August 11, 2010

Request For Live Scans and Please Don't Forget to Include Your Entire Personal History...

We got through our first home study interview! In all honesty, it wasn't much of an interview. It was more like a "here is another pile of redundant forms and paperwork"meeting. I am not discouraged. In fact, I haven't even slowed down. I have this goal in mind, you know, that six week goal. And, I will not fail that goal by fault of my own. Period! Now that I've put that in writing, I'll continue with a little description of what a home study actually is and means for us. 

A home study is a detailed report of your family prepared by a social worker. Through a series of visits or interviews a social worker gathers a complete picture of who you are and what life is like in your family. The home study includes an autobiography and family background information. They take a look at your neighborhood, community, and schools. They require a physical exam so they can gather your physical health information. You must share your financial statements and your financial background. You have to obtain criminal clearances (got the fingerprints done today). Then they require many references from friends, family, and people in your community. We must be certified in infant CPR and First Aid (I'm in class this Saturday). You must have a will and proof of life insurance. 

During the interview the social worker makes sure your home is safe and healthy for a child. We have to have the house "baby proofed". You have to share a safety plan incase of fires or natural disasters. The "getting to know you" information includes an individual chronological autobiography, immediate family health, educational background, work experience, your personality info as well as your parents and family members personality information. The list continues, however you get the idea. 

Needless to say we have our work cut out for us for the next few weeks. I'm actually looking forward to getting through it and letting it lead the way to our little one. I continue to remind myself of why this all is necessary and did happen to mention to the home study social worker that this all should be necessary for anyone to parent a child. After this our ducks should be all in a row. Until the first night of crying chaos of course. Then I'll just be happy to be only a 3 hour time zone difference away from my mother. 

So, closing for now and off to add ink to the first of many forms. 

Love to you all! And, thanks for all your support and prayers!

August 06, 2010

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun...

Wow, ok totally embarrassed from my lack of reporting. I do have a few excuses. My wonderful husband graduated from his residency program and moved onto a fellowship program, we moved across the pacific ocean, found ourselves a lovely home, and these are just a few of the things that have kept me distant. I won't bore you with all the details. I am however here to report that things are moving quickly now with the adoption process!

I guess that just happens to be one of the things keeping me away as well. We started our APQ as soon as we got settled. I thought it was going to be a lot harder to make some of decision that we did, but after we really sat down and discussed each other's point of view, things just really fell into place. In all honesty, I thought it was really going to be difficult for my husband and I to see eye to eye some of it. When we were faced with the questions and then answering them, we both pretty much wanted the same thing. Our comfort levels were surprisingly similar. I guess i should have trusted "us" more before diving in? By the way, an APQ is an Adoption Planning Questionnaire. You basically have to go through a set of questions that are broken down into categories of desired race, setting a budget, the amount of contact with the birth parents, substance use during pregnancy, birth parent medical and family history, and then a set of random questions on why you think you would be good adoptive parents, your feelings about the birth mother, how you think you may want to interact with your child regarding being adopted, and so on, and so on. Either way, we got through the APQ holding hands and taking a lot of deep breathes. 

We had our APQ interview and met our personal social worker and adoption coordinator that will be with us throughout the rest of the journey. During the interview our adoption specialist goes through each question and each answer and lets us know how our decisions may or may not effect our match. We got a great big "high five" from our coordinator and were told we could not have done a better APQ. YES!!! This just means we are in a good range with the other families without her intervention and should hopefully then be able to meet the agencies "waiting time" timelines. I mean come on, haven't i waited to be a mother long enough? Why does it always feel better when you think you fit into the big curve of statistical data? I usually like to be the person thinking outside of the box, but under these circumstances I guess I'm happy just to belong. Smile.

We contacted our homestudy provider, filled out our initial application, and have our first "interview" with them this Saturday! So keep your fingers crossed that all goes well! Sounds like this meeting is more about all the paperwork that now needs to be filled out for the homestudy progress and background checks. I have never seen so much paperwork and forms in my life! Between hubby and myself and our jobs, I'm starting to think the government may raise an eyebrow when our last names cross their desk again. I wish I could just say "hey, check out the last ten!" Hopefully that will actually make the process go smoother though? Either way, I feel like I'm filling out applications to become the presidents mother. It's really crazy, but yes worth it. And, I guess I could be filling out applications to become the presidents mother? Ha Ha! 

