11 06 2009

Heather at Production, Not Reproduction has started a semi regular writing prompt about open adoption. I think it is great because I don’t think people write enough about their open adoption experiences. Since for me (and probably most), open adoption was our biggest fear hurdle when moving on to adoption after IF, I LOVE to read about others’ experiences.

What one thing about open adoption would you tell your past self, if you could?

I LOVE this question, but it took me a long time to find the answer. I want my answer to be that open adoption isn’t scary. But I honestly am not really there yet. I haven’t had any face to face contact with R’s birth parents since we brought her home and I am not really sure if we will. I mentioned in a previous post that I thought I ran into R’s birth mother and my adrenaline just went crazy! Not because I don’t WANT to see them, but because I don’t really have a compass to guide me through. I don’t know how they would want me to act and I don’t know how I would handle it.

When we first met her birth parents, they wanted a closed adoption. I shared my experiences (both online and IRL) with birth parents and talked to them about the positives for both them and R. About three hours later, once they had asked us to be R’s parents, they told us that they planned on receiving the letters and photos that we were required to send. We also told them that we wanted to put in our communication agreement that we would have a visit within the first year (at a minimum) at their request. We weren’t ready for more than that at that time (after knowing them just a few hours), and they weren’t even interested in even that.

I didn’t recognize Mother’s Day (or Birth Mother’s Day) with them because I was scared of how it might hurt them, especially because they were so resistant with contact. I also held back a lot of my joy in the first letter for the same reasons. After receiving the letter R’s birth mother sent to me on Mother’s Day, I am thinking of writing her a more personal letter telling her that I am going to lay it all out there and if anything is painful or uncomfortable to me, to tell me. I would rather give a little too much than her feel like we are missing something with our love for R.

Part of me is disappointed. I wish I would have had more contact with them before R was born so we could have developed a better relationship. I wish I was better at this kind of “uncomfortable” situation. I am not very good at expressing myself to new people. In reality, I am not very good a “working” at relationships. Typically if a relationship is too hard, it isn’t worth working at for me (and obviously I have been very blessed with great relationships in my life and those that I “quit” have all been friendships). But then, when I think about it, I am just learning.

So, that is what my advice would be for my previous self. Being open to open adoption is a learning process. Most people start off being scared. Nobody is an expert. I don’t think it is realistic to ask someone to say that they will allow any birth family into their lives forever. Your mind can do crazy things to you with such an open ended commitment. When you actually put a face to both your child and his/her birth family, you will surprise yourself. You will. Love is an amazing thing.

I, like many, was completely freaked out about the whole concept of open adoption. To the point where we decided to try more IF treatments. When we moved onto adoption, I was planning to insist on doing only the minimum required by our agency, and grudgingly so.

Through my friends both online and IRL, I have learned so much about the positives from all perspectives. When we met R’s birth family, I was shocked at how much LOVE I have for them. I am surprised at how concerned I am for their well being. I am surprised at how much I think about them and what they are doing, hoping that they are finding peace and happiness and I am interested in learning what I can do to help them get there.

I am not scared to have R’s birth family in my life. I do not feel threatened by them. But I am scared about how to do this. I have never had a relationship like this before. I have never been so deeply and eternally connected to someone without knowing them at all. It is immensely difficult to form a lasting relationship like that. And I am nervous. I am sooo nervous that something could go wrong because with my entire being, I want to have a great relationship with these people for the rest of my life.

So, in a sense I am kind of disappointed about where I am in terms of open adoption. At the same time, however, when I look back on where I started, I am pleasantly surprised at how much I have learned and grown. And most of is just happened naturally through the process.


Some Adoption Notes

13 04 2009

R’s birth parents:

I forgot to say in my last post one of the coolest things. R’s birth father was adopted himself! We thought that was very cool and it became even cooler when we talked with them at length about it. He had a whole different perspective on it (from a typical birth father). When he first started talking about his story and he mentioned his dad- I wasn’t sure who he was refering to, his biological father or his adoptive father. Then, R’s birth mother said, “Those are his parents, they loved him and raised him every day. It doesn’t matter who gave birth to him. Those are his parents.” While I will never ever discount the tremendous nature of the amazing gift that J and C gave to us, it is really cool that they are able to have the perspective from the other side of things. I am thankful for that.

