There are very few things I know for sure: I know I married a great guy, I know I love my daughter more than I've ever loved anyone, I know that following a career in theatre was going to be tough - but, I'm glad I stuck it out, and I always knew I would adopt. When Daniel and I were dating we discussed it and he was enthusiastic about the whole thing.
About a year ago, we attended our first orientation session to adopt through the county - and to be honest, we got a little spooked by how hard the process is. We are already stretched thin, and putting something else on our plates -- or someone else, who will come with a great deal of baggage, who won't just be happy to be loved and included, but, who will probably fight us and test us, well... all of that seemed like too much to take on. Yet, since that orientation, something has been gnawing at me... something really eating me up inside. At around my birthday I just knew that if we didn't start this now - I wouldn't be able to live with myself. For the first time in my life, I felt a calling to something. I'm not a religious person, but, I can tell you -- this is probably what they feel like when they are moved to do something totally crazy because you know in your bones that a) it's the right thing to do and b) now is the time to do it. So, I felt a calling... a honest to goodness calling to go for it. Daniel and I talked about it -- and he told me that he would prefer if we waited until Izzie was older, but, if I really felt like this was this was the time - then he was on board (see -- I knew I married a great guy).
So, what are the steps? Holy Cow!!! There are a LOT of steps to being an adoptive parent. We first went to see a counselor to talk through our options -- she said international adoption would be between 27-45k.... since we aren't looking to adopt a baby, and we don't have that kind of money - we decided to go back to that orientation session and see if we could stomach all the steps. Well, surprise surprise - the second time didn't seem so bad... but, it's still a lot of steps... first you have to become a foster parent, and then you can be considered an adoptive parent (after 2 more classes)... so, here are the basic steps (believe me, it's more complicated than even this):
1. 3 hour orientation
2. All the adults in the household have to get fingerprinted within 5 days of the orientation
3. You have to put down references and those people need to fill out a questionnaire and send it back within 20 days. (Thankfully, I have lovely people in my life that filled it out and sent it back on time).
4. You have to get a physical, and blood work, and a TB test - then have your doctor mail in the paperwork. (The TB test is no big deal - unless you bruise easily.. which I guess I do. I'm sporting a douzy)
6. You have to schedule a home visit with a Social worker after they have been assigned. For that home visit your place needs to be:
a) child proofed
b) there needs to be a room for the child -- even if you are months away from getting that child -- they still need a room that is solely a child's room. We live in a 3 bedroom townhouse, so, that means our office/guest room will now become a child's room.
7. After the home visit you have to take care of the things the social worker noted and then get another home visit (and this has to all happen within 4 months of the initial orientation).
8. you have to take First Aid and CPR training
9. you have to take 27 hours of Pride classes(these are parenting classes that will teach you how to be a parent to a child who comes from a broken home) -- I start mine in July. The classes come in 3 or 6 hour chunks and you have 1 year from orientation to take them all.
10. If you are hoping to adopt - you have to take 2 more classes.
11. another visit from the social worker where you discuss your hopes and dreams for this child.
12. and then you begin....
This whole process will probably take more than a year - and then after we meet our child another 18 months (if we are lucky) more after that.
We can barely get ourselves to bed on time -- why do we think this is such a good idea? Because it's a calling I guess. Seriously, I have no good reason to attempt this craziness than to say that I've always known that I wanted to be the mother of an adopted child. I realize it's going to be the hardest thing