Perhaps I Didn’t Make This Clear: My Family is Awesome

Nine years ago today I made the single best choice of my life and married The Hubs. We had an amazing anniversary and just marveled at everything we have been through, good and bad. Nine years seems like forever, but we both remembered our wedding like it was yesterday. As we walked along the river after brunch today, I started having some Very Deep Thoughts. We were discussing our sweet little E, each other, funny memories, and of course, adoption. Talking or thinking about adoption is a pleasant thing, lately. For a while it wasn’t. But there is one adoption aspect that is bothering me. 

Everyone from our adoption education class (cohort) and the two classes after us have adopted already. In fact, so many people have adopted that there are only 8 home-study ready families, including us, even left remaining in the waiting pool! I’m not wallowing in self-pity, but it does make me feel a bit sad. Also, I stumbled upon another surprising emotion while reflecting on why this bothered me: indignation. 

Here’s why. Getting passed over and being second choice again and again makes me feel very defensive of my family. It isn’t only because we haven’t adopted yet, but because not being picked feels a lot like being the last kid standing alone after all the cooler students have been chosen for teams in gym class. It feels worse than that, because this is my family. I’m not saying I’m anything special; however, I’m sure married to someone who deserves that title. And I will take credit for birthing the other member of this family who is absolutely something wonderful. Not just because he’s my son. Because he’s good, and kind, and generous, and loving. 

  And while initially it irritates me that my amazing husband and kind little boy (and myself) aren’t being chosen to adopt, my emotions after irritation are quite different. I feel very sorry for those who have reviewed/will review our profile but moved on. They missed out on the best father any kid could ever have. I can state without hyperbole that I don’t think I could find one fault with the Hubs and his role as Dada. He’s just a great guy who fulfills every aspect (playing, learning, nurturing discipline) of fatherhood effortlessly. It just comes naturally. And E has all the makings of a great big brother. He’s sensitive, empathetic, and loving. He loves being a helper. E will be one of those older siblings who looks out for his little brother/sister. He asked for a long time when his baby was coming; he would ask God every night during bedtime prayers. He hasn’t done that in a while, and I feel scared that maybe he “gave up.”  I hate the idea of my little boy losing faith in his prayer. After all, he’s 3; he’s not sure how the whole faith thing works just yet!

I ache for any expectant mother (or father) who is on the heartbreaking, emotional journey of placing their baby for adoption. I have read that many birthmothers say a great deal of stress was lifted after they found the “perfect family.”  I’m not even going to entertain the idea that we are perfect. That’s pure silliness. But we are most assuredly a family that could put some of an expectant mother’s stress at ease if she met us and saw what we are: a genuinely joyful, imperfect, adoring couple who choose to lead very kid-centered lives devoted to parenting, with a bottomless-soda glass amount of love to shower upon a new member of the family. The thing I wonder is, why isn’t it enough? 

I just had an interesting thought: I think if I was an expectant mother and I was interested in choosing an adoptive couple that had a child already, I would want to meet the kid. You could tell a lot about the hopeful adoptive parents just from sizing up their child, I bet. You could also see the parents interacting with their son or daughter and decide if that’s how you would want your baby to be treated (or not). It’s a good idea, right? 

Just to drive this point home once more, I don’t dwell on the above very often. Usually only after I hear someone else has just adopted, or after we hear we were second choice again. I’m doing a great job of enjoying the blessings in front of me and not obsessing about the ones we hopefully we have one day. But as anyone who has adopted would certainly agree, there are inevitably going to be moments where you question yourself as well as the process. Mostly the process. 

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Being, Just to Be

You know what’s underrated? Carefree abandon. I hope all of you had at least one moment of carefree abandon today. I am becoming a big fan of moments infused with it. For me, that means making choices when my analyzer is switched off. Enjoying the moment, the activity, the decision; sometimes it’s very freeing to just be or just do and not always consider how it will impact anything else in my life. 

