That was intense!

Turns out the “Weekend Intensive” was appropriately named.  We expected a lot of it: going over paperwork, asking questions, signing the contract–that kind of stuff.  There were a few things we didn’t expect–good things–all told, it was a really good experience. And we have a new mantra for where we are right now:

first step

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We left Wilkesboro way too early (4am), fearful that our two-and-a-half hour drive would somehow take 5.  It took two-and-a-half.  Ah well–a chance to catch up on sleep–until it got too chilly and we had to drive around and explore to warm up the car.  We’re always too early.  Better than being late, I suppose.

First thing on Friday, we got to meet other folks who are in the same position we are–at the beginning.  It was great to have an opportunity to talk to people who are where we are in the process–and have lots of the same questions.  It really showed us that we’re not the only ones that have been spending a lot of thought-space on particular questions or situations lately. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to catch up with these folks later on, when we’re all in the same boat waiting for the phone to ring…

So, on to the learning part.  We’ve been patting ourselves on the back too much in the past two weeks, apparently.  We’ve got a LOT more to do–and it has to be done BEFORE the official home visit.  There’s the paperwork we’ve listed previously, and of that long list, we’ve tackled a good bit of it (see below).  Some of it will likely take a while and is out of our control entirely after it’s in someone else’s hands–like the FBI clearance.

A good portion of Friday related to our “Dear Birthmother” letter and the content of our “iheartadoption” website. In the next few weeks, we’ll be putting together a brochure of information about ourselves that includes a letter to a prospective birthmother.  It’s sort of a terrifying letter to write–what you say here could capture–or turn away–a birthmother’s interest in us as adoptive parents.  It’s important to get it right.  *A* says she’s not as worried about the letter because we’re both English majors from way back, and neither of us are strangers to writing. I’m not so sure those things will be helpful.  We have different writing styles and what we produce together will then be edited by a member of IAC’s staff who has seen a bajillion of these things.  It’ll be a challenge, that’s for sure. If you know me at all, you know I’m not great at talking myself up. It’s also difficult to think about this in the abstract, writing to an as-yet-unknown birthmother. I mean, really, though, have you ever thought about what first words you might say to the person who could be the mother of a child who will be yours as well as hers? It really is daunting, wouldn’t you agree?

Another big deal on Friday was our “First Meeting,” which was our first of three required “visits” for our homestudy (not all visits must take place in our home–they just have to be in-person visits). So, the First Meeting was was the first official meeting with an IAC social worker, wherein we signed our contract, answered a few questions about why we’re doing this, and had an opportunity to ask questions.  Stupidly, we didn’t really understand the point of this meeting until it was over–we thought it was just a signing-contract-bwcontract-signing and that was it, but it was apparently intended to be more than that.  In any case, we didn’t have any questions at the ready and we didn’t hand over the paperwork we had already completed and had neatly clipped together and prepared to hand in because we didn’t know if that was the right time and place, and we didnt’ ask.  Naturally, later that day, we remembered that we wanted to turn in all that paperwork, and then, of course, the questions came flooding in.  They were generic enough to not require another one-on-one, so we could still get them answered, but still–we wish we’d really understood what our role was in the First Meeting.  In retrospect, *A* commented, we also should’ve taken pictures to commemorate the moment of signing the contract.  It was a big step.  Duh. 😦

The best part of our half-day wrap up on Saturday was meeting a family who adopted a baby this past November.  It was really helpful to hear from a family who has made it through all of it.  Their son was adorable, and he definitely had a captive audience!  They told us a brief overview of their story and we had a chance to ask questions–it was a really great opportunity to address some of our concerns with a family who has so recently been through what we’re facing.

One unexpected thing we got out of this was how helpful it was to connect with other people who are where we are.  We made friends with folks from Asheville and Charlotte, and we hope we can connect with them again in the future.  We wish we were a little closer to Raleigh for the monthly support group–but driving five hours on a Tuesday night once a month is probably not going to work.  The IAC does offer a kind of online version of a similar group, and there are also forums for asking questions and reading about what other folks are doing–so that will help make us feel less isolated, I’m sure.

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It was a good experience–we’re both glad we went.  We reacted to the weekend a little differently, so read on:

First, some thoughts from *A*:  I was a little surprised at all the emotions that came up for me over the weekend. I am still dealing with the grief of not being able to carry a child and I guess that came up over the weekend, unexpectedly. I was full of excitement to go to this weekend and, in the midst of it all; I felt sadness because I will not get to experience birth. I also felt some anger when we were talking about the bonehead things people say when you tell them you are adopting.  Now that we’re back home, I’m really feeling the push for getting the paperwork done.  I  spent the day today working on my part of the paperwork,  finishing my part of the home study questionnaire and starting on my autobiography.  I want to get this paperwork finished quickly so we can have our home study. It takes 90 days for them to finish the write up, which I was not expecting. We were going to try to be able to “be in the book” by June, but it looks like that is not going to happen that quickly.

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workNow, from *E*:  The past two weeks have been sort of a build-up (very much akin to the weeks prior to Christmas) for me–with lots of flurried activity trying to get paperwork accomplished as quickly as possible, as if we’re trying to impress someone (?!).  I didn’t allow myself much time to think about what we’d actually accomplish this weekend until that crazy early morning drive to Raleigh on Friday.  I really don’t know if anything would’ve been different just because I’d spent more time thinking about it.  A lot of my questions were answered, and we got to hear a lot of the same things we’d been thinking come from the people around us, so it was a great feeling of relief to know that we’re not alone.  I think we’re both disappointed about how much more time it’s going to take us to get “in the books,” though, and with all the momentum we built up to accomplish part of our mound of paperwork prior to this weekend, we really thought we’d be farther along.

We’ve still got soooooo much more to do; it’s hard not to be overwhelmed.  In fact, by the time the workshop ended for the day on Friday, we slumped back to our hotel feeling pretty defeated (of course, we’d been up since 3am, but even still…). The feeling was still there Saturday morning, and is still there now, on Sunday night, though after another day of completing some of the paperwork that’s under our control (we don’t have to wait on some government body or someone else to complete it), I do feel some better.  The real push for being “in the books” is that THAT is when the official waiting begins. It’s hard to think that the years of waiting we’ve done so far doesn’t count at all.

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Well, anyway, here’s an updated list,  so you can really see what paperwork we’ve accomplished so far:

The Priority 1 (before homestudy is completed) List:
Adoption Homestudy Autobiography (A) (E)
Adoption Home Study Questionnaire (A) (E)
Acquiring certified copies of our birth certificates(A) (E)
Child Abuse Clearance Form
Client Profile Summary
DMV Driving Records
FBI Clearance
Gun Safety Form
Health History Form

Letters of Recommendation (1) (2) (3) (4)
Proof of Medical Insurance
Monthly Expense & Income Statement
Physicians Examination of Adoption Applicant Forms
Request for Criminal Record Search
Verification of Employment

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PS–if you’re following from our previous post, the animals survived just fine in our lengthy one-night absence. The cats didn’t realize we’d gone anywhere, but as *A* predicted, poor Tucker experienced some (non-destructive –*knock on wood*–) separation anxiety, though we did try to alleviate that with a friendlier place than boarding him at the vet’s office.  Still, the silly dog ate his first meal since Thursday night this afternoon. He’s just no good being separated from his humans. (Well, I can’t really blame him–I’m a basket-case when I’m separated from my human, too…) 🙂  –*E*

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