Sunday, May 15, 2011

Distraction is the name of the game

So, I have regained some of my sanity over the last few days because I have kept myself busy with distractions on some major house projects and have limited the amount of time I allow myself to fool with adoption stuff. Don't get me wrong, I am still doing some stuff, but I reduced it by about 70% which has been much better for my mental health.

We have had a couple of e-mails this week about adoption. Nothing that sounds real legitimate. Mostly woman living in other countries offering to place their babies with us. I have heard that this is always a scam of some sort, so I have been polite in responding but have kept it simple. One response from a woman turned out to be one where she somehow thought we might be interested in a threesome. Clearly, she doesn't know that we are way too conservative for that kind of stuff, so I told her to not write about again (in the nicest way possible to do such a thing).

I have been posting regularly on our Facebook page to keep people up-to-date on some daily family stuff. If you are not a follower, you should click on it and like it. You will find out all sorts of random stuff about us, and get an idea of what our lives are like. Click here to "like" out Facebook page!

I better get off to bed so I can get up for church in the morning.

Love to all our followers!
Kathy, Lisa, and Maggie

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some days

Some days I could just lose my mind. The adoption wait---the uncertainty of everything, can drive me mad! Today is one of those days. I don't know why it seems worse these days, but something has me preoccupied with it all.

Not being able to control all the adoption stuff is perhaps the worst. I don't know if the agency is showing our profile or not, or whether there is a birth mother considering us today and we don't even know it. I'll never get over how our agency knew about our last match for 3 weeks before they told us about it.

A friend of mine was telling me how two weeks ago she was crying about the whole adoption wait, thinking that it would never happen for her, and today she is in a hotel room with her new baby girl. She had no idea it was coming, and then her miracle appeared.

I am trying to stay distracted, but my mind wanders back. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

I just had to say that to get it out of my system.

Nothing ever comes easy to us. It's true. Not one damn thing has come to us easy in our lives. Yes, we are extremely blessed, but we have worked our asses off to get to where we are. I have accepted that Lisa and I just don't have the easy route (or an easy button for that matter). Once, when we were telling a therapist this in casual conversation (she was a good ten years younger than us), she suggested we might want to get therapy about that type of thinking one day. I had to laugh. Lisa and I have been around a long time, dealt with some major shit in our lives, and have accepted that things don't come easy to us, and that's okay. Sometimes it is best just to accept how things work in your life than to keep trying to change it.

God has given us the path we are on. We don't understand the why or the what, and at times we get angry about the things that happen in our lives. Our sanity rests with the acceptance that yes, nothing seems to come easy to us, but in the end, we know we have a lot of blessings.

Our adoption experience is a testament to our thinking. Maggie's adoption took us 18 painful months before we were blessed with her in our lives. I think we lost our minds many times during that process, but we now realize we would not have wanted it to happen any other way. We think God played a role in how it all played out (that's another story).

For our second adoption, we knew it was too good to be true when we matched with a birth mother in 7 weeks, and held a baby at 4 months. We honestly thought God might be making up all the difficult times we had experienced in our past because we were just so not used to experiencing such good fortune. It was the only way we could explain it to ourselves because amazing luck like that never happens to us. And, of course, it was too good to be true. After 4 difficult months, our adoption fell apart when an unknown birth father showed up to the baby's birth, and he wanted to parent the baby.

Somehow, I want God, or the universe, or our adoption agency, to make up for that dreadful experience by bringing our little angel into our lives NOW. Is that too much to ask? I guess so.

I guess I just have to stay the course as my adoption agency told us. It is hard. If you haven't been on this side of the fence, you have no idea.

I count my blessings everyday--especially the little angel we have already been blessed with. But, I am ready to begin a new chapter with a new angel. And my little girl so wants to be a big sister. It is hard not to be able to just make it happen.

I know it will happen when the universe is ready. I just wanted to make sure the universe knows that we are ready (in case it wasn't paying attention).

We are ready and waiting, so the phone can ring any time now :-)

Peace, friends!

And don't forget to "like" our Facebook page if you haven't already (this gives me sanity because at least something is happening that I know about). Click here to like our Facebook adoption page!

A Day In the Life of a Mom Waiting to Adopt

While we are waiting to adopt, will you "like" our Facebook page?

There is so much I could say about this topic, so let's see where my tired mind takes me.

