First 3 meetings for homestudy done? Check. Fingerprints for FBI (round 2) done and mailed? Check. Multiple trips to the county clerk? Check. Discouragement, confusion, encouragement, and peace? Check, check, check, and check. Needless to say, January was a busy month. Bare with me, this post is going to be long!
I learned that it’s VERY important to not rely on others (who aren’t familiar with the Bulgarian requirements) to complete a document. Yup, learned it the hard way. Basically, we are required to have our fingerprints done for the homestudy AND the dossier. Knowing this and being the multi-tasker that I am, asked the agency if they would send a copy of the fingerprints to the FBI in West Virginia since we had already been cleared by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. I even included the address so they could easily be sent. They said that would be no problem but 2 months later when I asked them about it they stated they hadn’t sent them nor were they going to. Ahhhhh, the monthly freakout moment. I waited until I was driving away from their office to voice how I felt about the situation. Confessions from both Nick and I were taken before God that night 🙂 That weekend was one of my most doubt-filled times this far. Now, this may seem like a small thing and you are probably wondering why the heck I was flipping out. Two words: Processing time. The biggest reason we had requested the prints sent to the FBI in November was because we knew it took at least 90 days for us to get a letter back from them. So, when the deadline is April and the do-over prints aren’t sent until now, it might be concerning. Well, back to the doubt. I wrestled with every emotion that weekend and every document I needed to get signed (when I say signed, I mean notarized, county certified,and apostilled) seemed 1,000 times bigger deal then it really was. I didn’t know how to vocalize my feelings until I had two meltdowns, one with Nick and one with a dear friend at small group. Both prayed with me and by the grace and love of God, I got back in the saddle.
Starting that week, God was gracious enough to sent little reminders that He was leading us on this road and to keep focused on Him. The first came when we headed downtown to the Knoxville County Courthouse to get some documents certified. We met the sweetest older gentleman who took it upon himself to give the the history rundown of the old courthouse while he worked on certifying. Loved it! After a while, he asked us what the paperwork was for and we were able to share about the adoption. He was genuinely excited for us and asked a lot of questions. We gladly answered the questions and told him a little about why we felt the Lord was leading us to adoption. Then it happened. God used a little old man to encourage this worn out girl’s heart. He handed us the documents and told us this round was on him. Now, I say this to give some clarity about a portion of the adoption cost. Not every penny goes to the agency. Every document that we get county certified and apostilled costs $5-$8 and goes to the government. Pocket change, right? Well, not when we have piles of documents still to come, it adds up! It have only been $20 that the man basically put back into our pockets but I left with the peace that God will ALWAYS provide. He is gracious, isn’t He?
Homestudy: We met our case worker last Friday at Panera for our individual interviews. Basically, she took each of us aside and pounded us with questions. Details about how we grew up, our family dynamics, how we met, details of how we interact as a married couple, what we do for work, what we do for fun, and our experience with children. I’m not sure I’ve ever talked for an entire hour about my life story before, especially to a complete stranger. It crossed my mind several times of how crazy that the Bulgarian officials will be reading about us in April! Another gift from God moment: while Nick was waiting for my interview to get over, he started talking to a girl sitting close by and turns out she was adopted when she was a baby! When it was time for his interview, he introduced us and we talked for 1 1/2 hours. What a blessing it was to ask her detailed questions about how her adopted parents handled her questions about her birth parents and how she went about meeting her birth mom. She was so excited that we were adopting and gave encouragement that we will be apart of changing a child’s world. She probably doesn’t know it but God used her by just sharing her story with me.
Yesterday(Friday), we had our “in home” portion of the home study. I had this built up in my head as the case worker looking through closets, making sure chemicals were stored correctly, and basically snooping around for dirt and dust 🙂 This was not the case at all. I gave her a tour of our place and she checked for a fire extinguisher and made sure the smoke alarm worked. That was it! No looking under the beds or observing that Bebe’s future bedroom is a storage/guest room right now. Easy enough! She then pretty much re-interviewed us as a couple and asked about the plans we have talked about for when Bebe comes home. She was really helpful in talking out plans for interviewing pediatricians with children from other countries and what questions to ask. I’ll get into that subject later because that’s a whole other topic. All in all, meetings with the case worker have gone well and our last one is next Friday!
In closing, I want to share about a thought that hit me earlier this week. Nick and I have been able to briefly meet dozens of people the last several months who we might not see again. From the grumpy cop who took my fingerprints to the Fed Ex man who helped us mail the fingerprints to the FBI, each time we mention we are in the process of international adoption, people light up and get so excited! They naturally have a dozen questions and seem to be thrilled to be play a roll in Bebe’s story. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the support and love we have been shown from our family, extended family, church family, friends, work/business family, and now complete strangers. Bebe already has a huge fan club and has no idea the love he/she will be entering into when we bring Bebe home! 🙂
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8