1) Paperwork ain't for sissies. For real. No one can fully prepare you for the ridiculous amount of paperwork that is involved for the adoption process. It's insane. When I think "paperwork" I think, you know... just sit down and write out your full name and address a handful of times... But nooooo... it's more like get 7 notarized copies of this... and 7 notarized copies of that... and a local background check... a state background check... a federal background check... get your birth certificates... get your marriage license... answer a billion personal questions... get a reference letter... then another one... seriously... this is some serious paperwork.
2) Fingerprinting should be a sport. There is an art to getting your fingerprints taken. No, really... it's not as easy as it sounds. If fingerprinting were a sport, Lance would be on the varsity team and I'm pretty sure I would have been cut altogether. Basically, for every one time that Lance got his fingerprints done, I had to do mine twice.
3) Memorize your adoption agency's address. This will be extremely helpful when you're rushing to the UPS store (again) to mail another pile of paperwork off and you forgot the little sticky note with your agency's mailing address. Don't worry, by the 4th time, you'll probably have it memorized anyways.
4) Make friends at the post office. ...or the UPS store, or FedEx, or whatever. Learn their names... they will become some of your best friends during this process. We have received some very kind discounts because of this. Typically after we've notarized the 30th document or had our fingerprints done the 3rd time, they start to feel sorry for us:) But more than that... they care. They are excited about our adoption... they want to meet our baby girl... the one they've helped bring home in a small way.
5) Don't get attached to timelines. This has been hard. I desperately want to know exactly when our baby girl will be home. I want to believe our agency when they tell us our first trip will be soon. I want to believe the Ugandan court system almost has our court date ready. But the truth is, I don't know. And the waiting is already hard enough. We have learned to hold these dates and timelines with a very loose grip.
6) Do get attached to your baby. While we've been trying our best to not get too attached to timelines, we have done quite the opposite with our baby girl. We were pretty much done for the moment we saw her little face back in June. Her sweet picture instantly captured our hearts. We tried our best to guard ourselves early on... but it became practically impossible as time went on. And I think that's okay. She's our girl... and we love her. We're attached. Done for.
7) Listen. There were several times during this process that Lance and I had to step back and re-evaluate. We were/are constantly seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit... listening to God's quiet promptings. Plans changed... we went from Haiti to Uganda... from multiple children to one... all decisions that at one point we felt very confident about, but God had different plans... and I'm so glad we listened.
8) Let others be a part of it all. We have been so amazed at the outpouring of love and support that we have received over the past several months. We have received letters and encouragement from friends and family both near and far... some that we talk to everyday and others that we haven't spoken to in years... and some that we've never even met before. It's been an incredibly humbling experience. We have been brought to tears on more than one occasion and are in awe at how our little girl has already managed to capture the hearts of so many.
9) Pray together. I would be lying if I said this process hasn't been hard. Our emotions have been all over the place and we've been frustrated more than once. This has been a physically, emotionally and spiritually draining process. But man, am I so thankful for Lance. I cannot think of anyone I would rather make this journey with. Throughout this adoption process we have been constantly reminded of our great need for Jesus, which I'm sure will only magnify as we step into parenthood.
10) Persevere. We continue to push ahead. Hopefully we're done with fingerprinting and notarizing... but I expect we are really just at the beginning of a whole other journey. And we can't wait.