I will never forget the maturity, conviction and strength they exhibited when they talked about why they were chosing adoption. I knew I wasn’t going to have ill feelings for the people who gave life to my child. What I didn’t know was how powerful the positive feelings were going to be. I was so impressed with them. So in awe of them, yet so sad for the decision they were about to make. I have nothing but respect and admiration flowing through my veins for them. I love them. It is weird to say that about someone I only met for a few hours, but I do. They are absolutely amazing and full of love. For each other, for little R and for life. I cannot imagine the amount of strength, courage and self awareness they have. I am eternally grateful for all of that.

I am immensely protective of her birth parents. Their identities, their decisions, and everything to do with them. I get very tense when someone talks about them. I worry I will have to defend their honor!! So far, nobody has made that necissary, but I tend to interject my respect for them early in any conversation about them.

People are obsessed with appearances:

1 – It is funny how people feel the need to comment about how much R looks like us. She probably will not look unlike us, but we don’t NEED her to be similar for her to be our daughter. She could be purple with four noses and we wouldn’t care. We aren’t trying to pretend she is biologically linked to us. We are proud that she came to us a different way. Immensely proud. It doesn’t offend me when people say these things, I just think it is amusing- like they think they are making us feel better. My only worry with it is that I think people want to “erase” where she came from- and I want to honor that. I don’t want her to ever feel like we are pretending she doesn’t have her own biological history that is very important.

2- People are very concerned with what her birth parents look like. “Does she look like you?” “What famous person does she look like?” “Was she tall?”

The Biology of it all

Hubbs was talking to his best friends’ father about something with R. He misunderstood what he was saying and thought I was struggling with the fact that she isn’t biologically connected to us. I realized then that I honestly couldn’t care less. I like that our family was created in a different manner. I think it is going to make me a better mom than I would have been and I will have a stronger bond with my family. I honestly don’t care one ounce that I didn’t carry her for nine months. I thought I would. I don’t feel threatened at all by the two amazing people that gave her life. I feel they are an extension of her that I honor and respect. (how many times can I say that in one post? Ok, you get it.) The only way I will have any angst about this adoption is if she does.

Our adoption in general

I wouldn’t change a thing.Not one thing! I do think this situation has been absolutely perfect (post-placement potential bump aside- even though when all is said and done I will grow to love that part of the story and its imact as well) I do believe everything happens for a reason. I am thankful beyond works for this wonderful blessing. Someone said to me, “I don’t know who is more blessed, you two or her.” Definately us – but I thought that was a great thing to say rather than the, “she is so lucky!” that we get. Hello? We went through a lot find this amazing blessing. WE ARE BLESSED!

R’s Story

11 04 2009

I wish I could tell you all every detail. I feel so close to you guys, and you all just really get it…I wish you could know every detail. But somethings have to be kept for R to tell and some things need to be kept private for her birth parents sake.

But anyway…. here is our adoption story…

On Wednesday I wrote this post. I was down in the dumps about adoption and I was learning so much about the perspective of birth mothers. About 12 hours later my daughter was born. As we went out to dinner with our friends, J and C were thinking about adoption. As I went to work the next morning, J and C were talking to their new SW at our agency. As Hubbs and I put new batteries in our boat, J and C were picking our profile out of the 18 they were shown. Saturday morning we were shampooing our carpets. As we were letting them dry, we were looking online to purchase concert tickets for the next weekend (our anniversary). I went to call a friend of ours to see if she wanted to come with us and I had a message from our case worker. The CALL. THE call.

It was so exciting calling her back, shaking, anxious with our minds going a mile a minute. We learned about our little girl. It seemed to good too be true. We made the plans to meet, and then tried our best to prepare. We called my mom and Hubbs parents, and that it is. We didn’t want EVERYONE to ride the roller coaster with us. Our familes cried.

Four hours later we were meeting with two of the greatest people we will ever meet. We talked with J and C for hours. We were so nervous at the beginning, but we had so much in common with them. They chose us because of Hubbs connection with our goddaughter, because we were young and active and had the same values that they do. Several hours into the conversation, they asked us to be our little Rs parents. I didn’t cry. I wanted to cry, but I was so guarded, it was so surreal, and I wasn’t quite sure it was really going to happen.