Last but definitely not least, we dove head first into creating our profile. I had a pretty good feeling it was going to be difficult to put into words everything we want to share about us as individuals, as a couple, our feelings about becoming a parent, but man it's really really hard. I've learned quickly not to pick it apart. The words work because it's us in all it's honesty and sincerity. It's exciting, really really exciting. 

We've set a goal for ourselves to be an ACTIVE family in six weeks and counting! So, I must close for now so we can reach that goal.

Love to you all!

March 24, 2010

completely overwhelmed

I know, it's been a long time since i've visited here. I must admit, I have found myself completely overwhelmed by all the paperwork, all the decisions that need to be made, and finding myself in all the answers.

I started this blog as a diary to help me through the journey and now i've found myself hiding from it, simply because I wasn't sure what to write first. My mind is dizzy. I can tell you that the excitement has not been missing though. My husband and I were recently at a family gathering and there was a little one there. When we were by ourselves in the living room, there sat a pack in play in the middle of the room. We both looked at it smiling, and then found ourselves laughing at each other because of the excitement that was in each of our eyes. I said to him "one day soon our home is going to be filled with this stuff you know?". He started laughing and said "i can not wait!". It's those little reminders that keep you trucking through the manuals and questions and forms and financing. 

So, one day a couple weeks ago my husband went outside to get the mail and sure enough there it was, the package of information and application forms. Wow, we were thrilled and ready to dig into it and immediately opened it together like ripping open a christmas present. Then we started thumbing through a few of the sections. Both of our eyes widened with surprise, it was like it hit us right there, the questions we were going to have to answer seemed impossible to even think about answering. I guess we sort of knew we were going to have to face all these, however it didn't really sink in that we were going to have to make a decision about all these questions until that moment. He looked through the initial application form and said to me, "wow, this is not going to be easy". Both of our eyes were filled with tears. Then, we sat the package down for a few days to let ourselves absorb it all.

Our first step was reading the adoption manual.

Chapter One: Importance of Moving on from Infertility to Adoption

Hmm, well let me tell you this hit me harder than I had expected. The chapter basically takes you through the so called "phases" of infertility. These are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness, and Acceptance. Your part during chapter one is to really find out where you are at in these phases.  

Lets start with Denial, this is when you are in a state of shock and experience no emotions surrounding your infertility. Ok, as I read through the description I truly felt I have moved on from Denial. 

Then there is Anger. Anger is defined as fear, jealousy, envy, guilt, betrayal, resentment, frustration, and/or shame. This is where is freaked out a bit. I sat back and read this paragraph three times and thought to myself "oh my lord, these feeling still creep up every once in a while". Of course not even close to as much as they use to do. However, every once in a while they're present. A sense of fear came over me. Have I not moved on? 

Bargaining, this one always bothered me. I've never been there, in complete honesty never has this crossed my mind. Bargaining stage is when a family puts all of their hopes into the myth that if they plan to adopt they will somehow get pregnant. You know, you hear this one all the time. It's one of the most common "fertility hope" pep talks you get.  I have no hope or thoughts of the possibility of getting pregnant now that I have decided to become a mother by the miracle of adoption. I completely feel the need to educate everyone on this. I read an amazing post from another blog on adoption about the education of things such as this, and i couldn't help but smile. I know how completely difficult and hard it is for friends and family and whomever else we share this experience with to know the right thing to say and really all they want for you most is to show support and love, so this is an excellent opportunity to educate on the should and shouldn't probably say's. So, i whizzed through this paragraph with complete confidence. 

And then I hit Sadness, this is the grieving stage. It's a physical and emotional experience. I remember when i felt exhausted. Completely emotionally and physically exhausted. I just wanted to sleep for days, especially when discovering our last IVF had given us positive and then negative results again. There was a time I couldn't imagine not experiencing pregnancy. The loss of that was like a death. I grieved and I can honestly tell you that I have moved on from this stage. Insert deep breath of satisfaction and relief. You know, that one you take after a long hard cry. Every time I think of this grieving phase, I involuntarily find myself taking that breath. 

