Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eager and rushed

Yesterday we painted the nursery! My husband, a sweet friend, and I painted the small room fairly quickly. While it is still just an empty room, I smile every time I walk by it and love the color. I promise to post pictures once it is completed!

Painting the nursery felt like the first step that really opened the flood gates of "nesting" mode. I created a list of things we need to do to prepare for a baby, and am feeling a little overwhelmed with all that I would like to do. I am such a planner, and this is such a special and fun thing to dream and plan.

In all of my eagerness, I do also have a sense of feeling rushed. I would love to have a short wait, but the reality of getting everything done in a short amount of time is daunting. But it is also a little ridiculous to feel rushed when our wait could be long....and then I rushed to get everything done for no reason! Gah. On the one hand it is thrilling to not know when our baby will come - how exciting that phone call will be! - but in terms of planning I do long for the more predictable timeline that would have come with pregnancy. I feel like this time of anticipation is so sweet and precious, and I want to savor the joy of preparing...

This is probably another area I need to let go of control and trust God. We would be oh so happy to go and meet our baby tomorrow, and we would make it work with the help of family and friends (even if we only have two pieces of artwork and nothing actually for a baby at the moment). But if we don't meet our baby tomorrow, I am going to try to sit back and enjoy each moment preparing and dreaming of our little one, and take it one checklist item at a time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Possible possiblities

In our two weeks of "waiting," we have already heard about a handful of possible possibilities - expectant mothers who have contacted our lawyer or we have heard about through some other source. I don't really know what to call it - they are certainly far from matches, and who knows how many of these could even be potential matches - but each one gets me so excited.

You remember the first one - the twins. I have not heard anything else about this expectant mom since our attorney said she was waiting to hear back from her, but this one showed me that there really are women out there seeking to make an adoption plan. Obviously I knew this, but this was the first one that could have pertained to us! And I feel like each one I hear about is encouragement to my heart that there is a match out there for us.

Our lawyer has told me about some that would definitely not be a match for us (one who did not want a Christian couple), could be a match if we were chosen, but we decided not to be shown (one had a history of serious drug use), and a few others that are probably not a good fit for us, but I loved hearing about all the same.

I think our lawyer likes to keep us "in the loop," and so far I like it. I do wonder if the excitement of all of these "possible possibilities" will wear off, and they may instead become difficult to hear about if our wait feels long. I figure at that time I can request less information, but for now I enjoy knowing that things are happening.

And you never know which one will be "the one." :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Entering the unknown

Lately I have been thinking about some of the similarities between starting our adoption journey and trying to conceive.

When we first began trying to conceive, we were full of hope and excitement. I started daydreaming about the nursery and calculating possible due dates. We talked and laughed and tried to envision my pregnant belly and the child we would soon be welcoming. We very much hoped it would be soon, at least, but we also had that nagging doubt that it wouldn't. Because, you know, not everybody has an easy time conceiving. And I did have that crazy spotting issue...maybe that was indicative of a larger problem?

And so we began. Mostly excited and hopeful, but with the reality of infertility sitting in the back of our minds. What if we were one of those couples?

Likewise, here we are beginning our adoption journey. We are full of hope and excitement. I have started planning the nursery and plan to buy paint this weekend. We see a baby and wonder if our baby will look like that? We're starting to tell people we're adopting! And we hope it will be soon. We hope it will happen quickly, and that there will be a "perfect" match where everything goes smoothly. But we also know that isn't how it always happens - sometimes it takes a really long time, with matches, failed matches, and drama along the way. What if we are one of those couples?

And so we begin. Mostly excited and hopeful, but we also know the reality of the ups and downs of the adoption process. But even if we are one of those couples, we know God's faithfulness. He has walked with us and guided us through infertility, and he will walk with us and guide us through adoption - whatever that holds. We do not need to be afraid, and he will bring us our child.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Decorating the nursery

I have been dreaming of decorating a nursery since before we even started trying to conceive. Needless to say after that many years of dreaming, I could hardly restrain myself to get started once our decision to adopt became official!! It seems like the adoption "norm" is to be low-key about the nursery, purchasing baby items, etc. in case the wait is long, but I just feel so ready to prepare for a baby. Plus, I am a planner by nature, and I would love to feel like a room is ready for a little one whenever we get the call!

