Big Journey Little Steps
Domestic adoption. Domestic adoption of an older child. Something that we rarely hear about - even when we go searching for information on the subject. What is it? Who can do it? And how is it done? My family and I have just begun the journey to adopting our big kid from the foster care system. I am by no means an expert and will never pretend to be. While I am learning to navigate this process, I want to keep you in the loop as we cut through the red tape and prepare our family, our hearts, and our home.
In case you didn't know, there are THOUSANDS of children currently looking for safe and loving families right here in the United States. We won't go into a bunch of statists right now (I want to keep you awake) but just a quick Google search and the numbers will terrify you. For us, expanding our family while giving a child a home and hopefully changing the statistics is something we are passionate about. My husband and I had challenging and colorful childhoods.
I'll say that neither of us entered into young adulthood gracefully. We still always had a family - something that many children do not have. I cannot imagine going through some of experiences I had and having no one. Hopefully, we can be that foundation for a special big kid.
My husband and I have no biological children together. I, individually, have a 9-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy. My husband has an 11-year-old boy. We already have our hands and hearts full - knowing that we have room for more! We began our adoption journey with many talks and a few tears. That was followed up with a TON of research. Which path was right for us and our family? Where can we make the most impact? Eventually, I found Eckerd Connects, the non-profit agency that handles the foster care system and adoptions from foster care for our county in Florida. They work closely with the Florida Department of Children and Families to keep children safe and be in permanent homes.
After reading all about Eckerd and the expansive services that they provide our community, I reached out for more information about children that are currently eligible for adoption placement and was invited to an orientation...4 LOOOONNNGGG months later. This time was filled with dreams, talks, research, and more tears as we felt our hearts continuously being pulled towards adoption. Unfortunately, Eckerd is only able to do these orientations once a quarter. These ladies work so tirelessly to find families for these children and frankly, are over-worked. Finally the first 'big' little step was here....
We were so eager to take the first seemingly big step in our adoption early that we awkwardly arrived 45-minutes early for our orientation! Let me tell you, there was quite the crowd. All races, ages, religions, and backgrounds were being represented and joined together under a common goal - to help these children. I believe we were all excited and energized to be there. Right up until we found out that less than half of us would be sponsored by Eckerd to continue our adoption journey. That doesn't mean that these people won't be able to adopt at all but that they may have to go through a private organization for their classes and homestudy. We were all advised to fill out an application sent to us later in the week. This application would be compared to the needs of children they already have waiting or ones they know are in the pipeline.
I anxiously waited at work for this application. As soon as it hit my inbox, I started filling it out with my husband on speakerphone. I was so nervous that we wouldn't get selected into that group of 25 individuals. Towards the end of the week, the director and her staff called me for a basic phone interview (we will cover the application and interview in another posting) and informed me that my husband and I had been selected to start our parenting class with them! Now it is Wednesday, one week since we filled out our application, and less than a week till we start our parenting class to become certified with the State of Florida. Tuesday, the 23rd, we will be sitting in a 3-hour class, for 7-weeks that will hopefully be further informing us and preparing us for our adoption journey. And I cannot wait to share each 'big' little step along the way.