Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holiday Cheese Ball Recipe

This recipe comes from my next door neighbor. She brought it over for my Christmas Cookie Tea Party a few weeks ago and it was wonderful! 

Holiday Cheese Ball
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 small onion diced
1/2 green pepper diced
1 small jar pimento, drained
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 "squirts" of lemon juice
1-2 cup chopped nuts

Work all ingredients (except nuts) together with hands forming a ball. Roll ball in nuts. Wrap tightly and refrigerate. Serve with crackers, celery...etc. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Practice Makes Possible

The following was taken from Yoga Journal's Daily Insight email newsletter. I thought it was particularly lovely, so here it is. Enjoy!

The great paradox about surrender—as with other qualities of awakened consciousness, such as love, compassion, and detachment—is that though we can practice it, invoke it, or open up to it, we can't actually make it happen. In other words, just as the practice of being loving is different from being in love, so the practice of surrendering is not the same as the state of being surrendered. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Resolutions for 2010

As is my tradition, here is the list of resolutions I'm making for 2010. This year I'm trying to set more specific resolutions, rather than making vague ones that I may or may not know how to keep. I've broken them into four categories: Yoga, Weight, Running, and Spiritual.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reigniting My Love Affair with Running

This was originally written in November, but I would like to share it here.

After many months of getting in my own way and trying to battle back, I'm finally back from the dismal abyss of my own laziness. After suffering the loss of a disrupted adoption (very long story), I finally got the kick start I needed to start focusing on myself again. For a long time I'd been consumed with self-pity over my infertility problems, and then with my obsession over getting ready for the baby. But since we never got to bring her home (or even hold her, for that matter), I'm left with an empty nest, a very full but unused nursery, and more time than I know what to do with. Devastating doesn't begin to describe what it was like. I let myself sink into a very very dark place.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grieving, Moving Forward, and Rematching

Some of you are not going to understand the way that James and I have coped with this loss, but I’m going to try to explain as much as I can about what happened last week and what’s going to happen now.

It’s been not quite a week since Mary called and told me that birthmother had changed her mind about the adoption. I was surprised, yes, but I’d be lying if I said I was totally shocked. Mary, after speaking to her further in the past few days, was completely blown away by BM’s decision and said that she’d been totally blind-sided by it. She talked to BM much more than I did, and she said she never saw this coming.. particularly because their conversation about James and I two days prior had gone so well. Mary thought that surely we were past the worst of BM’s cold feet and that everything would go smoothly. And I’m sure that’s how most everyone else felt that’s been following our story. On the surface, it looked like everything was going according to plan. We’d met with BM the Saturday before for 3-ish hours and everything seemed great when we left. Part of me has wondered if it would have made a difference if I had called her on Sunday and again on Monday to check on her. But at this point, I doubt it.

I don’t know what is says about James or myself that we weren’t as blown away as everyone else. I don’t know how to explain it best. I wasn’t EXPECTING this to happen, but in a way I kind of knew that it would. I’d been having a gut feeling about BM for several weeks now. In fact, my gut feeling was that BM would change her mind on the day the baby was born… that seeing the baby would make her have a change of heart. But I kept telling myself that I was just afraid and that I couldn’t let my fear take control of me. So I was trying to let it go. I can’t say I was 100% successful, but the intent was there. I wanted to trust her and trust in this journey.

But, to be completely honest, I was bracing for this news long before I got it. It didn’t hit me as hard as it hit everyone else because I’d already dug in my heels to prepare for the emotional tsunami. It makes me sad because it means that I really don’t have much faith in people, which I thought I kind of did. And it makes me wonder how much trust did I really put in God to take care of us? I’ve been trying so hard to let go of my control issues and put it in His hands, knowing that whatever happens is part of His plan and it is neither my job nor my right to know what’s in the plan ahead of time. But if I was already subconsciously planning for what would happen when birthmother changed her mind, then how much trust did I really give Him? One of the most important life lessons I can take away from this experience (if I can get it through my thick head) is to let go of the control. I still haven’t gotten it yet, but I’m making good progress and it’s something I’ve been praying about much more.