J and C seemed so certain. From what I could see, they didn’t falter at all. They were choosing adoption. They were choosing us for the honor of parenting their child. Period. But I was still guarded. We went home and shortly later got a call from our case worked saying the plans were for the TPRs to be signed at 10:30 am (1 hour after legally acceptable even though the caseworkers told them they should wait a few days because it was happening so fast) and we were to meet at 11:30 am to sign placement paperwork and then head to the hospital to pick up our daughter. Holy crap. Seriously? It didn’t seem real.

Needless to say, I slept the worst I had ever slept that night. I distinctly remember every hour of the night. My brain was going a mile a minute. I was fantasizing about calling our families, sending text messages to friends, posting on my blog to share the good news. At the same time, I was imagining the devastation if this didn’t go through. I was also making a mental list of all the things we NEEDED for this little girl. We had lots of stuff, but not everything.

The next morning we went to several different stores to buy a gift for J and C, diapers, hand sanitizers, etc. We were still scared, still unsure. But we bought a little sippy cup with the name we had chosen on it….and kept the receipt folded nicely in my wallet. When we arrived at the agency to sign consents we were on pins and needles. When our caseworker opened the door she said, “well, all the paperwork has been signed. Congratulations, you are parents!” We both burst into tears. One of the greatest moments of my life, right there. We signed our names on three pieces of paper and then headed to the hospital.

On the way, I called my dad and his wife who had no idea any of this was going on. I asked my dad to put me on speaker phone and told them both at the same time that we were going to pick up our daughter. My step-mom was screaming at the top of his lungs and my dad was sobbing like a baby. Another of the greatest moments of my life. It was really awesome to make that phone call.

Placement was awkward and a little uncomfortable. It was hard to be excited when I felt so sad for J and C. They kept asking how we wanted to handle discharge and finally the words came, “Today is about you guys and R. Not us. You do what feels right for you.” I was shocked that there were no tears at placement. Her birth mom held her as she was wheeled out at discharge. She strapped her into her car seat we had bought for her and kissed her goodbye, hugged us, and we left. It didn’t feel like enough. It didn’t feel like we could be thankful enough, express our admiration for them enough, or tell them how much we were going to love her enough.

Having her strapped in the back of our car was surreal. I felt like a baby thief. She slept the whole way home, so I got to send my text messages and picture messages. At home we had TONS of visitors. We wanted everyone to come that day, then let us be alone for two weeks (that didn’t work out, but whatever. We are loved!). In a matter of hours, our little girl had a complete wardrobe of pink (something I was concerned about!!). We felt so loved, supported and blessed, but we didn’t quite feel like parents.

**I decided that the new information from my last post does not affect our story. When we were first told of the story, there were lots of holes which we filled with worst case scenarios. We have since filled those holes with the truth, and it has since solidified our admiration and respect for the TWO people that we wholeheartedly believe are this little girls birth parents.

*****Looking back over this post it is dissapointing to me. It doesn’t quite articulate the magnitute of amazingness that this situation warrants. But it is the best I’ve got. In short, the whole situation was awesome and I wouldn’t change a thing about it, for us, or for R.

8 04 2009

Wow. So much to say, so little time. Well, thank you all for the well wishes, congratulations and prayers. Keep ’em coming. Without saying too much, we have learned that there is an additional “potential” party involved in the matter of our little angel baby. So, due diligence needs to be done in that respect, which at this point appears to be going to take an additional 60 days. The first few days with this news was rough and scary. With each passing day I am more and more confident that nothing is going to come of this. We have every reason to believe this will all work out, but it is hard to rest knowing that isn’t 100% a sure thing. In my heart it is. This is my daughter and I love her to pieces. It is an amazing feeling, an amazing gift to have this child in my life. She is growing and changing every day and I am so thankful to be here for each tiny milestone. I love that she recognizes my voice, my face, my touch. She knows I am her mom. That feeling is absolutely indescribable!

