Moving On

Good afternoon, friends!

Not since I took John Travolta to task for being an icky, semi-closeted creeper who gropes women publicly in the hope of appearing straight, have I had so many views on my blog. Wow!  I look at my stats every now and again, ever since that one time I learned they were there. I figured it out because WordPress actually personally contacted me to see if I had a website breech, because my page views per day went from around 150 to almost 13,000. I assured them there must be a mistake of some kind. They walked me through how to see my stats and sure enough, they were popping. I guess a lot of people don’t like John Travolta. I personally never had a problem with the guy until his busy hands/close talker/deviant behavior at the Oscars, but that was all that I needed to add him to…My List. 

Anyhoo, for the past couple of weeks there have been 500-600 people following the events of our bad soap opera-like life, and finding that out was a great way to start the day! It feels pretty amazing to know that many people care. Or, that it was like watching a huge train wreck in slow motion installments and you couldn’t turn away no matter how hard you tried. Either way, I totally get it, and I thank you.

I’ve heard from a lot of folks, many of them wondering why I’m not simmering with rage over Carrie and her husband. I will tell you that it was a very hard, very intentional decision to forgive them. My first instinct upon learning the whole story was not, “Aw shucks. Who among us hasn’t used our baby to emotionally torture and extort paternity tests and gifts from an innocent family and receive nine months of free swag from the government?

I was pissed. Then shocked. Then angry. Then feeling sorry for myself because I was sure the entire universe was conspiring against the hubs and I to make bad things happen to us over and over again until we gave up. Then, I took a deep breath, ditched the dreaded victim mentality, and made a decision.

The pursuit of adoption takes a lot of energy. A lot of energy, and time, and focus. It is a full time job at times. If I choose to harbor anger or frustration towards them, they are getting more of my resources. They already received five weeks worth, after all. So, I forgave them as I have been forgiven so many times (I’m talking ’bout you, JC!”), and put those two in my review mirror. Well, except for this post of course, but it doesn’t count. I’m trying to make a point here people!

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We are moving forward. It’s hard to keep the hubs and I down for long. That doesn’t mean we are sadness-free, just that we are keeping the faith. We have been ready for a baby in our arms for a long time and E sometimes asks me at bedtime where “his baby” is.  We will stay the course, with hearts full of hope that somewhere out there is a baby that needs a devoted and loving daddy, a goofy mommy, and a sweet big brother who is ready to share his cars!

Until next time!  One of these days I’m going to have actual good news to share!

Free

We have closure, friends.

I think it has been clear for a while now that we have been bobbing and weaving through various shades of red flags.  It was our first time going down this road and we didn’t know what a red flag looked like, exactly.  We could only go with our gut, and hoped we would know when it was time to hold firm and when it was time to cut bait.  We received awesome feedback from YOU, the caring people who follow our journey, and we are so grateful for that because it was affirming and validating as we slowly realized that this is not the way adoption is supposed to work.

In our minds, babies are treasures, not bargaining chips or other methods of currency.  If we had been thinking differently, maybe we would have understood the game long before now.

As much as we had to fight to get information from our agency, our coordinator was facing the same fight to get information from the parents.  It was a cyclical nightmare that none of us could allow to continue for our own emotional health.  Fortunately, today, our coordinator was able to locate and touch base with Carrie’s social worker, who shared the following:  

 “Carrie shared her plan with me and the chance of this adoption going through is very slim.  The parents are very invested in raising their child. I would warn that I would be very surprised if adoption was the route they chose, regardless of the paternity test results.” 

She went on to share that Carrie’s husband, as well as friends and family, have been bringing gifts and clothes to the house on a regular basis.  Our coordinator, hoping for the best, assumed that Carrie had maybe changed her mind in the past couple of weeks.  The social worker said it was her impression that parenting had been the plan since at least the fall.  The fall? You can’t get much earlier than that when you have a June due date for crying out loud on Sunday!

