Friday, July 8, 2011

The Weekend Intensive

     Recently I joined Open Adoption Bloggers.  It is a group of online bloggers from all walks of the open adoption process- adoptive parents, birthparents, waiting families etc.  From time to time they have a online roundtable discussion and this month's topic is "first meetings".  I've enjoyed taking a little time this afternoon to scroll through the other blog posts- most have been touching stories of the first moment the adoptive parents saw their new baby.  Sweet, precious stories, and yes I'll admit it, a few brought tears to my eyes (especially the couple who picked up their new baby girl at Starbucks!

Our adoption agency, Independent Adoption Center- Pleasant Hill
      Since we are in the waiting process and still anxiously looking forward to that first meeting, I thought I'd take a totally different approach and talk about our first meeting with our agency- The Weekend Intensive.  Technically we "met" our agency for the first time at an informational meeting a few months earlier, but this is the meeting that truly began our relationship with the IAC.  The Weekend Intensive is definitely appropriately named.  It is a weekend to jumpstart the homestudy process that includes interviews, a class on adoptive parenting, lots of information and lots and lots of paperwork.  It's hard to truly compare the experience to other first meetings, but there are aspects of a first date, job interview, and summer crash college course. 

Jim in front of the IAC
      First Date:  We were so nervous!  I don't think either of us got much sleep the night before.  Jim usually doesn't get nervous so the fact that he was nervous made me even more nervous.  I labored over what we should wear- something not too dressy and not too casual.   Checked and double-checked my hair and make-up and tried to eat some breakfast.  That didn't go over too well.  It just added rocks to the butterflies flying around in my stomach.  We arrived really early, so we sat in the car holding each other's clammy hands and took a moment to breathe and pray.  Finally, when we thought we were in the "appropriately early" range, we went in and were taken back to a conference room to wait.  Of course we were the first couple there!  At first the wait was excrutiating, but slowly other couples and singles began to come in (looking just as nervous as we were) and we finally relaxed- a little.

Amy by the pond in the courtyard during one of the breaks
      Crash Course:  My husband used to take something called J-terms when he was in Seminary.  It was a course taught during one of the breaks (January, June, or July).  Basically, the idea was that a whole semester course would be jammed into three weeks.  The Weekend Intensive is the J-term of the adoption process.  At the beginning of the weekend we received a two inch binder filled with information on all sorts of topics:  how to write a birthmother letter, requirements for photos and website design, ideas for networking, guidelines for the homestudy visit, various articles on the adoption process and raising adoptive children, how to pay for your adoption etc.  Some may have felt intimidated by the binder, we actually took comfort from it.  We knew there was no way we would be able to remember everything we learned over the weekend, so having a reference to take home with us was invaluable.  And although our brains felt fried by the end of the two days, it was extremely helpful to have an overview of the entire adoption process so we knew where we were going.

Jim by the same pond
      Job Interview:  Part of our weekend was spent completing the necessary interviews for our homestudy process.  First, Jim and I met with our adoption coordinator, Kerrin to sign our contract and complete our profile.  Then we were interviewed together and separately by our social worker, Devon.  Both women were very warm and friendly, but we still had interview jitters.  We had already done the "hard" work of writing our autobiographies and filling out our questionares.  This definitely helped to prepare us for the interview questions, but the butterflies returned anyways (thankfully this time without the rocks).  We answered all sorts of questions about our childhood, our philosophy toward parenting, our educational and family backgrounds, our marriage and why we wanted to be parents.  Most of the information was already in the application and paperwork we had turned in, so I think part of the interview process was for our benefit- to help us begin thinking about how adoption would change our lives. 

Amy in front of the IAC
      Remembering back to that weekend, I think that over the course of the two days our nervousness subsided while our excitement began to build.  The first thing I did when we got into the car was call my parents, and then my sister and brother, and then Jim's family.  It was the weekend that the adoption process went from an idea to a reality.  We were on a journey (and still are) to becoming parents!  So while we wait for the first meeting with our baby, we look back to the first meeting with our agency where it all began. 

Our celebration dinner at Half Moon Bay



  1. I'm so glad you joined in this round--thank you for participating!

  2. This is such a sweet post, Amy, because it shows so much hope, excitement, and care! And I'm glad to learn I wasn't the only one to worry about what to wear to the weekend intensive. If you think that was a tough decision, wait until you have to figure out your match meeting outfit!

  3. Looking forward to it- Matching, not deciding what to wear because yes, I will obsess about it:) We are so ready to welcome our little one home!!!

  4. What a great perspective on the first meeting! I hope that process will move along quickly for you guys!

  5. Thank you! We have been waiting for two years so we also pray it will be soon:)

  6. You brought back great memories of our intensive, thank you Amy!