of the behavior and implement strategies based on that. In the meantime, not in the presence of the challenging behavior, you taught them appropriate, socially acceptable means for achieving their needs. Many teachers were resistant to this, after all it was their classroom and they had rules. All the other kids had to follow them. That was my first reaction when I heard we'd have to discipline these children differently. It's our house. We were both raised with rules and consequences. We were spanked every now and then. Our parents were strict. And we turned out just fine. That's the way we are going to raise our children, too. But at the first session, that bubble was burst when we learned that you can't discipline children placed in  your home the way you may be used to. I feel much better about it all after tonight. I can do this--it's what I do everyday with my clients. I have to set rules and expectations with therapy sessions. I have to make sure they follow the rules. But I do it in a positive way, using a kind tone of voice. I do realize, though, that in the midst of "real life" stresses and having the child 24-7, it will be a bit more challenging.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Session Three...Understanding Hurt Children

So each session, we become more and more aware that this program is really geared toward foster families. But, regardless, the information about the children is still very relevant and we are learning A LOT!

Tonight, we met a panel of young adults that were in foster care as children who spoke about their experiences in the system. It was very insightful to hear their perspective and to be able to ask them questions. The biggest points we gained were:
  • Communicate with the children and Listen...really listen to them. They've likely not been in a family where someone really cares about who they are and what their interests are.
  • Look for things you have in common with them to help them feel more comfortable and like they fit in
  • Let the child know that its ok to talk openly about their past and their birth family, as well as what is not ok to talk about.
All in all, listening to these young adults speak made us feel blessed to be from such wonderful families. I can't imagine a life of an unloving, uncaring home, or abusive home environment and having to experience the bouncing around from foster home to foster home and moving in with complete strangers and being expected to just adjust. It must be so difficult for these children.

And to think that there are people out there who are fostering just for a paycheck. It's very sad for these children who need someone to just love them, listen to them, and care about them. And the stories I've heard about foster homes that are probably not much better than the homes these children came from. How do those people get approved??? If only there were more families like the ones we grew up in who were willing to foster or adopt these children. I heard a statistic the other day that if every Christian in the world were to adopt just one child, every child would have a home and there would be extra Christians left over. Just think of the impact that could have!

Ok, so I will get back on track now. The rest of the session was just spent educating us on neglect and abuse and how to parent a child who has a history of that kind of trauma. Lots to think about. Definitely no spanking allowed!

On another side note...we did find out some more about adopting and staying in contact with the birth family. The two social workers who ran the session tonight have actually adopted from foster care and it turns out that they don't have contact with the birth families...for various reasons. It really depends on the birth parents and how willing and accepting they are of the adoption. and whether or not the relationship would be appropriate depending on the situation. We also learned that there are different meanings of "open adoptions." For a lot of cases, it's simply sending pictures of the child, artwork from the child, cards, etc. via the social worker, and vice versa...not necessarily visiting with the parents on a regular basis.  Also, the birth parents are not given any identifying information about the adoptive family and whether or not that is disclosed to them is up to us. That was comforting.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Session One....and Two

Well they decided to cram two session into one tonight so that we can finish on time. I guess that's good that we won't have an extra week, but still...a lot of information to take in and ponder in only three hours. I attended alone tonight since Todd is in Tupelo at furniture market. We are doing the make up session on Tuesday.

Down to only us and one other couple...the other one didn't show! Don't know if they will be back or not. Found out tonight that usually these trainings have about 10 couples in attendance. Good thing is that classes will not take as long since there are a lot of group activities they usually do. Bad thing is that we won't get the benefit of the interactions with other couples and seeing others' perspectives during the discussion questions.

Got our notebook tonight with all of the training materials in it...and homework assignments. Its about two inches thick. We each have to complete a homework assignment after each session which involves answering questions--self reflection-type questions that go along with what we talked about. These will become a part of our home study file.

The main goal of the first session was for us to gain an understanding of the children from the system. We listened to a speaker (on video) who was in the foster system from the age of 4 with his little brother. They were bounced around from foster home to failed adoptive home, back to foster home, to group home, to another failed adoptive home. He ran away to live with his father at 16, where he was exposed to drug dealing and murder and went back to his social worker after realizing he didn't want that kind of life where he was placed back into a group home.  He was never adopted, but managed to get his grades up, graduate from high school, and go to college. He's now a social worker, himself and has adopted four boys, in addition to his three birth daughters. His story was amazing! But the reality of his childhood was eye opening. His thoughts on being adopted:
    "Wanted to be adopted so badly"
    "My last name will be the same as theirs" (when found out they were being adopted the first time, after     
      7 years living with a different foster family.)
    "feelings of rejection, scared, lonely" (because his foster family "didn't want to" adopt him)
    "we have to be on our best behavior so they will want us"
    "before I let myself be rejected again, I was going to do the rejecting"  (second adoption attempt)

The last one really made me think. He wanted so badly to have a permanent home, but because of distrust and feelings of rejection, he sabotaged the situation.

The biggest things I took away from this session were:
  • Don't expect warm & fuzzy feelings right away
  • They will have difficulty trusting you
  • Expect to be rejected--many have a "reject them before they reject me" attitude
  • Be prepared to delay parental gratification
  • Know the challenges you may face and take advantage of the resources to help you deal with them
Session two focused on the "three parental roles" (birth parent, caregiving parent, and legal parent) and how everyone should work together in the interest of the child.  The "legal parent" is relevant when the child is in foster care. This is the court, DCS, and/or social workers.When you have officially adopted a child, you become the caregiving and the legal parent.

