Monday, October 18, 2010

15 More Questions

We had to fill out ANOTHER piece of paper today. I know, I know, there will be more yet still on the horizon coming down the pipe and so on. I'm just thinking that pretty much every question on this paper we already answered. In triplicate. And had notarized. On paper that was hand-spun by South American pygmy monks who only speak one week a year.

Ok, so they speak one month a year. Excuse me for the exaggeration.

Wanna know what they asked? Wanna know what we answered?

Well, alright!!

Describe any new information since home study. Nothing new to report

Please describe each other’s strengths. Chris’s greatest strengths are his patience and his ability to get along with everyone. He’s very patient and hasn’t met someone yet that he can’t warm up to. Christina’s greatest strengths are her organizational skills and her willingness to do things for others. Christina is very organized, and is always stepping up to help out her friends and family.

Why were you interested in these children? We are interested in J and W for several reasons. J likes to dance and do gymnastics and Christina was very involved with those when she was younger. W likes to laugh and be a boy, and we both were drawn to that. Mostly we were drawn to these two because they like the same things we like to do as a family, and we really felt that our age and experience could mesh with these two and make us a complete family.

In what specific ways are you a good match for the children? J loves to dance and do gymnastics; Christina grew up in dance classes, recitals, auditions, and doing gymnastics. W is in soccer; Chris grew up playing soccer, both recreationally and competitively. They both like to do things outdoors, we are an outdoor family. Most specifically, they’ve expressed a desire to be adopted, and we desire to adopt. ϑ In all seriousness, we believe that the opportunities, and stability, as well as the love of a forever family are something we can give them. Unconditionally. Forever.

Describe your stability as a couple. We have been together for 11.5 years, and married for 8. Throughout our marriage, we’ve moved across the country three times, been through several trying events (death, miscarriage), and have remained the best of friends. While we haven’t had a marriage full of puppies and rainbows, our faith in God and our ability to rely on each other through the tough times has definitely cemented our stability. We have thought long and hard about bringing children into our lives, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t plan on being together until we die. Divorce is not an option for us.

How will you meet the children’s emotional, social, and attachment needs? We have read several books and researched information on attachment and bonding. We are easily able to bond with our friends’ children, and believe that our hearts and compassion will allow us the ability to provide a safe haven for our kids. Our plan is to always be there for our children, as a soft place to land, and a solid foundation in which they can build their lives.

How will you meet the children’s physical and medical needs? We have already chosen a pediatrician and will be meeting with him if we are chosen at committee. We are financially and emotionally ready for any issues that may come up.

How will you meet the children’s cognitive and educational needs? Christina plans on reducing her hours at work, so that she is able to be with the children before and after school, and as well has the flexibility to take time off for volunteering in the classroom as well and being a clear and present positive influence in their lives. We are currently also researching private schools, and trying to decide which avenue would be best for the kids.

How will you provide ongoing connections to caregivers/bio-family? We are willing to provide updates via email, mail, photos, etc.

How will you prevent unsafe situations and promote safety? We believe that these children are at an age where they should be given choices, and learn from their choices. We will always be there to guide them, answer their questions, and educate them when necessary. Our first priority will always be to love them, followed by keeping them safe. We will prevent unsafe situations by always knowing about their surroundings, and teaching them by example.

How will you provide cultural connections? These children are of the same culture as we are. They currently attend a Foursquare Church which is the same church group we attend, and are actively involved in the church. We will continue that involvement. We are fortunate in that our youth pastor is one of our friends, as well as a father of an adopted child, and he cannot wait to meet our children!

What resources, services, treatment and/or therapists are available in your community? We have several resources available to us throughout the community. We are in very close proximity to Providence Hospital, as well as being in possession of two very good health care plans.

List at least three components of discipline plan. Our plans for discipline involve:

Information – we will set our expectations with the children. They will know and understand the house rules, and they will also be written down for them. We will review them when necessary. We don’t have a lot of rules, but we do have a structured family environment.

Understanding – when one of them acts against the rules, we will sit down with them to talk to them and understand why they did it, and get them to understand why what they did was wrong.

Consequences – dependent upon the infraction, consequences will range from time outs, to removal of privileges. Children need to understand that there are consequences in life, and learning them at an early age is paramount to becoming a successful adult. At no time will we resort to physical punishment or withholding of necessities (i.e. – food and water).

We have been reading the Love and Logic series and firmly believe in this method of discipline. Giving children choices, learning what their currency is, and teaching them from their mistakes is our plan.

What are your expectations about the placement? Our hope is that these children will come into our home and learn through our actions and our words that we are going to be there for them always. We understand the feelings of neglect and abandonment that may be plaguing them, and want to set out immediately to make them feel welcome, accepted, loved, and safe. We understand that this will not be immediate, and that as a family, we will all have to work on it. We are also very hopeful that since the kids are excited about being adopted that they are starting to have closure about the past and be hopeful for our future as a family together.

What do you anticipate your experience will be in integrating the child into your family? We have spoken with the foster mom several times and can honestly say that we feel the integration will be quick and relatively painless. She has told us how they have quickly adapted to life at her house, and that above all they simply want to be adopted. We feel lucky that we have had the opportunity to speak with her several times, and each time she has been so gracious as to be candid about their behaviors, their personalities, and their quirks. We’ve gotten a chance to ‘know’ them through her eyes and her words, and honestly cannot wait until we can bring them home.

So that's our story. Whatcha think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Settle in for a Neat Story

Unless you've come across this blog by mistake, or you've been under a rock, you know that Chris and I have been diligently pursuing adoption through the Oregon Foster Care System. We started the process way back in April, and we were finally approved in August.

