Monday, February 17, 2014

Turner's Adoption Story Journal - Part One - Paperwork, Prayers and Miracles!

This is a story of God weaving His perfect will into our lives:

I inquired about a child on Tuesday 12/3 after seeing this sentence shared on a Facebook page: "I know of a 7 yr old boy (originally adopted from China 3 yrs ago) here in Michigan that is looking for a new family. Please private message me for more info if you are homestudy approved and interested in more info! Thanks!"

I messaged right away, even though we didn't have a current homestudy. Something struck me about this ad. Everytime our kids pray for us to adopt again they pray for a boy (to even out the number of boys and girls in the family) and they pray that he is Risa's age but a little older (that way every one has a "twin"; Anthony, 11, is just older than Mirabel, Titus, 2, is just older than Maggie). Even if we weren't the family for him, I share children in need on our "5 kids 6 months" page on Facebook so I wanted more to this little guy's story. The lady from the adoption agency, let's call her HD, sent me two documents, one had pictures and one had a description:

"Turner" – 7 year old boy (almost 8), adopted from China in 2010.

Health:
Turner was adopted with a nevus on his face. They have started surgeries to have this removed for cosmetic reasons, but stopped when Turner had a strong emotional reaction to the last surgery. He also has a tumor in his mouth, but the doctors are not concerned about it and do not feel it needs treatment.

Strengths:
Turner is an optimistic and cheerful, energetic little boy. He has a sweet, endearing personality and loves to talk. He is obedient and eager to please, and is always ready to hold your hand. Turner loves books. He is intelligent, and has no difficulty meeting grade level expectations. He is curious, and always eager to be involved in activities going on around him. He loves to build, and enjoys imaginative play, both alone and with others.

Weaknesses and concerns:
Turner is easily swayed by peer pressure. He has trouble remembering rules and following routines when not directly under adult supervision. He needs help identifying and owning his emotions, as well as regulating his emotions. Turner often lacks the confidence needed to challenge himself. He prefers to be babied rather than be independent. When Turner feels threatened, he plays a passive aggressive role in what he perceives to be power struggles. Turner has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder and PTSD.

Best Fit:
Turner would thrive in a family who has a strong support system, and who is able to devote the time and attention to Turner's emotional needs. Ideally, I would recommend a placement with a family who does not have any children younger than or close in age to Turner, in order to not perpetuate the simulation of an institution. However, I believe that in an experienced family with a good support system, other children may not be as much of an issue."

*Turner is a child that was adopted in 2010 from China and due to family stresses and attachment issues the family that adopted him no longer feels fit and able to parent him. This is called an Adoption Disruption (read an article here). Out of love and wanting the best for him they contacted the agency that originally helped them bring him home from China to help find him a new family. I sympathize with the family, God alone knows their story and God loves them as much as He loves Turner.*

We were the only family that had inquired about him. I thanked HD and told her we would be willing to adopt him but we are not homestudy ready and we have three younger children so we don't meet the adoptive family's (lets call them AF) qualifications. We would begin praying for Turner to find the perfect family. On Thursday 12/5 at 9am I emailed five very close people to join with us to pray for this little boy. We prayed that God would raise up the perfect family for him.


God moved that same day! At 4pm HD, from the agency, called to let me know that a family with older children inquired and was very serious about adopting Turner. Again I got to see God's power (so far almost every child we inquire about finds a better suited home right away!). HD told me she would submit the new family's info to the AF on Monday 12/9 morning and asked if we wanted to submit our family bio as well. I told her that we prayed God would raise up another family and that we didn't have a homestudy to submit. I thanked HD for her time and praised God for His will for this child!


The end.

That should be the end, and I kept meaning to send a second email to my fab five to thank them for praying with me.

But God wasn't done.


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I received a call Tuesday 12/10 at 3pm from HD. She said that she presented ‎‎the willing family to the current AF and they asked if there was anyone else who inquired about Turner. HD then asked if she could submit us to the AF as another willing family. I thought she wanted to do that maybe to be able to say to the AF, "See this only other family that inquired (us) doesn't meet your requirements." Done deal. End of story.

I said "Sure, I don't have anything written up and our homestudy isn't ready." She asked if she could just show them our blog. I agreed. I didn't think another second about it, didn't think I would receive a ‎call back. They would see by our blog. They would see that we had young kids. They would see we are a large, busy homeschool family. And we didn't have a homestudy.

HD did call back at 5pm the same day. ‎She thanked me for letting her show our blog to the family and said it made their decision easier. Her next sentence almost made me drop the phone, "They looked over your blog and fell in love with your family, they know you are the family for their son!"

I am still in shock and awe of what God is doing! 


But worries began to run through my mind. We don't have a current home study done. Can we get a home study completed by the end of the year? 
We don't know what all the cost involved is. Could we raise the money it will take to bring him home?

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First, the homestudy. I spent the entire next day, 12/11, on the phone with two agencies in our county. I spoke to 5 people and all said that it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to complete our homestudy before late February. One lady nicely called me crazy for even thinking it could be done before Christmas. Also the private domestic homestudy that this adoption would require would cost $1500-1800. It was a dead end. They needed homestudy ready family for Turner, for sure they wouldn't wait on us.
 
