Sunday, October 28, 2012

Two Years Ago...

Yesterday marked the day two years ago when we were approved to adopt, our profile was published online at ... and we began the waiting-to-be-matched phase. I remember being so excited! But at the same time, having absolutely no idea how long we'd have to wait or what we should be doing to make it go any faster. We were told the average wait for a couple through LDS Family Services was 2 - 2 1/2 years. We were told childless couples get picked faster. And that interracial couples get picked even faster. But each situation is different.

Our caseworker was confident we were going to be chosen within a couple months. We were supposed to be re-assigned to another branch of the agency after a re-drawing of some boundaries, but she was so certain that things would move quickly that she held onto our case and worked with us while others got re-assigned. Zay, on the other hand, was so pessimistic that anything would happen at all... I felt like I was stuck in the middle, wanting to be optimistic but wondering if Zay was right and this would all prove fruitless?

Rather than just sitting around and passively waiting, I was going to make "Hoping to Adopt" pass-along cards with a picture of us and our contact info to leave at doctors' offices and hospitals or wherever else I could think of to possibly have our card fall into the hands of a girl considering adoption.

I was going to spread the word through all our family and friends and tell them to pass it along to all their family and friends, so that eventually the right girl would learn about us and feel a connection.

As open as I am, it's hard to be that open. To be that vulnerable. To have that many people all up in your business. But the end result was worth more than the lack of privacy and the shameless self-promoting. And the journey itself felt like it taught us more about honesty, humility, and love than a lifetime of experiences. We found our son. And we want to experience that again, no matter how heart-wrenching it will be.

We were contacted by several expectant mothers rather quickly the first time. Our total "waiting" time - from approval to placement (leaving the hospital and taking Kal home with us) - wasn't even 5 months. The question in my mind this time around is whether things will go as quickly? I don't have anything to compare it to other than Kal's adoption. I want it to go quickly - not because I feel like I'm ready, because I DON'T... but because a long wait would be agonizing and I don't think my tender heart could take it.

Our goal is to be approved by the end of the year... 5 months after that would be May 2013. Could we really have another child by then?! A crazy thought.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

From Infertility to Adoption - Closing One Door and Opening Another

*Hugs!* Zay & Kal

The first time we pursued adoption, we weren't ready to close the door on getting pregnant. We wanted to pursue both at the same time... I guess to maximize our chances. Whether we'd adopt or get pregnant, we'd be happy.

Our caseworker kept telling us that it wasn't wise to keep one foot in each of those camps (adoption AND fertility). She said that we shouldn't view adoption as our B Plan, but rather our new A Plan. I didn't understand that at the time. I kept thinking us getting pregnant had nothing to do with our adoption journey. It felt like she was trying to get us to "give up" on getting pregnant and put it behind us. But why? I wasn't ready to do that.

After adopting once, I can now see the wisdom in it. Both paths to building your family are extremely stressful and can be full of disappointment and heartache. Trying to pursue both wasn't maximizing our chances more than it was stressing us out. It wasn't allowing us to process our infertility emotionally. And it wasn't allowing us to fully enjoy and prepare for adoption and what it was going to do for us.

It's about closing one door and opening another, yes. But that doesn't mean we can't go back to that door later... when we're ready to focus on that (and only that).

After we adopted, I no longer felt the pain that infertility brought into our lives. I was able to process it, accept it, even love it. And I understand why pursuing fertility treatments AND adoption is just too much at once. We don't have to "give up" on getting pregnant, we just have to focus on one thing at a time.

So, no more wishy-washy thinking - should I take my fertility meds? should I chart my cycle? etc. etc. etc. For now, that fertility door is closed. But the bright and shiny adoption door is standing wide open for us... and I am SO EXCITED. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Intake Interview/ Eligibility Meeting

We had our eligibility meeting with our new caseworker!

They call it the "Intake Interview." I remember this step from the last time around.

