Saturday, November 19, 2011

Introducing: Mara of Marriage 2.0

I am so happy I participated in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project at Production, Not Reproduction.  I can't wait to read through many of the interviews and hopefully find some new blogs to follow.

Through random pairings, I was matched with Mara at Marriage 2.0 .  Mara has a great insight on life and blogs about a variety of topics, not just adoption.  Mara and her husband Chris have officially been in the waiting game since late summer.  She is a very talented writer and I am excited to share with you the interview questions I asked her.

1.       What has been the best part about blogging your journey to parenthood?  
Two really wonderful things have come out of blogging for me. First, finding this community and connecting with other people who are facing similar challenges. I don’t have many real-life friends who have battled pregnancy loss and infertility and who have shared that with me. Learning that I wasn’t alone was a huge comfort during the difficult times. Second, having an outlet for my emotions was a huge help. After my miscarriage, I really withdrew from most of my friends. I didn’t mean to, I just didn’t know how to talk about my loss with them. Through my blog, I was able to share my feelings and work through some difficult emotions. It really helped me in my healing process. 

2.      What do you think will be the biggest change in your life once you have settled into parenthood?
Well, I like to think that I will be so happy and grateful every day to be a parent, and I’m sure I will be! But I think in reality, my life will get a lot more chaotic. My husband and I are both very organized, and although we are far from perfect, we are fairly successful at balancing our marriage, our professional commitments, our family and friends, our singing, and our various volunteer activities. I think having a baby is going to throw us into beautiful chaos, and we are going to have to get used to pushing forward, even when we don’t feel like we’re on top of things.
3.      What will you miss most about your pre-child life?
Sleep! And feeling like I’m on top of things.
4.      You say that you are open to adoption a child of any race; how / do you plan to incorporate their heritage and culture into your lifestyle?
I think the most important shift for us will be to start thinking of ourselves as a multi-racial family, not just thinking of ourselves as white people with a child of a different race. We already live in a very racially diverse neighborhood, and we will seek out a school, church and other activities that include a diverse mix of races. We have some close friends who have mixed race families, and I think there will be a lot of positive role models available for us and for our child as we move forward. If there are specific cultural traditions (foods, holidays, etc) tied to our child’s background, we will celebrate them as part of our own family traditions.
5.      How and when do you plan on sharing your adoption story with your child?
We plan to be open with our child from the very beginning, so there will never be a moment when they “learn” that they were adopted. At the same time, we know that their understanding of their story will evolve as they get older and start to ask more detailed questions and have a more sophisticated understanding of their story and a more complex emotional response. Our priority is to be honest with our child and to allow him or her to feel that this topic is not taboo and can be discussed openly, even if he or she is feeling bad about it sometimes.
6.      What is the best way to describe your feelings about your infertility?
I have accepted my infertility, and I have tried to turn my struggles into something positive. I think that pretty much sums up the way I have approached every obstacle and failure in my life. I have learned to forgive myself, I am making peace with my body, and I am excited about expanding our family through adoption. I try to allow the difficult emotions I experienced around infertility and loss to expand my compassion so I can be more understanding toward other people in my life, who might be struggling with their own issues. I also hope that someone else out there will take comfort in my story.
7.    Are you looking for an open adoption? 

We have some flexibility with openness. I think our first choice would be to have a semi-open adoption, but we are flexible depending on the situation.

8.    How did you view open adoption when you first began considering adoption as a way to build your family?

I had never really heard of open adoption before we started doing adoption research. It was completely foreign to me, and it sounded a little scary. Today, there are some aspects of openness I feel comfortable with, and still some that I don’t. For my husband and me, we find it a lot easier to talk and make decisions about openness in the context of a specific adoption situation, and we are looking forward to having that opportunity!

9.        How do/did your friends/ family react when you began to tell them about open adoption?

We haven’t really discussed the topic much with people at this point. The most common thing that happens is people ask if the adoption will be open, or they ask if the birth parents will know who we are. We usually tell them that, yes, most likely we will meet the birth parents, and that openness is a spectrum, and that we won’t know the specifics until we’ve met the expectant parents and made a plan together.

Thank you so much Mara for being my interview partner!  I wish you the very best as you move forward on your adoption journey!  Click here to explore all of the other interview partners and read what everyone had to say!

Please stop over to Mara's blog and offer her and her husband encouragement!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Odds and Ends

It's late and I should be in bed.  I am on my third pack of starburst candy from our son's Halloween candy bowl and trying to wrap up a few odds and ends.  I feel like I have so much going on right now in our life and that it is going by so fast.  I'm trying to organize a holiday boutique for 10 vendors this next week, pick out and order Christmas cards, catch up at work,organize my bazillion photos saved on my computer hard drive and most importantly- finish our profile.

Writing our profile has been so difficult for us!  We are finding it hard to sit down and write all of that stuff about ourselves while not making it sound too cheesy!  I had a goal of having it done by December 1st and I really don't see that happening.  Matt and I had Friday off together and worked so hard the last two days trying to finish up the questions.  Tonight we pretty much finished them all and are almost ready to send in our first {very rough} draft.  That was way exciting for me and I did a little happy dance to the Michael Jackson video that was on VH1 at the time. 

I'm overwhelmed with thinking about getting the pictures picked out and finalizing our profile to look "pretty".  I have to depend on a few friends for help with these final pieces and so that means fitting things in with their schedule as well.

I haven't been as good at writing here as I want to be.  I think of things almost every day that I want to include but I don't have the energy to come in and write them.  They are little things that I run into- someone who shares something encouraging, someone who says something insulting or ignorant, or someone I meet that has an adoption story for me etc.  I hope to get better with these once I am finally "waiting" and don't really have anything else to be doing.

In other news, I received an email a couple of weeks ago from our adoption counselor.  One of them was an article about the "stages of waiting".  It was very interesting and even though we are not officially waiting yet, I know the feelings it discusses to be true.  They range from relief, joy, outrage, guilt, doubt, all the way up to exhilaration.  I know I was feeling relief tonight as we have our first stage of our profile nearly completed.

