Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Home Study Update #4: Done with Visits now, too

 As Christmas approaches fast in five days, one "present" we're happy about this year is that we were able to complete all three of our social worker visits before we traveled for the holidays!

Just a fun Christmasy photo, this one with Santa Cow :)

All three visits are in our home, with our social worker Sandy who has been with us since we started the adoption process for Zelie.

  • Visit 1: November 27 (Bethany's birthday :)) - joint visit, discussed any major changes since we last met four years ago, talked about our openness to various adoption scenarios, then Sandy did her less-than-a-minute walk-through our our house
  • Visit 2: December 4 - individual interviews, where Sandy talked to Dan and me separately about any personal changes or challenges since our last home study, our feelings about the next adoption, etc.
  • Visit 3: December 11 - joint visit, and with our kids, too, talking more about parenting (the blessings and the challenges), our approach to discipline, our plans for adjusting to baby #3, etc.
Zelie had some questions for Sandy, along the lines of: "what's 100 plus 1,000?" and "do you like legos?" Sandy was a good sport about them! Zelie also made Sandy a picture and gave her a baggie of cookies to take with her; Grace eagerly showed Sandy her current favorite toy. ha!

After Visit #3, Sandy also went to have a chat with our in-person references (our dear friends the McClains, also Grace's godparents), part of the requirement.

So that got wrapped up really well and we thought very quickly! It was a bit of a challenge to squeeze this in during a busy season already, but we're grateful that we could and keep this train moving. 

Next steps are:
  • Sandy writes up the actual home study (n.b. the official "home study" is an actual document that details our readiness to adopt, the kind of situations we're open to, and more, which is shared with whatever agency we're working with)
  • Two people from Barker review the home study
  • We get a chance to review it and offer any suggestions or (more likely) correct anything factually inaccurate
After those three things are done, our home study for baby #3 is officially approved, woo hoo!! At that point we're technically in the waiting pool because we could legally adopt with an active home study.

Then (#nosurprise) we have other things to do, too:
  • Chat with someone at Barker about what out-of-state agencies would be good to consider joining; the numbers of babies adopted in our area are fairly low, and while we may be able to be considered for some possibilities locally (that's how Grace joined us!) we'll also be looking to enter another waiting pool, too. So we need to (re-)consider which out-of-state agency is the best fit in terms of location (how easy is it to get there? do we know people nearby?), cost, services, etc. Barker vets the agencies in terms of doing adoption ethically. 
  • Once we choose an out-of-state agency to sign up with, they'll have their own requirements, typically we'll do an application and maybe talk with someone on their staff; they get a copy of our home study to review as well.
  • Then we'll update our profile book with current pictures of our family, and maybe create a video too (that was something that was just becoming common before we adopted Grace); we're waiting on this to see what agency #2 expects to see, as they're all a bit different.
Then we wait! For only God knows how long! 

Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Home Study Update #3: done with paperwork!

 We've finished the paperwork part of the home study and are now scheduling visits with our social worker, hooray! We're very grateful that we'll be working with the same social worker (Sandy) who helped with both Zelie's and Grace's adoption, which is so cool. She answered so many questions we had as we went through the home study process for the first time, and she met Zelie when Zelie was only a few weeks old and we had just returned from California (Zelie's birth state). And Sandy was one of the first people who found out about Grace (shortly after we found out) and met Grace shortly after we brought her home from the NICU. So she's played a special role in both our girls' lives, and we're so glad she's still working with the agency and able to meet with us again!

This portion of the home study includes three visits, in our house:

  • Joint visit #1, with social worker plus us (parents and kids)
  • Joint visit #2, with social worker plus parents
  • Individual visits, where she meets separately with me and Dan
(So I guess that's technically four visits? But three times at our house.)

Note that one of the joint visits is also with our kids, and Sandy will ask them a few questions about the upcoming adoption. You never know exactly what our kids will say, so that should be fun! :) Zelie in particular brings up "our new baby" quite a bit. Like when she was going through a Christmas toy catalog and circling baby items "for the new baby." Or when we were voting on which movie to go see, and she said it would be great to have a third kid as a tie-breaker, ha! So it's on her mind.