So, why the ruse?  We can only be left to speculate about much of it.  Maybe they really were considering adoption and wanted an agency and a plan in place in case they decided that was their only option.  Maybe they knew they would need a paternity test and it costs a TON of money and an adoption agency would very likely pay for it.  They were still pushing hard for the paternity test through their social worker even today, and as you know the hubs and I majorly advocated to get it for them before the birth.  It was the right thing to do, you know the story.  But sadly the story was not entirely true, and they wanted to know the paternity for their benefit, not ours.  We lucked out that this was all discovered before we paid for half the test; it costs about 3K.

The next question: Why did they pick us?  They had to choose a family to stay in the program, and they had plenty of profiles to choose from.  Why did they pick us knowing they were going to parent the baby?  There is no way to know.  Maybe because we had a kid already, or because our profile shows we have a large, supportive network of family and friends?  I mean, if you have to screw someone over, I guess you pick the people who look like they have the best chance of bouncing back?  I don’t even begin to pretend I understand this mind set.  I will say this though, and I’m not trying to sound like a martyr:  I’m glad it was us rather than a childless couple.  As painful as this has been, it would have been absolutely unendurable if we didn’t have our sweet miracle to love throughout the whole ordeal.  Besides our faith in God’s plan, the hugs and kisses and silliness of our little boy were what made it possible for us to keep going and believe it was going to work out.  It’s funny though, it didn’t work out, but we’re still here, bent but not broken somehow. 

I should be angry at Carrie and her husband, but I’m not.  They were running a scam, yes, and lying to people, yes, and these things are unacceptable.  But I think it’s also the only way they know how to survive.   It’s too bad, because Carrie is a very smart women, and poverty and abuse of government programs are not the only options available to her.  She has the smarts to work herself out of her situation and she is only two years from being a nurse, which would provide a great living for her family.  She could not keep the baby and do the nursing program though, so I guess she is giving up/delaying that dream. What I would want Carrie to know (but probably not her husband, because he didn’t seem like the type who would care much), is that her actions caused us great pain, even if it was unintentional.  And I think that her day-to-day life was so deeply mired in crisis and chaos that she wasn’t even aware of how her choices left us reeling in anxiety and sorrow time and time again.  

Since the day we were informed we were chosen to adopt, April 1st  (over five weeks ago), Carrie provided just enough tidbits of information to the agency (and then them to us) periodically to let us believe she wanted this adoption no matter what, and we were the family she wanted.  We believed her and the agency believed her.  Our lunchtime adoption meeting on April 17 was magic to me; I believed her when she said we were just the couple she had hoped for.  Apparently I’m too trusting/gullible and she’s a fantastic actress.  
The past five weeks were some of the worst of my life.  It was a constant struggle of emotions; should I be eagerly anticipating the birth of our son, or should I be an anxious mess because we haven’t heard from the expectant mother in a week?  Should I be destroyed because I found their baby registries online, or should I believe Carrie when she said her mother did it?  In five weeks, this adoption was on and off three times.  That takes a serious toll on a person.  Much is written about the emotional pain and suffering of birth mothers, but it is taboo to mention the emotional turmoil of adoptive parents.  Adoption coordinators might tell you, “You don’t know what it’s like to lose a baby.”  That, unfortunately, is some bullsh*t.  The fact is, most adoptive parents know exactly what that’s like.  We find ourselves at adoption agencies because we have lost babies.  That’s not nothin’ and our losses should be acknowledged, too.  

To summarize: There will be no bouncing baby boy joining our family in mid-June.  We accept this and are dealing with it because it was never real.  It certainly wasn’t the baby God has intended just for us, although we know he/she is out there somewhere.  This journey is hard; even potential leads are difficult to get excited about or take seriously, because we’ve been there before so often that our instinct is to automatically assume the worst.  We’re going to work on that though, because that’s no way to live, and the baby that is destined to be ours deserves better than that, and so do we.


