Saturday, February 13, 2016

Adoption Update: Home Study Begins!

It's been a while since our last update!  Life got a little crazy in the late fall, and we decided to wait until after Christmas to begin our home study.  Our first big payment to our agency and Christmas coming at the same time was quite a combination!  We can't explain why, but we felt a peace about it, so we decided it was ok to wait.  During our waiting, I went back and forth from "God, how in the world are we going to do this?" to, "God, you are amazing us already!"  His provision exceeds our expectations every time.

We contacted our Social Worker at Lifeline and made plans to hold our first phone interview on January 13.  We had a great conversation with her about who we were, our decision to adopt, and what to expect during the process of adopting from China.  I, of course, took notes, and Zeke sat and absorbed the conversation and made me laugh.  I think our social worker could be our daughter...she is precious and sweet but sounded so young on the phone.  Zeke really got me tickled when she told us about the Lifeline China Facebook group and said that she didn't really do Facebook but thought we could just search for it and join.  His face was priceless!  Of course, she could just really be one of those people who refrains from using social media, but he's convinced that all the cool kids are on some other social media platform now and all of us old people are still hanging out in Facebook land.  I think my favorite part of the call was when we hung up.  Zeke turned to me and said, "Well, I guess we're pregnant!"

After our phone call, we were contacted by the social worker from the Lifeline Huntsville office who will actually handle our home study.  We wanted to get started as soon as possible, and so on January 27, we had Home Study Visit #1.  Wow!  We were so anxious.  We had been cautioned not to make things perfect and not to clean from top to bottom, but honestly, it was so hard not to want everything to look like a magazine!  It seems like a lot of pressure for someone to come in and judge whether our home is fit for a child--especially since there are three already here!  It will be a little hard to explain if we fail this part.  So, armed with our shiny new fire extinguisher tucked away in a cabinet and guns tucked into our newly drilled and reprogrammed gun safe, we waited.

When our Social Worker arrived, she came to our front door.  We don't even know the doorbell code (one door has one ding and the other has two) and so it took us a minute to get to the door.  She came in and said we would dive right in, so we walked to the Keeping Room.  She wanted to sit so that she could see both of our faces at once, which we thought was amusing!  She explained that the Home Study process could be an introspective time in our lives and that we could use it as a tool for growth, to take our family from a "good" family to an exceptional family, or that we could view it as a checklist.  Of course, mushy ol' me was ready to take that checklist and GROW!  I love the idea of God working in and through our Home Study.  Sign me up for that anytime!

She then said that we wouldn't waste any time, so she started asking questions immediately.   The questions ran the gamut from questions about work, to questions about how we handle arguments, to questions about how our parents handled arguments.  It was quite interesting!  My favorite was when she said, "Lisa, how do you know Zeke loves you?"  I answered (because he is the most selfless person in our household and always puts me first, if you want to know my answer :), and then she said, "Zeke, how do you know Lisa loves you?"  His first reply was, "uhhhh..." and I think I jabbed him in the ribs with my elbow and said, "You had to know that was coming!"  We all laughed, and she mentioned that she could always tell who to start with when asking questions.  Um yes, I guess I'm the talker.  At least until he gets to know you.  Ha.  (And just for the record, he did make me cry when he finally answered!)

When she finished asking questions, we took her on a tour of our home.  My favorite part was the kitchen:  she said, "Do you have a fire extinguisher?"  And I said, "YES!  Would you like to see it?  It's shiny and new and we bought it just for you, so please look at it!"  She laughed with us and admitted that she doesn't even have one at her house.  You can fuss at me in the comments, and I don't know why, but we have never had one!  (Ok, I guess I do know, and it's probably because neither of us grew up with a fire extinguisher in the home.  Ha.)

The entire visit only took a little less than two hours, and we were finished.  We will have three more meetings as we gather paperwork, and during these we will discuss our marriage, our family and parenting styles, and what to expect during the adoption process.  She did leave us with an assignment: writing our autobiographies.  We have four pages of questions that have to be answered in our autobiographies, and these have to be turned in before we can meet again!  It's the carrot she's dangling for us :)

Probably the funniest part of our first meeting has come in the aftermath.  For the first week or so, it seemed that every day Zeke would remember a different question that she had asked and try to read into it.  He is convinced that there was some psychological voodoo going on below the surface and he's dying to read her little notebook that she was writing in while we were talking :)

That's it for now...we are busy writing our autobiographies (or procrastinating; hence, a blog post!) and collecting papers.  I have another post planned to detail our paper chasing--look for it soon!  Until then, we would be so grateful for your prayers as we fill out paperwork, fingerprint, and write!