I made 3 purchases for our baby's room last week. How crazy is that?!


Print from etsy seller thewheatfield - She is having a 20% sale in her store right now, too!


Another print from the Etsy seller thewheatfield - LOVE these colors!


3 yellow paper lanterns from World Market (they are slightly different than the one pictured, but this was all I could find on their website)

I'll keep you posted on the progress!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How we chose to use an adoption attorney

I have gotten some questions about working with an adoption lawyer, so I thought I would share more about the factors that led us to this decision, as well as answer your questions. I had posted about some of these factors along the way, but everything is pretty jumbled and there is more information that never got published, so hopefully this will fill in the gaps.

I have to start by saying that as I began my research, I was surprised at just how many factors go into making these decisions. I was especially surprised how much where we lived effected our decisions, and how different each state's adoption laws can be. Thus, please know I am not necessarily recommending any of this, and what may be best for you in your state and county may be completely different than what I write here! Also, there are so many variables and everybody has their own priorities about what is important...

Initially, we really wanted to work with an agency. We wanted the "one stop shop" since we are completely new to all of this, as well as hand holding for both us and expectant mothers. Also, agencies just seemed "safer" financially (less variable expenses) and more predictable. However, we discovered that there are very few agencies licensed to work with prospective adoptive parents in our county, and we only found one that was "full service" and included birth mother locating, support, and counseling. All of the other agencies told me we had to "find our own birth mother" by using an adoption lawyer or facilitator.

I did a lot of networking through an adoption web board I am a member of, and found other people who lived in S.outhern C.alifornia who gave recommendations for adoption professionals. I heard a few negative things about the one "full service" agency we could have worked with, so I was pretty decided not to use them from early on. We did go to an info session hosted by this agency and liked a lot of what they presented, but it still did not feel like the right fit for us.

Another option we had was to use a national agency and adopt out of state. However, we did not like the idea of working with somebody we would never meet, and matching with a birth mother with whom it would be difficult to maintain some sort of open adoption relationship because we live across the county. Also, this keeps our adoption budget down because we do not have to pay for travel expenses, ICPC fees to transfer the adoption from one state to another, and living expenses while in another state waiting for ICPC (the length of time for this varies with each state). However, if a situation from another state falls into our lap we would be open to it, but we did not want our most likely situation to be out-of-state

I heard about our lawyer through one of my internet-but-still-local friends. I really liked her from our first phone conversation, where she talked to me for 20 minutes about her services and asked questions about us. She gave me some references, and I called all of them and really enjoyed hearing their adoption journeys. Not all of them were easy, but they had positive things to say about the lawyer. One woman told me she had three other friends in her area also use the same lawyer and they had wonderful experiences, too.

As our research continued, there seemed to be some "blessings in disguise" about the fact that we were limited in our agency options and ended up signing with a lawyer. A huge one is that, most likely, our wait time will be shorter. Of course this is impossible to predict or know for sure, but the agency we could have worked with has an average wait time of 6-18 months, and our "top choice" agency that we were not able to work with due to where we live has a 1-2 year average wait. However, our lawyer's average wait time is 6-9 months, and most of her couples adopt within a year. She is usually working with about 10 couples at a time (rather than the hundreds at the agencies), so I feel like we are getting very personalized service, and we could match faster because perhaps the situations that become available will only be possibilities for a few of those 10 couples. Also, we are able to work on our homestudy while we wait.

One drawback about working with a lawyer is the potential lack of counseling for an expectant mother. This is something that is very important to us, and was a difficult factor for us in our decision making. With a lawyer, she will be able to talk to our lawyer (and she is amazingly warm and personable, thankfully), but it is still our lawyer and she is certainly not trained as a counselor. Our lawyer said she has a network of adoption counselors that she refers expectant mothers to, but it is still not quite the same as having a social worker pursue a woman to talk to her, you know? But, with the other factors that had to go into this decision, we had to accept this part. We are hoping that, when we are matched with a birth mother, we can personally encourage her to talk to an adoption counselor (that we would pay for) and make sure she has the opportunity available as best as we can.

