Not much time to post here. Grandmama, Grandpapa & Uncle E are all arriving in a few short hours and the to do list remains quite long. But I couldn't let the occasion pass without taking a moment to write about how thankful I am this year. The list of things I am thankful for is too long to write out here, but in particular I am thinking of Henry J's birthmom and hoping that her Thanksgiving is as filled with joy and love as I know ours will be. We are so so grateful for our little man.
I can scarcely believe that our little man has already made it halfway around the sun. I swear it seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on our deck getting the news of our match. Six months is a big deal around our house because it means that we are officially eligible for finalization. We had our last post-placement visit with the social worker and now we are just awaiting the news of a court date from our lawyer! We are super excited to make this relationship which has been sealed in our hearts for a long time legal and official. It also means we will finally be able to post photos of our gorgeous boy, another bonus.
I was recently thinking about how important it was to us to have that piece of paper that made us legally Henry's parents and it really hit home for me that it must be a similar feeling to what all of our gay friends who are not allowed to be legally married must feel like. Yes they are totally committed to each other for life, but at the same time I now really understand how important it it is to feel like you want to have all those rights made legal. Right now if Henry had an accident and needed to got to the ER our first call of course would be an ambulance but then we would have to make a call to our Agency the next call, because right now we are not the legal guardians of our our son. I would imagine that this is very similar to what it feels like to know that you might not be considered the next of kin to your spouse in an emergency situation. I have of course always been a strong supporter of gay marriage, but going through this process of adoption has opened my eyes even more to the importance of having that legal document. I know that in the not so distant past we would have been denied that all important document based solely on the different hues of our skin. I can only hope that if someday Henry comes across this post as an adult he can be just as incredulous that at one time two people who loved each other were denied the same rights as others just because of their sex/gender.
In Henry news he is now able to roll both ways! Front to back he did way back in August but the back to front roll had remained elusive. For a long time now he was almost able to do it but finally, right on his six month birthday he went all the way over! He has started to be able to sit up for longer and longer intervals ( like 2 minutes - instead of 2 seconds!) without falling over and drum roll please...... He has had his first bites of food!! We started with the rice cereal which he was not super crazy about but did enjoy FINALLY getting to see what this eating thing was all about and was eager to have the spoon in his mouth even if he didn't so much like what was on it. We also tried avocado which was much preferred, so perhaps today we will have to go in search of another one to eat at dinner today! It is fun now to have him sit in his highchair with us at dinner as we all eat around the table, something I have dreamt about for a long time and sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe it's really happening for us.
I have included some photos from Halloween ( I know but better late than never) which was terrifically fun. Unfortunately Henry was fighting his first cold at the time, but luckily it didn't interfere too much with his day! We got to share it with Henry's BFF who's mommy and daddy adopted him through our agency one week after Henry! We have been getting together since the boys were tiny and it is so much fun now that it is clear that their distinct personalities are starting to emerge. I really hope they are lifelong friends!
In other exciting adoption news our dear friends who have been waiting for their baby to find them through adoption, took home their beautiful little baby girl yesterday. I think that this in conjunction with Henry being six months old already, is making me extra nostalgic today. When I look at our active, laughing boy, desperate to touch and explore everything he can get his hands on it's hard to believe he was ever just a smooshy little newborn baby. I am so thrilled for our friends who will now get to experience first hand how truly wonderful adoption is.
There is something very cozy to me about the idea of autumn. It's funny because I'm really no fan of winter, but fall has always been my favorite. Thinking about the halloween activities and prep at Oak Lane gave me the first pang of regret about not being at a school right now that I have had since I walked out the door last May and picked up our little pumpkin from the hospital. This was quickly forgotten however as I began to get excited about our own halloween prep this year!
DH and I have always enjoyed going apple picking and have gone pretty much every year since we have had a car. I remember the first year we had our car and were still in Hoboken, we drove to a crazy orchard in Bergen County. It was crowded and hot and we literally waited in line for hours to be able to pick those apples but we did it! Since our move to Philly we have found a lovely little orchard that we go to every year.