James took the news much harder than I expected (and I expected him to take it really hard), but he bounced back much more quickly than I expected, too. I was quite relieved about that, because I didn’t have it in me to try to take care of him while I took care of myself.... and my mother, and his mother, and my father, and all our friends, and our friends from church, and all our family members. I’ve never been surrounded by so much love and support during a time of crisis, and I can’t tell you how much it has helped, but with that comes the responsibility of breaking the news to everyone I know as gently as possible. I love each and everyone one of you very very much. Some of you took this news much harder than I expected and having to see that just ripped my heart out.

Telling my mother-in-law (who had JUST driven up from Florida when Mary called me - as in, she was still in the parking lot of the hotel) was gut-wrenching. She held it together okay while I packed up my car and prepared to leave. But when James called her later that evening, she had apparently fallen apart. I told my dad because he was in town with me (he was at an impromptu college buddy reunion when Mary called), but I couldn’t even call my mother. I let him do that dirty work. She was at my house when I got home at 1:30 AM, but thankfully she wasn’t a tear-streamed mess. I hope BM understands that her actions didn’t just hurt James and I. They hurt everyone we love and there’s just no way of taking that back. I can protect myself and, to a lesser degree, James. But I can’t protect all of you and I hate that.

So now what happens? James and I are still trying to pursue an adoption because that’s the only way we’ll be able to have a family and it would be pretty stupid to give up on that because of one person. I talked to Mary about how we would set ourselves up for a rematch with a different birthmother/couple. With our agency, rematches due to a disruption don’t cost us anything. So they will remarket us and put our adoptive parent profiles back on the web and in their files for free. We can’t offer as much money in birthmother support each month because BM pretty much drained our savings dry, but we do still have something left to give.

I know many of you are going to think that we’re jumping back into this too fast and that we need an appropriate period of time in which to grieve. But the truth is that losing that baby is still going to hurt in 2 weeks, in 6 months, in 3 years.... quite possibly forever. Waiting to move on with our lives isn’t going to make that hurt any less painful. At this point, we’re both just ready to move forward (cautiously, of course) and leave the past in the past. Dwelling on what happened doesn’t make me feel any better, so I refuse to let myself do it. The grief will come slowly. There will be good days and bad days, but moving on helps me to cope with it a little bit better.

And if we get matched too quickly, or with a baby-born (meaning that the birthmother decided to give the baby up for adoption and is almost at her due date or the baby was just born), and it feels like we’re moving too fast then we’ll turn the opportunity down and wait a little longer. Personally, I’d much rather be matched with a baby born because it lessens the amount of time I have to deal with another birthmother, and I just don't know that I'm ready to do that yet. But we’ll be okay, whatever happens. BM hurt me, but she did not break me. Everything I had to endure at the beginning of this year made me stronger than that.

Now I just need to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with our frilly pink nursery if we end up adopting a little boy!

We love you all. Thank you so much for your messages and prayers. We couldn’t have gotten through the past week without you. And if anyone wants to ask me questions about what happened or whatever, I’m okay to talk about it now. You don’t have to walk on eggshells.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everything Fell Apart

As I’m writing this, that sick feeling at the pit of my stomach that I first felt yesterday afternoon is beginning to return. My heart is pounding again and I can feel my hands shaking, but I need to get this out while I’ve still got the protection of the numbness that has overcome me. If I wait too long to tell everyone the bad news, I will have to face all the hurt that I’m trying so hard not to feel. And I just can’t bear that right now.

Birthmother had the baby sometime on Monday or Tuesday. Since she never called to tell me, I don’t know exactly when. I don’t know who drove her to the hospital, since it was supposed to be me. As of Sunday afternoon, when BM spoke to Mary about how well things were going, everything was right on track to proceed as planned. But sometime after that, BF got to her. I can only assume that he further emphasized his threats of leaving her if she went through with the adoption, that he gave her some kind of ultimatum, because ultimately she broke and gave in. BM has decided to keep the baby.

I can’t begin to express everything that I’m feeling because I’m trying so hard not to feel anything at all. In my gut, I’ve known for a long time that she was going to do this to me. I knew that she would wait until the day the baby was born to break my heart. I knew and yet I told myself that it was stupid to be so paranoid. So I convinced myself that I was just afraid and that I should face my fears head-on by trying to trust her.

