Holding Pattern

Not much has happened, and yet it feels like so much has happened!

In my last post, I shared that we had a few decisions to make.  After much discussion and prayer and going back-and-forth, we decided that the 16-year-old that was presented to us just wasn’t the right match.  It was a difficult decision actually because there wasn’t any one thing that caused big red flags – it just didn’t feel right.  And for a person like me who likes to know the why of things, it felt odd to know it wasn’t right but not be able to explain why.

In regards to the 13-year-old that we were waiting for information on, the wait is on-going.  Most of the extended family members have been consulted, and they are not able to open their homes to him for many different reasons.  His team is waiting to hear from one more extended family member before they feel ready to move forward with an adoption plan.  And some family members whose support is very important to him have expressed their support of an adoption plan.  So we’re still waiting.  One good thing is that we’ll be reasonably sure that no family members will come out of the woodwork at a later date.  That can definitely be challenging – a member of our support group went through that recently!

In the meantime, our social worker is exploring her database to see if other options might pop up.  At this point, we would rather not put all of our hopes on one match that may or may not work out.

I have one disappointment through all of this (all on me – the first time I have “created an expectation”).  I was hoping that the child we are matched with could start school in September instead of the middle of a term or school year – not because we’re anxious for their arrival, but because starting a new school in the middle of a term or school year can be so difficult!  It’s hard enough getting used to a new home, but kids can be so isolating and cruel!  Hopefully that won’t be the experience however.  In sharing that with our social worker yesterday, she explained that the Ministry would never rush a placement because of school – a solid connection with family is more important than school.  And I get that!  I appreciate that the family connection is a priority to the Ministry, it was great to hear!  So this is something I am working on letting go.

So… again I say… maybe more next next week?

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Blurred lines

What a week!  We received more information about both of the boys we’re interested in yesterday.  And since then my brain has been swimming.  Everything is blurry.  And I go round and round and round… and so of course I have to write.

I can’t speak for Jean at this point.  It has been a very busy week and we haven’t spent a lot of quality time together in the past few days.  Tonight will probably be the first time we’ll really be able to talk in depth again since we learned this new info.

Yesterday we learned that our home study has been reviewed by the team of the 13 year old.  They think that we would be a very good match for him, and are confident that this could be successful.  They also shared that the family was going to be asked to provide feedback before the end of June, and have asked us to see if we would wait that time.  It’s hard at this point to agree on waiting… not because it’s a long time, but if we wait, and then something else happens, then we’ve lost a lot of time that we could have put into other options.  Once again, our social worker knew just what to do – she told them that we would wait while exploring other options.

Then we learned a bit more about the 16 year old.  Without going into details (this is a public site after all), there are some things to think about.  And of course a 16-almost-17-year-old is MUCH different than a 13-almost-14-year-old!

My mind keeps going back and forth – “so this would be different/easier/harder/more interesting/scary/awesome/overwhelming/sad/insert-other-adjective-here”.  Ha!  And then I will feel like my gut is telling me something, but I can’t explain it or justify it.  Then a few hours later, my gut will say something different.

I feel like this could be compared to deciding to marry someone based on a few paragraphs, maybe a photo, and the information you hear from a source or two.  That’s it.  Making a decision that will affect your life moving forwards on the basics.  And I know we’re not alone in this, countless people have gone through this, and more will… it is just a lot to take in.

And I’m not sure of the HOW of things.  I mean, some people say “Oh I just knew that was the child for us when we read the profile” – I haven’t had that moment.  But maybe I won’t.  And that’s ok.  I think…

BUT I’m still positive.  Overwhelmed, but not negatively so.  More overwhelmed that we are blessed with choice, and information, and the kindness of those in the system… wow!  I have no doubts, no regrets, I know that this was the path we were meant to follow.  And that is HUGE for someone who overthinks and obsesses about things (yes, I just admitted that in public – ha!).  In a weird way, I enjoy thinking about these kids – even if they’re not the ones for us.  I admire them so much!  They have all been through some crazy crap in their short lives, and yet they’re saying “I want a family” AND they’re putting that decision in someone else’s hands.  They have less information than we do!  How brave is that?!?!

