Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adoption Brought Us Closer

Well, after all of these big decisions, we were officially a "waiting family." With the help of loving friends and family, we created a portfolio (scrapbook) for birthfamilies to look through. This was an interesting experience because there was a page in our portfolio where I had to describe my husband and he had to describe me. Seems like an easy task, right?

Well, I thought it was when I whipped out a couple of paragraphs highlighting his compassion, gentleness, and never-ending patience, (not to mention his good looks). But then, I was brokenhearted when it seemed like my husband was avoiding the task of writing about me. He would sit down at the computer and then "find" other things to occupy his time; meanwhile, his paragraph about me and why I would make a great mother was never getting completed.

I finally broke down and asked why he didn't love me and didn't think I would be a great mom. He was shocked at my random outburst. (For those of you that really know me, you understand that I am not an extremely emotional person. I am pretty matter-of-fact and practical.) He explained to me that it was hard for him to narrow down all he wanted to say about me. The section I gave him wasn't big enough to include everything so he wanted to take his time and make sure he picked only the most important qualities -- the qualities a birthmother would look at and appreciate in an adoptive mother for her child.

How silly of me to doubt him! What a guy I married! His response did make me take a second glance at my paragraphs.

In good time, my husband finished his paragraphs about me and they were very eloquently written. This was a great experience and I highly recommend trying it with your spouse even if you are not in the adoption process. It is a great reminder to yourself and your other half about how/why you are perfect for one another.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Open Adoption: A Life Choice

When we originally thought about adoption we, like most people, had an "old-school" vision of it. I am a Lifetime Movie Network fanatic and I have seen "Losing Isaiah" and other traumatic movies where adoption is not portrayed in a positive manner.

My initial impulse was to choose a closed adoption. I didn't want a birthmother coming back and stealing my happiness right out from underneath me! I thought if she didn't know us or have a relationship with us, she would "forget" about us and leave us be. (Wow! Now that I read that, I see how selfish it truly is!)

Once we were educated on open adoption, we quickly changed our minds. We went from one extreme to the other. We no longer wanted a closed adoption...we wanted a VERY open adoption. We chose open adoption because of the benefits that each person of the adoption triad would gain. The birthparents would be able to see that they made the best choice for their children, to watch them grow up, and to continue to be a part of their children's lives. We would have access to medical histories and a lifetime connection to our children's birthfamilies. Open adoption is mostly about the child. Our children would grow up to know their family history, where they came from, and why their parents chose adoption. They would have someone to identify with, someone who looks like them, and most importantly, another family who loves them just as much as we do.

I knew if I could just get over the awkwardness of this new and unusual relationship, that I would be doing something amazing for my children.

Open adoption, for us, is a life choice. It is a choice we are making for our children. We see it as adding an entire family to ours to make a "mega-family". It isn't an easy relationship and it does take some work, but it is the most amazing thing to see how much love surrounds one little girl -- that makes it worth every bit of effort!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Big Discussions

Now that we decided we were going to grow our family through adoption we had to start the process. We chose Bethany Christian Services because that is who a friend of mine recommended. We met our social worker and I immediately liked her -- honest, to the point, and non-judgemental -- my kind of gal!

I could lay out the whole process of meetings, paperwork, and home studies but the part that sticks out in my mind the most is the "openness" discussion. To me, these were some of the most difficult questions I had to answer.

For those of you whom have never gone through the adoption process, the "openness" discussion is when you talk with your social worker about the type of child you are open to accept into your family. This covers everything from age and race, to family medical history, addictions, willingness to travel, extra expenses willing to be paid, special needs, and type of adoption -- open, closed, semi-open.

At this point in the game, I just wanted a baby... any baby. My husband was a little more cautious and practical about what we could handle financially and emotionally at this time. We filled out the forms together with the idea that we just wanted a healthy baby for whom we could afford to provide the kind of life he/she deserves.

