Friday, August 28, 2015

The last of our home study paperwork is handed in and a cool spiritual connection!

Big Home Study Update
We have been diligently working through our home study paperwork since we received the stack of forms and instructions back in mid-June. Today we're happy to report that we took the very last set of forms to our agency and handed them in!

All in all, everything came together beautifully.

We didn't take a picture at the agency - after all, the scene itself is not that exciting (us, a file folder, in an office) but we did take a few at the Mexican restaurant we went to afterwards to celebrate:

Watermelon margarita - YUM

Tamales and a guava-rita almost finished - also YUM
After dinner, we had a fun relaxing time at the nearby Barnes & Nobles. Not going to lie: it's been a bit stressful getting together all the forms, waiting for state & federal clearances, making sure we're on top of things, all while working and doing all the normal life stuff. It is absolutely worth it, but we were so happy to have this done and get to relax! It feels like a huge burden lifted to have all the forms in. And we're so grateful for everyone's support along the way.

What Happens Next
In addition to handing in our paperwork, we also gave the agency a hefty check ($3,000) to start the next and final stage of the home study. After the agency staff reviews our paperwork to make sure nothing is missing (a possibility with 50+ forms and over 200 pages of documents!) we will be assigned a social worker. He or she will contact us to set up four interviews:

1. Together, in the agency office
2. Dan alone
3. Bethany alone - these are to ensure that neither of us is feeling pressured to adopt, which we can assure them is not the case!
4. Together, in our home - the "home visit" that's kind of the capstone to the whole home study process

Our social worker will also meet with our in-person reference, as one more check that we're sane and stable and would be decently good parents. After those interviews are done, the social worker will write up the actual "home study" which is an official document - a report about us - that states our readiness to adopt, and can be shared with other agencies, adoption attorneys, etc. as acceptable proof that we've been verified and vetted. This report usually takes the social worker 4 to 6 weeks to complete.

As far as a timeline, because of some work travel coming up for Bethany later in the Fall, we are very much hoping to complete the interviews in September and have the home study report written by November. Here's hoping!

Significance of the Day
On a side but not unrelated note: today's feast is a meaningful one for us - Saint Augustine. Here's a bio if you don't know much about him. Both of us have studied his writings, particularly his famous Confessions and De Trinitate (On the Trinity), in college and grad school, and have been moved by his journey to faith and ardent preaching of the Gospel. But here's the personal connection that's really neat for today: we spent our honeymoon in Rome, and one of the many churches we visited was Sant'Agostino:

Like so many churches in Rome, there were a few surprises inside. One was that St. Monica (Augustine's mother, who prayed for his conversion for years) is buried here. (!!) Another was that there was a little alcove in the back dedicated to Mary as Our Lady of Childbirth:

The medals, and blue and pink pillows on the right hand side are tokens of gratitude brought by parents after a son or daughter was born. This is a popular place to pray for the gift of a child, and for safe delivery of that child.

You are probably getting the connection...! At the time we were in Rome, just a few days / weeks married, we were of course blissfully unaware that children don't always come when you want them to. We prayed at this altar for the gift of children, yes, without realizing at all how many years it would take (may still take) until, God willing, we too could go into Sant'Agostino and leave a token of our gratitude, something we would absolutely love to do someday. We often think of that shrine and say a prayer to Our Lady for her intercession.

Needless to say - it was pretty neat to have an important day in our adoption pilgrimage coincide with a feast day that is personally significant for us because of its connection with our prayers for a child. Well played, God. Well played :)