So I choose to be thankful, and happy, and blessed.  And I look forward to wading on, and to unblurring the lines a bit.  It will come to us, I know it will.  And who knows – next week might bring more choices.  Just gotta roll with it!  We’ll get there…

I am water.

Oh how quickly things change!  I choose to view this process as good because it continually challenges me to be patient and to consider an issue or challenge from all angles.  But there are definitely frustrating moments.  You have to be fluid, and able to float around and over obstacles as they come, without becoming too battered in the process.  I am water.  Ha!

We received some news in regards to the child we’ve been interested in for two months, but it definitely wasn’t what we expected.  We found out that extended family and family friends have not been considered/consulted yet for his adoption, and that has to happen before another placement can be considered.  We had to make the decision on whether we wanted to wait for him, explore other options, or the combination of the two.  We went for the combination. That was yesterday.

I should insert here that I am always so incredibly thankful for the gift of our social workers.  They have been, and continue to be, amazing advocates and support for us!  They are realistic, honest, hard-working, and down-to-earth, and we’d be lost without them!

Today we received another call from our social worker.  She had been sitting in her office yesterday when another social worker in the office approached her and asked if we were still looking for a match.  She has a boy here in Kelowna who is looking for a family!  He’s 16.  She told us quite a bit about him, and Jean and I will be talking about him and praying about this option tonight.  With this age, it’s difficult to know if you’ll click until you meet, and it would be more of a mentor relationship as opposed to a parental one.  Yet our hearts are with the kids that will be aging out of the system soon, and this boy definitely falls in that category!  This age is so cool and yet so difficult – there is so much to consider.

As with most families, I think the matching process is the most difficult as there are so many unknowns and so many emotions involved.  You don’t want to be completely factual, you want to imagine these kids, learn about their stories, and get a sense of where they’re coming from and what they’re dealing with – but you can’t be completely invested in each one either.  I think that there is a healthy balance between the two.

As we explore potential matches, and try to keep a strong sense of humanity in a somewhat-clinical process, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I really do believe that God has the perfect match in mind for us, and I’m sure it will be made so very obvious when the time is right.

Um… what?

First of all, I know everyone is thinking “three posts in June, and it’s only the 8th – um, what?”.  Ha!  That’s because things are starting to roll along quickly, and we don’t want to leave anyone behind!

My last post shared that our home study had been completed, edited, and signed off by the agency.  The big question was what happens next??

Much earlier in our process – before we even began our home study – our Ministry social worker told us about this committee that signed off on all completed home studies.  She joked that since so much of our process has been stalled along the way for one reason or another (all valid), we should expect this committee to choose our home study to audit, just to prepared.  Ha!  We had a good laugh about it.

So when our home study social worker told us that our home study was on its way to the Ministry, I expected that it would still be some time before it was available to read by other guardianship and social workers.

When we spoke to our Ministry social worker yesterday, she shared that she had already seen the home study, and had sent it on to the team of the boy we are interested in!  I think my mouth dropped open a bit!  Such exciting news, my goodness!  She then said that his social worker was going to be in town this week, and it was possible that we could have some news before… wait for it… tomorrow!

To be clear, this wouldn’t mean that the match is guaranteed at this point.  What it could mean is that the child’s team (social workers, guardianship workers, maybe foster parents) agree that this could be a good match and would like to explore it further, as do we.

Then its be our turn for some information.  I’m still a little fuzzy on how things work from here on, but I’m so willing to just flow with it.  I know that sounds funny, but I’m just so totally confident that the match with right child for us (and who we will be the right parents) will just happen – I’m not even worried about the next part!  It will all come together as it should, when the time is right.

But our social worker has mentioned that we might be able to meet his teachers (a bit of a timeline on that one since school ends in a few weeks), and talk to his foster parents in person.  That will be a good start.  And somewhere along the way we’ll get an official proposal package with all the information available about him.  From my understanding, once we sign off on that, then we move on to planning a first meeting, and then a transition schedule.

This could happen soon!  And when I say soon, I mean maybe this year instead of “in the future” as we’ve always thought up until now.  WOW!  I have to admit, I didn’t sleep much last night… Ha!

