Prayers (On Adoption Day)

Tomorrow (today) is adoption day for our sons. As I am wont to do, I am up in the middle of the night and find myself here to write.

In just twelve hours, we’ll be arriving at the courthouse, taking family photos, signing paperwork, and finding our seats in front of the judge who has been on the boys’ case from the beginning. We will become the legal parents to these two beautiful boys who are undoubtedly ours, but never should have been ours. Years of planning collide with happenstance; our choices intersect with the choices of others and this moment transforms us all officially, forever.

This day is so exciting, but that thrill is tied up in knots with grief, our joy is laden with loss, and a brief moment of peace is stepping out from the shadows of trauma. I find myself ardently praying, in this quiet, dark space with a God who holds it all at once.

I am praying for my boys’ birth family, especially for their first mother. I pray for her heart; that the pain of their loss has dulled, even though it will never go away completely. I pray that she would somehow sense she is loved and spoken of in a home she doesn’t know exists. I pray that she will someday trust that we are on the same team, and believe that her sons are safe and loved beyond measure. Desha Woodall said it better than I ever could: “He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and together, we are motherhood.”

I am praying for my own heart too, that it would be as soft, patient, and compassionate as possible in the wake of the daily aftereffects of trauma. I pray that I would never forget how it feels to be sweeping the floor and unexpectedly wondering about whether another family’s grief has lessened over the years. I pray that as often as possible, I will see my children the way I do when I check on them in their sleep: with immense pride and overwhelming, heart-bursting, awestruck love.

I am praying for this little family we are building, that it would be a living thing we tend to moment by moment with care and grace. I pray that we would never confuse a house for a home. I pray that we would remember things that matter are hard, and press on. I pray that we will assume each of us are doing the very best we can in each moment. I pray that the dinner table would always be bountiful with music and laughter. I pray that we will let love fill in the empty spaces, but never assume that’s all it takes.

More than anything, I am praying for my sons. I pray that regardless of our influence or any others they would grow into gentle, kind, honest people. I pray that they will someday understand trauma as part of their story, but not their whole story. I pray that they would know they are safe with us and forever loved by a gracious God who is in and with them, at their strongest and weakest moments. I pray that they will know a bang of a gavel doesn’t change who they are, only they can decide that.



Here I am, on the floor of the bathroom, in the middle of the night. In desperate need of a shower, but cautious not to start the water too soon after I have shut your bedroom door. So, I write.

Tonight, you couldn’t sleep. Body writhing, twisted up in your blanket. Making some sounds I don’t instinctively understand, but am trying to learn. By the glow of the night light I rubbed your back, played a lullaby, to no avail.

With trepidation I picked you up, and I started to rock you. You peered up at me in the half-light, maybe unsure of this stranger but maybe too tired to care and welcoming the comfort. For the first time in both our lives, I felt your breathing start to steady next to my belly. One little arm still clutching your blanket tight, the other settling into a soft curve of my chest. Head nuzzling into the crook of my arm. Eyes drifting closed, so close to sleep, and then popping open again because trusting is hard.

After a few minutes, my lower back began to ache from rocking the weight of your two year old body, but I didn’t dare stop. Suddenly the lullaby finished, your eyes opened fully and you wriggled against me, ready to be laid down again.

Our moment was over. No more than a few minutes, but everything to me.

You see, my child, another mother of yours rocked you to sleep for the first time on this Earth. She knew your breath before you took your first, for it was hers also. Her body knew instinctively the meaning of the sounds you make in the night. Her back ached long before mine as she grew you in her womb, her belly getting larger each day.

And see this too, my child, the way my soul yearns for you. In the light of day I reach out, and your little hand pushes me away. My heart hurts and my eyes tear up, I want so badly to connect with you. I see glimmers in your eyes of the bond we could have, but those moments slip away like this one did. I exercise my patience.

I can never really express how much I cherish this half-asleep you, accepting my comfort and learning to trust a stranger. I would welcome my back to ache forever if it could draw the trauma from your tiny body and into mine. In the moments, days, years to come, I dream of knowing your sounds, your breath, your heart, and your mind, if you will let it be so.

Until then, I will pick you up, and I will rock you.

The Adoption Process: Hurry Up and Wait

The adoption process, whether domestic infant, international, or foster care, can best be defined as hurry up and wait.

It involves paperwork, deadlines, urgent emails, frantic cleaning, and important phone calls. It also involves a lot (a LOT) of waiting. Much of our process has gone this way. We check our email constantly, clear our schedules as much as possible, and spend late nights surrounded by paperwork to turn things in as quickly as we can.

And then, we wait. County and agency workers are busy, and have a number of parents and children on their case loads to communicate with and make decisions about. Things are being discussed and considered behind the scenes, and that takes time. Not to mention the chaos of trying to coordinate meetings of anywhere from two to a thousand people.

