Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adoption is an Option


I read a blog recently that got me thinking: "Why Do People Hate Adoption?"

Adoption is not for everyone. Most certainly not! It's not the route for every pregnant girl to take and it's not the route for every couple (fertile or infertile) to pursue in order to grow their family.

It's intense. It's emotionally charged. It's bittersweet. As an adoptive mom, I compare the experience to running a cheese grater over my heart. *ouch*

I'm not saying that it's not the choice for everyone because it's hard and not everyone is strong or tough enough to endure it. No, I'm not saying that at all! It's just that sometimes other options make more sense. Each situation is unique. Adoption is the answer to a lot of hard situations, but not all of them.

From the point of view of birthparents who are having a child while they are young and/or out-of-wedlock, sometimes it makes more sense to get married. Especially if the relationship is stable, you wanted to get married eventually anyway, etc. Or if the birth father isn't in the picture anymore, sometimes single-parenting makes more sense than adoption, especially if you have a strong support system and the chances are high for you to find a good, stable partner to help you raise that child in the future.

From the point of view of hopeful parents, sometimes it makes more sense to only have biological children or to pursue fertility treatments rather than to adopt. Especially if adoption is not something that would be accepted among the majority of your family members or if your environment isn't stable (due to things out of your control - like drug-addicted family members, etc.), or if you feel like you would treat a child who was adopted differently than a biological one. It happens. It's not in everyone's nature to do so. Adoption should be all about what's best for the child, and sometimes it just isn't the right choice.

But when it's right, adoption can be such a beautiful choice. It can bless the lives of so many people, especially that little child who is helpless and dependent on the choices the adults around him/her are making on his/her behalf. I strongly believe that if it comes down to choices like "should we adopt or remain childless?" or "should I abort or place for adoption?" the answer is obviously adoption!

There are so many children out there who need good homes... and there are so many good homes out there that need children.

It's not the easy way. I don't think there is an easy way! But it's worth it.


If you don't know where else to go, and you have any questions about how to pursue adoption as an adoptive parent or how to place a child for adoption as a birthparent, email us at xavierandaliceanne AT gmail DOT com.


He Is Risen!

His Sacred Name - An Easter Declaration:

Thomas S. Monson's April 2010 talk "He Is Risen!":

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Look Not Behind Thee

"...look not behind thee..."
 -- Genesis 19:17

This is a video my Church put out for the New Year's. I know it's way past New Year's, but the message resonates with me now... with the spring fever that's hitting me and this new journey my husband and I are taking as parents. Everything seems new and fresh and different. Things are changing...! And, like the girl in the video says near the end, "Every day is the beginning of a new year..."

One of my favorite things to do is to reminisce with my family. Something about memories and the past is important to me. We can't forget about the past, because there were lessons learned and good memories made. I think part of that is why I'm so interested in family history research (genealogy). But we definitely shouldn't dwell on the past or get stuck there, reliving bad memories or mistakes or negative emotions. The future begins now and the past doesn't have to hold us down. It's important to process it and give ourselves time to heal or change or repent/forgive or whatever needs to be done, but after that... we shouldn't let it weigh us down anymore. The future is all about opportunities and change and we should embrace that. If we don't - if we never change, if we always look behind us and never at what could be - life is dull, disappointing, and in the end... full of regrets.

Let's live our lives in a way that our present is authentic and worth something... so that our past is full of great memories and our future is full of dreams we're working towards. Happiness all around! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"You're So Lucky! You Didn't Have to Give Birth!"

Kal at 2 weeks old

Among the many "Congratulations!" and "Oh my gosh, he's so cute!" comments after bringing home our amazing little fella... there are also comments that make me laugh, or even make me squirm a little.

I like watching people stumble over their words when they want to ask about Kal's ethnicity. "So...ummm, what is... *ahem*... he? Uhh... his parents... I mean, where? Ummm?" Ha ha ha. The question is "What is his race/ethnicity?" Come on, people! How in any way could you insult me by asking about his race? People are weird. He's half African American and half Caucasian (if I have to be all proper about things)... or you know, black and white. I usually have to cut off the stuttering people and spit out the information, because it's kind of embarrassing to watch them struggle with political correctness. Ha ha.

A lady came to my door trying to sell baked goods to raise some money. I felt generous, so I talked to her for a little bit and got some cinnamon rolls out of the deal. She was super excited when she saw our newborn and had lots of questions to ask. I told her about adopting him from Georgia and she immediately asked, "Oh! His mom wasn't one of those...crackheads or anything, was she??" Ha ha ha ha! Wow, even if Kal's birthmom had had issues with drugs (which she didn't!), what kind of a person would I be if I just went around telling random people about her problems?! Ha! I just laughed at the lady and shook my head.

