Thursday, December 26, 2013

Baby Scoop Era



From Wikipedia:
The Baby Scoop Era was a period in history starting after the end of World War II and ending in the 1970s and 1980s, characterized by an increased rate of pre-marital pregnancies over the preceding period, along with a higher rate of newborn adoption.

From approximately 1940 to 1970, it is estimated that up to 4 million mothers in the United States surrendered newborn babies to adoption; 2 million during the 1960s alone. Annual numbers for non-relative adoptions increased from an estimated 33,800 in 1951 to a peak of 89,200 in 1970, then quickly declined to an estimated 47,700 in 1975. (This does not include the number of infants adopted and raised by relatives.) In contrast, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only 14,000 infants were "voluntarily" surrendered in 2003. 

Solinger describes the social pressures that led to this unusual trend, explaining that women who had no control over their reproductive lives were defined by psychological theory as "not-mothers", and that because they had no control over their reproductive lives, they were subject to the ideology of those who watched over them. As such, for unmarried pregnant white girls and women in the pre-Roe era, the main chance for attaining home and marriage rested on their acknowledging their shame and guilt, and this required relinquishing their children, with more than 80% of white unwed mothers in maternity homes acting in essence as "breeders" for white, adoptive parents.  According to Ellison, from 1960–70, 27 percent of all births to married women between the ages of 15 and 29 were conceived premaritally. This problem was thought to be caused by female neurosis, and those who could not procure an abortion, legally or otherwise, were encouraged to put up their children for adoption. 

In 1970, approximately 80% of the infants born to single mothers were placed for adoption, whereas by 1983 that figure had dropped to only 4%."

In contrast to numbers in the 1960s and 1970s, from 1989 to 1995 fewer than 1% of children born to never-married women were surrendered for adoption.

Have you ever heard of this?  I am sad to say I had not until recently.  It makes sense in retrospect, but I suppose, not even being born until 1980, it was just not something that ever made my radar until now.

In an effort to arm myself with viewpoints from all members of the adoption triad (the adoptive parents, the birth parents, and the adopted child/adoptee), I’ve constantly been searching out articles and blogs on how to be the best adoptive parent I can be.  What is important for the child?  For the birth mother?  What mistakes would I potentially make that can easily be avoided? 
In that research, I’ve come across a very dark side of adoption history.  In fact, it is so dark, that the victims of it (the birth mothers of this “Baby Scoop Era”), do not consider it a “side” of adoption, or a product only of its time.  They can consider it the sole fact, the sole outcome.  These mothers, now mostly in their 50s and 60s, hurt so desperately for the child they lost, most often in a very closed adoption with no knowledge of who the adoptive parents even were.  Many times, these women were given no other options, even forced by their own families, to relinquish, simply because they were unmarried and pregnant.

They pain they express online is palpable. Raw.  Heartwrenching.  I have literally been brought to tears while reading some of their stories and the aching that echoes in their words.
I have also cried because of the absolute hate they have.  The vitriol towards the other members of the triad – mostly the adoptive parents, but even towards the adoptee at times.  And to be clear, these “first mothers” (the term birth mother is considered derogatory towards them, which is something I never even knew) while commonly from this Baby Scoop Era, certainly also include first mothers from current day.  

It is a commonly shared belief on some of these forums that:

-Abortion is preferable to adoption.  If an expectant woman truly believes she is unable to raise a child (with poverty being defined as a ‘pathetic’ excuse), she should exercise her rights to an abortion.  

-There is a special place in hell for adoptive parents.  We obviously have a sense of “entitlement” to another woman’s child, and throw money around for the right to yank this child out of her mother’s arms.

-Any adoptees that love their adoptive families and are well-adjusted to their adoption (which many post as such on these forums), have been “brain-washed” or drinking the kool-aid their adoptive parents & society force upon them.  One commenter responded to a “happy adoptee” telling her she is deluded and in fact has experienced unrepairable loss, and is essentially a messed-up human being.

Among other things.

The expansiveness of their opinions is what I find scary.  Again, the pain they have is so deep-rooted, they must vent, speak out, protest.  This is their right, and a well-deserved one at that.  I find it scary that a human being has experienced that level of pain.  But my concern is how black and white the issue is to them.  Human life and morals is grey at its core.  One can judge premeditated murder as pure evil.  But do you pause in your judgment when you find out that a father murdered his daughter’s rapist?  The murder still isn’t the right answer, but suddenly the “evil” associated with it is softened, yes?    To them, adoption is evil.  It is wrong to the very core of our society, with very limited exception.  They don’t believe that expectant mothers actually “choose” adoption, but are strongly coerced – by society in the Baby Scoop Era, and currently by money and slick advertising in current times. 

T wants me to stop reading these blogs & forums, but I can’t.  I realize these can be considered extremists in the adoption world, but there is a simple fact that they do exist, and the hurt they experienced has rocked them beyond repair.  NO HUMAN should have to feel like that.  Ever.  My heart constantly breaks for them.