The second (and way exciting) piece of news from her was our Agency Update.  These are exciting to get but as you look at it I feel like there are so many waiting families and currently not a lot of babies on the way.  I was excited to get this but know I will be discouraged after waiting months and months and not being selected.  Recently, there were twins and a single placed with an adoptive family in August and currently 3 receiving pregnancy counseling with two of them reviewing their options (considering an adoption plan) and due in January and May.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In the News

I was so excited to be included in the monthly round up of Open Adoption Blogs at Production, Not Reproduction.  They have a great list of blogs organized by first parents, adoptive parents, and pre-adoptive parents.  I have already found several I enjoy reading and it is very interesting to read from both sides of the fence as far as first/ adoptive parents go.

I am also participating this month (It is National Adoption Month, you know!) in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project.  I received my email today with info on my partner.  We will be reading each others blog and posting our interview questions and answers.  Stay tuned for that!  I am pretty excited!  Stop over and take a peek at her blog if you like!

Books in Black and White

For my job, I do home visits with prenatal moms with children up to age 3.  Part of each visit is a literature connection and we always read 1-2 books.  As I was reading the other day to one of my bi-racial children in a home, I noticed how all of the books I have in my office are one race families.  The particular book I was reading was called Kisses for Mommy.  It had all sorts of mommies giving kisses to their babies.  But, it was white mommies kissing white babies and one black mommy kissing one black baby.  I thought to myself that my awareness of transracial issues is on my mind because it was bothering me that there was no black mommies kissing white babies or white mommies kissing asian babies etc. 

I thought that was a good sign that I am more aware of these issues now after our training we have had at the agency the last month.

Super Secret Project

We have kept our adoption plans pretty secret as I have mentioned before.  All of our family knows, but only a handful of friends.  My reasoning for this is that after all of the years we have spent wanting another child, we are closer than we have ever been (but yet....still so far away possibly!)  I just don't have the emotional strength to have everyone ask us all the time if we have heard anything. I know that everyone would only be asking out of care, but it is hard to have to say no, no, no so many times.  The waiting time will be very difficult but I know that the wait will be worth it in the end.  Our baby will be a perfect match for us.

At first the only friends who knew besides our family were the ones we asked to write our reference letters.  Then Matt told a few more of his friends (he CAN NOT keep a secret!) and I have recently told a few more of my friends. 

Everyone appears to be very happy and excited for us. We definitely have some areas where I can see that our friends and family as well will be able to learn from our experience about what open adoption means and looks like, as well as what typical birth moms look like.  This is something we talked about in last nights home study interview and we are both looking forward to sharing our story and letting others see what open adoption looks like first hand.

Final Homestudy Interview

We met with our adoption counselor last night for our final homestudy interview.  We met at her office and were told to plan on two hours.  Well, 3 hours and 15 minutes later.....  
I thought this was the hardest of the 3 sessions so far.  The questions were harder to answer and Matt commented on the way home that he didn't think we were prepared for all of them.  I didn't want to look up all sorts of info online about what questions might be asked because I did want our answers to be genuine.  Some of the questions asked were:
How did you meet?
How long did you date?
Where/ when/ how many people were at your wedding?
Where were you working when you started dating?
What are the joys of parenting?
What is the hardest?
What is your philosophy on parenting?
How do you discipline?
How do you handle conflict in your marriage?
How often do you have date night?
How often do you do things with your friends as a couple?
What church do you attend?
How often do you attend?
What are the goals for your marriage?
How do you think adoption is going to change your life, your marriage?
How do we feel about the openness, how does our family and friends feel?
What is our neighborhood like?
Our community?
What have we done to prepare for adoption?
What do we plan to do after the adoption to continue to grow with adoption issues?
and much much much more!!! 

I hated all of the questions!!! I hate the interview, the prying, the questions.  I wanted to scream a few times as we were sitting in the interview room how I hate all of this "application" process!!!

Matt and I went to dinner after and he thought things went good.  I am sure all of our answers were fine, I just felt exhausted after it. 

She encouraged us to get the profile in by Christmas and I told her I had the beginning of December as my goal.  We are paid up to date so as soon as our profile is in, we will be active in the pool.  This is what I have heard is the hardest part because you do nothing.  You wait. And wait.  There is no paperwork, just waiting.

Monday, October 24, 2011


The packet we got on our profile instructions is pretty descriptive.  I am happy with that, and feel a little more at ease with what we need to include in it.  We pretty much have set sections & questions that we must answer so each family has the same information. 

We will have 4 copies made and they will be on 8.5 x 11 paper with a spiral binding.  As I took some time this weekend to look over the internet, I am completely frazzled on just exactly HOW I am going to create this profile.  I am no longer worried about the content, but have NO IDEA how to do the "digital scrapbooking" type work for it.  I don't know what design program to use or how to put it together!  The agency did have some names we could use if we want to hire someone to do it for around $250 :(

The profile pages will include:

Cover page

Birth parent letter

As a couple

Wife's page & husband about wife

Husband's page & wife about husband

Our family (2 pages) including : What does family mean to us? What activities do we enjoy as a family? What contact do we have with our extended family? What part do pets play in our family?

Our Child- B will write his own letter here

Our home and neighborhood

Choosing adoption (3 pages) including: Why are we pursuing adoption? What will adding a child mean to our lives? What are the parenting and daycare plans for the child? Describe the perfect adoption experience. Why are we choosing an open adoption? What worries us about open adoption? How will you tell your child about his/ her adoption plan? When will you being to tell your child? If the birthparents have already named the baby, are we comfortable keeping that name? Have we already chosen a name that is important to us? Would we like to name the child jointly with the birthparents? Does our lifestyle allow us to travel to visit birthparents in Nebraska? Do we hope to have birthparents visit our home on an ongoing basis? Do we hope to visit the birthparents in their home on an ongoing basis? Will we welcome relationships with the birthparents extended families? Will we share the child's milestones and significant accomplishments over the years with the birthparents? Do we plan to include special events, recitals, ball games, birthdays, and graduations with the birth family? Do we hope for and support our child having an ongoing relationship with the birthparents over the years?


