Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jessica's Story, from the Other Side of the Triad

As I said at the beginning of this month, I am an adoptive mama so I mostly speak to adoptive moms and families, but I never want it to appear as though I value the other parts of the adoption triad any less. All three parts are equally important. 

So when one of my readers, a birthmom, offered to share her story with you all I was thrilled!

Then she sent me her story.  And a video.  And then I just cried and cried.

Here is her story, in her words:

My name is Jessica, I am a birth mom. I placed my little girl a little over a year ago and this is our story.

February 1, 2012. A day I will never forget. Life as I knew it was brought to a halt and would never be the same again. I was pregnant. Pregnant, 21, and single. I couldn't breathe, I felt as though it was a dream. All I could do was cry. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. Why me? I was supposed to graduate from college, find an amazing man, get married, and start a family with him. And yet, there I was sitting in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test. I quickly ran straight up to my mom, handed her the test and just sobbed, we both sobbed. She hugged me and told me that she loved me and that we were going to get through this. I cried that entire night. Hoping to wake up the next morning and realizing it was just a dream, but it wasn't. I was pregnant and that was reconfirmed by my doctor the next day. It took awhile for it to sink in. In fact, I don't think it truly sank in until I felt the kicks and my belly started to grow.

I cried daily for the next few weeks. I had so many questions. So many worries. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? What were people going to think of me? Who do I tell? How do I tell them?

My sweet mom scheduled an appointment for me to meet with a caseworker through LDS Family Services. As scared as I was to go in, I was grateful. Grateful that there were resources out there to help give me direction and help me to feel like I wasn't alone in this. They provided me with my options.
Which were:
1. Abortion. This was not an option for me. This was something that I don't believe in so that was quickly ruled out.
2. Marry the birth father. Oh the birth father. Ben and I had dated for 9 months and I had broken up with him around Christmas of 2011. I had realized that he wasn't what I wanted and that we were just too different. We had different values and beliefs and I knew that it wasn't going to work between us, so I broke things off, not knowing that I was pregnant. I wasn't going to marry someone just because there was a baby involved. I wasn't happy with him before and I don't think a baby was going to change that. So that option was quickly ruled out also.
3. Single parent. My parents got divorced when I was 9, so I was raised in a single parent home, by my mother. Life was hard. My dad wasn't around much, we only saw him every other weekend. My mom worked full time and we struggled. It was hard. I wished my dad had been around more. Looking at my options, this was the best so far.
Then my last option:
4. Adoption. This was something that was so foreign to me. I had lots of question. How did it work? Would I be able to choose the family? Would I know where my baby lives? So many question, but luckily there are so many resources out there and my questions were quickly answered.

When I left the agency, I knew this decision was going to be the hardest one I'd ever have to make. I knew that I needed to turn to The Lord for help in making my decision. I wanted to do what was best for my baby. This little peanut inside of me deserved to have the best. So I prayed...a lot.

I finally received my answer and knew that placing for adoption was the best option. Even though I knew that was what I was supposed to do, it was hard. Hard to think that I wouldn't be the one to raise my first born. I wasn't going to be its mommy. I wasn't going to be there to comfort them when they were sick. My heart was broken and yet I was at peace with it.

As time passed my belly started to grow and so did my love for my sweet baby. I found out that I was going to be having a sweet baby girl. My life became consumed with doctors appointments, counseling appointments, work, and sleep (or lack thereof) and everything else had to be put on hold, i.e. school, dating, and basically my future. I attended weekly support groups for birth moms. To be surrounded by girls that were in the same situation that I was and to know that I wasn't alone in this was such a comforting feeling. To have a safe place to go and express my fears, worries, and heartache and know that I wasn't being judged was so helpful throughout the entire process. This support group became my saving grace. I was able to have all my questions answered and it helped me to prepare the best I could for what was to come.

Time seemed to go so slow and yet, so fast. I had finally told my family and friends that I was pregnant and that I was going to place for adoption. They all had their own opinions, some supported my decision, and others did not. That was hard. I wanted/needed the support of my family. I was hurt by the fact that those that loved me couldn't support my decision. However, as time passed, I realized that it didn't matter what other people thought, this was my decision, this was my baby, and in the end that was all that mattered. I knew what was going to be the best for my child and I knew that placing her was what I was supposed to do.

It took me a while to finally sit down and start looking for couples. It was a hard step for me to make. One day, I felt that it was time and I finally sat down and started going through profiles, hundreds of them. I had no idea that there were that many couples out there that were looking for their babies. I was overwhelmed. I decided that I needed to narrow my search down. I started thinking of what I wanted for my own future family and set that as my criteria. I looked at couples that both had college degrees, stay at home moms, couples with children, families that lived in Utah. As far as how open I wanted the adoption to be, I didn't know. I didn't know what I was going to be able to handle, I didn't know if I was going to want to see the baby or get updates. It was all so overwhelming and stressful. Again, I turned to The Lord. I asked for his help in finding the right family for my sweet baby girl. I asked for direction and peace. That's when I found Lance and Lori.

A couple from Utah, they had two daughters, she was a stay at home mom, they both had college degrees, and their story was perfect. I fell in love with them instantly. I stalked their blog and tried to learn as much as I could about them. After a few days of stalking, I decided to finally email them. So nervous and unsure of what to write. With tears in my eyes and a prayer in my heart, I started the email to which I didn't know at the time but the future family of my baby girl.

Dear Lance, Lori, Kelsey, and McKenna,

My name is Jessica and I am 24 weeks pregnant with a sweet baby girl.

I continued to tell them a bit about me and that I was highly considering their family.

And then I hit send.

This made everything so real.

We emailed back and forth daily for a couple of weeks and then set up a time to meet.

We met at a restaurant, Lance, Lori, my mom, my sister, and I. I was so nervous. I felt as though it was a first date. I remember being so worried about what to wear and how I looked. I walked in the restaurant and there they were. The butterflies that I had in my stomach were instantly gone and I gave Lori a huge hug. At that instant I felt as though I had known them forever. We talked for hours and hours. We found out that we had lots of connections, lived five minutes away from each other, and were even related, way down the line. After, as we were walking to the car, my mom asked me what I thought, I looked at her and said, “They are the ones!” She agreed.

We continued to email, text, and spend time together over the next few weeks. I met their girls and their extended family. Every time we spent time together it was just reconfirmed to me that they were the ones! It was such a relief to finally have found a family.

I decided to announce to them at the agency, that I had chosen them. I wrote a little note to the girls saying, “Congratulations you are soon going to be big sisters to a sweet baby girl!” Such a special moment for all of us.

As time carried on we continued to strengthen our relationship. Lori came to doctors appointments with me, we went baby shopping together, decided on a name, and grew closer and closer together. We were able to come to an agreement as to how open we wanted the adoption. They were willing to work with me and do whatever I felt was best for me. We decided to just play it by ear and go with the flow as far as how often we would see each other.

