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


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!  


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Home Study Happy Dance

I sealed up the envelope provided to us by American Adoptions and just mailed in our completed, notarized, super thick home study and all supporting documentation.  I'm pretty sure I shook my hips in excitement a little as I dropped it in the mail slot.  I'm also pretty sure that several people saw me.  Hopefully, they got a laugh out of my giddiness!

As promised, I'm laying out the full home study process for us so someone can get a sense of what to expect.  But before I get there, a quick update on our never-ending/ending/never-ending-again miscarriage:

Our mini d&c was last Wednesday (July 3).  The doctor said to come in Friday or Monday for another hcg check to see if the hormone had left my system.  Since it seemed pretty obvious that he got something out of me, I was expecting my body to drop that hormone like it's hot.  (I never say stuff like that.  I must still be pretty giddy despite this body stupidness!).  Anyway, with the 4th of July and all that, I never really thought about it - SHOCKER, I know - and it only occurred to me again Sunday night that I should be in the clear.  I peed on my last digital test, stepped in the shower, and completely forgot about looking at it until T found it on top of the toilet.  Pregnant, it said.  Damn. Damn. Damn.

T convinced me that I was likely just at that 20-25 level that those digital tests read, and it should just be a couple days.  I popped over to the lab on Monday morning to give blood yet again, and receive a call that afternoon.  My level was....109.  109?!?!?  Yes, 109.  And the analysis on the tissue they took out revealed that it was not placental tissue.  So no clue what it actually was, which is weird in its own right.  But I guess, the levels are technically decreasing, even if it is at a snail's pace (actually a snail would leave my hcg level in the dust in a race).  So.  Yeah.  I go back in a week or two to get my blood checked again and we go from there.  Yippee.

But giddiness > frustration, so onto home study process!

No matter who you are, where you live, or what adoption process you are going through, you need to have a home study done.  This is basically blessing you as good parents, because the stuff on paper matters more than anything, right?  While I totally get why it is necessary, and would want something like that if I were the birth parent, some of it does get kind of ridiculous.

The majority of the home study is just documentation.  You make copies of a ton of shit and put it in a file.  Each state has their own home study requirements, but I think they are fairly consistent for the most part.  In our case, the home study provider was in our state, but did a few extra things to conform with our agency's requirements.

In the massive envelope I sent to American Adoptions today:

  • A post placement supervision letter.  Our home study provider filled this out basically promising that they will do the follow-up visits once our baby comes home (visits at 1 month, 3 months and 6 months).
  • Original home study, signed and notarized (2 copies):  Our provider dropped this off at our house last night.  She gave us 4 originals, 2 for American Adoptions, 1 for us, and 1 extra.  This is the result of all her reporting based on our interviews and the other supporting documents she included.
  • Clearances: FBI Clearance, Criminal Background Check, and Child Abuse Records Check.  The FBI check is super easy nowadays.  We just went to this link online (provided to us) and requested an appointment for digital fingerprints at our local UPS store.  They were uploaded to the FBI right there, and we got our clearances via email in about 10 minutes.  The others required us to sign a form to give to our home study provider to do the checks.  They put the results in our file.
  • Reference Letters:  American Adoptions requires 5 reference letters, and only one can be from a family member.  Our state requires 4 reference letters, but TWO must be from family members.  Therefore, we needed 2 family and 4 non-family to meet all the requirements.  These generally (except for the family ones) should be from other families that can speak to your ability to interact with children, are familiar with your ability to cope with issues, etc.  Our letters were so touching and were the best part about the whole process.
  • Health Statements: We both had to go get physicals at our local doctor and have him sign a form indicating that we weren't likely to keel over and die any time soon.  
  • Latest Tax Income Return:  Makes sure you actually have income 
  • Financial Information:   We needed to put together a balance sheet (net worth) and a monthly income statement.  This was a little difficult, because you were supposed to include some variable/discretionary expenses like gas and food.  I actually went back to look at our mvelopes software (love that system - I should blog about that sometime) to see what we spend on both.  It was not good.  T and I love to eat and drink waaaayyyy too much.  Luckily, we're still well in the black, so no issues there.
  • Copies of Birth Certificates, Marriage License, Divorce Decrees and Drivers' Licenses:  Stupid divorce decrees.  It was fun to read T's though :)
  • Insurance Form and Copy of Insurance Card:   I needed to show confirmation from my insurance company that the child would be covered at the time of placement.
  • Most recent paystubs:  Damn.  They really want to know how much money you make!
  • Disciplinary statement:  We attested that we wouldn't use corporeal punishment.
  • Guardianship statement: We declared that my lovely little bro would be our children's guardian in the event of a horrible situation that we will not speak of.  It was nice to be able to ask him and have him say yes, though.
And....that's pretty much it.  Our home study provider said really nice things in our report, like "this marriage is quite sound, characterized by strong bonds of affection openly and reciprocally expressed, good communication, shared decision-making, and mutual recognition of the dignity and strengths of the other person".  See??  Home studies are actually super fun and nice to read!