Adoptive Family Questionnaire

When we turn our profile in, we are also required to turn in this questionnaire.  This is the document the agency will use when deciding whether or not to show our profile to prospective birth parents.  Matt and I need to have some uninterrupted time to have a final discussion on what we are comfortable with in terms of our future child and their race, medical background, and legal issues.

If you have not looked into adoption much, it is a lot to think about and put on paper.  If you are baby making with your spouse, you don't have to check yes or no each time to potentially getting pregnant.  Being comfortable with situations that are not under your control can be very intimidating.

The AFQ asks the following questions:
Age you are open to welcoming- (even though our agency is an infant program)
Number of children you would consider:
Full siblings?
If birthmother returns to the agency, to relinquish a child by a different father, are you open to being contacted?
Open to the following racial backgrounds- yes or no
Caucasian/ Unknown
Caucasian/ Native American
Caucasian/ Asian/ Pacific Islander
Caucasian/ Hispanic
Caucasian/ African American
African American
African American/ Native American
African American/ Asian/ Pacific Islander
African American/ Hispanic
Native American
Native American/ Asian/ Pacific Islander
Native American/ Hispanic
Asian/ Pacific Islander
Asian/ Pacific Islander/ Hispanic

Are you open to being contacted with little to none known about the identity, whereabouts, or family history or the:

Drug & Alcohol Usage
Choices are Yes, we feel comfortable   Maybe, please call with situation   No, do not show profile

We must write a choice in each box for used 1-5 times during first trimester, Used monthly during pregnancy, Used weekly during pregnancy, Used daily during pregnancy in the following categories:

Drug stimulants

Child's Background- select could accept, could not accept, or willing to discuss:
How Birth Mother Became Pregnant:
extramarital affair
unknown father
2 or more named fathers

Prenatal History:
Limited prenatal care
no prenatal care
child is premature

Medical History:
below average IQ
learning disabilities
personal history of chronic mental illness
family history of chronic mental illness
history of additcion

Same as above for father's side

Group Seminar 2

I was really looking forward to our training days last week.  We were scheduled to be at the agency for our final 2 days of training from 10-8 on Thursday and 9-4 on Friday.  Matt had the two days off this time, so sleep was not an issue for him this time, thankfully.

It was fun to see the other families again and we day one was spent discussing loss and grief issues .  They stressed that adoptive parents must face the loss of a fantasy child...a child that they would have carried biologically, resembled a mix of the parents, etc. There are several other avenues of loss and grief that adoptive parents must face before moving forward as well.

We also had the opportunity to work with our spouse and create "our story" on poster paper.  This was our opportunity to share where we had been and how we got to where we were today with our infertility.  I had only briefly spoken with a few others so didn't really know how anyone else had ended up here.  Everyone's story was somewhat unique, but everyone had some common threads.  They were all filled with heartache and some had been on a longer road (16 years) and some only a few short years.  I don't think that any of the couples shared their story without tears.  There were only two couples who have had a  hysterectomy (us being one of them) so the old saying of "just adopt, you'll get pregnant) will definitely NOT be happening with us.  One of the other couples has had a vasectomy due to it being too dangerous for the wife to get pregnant for health reasons.  That leaves 3 couples for the old saying to come true for...but I would call it a miracle after hearing what each of them have been through.

One couple has a bit of a different experience going on right now and this is what I have really liked about the agency so far.  They do not seem to be black and white on their "policies" but look at each case/ family individually.  This is what I mentioned in the beginning when they could have easily told us that they can't work with us because we are not in the correct county.  Instead, they told us that we were welcome because we were still very close.  I am so thankful that this agency really seems to have a giant heart.

We had a speaker who was an adult "adoptee" and she did a fantastic job.  She was such a fun gal, and it was great to hear her story from her point of view.

Much of the afternoon was spent discussing transracial adoption.  This is part of our Adoptive Family Questionnaire that we have to turn in with our profile.   More on what this AFQ includes later.

4 of us couples went for dinner together and it was a nice time to relax and get to visit. 

The night ended with the adoptive parent panel.  We had three couples who came to speak and two of them brought their children.  It was very interesting to hear how their families came about and how they are learning to make open adoption work in their families.  They presented a side that did not seem to be as rosey as the birth moms did.  Listening to both of the panels during these training sessions has been one of my favorite parts.  I love hearing the real life stories and see how their experiences have played out.

Day two was dragging on a little bit.  Some of the info seemed to be repetitive like we had already discussed it or read it in our books.  We went over attachment and bonding, scenarios, and building your family through adoption.

We did some role playing situations where we read actual comments that birth parents have had said to them.  The counselors were trying to teach us that we can use humor, education opportunity, or ignore/ walk away to respond to these situations.  Some of the scenarios were:

"How could someone just "give away" their baby"?
"What is it"?
"Who is his/ her real mom and dad"?
"What if you change your mind, can you give them back"?
"What if you get pregnant now? Then what would you do with him/ her"?
"How much did he/ she cost?"

Seriously?  Wow.  I am curious to know what others have/ said done in these situations.

Once again, four of us couples went to lunch.  One of the couples had the idea for us to get together in the fall and spring at a nearby state park to encourage and support each other as we watch each others families grow.  I love the idea and hope that we can make it work.  I simply can't wait to hear when each of the families gets "their call".  I am already so happy for each of them!

The very last hour of the day was finally what we had been waiting for.  They gave us the Adoptive Family Questionnaire (to select what we are / are not comfortable with, the profile specifications, and we had the opportunity to review several sample profiles. 

This is one thing that I wish they would have done differently.  I felt like we were short on time and rushed as we discussed this info.  The packet with profile specifications is very detailed but I everyone was so excited to look at samples, that no one was really listening to them talk as we skimmed through the samples.

