12.20.2012

Guest Post #1



Hey there!  This is Mr. Gnome… GnomeHubs? … Gnome, Esquire?  I’m the husband, whatever you may choose to call me.

As you’ve been reading, we’ve been making CRAZY progress with our adoption goals, from padding up our savings, to preparing the application, to picking out furniture and talking about how soon is too soon for any adoption showers our friends or families may offer to host.  The craziest part about it is how our baby feels so close and so far away at the same time.

As the dad-to-be, I’ve spent the last year thinking about the practical side of things.  Will we have enough space in the house?  Will we have enough money to pay the adoption fee right away?  Will my paycheck be enough for Mrs. Gnome to stay home with the baby for a while?  We’ve even had to talk about how much of a car we can afford, so that we have space for the dogs, a baby’s car seat, and all the stuff that goes along with traveling with a baby and 3 dogs (maybe something about this big).  The consequence?  I haven’t spent much time thinking about how I really feel about this since we first decided to pursue adoption.

Now, with the goal so close, it’s the first thing on my mind.

I’m not one to talk about my feelings, or to even let my feelings show when they’re not “practical.” (I know, ladies.  As a gender, men are particularly bad about this.)  Yet, in the last month, I have faced the looming job of parenthood, illness in my immediate family, and the loss of a grandfather.  When emotions pound hard enough like a flood against a dam, even my stone-cold fa├žade is broken from time to time.  Everything from fear of being a bad parent to the excitement to see the smile on my unborn child’s face seems to run through me lately.

So, in the last month, I’ve become a bit of a worrywart.  And a bit of a dreamer.  Even a bit of a crier sometimes.  I’ve decided my unborn baby has just made me a little crazy, and I haven’t even met him yet.  (Foreshadowing for what’s ahead?)

Keep following our journey, and you just might hear from me again.  Besides, Mrs. Gnome isn’t the only one of us planning to be a parent!

12.18.2012

T-minus 15 days!

It's been a little while since I posted last - the end of the semester took over my life for a few weeks there!  I just got my final grades, and so far I still have a 4.0 GPA for graduate school, which is AWESOME!

We also hit a great milestone with regard to our adoption savings account this week - we surpassed the 50% savings mark!  We officially have 52.2% of the total we will need to complete our adoption in savings, thanks in part to a generous gift from a very special couple.  I will leave them unnamed, but THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. <3 p="p">
We are starting to get very excited (and a little nervous) about officially starting the adoption process.  In 15 days we are planning to drop our application in the mail (and email a copy to the agency).  Then we will begin a whirlwind of seminars, interviews, and mountains of paperwork and appointments.  We are really hoping to complete the home study process and have our profile active by the time I graduate in May, so here's hoping we can stay on top of everything!

As always, we ask for your continued prayers and support as we journey toward becoming parents.  It always means a lot to us when people ask us how things are going!

Look out for a post from Tyler soon, I'm hoping he'll give you all a different perspective on the road to adoption. :)

11.29.2012

34 days

Today marks 34 day until we mail the agency our application!  It is coming up so fast, and we are starting to get both excited and nervous.

This month we have spent a lot of time around little ones, and it fills me with joy!  It is so amazing to see how God has transformed my mind and heart in this regard - infertility so often robbed me of joy in the types of situations we've experienced lately, and I am so happy to be moving on in my journey and beginning to heal.  A couple close to us had their first baby at the end of October, and they have been so amazing about letting us come over to visit and hold the baby.  We also got to babysit her when she was 4 weeks old, which was so fun.

Since then, Tyler's cousin and her husband have been blessed with their first child.  They are also adopting, and there was a lot of drama with the birth mother for several weeks after the baby was born, but the situation has been resolved and they have a precious baby boy.  Holding him on Thanksgiving gave me hope that next year we'll have our own baby to show off to the family.