Today, one of the highlights I experienced was to have our minister write on our Facebook page saying something to the affect that we would be great parents and have lots of love to offer. We go to a big church, and she helped us get through our failed adoption in February, so it meant a lot that she took the time to reach out to us and for us. Never estimate how something small can have a big impact on a person--thank your Reverend Beth!

Waiting to adopt can feel so helpless. What many of us do is occasionally look down at our phones to make sure they are turned on in the event it is our time for "the call." It's always turned on, but it is a compulsion that is necessary each day. You know, the day I don't pay attention to it we will get a call. That happened while we were at Disney World--not only did we have crappy cell service, but we were caught up in enjoying the moment. Sure enough, the adoption agency called with a potential situation, and it took me a full 24 hours to realize it!

It is so hard not knowing when the phone will ring. Do you plan your life as if nothing is going to happen? Or, make everything tentative? I fall somewhere in between. In reality, you have to go on as if no call is coming, or I believe one would go further into madness.

Our nursery is ready, and friends have been generous enough to give us lots of clothes to get us started. Although, the clothing donations are mostly stopping after our failed adoption. I guess people don't want to acknowledge it or something, which is too bad because we are okay talking about it and are ready to move on. I'll admit, I sometimes go back and look at his pictures--sometimes just to make sure it really happened to us. It did. And he was beautiful, but meant for someone else.

There are lots of ways to spend money to make you feel like you are doing something to help the adoption process. Occasionally, I do spend a little bit of money to network amongst people who might know a potential birth mother. Our adoption agency has smartly asked us not to spend money on a bunch of marketing, and instead have it ready for a last minute call. They want to make sure we can afford whatever situation comes our way. We passed on a birth mother situation last month because it was going to mean $25,000 on top of the fees we had already paid, plus a lot of risk with the situation they presented. There was no way we could go that route, so we passed it on to the next family (and pray it all works out for them).

I am on lots of adoption bulletin boards, and it has been interesting to see how many people struggled with mother's day. I guess we can count our blessings that we have a beautiful child who made our mother's day amazing. Even so, I found myself at times longing for our future baby.

I know so many people who have adopted babies in the last few weeks. They are all the most amazing babies you have ever seen. The kind you just want to scoop up and kiss all over. I am so VERY happy for all the new adoptive parents, but wonder when it will be our turn. Tomorrow? Next month? Two months from now? Who knows.

I am distracting myself with work and contemplating some home renovations to keep myself busy--that is when I am not running Maggie around town.

I also feel like if I could get lots of people to sign up on our Adoption Facebook page, we would increase our chances of someone who knows someone who knows someone wanting to place for adoption. Figuring out how to get people to "like" your page has proved more difficult.

I am so incredibly gracious to our friends who have taken the time to go to our Adoption Facebook page and click the "like" button at top. It is one of those Facebook features that many people get confused about how to actually "like" a page. Most people click like for the post, but you actually have to go to the page and click the "like" button up top.  Those of you who have done this have a special place in our hearts. We know a village can help us achieve our goals.

This waiting to adopt is hard. So much uncertainty. Maggie so wants to be a big sister. Yet, we can't really control how quickly we adopt, and our child doesn't understand this. For her sake alone, I hope God answers our prayers for a new angel in our family sometime soon.

Thanks for listening. I would love to talk more about this when I am not brain dead.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers Day

We've had a very good Mother's Day. Maggie has been super sweet all weekend, and has told us how much she loves us hundreds of times throughout the weekend. She has even gone on record several times saying we are the best mommas in the entire world! We can't ask for anything more than that!

This year she really stayed on top of the whole Mother's Day thing. Each day she would check in to make sure she understood when Mother's Day is, so as to not miss it I suppose. At school, she made a present for us, so she wanted to make sure she delivered it on the right day. Usually, she can't stand the waiting, and she wants us to go ahead and open up the present. This year, she was able to hold off until the actual day.

She and Lisa got up first and made cinnamon rolls for everyone. Then she delivered our homemade cards and present. It was a plastic coffee mug that she colored a picture on the inside (totally not dishwasher safe, but will be a nice display piece for our favorite Maggie things). The cards were the best part because this is an area where Maggie is starting to be able to do on her own, so whatever she writes is from her heart. She drew pictures and told us each that she loved us. Very special!

