Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sometimes the journey is not fun....

On our journey


Life has been a roller coaster this week, and not one I would want to ride again.

We spent Sunday at the emergency room because Lisa has had severe pain in her right eye for the past two weeks, and then over the weekend she couldn't read things. After a lot of hours, some blood tests, and a CAT Scan, the ER doctor told us everything looked fine and that she was probably having a migraine or something. I think he thought we were drug seeking or something because he suggested Lisa go home and take some ibuprophen. I became a little unglued at the idea that he thought she just needed some ibuprophen. Do doctors today think that people don't know enough to take ibuprophen on their own, before they go to an emergency room? WTH. Nonetheless, I was relieved that he said Lisa didn't have a tumor behind her eye, which was our biggest fear.

After a long exhausting day, we retrieved Maggie from what turned out to be an all-day play date (her favorite). We all went to bed early that night as the 3 of us were exhausted. Loud thunderstorms woke everyone, which seems to be a happening a lot this past week, so we had another night of not so much sleep.

Monday morning Lisa receives a phone call from the hospital where she was treated. They are calling to tell her how sorry they are, but they didn't read the CAT Scan correctly and that she does have something serious going on. I was pissed! WTH!!!

They fit her in to see a specialist the next day. That night Lisa and I are both stressed about what this could mean. Needless to say, neither of us slept well that night.

Tuesday, Lisa heads into work to get some stuff done before her doctor's appointment (she is an overly dedicated employee that anyone would be damn lucky to have--but that's another story). I am stressed because I have a work appointment that I cannot miss because it took weeks to set it up, so I can't go to the doctor's appointment with Lisa. I am over at my office waiting for my appointment, and worried that this could be something serious going on with Lisa. After 15 minutes past my appointment time, I get a message that my appointment isn't going to make it and how sorry he is. Can we reschedule for tomorrow? !*%#*!

Lisa calls me from the doctor's appointment. I can't make out what she is saying because that damn medical facility has sh-- for a cell signal. We are both stressed enough to be snippy with each other at a time when we should be nothing but supportive. The doctor thinks she has a severe infection that has caused fluid to build up around her eye. She is given an rx for a super high dosage of steroids. Again, we are relieved that it is not something more serious. At least that is what we are hoping.

That evening, we are both at our wits end with the amount of stress we are carrying around regarding the medical scare and a host of other things. Lisa is wired from the massive steroid dose she took that night. Again, big thunderstorms throughout the night and a not a lot of rest.

Wednesday morning, Lisa is feeling a little better and goes back to work. When I wake up I realize my cat, Kenny, is not doing well. This is a cat who has almost died on us a hundred times (he is 17 years old and has been dying the last two years). This time he really doesn't look well. He is wobbly on his feet, and falls over when he sneezes. Damn it. Not now. Though I have been preparing for his death for the past two years, I am not ready. It is not a good time. I don't want to say goodbye. So, I do my best to nurse him on-and-off all day to try to get him better. He seems a little better, but it still wobbly on his feet.

I finally call the Vet to see if there is anything they can do. Of course they offer up thousands of dollars worth of tests, but we have been down that road with him his whole life and his illness is unexplainable. I don't need to pay for tests to confirm, yep, he is really sick. And no, I don't want to hear someone tell me I may want to consider putting him down. Finally, I get the Vet to agree to let me bring him in the morning to see if we can give him some anti-biotics and fluids to see if that helps him.

Thursday morning we begin the day with Maggie's school conference. Let's hope that goes well. I have learned with school conferences that I never know whether I will get a curve ball or not, so I try to set myself up to not freak out about the small things that may get mentioned (I have been known to do so). Lisa and I both coach ourselves to remember that we feel like Maggie is doing wonderful, and that nothing is too big of a deal. That seems to help, usually.

So, in the morning, it's off to the school conference and then to the Vet. I am hoping Kenny makes it through the night. He is laying unusually close to me tonight. We've been here before and he has pulled out of it. I just know that one of these times he won't, and I hope it is not now.

Sometimes the journey is not fun, but at least I know that we all have each other through it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A teenager has invaded my 6 year old!

I thought parenting was getting easier now that our daughter is old enough to listen and understand what we are saying. I think it actually may become more challenging. My little six year old baby who always listened to everything we had to say has decided she has opinion about most everything, and she is going to let us know when it doesn't match our opinion. In fact, I think she might disagree just to disagree at times, especially when it comes to clothes and hair!

This weekend, I can't tell you how many times I asked her to do something and she responded with "no." I realize she is testing limits, etc. but this is really getting challenging :-) It is still kind of shocking to hear her say "no" because we have been so spoiled by having a child who was a good listener and had a healthy respect for her parents and consequences. Now, it is an effort not to battle over everything!

She wants to watch tv all the time. Instead of listening to the first time I say no, she now won't let it go and will keep on asking, begging, and sometimes just outright going and turning on the tv herself. Yesterday, I threatened to ban all tv watching from the house, period (I meant it! Lisa would have died). She stopped at that threat, but I imagine she will still come back to battle the issue again.

Has a teenager invaded Maggie's body?

My daughter is only 6, and I had heard that it will suddenly become more challenging, but sheesh! Overnight, it is like a little teenager invaded her body! She even said she wanted to eat dinner in her room last night. What!! I would expect that from a teenager, but not my little 6 year old.

I realize we can be boring company compared to the excitement offered by her peers, but I didn't realize we were that boring. The other day she told me she didn't want to talk on the way home from school because "adult talk" is boring. I laughed, and agreed. I made an effort to talk at her level of interest, but she said it just wasn't the same. Sigh.

It is such a tricky balance, this parenting thing. There is so much I want to share with my daughter in any given day, but there is never enough time for what I want to do, what she wants to do, and what we have to do. I still haven't had time to teach her what she needs to know for karate this week, but I am holding out hope that she won't be too tired after school today, and that we can fit it in before dinner. Then we need to practice reading, but of course she will ask if she can have a play date or watch tv, first. And I will tell her no, and she will be upset with me. Oh, our predictable life.

Last night we had terrible thunderstorms in the middle of the night. I was comforted that my little baby wanted to sleep in our bed because she was scared. At least she still shows some signs of needing us beyond our roles as chauffeur and cook.

Even in the midst of whatever phase we are going through, at least she tells me several times a day that she loves me. So, though we battle, we both know we still love each other.

Next week I get to spend some quality time with her over Spring Break. I am glad both of us will be focused on enjoying our vacation and not so worried about the day-to-day chores of life. I will try to respect her extreme need for social time with her friends, and hopefully she will give me some of her adorable daughter time without a battle. A mom can hope....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A rainy night in Georgia

Hmmm... long day. Spent a lot of it preparing for a work event for gay dads, then doing the event, then cleaning it up. Maggie was with me and we were both beat by the end of it. She wanted to come because she saw me buy some arts-and crafts-stuff, and knew there would be kids there. My girl loves to socialize, no matter whether she knows the kids or not. I am sure this will serve her well later in life.

We came home to rain storms. Another soccer game rained out for Maggie. Our soccer team is having a heck of a lot of rain on our practice and game days. Oh well, I don't think Maggie minded. I think she could use a little down time. She spent the rest of the afternoon dressing up first as fairies, and then as various super heroes. I love that kid--a princessy, tom-boy. We'll see how that works out over the next year or two when she firms up her identity some.

My happy Nick-Nick

Maggie loves the babies!

We baby sat our Godson Nicholas tonight--or Nick-Nick as we like to call him. Either he is a breeze as a 7 month old baby or we have gotten a heck of a lot better at this parenting thing than the first time around. Maggie used to wear us out, but he is so easy. He laughed pretty much until he fell asleep. Woke up once screaming, but that only lasted about 3 minutes and he was back asleep. Easy-peezy as Maggie likes to say.

It is a little weird babysitting him knowing that we thought we would have a baby home with us now. I hate even having those thoughts and am glad he is not old enough to even know we might have them. It is nice having the baby around the house even if he isn't ours--especially a happy one! Definitely gives me an idea of what it will be like with taking care of Maggie at the same time. Still haven't mastered holding the baby and cooking dinner at the same time. A friend tells me I need some special one-armed cook book for moms that is out there--apparently all the meals in the cookbook can be made with one arm.