I’m not ready to share R’s story yet. With the new info we recived, it has changed her story, and I haven’t quite pieced it together. Before this new information, her story was perfect and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. Now, it is a little trickier (although still very much perfect becuase it is her story- how she came to us) but I don’t really know how to talk about it and to tell her about it. So I will wait until all of that soaks in.

Experiencing adoption at the extreme velocity that we have, I am surprised at how different I feel and felt. I didn’t fall in love as fast as I imagined, but the love I feel now is crazy deep, meaningful and specially designed specifically for her. It is weird becuase it took me awhile to feel that real connection – but now it isn’t a connection between me and my child, it is a deep connection between me and R specifically — subtle difference, but huge in the heart. It is amazing. I knew I would love any child placed in my arms, but honestly, I can’t imagine loving any other child than this. I think I am probably rambling and not really making much sense, but I guess it is all just overwhelming.

Isn’t is completely crazy how fast this happened? We literally learned about R and then 23 hours later she was on our way home! I am so very thankful that we decided to have a baby shower Honestly, I may have lost it!!! It was hard enough having to go get all the things I needed and didn’t know I needed (not to mention try to clean a house that wasn’t prepared for a baby), I can’t imagine having to go buy all those things I already had! Crazy crazy crazy! Everything happens for a reason, I suppose. For those of you questioning whether or not to have a shower pre-match – my advice, very necissary!!!

Everything is great. R is healthy and happy and so far we are blessed with a very easy going kid. She has got these eyes that make me melt and a little cry that makes me laugh a little (i know, a little mean). She also does this gas-giggle thing. You’ve heard of gassy smiles, right? She actually giggles. It is freakin amazing and hysterical.

Captain has been doing well…… up until today. I may choke him! I think the jealousy has finally kicked in. tomorrow he has a play date, so hopefully it will help! Poor little guy! I’d bet it is hard being kicked out of your number one spot. But he is good to her, just a little obnioxious as of yet!

So much more, but I am exauhsted. I cant wait to tell you all of the hilarous night-time adventures we have been having. Not fun at the time, but hysterical the next morning. tomorrow is our first post-placement, so got to rest up!

Meet my daughter

31 03 2009

Meet ____________ The light of my life. The miracle of all miracles. The answer to all of my prayers, all my dreams. (I will erase her name in a few days and she will henceforth be refered to as ‘R’ – but I wanted to share it with you all because I love you all so much!!)

Her first jammies on the night my life truly began….

Our first feeding with our daughter….

Coming home

R and her big fur-brother watching over her (he is doing awesome with her!! Except he wants to eat her pacifier!!)

Things have been absolutely mad around here, as you can imagine. I’ll give the full story in time, but here is the shortened version.

Saturday at 1 pm we got THE CALL from SW about our little girl. She was born Thursday morning 4 weeks early and her birth parents(truly amazing people!) had chosen us(that morning). We met with them at 6pm and by 9pm they asked us to be her parents. The next morning (73 hours after her birth- 72 is min for AZ) the TRPs were signed and 23 hours after we learned she existed, our daughter was strapped in her brand new carseat in the backseat of our car as we drove her home!! Our neighbors were standing outside and flipped when they saw us pull a carseat out of our car….and then there was a steady stream of people (up to 18 ppl at once) coming to meet her all afternoon. We are so blessed.
This process is truly an amazing thing. One a few short days ago I was feeling very down in the dumps about adoption. The words that I read, the words I layed out and the feedback that I received from all of you is, what I believe, the last thing I needed before I was ready to be a mom to this girl (well, except for someone to come clean my house. Any takers?). I can’t tell you how much I used the info/advice/experience in this post to help build what I hope will be a solid, healthy, lifelong relationship with R’s birthparents.
It is funny though. On Sunday, I didn’t feel happy at all (I had only gotten about 2 minutes of good sleep Saturday). I mean, my head was happy, but it was so surreal. Even when she was in my arms, in my own home, I didn’t believe it. It was all so fast and there were so many people here!! It didn’t have time to sink in and I couldn’t process it all. She didn’t feel like my daughter quite yet (she is starting to now, more and more every day!).
When I told my work Monday morning, it finally hit me and I broke down crying. This is for real. This is what I have been waiting my whole life for. This is who I am.
So now we are bonding. Trying to spend as much time just staring at her as possible. Loving life, trying to soak it all and wrap our brains around this parenting.
We’ve had lots of firsts already, including our first trip to the ER (she is doing fine- upper respiratory infection, but we passed our first parenting test!). More about that later….
I am completely overwhelmed by the outpouring support!! In my heart I know this is truly meant to be and I am so thankful to have all of you along for the ride!

