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So Far

“If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it.”

I saw this quote recently, and it immediately resonated with me. Before we even got to where we are now with an adoption, adoption was just a fleeting thought that would creep into my mind that I would dismiss. Our life is good now. It’s too expensive. Blake is already a handful. I can’t have any more kids-so clearly, we are only supposed to have 1. We just downsized our house, why would we add another? 

But, the thought of adoption kept coming back. I had a desire for another child, though I knew that wouldn’t happen by my ability to have my own children. I settled on us being a forever family of 3. 

People would sometimes ask us if we’d consider adoption. All around, many at church were adopting. Blake often would ask for a brother. More and more, the subject of adoption was occupying the spaces around me. And slowly, my heart started to catch up to my mind. Over months, years, my heart felt the tug of adoption. I kept it all to myself. I started praying. God, are you trying to tell me something? Surely I am not equipped for this. Adoption is HARDYou know my anxiety can’t handle thisThere’s no way you are calling ME to this?

Then, one night, Michael mentioned IT. Adoption. Seemingly out of the blue. Mind you, we’d never spoken about it.

And I knew at that moment that God had been working in both our hearts. And Michael’s mention was the confirmation. God had been preparing us both, and this was the moment of confirmation for us.

When I said, “Me, too. I’ve been thinking about it, too!” We knew it meant something.

We waited a year. We prayed, to be sure this was really what we were supposed to do. It’s a big decision!

I can’t even tell you the exact moment that we made the final leap into it. It just….happened? It’s kind of a blur. But, we both knew it was supposed to be. So, we just kind of jumped into the freezing water, hesitating because we had no clue what we were doing, but ready with a wetsuit; an armor from God to keep us warm.

I’m the “researcher” in the family, so I knew finding where to start would be up to me. (That’s what marriage is all about. You play to one another’s strengths, right?) I was clueless about where to even begin! I asked around to friends. I joined a Facebook Christian Adoption group. I perused their stories, and though I saw the hardships, I saw the beauty, too. I started Googling adoption agencies but became overwhelmed and nervous. What if someone scammed me? So, I contacted people for agency recommendations. I called many of them, leaving a lot of voicemails and emails. I prayed over our agency and the decision to find the one for us. I was nervous about picking the wrong one. If you know me, then you know I’m very indecisive. Making a decision and following through with it can be difficult for me sometimes. What if I do the wrong thing? God knows this about me. I prayed that the right agency would somehow fall into my lap. I prayed for it to be obvious. God is so good to me! Because out of the dozen agencies I called, ONLY ONE CALLED ME BACK! So, God made that decision pretty easy! 

My goal is to blog our adoption journey. Maybe the Lord is tugging at your heart? Maybe you’ve stumbled across this because you’re just as clueless as I am and want to know more. Hopefully this will help someone. Or, if nothing, bring you along on a journey to pray with us.

Our agency is All God’s Children, and they have been a dream to work with so far. Our coordinator is a wonderful soul who is always available to answer my questions.

The agency sent us packets of information on each country: Haiti, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Columbia, Philippines, China. (Ethiopia is currently closed for international adoptions due to civil unrest. )

The first step was filling out a pre application and then a checklist. This checklist consisted of a long list of what we were looking for. The top portion of it asked for gender (we chose male), race (we said any), and age (we said 4 to 6).

(When adopting, it is highly recommended and encouraged by agencies and countries that you adopt in birth order. Meaning, we couldn’t adopt a child who was older than Blake. Now, that isn’t to say this doesn’t happen, because there are exceptions, but it’s very rare.)

The second part of the checklist is to fill out the medical portion. This is where we checked off all the medical conditions we would be open to. These all vary from mild to severe. We chose the milder of the conditions; speech delay, cleft palette, etc.

Once the agency received our checklist they recommended the country they thought was best for us. Of course the decision is ultimately up to each family, an adoption agency will help you in this decision.

A lot of it depends on what race you want (we were open to any so none of the countries were closed to us base on race), gender (China now has more girls up for adoption than boys!), and medical checklist. China was immediately closed to us because of, as I mentioned in a previous post, my anxiety meds (which I had to get a doctor’s note to explain). The other countries were closed to us either because they would take 4 to 6 years, the medical conditions were more severe than we wanted, or the majority of children come with siblings as an adoption requirement, and we only want to adopt one.

We were then sent a lengthy application for both Michael and I to fill out concerning our finances, jobs, living situation and parenting style. That underwent a review process, which took some time. It’s quite thorough. They even gave it back to us to write in some clarifications of our finances!

Once the application went through and our finances passed, we were sent informational packets for each country. These talked about the adoption requirements for each one, cost, time, and more information about the program.