Our photography people sent us 5-6 photo samples tonight to tie me over until they get them all edited (they must have heard through the heavens that I was whining for them). Of course every shot with Maggie was amazing. I only liked one photo with just me and Lisa (not good since that is what we need), and the photo I thought looked really good with Lisa she didn't like. She thought she looked too tired. Guess we just don't like to see ourselves in photos much, but the adoption process requires it, and I am sure we will appreciate having them later in life. Gosh, if we could only all photograph like Maggie. I am holding out hope that we will like more of the photos when they send them all.

Can't believe this is the last week of March. I need to start thinking about our upcoming Spring Break vacation. Of course, Maggie is simple, she wants to do everything her friends will be doing. I am hoping for more down time around the pool. I am also toying with introducing her to Harry Potter so we can go to the new Harry Potter exhibit while we are in Orlando. She is probably a year too early, but I bet her two friends going will know about him and want to go.

Karate update: two days have just gone by and we have not practiced! I hope we get some practice in tomorrow. The days just fly by. I guess the good news is that we are never bored with our lives. I have never understood how people could have so little going on that they are bored. I am a bit jealous of however they pull that off. Nope, bored is not a word I think we have ever used to describe our lives.

Off to bed so we can tackle a busy, unpredictable tomorrow. I hope it brings good things.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pollen, pollen everywhere

It is such a beautiful time of year here in Georgia. The flowers and trees are blooming with wild abandon, but with this comes pollen, pollen everywhere. Typically, I can't stand the rain and would love sunshine year round, but at this time of year, it would be great if it rained every third day to wash away the pollen. Otherwise, our cars and decks have a yellowish-green dust on them, and everyone walks around sneezing for a few weeks. I guess a few weeks of this pollen is not so bad in exchange for the beauty we get. You probably have to see it to understand the amount of pollen I am talking about.

We had to hire a dog trainer yesterday because our neighbor is rightfully insisting we do something about our dog, Sara, who wants to bark at her dog the entire summer. We had hoped she would grow out of it with some basic obedience from us, but no such luck. This will be our 3rd summer with her, so we had to call in the big guns. The crazy thing is that she is such a gentle, easy-going dog in the house.

Apparently, Sara likes to patrol our backyard out of fear. She runs the fence line whenever she is out, making sure no dogs or people try to enter. She sees this as her job, and we are supposed to totally change her perspective of the backyard. We have to teach her that it is a place to relax, and not patrol. Oye.... So, now she is not allowed outside without us, and when she is outside, she has to wear a long leash. Only problem, the dog won't go to the bathroom with a leash on. Not only that, she won't move with the leash on unless we guide her. So, at least she has been very chilled in the backyard, but I am not sure how this is going to all work out. I knew this trainer wasn't going to come fix the problem for us, and would want us to be the ones to do the work, but I was still kind of hoping she would just do it :-) A girl can hope!

Not a lot happening on the adoption front. A lot of people ask, but unfortunately adoption doesn't usually work that quickly. It is not like we can say, oh, it didn't work last month, so we are going to try another fertility treatment this month. Adoption doesn't work that way. We have little, to no control over the process. We have no idea if it will happen today or months from now.

I have been keeping busy with work and Maggie, so I don't obsess about the waiting to adopt. I have spent a lot of time at work lately trying to help people figure out the best way for them to start their journey to parenthood. Some will adopt from foster care, some plan to do open adoption, and others are on the path to trying to have their own biological children. I enjoy putting what I have learned to good use for others.

Maggie is getting ready to become a green belt in karate. She has been a blue belt for a while, but to get to the next level she has to learn a "kata" that has 22 movements. That's a lot for a 6 year old and her momma to remember. No one tells you when you sign your kid up for karate that the parents have to learn it too. So, now, in between all of our other things, we are trying to get this kata down. I have resisted learning it for a while, hoping Maggie would just pick it up in class, but now I see I am going to have to learn it, too. I have learned most of it, but now I have Maggie in the background saying "that's not how you do it!" Then, I have to get the video out to show her that I am right. Unfortunately, when you watch the video, all the movements look backwards because her Sensei is facing the video camera. This is hard for both of us to translate! Anyway, we are hoping that if we work on it, she will pass her test by the end of next week. I'll keep you posted!

I am still waiting on the results of our family photo shoot and our adoption website. FRUSTRATING! I hate waiting on things I can't control. It actually crossed my mind today to just tell the photographer to send me all the photos and I will edit them myself. I am sure they would think I am a crazy person if I did that, so I'll try to be patient a few more days.

If you can't tell, I like instant gratification. Once I make a decision to do something, I like to get it done. Not a good personality trait for the open adoption process, either.

Last night we babysat our Godson, Nicholas. He is around 8 months old, but he is as big as an 18 month old! It gave us a good preview of what it will be like to have a newborn and trying to keep the house running. Maggie was so sweet and excited to have him over. She has such a big heart. She wanted him to spend the night because she loves having him around so much. She was really distraught, but was comforted knowing one day she will have her own baby brother or sister. She loves babies for some reason...

I am off to shop for my program for gay dads I am putting on tomorrow. Somehow, I need to convince Maggie running errands with me is more exciting than watching Sesame Street.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Would Die For That

Today, I saw this video posted on a friend's Facebook page (thanks, LW). My friend and her partner recently adopted a beautiful baby boy. Like us, her child is everything to her. I don't know if it is just some of us, but I completely get the meaning behind this song that she would die to be a mother.

Obviously, not everyone wants to be a mother, and not everyone can choose to parent given their life circumstances. I know some people don't get what this women is singing. Just like I don't get when I hear women say they love to be pregnant. I totally understand the desire to become a parent, whether through biology or adoption, but who in their right mind loves being pregnant? Totally foreign concept to me, but I know a lot of women feel it. It is just not in me, which is probably why I didn't get pregnant when I tried for a year. We are all different.

I am so truly grateful, that despite our many shortcomings, God placed within Lisa and me this passion for our child, and future children. I think we were both surprised by how important our role as parents is for us. From the very moment Maggie was placed into our lives, there was no going back. My role as mother was the most amazingly, wonderful role God has given me.

Despite the shit that we sometimes endure (like yesterday), it is our role as parents, our strength in family, and the beauty of a child that makes life worth living. We never would have known that had we not traveled down this path toward open adoption. We thank God and our birthmother everyday for allowing us to parent an amazing child, and we pray God brings another child to us to parent who we expect will be equally amazing in their own way.

Recently, a friend of mine argued with me about my work when I said being a mother was more important to me. It is not that I don't love my work, but being a mother is sooooo much more important to me. I know enough to know that in the end, whether working or not, I will have helped people in this life, and for that I will feel good about myself. But, having children, helping mold them into happy, good people, that is the most important calling for me. And that is not to pass judgment on anyone else who feels differently about themselves.

When I am sipping pina coladas on the beach in Hawaii in my retirement, I hope more than anything, I will look back on my life and feel good about the work I did as a parent. And I hope I have the type of relationship with my children that they will want to visit us often!

Love to you all!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Prince of Lake Charles

So, today, at some point while I was cruising the web, I looked at some pictures of people holding newborn babies. I can't even remember what site I was on--probably some adoption site showing people who had recently adopted. And for the first time, before my eyes, there were two babies who looked just like our baby boy from February

I knew neither picture was him, but it brought me right back to being with him.

I think how can I keep coming back to you baby? I need to move on. I must get past my grief for you, and wish you well in your life. At least that is what I have been thinking I need to do in order to survive our loss of you.

Then I think, maybe I will never get past my grief of losing you---of loving you---of holding you---our perfect little angel. We nurtured you for 4 months. We held you for 5 days. We will love you forever.

But that does not mean we cannot love another. Little angel, our hearts our big, and we can love you from afar, and another little angel in our future. I think this is the way God intended. It was not my choice, even though at some point it felt like I could choose to run with you, to fight for you. If I had done that, it might have hurt my daughter or destroyed my family. I so wanted to be your mommy. And Lisa so wanted to be your Mia. And Maggie so wanted to be your big sister. But for reasons we will probably never understand, God wouldn't allow it.

Though you do not exist in our house, in our arms, or in the nursery we made for you, you will always be in our hearts. If you could call out, I would come for you. It is probably good you can't call for me,  and I truly pray you will never need to. Because I will come, and that may not be a good thing.

