Thursday, July 31, 2014

Miracles & stereotypes

Well, hello there, blogland.  It's been awhile.  Funny how babies keep you busy :)  Audrey is almost 4 months old, weighs almost 13 pounds, and is pretty much the best thing ever.  I mean, obviously, look at her:

mmmmm....giraffes...nom, nom, nom

She really is a miracle.  There is truly no other way to describe her.  God has big plans for this little lady.  There is absolutely a reason H&P brought her into the world, and certainly that T & I are raising her.  She is loved so unbelievably much.

That being said, T and I were pretty stressed in the weeks after we adopted Audrey.  The adoption went so well, Audrey's birth family was so wonderful, AUDREY was so in the world could we hope to ever replicate that?  We were lost and confused; we didn't ever want to do IVF again, and now we were fairly certain that we didn't want to adopt again.  T had an easier time saying this out loud than I did.  If I verbalized it, even though I felt it deep down, I took away all the known options we had for a sibling for Audrey.  While a sibling for her wasn't required, it was so very important to me.  It was a strange thing to be worried about while finding your place with a newborn baby, but it was forefront in my mind.  In a way, it was more stressful than our initial struggles with infertility.  At least then, both IVF and adoption were options.  We now had taken those options away from ourselves...and what were we left with??

Turns out we were left with more miracles.  We had wondered what God's plan was for so long, and now that it is presenting itself, it is more magical than I ever imagined.

We are almost 11 weeks pregnant.


Holy shit.

We were trying.  We were NOT relaxed. Not necessarily thinking it would come to fruition, but it was all we had left.  No infertility treatments.  No drugs.  Just prayers.

So we've now become that stereotype that everyone always points to.  In reality, a study showed that less than 10% of couples that adopt after infertility go on to have biological children.  We were told we had less than a 1% chance of getting pregnant on our own.  We always came out on the unlikely end of the probabilities before.  Finally, it was happening in the most wonderful, awesome, incredible way.

They will be 10 months apart.


Double holy shit!!

We're still not totally in the "safe zone" of the second trimester.  But we've had two ultrasounds with beautiful heartbeats, and heard the heartbeat with the Doppler.  My placenta has taken over the production of progesterone that likely plagued my body in the past when I was blasting myself via shots to the rear.  We should be in the clear.  Or, at least, we are normal at this point.  Horrible things could still happen, but the likelihood should be the same for us as it is the other people.  Hopefully we end up with the majority this time.

We told Audrey's birth parents and they were elated for us.  I cried when I read their email (damn hormones!), as having their support meant so much to me.  Our families are thrilled.  Our friends are thrilled.  We are awestruck still.

This blog has been such an awesome outlet for me during our journey over the past years.  Both my husband and I go back and read our ups and downs, and we relive both with equal emotion.  Thank you so incredibly much for letting me share this with you.  Now that we're seeing the end of that journey (and still are at the beginning of the most beautiful one - parenthood), I'm not sure I have more to say.  I'm not planning on covering the pregnancy here; there are plenty of weekly/monthly pregnancy updates out there.  I want to live in the moment and cherish every second with my now growing family.  I'll maybe post an update here or there, maybe when the baby is born.

So this seems like an appropriate time to bid blogland adieu as our lives have morphed in ways I could have never fathomed.  I wish you nothing but the best possible life, and I can only hope that you find and experience the miracles in your life as we have had in ours.  Thank you for all you have done for me.

Carrie :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The spectacular now

I'm here!  I did not fall off the face of the earth.  On the contrary, I've been at home loving every second (even the frustrating ones!) with our daughter, Audrey.

Audrey is five weeks old today!  Here are some pics over the last several weeks:

Professional picture done in Florida.  Audrey was 6 days old and weighed in at 4 lbs, 2.5 ounces this day.

Showing off a little smirk at about 1.5 weeks old.
Taking a "wrap" break at the airport on the way home (2 weeks, 2 days old)

Rocking her socks.  3 weeks, 1 day old...clocked in at 5 lbs, 13 oz the prior day.

One month old!  Hovering right below seven pounds based on our totally accurate bathroom scale.

My takeaways from the last month-ish:

Babies' faces turn bright red very quickly when they are working on passing gas.  The first time she did it, I really freaked out thinking she was dying.  Now I giggle at her and cuddle her until she's done.

Babies can get a big blister/callous thing on their upper lip when they start feeding.  Apparently, it's most common with breast feeding, but happens with bottle feeding too.  I again thought she was dying of a rare callous disease, but it actually means she latches on well and has the battle scars to prove it.

Audrey can Edward Scissorhands her face even right after I've cut and filed her finger nails.  

At this age, smiles aren't really "social" yet (we are soooo close though!), but they are still the greatest thing in the absolute world...even if it means she has a very dirty diaper afterwards.

Similar to most babies,but still surprising each time -- Audrey can burp louder than my husband. Sometimes she shocks herself and starts crying.

You never know how much you are into voyeurism until you buy a video baby monitor.  I could watch it while she sleeps for hours.

