Adoption, Travis and Melissa part 1

As we live the exciting count down to our 6th Grand-baby’s birth, her journey from our hearts to our arms, family and Travis and Melissa’s home i am going to take time to re-post much of Travis and Melissa’s writing about their journey to Baby Coffee Ice Cream.

November 13, 2014 reposted by Nama

SECOND AND FINAL HOME VISIT!

June 13, 2014

This week we completed another huge step in our adoption process! We had our second and final home visit with our social worker for our home study. This means we are {pretty much} home study approved! I say pretty much because our social worker still has to finish writing our report, and then she has to pass it along to her supervisor. However, we have done everything we need to do, and she told us at the end of our visit Saturday that we are approved! The rest is just crossing the t’s and dotting the few remaining i’s.

I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it was when our social worker spoke those three words to us, “you are approved.” I think I must’ve been feeling more stress about it than I thought because it felt like this HUGE weight had been lifted off of me. It feels so good.

The second home visit was a bit different than the first. We spent the first portion of the visit receiving some adoption training from our social worker. This included information on grief/coping with failed adoptions, a bunch of books, websites and other adoption resources, lists of community activities adoptive families can take part in, information about how adoptive children process adoption and at what ages they will experience various stages of processing, medical information for children exposed to drugs or alcohol, the legal documents that will be filed throughout the process, what the process will look like from here on out and much more. It was very insightful to talk through these things with our social worker. She has experienced so many different situations in her career, and she was able to give us real and practical information.

After we completed our training, we did the walk through of our home to make sure all of the safety requirements were met. If you were wondering, yes, we locked up our knives and medicines and changed our child locks. We bought fire extinguishers and that earthquake kit we’ve been meaning to purchase for four years. If nothing else, Travis is grateful this home study forced him to finally prioritize buying that kit.

After the inspection {which we passed with flying colors}, we moved on to individual interviews. This was the most in depth portion of our interview process. Prior to our first visit, we had filled out a series of questionnaires. These questionnaires covered a multitude of things from family history to how our parents raised us to what our relationships with our family members are like to Travis and my relationship with each other to how we parent our children. At our first visit, we turned these questionnaires in to our social worker. Since then, she reviewed them, and during our individual interviews we addressed any questions she had about our answers as well as filled in any gaps that were unclear.

This was the portion of our home study that I felt our social worker gathered the most information about us. We knew that the homestudy would take an in depth look into family history, but we were surprised to find out how extensive it was. She were very thorough finding out information about our family members and extended family members. This information spanned from medical history to lifestyle choices to illegal activity. I think the point of it all is they want to know who our child will have contact with when he/she is a part of our family. Nonetheless, we were caught off guard how far outside of our nuclear family she gathered information and how much time we spent talking through all of that.

After we finished our interviews, we turned in our last few remaining items of paperwork. We talked through what the next steps in the process would be. Then our social worker uttered those sweet, sweet words, “you are approved!” {Praise the Maker!}

SO, what happens now? Well, the home study was probably about ⅓ of the entire adoption process. Now that we have that done, we will start submitting applications for grants and loans in order to finance the rest of this process. Then we will start applying to agencies and presenting our family profile book to birth moms which will {hopefully} lead to a match sooner rather than later!

AGH!! Things are getting real! And it’s SO exciting!!! {and a little bit crazy}. Please keep praying for us as we continue to move forward. It feels like things are moving fast, but we are trusting the Lord’s timing and that He will sovereignly work out all of the details. Also, please be praying for our baby and birth mom. We don’t know who they are yet, but there is a good chance that by now our child has been conceived. Pray for their hearts, health and safety. We treasure them so deeply and pray the Lord’s protections over them everyday. We can’t wait to know them.

Melissa and Travis’s personal Blog

http://www.thefischerfamily.org/

Nama comments:

Nama loves every word of this! We pray for His supernatural provision for the finances to bring your third baby home. We know your family could have chosen to move forward with a third biological child, meaning insurance would have provided the funding for the majority of those expenses. Yet you have chosen to trust our Lord to provide a home and family for a tiny life that does not have other options. You have said yes to giving a birth mamma the hope and promise of love and security for her little life. The call on your hearts is not in vain, He will bring to your home the child he has planned as your third little Fish and He will provide all that is required to complete that process.

