Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feelings of Worry

On the tail of what was my best Christmas yet I have worry flooding my mind. It’s back to reality now that we’re at a Birth Mom visit day. These always rattle me to a point but one so closely following such a special week with the kids hit especially hard.

We had an awesome month of uninterrupted family time where I didn’t hold back my heart or mental plans for traditions for years to come. This is extremely dangerous. I couldn’t help but think about the “what if” of opening up our box of ornaments next year only to find the kids special ornaments from this year when there’s a chance they might not be with us. Will roles be reversed and I’ll be the one emailing their Birth Mom telling her how we miss the kids terribly and hope they are having a wonderful day? The thought just crushes me.

The process of coming closer to adoption is feeling painfully slow. We had hoped for some action in early December but that has yet to happen and I don’t hold out hope for an update anytime soon. The kids have now been away from their Birth Mom for just over 7 months. For everyone’s sake I desperately want  some permanency, to know where they will be for the long haul so that we can all get on with long term life plans.

I knew getting into this it was going to be a long road and I’m at one of those dips where I’m feeling scared and down. It’s because of the two other friends we knew following this process or similar have both parted ways with the kids. One by choice and the other not. I just can’t help but wonder if that is our fate as well.

Living with daily fear of losing what is most precious to me is starting to take its toll. All I can do is keep trudging through and praying for the right outcome, whatever that is. And more importantly that everyone involved will feel at peace with what that outcome is because no matter what someone is losing what they hold dear.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sleep Training and other stuff

I just have to take a moment to remind myself that when things seem impossible, you have to give the kids credit...they are smarter and more adaptable than you think. A week ago at this moment we began sleep training and we were already 40 minutes into the Little Dude crying it out and had about 10-15 minutes more to go. Each night got easier and he was actually sleeping through the night. Tonight I sit here better rested than I've been since before the end of June when they arrived. He also went down without a peep tonight. I sang him Blackbird and then laid him down in his crib awake, said good night and I was out. Two weeks ago I only dream of being here at some point.

They have proven time and time again they can flex and will fight change but bend quickly in the direction we're moving. It's harder on us as parents than for them. They are both amazingly resilient.

We are still on track with the legal plan of moving another step towards adoption in December. Even if everything stays on schedule and works perfectly we would not be able to finalize adoption until March at the earliest. I'm not betting on things working perfectly. Social Workers are busy, papers can get lost, people can make last ditch efforts. We just won't know how it's going to go until we're there but have been warned this is the most frustrating phase. We'll continue praying for patience and hope.

The kids have had a chance to visit with their Birth Mom the last several weeks which has been a change. We are glad they have had time with her. I also had the rare opportunity last week to spend 10-15 minutes alone with her. It gave us time to talk and I stressed the importance of her being in their lives to us and that we will do anything we can to support those visits. Both now and the rest of their lives if we're blessed to have them stay with us. I was also able to learn some background about her life that I'll be able to share with the kids if we loose contact with her. It's very important for Jay and I to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with her.

I've never before felt so much like a missionary for ourselves. I have very brief interactions with her and each moment is treated like it could be the last. Each word is carefully chosen to both share all we can about us and protect us at the same time. Our deepest hope would be for us to have an on going relationship with her and for her to see at this moment we're able to better provide for the kids. This continues to be a roller coaster and challenges us to open our hearts in ways we never imagined. It's a ride we want to stay on.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

4 Month Marker

Today is special because it marks four months since we became a family.  It's flown by and looking back has me realize how far each of us has come since we met.

We now have a walker and both kids eating solids. Jay and I are skilled at diaper changing and dressing the child who doesn't see a need for clothes. Both kids smile when they see us and take comfort in our arms when they are upset. The kids know each other and now smile and laugh together. Development for each of us as people has grown considerably with many important lessons learned along the way.

Some lessons I've learned myself worth sharing are a bit taboo to talk about. Before we decided to chose adoption as a way to build our family I had worries about missing out on the birth experience. I wondered how much missing the bonding while being pregnant and the miracle of birth would impact the relationship between parent and child as well as husband and wife. I don't doubt these are the  most joyous moments in life but I can tell you with 100% conviction the fact that I missed them for both these kids doesn't matter in the least. It's not possible for me to love them more. If anything we feel like we are really lucky to be experiencing an infant and a toddler at the same time. How many other people get the joy of a 1st holiday season with one child tiny enough to fit into all the cute baby things and another who is old enough to point excitedly at each new thing? It truly is the best of both worlds.