You are our precious Lake Charles Angel. Though we wanted to spit on the state of Louisiana for a good month after we left because of all the torment we experienced there, I don't really feel that way because you are there. You were born there. You live there. And we know you will probably be there for a long time. We will worry about you every time a hurricane is coming. We will always wonder if we will meet you again one day. How can we not meet you, our son, whom we named?

I guess only God knows. I will search your name every now and again on Google to make sure you are okay. I will always pray for you, and hope that God gives you the life you deserve despite the circumstances we left you in. I will try to sneak our family near there one day, hoping that maybe we will get a glimpse of you and that you will be okay. Maybe we will be able to help you one day if you need it. I pray you will never need it.

The Prince of Lake Charles

We love you, son, even though you do not live with us. We always will. Even when we get that wonderful call to come get our new baby, you will still be in our hearts because you were once ours.

Now I understand when parents say there is plenty of room in your heart for all your children. I believe there really is. Do not think the new baby replaces our love for you. We will love you both, just as we love Maggie. God made our hearts big, so for that, I am grateful.

Goodnight, my son.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our adoption blog has gone international!

Wow, our adoption blog has gone international. According to Blogspot, our adoption blog has been seen in the U.S. (the most, obviously), Iran, India, Canada, United Kingdom, and Indonesia. That's crazy! I can't imagine how it has had the far of reach other than to really appreciate the viral nature of the internet (and the niceness of friends and strangers). I have a Facebook friend from Canada who posted our site on her FB wall, so I am guessing that is how those from Canada came about it. Not sure about the others. But, just goes to show you that this method can really raise awareness about our desire to adopt.

Why is this important? Because like Kevin Bacon's 6 Degrees of Separation, everyone knows someone who eventually knows someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy and may want to consider adoption. Just today a friend of mine was telling me about how a friend of hers is in an adoption situation based on knowing a friend who knew a friend who eventually knew the mom of a pregnant 16 year old who wants to place for adoption. A lot of times that is how open adoption happens.

Yes, many of us hire these big agencies to help us find women interested in exploring open adoption, but we know of many open adoptions that happened through a network of friends (and sometimes that network extended far).

We don't know if our networking through this blog will do us any good. We don't know if anyone considering adoption has actually even seen our blog and letter, but at least we know if you are reading this you may remember us if you run across someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy.

Last night I read an article about adoption marketing that had a lot of good ideas, especially if you are going it alone without an agency. I don't think we are ready to go that far because we do have this fancy-pants agency we've hired that is helping us to find a birthmother. But, there are a lot of easy things we can do that might increase our exposure. It's better than sitting around feeling helpless about the adoption process.

In our own adoption story of Maggie, many people are surprised to learn that after working with an agency for 18 months, we actually ended up finding our own birthmother, and she is perfect in so many ways. So, I say this to say you never know how it will happen.

Today, we got to hold precious little baby Adam who was recently adopted through open adoption. He is so cuddly and cute--I really didn't want to give him back, but alas the moms said we had to. Maggie said when we got home how much she wished she had her brother or sister already living here, and I tried my best to remind her that God has a plan for our family, and hopefully we will find out soon enough. It is so sweet to see how nurturing she is with babies and toddlers, everyone else for that matter!

If you would like to help in our journey, please post this to your Facebook wall and ask people to take a look at it.

Maggie flying her first kite!

As far as milestones go, Maggie learned how to fly a kite today. Even with very little wind, she was able to get it up in the sky. She was so proud of herself. And I am so happy she was able to do that today. We can't take for granted the good life we have and how much the simple pleasures can be the best experiences.

Feeling grateful~

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Busy, busy Saturday

Maggie at her soccer game today!

Busy, busy Saturday. Today, Maggie had karate and a soccer game. Lisa took her to both so I could get ready for a work seminar. Maggie is becoming quite the little athlete!

I spent the afternoon hosting a seminar for gay people who are interested in becoming parents. I love this part of my job--getting to talk with people about the options available to gay people wanting to add children to their family, and helping them figure out the best option for their family.

One of the reasons I enjoy doing this so much is because when we first started thinking about having a child, there was really no information out there. We just assumed that since we were lesbians, we should try to have a biological child. We wasted $15,000, and a year of our time before some friends educated us about open adoption.

Having a biological child was never important to either of us, so adoption was clearly the best route for us once we learned about it. Yes, I am biased--I love to help people learn about open adoption, but I do try to do my best to educate everyone about the option that is best for them. For some people, it is important to have a biological child or to be pregnant (I was never looking forward to getting pregnant, I am too much of a baby!), and so I help them figure out the best course given their situation.

It's an exciting time in their lives, and I feel lucky to teach them what I know to help them figure out their journey. It's fun to help people build their families. Well, at least to me it is :-)

Today, a lesbian couple in their 40s walked in the door thinking they had to try to have a child biologically--this would have been difficult and super expensive given their ages. They said, "we didn't even know gay people were allowed to adopt in Georgia." I was glad to help them, but thought it was so sad that they were thinking this was the case. So, my crusade continues...

Now if I could just teach Maggie's dog to stop barking at the neighbor's dog, life would be great. She is from the Caribbean, so she doesn't understand that in Georgia, we act neighborly to everyone--even the dogs!

Gay or Single Need Not Apply

Back some 7-8 years ago when we first looked into open adoption, we really liked that the birthparents were able to choose the people they wanted to raise their child. Instead of handing over their child to just anyone that someone else picks out, they get to pick a family that they like, and one that may share the values that they think will be good for the child they are considering placing for adoption.

So, open adoption can be very cool in that birthparents get to pick whoever they want. They can pick a single person, a heterosexual couple, two-women couple, two-men couple, someone young, someone old, religious people, non-religious people (you get the drift, it's their choice).

It is true that there are many agencies and adoption attorneys who work with same-sex couples and single people, but there are also a ton who outright refuse to help these people. It is not one of those situations where gay or single people's money is just as good as heterosexual married couples. For these discriminators, they think they know best who birthparents should pick to adopt their children, so they don't even allow birthparents to know about these other people wanting to adopt.

Some 7-8 years ago we were delighted that there were adoption professionals and websites that would work with us as equal human beings wanting to adopt a child. It is hard to believe in all this time there are still so many agencies and websites that refuse to allow same-sex couples and single people to let birthparents know about their desire to adopt. It is hard to believe these discriminators are so hardcore in their discrimination as if they have superior knowledge about who will be a good parent, and who will not.

The other day, I decided to write very nice e-mails asking some of the profile sites why they did not have any same-sex couples listed on their site. These websites are important because so many birthparents find their adoptive families online now. From my e-mail, they could not have known whether I was a birthmother or an adoptive parent. And do you know what, not a one of them wrote me back. You would have thought they could have at least said, we're sorry, our values just don't allow it, or something like that.

Well, despite the obstacles so many of us face in creating our families, birthparents are still finding us, and I think most of us are doing a spectacular parenting job. I am thankful that so many birthparents chose those of us who are gay or single. We just have to work a lot harder to make sure they find us.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yes, people, we are still adopting

I am amazed how many people have asked me if we are still going to adopt after what happened to us with our February failed adoption. Of course we are! We have made that abundantly clear, yet even as the words come out of my mouth people will say to me "yeah, but with what happened and all, I didn't think you would do it again."

I know I should cut people slack who aren't familiar with the joys and heartache that can go along with open adoption, but I can't always be so perfect as to not get pissed once in a while.

For those not familiar with open adoption, failed adoptions can be a part of the process, and hopefully anyone doing an open adoption is aware of that challenge and can handle it emotionally. We know many people who say they can't handle the possibility of a failed adoption, or even the roller coaster ride that sometimes happens with open adoption.

That is not us. We went into this fully aware of how open adoption works and the risks involved. Hell yes, we were emotionally devastated when our adoption fell apart, but we NEVER, EVER had any thoughts of quitting. We know in our hearts that the right baby and birthparents will find us. I am sorry if you can't understand that or can't bare to watch us go through it because it might not come in a neatly wrapped package.