Before we had the interview, I got kind of nervous when we weren't hearing back from the adoption secretary. So (on my birthday...hoping for some good news), I called her up and she said she hadn't gotten the Bishop's reference back yet but she would call me the moment she did. I said, "Well, okay. He might be busy and forgot or something." I wondered if I should call him, but I'd see him that Sunday at Church, so I tried to not worry and planned to casually ask him about it then. Only a couple hours later, the secretary called me back and told me it had come in the mail that day. WHEW! Happy birthday to me!

With all the initial paperwork in, they can determine whether we are eligible to adopt and start the real paperwork. We were assigned a caseworker, who would call us on her next day of work (all the caseworkers work part-time and have varying hours of actually being in the office) to schedule our meeting to talk about our eligibility.

You know, they make it seem really intimidating and scary: "determining your eligibility." Like it's a grueling job interview and you have to prove your worthiness. But it's not that big of a deal, really. They want to approve you... they want to help you add to your family through adoption. They want this to be a good experience for everyone involved. They just have to make sure everything is in order first, so they can in good conscience recommend you as an adoptive family. Totally understandable and necessary. And complete openness and honesty about every little detail is important.

So, our caseworker called the next week. I answered the phone while I was trying to change Kal's diaper at the same time. Gotta learn to multi-task if I'm gonna have two kids! Ha ha. I was kind of laughing to myself the whole time we talked. We set up the interview up for the very next day. She's an older caseworker (compared to the girl who was my age that we worked with last time) and more professional and down-to-business. It'll be interesting to work with her after working with our last caseworker.

We went and discussed all the eligibility requirements and any issues that need to be addressed before approval. They ask about addictions (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, video games, etc.), mental health issues, prior convictions (particularly relating to harm to a child), previous divorces, voluntary sterilizations, stability of the marriage (ever considered divorce? ever lived separately throughout the course of the marriage? etc.), whether we have health insurance that will cover the child at placement, our financial situation, whether we are on the same page about adopting, whether we are in good standing with the Church (hold a current temple recommend), and have had good standing with the Church for the last couple years or so (I can't remember the exact time period she asked about, but they want to know if our Bishop ever took our temple recommend from either of us for any amount of time and for what reason). Things of that nature. I'm not sure what things would immediately disqualify you, but if there is any concern (or unresolved issues) at all in any of these areas, they require up to 12 counseling sessions to determine the severity and nature of the concern and help you work through it, if possible. If it's not possible to work through it in their maximum of 12 sessions, they won't approve you.

"Eligibility for adoption may be delayed or denied if at any point it is discovered that a ouple has misrepresented their situation or given false information... Eligibility for adoption may be delayed, put on hold, or denied if at any point during the adoption process concerns are identified about the financial, emotional, spiritual, mental, health, physical well-being, or marital stability." It's important to be honest and talk about everything. If everyone who became a parent had to meet such requirements, the re-population rate would drop drastically, ha ha. But it's good for us and strengthens us. I wonder sometimes if that's why we're on this adoption journey... to help us grow and keep us humble in a way that we wouldn't have otherwise.

Then our caseworker went through the Description of Services again with us, even though we read and signed it at the Orientation Meeting. They have to make sure we understand the process and the services that they will provide. Yep, got it! And we discussed our next steps in order to move forward. Kal was way past his naptime at this point in time and was HYPER, spinning in circles and bobbing his head, and throwing his ball, etc. Ha ha.  The meeting lasted about an hour.

I thought it was all professional and went something like this...

But Kal thought it was a party, like this...

Or this...

So, NEXT STEP: Pay the initial non-refundable fee of $1,000 and fill out a folder full of paperwork by hand before moving on to the online paperwork. No matter what happens after paying that fee, they won't refund it. So you have to be certain that you want to move forward. And if you never get chosen by birth parents, then you just lose that money. When you do adopt a child though, that $1,000 goes towards your entire fee that's due when a child is placed with you, so that's cool.