The other question I had was could I love a child that is not my own? I wondered this because I love the hell out of my nieces and nephews but there's a distinct difference in types of love. Each time I babysat I'd wonder if my relationship with a new child placed with me would be the same. I can tell you from day one it was different. Do I love them the same today as four months ago? To be honest no, it's deepened to a whole other level. But I can tell you that I felt a parental love for them from day one. It's almost impossible not to since you're responsible for them. I mean not just "keep them alive" responsible but "nurture and help them thrive" responsible. This isn't to say there haven't been moments when we don't particularly like each other but really who doesn't have that. At the end of the day we know that we all love each other and our efforts are focused towards doing what is right for the kids in this moment.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Fun Stuff

Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, smell of the air, a usually welcome change of weather, the resurgence of soups and all things pumpkin. It used to mean I'd start spending hours of time in my craft room getting reacquainted with my crafting supplies. This year I'm looking forward to trick or treating, dressing the kids up in costume, carving pumpkins, and eating Thanksgiving as a family for the first time. For the last 6 years the Holidays have been an especially difficult time for me because so many traditions focus around kids. I'm all the more grateful having the kids in our life as we start what I hope to be family traditions for years to come.

The kids are thriving and changing so much right before our eyes. Little Miss has begun pointing out balloons, pumpkins, and planes everyday. Dre has decided his favorite position is standing (with help) and loves to sit at the table and watch us eat at meal time. They are beginning to interact with each other which is really fun to see. I saw Dre laugh after Little Miss made a face at him for the first time today. It's so exciting to watch them build their sibling bond.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Today was one of the first big milestones in progress toward adoption. There was a hearing to check on the progress of the case. I of course can't share details on this but I can share some of the outcome.

I had thought of a race as an analogy to explain where we are in the process. I shared it with Jay and he made a really good point that if I used a race it might make this appear to be a competition. That is the last thing I want to do. Decisions which will greatly impact the course of all of our lives are at play. If we are able to adopt it means someones dreams of being a mother to these precious kids has ended and the same is true on reverse. Well, maybe. More on that later.

When we took the kids in the primary goal of the state was to place the kids back with their birth mom and adoption as the back up plan. We were given some information that led us to believe the chances of being reunified with their birth mom were not the greatest. Today they had a 4 month evaluation of the case and deemed the plan has changed to concurrent for reunification and adoption. This means the legal chances are officially 50/50 for which way this case could go. There will be another court date in December to evaluate the progress once again. If things remain as they are today we have been told they will motion to switch to a primary plan of adoption (opposite of the plan when we took the kids in). If this happens it kicks off the process to terminate parental rights. We were told not to expect this to happen for around a year so this has really sped up the timeline we had in mind...which is a GOOD thing.

There are a lot of ways this could go. Progress could be made by their birth mom and the plan is switched back to the way it was at the start and flip back and forth for up to 13 months until the kids are given a permanent home with one of us.

The other option would be for their birth mom to relinquish her parental rights voluntarily. We've personally told her and passed on the message through the kids social worker that it's our honest desire to have her in the kids lives in some shape or form. The benefit to her in choosing this option is that she will get to negotiate with us on an open adoption plan. It would also give her a chance to be a parental figure in their lives even if she has lost her rights.

Things are still very fluid. Everyday I:  worry about loosing them, thank God for the time with them, pray for their birth mom, and most importantly...wish these kids heath and happiness for the rest of their lives. They are an absolute joy. Most new moms wonder what their kids will look like, be like, do when they get older. I wonder all of those things too but just pray I'll be able to see it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The end of an era

Here I am at the end of the day as I begin my last week at home with the kids before returning to work. It seems like yesterday that I cried for about an hour the night before staying home with both all by myself for a full day. Everyone told me that Little Dude would be a different baby by the time he hit three months. I just couldn't imagine how life would be different but I wanted that day to get here.

Since then Little Dude has calmed down considerably and changed in appearance a ton (well, about 8 pounds to be exact). He hasn't developed much of a routine nor is he sleeping through the night as I had hoped for. He's having quite a bit of awake time with lots of smiles now days.