The latest in carefree abandon: Dance-offs with my frequently naked 3 1/2 year old. Normally I would insist on a pull-up since he isn’t exactly house-broke, but lately he has decided being naked is what it’s all about, so we’re rolling with it. Mostly because its unfathomably adorable. Maybe it will give him a little incentive to realize how nice it can feel not to have a pull-up on all the time? Maybe? Yeah I know, probably not. 

We enjoyed a great weekend filled with family goodness, now that we are both much less committed to work at this very second: Visiting the zoo, finally setting up the pool, blowing hundreds of bubbles in the backyard to make “a magic giant bubble.” A family could spend a lot of time blowing a lot of bubbles with the goal of a bubble that is both giant and magical. ūüėä 

The bubble is not in the picture, but I assure you, it was awesome.


 

E posed next to this gigantic sleeping/dead crocodile. I am confident that this experience will only take up very little of the therapy time he will now likely need as an adult.

 
 Another reason this weekend rocked was we finally said goodbye to the hellacious heatwave that singed all my flowers, killed my grass, and kept me a prisoner in my own home. My own non-air conditioned home. Well, except one room I held up in during the siege. Some people flit about fresh as flowershop daisies on the ninth consecutive day of 100 degree temperatures. I’m not one of those people. I’m more like the actual daisies in the backyard listing dangerously to the side or collapsing in upon themselves, because they have already wisely given up. The first three or four days of blazing heat they stood strong, believing help was coming. By the sixth day, they accepted their fate and fell over. That’s me. I don’t need to be a hero when it’s 100 degrees. Whatever needs to be done can wait until we are back in the 80 degree range, am I right?

Consequently, this will be the last year we make excuses about the “necessity” of air conditioning. Every single year the hubs and I discuss getting it, then justify our way back out by reasoning that there really are only 3-4 days a summer we really need it and it just isn’t worth the expense. Bollocks. We need it bad, and it is for sure worth the expense. Coming to our home Fall 2015: Air conditioning. Sweet, sweet air conditioning. 

No adoption updates in quite some time now, but life is good and our faith is intact. ūüėá We are considering redoing our online and book portfolios, something I dread since the first one took almost 60 hours to make. But, you do whatcha gotta do, right? 

Stop in and follow the journey from the beginning! 

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Hey, Hey! It’s a Good Day!¬†

Things are looking up around these parts. I’ve been waiting for this glorious day, after a rather unfun winter and spring. Of course, it isn’t that the entirety of those seasons were a bummer, but you know what I mean. When I think back later, on the winter and spring of 2015, they will likely not receive any honorable mentions as particularly outstanding times in my life. And that’s okay, because life isn’t supposed to be a nonstop feel good session, and the cruddy times are undeniably essential to truly appreciating the good times. 

It’s just the little things. Work is about to finally let up for the hubs, as he emerges from his busiest, craziest time of year. I’m almost done with an editing project I’ve been doing from home for several months. While we are both certainly grateful for his job and my contract work, it is going to be AH-MAY-ZING to be finished right around the same time. Then…downtime. 

Our plans so far include spending time together as a family, and just being. We set up a play set in the backyard this year now that E is old enough to enjoy it, and well as a “construction site.”  The construction site was crucial because he kept going into the dog yard with his dump trucks and hauling out gravel to spread hither and yon. This included gravel in the grass and gravel in the flower beds and gravel sliding under my feet on the patio. It was only a matter of time before wayward gravel injured someone, probably me. 

Behold, the mighty construction site. To me it’s a pile of rocks, to E it’s a magical wonderland. Oh to live life through the eyes of a three-year old!