Our training days are done and we scheduled our final home study interview for November 1st.  This one will be at least 2 hours.  Once our profile is in and our backgrounds are back- we will be officially waiting!  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Profile Pressure

I've been totally stressing (I stress easily!) over the profile.  It is on my mind each day.  First, I can't wait until our training on Thursday/ Friday because we get the "format" of what we are supposed to include.  Each family is to use the same format to keep them at a level playing field, but there is ways you can make it personal and to show your family in a true light they have said.  I have been looking through several resources and guides online looking for things I like, tips, ideas etc. 

Second, I am stressing because our counselor is with us for the 4 days of group training and the 5 hours each for the homestudy inteviews.  How is this supposed to be enough time for her to get to know "who we really are"???  How are we supposed to make a small book filled with words and some pictures reflect who we are???  They keep mentioning how the birthmoms find something special in a profile that sticks out to them and that the matches almost seem "magical" but really????   I feel like we have so much to offer and I don't know how to express it all in a few pages.  What pictures do I include? What do we write? What is important for us to share, what makes us different?  We did take a few family photos this weekend while at my sisters that I am hoping we can use.

I hope that after training and we get the format and talk more about profiles specifically, I will feel more at ease.

Below the Surface Completed

We finished our survey on adopting across racial and cultural lines.  The last two sections were kind of dumb so we ended up doing them together and discussing as we went instead of after.  Many of the questions also related to our area/ community.  We live in a community that is 98% caucasian and also a small town.  We are a suburb of a metro area within 20 minutes of our house however. 

After the four sections, our scores totaled up in the "Transracial Adoption Suitablity Index" in the high end of the middle section.  It stated, "transracial adoption will offer many challenges that you are inclined and equipped to handle if you choose to do so"

Exactly what we though.

Individual Interviews

Matt and I had our individual interviews last week.  Each appointment was at the office and about one hour each.  Matt had his the day before mine, so of course he filled me in on what to expect.  Our counselor told us that the hour was going to be "all about you".  It was basically a timeline of our life.  Questions like:  where were we born, where did we live, with who, where we went to school, growing up, after school, then what did you do, then what was next, then after that etc.  It was really kind of boring and not as exciting as I expected it to be. 

She asked if Matt had told me everything she asked and I said yes, but it wasn't the questions I was expecting her to ask.  She asked me what I thought she was going to talk about and I told her I thought it would be more about our spouse and marriage since we were by ourself.  She said we do talk about all of that stuff at the next interview (2 hour joint interview- final in the homestudy).  That is all done when we are both there since it takes two for a marriage we discuss it together. 

I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier but during our first training days the adoption supervisor mentioned that there were twins due December 20th.  She made the comment that if we hurry and get our profiles done, one of us might get selected by that birthmom.  When I went to my individual interview, the counselor told me that the twins had been born the night before and (only 2 lbs but both doing well) apologized because she had 3 phone calls to take during the interview.  She said they quickly showed profiles to the mom who selected a family who lived several hours away.  They were just arriving in the area as my interview was ending.  I was so excited for this family (disappointed at the chance of twins being gone, sure, I was) and how their life was changing.  What a phone call to get!  Thankfully the babies seemed to be doing well and I can't wait until we get our "call".  I just can't wait for the excitement the day will bring!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Below the Surface

One of the "homework" assignments we were given was to complete a self-evaluation bookelet for anyone considering an adoption across racial/ cultural lines.  We were to complete them on our own and discuss with each other as we complete it before our next training days.  There is a lot of sections and so we have been completing a section or two a night and then discussing.  I am happy to say that many of our answers have matched and we seem to be on the same page. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Positive Adoption Language

Our agency gave us a sheet on positive/ negative adoption language.  We will definately be making copies for our families so they can familiarize themselves with these terms as well as a few documents on what open adoption looks like from the huge binder full of documents they gave us at our first training.

Positive Language/ Negative Language
birthparent/ real parent
birth child/ own child
my child/ adopted child
born to unmarried parents/ illegitimate
make an adoption plan/ give up or give away
to parent/ to keep
parent/ adoptive parent
international adoption/ foreign adoption
child with special needs/ handicapped child
was adopted/ is adopted
change of heart/ reversal
search/ track down parents

Homestudy visit #1

The house was cleaned and looking good as we waited for our caseworker to arrive.  We were scheduled for 4:30 PM and she said to plan on about 2 hours.  She said she would talk to us and to B for a little bit as well.  We told him that a lady was coming over to look at the house and see if she thought it was a good place for a baby.  We didn't really talk about anything else that she might ask ( beacause we really didn't know actually).  She started with us and we discussed our daily life schedule, what we do in the community, what we read etc.  She also asked about what we do with B and as a family etc. 

B did such a good job of playing while we were talking and when it was time for her to talk to him we called him out.  Some of his answers were so funny! We cringed at a few, but I'm sure she has heard it all from kids she interviews.  We really just laughed at what he said. 

She did the basic what grade, school and his teacher, what do you like to do type questions and then asked what he likes best about his mom and then his dad.  His answer to both was that we buy him stuff.  Nice.  Then something was said about listening and she asked if he always listens to his mom and dad.  Here is the rest of the conversation:
Do you always listen to your mom and dad?
Do you ever get in trouble?
What happens when you get in trouble?
I get scared. 
What do you get scared of?  (no idea where he is going with this so we are starting to laugh)
My dad. He talks mean. 

The rest of these questions she asks in  a joking tone...

Do they tape you to the wall?
Do they lock you in a closet?
Do they send you to your room? 
For how long?
a minute or an hour
Do they spank you?
Do you ever get grounded?
How long are you grounded for?
a week or a day.

Then she asked him to show her around and she toured the house.

After the tour, she checked out our shed and yard. 

The only recommendations were that we add one more smoke alarm downstairs and get a locking case for Matt's ammo (even though it is stored on a seperate floor from where the guns are).  

We were very relaxed during the visit and felt that it went fine.