I don’t agree that makes adoption, potential adoptive parents, and adoption agencies inherently evil.  Is the system messed up?  Yes.  Is it getting better?  Debatable.  Do I feel entitled to H’s baby (the woman with whom we are matched)?  God, no.  Do I know that, if she ultimately chooses to place her child, that we will be whole-heartedly committed to that child, our relationship with H, and our faith in God?  Passionately yes.  I firmly believe that the majority of potential adoptive parents are very good, honest, loving people.

I didn’t want to post any links to these forums, as I’d like to have my own little place in the blogosphere to talk about our journeys without getting drawn headfirst into this debate.  But I do highly highly encourage anyone even contemplating adoption to do a few simple google searches to hear all viewpoints.  I had no idea this kind of pain was out there, and I feel so much more educated now. 
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In other news, we consistently email with H and are visiting her and the father in Florida in January.  We will do a 3D ultrasound (yay!!) and just generally get to know each other.  In relation to above, we make every effort to ensure H realizes that her adoption decision is hers and hers alone (with the father), and there is no sense of her owing us anything at the time of birth.  But if she ultimately chooses to place, I will be so happy that we were able to get to know her during this period and beyond.  We feel so connected to her already, and will always want what is best for her and her family – whatever that may be.

(And I don't think I posted this (sorry if I did!) - T and I got our results back from our recurrent miscarriage testing, since, you know, 3 miscarriages in 9 months shouldn't be considered normal, right?  Well, tough shit.  We're normal. Everything normal.  Super normal.  Perfect normal.   Lovely, right?)



Friday, December 6, 2013

It's a....

GIRL!  or a BOY!

Baby didn't open his or her legs really well.  The ultrasound tech guesses a girl, but basically no one knows for sure.

We are going to visit H (the expectant mom) in January, so we may do a 3D session then depending on if she feels comfortable.  But for now, we did indeed confirm that it is a baby, and not an alien.  And for that, we opened a "top shelf" bottle of wine tonight.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE Call

Last Friday, at work, I just felt like we were going to get the call.  The adoption agency had T's number as their primary number, so I sat in my standard Friday morning committee meeting constantly checking my email.  I was waiting for one with exclamation points in the subject line, or saying "CALL ME", or something similar.  Refresh email.  Only halfway listen to this week's economic update.  Refresh email.  Someone says "Isn't that right, C?"  Mumble a response.  Refresh email.  Get email from T very excited that google.uk has a Doctor Who google doodle.  Not exactly what I was hoping for.  Refresh email.  Meeting adjourns.  No call.

My obsession with the adoption that day was not abated.  Rather than working while back at my desk, I go to the agency website.  The number of total couples has decreased.  I think, maybe they take us down before they call us! and immediately click on one of the last pages where our profile would reside.  My eyes scan down the page, and there we are, still smiling and hopeful.  It is 11:35am.

At that VERY second where my eyes make contact with our profile picture, still hanging out on the website, my phone starts vibrating underneath a pile of papers.

It is the agency (the first one we activated with).  She is cheerful.  She says congratulations.  She asks to conference in T.  I instant message him to see what number I should use:



C [11:35 AM]:
WE HAVE A MATCH!!!!!!!
Can you conference in???
T [11:36 AM]:
Are you serious?
Conference me in baby!
C [11:36 AM]:
Call your work #??
T [11:36 AM]:
76926
We can chat here too
T [11:40 AM]:
I keep thinking holy shitsnacks
Holy shitsnacks

Holy shitsnacks indeed.  113 days after activation.

She lives in Florida.  She isn't due until April.  We hope to find out the sex soon, maybe even tomorrow at her doctor's appointment.  We'll probably go visit sometime soon, possibly January.  I'm not going to say a lot about her situation on here, as that is her business and not for me to put all over the interwebs.  But we've been emailing all weekend, and I honestly already love her.  She is unexpectedly articulate and well-spoken in her emails, she looks a little like me, and seems genuinely excited for us. 

Things can totally change between now and April.  Not until the consents are signed (48 hours after birth) is this a done deal.  She can choose to parent any time before then.  I will never ever ever pray that she doesn't parent.  If that is what is best for this child and for her, then she SHOULD parent.  I would WANT her to parent.  I will just pray that if she knows deep down that is what will ultimately happen, she lets us know sooner rather than later.  We are now "off the market" until April, and it will be devastating for me to lose this child then.

We sent in all of our documents and our monies yesterday and the match should be processed officially today.  We're not off the website yet, but should be soon.

My therapist will likely tell me (when I see her later today) to be excited.  I could be guarded, but you know what?  I'm going to be disappointed if it doesn't work out no matter what emotions I allow myself to feel now.  So I'm going to be excited.  I'm going to be amazingly thankful this holiday.  I'm going to be a mom.



Monday, November 11, 2013

This and that and the other

Nothing's happened.  No news.  Bleh, bleh, bleh.  And it is snowing today.  I am not ready for the snow and winter and cold and blusteriness.  (totally a word in my world).

Although no news does not mean we haven't been busy.  A little rundown of some happenin's around these parts:


  • Most importantly, above all else, T and I side-high-fived, spontaneously, and it. was. magical.  (see here for a discussion of our previous woeful attempts).  We were kind of in shock when it happened, and realized if we can do that right, we really can rule the world some day.

