Saturday, December 31, 2011

Renovations

We have been trying to keep ourselves busy during this waiting period by doing some work on our house. Mostly, this is related to getting the nursery set up. First, we refinished a dresser. I didn't take a before picture, but this was a dresser I bought for only a few dollars several years ago. You will have to trust me that the finish was horrible and the handles were ugly. But I was in grad school and didn't make much money then, so I wasn't too picky. It was a sturdy piece of furniture and did it's job well. I think we were pretty successful in giving it a new life.



Next, we tackled my craft area. Like many people going through infertility, we've had a house that was way too big for two people. So we each had our own room to do what we wanted with it. Now one of our extra rooms is being turned into the nursery (finally!). And that means we need to consolidate our other rooms. What is now my office/craft room, will now be our shared office and guest room. The second floor of our house is actually a converted attic, so there are some rather large closets where the ceiling comes down at an angle due to the roof. Because I have the best husband ever, we decided to turn one closet into a craft closet.

Here is the "before." The closet is L-shaped. And picture it filled floor to ceiling with empty boxes that for some reason I can't get rid of. Here is one half of the closet:



And the other half, this is even with some boxes removed:



And the "after"! This is the same angle as the first picture above.



And the "after" of the second angle of the closet:



Here are some close-ups:



We used curtain rods to hold my ribbon. And the wire rack and pink magnetic strips came from the Con.tainer S.tore. My dearest hubby built the cubby holes. I have always wanted something like in my house. I love them!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas update

Hello! I hope you guys are doing well. After my meltdown prior to Christmas and a misunderstanding with our ILs, we ended up having a very nice holiday. I am including some pictures below, mostly of my baking! My mom was in town and brought my nieces over for baking during the day on Christmas Eve. We made cinnamon rolls, an apple pie, and cake pops.









Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Somewhat better

I am feeling a bit better for the past two days. Mostly that is because I hit bottom on Sunday. A reminder of a separate problem set me off on a depressed rant that you may have pictured from my last post. The problem had nothing to do with babies, but I was already at the edge and this tipped me over, bringing everything down with it. And this time my husband couldn't deal with me either. I think it was seeing his meltdown that snapped me out of my depressed haze. He also made me realize that I need to cut out all other stress points in my life so that there is not something to push me over the edge. So I told my sister she has to host Christmas dinner, canceled my annual cookie baking day, ditched any idea of sending out cards, and did a bunch of Christmas shopping online in one fell swoop. I still think about our situation constantly, but at least I can function now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Are the holidays over yet?

Disclaimer: The people I complain about here are well meaning. But I need to vent.

I am barely keeping it together. Well, if you ask my husband, he will probably say I am not keeping it together. I will admit that the reason I am on my last nerve is that I have not spent more than 48 hours at home since before Thanksgiving. We got home from Thanksgiving and I immediately left for a work trip. Then it was home, host a Christmas party (where was my mind when I agreed to that!) and then back again on Monday. Finally I am home for the rest of the year, but now my mom arrives in a week and I need to have most of my Christmas preparations done by then. Ugh.

I am not sure how I will get through this holiday. I have already had a breakdown in a Starbucks. And then I started tearing up while eating dinner one night when a family came in carrying a newborn in my carseat. We went shopping this weekend and I could do is think how different things were supposed to be. Everywhere I go and everyone I see makes me depressed and I just want to crunch up into a ball and shut out the world. The women posting baby bumps that are way smaller than my belly, which is only full of fat. My co-workers who think no situation is complete without a reference to children, babies, or my need to practice hauling things around. My sister who wants me to teach her to crochet so she can make cute little headbands for her soon-to-be second daughter, while my plans for making things for our son become irrelevant. The need to make a Christmas letter to show all the things we did this year, when really all I want to say is that life passed me by this year. Another year of no one to put on the front of our Christmas card. And my MIL, who someone how it was comforting to say that since we will be older parents, our kids will stay in the house until we are 60. How exactly is that supposed to make me feel better? Everywhere I go is a reminder about children.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Breakdown

Well, there were two reasons I haven't been posting. One, nothing has really been happening. We are just waiting...and waiting. I did pretty well when the due date of our failed match came around, so I thought I was handling things pretty well. I even saw my pregnant sister and SIL over Thanksgiving and my adorable nieces without getting down. The other reason I haven't been posting is that I have been so slammed at work. I have been up working until midnight every night this week, including this weekend. One more week of this and hopefully things will settle down.

However, today it all came rushing at me. Seriously, I had a breakdown in Starbucks and started crying into my peppermint mocha. We were supposed to have a baby by now. I had plans to make this really cute pumpkin hat for our October baby, and then secretly I was thinking it could still work if we had a November baby. But now I am realizing it will be another baby-free Christmas for us. And no one seems to understand that we are expectant parents. I was planning my mom's visit for the holidays and she was saying how she wanted to spend a few days with us before spending a few days with my sister. I said it would be fun to have her help me get the nursery organized and she was not excited at all about that. Today at mass they had the usual Advent blessing for expectant parents and I think that is what put me over the edge. I just couldn't handle that. In past years, the priest would mention those expecting or hoping to expect, but this year it was just "hey all you pregnant people."

There is an added stress going on here. Our agency has stopped responding to me. It has not been total radio silence, as I've been getting emails they send out to all their waiting couples and I know we've been shown a couple of times. But six months after completing all our paperwork, I still don't have a copy of our finished homestudy. I want to send it to other agencies so we can increase the number of times we are shown, but they just don't respond to my requests for it. I have started cc'ing my contact's boss in my attempts. I have been told twice now that she will get it to me in a week, the last over a month ago. She's had some family issues and I want to be understanding, but at the same time, it has been several months. If one social worker has so many family issues she can't stay in contact with us, then we need someone else. I just feel like life is passing us by and nothing is happening while this woman never returns our phone calls.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This was the week

This could have been our week. October 26 was the due date of the birthmother we were matched to. It's amazing to think how different our lives were supposed to be right now. I have been praying for her and the little baby boy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Therapy

I taught myself to crochet when I moved to a new state, didn't know anyone, and started grad school. I was pretty lonely and in retrospect, probably slightly depressed. Learning to crochet was a good way to make myself feel productive when I was trying to adapt to the world of grad school and to feel connected to my loved ones when I was far away by making them gifts.

That was 10 years ago and I've come a long way. As you can tell from my pictures, I've been busy crocheting baby items to keep me busy during this wait. Or rather, given how busy I am with work, to make myself feel productive toward the goal of having a baby when all I am doing is waiting.

But there is another way that crochet is helping me. It is, once again, my therapy. More accurately, my therapy group. I have a knit and crochet group that meets monthly. It is a fun little group and, wouldn't you know it, adoption and IF permeate this group. Of the four of us, myself and someone else have been trying to conceive for a long time. Another person has some health issues that, right now, keep her from trying to conceive and make her suspect it will be difficult once they do start. Just today she mentioned that her husband has been talking about babies so they be starting down this road soon. This woman also happens to have been adopted. So it has been great to have an adult adoptee to talk to as I go down the adoption journey. She was born in the era of closed adoptions and has never tried to contact her birthfamily, but it has been terrific to hear her experience. And then the fourth member of our little group has a relationship with a teenager who recently gave birth and at one point this women was in discussions to adopt the child. The mother is parenting, but given their close relationship, my friend is taking an active in supporting her in raising the baby.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Drawing the ethical line

Here's the situation. I met an acquaintance during our IF struggle. She went through the adoption process first and when we started thinking about it, she has been a very helpful guide to get the lay of the land. I truly appreciate this.

So what's the problem?

