In December of last year, I started sharing with friends and family that we were actively pursuing a second adoption. (To which we had a myriad of reactions.)
We worked for months to complete a homestudy update with Hannah’s Hope, and y’all, that was a journey. When you have two unrelated males over 18 living in your house, there are some extra hoops. It’s serious fun getting HIV and TB tests, complete physicals, and drug screenings when one guy has TennCare and the other has no health insurance at all. But finally, we cleared all the hurdles and entered the waiting phase that many in the adoption community refer to as “paper pregnant.”
Of course, the difference with a paper pregnancy is that there is never a definitive gestational period. We generally can’t take artsy pictures with fruit to document the growth of our child. I’m kinda bummed about this, as I really like artsy fruit pictures, but the future adoptee may be the size of a grape or a cantaloupe or a lanky 11-year-old for which there is no representation on the produce aisle whatsoever.
The waiting can stretch on for years. Or….on the rare occasion, you submit your paperwork, and less than two months later, a phone call makes you an insta-mom.
This time around, we planned to pursue a toddler between the ages of 2-6. There are many factors that went into this decision, including Ellie, the guys, and our current responsibilities. Also, after taking PATH classes, we felt called to provide a home to an older child. As each year passes, the less chance a child has of exiting the system, and we want to be part of the solution for the 400,000+ kids in foster care.
So, we started stalking the AdoptUSKids site and other foster care listings.
But you know what’s hilarious? God really doesn’t give a hoot about our carefully thought-out plans. Turns out, He knows exactly who the next member of our family will be, and He’s having a heavenly chuckle while we scramble to figure it out. Hilarious.
Barely a week after completing the Hannah’s Hope update, I was on a local DCS site, when I came across the profile of a teenage girl. A girl that I know from some work I do in the community. I knew she was in foster care, but I had no idea she was available for or interested in adoption.
And in that moment at the kitchen table, plans changed. I stared at her picture and read her biography, and I couldn’t move on. She is more than 10 years past the age range we discussed, and yet, my brain couldn’t stop picturing her in our family.
I jokingly texted Charlie, “So…..how about another teenager and a toddler? Hehehe.”
He came home with eyebrows arched, but after he heard me out, he immediately started discussing what we could move where to make room for her. Have I mentioned lately how I love this man and his huge heart? Love.
So, want to know how you make a second adoption even more complicated? Completely switch gears immediately after completing your home study.
Turns out, this girl is with Youth Villages, a foster-care agency with its own unique set of criteria. Therefore, even though Hannah’s Hope is a fully accredited and reputable agency, we basically had to start at square one with the jumping through hoops thing. Whoopee! All new fingerprints for more background checks….just in case my fingerprints changed or one of us had committed a felony in the past three months. New paperwork. Mounds of paperwork. A dozen phone calls to fax this or that paper that was left out of the original packet. Fifteen hours of additional classes offered on specific dates spanning two months. And when Ellie barfed on me, and I missed a class, I had to wait a month to take the make-up…..which involved watching a video on infection control. Another home study….with all sharp objects locked away, medicines double-locked, extra fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, and the ability to use those tiny little keys to unlock the bathroom in under a minute. (I suck at this, by the way.)
Okay. Rant over now. Sorry. I have nothing but respect for the hard-working YV trainers and staff, and I’m all for appropriate training and safeguards for future foster or adoptive parents. It has just been a long journey with an uncertain destination, and at times, I’ve had to take some serious breaks for deep breathing and chocolate.
All of the above had to be completed before we could even meet with the child and see if she will even be interested in our family. And honestly, we’re probably not ideal. We’re younger than the average parents of a teenager. Our house is loud and decorated in crushed goldfish and clumps of dog hair. We lead busy lives, and we have little experience.
But I can’t help but believe that our messy, noisy, crowded, busy family has some serious love to offer. We can provide a safe place for her to be herself. Two big brothers who also know hard places. A little sister full of giggles and kisses. Two dogs who trade unconditional love and devotion for a scratch behind the ears. Nagging to finish homework and essay proofreading. Charlie will teach her to drive a car, and I’ll take her to battle the DMV. When she has a crap day, we’ll get ice cream, and it will be okay to be angry at the world for a while. We’ll show her that family means “We’re here. No matter what.”
We are supposed to meet with the girl’s entire team for full disclosure on Wednesday, and assuming all goes as planned, we’ll meet with her the following week to see if she’ll consider us. If she agrees, we’ll start visits with the intent of having her permanently placed with us by the end of May.
And here is where I ask you to please pray for my family….especially our potential new member. I’m experiencing a whole range of emotions right now: fear, excitement, anxiety, impatience, stress, and hope.
I hope that she will give us a chance and that we can be the family she needs. I’m excited about all the things we can show her and teach her and help her achieve. And yeah….I’m a little nervous about parenting a teenage girl, but sometimes, faith is about saying yes and leaping off the cliff, and we’re ready to jump.
Again, please pray as we continue down this path that things will progress smoothly if this is meant to be. I’ll keep you updated as much as possible.