Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Joint Interview

David and I met with our case worker for our joint interview a few days after our classes ended. We had some minor paperwork to fill out, and then she asked us some questions. She started asking us the questions and we gave pretty short but complete answers. Then she told us that what we tell her has to go into about a 10 page report to the court, so we got the hint that she needed us to ramble a little more! One of the questions asked us why we wanted to adopt and for how long have we been wanting to. I told her that adoption was something I remember thinking about back when I was at least in middle or high school. I don't know why I was thinking about it that early other than I had a good friend who had been adopted. I'm sure I also had learned the scripture that states, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) I liked the book of James when I was in high school for some reason, and I read it a bunch of times. That verse must have struck a cord in me at some point. So since then I have always had adoption in the back of my mind. When David and I married we tossed around the idea of having one homemade child and then adopting one. We thought we'd see how the first one went and then decide from there. At that point adopting would have been our secondary means of increasing our family. Now, of course, it has become our primary means since finding out about my infertility. Maybe if David blogs he can recall his answer to this question...I'm pretty sure his was a lot shorter than mine!

She also asked us about religion and what part it played in our lives. So we told her we were Christians and believed that God is most important in our lives. She asked if we go to church regularly and we told her yes and that we also have a small group of Young Married couples that we meet with for Bible study, fellowship, and social activities.

We moved on to discuss our preferences for our baby's race, health, and medical history. David and I discussed this at length before this interview because we knew it was coming. We were told in almost all of our classes not to be ashamed to be honest about what might make us uncomfortable. The race of the child was easy for us; neither David nor I had any hesitations that we would accept a child from any racial background. I was surprised during my classes that many adoptive couples were a lot more restrictive. I couldn't relate to the idea of only adopting a child from a certain race, and to be honest I've had a hard time being non-judgemental about that idea. However, it is not always just about the adoptive parent's comfort level. Family members come into play and many couples will be more restrictive to avoid problems down the road with their family members who might not be as open. David and I are aware that we may have family members that are not happy with our choice, but we have decided that God's desire for us is not to look at the color of the child but to know that the child is God's, and that He has handpicked him or her for us.

When it came to family medical history the baby's health, I had no restrictions. David did have some restrictions because he was worried how he would handle certain issues. I had a very hard time understanding his restrictions but I let him set the boundaries because we were counseled it is better to go with the parent who is more restrictive rather than end up with a child that one parent would have trouble bonding with. Some of it also had to do with a lack of confidence on David's part that he would be able to take care of a child with major medical problems. The nurse in me I think keeps me from worrying about that. Again, it's hard for me not to be judgemental toward David about this, but I had to let my own ideas go and trust God. If David chooses to write about his own restrictions, I will let him do that, but I will leave those to him.

With drug use and alcohol I also had no restrictions. David again had some so we went with his desires. Our restrictions are based on amount of drug/alcohol use, not which actual substances are used. So we're ok with more casual use, 1-2 times per month, but not weekly or daily use.

At the end of our interview we were given a form to fill out to decide how open we wanted to be with the birthmother. Our agency requires a letter and at least 5 close up pictures to be provided for the birthmother to view if she chooses quarterly for the first year. After that, it is up to the adoptive couple how much interaction they would like. The birthmother is aware of the couple's desirs, so that plays a part when she chooses the adoptive family to place her child into. We had to decide whether we wanted to have an open adoption where the birthmother has regular contact including visits with the child, or whether we wanted to do the minimum and provide only letters and pictures the first year. We didn't complete this form until the day of the home study, which was about a week after this interview. So I'll keep you in suspense until I write about the home study!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Final Class

Well, we had an interesting development yesterday and David asked if I was going to blog about it. I told him I couldn't yet because right now in my blog I'm only on the fourth class. So I guess I better speed it up! He said by the time I get caught up we'll have a child in middle school! He also said he wanted to write a post so if you see him or talk to him, pester him about it so he will!!

So I'll go on to our last class. We had a potluck that night, and I signed up to bring macaroni and cheese. It turned out that David had to work that night so I brought subs from Safeway instead. I wanted to label my subs "macaroni and cheese" but they didn't have any labels. Ha. That's my sense of humor for you. I guess I should stick to my strength of blogging and leave the humor to David.

There were three couples with their kids there. Actually one couple had a babysitter so their kids were at home. I'm not really even sure what the point was of this class other than for them to give their stories and for us to ask questions. The first couple had a baby who was probably 5 or 6 months old and they adopted her from birth. The couple had initially started with a different agency and were matched with a birthmom in Illinois. The baby was born, the adoptive mother flew to Illinois, only to find out the birthmom changed her mind and didn't tell her anything until after the baby was born. It was a mess and she was very hurt by the situation. She ended up switching to the agency we're with and only waited a couple months for her daughter. The adoptive parents are White and the baby is Black (I've read that Black and White are acceptable terms when unsure of origin of the individual--correct me if I'm wrong). The adoptive father said when he started this process for some reason he pictured them adopting a Black baby. They didn't make themselves restricted to only accepting a Black baby, it just happened that's who they adopted. Pretty cool.

