Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Progress!!

I spoke with an adoption lawyer over the phone today, which made me so excited! Suddenly this thing I have been simply 'researching' felt so real....like I could sign up with her tomorrow and set everything in motion. How crazy is that?!

This lawyer is one of two that was recommended to us. We have an appointment set up for the other one on July 13, but honestly I liked so much about the one I spoke with today that I don't even want to meet with the other. Plus, that meeting is going to cost us $300-$600. I know it's no time to be cheap - and we really will pay a little more for quality services - but that is a lot just for one meeting! We would like to talk to both so that we have a point of comparison, but we will have to decide whether or not it's worth it.

Initially I was desiring to work with an agency, but as I got further along in my research I learned that, in our area, there is only one full service agency that we could use. I have read a number of negative reviews about this agency (both online and through an adoption Ya.hoo group I joined) that made me very leery of it. And now that I am learning more about private adoptions through a lawyer, I am so thankful it is feeling more and more like a good fit. Lawyers in California can facilitate/ advertise adoptions, so many network and provide services much like an agency would.

In the rush of my excitement, I sat down today and wrote a super rough draft of our adoption profile. And my husband is so cute - he is a so.ftware develo.per, and has decided to more thoroughly learn web design. Over the last couple weeks he read a book and taught himself more about it, and is starting to design an adoption website for us as I type this.

We are making progress! Our next steps: decide whether or not to meet with the other lawyer, decide whether or not to go to the info session with the one agency we could work with, and sign on with somebody. My husband's next steps: Design our website. Yay!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Welcomed home by a pregnancy announcement

After an amazing {and tiring} week at camp with my high school girls, I was on cloud nine. Seriously, these girls are so much fun and overall are really seeking the Lord. Witnessing God's work in their lives is such a joyful gift to me. I can't imagine my life these past 6 years without doing youth ministry, especially as I have walked this painful road of infertility. I am thankful that I have gotten to watch God working first hand, which has always been a reminder to take my eyes off of myself and my sorrows and put my trust in him and his purposes.

Anyway... I came home from camp to an email from a friend with the subject line of, "News." I bet you have gotten those too, huh? Where you know what it is going to say before you even open it?

The email was from a dear college friend of mine. We have been friends for 12 years now, were in each others weddings, and still live in the same city. We get coffee one morning a week before work. She has been very sympathetic to our infertility struggle, and I know that all of the tears I shed yesterday were completely ME and my pain, and not her.

But with that said, it is one of those friends with which it has been particularly difficult to not feel competitive in life. Isn't that weird? I don't have many (any?) other friends that I struggle like this with, but for some reason I do with her. She has definitely had her struggles and seasons of waiting, so she is not one of those people who seem to "have it all easily," so I don't know why...

We were trying to conceive for a full year before she got married. I actually thought I might have to get a maternity bridesmaids dress for her wedding, or, if things happened really quickly, I would have a newborn! Ha! She has now been married two years. Over the last two years she has tried to be very sensitive to me in the midst of infertility, and would always talk about her own future family building plans with the preface of, "If God blesses us with children...." which I both appreciated and hated. I appreciated the understanding that it is NOT something to be taken for granted and that one may very well not be given that blessing. But I hated it because, in all likelihood, she WOULD be blessed with children and it just seemed so random to say. Obviously I just hated it because it was a reminder that I am the odd one out on that one.

She and her husband bought a house at the same time they got married two years ago, and they have spent a lot of time and money fixing it up. My husband and I have owned our house for 3 years, but due to saving/ spending money for infertility and adoption we have not done any of the projects we need or want to do. Likewise, she and her husband took a really big "before kids" vacation last fall....while I feel like the trips we have taken (DC!) have been such a stretch and a conscious decision to not let infertility rule our lives for over 3 years. And while she told me about their many vacations and house projects, I always felt those pangs of how infertility has effected so many things in my life...and struggled with jealousy that she didn't have to.

So. I'm pretty sure she got pregnant their first month trying. I don't know this for a fact, but I know in the past she had said they wanted to wait two years before trying to conceive, and based on her being about 12 weeks along that would put conception right at the two year mark. And, that means she conceived the same month as my last failed cycle in April...and our due dates would have been the same month. Every time I think of that it is just such a punch in the gut.

As I type all of this I know how whiny most of it sounds. I know. I honestly know I am so blessed that we have managed to find an affordable infertility clinic, pull the funds together, and pay for all that we did without going into debt. I know we are SO BLESSED. And we have gone on little vacations, a DC vacation, and we own our home. Who am I to complain?? Honestly, I DO feel thankful for these undeserved gifts, but as I said above it is just when I start comparing myself to others that these selfish thoughts take hold.