We have our first visit scheduled for November 27 (Bethany's birthday, btw) and at that meeting we'll schedule the other two. It could be possible to get them done before Christmas, we'll see. And then Sandy takes all the information - the paperwork and the visits - and writes up the official home study document that approves us to adopt again.

Getting closer and closer!

As one last recap, here's what we've done so far (the paperwork portion):

  • Uploaded proof of medical, life, and car insurance, 1040 tax form from 2022, and Grace's birth certificate 
  • Pet license and vaccine records for Mr. Bailey 
  • Fire inspection
  • Fire safety survey + family emergency plan
  • Autobiography updates
  • Guardianship forms
  • Employer / salary verification
  • Certified driving records from the state 
  • Medical paperwork for the kids
  • Medical self-assessments for adults plus physicals
  • Four references
  • Background checks (CPS and child support) 
  • Live virtual class about transracial adoption 
  • Five online classes 
  • All financial information
  • Two online classes
  • Fingerprints
Really glad to have that behind us! Onward!

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Home Study: 2 month(ish) update

Now we're a little more than two months (+ a few days) into the home study for adoption #3, and here's where we're at:


  • Uploaded proof of medical, life, and car insurance, 1040 tax form from 2022, and Grace's birth certificate 
  • Pet license and vaccine records for Mr. Bailey (the easiest government-issued thing so far!)
  • Fire inspection
  • Fire safety survey + family emergency plan
  • Autobiography updates
  • Guardianship forms
  • Employer / salary verification
  • Certified driving records from the state - new
  • Medical paperwork for the kids - new
  • Medical self-assessments for adults plus physicals*** - new
  • Four references - new
  • Background checks (CPS and child support) - new 
  • Live virtual class about transracial adoption - new
  • Three online classes - new

*** "Fun" story for this month's update, regarding my (Bethany's) physical ... I did it at the Patient First down the road, and went in at 8 a.m., having fasted since the previous evening for some blood work. I was feeling a bit hungry but generally fine (not there because I was sick, obviously). Well, when I was getting my blood drawn I started to feel WOOZY. Like edges of vision closing in, hard to form my words, but was able to say "I feel a little.....lightheaded" and hear the nurse's concern before BOOM, passed out. (!!) It was only for a bit, it seems, because I came to and the same nurse saying with concern, "Are you ok?" She had me lay down on the bed and someone else got me some ginger ale. Still feeling not superb but I just want to get home and eat something --- but when I was standing in the hallway to check out, all the sudden that ginger ale, ahem, comes up.... make that a first of throwing up in public, UGH! Back to the room again, someone found a bag of pretzels this time, and made extra extra sure I was okay to leave. Lots of concerned looks like, "you're sure you weren't sick when you came in here?" Oh boy - what a way to start a day!! Ah the adoption memories.....

Not done

  • Some remaining financial information (stuff to upload that we missed initially, it's SO much information....!)
  • Two online classes
  • Fingerprints (they only take about 48 hours to be processed, and then have a "shelf life" of one year before we have to redo them, so we're waiting until closer to the end) -- planning on October 28th at a walk-in center
Working goal adjusted a bit: now we're hoping that getting the fingerprints done will be the LAST thing that is pending, so hopefully that will happen at the very end of October, allowing us to schedule our home study interviews in November / December - fingers crossed!

And one fun thing from this time period: we went to the annual adoption picnic hosted by our agency, which was really sweet! It's very kid-centric so there were lots of games for the kids to play, plus face painting, a playground, a cheerleading show (!), and a yummy grilled meats + potluck lunch. It was really nice! And so enjoyable to be around other adoptive families, since we don't have that many in our network, and barely any with young kids. It was great to have a place where Zelie and Grace weren't the only adopted kids but almost all the kids there were - to give some solidarity that other kids have a similar background to them. 

