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! ūüėč

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. 

Frenzied Cleaning is the New Xanax

This morning when I arose, my sweet husband asked me how I wanted to spend the day. Perhaps AgFest with the whole family? Or maybe a nice lunch out just the two of us, if we could round up one of the grandmas to watch E (never a problem). I thought this over and told him what I really wanted to do. “Oh, yeah?” he said, a little too eagerly. Only my husband would think nookie is on the table on one of the most anxious days of our lives.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m going to clean this house. Top to bottom, until it’s all shiny and sparkly. That’s what I’m going to do today.” The hubs briefly looked at me like I was fit for the loony-bin, but I guarantee that man knew exactly the crazy that set up shop in my brain today. We’ve been together a long time, married almost nine years, and we can read each others’ body language and predict each others’ next move with sometimes extraordinarily freaky accuracy. It’s a marvelous gift to be able to share that with your spouse; I’m sure many of you can relate. It’s like having your personal radio tuned to the same station as your spouse.

I cleaned our home with fervor today, because the only thing worse than receiving soul-crushing news, is receiving soul-crushing news when your house is a giant mess.

It’s kind of like when you feel really sick but you still have to go to work, so you take extra care to wear your favorite, most flattering clothes, blow your hair all the way dry and style it just so, and put your makeup on like you mean it. Psychologically, it does seem to make you feel a little better if you have a bad cold or similar. I’ll let you know how “the clean house theory” works, should I need to find out for myself tomorrow.

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Testing out the “House Cleaning Theory” of stress management.

Tomorrow we are going to receive a phone call telling us that our sweet expectant mother is going through with this adoption, or we’re going to receive a call telling us that she was unable to convey to her husband how important this is to her, and so the adoption will not be going through. Whatever decision that call brings, I will either celebrate or cry for hours, but I will be experiencing those emotions in a freshly cleaned house. The little things matter my friends! Some people think my ritual of cleaning, during or leading up to an extremely stressful situation, is a gosh-darn weird way to cope with the stress. I disagree. I think it’s a healthy way to deal with stress. Plus I get a shimmering clean house out of the deal. Seriously, if the alternative is drinking the stress away or going on a very expensive therapy shopping trip, I say house cleaning is a pretty risk-free choice.

In addition to our home being so clean you could eat off the bathtub, it also has the added benefit of keeping my hands busy.

Be prepared to have your mind blown with awesomeness. I discovered something today, so you probably want to write this down somewhere; in moments of stress and anxiety, the best thing anyone can do to work through it is to keep those hands busy. I’m pretty confident I am the first one to have that realization, ever, in the history of mankind.

My impromptu Spring Cleaning 2015 was exactly what I needed. It kept me from spending the entire day dwelling on the fact that I am less than 24 hours away from one of the most important decisions of my life. A decision I have no say or influence over, whatsoever.

Can I just say how much I hate the fact that major life decisions are being made for me and I’m not allowed to even chime in just a little? Of course I see this is the expectant mother’s decision, and I have no place interjecting my opinion. But my adoption coordinator would not even allow me to contact my expectant mother and she wasn’t very nice about it. I wanted to let her know I would support either choice, and she was a good mom regardless. Our coordinator metaphorically gag-ordered me from talking to Carrie (our emom) until after the weekend had passed. I was rather displeased; I don’t like being told what to do in those situations, especially when every fiber of my being is whispering, “Reach out. Show your support. Take away any guilty feelings she might be experiencing.” I have plenty to say about how that conversation with the coordinator went down, but I’ll save that for another post.

I generally pride myself on having a pretty solid instinct for how things will work out, but this one has me totally stymied. I’m sure it’s because I’m much too emotional about the situation and my wants and desires are clogging up my ability to even have any instinct right now. And that’s okay. If ever there were a situation I have zero control over, this is it. Trying to influence the outcome of this situation is possibly the most fruitless thing I could ever do with my time and energy.

I really do believe God is in the details and will compel the expectant parents to do what will be in the best interest of the baby. If He reveals the baby is better off not being adopted, I will accept that gracefully. That doesn’t mean I won’t cry or mourn or feel moments of despair, because I will. But most importantly, I will believe that things happen the way they are meant to.

Sidenote: God, I will most likely be super pissed at you for a period of time tomorrow if my dreams are dashed. I may blame it on you, temporarily. Thanks for being such a good sport and sticking with me, even when I accuse you of putting me on this earth solely for the purpose of robbing me of my happiness.