  • I knew there was a reason I was doing this blogging stuff.  A lovely gal reached out to me after reading my blog, because she has some experience with adoption to share.  She suggested the use of a consultant, which is a service that can help navigate these crazy mixed-up waters.  The one she used never really got back to us, but I was reading about other consultants that had great feedback online.  Ultimately, as of last week we are a client of a Christian consulting group.  They aren't an agency; rather they basically are "in the know" of a lot of situations, and help us become active with other agencies without large upfront fees.  We had to make some adjustments to our print profile in order to use it more widely, and should be sending a bunch out this week.  One of the agencies required us to do some online adoption training, so we're finishing that up, and then sending our pictures of our hopeful little selves across the country.

  • We are still active with American too, so that doesn't change.  I checked in with our social worker there a couple weeks ago.  What's happening, anything we need to consider changing, etc, etc.  She emailed back, and I quote "In general, I hear awesome things about your profile.  People like that you are young and active, that you have a close knit family, that T has a daughter and you are active in her life...all awesome things!  I have not gotten any negative feedback at all."  And we're being shown about 15-20 times per month.  Yet....no matches.  Sigh.  Double sigh.  Triple sigh.  It's only been about 3 1/2 months of being active, which I realize isn't a lot, but it still hurts.  Especially thinking about another holiday season gone by.  2013 has absolutely been the worst year of my life so far, and I would love to top it off with the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Even it out, you know?

  • Lovely gal also came back into play by suggesting I go to a local medical practice she is associated with to get my recurrent miscarriage testing done sooner.  This way (rather than waiting until 2014 for even a consult), I could put it against this year's deductible (already way way way met).  Score TWO for lovely gal(thanks L!).   T and I actually went today, and I got about 77 vials of blood taken.  T got 1.  ONE.  I asked if they could take some more, even if just to throw out the blood, just to make him have to work a LITTLE more.  No go.  Guys never have it as hard as girls.  Weenies.

  • I have mixed feelings about the testing.  We were both 100% for it, because if I ever did get pregnant again on my own, it seems silly to just watch me miscarry if there was something that could be done about it.  But, we had moved on from this fertility stuff, and it just muddies the waters a little bit.  I know we won't likely actively seek fertility treatments (e.g. IVF) again, and I don't think it is fair to the adoption process if we are double-dipping.  Honestly, at this point, I'd actually be kind of pissed if I got viably pregnant, because I'm hoping we are bringing home our baby less than 9 months from now.  

  • Work is kicking my butt lately, and I so want to just call in and tell them I'm not going to be in for 8-12 weeks, because I'm taking care of my little one.  I am so thankful for my job, and T's job, and the stability we have.  But once in awhile, you just want to bury yourself underneath the covers for a week and have nothing to do with them.  

  • My puppy (misnomer, as he's going on 12), was super sick a couple weeks ago, and had to be on an IV at the vet overnight.  They never really figured out what was wrong, but told me to have him avoid running, stairs, and jumping for 3 weeks.  That might have been one of the funniest things I had heard in a while, just due to the sheer impossibility of it.  We got him those little stairs to use when climbing into bed (he mostly sleeps with us).  He literally jumps OVER the stairs.  At least if he dies from that, he'll die happy.  I am so so not ready to lose him.  I really hope he can stick around to meet his human brother or sister.

  • Cam turned 13 last week.  That deserves its own post.  She is full out teenager and a half.  Lord help us.

That's about it in this neck of the woods.  I'm super excited to host Thanksgiving (just my parents, but still).  I may blog about the food plans because I'm so thrilled to just cook and eat together.  Food always makes everything good. 

Happy mid-November to you!



Monday, October 7, 2013

It's been a long week

I started and stopped this blog post several times over the last several days, as I needed to write something out for my own sake, but just wasn't quite sure how to get there.  Let's just say it's been a long week.

It started out wonderfully two weekends ago.  We went to St. Louis to celebrate my father's 60th birthday.  My parents, my brother & his girlfriend, and my dad's sister, T and I went out to dinner, went to a Cubs/Cardinals game, and just in general had a great time.  Cheers to St. Louis!

I already was in a bit of a funk on the drive home.  September 29th would have been the due date from our FET baby.  The one that we thought totally changed our world.  October 1st officially marked 2 months of being active at the adoption agency.  Both just reminders that while the world flies by around us, we continue to wait.

On Sunday night/Monday morning (a week ago), I noticed something really odd.  My feet were driving me crazy!  My progesterone allergy was in full gear.  The odd thing was is that I was nearing the end of my period, so I should have no issues at that point.  The allergy should flair up about 6 or 7 days past ovulation, when my progesterone peaks, and then disappear by the time my period starts.  In a normal natural cycle, I don't even really need to take medication when it peaks.  It's just noticeable. 

So, while I'm at work on that Monday with my feet going crazy, I'm at a super loss at what could be happening.  Why my progesterone would still be elevated, and in fact higher than it was the previous several days.  The logical answer for any normal person (or at least a normal person with a foot allergy to progesterone?) is that she is pregnant.  Obviously not the case with me, but I dubiously stopped by the drugstore on the way home, purely so I could put that notion out of my head.