And finally Acceptance. Acceptance stage is when you find yourself being able to look at infertility as a time that was challenging and emotionally difficult, but it no longer consumes you. YES!!!!! It felt so good reading this paragraph. In this stage you feel strong again and ready to focus on adoption. When you can realize that a birthparent may handle pregnancy differently then yourself (ok, still a little difficult, but educating myself). The realization that your child may not share your physical traits. That sentence is actually pretty interesting. I have dreams about what my child will look like, just like a physically pregnant mother to be would, and the child never looks anything like me. And, through those dreams I've discovered just how content I am with that. In fact, I'm pretty thrilled.

You then move onto the "How can we know for sure we have both come to acceptance and are ready to proceed?" test. And so it goes...

1. A shift from the need to be pregnant to a need to parent. Check! What no stretch marks, varicose veins, constipation? Alright! I think I'll be ok with that. ;-)

2. Ability to easily and clearly articulate what the grief/significant loss process was like. Well since I have started blogging about it. I think I've got this one. Check!

3. Able to talk about infertility without shame, weeping, or becoming upset. The anger level towards others has diminished. Again,  Check!

4. Repairs have been made in the marriage to any damage done during the infertility discovery process. There is good communication and discussion between spouse and other family members. There is a mutual agreement to adopt and the couple is comfortable going public with the plans to adopt a child. They are able to admit adoption is a second choice. I think my family and friends can back me up on this one, Check!

5. A reconnection to one's source of faith as there is acceptance of one's infertility and hope to adopt. I have to admit my relationship with the Lord was all over the place. But, I never lost Him in any of it, whether it was yelling at Him, pleading with Him, or thanking Him, my connection was there. Check!

6. A willingness to be adoption-educated. The couple has evaluated and thought about the many issues and choices. We are in a constant state of education. And, based on the logged hours and hours and days and months of research I would say we are very willing to educate ourselves. Check!

7. Understands and appreciates the benefits of contact and openness for the child. The empathy for the child's long-term needs is also extended to the birth family. 100 % Check!

8. Able to view adoption as a positive and not as a failure. There is excitement and enthusiasm about the process. Ha Ha are you kidding? Again ask our family and friends! Can we talk of anything else? Check!

9. Acceptance and understanding of the fact that it is different to parent and adoptive child versus a birth child. They are able to recognize and acknowledge there are gains and losses for all and able to say goodbye to the fantasy child. Check.

Needless to say, chapter one was a roller coaster and I was not expecting to start with a deep insight on our infertility past. But, I made it through and happily moved on to chapter two.

February 16, 2010

application step one...

Well, we did it! I'm happy to report that we have sent in our first initial non-refundable payment and step one of the application process! I can't begin to express our excitement! I'll admit I thought this moment would never come. It seemed like such a huge step, this big hill of many to come. We have been welcomed to the agency and they have the first little bit of information about us. The journey begins!

I have to admit, it seemed like forever to get to this point. I know, I know this is just the beginning. Wow, just the thought that we are finally on our way. That first big scary leap is over and now I can't stop looking at the mailbox, waiting for the next big package of paperwork so we can finally start diving in to the nooks and cranny's of our personal selves.

If you haven't already caught on to my excitement, here is the lovely picture. I'm just overcoming being sick, but somehow found the energy to leap around my living room like a 5 year old that just received the coolest gift in the world!

February 10, 2010

A Circus In Our Living Room...

I couldn't wait to share this one. The title will only be confusing for a moment.