Open adoption is a journey that leads to beautiful results. Certainly you can see that if you know our daughter Maggie. We are the luckiest people alive to be picked by her birthmother to raise her. Not a day goes by that we don't think about how grateful we are for the little miracle we have been entrusted.

I am so sorry for those who do not understand the beauty of open adoption. We fully appreciate it and know we will find the baby that was meant for us through it.

If you happen to read this post, please don't ask me if we are quitting. We wouldn't be who we are if we quit. We are so tougher than that, and our love for our daughter and future baby wouldn't allow it.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Maggie was delighted to learn that today was both pizza day at school and St. Patrick's Day, so much that she started seeing leprechans in our backyard and on the way to school.

During our breakfast time discussion, we discussed what it means to be Irish and what people do on St. Patrick's Day. I explained to her that some of my anscestors and Lisa's ancestors were Irish, so that made us part Irish. She wanted to know if her birthmother was part Irish, or if she celebrated St. Patrick's Day. This was a "wow" moment because I think it is the first time she really verbalized this type of understanding of her adoption.

I told Maggie I didn't think her birthparents had any Irish in them, but that lots of people who aren't Irish like to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by wearing green and drinking green beer (yes, green beer is on my mind). I agreed I would ask her birthmother if she celebrated St. Patrick's Day.

I explained to her that with a name like Maggie Aileen Kelly, she was kind of adopted into at least a little bit of Irish because her moms are part Irish and have an Irish name. She liked that idea--any excuse to celebrate a fun holiday, right! I am sure she will decide for herself later whether she wants to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Until then, today she put on her green shirt and socks and yelled Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone! (My girl likes any excuse to celebrate).

On a side note, I don't know how we ended up giving her such an Irish-sounding name. I guess we had to go with our last name Kelly, and "Maggie" was the only name that jumped at us at the time, and her birthmother picked Aileen. So, I am sure there will be times when someone is calling out her name and will look right past her because they will be looking for a little Irish-looking girl.

In any event, whether you are truly Irish or not, Happy St. Patrick's Day for whatever that means to you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's in a name?

We are blessed that we already have a jam-packed nursery ready for the delight of whatever little angel comes into our lives. Between all the stuff we bought, and the generosity of so many friends who just had babies, we have a full nursery ready to go.

We are open to having a baby of any gender, ethnicity, or race, so we know it is in God's hands as to who we are blessed to have in our lives. Last month we thought we would be adopting a boy, so even though the nursery was designed to be gender neutral, we did add some typical boy art work, and specifically I made some wooden letters of our baby's name that are currently hanging on the wall.

The weirdness of our failed adoption story from last month is that we were able to name the baby with the name we had chosen if it was to be a boy. Now, we are torn as to whether we should use that name again if it is a boy, or whether it is like a child who died, and we should not use the same name. I am leaning toward wanting to use the same name if it is a boy.

Yes, it feels a little weird, but at the same time I think it helps us to reclaim some of what we lost. I think we gave the little baby boy in Louisiana a strong name, and I hope that helps in some way (if you believe in that sort of thing).

Anyway, our nursery that we are going to re-organize this weekend has his name on the wall. Some people have suggested we need to take it down for our own grieving process. I don't feel like we need to unless we 1. have a girl, or 2. decide to name the baby something else. It doesn't make me feel down when I see it on the wall. It makes me wonder if we will have a baby boy, or whether we will get the surprise of another girl.

Weigh in if you have any thoughts. I purposely haven't put his name here because I am not sure I want you to know :-)

Just went live!

I just went live with our adoption blog on my Facebook page. That's a lot of privacy I just gave up! Hopefully, it won't be something I regret. I know I have a wonderful network of friends, so I am hoping that maybe by sharing a little more of our experience they will 1. learn more about open adoption, and 2. possibly know someone who wants to place a baby for adoption and will pass our information along.

Our regular adoption website has not been completed yet, so don't be shocked if the link isn't working. I hope by the end of the week it will all tie together (yes, I am an optimist!).

Please think about who you might know who works with women who might have an unplanned pregnancy and pass our site along. Also, we hope you will leave nice comments -- mean ones will be deleted :-)

And finally, if you want to read more about our failed adoption experience, you can find it under the "Oh February" post.


Kathy and Lisa

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Like so many adoptive parents, waiting is such a difficult process. Having virtually no control over whether the phone rings today, next week, or many months from now is a hard one to sit with. Wait, wait, wait.

I imagine there are people who are laid back and just go on with their lives until they get the magical call. Unfortunately, I am definitely not one of those people. I don't like to think of myself as obsessive, but I have always obsessed about the adoption process (both with Maggie and now this adoption). It's funny because most people would see Lisa as the control freak--or the one who needs to control what is happening in her life. The truth on this one is that I obsess about it all the time, and Lisa is much more relaxed about it.

I wonder, is there something I could be doing to help us build our family? A lot of the time I must feel like there is since I troll the web about adoption stuff pretty regularly. Other times I think the right baby will find us on its own time-table. That was certainly the case with Maggie--a brutal, 18 month wait---but, oh so worth the wait. Or, I think God has a plan for us, and it won't matter what I do and don't do, so I should stop thinking about it.

Tonight I am running the first adoption support group for people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) for my job --I also opened it up to straight people who are adopting, but I am not sure if they will come). I certainly know how lonely the adoption wait can be, so I am hoping others will come so we can share our experiences together, and give each other support and tips to help each of us through this process. 

Other than that, I am feeling stuck in the mud today. No pictures yet from the photo shoot. No new draft of our website. Nothing happening with us from the agency today. Nothing that I know of happening on the adoption front. And that is the thing--you never know when something might be happening and you don't even know it!

In closing, today has been a great afternoon with Maggie. We came home from school and she was able to read a 30 page book quickly and without any help from me (this is a big hooray!). Then she decided she was going to make a fruit salad for a healthy snack--she put in everything but the kitchen sink, and covered herself in it as she ate it. Now we are heading off to karate before my group tonight.

Take care if you are out there!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another busy weekend

Well, we made it through another busy weekend. Truth be told, we always have busy weekends, especially since Maggie was born.

I was so planning on being organized for our photo shoot on Saturday. Friday, I was planning on trying on different outfits to see what looked best for us to wear Saturday. That didn't happen. Maggie talked us into letting her sleep in our room Friday, and we all ended up going to sleep by 8:30! I woke back up about 10:30 and stayed up late, but it was too late for anything like planning our clothes--especially since Lisa was sound asleep. The weather still couldn't make up its mind whether it was going to Winter or Spring-like, so that definitely added to the challenge.

So, instead of being super organized, we woke up late Saturday and rushed to get everyone showered and simply clothed before the noon photo shoot. You wouldn't think that would have been such a difficult task, but everyone was tired and we all slept too late. We like to relax in the morning if we don't have to be at work or school, and sometimes we take that relaxation a little too far and misjudge our timing of getting ready.

I hope the clothes we wore were okay. Of course, Maggie always looks amazing, so that won't be an issue. Hopefully, our photographer, Ian, took such great photos that you won't even notice what we are wearing. Though, I am a little skeptical of the photos. Since we weren't relaxed like I had hoped, and we took so many photos, I feel like I am going to look like I had this phoney looking fake smile on my face (let alone my other imperfections). Oh, and did I mention my 6 year old daughter woke up with her first pimple on her face that day! Oh well. It is done. I am just hoping for the best.

Right after the photo shoot Maggie had her first soccer game of the season. She hadn't practiced with the team yet since her practice was rained out the Wednesday before, but we eventually managed to find the team and get in the game. Maggie looked adorable in her little soccer uniform. Her little legs look so athletic, so it will be interesting to see if she takes to soccer now that she is a little older. I thought she did really well given she didn't know anyone and hadn't played on a soccer team since she was 3 (if you could call 3 year old soccer "playing"). After the game, we went and bought some new shin guards and cleats, which I should have done before the game. They told me the kids at this age didn't need cleats, etc., but when we got there those kids were all decked out and taking the game quite seriously.

Sunday we had to face the lost hour of sleep through day-light's saving time. We all felt rough for what was an especially busy day for us. Lisa and Maggie spent a long mornng/afternoon at church, while I took care of some things at home. After church, I was on duty for the pop star birthday party Maggie was attending, and then followed by a Daisy Girl Scout meeting. Maggie looked exhausted by the end of Daisy Scouts, but if you know my girl, she was so "I am not tired, who can I have a play date with?"