Zelie getting her face painted

Grace as Wonder Woman

Hula Hooping

As always, thank you for your prayers!! Onward!!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Home Study: 1 Month(ish) Update


Pictures: top, from a work trip to Wichita this month; bottom, the girls at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster PA where they stayed with my parents while we were away :)

We're one month (+ a few days) into the home study for adoption #3, and here's where we're at:


  • Uploaded proof of medical, life, and car insurance, 1040 tax form from 2022, and Grace's birth certificate 
  • Pet license and vaccine records for Mr. Bailey (the easiest government-issued thing so far!)
  • Fire inspection*
  • Fire safety survey + family emergency plan
  • Autobiography updates
  • Guardianship forms
  • Employer / salary verification
*It cracks us up how different each of the three fire inspections we've had at the same house (!) This time, the curveball was that we needed to have smoke alarms IN the sleeping area for the baby - meaning, attached the ceiling in the master bedroom, even though there's one already a few feet away in the hallway.... thankfully, Dan had thought ahead and had an extra alarm, and dashed up the stairs to install it. The inspector noted that he clearly "was doing it" and let us pass without waiting for it to be fully installed ;) You just never know!

In process

  • Certified driving records (requested from the state)
  • Medical paperwork for the kids (will get done at Grace's 4 year check-up later in September)
  • Medical self-assessments (working on it)
  • Four references
  • Background checks (CPS and child support) - submitted to state via Barker, haven't received results yet

Not done

  • Upload proof of finances + fill out financial form
  • Physicals for Dan and Bethany
  • 10.5 hours of online training (but did purchase the classes)
  • Live virtual class about transracial adoption (will happen September 16)
  • Fingerprints (they only take about 48 hours to be processed, and then have a "shelf life" of one year before we have to redo them, so we're waiting until closer to the end)
Overall it's going really well! It feels like a peaceful pace but we're making progress, which is nice to see. Our working goal is to get everything done by early October, so we can schedule our home study interviews in October / November and *hopefully* have our home study complete by early 2024.

So, please keep praying for us and for whatever future child we may be welcoming into our home!

Friday, August 4, 2023

And we're back again :) Adoption three officially underway!

Please pray for us as we embark on a 3rd adoption pilgrimage, to - God willing - welcome another precious child into our family!


We have long wanted to adopt again - as it still seems as though babies are not coming any other way - but this time around, it took us WAY longer to get to the starting block again! (For comparison, we started adoption #2 when Zelie was just over a year old; Grace is almost four.)

A few reasons for that:

First, Grace was born in September 2019, which we recount here, and while we were still in the early months of sleep-deprived newborn-parent life, the world shut down with the covid pandemic in March 2020. We - like most of the world - were in shocked survival mode for months and months, and starting another adoption did not seem feasible as the world was so crazily altered.

Second, we discerned a major career move around the time Grace was born. Dan had completed his PhD studies in January 2019 and through prayer, dreaming, and the encouragement of some key mentors, we decided to leap into the unknown and start a non-profit with the mission of helping adult children of divorce (like Dan) find healing: Life-Giving Wounds.

If you've ever started something brand new, especially a start-up from-scratch business, you know the work and effort that goes into it!! It's been such an amazing experience but a huge learning curve as well. We started out simply in a volunteer capacity, but thankfully the ministry has grown such that Dan has worked full-time for Life-Giving Wounds as the President since February 2023. (That whole journey would be another post by itself!)

Suffice it to say that we wanted to see where this new venture would lead, and make sure it was stable enough, before embarking on another adoption process.

We started talking in earnest this past Spring about adopting again, and decided that July was a good (enough!) time to do it!

Differences with adopting this time around:

The *biggest* difference, of course, is that we now have TWO children who - because they are older than Zelie was when we adopted Grace - will be participants in many ways in the ride we're about to take as a family! The girls are VERY excited. (Grace says she wants a baby "right NOW" ha, and Zelie is full of ideas for names, such as: Zelie, Sprinkles, and's a work in progress ;))

We're hoping that this adoption can also lead to conversations with them about their own adoptions, and an opportunity - especially for Zelie at age 6 - to "see" what the process is like that she only experienced as a newborn. Zelie will be interviewed by our social worker as part of the home study - kid-appropriate questions like what she likes about being a big sister, etc. 

And now that we have a cat (#pandemicpet), Mr. Bailey has a role too - we have to submit his rabies vaccination records and get him a pet license.

The last big difference so far is that since we adopted Grace, our home study agency has gone totally virtual / electronic with the paperwork. So far this has worked out nicely, with far less things needing to be printed, signed, scanned, or mailed. And everything is kept nicely together in our "portal."