My parents got a phone call regarding two little girls that needed a family to raise them, usually three weeks out of four, depending on their biological father's work schedule. Could be more, could be less. My parents, while having two children of their own already were considering adoption when this call came. There was no passing up this opportunity to bring two amazing girls into our lives. I remember the discussion my parents had with my sister and I regarding two twin girls coming to live with us, and that we would have to share our rooms, our beds, our toys, and our parents. I'll admit at first as a six year old this sounded frightening. Another obstacle was that they were the same age as my younger biological sister. Really? I'm going to have to be the "big" sister of three girls the same age? At six, the responsibility shook me more than i let on. All the normal thoughts of a six year old were in play. You get time to think about being a big sister when your Mother is expecting, however this change came immediately. The circumstance was a little confusing as well. Why would they only live with us "some" of the time? Why did their dad need us to help? The story explained to us was that their dad was gone for weeks at a time for his job. He was a truck driver. Their mom was sick and not a very good mother and was absent from their lives. We later learned what "sick" meant, she was an alcoholic and "absent" meant she left them at home, by themselves, while their father was out working. They were found by their neighbor one day after one of their mother's "disappearances". They had been home at the age of three all by themselves for hours and hours. I still can't imagine how their father felt when he found this out. He needed help, a good family, stability, and we got the call. 

The night before their arrival, i couldn't sleep. In the morning I would play the role of big sister to these girls i've never met. What if they didn't like us? What if they were sad because they had to live with us? What if they took over all of my stuff? What if my parents loved them more? It was a scary morning. It was also exciting. We couldn't wait to meet them, good or bad. Morning came, it was still dark outside, my sister and I sat on the couch still in our pajamas waiting for their arrival. The knock at the door came, my mother answered, we peaked around the corner, and there they were. They were so tiny and they looked exactly the same. My sister and I weren't sure what to do, but they left us no choice on whether to like them or not. They barreled through the door doing summersaults and cartwheels! huh? They really did summersaults and cartwheels! Still with sleep in our eyes, my sister and I looked at them with amazement and surprise! We entered the living room, which then became a circus. They had so much energy! They just kept flipping and summersaulting and jumping around the room. My sister and I sat on the couch watching them in confusion. What have we gotten ourselves into? Then out of no where, one of them did the most amazing flip I've ever witnessed! She stood, flat footed, and leaped in the air, flipping over and spinning, and landing right back on her feet!! Something a little girl would witness only on a trip to the circus! I think it shocked her as well?! Her eyes became wide like a bug. We were silent in amazement and awe. She did it again, this time landing smack dab on her back. Again, silent room. She got her breath back and we all started laughing. This was going to be one heck of a great time! They left us no choice. I can't help today but think back and wonder if they were as scared as us. If this was their way to win us over immediately. If it was, it worked!

Soon, the arrangements were made. We decided the best way to handle the new situation was something called a "buddy system". One week at a time we would get to know each other by sharing our room and our beds and our toys. Then, we would switch buddies and learn to share and build a relationship with each other all over again. We took this "buddy system" to the extreme at times, only allowing other's to enter our rooms if they knew the secret pass code, and only sharing our toys with our buddies. I'm pretty sure this happened only because there was no other way to protect our time with the things that belonged to us. After all, everything in our lives were now shared with two extra little people.

There were so many good times, and bad times. It's funny actually, the sharing of our home with them became no longer the difficult part. It was the sharing of time with their biological father. My sister and I had a really hard time when their dad came home from work and they had to leave. They were "our" sisters, we no longer wanted to share them with anyone including their dad. It took a lot of conversations with our parents on why we couldn't just adopt them and have them live with us forever. We were told to think about how hard it was for us to share them, and if it was that hard for us, imagine how hard it was for their father. We then understood, and as difficult as it was, we learned to cherish the time that they were with us, instead of dread the time they had to leave. We learned to be excited for them when their dad would come into town and promise to keep their favorite things safe until they came back. It was a huge learning experience for my sister and I. Our love expanded more than we thought possible. The love we have for them was the same as if they had been carried by our mother. It was as if they had always been with us. The bond we share is stronger than anything i ever expected as that six year old girl. 

Each day and each year our bond grows stronger. We depend on them, they depend on us. I'm still their "big sister". I wouldn't change that for the world. I thank their father every night for bringing them into our lives and unselfishly sharing them with us. I thank my parents for opening their home and hearts, they are an inspiration. They did an amazing job as parents combining these lives. 

From the days of the circus to the days of weddings, children, new houses, new places, new challenges. Life would not be the same without them. 

February 08, 2010

When does researching and googling no longer become researching, but obsession?