The strange thing is that, although I would expect to be overcome with anger and deep-seeded hatred for this woman, all I can feel for her is pity and utter sorrow. I cannot imagine loving myself so little that I would choose to stay with a man who had used and mistreated me the way that he has used and mistreated her. And I am sad for the two little girls she now has to raise, because they are going to grow up without any strong female role models. They are going to learn that it is acceptable for a man to treat them like trash. And they will likely grow up and allow themselves to be mistreated by men the same way that their mother was. And I think that hurts me almost as much as the devastating loss we have suffered.

I have more to say, but I can’t put it into words right now. I drove home from her state late last night, so I’m going to busy myself with putting the house back together. Hopefully I can fill my time to keep the pain at bay, at least until James can come home next week.

Thank you for your love and prayers. They are a comfort to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meeting the Birthmother

James and I met with our birthmother yesterday. As someone who’s watched entirely too many Lifetime made-for-TV movies, I was a little wary of how this was going to go. I don’t know very much about the birthfather except that he has a history of being violent and that he’s not super crazy about this whole adoption thing. Leading up to this weekend, BM had made it pretty clear that she wanted BF to be there when we finally met in person because she’s trying to get him more involved in this process. But they’ve been so on-again-off-again lately that I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but I told her that whatever she wanted to do would be fine.

We took Piper to the dog park yesterday morning to wear her out so we could leave her in the hotel when we went to meet BM and BF. When I was finally able to get her on the phone, I made the suggestion that we meet somewhere for coffee or that we take them out to dinner (you know, somewhere out in public with lots of witnesses around). She’d spent the day at her mother’s house and sounded like she wasn’t in the best of moods. She went on to say that she’s just a “homebody” and really didn’t feel like going anywhere because the weather’s been so dreary lately and she’s feeling kinda low. She suggested that we just come over to her house (big red flag there), but tempered it with saying that she hadn’t heard from BF in two days and that he wasn’t there at the moment. I wasn't super crazy about the idea of going to her home for our very first meeting, but I agreed.

But I’ve also seen a lot of episodes of Law and Order. I’m not stupid. And being the super paranoid person that I am, I immediately called a friend and told her where we were going. I instructed her to send me a text message in about two hours just to make sure everything was okay. If I didn’t respond, she was to text me again every 30 minutes until I responded… and if I still didn’t respond, to call the police (I know, I know… a bit much but I'd rather be safe than sorry). I also left an open Word document on my laptop giving the name, phone number, and address for BM, left information about our next of kin, described our vehicle, and left instructions to please feed Piper and give her to my parents. It seems crazy, but if BF had shown up and chopped us up into little bits to feed to the gators, I’m sure the police would’ve found all that information very helpful during the investigation of our mysterious disappearance and/or gruesome murder.

We got ready to leave the hotel room and Piper started barking as soon as we closed the door. We hung around the hallway for a minute or two to see if she’d quiet down, but she didn’t. Not wanting to get kicked out of the hotel, we opted to take her with us and leave her in the car. She’d make a good excuse for why we could only stay for so long and she’s a great traveler/car sleeper.

So off we go to meet BM. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I spent most of the drive briefing James on things to say or not say and issues to mention or not mention. Don’t bring up BF. Don’t talk about the stabbing incident. Downplay the sometimes dangerous nature of your job. Play up how excited you are about the baby. Be funny. Be yourself. Relax. NO PRESSURE. Quite surprisingly, it didn’t feel awkward and weird at all when we first drove up and went inside the house. BM had brewed a pot of coffee for us, even though she doesn’t drink coffee right now, because we’d mentioned getting coffee earlier. I thought that was sweet.

But no sooner had we sat down in the kitchen to chat, and she starts to cry. Apparently she and BF had a really big fight a few days ago and he’d threatened to break up with her (that solves the mystery of whether or not they’re together) if she goes through the with adoption. She hadn’t heard from him for two days, had called the jails and hospitals, and had no idea where he’d gone. She talked a little bit about how hard it’d been for her without anyone there to support her. Her mother still wasn’t in support and she’s not in contact with her sisters. She can’t get through to BF and has been feeling really depressed lately. But I reminded her that we are here for her and that we’re here to help her in any way that we can, even if she just needs someone to listen while she rants about everything that’s been frustrating her. And I reminded her that, at the end of the day, all she can really do is whatever she can to take care of herself and her other daughter. And she agreed.