2am feedings really aren't that bad, as it can be a super cuddly time with baby.  It's just not fun when she doesn't want to go back to sleep afterwards.  Luckily, these instances are pretty few and far between for her.

Her birth parents love her tremendously.  We've been in contact with them several times since we've been back at home and they are doing well.  

I feel bad that my husband misses out on most of the day with her while he's at work (and I'm dreading going back to work next month).  I love when he holds her and she just studies his face in awe and wonder.

Her teenage big sister adores her.  

Holy shit, babies can shit.  The best one was when she covered her diaper in poop while sitting on my lap, and then decided to pee.  Since there was no diaper left to absorb the pee, it leaked out all over me.  I would have sat in her pee for hours though if I needed to.

Things I'm looking forward to:

Big smiles.  Supposedly these start coming full force any time now, and by the end of 2 months (8 weeks).  I cannot wait.

Neck support.  She can get so squirmy and I lose her head sometimes.  I'll love it when I know she can hold her own neck even for a few minutes!

0-3 month clothes.  She is eking into those, but is still mostly in newborn.  Her 0-3 month clothes are so much cuter.  And don't even get me started on the 3-6 month stuff she has waiting for her.

More established schedules.  She is doing SOOOO well, and could probably get on a pretty tight schedule now if we tried to implement one.  We're waiting until closer to 2 months though, but definitely before I go back to work.

I love the crap out of this girl.  God has blessed us in such an amazing way, and I feel blessed us with the whole experience overall.  We were totally meant to know and love her birth family, and to raise Audrey.  This point in our lives is pretty spectacular.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Let's start with the end:

Introducing Audrey :)
4 lbs 3 oz
18 1/2 inches long
Born April 10, 2014
Placed with us April 12, 2014
Love of our lives

Now back to the beginning (warning:  it's a long post!  But this is my diary too, so I'm guessing I'll re-read for myself pretty often!)

Original due date:  April 21, 2014

April 7th (Monday):  H has her 38 week appointment.  She immediately texts me to say that she was dilated to a 2, and therefore birth was imminent.  I don't know a lot about being pregnant, but from what I've heard, you can stay dilated at that level for a looong time.  She predicts she will go into labor the next day.

April 8th (Tuesday):  H texts me in the morning to say she is actually in the hospital and having contractions.  She went in because she didn't feel the baby moving, and they hooked her up to all the machines.  She says we should probably start looking at flights.  Holy moly!  I immediately call T and he is somewhat skeptical.  They haven't actually admitted her yet.  We do look at flights and identify the best one as an 8pm out of Kansas City, so we'd need to leave town by 3:30-4 to make it.  We head out of work and start packing, all the while texting with H and having calls with the social worker.  H still hasn't been admitted, and the agency recommends you wait until that point before traveling.  H finally lets us know around 3:00 that the hospital sent her home.  She said she did go through early labor at home with her other pregnancies and expected to have the baby soon.

T and I waffled back and forth...we were supposed to wait for admittance, but she wanted us there for the delivery.  If she was in early labor, that usually lasted 8-12 hours and up to a couple days.  We (mostly me) decided that we could go down and work down there if needed.  We get on the road for KC.  Our flight was delayed and we ended up checking into our hotel in Florida at 2am on Wednesday.

April 9th (Wednesday):  We check in with H in the morning.  She tells us the contractions have slowed.  I'm starting to get a sick feeling in my stomach that she was in false labor and we completely made the wrong decision.  The last minute flight was expensive, and we couldn't justify staying down another two weeks in a hotel until her due date as well.  I was beyond stressed out.

We did meet up with H, P and their kids for frozen yogurt in the afternoon and a trip to a local park.  It was SO nice to re-connect after our visit in January (although we had plenty of emails in between).  I felt more at peace on our drive home, thinking that it was worth it just to have that nice private time with them without the craziness of labor.   I felt like God helped us get that connection with each other, and that's why everything happened the way it did.   H says she is definitely not in labor at that point.

T and I, with help of my parents' frequent flier miles, book a flight home on Friday morning.  We both planned to work from Florida on Thursday and take vacation on Friday.  We would then re-group over the weekend, and wait for actual labor (and admittance!) before going back down.  I secretly prayed and prayed that she would still go into labor on Thursday before we left.

April 10th (Thursday...spoiler in the first part of this blog on the importance of this day!!):  P texts me in the morning (although from H's phone, so we had a bit of comedy when he kept saying "she" and I thought he meant the baby).  They are back at the hospital.  H couldn't feel the baby moving again.  She thinks she'll be admitted this time.  I say we'll start getting ready, and T sighs given the ups and downs of the trip so far.  We still think this is a false start.   As we are getting ready, P texts to say the doctors are talking c-section and H & P are kind of freaking out.  I tell them we'll be there soon (hotel is about 20 min from hospital).  (I won't discuss H's health on here, but she had some common pregnancy afflictions that required the c-section)  As we are getting ready to leave, P texts pretty frantically wondering where we are.  They are taking her for a c-section NOW.  We manage to get there just in time, and watch the kids in the waiting room so that P can be with H during the c-section.  She has never had surgery before, and was very scared.

