Posts tagged ‘home study’

January 9 – Pre-Church Meeting | Mae’s Adoption Journey

So although we hadn’t really dumped much expectation into the meeting at church, there were definitely some butterflies fluttering in my stomach as we got ready and headed that way. I didn’t want to care. I didn’t want to hope. Yet something in me was curious about this little gal. And don’t we all deep down wish that something crazy magical like this would happen to us?

We finally got to church. Mike had worship practice. And then we slipped away to meet Scott & Patti in the hotel lobby. Our church meets at the Hilton Garden Inn, so it’s never easy to find a super secret spot to meet, unless you want to rent a hotel room or something like that. So – we opted for the hotel lobby which was across the building from the conference room where we set up for church. This way we could meet privately. This was top-secret stuff.

As good friends, the four of us rolled up chairs to a round glass-top table and made it seem as though we were about to undergo a serious business transaction. I tried to control myself and not swing around in the chairs too much; I love a chair that rolls. But the conversation at hand called for seriousness and maturity. So, I tried to sit still as we opened up the somewhat awkward yet life-changing conversation.

Opening Conversations About a Baby

The conversation went smoothly as Scott & Patti explained to us the situation. Their friend was helping raise his niece. She was about 3-4 months old. He had come to the point that he was considering adoption for her. It was early in the process for him, and he still wasn’t completely sold – but definitely considering it. We immediately had come to their minds. And in the event he wanted to move forward with adoption for her, they were checking to see if we’d be interested.

Why This Fit the Burgesses

So much about this situation made them think of us. Mostly, we were already in the adoption process and desiring a domestic adoption. Our home study was complete. We were about ready to go active. Plus, the baby was biracial, and that was something we had requested in our adoption papers. They knew that she had been well cared for, and that she came from a good family. Plus, they knew her family would be looking for a good couple to raise her.

Why It Might Not Fit the Burgesses

While Scott & Patti felt like so many things fit, they made sure to present the situation carefully. They weren’t sure this was exactly what we were looking for, and we could tell the last thing they wanted to do was push it on us. But, also not wanting the opportunity to pass us by, they went ahead and mentioned it. Everything about it was awfully close to home – come to find out she was living only 10 minutes away from us. She wasn’t a brand new baby – she was already 3-4 months old. And, this would be more of an open adoption than we had planned for since we’d need to all work together to make this happen.

Um… Sure, We’d Go For It

After Scott & Patti explained the details, I looked to Mike to respond and lead the way. I’d felt like God had made it clear to me to let Mike guide this process all along, and so I wanted him to respond. I was all for pursuing it and seeing what God had up his sleeve. But I needed Mike to be, too. This was still such an up-in-the-air, hypothetical situation. She wasn’t definitely up for adoption yet. The big decision to find her a family hadn’t been made. But, the issue at hand was for us to decide to get involved, despite the lack of finality. What if … she was to be adopted … would we be interested? Not exactly the easiest decision – especially since we thought we had a plan for what our adoption was to look like. Did we really want to derail the process for a far-out opportunity? An opportunity like others that had already fallen through?

Despite the discomfort with the “what ifs,” and our desire to guard our hearts, we didn’t feel any red flags. Even as much as some of the scenarios didn’t match what we had in mind, something about it felt right. Sure, she lived in Lee’s Summit – but we knew our child would come from one of the 50 states – Missouri included. She wasn’t a “brand new” baby – yet months earlier I’d begun to feel like I wasn’t sure I was ready for an infant from the hospital. And while the open adoption scared us a bit, having friends like Scott & Patti vouch for everyone involved gave us much peace.

So, with that, we gave Scott the OK to mention us to his friend if he decided that adoption would be best for his niece. We weren’t really sure what to expect, nor if this would really all happen. A large part of us doubted it, yet there were small slivers of hope that this might actually be it.

“You want to see a picture?”

With the agreement to move forward, Scott offered one of the biggest carrots you can give someone that’s adopting – a photo. Mike quickly shook his head no, he didn’t want to see a picture yet. There was still too much uncertainty about the whole thing, he didn’t want to get any more emotionally attached to the situation. I quickly followed Mike in saying no, but only a second later changed my mind. For me, I needed this to be more real if it indeed was happening. So I agreed and leaned over to see my first sights of a sleeping beauty.

A cute little kiddo was softly sleeping in her pack-and-play. Not sure how I should feel, I looked over and told Mike she was cute. I didn’t exactly get all gushy, but seeing her face definitely made things more real. There was a baby, she might need a family. And we’re first in line if the gun went off.

And with that, we needed to go. Church was about to start.