An Open Letter to An Expectant Mother

Hi Carrie (obviously not your real name)!

Our agency does not want us talking to each other yet for some reason. I can’t even begin to dream what that reason is, especially since our meeting was three weeks ago and went great. We were encouraged to get to know one another and find out how I could be a support to you during the last month of pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to get started!  But then I was told any communication would have to through the agency, then most recently they said now was not a good time to communicate with you at all. I don’t know what’s happening, but the only option I have left to reach you is via my blog. So, that’s what I’m going to do!  You will probably never see this, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Who knows, maybe a little bird will lead you right to it!

I have changed minor details about you in my previous posts, to maintain your privacy. And of course we both know your name isn’t Carrie! No one will guess your identity unless you tell them yourself. 

First of all, are you well? How is the ninth month of pregnancy treating you? You were already very uncomfortable from the baby jamming his feet in your ribs when we met three weeks ago. You said at that time the doctors thought he was close to five pounds! He’s a big boy, it sounds like. I hope you are finding plenty of time for self care and relaxation everyday.

You mentioned you would be receiving 1-2 ultrasounds a week from here forward, to make sure you weren’t in any danger. I pray for you every day, and I worry, because I know the doctor said no more babies after the last one. I know you chose to carry him anyway despite the risks. I’m so glad you have excellent doctors available to you who will catch anything that might be concerning. 

I know you might feel embarrassed about the whole paternity thing. Stop that right now. You aren’t the first woman to be there and you won’t be the last. I admit when I heard about the possibility of another father it made my head spin, but not from judgement. It was because I couldn’t believe you had another challenge to deal with in your already challenging pregnancy. 

Guess what the hubs did? When he heard that our agency wouldn’t do a paternity test until after the birth, he was outraged. He couldn’t believe they would deny you the courtesy of being able to take a paternity test now, allowing you to discover who the father is and giving you the chance to make an adoption plan before the birth. He was shocked by the cruelty of the expectation that you would give birth to the baby, and then be expected to wait 7-9 days to learn the paternity. And to be totally honest, he thought it was tremendously disrespectful of them to continue to treat us like dirt on the bottom of their shoes. Establishing paternity as soon as possible benefits us as well.  So, after I was told that the paternity test would be done after birth and to deal with it, my husband decided that was not how it was going to be. He contacted the agency to inform them that his expectation was that this test, as long as it was safe and what YOU wanted, would be done as soon as it could be scheduled. And they responded this afternoon to say, “Okay, it looks like we are going to do the test early after all.”  Hooray for the hubs!

I remember you telling me that when you placed a baby for adoption several years ago, the only reason you were able to do it was because the woman you chose made you feel safe and supported. You knew she was going to be an outstanding mother. It is killing me that the agency is not allowing me to contact you or provide you with emotional support in any way. The last month of pregnancy is so hard, and I really wanted to be able to shoulder some of your burden. I wanted to spend more time with you so you could see for yourself the type of mother I am, and hopefully become increasingly reassured that you made the right choice. 

Regardless of whether you decide to place or parent, don’t give up on your dream of being a nurse. The fact that you have managed to work, raise children, manage your health condition, and earn your associates degree all at the same time is astounding. That’s one of the first things I learned about you, and that’s when I knew you were one tough cookie. If you’ve come this far, there is no doubt you can make it all the way to being an RN. You made it pretty clear you weren’t going to be stopped! At our meeting, the hubs and I noticed you definitely have that “nurse” aura, that quality that automatically calms the people around you. In my opinion, that’s 95% of what makes a good nurse, so you’re well on your way. 😊

We know you have big decisions to make and they’re coming up quick. This is our unsolicited advice: make the decision that is best for you and the baby, period. The responsibility of a baby rests on you, and therefore you have executive decision-making power. Don’t make it for your husband or your kids. Don’t make it for the agency. Don’t make it for us. Don’t be influenced by non-supportive friends and family members who tell you they know what’s best for you.  Look inward and decide what feeds and nurtures your soul, and go from there. 

