Steps Two and Three – Adoption Survey Application

A lot has taken place since Step One was shared with you all.

We finished our first round of our adoption application and sent it out in the mail!

So if you’re keeping track. We have finished steps 1 through 3 so far.

  1. Attend Information Meeting
  2. Discern about children with special needs and your skills/abilities to meet their needs.
  3. Mail Permanency Resource Family Survey to State Program Office
  4. State Staff – Initially screens for compatibility with Program.
  5. Initial Screen In – Noticed by letter and assigned for In-Person Screening Visit
  6. In-Person Screening Visit with Public Adoptions Staff
  7. Public Adoptions Staff consults with supervisor about visit.
  8. Adoption packet is mailed out.  We complete and return materials.  Can enroll in Public Adoptions education classes with returned application.
  9. Application is assigned to an adoption home study worker.
  10. Adoption worker schedules visit to begin home study.
  11. Licensing Timeline – Varies depending on schedules, visits completed, meeting education requirements, all materials completed and returned to home study worker.

Filling out the first round application was a bit depressing.  If you ever want to feel like a judgmental person, then fill out this form.  We had to go through pages upon pages of checking off behavioral, physical, etc conditions that we have experience with and what we’re willing to “accept” out of our future children.  After my going through infertility for so many years, shingles, vestibular disorder, and Jason’s cancer diagnosis, we would really prefer not to have a child with a bunch of physical disabilities or serious health issues (i.e. feeding tubes and such).  Jason and I had a hard time answering these questions.  We talked about that if we conceived on our own and gave birth to a child or children with these conditions we would still love and take care of our kids.  We would do whatever needed to be done to make sure our kids were taken care of and provided for no matter what. We also talked about how we could easily adopt a “healthy” child that could later on in life get seriously ill or injured.  Again, we would still love them and do our best to take care of them.  We would never turn our backs on someone in need, especially our own child.  Again, it was not fun having to answer these questions, but we did have to be honest with our answers.  We did find that we are more open to behavioral issues, though. We were given different situations and had to respond with how we would react or handle those situations.  It was a bit challenging.  They were situations you usually wouldn’t have to consider or think about unless you were going through adoption. I will say, filling out this application helped Jason and I connect more and communicate about our desires and future plans. We had to get past the part of where Jason would just agree with whatever I would say.  I kept having to tell him that it’s not about what I want, it’s about what WE want and what WE can handle as a team.  In the end, we both felt pretty low of ourselves and how we had to truthfully answer these questions.

As for what’s next, we get to patiently wait and see how our first application goes and hopefully receive a letter that we have been approved for the next step.

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It’s Been Awhile

A lot has taken place since our last update.

  • We replaced our washer/dryer and oven.  We found a scratch and dent place about 30-40 minutes from our house and will definitely go back for other items as needed.  We saved quite a bit of money shopping there.  After spending too much money every month at the laundromat for almost a year, it was time to finally buy a new machine.  Our dryer has been kind of frumpy lately, too, so we decided to replace it and purchase a set instead of dealing with replacing it later.  Then our stove decided to die on us, too.  So back to the store we went.
  • We went out to the tennis courts to hit a few balls around.  I used to play tennis way back in the day and have been wanting to drag Jason out to the courts for awhile.  It was a fun but tiring experience.  We both could hit the ball but with very little aim. It was definitely a good workout!
  • We had our custom ordered loveseat ordered and delivered from Biltrite.  We love this place.  You get to pick out the fabric/colors you want and whatever styles you like.  Our items have a lifetime warranty on everything, and it’s heavy-duty Amish made.
  • Installed curtains in all our rooms to hopefully save some energy this winter.
  • My sister came to visit us around Labor Day and we had fun bowling, golfing, playing pool and shuffleboard, etc with her.  This was my second time out at a golfing range and it was an interesting experience.  We were all a bit rusty. haha  Plus it didn’t help that it was insanely hot and humid outside.
  • Jason bought me some beautiful sunflowers for my birthday.  I absolutely love sunflowers and it was the perfect gift for me.
  • We celebrated mine and Jason’s birthdays in September.  We had a delicious dinner with hibachi for my birthday and Brazilian steakhouse for Jason’s birthday.  I absolutely love hibachi foods and usually only get to enjoy this for my birthday.  We tried out the steakhouse and it was delicious.  We’ve never been to a Brazilian steakhouse before, but I think we’d go back again.  I’m not a huge meat eater, but it was fun trying out the different meat selections.
  • We had a big end of the year volleyball tournament the end of September.  We didn’t play so great, but we all had fun.  We were at the tournament for five hours and were very much exhausted when it was done.
  • We attended a huge classic car show earlier in October.  Over 555 cars!  It was awesome.  We made it just over halfway through and were too tired to continue on.  After playing five hours of volleyball the day before, we were wiped out.
  • We participated in the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to celebrate/support Jason as he is in remission from his CLL.
  • We finished writing the last of all our thank you’s from our adoption event from July.  (Yes we’re a bit late on doing this)
  • We paid off 2 more of my school loans!  That makes it 4 down and 3 to go!  Our plan is to be as close to debt free (besides our mortgage) by the time we adopt our kiddos.
  • And lastly and most importantly, we finished our first round of our adoption application and sent it out in the mail!  You can read about this experience, here.