We still weren’t really sure what to expect. But we figured why not check it out until God closed a door.

Except after only 12 hours, we realized that God wasn’t closing doors.

Instead, He was opening them.

January 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm 3 comments

January 8 – The Text | Mae’s Adoption Journey

After a year, I think it has “sunk in” that Mike & I are now parents to the beautiful Miss Mae. Please join me this month as we travel down memory lane. I’ve not yet told our full adoption story in the blog. Join me as I reminisce. Get caught up if you’re still confused about how on earth we became parents. Be encouraged if you too are on the adoption path. And through each day, may God be glorified.

January 8th – Holy Cow – This Will Be Us Soon….

That’s exactly what we were thinking at this time, on this date, last year. Our friends Scott & Amy had just had baby Ayla the previous day and we made a trip to Blue Springs to visit them in the hospital. We pulled up and giggled when we parked in the “ministerial parking” spot. I figured my church job had to pay off somehow.

We entered the maternity ward and located their room. Of course, perfect timing for us, we arrived right during Ayla’s dinner. While we waited for Amy to finish feeding her, we went and waited in a nice waiting room outside of the birthing room suites. We sat there, looking around at the kid toys, posters about breast feeding and pregnant woman fliers and became overwhelmed with the thought that we could soon be in a waiting room just like this one … except instead of waiting to see our friends’ kid – we could be waiting to see our kid.

A Little Background on the Adoption Journey

Leading up to Jan. 9, we had kicked off the adoption process earlier in Fall 2010. We knew we had both heard from the Lord that it was time to begin the process, and so away our application papers went in September 2010. Through the months of Oct-Dec., we worked on our home study. We announced to the world we were adopting through our blog. We had baby room furniture. I’d been shopping for gender-neutral fabrics and the nursery bedding was underway. (All while we tried to wrap our minds around the fact that we’d begun our path to parenthood.) With a completed home study, we planned to go “active” with our adoption agency in a few weeks – which meant that soon pregnant moms could begin “shopping” for us. So sitting in that waiting room was a stark reality of what was to come… and suddenly we realized how awkward it was going to be.

Visiting New Baby, Ignoring the Phone

Once the awkwardness hit us, the room got silent. We were the only ones in there, just staring at the flier about car seat safety. Something about it felt so weird and unnatural. I’d been having feelings creep up that I wasn’t really up for a brand new baby. Brushing it off as fear, I figured this was all part of the adoption process. Parts of it just felt so unnatural. Fear was a natural response.

Luckily, Scott came to get us and led us back to the room in just a few seconds. We were soon caught up with the excitement of a new baby, so small and tiny, so beautiful. We were excited for our friends and took in their beaming faces. It was a great moment. In the midst of meeting Ayla, holding her and getting the “we stopped by the hospital to see the new baby” photo, I began hearing my phone alerts. It was the text message alert so I figured it wasn’t urgent and I’d check my messages once we left the hospital.

New Message: You Want a Kid?

Okay, so the message wasn’t exactly that blunt. However, once we returned to the car, I realized I had a text from our friend Scott. He was asking if he and his wife Patti could talk to Mike and I the next morning before church. I quickly fired back, “Not if you’re leaving the church.” I wasn’t sure what else could be so serious that they’d need to make sure we’d be available to chat the next morning.

A few follow-up texts began to give some context to why Scott & Patti wanted to meet. I knew about Scott’s friend Nick and had just learned days before that he was taking care of his baby niece while also juggling being a single dad. The possibility of adoption for the little girl had come up. She was 3 months old, biracial and in Lee’s Summit. Not knowing if that’s what we were up for, they decided to go for it and text to see if we wanted to even talk about it.

When we realized why Scott & Patti wanted to get together with us, we shrugged it off and thought, “Why not, it won’t hurt anything.” We’d been the “go-to” couple over the past few years for situations that had risen up where a child needed an adoptive family. And after two or three of those situations had fallen through, we’d learned not to get our hopes up. We figured the pregnant-birth-mom-finding-us-through-our-adoption-agency was the right path for us. But, we were always open to what God had in store. Plus, there were some things about this that strangely matched our desires, even if she was already three months old.

After briefly discussing it in the car on the way to get dinner, we decided to respond back, “Sure, we can talk tomorrow…”

And that was that. Never did we expect for it to really go anywhere. But entertaining one last random opportunity like this wouldn’t hurt anything, right?

January 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm 12 comments

Can a Cancer Survivor Adopt?

When Mike & I headed down this road to adoption, there were many scary unknowns. Cost, health of the child, timing – all of this was scary – but nothing was scarier to me than the impact of my health history on our opportunity to become parents.