We had to call it a day for her own good. Lisa worked with Maggie on her reading while I went to the grocery store for some much needed groceries. Before we had Maggie, Lisa and I could live off of no groceries for days as long as we had soda in the fridge. Now, we keep much better eating habits.

I made dinner because I realized we were getting way out of control with eating out. We have been allowing ourselves to eat out a lot more since the adoption fell apart. Typically we try to limit eating out so we can eat healthier and have a nice family meal around our dinner table. Plus, we realized after taking our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course that we were spending a ton of money on eating out that could be better spent elsewhere. Needless to say, I bought enough groceries so we can start eating home more most of the time.

Hopefully this week we will see our new adoption website. I know there is a draft that the design person is working on, so I am anxious to see it when it is done. I think we are ready to step up our marketing so we can get our profile in front of more birthmothers. 

I read an article this morning about a local woman who wrote a book about her adoption journey. Her name is Rebecca Falco, and she has 5 children through open adoption. Though it made me feel optimistic that we can adopt again, it also made me frustrated that she has 5 children through open adoption, and we are struggling to add a second child to our family. I am sure if I read her book it wasn't as easy as it looks on the outside.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Busy days can be a good distraction

Today, just whizzed right by and I am not sure how much or what I accomplished. Lisa has been home sick with a fever, so I have tried to keep her quarantined in bed. She is a terrible patient and keeps getting back up to help around the house. It is tough for one person to keep this house going with 3 dogs, 1 cat, and a 6 year old.

Maggie reports she had a good day at school (this is the same for everyday :-)). Her teacher said she was able to count to 1000 today. Math is really starting to click with her (I hope reading comes soon, too). She was not happy with me when I told her we were not staying on the play ground in the rain and cold after school. She didn't see anything wrong with playing in the cold rain. She forgot all about it after I took her to buy some new dresses at TJ Maxx (they have the best deals on nice dresses for little girls). I couldn't help but laugh when she and I fought about how we could not buy every dress in her size. My mother so would have loved to have this kid since I wanted nothing to do with dresses as a kid.

After our dress shopping, we headed over to Maggie's karate class. Her Sensei was so glad to see her and commented on how strong Maggie is becoming. In the middle of class, he came over to me in front of the other moms and asked where we were for February since we missed the entire month. I had told him before we left that we were going to possibly adopt a child, but I guess he has too many kids to keep up.  Nonetheless, I couldn't bring myself to blurt out in front of everyone that we had been in Louisiana trying to adopt a baby and that it didn't work out. I guess I will e-mail him tonight and let him know what happened because I am guessing he will eventually remember or Maggie will give it up in the middle of class one day.

After karate we headed home so Maggie could get ready for bed, and I could head over to the kid's consignment sale to see if there is anything I needed to get for our future baby or possibly Maggie. If you have never been to a consignment sale, it is quite the experience of elbowing other moms and a few dads so you can get the best deals first. All the best deals are gone in the first 30 minutes of this 3 day sale.

I can't believe how much stuff I bought. I bought Maggie a ton of summer dresses and skorts (she no longer wants to wear shorts).
I got a Baby Trend Snap-n-Go stroller to put our car seat in.  I never had one with Maggie, but apparently they are great to get around in. I also bought a few baby toys fully knowing that I had better stop doing so because the kid hasn't even been born yet and the room is filling up with toys! Our nursery currently looks like a storage room for Babies r Us. Maybe this weekend we will get it all organized again. We have pretty much stayed out of it since we have been back from Louisiana. At least it doesn't bother me as much to look at it.

Our adoption caseworker e-mailed me twice today (that's a big day for us since she is usually so busy). Once to say they finally changed our pictures on their adoption website, and another time to tell me how many birthmothers saw our adoption profile. Sometimes they even tell you if you were picked as a second or third choice by a birthmother, which always makes us feel a little better. No such luck this month. We were only back in the books for 2 weeks in February, and our profile was shown to 4 birthmothers, which is about what we have averaged in the past (8 per month).

We are planning to step up our adoption marketing efforts over the coming weeks. I am excited that we are meeting with a professional photographer this weekend so we can get some nice photos. Even if we don't end up using them for the adoption, I am excited to have them for our family. Though our house is filled with wall-to-wall photographs, we actually haven't had many done professionally.

I am all worked up about what Lisa and I are going to wear since we won't be able to change once we get to our location. It will be casual, but I want to have the right color combination, etc. I am constantly looking at the weather forecast trying to at least know whether we need to be thinking about Spring or Winter clothes since the temperature is going back and forth. I probably should be more worried about whether Lisa is going to be well enough for the shoot at this point.

I guess I better get to folding the laundry before bed since I promised Lisa I would have it done and she could go back to bed. Last night I was up super late, and then had to take a nap after I took Maggie to school this morning. A therapist friend of ours told us that sleeping was probably one of the best things we could do to heal from our failed adoption, so I have been taking a few morning naps to follow her advice. I guess sooner or later, I need to give that up, but a first start in that direction will be going to bed at a reasonable hour :-)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh February, You Were Such a Difficult Month

I have not written or spoken much about our February because I am just now in a place to do so. I write about this experience because it is now part of who we are as a family. It is part of our story.

Normally, February is all about Maggie's birthday, Valentine's Day (one of our two anniversaries), and the beautiful memory of Maggie's adoption. Not this year. In 2011, we were looking at adopting our second child from a birthmother in Louisiana.

We were expecting the birth of our son on February 7th, so with all the excitement that soon-to-be parents have, we went out and bought everything we would need for a new baby. The nursery was fully decorated, the baby's name on the wall, and we were packed and ready to go.

At the request of our birthmother, we headed to Louisiana a week before the c-section date to keep her company and to help her around the house. It was the least we could do since this woman was about to make our dreams come true with a second baby. We had been matched with our birthmother for 4 months, and we had visited her over this past Thanksgiving.

So off we went in our car jam-packed with all our belongings and all the stuff a new baby would need. We had a lot of stuff because we didn't know how long we would be holed up in a hotel room before the adoption powers that be would give us permission to take the baby home.

Maggie, our 6 year old daughter, was with us and she was so excited to be adding a baby brother or sister to our family. We tried our best to explain to her that we didn't know for sure yet that the adoption was going to happen (all the while we were so excited because we felt so certain that this adoption would happen because the birthmother was so committed to the adoption plan).

We finally reached the evening before the baby was to be born. We had dinner with our birthmother and her boyfriend who was not the birthfather, and everyone was feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness about the next morning. The birthmother was afraid because she was having a c-section, but she was also excited to have her pregnancy over because it had been a very difficult one. We took some photos after dinner, and agreed to be back at our birthmother's house in the middle of the night to take her to the hospital.

With only a few hours of sleep on everyone's part, we arrived at the hospital to be checked in and to wait for the morning c-section. The hospital was nice enough to give adoptive parents their own room, so we set that up too. Our birthmother decided she did not want to see the baby after it was born, at least, not at the hospital. She thought that would make it easier for her, so we agreed to the level of contact she asked for.

After about four hours of waiting by our birthmother's side at the hospital, her phone rings. It was a guy named Mike who wanted to come up to the hospital. At first, I didn't think anything of it since the father of her first child is named Mike, and I assumed it was him. With 30 minutes to go before the c-section, everything seemed to be going perfectly. Wrong.

A nice-looking gentleman who looked like he had been out the entire night before shows up and says "if this is my baby, I may or may not sign the adoption paperwork." My whole world crashed in on me. After hearing our birthmother and this gentleman exchange many cuss words with each other, I had to go tell Lisa what was happening, as she was preparing to go into surgery for the c-section with our birthmother.

I can't tell you all the emotions running through my body. I'm the one who is good in a crisis, but this one was a massive one. I did my best to hold it together. I spoke to Mike, and told him about our family, our adoption plans, and tried to determine what he meant by maybe he would sign the paperwork, and maybe he wouldn't. He wasn't clear by what he meant because he really didn't know what his plans were if the baby was his. This was a young man struggling to take care of himself without any income, a significant criminal history, and was actively addicted to prescription drugs.