So what’s next for us?  We’re coming up on our 11yr wedding anniversary this coming weekend, and then next week will be 15 yrs from when we met and started dating.  We look forward to our annual tradition of doing our scenic fall drive throughout our state.  It’s a great time for us to talk and catch up with each other and learn new things about each other.  As for our adoption process, we get to wait and see how our first application goes and hopefully receive a letter that we have been approved for the next step.

Here are a few pictures from our experiences the past few months.  Stay tuned!

 

Step One – Adoption Information Meeting

Did you know that there are over 9 thousand children in Wisconsin that are in the system waiting to be adopted?  Between June 2016 and July 2017, only a little over 600 of these children were actually adopted.  How heartbreaking is this?  This is just a small part of what we learned about at our first adoption orientation class this past Thursday night.

Jason and I showed up to this orientation not really sure what to expect.  We had many questions and concerns, and thankfully everything got answered during the presentation.  We learned about the different steps we will have to take and what we’ll need to do or have done for each step.  The length of time it will take for us to adopt will really depend on how quickly we can fill out forms and have our home ready for the agency to go through and approve.  Honestly, there was so much information received, it was a bit overwhelming and too much to really share with you all right now.  Here is the information we can share so far.

This is our Adoption Licensing Process Timeline:

  1. Attend Information Meeting
  2. Discern about children with special needs and your skills/abilities to meet their needs.
  3. Mail Permanency Resource Family Survey to State Program Office
  4. State Staff – Initially screens for compatibility with Program.
  5. Initial Screen In – Noticed by letter and assigned for In-Person Screening Visit
  6. In-Person Screening Visit with Public Adoptions Staff
  7. Public Adoptions Staff consults with supervisor about visit.
  8. Adoption packet is mailed out.  We complete and return materials.  Can enroll in Public Adoptions education classes with returned application.
  9. Application is assigned to an adoption home study worker.
  10. Adoption worker schedules visit to begin home study.
  11. Licensing Timeline – Varies depending on schedules, visits completed, meeting education requirements, all materials completed and returned to home study worker.

We both have to have 16 hours work of education classes completed.  The Adoption Classes we will have to attend are:

  1. Understanding of Adoption and Impact on Parenting/Family Dynamics
  2. Understanding of Issues for Child in Adoptive Placement
  3. Understanding of Loss and Grief for the Adoptive Family
  4. Understanding of Attachment Issues in Adoptive Placement
  5. Understanding of Support and Resources for Adoptive Placement
  6. Understanding of Cultural Sensitivity in Adoption
  7. Understanding of the Effects of Abuse and Neglect in Adoption
  8. Understanding of Legal Issues related to Adoption
  9. Understanding of Children Coming from an Institutional Care Setting
  10. Understanding of Educational Issues in Adoption

Once we have completed all the forms, the home study, the classes, and we are approved, then we will become a “waiting family”.  During this time, we will have our agent share our information with the child’s agent and see what they think we could be compatible with.  We can say no as many times as we want, or we can say yes and try things out with having the children in our home.  Once we find a compatible match, we will have to have the child(ren) in our home for a minimum of 6 months before we can officially adopt them.