Now here comes the BUT…

BUT sometimes, things move quickly and there isn’t much time to wait. For whatever reason, county workers find themselves in a situation where they need to find an adoptive family quickly, and certain families get swept up in that process. Suddenly, it’s a lot more hurry up than it is wait.

Now here comes the SO…

SO two weeks ago, we learned the names of our future children. I’ll let that sink in for a minute (it’s still sinking in over here, too).

Let me preface this by saying, at our new year’s family meeting, we chose our word of the year: SLOW. We decided to give ourselves over fully to the wait, to take things as they came, to program our schedules less so we had more time to breathe. But life doesn’t like to wait, it likes to surprise you.

Okay so, there we are, all ready to go SLOW…and we get an email from our social worker on a Thursday with the public profiles of two little boys who needed an adoptive family quickly. Although we only had a few sentences about them, we both immediately texted each other and shared that we felt there was something special about these boys, like this might be it. Within minutes we replied and told our worker to submit our home study for consideration.

On Monday, we heard that the kids’ workers would like a phone call with us and our worker. On Tuesday, we said yes, we’d love to move forward into collateral meetings. On Wednesday, we heard they wanted to move forward with us too. On Thursday, we heard they’d like the boys to visit for respite care Friday through Sunday (which is highly unorthodox…as I’ve mentioned before, you typically don’t meet your children until you are fully official and have said yes to adoption).

That all means that just eight days after reading their names for the first time, we met our boys. They slept in our home, we played, we read books, we ate meals together, we had bath time. These cherished moments that we have been anxiously awaiting for over two years were happening, right this second. By Sunday evening when we dropped them back off to their foster family, we knew that there was nothing in the world you could do or say to convince us that these two little souls were not meant to find ours. We missed them before they had unbuckled their seatbelts.

Since then, we’ve had two more follow up calls and created a tentative transition plan. We will have a few more overnight visits, and then in a few short weeks, they will move in. For good. After so much wait, it’s time to hurry up. Time to make their room a little cozier, to have their favorite foods on hand, to prepare our hearts and home for a constant presence, to catch up on sleep! To have one last late night out just the two of us before we insulate ourselves at home for a while to bond as a family, before we become Mom and Dad, forever.

This is exciting, and terrifying, and surreal. This is fun and hard. This is the craziest and best thing we will ever do. So here we go–here’s to hurry up and wait, to this gentle and wild life, to our sons.

Licensed to Parent

It’s official!

Our home study is signed, sealed, delivered and we are a licensed foster home!


Cue the question: so, what’s next? 

Now that we’re licensed, we are allowed to view what’s called the “private narrative” of children we are interested in learning more about. These narratives could come to us one of a few ways: we request them based on a public profile we saw of a child, our social worker sends them to us based on a private database she shares with other social workers, or a child’s worker sees our profile on that same database and reaches out to our social worker about us.

If we feel comfortable moving forward with a child after reading their private narrative, we can submit our home study to their social worker for consideration. From there, it’s a matter of fit, meaning if that child’s social worker reads our full home study and feels confident we would be a good fit for that child, we would move forward with interviews, meetings with that child’s support team, and more. This can be a lengthy process as a lot of schedule coordination and research is vital to collect as much information as possible about that child so we can make an educated decision about whether we can commit to parenting them forever.

You might be wondering why we had to get our foster care license when we are exclusively pursuing adoption and not fostering. When adopting children from foster care who are considered “waiting children” (those with biological parents whose rights have been terminated voluntarily or involuntarily), the state of Minnesota has a law that the child must be in our home for at least six months before the adoption can be finalized. During that six month period, they are technically still in the guardianship of the state, and we are technically their foster parents, although we have committed to permanency with that child. You can read more answers to commonly asked questions like this one here.

There are still many steps to go before we are matched with a child or children, but we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the major milestone of being officially licensed! Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far and for continued prayers as we move forward with open hearts, knowing the many challenging decisions that lay ahead.

-Laura & Nate

8 Things to Expect During the Foster Care Home Study

*Disclaimer: No two agencies, counties, states, or countries are the same when it comes to the foster care home study process. What follows is an account of our experience, in the hopes of dispelling any crazy myths and reassuring you that YOU CAN DO THIS!*


Alright, class. Welcome to “Parenting 808: A Study In Home.”

We’ll be meeting 4-6 times over the next six or eight weeks, depending on how thorough the in-class discussions are. I’ll be giving you all of the homework on the first day, and your entire grade is based off one final exam that determines whether or not you are allowed to be parents.

Yes, you in the back. What was your question? Oh, no, you won’t be receiving a letter grade for this course. The only way to take this class is pass/fail.

Did I mention you’ll only succeed if you bare your heart and soul and expose your home and family to intense scrutiny by strangers? I did? Great.

Let’s get started.


8 Things to Expect During the Foster Care Home Study


#1: It’s not really as scary as that syllabus makes it sound.