It was positive.  Very light, in no way a viable pregnancy, but still positive.  As in, we did it all on our own.  I showed T, and since we both couldn't accept the truth, agreed that it must be the work of aliens.  It was the only logical explanation.

I took another the next day and the line was almost gone.  My feet stopped itching about a day after that.  In the reproduction world, they call this a chemical pregnancy.  The sperm and egg met, combined, and even implanted, but nothing ever really grew.  My period was a little wonky and started early, which makes sense in retrospect (it represented when I was losing the pregnancy), but really didn't faze me at the time.  If I didn't have the itchy feet, I would never even have known I was pregnant.

But, I do know.  And now when asked how many times I've been pregnant and how many children I've given birth to, I'm officially 3 and 0.

We're still not totally sure what to think.  The adoption process is certainly not stopping.  I called my ob/gyn (I'm never going back to our local fertility clinic), and said I was ready for the recurrent pregnancy loss bloodwork.  She seemed confused.  "Are you trying to get pregnant?", she asked me.  "If you aren't trying to get pregnant, I can just put you on birth control and you won't miscarry."  Obviously, I'm not trying to get pregnant, but God knows I don't want to prevent a pregnancy.  Trying implies that I have a belief that I may get pregnant, that effort equals success.

And I'm still pretty convinced that our 1% chance of success just manifested itself and isn't planning on coming back any time soon.  But I figured we should do the bloodwork just in case.  In case, I can take some blood thinners or thyroid medication or whatever it may be that could help if I ever found myself in this position again with a potentially viable pregnancy.  So I made the appointment for the necessary doctor consult in January which is the first time I could get in.  Ridiculous, but I doubt we are in any sort of hurry.

So, blech.  That seems like the best word to summarize the situation. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dreamland

I'm sure everyone does this, but I tend to create elaborate scenarios in my head when I'm thinking about potential situations.  Sometimes they are scary and spiral out of control, like when T is running late and I can't find him on "find my iphone".  I tend to get carried away with thoughts that involve kidnapping by drug runners and  being held captive to use his IT hacking magic to funnel money into secret Swiss accounts.  Then he shows up, running late because he stopped by the store to get some groceries, and the iphone app just wasn't updating.  Life is never as exciting as my daydreams (or daymares as they were).

I did this all the time before we got pregnant.  I wondered how exactly I would see that pregnancy test, how T would see it, how we would communicate to each other. Would it be sunny outside?  Rainy?  Would a certain song be playing (we always have music playing at our house)?  In that case, real life was more awesome than I ever could have dreamed  - until it just wasn't.

So, now, with the wide open space of our potential adoption looming, I think about it all.the.time.  We are supposed to live like normal and not let the adoption stuff overwhelm our thoughts.  Ha!  Not bloody likely.  I googled what to do while waiting for adoption, and the number one recommendation is to "take that big trip" since you won't be able to later.  Except, um, we have no money and need to save our vacation.  So instead I will obsess about different scenarios.

In my head, currently, we are going to be called the week before Thanksgiving* (yes, this would be a pretty fast turnaround, but it is my dream, right?).  The birth mom will have just scheduled an induction because she is overdue, so while the baby isn't born, we'll need to travel right away.  She lives in Oklahoma.  She has no idea what the gender of the baby is.  Our car breaks down on the way, and both T and I forget to pack underwear.  We arrive just as our daughter is born, and it is nothing but magic from there on out.  Everyone gets along famously, and ICPC gets through paperwork fast enough that we're home the day after Thanksgiving.  We live in the awesome cocoon of our new family for the next week together before T goes back to work...but it's only a few short weeks until Christmas.  Merry merry merry Christmas to us. 

A girl can dream, right?

*Edited after the fact.  While I really wasn't correct, we did indeed get called the week before Thanksgiving.  How cool is that?! :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Monies & Budgeting

Yep, still waiting.  No update, except the number of potential parents on our agency's website has swelled up to 232 (we were number 215 when we joined).  We probably need to strap in for the long haul.

So I thought I would talk about money.  Not so much about how much we've spent/will spend (spoiler:  it's a LOT.  Enough to make me throw up in my mouth a little).  But more about my thoughts on budgeting in general.

I love money.  Not in a sick superficial kind of way (I don't think?), but more in a capitalistic, economist kind of way.  I have an accounting and finance background, so it only makes sense, but I love investments, and spreadsheets, and budgeting, and formulas, and ALL OF THE THINGS.  So I will try not to make this post too long, but I could talk about money forever.

I've had people ask me in real life what kind of budgeting system we use, so I figured that's what I would blog about today.  There really isn't anything but some common sense involved here, so it isn't earthshattering advice by any means.  But anyone going through infertility is faced with the money woes at some point (unless you are super super lucky to have insurance, and in that case, God has blessed you immensely. Go light a candle at church in thanks).  So a check on budget can always be useful.

