Sunday, September 16, 2012

Playground observations

We took the kids to the playground yesterday.  It was overcast and in the low 70's, unusual for September in central Texas.  No surprise, then, that there were a gazillion other kids there too.

Parents were conspicuously absent.  There were a few doting parents here and there, usually associated in some way with toddlers who were just learning to climb.  Many parents were sitting in their cars, texting, talking on their phones, or listening to ipods. 

One dad immediately stood out to me.  When he wasn't cuddling with his son on the bench, he was beaming with joy, watching his young boy explore the playground equipment.  The dad was attentive, calm, and happy to share the nice afternoon with his son. 

I didn't notice it immediately.  But when I did, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  That little boy was the first black child I had ever seen with Down Syndrome.  And he was beautiful. 

I wanted to tell the dad many things.  Thank you, thank you for letting him live.  Thank you for being a wonderful testimony of what it means to parent a special-needs child.  Thank you for letting me witness your joy.

But I didn't.  I thought that might be too strange coming from an absolute stranger.  Instead, we smiled at each other as our kids played peek-a-boo through the playground equipment.  We chuckled together as our boys beat out a rhythm on a table top.


I'm still thinking today - Lord, how do you want us to grow our family?  What comes next after this next round of embryo adoption?  Are you calling us to special needs adoption?  I sometimes have to avoid reading descriptions of waiting children because I want to rescue them all; I get very emotionally attached and feel pain at the grievances in their lives. 

God, I'm not quite sure where You're sending us long term (or really even short term!), please lead us to the little ones who need us the most. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back in the Game

Now that our house in Virginia is finally rented, we're jumping back into the adoption arena again!

While there are many different ways to pursue embryo adoption or embryo donation, we feel very strongly that a traditional adoption process (or as close as one can get) is the most dignified manner of adopting embryos.

This means we'll first procure a home study through a local agency.  Last time we worked with Bethany Christian Services for this step.  They were an expensive choice, but worth it, we thought, because they were located nationwide. We thought future home studies could be streamlined by always working with the same agency.  And then God laughed, because the Army sent us to a state in which Bethany has no presence. 

Instead of Bethany, we're now going to be working with Generations Adoptions (out of Waco) for our home study.  Lucky for us, this agency's home study is way cheaper than last time.  Woo hoo!

Once our home study is completed, we'll move on to the embryo adoption part with Nightlight's Snowflake Program. 

Here's the projected timeline, but since so much of the paperwork has to be compiled from third parties, it's anyone's guess as to the actual timeline.  We also try to not move on to the next step until the prior step is paid for.  Since we're a one income family this time around, things may move a little more slowly due to finances.

October - submit initial paperwork for the home study.
Late fall - complete home study; submit Nightlight's Snowflake application
Late winter - early Spring 2013 - complete Snowflake paperwork; be matched with embryos
Late Spring 2013 - embryo transfer prep and embryo transfer

And I know, now that I've published the projected timeline, that things will not go according to plan.  That's life.  If nothing else, I'm making this public so you can nag me about completing paperwork.  ;-)

Home studies vary a bit from agency to agency.  Here's our checklist for Generations' contracted home study, just to give you a feel for the process.

  • Submission of the application for contracted home study
  • Submission of supporting documents:
    • photo of couple
    • photos of home exterior (including front and back yards)
    • criminal background check
    • copies of drivers licenses
    • lists of addresses (include county) for past 10 years
    • fingerprinting ($44.20 per adult in the home)
    • provide a floor plan of the home (including dimensions of rooms and purposes)
    • provide directions to home
    • provide autobiography for each parent
    • statement of income (last year's W-2 form)
    • copy of savings and checking account statements for 2 months
    • proof of health insurance coverage
    • proof of life insurance coverage
    • five references (four from non-relatives, one from a relative) - agency will contact from addresses in application
    • proof of employment (pay stubs for each parent)
    • good employment record (resume for each parent)
    • copy of marriage license
    • birth certificates for entire fmaily
    • medical evaluation forms for entire family
    • sign acknowledgment of behavior policy
  • Home study visit completed (with all family members present)
  • Environmental inspection
  • fire inspection
  • $1500.00 home study fee
There are a few key differences that we've already noted between Bethany and Generations.  Price.  The number of interviews (Bethany required four, I think, and Generations just one).  Number of references (Bethany required fewer than Generations).  Depth of list of addresses (means we've got to include a UD address!).

Not only do I have my work cut out for me, if I'm to make my personal goal of submitting Step 1 items by October 1, but I'll also need to start nagging Bryan.  Some couples may operate differently, but I make him write his own autobiography.  And let me tell you, writing an autobiography is not one of his favorite ways to pass time.