 E has provided us with his requests for summer activities:

  • find some tadpoles in the mountains
  • find a starfish at the beach, in a “water house” (tide pool) 
  • visit an elephant

My kid is easy to please. I fear for the day he starts hounding us for expensive toys and nonstop trips to cool places and the latest in footwear. I assume that’s all coming. But for now, I’m pretty psyched that his list is easy-peasy. Luckily, from where we live you could be in the mountains and at the beach, on the very same day, if you so desired. And elephants aren’t too hard to find when you have an excellent zoo 45 minutes away!  It isn’t as if we have to go on safari to find one. 

I know I’ve turned a corner because although there are no new adoption prospects in sight, I find that no longer fills me with sorrow or fear. Those feelings have been replaced with patience (gulp) and a kind of underlying excitement that it will happen eventually. I’ve gotta give all the props to God on this one, because I asked him to take this burden from me and allow me to just live life focusing on the things I can do something about. And He did!  You can’t beat the feeling of having your prayer answered before you’ve even said Amen!

Here’s to all of us hanging on through the tough stuff and choosing to revel in the beauty all around us, especially if you happen to find gravel beautiful. ūüėČ 

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Are You Kidding Me?

I wish I could have ended on a high note with that last post! I wish that for all of us. 

It would be hard to forget our first adoption situation. It was the one where we were chosen by the birth parents, had a three hour long “get to know you meeting,” and then got dragged along ever so agonizingly slowly by both our agency and the couple for five weeks. 

This is the one where I found the baby registries online. And where the infamous paternity test became its own character in the Adoption Shell Game that the hubs and I suffered through as helpless spectators. The one where the social worker told the agency the couple did not intend to place their baby for adoption, so our agency told us it was over. The whole sordid, yucky, so-not-okay situation that threw me for a loop and made me wonder if I could stick with this if this was how the process actually worked. 

Guess what?  It wasn’t over!  Because that couple indeed placed their baby, through our adoption agency, with a family that was not us this week.  I found this out not through the agency in an aboveboard, professional manner, but through my adoption network support group as well as social media sources. 

Okay then. Between the hubs and I, we aren’t even sure what to make of this. I think we can all agree that at the very least, it’s a head scratcher.  Maybe in our case, it’s fair to say this latest development is simply a par-for-the-course-yet-jaw-dropping turn of events, the very thing we should really be expecting on this strange journey through the looking glass.  

Adoption is agreeing to leap through the looking glass with no guarantee what you might find. This is why anyone who even considers adopting has at least a little spark of badass inside them.

 For Carrie, who reads my blog (thanks Google Analytics),
The truth of what really happened, what was fact and what was fiction, may never be known between us. I think communicating through the agency instead of directly to one another was likely a giant mistake. Know this: you made a selfless choice choosing to place your baby when you knew you just couldn’t give him the life you wanted for him now. That is admirable. I’m sorry you chose to seek another couple rather than us. It breaks my heart, but my feelings are not paramount in this situation. I know you have blessed the other family enormously and given them the greatest gift of their lives, and have also given the same gift to your son. I pray that it gives you some peace to remember that as you grieve in the days and weeks to come. The hubs and I only wish for you to experience calm and fortitude moving forward, and a life filled with good things. 


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Sharing Another’s Joy

It’s been an interesting week. I got to prove my mettle to myself the past few days and I’m pretty proud of that. 

A lovely friend of mine, also on a long adoption journey, learned she and her husband had been chosen by a birthmother and the baby was coming soon!  She hesitated to tell me, afraid that it might be painful to hear that she had just be given the very thing I’ve been waiting for. 

When I heard the news, I took a quick inventory of my feelings. I didn’t want to offer a phony congratulations or say something nice, but with a deeply envious dead-giveaway-tone to my voice. And after a couple of minutes of reflection, I realized something:  I was truly, genuinely happy for her. I didn’t have that sickly jealous feeling at all. I was, and am, so excited that her dreams are coming true. She too has experienced infertility. She has experienced disappointment in adoption. She’s been discouraged and frustrated. And now, she and her husband are finally going to be blessed with the baby they’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. That’s a miracle, and they deserve to be blessed by this gift. They will be wonderful parents to this sweet little baby. 