Enveloping
T and I use an online envelope-based system.  We specifically use mvelopes, which works just fine.  There could be better systems out there, so I'm not necessarily endorsing mvelopes, but rather the methodology in general.  You could totally do this manually with spreadsheets, but that sounds like a huge headache for me, so I would definitely go with something computerized.  We actually pony up cash each quarter to pay for it, because it is that valuable to us.  If you can find something that works for you for free, more power to you.

A quick definition check.  An envelope system is not a budget on its own per se.  A budget says I will spend x amount on x category over a course of a defined period (a month, a week, a year).  An envelope system is more powerful, I think, because it says exactly what you have to spend RIGHT NOW, based on the money you have RIGHT NOW.  The easiest way to think of this is the old-school method of cash & actual envelopes.  Once you got paid, you took the actual cash and divided it among a grocery envelope, a mortgage envelope, an entertainment envelope, etc.  If you were going to the grocery store, you grabbed the envelope and knew you could only spend that much.  If you needed to go over, you had to dip into another envelope and would have less to spend on, say, entertainment.

Online, it works the same way.  You set up funding plans for every one of your paychecks.  You can plan to take the mortgage out of one paycheck or spread it over several throughout the month.  Each time you actually get paid, you can fund envelopes manually or use your pre-set funding plan.  At all times, your amount in your spending account(s) equals the amount in your envelopes.  You know exactly where your money is allocated at any given point.  It may look like you have a ton of money in your checking account, because you just got paid, but if that is already 90% allocated to mortgages, car payments and other big ticket items, then you really don't have much discretionary cash.

We put almost all variable expenses on a credit card and pay it each month.  You still have envelopes related to those expenses.  When the transaction downloads, say $100 to the grocery store, the system takes it out of the "Groceries" envelope and puts it in the "Money for Credit Card" envelope.  Then I know that I have $100 in my cash account that is already allocated to the credit card payment.

I like the system because it can be as strict or loose as you like. T's and my combined financial budget has evolved fairly dramatically since we've been together, and the envelope system has stayed with us throughout:

Real Life - At First 
Basically paycheck to paycheck, not fully combined
When T and I first moved in together, we weren't ready to be a completely combined financial household, but could share in basic household costs.  So what we did was open a joint account and a joint credit card.  We calculated our fixed expenses (the mortgage, as we moved into my existing house, the utilities, satellite, etc) and each transferred half of those costs to our joint checking account each month.  Then we put all household variable expenses on the credit card (like groceries, dinners out together, etc) and when the bill came, we each paid half of it.

Note this worked because our salaries have always been fairly similar.  If there is more of a disconnect between a couple, you would just want to not split halfsies, but maybe 60/40 or 75/25 (or whatever works for you).

Since it was meant to be a zero-sum game, basically paycheck to paycheck, with no money left over in the joint accounts (all remained in our individual accounts), I did need to track the cash to the penny.  It would not be good for me to make a credit card payment, thinking there was a lot in our account, but in reality that was already allocated to the mortgage payment occurring the next day.  In practice, we were each putting money in the account to cover expected expenses each paycheck, so it wasn't related to any one expense in our heads.  So the envelope system really came in handy.  I logged in, and could see our checking account balance, and it was allocated to mortgage payment, water payment, money for credit card payment, etc.  If I wanted to make a credit card payment mid-month, I could see exactly how much was in that envelope.

 Real Life - In the Middle
Funding in advance, Planned savings
Right before we got married, T and I combined our finances completely.  This helped us jointly save for the wedding costs and both take ownership for our financial picture.  It kind of morphed into me running the finances in our house, but he can log into our system at any point and see what's what.  We made enough money that we didn't need a hardcore budget, but I would have died a little inside to just let our finances run free.

We weren't living paycheck to paycheck though, so I was able to fund in advance.  Our paychecks basically covered next month's expenses and our envelopes essentially never went to zero.  But I did slide over any extra money to our savings account, so the checking account will still managed pretty closely.  Therefore, the system remained a communication tool.  Tory could go in and see when his car payment envelope was funded, and make the payment at that point (he had to do that one manually vs an auto payment).  This helped, because it may look like our checking account had a lot in it, but I may have scheduled a large credit card payment, our mortgage payment, and the rest was moved to savings.  So he theoretically could have overdrawn our account if he paid the car payment before the envelope was funded.

We also could keep one savings account, but have it individually allocated to different goals.  This was accomplished with one savings envelope that equaled our account, but with sub-envelopes for each goal. We didn't sell our house when we built a new one, for example, so one envelope needed to be our down payment on the house.  Another was for wedding & honeymoon, one eventually became our infertility budget, then any extra.

From a joint standpoint, we each kept our individual accounts and get an "allowance" every month for that.  This would be used for gifts for each other, and any expenses over $100 that are truly for one of us.  For example, T is planning to use his to partially fund the Playstation 4 when it comes out, because I think that is a ridiculous expense when we already have a Playstation.  I'm allowing some of it to come out of "our" account, but he needs to pay for the rest.

Real Life - Now
More loosey goosey, but still valuable
T and I are on a stricter budget now, due to all of our infertility and adoption expenses, but it is more in our head than on paper.  We know our weaknesses (bottles of wine, anyone?) and have cut out those to save money.  We aren't taking any major trips, we aren't going out for nice dinners, etc.