So I am praying that God would forgive me for these selfish thoughts and give me the strength to be a loving friend. She was very sweet in her email and said she understood if I wanted to stop meeting weekly, but as I wrote my reply to her (crying as I typed the whole thing) I knew I wanted to be there with her in this exciting time. This baby is a miracle, and this is such a special time for my friend. I would hate it MORE to drift apart in the friendship and miss out on this. I hate that my grief makes me want to ditch out on my friend, but I am praying that God gives me the strength to rejoice with those who rejoice. I think this will be another area of trusting God...but I am thankful that he can do this work in me.

I am nervous to see her on Thursday. I am scared of how much the next 6+ months will hurt. I am scared her baby will be past babyhood before my baby is mine. I have cried quite a bit this weekend. But I am trusting God, and as I was so perfectly reminded of tonight at church, God's glory far exceeds what it is I am waiting for. (Seriously, I felt like the sermon tonight was written just for me. Thank you God. In fact, the very first example of waiting he gave was, "Those of you waiting for children..." I pretty much cried through the whole thing and felt like the words were balm to my soul).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sweet six and other snippets

Today we are celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary! What a sweet, beautiful, and love-filled six years at has been. God has truly gifted us and we are continually thankful for this blessing of marriage. We will be going out to a nice dinner tonight, and in August taking a little weekend trip to Sa.n D.iego to celebrate.



We nearly completed our first week's worth of our adoption research tasks. I made appointments for us to attend information sessions with a lawyer and a full-service agency, and attempted to set up meetings with two adoptive moms (one foster to adopt and the other domestic adoption). My husband is reading the Adopted for Life book. We are a few steps closer to making our decision! Our expected timeline to gather information, discuss our options, and decide which adoption path to take - all while seeking God's guidance - is by the end of July.

We are leaving tomorrow morning for six days of summer camp with the high school students we have been leading. We are starting our sixth year with them, and they are now seniors in high school! While there are a few things about going to camp that I certainly do not look forward to (namely lack of sleep and potential for extreme heat), I am excited for this week with my sweet girls.

See you all next weekend! xo

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adoption book reviews

I have read three books on adoption so far, and I want to share my thoughts on these before too much time passes and I can no longer remember which book is which. Honestly, the specific likes and dislikes of each are already a little blurry, so these "reviews" will be rather general.

1. The first book I read was Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. I shared about the first few chapters of this book already, and at that point I felt like, as an infertile, I did not like the tone of the book. I discussed my thoughts and feelings quite thoroughly in the post linked above about how he addresses infertile couples and infertility treatments, and after feeling so discouraged by those chapters it took me a couple months to pick the book up again.

Once I did start reading again a few weeks ago, I admit I was quite biased against the book based on what I had read in the earlier chapters. However, his theological discussions about adoption were interesting (although nothing brand new) to me, and I genuinely enjoyed how he interwove his own adoption journey throughout the book. The remaining chapters touched on the paperwork and finances of adoption, trans-racial adoption, and special needs adoption, all of which were thoughtful but simple (you could devote a whole book to some of those topics).

Overall, I would say I am glad I read this book. I would like to cut chapter 4 out (titled "Don't you want your own kids?" ;), but generally I appreciated that it got me thinking about adoption through a Biblical lens. I didn't agree with everything (like his warnings about open adoption, for example), but he admits that many of those things are his opinion and doesn't try to assert that his way is THE way. I'm glad I read it because I know many people who have read it, but I also don't feel like I could highly recommend it - too many mixed feelings.

2. The second book I read was You Can Adopt by Natalie Nichols Gillespie. Again, I thought this would be another overview of adoption, but because I had already read so much on the internet....and the You Can Adopt book above....it was redundant and I ended up skimming most of the book. This one also had insets with adoptive family stories, but there were fewer and in a cursive font that I found annoying. Also, the book had other insets with graphics that highlighted bits of information (like, "I didn't know that!") that I found distracting and a little too simplistic/ childish. However, this book did have a ton of resources at the end, including things like a sample homestudy report and lists of various adoption professionals and grants that were interesting to look at.

****
At this point in our adoption research, I have realized that each state, each county, and each family have such different requirements that no one book, website, or other person can really tell us the best path to take. But I think I secretly wanted that from a book, and none of these could do that. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The low days

I am so very thankful that the hopeful days outweigh the blue ones lately, but the low days make their appearance here and there, too. Lest you think in my adoption excitement I have left behind the grief of infertility, today has been a low day. The kind where my face throbs, my head hurts, and I have had to take out my contacts in favor of glasses due to the swollen, dry-eyed discomfort of my eyes.