If you choose adoption, you won’t find a more loving family ready to welcome your baby boy with open arms and hearts. We have not made ourselves available to any other opportunities since the day you chose us. Maybe that was naive, but it seemed like the right thing to do. With the paternity test moving forward, soon you will know what you want to do. We are looking forward to hearing your decision, and we will support you in whatever that happens to be. Your value is not determined by the baby you carry. 

Dear Abby, Where Are You? Advise Me!

Calling any and all Dear Abby’s of the world:

I am actively seeking guidance from you, my readers. You have something I don’t have, which is the glorious quality of being on the outside looking in. At the bottom of the post I ask for your opinion. Please, oh please, share it with me.  I crave perspective.

Here is the situation.  The agency texted me right before closing time to inform me they don’t want to pay for the paternity test while expectant mom is still pregnant, although it can be done with a blood test, so it is non-invasive.  They have decided to wait and do it at birth, which is barely cheaper.  And once again, I can’t believe the ridiculousness I am forced to endure.  It has become the official spectator sport of this adoption.

To summarize both situations: 

A paternity test now means that in about a week we would know who the father is, and contingient on the results we would either proceed with the adoption plan, or it would be all over, depending on which man is the father.  We could finally get to experience some anticipation and enthusiasm; if the results went the other way, we could mourn the loss (again) and be allowed to move on emotionally. Most importantly, Carrie (emom) would know in advance of the birth if she was placing the baby or keeping the baby.  She could create the adoption plan she wants ahead of time.  Her husband would not have to watch this baby being born, wondering if it is his kid. He could either go through the experience of elatedly watching his son be born, or if not that, he would otherwise know that he is there to support his wife throughout the labor but not get his hopes up at the birth.  For those wondering, they were officially separated for a short time, hence the second man in the picture.  I felt it was important to add that, because Carrie is a really good person, and she may be in our lives one day.

A paternity test at birth means we all experience hell on earth for the next month. The hubs and I would just have to wait it out and hope for the best.  We would still not be in the waiting pool, instead we would just keep twiddling our thumbs and praying this might work out after all. We wouldn’t even be at the hospital when the baby was born, we would be called up only after the paternity test came back. Our coordinator told us not to worry, because paternity tests are done all the time and take no longer than 48 hours for results. Oh, is that right?  Because when I looked up the hospital Carrie will be giving birth at, I learned that NO, the hospital does not do paternity tests, and in fact almost no hospital does. You have to bring your own kit, send it out, and results are available in 7-9 days at the earliest. I can’t describe how shocked I was when the coordinator straight up told me, “They do the testing in-house at the hospital. We will have results in 48 hours.” Our coordinator, the person in charge of our such a major chunk of our lives, doesn’t even know the procedure is NOT done at the hospital. She doesn’t know the results turn around time or even a close estimate. Since she doesn’t know this, she doesn’t have a clue or a plan what happens to the baby during that time. She should know all of these things and she knows so little. It should not be my job to discover and interpret vital details for someone who does this for a living, especially someone we are paying an enormous amount of money to do this sort of thing on our behalf.

Let’s speculate on what those 7-9 days will be like for the baby; we aren’t allowed to take him home without the test results. If Carrie takes him home for nine days, it seems unlikely she would be able to part with him regardless of who the father is. And what about her five older children? Is the expectation that they are going to be cool with having a new baby brother in the house for a week and then disappearing if she decided to continue with the adoption? Where did our baby go?  What about the likely possibility that she doesn’t want to take the baby home, because of everything I just mentioned above? The baby goes into Cradle Care, also known as foster care.  And all because they don’t want to spring for a non-invasive paternity test right now, even though we offered to pay for half of it. I’m disgusted.

