Yesterday, we hit the road to attend a follow-up meeting with our adoption agency… and that’s where we left the last of our paperwork!!! WA-HOO!!! I still can’t believe we can actually say the paperwork is finished. I feel like we are entering a brand-new phase of the process, and — even though there is still waiting to be done — it just adds a whole new level of excitement and refreshment to have reached a goal and begin the next.
Ok, back to the meeting. :)
This follow-up meeting was basically a continuing-education training. It was only four hours long, shorter than our orientation meeting this summer in the mountains, and it was held for our “region” at Bethany’s smaller office in Raleigh.
It’s always hard to know how to summarize these things. What do you guys want to know? What do I think deserves a highlight? How much detail do I give beyond just telling you the topic discussed? There is always so much more shared in these presentations, more in our conversations on the drive home, and even more to process inside our own heads. So I think what I’ll do is give you a general gist of a few topics discussed, highlight one thing that might be practical for YOU from where you are, and… whatever other nuggets of information I feel led to share. :)
One topic discussed was “Grief and Loss.” We learned a lot about grief and loss in the foster-parenting classes we took back in the spring. To be honest, I always associated this topic with children in foster care or older children adopted internationally. All along, with our intent to adopt a newborn baby, I haven’t thought this was something we would be facing to any heavy extent. In our training yesterday, we learned not to underestimate grief and loss for a newborn. ALL adoption starts with a loss. Everything about a baby’s environment in the womb is all they know: their mother’s heartbeat, her voice, all sounds and sensations and smells. So, even when a newborn is placed with an adoptive family at birth, there is a loss of all that is familiar and what feels “safe.” It is no less a traumatic experience. (On a side note, one thing I keep hearing about — as a means for bonding with your baby, helping them feel safe and soothed, and even for the ability to change brain chemistry — is infant massage.) As you can probably tell, there is a lot more to this than I can write tonight…!
The majority of our training yesterday was on transracial adoption. We began with an activity to get us thinking about our own way of thinking, our background, our current environment, our perspective and even unintentional stereotypes. We discussed a lot about what to be prepared for, how to respond, what the realities are, and, most importantly, how to equip (not necessarily protect) our children for these realities. There are so many intricacies and complexities to this, and yet so much that is so… profoundly simple. Much like the Gospel itself. The training ended with a guest speaker, an incredibly inspiring and well-spoken teacher who lives in Raleigh and shared his experience with us about being a minority — and a new adoptive father. :) It was an awesome way to end our session, with comic relief and lots to think about. (We’ve known all along that we would be adopting transracially. Please feel free if you would like to ask anything personally!)
Ok, friends and family: I have homework for you. :) Trey and I do the best we can with this, and we think it would be really helpful and positive overall if you wanted to join us as well! Please click and review the following slide when you get a chance. And please know that it’s ok to “mess up.” We are all going to say the “wrong” thing every once in a while — even with the best of intentions! I pray that I will have the ability to show grace and love in this respect, especially in the moment.
I’m so thankful for the thought that goes into these trainings and how intentional our agency has proven to be throughout this process. (I don’t even think I mentioned this yet, but they also match each one of their adoptive couples with a “mentor” couple who have adopted through Bethany in the past — and we have recently been matched and heard from ours!!) Bethany’s philosophy shines through every encounter we have with them: Finding families for children, not children for families. But most importantly, it’s the prayer that goes into every part of the process, the scripture we dive into at trainings, and how the Gospel is such a shining force that not only guides each step but undergirds the meaning behind every decision (including the incredible opportunity for ministry to birthmothers). No agency is perfect, as long as they are run by imperfect humans, but I am continually affirmed that we found the right one for us.
Before we left, we exchanged contact information with the other couples in our “region” (they live near Raleigh; we’re the only ones on the coast). It’s great to have these contacts, as well as our mentor family, as we keep taking steps forward in this journey. And I don’t want to miss the chance to thank those friends in our lives — both near and far — who have walked this road ahead of us and have graciously given their advice and words of wisdom!
So, for the burning question: What’s next…? Bethany will be scheduling a home visit with us, as well as interviews. We will create and submit our profile book. Bethany will need to process our completed file, and after that we will most definitely let you know when we officially become a “waiting family.” I’m sorry I won’t have a timeframe to give you at that point… There will be no sonogram photo or even a due date… But God will tuck away in a divine file exactly how many hairs on a head…
“Look at the nations and watch — and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5