I still use the envelope system, but am constantly moving stuff around between envelopes.  The most value I get out of it is seeing how much to pay on our credit card.  While we plan to pay it completely each month, we did carry a bit of a balance when buying nursery furniture.  So I can see what's in my envelope vs what the balance is on the card and know how much extra I need to take out of our "savings" each month to make up the difference.

And we've used up pretty much all our savings on the baby expenses.  I'm trying to build that back up each month and have allocated some of our paychecks to a savings envelope.  I don't impose a grocery budget on us, so I just move stuff around when that envelope goes negative (it almost always does each month.  We like food).

A few other things to give us wiggle room that you could do:

I always have a cash buffer in our "cash to allocate" account.  I keep around $300-500 in there that is never allocated.  So if we suddenly need to write a bigger check in that range that was unplanned, I don't really need to worry if we have the money available.  It should always be there.

I never updated our funding plan from our paychecks as our paychecks grew.  So, my paycheck may be $1,000 (making these numbers up), but the funding plan is only $800.  That makes us theoretically live within a budget less than what we make.  The difference can go to savings or be used to top off envelopes where we overspent (like adoption expenses!). 

-----------------

Anyway, everyone has their own methodology to manage money, but if you are flailing a little, hopefully some of this advice works for you.  Again, because our salaries are fairly similar, it is easy for us to take an equal responsibility, equal benefit approach to finances.  This isn't always the case (and maybe more often isn't).  In the end, I just encourage you to both completely agree and feel comfortable with your approach.  The struggle can sometimes be when the person with the larger salary feels cheated when the other spends the money.  Communication is key, and any combination can work as long as both are completely on board with the "rules" that have been set out.

Other Notes
 Here is a sampling of the actual envelopes we have (sub-envelopes are in parentheses):  Adoption Expenses,    Auto (Car Payment, Fuel, Car Registration), Charity, Dry Cleaners, Entertainment, Food (Dining Out, Groceries), Gifts, Hair, House (Mortgages on both houses, Property Taxes), Insurance (Auto, Life/Disability), IVF, Savings (separate ones for savings within our checking account to be swept out, and our actual separate savings account balance), Utilities (water, electricity, phone, etc), and Vacation.

You can save throughout the year for single expenses, like car registration, or just start funding the envelope a few months in advance.  In advance is a key part of it though :)

If you use the online system, it can be really helpful for reporting.  I've run every adoption expense through our adoption envelope even though it can go negative while we fund it.  But that way, I can run a report on it for tax purposes to have our exact expenses. 

On our system, you can add balance sheet only accounts (e.g. 401k balances, mortgage balances etc), so you can run a net worth report at any point.  That's a nice tool too.

Okay, I won't bore you with money stuff anymore.  But hopefully this was helpful to at least someone out there!








Thursday, September 5, 2013

Patience (5 weeks active)

Patience is bitter, but it's fruit is sweet.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting with some folks from work talking about families, babies, all the jazzy stuff.  Most people there knew our situation, but I wasn't really talking about it much.  One gal I don't know as well mentioned that she and her husband were trying to get pregnant, but it had been about 5 months and it was extremely difficult waiting that long.  She wasn't sure how much more patience she had.

I obviously had to bite my tongue, suppressing my innate desire to scoff at her 5 months, and one up her to our almost three years, 3 IVFs and 2ish miscarriages (still not sure what to call the events after the 2nd one).  But I thought about the position I'm in now, having such a hard time with the 6 weeks we've been waiting without a call about an adoption match.  I can't even imagine the response if I complained to the countless families that have been waiting much longer.  After likely going through infertility woes such as ours.  So I remembered that all waiting is misery while you are in it.  Whether it be 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 years.  The waiting sucks beyond belief.

I just remind myself that it will be so worth it in the end.  All the waiting will be forgotten, and we will not be able to remember life without our sweet son or daughter.

This and that:


  • There are some weird couples on our adoption site.  Some awesome ones too, but definitely ones I don't think I'd even want to know in real life, much less have parent my child.  But you know what?  Some of them have been matched since we've been active, so there is someone out there for everyone.

  • Our nursery is coming together.  It's a delicate balance between wanting to be somewhat prepared, spreading our costs over our wait, and to not end up with a finished nursery with no child in sight.  I fell in love with a quilt at Land of Nod awhile ago, and it looked like it was going to be in short supply. So with coupon codes in hand, I did buy a girly quilt and crib skirt.  I figured we'd need it someday and the room is certainly brightened with it!  This pictures actually don't give the size of the room justice.  It's a nice big room ready to fill with toys!



  • I am really trying to get back in shape after not working out for ages during infertility treatments.  And it is freaking hard.  I've always had a good metabolism and didn't have a hard time staying slim.  But my ass has grown to the size of Montana and something must be done before I split another pair of pants.  My issue is that my heart rate shoots up right away.  I'm hitting the 190s when I'm running a 12+ -min mile.  I guess I just need to work out according to my heart rate for awhile, but it's so defeating.  Any ideas??