As my due date was approaching, I became anxious. Anxious of the unknown, I wanted to know what she was going to look like , how labor and the delivery was going to go, but most importantly I wanted to know what it was going to be like to place my baby with her new mommy and daddy. I just wanted that part to be over with. I didn't want to go through the pain and the heartache, but it was inevitable. It was going to happen and all I could do was be as prepared as possible and I had to again rely on The Lord for strength to get through it all.

I created a hospital plan that basically let everyone know exactly how I wanted everything to go while at the hospital. This was my time with my baby and I wanted it to go as smoothly and perfect as possible.

I was induced 4 days after my due date and was in labor for a long and grueling 22 hours. It was a painful delivery, but nothing compared to the pain that my heart was soon going to feel. The second my sweet baby girl was born, she was laid on my chest. At that instant my heart was filled with love. A love that I never knew existed. September 14, 2012, Cortney Jade was finally here! She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She looked right up at me and pinched my cheek. It was as if she was telling me that everything was going to be all right. The plan was to have Lori, my mom, and sister in the delivery room, but because you can't plan it perfectly, Lori missed the birth by a couple of minutes. Even though it didn't go as planned, it was perfect. I was able to have those first few moments with the baby and then let Lori take her and hold her. Lance brought the girls up and they were all able to spend an hour together with their new baby.

After that, my plan was to stay the full 48 hours in the hospital with the baby and then sign papers and do placement before discharging. Those next two days were the happiest and hardest days of my life. I enjoyed every second that I had with my baby girl. This was our time, she was still mine, and I didn't let one second go to waste. My mom and sister stayed in the hospital with me and we all took that time to bond with the baby. The day after she was born I had my entire family come up to the hospital to meet Cortney. It was a special time. I was happy! We laughed and cried and it was good. Then they all left and that's when it hit me. My time as Cortney's mom was quickly coming to an end. She wasn't going to be going home with me. This baby that I grew, this baby that has been with me constantly for the past 40 weeks wasn't going to be mine. I cried and cried and cried that entire night.

My heart hurt, I was in pain. I began to doubt my decision. I became angry with God. How could He put me through this? How was I supposed to give the one thing that I loved the most away? I became angry at Lance and Lori. How could they take my baby? I was angry at myself for being weak and for getting myself into this situation. I was scared. Scared of what was going to happen to me after all of this, scared of continuing life. Scared that Lance and Lori were going to change their minds and not allow me to still be involved in Cortney's life. I was scared of going back to the real world. I was full of so many emotions. Then I remembered that I was prepared for this exact moment. I had written a letter to myself telling myself why I had made the decision to place Cortney. I read this letter over and over again. I looked at Cortney and knew I couldn't give her what she deserved. I knew that I couldn't give her a complete family; I couldn't give her a forever family. This little angel deserved the world, she deserved to be happy, and she deserved the best. At that moment, my heart was softened. My fears disappeared. I wasn't angry. I knew what I was doing was right. That night I held her and told her how much I loved her. I told her why I was making the decision to place her for adoption. I told her that everything was going to be ok. And then I prayed for the strength to get through it.

The next day was a quiet day. My mom, sister, and I took the time to tell Cortney that we loved her, I had a photographer come and take pictures, and then it was time. Time to sign the papers.

My caseworker, grandparents, mom, sister, along with several other people were there. My mom held Cortney as I signed. I was a mess. The pain was back. I couldn't hold back the tears. I sobbed the entire time. My heart hurt. I was signing away my rights. I would no longer be her mom. My caseworker read the first line; I looked at Cortney, took a breath, closed my eyes, and signed my name. This continued on for what felt like forever. When we finally finished, I asked if I could have a couple minutes with Cortney before placement. Everyone left us alone. I held my sweet baby girl in my arms for the last time. Again, I told her I loved her so much. Those few minutes will be forever embedded in my heart.

I was finally ready for placement. My mom, sister, Lance, and Lori came into the room. I couldn't even look at them. The anger was back. We sat in silence for a few minutes and then I finally took a deep breath and stared telling them about Cortney. I had learned so much about her in just those two short days. She was such a good eater, she pooped a lot. She snored when she slept; she had the hiccups all the time. She was the sweetest little baby! She was perfect. After we talked for a bit, I felt that it was time. I kissed my baby for the last time and handed her to Lori. Instantly I was filled with feelings of peace. I was so confused I wasn't supposed to feel this way. I looked at my mom and asked her why I felt this way. She said that it was right, she was supposed to be with Lance and Lori and that I had made the right decision. I was relieved. We all walked out of the hospital together and away we went.

I received texts and pictures from Lance and Lori everyday for the next few weeks. Cortney was happy, loved, and very well taken care of. I cried everyday for a while, but only because I missed her. I never once have doubted my decision.
Since placement I have been able to see Cortney at least twice a month, sometimes more. They update their blog and send me emails almost weekly. I have even been able to babysit Cortney a couple of times. I am blessed. Everything has worked out so well! We are a little over a year out and I am finally at a good place in my life. I'm going to school, working, and have recently started to date. Cortney is loved by so many and she is the happiest little girl I have ever seen. I know that The Lord had his hand in everything and he comforted me through it all and that he continues to comfort me daily. I am beyond grateful for adoption. I have been able meet some amazing people because of it. Even though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, I wouldn't have changed a thing. It has made me who I am today and I’m so grateful for it. I am a better person because of it.


Here's Jessica's video.  Take the time to watch it, but be prepared for some serious tears.

Placement from Jessica Midgley on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ali's Forever Family

I "met" Alisha Palmer through my Instagram exchanges.  I was stalking her feed one day and knew immediately that we were meant to be friends.  She's got a great sense of humor that made me laugh.  I also noticed lots of pictures of faceless children and figured she must be a foster mama {the hashtags confirmed my suspicion}.  Then one day she mentioned something about being adopted herself, and I decided it was time to ask her to share her story.  And I'm so glad I asked. 

Here it is in her words:

On Dec 31, 1962 a little girl was born and named Lisha Dawn. She was born with a congenital heart defect and lived most of her precious life in hospitals until Dec 16, 1970 when she passed away. Her mother, Linda, was a Sunday school teacher at their church and one of her students vowed to name her daughter in memory of Lisha when she grew up. She followed through on this vow, and on Dec 15, 1982 when I was born she named me Alisha Dawn. My mother, "K", was 25 years old and married. Though I was the product of a planned pregnancy, she soon realized she was not ready to be a mom. "K" divorced my father, "C", when I was only 6 months old and moved us back to NC.