It’s Dear Abby time: In the comments below, will you please cast your vote for what you would do in this situation? The hubs and I are clouded by emotion and are interested in what other people would do in our place. Here are your choices:
A: Insist on doing the paternity test NOW, no matter who we have to convince.
B: Just be patient and wait until the baby is born; the paternity will be found out eventually.
C: Cut ties with this situation and hope another opportunity comes along someday.
D: Request that the agency director serve as our coordinator for this case since it is just too big of a responsibility for the coordinator (on the job 9 months) to navigate effectively. A more experienced, responsible coordinator could have handled even this complicated of a situation with more finesse.
E: Any other suggestion or idea you can think of that may be helpful.

And Then There Were Two

We are living out soap opera twists left and right around here!  I’m not sure how we got so…lucky?

Yes, it’s true. Since the day we learned we were chosen to adopt, then not, then back on, then off again, then kinda on again, then probably off but no one really knew, we have experienced more drama than either of us have ever known in our lives put together. Here’s the thing about the hubs and I; we shun drama. We actively shun it. We are very happy with our calm, predictable lives. That doesn’t mean boring. It just means we don’t usually encounter things like paternity tests.

About that: Our adoption coordinator called this morning with some interesting news. Perhaps you recall the latest hang up regarding the adoption. Since that time, something came to light, and that something is that the paternity of the baby is unknown. It was previously assumed the father was the gentleman who changed his mind and didn’t want to sign the adoption papers, effectively squashing the adoption. There’s still a decent chance he is the father. However, there’s also a chance the baby was conceived with another man. If that’s the case, we could still adopt the baby because the other guy is in favor of it. The expectant mother would like to place baby boy with us either way. However, that can’t happen if the first guy is the father, since he doesn’t want to sign the papers. It’s all very Days of Our Lives. 

The next step is to do a DNA test to determine the paternity of the baby. The agency is looking into if this is a safe procedure to do in the third trimester. The expectant mother really wants to know the results so she can move forward with her adoption plan. The hubs and I really want to know too, but not at risk to her or the baby!  I’m not up-to-date on current paternity testing protocols.

We should know by the end of the day if a DNA test is possible. If not, the expectant parents and the hubs and I all get to wait until the baby is actually born, which, as I picture it in my mind, seems like a giant train wreck. On one hand you have a man waiting to see if the baby his wife gives birth to is his child.  I can only imagine that is going to be a devastating moment for him if it isn’t.   On the other hand, you have the hubs and I waiting to see if the paternity test shows that Guy #2 is the father, meaning we can adopt. If he isn’t, we dejectedly leave the hospital empty handed.  And you have a birthmother who has chosen adoption but may not be able to continue that plan if the baby is her husband’s, since he is not on board with that scenario. It’s a messy situation all around.  They truly are good people and I sure don’t want to see them in pain; we can only have faith that whatever the outcome, it is what is best for this baby boy.

I thought adoption was going to look more like a stork dropping a bundle off on our doorstep. NOPE. 

I’m Back, and I’m Reclaiming My Joy

I took a little break last week on account of great sadness at the loss of this adoption. I was really grieving the loss of this baby I never even met because we thought we had made our way to The One. And when I heard we hadn’t, it was very hard to accept that. On Friday morning, I woke up and decided I was reclaiming my joy. I can’t live in this hypothetical “what if” world anymore. Anyone who has experienced similar issues knows what I’m talking about, whether it is infertility or the adoption wait, or even the adoption wait after you have allegedly been matched.

An example of the hypothetical world is where even though you need a new single stroller, you decide not to buy one; after all, why spend the money when you will need a double stroller any day now!

The sorrow I felt last week at yet another failure to grow our family was like a gray, gloomy stalker cloud that followed me around and made it very hard to remember to be grateful for every miraculous blessing in my life. And I’m an extremely happy person! I irritate the hubs with my optimism on a regular basis. It has been hard on him to see me suffer the past couple of weeks, but he has been my big strong rock to lean on during the worst of it, despite his own pain. Just another reason why I’m grateful to travel this oft-painful road with a man who (usually) knows just what to say or do to snap me back into annoying optimistic mode again!

