It's hard to believe it is already time for our interviews for our homestudy. Some days it seems like yesterday that we sent in our initial paperwork and now we are getting close to home base. Amanda, our social worker, emailed us today to let us know that she had received our file from the director and wanted to set up our couple interview for either Wednesday or Thursday. We picked this Wednesday, June 6th at noon as Thursday is our 10 year anniversary. My mom asked me to explain to her in detail what happens next so I thought I would do the same here (as best I know). Basically, we will meet with Amanda this Wednesday and then Jonathan and I will meet with her individually later on (usually, I think, these individual meetings are within a week). After that, Amanda will come visit our house and get to meet the kids and check out the house. Our last training meeting (in person) is June 11th. After that, Jonathan and I have chosen to do two more training sessions on transracial adoption. This is only mandatory if you wish to pursue adopting outside your race. Based on emails from Tammy (the director), once we get all the reference letters in (right now they are waiting on the ones from my mom, Jonathan's mom, my sister, Beckie (my boss at Gymboree), and Travis (one of our preacher's from Long Hollow), we will actually be shown to any perspective birthmoms because they have several birthmoms who are due in the next few weeks and not enough families ready to adopt that specific race. Back to the timeline, usually the way it works is that you must be completely done with the visits and training before you are shown to birthfamilies....we are just getting bumped up a bit because of the shortage. At any rate, it is wild to think that in a few short weeks we could be officially approved and waiting.
After we are approved (or after Bethany gets all the reference letters back), we make a book called a profile book. In that book, we will put pics of our family, home, childhood pics, etc. and tell the birthfamily about our lives. Jonathan and I will each write a letter to the birthmother. As a birthmother comes in to Bethany, typically she gives Bethany some criteria she is looking for in a perspective family. She may want a family that has no other children, comes from a specific faith, likes a certain sport, etc. At that point, the birthmother counselor and the social workers will sit down and look through all the waiting families starting with the ones who have been with the agency the longest. They will go through each profile book and find the best 3-5 matches to what the birthmom is looking for. The counselor will sit down with the birthmom and show her the profiles. If she find one she likes, GREAT, if not, they go back to the list of potential families and find 5 more. Once she finds one she likes, the social worker calls to tell you that you have been picked and typically sets up a meeting between the adoptive family and the birthmom/birthfamily at Bethany. Each situation from that point on is different, but typically the birthmom will decide how much contact she wants with the adoptive family prior to childbirth. Some adoptive mothers get to go to doctor's appointments, etc. That first meeting is also where they discuss openness in the adoption, etc. The thing to keep in mind is that just because a birthmom picks you doesn't mean the adoptive family has to accept...that's actually a big misconception in adoption. The birthmom also usually decides if the adoptive family will be at the hospital when she delivers. Also keep in mind that some birthmoms don't form adoption plans until after delivery, so in some cases, you may not be placed with a newborn. At any rate, different states have different laws but here in TN once the TPR is signed (termination of parental rights), the birthmom and birthdad have 7 days to change their mind. In that time, Bethany recommends that the infant be placed with a family that Bethany uses to take care of that child. They don't recommend bringing home an infant simply because the mother could change her mind BUT if the birthmother insists that the baby be brought directly into the adoptive home from the hospital, things can change.
If you get the time while reading this, take some time to pray for the birthmom that is out there right now carrying the child that God wants to bless our family with. We feel all of your prayers, your love and support....and we want her to feel that as well. How amazing to tell the birthmom that we have all been praying for her since we started this process...even though we didn't know who she was, where she lived, what her circumstances.....we loved her and prayed for her anyway.