Little Miss has begun walking! She hasn't gained even a pound and has regressed in speech while her comprehension of what you are saying has grown a TON. Thankfully she still sleeps like a champ for the most part.

While I know this is controversial, I will proudly say I'm ready to go back to work. Like many of my friends who are working Mom's I also believe working will make me a better Mom for my kids. I'm also excited for what my kids will get to learn and the friendships they will develop in Daycare. They are going to a small in home daycare that is just blocks from our house. It's really the best of both worlds for everyone.

I will miss having Little Dude sleeping on my chest in the afternoons. Visits to parks and the zoo mid week while things are quiet. And maybe most of all...afternoon nap time to get some chores done or one on one time with one kid or another.

I made a video today of the 5 minute meltdown Little Miss had today when she was so tired she couldn't do anything but lay there and cry. When I'm back at work it will be easy to go to all the happy memories of being home with the kids. In truth the happy time accounts for only about 30-40% of the day at this point. I need to remember that.

I'm excited and nervous about closing this chapter. I know life will get harder, for everyone. Just like our first adjustment it will take some getting used to but we'll get it in the end. Once we do the rewards we'll all reap from each parent getting to have some adult time along with the financial benefits that will grant the kids opportunities & experiences as a family will be worth it in the end. I'll be another Mom out there trying to have it all and I'm convinced after a little trial and error I will.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Fun Stuff

We've been setting into a routine (which will change in three weeks when I return to work) and the new family life is starting to feel more like the norm. I feel like I'm emerging from survival mode. At first everything was done with the sake of just making it through the day. I mean this in terms of getting the kids adjusted into life with us and the things needed to do that.

We had less than 24 hours notice they were coming and while I had felt pretty prepared for one, I wasn't at all ready for two...especially an infant. We needed SO MANY things! The first three weeks or so felt like a marathon of trips to Target, scouring Craigslist, and the endless supply from friends and family (the lions share!). Last weekend we had a baby shower with friends and I felt like we turned a corner. At last we have the essentials needed for each kid and we've now begun to build up what I've come to consider the "fun stuff". We have extra clothes, toys, and beautiful handmade quilts that will be heirlooms. I've been able to nest in their rooms putting each of these special things in their place. The act of doing this really makes me feel more settled as a family.

While it is only things, it's an amazing feeling to not have to worry about what we'll change a diaper on or needing big items like cribs, dressers, and strollers. The scales are starting to slightly tip towards fun as opposed to work. It's kind of like going on a camping trip for the first time as a novice camper. You head out into the woods with a tent, sleeping bags, and a cooler. You've got the essentials to sleep and eat but neither are easy or comfortable. I feel like we've upgraded to our tent trailer and now have all the tools. Everyone's in a better mood when they are sleeping, comfortable, and have the tools that make life easier.

We have our last shower today with my family and I'm really looking forward to spending time with them. It also marks the end of newness in a sense in that there are now no other big welcome events on the horizon. This feels great to know we're settling in and had the BEST welcome and outpouring of love for these kids. It's been incredible!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Week Alone

I've done it and survived 5 full days at home with the kids on my own. It's really not the days that I'm impressed with but that I've lived to remain sane after 5 full days of play and 5 nights of full duty which means no more than 2 hours in a row of sleep. I've come to terms with the fact that one child will almost always just have to be upset for a while until I'm able to tend to their needs. Their needs remain quite different but little Dre has improved to where he can tolerate some stimulus. This means we can have music on or even the TV and some lights...WOW!

Every hour and first we see draws us more tightly attached together. I've given up hope that I can keep a wall up to protect my heart in the case they go back to their Birth Mom. It's not fair to either of us for me to hold back any of my love and attention. We will keep living with the belief they will be here forever within reason. This allows us to live in the moment and enjoy what we have today. Each night I find myself saying a prayer praising God for the time we've had together and that it continues as long as He has planned.

We've spoken with their social worker on timeline for finalization and it will be at least a year before we can complete an adoption for either of them. This is if things remain going as is. If their Birth Mother suddenly makes great improvements or becomes disengaged for whatever reason the timeline could change to faster or slower. There's no telling but we've been told to expect to have them for at least a year even if this is a temporary home for them.

This week we've seen Dre have more awake time and found out he's gained two pounds since coming to live with us. His cheeks might need their own zip code soon. We've graduated from size 1 diapers and moved onto size 2!

