Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Adoption Story

The journey that we are sharing with you today is one that expands over two years. If we take a look back, the journey is really one of over five years, but we will begin with the journey starting in September of 2013.

Stacey and myself began to take foster to adopt training classes in September of 2013. Stacey and the kids had only been in Minnesota with me for about three months. We had taken the classes in both Ohio and Indiana so they story of adopting was one that we have been very familiar with for a long time.

In September and October 2013, we took the 36 hours of training that is necessary from the state to be able to foster or adopt children. After the classes, there was plenty of paperwork to fill out and there was components of the house that we needed to do to make sure that it would pass home inspections.

After five months, we received our foster care license with the approval to enter into the adoption process. The paperwork was processed and approved on March 27th, 2014. Thus, it took us approximately six months to get our license after we started class.

On April 15th, 2014, we had a meeting in our home with our caseworker and the county caseworker to map out a plan for adoption. Stacey and myself had already done extensive research; even before our classes and showed them ten to fifteen families that we were interested in that were currently in the Minnesota Foster Care System.

We were a little shocked with the resistance that we received and all the no's and wall blocks that seemed to come from the county and state and them not wanting to pursue any of the children that we were willing to open our home to. Some of them, were sibling groups up to three, which we were approved to but there was no movement. In the meantime, we did open our home up to various children who needed temporary placement.

Summer of 2014, we started to make inquiries about children outside of the state through Adopt US KIDS. We were amazed at how many caseworkers from other states were very interested in our family and was sending information to our caseworker for us to review.

We were successful in adopting through Adopt US Kids and here is the story of how Summer entered our house and officially became Summer Elizabeth Greathouse on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015.

Here is the 14 month timeline after our inquiry:

On August 12th 2014, we made an inquiry om a brother and sister from Kentucky. Through Adopt US Kids, we made inquires on children in states that we had lived in. Our thinking, maybe wrongly, was that this could/would make the child more comfortable with us because we had once lived where they lived.

On September 2, 2014, our matching study paperwork was submitted. The matching paper being submitted meant that the agency in Kentucky, after reviewing our home study thought that we might be a suitable home for the children. The children at the time was 15 and 16, so they had the ability to choose during this process as well.

On September 8, 2014, Summer's brother decided that he did not want to leave Kentucky and chose not to enter the adoption process. We were uncertain what this really meant for the process.

On September 10, 2014, our caseworker came over to show us her "file" and share with us her life story. We learned everything anyone could ever want to know. We won't share those details with the obvious exception that over time, both of her parents had parental rights terminated and that is why she was in the foster care system looking for a forever family.

On September 17, 2014, we informed our caseworker and the Kentucky agency that we were still interested after previewing her paperwork.

On October 9, 2014, Summer met with her case worker and after previewing our family study and understanding that her brother did not want to be adopted gave the county the green light to begin the adoption process.

On October 21, 2014, the first step was completed when Summer filed separation papers from her brother so she could be adopted.

On December 11th, 2014, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children was completed. This process seemed to take forever as all the paper work flew back and forth from Minnesota to Kentucky.

On January 16th - 18th, 2015, Stacey and myself traveled to Kentucky to meet Summer. We were in Kentucky for 48 hours. On Friday afternoon, we met the team that worked with her: teachers, counselors, foster mom, therapist and caseworkers. On Friday night, we met with her at her foster home. On Saturday, we spent the whole day together. On Sunday, we went to church and then lunch and this is the selfie she took and captures the first time we were together.

On February 6-8, 2015, the whole family traveled to Kentucky to meet her. We picked her up from school and went to a cabin at the state park. It was simply an opportunity for us to spend the weekend together and see how we "gelled". It was also an opportunity to see how the four kids would respond to one another; not that you can tell everything in 48 hours. Here is the first photo that we snapped of all four of them together.

On February 9, 2015, the Kentucky cabinet called to ask how the weekend went and to see if we were still wanting to move forward in the process. We said yes.

On February 27 - March 6, 2015, Summer visited us in Minnesota for a week. This was her opportunity to see where we lived and how our lives work in a "normal" week of life. We were concerned how the week would go, especially with Isaiah, Jacob and Bethany in school and her not being in school. The visit seemed to go well.

On March 9, 2015, I was in New Orleans for a mission trip with Lutheran Campus Ministry when I received a phone call from Kentucky. The phone call was to inform us that Summer would be placed in our home. Here is a photo from where I was at in NOLA when I received the news.

On April 3, 2015, we picked Summer up and signed the paper work for her to be placed in our home and for us to begin the process of adoption. The placement had occurred but much was still needed to be done prior to her officially being adopted. Official adoption could not take place until she was with us for six months.

On April 5, 2015 (Easter Sunday 2015),  here is the picture of us together for the first time in our home church (at that time), St. Stephen Lutheran in Marshall, MN.

We were told that you have to wait six months to petition the courts, so the clock began to tick and the calendar days were flipped; albeit slowly.

On September 2, 2015, we were able to meet with the lawyers to begin all the legal documentation that needed to occur. There were still a lot of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed. By now, you would think that we would not be surprised at this, but we were.

On October 7, 2015, we were informed that all paper work had been officially submitted at the courthouse and the adoption would be occurring soon.

On October 20, 2015, the lawyer called us to confirm that we had a court date. The date would be Wednesday, November 4th at 1:45 pm.

On November 3, 2015, Our lawyer gave us a call to let us know that the adoption would NOT occur on the next day because the state of Kentucky did not send the original paper works. They sent copies. We need to have the original birth certificate and the original termination. They were gone for the day, so no answers on why this occurred. This is just unbelievable.

On November 12th, 2015, our lawyer contacted us and told us that the official paperwork had arrived and that the new adoption date would be December 16th, 2015.

December 16th, 2015 at 3:45 pm, we walked into the courtroom and adopted Summer Elizabeth Greathouse.

Here is the photo of us in the courthouse minutes after it was official with the lawyer and judge.

Thus, 20 months after our license got approved, we welcomed a 16 year old daughter into our home; well, technically, she will not be 16 till Christmas Eve.

Welcome to this crazy family Summer Elizabeth Greathouse. 


paula jones said...

I"m so FREAKING HAPPY for all of you!

Shannon Witt said...

Wow! Thank you for giving me hope again I the light shining in the darkness!