Oh, another odd quirk to this tale is that the due date is totally up in the air. Our coordinator said June 11; the expectant mother said it is actually two weeks earlier than that, and the baby registries I found online (created by someone other than the expectant parents) say the baby is due in the beginning of May. So, step one is the couple decides to proceed with adoption. Step two is to find out when we should really expect this baby.

Fact: It Will Be Worth the Wait, I Have Proof!

A few weeks ago, I received an email about an adoption situation in Georgia.  The mother had seen our adoption profile via Facebook, of all things, and we happened to be on an old email listserv of the lawyer she was working with.  The lawyer was to the point: baby boy, born three days ago, mother is choosing to make an adoption plan rather than have the baby removed by Family Services to disappear into the foster system.  Were we interested?

Of course we were¬†interested!¬† In my “adoption situation presentation” fantasies, interest is always enough. So it definitely a swift kick to the ovaries when I¬†immediately realized¬†that¬†interest alone was not going to cut the mustard in this scenario.¬† There were¬†a ridiculous¬†amount of circumstances that made this situation impossible for us: paying new and unrelated adoption fees* for the baby boy in Georgia, when we have already invested our adoption nest egg into our adoption agency here.¬†¬† Ten days would need to be spent in the state of Georgia as we waited for papers to be processed that would allow us to bring the baby across state lines back to Oregon.¬† Two plane tickets would need to be purchased on zero days notice, as well as ten days of lodging.¬† We have a little boy who would wonder where in the hell his always-present¬†parents, who have never been¬†separated from him for more than one day, had¬†gone away to, and why he was left behind; we also did not have family lined up to care for him for ten days¬†on five seconds notice.¬† The hubs is currently grinding his way through the absolute busiest time of work in his field, and leaving with no notice was going to leave a lot of people and circumstances in the lurch.¬† We had absolutely nothing going for us in this situation except interest, and our¬†interest was not a magic wand that was going to turn the impossible into the possible.

*Adoption fees and expenses: Been car shopping lately? Think of the MSRP on your favorite SUV…and now you know why it would be quite the hat trick to come up with that twice!¬†

Adoption is an extremely competitive industry, despite the non-profit status many agencies hold; as a general rule, agencies don’t work in cooperation with other agencies, because it isn’t financially beneficial to do so. In other words, my agency and the lawyer were not going to join forces to make our dreams come true. Fair enough.

It was hard to decline the situation, but it was the only option at our disposal to make. Is it still considered an option if there is only one to pick from?

Something I know to be true about myself: I do not handle situations with one “option” well.¬† I would say that is probably true for the majority of us, nothing special about that. For me personally, the concept of being without choice or power harkens back to our long infertility battle, and later on, our miscarriages. Grief with which I have long since addressed and healed, but which is brought bobbing to the surface again by that nasty common denominator: powerlessness. The ultimate place to find oneself robbed of choice, and even in the strongest of us, hope.

It was poor timing that four days after declining the situation, I was then felled like a giant oak tree by old school influenza, the kind you get a shot for, but then the shot doesn’t work because the virus is tricky and outsmarted the scientists this year. Plenty of time for me to lay in bed and analyze, analyze, analyze, which is both my best characteristic and my worst.

It’s hard to see the forest for the trees when you haven’t showered in five days. I think that is probably an undeniable truth for anyone, unless you are in an actual forest and the reason you haven’t showered for five days is because you went out there to see the trees.

And, for all those on an infertility journey or an adoption wait, I leave you with this groundbreaking realization: it really is true that the greatest joys in life are worth the wait. We waited over three years for our little man to grace us with his presence. I came up with that obvious little factoid after my cathartic ugly cry two days ago, and it made me feel so much better I wrote it down and taped it somewhere I can be reminded whenever I need a pick me up.

Hope Shaken, Not Stirred

While the rest of the country continues to get abused with relentless ice and snow, our little corner of the world has had unseasonably warm weather, clear skies, sunshine.¬† Things are blooming that have no business doing so at this very moment, but no one told them that, so they just keep poking their little heads up higher and higher and higher until they burst through the dirt to meet the sun.¬† I’m afraid that we are¬†going to have a hard freeze one of these nights and it’s going to shock those little buds right back to the ground.¬† When tender buds that didn’t expect to get blasted by freezing weather do,¬†they often don’t come back until the next year.¬†The ones that stayed just under the top layer of dirt for a little while longer are protected from the frost and come out when the coast is clear.