Little Miss has started trying to walk even more. She had a few moments where she stood on her own with no hands! We've also made significant progress to stop the whining at meal time. She has her signs for "more" and "all done" down. We still hear some whining but she's learned she has to sign to get what she wants. She has also said her first word - Mama! She's quite proud of it. There are several others she is trying to say and many she knows and can point to but just not say yet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Placement in a snap...

So much to catch up on! I wanted to share a little about how our placement happened and what life has been like since. It started back on 6/23 when we saw a referral for a 1 month old boy and his 11 month old sister needing placement before 7/4. We sent our agency a message saying we'd like to be considered. That weekend we went away to a family reunion knowing it would likely be our only chance to camp this summer. The possibility of the placement was in the back of our minds but we knew there would be a lot of people interested in such a young set of siblings.

We heard on Monday afternoon that another family had been selected to take in the kiddos. No big deal, we will be chosen when it's supposed to happen. Fast forward to 3:30 on Wednesday and I find out the previous family has fallen through and we're next in line. They want to know if we can pick up the 1 month old in a few hours I'll be dealing with a newborn! I frantically called Jay to discuss and called the social worker back saying yes we can do that. As I was driving home to pick up the car seat I got a call saying to hold off and they will have us pick them both up on Thursday 6/30. Phew..but still! We had another crib and car seat to find right away. Thankfully we have amazing friends and family come to the rescue.

There is very little we can share about the kids but I can promise that we also know very little at this point. There is still a fairly high chance they could eventually be place back with their birth mother, father, or another family member who may come forward. We were told to expect a long road until finalization since the case is so new. No matter the outcome I know we are making a difference in these kids lives. Hour by hour I become attached and I hope it doesn't come to them having to leave but I will cherish the time we have now. I don't expect they would be going back anytime soon even if they do eventually.

I can't share photos that identify who they are and I'm not comfortable sharing names in a public forum such as this. What I can tell you is they are absolutely beautiful children. I've taken to calling the girl Little Miss and her eyes and eyelashes are to die for...she gives the Kardashians a run for their money. The Little Man is a head of dark silky hair and sweet baby cheeks.

We've been thrown headfirst into parenting and it's all we can do to survive. Little Miss is a sleeper going down without a fight (knock on wood) and only waking if she drops her paci. She doesn't walk yet or stand willingly which makes having both awake at the same time a challenge. The little guy is still a newborn who's having a rough start to life. He's on a 4 hour scheduled of eating, peeing/pooping, swaddling, consoling, and a little sleep if we're lucky. He also has what we've come to call his "witching hours" where he crys inconsolably from about 7:00 PM to 9:00 ish PM. My biggest struggle is the two have completely opposite needs when they become upset. She needs one on one play or snuggles that make her laugh. He needs total silence, no stimulus, and dim/dark lights. They tend to have meltdowns at the same time and when there's just one person's ROUGH on everyone.

We knew going into this there would be no sleep and everything would become all about the kids. Still it doesn't really prepare you until you have it handed to you like a slap in the face. Although neither of us have slept for more than 2 hours in a row since we picked them up and we're completely exhausted there are plenty of high lights. Smiles when we go into wake her up, giggles from tickling, waves nighty night, sweet baby snuggles, soft baby head under your chin, those dreamy brown eyes looking back at you. Whenever I have just one of them to manage at a time I think to myself "I've totally got this, what was I worried about?". We're taking it day by day knowing it will get better and eternally grateful for all the help we have been given by soooo many people.

Time for my late night shift so I have to sign off :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just checkin' in...

No news on the kid front here but wanted to check in to say thank you to everyone who has continued to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Many people in our support group talk about being frustrated in the waiting process because it is a roller coaster, no doubt about that. I have to say we're doing alright because we're so busy.

Every weekend is a "babymoon" taking advantage of adult things. We're continuing to cautiously plan and each time we get to do something planned it feels like a bonus. At the moment I'm grateful for feeling content.

It's been very quiet and we haven't seen a referral come through for two weeks. For now we'll just keep enjoying the summer as planned. We have our jobs to thank for keeping our minds busy on other things :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No News

Today we met our new social worker and the woman responsible for child search. The meeting went well and I feel confident in their abilities. We learned a few things such as we'll be provided with an end of month report on each referral we have been sent. It will have info on if we submitted our home study and what the outcome was if known. It will help show us and our social worker trends on what we are interested in and help identify things we had said were ok but maybe we've been passing when actually presented it. I love stats so I'm excited to be getting this.