It says a lot that I could cry tears of joy for someone else’s adoption success, and not throw even a little pity party. Those of us who have battled infertility or the purgatory of indeterminate adoption waiting, know it is hard to see other people finally get their baby while you’re still struggling. I didn’t feel that way when my friend shared her news. I was able to truly join in her joy. 

It’s a big deal people!  Maybe I’ve been at this too long.  Or maybe I’ve been at it long enough to realize that every time a woman that is longing for a child becomes a mother, that is always a cause for celebration. 

What Dreams May Come: Part II 

If you’ve already read my post about how I dreamed of my son, the relevance of this next story will make a lot more sense.

Again, I’m not a big analyzer of dreams and their deeper Freudian meaning or what they say about the bigger picture of life as it exists at that time. I’m not against that school of thought in any way, I just have always been rather matter of fact about the dreams I remember; hopefully they are pleasant, and I wake up happy. ¬†Simple pleasures. I remember very few dreams. This is likely because since I rarely reach restful levels of sleep, there probably isn’t a whole lot of dreaming going on up in my noggin.

IMG_0886

Just about one year ago this month, after my very last IVF but a couple of months before I began to feel the tug of adoption, I had another dream. ¬†It was much like the one I had about E fifteen years before, in terms of feeling sweet contented bliss in the simplest, most fulfilling context possible. I had lay down for a quick nap right after I put E down, exhausted after a busy morning playing outside on a hot day. I slept for around an hour or so, but I didn’t want to wake up because I was living the sweetest dream and it felt blessedly real. This one featured me with a child just like in my dream about E, but the details were a bit fuzzier for some reason. ¬†Here is what I remember; I was cradling the sweetest little baby girl. She was an infant, and I remember knowing that she was mine. I was just walking around my home, holding this peaceful little baby girl. She was too young to smile, but she was blowing spit bubbles like brand new babies will do, and I was charmed and delighted.

Here is what made this dream such a unique experience…she was a beautiful little brown baby girl! ¬†Since the details aren’t crystal clear, I cannot remember if she was African-American, Hispanic, Indian, Native American, etc. She had large black eyes with long lashes and short, wispy black baby hair.

Rewind: This was before we had started to think about adoption, much less discuss it. We were in the stage at the time where the doctors were saying I might be able to become pregnant again using donor eggs.  Generally in that process, you choose a donor who matches as many of your own characteristics as possible. So this dream came out of nowhere, no subliminal longing, no subconscious-beneath-the-surface-realizing-of-what-might-be, nothing but a completely random dream dropped into my peaceful slumber like ice into a glass.

I told the hubs about it, and he laughed, thinking it would be quite the trick to pull off giving birth to a dark-skinned baby with our genes. ¬†He’s right about that. But I can’t help but wonder, much like my dream with E, if I was given the gift of a tiny glimpse of what the future holds. We may not have been thinking about adoption yet at that point, but it’s safe to say God was, and He was way ahead of us!

I am too cynical to say that since I had this dream, I am firmly committed to the belief that we will one day adopt a baby girl of color. I have no clue what will happen. ¬†The hubs and I do believe that God already knows our children, and we don’t want to put boundaries around that. We communicated to our agency (such as it is) way back in the beginning that we had no gender or racial preference. ¬†We didn’t say, “Girl only. Must be non-Caucasian.” ¬†We left it all open.

We actually have been presented for two different adoption situations very recently, both baby girls, one Hispanic, one African-American. We weren’t chosen as the family for either of the babies, so maybe my dream was just that: a dream that was nothing more than a dream. It’s impossible to say. ¬†We were a “second choice” for one of the girls, so that’s good, I guess. Right? ¬†Okay, so I know that it most definitely is not, but I’m trying to keep things positive these days. Work with me here!