The day began feeling "off" as my husband I drove to church. I made {an admittedly whiney} comment about the cost of adoption and not being able to get an SLR camera to take beautiful baby pictures of our baby (I know, I know...I'm sorry), and he snapped at me. We made up almost instantly, but I know the interaction effected both of us.

During church they had the pre-schoolers walk through the sanctuary as a thank you to all of their teachers and helpers, and I got teary eyed.

After church we walked out to our car and I could tell my husband did not want to hold my hand. Cue feelings of hurt and rejection.

In the car, everything suddenly escalated. My husband admitted he didn't even know why he felt so frustrated, but he did. He said he's tired of talking about adoption. He said a lot of other almost nonsensical but still hurtful things. I cried. And cried.

We got home and he apologized genuinely and sweetly. I was still emotional and shaken, but we tried to piece together the root of his anger and frustration. We think the fundamental issue was that the adoption process is just so hard, and in the midst of how difficult {and expensive} it is, we couldn't help but long for the simplicity and joy we had long ago desired of simply getting pregnant one month. My husband felt frustrated and helpless, and the more I have talked about adoption lately, the more he has felt pushed into a corner like I am "calling the shots" in our adoption decisions.

Thankfully, later in the afternoon we spent some time discussing why we are adopting, and why this is the right decision for us. We reminded each other that God does not call us to an easy life nor promise it, and even though these decisions feel difficult, we can rely on God to guide us. We then made a "to-do" task list for the week, and we have committed to each taking task items and then communicating about them as we go.

It was defintely a productive process, and I am thankful for how the day is ending. But all of this has opened the flood gates of my heart and reminded me of the pain of infertility. How long, O Lord?

Friday, June 10, 2011

My head is swimming

So.much.research.

This week I made two spreadsheets that have helped clear my head a little. Can I just say how much I love spreadsheets?! They are so important in times like these!

My first spreadsheet has been to weigh our options between local agencies, out of state agencies, lawyers, and facilitators (which are legal in California). I think my initial desire was to use a local agency because it seemed like a more safe and secure option financially and emotionally, as well as to provide the best support for expectant mothers who are considering adoption. Of course, some agencies are better at these things than others - and no agency is perfect - but I thought that would best meet those two requirements. Plus, as a first-time adopter, the "all-in-one" structure of an agency and the potential for more hand-holding was appealing.

However, as I mentioned before, our county does not have many agencies that are licensed to service potential adoptive parents. I have been told by an agency that "California is different" in that agencies are not only licensed by the state, but also have to be licensed by the county. They can apply for exemptions to work with families outside of their service area, but two agencies so far have told me they do not have the man power and resources to do that at this time. I don't completely understand it, but it's not just a "get your homestudy done by somebody else" kind of situation, as both agencies just told me flat out they could not work with us.

I have found a few "local" agencies that we could work with, but our options are much more limited. Thus, we have widened our net to include out of state agencies, lawyers, and facilitators as well.

My second spreadsheet is to keep track of adoption professional recommendations and information. I have color coded everything into "positives" and "negatives." So far there is no "perfect for us" option, and we have to decide which drawbacks are less important than others.

I think I'm going to spend a little more time collecting information, and then we will make appointments to meet with a few of our various options. Hopefully meeting people in person and/ or getting more specific details that you can't glean from the internet will help inform our decision. We are praying for God to give us clarity!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Moving fast

As I mentioned before, I've really jumped in with both feet and have been plowing through adoption books, websites, and web forums for the last week or so.

While we were still pursuing infertility treatments, I would watch other blog friends end their treatments and decide to move forward with adoption. I would see their sadness over of their last failed cycle one week, and then it seemed like a brief amount of time passed before they were posting about their excitement to move forward with adoption. This always confused me - how in the world did they come to that place of peace, excitement, and hope?! From where I sat then, I felt so far from that.

And yet, here I sit, only a little over a month after finishing treatments feeling very ready to pursue adoption. In fact, this weekend I told my husband I was getting excited about adoption! Through this, I have realized two things about myself, and probably about many of you who I have watched go through a similar process:

1. I did not start the grieving process only a month ago - I have been grieving this possibility for over two years. Thus, I am not moving on "fast" despite the fact that sometimes it seems to me like I must be. But when I add in the cumulative amount of grieving time, I can see what a process the grief has been over each failed cycle, failed treatment, and prayer to God. He has been holding me in my grief, guiding me, and preparing me.