The last couple of years each time we went we found ourselves hoping that the following year we would be bringing our baby with us next year. We would look longingly at those couples who were propping up their babies amongst the pumpkins for photos. When we were putting together our photos for our adoption profile to be shown to expectant mothers considering making an adoption plan, we of course had a picture of us apple picking. DH and I argued however whether it was something we should mention as one of our "pastimes" in our introductory letter. DH ( the professional writer) said that it was important to give specific examples of what we like to do to paint a more viivid picture of ourselves. I argued we shouldn't use something that we only do once a year as an example, but in the end deferred to the professional writer!
Well anyhow when we met "T" Henry's birthmom, she specifically mentioned that the apple picking was one thing that she really loved about our profile. Score one for DH! But for this reason, this annual ritual has taken on even greater importance to me. "T" loved Henry so much that she wanted him to live a life of apple picking and pumpkin patches in the autumn, a life that she knew she was not capable of giving him. So this was on my mind as we had the most glorious time at the orchard on Sunday.
The weather was perfect and Henry J LOVED every second of it. He was thrilled by the tractor ride and loved weaving in and out of the trees while he rode with his Daddy in the front carrier, reaching out and touching all the apples and the leaves. He was of course good as gold the whole time, happy and peaceful and interested, never a moment of fussing, and of course he received lots of compliments on both his behavior and his overall adorableness from other orchard dwellers! I took some amazing photos of him (which sadly I can't post here) but I can hardly wait to pick out one or two to include in the next packet of pictures I send off to "T" so that she can see that our sweet boy is indeed having the life full of apples and pumpkins that she dreamed of for him.
Today I took Henry to his first baby music class. As I'm sure you can imagine it was kind of crazy with about 15 babies and their mom's singing and dancing around doing finger plays. I thought the the teacher was very good and I think HJ liked it, He couldn't stop looking around with an amazed WTF?? look on his face for most of the class. I know I am biased but I do think he was the cutest baby there. The teacher kept going out of her way to use Henry as the baby to dance with and hold and frankly I think it's just because he is so stinkin' cute. But of course I'm sure every mom there felt the same way. When we were done he was exhausted and slept the whole way home but then woke up and was in such a great mood and just couldn't stop smiling and cooing so I think he was kind of processing the whole experience.
For me the best part of the morning was looking around and suddenly realizing - hey I'm a mom! For some reason being part of the class just made this realization flood over me and I very nearly burst into happy tears. Luckily I managed to keep myself somewhat under control since I think if I had started sobbing it would have been kind of awkward for the baby music teacher. I think that as a teacher of young kids I have been on the other end so many times. Doing sing-a-longs with kids and families, volunteering at family events etc, and have for so long dreamed of being on the other side and suddenly today it just hit me all of a sudden. I am a mom.
One year ago we attended our first informational meeting at our adoption agency. After an unsuccessful IVF cycle we realized that we were done with infertility treatments and excited about the prospect of adoption but it felt like such a long road ahead of us. If only I could time travel back to tell my then self that exactly one year later I would have the most amazing baby in the world and that he would already be 4 months old!! Everyday I marvel at how wonderfully my life has turned out and how happy and grateful I am for everything I have and everything that brought me to this point.
I read in one of my baby books that 4 months is considered the "golden stage" of babyhood and I would have to agree. Henry is just so smiley and laughy and suddenly so INTERESTED in the world around him. He is starting to enjoy exploring objects and he particularly loves his "Peter" doll from the book the Snowy Day. He also really loves reading books now too! That is so fun for me and I am loving sharing all of my favorite children's books with him. In fact since right now he pretty much is just listening to my voice and looking at the pictures I am able to read him lots of books that he probably won't tolerate when he is a toddler! Although hands down his favorite books are the ones that have the different textures for him to feel. The cutest thing is that he now realizes that the pages turn to show new pictures and he loves to turn those pages! The other thing I have really come to realize is how few and far between books are that don't just have white people in them. As a teacher I was always aware of this somewhat as I tried to have books on the shelf that reflected all kinds of people, but now as the mom of an African American child I REALLY feel it. For now my rule of thumb is if it's a book I'm super attached to, then white characters are ok, but if it's just some random book then I really try to look for some kind of alternative. So "Good NIght Gorilla" with the white zoo keeper - yes! However random farm animal book in bargain bin of Marshall's with white farmer - no!