What's coming next:

For the most part, though, the home study will be more or less identical to the process we went through when adopting Zelie and Grace.

Ready for the paperwork list?? ha! Stuff we have to do includes:

  • provide 4 references (this time including someone who has spent a lot of time with our girls)
  • get background checked by the state and the FBI - three separate processes, two that are notarized forms, and one with fingerprints
  • provide medical information from our doctors and our girls' pediatrician
  • sign a bunch of agreements with the agency
  • update our autobiographies
  • have our house inspected by the fire department (let's see if they want us to remove a window entirely this time!)
  • do some adoption classes - one for parents adopting again, and one about transracial adoption
  • give them alllllll of our financial info and then some
  • provide proof of all our insurance policies and our driving records
and more :)

Then we'll have to have a few meetings with our social worker, update our profile book (and maybe do a video about our family?), and decide which out-of-state agency we want to work with this time. (Our home study agency always recommends that, in order to increase the possibilities.)

So, we're chipping away bit by bit! Of course there will be frustrations and delays - for example, so far all three of my phone calls to the fire marshal's office has been greeted with the recorded message "the fire marshal is not answering and the mailbox is full" (okayyyy) - but we know we'll get through it since we've done it twice before!

As we start on this "pilgrimage" again, we're both excited but also nervous and - as both other times - a wee bit overwhelmed by the quantity of tasks to do. So, please pray for us! And especially for whatever child may join our family. For peace in all our hearts and a docile openness to God's will.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Grace Theadora Rose: our second adoption! (the details)

So BIG NEWS - we adopted again!!! Our little girl turned one month old yesterday and we adults are sleep-deprived so this will be a bit of a brain dump to record on our blog how Gracie came into our lives!

Fri-Sat Sept 27-29
Dan and I had planned a long weekend away for a while. His mom was visiting so we took the opportunity to head down to Virginia (by the bay) for a getaway. We stayed in a house that belongs to one of Dan's former coworkers. It was gorgeous - dated back to the 1800's, super classy, felt like getting to sleep in a historic home, steps away from a peaceful inlet of water. So perfect. We had such a nice relaxing weekend the two of us, enjoying some leisurely meals, walks by the bay, antique shopping (only I cared!), etc. Just what we needed. (Even more than we realized at the time!)

Ironically, we spent some time talking/complaining about how long it was taking to adopt again. Little did we know that on....

Mon Sept 30
We would get an email in the afternoon from our home study agency saying that there was a baby girl in the hospital who they thought we'd be a great fit for. (!!!) We got some basic info and had a three-way call with the social worker handling the case, to ask more questions and such. It was definitely head-spinning, processing all this info on the fly, and apart until Dan got home from work. By that point we had already decided to say yes, and then around 6 the social worker called to say she had spoken with the baby's mom who agreed to move forward with us. (!!!)

So we went downstairs, sat down to dinner, and calmly informed Dan's mom and Zelie that we are adopting again! Cue tears! Amazing, Dan's mom had been set to leave the very next day but was able to extend her visit, which was so helpful because on...

Tues Oct 1
We drove an hour to the hospital (in Virginia) in the afternoon to meet with the social worker and then with the baby. FYI: Grace's birthmother has opted for a closed adoption after counseling, meaning that we don't know who she is, we didn't meet her, and we're not in contact. That may change over time - we are hoping it will, because we know how valuable it is for children to have information about their family of origin and for both birthparents and children to have some kind of ongoing contact. But who knows what will happen.

Anyway - we got debriefed by Sami the social worker, then went in the NICU, scrubbed our hands for three minutes (a ritual we got used to soon), and met Grace!

Sidenote: we chose her name between Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon! We had some names in general we liked, but nothing "picked out" in the absence of a specific child. We basically typed up a two-page list of name possibilities and combinations, then went through circling or striking out ones we liked or didn't. Literally on the way to the hospital we settled on her full name.

