Thursday, 20 October 2016

Adoption Training

It has been quite a while since we completed the mandatory adoption training but I thought that I would write up a blog post about our experience since a lot of people don't know what is involved in becoming "adopt ready". The short version of it is, you need to complete the training and pass a home study. The long version of it is, well, a lot longer.

Dan and I made the decision to start the adoption process in March of this year. We had been discussing it for quite a few months and one day just made the decision. It kind of happened fast, one day we were still weighing pros and cons and researching and thinking and the next we had decided we would just dive in. That is one thing that I find hard about adoption, you have so much to think about and so many decisions to make that it can be overwhelming and you tend to overthink everything. It's not a quick easy decision, it needs to be considered and discussed, but on the other hand, will we ever feel completely 100% ready? Either way, we made the decision on March 10th and immediately started moving forward. We scheduled our training for April, which was the first step we needed to complete.

The mandatory adoption training has an acronym, which is PRIDE. It stands for Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education. Phew, that's a long title and a lot of words to remember. Which could be why I rarely remember it when someone asks.

Like I've said, this training is mandatory no matter what kind of adoption you are pursuing. The only difference is how it is taught. If you are adopting through Children's Aid, this course is usually spread out over several weeks and is offered for free once you sign up with them. We are doing a private adoption which means we had to pay for this training and find a date and location that worked best for us. It was a 27 hour course that was taught over four days, which took up two full weekends and cost $1,400. I liked having it all done at once so that it wasn't drawn out and you could ask any questions you had immediately, but on the flip side, it was a lot of information for such a short period of time.

There were 30 people in the class and our teacher was really good. He has been a social worker and counselor for many years and has been teaching this PRIDE Training for quite a while as well. He had lots of experience and was able to answer all of our questions. It was taught to us in a classroom style format, with the biggest text book I've had in a while.

Fortunately, we didn't have to read the whole thing, it was used more as a reference. We occasionally broke into smaller groups to discuss case studies and work through different scenarios, which was nice because it gave us a chance to discuss things with others in the same shoes as us. There were also three families who came in to share their adoption story with us and it was so educational and eye opening to hear people's first hand experiences. We heard stories of people adopting through CAS (Children's Aid), privately (infant adoption) and internationally. This was definitely one of our favourite parts and I took tons of notes on everything I heard.

Overall, the course was very educational and we left feeling like we were better equipped to move forward with adoption. It was also exciting to be able to check one thing off of our mile long to do list!

Once we had successfully passed our training course and received our certificates, we were ready to move on to our home study.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Moving Forward!

I feel like it's high time for an update post, since things are progressing and everyone keeps asking us what is going on. So without further ado, here is where we are at.

We are finished our homestudy!

This has been ongoing since May and it feels awfully nice to finally be finished it. I realize that not everyone knows what a homestudy is and what goes into it, so I plan to write a post with some more info and give you an inside scoop of what we went through.

To sum up the last few months, we have completed the mandatory training and the homestudy, and have also raised enough money to pay for an adoption. Which means we are adopt ready and could technically accept a match at any time! This news in itself is pretty darn exciting.

The only hitch is that we haven't really advertised much yet, so that is what we are working on now. We have to put together a profile that we can then give out in book form or post online, for prospective birth mothers to see. The birth mother will choose us, so we need to make sure we are visible to her through many different avenues.

We are currently working on writing up our profile, which is one of the hardest things I've ever written. There feels like there is so much pressure to write the right thing, so we are slow at getting this finished. Once it is done, we can then post it to some online sites that are designed to show birth mothers profiles of waiting families. Our profile will also be given to our agencies in book form to be shown to birth mothers who come in looking to make an adoption plan for their baby.

Which brings me to our next item on our to do list, signing up with our agencies! We have chosen two to sign up with, JFJ Hope Centre Adoption Services in Mississauga and Beginnings Family Services in Hamilton. We figured being signed up with two agencies might up our chances of being found by a birth mother.

So there's the update, we are busily filling out paperwork and working our way towards being an active waiting family. Exciting!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Truly Humbled

I am writing this post way sooner than I ever thought I would be, but I am happy to share with you all that we have reached our fundraising goal. Yes, you read that right and yes, you can be totally amazed.

We had such a successful first fundraiser, bringing in almost $2,000 with our yard sale, and were busy planning future fundraisers that would hopefully bring us closer to our goal with each one. But God had other plans and those plans included a very generous gift from an amazingly sweet and generous donor. We are so incredibly humbled and shocked, we never in our wildest dreams thought we would reach our goal this fast.

Because of this change of events, we will not be holding any more fundraisers, other than the ones already in motion. Our awesome friend Vicky is currently promoting a babysitting fundraiser that she will follow through with and that money will go towards our fund as well.

We were told to be prepared to spend somewhere between $15,000 to $20,000 on our adoption and our goal was to raise between $12,000 to $15,000. We figured we would be able to swing the rest, seeing as it wouldn't be needed all at once. Our biggest concern was having the $12,000 retainer that is needed once we are matched through our agency. We wanted to be sure that money wouldn't be holding us up when the time comes that a birth mother chooses us.