Watch for more posts in the coming days… we might be shooting for a record number of blog posts this month!  Ha!

Quick Home Study Update

We got a call back from our home study social worker on Friday evening – our home study went through the final quick checks by the agency, and is off to the Ministry!

We couldn’t be happier, this is definitely reason to celebrate!  Hopefully this week we will be able to touch base with our Ministry social worker and find out what happens next.

So exciting, we’re almost there!!!

PS – We have some new subscribers to the blog!  Welcome, and I hope you enjoy reading about our journey in progress 🙂

News! At last!

For those that are thinking “maybe this is the match announcement”, I’ll let you down quickly – not yet.  But it’s coming, I promise, soon…

BUT we do have some awesome news!  OUR HOME STUDY IS COMPLETE!!!  We got it back for final edits earlier this week (and there really weren’t that many edits), and have been approved (as of May 25th) to adopt one or two teenagers!  YAY!!!

We have made our edits, those edits have been incorporated into the document, and now it’s just getting it’s final read by everyone else before being sent to the Ministry.  I’m not sure what the timeline looks like for approval once it reaches the Ministry, but we’re CLOSE and that’s all that matters 🙂

I just want to say… God knew what He was doing when he sent us our home study social worker.  Despite a rough beginning (look back to my first home study post if you’re curious about that), we really connected with her, and the final version of our home study was AMAZING!  I was terrified going into it, and maybe even more so after our first meeting, but it all turned out so well.  The home study is 30 pages, and really represents us and our story.  Our home study social worker really took the time to get to know us, and worked very hard to make sure that she accurately reflected what we shared.  I’m just so impressed and so thankful!!!

In addition to sharing the good news about our home study, there is MORE.  I was asked to write a guest blog for Canada Adopts (an organization that advocates for adoptive families and offers adoption resources and support), and they published it!  You can read it here if you’re interested.  I’ve been asked to write another article as well – this writing stuff gets addicting – ha!

And our social worker is still in discussions with the team of the boy we inquired about.  We are in a bit of a holding pattern as his team is still waiting on our home study before we can move forward.  Then it’ll be a long process of gathering information and everyone making sure that this match will be successful and positive for everyone concerned.  As our social worker once told us, “we want everyone to feel like they’ve won the lottery” – and I LOVED that way of putting it!  Everyone involved should have the confidence moving forward that the match is right – so however long it takes, as long as it’s right that’s all that matters.

Maybe some more news soon??  I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Not long now…

Life has been so busy – and it’s hard to believe that the ARE was almost a month ago!  Wow!  So much has happened, adoption-related and otherwise.

Our Home Study is still waiting on two more signatures – the agency director, and ours.  Once that happens, it gets sent to the Ministry and is approved on their end.  It has taken a little longer than expected, but I’m at peace with that.  I would rather everyone do their due diligence and ensure that it represents us positively and accurately than to rush through it and miss something major.  I strongly believe that our home study social worker did a fantastic job – she was very thorough, and followed up with us when she felt something needed clarification.

Anyways, hopefully we’ll have it soon.  We were notified that the agency director had read through it, recommended some updates, and those updates were done.  Now we’re just waiting for the signature.

And that is fantastic because our social worker has been in touch with the guardianship team of a child we heard about at the ARE – and there has been a positive response.  Once our home study is signed off on, it will get sent to this young man’s team, and we will be able to learn some more information about this him.  We really like what we’ve heard so far!  Some little tidbits: he is currently 13 years old, loves hockey as much as we do, and he loves being outdoors (camping, fishing, etc) and enjoys being active.

It was recommended that we narrow our focus a little following the ARE.  There are so many wonderful kids out there waiting for forever families – narrowing our focus was difficult!  We decided to pursue some kids closer to home, hoping that that would make the transition a little bit easier on those involved.  We also looked at common interests, as those can assist in building a relationship.  But it was still very difficult as we would love to adopt all of these kids!  Ultimately this one profile stood out for us, and we prayed that it would just feel right – and this one feels right.  We are at peace with this decision – but we are also quite confident that if this match doesn’t work out, then there will be another match that will – and that match will be meant to be!