If we do end up adopting a dark-skinned baby girl someday, you can bet I will start paying a lot more attention to the significance of my dreams! ¬†Maybe there is something to it. After all, I do have a friend with a proven track record of predicting future events through her dreams, or even just strong feelings that overtake her and don’t let go until she communicates the message to her friend or loved one. I was on the receiving end of this once, much to my delight. ¬†And she was right! Absolutely true story…perhaps a future blog post?


 

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Hindsight, You’re a Real Jerk

If I had stuck with the original plan, we would probably be having a baby at the end of June. 

Back in September, we had finally found a suitable egg donor and made a down payment to “reserve” her. Good egg donors are hard to find, and they go fast. We had found a new fertility clinic we liked well enough, better than the other four we interviewed. The plan was for her to begin taking ovary stimulating drugs, like I did when I did IVF, and she would produce a bunch of eggs, then have them retrieved about ten days later. At that point they would have been fertilized with the hubs’ “genetic contribution,” and the ones that developed into suitable embryos would be transferred into my uterus around six days later.¬†

I halted the plan two days before our donor was to begin injections. It just didn’t feel right, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons was that I had spent the past 11 months undergoing nearly nonstop treatments, which resulted in 2 miscarriages: one of those was my beloved miracle twins, lost at 9 weeks because they were conjoined. The other miscarriage was at 4 weeks, with what doctors said was almost certainly another set of twins. A third cycle resulted in nothing at all. Right after the third cycle, we learned that we would have to use an egg donor to proceed if we wanted more children. That news came exactly one year ago today, on June 3, 2014.¬†

So, we charged ahead with finding an egg donor. We so badly wanted more kids that I didn’t bother to stop and evaluate what we had been through in a short time. Three cycles and two miscarriages in 11 months. It became very real to me, right before the donor was to begin her stimulation meds, that I was opening another Pandora’s Box of physical and emotional pain. I was tired of all the fertility drugs, all the time. The drugs you take to do the treatments are very hard on your body, and it doesn’t get easier with experience. I was tired of medical professionals constantly hanging around my lady parts, and I so badly wanted to reclaim both my body and my sanity. ¬†I prayed about it, and that was when I began to feel a strong call to adoption. I had never considered it before, and now here it was, feeling like the most obvious answer in the world.¬†

Another reason I walked away is because an egg donor cycle costs almost exactly $30,000. And there are no guarantees. If the donor doesn’t respond well, or if the eggs don’t fertilize properly, you are out all that money and it’s over. If you do end up with healthy embryos, transfer them, and they do not take or you miscarry, it’s over. We worked hard to acquire the money we needed for an egg donor cycle, and if it didn’t work, that would be the end. We weren’t going to come by another 30k and have a second chance at this.¬†

On the other hand, for a similar amount of money, we could adopt an infant domestically and if we never gave up, eventually we would adopt. (Well, that was before what happened to us. Now my expectations are pretty low, if I’m being honest). ¬†Besides my personal feelings about another cycle, the idea that our money would be “safer” going this route was very appealing. I discussed my feelings with the hubs, who was at first quite surprised but then very supportive.¬†

Today, I’m feeling guilty. If I hadn’t changed my mind and the cycle had worked, my husband and I would soon have the second child we have dreamed of for so long. ¬†My son would have a sibling on the way, and he probably wouldn’t be asking me all the time when God is bringing him “his baby.” ¬†I would be nesting and preparing for a new son or daughter, and revelling in the sheer joy and excitement that a new baby brings. I would not have experienced the past 8 months, which is a huge hypothetical bonus.¬†

But, I followed my heart, and I listened to the answer that was given when I prayed about what to do. I’m questioning now if it was really God steering me towards adoption, or if that’s what I wanted to hear because I needed a break.¬†Only time will tell. Until then, I have to carry the “what if” burden, which is probably my least favorite kind of burden.

Discover the rest of the story at www.borrowedgenes.com