For Mother's Day to each other, Lisa and I took turns sleeping in while the other played with Maggie. This was great because Maggie has been in the best mood all weekend. Very lovey-dovey and cooperative. We did arts and crafts, played games, read stories, watched a Barbie movie together, and just generally had a nice time together. Not once this weekend did she say she wanted to have a play date with one of her friends. She was satisfied with just us :-)

We lunched at home and treated ourselves to a meal at Longhorns. Maggie even appreciated the steak and chicken. We ate so much we had to walk the dogs when we got home.

Overall, I have to say it was a great weekend. I had a moment or two of longing for the baby that we hope is making its way to our family. I am very excited for my friends who have recently adopted, especially to know they got to celebrate their first Mother's Day today. I just have to remind myself to stay focused on the very blessed life we have, and not get bogged down about the baby who isn't here yet. Soon. I hope and pray.

Tomorrow, Lisa starts her first day at her new job, and Maggie gets to visit her new classroom and teacher that she will have for next year at school. Both of them are very excited. I am excited for them.

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers, birth mothers, and future mothers.

And, if you haven't "liked" us on Facebook yet, go ahead and click here to see the page and then click "like" at the top. This is a great way to keep up with the little things going on in our life and in the adoption process.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Money Changes Everything

Unlike Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock, we, like most adoptive parents, do not have unlimited financial resources to throw at our adoption effort. If we did, I am quite sure we would have adopted by now. Sure, we could probably come up with more money, but then what kind of life would we be providing our children if we are broke?

If you are at all familiar with the adoption process of domestic newborns, you would know that even us middle class folks end up spending a small fortune on our adoption process. Agency fees, legal fees, travel costs, profile advertising, home studies, and birth mother expenses are only some of the expenses that can be quite costly.

Generally, the more resources you spend (if you spend wisely), the less wait time you should have. Why? Let's assume you are not a celebrity, so you don't have that added benefit on your side. The reality is that there are way more people wanting to adopt than there are birth mothers placing for adoption. This has only become worse as fewer people are adopting internationally, and domestic adoption has become a more common way to build your family.

I believe most of the families wanting to adopt are probably great people who will make outstanding parents. They wouldn't be jumping through the hoops of adoption if they didn't really want to be parents. So, there are endless numbers of prospective adoptive people available to adopt any given birth mother's baby. Ideally, if you have the resources, you want every birth mother to at least glance at your profile, even if she doesn't end up picking you. At least you were in front of her, and you never know what will appeal to a birth mother.

If you get in front of more birth mothers, it increases your chances of getting picked, especially if you have a great profile book. Unfortunately, getting in front of more birth mothers requires more money spent by the prospective adoptive person. There are a couple of ways to get in front of more birth mothers. One would be to sign up with more than one agency or facilitator. This is quite costly because typically the upfront fee might be $10,000 or more whether they deliver a "match" to you or not. Those with more resources choose this route.

A less expensive way to get in front of more birth mothers would be to do your own advertising. You can advertise on the internet on what is called parent profile sites (and unfortunately, some of the best sites discriminate against same-sex couples and won't let them advertise on their site) or through Google Adwords (no discrimination here). Both of these methods can end up becoming quite costly, but it will increase your chances for finding a birth mother. Note, my adoption agency doesn't agree with me on this point, but my personal experience and research says personal advertising does work. People also advertise in newspapers--Craigslist, college newspapers, and the like. I have never done it, but apparently it can become quite expensive. In some states it is illegal, and Georgia is one that does not allow it.

Some of the free methods of getting more exposure to birth mothers or adoption situations is through blogging or the use of Facebook. I know these sites have worked for folks, but I am not really sure how helpful they are in the adoption process. I am doing both of these options since they are free, and it gives me something to do while I am waiting for the phone to ring. The one benefit is that it makes people aware that you want to adopt. This is helpful because you never know who might stumble upon a situation where someone is considering placing a baby for adoption. I know some friends who found their birth mother through this informal type of networking.

So, there can be a little unfairness inherent in the open adoption system. Birth mothers may be more likely to see more profiles of people who are more affluent and not a same-sex couple. To be clear, I am not whining here. Just merely pointing out another adoption truth.

If I had tons more money, I would be doing so much more to find our birth mother. I would sign up with 3-4 agencies if I needed to. I would be able to respond to the occasional adoption situation that seems perfect (these are when facilitators list an adoption situation available, typically at a very high cost).