Now, American Adoptions will officially review on their end and come back with any clarification needs.  We'll need to wrap up our profile stuff (upcoming post!) and then the waiting begins!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Endings are just new beginnings

Even though they sometimes overlap.

Ending:  The miscarriage.  Finally.  (I think, I hope!).  I went back this week for another hcg/beta test, and the level was 139.  After 136 and 131 last week.  Totally awesome.  I was just shaking my head in complete amazement that we can't seem to do anything normally.  The nurse say due to this and my obvious elevated progesterone that it must be a new pregnancy.  Although obviously not a viable one.  Fan-freaking-tastic, I say.

The doctor asks me to come in for an ultrasound, and was able to squeeze me in earlier today.  Luckily, T and I working a block away from each other came in handy, and he met me at my building to walk over to the downtown office of my ob/gyn.  Double luckily, it was pretty dead around the office as well, and I wasn't missing much by taking off for an hour or two.  The ultrasound didn't find anything in the uterus, but also not in the tubes or other possible "pregnancy of an unknown location" kind of place. 

The doctor did indicate he thought that the hcg levels could fluctuate pretty heavily up and down if I have tissue still in my uterus.  So while they have been static over the last week, the level could have dipped down enough a few weeks ago to allow me to ovulate, but increased again on its own.  Meaning, this very well could be leftover tissue from the previous miscarriage.  His options were (1) to schedule a d&c at the surgery center, requiring both T and I to take a full day off of work.  Vacation days are like pure gold when you are planning to adopt, so this wasn't ideal.  (2) take a methotrexate shot, which could clear up the pregnancy or tissue no matter where it resided.  I've heard this is pretty awful, makes you feel like crap for days, and often doesn't really do the job.  (3) His third option was a "mini d&c" in the office.  He said it should be a little worse than the endometrial biopsies I've had previously, but could ideally allow him to carve out any remaining tissue in my uterus without needing actual surgery.  He could do it right then in the office.

T and I elected for the third option, hoping that the doctor found something, so we could definitively put this portion of our lives behind us.  I told T he could leave, as I knew he had a lot to do at work and I've totally done my endometrial biopsies on my own.  THANK GOD he decided to stay, because this was probably the most painful "quick procedure" I've done in my life.  I was bawling throughout, gripping T's hand to try to concentrate on something other than the pain.  I think we figured out that I can't handle childbirth anyway. 

T was able to see the tissue that the doctor found, which was about the size of a quarter.  The doctor also said that it was already starting to calcify, which means it is very likely the residual miscarriage tissue.  They send it off to a lab to test to ensure it is placental tissue, and ideally we are DONE and can go on with our lives.

Beginning:  The adoption process continues!  We should have our absolutely finalized, notarized, blood-signed (not really, but that would be cool!) home study hand-delivered to us on Monday.  We are wrapping up the preparation of our profile, both print and video.  I'll devote a whole post to that process later.  And then....we wait.  I'll admit.  I'm actually looking forward to waiting.  And breathing.  And being normal, even if it is for a very short period of time.  God bless normalcy.
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