At this point in the process, we HAD to choose one country. I always thought you could put in multiple interests in countries and just sort of throw your wants out there like confetti, until the first child became available.

Nope. You have to commit to ONE.

Haiti was the clearest choice for us, and so we happily joined the Haiti program! (I will write more specifically about Haiti at a later time.)

And, thus starts the long journey…..and a lot more money! With the country specific application turned in, there’s also a $6,000 fee that must go with it.

Each country’s OVERALL cost is a little different, but they are generally the same, give or take $5,000. The cost is a rough estimate, but at least it gives you some idea. The Haiti program is one of the most expensive ones, at about $40,000. (A little over $38,000, I believe).

Once the country application and money are received, we had to enroll in 7 required courses. All of the courses combined cost $300.

Each course is a few hours long, requires response questions from Michael and I separately, and require us to record video responses. At the end of each course they are sent to be “graded” by the agency, and if you pass the responses then they send you a passcode to take a final exam for the course completion. It’s at that time that you move onto the next course.

Michael and I are currently in our second course, “Preparing for the Adoption Journey”. The first course we took was “Transracial Adoption: Building Cultural Awareness.”

After our first 7 courses are complete, we will then do our Homestudy. A Homestudy ranges in price from $2,300 to $3,000 depending on which company you choose. A homestudy is when a the social worker visits your home and conducts a set of interviews. We had to go through a 3rd party for this, as our adoption agency doesn’t have any offices in Florida. We’ve been told the home study process can take 3 to 4 months to complete, because there’s a lot of paperwork, as well as multiple interviews, and medical records that have to be pulled for each family member.

We are still in the beginning of this process, but thinking back to just three months ago, we are so much farther along! I’ve learned a lot since the beginning, and I continue to try to educate myself. I’ve started listening to Podcasts about adoption, international adoption, transracial adoptions, and Haiti. I want so badly to understand and know it ALL. I want to be the best mom I can be to our son who is out there waiting for us.

We told Blake the news two weeks ago. I wasn’t sure how he would take it, to be honest. Though he has mentioned he wants a brother before, I still wasn’t entirely sure. He took the news well! We spoke to him about the age, and Haiti. He didn’t know anything about Haiti so I showed it to him on a map and then pulled up some Haiti photos for him to see. He saw some Google pictures of a Haitian boy playing and said, “That’s the brother I’m getting? WHEN CAN WE GET HIM?” And I realized he took it LITERALLY that we were getting THAT child. So I had to try to explain how the process works. I think he gets it. Now, every night before B goes to bed we include Mason #4 in our prayers.

Blake sees a counselor and she’s going to work with Blake to ensure it’s a smooth transition, for as long as this process may take. Changes are not exactly easy for our little guy, so I’m praying for him in this process just as much.

Tomorrow we start our 3rd adoption course. We are inching closer to the Homestudy. We also have to get Michael’s passport renewed because it expired! HA!

I’m not sure how COVID is going to impact any of this, to be honest. With things changing all the time, my biggest concern is a massive travel ban where we may not be able to bring our child home when it’s time.

We are just praying and trusting God’s plan.

The same plan that lead me to do a puzzle piece fundraiser. God definitely directed me to do this, because asking for money in this way, more specifically, asking it for ME (my family), is something I would NEVER EVER do!

But, my friends and tribe are so gracious and have the biggest hearts! People I haven’t seen or spoken to in YEARS have showed up for us. And it’s beautifully heartwarming. The human spirit is sometimes more than I can handle. We have raised $1,711, you guys! This will pay for our online courses and some of our homestudy!

We still have so many more funds to raise. But, God is in control, and I know he will provide in ways we cannot fathom.

I’m looking forward to continuing to share our journey with you. The day when I can hopefully look back on this blog post and share it as a “Memory” to my two sons.

~~~

Interested in helping us fund our adoption? Consider being a PIECE of our story.

It works like this: 

1. We have a 520 piece puzzle that we created.  (I’m not even sure we have/know 500 people-LOL! But, let’s give it a shot!)

2. We are “selling” each piece for $20. You can choose to buy 1, 2, 3, or 10! There is no limit! You can even go half with someone if $20 is a lot for you! We understand!

3. To purchase a puzzle piece, please send payment 

via Paypal- outofessence@hotmail.com

Via Venmo-@Brittney-Mason-8

(if some other way is best for you, please contact me)

4. Once you purchase a piece, we will write your name on the back of one of the puzzle pieces and send you a picture. 

5. Once every single piece has been “sold”, we will put the puzzle together and hang it in a double-sided glass frame so that we can always look on the back and be reminded of who had a “piece” of bringing our child home to us, and who helped us go from a family of 3 to 4. 

If we are able to sell all 520 pieces, we will have raised $10,400! Wow! (Then we will have about $20,000 left to pay)

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