P.S. - What I learned from our last time through adoption: TRACK ALL EXPENSES in relation to the adoption! And have them organized, receipts and everything, for tax purposes. My receipts were all over the place in all kinds of random boxes, mixed in with tons of other stuff. That made doing our taxes a mess when I had to dig through everything and look through every one of our credit card statements and check stubs to see what we paid for and with what. It's much easier if you consistently pay with the same credit card and track each expense amount and description on a spreadsheet.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Uncertainty in Adoption


We have some friends who are pursuing surrogacy right now to start their family. It is SO interesting to me! I'm pretty positive that adoption is our path for now, but I read about everything. Fertility treatments are still one of my top research topics. I just find the whole thing fascinating. And I hound all my friends about their babymakin'  details. Ha ha. I'm like, "Did you get your eggs harvested yet? Yay!" So weird, I know. But that's just my thing. Anyways, it interests me that the uncertainty of adoption is what made them pursue surrogacy instead when they were originally planning to adopt. It got me thinking.

There are a lot of things to think about during the adoption process. Extra worries that just come with the territory. Here are some of the "things to worry about when trying to adopt" that are just off the top of my head:

  • Will we get approved?
  • How long will it take to get approved?
  • Will we be able to afford all the fees related to adoption?
  • How long will the wait be?
  • When will we be contacted by expectant parents?
  • What should we be doing in the "waiting to be matched" phase?
  • How many expectant parents will we talk to before being matched?
  • What will be the age, race, and possible disabilities of the child we're matched with?
  • What if we are chosen and the birth mother miscarries?
  • Will the birth father be involved?
  • What if the birth father isn't exactly known?
  • Will everyone be supportive of the adoption (on our side and the birth family's side)?
  • Will we be able to bond to a child that isn't biologically related to us or doesn't really look like us?
  • How will the siblings respond to each other?
  • Will we face failed adoptions or expectant parents who change their mind last minute?
  • What state will our child come from and what will be the revocation period (time period after signing relinquishment papers during which birth parents can change their mind)?
  • Will we have to travel a lot?
  • What if the birth parents want more/less contact with us than we feel comfortable with? 
  • What if the baby is premature or has complications?
  • Will the baby be healthy?
  • How will we handle disappointment?
  • What if it doesn't go as we hoped? 
  • Are we prepared to explain adoption to a child?

Worrying about miscarriage and the health of the baby are universal when trying to add to your family, no matter how you're doing it, but adoption does add a few more uncertainties in there to throw you for a loop. I'm a classic over-worrier, but at this very moment I'm not worried! I've learned that the only question that matters is WHO. Who will we rely on? God first, each other second. If we have that down, none of the rest matters. It will just all fall into place.

This is my naive, optimistic view of things at the moment! We'll see if it's all rainbows and butterflies through the rest of the process. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bishop's Recommendation


LDS Family Services stands out as a unique adoption agency because it only services adoptive couples who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And they have an extra set of standards that have to be met by each adoptive couple before they are even considered eligible. So, not only do you have to meet government requirements, but Church requirements as well.

One qualification is that you have to receive an endorsement from your current Bishop. An LDS Bishop is closely related to a Pastor in other Christian congregations. He fills the role of a sort of "father" for the congregation, takes confessions, counsels members in spiritual and temporal matters, leads/presides the entire congregation, and "calls" members to various leadership positions. This is all done voluntarily (without pay). We've used our Bishop in the past for family counseling and things of that nature.

This time around, we just barely moved and got reassigned to a different ward (congregation), so our Bishop didn't even know who we were yet. The agency wanted a recommendation from our most recent Bishop, so we had to send it off to him and leave it up to his judgment whether he would immediately recommend us or call up our last Bishop or wait until he got to know us better.

It was really weird timing, because we spent an extra week at our last ward because we promised to teach the 10- & 11-year-olds one more time before changing wards, then most wards were having area conferences rather than the normal Sunday services, then there was a week where there was a temple dedication that members were encouraged to attend in place of Sunday services, and then the entire Church had a conference that comes up every 6 months. So, we weren't going to have many opportunities to interact with our new Bishop at all, or meet hardly any new people in our new ward! We didn't plan it that way, but it just happened.

