our adoption journey {home study 1 & 2}

Our 10 year anniversary was September 1st. We dropped kids off in the morning and then headed to the airport for a flight to Chicago. Before we went through security, we sat at Starbucks waiting for a social worker. She so kindly offered to meet us at the airport for our first homestudy interview so we could get it in before our trip. I joked with friends that it was a reflection of my love for multi-tasking and taking advantage of every spare moment.

While we waited for her to arrive, we watched families saying ‘goodbyes’ at the security check point. There was one family…a mom, dad, daughter and son…that I couldn’t stop watching. My best guess is the son was boarding a plane for his first year at college. He was the oldest. The mom was a wreck. She kept hugging him and crying. He finally got in line, went through the checkpoint and turned to give one last wave at his mom. That is when I lost it. I’m not a crier, but I was sobbing…SOBBING at the airport Starbucks waiting for a social worker to interview me for an adoption. I tried to pull myself together. Moments later our interview began.

She asked me something related to our journey to adopt. I began sharing and eventually started talking about all our dear friends who have adopted…and then I lost it again. I had to apologize and tell her the whole story about the mom and her oldest son leaving for college…and saying goodbye to my kids that morning…and finally getting to point of our first home study visit. She was so gracious and understanding. Chris, whose sensitive nature is known by many to cry all the time, was all too amused with me.

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She gave us some paperwork to fill out.  We took advantage of the short flight to get in done. Me = realist, Chris = optimist….that really came out in how we answered questions!

9.11homestudy-02The next visit was scheduled at our house with the kids. I had great ambitions to clean and actually dust the house for once. Ambition is where it ended. It is impossible to clean a house when Thing 1 & Thing 2 are running amok.

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The dusting didn’t happen, neither did the mopping…but I did get things picked up. My new rug…maybe if the kids weren’t acting so cute she’d be distracted by the cuteness of my rug. And back up plan #2 – chocolate chip cookies in the oven. I figured even if light sabers were crashing in the middle of the interview, I could win her over with chocolatey goodness.
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Well, the second home study went reasonably well. Our five year old was in tears before it even started. Really, today…right now? As the doorbell rang, I realized FireCracker tried to wash her own hands and in the process drenched her cute outfit. I was changing her clothes as Chris was opening the door. This is not the pulled together family welcome I had in my head. The boys colored at the table. At one point I thought a paper airplane zoomed past my head only to hear my oldest declare, “I almost got you with my flying paper knife.” Yes, my boys like to attack me with handmade weapons, I take whatever crafting I can with them. FireCracker decided not to make it to the restroom and graced us with an accident in the middle of the room. Good thing I didn’t get around to mopping earlier.  When asked what the rules in our home are, my oldest said, “We don’t have rules.” Hmmmm….not even sure what to say about that. We were 3/4 of the way through when I realized my fly was down. Nice, Ashley.

All in all, it went great when you consider 4 wild cards were involved. She was gracious and even commented at the end how peaceful our house felt. My house is not peaceful in the sense of quiet and serene, but there is a different kind of peaceful going on around here. I was so grateful that despite all the real life that can turn some off…she saw what I see in my home. A peaceful that covers the battles, the accidents, the dust, the flying objects and a mom with her fly down.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know once you get that positive test result…your every thought and future plan involves that growing baby. For me, it is exactly the same with an adoption. Though my sweet one is not growing inside me, I see us as a family of 7. When I think of my kids…I think of 5. Four are here in Oklahoma and my youngest is in China…so far from me. Have I mentioned that before…China…my little one’s home. Just like when I was pregnant, I don’t know details about appearance, personality, health…but I know our family is growing.

We had grilled corn this week. As I was getting it ready to throw on the grill, I realized there was one extra. Unlike a pregnancy, where others are very conscience of your growing family, adoption isn’t so noticeable at this stage….but it is so real for us. It is real enough that at the grocery store I was thinking, I need 7 ears of corn – one for each of us.

And hopefully in the next year we will fly across this globe and return home complete.
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  • ruth@gracelaced - I simply love this.

  • Katie - …and now I’m crying. I’m so, so, so happy for your family, Ashley. I’ll continue praying that everything falls into place smoothly!

