So, we have gotten a lot of questions about the process of adopting (at least our process) so I thought I would just write and explain a little about the whole process and where we are at, etc. Let me start with a disclaimer; EVERY FAMILY HAS A DIFFERENT PROCESS. Things are different between each country, state, agency, and even each family! So, I'm explaining our process and it may be vastly different from what you have heard or even experienced, but that's okay! Here goes:
Step 1: Deciding to adopt :) This is the easy step (really it's a HUGE decision! But you get my drift...)
We had been thinking about this for a long time but decided to take the leap in December 2010
Step 2: Where to adopt from? We weighed our options, but we really felt that domestic was the best choice for us for many reasons. For one thing, travelling outside of the country would be nearly impossible for Ben while he is in command. But aside from that we also felt that there was no real need to go elsewhere when there are many children right here in the U.S. who need loving homes just as much as orphans in other countries.
Step 3: Find an agency Well, here is where things get "fuzzy" for us. We chose an agency. We loved them, and still love what they do, but apparently it was not meant to be because things didn't work out as we planned. So we chose another agency, and that also fell through. SO, now we are going to work with Washington State DSHS and not use an agency. So, while you can have an agency, and most people do have one, it's not necessary for domestic adoption.
We contacted the first agency at the beginning of January 2011 and the second agency in June 2011
Step 4: Training! This is the part where it's not so fun. Training. Washington requires (for some cases, not all) PRIDE training. It's thirty hours of mind-numbing information all about children in the foster care system in the state of Washington. We completed our PRIDE training in April and were quite glad to be done with it! Then we also completed classes on blood borne pathogens and CPR. If you are working with an agency you will also have to do some type of an introduction class for the agency (we have also done this). There is plenty of training, and hopefully it will pay off when we have a new child or children!
We completed our PRIDE training in April 2011
Step 5: PAPERWORK This is the part that seems to never end. We did paperwork after PRIDE training, and then paperwork for each of the agencies (who we are no longer working with). The next step also involves more paperwork, but you'll see that in a second...
We started the paperwork after PRIDE (April 2011) and I'm pretty sure it will never end... :)
Step 6: Home study This part is also different for everyone. Because we don't have an agency we had to hire a private home study agency to complete our home study. In our case it was relatively simple, we called and the social worker was able to come out the following week. He sat down with Ben and I and asked a lot of questions and then toured our home. The home study requires a lot of different things from FBI fingerprints, background checks, recommendations, medical check ups, a LOT of paperwork (we are talking hundreds of pages, honestly!) and of course the home visit. The home study is the key to the rest of the adoption, but right now we are stuck waiting for the FBI to finish processing our fingerprints so they can tell us that we aren't criminals. :) The fingerprints usually take somewhere from 6-13 weeks to process and we submitted these sometime in mid-August so we should be getting close to hearing something. We are really hoping to be "home study ready" by the end of October.
We began the home study in August 2011
Step 7: Find our "forever child/ren" After our home study is complete we will be registered in the WARE (Washington Adoption Resources Exchange) database which will serve two purposes. 1: It will allow us to search and see children who are currently in the system. 2: It will allow social workers in the state access to our profile so that a social worker can potentially contact us with a child or children who fit our criteria. We are very anxious to get to this step so that we can actually work on finding our child/ren!
Step 8: Placement Once we identify the child or children that we are interested in we will probably have a few visits and slowly transition the child into our home. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on many factors.
Step 9: Finalizing the adoption The final step in the process will be to finalize the adoption. The state of Washington requires at least six months between placement and finalization, so the child/ren will have to live with us for at least six months before they are "ours" as far as the state is concerned. However, obviously we will consider the child ours as soon as they are welcomed into our home and we pray that our friends and family will do the same. All of the children that we will be looking to adopt will be "legally free" meaning that all of the parental rights have been terminated so there is no chance of the child going back with their biological parents. Because we don't know exactly how long we will be stationed at Fort Lewis we agreed that this was the only way we would ever have time to finalize an adoption. It typically takes about two years from the time the child is removed from his or her home to the time that the state terminates the rights of the biological parents. It is a loooooooooong process and time is NOT on our side!
Well, there you have it. We are currently on step 6 and we are hoping that we will be on to step 7 soon! As soon as our home study is done we will be able to have a child placed in our home and we are praying that it will be quick. For the sake of our waiting child/ren we really hope that they will be with us by Christmas, but we know that it is all in God's hands!
I hope that helps you to understand some of this crazy ride that we have been on! Thank you for all of the prayers and kind words of encouragement, they really mean a lot to us. Especially on the days where it all seems like it will never come together. Love you all!
B, E & H