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!