Thanksgiving weekend was spent in Roswell, NM, where we got to hang out with Tyler's family, including 6 kids under the age of 5.  We had a great time.  Everyone spent some time asking us about our adoption plans and learning about that process, and the support we've received from everyone is just amazing.  Also, watching Tyler play with the kids is priceless.  He is so patient with them, and he is great at going along with their games.  I know he'll be an amazing dad, and that he loves getting to 'practice' with our niece, nephew, and cousin's kiddos.

I can finally reveal some of the news I mentioned in our last post!  We met with the woman in charge of support groups at our church this week, and we will be launching an infertility support group in January.  We feel called to lead out in this ministry, because we know there are so many couples out there struggling with infertility who could use some support and somewhere to vent.  We're hoping to call it "For Those Who Wait" after the Fireflight song.  This song has a lot of significance for the two of us throughout this infertility journey, and we feel the name will give our group members a feeling of hope rather than despair.


Another realization that I had this week was the fact that our future birth mother could be getting pregnant with the child that will someday be ours any day now.  This is rather optimistic, since we have no idea how long it will take us to get through our home study process and onto the wait list at our agency, but I'm trying to bring more positivity into our journey.  Women who are becoming pregnant right now have due dates in August.  It would be amazing if we were placed that quickly after completing our home study, which we hope will happen in the late spring, around the time that I'm set to graduate.  How crazy is that?

That's pretty much all the updating I have for today, but I'm hoping to get Tyler to write a post soon, so keep your eyes open for that!  In the meantime, please be praying for our family, and for the woman that will be blessing us with a child someday.  We really appreciate your support!

11.15.2012

Updates

Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately - this semester has been completely insane, so I haven't had the time or energy to update here much.  I do want to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers you are sending our way as we continue to plan for our adoption - it means a lot more than you can possibly know.  If you have asked us how things are going, THANK YOU!  I love knowing that people are interested in our journey, and we love sharing each step with everyone.

The good news is things are moving along at a nice clip right now - we're still in "saving mode", but we recently got a nice boost - we found out that Tyler got a raise, which is allowing us to put an extra $200 into our adoption savings account every month.  This will help us reach our savings goal by February of 2014 - about 7 months ahead of when we thought we would reach our goal!  This has been an enormous blessing to us, and it has taken a lot of stress out of the adoption process for us.

Another thing we have been doing to learn about and prepare for our adoption journey is watching television shows.  I know it sounds crazy, but it gives us a lot to talk about and helps us to set our expectations when we watch these shows.  The two we have been recording are I'm Having Their Baby and The Baby Wait.  I'm Having Their Baby focuses on expectant mothers who are planning to place their unborn children for adoption.  The show follows them as they meet with their adoption counselors (not every mother does this, of course), chooses a family, and goes to the hospital to deliver.  Sometimes the mothers choose to parent after their child is born, while others go ahead with the adoption plan.  It is a very emotional show and it helps us to build a sense of compassion for expectant mothers - I can't imagine having to make that kind of decision, but I so greatly admire each woman for the decisions she makes for her child.

The Baby Wait focuses on adoptive families that reside in states where there is a waiting period after the initial papers are signed, during which the birth mother can change her mind and choose to parent her child.  In Texas, once the initial papers are signed, there is no waiting period, so we don't have to concern ourselves with that, but again, it educates us on how the birth mothers process their decisions post-delivery, which helps keep our expectations in check.  I would highly recommend either of these shows to anyone planning to adopt, or anyone supporting a person who is either planning to adopt or making an adoption plan for their unborn child.  It is an accessible way to learn about the process, and it can give you a lot of fodder for conversations to have with others.

We have some other potentially exciting news in the works right now, and I hope to be able to share that information as we process it.  Please be praying for us, and stay tuned for more news soon!

There are only 48 days left until we plan to drop our application to our adoption agency in the mail!  I can't believe how close it is getting - exciting and terrifying at the same time!