After that, we spent the next three hours or so just talking about this and that. I think meeting both of us together seemed to really put her at ease about the decision she’d made. Her mood seemed to pick up and brighten a little during the course of our visit. My friend texted right on schedule and I texted back that everything was fine and BF still hadn’t shown up. Although I did notice that BM kept looking out the window whenever a car drove by, expecting (hoping?) that it would be him. It was actually really hard to watch how disappointed she was every time it was someone else.

After we left, James and I were talking about it in the car and apparently we were both going over worst-case-scenarios in our heads about how it might go down if BF showed up all pissed off and crazy. He’d been thinking over submission holds in his head and had noted the location of the kitchen knives. I’d been noting which windows were open or closed, where the exits were, and thinking about how to place the kitchen island between myself/BM and BF. I don’t know if that’s a sign that we’re perfectly matched because we were both right on the same wavelength, or if it just makes us both totally crazy.

But I think the visit went really well overall. I definitely feel much better about it than I did two days ago. She’s at 39 weeks and 1 day now, so she could go into labor any time. James left to go back to his training school and my dad is on his way down from home. As long as BM doesn’t go into labor in the next 7 hours, I should be good to go (knock on wood).

Thank you for all your prayers and all the messages you’ve sent to me. I haven’t had a chance to thank everyone individually, but please know how much I appreciate it. I have the best family and friends in the world and I love you all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rush to See BM

As some of you already know, my dad and I were planning to drive to the birthmother's state on Monday so we could be close whenever she goes into labor. Since this is her fourth baby, I’m expecting her labor to progress pretty quickly and I don’t want to miss the delivery. That was all fine and dandy. I’d told birthmother a week or two ago that we’d be coming down a few days early and that she and I could go to lunch or something to meet in person and have some time to chat face-to-face. It felt like everything was going smoothly and I was starting to relax and really get excited. Big mistake.

Last Friday I got an email from birthmother in response to some pictures of the nursery that I’d sent her. That is the email in which she dropped the bomb of having named the baby. Now I get that you can’t just call the baby “it” for an entire pregnancy, but I didn't know that she'd already named the baby. It just never came up before now. I didn't want to refer to the baby by the name that we'd picked out because I didn't want to upset her. I guess I just assumed that eventually she would ask us what name we were planning to use. Maybe we could have come up with a name together, as a bonding experience. But she didn't. She's picked a first name, a middle name, and a nickname. What's really interesting is that the baby's middle name is the female version of the birthfather's name (such as Alex and Alexa or Samuel and Samantha). Is she naming the baby after him? Awesome. That’s just fabulous. Let’s name the baby after the man who’s been slapping you around for the last few months. That’s just super.

The email went on to give a lot of suspicious sounding information about how birthfather cried when he saw the pictures because he wanted to make the baby a crib (apparently now he’s a master carpenter, funny how he couldn't get a job because he didn't have any marketable skills before...), but that the baby would have just ended up sleeping in THEIR bed with THEM. That he’s always wanted a little girl (Really? Because he had a raging fit when birthmother tried to contact his grown, estranged children a few weeks ago), and he just doesn’t understand how they could let someone else raise THEIR baby. How he’s so unselfish and kind and how he loves her so much. Excuse me?! What about when he was arrested for attacking you with a knife and trying to stab you in the stomach? Did you forget that little detail??

So I had a little mini meltdown Friday afternoon and got myself all worked up and upset. I’ve had a very difficult time dealing with this woman. I don’t trust her. But my not trusting her makes me feel guilty for not trusting her. So I try to put aside all my fears and anxieties so I can really open up to her, so we can really get to know each other and build a relationship. I’m trying very hard to be compassionate and understanding, but it’s a struggle. And just when I feel like I’m starting to make some progress with all of that, she says things like she did in that email and it sets me off all over again. I’ve come to the conclusion that, as much as I want to open my heart to her, I just can’t. I can’t risk the hurt that she has the power to dish out, I really can’t. At some point, I have to think about protecting myself because no one else is going to do it!