We set up our appoinments for our individual interviews this next week.  These are one hour each.  She told us that these will cover more about our family, how we grew up, etc. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A ticket to ride...but it's gonna cost ya!

Like I mentioned in a post earlier, our banker had forgotten to look at our paperwork and we had not heard anything from him.   We called him after a week and a half and he finally called us back at 4 PM on Friday to tell us that we were not able to be approved.  We needed some collateral and both of our vehicles are currently financed.  This was stressful trying to figure out what were were going to do.  We went through many options and even considered taking our retirement out.  After weighing several options (and a few tears) my grandparents loaned us their title to their car.  We are very thankful and this seems to be the easiest and most cost effective way to do this.  It is a stress relief to have our financing secured but we are still going to keep looking into grants that might be able to help us with expenses.  Many that I have found so far require you to have your home study complete before you can apply. 

And just to top it off- I'll throw this in.... I have had $1200 in car maintenance in two days!   Ugh! I need a winning lottery ticket!

Paperwork odds and ends

We are getting our final bits and pieces of paperwork completed and turned in.  I picked up my completed physical with my lab work done today and we finished our financial statement, monthly budget, mortgage letter & guardianship. All three of our references have said they mailed the form in and our pastor has our final copy ready for pick up.  We are still waiting on the physical form from B's dr. office because it was returned in the mail last week due to an incorrect address.

We had a little snag this morning when the agency called to say that the local criminal history check we did at the Sheriff's office was not going to work.  We needed to have it done at the local police dept. (even though the form said I could do it at either place).  We had to go today by 3 to get the new one because the lady who does the back ground checks has surgery tomorrow and will be out for quite some time.  (Small town life, only one gal can do the job!)  I'm so thankful that they caught this now because that would have really held up our process if we were not able to get the background checks. 

Putting it into words

I am finding it very difficult to put all of this into words.  We had our 2 training days for this month that the agency requires us to do and I have been trying to find the right things to say about our days spent there.  I don't think I can describe the emotions and excitement I had during those days but I'll give it my best. One of the counselors said it best on the first are getting in line for a roller coaster ride--full of waiting, highs and lows.   The training was held Thursday from 10-8 and Friday from 9-4.

First of all, Matt had to work the night shift the night before the training.  He came home and took about a 45 minute nap before getting up to shower and head to the agency with me.  We called the bank regarding our loan on the way there (we had dropped of our papers about a week and a half earlier) and the loan officer told us flat out that he forgot about it and hadn't looked at it since we dropped it off.  We arrived at the office about 15 or 20 minutes early and both had to use the rest room so we headed into the building .  We were the first couple there so we got to pick our spot in the conference room.  We introduced ourselves to the next two couples and started chatting with them. 

As the day got started, we introduced ourselves and told about what we did and what we were leaving behind.  There was quite a mix of people/ occupations in our group of 6 couples.  We have a contractor, pediatrician, airline upholstery person, financial adviser, attorney, sports guy, gal from the college of nursing, masonry guy, substitute teacher, and a mechanic.  Only one of the couples besides us had a child and they  had an 8 year old daughter.  They also lived either in our area or with in a few hours. Most talked about leaving behind their work, cell phones, emails, etc but Matt said he was leaving behind sleep. 

The day was led by the adoption supervisor and the three counselors. After introductions we got into some history and then and now type stuff with video and discussion.  They reviewed positive adoption language and many of us laughed and how many members of our families need educated on this.  We watched another short film that was basically an inspiration type. 

Lunch was brought in and by this time Matt was dying.  He thought he was going to be able to do it on no sleep but he couldn't take it.  He looked terrible!  It was only noon and we had until 8 PM.  I was teary and tried to tell him that I wouldn't be mad if we needed to pull out and apply again in the spring for the program.  He insisted in not doing that but he was a mess.  Lunch was lasagna and watching a movie on birthfathers.  I now he was having such a hard time with just sitting and listening. 

By the afternoon, they told us over the break that if Matt wanted to go home and miss the birth parent panel, he could.  I hated for him to miss this opportunity, but he had to work that night and be back at training the next morning.  We decided that he would go home.  I drove him back during the dinner break and got back just in time for the evening portion.

We had 3 birth moms speak on the panel.  This is the part that I have the hardest time putting into words.  It was amazing to hear these three speak.  Two have participated in the panel several times and have great contact with their 13 and 9 year olds, respectively.  The new speaker has a 5 year old and still has a difficult time with her decision, even though she knows it was the best choice for her baby.

We had some really good questions for the birth moms and everyone enjoyed hearing them speak and learning what they had to share with us.

The second day Matt got off work and drove to the parking lot of the agency to sleep for about 90 minutes in his truck.  I drove up and met him there.  I tapped on his window and woke him up about 5 minutes to start time.  Two of the biggest items we discussed on day two were hospital stays and change of heart.  The discussions were good and everyone was starting to open up a little more in the room.  Matt was doing much better on day two.

Most of us went to lunch together during our 75 minute break.  It was nice to get to chat with some of the others and one couple in particular Matt and I really enjoy.  I hope that we are able to keep in contact with them.

This brings me to the thoughts I had during the informational meeting with the other couple.  I felt so competitive for one of the spots.  I wished them luck wholeheartedly but I felt like everything was a contest for those select spots.  In the room with the 5 other couples, I felt nothing but a bond with these people as we prepare for this journey together.  I want nothing more than to encourage, support, and celebrate with these families as they are all selected for their baby that God has in his plans for them to parent.  I can't wait to hear the news when each one gets a placement.  I do not care if we are the last in the group to get our placement, for I know this baby will be the one for us.  The competitive feeling came from just wanting a chance- I just wanted to be in so I knew that we were actually working towards our baby.

I will be back this week to post some facts/ statistics about the placements the agency has done this year and a few other pieces of info I want to share.