After years of teaching severely physically and mentally handicapped children in public schools following the passing of her only child, Linda finally decided to start her own daycare. Knowing Linda from years of attending her Sunday school classes, "K" enrolled me there as one of Linda's first students. "K" would often ask Linda to keep me overnight or even for the weekend. This went on for years. When I was two years old Linda married Ken, the man I had always called Dad. They had been dating for years before I was born, and though I had never lived with him, and no one ever referred to him as "Dad" to me, as a baby I CHOSE HIM. After Linda and Ken were married I become old enough to start making small decisions, and "K" began giving me the choice of who I wanted to stay with each night. I always chose Linda and Ken. It's where I felt safe, loved, and at home. This went on for a few more years. When I entered kindergarten "K" signed over guardianship to Linda and Ken. Life was perfect. I had a Mom and Dad at home and had everything I could ever want in life.

Mom and Me

Dad and Me

As I grew up, I realized I wanted more though. I occasionally saw "K" and rarely saw "C" and quite frankly, I was fine with that... I wanted more from Linda and Ken, my true Mom and Dad. Though "K" had full custody and had signed over her rights, "C" still had parental rights to me and we were always afraid to push the topic of adoption. Though he proved he wasn't going out on a limb to get me back, I had a paternal grandmother that wanted more than anything to have me back in the family. Thinking she was doing what was best, we knew she would push for custody if we pushed for adoption. Even still, I loved her and she loved me. I would occasionally visit her in SC and when talking about my family she would always correct me when I would refer to Ken as Dad. She would say, "He's not your Dad. "C" is your Dad. You call him Ken". To which I would start my story over, referring to him as Ken. It was always so awkward and felt wrong, but I always knew why she said it... she hadn't accepted what the rest if us already knew. The last time I visited her prior to her passing I was once again telling a story and quickly caught myself and called my Dad "Ken". She promptly stopped me and said, "No. I know he is your Dad and you should call him Dad." My heart jumped for joy. It is a moment I will treasure my entire life. It's my favorite memory of my grandmother. She passed away when I was 14 years old. At that time my desire for a more definitive connection with my family grew.

Between NC and SC child laws during that time, we were still too nervous to push for adoption thinking "C" may still fight. We continued to search for ways to complete our family and found a small loop hole one day. Because "K" had sole custody of me prior to signing over guardianship she and I could officially sign for my adoption once I became 16 years old! All we had to do was post the request in the local paper, which was in a whole other state than "C" lived, so there was no way he would see it in time to fight! Finally... yes finally, I was going to get the forever family I had always loved and wanted.

"K" asked what I wanted for my birthday, and boy did I tell her! Though I knew she would oblige, I did not expect the response she gave. Upon telling her the only thing I wanted for my 16th birthday was to become a "York" she looked me dead in my eyes, not missing a beat, and stated, "I've been wondering how long it would take you to ask me for that!" It was like joy to my ears! It was finally happening...FINALLY! On my 16th birthday, December 15, 1997 my Mom, "K", and I marched down to the lawyers office and started the paperwork. As most of you know, this paperwork is long and tedious and it takes forever (well, at least it seems) to be completed and signed off by the courts. During this time however, some of the courthouse employee's children attended Mom's daycare. She made a few calls and our request flew through the courthouse like wildfire! I got my forever family on December 31,1997, only two weeks after starting the paperwork! Oh, if you remember from the beginning of this story, yes, that was Lisha's birthday. Isn't it funny how God works?

I have not seen "K" since I was 18 years old. I didn't see "C" from the age of 7 until I saw him again when I was 18. He showed up out of nowhere one day when I was 18 years old. It scared me and my family so much. Did he find a loop hole we missed? What did he want? What happened next was never what we expected. "C" met with my Dad that day prior to even coming around me and explained how he knew Ken was my Dad, not him. He also said he would never try to have a father-daughter relationship with me out of respect for what Dad and I shared, but he would like to start some sort if relationship with me. I knew that wouldn't last long, but for a man who never stepped up to the plate, this conversation between him and my Dad was amazing. I have always appreciated that moment between the two if them. Though I chose Ken as my Dad since day one, he always feared "C" would come back and take his place. I am sure most adoptive parents always live with a similar fear. This conversation between him and "C" was calming to Dad's soul, as well as mine and my Mom's.

I still see "K" each time I look in the mirror. Though I did not grow up living with "K", she and I share more than I would like to admit. Her hair, nose, eyes, body shape, intellect, love for the arts; some of what we share isn't so bad. Some of it I work daily to change, such as our not-always-so-pleasant attitudes. Even between all the similarities I share with "K", I also share so many similarities between my Mom and Dad. I am my fathers mini-me. I have always had a love for emergency medicine because if him. I always loved watching him rescue people out of cars and lakes when he was a Paramedic and Captain of the local rescue squad. He has always been my real life hero. I look a little like him too! My mother is the proud owner of what we in the family refer to as the "Eudy temper". I can't tell you how many times Dad told me, you may not be blood related, but somehow you still got the "Eudy temper"! It was always a running joke in our family, and I'm happy to say adopted or not, all Eudy women possess this trait. Growing up I always knew I wanted to adopt. Biological connections did not prove to me that it was the only way to have a perfect family. I wanted to share love and home with another child just like my Mom and Dad had done for me. One year ago my husband and I became foster parents. Since becoming a Middle Mom I have realized how much more similar I become to my Mom each day. Somehow her words spew out of my mouth daily! She is my world. Also, the old saying is true; you are never too grown to need your Mom, adopted or not! My entire life was planned perfectly for me before I ever knew it, and I wouldn't change a thing.

The actual connection between an adoptive family is a gift that can't truly be explained, only experienced.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eliana's Story: an Open Adoption

Last year I put on an event called Choose Joy: Surviving Infertility & Adoption.  It was one of the most incredible days of my life, and I will share a lot more about it later {and about the next one that we are planning for May 3rd, 2014}, but for now I want to tell you about my friend Jen that I met that day.

Jen came to Choose Joy not knowing anyone.  She drove several hours to be there.  I'm so glad she was brave enough to do that.  When I read her adoption story I knew how she was brave enough to do it.  She'd already had to be super brave.  She knew that bravery yields blessing. 

Read her story and you will know what I am talking about. 

Rather than repost it here, I am going to send you to her blog to read it.  There are three parts to the story.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Read them all.  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Joy & the Pain

I'm struggling to begin this post. 

Here's the truth: Saturday I met my daughter, which made it amazing and special and fabulous and one of the best days of my life. But the day did not play out how we expected it to, and so it ended up to also be sad and heartbreaking and emotional, and a hard, hard day that I would never want to live through again. Ever.  

Let me back up. 

When we were matched with Georgia's birthmom, we were told that she wanted a closed adoption. She asked the agency to choose an adoptive family for her daughter, and she never even looked at the family profile that I worked so hard on, wanting it to give the woman who would give us her child the confidence she needed to know that she was making the right decision. 

This baby is the second baby our birthmom has placed with our agency, and they had wonderful things to say about her. I was a little bit sad at the thought of not ever getting to meet her, but grateful to avoid extra drama. And knowing that she had placed a baby before, rather recently... I wasn't worried at all about her waivering. 