After a quick Google search, I was somewhat discouraged. Post after post talked about how cancer survivors cannot adopt children. Countless amounts of negativity ensued online, some of my hopes got down, but thanks to my apparent low-level of trust and asking-a-lot-of-questions personality (can you tell I took a personality assessment yesterday?) we found some loopholes… err, I mean silver lining. (oh, by the way, I’m also apparently an optimist.)

Domestic vs. International Adoption and Cancer Survivors

As much as I would love to be the be-all, end-all resource for information on cancer survivor’s eligibility to adopt, unfortunately this post can only pertain to what I’ve personally gone through or researched. I hope to do an update on this after we actually go through the process and understand more.

But – my story involves understanding that cancer DID have an impact on the type of adoption that we pursued. We begun our journey several years ago looking into international adoption. We had our sights set on a little Ethiopian baby and had begun to weigh the pros and cons of several adoption agencies. At this point, I was cancer-free and had been so for 8 years. I didn’t think I have a problem going this route.

I was soon diagnosed with a second colon cancer – though much, much more minor than the first (only stage 1). However, to those not too familiar with the cancer circuit and how all of that works – cancer is cancer and scary and yikes! As I recovered and looked into adoption again, I realized that our chances to internationally adopt within the upcoming few years were shot, and that even if we waited for a few years, our path to adopt internationally could be negatively affected by my cancer.

Most agencies require that those diagnosed with cancer be 3-5 years cancer-free (depending on the agency.) I will say this is understandable in most cases, as we all want to make sure that the children’s adoptive parents will be as stable as possible. But we also learned that some countries, like China, do not allow anyone who’s had cancer to adopt, and others aren’t too keen on it either. Some countries will allow you to pursue the process after you’re 5 years cancer free, but could get hung up on medical tests and Hague Convention stuff.

As I began to really get down (it’s not like getting diagnosed again was some cake walk for me, either…) I did find some hope. Because we were hoping to adopt sooner than 5 years, we realized that we might have to go a different route.

Cancer Survivors Adopting Domestically

The day that I hung up with Mike from American Adoptions is one that I will never forget. As much as my chemo brain lacks remembering these days – that moment after speaking with Mike is not one of them.

I had spent the afternoon searching agency after agency, browsing through the FAQs section on websites, looking for policies on cancer survivors adopting. After finding closed-door after closed-door on the international front, I remembered that our friend Colleen had a family member who’d used American Adoptions, and raved about working with them. I had filed away Colleen’s email with their information, and quickly searched to find the web address.

When I didn’t see anything on their website about cancer, I called their home office and had the best conversation with one of their family specialists, Mike. He explained that their agency didn’t have a “cancer policy,” and that they would gladly work with me. (Side note – he was a cancer survivor himself, so he TOTALLY knew how I was feeling.) After we hung up the phone, I knew that God had just helped make what could be a very difficult and hard decision so simple. Instead of taking so much time to find an international agency and country, we were guided to look into domestic adoption instead, and work with American Adoptions.

The Home Study Process and my cancer

We didn’t rush into signing up, and I actually let about a year post-surgery go by until we applied with our adoption agency. I wanted to give myself some time to physically and emotionally heal. When we applied with our adoption agency, I was a little over one year cancer-free again.

Part of our home study process involved medical records, and getting a letter from our physicians to say that we both had normal life expectancies. Because I stay up-to-date on my lab work, CT scans, PET scans and more – my physician was more than comfortable to show that I absolutely had a normal life expectancy.

To be double-sure that cancer would cause no problems, my social worker recommended that I also get a detailed letter from my oncologist, explaining my follow-up plan and remission. My doctor wrote a glowing note about my treatment, plan for follow ups, as well as the signs that my cancer was cured. This all was for my file, and will help prove even more that I am healthy, healed, and able to parent regardless of my cancer history.

Can a Cancer Survivor Adopt?

So to answer the question – YES! As I’ve found out, even when it seems like doors are closing left and right, there’s often another path that comes open. We’ve been encouraged to find a domestic agency who didn’t even blink to hear that I was a cancer survivor. We’re excited to be going through this adoption process, and the opportunities ahead of us.

I will also say that I have not hardly touched on the options for cancer survivors to adopt internationally, nor the foster care adoption route. I honestly have not had a lot of experience with this yet. But I leave you with a few links that I have found to be encouraging if you’re in this boat, too, and looking for your possible open door…

This site explains questions to ask yourself as a survivor who wants to adopt, and international adoption options.

Fertile Hope is dedicated to helping cancer survivors begin families

A Yahoo! Discussion group about Adoption after Cancer

 

 

January 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm 4 comments


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