I've mentioned before (and anyone who knows anything about adoption) that there are ethical decisions to make along your adoption journey. There is not necessarily a "right" decision for all, but we each need to decide what we feel comfortable with and what we think crosses the line into more of a transaction. The problem is that this friend used an agency that we think crossed that line. I don't judge her for using them, but still we don't want to do the same thing. The problem is that she keeps encouraging us to use this agency, raving about them. At first I didn't say anything but just said we are looking at a number of agencies. But now she keeps bringing it up and I don't know how to tell her we don't feel comfortable using that agency without saying that we think their model crosses a line for us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A new context of waiting

One thing I learned about infertility is the constant presence of waiting. Waiting to ovulate. Waiting for the next cycle. And, of course, the two week wait. So waiting to further our family building is not something new to me. But the waiting for adoption is very different. When you are trying to conceive, there is a lot of waiting, but there is also a lot of doing during that waiting. Monitoring your fertility signs if the cycle is not medicated, or getting an ultrasound and bloodwork every other day if it is. It is an active waiting. Even the 2WW is a relatively active waiting. Maybe there are shots or pills to take. Or at least you can mark the time until the waiting will end.

But it is not the same with adoption. There is just waiting. And then more waiting. There are some situations we might learn about, but nothing really we can do to stay active during the wait. And no sense of when the waiting will end.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Waiting is boring!

Sorry again for the extended absence. But it turns that waiting, is well, a bunch of waiting. Not exactly excitement central over here on the adoption front. And I continue to be inundated with work. All that adds up to me not spending much time blogging.

But we did do something exciting this weekend. We created a registry! It started out with a not so great start. As we were driving to the store, my mom called and I told her what we were doing. Her response was: "A registry for what? Oh yeah, OK, whatever, have a good afternoon." When I called her on the lack of enthusiasm, she admitted that it is hard for her to get excited about preparing for a future grandchild when we are not matched. She did buy some clothes when we matched with the little boy, but when that fell through she gave them to a friend who was having a baby boy. I don't blame her for that, but she could fake a little enthusiasm for buying us a crib or something.

Creating a registry for adoption is hard. I guess most people create registries in anticipation of a baby shower and will get all these things prior to the baby's arrival. But we won't be having a shower until after a baby is here. It's not just the gender-neutrality that is put on all our registry items, but even the age. There are some things we will need in those first few weeks. We decided to buy a few essentials that you really need for a newborn and didn't want to put newborn items on the registry. So, for example, the clothes and sleepers on the registry are more for the 3 month old stage and we bought a few in newborn sizes.

And the registry person had a hard time with us since we had no "event date." She really wanted a date and we didn't see why we had to provide one. So we made something up to satisfy her.

And about gender neutrality: I thought this was actually an advantage of adoption. I do not like the color stereotyping that immediately happens with babies. But already I am sick of green!

Here is a picture of our growing set of supplies. What you can't see is the diaper bag is already full of various things ready for a stay in another state!



Here is my question: Is it bad form to send out your registry information to close family? Back when we had a match, many family members that we told about it were saying they wanted to buy us something to get ready. But I'm afraid everyone has the same perspective as my mom and is not thinking of supporting us until a baby is in hand.

And a picture of that hooded blanket I mentioned I crocheted (sorry, I can't figure out right now how to rotate it):

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years

Ten years ago, I was living in Washington, DC. I had moved there about 15 months earlier for my first job after college. It was big adventure away from my family. And it was definitely an adventure. Two years ago I wrote up my memories of 9/11. You can read it here.

But thinking back on it now, there are a few words that come to my mind. Confusion. Shock. Community. Confusion because in those first hours, we didn't know what was happening. Rumors spread like wildfire, even in those days without Twitter. Most of those rumors ended up not being true, but it didn't matter then. I looked out my office window and saw the smoke from the Pentagon. I walked home that day (and every day) down a street that ended at the White House only a mile away. And it was a real possibility that another plane was heading right there.

Shock doesn't need much explanation. I was not the only one who found themselves glued to the TV that day, hoping for some explanation.

I remember the sense of community that came after. On 9/12, several co-workers and I went to the Red Cross to give blood. Except we were turned away after a few hours b/c the line was still long with all the outpouring of people who wanted to do something, anything, to help. In the weeks and months after 9/11, we were a united country. There was no talk of red America and blue America. Or "real" America and other places that I guess are not real America. There was, just simply, America. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

What can we do to get that back?

Friday, September 9, 2011

still around

Hey all, Sorry I haven't posted in forever. We are still here and still waiting. I have been pretty slammed at work and that is taking up all my time. Working long hours does not make me want to spend more time on my computer blogging once I get home.

But now that I am here, I will take this time to vent about my family. Both my sister and SIL (who are both pregnant) are driving me insane with pregnancy complaints. Am I supposed to feel sorry for them that they have morning sickness? I would trade places with them in a second. Even if it meant I still had morning sickness in the second trimester. I did feel proud of myself for coming out a little bit more and reminding them to appreciate what they have.

I am doing OK with our waiting so far. Since I am so distracted with work, to be honest I don't think about it much. I do still want to do some preparations like set up a registry and paint the nursery. Oh! And I finished my first blanket! I will post a picture soon. But it is a hooded blanket that I crocheted. I like it a lot and can't wait to use it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ethical adoptions

You may have noticed some of the recent news stories about adoption. There have been some recent cases of international adoptions in which the adoptive parents found out their children were likely kidnapped from their birth families. And while from what I've read it appears the adoptive parents have done the right thing (reach out to the birthfamilies) and were told lies about the circumstances around how their child became eligible for adoption (i.e., these were not greedy parents looking to steal a baby but people who thought these children were orphans in need). But in the past week several friends who know we are adopting but are not "in the adoption world" have forwarded these articles to me along with some note saying how great we are for pursuing domestic adoption and are not complicit in these tragedies.

I don't know how to respond to these types of comments. Because, honestly, I see a lot of unethical practices in domestic adoption and so while I think domestic was a better option for us, I don't see it as unambiguously more ethical than international. I mean, there are agencies that fly pregnant women to "adoption friendly" states so that the adoption will be ruled by that state's laws. I can't see how a woman who is confused, scared, and unsure of what to do is going to make a well thought out decision when she is separated from everything she knows. There are agencies that promise the world to women who make adoption plans, but when they start to give indications they might want to parent all those supports are whisked away. There are moments when I start to do something and then hold back because it starts to feel like marketing or engaging in a financial transaction.

The truth is, domestic or international, there are large sums of money being traded around. And agencies and people who see adoption as a business model. And once you do that, it is too easy to forget that there is a child in the middle of all of this. So even though I hope that adoption will soon bless my life in countless ways, I also kinda hope for a world in which pregnant women did not look at their future-- and the future of the child they are carrying-- and see so few prospects that adoption seems like the best option.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Failed, part 2

I think one of the hardest parts of a failed match is calling back all the family members we had told about the match. We only told immediate family, but for me that is a lot of people! I guess I could have my mom spread the word, but everyone will want to call me anyway.

And to answer a question, yes, we are still good with our main agency. This agency was not the one we officially signed up with. I spoke with the caseworker from our agency today and explained all the details and she thought we made a good decision. We are back on the waiting list with them. And we know all the details about payment expectations for our agency and feel comfortable with that. So it is just waiting again.

It was a good decision for us to leave most of our purchases on our first shopping trip at my ILs house. We put the few things we have at our house in a closet we don't ever go in, so hopefully our life will get back to normal soon.

One funny thing is that we seem to have established a pattern of collecting toys for kids who never get them. Last year we planned to go to a friend's one year birthday party, but there was an emergency and we didn't get a chance to see him again for quite a while and he had outgrown the toy. Now, we bought small presents for the birthmother and her older son in anticipation of meeting them. So now we have two unused gifts hanging around. I guess eventually have a chance to use them.

Failed

Well, I called the agency today with the intention of starting the backing away we decided on after much discussion. But before I could say anything, the caseworker said the reason she hasn't been returning my phone calls is that the birthmother is not returning hers. Basically, something happened in the birthmother's life last week and since then she has been noncommittal about meeting us in person or otherwise moving forward with the adoption. The caseworker is getting the vibe that this change last week is making her rethink the adoption.

So we are not pursuing this any further. And we are not sure if we will pursue anything further with this agency at all. We made it clear that we do not feel comfortable taking on all of the financial risk, so if they have a baby who is already born or decide to change their payment structure so that we would not be that at risk, we would like to be shown to other situations they may have. But otherwise we have found a line we don't want to cross again.