We have a technically open adoption with Penelope's birthmom, but we have no direct contact with her and at the moment our agency has lost contact with her completely.  But I pray that someday, far down the road, Penelope will get to meet her birthmom and I will get to hug her again and thank her inadequately {because I could never express my love for her adequately}. 

I hoped to have a similar situation with Georgia's birthmom, so I was fine with her not wanting an open adoption. I know many people have very open relationships with their children's birthmoms and I think it's amazing that some families can function that way, but it's not for me. 

When we adopted Penelope everything happened really fast, and even though her birthmom had never placed a child for adoption before, I never once worried about whether or not she would sign the papers relinquishing her rights. She delivered Penelope in the morning, and checked out of the hospital that evening, so we felt confident that she was ready to sign and wasn't waivering. In Utah, the birthmom cannot sign the papers until 24 hours after delivery, but once they do it is final. So we had a very short wait, confident and not stressful, and she signed as soon as she could. 

I went into this adoption naively expecting the same kind of experience. 

When we got the call last Thursday telling us that she was in labor, it was so fun and exciting!  I texted Nathan "rock 'n roll" and he was quickly on his way home from work. Two of my friends rushed over to help us pack up. I called my sister and told her to get ready to leave soon. I texted my sister-in-law to tell her we'd be dropping off the dog in a little bit. It was a mad dash, but in a couple of hours we were on the road, on our way to get our baby. 

A few minutes after getting on the freeway we got a text saying that the baby was born. 

There was lots of texting with the agency about our little girl, but no indication that there was anything to be concerned about. 

We stopped that night in Henderson, Nevada and got a little bit of sleep. The next morning we set out for Utah. 

The agency told us that we wouldn't be able to come to the hospital until the birthmom checked out {since she didn't want to meet us}, which would not be until the next day.  So we took our time getting the rest of the 500 miles to Salt Lake City. 

We checked into our hotel, relaxed, and anticipated meeting our daughter in the morning. They told us she was signing papers at 11am and then we would be able to head to the hospital. 

That night I got a text from an IG friend who happened to also be adopting a baby through our agency {that had been born in the same hospital, the same day} and who had also just arrived in Utah. They had gotten to meet their birthmom and baby, but she asked us to pray because the birthmom was struggling to sign. She had planned to do it that day, but hadn't, and they were praying that she would choose to sign in the morning. 

I said out loud to my family: "I'm so glad that's not something we have had to worry about."  

The next morning we got ready to go meet our daughter. We were expecting a call around noon telling us that she had signed and we could head to the hospital. 

But at 12:30 we still hadn't heard anything. We decided to eat lunch, still thinking that at any moment we would get the call and be heading to the hospital.  

Then I got a phone call that I didn't want to get. It was the agency telling me that our birthmom was really struggling with signing the papers. I was devastated. We had just sat down to eat and I was on the verge of a complete breakdown. I think I ate five bites of my pasta. 

The next three hours we spent wandering around Salt Lake City. We had checked out of our hotel and were supposed to be checking into our rental house that night, but facing the possibility of having to head back home to California without a baby, we didn't want to go into the house yet. 

About an hour later I got a text from our agency asking for a picture of our family. Then they wanted to know how old Nathan and I are. I wanted to throw up. 

It was two more hours before we heard anything else. Those were some of the worst hours of my life. 

I ached for our birthmom. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to place your child for adoption. To sign away your rights to your own flesh and blood. To know you may never see that child again. There cannot be anything harder. 

I ached for our agency. I don't know how they walk through these situations daily. How do you do that?  How do you advocate for the birthmom and the adoptive family at the same time?  How do you face telling an adoptive family that has driven 1,000 miles to meet their daughter that they will be driving home without her? 

I ached for us. I didn't want to drive home with an empty carseat. I was mad at God. My sister and my husband were telling me that maybe this had to happen so that I could have compassion for other families that have gone through failed adoptions. I said, "I don't want to help people anymore. I'm tired of being the one to experience the heartache so I can help other people. For once I just want to avoid the heartache." I was nauseous and heartsick. 

After two hours of driving aimlessly, we pulled into a parking lot in downtown Salt Lake City. It had been too long. We were convinced that she wasn't going to sign. We knew they were going to call us and tell us it was over. I cried. We sat.

When the phone rang and it was the agency, I almost threw up. I answered, ready for her to tell me that we would not be getting that baby. 

Only that's not what she said. 

"She signed."  

I burst into tears and Nathan and I just hugged each other and cried. She signed. Georgia would be coming home. 

I was relieved, elated, and hopelessly sad for the birthmom. I'm guessing that was one of the hardest things she will ever have to do in her life. And it was hard to know that our joy was her pain. 

We don't know what happened to change her mind. We will probably never know. When we saw the women from our agency that night they told us that her mind was made up. She was taking that baby home to parent. But she didn't. She signed instead. I believe that the only answer is that God intervened. Somehow he spoke to her heart and confirmed the decision that she had made to begin with. And I am praying that He will continue to confirm her decision, and that in the weeks and months and years to come she will be grateful that she signed. 

Adoption is hard. As I have said before, it is not for the faint of heart. But oh, the amazing, amazing blessings that it reaps. 

There are only a few situations in life that I can think of where there is such a dichotomy of emotions. Organ donorship would be another one. Someone has to die for someone to be saved. Joy and pain. 

Christ died so that we could be saved from our sin. He had to die so that we could be saved. I have a whole new perspective on that sacrifice now. The sacrifice of a child. 

I am forever changed. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Adoption 101

If you are like I was four years ago, I hope this post will help you.

Nathan and I talked about adopting long before we knew it would be our only option.  We had many friends that had adopted or were adopted, and we knew it wasn't going to be easy.  We knew it would be expensive.  And we knew it was going to be an emotional roller coaster, which I wasn't excited for after many years of riding the infertility thrill ride.

So four years ago I was overwhelmed.

By the grace of God I had several friends that had walked the road ahead of me, and one particular friend that stepped into my life at just the right moment and held my hand and made me realize we could do it.

If you are just starting out {or maybe not even to the point of being certain you can do it}, I hope this little overview will help you take the leap with confidence.