I am pleased to announce, that as of today, our adoption fund is currently sitting at $19,310. We have been blessed beyond measure and the amount of love and support that has been poured out onto us has totally floored us. As the title of this post says, we are truly humbled.

Thank you just doesn't seem good enough to say right now, but it's all that can really be said. Thank you to every single one of you who has helped us reach this goal, whether it was by praying, donating money or donating time, we couldn't have done it without you.

*Our generous donor would like to remain anonymous and we are respecting that. Please don't ask us questions concerning them, just celebrate with us that we have reached our goal.*

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Yard Sale Success!

Our kick off adoption fundraiser, a huge yard sale, was held last weekend and it went way better than we could have imagined. Like, way way better. We were hoping to get maybe $1,000 and instead we ended up bringing in $1,815! Can we just take a moment to let that sink in and appreciate how blessed we are?

The prep for the yard sale was more work than I could have possibly imagined, mostly because we got way more donations that I had expected. We had over 30 people make donations to our event, mostly church family and friends but even strangers were giving us stuff to sell. It was incredible and I was floored by how much stuff we had.

The basement full of stuff
My sister-in-law Trish was superwoman leading up to the event and came to the church and helped me sort through things for two days straight, and then returned for the day of and helped for 10 hours. Plus, she did this with 3 kids in tow. If it weren't for her, there was no way I could have gotten through all the boxes and there would have been way more crying involved. Instead, we laughed and sighed and worked and worked and worked and were actually ready come Saturday morning. Thanks a bajillion Trish.

Can you find me in the above picture? 
We were so lucky to have a beautiful day for the sale and it was crazy busy. We had eight volunteers helping us put stuff out, set stuff up and then sell things. Plus, we had a pretty sweet refreshment table with cookies, lemonade and coffee.

Refreshment stand volunteers
The sale officially started at 8:00am but people started showing up shortly after 6:00am once we had some things out. From that point on, we had a steady flow of traffic all the way until it ended at 2:00pm, although there were a few lulls come midday. We sold a ton but still had two trailers full of leftovers that we donated to a local Christian day camp. Once again, people were so generous and we couldn't have done it without them.

Dan and I feel super loved and can't thank people enough for their donations, their help and their support as we kicked off our adoption fundraisers with a super successful event. We are so encouraged and are excited to keep going, each step bringing us closer to our child. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Yard Sale Preparations

The crunch is on, our first big fundraiser is only days away and I'm beginning to feel the stress! It's actually harder than I thought to pull a yard sale together, which is silly since everyone warned me it wasn't easy. Thankfully we have super generous friends and family and even strangers who have been donating lots of stuff for us to sell. We started with one small room at our church and have since expanded out into another room.

These pictures don't even do it justice, since I couldn't get a panorama shot and there is more stuff than what is shown here. But you get the idea, tons of stuff that will hopefully sell and raise us money for our adoption!

My friend Kristy visited me for a girls weekend last week and we spent most of it working our butts off baking cookies for the refreshment stand and making signs for the road. We made 24 dozen cookies and 8 signs, which took probably a total of 7 hours. At least we could watch TV while making the signs though.

I've been picking up donations from people,organizing volunteers and sorting through boxes for the last few days and still have so much left to do. Good thing we have some amazing friends who are there to support us along the way and don't mind donating their time and talents to making this event a success.

I will be back next week to write another post on how everything went and share more pictures, but until then, you can find me buried under boxes sorting through stuff while listening to Young House Love Has A Podcast.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Fundraiser Yard Sale

As some of you know, private adoption is not cheap and for some odd reason, we don't have $15,000-$20,000 just sitting around waiting to be used. We obviously plan to cover as much as we can ourselves and have started saving and working on being more frugal, but we also plan to fundraise to help us out with costs.

There are a few fundraiser ideas rolling around in my head that I hope to put into motion over the next few months but we decided to start off strong and so our kick off fundraiser is an end of summer yard sale!

We have been working on the details for a few weeks now and have been collecting donations from friends and family, as well as raiding our own home. It's planned for August 27th and we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather. Everything seems to be coming together smoothly and I hope it continues to do so. I've never organized a fundraiser before and I hope I'm doing everything right!

We are accepting donations until Friday, August 26th and are still looking for some volunteers to help with preparation for and the actual day of. If anyone is interested in giving us a hand, let us know!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

We're Adopting!

Yup, you read that right! Dan and I have started the adoption process and we couldn't be more excited about it! It is a huge step but we feel like it is one we are ready for and are looking forward to sharing our journey with you all.

We have completed the mandatory PRIDE Training and are in the middle of our home study with a licensed adoption practitioner. We are hoping to be adopt ready (training and home study completed) by the end of September and can then start actively looking for a match. We are still very much in the beginning stages of this process but will do our best to keep you updated as things progress.

But for now, can we all just take a moment to celebrate? Because this is HUGE!