Baby girl was born at 10:24am.  P comes back out and we see a drive by of the baby on the way to the NICU.  The nurses ask us to follow them, and it is T and me, then P and the kids (H still in recovery).  This was one of the most awkward, unknown, fly by the seat of the pants part of the experience.  Only one person could go in with the baby once we got to the NICU (the others could watch through the window).  We all start looking at each other, and then P gestures to me.  Remember, the baby is NOT our baby yet at this point, so I was trying to be so cognizant of P's needs.  He did need to stay with the kids though.  Baby was sent to the NICU purely due to size, as she just met the cutoff to require a NICU stay.

The rest of the day was a total blur.  Their were two main goals the baby struggled with -- eating the proper amount & maintaining her temperature (as she had very little body fat). We were able to spend time with the baby, but we were still trying to be reminded that we had a LONG two days before anything was certain.  One thing was for certain -- she was so beautiful.  And so small.  We had a whole suitcase of newborn clothes that were way too big!

She wasn't taking food well that day, so they put her on in IV late Thursday night.

April 11th (Friday):  They didn't do feedings for the first part of Friday and just let her rest on the IV.  They did start trying to feed her, starting with small amounts, by late Friday.  The goal was to get her up to 20ml before she could get of the IV (20 ml is a little less than 1 oz).  She was able to get there by Saturday morning.

Friday was pretty difficult, because we spent so much time loving on the baby, but still uncertain about our future with her.  H had also decided that she did want to see her, and rightfully went down to NICU on her own and with P & kids to do so.  We were completely supportive of that (and it certainly wasn't our say anyway), but that "change of plan" did make me wonder if there would be others.  Friday was a very very long day.

We did spend time with H&P in her hospital room, and chatted about lots of things.  T and I left to get pizza for dinner, and then brought back leftovers to H, who was alone at that point.  That was a nice time as well, for just the three of us to chat and share stories.  I truly love this woman.

April 12th (Saturday):  H texts me in the morning with a picture of the baby from the NICU before we arrived.  The text said "Hi mom".  I'm starting to feel more certain of the outcome at this point, but still cannot eat anything.

We spend time in the NICU in the morning and then go to lunch.  The agency tells us they expect H to sign the TPR (termination of parental rights) around lunch.  Before the social worker even arrives, H tells us she already signed all the papers she could and only needed to do the ones that needed to be notarized.  I told T I felt like we were a "loading" status screen that was stuck on the think it will finish, but you aren't completely sure it will crash.

We decided to go distract ourselves back in NICU, and H came down as the social worker was not there yet.  She and I sat in the NICU by ourselves, while she held the baby and told me all sorts of things that she would probably like, based on her siblings.  We both bawled.  The nurse came by to tell us that the social worker had called down, and H eventually left.  Eventually, the social worker texts us to tell us that she is ready for us.  It was kind of anticlimatic, but it was confirmed we were the baby's -- now AUDREY's - parents.  It was beautiful and sad all at the same time.

Audrey's birth family came down one more time to see her, as H was being discharged.  We stayed out of their way, but gave H the longest hug before she left the hospital for good.  We do plan to see them again while we are down in Florida, but haven't yet.

April 13th (Sunday):  Audrey is doing pretty well!  She ate wonderfully in the morning, but had a couple temp issues.  The NICU finally had a room open up, so we checked out of the hotel and are holed up with her in the hospital room now!  She's eating okay, temp is up, and we are hoping & praying she'll be discharged tomorrow.

I'll do another posts on emotions, but we are feeling a combination of absolute love, and sadness and guilt.  Adoption is a strange beast.  It makes families by subtracting from another.  Even though the decision was right for H & P, it wasn't easy, and they will grieve for a long time.

I found a quote that I think sums it up perfectly:  "A child born to another woman calls me mommy.  The magnitude of that tragedy & the depth of that privilege are not lost on me".

I am beyond privileged to be chosen to be Audrey's mother.  God guided H and I toward each other and we will be forever linked.

I will love Audrey with all of my being for the rest of her life.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


No baby yet.  Let's get that one out of the way :)  Due date is 2 weeks from tomorrow, so it truly could be anytime.  I have enough to do at work this week to prep for being gone, and H has family plans laster this week.  So we'll generally hope that nothing happens before then, although we'd survive, of course.

T and I were discussing, assuming this placement occurs, that we're not sure if we can adopt again.   Our relationship with H & P is just so good, beyond all of our expectations, and we realize that is not very repeatable.  Time will tell how an ongoing relationship will go, but I'm still surprised at how much we genuinely care for these two beyond the realities of how we met.