When we were going through the airport to come back to Utah with Kal, one of the security ladies was fawning all over Kal and asked how old he was. When I said he was 1 1/2 weeks old, she was like, "Girrrrl!! I wish my stomach looked that good after giving birth!" Ha ha ha. I've gotten that quite a bit, actually. I usually laugh and tell them that we adopted him, but I might just have to start taking the compliment and say, "Thanks! I know, right?! I'm awesome!" Ha ha.

I've also gotten the, "Wow - you're so lucky" comments. And at first I thought, "Dang right I'm lucky! Look at this little guy! Lucky doesn't even begin to describe how blessed we are to finally start our family with this beautiful child." But then I got the comment, "Wow - you're so lucky you didn't even have to go through labor or give birth or anything." Hmmmmmm.... Like the stork just dropped him on our doorstep, or we chose him from a catalog and went and picked him up. Uhhhh, no. That's not how it happened at all... it was emotional torture. AND, for crying out loud, I "didn't have to give birth" - no, I "didn't get to give birth." There's a huge difference.....

But, you know... I'm so over the infertility thing! ;)

Adoption rules! :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kal's Adoption Story

Kal-El Rashad

Kal is our first child. He's our little miracle baby! He was born to his birthmother ("K") in Georgia on March 12th, 2011 at 3:35am. He was 6lbs 13.8oz and 19in long. Head full of hair...and I mean full of hair. Gorgeous deep brown eyes set off by the most amazing little eyebrows. Cute little caterpillar toes! He looked soooo small to me! So tiny and so precious. I recognized him the first time I held him. I knew he was meant to be in our family and I felt overwhelmingly blessed that it was finally happening. It was so much to take in at once. We were so grateful to the birthmother who brought him into our lives. We probably would've never crossed paths had it not been for Kal's adoption, and God's hand was very evident in the process.

We had talked about adoption before in passing, but it took awhile before we actually took action. It was one of those things that we said we'd do in the future - that elusive future that no one ever gets to, where we store what we think are unreachable dreams and aspirations. We had been trying to get pregnant since we were married in 2004. We would see so many other people getting pregnant "so easily" and it frustrated us at how unfair it all seemed. After 4 1/2 years, I started looking into our infertility and trying to figure out what was wrong. I went to see a fertility specialist and got on fertility drugs to help stimulate ovulation. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Getting pregnant seemed like the easier way to go at first, so we kept trying... and failing. It was horrible. Adoption started becoming something I thought of more and more and more. Since it was something we wanted to do "in the future" and we were having trouble getting pregnant right now, why not pursue adoption now rather than later?

About February 2009, I dragged Zay to an Adoption Orientation meeting at LDS Family Services. It was very informative about how the process works, what resources we'd have available to us, and what expectations we should have regarding costs, etc. I was optimistic and was ready to just jump on board, even with the nagging feeling that we wouldn't be able to afford it and that it would be really difficult and really stressful. Zay was adamant that we should wait. I was finishing up my last semester at BYU, didn't have a job lined up afterwards, Zay hadn't decided on school plans for himself, and things just did not add up. We weren't ready financially. And we were arguing a lot. We had a lot to work on before we would be ready to jump into something so huge. Although it made me sad, I wasn't too attached to the idea yet... so we dropped it and said "maybe later."

After I graduated, I worked at home and had a lot of time to research infertility and adoption. The infertility treatments started making me ovulate more on a regular basis, but I still wasn't getting pregnant and the urge to adopt a baby was getting stronger and stronger. In November 2009, I convinced Zay to start the adoption process with me. And this time for real. We attended an Adoption Orientation meeting again, but this time we actually got the ball rolling. It still felt like a long-shot. Like it wouldn't work out or it would take a looong time for it to work out, but I knew it was what we should be doing. We worked on understanding the Lord's timing and being grateful. We worked on our savings and trying to be more prepared financially (not just for adoption expenses but for taking care of a baby expenses... getting the baby is just the first step!!).

We started all the paperwork, paid the non-refundable application fee, and we took our time. I struggled with the whole TTC thing because I was afraid it could get in the way of our chances to adopt. Adoption suddenly became my #1 priority and getting pregnant just didn't seem as important, if at all. I wondered what would I be missing if I never got pregnant? And I felt like if we kept putting off adoption, it would never happen. Why not do something today, because we won't always have tomorrow...? It was causing me great anxiety. Of course, Zay didn't feel this way. So that was added stress when I would try to think about pregnancy vs. adoption. Adoption would only work if we were both on the same page about it, so we struggled through the paperwork... constantly going back and forth... having loooong discussions about what we wanted out of life, what we wanted out of each other, what we thought was going to happen, etc. There was a lot of comparing and contrasting our differing opinions on these very important issues. We couldn't come to a conclusion for awhile.