OUR PATH OF ADOPTION

June 18, 2014

Travis and I began the journey of adoption a long time ago. God made it very clear to us very early on in our lives that we were called to adoption. If you want to know more about why we feel we are called to this journey, you can do so here. Since we’ve known for a long time this is something we would pursue, our question had always been “when?” You can read about how the Lord revealed to us the time is now here. The next question was “what type of adoption?” Read about our journey to domestic here.

After all of that journey, processing and decision-making, we still arrived at another big question, “how do we do this?” I will say this a million times, the adoption process is OVERWHELMING! There are a million different avenues and routes you can take. How do we know which one is the best? How do we know which agency is the most moral and ethical? How can we complete this process without it taking three years? And on and on.

While I had spent TONS of hours scouring the internet trying to piece it all together, we still felt pretty lost. So, I decided I would start reaching out to friends of ours who have completed or were pursuing domestic adoption. I wanted to get wisdom and insight from their experiences. This proved to be one of the most valuable things I have done in this process. If you are thinking of adopting, don’t hesitate to reach out to others who have adopted before you! Most will be thrilled to share their knowledge and experience with you, and the inside information will be invaluable!

I received so much encouragement, wisdom and practical information from all of the families I reached out to. I am so grateful for their willingness to take time out to share with me. During that time, some friends of ours, David + Erica, were in the middle of their first domestic adoption. I am so happy to share that now they have their beautiful baby boy home with them!

Erica shared with me their decision to work with an organization calledChristian Adoption Consultants {CAC}. This organization had come highly recommended to them by their friends who had adopted {it’s so beneficial to ask for referrals}. Erica shared with me what their journey had been like with CAC. After talking with the CAC consultant whom David + Erica were working with and much deliberation, we decided to start working with them as well.

Working with CAC is a slightly different approach to the adoption process than the traditional domestic agency adoption. We believe there are many benefits to the way they approach adoption which I will share with you. But first, I will give you the shorthand version of what the more traditional route looks like.

If you were to pursue a domestic adoption, the most common route is to find an adoption agency that you want to work with. This could be a local agency close to your home or an agency in another state. There are many criteria that could affect which agency you might choose; size, location, values similar to your personal values, recommendation from someone else, etc. After you decide on an agency, you would sign a contract to work with them. They would then provide you with all of the services you need to complete your adoption start to finish. They would perform your homestudy, make your family profile book, match you with a birth mom, walk through all of the birth mom interactions with you, be present through the time at the hospital and the placement, file your paperwork, complete post placement visits, and see you through your court finalization. It feels pretty simple to just sign on with one place and get the whole complete package.

However, there are some things that made the traditional agency route less appealing to us personally. We found that there were basically two options in this route, 1. Sign with a large agency – pro: faster placement time, cons: possible moral and ethical practices we do not agree with + because they are working with many families they have less time to focus on our family individually. 2. Sign with a small Christian agency – pro: moral and ethical practices we agree with + more personal contact with the agency employees, con: the time to get placed doubles or possibly even triples! Both of these conclusions were confirmed by other adoptive parents we were talking to.

However, we found that CAC removes the cons from both of these options while keeping the pros. Here is what happens when you choose to work with CAC:

First, you receive a consultant. You can request to work with someone in particular or if you don’t have a request they will assign one to you. We requested Karalee. She came highly recommended by our friends who were also recommended her by their friends {she is great by the way}. Your consultant will serve as your friend, advocate, cheerleader, adoption guru, question answerer, and on-call “therapist.” One fact that we loved is that all of the consultants at CAC have personal experience with adoption, so they’ve been in your shoes which makes them passionate, compassionate and empathetic. This, personally, was HUGE for me. The idea of having someone in our corner who would know the answers to all of the questions we would have and if she didn’t know them would know where to find them was invaluable. In addition to that, having someone whose job was to be there FOR US whenever we needed to talk through anything whether is was legal questions or just emotional stuff was really important to me. I haven’t worked directly with an agency yet, but because they are working with so many clients and birth moms in addition to handling all of the legal paperwork and home studies, I assume they don’t have a lot of time to sit on the phone and talk through my latest dreams or worries about our baby. Additionally, knowing that we would have someone to advocate and fight for us was so comforting for me. Karalee will do everything she can to help us get through this process as seamlessly as possible.

After you start working with your consultant, you receive a WEALTH ofinformation. This information includes things like financial assistance programs, reputable local agencies to complete your home study, information on state adoption laws, adoption education, a list of agencies CAC works with, as well as support and guidance through the match and placement process.