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

GRRRRRR....

Of course this would be in Iowa too.

A fellow blogger at Who Shot Down My Stork said it best (and the comments):  http://whoshotdownmystork.blogspot.com/2013/08/fertiles-6-infertiles-0.html

Basically the gist is that a couple (in Iowa, of course, the video in the link was actually from a local news channel that made it onto CNN) that has three healthy biological children, decided to "adopt" some frozen embryos, because they were so sad that these were just "thrown away".  And there are just so many out there waiting to be adopted (sarcasm heavy when I read that out loud).  They transferred two, one split, and so they had three more kids.  And they are regarded as heroes for basically saving these embryos.

Um....

Embryo adoption is a fairly new land, and should become more commonplace going forward. So, yes, there are probably a lot of embryos right now.  Many many infertile want-to-be-parents are deciding that is the best route for them.  It would have been a potential route for us, as theoretically T's and my chromosomes don't mix well.

But, I'm sorry, why is a couple who can easily have another kid by jumping in the sack with their spouse basically taking away the parenthood opportunity from someone else?  If they wanted to save the world, shouldn't they adopt actual living children that need a home?  Especially the older children that are more difficult to place? 

I'm not delusional enough to think that we are saving the world by wanting to adopt an infant.  While it will ideally be a "win-win" situation, in which we are giving the child a home they wouldn't otherwise have, we are also completely selfish.  We want a baby.  For us. For our family.  If that wasn't the case, and we only had completely altruistic motives, then we would be foster parents for older children and teens.  Because that is where the need is.  Not for infants.  Not for embryos. That is why the waiting list is so flipping long for adopting an infant. 

If you want to save the world, at least know where the world needs saving.

And, on the other side, of course, is that they would get pregnant and have three kids.  Most of us hope for just one, and some (this girl) never get any.  We transferred six embryos over the course of treatments.  Four never implanted, and two left us before 7 weeks.  But they pop two in and get three out.  Obviously.

I'm just mad.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Update (or lack thereof)

So I actually meant to blog last week, then my stupid Internet Explorer at work wouldn't let me, so I actually had to do work at work instead. How unfair is that?!?!

We've now been active for a week and a half. And....nothing. Not that I really expected anything, but it is sinking in that preparing for adoption activation is the EPITOME of "hurry up and wait". And wait we shall.

The waiting is much harder than I thought it would be. I'm hoping it gets better; the adoption stuff won't be in the forefront of my mind now that we're not picking out pictures, writing text, completing our home study. But I read posts from people on the agency's forum that have been waiting for almost 2 years, and my heart breaks. The agency says 3-12 months is average for waiting for placement. And the agency forums aren't super active, so I figure the ones that post would generally be biased to those waiting the longest. But days go by and I worry that it will never be us.

In the meantime, we stay settled in our no baby, one tween life. And she is almost 13. GAH. With makeup and deadpan sarcasm and Instagram selfies aplenty. We did set ourselves up to win the "coolest parents ever" award (or most irresponsible parents - you choose), by letting her watch Shaun of the Dead with us on Saturday. It is rated R for violence and language. She's seen a couple R-rated movies with us (Schindler's List and The Matrix), and has wanted to see this one with us for awhile. We acquiesced, with two caveats: (1) just because they drop the f-bomb 46 times in the movie does not ever make it appropriate for her to drop the f-bomb 46 times in two hours (or ever in any hour) and (2) violence is never appropriate in real life unless you are actually trying to kill zombies. Then she should whack them with a cricket bat or blast them with a shotgun. She agreed to these firm terms, and a fine time was had by all.

So I'm not sure what I should blog about now that nothing will be happening for potentially awhile. When I started the blog, it wasn't meant to be an ALI blog for eternity, but kind of morphed into that, since, well, it has been an eternity since we've been trying to have a baby. So, I guess I'll give some general updates and musings, and perhaps a kitchen mishap/recipe here and there, and ideally will randomly one day post a baby picture introducing our new son or daughter. That will be the best day of my life.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Live from Iowa!



No video yet, but that should be coming.

We are active!!!

http://www.americanadoptions.com/family_profile/index/fp_id/39654

(Hopefully this link won't work for very long, since they'll remove it once we are matched!)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mishmash and Activation Eve

First things first.  Champagne is being drunk tonight.  Mostly because we have Cam tonight and won't see her again until next week - and we go active tomorrow!!!  (We got this non-alcoholic sparkling wine for Cam.  Not sparkling grape juice mind you, but champagne with the alcohol removed.  I'll report back tomorrow on whether it is decent).

Our day ended today with T and I taking out a very large cashier's check at our bank, and initialing and signing a 25 page activation agreement with a notary public.  It was stuck in an overnight FedEx envelope, and the agency should receive by 10:30am tomorrow.  At that point, our website goes live and we are active, baby!  Yippee!!!!!!!!