Getting Zay to fill out adoption papers was a very slow process. He was still hesitant (I say "pessimistic," he says "realistic") about financial things and about adoption even working out for us. He didn't think we deserved it and we definitely could feel the inadequacy that the adoption process kind of throws in your face. It makes you feel like you have to be this perfect, ideal, loving family with no problems... when nobody is like that. We kept going, albeit very slowly. We went to our first interview with our caseworker and talked about a lot of these issues.

I finally had enough with fertility drugs and the whole process of trying to get pregnant in about March 2010. I was fed up with it all. So, we took a break with TTC and focused on adoption. We made tons of goals and worked on areas of our relationship that needed attention. Everything and everyday was a struggle. Mother's Day came and it felt like a suckerpunch to the gut. Trying to figure out how to get health insurance was a nightmare. Zay and I came to a standstill about adoption plans. We had to sit down with our caseworker and tell her we wanted to pause the process and get back to it later when we were on the same page again. I was grieving hard about it. I told Zay that I felt like there was a child out there that was meant to be ours and that if we waited too long we were going to lose that child.

We re-focused our energies on making goals. We made a Baby Bucket List - things we thought we should do before we continued with adoption plans. A lot of them were things that Zay thought we should do before we continued, but I knew we had to work together and be on the same page for this to work. I couldn't just forge ahead without him. I had to be patient with his reluctance and remember that there is a time and a season for everything. Something about slowing down and really thinking things through and making goals and deadlines really did the trick! Huge blessings started coming - there was a big one in the form of me getting an awesome job with health insurance. We started checking things off the list left and right. We were doing so well that Zay just said screw our goals - let's finish up this adoption process!!! At any hint of the word "go!" from him, I was ready! I sped us through the rest of the process. After interviews and paperwork galore, we were finally approved at the end of October 2010. Both of us were relieved!

We got our profile online with LDS Family Services and the waiting period began. Life continued on and I struggled with my thoughts on the death of a loved one. I just wanted to be happy and things just seemed to be so hard at this point. The uncertainty about the timeline of how things would play out with our adoption was starting to bother me. I wondered about how I could "market" ourselves so that a birthmother could find us faster. Although I had begun making fun of my infertility, it still hit me hard some days. I prayed for things to happen quickly with adoption so that I could move on and leave all the negative feelings behind, start a new chapter in my life, and feel like I had a purpose.

And they DID happen quickly! Barely a month of waiting passed before we began hearing from expectant mothers considering adoption. December 2010 was nervewracking! It was emotionally intense to navigate through the waters of "hoping to be chosen" and finding the right match. We were new to this as well as the expectant mothers we spoke with, so none of us knew what to expect or knew how to go about discussing such an overwhelmingly emotional topic without anyone's feelings getting hurt. I'm sure everyone's feelings got hurt. Ours sure did. We flew to Georgia to meet K in January 2011, only 2 1/2 months after getting approved. She wanted us to be the parents of her little boy! He was due in a month and a half!!

The next couple months were a whirlwind of craziness after being "chosen". I had a huge baby shower that got me super excited about everything! There was a lot to do to get ready! I was so nervous thinking ahead to the birth and how things would go down. Turns out, I had good reason to be worried and nervous. The adoption itself was a pretty traumatic experience. Nothing like I expected at all... much, much worse emotionally. But things turned out right in the end.

Our little man was finally here - the child we had been searching for for 6 1/2 years. He's absolutely gorgeous. My little booger-butt-boy (ha ha ha!), Kal-El Rashad. I'm a mom! My husband is an amazing father. Ever since we were finally able to bring Kal home to Utah, things have been so much fun and so beautiful. I love it all, even poopy diapers! I feel like everything we went through to find him and bring him home through the miracle of adoption was all for our learning and benefit. We are so much the wiser and so much more patient and compassionate from what we went through to start our family than if things had just happened "the easy way." God knew what we could handle and He knew we were stronger than we thought. We are happier now than we've ever been and it feels like a huge missing piece has finally come and made us whole, as well as changed us, humbled us.