Grace Theadora Rose

Grace: we loved how that sounding, and the meaning of grace, gift and favor
Theadora: she was born on the feast of St. Matthew (Sept 21), whose name in Hebrew means "gift of God" - Theadora also means "gift of God" in Greek; it's also a connection with Sr. Thea Bowman, an African-American Catholic leader who is in the canonization process
Rose: we met Grace on the feast of St. Therese (Oct 1), and her "sign" is roses; this is also a connection with Zelie, who has Rose in her middle name too

Back to the hospital...Grace was resting in her clear plastic baby bed in a private room, dim behind a curtain. "Surreal" doesn't begin to describe the moment - yesterday we hadn't even known about her existence, and here we were with this new little baby. And she was SO cute and tiny and cuddly!! We stayed for the rest of that evening before driving home.

FYI: At 5 p.m. that evening Grace's birthmother's consent became irrevocable. It had been signed right after Grace was born (before we even knew about her).

Weds Oct 2
Zelie got to meet her baby sister today! As soon as she walked in the room, she asked to hold the baby. #heartmelt So we got her positioned with the boppy on her lap and she held Grace for a while, trying really hard to get the pacifier in her mouth. It was so precious, seeing our TWO girls together and interacting for the first time. Then Zelie got bored of holding the baby and wanted to put her in the bouncer (mamaroo) that was in the room. Then she wanted to touch all the wires and push the rolling bassinet and rock on the rocking chair really hard annnnnnd it was time to go ;)

We also signed all of the placement paperwork with Sami, there at the hospital, so we'd be able to leave with Grace when she got discharged. And Sami started the ICPC paperwork that would allow us to take Grace home to Maryland.

Dan's mom stayed with Grace so Dan and I could take Zelie out to eat (a yummy burger place) and to play. There was this pretty swanky shopping center a few minutes away from the hospital that had one of those water fountain play areas for kids. It was HOT today - 90's - so Zelie had a blast running around in the water and getting totally soaked.

Thurs Oct 3 - Weds Oct 9
Grace's time in the NICU. Honestly, it wasn't all that bad!

Pros: very little to do other than rock Grace, so lots and lots of time for bonding and holding and being together. The nurses were AMAZING and helped so much with Grace, and helped us get comfortable caring for a much tinier baby than we had before with Zelie (5 lbs vs. 7 lbs), navigating all the wires and beeps, etc. The drive to the NICU wasn't awful, about an hour one way. And hospital itself was pretty quiet and calm.

Cons: The worst part was not being together as a whole family. We decided not to get a hotel room because a) cost, and b) we thought Zelie would be more comfortable staying at home. Thanks to LOTS of grandparent support, Dan and I were able to take turns being with Grace. But that meant we only saw each other for the "hand off" so to speak, as most nights one of us stayed at the hospital. We could tell Zelie was getting tired of not seeing mommy or daddy all day, as she needed more cuddles and attention, understandably. Plus we were eager to get Grace out into the fresh air and away from the small little space she was literally connected to!

But overall, the NICU time went smoothly. We tried to focus on a day at a time, making a plan for that day, getting as much rest as possible, meeting Zelie's needs too. We also benefited a lot from the advice of friends who had had NICU stays with their kids.

So finally, after about a week and a half, on...

Weds Oct 9
Gracie was ready to get discharged!! Hooray! At this point we didn't know whether our ICPC paperwork would be cleared and we could drive Gracie into Maryland. If not, we'd have to stay (she'd have to stay - obviously with at least one of us) in Virginia until we could leave. Dan had scoped out a hotel option and I had packed enough stuff for all four of us for a few nights, just in case. Not ideal, to stay at a hotel with a newborn, but we had done it with Zelie for 3 weeks (1 week at a friend's parents' house) so at least this wasn't brand new.

BUT right before Grace was officially discharged, Sami texted to say ICPC cleared! So we could leave the hospital and drive straight home! That was definitely a relief and cut down on the complexity of the next few days.

We did a required mini-CPR class for infants (complete with an inflatable mini baby that we got to take home) and took the required discharge training from the nurse with some basic care info. Then Grace was ready to become wireless and go home! Oh, and the night before she had passed the "carseat challenge" - buckled into her carseat for an hour and a half without exhibiting distress. Awesome job, Grace.