"God, if you want us to adopt Turner you are going to have to get this homestudy done." 

Then I got one last option. There is this private social worker, JB, that does homestudies on the side, maybe she can do it. For sure if we couldn't afford the state's fees, we couldn't afford a private worker's fees. I called JB with little hope. I explained our situation, how we have all our paperwork ready, we got our fingerprints done, we went in for our physicals, we did our background checks, we just need a home visit and the final written report. She said she can only do one homestudy at a time, but it just so happens that the very moment I called she just finished and hit "send" on the only one on her plate and she had no others lined up. She said with everything so far along she should only need 2 weeks to complete it and she would only charge us $500. I am totally in awe!

Is anything impossible with God?

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On Thursday 12/12 we got to meet Turner's adoptive parents via a video conference call with the agency. They told us more about Turner and their long road of therapies and attachment counseling. They asked us about our knowledge of RAD, our upcoming move, our homeschooling and our support system. We shared our struggles, our parenting strengths and mistakes and our love regardless of behavior that only Jesus gives us.  I really have a heart for this mother. She is in a place I have been. She feels isolated and rejected by her child, friends and others. She feels "emotionally bankrupt." The call ended on the note that they are 99% sure they wanted to move forward with us, they just needed to talk about it and get back with us. It was also agreed that once they tell Turner (no, he doesn't know anything is changing yet) they don't want to prolong the move. Although our prayers are with the AF, we are 100% sure we will take Turner if they choose this route.
 
JB called later in the day schedule our home visit for Saturday 12/14 and to encourage us to get in touch with an attorney, named CT, she uses for adoptions. We made an attorney consultation appointment for Tuesday, 12/17 and the first fee would be $100. Then my mind ran back to the financial worry. Where will we get the money to see this through?

Well, with 5 kids I can't sit too long on the worry train so life went on. We stopped by a local thrift store that we regular for the kids to shop for Christmas gifts with their hard earned money. The kids of course blurted out to a manager we know and love there that they will soon have a new brother. I caught her up with the events God was seeing through and she asked how much money would it cost. After telling her she loaded our car with boxes of brand new items donated from Walmart for us to sell to raise some of the money.

Amazing. Again, only God!

As soon as we got back home my phone rang, it was HD from Turner's adoption agency. She wanted to announce that the AF had for sure chosen and felt confident in us to complete the adoption. She wanted our attorney's information so we could move forward. Good thing I had called an attorney earlier that day and had one to give her!

We were chosen!

This story is getting long huh? As I was updating all the events above little Maggie popped up on my lap. She pointed to the boy in the picture. "That is Turner, sweetheart."
Her huge green eyes met mine, "Ter-ner" she says very carefully, "black face".
"Yes, sweetheart, Turner does have some black on his face."
"Titus"
"Yes, baby, like Titus' skin. Turner has yellow and brown skin. Turner needs a home, can he be your big brother?"
"An-ton-ee big bruda."
"Yes, Anthony is your big brother, can Turner be your big brother too?"
"Yesh! Ter-ner bruda."
Mirabel after watching the sweet reaction of her baby sister added, "Mom, I think Turner will like it here, we have all been through what he has been through. We have all had his behavior and RAD issues. We will be able to show him so much love." Our kids have all been ecstatic from day one, we have kept them in the loop this entire time.

This is feeling real.

This will change our thriving family dynamic. This will alter all our lives forever. I will be the mom of 6 precious lives. I put all the kids to bed and fear gripped me. I am human. I get scared. I cry. I weep. I feel inadequate. I wonder if I am truly following God's will. I still struggle with a desire to be a perfect mom. I realize how weak I am. I still require grace minute by minute. Then He shows me, again, His strength, His refuge, His love. God has been so good. I am so thankful He gave me the grace to embrace His will. I am more thankful He gives me the grace to sustain that same will.

Now to wait, begin fundraising, and get to Tuesday without more mental breakdowns.

   
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It's Wednesday 12/18, God has provided $600 through generous donations for this adoption so far! That is exactly the $500 for JB's homestudy cost and $100 for the attorney consultation fee that we needed to move forward!

Only God can make this adoption possible!

The meeting yesterday with the attorney, CT, went GREAT! CT is so sweet and knowledgable on foreign, interstate, disruption, private and domestic adoptions! She said she will work with us on all cost involved. Friday is also the perspective date of a conference call between all MI and FL workers working on this adoption. They will discuss the best route for Turner's adoption and the timeline of events!

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Oh my! It is Friday 12/20 and our homestudy is completed! We had to have it to our attorney by 12pm today to have in notarized and sent to Michigan before everyone is closed next week!

At 11:15am I received a call from our social worker, "I am sending the homestudy to you now but I need it signed by you and Brian and to the attorney by 12pm."

I was driving kids to Nanny's house, so we went home to print signature pag
e at 11:25am it still wasn't in my inbox.