Then, the first thing you do is find a local agency to complete your home study. This is the first major difference in the process. Instead of signing on with an agency first and having them complete your home study, you use a local agency to complete your home study independently. Like I said, CAC provides you with a list of agencies that they recommend to do this.

While you work on completing your homestudy {which on average takes about 3 months}, you can simultaneously have CAC working on your family profile book. This is basically a small scrapbook where you share about your life through text and pictures. Some people refer to this as a “Dear Birth Mom” letter. This will be the book that the agencies will show to the birth moms and essentially how you get chosen by and matched with a birth mom.

Another thing you can work on while completing your home study isfinancing your adoption. Adoption is EXPENSIVE. CAC provides a great list of organizations which provide financial assistance for adoption via grants and loans. The process of filtering out which ones we might qualify for and applying for them has already proven to be lengthy for us. Many of them require that we already be home study approved before applying, so we have to wait to submit until we get the official copy of our home study. However, having a list to work off of has been SO much easier than scouring the internet for resources.

Once you feel you are ready to move forward {emotionally, mentally + financially} and your home study is complete, you begin applying to the agencies that CAC works with. We believe this is one of the biggest benefits to working with CAC. They have already done all of the background checks on the agencies they work with. They have talked to past clients and birth moms, they have made sure everything happening within the agency is ethical, they talk to all of the agency staff, they make sure there are proper services being provided to the birth mom both pre and post-placement. These are all things that were really important to us but are hard to find out without spending A LOT of time and doing A LOT of digging. They have already put in that time and effort.

Next, you begin presenting your family profile. Your consultant will send you birth mom situations from all of the various agencies CAC works with. These situations will include all of the information the agency collects about the birth mom and baby including as much social, medical and pregnancy information they can get. The birth mom isn’t required to answer any of the questions, but often she’ll provide very detailed information as far as medical history (hers, her parents, grandparents, her siblings, birth father info if known), what, if any, prenatal care she’s had, what her pregnancy has been like, information on any previous pregnancies, detailed information on any children she already has, etc. You sometimes get the baby’s gender if the birth mom wants to find that out. You will also get ethnicity, approximate due date, information on how much openness the birth mom wants, if she wants to see/hold the baby, her feelings about meeting adoptive parents before the birth, if she wants them or just the adoptive mom in the delivery room, etc. As you can see there is A LOT of information that gets shared. This is such a sacred exchange. A time when the birth mom shares very intimate details, and you get the opportunity to know her and part of her story.

After you receive this information, you will then decide if you want to present your profile to that birth mom. If you do, the agency will take your profile, along with the profiles of any other couples that also wanted to present, and give them to the birth mom. From there she will select the family she wants to place her child with.

The match time can vary greatly. There are stories of couples who are matched immediately the first day they present and stories of others it takes several months to match. However, another major benefit to CAC’s approachis that they are working with multiple agencies. This means you are not tied down to one agency and only the situations that come through their doors, but rather you have a much larger population of potential matches. This makes their average match time much shorter than the national average. Match time is also affected by how open you are to various situations i.e. gender, ethnicity, drug/alcohol exposure, and history of mental illness in the family.

After you are matched, you will spend time communicating with the birth mom and getting to know her more {I, personally, cannot wait for this opportunity}. This is when you decide together what level of openness there will be in the future {all of which your consultant helps you navigate}. Then, you are basically just “on-call” until the baby is born just like any pregnancy.

When the birth mom goes into labor, you get in an airplane {or car} and head to the hospital. You then get to meet your birth mom and baby! In most cases, you will take the baby with you when they are discharged from the hospital. Given the baby’s birth state is different than where you live, you will spend a couple of weeks in that state until all of the paperwork is in place for you to take the baby out of state. Once you get the call you are clear, you get to take your baby home.

Once your baby is home, you are required to complete a list of post-placement requirements according to laws of the state your child was born in. This will be some number of  home visits with a social worker {usually 2-4} in a specific amount of time {usually the first 3-6 months}. Once you meet those requirements, you file for a court date to finalize your adoption. When that date comes, you go to court where a judge signs off on your adoption, and you receive a new birth certificate for your child saying you are legally his/her parents forevermore! Then you CELEBRATE!!

So, as you can see from this epically long post, there is A LOT that goes into the adoption process. If you stuck it out to the end of this post, you are already learning great things about endurance and perseverance which are both traits you need to learn if you want to adopt. I would love to answer any questions or clarify any steps that are confusing in this post. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to know more!

Melissa and Travis’s personal Blog:

http://www.thefischerfamily.org/

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