Back to square one for us. Well, not quite square one since we did learn something from this experience. But back to the waiting game. How do we feel? Extremely disappointed. But overall, we feel OK and that this is the right decision. I reserve the right to be a sobbing mess once the due date rolls around. But I think we will be OK.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Forward or backward?

We are thinking of backing away from our match. With the failed attempt at an in-person meeting last weekend, the inability to find a time to meet this weekend, and something that happened last week, we are beginning to lose confidence that the birthmother is committed to the adoption plan. We are wondering if the thing that happened last week is making her rethink the decision. Which of course she is completely entitled to do. But if these are the signs we are getting, we feel we should move on now before we get further entangled in this.

And our caseworker is not making us more confident that things will go OK for us. With the exception of a one line email on Monday morning saying she will me by the end of the day, we have not heard from her since Friday night when our meeting was cancelled. Although I despise the idea that we are "paying clients", if you expect me to write you a very large check and hope for the best, I expect you to return my phone calls in a timely manner.

Added to this is how we feel emotionally with the risk. As I said a few days ago, we have been praying for our path to become clear and are not sure what message we have been getting. On Sunday the gospel reading was about Peter walking on water but then doubting and starting to drown and the message we both got was to not be discouraged and have faith. And while I was willing to follow that message, I still felt very uneasy about it. But in the past two days as I've been thinking about backing away, I feel at peace about it. Hugely, hugely disappointed and I'm sure much crying will take place on the due date (I even have this adorable pumpkin hat all picked out for an October newborn). And I become ill at the thought of going through another holiday season without a baby. But still not second guessing that's what we should do. We are still trying to get some questions answered, so stay tuned.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Change of plans

So this weekend did not exactly turn out the way we had intended. About one third of the way into our 10 hour drive, the caseworker called and said the birthmother has to cancel because she has to work all day today. And on Sunday, so we have to reschedule for next weekend. We turned our car back around and headed home.

We are not sure what to make of this in light of what we've already been thinking about. The caseworker didn't ask us for the money anyway (if she did, we would have said see-ya!). But then this doesn't exactly instill confidence that everything will work either. As we were driving home, I was thinking about how I had been praying for our path to become clear and I thought, "God, if you are trying to send us a message, you are going to have to be a little more clear."

The change in plans did have an upside. We had time to spend in a city that was on the route that we wanted to visit but never had the chance before. And we've been wanting to go to the Longest Yard Sale for several years but something always kept us from going. Today we finally went and picked up this sweet little chair:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Big weekend

We are getting ready to leave to meet the birthmother in person for the first time (she lives in another state). What do you wear that says nurturing, dedicated, wholesome, intelligent mother who feels comfortable in different cultural contexts and is financially secure but not in a showy or stuffy way?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Problem

Our match came about by us hearing about an agency that is not an agency with which we were officially signed up. But they were looking for parents for this situation and we were open to the details. It all happened pretty quickly and so while I did talk with the agency about their placement fee, we did not talk about the payment structure. The fee is actually on the low end of agencies. Now they sent us their policy and they want half now and half one month before expected birth (about one month from now). This seems not standard practice as most agencies I have seen allow half to not be paid until placement.

So now we don't know what to do. We don't feel comfortable with this payment structure. But they are expecting us to show up with a signed, notarized contract and large check on Saturday when we get to meet the birthmother in person. There is a process to apply some funds to another adoption, but it is not much. We are not sure what to do. Part of what is making us uncomfortable are some of the responses we've gotten from the agency in response to our concerns that seem completely incompatible with what we've learned elsewhere. They have never had a birthmother decide to parent. Really? That is a little too confident given how risky adoption is. They have never heard of an agency that waits until placement for the remainder of the fee. I can point to at least 3 that wait even until finalization. Please pray that our path becomes clear.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photos

OK, by request, here are some photos from our shopping trip. We actually left most of it at my ILs for now since we are still trying to maintain some sanity in case the worst happens. As we get closer and certainly after our in-person visit with the birthmother this weekend, we will start bringing everything to our house. But right now we only brought home the car seat and a piece of the bedding so we can coordinate the nursery.

I talked to my mom last night and apparently she did some shopping of her own and some clothing is on its way. The one awkward part of the weekend is that we did run into someone we know at BRU. Since we are not telling people about our match, we were like, "umm, funny running into you here." But they do know we are adopting in general, so they might just think we are preparing in advance.

Here is the carseat. I love it and the matching stroller:



And here is the bedding we chose.

Here is something I started working on a few weeks ago. I started thinking maybe we would use it, maybe I would eventually give it to one of siblings who are pregnant. But now it is going to our little son!



And after our match I did go a little crazy at my favorite online yarn shop. This is only the first shipment.



And, finally, one of the completed projects was organizing my jewelry to complete our bedroom redo. I bought frames and created a way to hang my jewelry.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shopping

We spent the weekend shopping and doing projects around the house. I haven't told DH yet about all the projects I have in my head, but figure he will get the picture eventually. And thanks to his parents, we now have a car seat, stroller, pack n play, and nursery bedding! This was a fun weekend.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Names

We had talked about names with the birthmother on one of our phone calls. And since she was told the baby was a girl we talked about girl names. She mentioned one name she liked and we decided to give her input on the middle name. But the problem with the name she liked was that it really worked better as a first name and we had a hard time thinking of first names that went well with it. Now, we did like the name, so it wasn't like we heard it and thought "no way is my baby having that as a first name." But it just feels different to me to let go of picking the first name as opposed to the middle name. Part of me held back on liking that name just because I wanted to be the one to pick the first name, KWIM?

So one advantage of this gender change is that it wipes the slate clean for names. She did tell us some of the criteria she had in names (e.g., starting with a certain letter) and so while we are thinking of first names, we are also thinking of middle names that work and meet her criteria. Our plan is to bring this up again when we meet next week and have some options for names we like. Now the only problem is that my husband and I don't agree on names!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adoption books

One thing we will do to keep the discussion of adoption open in our family is use children's stories that have an adoption theme. Tapestry Books is a great place to find such books. But Krissi over at Stress Free Infertility is having a giveaway of Tell me About the Night I Was Born, which is a children's book about adoption written by Jamie Lee Curtis (who is a mother through adoption). There are only a few more days to sign up!

A change

So...just when I post about how something can change at any time with our match...something changes. Don't worry, it's not anything bad. But we did get an update from her new doctor. Who is now saying the baby is a boy. I guess doctors can sometimes make mistakes about that. The first one was in an ER so maybe they were just in a rush and didn't take time to look around properly? Anyway, we had decided to stay firmly in the gender neutral side of things just in case something did fall through. That, plus the fact that I think society will do enough to form gender stereotypes that we don't need to start an avalanche of pink or blue right now.

Which brings me to how I feel about this change. Disappointed is not the right word, but it is different. If you had asked me last week, I would honestly say no preference over the gender. But two days spent picturing myself with a daughter and taking special notice of every little African American girl I passed, now has me thinking, "what do I know about boys?" But still there are some positives with this change. For one, my MIL's reaction to our news that we were matched with a girl was to shout "pink, pink, pink!" Yeah, that left me cringing. Hopefully now she will be more on board with gender neutral stuff.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Head over heels

Sometimes I see advice for potential adoptive parents to find ways to protect themselves while waiting for a match and placement. The is to find the thin line between excitement and preparation to be new parents on the one hand, and the realization that there matches that don't turn into placements and birthparents can change their mind. Just this past weekend as we contemplated our potential match, we would remind ourselves that even if she picks us, something can still happen. Yes, we earnestly nodded our heads, we should still be careful to protect our emotions.

I have to say that now that we have an official match, that line was left in the dust about two blocks ago. There are moments when I do start to worry about whether something will go wrong. But there is no holding back now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good things come in threes

Three good things happened today.

1. After having chest pains yesterday and being admitted to the hospital, my dad had a procedure today and found his arteries all clear. Even the one that he had a problem with in the past. He is already home and resting.

2. I get a mocha every afternoon at one cafe. For some reason, on some days they decide to clean the machine during the afternoon and it makes it impossible for me to get a mocha and I am turned away empty-handed. Today I show up and the lady decides to give me a free mocha b/c she feels bad that I am a regular customer but am turned away at times.

3. Let's see, there was something else I was going to mention that happened today...Oh yeah, we have a match! We are of course super excited. And overwhelmed at the same time. I don't know how my husband was able to work, but he did. Meanwhile, I spent most of the day calling my family. With my dad in the hospital, everyone was glad for some exciting news. It was so much fun to be able to call everyone and tell them our exciting news and hear the excitement in their voice. Since we had not told anyone that we were in talks with a particular birthmother, it was a surprise for everyone.

I know I said in my earlier post that I would update more once I have processed everything, but there are so many emotions swirling around that I don't know when that will happen. We have narrowed down a weekend when we can go to visit the birthmother. I put in a call to a lawyer (Mr. X, the experienced one) so we can't start getting a plan for the legal side of this. The birthmother is in a different state so we will have ICPC to deal with. We are not going to tell our employers for a few weeks. They both know we are trying to adopt. My supervisor is actually out for the next two weeks anyway so that gives us some time to make plans before telling her. One thing we want to figure out is how much time my husband will spend in this other state. We had initially thought that after I took a maternity leave, then he would stay for a month with the baby, but if he spends 2-3 weeks out of state for ICPC, then that limits how much time he can take off after my leave is over. So we might have my mom come and help me during that time.

The odd thing is how quickly I have turned in my thoughts about certain things. Just last week I would read things written by adoptive parents as they talked about their birthparents in glowing terms or about feeling a connection with them and I was like, "yeah, right, how much of that is for show". But now I totally hear myself saying things like that! I do feel like the birthmother and I are similar in many ways and even the caseworker mentioned that she thought we had the same personality and would be a great match. And even my husband shared how he was watching his fave sci-fi show last night and it had a story line about adoption of some cyborg or whatever and the birthmother had the same name as our birthmother. If you had told me last week that I would be feeling a connection to a birthmother, I would have said you are off your rocker. But now I totally get it.

The other thing that has changed in me is a desire to defend the birthmother. When I mentioned some of the details about the situation, one family member started to make some not very nice assumptions about the birthmother and talked about "giving up your baby." So I did get to practice educating our family about positive adoption language and correcting some assumptions about women who make adoption plans. This family member didn't mean any harm, so it was great practice on how to deal with comments like that. But when she started making the assumptions I felt this need to defend the birthmother and say it was not like that at all. And actually from all the information we have, it seems she is making a very reasoned and informed decision.

We ended the day by going out to dinner to celebrate. I was kind of hoping the waitress would ask us what we were celebrating with our wine just so I could say, "we are having a baby, cheers!" But the real fun came when we out for dessert at our favorite ice cream place. While I'm sure everyone enjoys some good ice cream, it is special to us b/c we went out for ice cream after our wedding reception was over for a little private time. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the day. So I thought today would be another great day to celebrate with our favorite ice cream.

So, two and a half months to get ready. eek! End of October is the due date, but we will probably have an induction before then.

P.S. For those few of you who know me in real life (or are my fb friends), please don't talk about this or tell anyone as we are keeping this under wraps for all but close family now.

Match!

We have a match! The caseworker called me a few minutes ago with the news that the birthmother chose us! We are going to find a time we can go down there and meet her in the next few weeks. I will post another update later when I have processed everything.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cold feet

Well, I still haven't heard anything from the caseworker about our potential placement. I don't really know if they work on weekends. I would assume they would work whenever the birthmother needs them, but probably are following up with her on their days off. I am going to call the caseworker tomorrow to see if there is any update.

In the meantime, I've been going back and forth between being hoping this is our match and thinking of first names that go well with the middle name the birthmother mentioned and between thinking this is not it for us at all. There is something that I realized yesterday that made me start thinking this, but I am not sure if I am just nervous. Sort of like how the biggest fights my husband and I had were in the two weeks after we got engaged. The things we were fighting about were not new issues, but all of sudden it feels really real and overwhelming, and a little bit scary.

In the back of my mind I am trying to remind myself that the birthmother hasn't made up her mind yet and so this may still lead to nothing. But then we did spend yesterday looking at strollers and carseats.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Attorney dilemma

We have a dilemma about our adoption attorney. When we ask anyone associated with adoption in our area, they all mention Mr. X as far and away the best adoption lawyer in the area. No need to go to anyone else. Keep in mind that since we are going through an agency, what we need from a lawyer is someone to handle the legal issues themselves, not someone who will find us a match. We spoke with several adoption lawyers in our state and while a few said, "sure I'll take your profile just in case," they made it clear that they don't really handle the matching or placement side of things, just the legal issues of terminating parental rights, ICPC, finalization, etc. But still all the adoption professionals and other adoptive parents we know in this area all say to work with Mr. X.

But then there is Mrs. Y. She's a good friend. And a lawyer. Who has a dream of focusing on adoption law. See my dilemma? She is also a new lawyer, which makes things more complicated. I mean, if she had more experience, we would probably feel more comfortable having her as our lawyer despite the rave reviews for Mr. X. But she is a newbie and I don't want to be the case in which she makes a newbie mistake. But since she is so new, she is also in the process of setting up her practice. This means that she ends up doing much work for free so she can make connections that then lead to paying jobs. But making this transition has been difficult. And as her friend, I am on the receiving end of hearing how she is struggling financially and trying to find paying clients. And I am at a loss as to what to do. As her friend, of course I want to help her out and want to be her sounding board. But as someone in need of legal assistance, I'm not sure I feel comfortable using her. And that makes me feel like a horrible friend.

P.S. There is no update about our potential match.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Second call

We had our second phone call and it went well again. She seemed happy with our answers and said as much. We also learned more about her which was great. I've already written it down so in case this is our match we can start documenting everything we know. eek!

One thing we talked about today is how the child will be named. We are open to getting her input on the middle name and she was happy with that. In this discussion, she also revealed something that confirmed the picture I've been forming in my head about her from the various snippets of information we have. She named her son by filling out job applications in different names and seeing which name got the most hits. That is brilliant! And as a researcher, I love this method. The more I learn about her, the more we seem like similar types of people.

Another call

I don't know what happened with our potential birthmother's phone call with the other family last night. But we are talking with her again tonight. And we received another list of questions in advance.

With the limited information you get in adoption, I am trying to divine any meaning I can from these lists. The first list didn't seem out of the ordinary until the end. After several questions that were full sentences, there were a couple of notes that were more phrases than questions (i.e., one was just "culture and identity"). And they were in a different font. I had assumed that the agency had suggested some questions she could ask and then she added on a few notes at the end.

This new list of questions seems like she found a website or book that had a list of questions potential adoptive parents should explore and copied them down. The odd thing is that some of them are repeats from what we talked about the other day and some of them are not necessarily questions that we would talk about with her, such as whether we are open to a sibling pair or any gender. One is about whether we feel comfortable with the idea that birthparents may not be completely honest with us (umm, is she trying to tell us there is something she is not being honest about?). The questions in general appear straight out of something with a title that says "thinking of adopting? Have you considered these things?"

The thing is, reading this list makes me think that she is kind of like me. I have also googled something along the lines of "questions for potential birthmothers" and have those copied down. I think I've even read the website she is pulling her questions from!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My child

Welcome ICLWers! I don't participate in ICLW every month, but boy did I pick a good month to do so. We have a lot going on right now and I will need much support to help get through it.

Here's our story: After several years of trying to conceive, my husband and I decided to stop fertility treatments and focus on growing our family through adoption. We completed our homestudy a little over a month ago. Since then we've just been trying to get our profile out to as many places as possible. What's going on is that we had a phone call with a potential birthmother yesterday and are hoping to hear in the next few days what decision she will make. She is talking to another family tonight.

With the intros out of the way, here's what I've been thinking about today. Somehow I did manage to get a good deal of work done today! But still I had some moments from our phone call yesterday swirling around. Throughout our conversation last night, I kept using the phrase "the child" and a few times even referred to the child as "it." At one point the caseworker interrupted me and said, "we do know the child is a girl." I had actually already known that and so today I was thinking about why I have a hard time figuring out how to refer to the child. I have two hypotheses.

One, the child does still seem a little abstract to me. Even with the knowledge that this baby girl is real and we spoke to a real potential birthmother, I am finding it hard to think this could actually happen and this girl could turn into our daughter.

But the other explanation is that I am struggling with knowing whether I should use the term "your child" or "my child." I don't want to offend the birthmother by saying "my child." At the same time, when someone asks me about future activities, it is hard to say I see myself reading to your child. I see myself reading to my child. In theory I know that children don't belong to anyone. I can repeat the idea that just because she is my child does not make her any less her child. But I have to admit that bothers me. I do like to think I am making progress in this area. For example, I just finished reading State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. While not about adoption (it's about doctors in the Amazon studying a tribe and local trees to develop a new drug-actually a fertility drug), there is a side story about the relationship between some of the doctors and a young deaf boy in the tribe. Since they are away from their families, the doctors tend to take on parental relationships with the boy. At one point they are talking about this relationship and the main doctor tells a new doctor, you can't have him, he is not available. It made me think of the "claiming" of children in a very unflattering way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our meeting

Short update: our meeting went very well! We will know more in a couple of days.

Here's the longer story:

When I came home from work, the hubby was not home and I was panicking that today of all days he gets home late. I called him and he reminded me that he did get to work late since we are in the process of getting more life insurance (checking off the list of things expectant parents need) and had a physical this morning. He made it home in plenty of time for our call.

I talked to the caseworker for a few minutes to get more information about the potential birthmother. I am not going to go into details here, but one thing I will share is that she is parenting a son who is only 7 months old. So the two children will be very close in age. The two children have different fathers. We received a list of questions that the birthmother had for us this afternoon and after talking to the caseworker we talked about how we would answer the questions. So there we were, practicing answers to questions in a way that made us seem normal and unrehearsed...

Yeah, it was a bit awkward and we were both nervous and excited. Our nerves got worse when the call ended up being about 40 minutes late. It was also a bit awkward b/c rather than us talking directly with the birthmother, the caseworker asked us the questions and she kind of led the conversation. I wished the caseworker would just let us talk, but then we were all nervous so it may have been for the best that someone was taking charge. We did get a chance to talk more informally at the end and that allowed us to learn more about the birthmother as a person rather than just a pregnant woman choosing adoption. I actually think we had quite a few things in common, such as a love of reading and education. And we had both moved from high stress states to the south and enjoy the slower pace.

We do seem to have similar ideas about open adoption. We want to exchange letters and pictures and have it be a real two-way exchange, not just that we send things to her. But we want the child to be able to know who her birthmother is (and her son) and eventually read letters from her as well. We also would like 1-2 visits a year. That seemed to be what the birthmother wants as well. That was definitely a good sign.

We talked about our extended families and how we envision raising a child from a different race. The types of things we envision doing with her. Our jobs, our family traditions, ideas about schooling. It definitely seemed like she had thought through some important issues.

After we got off the phone, the caseworker spoke to the birthmother for a little while and then called us. It was a very positive report. The caseworker herself thought we had great answers and was surprised when we said it was our first time talking to a prospective birthparent. The caseworker had shown the birthmother several profiles and she picked out two to talk to. She is talking to the other family tomorrow and we should hear something in the next few days. The next steps are likely to be an in-person visit, although I think at that point if we meet her it will be as the "chosen" couple.

There are a few things that concern us. One is that the two children will be less than one year apart and I just wonder if there are any increased risks if the mother's body did not have time to heal after giving birth before getting pregnant again. The other thing is that her family does not know she is pregnant and she does not want them to find out. So it makes me worried about what will happen if her family finds out and is not happy. I was happy to hear that she wants us in the delivery room, but on the other hand would feel better if she she had a support system there, too.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that she is expecting a girl!

Monday, July 18, 2011

We have a meeting!

OMG! We have our first phone call scheduled with a prospective birthmother! She liked our profile and has narrowed it down to two families. We are talking to her tomorrow night and she is talking with the other family on Wednesday! The funny thing is I spent this weekend mad at our caseworker b/c she has been slow getting back to us on some questions and I was despairing that it would take us forever to get a match. And now I'm nervous that this might actually happen!

The two things I know she wants to talk about is how open is open adoption for us and whether we want to be in the delivery room. But I need your advice, what should we be asking?!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yeah it sucks

Remember the other week when I was feeling all empathetic for my friend who is recently divorced? Yeah I want to take that back now. OK, not really. But she was over last night and we were talking about how she is dating a few guys now. Nothing serious but one thing that is going through her mind is that she feels like she has wasted all this time and really thought she would have more kids by now (she has one 2 year old). I was like, "yeah, we thought we would have a few kids by now too." She asked how we coped with it. I had my back to her b/c I was frosting cupcakes at that moment so I just mumbled something about living your life as it is. But inside I was thinking "It freaking blows, thanks for bringing it up during our party."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter Part 7B

I loved it! As tempted as I was to go to a midnight showing, we both had to work on Friday and so we went tonight. We had a friend come over for a pre-party and Potter themed snacks. The theater was packed but the crowd was really into the movie. It made the whole experience perfect!

The butterbeer cupcakes tasted better than they looked:




Mrs. Weasley's rock cakes with some pumpkin juice:




We were able to sneak some cockroach clusters into the theater:



And here I am ready for the show with my wand and timeturner:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Warms my heart

One of the common advice given to prospective adoptive parents is to let everyone know they are trying to adopt. The idea is that most adoptive parents find a match through someone they know. I would read this and think, "yeah, right." Not that my family and friends have perfect lives, but I never heard of anyone I know being in a situation that would suggest they are considering adoption. So I always found it hard to believe that we could possibly find a match through our own networks.

But still, this is the advice everyone gives and I am nothing if not someone who follows advice. So I posted a link to our website on FB. And then a friend reposted it. And then another. And another. Wow. I was not expecting such a big response. Even less was I expecting the email I received today. From a friend of a friend, someone I actually know professionally but am not FB friends with. But she saw our link from a friend who reposted it. As it turns out, her sister is considering making an adoption plan. She is struggling in her life right now and is not sure what to do. Apparently she looked at our website and thought we were exactly the kind of family they would want. More importantly, it helped her and her boyfriend achieve some peace in their adoption decision. I am not sure if anything will come from this, but it warms my heart tremendously to know that at least our website is helping someone.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yarn

One of the reasons that I laugh at myself is that despite my young age (and most say even younger appearance), I regularly visit my neighborhood senior center. They have knit and crochet groups that meet every so often and I try to go. I went this morning and did some crochet. One of the draws of going is that they sell yarn cheap. I think people donate what they have leftover from completed projects, and perhaps some stores donate whole skeins they didn't sell for whatever reason. Anyway, it is good yarn but cheap. As I was going through the selection today, I bought up just about every skein of babyweight yarn they had. And when I got home and was putting it away, I remembered some baby-colored fabric I had purchased at a similar type of sale this center had many years ago. I bought it back when we were just starting to think of trying to get pregnant and stored it in a bottom drawer, assuming I would pull it out in just a few months. It's been so long I had forgotten what I had.

So today I pulled out my secret stash of baby fabric and stored it with my new stash of baby yarn, planning projects in my head. Maybe there is some excitement hidden in me somewhere. But I'm still not sure I should let it out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Update

Let me start this by saying the thing I like least about adoption is the topic of money and the fact that it is so easy to find yourself using terms related to financial transactions when talking about the process. So please know when I use terms like that here, I cringe when I write them, but find it hard to be clear without using those terms.

OK, having said that, the purpose of this post is to update you guys on that potential placement I mentioned last week. We are not pursuing it further. I did get the mother's medical report and more information about her situation, but it was not the situation itself that caused us to back away. It was the financial aspect of it. While we knew going into this process that adoption was expensive, we are trying to manage the finances of it responsibly and not go into debt. So that does limit us somewhat.

More importantly, we don't like how most agencies structure their placement fee, which is a separate issue to us than the overall amount of the placement fee. The thing we don't like are agencies where there is a large placement fee and then birthmother expenses tacked on top of that. It really makes us question what exactly the placement fee is going to if not to birthmother expenses.

And that leads to the last thing that got me thinking. The large agency that publicized this situation did so because they were having trouble finding a match for the birthmother. It got me wondering how much responsibility agencies feel to their birthmothers to find them a match. Given that they have had trouble finding a match from among people who have already agreed to pay their high fee, I would think that an agency that felt committed to finding a good match for the birthmother would lower their fee. Sort of like how stores put things on sale when they find it is not selling at the retail price (please see disclaimer above and know this statement makes me queasy). My point is not to compare babies to merchandise but that it made me wonder if the agency feels they owe it to the birthmother who signed up with them to find her a match that meets her needs or if they just throw up their hands and say, "well, no use us sacrificing any of our placement fee, this woman is on her own." This agency already has a tiered fee structure that basically says White babies are more expensive than African American babies (yet another thing we don't like about their cost structure). If they can take a lower fee for African American babies, why not this one?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vindicated

Yesterday as we were shopping for baby gear, my FIL was a big advocate of the Recaro car seat. What mainly drove him in that direction is that Recaro apparently also makes race cars and he was all into buying a race-car type car seat. And he tried to argue that if they can make something that is safe enough for a race car, the baby car seat should be super safe. I was not so convinced. And the race-car factor did not really impress me either. My main problem with the Recaro, however, is that the infant car seat with separate base really seem like the best option so you don't have to risk waking a sleeping baby to get them out of the car. Especially since we have two cars and would otherwise need two car seats.

Then we started looking at strollers and I was all into the higher end strollers. My ILs asked why I liked them and I said truthfully, "that's what all the cool kids have." They did not think that was a very good reason. But once I pointed out that it seemed just as good of a reason as wanting a car seat made by a race car manufacturer because you dream of owning a sports car, they conceded the point.

And then I came home and started really doing research on car seats. And I feel completely vindicated! Not only does all the advice seem to fall in line with idea that while the convertible car seats meet minimum standards for infants, the infant carrier car seat just fit them better. But the true test came when I looked up the safety ratings at the NHTSA. My preferred car seat is more highly rated than the race car seat!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

when does the excitement start?

We made our first attempt at baby shopping today. Well, not really our first attempt as we were in Tar.get for something else when we first finished our homestudy. We did a quick tour through the baby section and realized we needed to do some research online to understand the options. I have done some looking into co-sleepers, bassinets, etc, but not much.

And then my MIL called yesterday begging us to go baby shopping. They are eager to buy us something and my FIL found a car seat he thinks we need. So we agreed to go. The problem was that I could not get into it at all. We went to a place that had some of the somewhat higher end strollers and I couldn't get really excited about them. My MIL even seemed to be open to buying us a really nice stroller. I felt bad that we didn't given them the fun day they wanted. But I am emotionally not ready for full-on baby shopping excitement. Thinking about it as we were coming home, we realized that we spent so long not trying to get our hopes up. So long with no real expectation that what we were doing would actually lead to a baby. And to be honest even though we are officially waiting with our agency, we still don't really have any signs that a baby is in our immediate future. So I am hesitant to let myself get excited only to spend another year or longer still waiting.

Any advice on how to move into the excitement phase? Both of us do want to buy at least a car seat, stroller, and crib now so that we have the basics in place. But honestly it feels like a chore.

Life plans

One of the common struggles when going through infertility is the feeling that your life is not going as planned. So many times in the past several years I found myself thinking that this is not the life I thought I would have. I was supposed to be pregnant by now. I was supposed to have a baby by now. Maybe two. I was supposed to be giving my baby sister advice about strollers, not the other way around. But life had other plans for me.

Now I like to think that going through infertility has given me more empathy for people who also find that their life is not going as planned. I thought of that today as I talked with one friend who didn't ever think she would have to throw her son's second birthday party as a single mother. And as I tried to comfort another friend who also had life throw her for a loop this weekend. I guess in some ways I am lucky compared to these friends since I have someone by my side to navigate these choppy waters of life with.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

adoption in the workplace

I've been thinking a lot about how adoption is treated in the workplace. Obviously there is variability just as there is variability in how employers respond to finding out someone is pregnant. But my job title is changing classifications at my employer (not just me-everyone with my job title) and that affects the benefits we are entitled to. And that's got me thinking about the differences between benefits available to adoptive moms and benefits available to biological parents.

I should start out by saying that my employer does offer some adoption benefits. They will reimburse some qualified adoption expenses after finalization. And most of their policies are explicit about treating adoption and giving birth equally. So they are trying. But when you look at the details, there are some structural differences that make it harder for adoptive parents.

For example, because of the change in my classification, I am losing 20 days of paid parental leave. This is a big blow, obviously. I can take unpaid leave, but 4 weeks of pay is nice a chunk of change that it would be great to have. The unpaid leave is basically FMLA leave and it adheres to those rules. That's a federal law that allows up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for family or medical reasons, for my international readers. The loss in paid parental leave applies to both birth and adoption but women who give birth have more options for getting other forms of paid leave. If I was pregnant and giving birth to a child, I could use any accrued sick days since that counts as a medical condition for myself. But since we are adopting, I can't use any sick days to care for a newborn child.

Likewise with disability insurance. While I disagree with the idea that being pregnant or having recently given birth makes someone disabled, the fact is you can claim short term disability benefits if you are pregnant or have recently given birth. Not so if you are adopting.

So I don't have any options for getting a paid leave. Other than using any vacation days I have, but since we are not allowed to carry over vacation days from one to the next, there's not that many available to use. And since we can't use vacation days that we haven't yet accrued, if we get a placement in January, we would be completely screwed b/c I would not have had time to accrue any vacation yet.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

First situation

We have our first situation that we are inquiring into. It is still to early to know anything, and maybe it is already taken. This is coming not from our agency but a national agency that publicizes situations where they can't find a match from among their couples. I'm not too optimistic this will lead to something, but also nervous. One thing that is intriguing me is that the due date is my birthday. The situation doesn't seem that problematic, so I wonder why they can't find a match for it. But we will see once we get more information.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting ready

OK, now I am moving into a new stage of overwhelming-ness (not a word, but it is what I feel). I had coffee with a friend today who has many friends in the medical field. She told me how she is sending our profile to all these people she thinks could be helpful (nurses, etc). And one friend in our area who also adopted and had a match in only two weeks through a lawyer. So she is putting me in touch with her. I left thinking how great this friend is, even though to be honest we only met recently so don't know each other that well. But I also left thinking, "wow, I might actually have a baby soon." And the whole freakout commenced with me thinking I need to start getting ready. Plus we had lunch with my in-laws on Sunday for father's day and my mother in law is bursting at the seams to buy us nursery furniture. Our plan is to buy things as we wait but give them to my in-laws to store until we need them so we don't have all these baby things in our house as reminders.

So I took a little tour around a baby store site today and left not even knowing which way to go. Bassinets, cradles, and co-sleepers, oh my! Any advice out there? What did you do for the baby's first 6 months? I am a total liberal, crunchy, yuppie and it seems all my friends who fit that are into co-sleeping. But everything I read about co-sleeping says it goes along with breastfeeding and we are not doing that. The co-sleepers I see online really just seem to be bassinets that you place next to the bed. Not exactly revolutionary in my mind. And we have a very high bed so it might not work with our bed anyway.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Networking

I don't have much to report other than we are slowly working on our networking and trying to get our profile information out there. Adoption-Share.com is a great source and we are developing our presence. Pretty much everyone we know now has a copy of our profile, so hopefully people will file it away in case they ever hear of something.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our profile website

Dear friends,
Please take a moment to look at the profile website we created. Share it with anyone you may know who is considering adoption or has a job in which they may come into contact with women who may be considering adoption.

Also, any constructive criticism is welcome if you want to leave it here!


Thanks,
Missy

Monday, June 13, 2011

Both of them

I knew it as soon as I saw the text from my sister. I didn't need to read the text to know what the "news" was that she mentioned. The phone call from my brother was a little harder to read. I did just send him the video I filmed at his wedding. Maybe he was calling about that. And he did have a question about that. But then he mentioned our sister's text. And I knew there was more to the story. My brand new sister in law is pregnant as well. Both of them. Two weeks apart. They can share the whole process. Cousins to grow up together. Why can't that be me?

My other brother had a hard time at our youngest brother's wedding. It can be difficult to be the only sibling not married. I tried to make him feel better but didn't want to make myself too vulnerable in the process. But I know this is how he felt on that day.

**Updated to add: Now I need to take back anything bad I've ever said about my stepmom. She called this evening to see how I was feeling and let me know that her and my dad know this can be hard for me. I can't tell you how much I appreciated that phone call.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Profile approved

I finally got our profile in and it meets all their requirements. I thought I would be more excited about that, but with all the stress over it, I am just glad it is done. Next on our list is to figure out what other type of networking things we should do. Does anyone have any thoughts or experiences with the business cards? I can see how this would be great to give to people we know, but then it also seems a bit awkward to be handing out cards like this.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Profile drama continues

Yet more profile drama. As I said before, our agency is very specific about what they want. Pages must be 8.5x11". Every page must have a sheet protector. It must fit in a 9x12" envelope. Can't be bound. It must have two 2-page birthparent letters (one from each of us), two 2-page forms that describe our personality and interests, a 1-page sheet that has basic information about us, and 4 pages of pictures. I put all this together and end up with an 18 page profile printed out on standard letter size paper. It would be 9 pages with pages inserted front to back as if they were double-sided. I buy standard sheet protectors. I found three report covers that did not look too cheap. Two of them added slightly more height and width so I go with the smallest one.

I'm following all the directions, right? But I end up with a big mess. The small report cover has that flip-style enclosure and is too small to fit the 9 pages of sheet protectors and the middle ones fall out. The sheet protectors, by the way, stick out from the report cover because the edge added for the rings makes it slightly wider and thus too wide to fit into a 9x12 envelope. Their rules are impossible to follow. This is so aggravating.

Catching up

Sorry dear friends for being MIA. My baby brother had to go and get married which forced me to go on vacation. It was a great trip and good to see my younger siblings. We are printing out our profile today and finalizing our preference form to deliver these to the agency on Monday. Then we will officially be on the waiting list. Next on my to-do list is create a short profile that we can send out more widely to find a placement independently. I have a list of good suggestions, but any others that you would recommend would be greatly appreciated. If anyone has any advice on what to do once we get a call, that would be appreciated as well. Our agency gave us a list of red flags but it does not have much guidance about how we should actually approach a conversation with a potential birthmother. Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gender

One of my favorite stores is Pott.ery Ba.rn. Most of the furniture in our house (at least the newer stuff that we've gotten now that we have some money) is all from there. So of course now that we are transitioning from the homestudy to a waiting family, we made our first venture into the kids edition of the store.

And then we quickly made our way back out. You see, that store is not made for adoptive families. At least not those who are open to a child of either gender. Your options are girly-girl or very boy. Nothing in between. I think there was a green ruffle you could use on a crib that was otherwise all pink. A little contrast can be a good thing, after all. But that was about it. No options at all for someone who won't know the gender of the baby. I am actually tempted to write to them and point out how they are missing a key group.

The thing is, even if we could know the gender with enough notice to make a trip to that store, I still wouldn't want to go so far to impose strong gender norms on my child at such a young age. Society will have plenty of time for that. This is actually something I like about becoming a parent through adoption: we won't be bombarded with pink or blue! At least not in advance. I know too many couples who had nothing but pink or blue clothes, blankets, towels, etc. Not to mention the dolls or cars/trucks, even before the child is born. Pregnant women can decide not to know the gender, but so few people actually wait. I like that if any friends or family want to buy us baby things before a baby is here, they can't impose gender norms on the child pre-birth.

So that's why I read this story with interest. Apparently some parents are not revealing their new baby's gender. While these parents are going a little extreme, I can understand where they are coming from.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Home visit

The home visit was, well, uneventful. We gave her a tour of the home and she took a few notes. But the things she said as she wrote notes made it seem more like a real estate tour. "Oh, what a nice dining room. You have a big master bathroom." She said in advance that she would be checking for fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, but then took our word for it when we told her where the fire extinguishers were and didn't check them herself. I think it must be awkward to be a social worker. At times it seemed like she was just making social conversation, but I took every question as a probe and my mind would start working over time trying to figure out the "right" answer.

She did get all the pieces of paperwork we were still waiting on, so she is all set to write up the homestudy. Once we get her our final profile and preference sheet, we will be officially waiting. I have my brother's wedding this weekend, so I will probably take some nice pictures to include in it and finish it off next week.

Speaking of that profile, they are really adamant that they want it in the middle school report cover. I showed her some examples of things that I think fit their criteria but look more polished. She threw in a new requirement. Every page must have a sheet protector. I'm still on the hunt for good solutions that don't remind me of the 8th grade.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Preferences

Sometimes when we tell people we are adopting, they ask if we would be open to both boys and girls. I always say we don't care, but really I'm thinking "are you crazy? we've been trying to have a kid for these many years and you think we would delay it just because a potential child is the wrong gender?" I've actually never really understood why the most common question you get when you are pregnant is whether you care about the gender. Is that a question people just ask to make conversation, or something else behind it?

But the question hits me in another way now that we are adopting. The standard answer to that question from PWCGP (people who can get pregnant) is some version of "oh, as long as the baby is healthy." But they say that having spent months taking prenatal vitamins and prenatal yoga or walking and abstaining from alcohol and in general doing all these things to have a healthy baby. So while I'm sure most PWCGP know that some health concerns or birth defects are random and happen no matter what precautions you take, the possibility that the baby will actually not be healthy is probably not something they think about too much.

But then I look placement preference form and suddenly it seems like a very real possibility. And I'm told that the more we close ourselves off to a type of placement, the less likely we are to get a match. Do I have to choose between having a healthy child or no child at all?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Still here and making progress

Um, excuse me. Yes, I'm still here. So sorry for my total absence from the blogosphere. I have been completely overwhelmed with everything going on in my life the last several weeks. Work has been killing me. Plus all the work for our home study and profile. Plus my hubby graduated with his MBA last weekend! I am so proud of him and wanted to make it a very special occasion, and it was. But it's true that all the family in town and making preparations for that did contribute to my stress.

But then the family left on Sunday and I finished a big project today. I actually stopped at 3pm today and kinda looked around my office and thought, "hey, I actually have time to breathe now." So here I am again.

Much has happened in regards to our adoption. We completed the bulk of our paperwork and had both our individual interviews and medical appointments. Our home visit is scheduled for next week. I also have a good first draft of our profile done and am showing it to friends to get feedback or filling in some pictures that I still wanted to take. Our interviews went well, but it made me wonder about what the agency was looking for. My interview was 90 minutes long and covered all sorts of things. We talked about infertility and my work, but much of it was about my family. My relationship with my mom, with my dad, and with my siblings. And the odd thing was she kept asking about my older sister's relationship with my mom, my dad and our other siblings. Like the caseworker was using my sister as a point of comparison to me. But my husband only had a 45 minute interview and spent most of it talking about sports. What was up with that?

One thing I am worried about. I had my physical on Friday. I haven't gotten the official results from the pap smear back yet, but my doctor said my cervix was "lighter" than normal and thought that was odd. Has anyone ever heard of that? Could it be related to all the meds I had taken?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

This day

I saw this Mother's Day proclamation from 1870. This was written during the first real effort to have a Mother's Day. Here is the beginning:

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!


Despite the title, I think this proclamation is appropriate for all those on the IF journey. It does not call out only to mothers. It calls out to all women who are mothers in the hearts, including those of us who are there only through our tears.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Profile Nazis

Now that we are done with the first batch of our homestudy paperwork and just waiting for a few additional missing pieces, my attention has turned to our profile. And here is where my one disagreement with our agency comes in. They are profile Nazis. This agency has very strict rules about what our profile can be like. Dimensions, binding, overall length, picture captions--There are rules about everything! They spell out what we need to cover in our Birthparent letter and we must use a specific form to outline our personality and interests. They also want a letter from each of us, but it would make more sense to me for us to write the letter together as a couple. It is funny that they emphasize showing who we are, but then put so many rules that we can't be as creative as I normally am.

I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for some of this as they are in a better position than me to know what helps birthparents make their decision. But I'm having a real hard time with their rules over binding. Basically they want us to put our profile into one of those clear plastic covers you may have last used for an 8th grade book report. It's like they don't realize that to us this profile is the key to our dreams and they want us to use something purchased at the dollar store.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Progress

We mailed in a big stack of our home study paperwork today. Still a few things to do, but the bulk is done. And what we have done should be enough to move forward with the individual interviews and home visit. We are getting there!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pediatrician

We had our first pediatrician interview today. I guess she was OK. I don't know really how to judge. But we did go over our preference form in detail so we have a much better idea of what is involved in various medical conditions. I was actually surprised with some of them. Things that I was not much worried about before talking to her could be quite significant, while the things I was worried about don't have many lifelong severe implications.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What happens in 20 years?

We had our second and final day of training for our agency yesterday. Last weekend we had a birthmother and adoptive parents come in and tell their stories. They had very open adoptions and frequent interactions. Yesterday we talked more about the importance of openness. A few other couples at the training with us asked about what happens when the child is an adult? Does a very open relationship mean they might feel free to move in to birthparents' home when they are, say 19? What is the experience of adult adoptees who have very open relationships? The caseworkers tried to downplay the concerns and just repeated, again, this is not co-parenting. But when you think about it, open adoptions really started increasing in the mid1980s, so children in those environments are really just hitting adulthood in the past few years. So we don't really know their experiences.

I know the birthmother and adoptive family that spoke with us really freaked out some others in our group about openness, but I did not worry because I knew we could set boundaries on how open we are. We would not have to set up a relationship like they did. But the adult adoptee that spoke yesterday freaked me out. She had a semi-open adoption. Her parents and birthparents exchanged letters. She did not meet her birth family until she was about 14. It evolved over time but now she sees her birthmother and biological sister quite often. She started having Christmas Eve dinner at their house every year! That was when my nerves really picked up. I don't think I could handle that.

She had a binder full of all the letters exchanged over the years. She passed that around for us to flip through. It became apparent that the birthmother gave her a different name that was changed by the adoptive family. I asked how she felt about that. She did seem to think it was a big deal to have had a different name at one point. But she did say she was thinking of changing her middle name to incorporate her birth name. She might do it as a mother's day present to her birthparents. I could not handle a mother's day of all days to have my child do that.

She did say her adoptive mother has some anxiety issues about her interactions with her birthmother. And seem conflicted when she talked about that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Progress

I posted on FB that we are adopting. My immediate family and most close friends already know. I even told some close colleagues at the conference I was at this weekend. I figured it was time to tell the world. At least the FB world (is there a difference?).

In other news, we continue to make progress on our paperwork. I have also made some pediatrician appointments to both find a doctor and get answers to questions we have before we make our placement preferences (i.e., raising kids with various medical issues). What do I need to know when choosing a pediatrician?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Training day 1

I just returned from a conference, but still have thoughts from the first day of our agency training swirling around. First, it was much more emotionally draining than I thought it would. The hubby expected it to be so, but I thought it would focus more on legal issues, paperwork, etc. But they jumped right into the adoptive family, who gave their story and had us all in tears (even as they had us all thinking they were crazy for the degree of openness they have). The funny part is they sat in our places just last year and remember thinking the family who came to visit their training was crazy for having such an open relationship with their birthmother. But one year later they have a cute baby and a very open adoption. I guess it just goes to show that you never know where this journey will take you.

Second, we met some great couples. It is hard b/c part of me views these couples as our "competition." But we did connect with some and they seem like wonderful people. And we did bond by sharing some of the feelings of loss we have gone through with IF.

Since we had gone to the adoptive family conference a few months ago, most of the material was actually the same that we learned then (in terms of focusing on how to be successful adoptive parents). So it wasn't as valuable to us in that respect. They even had one of the same birthmothers give her story! There is one odd thing about this birthmother (not that she was odd, but it did make us worry about somehthing). She is local and of my religion. She said it was important to her to have the adoptive parents be of the same religion. She told us many facts about the adoptive parents, including their name, neighborhood, mentioned a church, and names of her birthchild and a subsequent sibling through another adoption. So now we are wondering if the adoptive family goes to our church! On the one hand, it would be great to continue to expand our network of adoptive families. But then it would be odd to meet them and know so much about them already.

Our second training is this weekend. So stay tuned!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Talking about the paperwork

Last week, we got our paperwork and thought we should talk about the issues a little bit each night. Well, that first night we picked the worst question and it did not go well. So we changed tactics and dedicated one evening to discussing all the questions. Last night was our night. We opened a bottle of wine and braced ourselves for a rough night.

It actually was a great experience. There were some tough questions, but we tackled them honestly and openly in a way that left us feeling better. We even came to some realizations about ourselves, our values, and how we interact with each other. Who knew adoption was the best marriage counseling you could get?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paperwork

We met with our caseworker this week and went over all the paperwork. So now we have our assignments. I do think it is a little weird that everything is filled out separately by each of us. I can see that for some things, but for others it would seem we should work on them together. Regardless, we are going to spend an evening next week talking through all the questions. Some of them I saw and was not even sure what type of answer would be appropriate. We are going to talk about them together, write our answers up separately, and then read what each other wrote.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I like her

I recently met this new woman at our church. We went out for coffee today to get to know each other better. She has a young daughter and we were talking about family. I ask if her and her husband think they will have any more children. Her answer was basically yes they will try in a few months because the timing would work out with her school schedule, but she also acknowledged that you can make all the plans you want but never know what will happen. I wish everyone could realize that not all plans work out. I think I'll keep this new friend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Maybe you should start a blog

Sorry it's been so long! I guess I just haven't had much to report. We've continued telling people about our adoption and now I feel like most people I interact with regularly know. We have not made much progress on the adoption itself. I thought we had to wait until our training in April, but in going through our last letter from the agency again yesterday (that we received weeks ago), I realized that we were supposed to make an appointment with our caseworker before the training to get all the materials and go through the process. Oops. I thought we were getting the materials at the training. Oh well. I called today and we have our appointment next week.

Tonight I had my book club and it was a small group, but I filled them in about our adoption plans. They were excited and one person there said she is obsessed with adoption and foster care. She is moving shortly, but is planning on starting foster care in her new location. Instead of talking about the book, I mostly told them about the adoption process (ok, we often talk about things other than the book at our book club meetings). They were interested in the process and at one point someone said, "maybe you should start a blog about this process." I changed the subject, but thought that was pretty funny. If only she knew.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It was only a matter of time

There is a couple at church that we are friendly with, even gone out for brunch after mass. We caught up with them on Ash Wednesday and they said they started going to a different time for mass. That explains why we hadn't seen them in a few months. We were talking with the husband and he asked what's the drama in our life these days. So we told him about our adoption plans. It turns out that they also have had trouble conceiving and looked a bit into adoption, but never pursued it. We didn't go into many details then, just said that we could tell them more later if they were interested. I was feeling good that maybe we could help someone else navigate this process. But then as we were saying goodbye, he said, "another set of friends who are having a baby, that always happens." He said it in a kind of cheerful fashion, but I felt so bad. I don't want to be the source of more pain for someone who is struggling with IF.
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