The second couple had adopted one child and then adopted twins. They didn't have their kids there. The adoptive mom's recommendation was to tell everyone we know that we are trying to adopt, because their twins were adopted by word of mouth from a birthmother in either Washington or Oregon, I can't remember. At the time I thought no way, it's hard enough having to deal with the topic of infertility let alone having to answer questions that come along when people find out we're going to adopt. For a while I felt some sort of shame in being infertile. So talking about adoption meant thinking about being infertile, which brought up those feelings of shame. But I'm totally over that now, so I tell everyone!

The third couple had two adopted kids, one of which was there. She was about 2, super cute, and so full of energy. I don't honestly remember their story at all! I just remember how cute their girl was.

Right around this time I had been reading an article in an adoption magazine about adopting a different race. One thing that stuck out in the article was how the mother loved knowing she had such a "colorful" family. Sometimes she would look at families all the same "color" and would think they looked kind of boring compared to hers! I thought that was an interesting way of looking at it.

I was very happy the classes were finished. I learned a little bit and got to hear some great stories. They were definitely helpful but sometimes a bit on the long side for me. I've never been one to want to dwell on questions of "what if", which is most of what the questions by the potential adoptive couples ended up being. And the questions were generally what made the classes sort of drag on. It was the same for me in nursing school. All the other girls would go over scenarios of what classes they would have to take, who their professors were going to be, do this to get ahead, do that, etc. It goes on and on and just creates more stress than to just sit back and let it come. So with the adoption, I had a few questions, but I'd rather just know the basics and let things happen as they do. Whatever we don't know we'll find out as we go along. There are so many scenarios with adoption because no two adoptions are alike.

In the next post I will go over what our joint interview was like with our case worker, and you will find out just what we decided as far as preferences on race, family medical history, and drug use.

Fourth Class

The fourth class was to me the most boring (only because the lady was kind of dry) but yet gave us very important information that we would need later. We were actually 30 minutes late to this class because we had the time mixed up. I can't say I wish I would have been there in the beginning, except it probably looked rude for us to be showing up late...oops. I can't remember what exactly the presenter does, but she was from the UofA and talked about the effects of teratogens on newborns. She discussed various categories including illegal narcotics, prescription medications, alcohol, smoking, and some others. I was surprised at the lack of proven effect on babies exposed to street drugs. Alcohol and smoking were most harmful. Alcohol of course can cause fetal alcohol syndrome in about 50% of babies whose birthmother drank during pregnancy. We saw pictures of FAS children. Often the signs of FAS don't show up until the children are a little older. One of the telltale signs is absence of the groove in the space between your upper lip and nose. I'm sure I learned that in school along the way somewhere, but I don't remember. Smoking causes low birth weight in babies and can interfere with fetal development. There is evidence that illegal drugs like heroin, marijuana, cocaine, etc cause some birth defects but the incidence is low. The problem with the birthmother being on these substances is the withdrawal that the baby has to go through after birth when the baby is no longer receiving the substance through the placenta.

The reason this information was important was because during our joint interview with our case worker, David and I had to decide how much and which substances we would be ok with the birthmother having been on during pregnancy. I will go over what we chose when I get to the joint interview post.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Third Class!

I probably enjoyed the third class the most. We had a birthmother speak who had just given birth 6 weeks ago. The adoptive parents were there to speak too, and it was an awesome experience. It was so good to see both sides of it. What I liked most about it was that before that night, the idea of the "birthmother" was intangible. I had a hard time understanding the concept. The birthmother was about my age or a little younger and had two or three kids already that she was raising. Her sister had chosen at one point to have an abortion, and she talked about how she knew abortion was not the right option for her. So somehow she heard ofour agency and decided to give up her son for adoption. When she came to the agency she was living in an apartment sleeping on the floor. Our agency helped her get beds for her and her children, get care that she needed, and counseled her through the process. She said when she was looking at the book of families wanting to adopt, she knew as soon as she read the first couple's profile that they were the ones she wanted to raise her child.

She and the adoptive mother have a close relationship and have become friends through the process. They went to prenatal appointments together, and the adoptive mom was there for the birth. It was a C-section and the birthmom asked to be "put out" as soon as the baby was born because she didn't think she could handle seeing the baby. So as soon as the baby delivered she was given something to sedate her and she says she doesn't remember hearing any crying. As the birthmom and adoptive mom were talking describing the birth, both were crying. It was so touching. The adoptive mom said that it was more emotional for her than anyone could imagine, because on one hand she was so excited to meet her son, but was also feeling so sad for the birthmom. Knowing what she was giving up and that it was the hardest thing she ever would have to do made her feel absolutely horrible. The birthmom has not yet met her son and both moms have discussed that when she feels ready, she will meet him then.