10.04.2012

We've set the date!



We recently decided to make a date to drop our adoption application in the mail and submit it via email.  We decided on January 2, which makes it a perfect way to start the New Year!  We're super excited to be moving forward in our adoption journey.  I've been feeling pretty stagnant about things for a few months, but now we're starting to get the house ready, and now that we have this date on the calendar I really feel like we're making progress, and I'm stoked!

Setting this date has made me wonder - when would you consider yourself (or someone you know who is adopting) to be "paper pregnant"?  When they have submitted an application and been accepted by their agency?  When they have a completed home study and are waiting to be chosen by a birth family?  When they are officially matched with a birth mother?  Something else??  I'd love to hear from you - drop me a comment to let me know what you think. :)

8.20.2012

Lately

Lately I've been in sort of a weird mood.  I'm feeling completely baby-obsessed, a feeling which has been with me in varying intensities for four years.  I have a great yearning to prepare for our baby, even though we haven't officially applied to adopt yet.  I am also SICK of planning, and I feel so ready to start executing some of these plans, yet we still wait.

We have 25% of our adoption savings in place now, which is great.  Tyler and I have been talking some about the types of situations we are open to with regard to drug and alcohol use, race, etc.  We've gone through some of the questions on our home study questionnaire together, talking about our respective answers.  We even talked about nursery decor last night.  But we're still just... waiting.

I'm really lucky to have family and friends who are interested in our adoption journey.  People always make sure to ask how the process is going, what we're doing, etc.  Every time I answer the same "well, we're still just saving, planning to put in our application and hopefully start our home study around January".  Honestly, January feels like it will never come.  I know that's not true, but I'm feeling very morose about it lately.  It probably doesn't help that I am in a group with three women who are all expecting, and they talk about it in detail whenever we're all together.  Even though I'm pseudo-expecting, I still feel left out because I'm not experiencing impending parenthood in the same way - the "normal" way.

I could use some prayers and encouraging words, I guess.

7.11.2012

A Bunch of Book Reviews!

I've been away from the blog for a while, but I have a good excuse!  I've been busy reading adoption books during my break from summer classes.  Sadly, I'm back to class now, so adoption reading is now on the back burner for a few weeks.  However, I have four new book reviews to share with you!

On Father's Day I read The Baby Boat by Patty Dann.  The book is a memoir, containing diary-style entries the author wrote during the time period that she and her husband were on the path to adopt from Lithuania.  I flew through this book in about three or four hours.  I was totally engrossed - I could really feel the emotions the author moved through during the course of the story, and it made me excited for my own journey to really get started.  I highly recommend this as an easy read to anyone interested in reading a first-hand account of adoption, particularly if you're pursuing international adoption.

After I finished The Baby Boat, I read Adam Pertman's Adoption Nation.  This books provides an in-depth look at adoption and the role it plays in American culture, as well as how that culture has affected adoption over the years.  While the book did contain some good information and background, I'm not sure I would recommend it to everyone.  Pertman highlights many of the adoption horror stories that have been in the news in the past, and although he is a strong advocate for adoption, his book seemed quite negative to me at times.

This weekend I finished a book entitled Loving Across the Color Line by Sharon F. Rush. This was the first adoption book I read that centered on transracial adoption, and I found it informative, depressing, and inspiring by turns.  Rush writes of her experiences as a White woman who adopted a bi-racial daughter.  This book gave me a lot to think about in terms of how well-equipped Tyler and I are (or are not) to raise a child of a different race.  I fully believe that we will love equally any child that comes into our care, but I can see more clearly now the limitations that our circle of friends and family present.  This book opened my eyes to how limited my experiences with race and racism are as a White person and really gave me a lot to think about.  Tyler is reading it now, and I'm hoping we can have some candid conversations about race when he is finished.