I sent the email on to our agency because I was upset and needed to vent. Their email was acting up all weekend, so she didn’t get my message and call me back until yesterday. She agreed with my concerns, particularly because birthmother has been playing this game of telling one person one story and telling the next person something completely different. To the BM's attorney: Birthfather is really important in my life and he needs to go to counseling just as much as I do. To Mary: I’m just helping him out and being nice to him so he’ll go along with the adoption and not make a fuss. What?? To us: I don't want to have anything to to with him. We're done.

Now BM is throwing a last minute tantrum and going on and on about how she doesn’t know us and how can she give her baby to someone that she barely knows… well that's because she won't talk to me! She ignored me for the first couple of weeks and wouldn’t return my messages. What the hell was I supposed to do?? She lives over six hours away. I can’t exactly hop in the car and come visit you every week for your doctor’s appointments. That costs me money. Money that I don’t have anymore because I've spent it all on paying your bills.

After speaking at length with Mary and our attorney, it was decided that James and I need to go to her state this weekend to meet with birthmother and birthfather, assuage their fears, and just try to salvage this train wreck as best we can. Now don’t misunderstand me, I can completely understand why she’s having a little last minute anxiety. And I understand that the strain of being 39 weeks pregnant will add to that anxiety. I’m not upset about all of that. It's only natural. What upsets me is how inconsistent she’s been since the beginning. What upsets me is how selfish she’s been and how she’s been milking this process for all it’s worth in money and attention.

Our attorney pointed out that stable, mature, responsible people don’t usually place their babies up for adoption (although most birthmothers aren't this unstable and irresponsible). Unfortunately for us, it’s the unstable, immature, irresponsible, people who have issues with telling the truth, who have issues with their pasts, or are bi-polar, or have anger management problems, or who do drugs, or who live with abusive boyfriends.... those are usually (though not always thank God) the people who place their babies for adoption.

And it makes me sad because she has sucked all the joy out of this experience. The birth of a child should be an awe-filled miracle that excites and creates wonder and happiness. I wanted us to get to know each other, to be friends. But instead, I’m so upset and nervous that I feel like I’m going to puke any minute.

So please just pray for us. Pray that the labor goes smoothly. Pray that both birthmother and baby are healthy and strong after the delivery. Pray that birthmother finds some comfort and peace with the decision that she’s made. Pray that she will put her trust in God to get her through this difficult time. And pray that I don’t stroke out somewhere on I-20 during my drive today.

I will keep everyone posted as things progress.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Learning to Let Go

One of the hardest aspects of this whole process has been learning to let go of the need to be in absolute control at all times. Anyone who knows me really well knows that I’m a planner. I like to have everything neatly organized well enough ahead of time that I can have back up plans for my back up plans… just in case something goes wrong. Even in preparing for the unexpected, I keep a tight grip on my illusion of reality so that nothing is ever really out of my control. As soon as something unplanned comes up, I can very quickly reach over and right it before anyone has a chance to notice.

I think it stems from my feelings of total helplessness during James’ first deployment and especially during his most recent… when life just seemed to be spinning out of control faster than I could keep up. Simply letting go was never an option because I was too afraid of how hard I would hit the ground when I fell. I profess that I trust in God enough to know that he’ll catch me when I start to fall… but I set up a safety net at the bottom anyway.

Learning to trust the path He’s laid out for me has not been easy, but it’s something I’m working on very hard. No amount of worrying and fussing is going to make the hard times any easier. In fact, it’ll only make them worse. And it makes me FEEL so much worse. The only thing I can do is to quiet my fears and anxieties, close my eyes, and leap. Leap, knowing that His hands are there to catch me. And while I may not land where I expected to, He will always set me right where I am supposed to be. In that, I can take comfort.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stresses, Anxieties, and Worries

Just a note before I begin: I already wrote this blog once, but I’m a complete idiot and clicked off this page before I could save it. Just perfect. I’ll make this second attempt at writing my blog much shorter.