So I drove to Nanny's to drop kids off and print it out there, after traffic and a computer boot up I had signature page in my hand by 11:55am.

Drove to Chick-fil-A, cut in long lunch line to interrupt a woman giving Brian her order, "Sign please! So sorry ma'am, we are adopting a child and this has to be to our attorney in 60 seconds! Thanks Hon! Bye!" By her stern look she didn't care, oh well.

Thankfully attorney's office was just up the road and I ran in at 12:05pm. They waited on me and sent it to MI.
I promised God that I wouldn't rush this process due to excitement or hinder it due to fear. I would follow any timeline He places on the agency's heart! We were told a homestudy done before Christmas was impossible. Well, the impossible just happened because only 9 days later our homestudy is completed and in the hands of our attorney!
 
"Nothing is Impossible with God" is certainly not just a cliché! (Luke 1:37)
 
We were told not to expect to hear anything until after January 1st. So now we wait.
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It's Tuesday, January 14th. There has been lots of miscommunication, missing information and waiting. We still don't have an exact timeline but it's been busy in our home, seems like God has sent us lots of healthy distractions to keep me from being incredibly impatient. 

I did finally speak with our attorney it is understood we will have to fund more than she originally thought. We need $2500 in her hand before she can proceed through the court paperwork, she said by Friday, 1/17. Once we have funding and she starts the process Turner could be with us in 2-3 short weeks! God hasn't let us down yet. It seems impossible to raise that much money in three days. If this is God's will and plan He will see it through. We will just wait.

The Lord will provide!
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PRAISE THE LORD!!!
Our $2500 for the attorney was due 12pm today, 1/17. Guess what!?! At 11:50am we had $2500 EXACTLY in our account! This is not the end, only the beginning step. There is still remaining attorney fees and travel cost to get to Michigan, wait on court to release us and come back to FL. So far God has provided and He will again! We promised we would not rush this adoption or hinder it, we will let only God in His grand provision move it forward!!!
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At the attorney’s office today, Monday 1/20, for a conference call between all parties. We are hoping for some clarification on this, new to us, ICPC paperwork process. ICPC is the Interstate Compact of the Placement of Children. It was established and exists to keep track of all children crossing state lines during an adoption process. The ICPC paperwork begins in the “sending state” (in this case MI) then is sent to the “receiving state” (in this case FL) to be sure both states approve and accept responsibility for the child until they are legally adopted. In FL a child has to be in your home for 90 days before you can legally adopt them. During this time a licensed social worker will visit every 30 days for a total of 3 times to be sure all in the home are adjusting well. At this point the ICPC paperwork will be started and once it is completed and submitted it takes 7-14 days for us to receive a “consent of release”, basically a call saying, “come pick up your new son!”
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Adoption is a constant "Hurry-up and Wait" game.

We rush to get additional documents signed and in then wait, rush to tie up some loosed ends then wait. It is almost February and we have been doing a lot of hurry-uping and waiting. We have to decide on travel to get to MI. We are debating between taking a week vacation with the whole family and traveling in our RV to pick up Turner or Brian and I flying directly to MI and directly back to FL with Turner. At this point we are leaving it in God's hands and His perfect will. He knows Turner best and what form of travel would be best for him. We will just pray that whatever money God provides for this travel we will use for His purpose. We will wait and see....
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In just 4 days $1560 poured in through generous donations! That is a huge answered prayer and means we will plan RV travel from here on out!

GOD IS GOOD!
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It is Tuesday, February 4th and we have word that all paperwork was submitted to MI ICPC for approval. We are being told 2-3 days for approval then 2-3 days approval time from FL. Our prayer is if there are no hold ups and MI approves our paperwork by Friday 2/7 we will head up to MI to pick up our son and wait on FL's final approval. In the meantime we will begin packing our RV to prepare for God to move on Friday!
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Friday, 2/7 at 3pm our prayers were heard and we recieved MI APPROVAL! We are loading up and will leave first thing in the morning! We take a nice slow drive up to MI, stopping in TN halfway and picking up Turner on Tuesday 2/11. We are hoping for FL approval by Wednesday 2/12 and we will make it a slow and eventful ride back to FL! Off we GO!
 

Stay tuned for "Turner's Adoption Story Journal - Part Two - Trials, Chaos and Hope" as I write about our travels, hardships and joy in Michigan!


Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone  

3 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful example of God's love and faithfulness! Thank you for sharing your story. By the way, JB did our home study and CT was our attorney as well. CT told me she would never do an out of state adoption again. I am so glad that she changed her mind!

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    1. I can't imagine using anyone but JB and CT! They are amazing but after our ordeal bringing Turner home I don't know if CT will want to mess with ICPC ever again! God is faithful for sure!

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  2. Shannon -God is clearly with you. Praying for your family! And if you're ever coming through Missouri, you have a home to stay in so just let us know. :-) Sheri George
    P.S. We need to get a copy of that "ATI Directory" you mentioned. We've always wondered if there was a directory somewhere for other ATI families so we could find friends when we first moved to Missouri!

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