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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