H mentioned in an email recently that they'll have some gifts for us when we are down there, but one may be difficult to travel with, so may need to be shipped.  She then said one gift was specifically for me -- for Mother's Day.  I am constantly floored by how thoughtful H is in this situation.  She is not religious (but appreciates we would raise a child as a Christian), but noted still believes some higher power brought us together.  I could not agree more.  You can read quite often that adoptive parents feel that God brought them their child.  The flip side of that, of course, is that God "made" a birth mother lose her child.  So, in reality, while I believe God permeates everything we do, I don't believe He is responsible for our infertility or H's undesired pregnancy.  However, He does help provide strength and guidance through difficult situations, and therefore I do wholeheartedly have faith that He meant for us to find each other.  We are insanely blessed, and thank Him EVERY DAY.  This relationship with H & P is one of the most beautiful things I have known.

While I hope it's nice to get updates such as above, I know what this readership really wants.  Pictures and lots of them.  Since I don't have any to share of baby girl yet (yes, she does have a name, but that is not being shared yet), here are some of the nursery!

A little southern exposure for this little one

I made the hot air balloon mobile!  We're going to paint the mirror frame an olive green, and I replaced all the knobs on the dresser with an eclectic combo from Anthropologie.  We'll move the chalkboard down to kiddo height at some point too.

I love our patterns and colors :)

T is really looking forward to lugging the car seat bag through the airport :)  And not sure if the moose will give up the chair eventually...

I love this little niche.  We have a loose "travel" theme to the nursery, so lots of map & globe driven items on this wall.  And a hint as to her name with the large "A" on the wall...

We are actually taking two other of the elephants to Florida with us to give to H's children she is parenting.  That way, they'll all have the same animal to snuggle at night.

Our Florida to Iowa map hangs above the chair.  I also painted a fun orange side table that is there now as well.

The current bedding.  The skirt is reversible, and I have other fun sheets too!

Our "Florida" corner by the window.

We are obviously so excited for her birth day to come!  Hopefully we'll have news soon!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

This shit's getting real

H's social worker emailed us yesterday to let us know she'll be on vacation next week.  My first thought was "oookaay...who cares?".  She goes on to tell us all the backup resources available should something happen next week.  And then, I realized...something could happen next week!!!

It probably won't, and we don't really want it to, as H will be 34 weeks next Monday.  But, holy crap, knowing that it is feasible and not necessarily a bad outcome if it does happen is crazy.  CRAZY.

Logistically, when H does go into labor, she should call her social worker.  There is someone on call at the agency 24/7 for that purpose.  They would then call us, no matter what time of day, and tell us to get our rears in gear.  However, given the close relationship we've established with H & P, they also may decide to call us directly as well. 

Assuming the call comes before her due date (as we do have a flight scheduled already for the day prior), T and I will then jump online and look at our flight options.  We'll want to balance getting there as soon as possible and trying to save money if we can.  We'll need to call my parents and figure out our dog situation, and then he & I will be on a flight to Florida with a whole lot of luggage we have never taken on a plane before (like a carseat!).

H does want us in the delivery room with her.  If she goes into labor early, there is no way we would make it in time, but we'd still try to be there quickly.   If she actually delivers on her due date or after, we'll already be in Florida. 

After the birth, H - at this point - has chosen to not hold the baby or really see the baby.  So, if we aren't there, the baby will go into the nursery to be cared for by the nurses.  The hospital may give us our own room if there is one available, and we can stay the hospital the next couple days and "room in" with the baby.  If there isn't one available, we'll likely only be able to be there during visiting hours, and will have to sit in the nursery with her.  We'll definitely visit with H during this time as well (without the baby).  H can change her mind at any time on how she wants to approach this, so we also will be super flexible.  At that point, "the" baby is still "her" baby in every possible way.  We would just essentially be watching over her until H makes her decision.

In Florida, the time to sign the termination of parental rights is approximately 48 hours after birth (or at discharge, if she is discharged earlier).  After that, the decision is irrevocable.  Those 48 hours will be ridiculously hard.  At this point, based on our knowledge of H, we will be shocked if she changes her mind.  BUT - she has every right to do so, and we need to be prepared for that possibility no matter what.  This decision is hers to make and has nothing to do with us and any feelings we have.

Assuming she does sign, we will then wait for the baby to be discharged separately (at which point she is "our" baby!!), and we'll head out to our longer term hotel.  We then hang out there as long as necessary for all the state paperwork to be filed and approved (2-3 weeks likely).  We'll probably drive back to the hospital a couple times for her checkups.  Then we fly home! 

After we get home, our local social worker will need to do a couple visits with us to fully sign off on our newfound parenthood.  Once that occurs, the adoption is finalized and it's all super duper official.  That will be a few months after birth. 

In the meantime, we continue to prep the nursery.  At first, I wanted to do as little as possible, especially anything gender specific.  But it is too special a time to not do anything, and we just have to know that it could ultimately be for naught (especially if H changes her mind and we are eventually placed with a boy).   But it is magical and comforting and beautiful to think of a child being in this room, so we've been going full force forward.  I'll post pictures soon!

In the meantime, Cam is in a play this weekend, so my parents are coming up to see her and us.  It's weird to think the next time they come -- there could be a new family member!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Hello there, blogland!  February is dreary, awful, depressing, and cold in these parts.  We get one hopeful day of 50 degree weather, and then all thoughts of moving into spring are dashed with sub-zero temps.  I would be very happy to just wipe this month off the calendar.