Finally, this past weekend I also read one of the books recommended/required by our adoption agency: Because I Loved You: A Birthmother's View of Open Adoption by Patricia Dischler.  Patricia writes about her experience as a birthmother who chose open adoption for her child in 1985.  She wrote the book in 2006, as her son became an adult.  The books is written mainly toward women who are thinking of making adoption plans for their unborn children, but also contains advice for families of birthmothers and for adoptive parents.  She gives practical advice to birthmothers about the process they are going  through and also shares her personal story of unplanned pregnancy and open adoption.  I thought the book was very well-written and I loved getting a birthmother's perspective of the entire process from birth through the child's adult years.  I highly recommend this book if you are trying to decide if open adoption is right for your family, or if you are in the process of building your family through open adoption already.

7.02.2012

Our family photo shoot

We had our good friend Brandon take some professional photos for us last weekend.  We did a few adoption-related pictures, and I thought I'd share them with you! :)  Major thanks to Brandon at Brandon Jones Photography for his skills.  I definitely recommend his services if you are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area!



 



6.21.2012

Two Posts in One Day!

I just wanted to post to thank everyone for visiting my blog!  I recently posted about it on my Facebook page, and the support and encouragement I received was wonderful. :)

I also wanted to point out my new tickers on the right side of the screen.  I have one that is counting the amount of money in our adoption savings account.  People ask me all the time how much it costs to adopt, and my answer is usually: A LOT!  (unless someone is doing foster-to-adopt or adopting legally free children from the foster care system, in which case it is free or comes with minimal costs).  In all honesty, we will pay about $23,000 in agency and legal fees in order to complete our adoption.  We have been so blessed by God since we started on the adoption path - both Tyler and I have new jobs, which are going a long way to helping our savings account grow.  We are so thankful for those jobs, and I can't wait to see what God does next as we move forward with our adoption.

The second ticker tracks how many of the 14 books our agency recommends/requires I have read.  Tyler isn't reading all the books that I am, but he is about to start his first book.  Hopefully that will get the gears moving and he will explore more books on his own.

I hope that you will continue to read our blog.  We only ask that you send your thoughts and prayers our way - we still have a long way to go in this journey, and we couldn't get through it without the support of our families and friends.

-Katie

Book Review - "Dear Birthmother" and "A Letter to Adoptive Parents"

Recently I finished reading Kathleen Silber's Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby.  This book was co-written by Silber and Phyllis Speedlin and focuses on the experiment carried out by Lutheran Social Serivces of Texas in which birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents exchanged letters to one another via the adoption agency.

This book really helped me to better understand the feelings of birth parents (particularly birth mothers) have regarding the adoptive families into which their babies are placed.  The letters were candid and most made no attempt to hide the pain that they continue to feel years after they place their children for adoption.  I also thought the birth parents did a beautiful job of writing to their children about where they came from and why they were placed for adoption, something I feel is SO important to the ability to form a personal identity.

As always, this book gave me a lot to think about.  I can see why our agency recommends adoptive parents read this book, since it really highlights how personal contact between members of the adoption triad is the best thing for everyone involved.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is struggling to decide whether or not open adoption is for them.

Another book I just finished reading (I say book, but really it's more of a transcript of a speech - only 22 pages, including references) is A Letter to Adoptive Parents on Open Adoption, by Randolph W. Severson. This speech implores adoptive parents to let go of their misinformed feelings and fears they have regarding birth parents, and attempts to describe the consequences this can have on all parties involved in adoption.  This book is, unfortnately, out of print and extremely hard to find.  If you are interested in reading it, I highly suggest contacting your local library to see if they participate in Interlibrary Loan.  If they do, you should be able to borrow this book from one of the 4 libraries world-wide that have it in their collections.  Perhaps your local university library is one of the libraries that has it?  They are located at Bethel University (ST. Paul, MN), Brigham Young University (Provo, UT), Carroll University (Waukesha, WI) and University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls, SD).  Visit WorldCat.org for more information.