At this point in the process, we literally had 4 attorneys, 3 adoption agencies, and 3 social workers involved. Everyone was giving us advice. All I wanted to know was what should I do to protect my daughter in this situation since she was in the waiting room waiting for what she hoped was her baby brother to be born. Finally, my Georgia attorney said to get her out of the hospital and take her back to the hotel room. Since it was just the 3 of us, that meant leaving Lisa at the hospital for the c-section and birth of what may or may not be our son.

In a slow-motion panic, I swooped up Maggie and told her we have to go back to the hotel room. She knows this is not part of the script as she knew we were waiting for the baby to be born. I hadn't thought everything through, so when she asked me why we were leaving, I LIED and told her we weren't sure everything was okay with the baby's health, and that Mia (her name for her other mom) was going to stay and see how the baby is doing.

I could barely drive us back to the hotel. I was in another world, but Maggie needed me to be her parent. Fortunately, after a few questions, my no-napping child fell asleep on the way back (the advantage of being up since the middle of the night). I carried her up to the hotel room and put her on the bed. I cried, made some phone calls, and cried some more. After talking to some friends, I realized I couldn't leave Lisa at the hospital alone, even though I was very concerned about Maggie's well-being if she saw the baby.

The baby had been born a healthy 6 pounds 9 ounces, and Lisa had him in our adoptive parent suite and was working with the nurse to do all the things you do with a newborn. I was missing everything a new parent wants to experience with their new baby.

I finally decided to explain to Maggie that the baby's health was okay, and that Mia was at the hospital with him, but that we still did not know if we would be adopting him or not. I told her while we were waiting to see if we were going to adopt him, we were going to take care of him like babysitters. Against at least one of our attorney's advice, we opted to take care of him while we sorted this all out. The hospital did not have a nursery, so there would have been no one to take care of him since the birthmother was still planning on the adoption and did not want to see the baby.

When I saw this beautiful baby, and my beautiful wife taking care of him, my heart instantly melted. Maggie jumped up on the hospital bed and wanted to hold him. We showed her how and she was so proud of the idea of being a big sister.

These moments were some of the most difficult moments of my life. How do you hold a newborn that may or may not be yours? How do you try to protect yourself and your family from getting heartbroken? I was the one often reminding everyone that we don't know if this is going to be our baby or not. Yes, I was the kill-joy, but I was trying my best to protect us all. Looking down at this angelic baby and not being able to say welcome to the world, we are your family was so heartbreaking. I wasn't sure what to tell him other than we loved him.

Believe it or not, we never saw this situation coming. We knew adoptions could fall apart, but we always expected it would come from the birthmother, not from someone we didn't even know existed. Since we knew how committed our birthmother was all the way through the birthing process, we had a hard time comprehending what was happening.

When I first met Mike, even though he was only one of three possible birthfathers, and had never been able to get a woman pregnant before, I knew in my gut that he was the birthfather. And when I saw that precious baby for the first time, I knew even more it was going to be his baby with the baby's beautiful black hair.

On the day the baby was born, we arranged to have a rushed paternity test done since that was the logical step to take. Though we paid for 24 hour results, it actually took us 3 days to get the results back.

During that time, we tried everything under the sun to get the birthfather to agree to the adoption. But, once he learned it was his and it was a baby boy, he started to become more clear that he wanted to keep the baby. He told us that if it had been a girl, he probably would have let us adopt her.

The paternity test finally came back and our worst fears came true. It was his.

By this time, Child Protective Services was involved because the baby tested positive for drugs when he was born (he went through withdrawal the first 3 days). They were fully aware of the situation and told us we could not just give the baby to the birthfather if the paternity test came back positive because of his drug and criminal record. Plus, the birthmother had decided that she wasn't going to let him have the baby, and that if we couldn't have him, she would take him. This was a big risk for her because CPS explained to her that she could end up losing both of her kids if she took the baby home.

Not knowing what to do, but definitely wanting to protect this baby in the meantime, we took him back to our hotel room.  We cried many tears. Cursed a lot when Maggie was asleep. Talked to a couple of trusted friends who understood the beauty and despair that can come with open adoption. Spoke to lots of attorneys to get their opinions.

Two out of four of our attorneys thought we should fight for the baby and that we would win the case based on the fitness of the birthparents. Another of our attorneys thought we could probably win, but asked us if this is how we wanted to spend the first year of our son's life. It was a lot to think about, and made especially more difficult by looking down at this amazing, vulnerable little baby. He was so incredibly beautiful. The face of an angel.

The baby was born Monday, and it was now Friday. We gave our birthmother a deadline on how long we could do this before a decision would be made. We had told her that something would need to be decided Friday, and if we couldn't make any progress, we were bringing the baby to her on Saturday.

Our birthmother was crying asking us what we wanted her to do. She would do anything to try to fix the situation (including at one point suggesting she could have the birthfather killed by a family member of hers--she meant this). So, we set up one last meeting with the birthfather, birthmother, and the birthfather's mother at a local I-Hop restaurant. The baby, Lisa and Maggie stayed back at the hotel. At this point, none of his biological family had seen him or even a picture.

The birthfather explained how he wanted to get back with the birthmother and raise the child together, which was a complicated proposal considering she had been living with her boyfriend at the time. They argued. The birthmother did her best to plead with him, but it was hard since she was extremely high on pain medication from the c-section. She had taken 30 Oxycodeine in 29 hours since being released from the hospital. It was a wonder she was functioning at all (I am not sure what it would have taken for her to overdose).

The birth grandmother was rational, calm, and likeable. Her son was likeable, too. She suggested that she should take custody of the baby while this was all getting sorted out. I asked the birthmother if this is something she would consider, and she said "hell no."

At one point after the four of us had talked for an hour, I looked across the table and felt like the birthfather was just like my brother Joe. Both very nice and likeable people, and both thinking that keeping their child regardless of the situation they were in would be the best decision.

It occurred to me that I would not want anyone to take a child from my brother if he decided he wanted to keep it, regardless of whether I thought he would be a good parent or not. I also thought about how this is not what we envisioned for our adoption. We like open adoption because people choose to place for adoption, and they get to choose who will parent the baby. Somehow we had really gotten off course. I guess holding a newborn in your arms can do that.

At that moment at the I-Hop, I showed everyone the photos of this beautiful baby I had on my phone. Everyone was so happy to see him, and so appreciative of me sharing the photos with them. The strangeness of this moment will stick with me forever. Afterall, he was technically not my baby, yet we had custody of him over all these people biologically related to him.

We left the I-Hop having changed no one's mind, and having seen that the birthfather had his mom to help raise this child. I knew this woman was a good woman who knew how to take care of a baby and had the resources to do so.

At a red light, I sent a text message to Lisa telling her to pack up our things. Unfortunately, she thought that was good news, and I had to re-text her and tell her no, we were leaving without the baby.

On the longest car ride back to the birthmother's house, she asked what we were going to do. I told her I was going to go get the baby and bring him to her. I cried. She sat mostly in silence, occasionally saying a few cuss words. I tried to keep it together, but kept losing it every few minutes. She suggested she could have another baby for us, and I could only utter out a "no."

I had nothing more to say to our birthmother because she could have prevented this from happening had she told us about this guy and his desire to parent (she knew this before the delivery day we eventually realized). It wasn't that I was so much angry with her, but more I just couldn't even talk to her anymore. The pain I was experiencing was the worst I had felt in my entire life.

I was spent. I had done all I could do to "fix" the situation. God had clearly intended for us to not have this baby, which was so hard to accept after caring for him for 5 days. His angelic face will stay with me forever.

Our emotions were at their worst, but we tried our best to keep them contained for our daughter's sake. She saw us crying again, and said she just wanted to go home. The next day was her birthday, so we agreed to get home in time for her birthday. We didn't care that we had already paid for the hotel room. We just needed to get out of there.

I called the social worker at CPS and explained to him what was happening. I wanted him to come get the baby and take him back, but he wouldn't saying something about state policy. I then wanted to take the baby to the hospital where he was born since we knew the staff there, but they would not allow us to do that either (so much for safe haven laws). Our attorney advised us to take the baby directly back to the birthmother since she is the one who gave us custody, so as hard as I knew this would be, I agreed to it.