Home Study Update
We’re finished with the home visits by the social worker. Since then I’ve been busily trying to compile the following items:
-Copy of our marriage license
-Copy of our 2008 tax return
-Copy of James’ pay stub
-Three notarized letters of reference
-Medical clearances
-Detailed worksheet on our finances
-FBI fingerprint clearances
-Child abuse clearances from THREE states
The fingerprint clearances and child abuse clearances still aren’t back yet. Our home study agency was given the wrong instructions for how to process the fingerprint clearance requests, so we had to start completely over. Since the child abuse clearances are coming from three different states, Lord only knows how long all that will take.

Finances Update
We’re running out of money. Not literally, as in we can’t pay our bills. But we’ve spent a lot more on this process than we’d anticipated. Costs are piling up and we’re having a hard time keeping up with some of them. James is supposed to talk to someone from the a group on base to help offset some of the attorney’s fees or maybe the travel/lodging expenses associated with traveling out-of-state to pick up Lauren. I don’t know. I’m not holding my breath. In addition to the upfront cost to the agency for helping us find a birthmother, we’ve also had to fork out our hard-earned money for:
-Home Study
-FBI fingerprint requests
-Overnight shipping (required) FBI fingerprint requests to the FBI and then back to us
-Child abuse clearance requests
-Attorney for birthmother
-Attorney for us
-Birthmother’s monthly living expenses including 5-7 therapy sessions (which I'm very glad she'll be getting, but I just wish they weren't so expensive)

Baby Gear Update
We still have next to nothing that we need, not even the barest essentials. We have a place for Lauren to sleep (pack-n-play for while we're out-of-state, bassinet for home) and a place for her to sit (car seat, baby sling, and the glider that my parents bought). I ordered the diaper bag and thank God I found it on eBay for $30 cheaper than the retail price. I’ve also ordered two cloth diapers. But that’s all we’ve got. No bottles, no formula, no blankets, no clothes, no pacifiers, no bibs, no wipes, and not enough diapers (we still need newborn disposables for while we're out-of-state). A friend from church gave us some adorable hand-me-down baby clothes from the university we both attended. But Lauren will look a little silly if she wears a too-big cheerleader outfit every single day of the week. My plan WAS to buy a little bit at a time over the course of several months to spread out the cost. But SOMEONE who shall remain nameless (JAMES!!) insisted that we wait until the home study was 100% complete. Good thing I didn’t listen to him. It looks now like the home study won’t be finished until mid-September and our birthmother will be at nearly 35 weeks by then!

I don’t mean to complain or to endlessly rant like this but I am so completely overwhelmed right now and I really need to vent. I don’t know how I am going to do this. I’m freaking out, I really am. And there’s nothing I can do to fix it. I’m a planner, it’s just what I do. Having a newborn is going to be stressful enough and there isn’t a lot I can control about that. What I can control is how well prepared I am to deal with whatever comes up in those first few weeks. Diaper changes and feedings at 2 AM won’t be nearly so bad if I have a well-stocked changing table set up and several bottles in the fridge waiting to be warmed. But I don’t and I’m afraid that I won’t have it when I need it.

I’m getting a headache. I think I need to lie down.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Birthmother Match

So our adoptive parent profile has only been online since July 8th. About a week after that (last week), we were contacted by Mary, an Adoption Advisor from our agency, that she was going to present our profile packet to a birthmother for review. This birthmother had been working with them since June and was very picky, having already been matched twice only to have the couples back out after matching (which really makes me sad). So our profile was being presented with the profiles of 10-12 other couples. We were given a brief overview of her file to make sure we wanted to have our information presented since she didn’t exactly match what we were looking for. We agreed and Mary put our profile in the stack with the others.

Two days later, Mary called me again to say that the birthmother really really loved our profile. She had narrowed it down to us and one other couple (no pressure there, right?) but had a few questions for us (REALLY no pressure now). She wanted to know about James’ deployment schedule, whether he would be going overseas again anytime soon, how long I would be at home with the baby before starting school again, how we feel about private schooling, and a couple other questions. I gave Mary my answers and told her to let me know how things went.

No call Thursday. No call Friday. Then we had to wait all weekend. No call Monday. Finally I emailed Mary back to ask her if she’d heard anything because I was about four seconds away from a full anxiety melt-down. I didn’t care if the birthmother had picked the other couple instead of us. I just needed to KNOW! Mary said the birthmother still hadn’t decided yet, and that she’d let me know.