Henry is getting quite good at rolling over front to back now and can wiggle himself almost to his side from his back so I'm sure that will be coming soon too It is exciting to see all of his new developments but I do feel like time is going by so quickly! He is pretty consistently sleeping through the night now but seems to be wanting to give up his paci and his swaddle simultaneously so that has lead to some early rising - that requires a reswaddle and paci insert because 5 am is not an acceptable waking up time!
It does feel strange to not be starting back to school but after about a second of feeling nostalgic for that "first day of school fresh start feeling" I look down at my amazing happy little boy and I thank my lucky stars for everyday we get to spend together.
What an amazing month and half it has been! As DH put it - pretty much the best summer of our lives! Henry J continues to be the light of our life. Each day I feel more connected to him and completely convinced that he was meant to be our little boy.
He is getting big! Probably 15lbs at least and has a full head of curly hair. Good thing it is curly because I think if it were straight he would have a thick chin length bob by now! I have been experimenting with different hair care regimens for him and just ordered some new "curly Q" products for him that I am looking forward to using. Probably some day he will strong opinions about how he wants his hair to be, so for now I am enjoying having unlimited access to his gorgeous thick curly hair.
HJ continues to be the easiest of babies and is now routinely sleeping through the night. On the best days he sleeps from about 9 to 8 sometimes he will wake up hungry around 5:30 or 6:00 but then typically goes back to sleep until about 8 so I am certainly not complaining. He loves going new places and seeing new things and is a very flexible baby. He has a basic schedule that he typically will follow, but he is (so far) one of those rare children that can easily compensate for a shortened or disrupted nap with a longer one later or more sleep at night. I'm not sure how long this will last and it is very ironic since I have spent much of my career preaching the gospel of how critical it is to STICK to a routine and the importance of napping etc! All I know is that he is one happy happy little guy. So smiley now all the time and loves his floor gym, his bumbo seat, sitting in his highchair with toys, his swing or even just hanging out in his crib or on the floor. Of course his #1 favorite thing is to snuggle with mommy and daddy - or maybe I should say that is our #1 favorite thing!
Last week Henry took his first plane ride to Michigan to visit his Grandmama and Grandpapa. Not surprisingly he was a dream both ways on the plane, quietly looking around and napping not even a bit of fussing. He was also very good in the car on the way to and from the Detroit Airport (about a 90 minute ride) He did have one of his very rare bouts of crying on the way home from the Philly airport when we were stuck in awful traffic. I think he was overtired and just couldn't get to sleep. Finally when I couldn't take it anymore I climbed over the seat to give him his pacifier and pat his head a little and then he finally dropped off to sleep. DH and I have been very spoiled by the fact that HJ NEVER cries and so when he does we are both absolutely beside ourselves!
We had a great time in Michigan where the weather was beautiful so Henry got to do his favorite thing which is sit outside and watch the trees and feel the breezes. He is definitely and outdoor baby and is so happy and at peace when he outside. He also accomplished another milestone in Michigan -- He rolled over!! He did this many many time while we were there. In fact the minute we would put him on his tummy - whoosh over he would go easy as pie and you could tell he was so proud of himself - all smiles. Unfortunately since we have been home HE WILL NOT DO IT!!! This is an extremely frustrating to me and I'm not sure what to make of it. The only thing I can think of is that my parents had a little play mat for him that had a section of a plastic ocean scene on that he liked to do his "tummy time" on. Maybe that gave him better traction somehow? I am thinking I need to seek out some kind of rubber mat for him and see if that helps. Or it could be that he only performs for his Grandparents since yesterday his Grandma H was over and she was playing with him with this adorable little doll that is "Peter" from the book "The Snow Day" (one of my faves) and he laughed out loud clear as a bell and then proceeded to do it a couple of more times. Such a delicious sound! Well lo and behold guess who will not laugh again? What can I say I guess our HJ loves his grandparents!