We booked our first appointment with our counselor for visit #1 of our home study.  She is coming down tomorrow afternoon, so needless to say, I spent the weekend cleaning the house.  I really am not worried about this, even though I hear so many people stress about their home study.  I did go out and buy a fire extinguisher- they said that is one of the things they are looking for.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Buried Alive in Paperwork

We have been busy bees lately trying to bust through the paperwork required.  We have completed tons of forms, been fingerprinted, sent out of reference request letters, waited for the local Sheriffs office to figure out what to notarize on our local criminal records check, waited forever at the doctors office to find out what the fee would be for all of the lab work required for the "general" physical that is not covered by insurance, talked to the loan officer regarding a loan for fees, talked to a realitor regarding a new assessment of our house, had physicals and lab work done, collected forms from the vet's office, insurance office, called the mortgage company, the accountant, and student and car loan companies.

Happy to say, most of our paperwork was dropped off yesterday at the office.  We are waiting on just a few final forms to come back or to be completed. 

Training is on Thursday from 10-8 and Friday from 9-4.  Please pray for Hubby since he has to work Wed, Thus, and Friday nights.   He does have this Sat/ Sun off to rest back up but I know it will be a long couple of days.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breakdown of Fees

Fees due when services are rendered:

Initial application $100
Social services fee (formal application) $400
Individiual interview #1 $400
Educational group seminar $600
Individual interview #2 $400
Educational grup seminar $600
Social service fee (following home visit) $2700

Due at time of child placement:
Social service fee $4500
Legal fee $1600

Post- placement supervision $500
Post-placement supervision$500

Total fee for agency adoption $12,300

This does not include any additional charges we would be responsible for such as fingerprinting, criminal history check, notariazation, co-pays, medical tests, hotel expenses, etc.

Monday, September 12, 2011


My husband has never been very good about keeping surprises.  It is one of the things I love about him most.  He gets so excited and just can't wait.  I didn't really want to tell anyone what we were doing but he slipped and told 3 of his family members.  So the weekend we found out we had been accepted, we told the remainder of our family.  Him and I have both confided in one or two friends but we are still trying to keep it under wraps.  My main reason for not wanting to tell everyone is that I don't want to be asked every day by someone if we have any baby news, heard anything yet, etc.  We have no idea how long this process will take.  It could be 6 months, could be 2 years.  I just need to continue to pray that the baby for us will be created when the time is right. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Packet of all Packets..

Our Packet has arrived!  I had been looking each day and anxiously awaiting "the packet" so we could see what was inside, what we needed to do, and hopefully learn more about the process. 

The first thing is an assignment to read The Open Adoption Experience by Lois Ruskai Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia before our first training days Sept 29-30th.  The second book for required reading before our October training days is: The Spirit of Open Adoption by James L. Gritter. 

The homestudy application, client info sheet, and application fee of $400 is due by the 26th. 

The rest of the items on our checklist to begin our homestudy are:

Fee Agreement
Statement of Understanding
Duty to Disclose Agreement
Consent for Services
Self Study Questionnaire

Background Checks
request for Child Abuse Info
fingerprinting/ criminal checks  +fee
criminal history release for local criminal checks

Financial Info
1040 tax return
financial statement
monthly budget
mortgage letter confirming good standing
verification of life insurance, including payout amount and cash out amount
employer reference (2 notarized copies each)

Health Info
general physical exam form (general is what it says, but general is what its not...tons of lab work needed that is NOT covered by insurance +about $250 per person for labs)
child's health forms
verification of health ins. and coverage of adopted child

Official Documents
marriage license
birth certificates
pet vaccination record
pet's current license

Additional Documents
three personal references
Pastor reference
firearms and weapons statement
verification of trainings attended
prior home study info
statement of guardianship
Statement of last 5 years employment

Friday, September 2, 2011

News for the day

All morning long I was thinking about how M told us she would after lunch on Friday.  I had some home visits to do with my job that morning but was sure to take my phone in with me just in case.   I went home for lunch and was then on my way to drop something off at a friends house before heading back to the office.  I had actually forgot about getting the call this afternoon for a while.  I had my phone in my hand when it rang but it went right to voice mail.  I quickly looked up who called and then realized it was the number from the agency.  I called right back and asked for M.  I pulled over because I started to feel so nervous that I couldn't drive and take this call.  She started off by telling me how she had met with her staff for over 3 hours yesterday.  She continued by saying that it was a difficult decision to choose between all of the applicants and I pretty much stopped listening and started silently crying and shaking.  I knew she was going to tell us that we didn't get in this round because she seemed to be going on and on about how they went through all of the families.  Then I heard her say that they would love to have us in the program and thinks we would be a great fit.  I think I lost it and then managed to say "thankyousomuch" and tell her how happy I was.  She continued to tell me that she enjoyed talking with us.  She said to be sure and take those training days off and that she would be sending us out the paperwork to get started.   Now is the time for us to start thinking about our family portfolio, home study, and saving like mad!

I called Matt right away who usually doesn't answer during the day.  I hadn't mentioned it to him last night or this morning as a reminder that today was the day she would call us.  I don't know if he remembered or not but it was pretty cool that he answered.  I told him we were "in" and he was very excited to hear the news.

There have been so many signs that this is where we are supposed to be.  When we first called this agency, we found out that they don't accept people from our county, only the county next to us.  I asked if there was any way we could still be in since Husband works in that county and we live in the next county over.  Instead of the lady saying "no" she said she didn't think she could work with us but that she would check with her supervisor.  The supervisor said "yes".

When the receptionist called to make our interview appointment, I felt stressed because of husbands new job and how hard it can be for him to request days off during this training.  He had the interview day off.  The 4 training days off are only required if you are accepted into the program.  He is not scheduled for a shift during any of the 4 days of training so no switching is needed.

My heart is so full of thankfulness!

When I got home from work, Matt gave me a big hug and asked if I was "so excited"  I said I felt more emotional than excited.  I just can't believe that the wheel is in motion to making our dream come true!