Totally random item - I realized signing my blogs as "CAM" (my initials) is confusing as my stepdaughter is actually named Cam.  So here on and henceforth, I'll be signing as Sweet C, which husband and said stepdaughter call me regularly.  I know that was a big announcement.  I'll give you a moment to adjust.  Are you still here?  Good.

We are 8 weeks away from H's due date.  It will be an eternity and the blink of an eye all at once.  We consider ourselves very ready, but I know, in reality, we will be woefully unprepared come that day.  How do you prepare for the birth of a child that you have not been able to know over the course of nine months?  Will our connection be instantaneous?  Magic, even?  Or will I be uncertain and apprehensive?  I'm kind of guessing the latter, so ideally I'm not going in with unreasonable expectations.  I know it may take some time to bond.  To recognize this girl as our daughter.  I just hope it doesn't take long.

Some minor gasps of anxiety over the last few weeks:

My car got an ouchy.  A really major one really.  The initial estimate was about $11k worth of damage to a car we think is worth about $18k.  So I'm driving a craptastic rental in the middle of winter with no climate control or heated seats.  Yes, I'm spoiled.  But I worked hard for my climate control and heated seats, and I miss them VERY MUCH during this awful Iowa February.  If anyone has gone through this, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  My insurance company wants to fix the car, because they say damages are less than 80% of value.  They are also pegging value at $22.5k in that case, which is not supported by anything I see (goodness knows they wouldn't use that value if they totaled the car and paid me cash).  But Iowa says it issues a salvage title if you have more than 50% of damage to the car.  And apparently that title would essentially mean you should deduct about 20-30% off the blue book prices when going to resell.  Does that seem right?  I asked my claims adjuster and she said she didn't know (um - isn't that your job to know these things??).  I'm really perturbed that I pay for comprehensive insurance to get a car back worth 70% of it's pre-accident value.  Any thoughts would be welcome!

We went through a stage where H took over a week to email us back (twice in a row).  This normally would be fine, but we had been emailing much more regularly before that.  I had a complete nervous breakdown during this time, and would go into the bathroom stall at work and cry.  It, of course, was all for naught, as she has this thing called a life.  Who knew?  She had some minor oral surgery, crazy things happening with the kids she is parenting, etc etc.  All is well - or as well as it can be - and I had to come to terms with the fact that I can't worry about such things.  After all, nothing is in my control.

In an email this morning, she even told us to watch our mail, as she is sending Cam something.  Her words "I know that bringing in and preparing for a new baby can be overwhelming for everyone, and once the baby is there it's easy to feel like you've lost some of the attention.  So this is just a little something to let her know we are thinking of her."  I mean, seriously?  I had so much happiness reading that, it made my heart hurt. This woman who is going through a painful period on her own is taking time to think of our child? How incredibly lovely is that?  I really hope that Cam, in her teenage glory, can appreciate what an awesome gesture this is. 

Right now, I am completely filled with hope.  I do have to detach a little - hold back something in case of disappointment in a couple months.  But every day of knowing H brings me more hope for all of us - that this placement is indeed the best decision for all those involved, even though grief and loss compete with happiness for the strongest emotion.  But, I just feel so lucky.  I never thought I'd say that after all we've been through.  This match period has been by far the most stressful, insecure, and difficult period I've experienced (and we've had a lot of those!).  But take away all the emotions that would be felt by anyone going through this, and we are beyond blessed.  Our relationship with H is incredible, we have met P (the father) as well, we have time to prepare, and ways to cope.  It's a pretty splendid place to be, all things considered.

T and I are going to go to an awesome happy hour after work today ($1 oysters and $5 champagne, you know that's right).  And then a cooking class afterwards - to learn how to make some different pasta sauces.  I cherish our random date nights now, knowing they won't happen as much in the future.  Only 7 more Tuesdays at the most until we aren't in Iowa anymore...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Watch your mouth: adoption edition

I think every infertility blogger at some point has a post on what to say/not say to people struggling with infertility.  The "just relax and it will happen" is one comment that is ridiculously common and likely makes the recipient want to punch something. 

Less often, I see blog posts on what to not say to people going through the adoption process or those that have already adopted.  Yet, I feel this area is just ripe for insensitive, malicious, or simply uneducated comments.  I'm probably more open right now to talking about our adoption plans with strangers than friends...more than likely because I won't have to backtrack if there is ultimately a disruption.  I can have more unadulterated excitement.  So when my dental hygienist yesterday was asking if we had kids, she received a whole mouthful (in awesome mumbling fashion, given my state) of our plans.  She was the nicest person ever, but said so many stupid things that it made me want to write this post as soon as possible.

Many of these don't apply to close friends.  One, we know how to shut you down or correct your language if necessary.  Two, we've discussed our whole journey in such lengths to you that we know exactly why you may ask something.  But realize your openness with us may not apply to someone else you know less well, so these are still very valid concerns.

