I have an exceptionally good reason.
Last Monday night at 9 pm I got an email in my inbox and rocked my world. Our social worker sent me an EMAIL telling me that she had talked to her supervisor and they were recommending that we withdraw from our home study and they did not think that they would be able to approve us. The reasons listed were vague and not clearly defined and most of them were things that could be worked out. Several of them were things that they were well aware of right from the start (several young children in the home, size of our home etc...). It felt like a smoke screen. I still have not had a reply to me email back to her asking for her to elaborate so that we could be aware of what was "wrong" if we pursued adoption the future.
I cried, and cried, and cried... Daryl was already in bed and had gone to bed very tired, so I didn't dare wake him as he had to work the next day. Then I went to my Reece's Rainbow Facebook group (a secure, closed group for people actively involved with RR, and lots of other adoptive families are there). There I found out much about why the agency we had been using is not recommended. I found out that they do not like to approve families who have several younger children in the home (I'm sorry, but 1, 41/2 and 7 is NOT a problem...I have it the easiest that I have had it in over 20 years right now!). They also do not approve of families who do not actively avoid pregnancy while in the adoption process...as if that is any of their business! But here's the clincher. They will not approve a family for adoption unless the sign a form committing to NEVER us corporal discipline for their adoptive child. SAY WHAT? They admit in this form that corporal discipline is Biblical and legal, but since many children who are adopted come from situations of abuse, they will not allow any of "their children" experience corporal discipline. Again, SAY WHAT? Corporal discipline is legal in our state and most states. We explained to them that physical punishment is our last resort, and how we discipline each of our children is different according to their needs/personalities etc. We incorporate rebuke, with holding of privileges (like ice cream or going to a birthday party), or what some might call a "time out", which for us means sitting next to me until they are calm enough to listen to what I have to say or take care of whatever conflict they are involved in. During our interview our children were almost all present and it was obvious that they are all happy, well adjusted, healthy children. Our older children all turned in references that showed that we were good parents. But policy is policy.
Let me back up a little. When we shared with people what we were adopting, often they would ask which agencies we were using. When I shared which agency we were using, almost everyone was surprised and many shared concerns about this choice. I had chosen them on a couple of recommendations, but I guess I had talked to the few that had good experiences with them. As time went by, I began to have second thoughts about our choice, but everything had been going smoothly so far, so I was thinking that maybe we were going to be one of those who had a good experience with them. Boy was I wrong. My concerns escalated as we moved into the home study portion as our social worker was hard to get in touch with. And when Carese got sick the day before the first visit, I left a message for her the night before the appointment, but didn't hear back from her until the day after the appointment. That means that that entire day of the scheduled appointment I had no idea if she had received my message, and so I had to continue to prepare our home for the visit while dealing with a very sick little girl. All the stress could have been alleviated if she had just taken a moment to call and say she wasn't coming! I felt that was inconsiderate, and she didn't even apologize when she called the night before. Obviously she is not a very considerate person, since she also chose to send me that devastating email right before bedtime.
Back to my time that evening talking with other adoptive moms on the RR facebook page. They were so encouraging. They were convinced that it was a Bethany policy problem and not a problem with our family. Several of the moms even sent me private emails sharing with me their difficulties with this particular agency. All of them now had children in their home adopted internationally. All of them had been told by this particular agency that they would not be approved for one reason or another. Several of them recommended the same agency for our area, even our adoption agency!
So the next afternoon I left a message for Mike, which he return not long afterward. After just 30 minutes on the phone with him, I felt like we had been given a second chance. I read the email I got from the social worker and we talked through each of the vague concerns that he had, and I told him the truth about everything. He said that he did not see any reason why he could not approve us, and that our problems were related to this particular agency's policies. He sent over all the paperwork within the hour and I got right to work.
That was Tuesday night. Thursday morning I had sent him every document via email, with the only exception being our medical reports. I have two of the children's medical in hand, but Daryl and I had to have a blood test done that had not been done originally. If all goes well, I'll have the rest of the medical paperwork in hand by Monday! Our first of two home visits with Mike will be on Thursday!
No for the good news. So often a blessing comes wrapped up looking like a trial. That email seemed to shatter my world. At first it looked like a dead end, but soon it looked like a detour/delay at least. But not that we are into this switch a few days it looks more like an upgrade!
First of all, Mike charges less than 1/2 of what we were expecting to pay the first agency. Secondly, we were expecting our home study to wrap up in about a month (I had just asked the social worker about this), but Mike completes home studies beginning to end in 4 - 6 weeks. Since we have much of our leg work done (our background checks are due to come back any day), he believes we can be wrapped up in under 30 days!
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
Much of the paperwork had to be redone for the new agency, but since we had done this before, it went really fast. One of the documents that needed to be done again was the employment verification. when he got the document back, he found out that he had gotten a raise!
Talk about a wild week!
Oh - and I forgot to mention that we applied for our passports a week ago. We should have them in hand in about 4 weeks.
So we are back on track, about the same expected completion date for our home study.
Hope you enjoyed the ride..I'm still not sure I enjoyed it, but so glad to be at the other end of it now!
Here's another photo of Priscilla that I have not shared until this week. Most of her photos are not complimentary and she looks either bored or sad..but I think it's time to share those so you can see why we so desperately want to get her into our home!
And here is that song, in a video highlighting children with Down Syndrome who are languishing in orphanages around the word: