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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?!
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."
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:
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
2008 - ditched BC 2009 - Started treatments and testsand got a whole bunch of BFNs 2010 - The year of treatments January 2011 - Starting to look into adoption June 2011 - Homestudy approved! July-August 2011 - First match, and then it fell through January 2012 - Matched again! March 2012 - We finally bring home our baby boy!