We love Kal's birthmother and what she went through to provide for her child. Adoption is hard. It's not for the faint of heart - for the birthmom or the adoptive couple. It is intense and exhausting and painful. None of us knew how hard it would be until we lived it. K had to grieve a loss that was indescribable. But we all agree that it was worth it and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. It's all about Kal and the love we all share for him. As parents, Zay and I plan to always let him know how hard we worked for him (that he was wanted), how special and loved he is, and how being "adopted" just means he has a little more family than most! It's important to us for him to know his birthmother and know of her selfless decision, and to try to understand the circumstances surrounding his birth. I think the more open we are with him and with his birthmother, the better.

This has been the hardest thing any of us has ever been through. And for a moment there I wondered if I had the strength to do this a second time. But I think when the timing is right, we'll be ready to struggle again and fight with all the same intensity for a second child who we will equally love. Children deserve to be fought for and loved more than anything. They are definitely worth it.

- We finalized Kal's adoption in September 2011. A very, very happy day. :)
- We were approved to adopt again in January 2013. Here's to hoping for a second miracle!

The Kitties Were Good For Something!

Before I had a kid of my own, the only thing I could really compare motherhood to was taking care of my two kitties. They're the only kids I've ever had! Ha ha.

I understand that a lot of times it doesn't always translate well (litter boxes vs. diapers, etc.), but sometimes it does! There was a moment where I thought to myself, "I am so ready to be a mother." That moment was when I heard one of my cats hacking up a lung across the room. I knew he was about to throw up all over the carpet. I yelled, "Ohhhh no you don't!," ran across the room, and without thinking I cupped my hands under his mouth... and caught all the vomit right there in my hands. It was absolutely disgusting, but for some reason it didn't faze me in the least. I laughed at myself and that's when I knew I could handle an infant!

I was reminded of this incident when Kal decided to randomly projectile vomit on me a couple days ago. I was holding him, he was giving me one of his happy faces, and then out of nowhere he threw up. It was headed for the couch and the carpet... so I hugged him to me and let him spit up all down my shirt and onto my jeans. I felt like Superman, hugging a bomb to my chest in order to save the innocent bystanders of Metropolis from the explosion.

I think he was pretty proud of himself.

Monday, April 4, 2011

*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part I

I've been braiding hair for about 7 years. I don't take myself too seriously and it's only something I do on the side, but over time I think I've done some pretty good designs. At least that's what people tell me. Lots of people are surprised I'm a white girl. Lol. And surprised that they could find somebody to braid their hair in Utah County! Yes, I'm white... and yes I do cornrows. I'm just good like that. Ha ha.

I lost a lot of pictures from a computer that decided to randomly crash on me, but I think I'll start displaying the ones I salvaged here on my blog. :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Adoption: No Greater Love?

Kal-El's Birth Mother, 6 days after placement

Before we were approved to adopt, Zay and I were discussing how open of an adoption we wanted to have once it all worked out... I was the one pushing for "as open as possible" (because I knew the benefits and I didn't want our child to be cut off from the family who loved him first) while Zay was still iffy about the entire adoption idea altogether, so he was hesitant about everything. He was going forward with adoption plans, but he had his concerns. He didn't think that he wanted to "deal with" birth parents and that he wished we could just be a family and be separate. I kept saying, "Noooo... I don't think you're gonna be like that. I think you're gonna care a lot about a birthmom." He shook his head. I was like, "Yeah. I'm pretty sure you're going to change your mind once you meet her." He didn't think so, but I know him better than he knows himself. :)

There's always an odd balancing act you have to maintain with open adoptions, in which you do need distance and separation... especially in the beginning. It's good for the adoptive couple so that they can bond and actually feel like a family - since they didn't have the entire pregnancy to prepare for that. And it's good for the birth parent(s) so that they can grieve and focus on getting their life on the path that they really wanted for themselves. But at the same time, openness and communication can help the healing process on all sides, and promote an honest and healthy relationship among all three parties - birth parent(s), adoptive couple, and child. So, I understand Zay's concerns completely. When a couple gets pregnant, they have some time where they can share that excitement together, to revel in the joy of being soon-to-be parents, and to feel closer as a couple. In adoption, there's always going to be an outside party... or parties... so, it's just different. We went from trying to get pregnant to trying to adopt, so it was completely natural to still have a longing for the feelings we originally thought would accompany creating a family.

Of course, when we started meeting birthmoms, he melted. Ha ha. He opened up a lot more. I could see his excitement and hopefulness and genuine concern for whoever would be the birthmother of our child. At first we thought out loud that we weren't going to fly to another state just to meet a birthmother before she had decided to choose us to be the parents. That would be kinda ridiculous and expensive. And since it wasn't worth the time, money, and energy... we would only meet birthmoms in Utah. But Zay's change in attitude about birth parents is what prompted us to fly to Georgia this past January to meet the girl who ended up changing our entire world!

