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!