In Which I Say Goodbye

Hello my friends!  Many of you are wondering where our adoption journey has led us and what’s in the mix. I’m sorry I left everyone hanging, but I needed to distance myself from the topic for a bit to gain some perspective and to just plain be okay. 

Our journey has been hard. They all are; infertility, adoption, it’s all an intense emotional struggle. I think ours has been a bit a touch on the extra brutal side.  We faced not only crushing disappointment more than twice, but also didn’t have the relationship we desired with the people we hired at huge expense to help us. Personality conflicts, they happen. I just wish it hadn’t happened to us. 

The time has come for me to wrap up my time here, at least for now. There are two reasons for this…Reason #1: My goal all along was to write an account of our journey in a very transparent way, leaving a blueprint for others who may follow and find it helpful and encouraging. BUT…about a month ago I received an email from a woman who is with the same agency as us and adopted almost immediately. She stated, pretty bluntly, that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by writing about the good, the bad, and the ugly. She thought that if birth mothers considering us found us online (soooooooo easy, that’s true) they would be turned off by my blog. At first, I was pretty pissed off she had the stones to lay that out there. I mean, it’s easy to judge when you adopted before the ink on your homestudy was even dry, right? But before long I realized she was right. And that very day I went and made all my “controversial” posts private so only I can see them and they can’t haunt us.  When I did that, I removed the integrity from my original purpose of transparency. And I can’t continue if I have to make sure every blasted post is positive and chipper, because that’s some serious bullshit. That’s not life. That’s not anything except saccharin-coated nonsense and that is not now, nor has it ever been, how I roll. 

It doesn’t help matters that I’m a humorist in my writing, and the adoption process has been anything but funny. My desire to write is so strong, and I may start another blog where I can still write for people who like my quirky take on things. We will see. 

Reason #2: Regarding where we are now in the adoption process: ah, let’s see how to accurately describe…oh yeah…we are nowhere. If our journey was a location, it would be Area 51. I literally have not a thing to report because absolutely nothing is happening. All of the people in our class have adopted. All of the people in the classes after us have adopted. We remain, and remain, our smiling faces moving lower and lower on the list of online profiles. It has been 7 weeks since we were presented with a situation. Our coordinator says, “I just don’t understand. Families like yours usually get picked right away! I thought you’d be gone in 2-3 months!” 

Whatever. What. Ev. Er. 

The hubs and I are doing well. I have started forcing myself to accept the possibility we may simply have one child. I grieve for E, who asks about “his baby” all the time; I grieve for the hubs, who is such a badass father and has so much awesomeness to impart onto another kid; I grieve for myself because when I became a mother I realized it was what I was born to do, strange as that may sound. I just always thought I would have more than one kid to annoy with my mothering. 😊 But the truth is if we are only supposed to have one, we will make it and be okay. We have E, and if we were only meant to have one miracle granted in our lives, I’m so insanely grateful he was just that. 

Thank you friends for following along and supporting me the whole way. If I write here again, it will be because we have adopted, somehow. 

But if you happen to be acquainted with a baby that needs a family, you know where to find us. 😉 

Love, light, and blessings to all. 

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. 😉 

www.borrowedgenes.com




Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems (sort of)

  
Today I talked to two different adoption consultant companies, Laura at Faithful Adoption Consultants and Shannon at Christian Adoption Consultants. I wasn’t looking exclusively for Christian organizations but these two had the best reputations by far for adoption consultants, (please note, consultants are not the same as facilitators, which are illegal in many states) and it was easy to see why. After speaking with both these ladies my heart sort of sank into my stomach because I realized that this is what our adoption journey could have looked like if I had chosen better. I didn’t know there were different ways you could expect to be treated by an agency. Now I do. 

I enjoyed speaking with them both because they both validated what I knew to be true, that this journey the hubs and I have been in is abnormal, and not a good representation of what adoption looks like. I pulled my punches big time in describing what had happened, both in speaking with them and on my last blog post. I chose to do that because I feel like it’s important to take the high road when I can, and also because if I can ever hope to sincerely forgive our agency for what they did to us, I can’t relive the whole awful thing over and over again. 

In this section I will be discussing finances. It is not the most comfortable thing to be open about, but I feel it is essential to be transparent about all areas of adoption. Education is key. I was impressed by both women because both of them advised me not to pay anything to retain them as consultants at this time. The reason?  Because our current adoption budget (minus the $8000.00 we would forfeit at our agency) wouldn’t be sufficient to afford any of the adoption situations they have available to match with their clients. They were actually looking out for us and advising us how to proceed wisely.  Of course that was very disappointing to hear, but it bolstered my faith in humanity that there really are adoption workers out there, even in this cutthroat industry, that possess and demonstrate integrity. I needed a reminder of that. 

I told them I would see what I could do about rounding up another 10K, and then would touch base with them in the future. At this stage really all we can do is save more up, slowly. We personally aren’t into fundraising or crowd raising or whatever the kids are calling it these days.  There are many folks that do, and I’ve got no problem with that. It just isn’t for us. It doesn’t feel right when we know there are others who need it more. 

Many adoptive couples finance part of their adoptions by receiving the available grant opportunities one can apply for. I’ve looked in to every single one I could find, and they all have income requirements, and our income is too high. It reminded me of filling out FAFSA forms right before college started, and I was soundly disqualified because my parents made “too much money.”  I’m sure I’m not the only one who ran into that questionable problem. And here I am running into it again, oy vey. Yes, the hubs makes a nice living for our family. But I imagine if you take almost any yearly income and try to slide 40k out, after taxes, you’re going to run into a problem, right?