So off we go:

Did you try to have your own children?  
Alternative versions:
"Did you try to have a real child?"
"Are you sad you're not having your own child/a real child?"     
"Aren't you excited to finally have your own child/real child?" (to someone pregnant after adopting their first)

No.  No, no, no.  Our adopted child WILL be our own child.  We will love her unconditionally, nurture her, fight for her, kiss her boo boos, discipline her, become frustrated with her, and bond with her so much our insides will ache when she is hurting in any way.  She will be our child, our parents' grandchild, our siblings' niece.   While she will always know her adoption story, her relationship to us will not be defined by that. 

If for some crazy reason we ever have a biological child, there will be no difference between them besides how they scientifically are connected to us. We would never differentiate them to anyone.  Yes, our adopted child will have a birth family that is very important to us, but that birth family will also be very important to a biological child in that case.  They will be extended family to our ENTIRE family.

I understand the intent behind the question, and if I'm open to talking about our infertility struggles, I will certainly acknowledge that.  But "own" is not the appropriate modifier to use ever.  And I can't even comment the use of a "real child" without throwing up.  Yes, this adopted child is not real.  Her poops will be rainbows, and she'll fly away to her home in the clouds every night.

You know you'll get pregnant now that you've adopted.
Probably not.  If we do, it was going to happen whether or not we've adopted.  But we love kids and want kids and, as stated above, they would all be our kids.  Many people active in the adoption process have worked through painful infertility issues, so please be cognizant that this comment belittles that struggle.  We have worked very hard to grieve for our loss of the pregnancy experience and move on.  Let us.

How much did she cost?
Ouch.  Icky.  What do I say to that?  "She was $5 - they gave us a 10% discount because she didn't have blue eyes."  Yes, the adoption process costs a bundle.  Our child won't cost us anything (beyond diapers, formula, clothes, extracurricular activities, ER co-pays for broken arms, college education, and our sanity.)

If you are genuinely looking into adoption, I'll happily walk you through the costs and what drives them.  If you are just grotesquely interested, I'll certainly note the process can be costly, but it is worth it.  If your response is that the birth mother must be happy because she is getting so much money (from said dental hygienist above), I will try to squelch the desire to stop talking to you and remember that you just simply don't know.

For education, the majority of our expenses (like 90% worth) never see the birth mother at all.  They are agency fees, legal fees, travel expenses, state paperwork, etc.  The birth mother receives some money related to specifically identifiable expenses related to the carrying of the child.  It is not that much, and she sure as hell isn't able to change her lifestyle because of them.

Is the birth mother young/a deadbeat/a drug addict/mentally unstable/a one-armed albino?
I get curiosity, especially if one has or desires children in his or her own family.  But this question is none of your business, especially if you are a stranger to me.  Granted, somehow the fact that I am adopting/have adopted has come up to elicit this question, so I get it is a normal one.  But a birth mother is a person with emotions, struggles and triumphs like the rest of us.  She is not just a piece of paper with checkboxes, and her motives are complex.  Her life decisions are her own, and not for you nor I to judge.  My answer will be that she does not have the stability in her life right now that she needs. 

That's so cool.  I totally think I'm going to adopt my third child.  Especially if I have another boy - I can get a girl that way!
Great for you!  Please just go down to the adoption superstore and pick one out!  They are having a blowout sale on girls!  Adoption is a difficult, stressful, expensive, mind-numbing journey.  It involves multiple people and their struggles.  The baby doesn't just pop up from nowhere.

I'll just smile and nod to this one.

Any sort of adoption advice from someone who hasn't gone through it.  
This one is tricky because it does include my lovely friends.  But I just sat through someone explaining to me that FMLA exists and I can use it for taking adoption leave.  And another at work who literally just today forwarded me the adoption policies from our employer intranet, and was excited to tell me she found information for me.  (Bless her heart).  You can trust that I have done every ounce of research there is, and if you found something by searching "adoption" and clicking on the first or second link, you have not discovered anything I don't know.

I'm sure I'll have a bunch more down the line, but these are the ones that stirred me up recently.  Also, I haven't remotely delved into those that are related to transracial or international adoption families (the expectant couple we are matched with are both Caucasian), but I implore you to especially think before you speak in those cases*

But to offset, here are some of the totally fine (and some lovely!) comments I've received (again using "strangers" as the measuring stick.  I expect nothing less of my good friends and family, wink, wink).

Are you able to meet the birth parents?  How does that work?  (or after placement- asking how communication is going is perfectly okay)

How long does the process take? 

Are you planning to be open with the child about the adoption?  Will she be able to meet her birth family?

I am so happy for you and your family.  I will keep you and the birth family in my prayers.

I think you guys will be such awesome parents.   

I can't wait to meet my granddaughter. (thanks mom!)