So where does that leave us right now?  We have to fill out the Permanency Resource Family Survey to our State Program Office, and hopefully get approved for this first step to enter into their program.  This Permanency Resource Family Survey is a packet where Jason and I will fill in basic introductory information about us as well as our licensing knowledge and experience.  Then the form continues with characteristics of child(ren) we are desiring for adoption… we pick out health characteristics we have experience with or are willing to consider as a match to our family.  This includes physical health, emotional/behavior health, and risk factors.  The whole packet consists of 10 pages.

Asking for prayers and good thoughts that we get approved after we submit this packet tot he State for review.  If you have questions or words for encouragement, feel free to reach out to us or comment below.

Amazing – Fundraiser Results

I don’t even know where to begin with this post.  This past week has been a chaotic, stressful, exhausting, and challenging time for us.  We worked for three months sorting, pricing, packaging, planning for our fundraiser event.  We had no guidelines to work with.  We started with a simple rummage sale in our driveway to a bigger rummage sale at our church.  Then it expanded to serving foods/drinks, and then expanded again to having vendors sell at our event.  Which then expanded to a silent auction.  One simple idea kept getting bigger and bigger.  This whole journey has been incredible.  We have met some of the most gracious and amazing people.  When we asked for donations, we were provided with well over 100 families that had donated to us.  We asked for baked goods for our bake sale and received well over our needs.  When I reached out to vendors, so many perfect strangers were excited and willing to attend our event, donate silent auction baskets, donate their commission (or a portion of it), donate their time, share their excitement for us and the journey we are on.  Also, we received such amazing support from our church.  Everything we needed, they were there to help.  We give our many thanks to our pastor, to the church secretary, and anyone else who made our process successful, and for all the help they provided to us.  We made plenty of new friends throughout the past few months.

Now, don’t think this past few months has been sunshine and rainbows.  Haha.  We have been beyond busy.  This past week was a challenge, to say the least.  We had eight days to pick up over 50 tables to set up, so many boxes and items to transport (lots of larger pieces of furniture, too), sorting, pricing, planning where to set up the tables, what categories to have, etc.  We were blessed to receive help from our parents, some close friends, Christi’s boss and coworker, etc.  There were plenty of arguments due to lack of sleep and frustrations.  We started early and didn’t usually get home until close to 10pm most nights.  We functioned on eating one meal a day because we forgot to eat or were too busy to take a break.  We did share some laughs, too.  We got goofy at times, sometimes simply just from being over tired.

Then the fear kicked in.  Are we going to have enough room for everything?  Are we going to have enough tables?  Are we going to have enough room for all the vendors?  Will enough people show up?  What are we going to do with everything once the event is finished?  Are we going to receive enough helping hands during the event?  Are we going to receive any help to clean up?  Are we going to have good weather?  We prayed and prayed over every one of these questions, trying to hold onto faith that God is in control.  He put this desire in our hearts to adopt and have our family.  He has helped us every single step of the way as we went through this planning process.  Everything has worked itself out every single step we took.  The night before our event, we didn’t get to bed until after midnight, just to wake up a couple short hours later.  Trying to function when you are running on empty is, well, exhausting.  Running through our lists of things that still needed to be finalized… visit the store for last-minute items, making sure we have enough ice, getting our cash boxes ready, prepping the foods, packaging the bake sale items that were donated, setting up the silent auction, planning the spots for the vendors,  assisting the vendors in any way we can, etc.  You get the idea.

Then the event had officially started.  We saw so many new faces as well as familiar faces.  We had folks from our childhood show up; many we hadn’t seen in years!  We received so many donations for our adoption.  We met people who had also adopted or had been adopted or have known someone who had been adopted.  It was neat hearing the stories and about their experiences.  We received so many encouraging words.  It was so overwhelming, but in a beautiful way.  It is incredible to know how much support is out there for us; so many that are praying for us and are excited to follow us during this journey we are on.

