This page chronicles highlights from our adoption journey to adopt Zelie! Scroll down to the bottom for more recent updates.
Preparation and Discernment: September 2013 - March 2015
Note: the main "event" of this period was lots and lots of prayer, plus learning more about adoption in general and about particular agencies, saving money, and taking a good hard look at our finances and future goals to determine when would be a good and prudent time to start the adoption process.
Sept. 17, 2013: We attend our first adoption information session at a local agency, Adoptions Together. Overall it was a good experience, but we learned that our current apartment (a basement apartment) would not be approved for an adoption because it didn't have windows in the bedrooms. Operation Adopt A Baby put on hold; begin operation Find A New Place To Live.
August 2, 2014: We move to our new home, which has plenty of windows in the bedrooms! It is a house we share with wonderful housemates and their dog. Our home is pleasant, spacious, close to our jobs and affordable - a real answer to prayers.
Sept. 8, 2014: We attend our second adoption information session, almost a year after the first, this time at the Barker Adoption Foundation in Bethesda. We get a good feeling about the agency and appreciate their wealth of experience (70 years!) and the amount of services offered to adoptive families, birthparents, and adopted children before, during, and after an adoption.
Sept. 12-13, 2014: We attend the Empowered to Connect conference in northern Virginia, about parenting children "from hard places" (adopted kids and foster kids). It is a fantastic experience and we leave feeling re-confirmed in our decision to adopt and also equipped to face some of the unique challenges of raising adopted children.
March 20, 2015: Bethany attends an all-day seminar hosted by the Barker Adoption Foundation. It is very educational, with sessions about adoption and race, open adoption, and testimonies from adults adopted as children. Again, it confirms our decision to move forward with adoption.
Starting the Adoption Process: April - June 2015
April 2, 2015: On the 5th anniversary of our engagement (Holy Thursday, 2010) and the 10th anniversary of St. John Paul II's entrance into eternal life (2005), we put pen to paper to begin filling out the application to be considered as adoptive parents. St. John Paul II, pray for us!
April 20, 2015: We mail our completed application to the Barker Adoption Foundation to begin the adoption process - finally!
May 1, 2015: Our application is accepted.
May 12, 2015: Intake meeting at Barker Adoption Foundation (Part One).
June 16, 2015: Intake meeting at Barker (Part Two). We receive all the paperwork and instructions we need to begin the home study process.
The Home Study: June - October 2015
June 20, 2015: All day pre-adoptive parent training at Barker. What we learned: Part One and Part Two.
July 2015: Working through the home study paperwork, one form, one appointment, at a time. It feels at times exciting, and at times tedious, but it's great to see items get checked off our checklist one by one: medical reports, Bethany's autobiography, fire inspection, fingerprints and background checks, two online parent trainings, etc. All four of our references send in their letters. We also bought our first baby items at yard sales - pretty surreal. And we attended an info session at our agency to learn about legal issues involved in adoption.
August 2015: Still working through paperwork. We are closer to the finish line now! What remains to be done: Dan's autobiography, financial forms, and a few forms our housemates have to fill out. We're aiming for mid-August to hand everything in.
August 28, 2015: We hand in the LAST batch of paperwork - hooray! on the feast of St. Augustine. What's next: four interviews with our social worker.
September 11, 2015: First interview, together in our home.
September 17, 2015: Second and third interviews, individually in our home.
September 19, 2015: Our social worker interviews our in-person reference.
September 29, 2015: Fourth and final interview, together in our home.
October 6, 2015: Receive a draft of our home study document to review and edit as needed.
October 14, 2015: Home study is officially approved!!
Preparing for the Waiting Pool: November - December 2015
Now that we are home-study approved, we will apply to St. Joseph's Adoption Ministry in Kansas City, KS, which will be our matching and placement agency. That means that they will connect us with possible adoption situations and when (God willing) one works out, handle the legal paperwork for us to become our child's parents.
This step also involves preparing our "profile book" to be shown to prospective birthparents, basically a photo book about us and our family.
Mid-November, 2015: Start working on our profile book
December 3, 2015: Finish our profile book and order 5 copies of it
Early December, 2015: Even though we are not "officially" in the waiting pool, we are contacted about our very first potential adoption situation, of a toddler, through our home study agency in Maryland. The mother ultimately decides to parent.
December 21, 2015: Mail application, three copies of our profile book, and big fat check to St. Joseph's Adoption Ministry (Kansas City, KS).
December 31, 2015: Everything arrives safely in Kansas City.
Waiting for our child: January 2016 - April 2017
January 1, 2016: We are very hopeful that this will be the year of our first adoption!!
January 7, 2016: We take an infant CPR class at a local hospital.
February 1, 2016: Month #1 of waiting recap
February 8, 2016: We attend a "waiting parents" class at Barker about prenatal drug and alcohol exposure and how it may affect a child.
February 10, 2016: We retain a local lawyer to help us with any legal issues that may arise re: a potential adoption, and for finalizing the adoption down the road.
February 16-26, 2016: We decide to show our profile to a couple seeking an adoptive family for their child, but in the end they choose another family.
