Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Meeting with Birthparents

This is the last of my retrospective updates......On May 9th we drove 4 hours for lunch with our birthparents.  We knew nothing about them except that they were going to college and the baby was healthy with no known drug or alcohol use.  So we had a vague idea that they were younger and making good decisions for their baby.  I had 10 days between getting the call and our first meeting.  Honestly after the first couple days it took for reality to sink it that week went by pretty fast.  Somewhere I've come up with a new coping technique and have been applying it to our entire adoption journey.  I'm not sure if its good or bad but I don't think about things, I don't try to control them, I just let God worry about it.  In some ways its a form of denial and distancing myself from the situation, on the other hand it is complete surrender to Him and His will.  So the entire time I told myself I was just taking a road trip to have lunch with my hubby.  I hate being late for things and we always end up driving around lost so I planned an extra hour into our driving time.  Of course this is one time we didn't need it.  So we were there an hour early, drove by the restuarant so we knew where it was and then hung out at the nearby Petsmart to kill some time.  Our meeting was scheduled at 12:15.  At 11:30 reality hit that this wasn't just lunch with DH.  This was a huge deal!  At 11:50 we left and sat in the car for 10 minutes.  Arrived at the restaurant at 12:00.  The hostess asked if we wanted seating for 2.  I said we were meeting some other people.  She asked if I would like to go look around and see if they were there.  I said well I'm not really sure what they look like, a puzzled look comes across her face and she says "okay, that's weird".  Your telling me this is weird?!  So she seats us and we wait, wondering if they are already here or not.  It was seriously the most agonizing 15 minutes of my life.  They say in situations of stress creatures are wired to fight or flee.  Well the devil was on my shoulders filling my ears with doubt again I wanted to flee.  I told DH I can't do this, its too huge and I desperately wanted to go hide in the car.  He reassured me like he always does and we kept waiting, staring everytime some couple walked in.  Finally I heard them come up behind us and tell the hostess they were with us.  Immediately I felt better.  They were like us.  I didn't realize I had so many fears that they would be snobby or think we weren't good enough for their baby.  Their social worker introduced us but did a poor job of it.  She got my name right, called my husband by our last name (which is sometimes confused for a girl's first name), then said oh well good thing its an open adoption.  Called BMom by the wrong name and couldn't remember BDad's name.  I don't think she instilled confidence in any of us with this situation.  And it made me doubt if she was giving them necessary counseling they needed.

This restaurant was a mongolian grill so we had to get up to get our food and wait for them to cook it.  We didn't say much at this point except about the food.  Once we all sat down I can't remember what was all said.  They showed us ultrasound pics and told us it was a boy due in July.  For some reason the ultrasounds made me uncomfortable and DH said later that I didn't seem real excited about them.  Now I feel bad that I didn't hide my feelings better.  I guess ultrasounds go into the same category as baby showers when it comes to infertility wounds that still cause pain.  While I feel I've overcome and moved on from our infertility there are obviously some things that will always be with me.  Pregnant women in general always made me uncomfortable and feel a little bitter but it has gotten better this past year.  When we went to a marriage retreat weekend there were all kinds of pregnant women there that didn't bother me, because I knew I was an expectant mom too.  But sitting across the table from a pregnant woman did still make me uncomfortable.  What is wrong with me?!  She is pregnant with MY future baby and I still had issues with it?!  I feel so guilty that I'm so jaded about pregnancy. 

The meeting went really well and everyone left happy.  I expected our social worker to direct the conversation and ask questions but she basically just sat there and let us talk.  Which worked out fine because we were all getting along so well but I didn't feel like we talked about a lot of things we should have.  They had 3 pages of questions but only asked us a few.  And I didn't really ask any.  We mostly shared stories about our families and childhoods.  We have a lot in common and even though our SW discouraged us from putting things about our farm life in the profile that was one of the reasons they liked us.  What does she know anyway?  God is in charge here!  On the way home I texted our SW and she said that she talked to their SW and that they thought everything went great too.  Even though I could tell everyone was happy it still made me feel really good to hear it from her.  The following week we got a call that they want to meet again on May 29.  I was expecting to meet again, I know they were doing their hospital plan the following week and would want to discuss it with us.  But I thought they would wait longer.  I wish they had since I'm not looking forward to another day spending 8 hours in the car.  With these meeting so close together I'm afraid we will be meeting a few more times before July.  And I get it, if your making an adoption plan for your child you want to meet the adoptive parents a few times and make sure your happy with the decision.  While I'm excited to see them again and get to know them better, it is definetly a burden for us to take off from work and make the trip just to have lunch.  To me, we have the rest of our lives to get to know them better but I know from their point of view its different and I know I'm being selfish.   Maybe they don't realize we live several hours away.  Maybe after our next meeting we can have phone or email contact. 