We drove our precious baby over to our birthmother's house, crying as quietly as we could (Maggie already had headphones on watching a movie in the car). Lisa refused to get out of the car, and I definitely didn't want Maggie to go in. This was not a happy occasion. It was the hardest thing I had ever done.

As much as I tried not to bond with this baby, it was too late. I loved him like I had known him my whole life. He was a part of me, and God was making me give him back (yes, that is how I looked at it). My wife and daughter were devastated, and both needed me to help them get through this.

I gave our birthmother the things I had for him so she would have some stuff to take care of him. She said her boyfriend was at the store buying some things for him, which I pray was true.

I went back to the car and had Lisa and Maggie say goodbye to the baby. I picked up his tiny body out of his car seat and carried him into her house. I held him and hugged him, and could barely feel anything as the moment was so surreal. I handed him to our birthmother who was out of it from the pain medications she was taking, and pleaded with her to please take care of him. I glanced in the kitchen and saw the oven door was still open because this was her only source of heat on this cold day. I remember her saying how light he was, and then didn't hear her anymore.

I kissed his forehead and said "Goodbye, my angel. I love you."

And from that moment on, I cried for almost an entire month both internally and externally. I never would have guessed that this experience would feel like having a child die. The first two weeks were extremely difficult, but we are doing better, but still feeling some depression over the loss of the baby. Our six year old is still sorting out her confusion about what happened. I suppose time will help us heal.

We pray this precious baby ends up living a good life somehow, and that our worst fears for him don't come true. We spoke to the grandmother 4 days after we first left. She still hadn't seen him, but she had a picture of him that she sent us. I was relieved just knowing he was still alive. The grandmother was sorry for our loss, and there wasn't much more to be said. We don't imagine talking to our birthmother, or probably anyone from that situation again.

It is time for us to move on.

We are comforted knowing one day the right baby will find us. We pray God shows us the way.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Loving Moms Hope to Adopt Again

Lisa and Kathy

Meet Kathy and Lisa

Hello! We are Kathy and Lisa from Georgia. We are so grateful that you are reading our letter and hope it gives you a glimpse of who we are as a family. Growing our family is something we have wanted for a long time, and we can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate you giving us the chance to make our dreams come true.

The Family on Christmas Morning
Having gone through the adoption process with the adoption of our daughter in 2005, we truly appreciate the many feelings you may be experiencing during this process. We know this is an important decision for you, and we hope you find a family that feels “right” for you. We welcome the opportunity for you to get to know us better, and we would love to learn about your hopes and dreams for you and your child.

Getting to Know Us
We met in Washington, DC, over 15 years ago while Lisa was working for the Associated Press and Kathy was in graduate school for social work. Believe it or not, we first met online in a discussion forum about one of our favorite bands, the Indigo Girls. We talked for weeks online, and Lisa finally convinced Kathy to meet for coffee at Starbucks. At our first coffee date, we had an instant connection and felt like we had known each other for years. We always smile when we are watching movies filmed in Washington, DC, because we almost always see the patio of the Starbucks where we had our first date!

When we first began dating, Kathy was a big animal lover and Lisa didn’t have a single pet (though she was raised on a farm!). Lisa was extremely neat and organized, and Kathy was someone who liked to be organized through the piles-of-stuff system. Lisa liked to work like crazy and Kathy was someone who enjoyed more balance in life. Kathy has always liked to come up with the big plans or dreams, and Lisa has always been the more conservative one who gets a little nervous (and excited) about the ideas Kathy comes up with. All of these differences were things we had to work through the first 3-4 years, but our relationship became much stronger as a result.

Early on in our relationship we both worked hard and had an active lifestyle. We both enjoyed going camping, traveling, going to concerts (our musical tastes vary from the Dixie Chicks to Melissa Etheridge to U2 to the symphony), attending sporting events regularly, enjoying the company of good friends, and visiting with our families whenever we could.

Though we loved living in Washington, DC, we both knew we wanted to have children one day, so we decided to move to the Atlanta area since we felt it is a much better place to raise children. After years of watching our friends become parents, we finally knew we were ready to have children, too. We felt our relationship was strong and our lives were in a place where we could be devoted to raising our children.
Kathy and Maggie at the beach
Having a biological child was never important to either of us because biology had not proven to be an important factor in our lives. Lisa had the positive experience of being raised part of her life by an adoptive family, and she was closer to this family than her biological family. Kathy had worked with many children in her social work career whom she loved and wished she could adopt, so she knew biology was not important to her. We both also have the experience of having many people in our lives who we consider family whom have no biological relationship to us. All this is to say that adoption is the way we wanted to bring children into our family.

In 2005, we were blessed with adopting Maggie into our family. She is incredibly loving, outgoing, and active. She would have a play date 24/7 if we let her. She is such a kind soul, and amazes us each day with her limitless love and care for others. She loves going swimming, playing soccer, doing karate, gymnastics, and riding her bike. Maggie goes to school at an excellent Montessori school in the neighborhood. This is an excellent school and we particularly like it because her classmates come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. She is excited about having a little brother or sister, and we know she will make a great big sister because she is very loving, gentle, and protective.

Maggie knows she is adopted and talks to her birthmother periodically. She knows the story of her adoption, and it has been helpful for her to have so many other friends who are also adopted. She sees her birthmother as an extension of our family, and we support her in maintaining their relationship. We have the utmost respect for Maggie’s birthmother, and welcome her into our family to the extent she is comfortable. We have honored the level of contact we promised her, and we would do the same with you if you chose our family.

We are an active family! Though we enjoy our quiet, do-nothing time at home, it seems most of our free time is spent with friends and family doing all kinds of fun activities. We enjoy gatherings with other families so the kids can play and the adults can talk. Some of the things we enjoy: climbing nearby Stone Mountain, swimming, playing on the swing set, go to bouncing places with friends, exploring places like the Children’s Museum and the Georgia Aquarium, going to sporting events, seeing shows like musicals or the circus, doing story time together before bedtime, walking our dogs, and playing board games together.

We are members of a wonderful Methodist Church in Atlanta. This is an amazing church that prides itself on the diversity of its members, and its wonderful children’s program. Every Sunday we feel like we are with family, and Maggie loves it because she has so many friends there, many of whom are adopted themselves. Our church family is excited about us adopting another child!

We have had many wonderful travel experiences as a family. Each year we take two trips with other families who have created their families through adoption—every Spring Break, we rent a big house at Disney World together, and during the Summer we travel to the beach or lake together. We all enjoy these trips so much, and we think it is great for our children to grow up with other children who share the adoption experience.

Lisa at Disney World

Kathy Talks About Lisa
Lisa is from a small town in Pennsylvania, and was raised partially by her grandparents and partially by an adoptive family. As soon as she was old enough, she left home and went to college to study business. If there is one thing everyone knows about Lisa is that she is a hardworking person at everything she does. In addition to working so hard at her day job, she also volunteers at the church and to help our friends with various projects even when she doesn’t have the time or energy to do so. She is definitely someone you can count on and is a truly loyal friend.

Lisa is an amazing wife and mother. She has always been the romantic in the family (when we first met, she sent me GIGANTIC flower arrangements at my office). She still enjoys giving and receiving flowers and cards for special occasions and everyday life. Date night is a favorite activity for her! She loves to go to movies and romantic dinners.

As busy as Lisa is, she always makes sure she attends Maggie’s school events and extra-curricular activities because she knows how important it is to be there for our family. She is such a good momma that she will leave work in the middle of the day to be at Maggie’s school for whatever activity is going on. I know she will be just as excited to do this for our next child.
Though Lisa is very serious during the day at her job, she is really a big kid at heart, which is partially why she has so many people who care deeply about her. Lisa loves to come up with ideas like pitching a tent in the living room and inviting the neighborhood kids over for a sleepover. She is also the first to volunteer to take Maggie and her friends to the latest children’s movie, and then load them up on concession stand goodies!

Lisa enjoys working on projects around the house, often with her little helper Maggie at her side. In her down time, she likes to workout, read crime novels, read up about the latest in the entertainment world, and watch reality TV shows (she loves Top Chef, which is particularly funny since she doesn’t cook!).

At the end of the day, she is the one to make sure we all cuddle as a family. We really work well together and balance each other out.