Thought-provoking points:
  • Again the importance of the role of the birth parent in the child's life.
  • Always be respectful of the child's birth parent and find positive things to say about them when talking to the child
  • The birth parent can help answer a lot of questions the child may have, such as "why am I in this situation?"
  • Let the child look at and display pictures of his/her birth family
  • Understand the child's cultural background and attempt to incorporate the culture into his/her life with you
  • Share the child's artwork, etc. with the birth parents.
Another focus of session two was on "characteristics of successful resource families." We watched a video of foster, adoptive, and kinship parents who shared their perspective and experiences. They are:
  1. Tolerance for ambivalence and negative feelings
  2. entitlement
  3. advocating and assertive qualities
  4. flexible expectations
  5. tolerance for rejection
  6. sense of humor
  7. ability to meet personal needs
  8. ability to use resources
  9. flexible family roles
  10. spirituality
  11. ability to delay parental gratification
I think that Todd and I possess a lot of these characteristics. There are definitely a couple that I will need to work on!

I will go through these training sessions again with Todd on Tuesday. Maybe Todd can blog his perspective and thoughts then.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow Day

Well, our first session was canceled due to the snow. Next week will be our first session and I will be attending alone! :( Furniture market calls! Todd will have to make up the class...I, of course, will go with him to that class, too. He will miss again for the High Point furniture market in a few weeks, too. Bad thing is, we can only miss two sessions (even if they're made up, which they have to be). If we miss more, we have to start all over and wait until the next training sessions begin. So pray that nothing happens that makes us miss a third session. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 4, 2011


So we went to orientation last night. A little bummed that there were only two other couples there and they are wanting to be foster families, not adopt. I had heard from another family that has adopted that the group you go through classes with becomes your "extended family" and kind of a support group. I guess were expecting to see more people there that would be adopting.

Other than that, the class was good. It was basically just...well orientation...a lot of facts. They talked about the process and all of the steps that we would have to go through, the children that come through AGAPE (that's the agency we're going through), and how the foster system in general works...oh...and they gave us a nice folder full of paperwork that we will have to complete throughout the process and it only took like an hour for them to go over all of it...At least we have like eleven weeks to complete everything, right?

The class did get us thinking from another perspective. They talked about the children a bit and how what we are doing is a ministry...a ministry to children. They said that part of that ministry is to support the birth family of the child...that these children still love their birth parents despite the abuse or neglect they've experienced, and vise versa. The ultimate goal is to get the children back to their birth families, so foster parents should provide the birth family with support and help and share their faith with them. Same goes for adoptive parents...we should be open to supporting the child's birth family (only when the situation allows, of course) because these children will be missing a part of themselves when they are removed from their home and they experience a significant loss. By keeping the communication open with the birth family, the child experiences many benefits. We never would have thought about it that way before.

Todd says that we are about to enter into a whole other world. One of the checklists in the folder was on home safety and things they will be looking for when they do the home visit. Things like the hot water heater temperature setting and having fire extinguishers on every floor and keeping all medications including over the counter ones in a locked cabinet...not just out of reach, but locked. Who would have thought of that??

So anyway, we have a lot to learn, yet. Until next week...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Seven Step Journey

So, we've been doing some reading in preparation for tomorrow night's orientation class. We found this great "pocket guide" to download and print on the adoptUSkids website with a nice little checklist of the steps to the adoption process, along with some other great information. But, you know how much Tara loves a checklist, so here it is:
  1. First Contact
  2. Initial Orientation
  3. Pre-Service Training
  4. Application Process
  5. Mutual Assessment and Home study
  6. Licensing and/or Approval
  7. Placement
It was great to see that we can already check off step one and will be able to check off step two after tomorrow night! 

Just coming up with some questions, now, to ask at tomorrow night's orientation session. The obvious ones, of course, are:
  • How long will it be before having a child placed with us?
  • What are the costs and fees?
  • What kind of contact, if any, will the birth family and/or the foster family be allowed to have with the child?
Any questions that you want to know? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We're adopting!

Many of you by now know that Todd and I have decided to adopt and we begin the process next week! I can't believe it's right around the corner! We have been trying to have our own for a while now and were at a crossroads of what our next step would be. We have both prayed about it and have felt God calling us to adoption, rather than go through fertility testing and treatments. We do still hope to have our own child one day and know that if it is in God's plan for us, it will happen in His time!

We are going to adopt a child from foster care here in the US. When you adopt out of foster care you have to complete PATH training, which stands for "Parents as Tender Healers". This is a 30 hour education and self-assessment process which will help us understand the feelings of grief and the loss that children can experience. It also helps us identify our family strengths and in what situations we can most successfully parent. Some of you have asked us lots of questions about the process, but we do not, yet, know a lot of the answers. Here's what we do know:
  • We want an older child (8 years old, max)
  • No preference of gender
  • No preference of race
  • We're open to adopting siblings (no more than two)
  • We're open to a adopting a child with mild learning disabilities, and of course, speech-language delays
Our orientation course is next Thursday night, February 3rd, where we hope to have most of our initial questions answered. We will then go every Thursday night for 10 weeks to 3 hour classes on specific topics. After that we will have a home study completed and have to complete other trainings including CPR certification and medication dispensing training. We decided to do a blog to keep everyone updated throughout the process (Todd's idea!). We will try to post weekly after our class with any updates. Not sure how the whole Blog thing works, this is our first time. So anyone with Blog experience feel free to give some pointers!

In the meantime, please keep us in your prayers, as this is going to be a long, tedious process! Hopefully this time next year, though, we'll have our very own precious child! Until next week...