The other thing I shared with them was we quickly learned how exciting and hard it can be to see the referrals and then wait. I've realized while I want well wishes and prayers, I won't be telling anyone when we submit our home study any longer. It's really hard on us to be asked by well meaning people about it...often several times a day. It makes it nearly impossible to distract ourselves and just wait it out. I also feel I'm almost letting people down when I have to report day after day "no update!". So please keep us in your thoughts and try to understand why we'll be quiet about this.

I'm sure I'll share from time to time how many we're seeing but from the sounds of it we could have several pending at any given time. Back in March there was a flood of referrals and they thought we would be placed quickly. It's reduced quite a bit in April and May but there's just no telling when we'll get picked. The when isn't so important, it really comes down to the right match.

For now I'm feeling much better by having some things in the house that were given to us by friends (THANK YOU!). It puts my mind at ease knowing I have more than just a crib since I know kids do more than sleep.

Thanks again for everyone's love and support through this process. We couldn't do it without you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pins & Needles!

So things are a little more excitable now that we're active in the child search process than I expected. We've been told over and over to enjoy phase 1 because things are in our control as far as timing and phase two means a lot of waiting and not much going on. I expected to have the question of "when?" ever present in the back of my mind and maybe to get a little frustrated that it was taking so long with nothing else "to do".

Now that I've spent 4 days in this phase I have to say it's way more exciting than I expected. We've had two kids meeting our criteria (for the most part) presented to us. The first we passed on and the second, which was today, is something we're hopeful about. Our agency contacted us to let us know they submitted our homestudy which was a little surprising but I know they need to move quickly. We also had the option to pull out but it became real when I was sitting at work and read "Your home study HAS been submitted". I won't made my heart skip a beat.

My mind begins to race with the possibilities of this placement and wondering if this will be "the one". I'm just praying with all my being that we will only be selected if it is what is meant to be. I also have to wonder if I'll be feeling this way every week for months or even a year! That's the reality of what a lot of people go through. They submit their info and for whatever reason they might not be picked. I thought I knew excitement but this is giving me a new definition. I'm not sure my heart is cut out to go through this on a regular basis.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to Phase 2!

Today we got our official letter welcoming us to "Phase 2" which means the child search is on. We expected to be here about 6-8 weeks ago but alas we are here now. There were some last minute complications with our heritage to clear up and a heavy workload for our social worker so things became delayed. All that was wrapped up on Friday afternoon and we're ready to roll.

Our license request has been shipped off to Snohomish County and we're being placed with a new social worker who can better handle us since she has a little more time. We won't meet her until next Wednesday but I can't lie...I'm a little nervous. We've been with Gretchen since last fall and really feel a strong connection with her. She knows everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, about us. We'll give this new girl a shot and pray for the best.

Our agency has also recently changed the way they do matches. Now instead of each social worker looking at all the referrals finding that perfect match for their clients they have one person looking at them all. Before it would distract the workers and cause delays in their work, as we saw with ours. It seems pretty overwhelming to me to have just one person do this but I hear it's working much better. They took someone who really had a knack for matching and let her take it over full time. We'll be meeting with her next week too. I'm thinking about bringing her cookies or something ;)

I'd say after next week it really could be any day but if I had to guess I'd say I don't think we'll have a placement for at least a few more months. We will still be the only family they are working with in Snohomish County which places us at the top of the list for most of the referrals out of Everett. I really don't care how long it takes as long as the right match is the end that is what matters. Even so I'm sure I'll get impatient which is when I'll re-read this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rules of Engagement

I have a group of about 20 or so women I talk with often who have all been impacted by infertility. There's this unwritten code we all abide by, a way of communicating with each other that makes our feelings safe. Next to the pain of dealing with infertility the most popular topic we all can relate to is "crap people say/do". All most all of the things said or done that hurt happen with the best intentions but totally miss the mark. I could easily do a full blog post on each of the items I'll mention but I do want you to actually read it so I promise to keep it brief.I want to share on behalf of all those who can't or don't know how to. Here's my attempt at translating the language of our secret society.