It was amazing how much our thoughts changed again after talking through different scenarios with our social worker. It was during this time that we decided we were willing to choose an open adoption...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sometimes It Takes a Fairy Godmother!

Shortly after the struggle to have children began, we jumped on the Invitro-Train. My husband and I were both poked and prodded to find out the "source" of our troubles. No one had any really satisfying answers. In fact, when I asked my doctor why this was happening to my body, he said, "Do you smoke? No? Well then it must be heredity." Are you kidding me, doctor? My family is about as fertile as they come!

It was the week of our final check-up at the infertility clinic. A huge snowstorm (as is usually the case in Wisconsin) was supposed to be arriving the very day we were to travel to Chicago. We were getting pretty burnt out on appointments. We had just found out at our last appointment that we had a less than 20% chance of being successful with invitro. $17,000 for a 20% chance. I am not a gambling woman by nature so I started to look at other options.

I signed us up for an information meeting at Bethany Christian Services. As we both left the meeting, we agreed that we felt compelled to explore adoption further. We canceled our appointment at the fertility clinic and have been on the Adoption Rollercoaster ever since.

And everyone was happy with their decision and we lived happily ever! I don't think so! You see, I am a very stubborn person. I still was struggling with why God would not let me have things my way. I just wanted to be pregnant and have a baby like He intended. I was very angry, especially when I saw all of these young, unwed mothers carrying babies on their hips. The awful and unwanted advice from others didn't help either -- "Maybe God doesn't want you to be a mother." "You are so lucky you don't have to be pregnant." "It will all work out according to His plan." If you are a friend of an infertile person, THESE ARE NOT COMFORTING! DON'T SAY THEM!

It took my beautiful, God-loving Godmother to help me see the light. (I am very close with my Aunties and they often advise me when I need it). My Godmother helped me realize that God was trying to use my strengths. She told me, "God knows you have the ability to love ALL children. That is why he has chosen adoption for you. He knows not all people are able to do that." Thank you, Auntie Joanie!

I still think of that advice on days that I am struggling with my life's path.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Don't Drink the Water!

When you finally make that decision to start trying to have children, you are all excited by the possibilities and the unknowns. When you realize you are going to struggle having children naturally, those possibilities and unknowns can become your biggest enemies.

While trying to start our family, all I could see around me were glowing pregnant women with their round little basketball-bellies and adorable infants with rosy pink cheeks. I became so obsessed with getting pregnant that it consumed my daily thoughts.

I work in a school and at the same time we started trying to have children several women at our school were blessed with pregnancy. They were so beautiful and happy when they shared the news that they were expecting. People would laugh and joke that, "There must be something in the water! Stay away from the water!" (Chuckle, Chuckle) All I could think about was, "GIVE ME THAT WATER! I will bathe in it if I have to!" 

Eventually my husband and I realized that something wasn't quite right and becoming parents the old-fashioned way wasn't really in our list of options. (This is where the story really starts...)

I would love to say that adoption was always on my heart as something that I had planned on doing, but it wasn't. I just knew I was going to be a mom. I didn't think about how I would become one!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New to Blogging

I don't really know how I am supposed to start this thing. I guess the proper thing to do is to explain why I have decided to give blogging a try.

I have always enjoyed writing but don't really take the time to sit down and do it for myself very often. Most of my writing is creatively drafted at school for my students. As you can probably imagine, the content of those stories is far different than what I plan to share here.

My life over the last two years has been a series of ups and downs through infertility and adoption processes. I have heard many people say that I should write a book to share my experiences with others. I don't think I am quite "publisher" ready yet but a blog might just be the first step toward that.

As I wait for the birth of our second daughter, on May 24th, I want to look back and remember all of the twists and turns in life that brought me to right where I am today.

In sharing all of this I hope to give you a little sneak peak into our life. Maybe you are a waiting family and I can bring you comfort in knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, maybe you are a family member who just wants to read about our adoption story, maybe you are just being nosy and want to poke around on my blog --- whatever the case, I hope you find what you are looking for!