We did manage to track him down and came in on a random Sunday afternoon to meet him and a few of the other leaders. The adoption secretary had sent the reference letter to him already, but he had sent it back when he didn't know who we were. Ha. Guess he never got the message I left for him. The secretary was cool - she sent it off again with a little note explaining that our church records should show up in the new ward shortly. We met with him, introduced him to our little family, talked about callings we've had in previous wards (for the most part, we've taught various age groups of kids in the Primary for the past 8 years or so... I wouldn't mind continuing that!), and talked a little bit about adoption.

It went well! He'll do whatever he thinks is necessary to fill out the paperwork - possibly call up our old Bishop, make sure our member records make the transition, maybe pray about us (I don't know, ha ha). Anyways, I think we're really gonna like this new ward. A new beginning, a new adventure, new friends, new opportunities to serve. It's gonna be great! The fact that it coincides with the beginning of our new adoption journey and our new start in a new apartment is just a lucky coincidence. Everything is changing and this is a completely new chapter in our lives. I'm so excited! :)

So, NEXT STEP: Check in with the LDS Family Services adoption secretary in a week or so to see if our Bishop's reference came in. She should call us the moment it comes in the mail, actually. She will assign us a caseworker and our caseworker will set up an eligibility meeting. She will determine whether we are eligible to adopt through their agency, based on the initial paperwork and based on who they would like to prioritize as prospective adoptive couples. Any concerns about our eligibility will be discussed then before we pay any money and before we go any further.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Storytime at the Library

There was a very animated story-time leader that day. :)

One of the first suggestions I got when I made the switch to stay-at-home mommyhood was to check out the library and see what resources they had to keep Kal entertained/engaged. We started going to storytime 3 days a week for most of the summer. It's only about 20 minutes, but they sing nursery rhymes and read books out loud and have puppet shows and have the kids jumping up and down and being silly. It's awesome. Kal sits on my lap and flips the pages of books and I just keep hoping I can instill a love of reading in him as he gets older.
Cruising around. This was before he learned to walk. He always found a way to get around.

Patiently waiting for the storytime leader to start.

I could do the same exact things at home, but I honestly do not know half the nursery rhymes that these moms are doing with their kids. So, I feel like I'm learning new cute little games to play with Kal every time I bring him. Plus, it's always good to get out of the house. I try to spend the least amount of time in the house as possible! And Kal loves interacting with other kids, especially older kids. So he has a blast. PLUS, I am exhausted after playing with Kal for hours on end, so it's super nice to have somebody else entertain him... even if it's just for 20 minutes! Give mama a break, please! Ha ha.
Exploring after storytime, afraid to let go of the table.

He still prefers playing ball to books, but that's ok... Don't you dig his tie-dye onesie? Ha ha ha.

I've been taking advantage of the library for myself too. I used to be known as a bookworm, but I haven't picked up a book to read just for fun in ages. Kal's naptime is now my get-as-much-reading-in-as-possible time. It's been friggin' awesome. My favorite things to read right now are philosophy books... Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, etc. And dystopia books (like The Hunger Games). And world religion books ("This is My God," "Anthology of World Scriptures," etc.). I feel very indulgent that I get to spend so much time leisurely reading and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I'll be very sad when life gets too busy to read as much again!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Meeting with the Infertility Specialist


A new requirement this time through the adoption process was to get a doctor to fill out a form about what infertility treatments we've sought, what were the results, what our chances are of conceiving, and whether he would recommend adoption from a medical standpoint.

Apparently there are so many prospective adoptive couples in comparison to how many children there are available to adopt that they want to prioritize couples with infertility over couples who could most likely have biological children. So, I guess in this situation it would be a good thing to be as infertile as possible, lol.

I looked up my old infertility specialist, tracked him down at a new clinic, and got him to fill it out. He actually remembered me - from over 3 years ago! That was the last time I saw him to get a refill on my infertility meds. It took a little work moving all my records and getting an appointment and refreshing him on our situation, but he sat down with me and talked over everything and laughed with me about some of the questions.