Another drawback about working with a lawyer is that the total cost of the adoption is more variable. However, the one agency we could have worked with had the set "agency fee" but still had variable costs like birthmother expenses, travel fees, ICPC, and additional legal fees, which are the same variable expenses with our lawyer - but I know a lot of agencies have flat fees. That said, this could also end up being a positive. If we are matched with an expectant mother who does not have many expenses, it is a straightforward legal situation with the birth father, etc., then our total cost could end up being much lower than an agency. But it is difficult that you just don't know. Also, many agencies have you pay money into a "birhtmother expenses" pot, so you are not paying money directly to the expectant mother you are matched with. If she decides to parent, you don't have to pay that fee again for your next match, but with a lawyer we would be "out" on that money.

Lastly, some people are bothered by the fact that lawyers are "for profit" and agencies can be "non-profit," but this wasn't a huge issue for us. Our lawyer charges very reasonable fees, and I just see it as her earning a professional salary, just like an agency pays their employees their salaries.

MK asked some great questions:
How do you pay? Is it something like half when you sign on and the other half once you're matched? I don't know how it works with all attorneys, but ours is providing "facilitation services" first and then "legal services" once the baby is born. I should add here that I don't believe lawyers can do the facilitation (networking to find expectant mothers considering an adoption plan) in some states, but it is legal here in C.alifornia. Anyway, we paid her about 45% of the total facilitation fee when we signed on, and we will pay the remainder of that fee when we are matched. If that match fails for any reason, we would not pay anything else for a new match.

We will pay for the legal services as we go, and they will happen around the time of the birth and in the finalization process. These will vary depending on the situation, but they are actually a pretty small amount of the total costs.

On top of these fees, we will need to pay for an agency to do our homestudy, birthmother expenses, incidentals like printing costs for our profile, and travel expenses (if applicable).

Is it more expensive, less expensive, or about the same as an agency?
To be determined. :) Because some of the fees/ expenses can be variable, I don't know for sure. But, based on her estimates, I think it will either be less expensive or about the same as the agencies I looked at. Also, another lawyer I talked to was MORE expensive, so I don't think this is necessarily true of all or most adoption attorneys, but ours is actually relatively affordable.

And do you have to show that you have a certain amount of money in a checking/savings account? We did not have to show this to our lawyer to sign with her, but her 'questionnaire' did ask our annual income. I know we will have to give financial documents for our homestudy, though.

Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any other questions!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We're officially a waiting family!!!

Today I sent in the contract and check to our adoption lawyer, and we are now officially a waiting family!!! EEK!

One unexpected but exciting part about working with a lawyer rather than an agency is that we do not have to do much to become a "waiting family." Of course, no expectant mother will probably hear of us yet because we have not given our attorney our profile, BUT our lawyer knows our criteria and if by some small chance we are the only family that fits an expectant mom's criteria we could still be matched (or hurried along with our profile :). We also do not have to have our homestudy completed before becoming active, and if needed we could even do that after we brought a baby home. (All of this is per C.alifornia's adoption laws through independent adoptions).

That said, we are diligently working on our profile and hope to get that turned in to our lawyer this weekend for review. I already have most of the text written and pictures picked out, so it's just a matter of putting it all together. I am also waiting for a call back from a social worker to begin our homestudy, so everything can start happening while we're waiting!

We're on!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Met with our soon-to-be lawyer

After a few phone conversations, we finally met with the lawyer we have been leaning towards working with (and who called me about the twins a couple days ago). She is as knowledgable and personable as we have heard! I appreciated the thoughtful and respectful way she spoke of birthmothers, and she has adoption counselors that she always encourages them to go to.

She gave me a list of references, too, and after talking to a couple of them so far I do feel like God has paved the way so that what initially seemed like a difficult decision because very few agencies will work in our county, has turned out to be rather easy. One woman was super excited to tell me about working with this lawyer, and said that she had 3 friends who also used her and had really wonderful experiences! Another lives in my city and invited me to an adoptive mom playgroup next week! Yay! I know the lawyer would only give me happy customers to talk to, and I'm sure there are others who would have negative things to say, but the level of enthusiasm these women had in talking about working with the lawyer spoke volumes to me.