Lisa talks about Kathy
Kathy is the most giving and loving person that I have ever met. She gives from her heart to both Maggie and me unconditionally. Whether we have a cold, a skinned knee, or hurt feelings, she shows compassion and really cares how we are feeling. When I first met her, it was her maternal wisdom and the way she talked that drew me to her. That’s one of the many reasons that I committed to her as my life partner and wife. She is an advocate and force to be reckoned with for all that she cares about. And this is what makes her the constant rock in our lives and the caring person that I love so deeply.

Kathy and her parents in North Carolina

She is the “supermom” that plans our fun events and family vacations. I can come home from a crazy day at the office, and she has researched a full week’s vacation or a weekend event to present to us. She keeps us on track on a regular basis to truly “have fun” in life—not to get bogged down with the day-to-day stuff. I may be the big kid, but she’s the actual cruise director in our family and ensures that we all have a great time and make unforgettable family memories together. And she makes sure to photograph every outing or special event, and then update all our family and friends with a website or Facebook update. This makes her even more endearing as a mother, wife, and friend.

Kathy is the one who is home with Maggie because of her flexible work schedule. Somehow, she manages to be a full time mom and to work full time. Though she still likes to operate from the pile system mentioned previously, she is always super organized when it comes to making sure our child’s needs are met. She is always researching schools, summer camps, the latest toy or parenting article. She is very active at our daughter’s school, and she loves to shop for clothes and books for Maggie.

She is always the first to invite friends over for cookouts, sporting events, and Thanksgiving or our Christmas parties. She is known for cooking a massive Italian dinner feast for our friends and family every Christmas. A little known fact about Kathy is that she likes to go to musicals. This is something special she and Maggie do together, and I know she is looking forward to sharing this love with our next child.

She loves Maggie unconditionally and it has been amazing to see her grow as a mother. Maggie would state “you are the best momma ever” if she were writing this up herself. I have seen a bond grow so much between them that Kathy can read her like a book and be there for our child. She gets down on her level and discusses feelings and views with Maggie so intently. At the end of the day, Kathy keeps our entire family in touch with our feelings and helps us to remember to be compassionate to others.

Where We Live
Our home is in Decatur, Georgia, a charming suburb of Atlanta. We are fortunate to live in a very friendly neighborhood. Every evening our neighborhood is filled with families pushing strollers, walking, riding skateboards and big wheels, or taking their dogs for walks. It is a great neighborhood because it is one where we all know each other and look out for one another.

We live in a great home that has plenty of room for children, including a big fenced-backyard that has a play set. Our house has three bedrooms, and we are so excited to turn our 3rd bedroom into a nursery for the new baby! There are lots of families with young children in the neighborhood, and we have great schools nearby.

We love to entertain our friends and family, so our house is often the place to be for cookouts, play dates, game nights, and dinners. We have known our 12 year old neighbor since he was 3. He spends a lot of his time playing at our house, and he has been like a big brother to Maggie, teaching her how to swing, play soccer, and the beginnings of skateboarding!

Our three dogs (Tucker, Sadie, and Sara) and cat (Kenny) are all wonderful pets and are great with children. Each has their own personality, and all of them are very cuddly. Tucker is very protective and is the boss of the other dogs, even though he recently became our blind dog. Sadie’s nickname is “Licky” because she is always giving kisses and can’t seem to get enough attention. Sara is our newest dog, and she is incredibly playful and cuddly. Kenny is our cat with about 100 lives. He is 15 years old, and acts more like a dog than a cat.

Our city is very family friendly, with lots of nearby parks, community pools, kid’s sports programs, beautiful lakes, and lots of family events, our own 4th of July parade and fireworks, and frequent concerts. We live only a short drive to Atlanta where we can take advantage of the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Zoo, the Children’s Museum, professional sporting events, concerts, and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

What We Do For Work
Kathy is a social worker by training, and has worked the past 6 years as the founder and executive director of a nonprofit agency for gay families. She is very passionate about helping people and political activism, and has worked hard to make Georgia a better place for the many gay families living here. Kathy loves this job because she is passionate about what she does, and it allows her a flexible schedule so she can be a stay-at-home mom when the new baby arrives.

Lisa has worked as an accounting manager in broadcasting for over 20 years now. She is responsible for 6 radio stations and 3 nationally syndicated radio shows. Lisa especially enjoys getting to meet celebrities when they come into the radio stations. Lisa has flexibility to work from home, which will be especially helpful when the new baby arrives. One of our favorite things about the type of work Lisa does is that it gives us access to just about all the entertainment and sporting events that come to Atlanta. Just this last year we have seen Ringling Brother’s Circus, Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice, Mary Poppins, the Atlanta Symphony Christmas Concert, and the Atlanta Dream basketball games to name a few!

Lisa, Kathy, and Maggie at home

Our Family
Family is so very important to us. Truthfully, we consider many people in our life who are not biologically related to us as family, in addition to the family we are biologically related to. Most of our close friends who live near us are like family to us, and we are all very fortunate to be able to count on each other when we need to. Having close friends we can count on is something important to us, and has been especially helpful since we have become parents.

Maggie’s birthmother is also a part of our family. We are actually in touch with several of her family members who were involved with the adoption process, and we expect Maggie will get to meet her younger siblings when she is a little older. We talk with her birthmother quite regularly through the phone and e-mail, and send her regular photos. We have visited with her once since Maggie was born, and we expect to see her again this coming year.

Kathy’s has two brothers who live nearby, and between them they have 5 children who would be cousins and playmates to a new baby. Kathy’s parents live part of the year in Florida and the other part of the year in the North Carolina mountains. We have a close relationship with her parents, and visit with them frequently.

Lisa’s sister lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children (two more cousins!). We don’t see them often because they do not like to travel, but we do stay in contact with them. Lisa’s mom lives in Arizona, and we stay in regular contact with her and try to visit with each other whenever we can. Lisa’s mom was recently here for Maggie’s baptism.
Maggie and Lisa in North Carolina

After becoming parents to Maggie, we realized we had no idea what parenting was really going to be like. We had no idea the sacrifices we would make, or the incredible joy we would experience watching her grow up and explore the world together. Without a doubt, we both feel that parenting has been the most important and rewarding work of our lives. It is really hard sometimes, but neither of us would trade it for anything in the world, which is why we would like to share our lives with another child. We love being parents and are excited to expand our family!

We both believe giving a child a safe, nurturing and loving home is the foundation for good parenting. We are also fortunate to have the financial resources to give our children great family vacations, the best schooling, and lots of extra-curricular activities depending on our kids’ interests.

Our Promises to Your Child:
We promise to love your child unconditionally, always, no matter what! We will give lots of hugs and kisses, and be ready to hold them when they are sad, have a boo-boo, or just need to be held. We will provide them with a safe, stable, and loving home. We will encourage them to explore their talents and interests through activities and play. We will inspire your child to be a kind, compassionate and loving soul. We will be there to sing, dance, play silly games, and laugh each day. We will expose them to different cultures and people through friendships, travel, food, and other activities that will inspire them to understand and appreciate different cultures. We will make sure they get the very best education so that they can pursue whatever dreams they may have. We promise to create lots of great memories by going on family vacations every year. They will always be surrounded by loving friends and family who will support them in life.

We will tell them their adoption story, and always treat their adoption as something to be celebrated. We will make sure they understand your love for them, and maintain a level of contact with you that is agreed upon during the adoption process. Your child will be surrounded by other children who have been adopted so they will never feel alone or different because of their adoption.

Kathy, Maggie & Lisa at a basketball game!
Closing Remarks
We know it is impossible to sum up our lives with a few words and photos, but hopefully we have given you a glimpse into our hearts. If you choose us, we will be eternally grateful to you for fulfilling our dream of adding a child to our family. We make this promise to you - we will do everything in our power to make sure your baby is not only unconditionally loved and cherished, but given every opportunity in life to learn, laugh, explore, make mistakes, and triumph. They will know of the love you have for them and the courage it took for you to give them this opportunity.

Thank you again for taking the time to learn about our family. If you feel we are the right family for you and your baby, or if you would like to learn more about us, please contact our Adoption Caseworker, Olga, at AdoptHelp at 1-800-637-7999, toll free. Or you can e-mail or call Kathy at 404-808-3350.

Much Love,
Kathy and Lisa