News About Pregnancy
With my close group of couples we quickly established a rule of communicating this news only by email and always a day or so before we'd meet next. This allows everyone to process the information in private with no expectation of reaction. Sometimes you just need a minute to process it on your own. I also beg of those who have no trouble with infertility to follow this same practice. I've had lots of people hold off sharing the news with me to spare my feelings. This hurts and trust me...we know. We want the chance to be happy for you so please include us, just allow us some space to do so.

Invites to Kid/Family Events
A few years ago we went through some painful friend losses because people around us had kids and we did not. They avoided inviting us to events that were just for kids or families because we didn't meet their life circumstance. The lack of invites was often to "spare" us from feeling obligated to go to a potentially emotionally painful event. The way this really feels is that we're being punished further for not having kids. We want the option to come and your understanding if we don't feel up to it. We began having this conversation with our friends which was hard and awkward but not everyone may be up for that talk yet. I really encourage those dealing with infertility to tell their friends and family what they need.

I Could Never...
One of the biggest punches to the gut is comments about how someone couldn't imagine doing "x". This came up often when I was going through IVF and mentioned the shots. I hate needles and still can't even look when they draw blood. None of that matters when you really want something and you just don't have another option. When people say they couldn't do that it's almost like hearing "thank God it's you dealing with this because I couldn't". The same is when people say things like you must have been given this challenge because you have a big heart. The truth is you can't judge what anyone will do until you're in it. I'm really conscious of this now and try to never make comments like this. Instead I will say "I admire your courage and perseverance".

These are just a few of them but pretty major rules. This is all my personal opinion and experience. I hope more women can talk about their needs with those they love. If they can't do that, I hope this helps.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Oh...where to start. I've been thinking about writing my thoughts on Mother's Day for about two weeks as it approached and I could never really pin point what I wanted my message to be. How do I express my feelings without it sounding like a pity party and how to I resolve my inner conflict of the meaning of the day? I sit here the day after still not knowing the answers to these questions but allowing myself to just write.

As a person who has struggled to become a mother of a living breathing child for 6 years now, Mother's Day is one of the hardest of the year for me to face. It's a day I wrestle with the demons of depression and grieve all over again for every time I was disappointed in this battle. Another day to ask why I've been given this challenge in life. To remember that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your dreams can't be realized in the way you've always envisioned.

This coupled with a day set aside to honor the women out there who are amazing Mothers. Including my own, and believe me she deserves a day just in honor of her. I want to embrace that and honor my own mother as well as every woman I know that has, is, or will be a mother in what ever form it may take. I want to be the first to stand up and applaud them.

It's an amazing internal battle that plays out in my head. Even though I'm so close to being a mother at long last, this continues to be a very real struggle. I allow myself this day to have whatever feelings I may. I think it's important to grant myself permission to feel any way I want with no apology. It might sound strange but I almost relish in these feeling and the ability I now how to feel them and move on. There was a time not too long ago with these feelings were part of my daily reality and I wasn't sure I'd ever feel better. I am very aware there are countless women in that same position today and by allowing myself to remember and feel this I pray and hope they too will find peace.

As I left work on Friday I had someone comment to me that this would me my last Mother's Day without a child. Even though this may be true I hope I never forget what it is like to be a hopeful Mother and the very real struggle they face day in and out. I will be saying a prayer for them every Mother's Day for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for those that have known this struggle first hand and come through to the other side that continue to comfort those of use who are still on the road to fulfilling a life long dream.

I give my deepest appreciation to all of the Mothers (in whatever form it may be) and applaud those who are fighting so hard for this role.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Some Ground Rules

Our dear friends who have been going through the adoption process along with us were placed with a sweet little boy last Friday (HUGE Congrats to them!). Their experience with the placement and watching much of this play out over Facebook posts got me thinking I should do a little education before we have our placement. In the excitement of the placement there were many questions I saw being sent to my friend. Questions that are normal for anyone to ask but place her in a tough spot because some she can’t answer and others she just doesn’t feel right sharing. There are very specific laws in place to protect the children and as a Foster Parent it’s our job to uphold.

The identity of the child is closely protected. Where it might be ok to share a first name, some people may not be comfortable with that for many reasons. Say you have a 6 month old placed with you and her name is Lady Gaga, Gaga for short. Her name is pretty unique and it’s a small world. You could have people saying “A friend of a friend adopted a baby named Lady Gaga! Can you believe it?”. This eventually makes its way back around to someone who knows the birth family and the identity of foster parents or birth family could be reveled starting a host of problems for everyone. There’s also the fact that maybe when adoption is finalized the adoptive family chooses to give a new name to the child and then you have to retell everyone what the kids name is…awkward!