I know I sound ungrateful but I'm not, just a little stressed and overwhelmed with the whole situation. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

April - Exciting News

It seemed like we waited forever for our homestudy to get approved.  We were used to everything moving so fast that this wait was killing me.  At least if we were waiting to get a match the possibility was out there but this just seemed like wasted time.  It took a month from our last homestudy meeting for our homestudy to get written by our SW and approved by the agency.  On April 4 we officially became a waiting family, our books were out and our profile was online. 

In the month waiting for approval I had 4 grant applications ready to go.  Our agency has a list of possible grants but I could only find 4 that worked for our situation, many of them apply to international or special needs.  Once I got a copy of our homestudy I got those in the mail ASAP.  Most grants you can't get after finalization so I wanted to have them out right away in case we got a fast placement.  I'm still not sure how that works if I don't hear from them before placement since we owe $18k at placement.  Hopefully if we do get awarded a grant after placement, the agency will still accept it and refund us the over payment. 

Once we were officially waiting I went nuts buying baby stuff.  It was addicting!  I NEVER thought I would be that way.  After all our years of infertility I was conditioned to hate and avoid all things baby related.  I always said if we did have a baby I would only buy a few things we needed only because we needed them.  I don't know what happened to all my bitterness but God slowly worked on my heart and took away much of the pain and anger over infertility.  I feel like we hit the rewind button and were expecting our baby after just starting to TTC.  The pain of the past 5 years is mostly forgotten.  I felt God urging me to go ahead and be prepared.  Also around Easter He really put it on my heart to start praying for our birthmom.  I thought that meant our baby was on the way and she was maybe just finding out she was pregnant and deciding what to do.  But I was wrong :)

After less than 4 weeks of officially waiting I came home for lunch to a grinning husband.  I asked what was up and why he looked so happy.  He said we had a message on the machine from our SW asking us to call her back.  At our final meeting she had said that she wouldn't call unless she had good news, anything else she would email or text.  So hubby told me to call her, I said I can't I'm too nervous, he said he would, I said no I want to.....we went back and forth a while before I finally did it.  She said we had been chosen by a birthmom already!  Holy cow that was fast!!  I was literally shaking as she explained the details of our upcoming meeting.  She would not say when the baby was due or if it was a girl or boy.  After hanging up I went from excitement to panic.  I can't be a mom, what happened to my several months of waiting and adjusting to the idea of adoption?  Guess who cried all night again?  Yep, this girl.  Adoption is so much more emotional than I thought it would be. 

In 10 days we had a meeting scheduled with the birthparents.  I had no idea what to expect but was trying not to think about it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

March - Homestudy & Profile

Our homestudy consisted of three 3 hour visits with our social worker.  Our first was at our house which I was totally not ready for.  I felt like we had to clean everything and make it look like we aren't slobs.  I was nervous that our first visit was at our house, we hadn't even met our SW yet.  Some agencies require you to have a baby room ready, ours did not.  In fact she barely looked at the house.  She mostly asked us questions about our childhood and what situations and condition we would be open too.  We went out and bought a fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detector and she didn't even ask about them.  But it needed to be done anyway so I'm glad the homestudy motivated us to do it.  I was learning more about adoption but still sort of naive to it and she acted offended by my questions, like I should know better.  How do I know that in an open adoption the birthparents can't just show up on your doorstep?  I've never done this before.  Mike made a joke about his family and she took him seriously asking if they had mental illness or something.  So we decided no more jokes.  I cried all night and begged hubby to let me back out.  I was having some serious doubts.  Adoption is too much work, too invasive, too expensive and too huge for me to go through with.  I didn't feel like our SW liked us and to go through all this without her in our corner seemed too much.  Hubby assured me that this is God's plan for us and even though it seems hard and Satan may be on my shoulder trying to get me not to do, we had to keep going.  I settled on the fact that once we were done with our homestudy and waiting, I would have some time to relax and get used to this whole situation. 