  • Katiane - I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes. The love of a mother is limitless. This is what your kids will remember, not if the floors were mopped and house dusted. So happy for you and your family.

  • Kirra Sue - Beautiful. And so exciting. Thanks for letting us in on all the real moments- they are what matter the most.

  • Trista - So happy for you and your family; congrats! Thanks for sharing the “real life moments” that impact important events! So funny and oh so rich; God sure creates beautiful children! Will be praying for your little one in China and the six of you here in the States…can’t wait for the photo of all 7 of you together! (Have you heard of the Chinese custom – Bai Jia Bei – The 100 Wishes Quilt? Neat idea for any baby, but often given as a special gift for an adoption from China)

  • Amy D - Love this post! Before our home visit, my husband and I met with the social worker at her office. I asked if she was going to talk with our kids (4 and 2 years old) and she told us that they were too young. Relieved, I didn’t prep our chatty, mischievious four year old daughter on what to say and what not to say. During the visit, the social worker changed her mind and asked to speak with my daughter in her room, just them two. All I heard were two things. When asked what her favorite thing to do was, she said “Jump on the bed!” You know, like we let her do that whenever she wants. And then she proceeded to tell her that her brother doesn’t like vegetables. Nice. We still passed :) And maybe there’s just something about airports that bring out the emotions in a waiting momma, I got all weepy last time I flew… Dreaming of the day when it’s time to meet/bring home our baby! I about lost it right there when a young Hispanic family with a young baby sat down next to me (our baby is Hispanic). Praying for your little one!

  • lyn - You made me cry!!! I just had my 2nd child a son. I am in love with him! I am in love with my first! I look forward to the day we can adopt our daughter! Thank you Ashley for your inspiration!

  • M for Short - This was SO delightful to read. Chuckled throughout b/c we have all been there! And I completely sympathize with crying at the airport over the mom saying goodbye to her son. A tear-jerker for sure.

  • Heather - I laughed and teared up with this post!! We have a done two homestudies ourselves. We have a 4 year old daughter from China at home and are on our way to pick up a daughter from Taiwan later this year. I am thrilled for you that you are adopting and especially from a country that is incredibly dear to my heart.

    If you EVER have any questions or want to bounce anything off of me…..please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. I feel like I get things from your blog and if I could return that to you in some way….I’d be honored.

    Best of luck!
    Heather

  • Melissa - thanks for sharing Ashley! we are in the process of finalizing our second adoption and just love to hear about others and the journey to adopt! we also lived in China for a summer and the kids there are beautiful! may God do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine!
    ~Melissa

  • Debbie Morton - Ashley, I am so thrilled about the journey of adoption that your family has started. Adoption, is a very active, fun filled,awesome adventure. My husband and I were married 18 years, yes, 18 years before we started our adoption process. We were unable to conceive a child, so we opted to conceive the notion of adoption. We live in Texas and realized that there were too many children in the foster care system whose lives have been turned upside down by bio-parents that have terminated their rights. My husband and I were both 42 years old…grandparent age! We decided that the prior years had been our retirement years and the rest of our lives would be to raise children. Long story short, God gave us a beautiful strawberry blonde, blue-eyed baby girl who was 8 years old, then in 6 years a 2 1/2 year old, defiant little blonde, blue eyed boy. Our lives have never been the same, thank goodness. The house hasn’t been clean in years, the laundry would rarely be finished, the dishes would stack up in the sink; however, we decided we would rather be 60 years old (which I will be next March, hubby in August)with children, rather than without children. Our daughter is now a beautiful 25 year old and our son is a handsome 15 years. Be sure to allow God to be in control and miracles will happen.

  • Suzanne - Posts like this are why I keep coming back to your blog. I love your honesty, optimism, sense of humor and most of all your willingness to share your heart with people you don’t even know. I teared up reading about the corn. It’s so sweet that a child far away has no idea what plans God has in store for her in the form of a loving, caring family that is already planning for her arrival. What a sweet example of God’s love for us as well. He thought of us before we knew him and has gone before us to prepare a home for us in eternity. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure I will be thinking of this all day and praising God for his love for me.