The other big rule is no photos. It is illegal to post online or distribute a photo of a child in Foster Care. This means no Facebook uploads by me or if you happen to come visit us, no work announcement with a photo, and no photo announcements sent. I’m guessing we’ll throw a meet and greet since photos can’t be sent. Most likely we’ll see if anyone would be willing to make it a shower theme for us since we’ll need LOTS of stuff right away.

Another very important rule to note is their story of why they are in care is just that…their story. Any child we’ll be taking in will be there as a result of the inability of their birth parents being able to care for them, for whatever reason. In fact until the adoption is finalized we will not even know very much about why they were placed in care. Even when we do, it’s our child’s business to share what they feel like. Before we finalize the adoption they will give us all the information they have on the child so we can make an informed decision if we’d like to go forward with finalization. Once we’ve finalized the adoption we can share their photo, change their name, give them a Mohawk, make them mow the lawn, or ground them for life…you get the picture. Even after adoption we’ll be keeping tight lipped on the child’s story, out of respect for their privacy.

Sorry if this seems like a long list of negative things but hopefully it helps give some context around what we can and can’t share when the time comes. Here’s to hoping that’s sooner rather than later!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nursery Photos

I wanted to share some photos of the room we have ready. We've decided not to paint the room for now since there's a good chance we'll be adopting a toddler who might want to have a say in the color it will be. Decorating the room together is something you can to do help let the child know this is their forever home and to make it their own.

We have baskets of books & toys ready to play with

Here's a shot of our splurge, a comfy story time chair

The dresser and crib are all set to go!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sort Of Nesting

Not too much news to share, just still trying to wrap up a few loose ends before we read our home study. While we’re waiting I’m going through a nesting phase. Many women I know have collected things for their future children before they even start trying for them. I’ve never been one of those women. It’s a touchy subject for me on so many levels. I did allow myself to buy a “my first teddy bear” for the cycle I ended up getting pregnant from. I carried that with me to the transfer, held it when I meditated thinking good thoughts about the egg implanting, and to each ultrasound. When that ended in miscarriage, it was devastating. I can’t bear to throw it away yet I have it hidden in a box because it stings to look at it. What do you do with something like that and why would I want to take one more things if another hopeful child falls through? This is the very reason I have not allowed myself to buy or make anything else.

When our social worker told us we needed to have a crib on hand, I had a really hard time with it. I can’t begin to tell you how uncomfortable it made me feel to not only shop for one but to actually bring it into my house. My plan was to keep it in the garage and not think about it. Yeah right…

Once I had the crib and dresser in the house it was easier than I thought. It made it real, this IS happening. It opened a floodgate of sorts for the need to nest. The frustration with this is unlike expectant mothers who may want to keep the gender a surprise is that there is little I can count on. There is plenty you can buy that is gender neutral for 6 months and under. The problem is I don’t know what age or genders I’ll have. I just have this longing to ready a room but I don’t know with what.

My splurge last week and only new thing I’ve purchased was a comfy rocking/swivel chair and ottoman. I don’t know if it will be for late night feedings, story time, or both. Either way I know it will be a special place for family bonding. For now this brings me comfort and really look forward to the time we’ll spend in it. I’m sure I’ll also keep searching for more things all while not knowing what I’m looking for. The one thing I can count on is the end of each day brings me that much closer until we meet our kid(s) and all these unknowns are answered.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Home Study Visit DONE!

What does Home Study mean and what happens at a visit? Here’s a little Adoption lingo lesson for everyone. The entire process of learning about us which includes interviews, biographies, classes, quizzes, evaluations, photo collages, and finally a visit to our home is termed the Home Study process. Once all that information is collected our Social Worker writes that into a summary (also referred to as the Home Study) which will be sent to the Social Workers of prospective placements, placements = kid(s). Today we completed the Home Visit which is a BIG milestone in the process.

