Every time I read through the comments and message on my blog, Instagram, twitter or Facebook, I’m humbled by the interest in our adoption story. To be honest, I never thought anyone would read Day 1, much less Day 2 or Day 3. Thank you. Just. Thank you.
I hadn’t planned on writing a part 4 to our story. I wasn’t sure there was any interest in the process, and I didn’t journal quite as much during this time. I didn’t really have the time. I will, however, write in as much detail as I can remember to share this part of our journey with you. I’ve searched high and low through all the boxes I have access to since our move and I just cannot find all of my journals, so please forgive my fragmented writing. This will be my last Meeting Dina entry. Again, thank you.
There were only a few weeks between the time of Jared meeting Dina and the first training. We several loose ends to tie up since I had procrastinated so much. We needed to go to the L&M building and get finger printed, we needed to fill out the mound of paperwork, and we needed to secure babysitting for Drake. It was going to be crazy when you combine our school work, jobs, and soccer responsibilities into the mix.
I remember the first day of training. It was raining again. I had worn a green scoop neck shirt and skinny jeans with some nice flats. I thought that seemed appropriate for the first day.
We walked up to the door. We were 20 minutes early and we had no idea where we were going. As we approached, the security guard inside the door was looking at his phone. We waited for, what seemed like forever, for someone to open the door for us. A few employees walked out the door, and we seized the opportunity to go inside.
“Excuse me. Can I help you?” The security officer asked from behind the desk.
“We are here for the foster parenting training.” I responded.
“That’s tonight? Well, okay. I think they usually have it in this room.” He said as he motioned toward a room in the corner of the building.
As we sheepishly walked through the door, there was already another couple in the room. They were young, too. There were a stack of papers on the table to our left and a few markers.
“Grab a name plate and put your name on it so we can see who you are.” said someone from behind the podium. We did as we were told and took a seat in the middle of the room. It was set up in a “U” shape. There were chairs all the way around the outside and a few chairs scattered throughout the middle. Once everyone piled in, the room was completely full. I think there were actually a few people that had to go find extra chairs.
I don’t remember what we even talked about that day. It was all kind of a blur, and a little overwhelming. I remember Jared leaning over and whispering “I think they are trying to scare us.” into my ear. It’s true. Everything they said we aimed to let you in on the reality of what many of the kids in the foster care system have been through.
“The most important thing to remember is our final goal. This is not an adoption agency! Our goal is to reunite these kids with their parents.” That statement interrupted my thoughts like setting of a row of black cats in the library. I knew this. I agree with the reunification process. I think it’s a great way to provided resources to parents that didn’t have the greatest of examples on how to be a parent. There are many success stories out there. Yes, there are also many failures, and I don’t discount those but that statement felt pointed at us.
At the end of the meeting we had to individually meet with the instructor to finalize some paperwork. There was a section where you could request a specific age group. There was a section where you could request a specific gender. There was a section where you could request certain health restrictions. There was not, however, a section where you could request a specific child. As I looked over the form, hands shaking, I decided I would put all the characteristics that Dina had. I would put her age, I would pick female, I would put everything about her I could think of, and I would write her name at the bottom of the page.
Our name was finally called, and I got up from my seat kicking the chair beside me and nearly falling on my face. Subtle. Jared and I laughed at my clumsiness on the way back to meet the worker in an effort to hide our nervousness. As we sat down, she smiled and said, “You are child specific, correct?”
We looked at each other before looking back to her. I nervously answered, “Yes.”
“Okay, lets go through this paperwork. I’ll just need to ask a few questions and make sure your file is complete so we can send your information over and get you a case worker. Just so you know, you will not be guaranteed a specific child, and as noble as it is, we highly discourage families to be child specific. There is always the possibility that the child will be reunited with her birth parents before you complete training. In that case, you will have undergone the entire 30 hours of training for nothing.”
“Okay. Looks like we are all set! You’re free to go. Please sign up for a snack for next weeks training session.”
It was over! The first meeting was over, and I felt no closer to sanity than I felt earlier that afternoon. This was going to be a long 10 weeks.