  • Rachel L - Hi Ashley. We had our first home study visit yesterday so I know how you feel! We are first time parents, so we are so excited about going from a family of 2 to a family of 4. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  • Elizabeth - I loved how real your home study was….the same kind I could imagine here in our home. So excited for what your family is about to embark upon…becoming complete!

  • Jess - Your kiddos {all five of them} are so blessed to have you for their mama. Thanks for sharing all the special details of your adoption journey. Praying for you and your growing family!

  • amy jupin - 7.
    what a lucky number.
    i have similar home study stories to share one day.
    but we will need to do it over coffee and maybe some of cindy’s crepes! :)

    btw, the story of the mom at that airport made me all choked up.
    if i can cry while reading about it, can you imagine what i would have been like sitting in the airport??!?!

  • Kim S - Ashley, I totally understand. We are fostering to adopt, we have the babies here with us, but we can’t change their names, we can’t put them in pictures with us, or post the cute things they do on the internet. I ache for the day when we can call our five kids siblings and when I can introduce them as such instead of here are our 3 boys and these are our foster twins. I look forward to when their identity will be forever changed. When we can really call ourselves mom and dad. Okay, I am not a crier and now I am in tears. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  • the inadvertent farmer - I have been that mother at the airport…and as proud of them as you are, you are also simply and completely heartbroken. I would post some sort of wise words about getting used to them being gone but it would simply not be truthful and besides I need to go find a tissue…and call a couple of grown up sons…sniff…Kim

  • Laura Delegal - I hope and pray all goes well. We tried to adopt foreign for years, each time having the child die before we could get her “home.” God finally gave us with an American blessing that was placed in our arms at 2 days old. He was a surprise for his birth mother and us. I’d love to share the story, but no time here. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that homestudies aren’t always perfect (our son was learning to walk and had huge goose-eggs on his head when ours was finished), but the social worker is trained to see through it all. Hoping and praying that your blessing will be “home” soon. God bless.

  • honeybeemama - and i’m balling my little eyes out…maybe because i identify with the realization that my kids may think there are no rules in our home, or the constant hope that i’ll get my house spotless. maybe because i have become accustomed to cooking feasts for 6 even when our whole family isn’t together. i’m a mother of 4 now, even if 2 are stepchildren and we’re not even all together more than a few times a month! i’m so excited for your family’s journey and i’m praying for you guys every step of the way!

  • Angela - Ashley–I haven’t read your blog in a few months (a crazy few months in my life). I am thrilled to read that you’re on a adoption journey. My husband and I adopted our first child at 3 days old in April. Adoption is such an amazing gift–both for your family and for the adopted child. I am such a huge believer in the whole process. I pray your journey continues smoothly.

    To read about our crazy, fast adoption journey here’s the link on my blog…only God could have written the story the way it happened.
    http://angelamoore.typepad.com/my_life/2011/04/945-pm-april-4.html

  • melany - Eeek!!! It is a dream of mine to adopt a little girl with pigtails from China. As a single lady I have a while to go on that, but I will live vicariously through you.

  • gkey - Dear On the Journey to SEVEN,

    Wishing you all the best as the road ahead takes you towards your dream becoming reality. I am behind reading here, ah, you know the LIFE thing….but I always enjoy visiting you. I had to laugh when you referred to yourself as the Realist and your hubby as the Optimist. Its the same for us!

    love,
    The number 7 for many reasons
    in
    NE

  • Shelah - We’re adding our #5 from China too. I found your blog from the adorable empty chair picture on Pinterest. Awww! We had a similarly insane homestudy experience. Our social worker said she’s suspicious of any home that’s too clean and perfect when kids live there, LOL! Maybe she was just saying that to make me feel better when I led her down to the toy-strewn playroom.

  • Jill Browning - I wish you the best with your adoption process. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  • Pam Wood - You feel about an adopted child just as I feel about my two boys, we missed adoptions going to completion once before each of our two boys. I still think about those boys that were almost ours (yes they were all boys, I was destined to only have sons!) wondering where they are and how their life has been. It’s true they don’t grow under your heart, but they grow in your heart:)

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