Remember me saying that God has been there every step of the way?  He had provided for us.  He answered every single prayer; every single fear we had were taken care of.  We had plenty of room for everything.  We had just enough tables.  We had room for all the vendors.  We were blessed with more customers than we could have even imagined. We had friends and relatives show up and volunteer their time.  They helped guests load items to their vehicles, answer questions, assist us in ever way that we needed.  We had the most amazing weather both days of our event; not too hot, sunny, light breeze, etc.  Simply perfect.

During the first day of our event, we met this group of three individuals who were shopping for this incredible organization, Nation of Visions.  Nation of Visions Annual Summit is aimed at providing individuals, communities and organizations with inspirations, in-depth Leadership professional development workshops, networking, and community service opportunities.  They were looking for items that could be packed up and taken to Africa to help those in need there.  You can find them on Facebook by simply searching for “Nations of Visions”, and you can learn more about them on there.  Any who, we told them that if they were interested, they could come back at the end of our event and take whatever they needed for their mission.  We were already blessed with the donations, we wanted to share our blessings with them, too.

During our last day of our event, during the last hour, we saw this elderly couple going through everything, filling boxes upon boxes of stuff.  Out of curiosity, I went up to them joking around about how they “really like to shop”.  They explained to me, that they like to go to rummage sales and purchase items to donate to local shelters to help the women with children and the homeless.  They are such beautiful blessings from God, with hearts of gold.  We couldn’t even imagine charging them, since we ourselves planned to donate to charities as well.  We had them take whatever items they needed for their donation, and their faces lit up.  We received so many thanks, but it was us that should thank them for being such incredible examples of how people should be.

We had this little girl show up, shopping with her mother.  She found this toy carousel and was in love with it.  My mom was talking to her and this girl asked, “how much is this?”  My mom loves children and gave her a price.  She noticed the girl was paying with her own “hard-earned money” and pulled out some coins.  My mom didn’t have the heart to charge her the true value, so she said it was a quarter.  The girl was happy and paid that quarter and carried her new toy around while she watched her mother shop.  She came back a little later with another item and asked my mom how much this new item was.  My mom told her it was a quarter.  The girl was digging through her little bag and pulled out a quarter and handed it to my mom saying, “Here’s a quarter, but it’s a little dirty, hope that’s okay!”  The sweet innocence of this child, melted our hearts.  Jason went up to this girl with two bags and told her to put any toys she wanted in this bag, and it would all be free.  She asked him if he was serious, and of course he said he was.  She was thrilled!   After all, we were blessed with all these donations, why not share our good fortunes with those that may be in need?

When our final day of our event was coming to an end, it was time to clean up.  We looked around the room thankful that so much had sold, but there was still so much that still needed to be packed up and removed.  Our good friend who had been there to help during the week and both days of the event, offered to help stay and pack things up.  Then, before we could even stand up to start packing up, a friend of Jason’s, a fellow dartball player, showed up saying he was ready to help us clean up and take down tables.  Moments later, the group of three we saw during the first day from Nation of Visions showed up ready to go through the items and pack things up for their mission.  We shared stories about our journey through infertility and adoption. They prayed over us and shared their stories and more about their program.   We had my dad’s best friend’s take all the clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. to donate to the homeless shelter they volunteer at.  I guess recently they have run out of or are close to running out of the clothes they have available, and are in great need.  What incredible timing, since we obviously needed to get rid of the clothes we had left over.  We helped them load up so many garbage bags full of these items, and hope their needs are now met. The whole experience was amazing.  With the help we received, we had most of the gym all packed up and tables put back to their rightful places before we left for the day.  We ended our night with a wonderful, inspiring, amazingly powerful prayer that was prayed over us and the journey that is ahead of us, by the pastors from Nation of Visions.  We exchanged our contact information, so we could keep in touch and follow each others adventures.  We can continue to follow them and their program and they can follow us as we go through this adoption process.  Our Lord is amazing, and has provided for us in every way we needed.  Even ways we didn’t know we needed him.  He brought these individuals into our lives for a reason.