2. Once there was finality in being finished with fertility treatments, I felt like the door opened for another path in my heart. It took the finality of one door closing for the other door to burst open. And I have realized as I step inside that door, that there is hope and excitement on this path, too. It feels amazing to have renewed hope, when the infertility road had diminishing hope as I walked further and further, until there was none left. But now I get to step onto a path that there has MORE hope the further I walk. It is like a breath of fresh air.

So for those of you still in the trenches of infertility who are like I was, this is how one can "move on" to adoption so quickly - or at least how I could. Each person and their grief are so different, and I know others were able to pursue infertility treatments and adoption simultaneously, while others needed years to grieve. I'm still grieving, but the hope part is so much more fun that I am ready to move over there.

Friday, June 3, 2011

First roadblock

First of many roadblocks, I am sure. ;)

The good news is that I have suddenly jumped full steam ahead into adoption research. I like researching things, and I do feel a renewed hope for what the Lord would have for us through adoption.

The roadblock is that I have discovered that the county I live in has very few (if any) domestic adoption agencies licensed to process adoptions here (All I can find are foster agencies and a few international agencies). I have talked to a couple big name agencies licensed in CA (including Be.thany) who say that they simply do not work with families in my county. Another one told me they tried for 3 years to get a license here but finally had to give up. What the heck?! Of course, I grew up in Lo.s A.ngeles county where there about a billion options...grr.

Anyway, I'm still a little bit confused about it all because there are also many national agencies who say they are NOT licensed in CA, but you can still use them and get a separate home study from somebody licensed in your county. Soo....if I could find somebody to do my home study, why can't I pretty much use any agency (especially one who is licensed in neighboring counties!)? It doesn't really make sense to me, but the agencies I just spoke with said "No" to that idea. I didn't push it because I didn't know what else to ask.

I asked these agencies if they have any recommendations for people in my county, and one just said they don't know and the other gave me the name of a lawyer. *sigh*

Of the people I know personally who adopted who live in my county, one did use Bet.hany. I emailed her, and she said maybe things have changed since they started the adoption process 9 years ago, and she did have a vague memory that their social worker was "surprised" that they "got in" and that they must have "fallen through the cracks." I don't really know what that means. However, they adopted a 2nd child, again through Be.thany, only 2 years ago...?! She said it must have been ok because they were returning customers, or that the laws have changed since then. Very, very confusing. The other people I know here who adopted through infant domestic adoption (the most recent being 5 years ago) used lawyers (although, again, they still had to get a home study).

Obviously, this is still very early research and I could find a loophole, but I can't believe I am already having to find a loophole and facing a roadblock. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, though, since it sounds like the adoption journey is one where you are continuously having to jump through hoops. Despite shedding a few tears this morning, I am not feeling too daunted. There has to be a way to do it.

Thank you for all of your recommendations! I have compiled them onto a spreadsheet, and if I find a way to use any of them I will certainly look into them more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Looking for recommendations

Last night my husband suggested we spend some time this weekend researching how to move forward with adoption. {I love that suggestion!}

The truth is, I have been trying to do this every so often. I start reading a little here, searching the internet a little there, and get email messages from an adoption Ya.hoo group that I signed up for...but the more I read, the more uncertain I become. I feel like there is this mass amount of information out there that I can barely wade through, while at the same time there is so little information on issues that I have begun to care deeply about.

How does one adopt whose first priority is family preservation (which feels contradictory to even write)? How does one adopt who wants the best, most ethical, and most impartial treatment of expectant mothers? But as I think about it and my mind moves around in circles, I do think there are instances of women who need to place their child for adoption - I am just nervous about how to find that in the most ethical manner possible.

So I'm turning to you as a starting point. We are considering domestic infant adoption at this time. Do you have first or second hand knowledge of an adoption agency or attorney that you would like to share? A few things to consider:
  • Like I said above, one area that I am particularly looking to get information on is the treatment of expectant mothers. I know most of you will be on the adoptive parent side of things, but if you know anything about this I would love to hear it.
  • We would love to work with an agency or attorney who fully supported open adoption.
  • We live in Southern California. I know there are nationwide agencies, but in light of wanting to maintain an open adoption, it just feels like this would be best if the adoption took place relatively near our home. I don't expect you to research if your agency has a branch here, but thought I would throw that out there - especially for you CA ladies.
I understand that you may not want to publicly name your adoption professional. Therefore, if you put the name of your adoption agency/ attorney in a comment, I will not publish it unless you specifically tell me to do so. I will publish if your recommendation is not personally tied to your own adoption. Also, feel free to email me at makingmemom@gmail.com if that works better for you. Thanks in advance!

Lastly, I will not publish angry or rude comments. :)