"'What are the chances of the couple conceiving?'...? Heck, I don't know!" Lol. I thought the same thing. Infertility is kind of an immeasurable thing. Unless you're sterile and you're at a 0% chance, it's kind of hard to pinpoint a percentage chance of conceiving, especially since we didn't get all the testing done that is out there now. Plus soooo many things can affect your fertility, both negatively and positively. And our chances of conceiving on fertility meds vs off fertility meds would be way different too. It's kind of all up in the air. We did plenty to "increase our chances" when we were trying, and I know more about fertility than any normal person should ever know, but there's no way to know how much you increased your chances.

Even with all that I know about fertility, pregnancy still seems like this magical thing that doesn't really happen unless the stars align perfectly and a miracle occurs (I'm starting to wonder if this whole "pregnancy" thing really even exists! Ha ha... Get out of here! A baby grew inside you?! Yeah right!)... and with 8 years of trying and 2 years of fertility meds, the stars haven't aligned yet. Sooooooo.... the chances are? *shrugs*

I was curious as to what he'd put, though. Based on our history and our test results, he said, "15%." Hmmmmm, interesting.

I told him how I had little to no desire to get pregnant at this point in time, even though I'm not doing anything to prevent it. But if I were to try again, I'd probably stick with him. He gave me a few percentage points higher than I'd have given myself, so he seems like an optimistic guy! I like that. Ha ha.

On a related note, I do not feel like I'm broken or need fixing. I like things the way they are. I am not searching for more ways to increase my fertility, so there's no need to tell me what worked for so-and-so. I am grateful for my infertility and I am through-the-roof excited about adoption! I also have no reason to think I couldn't get pregnant, despite the odds. I'm not stupid enough to think going without birth control forever will continue to prove fruitless, ha ha. If those stars ever did align, I would be shocked... but it would also be a "duh, you're not on birth control - what did you expect?" kind of moment. I'm living life in a "whatever happens, whenever it happens, it'll happen" kind of way. And I'd be happy no matter what.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Know Your Audience

Most of the time, I feel like I'm talking to Wilson from the movie Castaway...

As a writer, one of the number one rules before you even begin writing is to know to whom you are writing...

As a blogger, I have absolutely no idea who my audience is. And that makes it difficult to word things sometimes. It's difficult to focus and to form a voice. I know I am ALL over the place! Plus, I only recently got into a rhythm of posting regularly (once a week for now, but I'm hoping to up it to twice a week or more).

Up until this point, I imagine different people reading it. I imagine writing in my journal... writing to myself (but sometimes it's scary being in this head of mine... I can feel my words echoing around in my brain). Or I imagine I'm writing a school paper. Or I imagine I'm writing to my close friends, close family, extended family, Kal's birth family, the adoption community, someone who has no knowledge of adoption, young moms, the infertile community, LDS people, non-LDS people, random passers-by, etc., etc., etc.... I focus my writing towards whatever group of people come to mind at the time. So, I don't think I'm very consistent.

I know I have followers. I see the stats. I know people stop by and read about my nonsense. And other than a few of my friends who comment regularly (you know who you are), emails I get, or my Facebook peeps or friends in-real-life who talk to me about my blog, I have no idea who reads this! I haven't really promoted this blog and I haven't intended to make any money off of it up until this point. I just do this for fun/therapy. And it would be nice to meet you guys...

So, who are my stalkers? Introduce yourselves! Tell me if you have a blog, so I can check it out and maybe we can be mutual stalkers. I love reading other people's stories, so I might just get hooked! Tell me how you found me in my little corner of the Interwebs. Tell me how we're connected. Do we have mutual friends? If you're a loud and proud stalker, "Like" the Facebook Fan Page! If you want to stay an anonymous stalker, that's cool too. But you can still post a quick comment as a guest and tell me something... anything. I want to know my audience!

You guys are awesome, I can feel it. I know you won't disappoint! :)

Comment/Connect away!

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