Tuesday afternoon Mary called me and said that the birthmother had decided on us and was ready to present us with the birthmother’s profile. So she told us about the birthmother’s history and how she got to where she is now. She told us about her family and a little about her health history, her lineage, her due date, the gender of the baby, and lots of other stuff. We discussed the financial commitment we’d have to make, including the match fee to our agency, supporting the birthmother until six weeks after delivery, and the attorney’s fees for finalizing the adoption. It was more than we’d anticipated, but not more than we could handle. So after James and I discussed it (off the phone), we called Mary back and told her that we’d agreed on the match.

So today we had our match meeting, which was a long conference call with Mary, the birthmother, and both of us. The birthfather was originally supposed to be on the conference call too, but we’ll get to him later (and oh boy is HE an interesting story). We were on the phone for a little over an hour and at the end we all agreed to the match.

So it’s official. We are expecting a healthy little girl on October 17th. We’ll have to stay in the birthmother's state for the first 10 business days after she’s born. So we’ll be bringing her home on or around Halloween (if she’s born exactly on time).

I hope everyone knows how grateful I am for all your love, prayers, and support since we announced we’re adopting. We truly have the best friends and family in the world and I hope you know how much we appreciate everything you do for us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Webpages are Live!

We just got emailed that our adoptive parent profile webpages are up and running! I’m so excited. Our profiles are listed on three different websites. The agency's website allows us to track how many times our page is viewed. It’s already been viewed 5 times since this afternoon, but I think 2 or 3 of those might have been us. Oops. We’re still working on our home study, but we should be finished with it by the end of the month. We meet with the social worker again on Friday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Home Study Visit

So we met with our social worker, Amy, for the first time today. And, of course, Piper jumped all over her as soon as she walked in the door. Perfect. Juuuust fabulous. I was a little freaked out that our first meeting would be here at the house because I only had a day and a half to panic-clean the whole house from top to bottom. But she didn’t come to check out the house. The first visit (of three) was just about getting to know James and I. She asked us questions about our parents, what they were like, our childhoods, our siblings, high school, college, what we do for a living, what our personalities are like, etc. It took about an hour and a half, but it was ok. Our second meeting is next week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Selecting a Home Study Agency

So our adoption consultant Karen called yesterday to let me know that she’d gotten our packet in the mail and they’d start working on our website. The next step is for us to start/complete a Home Study.. So she gave me the names and contact info of four home study agencies for me to choose from. Apparently the fee schedule and completion time-table can vary from one to another. So like any good mom-to-be, I decided to do a little research on each on and “shop around” for the best deal. What can I say, I like ‘em FAST and CHEAP!

I googled the first one and pulled up the company’s website. LOTS of information about the adoption process in general, the home study process, their staff, resources, an up-front fee schedule (always a good sign), and all the paperwork I need to get started. Their standard home study takes 8-11 weeks, but we can expedite the process for not that much more (compared to what I had expected) and get it done in two. Nice.

I googled the second one and found their website. They are a Christian company that handles home studies as well as full adoption services to birthmothers and adopting parents. Sounds good on the surface, but I have concerns. First, they only work with parents who have been married for at least three years. That’s great for the most part. James and I have been legally married for almost 3.5 years, but we won’t celebrate the third anniversary of our marriage by the church until September. I don’t know how much of a difference that will make. Then there’s a requirement that we fully agree with their “Statement of Faith” which cannot be found anywhere on the website. I imagine that it probably would be something we could agree to without any problems. But unfortunately, not all Christians believe the same thing and I don’t want to make this process any more complicated than it already is. Then there’s the kicker. We have to “plan to provide full-maternal care once a placement is made.” I’m planning to stay home for the first year or so, but then I’ll be in medical school after that. So this company just isn’t going to work.

The third company can’t be found online anywhere and the fourth can be found in search engines, but doesn’t have it’s own website. Call me a snob, but that just doesn’t work for me either. It is 2009 people. Get with the program.