I made our profile book on shutterfly and it turned out really well.  I was worried that some of the scanned pictures wouldn't look as good when I got the books in the mail but luckily it was awesome.  I did have a two typos but hey no one is perfect.  I was offended when sour SW said not to include very many pictures of our farm or animals in our profile books because that turns people off.  Turns out that's one of the reasons we got chosen by our birthparents but more on that later.   We needed 5 copies of our books at about $25 each.  No one mentioned that, I assumed I would only need one or two.  But its reasonable for how well the books turned out.  Not sure what I'll do with 5 profile books when this is all done but its still totally worth it.  Before printing I emailed our SW the online version so she could see it.  She suggested I include more racially diverse pictures.  She must have forgotten I live in rural MN and there just isn't a lot of racial diversity in my family or neighborhood.  I wasn't trying to be racist, its just how it is around here and I can't very well put pictures of strangers in my book. 

Our second meeting we met an hour away in her hometown at a bakery.  At least this was a neutral place.  This meeting went much better after tons of prayers from us and our close friends.  She asked about our infertility, our house, our marriage and our plans for parenthood and our feelings about adoption. 

Our third meeting we met in the middle at a restaurant.  This time she asked a lot of the same questions and I said I think we already answered these.  She said she has to ask some of them again to make sure our answers are consistent.  So not much new happened at this meeting.  The middle of March we were done with our homestudy and it was submitted for approval to the director of our agency. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

February - Training & Homework

We had to attend one meeting with our agency.  Others we looked at had required attendance at several short meetings.  Ours had it all rolled into one 8 hour day.  It was a long day and we were given a lot of information.  But I was so glad we only had to make one 2 hour drive to the home office.  We learned about their different programs, attachment issues, how things with with birthmoms and open adoptions, different parenting issues that may come up and racial issues.  We then had to go home and do 3 hours of online classes.  We chose one about racial issues and one about attachment.  Up until this point I was starting to get excited about adoption.  I didn't mind doing paperwork and I was excited to think we might finally be parents.  I was slowly putting many of fears about adoption to rest and realizing that I was very naive about all things adoption related.  There are just so many myths out there and I didn't know any better than to believe them.  But now I started having doubts.  I cried all the way home from this meeting.  Adoption is so huge.  Someone doesn't just hand you a baby, say congrats and its like you just had your own.  Even infants can have attachment issues, if you are open to different races you may have to deal with others reactions to it, there may be a lack of medical history on the birthparents, your child may have been exposed to drugs or alcohol, you may have a failed adoption where they choose to parent at the last minute, you have to protect their adoption story and share the age appropriate details with them, if its an open adoption you have to arrange visits and send updates and its just so much more complicated than having a biological child.   It takes special people to be involved in adoption, on both sides of it.  And sometimes I don't want to be special, sometimes I just want to be boring and go unnoticed in the background.  So I moped about for several days.  Why did you make me special God?  Why did you call me to do something so important?  What if I fail?  So what if you've been preparing me my whole life for this, maybe I just don't want to.  I'm definetly one of God's whiny children, always complaining about something.  After a few days, I started to work through and accept all that and began to get excited about adoption again.  We got a totally unexpected call from our social worker, ready to set up our first homestudy meeting.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

January - The Paperwork

I requested a pre-app.  Most of it was just information to read about their programs and all of the disclosures.  It all had to be notorized and signed - like 50 pages worth.  That seemed odd and overwhelming to me but I'm glad they put everything up front.  Then came the application.  I was so glad our agency did a little at a time so it wasn't too overwhelming.  Because I have lots of free time at work I was able to do our part quickly and they were very quick at sending me stuff and processing their part.  DH and I both had essay questions to answer.  The pre-app required a statement of faith and the regular app required an essay about what kind of people we are and why we want to adopt.  We had to have three reference letters and one from our Pastor.  All the paperwork really wasn't that bad.  It was pretty basic easy information and didn't take me that long to do.  Once I sent that back we had to do background checks, get fingerprinted and write some more checks.  Application done, next step homestudy!

