Steve and I are planners. We like lists and schedules. If there is a job that needs doing, we like to do it in a timely fashion and check it off the list. So when we began this adoption, we made a list for each of us. Steve was in charge of scheduling appointments: police department, doctor, traveling notaries, bank, live scans, and so on. I am the paperwork person. For each of the boys’ adoptions we have two five inch binders full of paperwork. Our entire life is basically transferred onto paper. With our jobs divvied up and lists in hand, we set to work. We cruised through the mountain of tasks, spent our evenings watching mandatory adoption training videos, and within a month we were done. Check. Check. Check. And we were feeling pretty good about our efforts. This was the third time around and we knew what we were doing. We were quick and efficient and had everything pretty well mapped out.
Next up was the homestudy, which would be no problem at all. Our social worker had visited our home many times before. Peter’s and Nathan’s homestudies and post adoption visits were all done by him. We would enjoy seeing him and he would get the job done in no time. And even if it wasn’t super quick, that was alright because everything else was done. However, we ended up with a new social worker (who is fabulous) and the process took six weeks. It was longer and different than we had expected, but we were okay with that. We figured God was working in the timing of the whole thing. There wasn’t really any hurry anyway. Our paperwork just needed to make it to China by January 6. There were three steps more to go, and still plenty of time.
Then things started to get crazy. Our adoption agency is based in Virginia and they also had an office in California. Everything for the adoption is done through the Virginia office, except the homestudy. The homestudy is conducted here and must be notarized with the credentials of the California branch. Once our three visits with the new social worker were complete, she wrote the homestudy and it was soon to be notarized and sent to us. This meant we were just about ready for the I-800A. This is when we send a packet of paperwork, including the notarized homestudy, to the Department of Homeland Security. This step usually takes 6-8 weeks, sometimes less, sometimes more. It was at this point that our agency’s office in California closed with no warning.
This meant that our homestudy would not be able to be notarized. We were at a standstill. Our agency in Virginia worked quickly to find a solution. They found an agency here in California that was willing to hire our social worker so that we could still use her report. In order to use the new agency our family had to start the process all over again by applying to the agency, getting new live scans, filling out new forms, doing 7 1/2 hours more training, and having another social worker visit.
This brings us to today. We have been working with this new agency for three weeks now and we still do not know when we will have a notarized homestudy in our hands. Now we really are in a hurry. The next step, the I-800A, can take up to 8 weeks. Then we need about 1 week to get all the documents certified and authenticated. After that, all the paperwork can be sent to China. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year in the mix, we are down to the wire. Taking into account that the I-800A could take the full 8 weeks, we need to have the finished homestudy in our hands at the beginning of next week. If our documents do not get to China by January 6, we will most likely have to redo our medical forms. This will mean new blood panels and check-ups for Steve and me, costing almost $3,000 and making the $3,000 we have already paid a waste. This makes us feel stressed!
However, we have learned something. We were feeling pretty confident in our own efforts. Too confident. God always wants us to realize that we are not in control. He is. Through these circumstances He has humbled us. We needed it. We need to be in a place of dependence on Him. And He has brought us to this place. The situation is completely out of our hands. I want so badly to control it. But I can’t. We can only remember that God is trustworthy and faithful and do our best to trust Him, to leave it in His hands. But it is hard.