You are going to be so blessed.  Yeah, I know :)  

* This post was getting too long, but I wanted to post some examples that I saw online that are such pure ridiculousness.  I can't imagine anyone with an iota of intelligence saying these, so hopefully this is more for an incredulous laugh than anything educational:

Adopting from Asia:  "Will she eat rice when she gets older?"  "What will she do when she wants to get married?  Go back to China?"  "Oh, great, obviously she will be smart."

Adopting a Hispanic infant (domestically in US):  "Will he be able to learn English?" 

Adopting from Africa (although this applies to anywhere):  "Will you give him back if there is something wrong with him?"


Monday, January 27, 2014

Travel plans

Aislinn asked on my last post how the travel plans worked.  So here's the skinny, since we had some major accomplishments today.

This is an other area where I'm sure situations, agencies, states, etc can be different.  From what I've read, we are mostly the norm, but obviously if you are in the adoption process, your experience could vary quite a bit from this one.  Ideally this is a good starting point reference though!

Our agency's general guidance is that they will call us and give us permission to travel.  This occurs once the expectant mother has been admitted to the hospital (she could go thinking she is in labor, and they could send her home).  At that point, they expect us to travel within 24 hours at the most, so we can be down there as soon as possible.  If you have any Type A planning traits in your blood, this is your worst nightmare :)  You can't make any arrangements ahead of time, outside of "knowing your options" and likely will pay through the nose for last minute travel.

T and I have decided to approach a little differently.  H's prior children have all been born ON her due date, which is kind of insane.  Obviously this one will need to buck the norm, but we do have a good sense that she doesn't trend towards going early or late.  So we've started making plans with the priorities being flexibility and refundability.  In researching, I read so many people that were able to get special discounts/treatment by calling the airline/hotel/rental car place directly and explaning the situation.  I don't know if we just sound like dirty rotten scoundrels or what, but no one we called seemed to give a rat's ass that we are adopting and trying to save money.  So to the interwebs we went!

**ICPC:  note that the reason this is hard is that we will have to stay in Florida for a period of time after placement.  This is called ICPC and is when both the sending state and receiving state finalize all the paperwork.  This gives us permission to leave the state without a federal kidnapping offense.  There is no set time period for this, so we are told to expect 2+ weeks.**

 If we fly from Des Moines, we need to change planes.  If we can fly from Kansas City, we can get a direct flight, but would need to drive 3 hours from Des Moines to KC.  Our initial plan was to wait for the call and then just start plotting costs vs arrival times of our flight options.  We were sad that there was no way we'd be there for the birth, because it would take at least 10-12 hours after the call to get there (depending on the time of day of the call).  Or, at least for H's sake, we hoped her delivery wouldn't be that long!

We did then figure out that we'd be in Kansas City for the weekend close to H's due date anyway.  So we've decided to go ahead and book a flight from KC to go direct.  If H gives birth earlier, we're back to the plan above and would need to change our flight.  If not, we save enough money booking in advance that it is worth it...even if we end up in Florida with H still totally pregnant and no sign of giving birth.  It takes about 6-7 days to "break even" on extra hotel costs, and we can still do some work from down there to avoid taking too much vacation time.

It's going to be so weird flying down with a car seat, bassinet, diaper bag, and no baby, but hopefully people don't look at us too strangely :)  We did only book the one-way flight for now, so we'll still have to pay last minute fares for the return.  Oh well.

This one was super easy.  We used Enterprise last time we were there and it was seamless.  We just booked the car for 3 weeks starting the day we have our flight scheduled, and we can change or cancel for no fee.  Thank you, lovely lovely Enterprise.

This one was a PAIN IN THE ASS.  PAIN. IN. THE. ASS. 

The first logical answer, as recommended by several adoption sites, is to get an extended stay hotel with a kitchenette (for washing bottles, making food for us, etc) There is a Residence Inn across the street from the hospital, so everything seemed easy peasy.  Except the fact that the Resi Inn was charging $200/night.  Take that times a potential 21 days (3 weeks), and we were sick to our stomachs.  Plus we'd be stuck in a smaller room in a strip mall area hotel for potentially 3 weeks. WITH A NEWBORN.  Blech.

The next logical choice was to look at a vacation rental, like through vrbo.  We happily got back to work finding little condos on the beach that would be just perfect.  Most worked out to be closer to $100/night with access to coin laundry and the beach.  Half price! Full kitchen! Beach! Sold!  Except we had to pay in advance, commit to those dates, and if we cancelled less than 60 days in advance, we'd still have to pay for the full reservation.  Um, no.

We looked at other hotels in the area, trying to find ones with kitchens, but to no avail.

Then we had dinner last weekend with some friends headed down to Disney around the same time.  They mentioned that Orlando would be a good place to look, since hotels there cater to families.  H's town is about an hour away from Orlando (we fly into Orlando), so I can't believe we didn't think of this on our own.  I think we wanted to be closer to H, but she may not want to spend time with us anyway.  And we can always drive back as long as baby girl is doing all right.

So we found a spacious 2 bedroom, full kitchen condo in Orlando for $130/night!  With a washer and a dryer.  Still more than I want to spend (I was hoping for a $5 room, but no one seemed to have that), but reasonable all things considered.  And flexibility on scheduling.  Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay!  We booked a Fairfield Inn for the first couple nights in H's town as well, to cover us until baby is discharged.