In the meantime, I’ve been updating our Family Book.  This book is different for every single family that makes one – some are just a few pages with minimal writing and just a few photos.  Others tell a story.  They differ according to the age of child a family is adopting, and are written from different perspectives.  For us, since we are adopting a teenager, we wanted to share tons of photos and information – I know that is what I would want if I was looking at a new family!  Ours is 20 pages long, and includes at least 60 photos (actually, I think there are more than that).  We have pictures of family, friends, hobbies, our home, our cars, our pets, and yearly traditions.  We talk about the people in our lives, what we love to do, explain our past, and share our goals and dreams.  We also included two lined pages at the back for the teen to write down thoughts or questions as they go through.  Our social worker had some great feedback, and I updated our Family Book to include that as well.  It’s been fun!  Both Jean and I are very visual people, and I’m a photographer so… it was such a cool project to work on!

In the meantime, we dream.  I have saved most of this year’s vacation time at work so I can take some holidays during transition time.  And I have discussed the ins and outs of parental leave so I know what I’m doing when that time comes.  I can’t wait!  I recognize that there will be challenges, and some days those challenges will be completely overwhelming – but I also look forward to the joys of connecting with this really cool person coming our way, and value the support team that we already have in place!  And you know what?  Putting ourselves out there has given us some pretty cool friends who are also in the adoption process!  What a blessing!

Anyways, I will update you when we receive news on our home study.  In the meantime, keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we continue on our adoption journey.

 

Our first ARE

What a day!  Not having attended an ARE before, we didn’t know what to expect!  And I’m sure that our readers are wondering about this event as well!

So first of all, what is it?  ARE stands for Adoption Resource Exchange, and it is exactly that.  In attendance are prospective adoptive families (like us) and their social workers, adoption and guardianship workers (they support and represent kids in care), and MCFD organizers as well as representatives from other organizations (for example, AFABC).  Kids are presented by their workers – first of all, the worker speaks about them, highlighting things that may not be in their written profiles or the video profile.  Then, the video or slideshow plays – this is the first time we’ve seen photos of any kids in care, and we were warned that it could be overwhelming.

Our experience was a good one!  Our sw warned us that many guardianship or adoptive sw’s would want to talk to us because we were looking for a teen – and she was right!  We had many workers come and talk with us, but it was a really cool experience!  So many of them were so proud of these kids, how they’ve overcome circumstances in their lives, the things they’re interested in, the skills they’ve mastered.  We loved hearing about them!

I did not think I felt overwhelmed or emotional, but man – was I ever tired last night!  So many emotions travel through our bodies when imagining the future for our family, or the past some of these kids have experienced.  It’s also difficult to have many profiles to look at, and discuss how each kid may or may not be right for your family (and you for them – Jean said about one particular profile “I think we would be good for them, but they might not think so as we don’t share common interests”).

But as we drove home and were discussing these kids, two really stood out for us – and not the ones we expected!  One girl, and one boy (not siblings).  The boy’s guardianship worker talked to us about him, and said she thought we’d be a good match.  And the girl’s worker talked to our sw about us already last week, we didn’t know that.  So who knows… a match might happen sooner rather than later!

On another quick note – our home study sw emailed us this week with a couple more little follow-up questions.  We have a phone call scheduled with her tonight, and we will hopefully have our home study back to read and sign in the next week or two.  Yay!

After things taking so long, it feels like they’re really pickup up now.  But it won’t be long before they slow down again – ha!

And just like that…

…We’re done!  Well, we still require a few signatures on our Home Study, but after all we’ve been through that’s pretty minor overall.

We had our final home study appointment with our agency social worker, and she expressed once again how much she enjoyed getting to know us, and she thanked us for being so open and welcoming.  We really enjoyed getting to know her too!  I definitely think God provided us with the agency social worker that we needed.

What’s next?  Well, there are those pesky signatures.  Our agency social worker will sign the completed home study, then her supervisor must sign it, then the agency directory (?) must sign it… then the agency social worker brings it to us.  We will read it, ask for edits if we feel that something warrants that, and then sign it.  Once that happens, we’re done!  It’s been indicated that we might have all of our signatures before the end of April, or very early May at the latest… WOOT WOOT!!!