So we’ll be going with the first agency. Their fees are MUCH less expensive than what we’d expected and they do home studies exclusively. Based on the information available to me, I think they’d be a better fit for James and I. So I’ve downloaded all of the initial forms and will be filling them out as soon as this blog is posted. I want to get them put in the mail (or faxed) today so they can be processed while we’re on vacation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mailing the Packet

James and I finished our packet this afternoon and RACED over to the UPS store to get it shipped out today. In the packet was our signed contract, the information for our adoptive parent profile, our two birthmother letters (one general birthmother letter and one for younger birthmothers), a CD with 75 of our cutest pictures, and one very large check. Poor James couldn’t even write it out himself. I had to write out the check and hand it over to be signed. We’re headed down to Florida next week to visit with James’ mom, so hopefully we’ll be able to start our home study as soon as we come back.

We're Adopting!

Since James and I announced that we are planning to adopt, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the process and what’s involved. So instead of answering everyone’s questions individually, I thought I’d share the experience with you here.

James and I made the decision to adopt for a variety of personal reasons that I won’t go in to now. Please understand that the circumstances leading us to this decision are very sensitive. If you don’t already know the precise reasons why, then I’m not ready to tell you and please don’t ask. I will let you in on the reasons when I am ready to share them. One-on-one and in my own time.

We decided on a domestic infant adoption for a couple of reasons. First, contrary to popular belief, international adoptions are MUCH more complicated and take MUCH more time and money than domestic adoptions. Every country has different regulations as to how you go about facilitating an adoption and some of them require you to live in that country for as long as a year before you can bring your baby home. Not to mention how expensive it is to travel to and stay in a foreign country compare to, say.... Cleveland! So obviously that made it out of the question. But also, James and I wanted to help someone from our own country.

Originally, we wanted to adopt a baby from a birthmother living in our own state. But after doing a little research, we learned that state-run adoption agencies (while less expensive) take a lot longer. They have fewer resources than private adoption agencies or law firms, so they aren’t able to reach as many birthmothers. One local agency that I contacted wanted to put us on a waiting list for at LEAST six months before they could even BEGIN our Home Study (more on that later) and look for a birthmother for us. Most adoptions done this way take several years to finalize. In the end, we decided to trade the slower, less-expensive option for the faster, more-expensive one.

We have been working one-on-one with an adoption consultant over the phone and by email (since we can’t to go CA). She has baby-stepped us through the legal paperwork involved in initiating a search for a baby. Right now we are working on writing our Adoptive Parent Profile and our Dear Birthmother letters. Once we send her those, our pictures, and our contract, out agency will begin marketing us to potential birthmothers and we will start our Home Study here.

I don’t know yet how long the Home Study in our state takes. I’ve read online that it’s usually 8-12 weeks, but it can vary. I’ll talk more about that after we’ve started it. As for the match process (pairing a birthmother with an adopting couple), it is the birthmother that selects the couple. Once we have been selected by a birthmother, we will be given all of her information.... her personal history, health information, financial situation, etc. If we like what we see (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?) then we set up a meeting or conference call (depending on where in the country she is) to talk and ask questions of each other. After that, if we both agree, then the legal paperwork proceeds and we will start supporting her financially until she delivers.

The other possibility is that we are selected by a “baby born” birthmother, meaning that either the baby was just born or is due very very soon. The only stipulation is that we cannot bring the baby home until the Home Study has been completed by the social worker. So either we would have to pay to have the Home Study expedited or we would have to wait and match with another birthmother.

Well I think that’s enough for now. It’s pretty much all we know about the process so far. I will keep everyone updated on the process as we find out more information. Thank you for all your love and support. We are so excited about this and can’t wait to bring our little one home!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Walking the Labyrinth

My church recently rebuilt the worship space to accommodate the growing parish. One of my favorite things about the new building is the floor. Inside the church, the floor is all ceramic tile. In the very center of the sanctuary is a large labyrinth (45 feet across) made of blue tile in-laid with the rest of the ceramic tile flooring. Apparently, it's one of the largest public/permanent/indoor labyrinth in the country. They move all the chairs and open the labyrinth for walking in prayer/meditation once a month. I'd never been, but given the health problems I've recently been diagnosed with, my priest urged me to come and give it a try. I figured it would be another opportunity to get out of the house and interact with other actual human beings (as opposed to my two kitty cats and one puppy).