First, my disclaimer:
  • I am not an expert on adoption.  I am just a mama that has been through it.  I am doing my best to bring you informative and accurate information, but please understand that for the most part what I am sharing is based on MY EXPERIENCE NOT MY EXPERTISE.  
  • Adoption is not a cookie cutter experience.  Every single one is different.  Laws are governed by the State, so standards vary from state to state.  Different agencies have different requirements, so those will vary based on what agency you use.  
  • International adoption is a whole different monster that I am not familiar with, so I will mostly be addressing domestic adoption.  
  • And finally, I am an adoptive parent, so I am speaking to adoptive and potentially adoptive parents.  Every part of the adoption triad is important and adoption couldn't exist without each of the three branches, so please don't confuse my focus on the adoptive parents as implying that they are the most important branch.  
Adoption.  It's a big, scary, monster of a word that can paralyze people.  The unknown is scary.  So I'm going to try to break it down into simple steps that seem doable.  Because they are.  {Remember my disclaimer... not all processes will be exactly the same, but this has been our experience and should give you a general idea.}

Where do we start?
First things first, you will need to select an agency.  If you have friends that have adopted, ask them whether they would recommend their agency.  If you don't know anyone that has adopted, get on Instagram and start connecting with my followers.  I'm serious.  There is an amazing adoption community on Instagram and there are always people willing to answer questions.

When you are researching agencies, here are a few things to consider:
  • What are the fees?  Do you have to pay any fees upfront?  If so, are they refundable if you change your mind or decide to go with another agency?
  • What is their typical placement time frame?  How long does their average family wait?
  • How many waiting families do they typically have on deck?
  • What is their process for birth family - adoptive family connection? 
  • What is their failure rate?
To be honest, we didn't know any of these things when we chose our agency.  Our agency was chosen for us by a friend {that's a long story, but a God-ordained one}, but we couldn't have hand-picked a better agency for ourselves.  Their answers to those questions I listed are exactly what we would have wanted them to be.

If this first step overwhelms you, can I just recommend our agency???  We love them so much.  I have often wondered why anyone would use any other agency.  Seriously.  I will be posting much more information on them next Friday, but in the meantime you can find them here: Heart & Soul Adoptions.

Okay, we picked our agency... now what?
Get a Home Study.  This is the first step and it has to be completed and approved before you can be considered a "waiting family". Since we used an agency that was not in our home state for our placements, we had to find a second agency in our home state that could do our Home Study.  You will have to pay a fee to begin this process.  Our agency's fee was $2000.  Unfortunately there are LOTS of other little fees that you will incur before you finish your Home Study, like the fee to have your finger prints processed, the fee for the TB test, the bill for your many trips to Home Depot to buy Carbon Monoxide Detectors and cabinet locks, etc., etc., etc.

When you get the checklist from your Home Study agency you might feel very overwhelmed.  It seems like years worth of to-dos.  But don't lose heart!  It goes much more quickly than you think it will.  I always recommend starting with the fingerprints, because these can take 6-8 weeks to clear and could delay your process if you put it off.  Also, the Home Inspection is not nearly as scary as you will expect.  If there is something wrong, they will not reject you!  They will just ask you to fix it before their next visit.

Okay, step one... done.

Once we have an approved Home Study, then what?   
Next you need to complete any paperwork and additional requirements that your ageny has. If you are using a different agency than you did for your home study, some of these things may be repetetive. When we were started our home study I printed out all the requirements for both agencies and worked on it all at the same time. That way, if there were duplicate requirements, I could work on them at the same time.

Some agencies require classes or first aid training/CPR courses, and all of these things will need to be complete before you are ready to be matched. 

You are finally a waiting family, so wait. 
Now for the hardest part of the adoption process... the waiting. We were blessed to wait less than two months with both of our adoptions. I don't think this is typical. 

Every agency works differently as far as their matching process goes. At our agency, when a birthmom is ready to be matched that they think your family might be a good fit for, you receive an email with a copy of their application and a little bit of information.  You then decide if you want to be presented to this birthmom as a potential family for her baby. If you say yes, your family profile along with a few other families' profiles are presented to the birthmom for her to choose from. If she chooses you, you are considered "matched". 

Once you're matched, you wait some more. 
When we were matched with Penelope, her induction was scheduled for one week later. We barely had time to prepare and get there, much less worry about waiting. This time around the wait has seemed unending. It's hard, there's nothing else to it. 

Then one day, your baby is born. 
Depending on the state that your baby is born in, there still could be some serious waiting in your future. The most serious kind. The waiting for your birthmom to sign the papers relinquishing her rights and making you the forever family. The waiting for that relinquishment to become final. The waiting for your child's adoption to be finalized and for your forever family to be forever sealed with the courts. 

So that's a very basic rundown of the process. Feel free to ask questions, make comments about your own experience, or offer information that is different than what I have presented here. 

Like I said, I am not an expert... just a mama that has been through it. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Hannah's Story {Not that Hannah... Another One}

I'm so excited to share this story with you today!  Last year I put on a conference called Choose Joy {which I will tell you more about in a post later this month} to help people trying to survive infertility and adoption.  While looking for speakers for my conference I came across a website called Dancing Upon Barren Land which was founded by Lesli Westfall. I knew I had to have Lesli at my conference, so I emailed her as a stranger but we VERY quickly became close friends.  She is amazing. 

Well there is a gal that is a good friend of Lesli's and sometimes writes for Dancing Upon Barren Land named Hannah Bunker.  I have seen her liking my IG posts, and noticed her name several times in connection with Lesli, but we had never connected directly.  Then last month I received an amazing email from her sharing her story with me and the news that she and her husband were about to announce to the world for Adoption Awareness Month. 

I got her email as I pulled into the parking lot for Penelope's speech therapy session.  I had intended to run to Target while she was there, but instead I sat and cried with HUGE chills, reading Hannah's story.  I immediately asked her if I could share in on here for one of my Adoption Awareness Month posts, and she graciously agreed. 

So here is Hannah's story, in her words:

I'm Hannah Bunker and I have a blog called Everything Sunny Always.

My husband and I have just announced to the world that we are in the adoption process. November 1st, for adoption awareness month, I wrote a big announcement post on my blog and launched our Bonfirefunds t-shirt campaign! I'm SOOOO excited to tell everyone what we've been keeping a secret but also nervous because every once in a while fear creeps in and I think, "Who in the world is going to want to help us? How are we ever going to sell 50 shirts? That's so much!" But I'm reminded of how God has come through for us so far and I do my best to surrender those fears into His hands.

Here's a little video we made to share our news:

Our story is pretty cool of how we've made it to this point. My husband and I have been trying for 3.5 years to get pregnant. I could preach a sermon on how God has brought me through the grief of infertility. I'm so in awe of his grace and his goodness even through that terrible storm that we're even still walking through. I'm serious, I get excited talking about God's goodness.

{Sidenote: I'm writing a book called Waiting for Grace telling our infertility story, but also to help people who are going through a hard waiting season. We're always waiting for the end goal and we see grace only as the gift at the end. But grace surrounds us in the middle of the waiting, if we can just open our eyes and hearts to receive it and find it even when things aren't going our way.}

Early last year the Lord really placed it on my heart to pursue adoption. My husband Aaron and I had always said that we planned on adopting some day but in our mind it was after we had our "bio" kids. Well, the Lord began to challenge me and I started laying OUR family plans aside for the direction I really felt the Lord was leading us toward pursuing adoption now. Aaron wasn't there yet but we continued to talk about it throughout all last year and I would pray, "Lord, change his heart or change mine."