On August 6th, we applied for a sibling group, a boy and a girl, ages 6 (at the time) and 9. And we waited. During this time, we discussed things and always, ALWAYS included J&W in our discussions. We talked about how we would change things around in our home to accommodate the kids. We talked about the trips we would take camping, fishing, skating, etc. I talked about putting J in dance class, and Chris talked about putting W in karate. No matter what we did, and what other children came across, we couldn't get these two out of our minds.

Early morning September 9th, I woke up from a very vivid dream. I dreamt that Chris and I were standing on our deck. Our social worker pulled up in her car, got out, looked up at us and said "Good news! You've been chosen to go to Committee for J & W!" I woke up from that dream and looked at the clock. It was 3:30 a.m. My husband gets up at 4:30 for work, and although I wanted desperately to wake him and tell him, I chose not to.

That morning, I called him when I got into work and told him about my dream. He gave me a good-natured ribbing about it, and I told him I was going to email our social worker and tell her about it, and ask her to call the children's social worker.

I sent off an email to her, and made my way to a board meeting that I had to attend. While in the board meeting, my phone lit up (it was on silent) and a number I didn't recognize came across. I ignored it, and it stopped. Then it almost immediately lit up again, same number. I ignored it again. Several seconds later, my voice mail icon popped up. I was curious, so I excused myself to another conference room and listened to my message. It was our social worker, and her message was "I'm not standing in your driveway, but this is the next best thing. Sometimes dreams DO come true!" I immediately started crying! I couldn't believe that I was hearing this message!

I called her back and learned that we had been selected to go to committee! We didn't have a date yet, but we needed to review some more detailed information about the kids and decide if we wanted to go forward. We got the information, read it over together carefully, and decided we were undeterred. We were going for it!

Then we waited! Oh the state just tests my patience sometimes! Our social worker then went on a missions trip to Thailand and was gone from September 29th until today.

Today I received an email from her that said "I just heard. Your date has been set for November 9th at 1:00." This was quite possibly the best news we've heard so far! We have a date!! We've been putting our lives on hold, not planning anything concrete, waiting for the date.

So NOW what happens? Many of you have already seen this in the email we sent out, but here it is again:

What is Committee? It's a group of people made up of state employees, social workers, foster parents, CASA's (Court Appointed Special Advocates). attorneys, etc. who want to be on that particular committee to decide which family would be best suited for the children in question.

Do you go to Committee? No. The prospective parents never go to committee. The social worker representing the parents go to committee and state our case and present us to them. We've put together a family book with pictures of us and our lives and our social worker will use that along with our home study and letter to the committee to present our family.

How long does it take them to decide? They usually decide within 48 hours.

Then what? Then if we've been chosen, we go through a 7 day 'blackout period' where we get a large binder full of information about the kids. We get time to go through everything, take their medical records to a pediatrician for review (if we so choose), etc. Once we decide we're still going through with it, we let our social worker know, and can start transition. Also, after the blackout period, the kids are told that they have been chosen for adoption!

Then what? Gosh you people with your questions! Then we start visitation and transition. Transition gives the kids time to warm up to us, and gives us time to warm up to them. We haven't had the luxury of having them biologically and the bonding that comes with a pregnancy, so this is the next best thing. The Family Book is also given to them to look through, and get used to seeing us as their parents. Transition can take 2 days or a week, it all depends on the kids. I have a feeling we would have a quick transition!

Once they are transitioned, are they yours? We are then placed into a 'foster-to-adopt' status. We are their new foster parents, and our social worker comes to visit once a month to see how things are progressing. At six months, assuming everything is going well, she can recommend to the state that we finalize the adoption. It can take up to three months from then for the finalization. However, referring to the original question, YES, they are OURS.

What about the kids? Tell us about them!! Oh! Haha. Yes. The kids are a sibling group, a girl and a boy, ages nine and will be seven on Friday. The foster care system has a lot of older children in their care and Chris and I were really drawn to these two! They even look like us!

Can we see a picture? Unfortunately, no. Because of confidentiality reasons, we cannot show their picture until they are in our home.

So that's the latest! Keep praying! And I'll keep updating!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Little Us Time

Have you heard about Groupon, or Living Social? They are websites that present a usually good deal on a local attraction - be it a restaurant, a massage, or a getaway. Two weeks ago, Living Social put out a deal that I couldn't resist. It was a one-night stay in a river view room, a bottle of wine, a $30 breakfast credit, and a $25 resort credit. The price? $169! Skamania Lodge is a gorgeous little place out on the Columbia River, in Stevenson, Washington. A quick one hour ride, door-to-door, from my house. I bought it!

When I called them to make the reservation, I found out that they had a Beer Fest this weekend! They would be having several local brewers onsite sampling their beers. They would have food, live music, and beer-themed buffets! I immediately made the reservation for Saturday the 9th.

I told my husband not to make any plans, that I had a Super Secret Date Day planned for him. Little did he know, that while he was away hunting, I had already packed his bag!

On the morning of the 9th, we got up, got ready, and I sent him to the car to wait. I had already put our overnight bag in my car, but I needed to grab some last minute toiletry items. Stuff I couldn't pre-pack else he figure out we were going away overnight.

When we got to Skamania, I informed him of our itinerary. He was a very happy camper! We made our way out to the Beer Fest tent, purchased our tasting tickets, got our mugs, and went to town! We had a great time, got lots of rest and relaxation, and we were able to do a little reconnecting. Which every couple needs from time to time.

Now back to reality. And no updates. But our social worker comes back from Thailand this week, so I can't WAIT to talk to her!