6.15.2012

Book Review - Adopting After Infertility

I finished Adopting After Infertility by Patricia Irwin Johnson a few days ago, and I thought I'd post a review!  The book was published in the early 1990s, so some of the information and ideas felt a little outdated, but overall it was a very thorough book which presents infertile prospective adopters with a lot of good information and things to think about.

My one qualm with the book was the author's insistence that infertile people should feel entitled (for lack of a better word) to specify the sex of the baby they are willing to adopt.  The author presents this as a way for infertile couples to take back some of the control over family planning which was lost in the infertility process.  Perhaps in the early 90s this practice was more acceptable, but from my research, many adoption agencies do not allow you to specify the sex of your baby during the adoption process, and those that DO allow this will warn you that it can add significant time to the process, particularly if birthmothers do not want to find out the sex of their baby prior to delivery.

I feel like I'm really bad at reviewing books, because I don't give thorough overviews of the content.  This is usually because I'm taking my time to read the book, but not taking notes, and the books I've covered thus far are all pretty comprehensive in terms of topics covered.  If you're interested in more information about the book, I would suggest checking out the Goodreads page for the book: Adopting After Infertility.  You can also find other reader reviews of the book on this page!

6.05.2012

Book Review: Raising Adopted Children

A few weeks ago I started in on the list of recommended and required reading provided to us by our adoption agency.  The second book from the list I read was Raising Adopted Children by Lois Melina.  The copy I had was from 1982 (I think!), so some of the information was a bit outdated, especially since open adoptions were just coming into vogue at that time.

I thought the book was very informative and provided information on different topics such as health care and others that I wouldn't have thought of being different for adopted children.  It was a quick and easy read!  I would recommend checking it out, especially if you are new to adoption or just curious about the differences that may arise when raising adopted children.  There is a revised edition that was published in 1998 that is probably more up-to-date.

I'm currently reading Adopting After Infertility by Patricia Irwin Johnston and Dear Birthmother: Thank You For Our Baby by Kathleen Silber.  I'll post reviews of those books when I am finished!

5.17.2012

Adoption Books

Our agency provided us with a list of required/recommended reading to complete prior to our homestudy.  They do not denote which titles are "required" and which are only recommended, so I'm planning on reading all of them (minus the foster/adopt specific books).  I checked out 2 from the library this week, and have already completed the fist.

The Adoption Triangle: The Effects of the Sealed Record on Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents by Arthur D. Sorosky, et al.  This book gave me a lot to think about in respect to the feelings and emotions of each part of the adoption triangle. Although this book could now be considered "historical" almost, it still had a lot of good information.

One quote from a birthmother really made me think - I don't have the exact quote but she was talking about how she found out that most adoptive families only wanted healthy babies, and how she felt that because of that, adoptive families didn't have the same kind of unconditional love for their children as birth families.  I'd never thought of it like that before, but it's given me a lot to think about in terms of what "disabilities" or drug/alcohol exposure we're willing to "risk" or accept when being presented to birth families. 

Obviously having a drug addicted, differently abled, or FAS baby (or whatever), wouldn't match the picture of my future children that I've been carrying around, but until recently, neither did the idea of an adopted child.  Adoption teaches you a lot, particularly about "rolling with the punches" and accepting what God puts in your life.

I really enjoyed the book overall, and I read it in about 2 days.  I've started the second book already, and I'll post my thoughts about it as soon as I'm finished!

5.14.2012

Mother's Day

As some of you may know, Mother's Day when you're still waiting to be a mom can be a pretty rough holiday to live through.  In the past, church services on Mother's Day have been downright painful emotionally.  I absolutely think that we should honor our mothers.  I appreciate that my pastor reminds us that there are some people (like me!) who have a hard time on Mother's Day, for whatever reason.  Last year on Mother's Day (or maybe it was the year before?), one of the worship leaders at a different campus in our church family (we're a multi-site church!) composed and performed a song about his family's struggle with infertility, and it cut down to the bone.  Honestly, I can't even tell you what the song sounded like, the lyrics, anything, because I was a bawling mess as soon as they introduced it.