Well, last October Aaron came up to me and said, "Let's do it. This is what we're suppose to do." After lots of heart talk and making sure he wasn't just doing it to make me happy, we realized it was a seriously awesome revelation that the Lord gave him and one day Aaron just woke up and his heart was beating with passion for adoption and orphans. Oh man, I'm starting to cry as I type that. Adopting became, not about us being parents, but about us loving a child because that's what we are called to do. It wasn't about what we were getting out of it (parenthood), it was about giving a child a family. It's incredible to think of where God has brought my heart with that... my heart leaps!

So before we rushed into anything we signed up for an adoption education class through an incredible ministry, Anchorpoint Pregnancy Center, in Houston (where we live). We wanted to be as prepared as possible, get as educated as possible, so as not to rush into anything. This 6 week class was SO wonderful. Oh man, it was such a great decision to do that. But after that, the question became do we foster to adopt or go the domestic newborn route. My heart ached for kids in the foster system. But I totally knew that had to be a calling FOR SURE. We went to several orientations but the direction just wasn't clear.

We brought it before the Lord and we had to be honest with ourselves as to what we could handle. Filling out the comfort level form has been a process because my heart just wants to love on every baby out there but we have to realize that we are equipped to handle some things and some things are better for other people to handle. It's being honest and vulnerable with ourselves and trying not to feel like a bad person. But self honesty with that is so important. And the honest part with foster care was I just knew my heart couldn't handle the risk of fostering to adopt even though I wanted to help a child. But from February until September Aaron and I prayed for direction as to which route we should go: the risk of fostering to adopt? Or the monumental cost of a private adoption?

Well, August and September my heart really started to be pulled toward the private route. I don't know how to describe what was happening except to say that I was brought into a place of peace with the decision to go that way. I started taking small steps in faith…cleaning out the baby's room, pinning nursery ideas on pinterest, reading adoption books. But I was keeping it all to myself. I didn't know this at the time, but Aaron was feeling and doing the same thing on his end! He started researching life insurance policies, moving money around, thinking of ways to raise money, and even naming one of our accounts Adoption Savings (he's money minded, can you tell? lol).

Then, one Thursday night in September somehow we just came together and shared our hearts. We were directly in line with each other, in agreement, and at total peace with choosing the private route. But the money scared us SO BAD! We just said, "Okay God. We can afford to fill out paperwork. That's pretty much it. We're really going to need your help." We had been brainstorming some fundraising ideas so we prayed over those. It was like jumping into the ocean during a storm. But we were at peace with it. You know?

Okay, so here's where it gets crazy. Last summer some friends of ours felt the Lord tell them "I want you to start saving for adoption." They had no idea why because they didn't know if adopting would even be in their future. But they were obedient and started saving. Flash forward a year and a half later. The next day after Aaron and I said "YES" to God to officially start the adoption process and prayed about finances, our friend was in her quiet time that morning and wrote in her prayer journal, "That money is not for your adoption. That money is for Hannah and Aaron's adoption." She told her husband what she felt and he said that he had been wanting to give us that money too. That night we went out to dinner with them and they handed us a check for…get ready…fourteen THOUSAND dollars! Holy crap. I'm just in awe of God whenever I tell that story! He told them to start saving before Aaron and I were ever even in agreement about adopting! He knows the solution to our problems before we ever even know the problem! Is that not insane?! And then His timing…the very. next. day. after Aaron and I said yes and took that leap in faith to trust God with the money, he orchestrates over half of what we need.

Blows. Me. Away. Our total we need is 27k. 25k for the agency and then about 2k for the finalization/attorney fees. We already have about 15k after that generous donation, so all we need is 12k. Which seems way more doable than $27,000! Haha! We are running the BonfireFunds campaign and have a garage sale planned for later, and I plan on doing mini photo sessions, plus some other ideas we are working on.

We immediately started searching for an agency and found one that we absolutely LOVE here in Houston. They're wonderful! We're finishing up the second round of paperwork and should have our home study scheduled for mid-November/early December!

So. I've written you a novel here. Sorry I didn't warn you to grab a cup of coffee before hand. :) So why am I writing you all of this? Well, first, I know that people adopting or who have adopted will appreciate a great God story because adoption is a total God thing. But I wanted to share just to tell you our story and to share how faithful God is. I wish I could just sit down and have a cup of coffee with whoever will listen and to just share the love of Jesus, that there is HOPE for whatever situation we're going through, and that even though is can totally SUCK at the time, His plan is so much greater than what we could ever imagine. He's so faithful to turn tears to joy, mourning to gladness. My life and my heart is a testimony to that. I'm preparing my heart for the hard things that could come out this adoption journey, but my story up until now has given me hope that whatever may happen with this, it isn't the end and that God has a plan for the pain AND the triumph.


If you would like to support Hannah and Aaron's adoption by purchasing one of their t-shirts, please click here to visit their BonfireFunds page.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Adoption Fundraising Part 1: Mindy & Nick

Many of you have asked for me to share about fundraising for your adoption.  I'm super excited to share lots of ideas with you, because I have kind of become an Adoption Fundraising Specialist {I gave myself that title}. So I am putting together a post with LOTS of ideas.  {If you have one you would like to share, please email me and I will include it in my next post.}

In the meantime, I asked my friend Mindy to share with you about an amazingly successful event she and her husband put on for their adoption.

I have known Mindy since we were tots.  We grew up in the same church, and I used to babysit for her younger sisters, one of whom eventually became Penelope's nanny {when I was working at my business full-time}.  Mindy and Nick just brought their baby Silas home from Utah two months ago {they used our same rad agency}, who I am hoping will me Baby #3's boyfriend.  You can read more about the Kinnier's on Mindy's blog: Finding Sunday.

Here's one of the things they did that helped them raise $35,000 in three months {in Mindy's words}:

Way back when (in June), when we were working on raising $35,000 for our adoption, we hosted an auction and dinner at our house.  This was the fundraiser that brought in the most money for us, so I thought I would share some of the details in case anyone wants to do something similar in their own fundraising endeavors.  We figured this auction would bring in about $2,000, but in my little dream world, I secretly hoped it would bring in closer to $5,000.

We hosted dinner in our backyard.  We asked a couple different Chick-fil-A franchises to donate food, and they were so generous to provide enough to feed 100 people.  For dessert, I made a couple different kinds of cupcakes, with recipes from my sister Kim, who runs Caramel Cup.  We had a suggested donation of $15 for the dinner. We just left a little basket on the table next to this sign and let people drop in money if they wanted to.

Our friend Wes is an amazing DJ, and was kind enough to offer his services for the party.

