**NOTE** I wrote this blog post a couple of weeks ago, but am just now getting to post it because it's taken that long for me to get some photos to go with it! There's a little update since then at the end. :)
I am excited to say our home study is finally DONE! It took waaaay longer to get here than I'd originally thought, but...it's done.
When I originally read that the paperwork process should take 4-6 months, of course I thought, "Pssshhh....but that's not our timeline!" Haha- little did I know- it would most definitely take at least 4 months. Getting the paperwork ready that was necessary for our home study proved to be a bit more difficult than we expected- and thankfully with the help of several helpful people and our social worker, we were able to get it all ready. (Just FYI- when we applied with America World, we were given a family coordinator, who is our connection point to the agency during the entire process, and a social worker, who coordinates the home study and follow-up visits- so there are two people we have been constantly in contact with during the paperchase.)
Our social worker was (and is) amazing. Because AWAA is a larger agency, they have social workers in every state they work in- and ours lives in Dallas. Initially we inquired about having someone local do our home study, so as to save the travel fees (we were quoted 500.00- Lubbock is about 5 hours away from Dallas). Our social worker assured us that she would do her best to keep travel costs down- in fact, her sister lives in Lubbock and she would stay with her to save us the hotel costs. She also ended up allowing us to pick her up for interviews so as to save money for a rental car. In total, we were invoiced 169.00 for her flight. It was an incredible blessing- and after visiting with her, just the tip of the blessing iceberg!
I had stressed over the cleanliness of my home, taken on several "extra" house projects in the midst, and had to compress my normal work week into a few intense work days. Let's also just say that my family didn't get gourmet meals last week. :) I refinished and painted our old dining room table, and during those late-night hours of working on it (and realizing how in-over-my-head I was with this very detailed project), I imagined Shawn and I talking peacefully with our social worker over coffee around it.
Well, there was peaceful talk and coffee, but we never sat at that table. :) In fact, it was much more a shoes-off-feet-on-the-couch kind of thing. Throughout our discussions, our social worker was accepting of our weaknesses and doubts, and so encouraging about every little thing. She was a wealth of knowledge, and Shawn and I both left with the feeling we'd been affirmed and aided with new, helpful information.
One of the first questions she asked us was, "Why international adoption?". This was something I partially answered in a blog post a while back- but she gave us some info that will change our answer the next time we are asked. Our simple answer initially was that we'd always felt we would adopt internationally, because we'd seen orphanages with our own eyes.
She validated our answer and then gave us some information that really encouraged us. She told us that for every 1 infant that is available for adoption domestically, there are 40 waiting couples. Because we have 1 biological son and have the possibility to have more biological children, we are not as likely to be chosen by a birthmother over a couple who is infertile and has no children. It made sense to me- and I can totally see why a birthmother would choose a couple with no children over the couple with 1 and the possibility for more.
She also shed some light on the Ethiopian orphan crisis. Currently, there are over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. According to the U.S. Inter-Country Adoption site, there were only 1732 adoptions in 2011. This is such a tiny dent in a huge need. Most if not all of the orphans in Ethiopia are at the orphanage because someone recognized that their lives were in danger for lack of food, shelter, clothing, or other BASIC needs.
We have a home. We can provide food and clothing. Why would we NOT go half a world away to get the best gift ever?
When all was said and done, we were so appreciative of our social worker and her wise advice and encouragement in all the different aspects of inter-country, trans-racial adoption. She reminded us why, despite the difficulties, it all makes sense: we ourselves have been adopted by Christ. Completely and lovingly accepted, regardless of our unwillingness to love back, our struggle-stained past, and finicky nature. He chose us and continues to choose us every day, even though we might feel half a world away.
"Even before he made the world,
God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." Ephesians 1:4
And to end this post, I thought I'd share a few of those "house projects" with you! As we wait, I am learning to REALLY appreciate all the little things that I already have and that make me smile as I pass by them day to day. So I made a point to go around yesterday and photograph some of those things.
Lola made a cameo in this image. I finally hung some new art- including an old letter A a family friend scavenged for us, this Texas artwork by Molly Mattin, some old photographs from my college photography class, and of course, some of our babe.
This table was a labor of love! It took waaay longer than I thought it would but I love it so much! Now to work on those chairs...
Ever since I first saw this "decorative object" chain-thing at Target, I wanted it. Lucky me, they put it on clearance! Whatever it is, I love it.
This crazy table was a Craigslist find and I spray painted it. It was so unusual I just had to have it (and at $30 it was worth it)!
Shawn hung a door I'd painted in college on the wall behind our dining room table. My Mom bought me these fiestaware canisters and I have loved seeing the color on my countertops! This bicycle print hung in my Dad's room growing up, then in our laundry room at my parent's house. I'm so glad they let me take it!
This mid-century desk was another Craigslist find, as was the chair. I have 3 more, I just haven't found a place for them yet. Washi tape. And a friend found this mason jar and sent it to me- it's hard to see, but it says "Knox" on it!
My Mom found this awesome paint-by-number at a garage sale for me. The framed quote came from Promise Tangeman.
Our guest bedroom, soon to be baby girl's room! I found a bunch of quilt squares at a thrift store and pieced together this quilt. Haha- it's definitely not perfect, but we like it! And I fished out the floral prints from the Goodwill pound store- where you literally pay for things by the pound. So, for 5 pieces of paper I paid about 30 cents. :)
Mason jar + buttons. These are some of the books we've been reading. The Connected Child is super amazing, and I recommend it for all parents, not just adoptive or foster ones! God Found Us You was given to us by a sweet friend, and is hopefully the first of many adoption-related kids books that will go into our library.
**UPDATE Yesterday was a bit discouraging. We found out that the list of requests for a toddler or infant girl (which is what we're requesting) for our agency is 104 families long- longer than it's ever been! While this is wonderful, it's hard knowing that there are children waiting...and families waiting...with a lot of paperwork and protocol in between.
Will you pray with us for referrals? Referrals are when a family is matched with a child. The families at the top of the list right now have been waiting since February of 2011. That is a long wait. Please pray with us! God can make this list much shorter!