The time was 1:26

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Interview

Matt and I had grandma scheduled to watch B while we went to a "meeting".  I wasn't sure what we should wear- I didn't want to look like we dressed up to not look "normal" but wanted to look like we cared about what we were doing!  I settled on a new pair of khaki pants and a cute denim looking shirt from Tar-get with my favorite red shoes.  Hubby wore the standard khaki and black.  I felt comfortable with our look.  It was nice-casual, not looking overdone but still simple.  It worked even better because my purse was cute as can be with the outfit.

Our meeting was scheduled for 4:30.  We arrived about 4:20 and didn't get called back until about 4:50 by the adoption supervisor.  It was nervous idle conversation in the waiting room and Matt started to get a little annoyed with the wait.  No one bothered to tell us anything about no one coming for us.  I started to wonder if they had forgotten about us!  I knew we were the last appointment of the day (actually, the last of two days!) so I figured they were just running behind.

Finally, a door opened and here came a cute little couple (total competition) and the lady called us back.  She apologized for the delay and I offered if she needed to take a break/ use the rest room etc. since she was obviously going straight into ours.  She declined and we followed her into her office.

After several interruptions by people trying to leave for the end of the day, we were able to get started.   Her name was M and she was very nice. She is the adoption supervisor.  She started by asking if we had any questions from our informational meeting (we didn't) and she was looking over our profile.  She liked that we were from Iowa (she was from *.*.) and I also slipped it in a little later that Matt was a PO there.  She shared with us that her cousin (her dad and his dad are brothers) was a Sargent there.  (one of the guys who helped hubby with the hiring process).  Good start..

She outlined the process for how they select families again.  They have about 18 interviews and only 6 spots.  ( We can't remember the exact number now that she told us).  She said that was the bad news, but I told her it was actually good news because it was more spots than I thought.  For some reason I was thinking they had only 2 spots.  After the interviews, if they don't see any red flags, they sort all of the families into demographic groups.  She also told us a little later in the interview that this time around they are looking for families that are more on the East side of the state (we are so far east we are west) and for families with children!  Yea!  Two points for us!

The categories they sort into are:
*Age (all of us were mid 30s she said)
*Race (all of us are Caucasian  she said)
*Location (they serve the whole state and look for families to be spread all over the state- lucky for us, our area is currently low in adoptive parents)
*# of children ( some birth parents look for a family with children already, some with no children...lucky again, she said they are looking for ones with children)
*both parents working (some want to place their child with a stay at home mom)

The discussion was very laid back and comfortable.  We had some laughs,. we all shared some stories, and I felt at ease.

Even though these were on the application sheet, she asked us for more details on how we go to where we are, our thoughts on open adoption, and what scenarios we were open to considering. 

M told us that she would be in meetings tomorrow and Thursday they would begin to sort the family profiles into groups.  She said she did not want to guarantee that we would be accepted into the program but that she liked our answers and thought we had a good understanding of openness and fit the demographics well.  She has another meeting on Friday morning but that she will begin making calls on Friday afternoon.  She asked what number she should call and since Matt has to work, we told her to call my cell.

Cross your fingers that we make it in- I'll be back on Friday to let you know!

Enjoying dinner together after the interview so we could talk things over.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Appointment call

I was just saying to husband this past weekend that we haven't heard anything from the agency yet regarding calls for interviews.  His response was something like, "well, that's nice".  I told him it was okay though because they said they wouldn't even start looking at them until the end of August.

This afternoon I saw I had a voice mail on my phone and finally got around to checking it.  I don't know when I missed a call, but that happens frequently.  It was the agency calling to set up an interview time!

One of the biggest stresses with our situation is that husband is in a new job and his time off is not that flexible right now.  He went from being a teacher to a police officer and is currently in the Field Training Officer program (FTO).  What this means is that all of his days are scheduled to line up with his training officer and he can't do a lot of requesting time off since he is so new (even though this is SO important!).  My job is pretty flexible so at least that part is less to worry about.

Husband has his schedule until the end of the year so when the receptionist called to set up interview dates, I was praying we could make it work.  She gave me two choices (a Monday and a Tuesday) and the Tuesday date husband has off.  (YES!!!)  We set the appointment for 4:30- 6 PM.  This lady on the phone was so nice, friendly, and helpful!  It took me a minute to figure out what appointment time I wanted (early or late) because that happened to be one of two days of the month that it is a little bit harder for me to flex my schedule. 

I also asked if they had the dates set for the training days yet in Sept./ Oct.  One of the requirements with this agency is that you must attend 4 days of all-day training.  Once again, another stress with hoping it would be able to work out schedule wise.  After you interview, you only have to attend the training days if you are selected to be in the program.  If they do not choose you at this time, you can stay in the pool and re-interview in 6 months when they accept new families again.

If you make it through the interview and are invited to join the program however, you are in! The only thing you have to do is be selected by a birthmom.  (well, a thousand other things like the training, documents, home study, etc.  but you know what I mean!)

Getting on with this story, the training dates for September- Husband works nights both of the days but has the previous two days before them off.  If he can't make it work to switch shifts (and his FTO switch as well) he can at least make it work by staying up for days in a row on almost no sleep.  He has those two days off before and 2 days off after, so he has the time to catch up on sleep.  It will just be 2 stinky work shifts with no sleep.  Not the best for a police officer or someone trying to listen in to training.  I guess that is what they invented energy drinks for!

The October dates are awesome!  Already has those two dates off.  Thank you, God!  I feel like this is working out so well.

We both switched jobs this year into something different than where we were before and things are really looking good for us after a stressful past few years.  I made the comment to a couple close friends but thought it to myself many times that life is going so well, the only thing that could top it off would be a sweet little baby for our family.  How I hope this comes true.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Application drop-off

Renee told us that we can either drop off the application in person or mail it in.  I decided to drop it off to have the peace of mind it was there. I was also hoping for an opportunity to make a good impression with talking to her again, but she was with a client so I left the packet with the receptionist.

The application was pretty short compared to the first agency.  It had basic information, a few questions regarding how we got to where we are and what type of situations we would be open to.  We also had to include a family photo and a $100 application fee.