So now we just continue to wait and pray and love and wait.  We're getting pretty good at that part.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pink and polka dots

Hi there to the ICLW folks this week.   Take a gander at the tabs at the top to learn more about us and how we got here.  Currently, we are in a surreal, scary, awesome, beautiful, nervewracking adoption match with an expectant mom in Florida (we call her "H" on here).  We just got back from meeting her for the first time last weekend.

The baby is most definitely a girl!!

I bought a few outfits in Florida the day we left, and didn't realize until I laid them out that I really do have an affinity for polka dots.  T has asked that I at least add some stripes, argyle or plaid to the mix, and I happily complied -- by buying a crapload from an event on Zulily. 

A girl, a girl, a girl!!

H and I picked the pink and white polka dot shirt/dress out together while we were down there.  She and I also picked out another outfit that H took with her, in case T and I weren't down there in time after the baby's birth.

We had an insanely lovely time while in Florida.  T and I got there late Friday afternoon, and just spent Friday getting acclimated with our surroundings.  We also discovered that, in snowbird land, there are 45-60 minute waits at all restaurants by 5pm.  Something to keep in mind when we go back!

On Saturday morning, we planned to meet H at a local Starbucks in the morning, before getting in the car to go to the ultrasound.  I was so nervous that I was seriously sweating through my shirt before she showed up.  But once she walked in, the relationship we built via email totally fell into place. She and I shared a long hug, T bought us some Starbucks treats, and we chatted a bit before heading out.

The ultrasound was a magical experience, and I know she was happy we were there with her.  Here is a sneak peek of this beautiful little girl.

chubby cheeks!

After the ultrasound, we met the father and the two boys that they already share for lunch.  P (the father) was nervous because he figured we already had all chatted up all morning.  And while true, lunch was still a great time, and their two boys are wonderful (I still won't get into her situation totally on here, but the boys are very young, and she does have other children she is not parenting as well.  Through our discussions, we really do more understand why she is placing her daughter for adoption).

H and I then did our little bit of shopping, while my awesome husband transferred our ultrasound CD to two USB drives to share.  We drove H home to her house, and hugged goodbye.  At that point, T and I happily looked at each other, and said we each needed a beer!

All in all, we spent about 7 hours with H, and a few less with P.  Their were a few awkward moments given the situation, but we can't imagine it going any better.  H wrote us an email later on Sunday that said she and P loved how much we all had in common and everyone seemed to "click".  We agree that in another life, we could have seen us being friends with them regardless of the situation.  

I know that, assuming the placement occurs, H will go through emotional stages where she may not want to remain as close to us as she is today.  And I think we are prepared for that, but plan to always be ready for when she wants more contact.  Open adoption scared the bejeesus out of us at the onset of this "adventure", but I honestly could not imagine any other way now that we know H.

Less than three months until baby girl should join us in the world!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A new year!!

Happy 2014, ya'll!

So I switched up the look of the blog.  No particular reason, except it is a new year.  And I am blog design deficient, so I just changed the colors and one font, and there you go. 

In just a week and a half, we go to Florida to meet H!  I am so excited and nervous at the same time.  And VERY much looking forward to non-negative wind chills.  I am so happy we were able to email H so often since we were first "introduced", so I do think it will be so much less awkward than it would otherwise be.

We LOVE H.  LOVE her.  Our fears of knowing an expectant mother have been totally washed away.  Again, she is so very much able to choose not to place with us ultimately (although we know it will be because she decides to parent, not because she would want different adoptive parents).  But if that does occur, I know we would stay in touch, and T and I would always want to know how she is doing.  She is genuinely our friend.

We bought this print for the baby's room, and printed a smaller version to put on the front of a photo album we'll give H next weekend.  It makes me smile every time I see it:

I still have so many fears about the adoption in general.  Mostly related to ensuring that we have the utmost ethical relationship with H.  We want to bond with her, want her to feel comfortable with us, but we don't want to ever feel that our relationship coerced her in any way.  It is SUCH a slippery slope, and creates a lot of angst in my head.  It is amazing how differently I view adoption now than I did when it first even came on our radar (when we realized the au natural baby-making method wasn't jiving.)  T and I are thinking about looking into foster-adopt for future adoptions (need to concentrate on this one first though!).  I never thought I would want to do that.  We know that international adoption is completely off our list, due to the huge lack of disclosure about ethics and process.    Domestic adoption has so many ethical pitfalls, but we at least feel like we can educate ourselves to navigate those appropriately.

I love H.  I love the child in her belly.  The key is that I'll still love them both if this adoption ultimately does not come to fruition.  I am not saying that I won't be crying and lost if that happens.  But the complete love I feel is more than enough to help me through that.  We are so unbelievably lucky and are so thankful to God for continually providing us strength.  It has officially been 3 years since we started trying to grow our family.  Happy 2014 - it'll be a doozy.

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