It took three years to become Mama and Dada when we welcomed our son, E, into this great big world. Since he was 18 months old, we have been trying for #2. Over half his life, to put it into stark terms. The hubs and I both have been extremely careful to protect him from feeling any second-hand stress, and I think we did a good job despite having several incidents where stress and grief were certainly warranted. But I learned something sombering this week: My son, the sweet, deeply empathetic lovebug that I have tried to shield from my aching heart, told my mom while they were playing, “Mama still doesn’t feel well.” Well, I haven’t been sick. And that means that I haven’t been as clever about hiding my emotions from him as I thought I had. I was horrified, horrified. Hearing that he said those words was like getting punched in the ovaries. AND that’s the moment I decided enough was enough. It’s one thing for the hubs and I to struggle with our feelings about the fall-through, but I will not allow that to spill over into my son’s world. He’s three. Our problems are not his problems. I absolutely decided in that moment that he would never again have to worry that, “Mama isn’t feeling well,” along with the added burden of wondering why.

For those of you who have adopted, are in the adoption process, or are thinking about adopting, please take note: Our adoption situation has been atypical. I will be discussing that more in my next post. I know of many people who have adopted seamlessly, no muss no fuss, and the common denominator seems to be the quality of the agency you work with as well as the competence of your adoption coordinator.

I reclaimed my joy this weekend by spending time with family in the beautiful sunshine. I spent lots of cuddle time with my little man and taught him how to do Eskimo kisses. I worked on my “big” project, my pond and the waterfall; it’s just never quite the way I want it to look, so I took it apart and built it up once again, after looting all kinds of tips and ideas from Pinterest. It looks fab. I did not clean the house, because cleaning the house is not joy-giving.  It’s joy-thieving.

Most importantly, I asked God to carry this burden for me. I have prayed this before, but this time it was more of an impassioned plea. And wouldn’t you know it, before I even opened my eyes I felt like some of the weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and replaced with a feeling of calm that seemed to whisper, “Isn’t this better? Let’s stay in this emotional space, shall we?”

Thank you for following my journey, friends. Here’s to hoping the baby that’s meant for us makes an appearance soon!

To follow Borrowed Genes, keep scrolling down until you reach the email box!

How to Navigate Around Borrowed Genes

Hi friends!  

A few of you have asked how to know when a new post is up, especially as we get down to the exciting events ahead that will be here before we know it. I have NOT been posting on my personal Facebook page, because I wanted to give people who were truly interested in this journey an opportunity to follow along of their own free will, without me clogging their news feeds. Basically that means you need to be following the blog one way or another to get updates from my Borrowed Genes Facebook page or via email.   A couple friends had not heard we were chosen to adopt, and were a bit irritated that they heard the news two weeks later. And I was over here all protesting, “But, the blog!  The blog.” 

1) If you are viewing the site from a computer/laptop, there should be a very large widget in the top right of the screen that allows you to enter your email address to be notified when a new post is up. For some reason, that box does not appear if you are using a tablet or a smartphone. This has been frustrating to correct, but the good people at WordPress are trying to troubleshoot where that glitch is. In the meantime, computer!

2) Follow my website Facebook page, also called Borrowed Genes. When I publish a new post, it will show up there and then appear in your news feed so you can click on it if you choose. 

3) Comments: there is a place for you to leave comments all the way down at the end of the post. Please do, I enjoy reading them and it makes it a more interactive experience for all of us. All the way down at the bottom you also have the choice of liking the post, or even sharing it on social media if I was especially profound that day. I am occasionally profound; mostly I’m prolost. 

Time is winding down and anticipation is trending up!  My forecast for the next few days: interesting with a chance of exhilaration. 

Peace be with you, dear readers. Thanks for your continued support. 

Look down here ⬇️ for where to comment, like or share. Keep scrolling…you made it!