Who Does That?

7 10 2008

I’m mostly over people making insensitive comments. I don’t get offended anymore and I actually enjoy talking about adoption and even infertility to anyone who will listen. I don’t feel like I have to defend my position, I just feel like I can say how I feel in a way that no one can argue with me. Ask Hubbs, I am good at that.

I’m sure everyone has heard these silly, ignorant comments. It really makes me feel sorry for the people that don’t think before they speak or that have to fill the air with whatever if they come across a conversation that they are uncomfortable with.

I’m pretty much over it emotionally, it is just mildly irritating and almost a little amusing. I think it is interesting when people say things, and even more interesting when they are suddenly happening again all at once. Three times in a week I was asked why we didn’t consider Surrogacy. Who does that? (a favorite saying at my office) It is a bold statement because who says we didn’t consider it? We did on a very real level, but decided against it for many, many reasons.

In the world of hair, I am what they call a “stylist whore.” I never go to the same person twice. Not because I don’t want to, but mostly because I can’t find someone that I like and also like the way they cut my hair.

This weekend I was getting my hair cut by a new gal. I mentioned to her that we were planning to adopt and the series of questions that followed were just crazy…

“Why, you can’t have kids?”
“Whose problem is it, yours or your husbands?”
“Why didn’t you consider surrogacy?”
“You’re not going to do one of those open adoptions are you?”
“Are you going to adopt a Black baby?”

The worst part is, this gal’s two sisters were adopted and her children are bi-racial. Maybe she thinks it gives her the right to say anything she wants. She didn’t make me mad or hurt my feelings. I just answered her questions becuase at this point, I have nothing to hide and am not embarassed about any of our decisions along the way. Needless to say, however, my legacy as a “stylist whore” continues on.

Today I saw this on a blog that I can find anymore and I thought it was funny. I altered it a little to fit me perfectly.

Top 10 things that didn’t help us get pregnant…

10. Having sex every day, every other day or any other combination
9. Reading books on how to get pregnant
8. Doctors and 1200 injections
7. When people ask, “when are you going to start having kids?”
6. Begging, pleading, crying, bargaining
5. Laying with my legs in the air
4. Abstaining from alcohol, hot tubs, roller coasters, and boxer shorts
3. Rubbing bellies with pregnant women
2. Donor eggs

Snippets of info from the past few weeks…

27 09 2008

– My SIL (preg with twins), said to me, “since we are both expectant mothers…” and it made me tear up a little bit. I need to remember to thank her for saying that later.
– My step-mother and I had a great conversation about open adoption. She seems to be the only one interested and trying to understand why I would want that on any level.
– We went to a funeral and the daughter of the deceased works for a school that trains men and women in the National Guard. Her students showed up in two busses fully decked out in their uniforms to support their “family,” as they called it. It still gets me choked up to think about.
– My brother (who I rarely see eye-to-eye with and I struggle to remain on speaking terms with) stated, “I don’t even feel like he is my son, anymore,” about my nephew (who they adopted at age 5 and is having some relatively typical behavioral issues). The way my family reacted with such anger and sadness over that comment and the way that they love that boy so incredibly much gives me full faith that “adoption” will never be any kind of issue in my family. By the way, I am not speaking to my brother right now.
– My BIL (who is my fav of all my in-laws by a long shot and who will only be technically an in-law for a few more months due to a personally devastating divorce) came to my house this weekend and specifically asked to see the nursery even though he would have to walk up the stairs with his busted knee that he just blew out and is awaiting surgery to repair two torn ligaments. It really meant a lot to me that he wanted to see it without having to be reminded it was there.
– I lost 4 pounds my first week of WW (did I say I was starting WW?). I know it was mostly water weight, but I’m excited and motivated anyway! 4 more to go, them maintenance.