March 1, 2016: Month #2 of waiting recap
March 19, 2016: Barker's annual adoption conference, which as usual is amazing.
March 23, 2016: We get approved to adopt twins or triplets (hint, hint, God!!)
April 1, 2016: Month #3 of waiting recap
April 15, 2016: Workshop at Barker about post-delivery referrals
May 1, 2016: Month #4 of waiting recap
June 1, 2016: Month #5 of waiting recap
Mid-June, 2016: Start working on several forms that need to be updated every year: medical report, background check (FBI and state), and child clearance.
July 16, 2016: We move to a new house! We start working on paperwork that needs updated: financial info, escape routes in case of an emergency, updated family bios, and so on. It feels great to be really settled and also have have more room in case we are blessed with multiple children at once (another hint, God!)
July 2016: Months #6 and #7 of waiting recap.
August 2016: Month #8 of waiting recap. We update our profile book and finish all our paperwork but find out the fire inspector can't come until September 20 (boo). So still waiting to get back in the "pool."
September 2016: We do the requisite meeting with our social worker and also the fire inspection on our new house. We wait the entire month for Dan's CPS form to come back, to no avail. Month #9 of waiting recap.
October 11, 2016: The CPS form finally comes back, and our home study is freshly approved! Huzzah! We also send in an application to a placement agency in Georgia, An Open Door, to expand our options. Month #10 of waiting recap.
November 2016: Month #11 of waiting recap.
December 1, 2016: We are officially "active" with Open Door, ready to be considered by any expectant parents they are working with! Our online profile goes live, too.
January, 2017: Another situation is presented to us but we are not chosen.
February 9, 2017: We hear about a situation in CA through St. Joseph's. After praying about it and discussing it, we decide to show our profile book.
February 20, 2017: We talk with the expectant mom for over an hour on the phone and it is amazing.
February 21, 2017: The CA lawyer working with this case calls us and tells us the parents chose us to adopt their baby!!! It is a girl due April 1st [later updated to a bit later in April.] We are overjoyed!!! Short story here. Long story here.
April 4, 2017: We fly to California!
April 6, 2017: Our daughter Zelie-Louise Layla Rose is born at 11:01 a.m. We spend Thursday-Saturday in the hospital with her birthmother and enjoy getting to know her. Zelie is a beautiful, much-loved baby!
April 10, 2017: Zelie's placement with us becomes irrevocable; we are officially her forever family thanks to the generous, selfless choice of her birthparents.
April 24, 2017: We travel home to Maryland as a family of three!
Post-Placement & Finalization: April 2017 - January 2018
This stage is part of every adoption. At this point, legally the time period has closed for the baby's birthparents to decide to parent (called the revocation period), but before the adoption becomes totally official, the state needs to ensure that the baby is being cared for properly. After the adoption is finalized, Zelie will be issued a social security number (up to this point we can request an ATIN - Adoption Temporary Identification Number, for tax purposes) and a revised birth certificate with our last name on it.
Post-placement requirements depend on the state where the adoption will be finalized (for us, CA) so we follow their rules. Our local (MD) social worker still visits us, and sends her reports to our CA social worker. This is what is involved:
*Three in-person visits with our MD social worker; each time we give her a worksheet about how Zelie is doing, how everyone is adjusting, etc., as well as forms from Zelie's doctor visits
*One phone call with our CA social worker
*Physicals and TB tests for us
*Updated financial sheet, employment verification, reference letters, driving records, marriage certificate, etc.
*Several CA-required questionnaires about our lives, families, parenting styles, etc.
May 1, 2017: First post-placement visit with our Maryland social worker. Our social worker is an awesome resource for all questions about adjustment, bonding, adoptive relationships, etc.
May 23 and 24, 2017: We both get physicals and TB tests done.
July 6, 2017: Phone call with social worker in California. This is a CA requirement, that she speak to us. Since we already had an approved home study, we only speak with her once.
July 7, 2017: Second post-placement visit with our Maryland social worker.
September 21, 2017: Third and final post-placement visit with our Maryland social worker. Done!
November, 2017: We had to submit several forms to our California lawyer, including several notarized forms officially confirming our intent to adopt Zelie, and forms listing all of the expenses we spent during the adoption process. After our lawyer received these forms, he requested our court date.
January 5, 2018: Zelie's finalization day!! She is now officially a Meola!!
So, to recap (just for fun).....from the time we decided YES, we want to adopt:
-- It took us 1 year and 7 months to get ready for the adoption process (September 2013 - May 2015)
-- It took us 5 months to complete our home study (June - October 2015)
-- From the time we were approved to adopt (October 2015), it took us 1 year and 4 months to be matched (February 2017)
-- And in sum, from our first adoption information session in September of 2013, it took a total of 4 years and 4 months until Zelie's adoption was finalized in January of 2018 - WHEW!
And every single year, month, day, hour and moment was worth it for you, dear Zelie!! xoxoxo Mom & Dad
--------------------------------------- T H E E N D ------------------------------------------------