But in the meantime, we’re excited to share that we’ll be a part of the upcoming ARE (Adoption Resource Exchange) after all!  Everything came together in just the perfect way, just in time.  So thankful!

For those that do not know what an ARE (also called a “Matching Event” or an “Exchange) is, it stands for Adoption Resource Exchange, and it serves as a place of connection for families and their Ministry social workers, Ministry guardianship workers (those social workers who have custody of children in care), and sometimes even teens who are searching for families. In preparation for this event, we had two make a two minute video about us (home, family, etc.) and provide a few photos for our Ministry social worker to use when making a handout about us.  We will have the chance to be profiled at this event, and will also be able to view children’s profiles and learn more about them from those who care for them.  I have not been to one of these events before, and am interested to learn more!

We already have a few profiles that we would like to learn more about.  We saw one of them profiled on the AFABC (Adoptive Family Association of BC) site.  And another one was sent our way by our Ministry social worker.  It’s so hard to know much from the little available in those profiles, but we like what we hear so far!  One of these teens is going to be profiled at the ARE and we are interested to learn more!

So that’s where we are at!  But very quickly, for some that have asked us, I would like to answer a question.  We have been asked “You mention a lot of social workers – who is who?”.  Here goes…

Ministry social worker (msw) – As we are adopting through the MCFD (Ministry for Children and Family Development), each family is assigned a social worker to assist them through the process and advocate on behalf of the family and incoming children.  Ours is a real gem, we think she’s fantastic!

Agency / home study social worker (asw/hssw) – The MCFD now contracts out home studies to local adoption agencies.  This ensures that home studies are completed as quickly as possible.  This social worker is assigned to us by the adoption agency, and is responsible for completing the home study as outlined by the agency and the MCFD.

Guardianship worker (gw) – These social workers also work for the MCFD, but work with and are responsible for the children in care.  Every single child in case has a guardianship worker.

How exciting – our next post will be to share that our home study is signed off.  WOOT WOOT!!!  Two of those in one email, wow!  Ha

 

Almost there!!!

We had our (hopefully) second-to-last home study appointment this past weekend.  After a very rough first session (read back a few posts – the weather wreaked havoc on our day), we have really appreciated getting to know our home study social worker.  We feel that we get along with her quite well, which definitely helps the home study process which can be quite invasive and uncomfortable.  I cannot imagine attempting a home study with a social worker you don’t connect with!

Anyways, we have accomplished quite a bit over the last many meetings (to be honest, I’ve lost count – 4 or 5?).  All that’s left is to craft our life stories, and speak a little about previous relationships we have had.  We have ticked all of the “to-buy” and “to-make” items off of our list (to-buy: fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, lock boxes for cleaning supplies and medications)(to-make: fire evacuation map and plan, important numbers list).  We’re hoping that our next appointment on April 3rd will be it – and then it’s on to matching!!!

Speaking of matching, we found a profile recently that just clicked with us!  And when I say clicked, I read it first a week ago (and many times since), and just obsessively think about this young man!  He’s 15, was born in China, spent time in two orphanages before moving to Canada when he was 7.5 years old, and has been in custody of the Ministry for the past three years.  He is a swimmer and a cyclist, and loves camping and being outdoors near water (sound familiar??).   He is described as mature and trustworthy, and is looking for a place to belong.  Oh my goodness… my heart just soared when I read about him (let’s call him “I” for now).  After spending two years living in China, we’ve always thought it would be fantastic to adopt from China – but ultimately decided to adopt domestically as there are so many kids right here at home that need a family.  But this would be a neat connection that we could make with I – and hopefully (if he wants this) we could continue to keep him connected to his birth culture.

Anyways, lots of dreaming going on.  Our Ministry social worker is back from holidays today – I had sent her an email with I’s profile, and asked her to check into him for us.  Hopefully something comes of that!  She is so quick with these things – and really seeks out amazing connections for her families.  I hope that she also thinks that this would be a really cool match.  But honestly, I believe that the right match will happen, and if this isn’t the right one, God has an even better match in mind for us 🙂

But still… a China connection!  How cool would that be?!