I knew I needed to write this post because in the weeks leading up to our first home study meeting, I think I searched a million different versions of the phrase “What to expect during the foster care adoption home study” on Google and Pinterest and any other site you can imagine. What resulted was a very overwhelmed mind filled with horror stories of failed licensing visits, intimidating social workers, and probing personal interviews during which you separated from your spouse for hours. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything like the internet had convinced me it would be. So far, it’s been friendly, educational, and the right combination of serious and fun (and we were only interviewed individually for about three minutes each so that each of us had an opportunity to share any concerns). If you’re looking for an honest, authentic overview of what this process will be like, look no further!

#2: You thought you were done with paperwork. You are not.

That giant manila envelope we turned in had nothing on the homework we were given during our first home study meeting. During the six-ish weeks of meetings with our social worker, we were busy creating discipline, grievance, and emergency plans, watching even more webinars, reading through state foster care laws, visiting our vet to get the pup up to date on shots, completing additional special needs questionnaires, and so much more. So do some hand stretches, because you will be writing and typing a lot during this process!

#3: Your social worker is your friend.

So many depictions of the foster care and adoption home study paint the social worker as cold, callous, invasive, or worse. Keep in mind that your worker has the same goal as you do: to license you as a foster parent and match you with a foster or adoptive child. Period.

You are on the same team, so if you approach your relationship this way instead of going into it picturing them as the adversary, the whole process will go a lot more smoothly!

#4: Honesty is the best policy.

We went into this process from day one (not just the home study, but waaaaay back when we were just interested parties attending an hour-long orientation) committing to full honesty and transparency about ourselves, our strengths and challenges, and our comfort levels with various special needs. There are so many spots along the way where if someone wanted to cover something up, they could, and I’m sure some people do. I’m not saying someone would necessarily lie with bad intentions–this process can feel very intrusive and when you are so focused on growing your family, there is a definite fear that even the smallest of things could become a roadblock. From taking the “marriage survey” and fudging your answers to make it seem like you’re the perfect couple, to leaving out that one time you tried pot in college…just be honest. Think about it: if you tell one white lie thinking you are making yourself a stronger candidate, how many other lies might you have to tell down the road to cover up that one? How much anxiety or guilt might you feel if the truth ever did come out?  You could be risking your family – your children – and nothing is worth that.

#5: Do the hard work up front.

One of the most intimidating parts of the initial application process was our “Self-Assessment Homework,” which ended up being about 25 single spaced pages EACH answering a ton of questions about our lives, families, and relationship. All of the questions were very open ended, so it was hard to know whether we were going about it correctly. Fortunately, our social worker walked into our first in-person meeting and the first thing she said was, “You guys did such a thorough job with your self-assessments, I feel like I could write your home study just off of that!” This was a huge compliment and has made the rest of the meetings go a lot more smoothly. She can ask us more pointed questions about specific things she wants to know more about, instead of having to start from scratch. So even though you may be feeling anxious to turn in your application, take the extra time to be super thorough, or you’ll just have to make up that time later.

#6: Prepare to answer a lot of questions. A LOT.

See #2. In addition to all that paperwork, your social worker will likely walk through anything you shared in your application and ask clarifying questions. You may also have to take a Relationship Assessment (ours was through an organization called Prepare/Enrich), or other activities that are meant to reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

These things might feel a little probing, but see #3 – you and your social worker are on the same team. These pieces are important to help your social worker know you well enough to write the final document that will be your Home Study (capital H and S)!

If they don’t ask, they’ll never know, and they won’t be able to answer questions from children’s social workers about what type of people and parents you are. So my best advice is to bring coffee with you, get comfortable, and share, share, share.

#7: It’s not really about your home.

Yes, there are some components of this process that are focused on your physical home–evacuation plans, emergency kits, smoke detectors, etc. But I was surprised to learn that in Minnesota, our social worker won’t actually visit our home until the very last meeting. That will be her chance to do a final walk through and point out any little things we need to fix before our license is finalized. But up until then, despite its name, the home study process has mostly been about US. Our relationship, our family culture, how we communicate, how we will parent, and more. The house is just a physical structure. It’s up to you to make it a home.

#8: Trust God. Trust your partner. Trust the process.

Before each meeting with our social worker, we took a few minutes to pray together over this process and what was to come. It always came back to this:

God has called us to this, and God will equip us for this. Because he doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.

Over the past eight weeks (and eight months), We have shared tears and fears, whispered late night wishes after the lights were turned off, navigated tough conversations, and laughed over the unsurprising results of our relationship assessment. We have at times felt ready to take on the world, and at other times felt completely in over our heads. But we’ve also learned so much about ourselves and each other, and it has been a season of renewal for our relationship. If you fully submit yourself to this process and God’s will, and you might be amazed at the good work he can do within and through you and your partner.


Our prayers and best wishes go out to anyone reading this who is considering foster care or adoption, or those who found us by a Google search late at night before your first home study. We hope your mind is put a little more at ease by reading our experience – because as intimidating as it is, it is worth every second.

-Laura & Nate


Have questions? Want to learn more about foster care & adoption?

Contact us here!