After that experience, I decided I was done with Mother's Day, church-wise, until I was holding a baby of my own.  I do not want to have another (embarrassing) public meltdown.  I do not want to focus on my pain.  So this year, Tyler and I decided we would skip church.  We went camping Saturday night at a nearby lake, and we had a great time.  I thought about motherhood, of course, but it didn't have the same sting.  I don't know if it was the peace of nature, our decision to expand our family through adoption, God, or a combination of these things, but it wasn't a painful day.  There is still a deep longing in my heart to become a mother and be celebrated as a mother, but it doesn't leave me feeling sharp and jagged around the edges.

I participate on an adoption message board, and another of the members posted the following link.  It is geared toward women who are waiting to adopt, and it had some great reminders.  Visit the link if you're interested:

A Mother’s Day Love Letter to Women Waiting to Adopt.

On a separate note, if you know of other adoption-related blogs or websites that make for good reading, please share in the comments!  I'd love to become more involved in the online adoption community, but I'm not sure where to start.

5.02.2012

How we decided to adopt

If you've been following this blog for a while, you probably know that we've been trying to conceive for a long time.  In fact, October will mark four years since we began actively trying to build our family.  We had one small break in that time where we were not trying (while I was in massage therapy school).

It became apparent after a full year post-break that things weren't really happening.  According to my charts, I was ovulating regularly and had a normal LP.  I scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN to talk about infertility testing.  She ran some bloodwork, which came back normal, and then sent me to have an HSG (basically an x-ray of your uterus and fallopian tubes, to check for blockages and other abnormalities).  That was clear, too.  Tyler got sent for a semen analysis at the same time, and that's where we ran into some problems.  His count, motility, and morphology were all low, so he was referred to a urologist who specializes in infertility.

At his appointment, Tyler learned that he had bilateral varicoceles, which are varicose veins leading away from the testicles which cause them to overheat and therefore produce sub-par sperm.  The doctor recommended microsurgery to repair the veins, so Tyler had surgery on Valentine's Day, 2011.  After a week off from work, he was back to normal.  We had several follow-up semen analyses over the next nine months to check if the surgery helped sperm production, but the news was less than stellar.  While there was some improvement, we would likely be unable to conceive without the help of IVF and ICSI (a procedure where sperm are individually implanted within eggs to assist fertilization).

At this point, in November of 2011, we decided to take some time to think.  I had discussed the possibility of adoption with Tyler in the past, but he was unsure if that was something he would be willing to look into.  As we were on the road back to our hometown for Thanksgiving, I asked Tyler to consider adoption again.  I had begun to feel like the Lord was leading me down that path, but I wanted us both to think and pray about it before we had another discussion.  God had other plans, though, and as soon as we finished our initial discussion, we both began to feel an immense sense of peace and calm.  We decided then that we would be using adoption to expand our family, and told Tyler's parents that weekend.

Ever since that moment in the car, we have felt God's presence in our research and decisions regarding our adoption journey.  Our families and friends have been incredibly supportive and are so excited for us to become parents.  We attended an informational session at an adoption agency in February, and we decided shortly thereafter that we will be moving forward with them.

Now we are in the process of saving the money we will need to complete our application, education seminars, and homestudy.  We hope to submit our application materials at the beginning of 2013 and to complete our homestudy around the time that I graduate with my master's in the spring.

Stay tuned for more!!

5.01.2012

Repurposing the blog!

Hey everyone, long time no post!  I am a notoriously bad blogger, never keeping my promises.  I have decided to repurpose this blog - this time I'll be talking about our adoption journey!

I just wanted to give everyone a heads-up first. ;)  Stay tuned for the first adoption-related post - I should have it up by this evening!