I've again spent one to many hours reading, researching, and comparing. I'm happy to say that we have finally decided on an agency. I'm very certain we've made the right decision and we are both so excited to start the application process!

I have to be honest here, I spent most of my time this weekend no longer looking for the best agency, but now comparing us to the "other" families on the list. I know this probably isn't the best way to spend my time. However, I think or I hope it's perfectly natural to find out where you might stand on the list of perfect families waiting to be matched. My biased opinion after looking through the entire one hundred and fifty four profiles, pictures, favorite colors, favorite songs, letter birth mothers, hobbies, and so on and so on came to the conclusion that we would absolutely be the "coolest" couple on the list! haa haa! I shared this news with my husband, and of course the response was big chuckle along with a "oh my god, my wife has lost her mind, but i love her anyway one eyebrow raised look". I would be lying if he didn't immediately state that he has already looked at the list as well. Whew, thank goodness! At least one person out there is as crazy as me. I can't believe he beat me to it tho? 

This research through these profiles really made me think about what my favorites are. Are these bits of information really necessary for a birthmother? Do they really care whether or not your favorite color is green or that you like to hike or that your favorite band is The Beatles? Are these the bits of information that give them that connection to you? So many questions! Either way, I can't wait to sit down with my husband and start thinking about how we're going to create our profile. 

It won't be long now and we can start one by one, listing everything about us as individuals, about us together, about our lives, should be a very interesting adventure! Maybe we'll learn something new? 

So, back to the title here, am i crazy and obsessed or just doing my homework?

February 04, 2010

Infertility and My Relationship with God

Ha! So already I am a week behind here on updating the blog. In my defense i was in Michigan celebrating my Grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. Can you even comprehend 65 years! Wow! It was amazing and I was able to spend my birthday with family and friends while I was there. All in all it's been a great week. So much to celebrate and be thankful for.

Also, I'm excited to see that i have followers! Yeah! Of course they are my mother, mother-in-law, and sisters ;-) I'm so thankful for my supportive family. I feel truly loved and blessed!

I have to admit, this week while being home I have been contemplating on the best way to approach my infertility history and share it with you. Words seem to simplify it too much and summing up six years seems impossible. I want keep this blog focused on the journey of adoption and how excited we are about this adventure. I also want to share my feelings during infertility with anyone else that may be facing it and let them know they are not alone and the feelings they may be going through are... hmm what's the word for this? Well, they just are.

I've decided that the best way to approach this was my feelings and closeness and distance and relationship with the Lord. He was so much a part of everything i felt during every moment of this time. For those of you close with God and those who may not be, I know you spent time talking to Him, and questioning Him, and probably whether you had a relationship before or not, you do now.

First of all I should tell you I've always wanted to adopt, whether able to conceive or not. Two of my sisters, while not according to the legalized sense, are adopted. They were brought into our lives when we were very young. I was 6 years old. The moment they walked in the door to our house the love i felt for them was overwhelming. I knew then and there i wanted that kind of love again one day. The smile and love and affection my parents had for them and my sister and I felt for them and the relationship we shared with them was a gift from God. I knew God wanted that from me too. I also have to share that my Uncle and Aunt brought two amazing cousins into our lives. That same love was overwhelming. It was an inspiration and gift. I love them more than words can say. My father was also adopted. My grandmother remarried and my father was given a gift. My grandfather. I love hearing the story of when my father finally was given his new last name and how they went for ice cream afterwards and how grandpa loved and cared for my father, uncle, and aunts as a father should. Adoption has been a part of my life for years. And, finally it's here for me to share as well. This was Gods plan. I'm saving the full story of my sisters for another post. I can't wait to share it!

My life with infertility...

My husband and I were talking about having children together before we were even engaged. If two people were meant to be parents, it was us. I knew i wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man and i couldn't wait to make him a dad. He is going to be amazing! We wanted a big family, a dog, a beautiful home, and couldn't wait to do all this together. I have to brag. God, gave me the most amazing man in the world. I am so very lucky and blessed to share my life with him. Becoming parents together is the single most important thing the two of us planned to accomplish together as partners, as husband and wife, as best friends. Before we were engaged, we talked a lot about our beliefs on how we would raise our children, our fundamentals, communication, religion, education, our roles as parents and partners, etc. Our thoughts were always on the same path. I knew, this is the man thats going to be the father of my children. He was it. I couldn't wait to get started. He must of felt the same way ;-) I'm now his wife.