The $100 was pretty reasonable compared to many other application fees I have seen that are closer to $500. We felt like it was worth the shot to pay the money  to see if we make it into the program.

Now, it's time to wait and pray until the last half of August when they pull out the applications and call people in for interviews.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Informational Meeting

After talking with the adoption counselor on the phone on July 5, I decided to schedule us an appointment to go in for an information meeting.  This is the only way to get an application and they were able to get us in while Matt was home for a full week.  We dropped off B at grandma's and headed out under the pretense of going to dinner together.  The adoption counselor (R, from here on out) usually holds the info meetings during the day, but does set up special appointments to fit in families.  Our meeting was with one other couple.

Matt and I arrived at the office first and after talking with R on the phone about how the acceptance process worked, I was eager to scope out our "competition".  Even though the meeting was only informational, I still felt like it was a "try out".  I wanted the agency to think we were a great match!  I believe it when they tell us that the right babies seemed to get matched up with the right parents, but I just want to get in for one of the spots so I feel like we have a chance.  That is where the competition feeling comes from.  I feel like we are trying to make some elite sports or dance team.

The other mom arrived a few minutes after us and said her husband would be on his way.  We went ahead and got started and he arrived about 10 minutes later.)score one for us!)  Matt and I later laughed because I said wasn't she "Ms. Prepared"- she got out her notebook, file folders, and a few documents she had printed off the computer. (score one for them) Matt was laughing at me because I didn't even bring a pen.  I did have a pen, thankyouverymuch- in my purse.

The meeting wasn't much different from the informational meeting we went through at the first adoption agency.  The only big difference is the way they accept families into their program.  This is the only thing I hate, but this is the only affordable adoption choice for us.  Again with the competition- I want one of those spots!!!

The other couple asked some good questions and we asked a few as well.  They stayed longer than us because they wanted to discuss the international portion and Renee told us we could leave if we wanted since we are only pursuing domestic.  We wished the other couple good luck ( and sincerely meant it).  From some of their questions they asked I am pretty sure they don't have any children yet and I do hope that everyone who has the desire to be a parent gets this opportunity like we have had with our son.

R handed us a packet as we left that included some info on open adoptions and other resources, as well as the application.  When we got to the car Matt told me that he felt good about the place and thought R did a good job with the info.  We decided we would go forward with the application.

Friday, July 8, 2011

How our story begins...

*This post was written in 2007 from a previous blog. 

In October of 2002, I came home to a message on my answering machine from Matt. My friend Kim and I met up later that week with Matt and some of his friends.  Matt and I had a great time and began dating shortly after that. In June of 2003, the weekend of my 25th birthday, Matt proposed. I had no hesitations and we decided to get married that summer instead of waiting a whole year until the next summer. We were married on August 23rd, 2003.

Like our quick engagement and wedding, we were ready to get started on a family soon after we were married. I was able to get pregnant 2 months after we started "trying" and unfortunately had a miscarriage in February of 2004. At this time, my OB/GYN, found a large fibroid tumor in my uterus. He did not think this was the cause for my miscarriage, and thought we should be able to get pregnant again with no problems. He did recommend that we try to have one child before we looked into the problem of the fibroid. He also stated that he could recommend someone we could see for a second opinion if we liked. Even though we have so much trust and respect for Dr. Soto, we decided that it wouldn’t hurt anything to get the second opinion. We scheduled our appointment with the specialist  that Soto recommended. When we got into our appointment, the Dr. advised us that we should have the surgery (myomectomy) to remove the fibroids before trying to get pregnant. She thought carrying a pregnancy would be more dangerous with the tumor. 

We decided that since she was the specialist, we would go ahead and do the surgery first before trying again. Several days later, we found out that we were too late and I had been about 4 days pregnant when we saw her. As I called Dr. Soto in tears and scared, he assured me that he would everything would be okay, he would take care of me, and that God does these things for a reason. Happily, at 37 weeks, our son was born weighing 8 pounds and 5 ounces. We are so thankful for the caring staff of Dr. Soto’s office that helped get us our beautiful baby boy.

Six months after our son was born Dr. Soto did the myomectomy to remove the fibroid. During this procedure he found a smaller fibroid that was hidden under the large one but were not able to remove it due to the amount of blood loss I was having during surgery. After I recovered from this surgery, he gave me 6 months to try and get pregnant. We were not successful. The small tumor that had been left was now growing at a fast rate and Dr. Soto did not think I was going to be able to get pregnant. We were reminded of what he said early on and that was that he wanted to be able to get us one healthy pregnancy before we discussed other options. 

In December of 2006 I had a hysterectomy. I didn’t realize how much this would affect me emotionally. As I watched our son getting bigger and interact with the babies that came to our house for daycare, I had a longing for the ability to have a sibling for him. I only wanted one more, I wasn’t asking for 4 or 5 kids. When I was carrying him I loved laying on the couch and watching him move around in my belly. I think I laid there for 2 hours each night just watching him kick, punch, and move! It was very devastating for me to accept that I would not be able to be pregnant ever again. What I have tried so hard to understand is that God has a reason for everything, and many of those reasons I might not ever understand. I am not in control of my life and God has a plan for us. 

In August of 2007, we had an initial meeting with an adoption agency in our area.  We thought everything sounded great and decided to start moving forward with the process, despite the $20,000 price tag.  

In September 2007, we were contacted by one of my (Amber) cousins who was offering to be a gestational surrogate for us to give us the opportunity for a biological child.  This opportunity was so great, there was no way we could pass it up.  We moved forward with this after switching gears from adoption.  After many months of tests, dr. appointments, pills, shots, and you name it- we transferred two beautiful embryos to Kris on May 27th and July 22nd, both times with negative results.  We are forever indebted to Kris and her family for the chance to provide us an opportunity to parent another child.  

Here we are...a few years down the road...and our hearts have done some healing.  We are ready to begin another journey, even though we know the road is long and will be full of hills and valleys.