As for what happens at the visit, it’s a lot like a home inspection when you buy a house. It’s a long check list of things that have to be in place and instead of hoping for minor issues you can use to lower the price, you’re praying it comes back clean. The list of what they are looking for is a long one…4 pages front and back in the form of a check list to be exact. Some are super obvious like sanitary conditions (think Hoarders) and smoke detectors. Others are a bit more of a pain but make sense for safety. These are things like locking all alcohol, medications, and cleaning supplies. You also need to make sure there are single strands for the window blind pulls which I’m SO thankful our new house already had! We also needed to have basic child proofing done like outlet covers, drawer locks, and door handle things for places like my craft room and the bar.

Even though we know our Social Worker pretty well by now it can’t help but be a little awkward to invite anyone into your home and invite them to have fair game to walk around and open anything they want. The whole process took just over 3 hours. The great news was that we only had to quickly write the number to poison control on the front page of our first aid book and fridge as well as agree to buy waterproof sheets for the crib mattress and guest bed. Done and super easy to be Done! Even Tucker was on his best behaviour and passed the test as being a "safe pet".

Now for the BIG question…what happens next? Now our Social Worker has to take all this information back and write it all up. Once that’s done she will present the full study to the board of our Agency and have us read through and approve. Then the whole kit and caboodle is shipped off to Snohomish County to approve our Foster License. The bottom line is our Social Worker thinks we’ll have that License in our hands 5-7 weeks from today.

The next biggest question is how long will it be once we’re licensed? No one has the answer to this but we did find out there is a big need in Snohomish County with a strong preference for families who live in the county. Currently we will be the ONLY family our agency is working with that lives up North so she thought we would have a placement quite fast. She said they are even able to push the licensing process up a bit if the “perfect” match comes in before we’re official. The county is willing to pull some strings to do what is in the best interest of the child but this is of course an extreme scenario.

That’s all I know for now. While they are writing up the bible of SarahJay we are working on all those little things like a fire escape plan, finding a Head Start program nearby “just in case”, and the final touches on our photo collage.

Monday, February 28, 2011

We're that friend!

Over the last few weeks I’ve begun to realized my husband and I are quickly becoming “that couple who are adopting through Foster Care” as family, friends, and co-workers mention to us they have told someone they know about our story. When we first began telling people about our struggles with infertility and our eventual decision to adopt we heard all about the “I know someone who…” stories. These stories are usually an assortment of good, bad, and the ugly…all told with the spin of the storyteller’s opinion and always with the best intention in mind. Sometimes you wonder to yourself “was it really that good/easy/scary/painful/bad?” and maybe, just maybe…true?

Now we get to the point of the blog. Anyone who knows me, knows I need another hobby or blog like I need to gain 10 pounds BUT I think it’s important to have a place where I can share my story in my own words to those who care to read it. Now those we know in real life who care for an update can check this out, if they tell someone about us and they want to be updated…send them here. Then there will be those who just happen to stumble across this, to them I have a special message – I hope the stars have aligned and fate has brought us together in some way so that you can find comfort or insight in some piece of information I share here.

As I sit here days away from being licensed as a Foster Parent where we’ll officially enter the waiting pool, I’m making no promises on the frequency this will be updated. I will share information as the mood strikes or when there is a significant event in our process. Out of respect for the privacy of both my husband, myself, and our future children I will not share medical diagnosis or known/suspected abuse for any involved. I will share our experience with treatments when the topics arise and our feelings on the process.

Now that all that has been taken care of I’ll get to the meat of the content for this first entry. I’ve seen people’s faces and quick intake of breath or audible groan when I begin to discuss the steps we’ve taken to get to the point we are today in the adoption process. The important thing I want everyone to understand is that my husband and I both DO NOT feel this has been too much, too intrusive, or too long. We have filled out countless forms and questions, proof of you name it, and interviews until we’re out of words.
Has it been a lot of work? Yes.
Do we think it’s been too much? No
We can see a reason for everything we’ve provided and understand why we need to give it. They clearly layout what you need to do so it’s like being handed a big to do list. You just start plugging away and get it done. It beats the hell out of I’m going to take all these shots, doctor appointments, meditations, and spend thousands of dollars then maybe, just maybe we’ll be successful in getting pregnant. This is a sure thing, it’s just a matter of when.

Same goes for the classes. We have taken close to 60 hours of training as part of our process. If there was another class offered we might groan at having to sit in a class after a full day of work but we’d gladly take it. Not a single minute of our time has been wasted in the classes we’ve taken…it’s all been great information, not to mention FREE.

If you’ve made it this far I hope something was useful. That’s all for now folks!