Other things going on:

I finally had my annual appointment at my ob/gyn today that I've rescheduled about 10 times since December.  Pretty uneventful, even though I still haven't had a period since my miscarriage in May.  They said to give it another couple weeks.  The hard part came when I was filling out the check-in form, that will always and forever ask me:  How many pregnancies have you had?  How many live births?  How many currently living children?  Writing out "two" pregnancies and "zero" live births was tough.  Especially as these super round fat pregnant gals were sitting all around me.  Then realizing that for this purpose, will I ever say I have currently living children?  Given they didn't come out my hoo-hah, which would be what is relevant for the ob/gyn?

T and I have started to pick out the items we will need before the match occurs.  T is one that thinks the only store that exists anywhere is Amazon, so basically if it isn't on Amazon, he questions the legitimacy of whatever item it is.  We need a diaper bag and portable changing pad, a car seat, probably some sort of stroller (unless we just like sitting in our hotel), some clothes, and something for the baby to sleep in the hotel.

The last one we struggled with, so definitely welcome suggestions.  I think we are leaning towards a pack and play, since we'd want one eventually anyway, but are those good for newborns?  Do we need something more compact for her or him to sleep in?  All the choices are so confusing.  Our Amazon cart is already over $500, and we're not talking furniture or toys, or diapers, or formula or anything yet.  I feel so unbelievably poor right now.  I get a little annoyed that most people would have baby showers for a lot of this stuff.  (And yes, I know there are people that would actually throw me a baby shower at this point, but I don't feel comfortable doing it.  Likely after we are home with the baby for awhile...then we can celebrate with older baby stuff!).  But if any friends want to do cheap & easy entertaining nights with us for awhile, we'd greatly appreciate it!

Lastly, T and I decided to forgo anonymity for a little while, and we'll share our online profile when it is live!  While we'd have to pay a change fee for any changes at this point, I will totally welcome feedback!  Would you let us raise your child if you could not?!?




Monday, July 22, 2013

Favorites


Hello to the ICLW folks!  We just finished up our text for our adoption profile with our agency, and one thing I forgot was our "Favorites".  This is a fun exercise, and apparently a part of the profile that the birth mothers like the most.  Anyway, what better way to get to know us than our favorites?

Hopefully we aren't too weird :)



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Counting down until active

I forgot to post last week as well and say that my beta was 31 as of last Monday (about 7 weeks after the miscarriage).  Thank goodness it is on its way down finally!  I need to go back tomorrow for another blood draw, and I am hoping, wishing, praying that I will be completely done at that point.  I was kind of hoping I'd just get my period before tomorrow and we could call it all square, but no such luck.  And I still shake my head in wonderment that I am wanting my period to come badly, and it is not because I'm anxious to start another cycle.  My, how we change.

T and I have about 5 pictures left to take today, and then we are done with everything we need to do before going active.  I talked to our chica at the agency, and she said, barring any issues, to plan on the first week or so of August.  Woo hoo!  Here is the lowdown on our text/online profile:

The picture portion:  
This is the point where my comments are very agency specific.  The home study is a little more generic, but every agency will have its own method on how to present you to potential birth moms.  Our agency works with you to create a profile of pictures and text that will be put online, as well as printed out to send to birth moms that "match" you based on your questionnaire.

We had to send 50-100 pictures in the following categories:

  • 8-10 photos of you and your spouse, with children if applicable
  • 8-10 close-up photos of just you and your spouse
  • 2-5 photos of your home
  • 2-5 photos of neighborhood (park, elementary school, gathering places, pool, etc)
  • 2-4 photos of extended family/friends
  • 8-10 holiday/vacation photos
  • 8-10 photos of husband only doing his hobbies
  • 8-10 photos of wife only doing her hobbies
  • 4-10 hobby photos without people in them
  • any other miscellaneous photos
Overwhelmed yet?  How many pictures do you have of you "doing your hobbies"?  Weird, right?  And the biggest kicker that pretty much disqualified all of our photos is that none can have alcohol in them.  Not that we are huge lushes, but there is normally a glass of wine or a beer in front of us if we're taking a picture while we are out.  No one whips out the camera on that special night that you're sitting with your chocolate milk in front of the fire place.  But special anniversary with wine shipped in from Napa?  Pictures abound.  This is the part that honestly has taken us forever.  

The text portion:
Then, to go along with the pictures, you have to write essays on the following:

  • 150-250 words on your house/community
  • 150-250 words on your extended family
  • Then, they have a bunch of different categories for other essays (there were probably about 20 choices).  You write 6-9 of those, and then they choose 2-3 to put in your profile.  These are 100-250 words and we wrote about:
    • Our pets
    • Our life priorities
    • Education we will provide
    • What it means to be parents
    • What we do in our leisure time
    • Our religious beliefs
    • Our children
    • Qualities we love, admire and respect in each other
    • How we will tell the child about his/her adoption
  • Last is the "letter to the birthparents".  This is 500-700 words and just kind of wraps everything together.  
This part was so hard.  You have so much emotion and sincerity when writing them, but you worry if that is coming through correctly.  After awhile, everything seems so generic and forced.  We really thought long and hard about these, and I'm hoping our personality and commitment shines through in the end.  

I think once we are active, I'm going to take a week long nap.  This was exhausting!  




 
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