We decided right away after we were married that we would start a family. Our lives were insane at that time. He was in medical school, we were poor, we didn't own a house, he wasn't home much and when he was he was studying. None of that mattered, we knew if it was Gods will to give us a child everything else would work it's way out. A year went by and nothing and so the discussion about looking into "why" came. It was the beginning of our life with infertility.

We were both devastated and hopeful at the same time. There were never any answers or a diagnosis, it just was. I wanted an answer so bad. I guess actually being diagnosed with "something" would ease the the mind. My husband finally gave me a diagnosis. I think it was for our own sanity rather than actually being the reason. Being a doctor, I'm sure he stands on his conclusion. ;-) I love you honey!

My relationship with God became a nightly prayer of questions. I was going through all the usual emotions of this loss, the pissed, the depressed, the hope, the good news, the bad news, the insanity, the hope again, the good news, and the bad new again. The guilt, anyone experiencing this has felt this. I thought back to everything i've ever done wrong in my life, all the mistakes, the things I'm not so proud of, and begged God to let me go back and fix it. I couldn't help but think God was punishing me for all of my sins. I begged and pleaded for forgiveness for everything. This was the ultimate punishment. I begged Him to please let me make my husband a father over and over again. I could barely breath at the thought of not becoming a mother, but the thought of my husband not becoming a father was to much to bear. It was so unfair. I couldn't help but feel that I have failed my husband, my best friend, someone meant to be a father.

I remember the night, that I found myself no longer praying and asking "why", but for peace, and strength, contentment with this loss, and for the pain to go away. I knew then, I couldn't go through this anymore.  I was dying inside. I couldn't face the ups and downs and disappointments anymore.  It hurt to much. On top of it all, physically I faced all of the side effects from the drugs. Of course, i didn't understand why i couldn't be one of the women that seemed to be unaffected from these. They're all meant to balance you, I however did not feel balanced at all. I went through moments of insanity, deep depression, and i must have cried all my tears for a lifetime. The responsibility of perfection during this time and putting every ounce of my life and myself into this was just to much. I can't begin to describe the sense of failure i felt. It was the most overwhelming sense of failure i have ever experienced. All in all, the drugs, the needles, the appointments, the side effects, the ultrasounds, the transfers were extremely difficult, but i was strong enough to do it and it was worth it. But, the emotions I could not overcome. I could not spend the rest of my life constantly visiting these feelings over and over again. It was time to stop. I continued praying for contentment and peace. I prayed for everyone in my life to never have to experience this and please take my husbands pain away. To give him peace as well. I prayed for an answer to show me the way He had planned for our lives. That I was ready to accept His plan and to please give my husband the strength to do this as well.

It came, the day I saw a sense of peace in my husbands eyes when we were discussing what to do next. He looked at me and said "I'm ready to adopt". That was the day I knew we would survive all of this, that he loved me more than anything, that we were meant to be parents, and that now we would be. I know today, that God was not punishing me, He just had a different path for us. One that I knew as a child was one day going to be a part of my life. God wanted us to be parents, He knew we had the strength, the compassion, and the love to share with a child, one of His children, and soon to be one of ours.

January 27, 2010

Well here it one of entering the blogging world

I've spent a total of nine hours today researching adoption agencies, reading forums, checking out different groups, contacting agencies, contacting people that have worked with these agencies, and btw i'm still in my pajamas.

I was supposed to be getting ready for my trip back to michigan tomorrow. The day is almost over, I should be getting dinner ready, the house is filthy, no laundry done, no packing completed, and i feel as though I'm no further than where I started this morning on the "education" of adoption. Needless to say, this first post is going to be a short one.

Tomorrow I'll begin with a new post filling you in on the past six years of my life with infertility and then on to the decision of adoption and hopefully we'll be caught up soon for a daily or weekly adventure through the world of adoption....