It was a great meeting and we feel that much more ready to sign the contract and write the check. We want to pray about it this weekend, and if God continues to lead us in this direction we plan to sign with her early next week.

Oh, and I also asked about the expectant mom with twins. :) She said she has not emailed back for a couple days, so we will see how it pans out. But she said if the mom is interested in making an adoption plan she will show her our profile! Clearly it's far from being a "match" but I'm just so excited that there could be a match out there somewhere!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shaking!!

I have had it on my to-do list to call the lawyer we are leaning towards working with to ask a few more questions, and had hoped that if I got home early enough this afternoon I would call her today. About an hour before I got home she called and left a message, and I assumed she was calling to follow up that we had received the info packet and contract.

I listened to the message, and she was calling, first of all, to do just that. But there was a second part...

She has an expectant mother whose situation may not fit any of the families she is currently working with. AHHHH!! Of course, of course, it may not be a match for us either....but this is REAL! This could REALLY happen!!! Whether or not it is this match or another, we could get a call someday soon that changes our whole life!!!!

This particular situation (again, not ours...but could be?!) is TWIN GIRLS!!! (I think the reasons this may not be a match for her other families are that it is twins, they are bi-racial, and the expectant mother wants some openness).

I am shaking, literally. I don't think I am getting my heart set on this one (I honestly never even thought about twins....we would have to decide if we are up for that), but it just feels so real for the first time. There is a real expectant mom out there that has twin girls she is looking to place for adoption. Wow.

Obviously, we haven't even signed on with this lawyer, but we were hoping to decide for sure by next week. And we haven't gotten our homestudy, although in C.alifornia you can do the homestudy after the baby has been born if needed. I am trying not to get my hopes up that we will be matched quickly, but we could be - eek!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Love {insert heart symbol}

This weekend was a momentous one in our adoption journey: we told our families we are adopting.

For a variety of reasons - some understandable and others that are regrettable - we were not very open with them about our infertility. They knew we were "having trouble" conceiving and that it had been "awhile," but they did not know the length of time nor the extent of medical intervention we sought. Thus, I felt quite nervous to tell them we are adopting, because it could have been a bit of a surprise.

As we drove down to their houses, I felt jittery and anxious. If you had asked me what I was nervous about, it would have been hard for me to pin point. I knew they would be supportive. I knew they would love an adopted grandchild/ niece or nephew. I knew they loved us. But ... but...

I think I was nervous to have to see their grief. I have had 3+ years to process and grieve that I may never experience pregnancy or have a child who shares features and attributes with our families, and I still grieve this... but they have an instant. One moment to realize that they, too, will never get to see me pregnant, go to an ultrasound appointment with me, or wait anxiously in the hospital waiting room while I give birth. They, too, will never get to see a grandchild from me (and for one of our parents it could be from any of her children) who has "our blood." Their losses are once removed and therefore probably not as acutely painful as mine, but I had to acknowledge that they may still feel them. And that just because they experience some sadness (like I have), does not in any way take away from the love and family that our child through adoption will have.

But in my own still aching heart, I was nervous to see their sadness. I knew it would be like salt in my wound.

Also, because we have not been very open with them, I was not sure what - and how many - questions they would have. I felt like I wanted them to be able to ask questions, but, again, my heart is still so raw from our failed infertility treatments that I did not know if I could handle it.

Lastly, there were those pesky, unfounded what-ifs. What if they are not excited? What if they disapprove? What if they cannot love our child? And, the biggest one - what if telling them we are adopting is less exciting, hopeful, and special than telling them we are expecting through pregnancy? Is this another loss?

In the midst of all of these thoughts and emotions, our family stepped up in complete love and support beyond what I could have even imagined. There was nothing scary, sad, or less-than about telling them we are adopting, and I felt a renewed joy to experience the love of a family. To know that our family is always in our corner, to see them eagerly embrace adoption as our path to have a family, and have them hug me as I cried blessed me so much that I cried more.

I feel like a huge burden has been lifted off of my shoulders, and am so relieved that our family is now on the same page as we are. That everything is out in the open, and that there is nothing to fear from our families. Whew. I feel ten pounds lighter, and 100 times more excited to move forward.

Love. <3