So to conclude, Jason and I had a monetary goal that we hoped we’d reach at the end of this event.  We are beyond thankful and happy to say that we not only reached this goal, but we went over this goal.  We still have other donations that have been coming in and still need to receive money from silent auction baskets and other vendors that said they would donate some of their commission to us from their sales.  We still have a ways to go to reach our ultimate goal, but we couldn’t be any more thankful for the outcome we received from this adoption fundraiser event.  Thank you to everyone that has helped us.  Whether you donated your items, donated baked goods, donated silent auction baskets, donated your time, donated money, prayed for us, etc.  Thank you to my retired bosses church for their donation of items, to our old church for their donations of items, to our church, to friends and family, and even strangers.  If we are forgetting to list anyone, we still thank you, too! We couldn’t have done all of this without you, and we could never thank you all enough!

God’s blessings to you all.

P.S.  As I am typing this, it is raining outside.  I even heard a couple rumbles of thunder out there.  Thank you God for giving us our two beautiful days and bringing the rain AFTER our event.  How amazing is that?!

Here are a couple pictures from our event that were shared by a good friend of ours.

 

Feeling Accomplished

It’s been awhile since we have written a blog post, but honestly, we have been swamped.  Every single day we have been sorting and pricing items.  We have boxes upon boxes of stuff everywhere.  For a good while, we didn’t have much of a kitchen or living room to even use.  We had my parents over this past weekend for Father’s Day and sadly we didn’t even have a surface to set our food down on.  My goal for the past couple weeks was to at least finish sorting and pricing all the donations that we had on the main floor of our home, and last night, we met this goal!  What a relief!  Now we have to find a place to put all the boxes! haha  This is what our hallway and living room currently looks like.  This pile of boxes doesn’t look like much in the pictures but it’s seriously a lot of stuff. It’s only a tiny fraction of what we still have left to go through. As you can see, the cats are liking the “climbing obstacles” that we have set up for them, and the fact that we have our coffe table back.

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Our next task is to move down into the basement and start sorting and pricing items down there.  Eventually we will be moving into the garage and continue this exciting task.  Once we get into the garage, I’ll be happy to share a picture of the adventure that is ahead of us.
Besides all this sorting and pricing, we have been busy with many other things.  We printed and folded 150 copies of a letter we wrote to our friends/family.  Then had to stuff and seal the envelopes, make the mailing labels, buy stamps, etc. This past Sunday, we shared an addition 200 copies of these letters with our church family, which meant going to church early to stuff all the mailboxes for the members.

Also, we have been purchasing items we will need for the event and trying to get things situated and planned for what we will need and how things will be set up.  We handed over the task of planning quantities of foods/drinks to my dad, and he has been working with Four Men and a Grill (the folks we have preparing the food for the event), to get this part of the event taken care of.  Our kitchen and extra freezer looks like we are starting to open up our own restaurant or something.  All the cases of bottled waters, sodas, packs of brats, hot dogs, etc.  It’s starting to turn into an obstacle course of trying to figure out how to walk around our house. Watch out for the boxes, random items, soda/water, and don’t forget our random 4 cats that like to run around our feet.

Life has been beyond chaotic the past few months and the next 2-1/2 weeks will get even more chaotic, but I keep trying to remind myself that in the end it will all be worth it.  All this hard work will pay off when we officially bring our children home and have our family complete!  Honestly, the end result is one of the few things that keeps me pushing on.  I am a very stubborn and determined individual.  I love challenges and I will work my tushy off until I achieve my goals.  I may be tired and cranky the next few weeks (poor Jason haha), but soon I’ll be back to my fun and bubbly self again.  Watch out world, Christi has a goal to achieve!

Speaking of goals, this year I set a goal (with Jason) to pay off a few debts we’ve had sitting around… mainly my gazillion school loans from my two degrees.  Last year I paid down 1 of my 7 loans, and just this past weekend I paid down my 2nd loan!  What an amazing feeling that was for me once I clicked “submit payment” online.  My goal is to have 2 more school loans among other things paid off by the end of this year! I cannot wait.  I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys paying bills.  I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing we have the funds to pay our bills and being able to “check off” those bills from my spread sheet every month.  Jason and I are very fortunate that we have our jobs and can rely on our paychecks.

Okay, I think that’s enough blabbing for today.  We’ll be back soon with more updates, so stay tuned!