At this point I still wasn't 100% on board with adoption.  But I thought we might as well just get our homestudy done and then I'll have time to really think about this once we're waiting since the wait can often be long.  And whatever you do don't ask your agency how long the wait will be.  You will always get the same answer that goes something like this..."well the wait time varies but on average its 1-2 years, some couples wait less and some wait more."  A better question to ask is how many children or infants (depending on what program your looking at) they place per month or per year and the average number of waiting families they have at any given time.  That will give you a better idea of how long you will wait.  And check out their profiles if they have them on a website.  Imagine who you would choose if you were looking for a family for your child and see where you fit in.  We were told that being young and child free along with willing to do an open adoption would be huge selling points for us as a waiting family.  Although it is 100% in God's hands and its all about His timing.  The youngest, cutest, most fun couples sometimes do wait a long time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

December 2011 - Choosing an Agency

We always knew we'd do domestic infant so that decision was easy.  When I started doing research into agencies our options were limited.  It had to be an agency licensed in our state and we live in a rural area so every agency requires at least a two hour drive.  There are the big two (LSS & BCS) and several others in the twin cities area.  We got some information packets and looked at the costs.  Everyone was about the same.  We looked at travel distance, again pretty equal.  We looked at an independent agency.  We went back and forth for a long time.  There was one we liked located 4 hours away but said they would combine meetings and trainings as much as possible for us to eliminate travel.  We finally decided to go with them.  So I called and said we made our decision and asked for an app.  I was so excited! She said we had to come for a intro group meeting and then have an private intake meeting which costs $250 before we could apply.  Umm, that wasn't in the info packet or previously mentioned....I'll get back to you lady.  I was frustrated, I thought we had made a decision.  So I went back to square one.  Did an internet search for agencies in the nearby state that might be licensed in ours also.  Found one - I wasn't impressed with their website but was feeling desperate so I called them anyway.  They work in MN, IA and SD.  The lady was super nice and said they had a social worker less than an hour away that was licensed to work in our state but we would still have to travel to the home office for the training, which was all crammed into one day long session.  Sad to say we chose our agency based on location and convience but thank the Lord He for whatever motivation it took because we absolutely LOVE our agency and have so far had an excellent experience with them.  It was definitely the right decision.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

November 2011 - The Decision

Instead of a super long post about all that has happened the last few months I'm going to drag it out and get you all caught up a little at a time.  When I left off last October I intended to end this blog.  So many of you were bringing home your babies or had them on the way that I just couldn't deal with it anymore.  It was sucking me into this dark place where I felt sorry for myself and where I felt stuck because there was no baby in my future.  I thought DH and I were going to live happily ever after just the two of us, child free.  We even were looking at buying an acreage and put in an offer.  We were super excited about moving out of town and out of our current house.  But God had different plans.  In November, which is adoption month, He really started working on my heart.  As I was sorting the mail one day I noticed an article about adoption on the cover of a Christian magazine.  Okay so I know I'm not suppose to read anyone's mail but I couldn't help it, I turned to the page about adoption.  Boy I wish I hadn't.  I was so mad when I finished reading that.  It was about how infertile couples should not accept life without children.  God made us to have families and there are other ways to grow that family than by giving birth to babies.  Some do foster care, some do volunteer work in church or other kid's groups, some are regular babysitters and some adopt.  So here in this one little innocent article about adoption God was calling me out.  He was telling me that my vowing to live child free was not how I was created to live.  I was using it as a way of protecting myself and maybe I was acting a bit childish myself saying "if you don't give me children the way I want, then I'm not having any at all!"  Geesh, what a crybaby I am! 

So DH and I started talking about adoption again.  We had talked about it before and DH has always been open to it.  It was always me saying I wasn't against it but I just wasn't sure it was right for us.  There is so much scrutiny, I didn't want social workers looking over my shoulder judging me, it wouldn't be the same as having biological kids, it was soooo much paperwork and personal information involved, and it costs a lot of money.  It was just too much trouble to adopt.  But in the end I came around to the point where I agreed to start doing some research into agencies in our area.  I still wasn't on board with adoption but I agreed to take a baby step in that direction.  In the end the acreage didn't work out because the seller didn't want to take our offer and we weren't willing to pay her asking price.  We could have afforded it but then I would be tied to my job for several more years just so we could afford the payments.  I wasn't ready to give up my dream of being a stay at home mom someday so we chose to stay in the house we're in.  We decided to spend that money we had for the down payment on adoption instead. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Never Say Never

Hi ladies! If any of you are still following, I'm pleased to say that I'm back and a lot has happened.  I said our journey to build our family was over but God had other plans.  He took hold of my heart and has made so many amazing changes in who I am and where I'm going.  I thought about starting a brand new blog thinking to start fresh but the fact is that the pain and struggle of this blog was part of the journey that brought me here and its part of me.  So instead I will pick up where I left off.  And surprisingly our infertility is no longer painful.  No... I'm still not pregnant and likely never will be.  But God works in amazing ways and I have seen all sorts of changes these past few months that I never thought I would see.  So never say never.  More details and blog redesign coming soon :)