Procedure was that we put her in the carseat, which was then placed on a rolling crib, sides raised, and a NICU nurse wheeled her to the hospital entrance for us. Kinda funny! A dramatic exit. We said goodbye and thank you to the nurses there, who again were SO amazing the whole time. We promised to send them our Christmas card! And we wheeled through the postpartum unit, where the nurses all clapped. #moretears

Then Dan got our car, we put Gracie in, and homeward bound! She had her first trip of many on 1-95 and the Beltway, plus a lovely view of downtown DC from the bridge over the Potomac (not that she noticed) and finally into Maryland! And finally home! Whew!

Not ten minutes after we arrived, a friend stopped by to give us several loaves of bread! Which was awesome because we had managed to place an order for pizza at the wrong pizza location so my mom was engaged in going to the other location for our dinner...oops.

It was so wonderful to finally be together all four of us, in our own home.

What's Next
Life! Hopefully some more sleeping from our hungry girl! But glad that she's eating so well!

Grace had a pediatrician appointment two days after discharge, and she was over 6 lbs, awesome!! And overall is doing really, really well. Poor Zelie got a flu shot at the same appointment. Of course we needed some Chickfila after that morning.

In terms of postplacement stuff, it's the same as with Zelie. We'll meet with our social worker three times in our home. One of those meetings already happened, the Monday after discharge. Each meeting is an hour long and we just talk about how things are going, how are we adjusting, attachment, questions, concerns. We've worked with our social worker Sandy now since before adopting Zelie, so she feels like an old friend at this point!

Grace's adoption will be finalized in Virginia, so it's likely that we'll actually go to the courtroom this time (instead of calling in like we did for Zelie's) - that should be pretty cool! It will happen a little more than six months from now because of the required postplacement visits and other paperwork (naturally).

So that's the story! We are a family of four now, thank you God! We don't take that for granted for a single second after years of praying to become parents, and now having the amazing blessing of each of our children having a sibling. So, so happy.

Thanks for reading this novel!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

While We Wait, Round 2: Summer 2019

It's been a while since we posted, so an end-of-summer "catch up" post seemed in order!

In adoption news - really nothing to report. We wrote back in June about a roller-coaster situation that ended up not going anywhere. Nothing like that has happened since then, for better (those scenarios are pretty nerve-wracking and all-consuming!) or worse (at least there's something *happening* and not just radio silence).

We are coming up to some of the annual things we have to do to keep our home study current, in this case for Dan and me to get our annual physicals. It's kind of a nice reminder for something we ought to do anyway - but generally these "landmarks" make us realize how much time has passed since we started the process (home study was started last summer for baby #2), which can feel discouraging.

Our home study agency recently partnered with an organization called Parentfinder, which assists hopeful adoptive parents in creating high-quality online profiles ("flip books" you read online, plus hard copies), videos, and other materials that are then shared broadly both through their own platform and a few other sites that target folks considering adoption. We attended a webinar on what Parentfinder has to offer and decided to sign up. It costs more money (naturally) and will take some time, but we think that it could make us more "visible" to expectant parents considering adoption, and help us present ourselves in a more three-dimensional way - as realistic as you can get in a digital format, anyway! So that's something we're going to be working on in the Fall.

Other than that, one neat thing that has happened recently is that we've been able to share our knowledge of adoption with some folks as part of a ministry starting at a local parish. This included talking for over an hour one night with a couple just starting their adoption journey, and also sharing resources that have helped us along the way (books, information, etc.). It always feels great to give back, on a topic we care about so much!

In regular life news - here are some snapshots of the fun we've been having this summer! Dan has had some time off here and there so we've been able to travel a bit and explore. And now Zelie is old enough to do a few more things and also really enjoy summer play, especially involving water.

Celebrating Father's Day with homemade cinnamon buns and bacon YUM

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, ocean, child, outdoor, water and nature
Day trip to the countryside/water in MD, after a yummy seafood dinner, on the Susquehanna river
throwing rocks in water - a fav pastime this summer; here in Charlottesville VA
Two day trip to NYC; with Lady Liberty
Image may contain: plant, tree, flower, outdoor and nature
Our garden! We're growing tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, squash and more
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, shoes
Zelie went to a three-day nature camp, where among other things she made a cotton ball polar bear
Zelie's first trip to an amusement park - Dutch Wonderland - looks like she likes it ;) 

Thanks for reading, and please keep praying for us!