I would love to be able to have this kind of a relationship with our child's birthmom. It is rare, but what an amazing story!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Second Class

I already posted about our second class, so I just copied what I wrote before and pasted it below:

I'll go on to the second class. We had an adoptive father come to speak to us about the waiting that's involved. He and his wife waiting 2 years before they were matched. It was great to hear about his struggles and frustration of waiting, but it's also good to hear him and the two ladies from the previous week talk about how it is so easy to look back know and see how the wait was worth it and designed how God intended. He had a few options prior to the baby they were matched with but decided that those other babies weren't right for them. When they see those other children now they look at them and can see why their child is their child, and why the children they decided not to adopt were meant for another couple (they all get together each year for a picnic). Anyways, until I heard the phrase "When it's meant to happen, it will" coming from these other adoptive parents, I HATED that saying, or sayings like it. It wasn't so much the saying, it was the knowing that the person who it was coming from was trying to give advice in an area they knew nothing about.

One other thing he mentioned last week that made me feel so much better was while they were waiting to adopt, his wife could be around some mothers and their kids and not others. That made me feel SOOOO much better, because I couldn't understand why it is no problem for me to hang out with some mothers and their kids and not others. It was good to know that maybe this is a normal feeling.

I am still confident that God has already chosen our baby for us. The waiting is difficult, because it could happen tomorrow or it could happen next year. And it feels like it has been a year already! So since that second class I have had more assurance and peace about the "when", even if it doesn't happen as fast as I want it to.

What have changed since that second class are my feelings toward pregnant women and new moms. Since my last post, I no longer feel the desire to avoid them. It is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I attribute this mainly to my two dear friends for reaching out to me. My heart was jealous, and although it may have been "normal", it was no fun to have those feelings! I look forward to reporting this same new acceptance in future posts.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

An Aside

I really wanted to document the adoption process in chronological order, but I can't get what I want to write about out of my head. So I will continue with the entries about the adoption classes in the next post.

As I write this I am babysitting my dear friend Leatrice's baby. I have not struggled to be around Leatrice or her baby. I think this is because we became close friends as we shared our difficulty getting pregnant at the same time. I was so happy for her when she found out she was pregnant because I knew she had waited and struggled for so long. Babysitting for her is no big deal. However, I think I am starting to get over my issue with not wanting to be around other pregnant women. I figured it would come eventually but I thought not until after we had our baby. In past entries I have written how hard it is to be around moms and their babies or pregnant women, and how hard it can be to look at facebook every day only to find another friend announcing her pregnancy.

But something started to change in me about a week ago. We went out with some friends who are in the middle of selling two houses and buying another. They have three kids. They both admitted to being stressed out. I didn't envy them. We recently refinanced and that alone was annoying. I remember buying our house and what a hassle it was. So I can't imagine trying to sell two houses and buy another at the same time. The thought crossed my mind that if I was them, I would be looking at me thinking how nice it would be that the only major stress in my life right now would be waiting on a baby. All the work is complete, we are simply waiting for a phone call. I think I envy myself right now--is that possible?!

I also recently had two pregnant friends reach out to me by email just to tell me they acknowledged what I'm going through and that though they don't understand, they want to be there for me however they can. They wrote this even knowing I haven't wanted to be around them. It must suck to be friends with someone who doesn't want to be around you for no fault of your own. Anyways, it was touching, and I think it helped.

Friday, May 1, 2009

First Official Class

So the class I talked about last time was the orientation, it was on the last Tuesday in February. We had our first educational seminar on the first Tuesday in March. The topic was infertility. When I first found out that was the topic I was dreading it. I didn't want to hear about infertility, I wanted to hear about adoption!

It turned out to be fine, though. There were two ladies there who had adopted I think two children each. They talked about their own infertility stories, so it wasn't like it was an informational session. It was actually a relief to hear their stories. They really only talked about infertility for a few minutes each and then gave their adoption story. It was good to hear personal stories from people who've been through the process not just in general, but with the agency we're using.

During that week I didn't really get started getting much of our paperwork together. David worked on a bunch of stuff he needed, but I slacked off. I felt like I still had a month before it was due, so I didn't really do much. I would come to regret that later, even though it all came together on time.

David commented on how he was hoping to get to know more of the couples in our group. We hadn't really interacted much with anyone at that point, but fortunately in the next class we were able to meet a great young couple. I'll write a little more about that next time!