One of the most amazing things during placement was watching Zay's emotional reaction towards our birthmom. It was like he wanted to protect her, take care of her, make sure she knew she was loved and appreciated, give her anything she needed to be comfortable. It was interesting, because I had no idea he was going to care so much when originally he had cared so little. Hmmmm... Now that I'm thinking about it, I could see that being something that could make an adoptive mom jealous... you know? Like, he was treating her the way he would treat me if I were pregnant? Hmmmm... interesting. Lol. But no, I wasn't jealous at all. I felt like I was living vicariously through her anyway, so it all made sense to me at the time. Ha ha. Anyways, she was crying her eyes out and Zay felt like his heart was just being crushed. He told me he couldn't understand how she could sign over such a huge part of her heart and her life like that. He had to pull the caseworker to the side and vent for a little bit. He said that it felt almost like the Atonement in that it was something that he could never repay... something he was overwhelmed with gratitude for.

The way I was interpreting it was guilt... I felt guilty for benefiting from a situation that was so gut-wrenchingly painful for someone else to go through. The caseworker was awesome, though. She kept reassuring us that we weren't the problem here. We were the solution. It wasn't our fault that the birthmom was in pain. We were there to ease her burden and the adoption was meant to be mutually beneficial. So, no - it's not like the Atonement. Adoption is about love, and we will be forever grateful that we became parents due to Kal-El's birthmom's selfless sacrifice... but it's okay if we don't go ahead and make her a Saint, lol. She's not Jesus. But she is pretty great. :)

Adoption can be so amazingly beautiful in a heartbreaking kind of way.

Other adoption stories that I LOVE:
The R House
Feigning Fertility

Baby Names and Meanings

I've been fascinated with baby names for quite some time. I think it started when I was about 13 or 14... I would doodle names that I thought sounded "cool" and played around with the spelling and pronunciation, adding extra sounds, etc. I liked merging names together to create new, original names. I liked unique names. I started developing a preference for certain sounds and certain letters. I analyzed celebrity names and celebrity baby names, trying to decide what I liked and didn't like.

When I first started dating Zay, we thought of names together. It was one of our "things"... I think we always knew we'd get married and have lots of kids. He brought names to the table that were important and meant something to him. His ideas merged with mine. We ended up having way too many girl names, so we'd double up on the middle names and decided we'd just have to have 9 or 10 girls so we could use up all the names! Ha ha. For awhile there, we had a list of names for 9 girls and 4 boys. Holy cow.

We were never not trying to have kids, but once I started taking fertility meds and the idea became more real in my mind, I knew a lot of those names were pointless or ridiculous. Those got eliminated. We got to thinking about the meanings behind names and how it was important to us to have the meaning really mean something. We both love our own names and we wanted to make sure our kids names meant something special, possibly with a family theme so that somehow all the names tie together.

Alice means "Of A Noble Kin"
Anne means "Gracious, Merciful"
What I like about my name: I love Southern Belle type double names for girls. Double names to me are like double the personality! Where I'm from is a huge part of who I am and I hope I can instill a lot of Southern values into my daughters, including being "gracious and merciful". I also like names for girls that tell of how special they are - daughters of a Heavenly King. My daughters will know that they are "of a noble kin" and that their individual worth is priceless. I was also named for a family member, which I think can be awesome if done in the right way.

Xavier means "The New House"
Alexander means "Defender Of The People"
What I like about his name: I love strong, Savior-referencing names for boys. Names with meanings like Savior, Defender, Hero, Protector, etc. Zay likes these kinds of names as well, because they can also relate to his interest in Superman (ha ha). And "The New House" is a sort of theme for our family, meaning we want to create something better than what came before us.

So now we've got a theme for our family and a theme for each gender. When we started the adoption process and we got to the point where we knew we were going to be adopting a baby boy, we already had a name picked out for about 5 years previous to that. What was funny though, is that the name fit so well. It was perfect for the situation and for the particular child. In the future, that will be important too - to make sure the name fits the situation. Also, in adoption I think it's important to honor the birthmother in some way (in our case, our son's first name starts with the same letter as his birthmom's first name) and to also have meaning behind the name that represented the process that brought that particular child into our home (in our case, we felt like God had His hand guiding us to adoption and guiding us to the right child).

We named our baby boy Kal-El Rashad.
Kal-El means "Voice of God"
Rashad means "Rightly Guided"

Or rightly guided by the voice of God.

We've got the strong superhero reference in "Kal-El" and "rightly guided by the voice of God" is exactly how I would describe our journey through adoption.

Just perfect. Our little Superman. :)

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