Inside our living room was the auction. We moved all of our furniture onto our deck in the backyard for extra seating, so we had a cleared out space inside.  We put together some items ourselves, but we also had lots of donations.  We posted about it on social media and asked for donations in our support letter (here is a later version of that letter, if you're interested).  Lots of people donated items and services.  I'm including a list of all the items we had at the end of this post.  I'm so bummed that I didn't get pictures of it all set up before people got there, but, as per usual, I was running around up until the last minute trying to get everything ready.  So, here it is after all the items were gone...

And here it is during the bidding...

I designed this bid sheet to put with each item.  I just wrote in the item name, the value, the starting bid, and what the bids had to increase by. The auction was open from 7-9pm.  It was so much fun to see people strategizing and outbidding each other.  People got really into it.

I also ended up setting up all the stuff I sell at boutiques in our dining room.  It was not a part of the original plan, but it made sense.  I just put a little box on the table in case people wanted to buy anything.  I ended up selling A LOT, so it was a good addition.

We had such an incredible turnout.  There were so many more people than we expected there, some I had never even met. People ate, socialized, stayed late, and gave generously.

At the end of the night, we announced the winners.
Then, we had all this money to count!

The Grand Total:
Far exceeding our expectation and my wildest dreams.
Bottom line: God is good and we have incredibly generous people in our lives.
It was an AMAZING night!

Here are a few tips, in case you decide to do one of these for yourself:
  • Ask for donations for the auction in advance
  • Ask for food donations.  It is so much easier to not have to worry about making food.  If you can't get it donated, try to do it potluck style so you aren't spending lots of time/money preparing food.
  • Invite anyone and everyone you know.  We sent out a letter and invited all our friends. We also posted it on facebook and shared about it with our church.  We even let our friends invite people.
  • Delegate. Figure out the different things that need to be done throughout the night, and assign different people jobs.  Have someone oversee the silent auction.  People can direct questions their way, since you will most likely be pulled in a million directions. You can also have someone keep track of the food table to refill anything, someone to do trash duty, someone taking pictures, etc.  It would also be helpful to have someone that manages the items and money that get exchanged at the end of the auction.  We did not have someone do this, and things got a little confusing at the end....it obviously still worked out.
  • If you have other fundraisers that you are doing, like selling things, or some kind of pass along card (here's ours), consider putting those out too.

That's all I can think of for now.  If you have any questions or if you want any of the signs or bidding sheets for your own auction, feel free to email me at findingsundayblog@gmail.com.

And now for the list of items that were auctioned off:
  • Rip Curl Clothes and Hats (we have a friend who worked for them and donated TONS of stuff)
  • Trader Joe's Basket with lots of goodies and a gift card
  • Set of Burlap Pillows made by a friend (you can kind of see them in one of the pictures above)
  • 2 night stay at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa
  • Owl Purse with Lots of Goodies for a Little Girl
  • Basket of Children's Chapter Books
  • 5 Different Adorable Lamps made by a friend
  • Stella and Dot Bracelet
  • Pilates Basket with Pilates Gear and a Gift Certificate for a Class
  • Voluspa Basket
  • One Hour Photo Shoot with X & V Photography (the same photographer who took AMAZING pictures of Silas that I can't wait to share! You can see some of them on my Instagram.)
  • Picnic/Beach Basket
  • Adirondack Chairs made by Nick (my husband)
  • Basket of Children's Picture Books
  • Caramel Cup Cake
  • Quilt made by my Grandma
  • Twirpy Woods Block Frame and Birdhouse
  • Baby Basket with a Quilt made by Nick's mom and other fun Baby stuff
  • Knit Scarves from iKnit2
  • Custom Succulent Monogram Wreath
  • One Month CrossFit Membership to CrossFit Tustin

    In the near (hopefully) future, I'm going to write a post breaking down all the things we did to raise the $35,000 for our adoption.  But really it wasn't us.  It was God.  How else can anyone raise that much money in 3 months? 

Sunday, November 03, 2013

All Along, God has a Plan

The last twenty four hours have been crazy. If there is one thing you can say about adoption... it's unpredictable. I could never have guessed what today was going to be like.

So, as I said last night, we found out that the birthmom we had been matched with was in labor in her home state. Let me explain why that meant we couldn't match with her. Our agency is in Utah. The state that our birthmom was in has horrible adoption laws that our agency doesn't want to deal with and that we didn't want to endure. Our agency had told the birthmom from the time we matched that if she didn't get to Utah to deliver, we would not be able to have her baby. 

Last week we had many frustrating pieces of news from the birthmom.  First THIS was going to happen, and THEN she would decide when she was coming. Then THAT was going to happen, and THEN she would decide when she was coming. Then THIS OTHER THING was going to happen, and THEN she was going to decide when she was coming. Meanwhile getting closer and closer to her due date everyday. 

By Friday I was super frustrated. To be honest I felt like this birthmom was not all that concerned about the well being of her baby, and that made me sad. I was beginning to think that this was not our baby. 

Then we got the message that I told you about last night... that she was in labor. In her home state. We could not have that baby. 

But in the same message the agency told us that there was another birthmom that had just arrived IN UTAH and was due any moment, and that they thought this would be a good match for us. It sounded hopeful.

Then the owner of the agency, Denise {who has become a friend} texted me and told me that she and the Adoptive Family Coordinator had texted each other at the same time saying that they think they had us matched with the wrong birthmom, because they believed this one that had just arrived was meant for us.

They both thought it. 

This new birthmom is one that has placed with them before and they love her. And she is in Utah. And she is ready to deliver. 

In the shower this morning I thought, maybe God matched us with the first birthmom to keep us from matching with any others, knowing all along that this second birthmom was coming and was meant for us.  Maybe.  

Church was hard. A lot of people had read my post and were sad for us.  There were hugs and tears and sadness.  In the middle of the service I got a long text from Denise who had read my blog post from last night.  She said how sad she was with this whole situation, and told me that the first birthmom was really sad that she couldn't match with us. It broke my heart into a million pieces. I have loved that birthmom and that baby for the last several weeks, and it broke my heart. 

I asked her what would happen to them and she told me that they could use Utah law with this placement, but only if the adoptive family was from Utah. So they had to find a family in Utah.

I started praying for that family.  For them today would be an amazing day.  They would get a call that their baby was born and waiting for them.  They would have to pack and plan and prepare to go meet their baby very soon.  I prayed that God would bring that perfect family to Denise so that this could all be resolved today.

Then we got an email from the agency with the little information they had for us on this new birthmom.  And it sounded more hopeful.  And then we texted back and forth a bit and I suddenly realized that there wasn't going to be any more waiting.  This birthmom had asked them to choose the family, and they had chosen us.

And now our daughter is due this week.

And we went and bought all this:

We will know more tomorrow after they take the birthmom to the doctor, but it looks like we are still going to be heading to Utah this week to meet our baby.

And just like that God shows me again that He has a special plan for our family that we could never predict.