I wonder how many families, like us, have had to fund their adoption expenses after years of funding infertility treatment expenses?  There should be a special grant for that! In that situation, many resources have already been tapped out to pay for the fertility treatments long before the couple even gets to the adoption part of the journey. Resources like personal savings, refinancing your home, taking out your home equity, borrowing from your retirement plan, getting a 0% loan from a merciful credit union, obtaining a 0% for-12-months-credit card, etc. Couples who have experienced an infertility journey, or an adoption journey, or both (shudder) are the most financially creative people in the world! I’m absolutely convinced of this. 

Our standing as of now with our current adoption agency is that we will be presented for immediate placements. I have no way of knowing if that is actually going to happen or not. Nothing more has been said about the meeting, in fact there hasn’t been any communication at all, with one exception: we did get a text last week about an immediate placement and if we wanted to be shown. We said yes. After two days of silence we texted for an update and learned the mother had chosen someone else. And that’s been it. We have friends who are also in the program who received two adoption opportunities for babies due at the end of June. We didn’t get those sent to us. We dare not reach out to ask why, for fear of being perceived as pushy! 😋

We are keeping on, and trying to keep adoption frustrations pushed to the side so they don’t interfere with our daily life. It is easy to let the process blind you to the blessings in front of you, as you chase the ones you hope are ahead of you. 

It can be a challenge to write about what’s happening in our adoption journey without making our lives sound like we move from one disappointment-filled moment to the next. I start a lot of posts I never publish, because I re-read them and think, “Wow, this sure sounds like another sad sack story.”  So I delete them. 

When we started this journey, the hubs and I were committed to making sure that adoption issues stayed below the surface, where it couldn’t affect our daily lives and certainly not the life of our sweet boy. But, adoption doesn’t work that way. Under the best of circumstances it doesn’t work that way. Under the worst of circumstances, when you’re all alone with no one to make sense of the process and encourage you to keep moving, it definitely doesn’t work that way. It infiltrates even the healthiest, most beautiful parts of your life until the day to wake up and say, “This stops now.”

Our personal experience, due to my poor choice of agency, has been like a rotten apple. Our lives are like a bowl of fresh fruit, and our journey with our agency is like the one rotten apple in the middle of the bowl that starts to “influence” everything around it, trying to make the fruit it is touching rotten as well. The hubs and I obviously aren’t going to let that happen. We have been blessed with a beautiful life and one sweet, miraculous little boy. We pray for more children, but not at the expense of our little family. So, how to move forward?

The current understanding with our agency, I believe, is that we are on the list for immediate placements. That means that if a baby is born and the mother wants an adoption, but she didn’t make an adoption plan, we will be on the list to be called. I have no idea how long this list is. I have no idea if we will really be called. This is the arrangement that seems to work best for everyone because it eliminates the need for there to be any communication between us and the agency. We just hear from them someday if there is an immediate placement, and if we don’t, we don’t. Most of their placements are from women who are 2-3 months away from delivery and the expectant mother chooses an adoptive couple. We won’t be hearing about those situations. 

(I have always loved the idea of an immediate placement. Some agencies call them “stork drops.”)

Many people have encouraged us to walk away from the agency and start anew. Or hire a lawyer to retrieve our program fee. Those are great ideas, and probably what should happen. But the very idea is exhausting. Eight thousand dollars is a lot of money to say goodbye to, particularly when it is needed for any adoption that may take place. History shows (thanks, Google!) that hiring a lawyer would result in the hubs and I still not getting our program fee back, and having our legal expenses plus the agency’s legal expenses to pay for. Oh, ick. I don’t even like to consider that outcome. Plus, I’m just not a litigious person at heart. The naive side of me feels like people should be able to handle their business without suing each other, you know?

Other than that, there is always the possibility that enough people know we are hoping to adopt and a situation may get networked back to us. I’m considering creating a page on this site that has our detailed family profile, in case someone happened to stumble upon it. I will probably wait a little while to do that just because I’m really trying to embrace the blessings that I have, instead of focusing on the ones I don’t. 

There is a lot of mystery around why the agency didn’t just fire us, since they can at will, according to the contract. I think the answer lies in this statement: “You guys are an excellent family. You’re a great resource to us.”  

At the time I was completely confused by this. We are a great resource to them?  How, exactly, is that the case?  Then I figured it out. We are a great resource because when expectant mothers are considering what agency to work with, they can show them different profiles of families they work with, and we market well. Got it. Adoption is a business, friends. For those considering embarking down the path, begin with your eyes wide open and understand the world you are about to enter. There are lots of ways to do it, just be sure you are well educated about the method you are choosing. 

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!

http://mom.me/fun/3127-daily-dose/item/churchill_quote/
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.


Update, But Not Really 

We have just received an email from our coordinator and the expectant mother did not follow through with calling in as she promised she would. She also did not respond to their calls or texts. I realize this is a very difficult position for her to be in, probably the worst any mother could experience, but it’s not going away by hiding from it. 

We were prepared for a yes or a no, but no answer at all is truly horrible. I made it through the weekend sane, only because I knew we would have an answer today. So much for that.