Since we don't have the unlimited funds, it is frustrating. I feel powerless just sitting here waiting for the phone to ring. I will continue on with my free efforts at finding a birth mother situation, and hope that my high cost agency comes through for us. I am sure they will if I can just find the patience to wait. Lisa has the nice distraction of starting her new job. I am getting a little bit of baby fever as I have witnessed several births lately.

Come find us, little angel! Your room is ready, and our hearts are ready to welcome you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

An Adoption Truth

Maggie at birth

Something has been percolating in me lately, and it has to do with birth mothers.

As an adoptive parent of an amazing six year old daughter through domestic open adoption, I would love to shout from the rooftops that adoption is beautiful. But, that is not the entire story. And I am not talking about adoption scams, failed adoptions, the cost, or any other roller coaster issue that often comes with open adoption.

The adoption of my daughter in 2005 is the MOST wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, and I am forever grateful to her birth mother for choosing us. Maggie is such a blessing in our lives, and I can't imagine life without her.

I am writing today about how difficult it must be for most birth mothers to place their children for adoption. I know there are probably some that don't struggle with it at all. But, I imagine that many, many birth mothers have an incredibly hard time placing their child for adoption. Even when every ounce of their being may believe it is the best thing for the child, I can't help but think how hard it must be to let go of something you love and is biologically a part of you.

My daughter's birth mother struggles with her adoption decision. At the time of my daughter's birth, I did not know how much she was struggling because she kept that private until years later when she revealed that she had asked the nursing staff to bring the baby into her room every time we left the hospital. We had always thought the nursing staff was pushing the baby on her because one nurse in particular did not believe in adoption. We were also so overwhelmed with new baby excitement that we might not have noticed the subtle messages she might have been sending. We certainly didn't pressure her, but I imagine there were many things in life that were pressuring her to place the baby for adoption (her age, lack of income, resources, and life experience to name a few).

Since our adoption, our birth mother has had two other children whom she is parenting with the help of her boyfriend. I can't help but think that she feels sad that she is not raising the child she placed with us for adoption.

As adoptive parents, we should dance in the streets with excitement when a baby is placed with us. But, we should also be aware that our blessing may mean our birth mother is experiencing incredible heart ache over her decision.

If we do the math, adoptive parent's blessing = birth mother's loss. 

I am not saying that adoption is bad or anything even remotely close. Even though our adoption in Louisiana failed, it was clear to our birth mother in that situation that she could not take care of the new baby, and she wanted a better life for him. She remained committed to the adoption plan until the end, and though she was committed to this plan, it was still clearly very painful for her. The baby's birth father stepped in and changed everything, so now she has a baby that she didn't think she could raise. I pray that somehow they make it.

Birth mothers have given so many of us the greatest blessings in our lives. It is not something that can be re-paid in anyway other than to do our best to raise the baby and to honor any promises made to a birth mother. Recently, I have read many birth mothers and adoptive parents speak about the adoptive parents cutting off contact or not honoring the adoption plan that was made. I imagine there are extreme circumstance where this might be warranted, but in the other 99% of the cases, adoptive parents should honor the adoption plan (maybe this is easy for me to say because we have a great birth mother).

Birth mothers deserve to be treated with respect and for us to honor our promises made to them. Most birth mothers pick us because they believe we are decent people who will do a great job raising their baby. That doesn't mean we should only act like decent people until we finalize our adoption. Not honoring the adoption plan is not right to do to the birth mother, and it is definitely not the right thing to do to your child.

One day our children will be old enough to really understand the circumstances of their adoptions. Let's hope we have not behaved badly in a way that our children will rightfully resent or hate us for betraying their birth mother.

I have the utmost respect for birth mothers. I can only imagine the amazing courage it must take to do what you think is best for your baby despite the heart ache you might experience.

Without my daughter's birth mother, my life would be so empty and incomplete. I am so grateful that she trusted us enough to raise her daughter and to maintain contact with her.

I look forward to the day when another woman will trust us enough to raise her baby, and will know she can trust us to do the right thing in our relationship with her, and her relationship with the child.

But, I don't ever want to pretend that it is easy for a birth mother. With our joy comes a birth mother's pain. And that's an adoption truth.