Oh, and they found a family for the first birthmom's baby and they will be heading out in the morning to meet their daughter. 

God is good.  Always.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Post I Never Wanted to Write

Our adoption has failed.

We got the call we were hoping not to get. The birthmom went into labor in her home state, which means that we cannot adopt this baby. 

I have been a wreck for the last four days. Now it's over. And it's actually a relief in some ways. 

My sister said to me the other day, "Maybe this baby won't work out, and maybe it's because God wants you to experience a failed adoption so that you can relate to even more adoptive mamas."  

I have always felt like I went through infertility more for other people than for myself. The Lord knows that I am a person that wears my heart on my sleeve, and He knows that there are women that need to hear my story. 

So maybe my sister is right. Maybe the Lord has brought us through this experience so that we can comfort others that experience the same thing. And that is okay. I like to be an encourager and comforter to others, so that's okay. 

We are sad. Mostly for the baby that is coming into the world today without a family. Please continue to pray for that birthmom and that baby. I don't think we will ever know what will come of this situation, but we are trusting that there is a perfect plan for them both. 

Thank you for being so loving and supportive and for lifting us up all week long. We are so confident that this adoption has been blanketed in prayer, so we know this is God's will. 

We are thankful for our sweet agency and for the way they care for us. {I promise to share more about them later this month.} We know we are in great hands and that we will still be bringing home our baby soon. 


Did you know that if just 7% of the Christians in the world adopted one child there would be NO ORPHANS left in the world.

I heard that statistic earlier this year and it shocked me because it seems so doable, and yet where is the church???  Why are we not mobilizing the 7%?  Why are we not taking very seriously one of the few specific actions that Christ mandated?

My sister belongs to a very small church. And in her church I believe there are more families that have adopted or fostered children than haven't. Like a lot more. And if you belong to her church and want to adopt, they support you by giving you $10,000 towards your adoption. That is a lot of money for a small church with just a couple of staff members. They take the call seriously. They are stepping up. 

More churches need to step up like this. 

I was told once that people who adopt are like missionaries, reaching the orphans for Christ, and therefore should be supported by the church as missionaries are supported. I think that is such a great way to put it. Our church supports missionaries all over the world and takes it very seriously. But we don't have an adoption ministry. Even though there are many families in our church that have adopted or desire to adopt. 

We need to do better. 

My church needs to do better. 

Your church needs to do better. 

THE church needs to do better. 

Can you imagine how the world would be changed if Christians stepped up in obedience and wiped out the orphan crisis???  

Are you one of the 7%? 

Would you consider becoming one of the 7%?

If you stick around here long enough, I just might convince you. Fair warning. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Happy Adoption Awareness Month!

Today is the first day of November, which means that it is the first day of National Adoption Awareness Month.  I love that this is a thing.  I love that someone decided that Adoption was an important enough subject to warrant its own awareness month. And of course I am thrilled to do my part in raising awareness.

So for the next month my posts will be centered around adoption, which is appropriate, considering that we will be adopting this month.  If you stop by the blog you will either get to read an informative post about adoption, you will get to hear about some of my friends' adoption experiences, or you will get to see an update on our adoption.  Hopefully that is a win-win-win for you.

First, a disclaimer {that I will be posting with each post}: 
  • I am not an expert on adoption.  I am just a mama that has been through it.  I am doing my best to bring you informative and accurate information, but please understand that for the most part what I am sharing is based on MY EXPERIENCE NOT MY EXPERTISE.  
  • Adoption is not a cookie cutter experience.  Every single one is different.  Laws are governed by the State, so standards vary from state to state.  Different agencies have different requirements, so those will vary based on what agency you use.  
  • International adoption is a whole different monster that I am not familiar with, so I will mostly be addressing domestic adoption.  
  • And finally, I am an adoptive parent, so I am speaking to adoptive and potentially adoptive parents.  Every part of the adoption triad is important and adoption couldn't exist without each of the three branches, so please don't confuse my focus on the adoptive parents as implying that they are the most important branch. 
I thought I would start today by sharing with you our adoption timeline for our first adoption.  {Later this month maybe I will share the timeline for our current adoption.}  I thought this would be a good basic to start with, and hopefully encourage you that adoption doesn't have to be as hard as you think or maybe as hard as you have heard.

Penelope Susan
{born March 31, 2011}

June 2010
We decided it was time to get serious about our adoption and start the Home Study Process, but we needed $2,000 to do that.    

July 2010
I held a raffle on my blog to raise the funds for our Home Study.  We raised over $6,000 in one week.
We started our Home Study.
We got fingerprints taken.
We had physicals and TB tests.
We ordered DMV records.
We safe-guarded our home.
We met with our Social Worker for the first two times and had our Home Inspection.

August 2010
Our Home Study was approved by our CA agency and a copy was sent to our adoption agency in Utah.

September, October, November, & December 2010
Our lives became crazy hectic.  I was working A LOT on my growing business, Nathan went on a 10 day fishing trip to New Zealand with his dad, oh... and we decided to move 7/10 of a mile down the street the day after Christmas.  I needed to write our letter to the birthmom and make our family profile, and everything else got in the way.

January 2011
We started to settle into our new house and my business started to slow down and I FINALLY got our family profiles made.  All five copies.  {Most adoptive families at our agency make digital scrapbooks so that they can do it once and then just order multiple copies.  This paper-loving freak could not bring myself to make it digital, so I handmade all five copies.}
By the end of the month our file was complete and we were officially a waiting family.

February 2011
At the end of the month we were presented with our first potential match.  After 6 days of waiting and hoping we were told that she chose another family.

March 23, 2011
We were presented with our second potential match.  This one felt right.  We chose to be presented, and then prepared to wait another week for our answer.

March 24, 2011
We got a phone call telling us that we had been chosen by this birthmom and our baby would most likely be born the next week.

March 25, 2011
It was determined that our birthmom would be induced the following Friday, just one week later.  The agency wanted us in Utah on Thursday so that we could meet the birthmom before her induction.

March 30, 2011
As we packed to leave the next morning we got a phone call from our agency letting us know that our birthmom's water had broken and they were on their way to the hospital.

March 31, 2011
Our baby girl was born in Utah at 8:12am while we stood in line for security at Long Beach airport... in California.

April 1, 2011
We signed all the paperwork at the adoption agency, making our side official.
We then went to meet the birthmom for lunch.  It was a very casual atmosphere for one of the most important meetings of our lives.
After meeting us and sharing a picture of our baby with us, the birthmom signed the papers that would permanently relinquish her rights and make us Penelope's parents.
From that meeting we went straight to the hospital and met our baby girl.

April 7, 2011
We came home from Utah as a family of 4.

October 7, 2011
Penelope Susan officially became a Blakely.  Forever.

Feel free to ask any questions about our process.  I am pretty much an open book and I'm happy to elaborate on any of the details.