So,¬†let’s talk about train of thought writing and the unexpected consequences.¬† I did not expect, as I was looking out the window and writing about my flowers, to write a painfully obvious and clich√© metaphor about my own heart.¬† I did not expect to have to grab a napkin from the dining room table to bawl my eyes out when I realized the reason I’ve been feeling just¬†a little bit sideways is that at some point, I am not even sure when, I seem to have lost the ability to believe that something good is going to happen to us in this adoption journey.¬† And I totally do not have the right to believe that, because we have only been home study ready for six weeks, and we worked so hard to get to that point.¬† Really, we should just be enjoying the fact that we made it through to the other side, because it was a lot of emotional hard work.¬† It’s also worth noting that it is¬†a darn good thing we did not get called right away, since during the month of February I got to enjoy both the stomach flu AND legit influenza. (Note to self: stop justifying your feelings away with practicality and facts, for heaven’s sake! You have a right to be upset sometimes just because.)

I spend some time every day reading the WordPress journeys of other women like myself, women who are going through IVF, or considering using an egg donor, or pursuing adoption.¬†¬†¬†It’s important to read their stories and remind myself there are other people out there going through this too, because otherwise it is¬†isolating to the point of suffocation to be the only one. One of these ladies recently underwent IVF, was successful, and learned she is having identical twins.¬† That was last week.¬† Probably I should have stopped reading at that point, like a total jerk who can’t be happy for someone else because her twins have their own amniotic sacs and mine didn’t. Instead, I continued following her updates and today she was seeking advice about whether she should tell her boss and her coworkers she is¬†eight weeks pregnant, and before I knew it I was shrieking at my laptop, “No, woman, no! Why would you do that?!” Yeesh.¬† Never mind that when I was pregnant with E, I told everyone I encountered that I was pregnant at about 4 weeks along. ¬†The hubs thought we should wait a while to tell people, and I was like, “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.¬† Hey, did you tell your mechanic yet?”

But then we experienced loss.¬† And more loss, and then nothingness.¬† Through all of that we had this shining little beacon who was oblivious to our pain and radiated joy through our home like Tinkerbell and her pixie dust.¬† It’s hard to feel despair when the embryo¬†who did show up to the party is now a little boy full of love and light.¬† And I’m so incredibly grateful for him, and I think the truth is I just don’t know if lightning really can strike twice in the same spot.¬† Perhaps the biggest problem is that I’m just not sure I believe¬†it can, for now.¬†When God blesses you with what you desired most above all else, is it fair to ask for another miracle?¬† When you do, is it fair to expect one?¬†


Borrowed Genes

 

 

Taking a New Road to the Same Destination

There are times¬†in all our lives when we receive a message from God, or the Universe, or wherever you feel your life altering messages come from. ¬†They do not happen often; if I had to compare it to the proverbial “lightbulb” moment, I would say the kind of message I’m talking about is more like someone throwing the flood lights at a baseball stadium after you have been sitting in total darkness. ¬†I received such a message, and the gist of it was this: my body has been through enough, and it is time to let it be still in regards to trying to force it to become pregnant when it obviously does not want to be. ¬†The second part of the message is that the baby my husband and I will add to our family is out there somewhere, probably in utero, and that we will¬†find the baby we are meant to have through adoption.

When I decided to follow the signs and leave the egg donor ivf cycle behind, I felt very free and encouraged in a way that I had not felt for a long time. ¬†Mostly I felt like I was going to regain control of my body and not constantly be in a cycle, preparing for a cycle, or recovering from a cycle. ¬†My three year old son was conceived via IVF and I would not change that for the world. ¬†But I have also experience three more cycles since them, two miscarriages and one that did not take at all. ¬†With donor IVF, we were still running a risk. ¬†If it did not take, that money was gone, and like most folks we do not have an endless supply. ¬†With adoption, eventually we will adopt. ¬†It may take 6 months, or a year, but the money invested in the domestic infant adoption process will result in us adopting and coming home with a new son or daughter. ¬†It is not without it’s risks and heartbreaks but it feels absolutely right for us.

The tone of my blog is now going to focus more on our adoption journey since that is where we are in our lives at this moment. ¬†I also hope to add some “Great Moments in Mom History” as well as thoughts and reflections from my IVF days. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has made a similar decision in their life, and what motivated them to transition from IF treatments to adoption.