After a few weeks of training were complete, we received notice that our background check had been completed and we were eligible to provide respite care for foster children. When I received the news, I texted Shirley and let her know where we were on our training. I was secretly hoping this would give us an ‘in’ and we would get to spend more time with Dina.
Shirley responded with, “That’s great.”
Well… Not what I expected. “I think so! We are having a get together for my birthday at our house on Sunday. It will be a group of our friends and we plan on grilling burgers and hot dogs. Y’all are welcome to come.”
“We will see if we can make it.”
Ahhh! There’s a possibility we could see Dina! I was so excited I could hardly wait.
The next few days were excruciating. Between school, work, and soccer practice, I had enough to keep me busy from sun up to sun down, but I couldn’t quit thinking about that sweet little girl with the brown bouncy curls and big chocolate eyes. Would she play with us? Would she let us hold her? Would she even remember us? Probably not. What about Drake, would she play with him? Would she be overwhelmed? Is this too much? Should I scale it back?
Once again, my mind began the 100 mph pace I’d become accustomed to.
When Sunday finally arrived, I was so excited. I’m pretty sure I scrubbed the kitchen counters 20 times. They were definitely clean. Everyone started to slowly trickle in, but I was so anxious I could hardly sit still. Finally I saw a white van pull up in front of the house. I waited as Jim walked around to the side of the van to let Sarah out. I ran to greet them like I was a 6 year old at an ice cream truck. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
It took Dina a while to warm up to everyone again. She stuck right by Shirley, but slowly she began to inch further and further away. We sat with her in the living room while our friends gathered outside. Drake fixed her a plate and helped her pick through the things she didn’t like. It was a glance into the life of big brotherhood he was about to embark on.
We finally convinced her to go outside. She first sat down next to Grey in a double kids chair and silently ate her hotdog. She looked down at her plate mostly, but occasionally you’d catch her looking around.
By the end of the night, Dina was running around like she was just another kid in the crowd. It was such an exciting moment to realize that this could one day be our reality.
The night was over before we realized it, and soon we were loading that sweet girl we would one day call our into the van to be taken home. Oh how I couldn’t wait!
Over the next 10 weeks, we saw Dina almost daily. We made every effort to babysit, have dinner, cook dinner, have play dates, or just drop by. We wanted to make sure she felt comfortable and confident around us. We had been warned that when they decided to place her in our home, it would be with little notice.
We had a home visit that morning. Our case worker was always open and honest with us. She suggested we wait until they started discussing placement before we prepared a room for Dina. She said it was okay that we had a bed for her, but she wouldn’t suggest setting everything up just yet.
“Things can change in the blink of an eye.” She always said.
We had been invited to a plan evaluation that evening, so we agreed that we would see what they had to say before we decided to buy anything else for Dina.
As we were getting ready to walk out the door, I asked Jared, “Have you heard from Shirley or Jim today? Are they going to be there? I know the baby has a doctor appointment. I can’t remember what time it is.”
He replied with a simple, “Nope.”
I messaged her just to be sure.
Hey! We are headed downtown to Dina’s meeting at 2:30. Will you be there?
It took her a few minutes to respond, but I finally got the message.
I’m just now hearing about it! No one told me. I’m at Kosairs. We have surgery tomorrow. I’ll try to make it. I bet they are going to try to move her tonight. Be ready.
We sat there dumbfounded, half giddy, half completely in shock replaying the words they had just asked us. “Can you pick her up tonight?
I was so excited when Shirley walked through the door. I knew she would take care of all the details for us. I know she would tell them how unfair it was for everyone involved, but still be respectful of our excitement. I knew she would know what to do and what to say. And deep down, I knew by the end of the day, Dina would be living in our home.
Although we did not have a rough adoption process, we did not exactly have smooth one either. We kept getting pushed to the back burner. We had a few bad experiences, but nothing too major. I am happy to announced that on May 12, 2015 our adoption journey ended, and we are now officially responsible for this little human.
If anyone has any specific questions about the fostering process or what to expect, I’m happy to answer any questions I can or help you contact the proper person at your local agency.