It's been a while (it seems as if I am always starting that way). This week has been a complete whirlwind. On Tuesday, we had our second meeting with our adoption counselor. I spent the days leading up to the meeting convincing myself that they were going to tell us that we don't make enough money to adopt a baby. For the most part, this was an irrational fear of mine and I totally let it get the best of me. But I suppose that is what this process is starting to do. At each step we reveal more and more information about who we are and it seems like the agency is constantly looking at that information and deciding if it makes us ready to do this thing. Again, that is a somewhat skewed version of what really happens, but it feels as if we are in constant scrutiny and that someone else is determining if we are ready to adopt. When I step back and look at it, I know that they just want us to think about all the things that will occur and they want us to plan and be ready and I truly am thankful for that. It is just incredibly nerve wracking as we are going through it.
In actuality, we had a great meeting with our counselor on Tuesday. She even told us that she liked working with us because we were so open and honest and we were exactly who we said we were. It is true. Carla and I don't hide much, mostly because we are incapable of it. When we are happy it is obvious and when we are freaked out, that is obvious too. So I am glad that she saw that as a good thing. The purpose of the meeting was really to go over the financial paperwork we turned in, review the next steps, and give us more paperwork to fill out. Much of the next round of paperwork is the DCFS licensing paperwork. In Illinois, in order to be approved to adopt a child, you have to be licensed to be foster parents through DCFS. This does not mean that we will ever be foster parents or even hold the title of foster parents, but it is just how they do things here. And that requires a lot of paperwork. It also requires things like making sure we have fire extinguishers (which we now have on every floor), working fire/smoke/carbon monoxide detectors (which we also now have on every floor), and even a fire escape ladder from the room that will be the child's room (you guessed it, we now have one of those as well). So in the coming weeks we will be working our way through the fairly large stack of papers we were given.
The last piece of our meeting on Tuesday was our counselor talking with us about the profile that we will be making. We looked at some examples and talked through what we needed to do. Essentially we are creating a book that will tell someone who we are and what our lives are like. Some of these books were super fancy, while others were simple and straightforward. Knowing Carla and I, we are going to end up somewhere in the middle. But this will certainly require calling on all of our most creative friends to help put this thing together. It is hard to imagine creating a document that will be able to convey the kind of people that we are, the relationship that we have, and the life that we live. However, as we flipped through the books that we were given as examples, I was definitely able to gain an understanding of the kind of people that created those books and the types of families that they were.
I left the meeting feeling good and Carla left the meeting feeling motivated. As soon as we got home we were filling out more papers and yesterday we made a big trip to Home Depot to purchase all of the fire equipment we needed for the house. We also left the meeting and came home to sign up for our next class which was on Thursday. So on Wednesday, we spent the evening do the homework that we were given for Thursday night's class.
On Thursday, I rushed home to let the poor dog out, who has been somewhat neglected due to all this adoption stuff this week. Carla came home and then we were off to our class. Thursday's class was all about openness. The class really helped us to understand the real logistics of maintaining an open adoption. One of the most powerful things for me was a video that we watched of an adult woman who had been adopted and had not met her birthparents until she was in her 20's. In the video, she was asked how her life would have been different had she known about her birthparents at an early age. She explained that her life would have been filled with much less questioning. She wouldn't have always had to worry about if the person who she passed on the street who happened to look a bit like her was really her birth mother. She wouldn't have always had to wonder about who her birthparents were because she would have known. It just reinforced for me the power of having an open adoption.
It was clear that each couple in the class was at a very different place in terms of their feelings about open adoption. Carla and I are feeling really good about open adoption and really believe it is what is best for the child. But from the comments that some of the other couples made, it was clear that they weren't so sure yet. It was interesting to see how everyone felt about it and where everyone was in their beliefs about how it will work for them.
Thursday's class went until 8:45 and I have to say that the last few hours were really a challenge after a long day of work. It was hard to stay focused, but, as always, I walked away from the class with a renewed sense of peace that we are working with The Cradle. The education that they are giving us has been invaluable. I learn so much from each experience and I am constantly being asked to stretch my thinking in ways that lead me to a better place.
So now, there is more paperwork to do. We need to get started on a rough draft of our profile. We have a bunch of online classes to take and two more in-person classes to take. We have to get ourselves certified in infant CPR and eventually we need to get ourselves a clean bill of health from a doctor (which you know is a place I DREAD going.) So there is still lots to do as we continue along this journey. While I know it is going to take a long time to reach the end of all of this, I am thankful for the time that we have now and I am thankful for the work that we are being asked to do.