So much more that I could write but this post is already ridiculously long so I will write more later and update more often. It looks like HJ and I have some hope now of settling into a routine what with no vacations or visitors in the near future so perhaps that will lend itself to a little more blogging!
I realized that this is the first fall since I was 4 years old that I won't be starting some sort of school either as a student or as a teacher. It feels a little strange but honestly I am loving every second of being home with our little man and am more than willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to make it happen this year. Since I was a little girl I have know I wanted to be a mom and this has remained true for me throughout my life. I put it off for awhile because I wanted to be the best mom I could be. Then when it was not happening for us the "old fashioned" way I thought how can this be? I was MEANT to be a mom! Then when all the technology and science couldn't help us I really despaired that maybe I wasn't really meant to have children. But now I know the truth - I was MEANT to be Henry's mom and although it was a rocky path to get here it all makes so much sense to me now.
It's hard to believe that our little man is already two months old! I feel like time is just flying by and although I eagerly anticipate finding out who Henry will become and getting to know his personality, I can't help but mourn the fact that we have a full fledged baby now - not a little mushy newborn.
HJ continues to be an incredibly happy, relaxed and easygoing baby. He is smiling more and more everyday although it is virtually impossible for me to get a picture of it on our camera. As soon as the camera comes out the eyes totally get big and focus on the camera but the smile is replaced with a very serious look. I have had better luck with the camera phone, which leads me to believe part of the problem is that our little point and shoot camera has a black and white design on the front that I think has a mesmerizing affect on HJ. He is totally into STARING at toys especially his black and white ones that we hang from his baby gym. He smiles, coos and shrieks at them however, but not the camera, so who really knows?
He is also strong strong strong. He holds his head up and turns it from one side to another when he is looking at something and can push himself up on his arms when he is on his tummy. He has also begun to twist himself onto his side when the is in his co-sleeper and not swaddled or on is changing table. Thank goodness for the velcro swaddle blankets or I feel like our little wiggle worm would never sleep. I 100% credit that blanket for the awesome sleeper that Henry is. He still typically wakes up once in the night but a couple of times has slept right through until 6 or 7 in the morning. Our pediatrician said that at 2 months most babies typically only sleep about 4 hours at a time so we are way ahead of the game and for that I am eternally grateful. This mommy does best when she is well rested! His other new fave activity is peek -a boo. Just any old blanket will do, but my aunt gave us a little book with a kitty puppet that plays peek - a - boo with Henry and he LOVES it. It really is potentially the cutest thing ever, but then again I'm sure I'm biased...
Monday was a big day around here because we had our two month visit from the social worker and his two month visit with the doctor. We had not originally scheduled them on the same day, but the social worker was ill on the day she was supposed to come and this ended up working out great since DH had taken the day off for the SW visit and could then accompany us to the doctor as well.
Social worker visit went marvelously of course. She just had to go over some basic info about his adjustment, our finances etc, and a health and safety inspection of the house. By now we are used to this part of it and of course enjoy having her tell us how adorable Henry is! Sometimes people ask if that feels intrusive to us but honestly the answer to that is no. Sometimes I think about how much I love my boy and what a special baby he is, and then I imagine that somehow that stars had not aligned for us and he had gone to another family. Wouldn't I want his home to be inspected to be clean and safe, and his adoptive family deemed stable and secure? The answer to that is a resounding yes so I look at it as part of the privilege of being able to parent this incredible little person.
As we suspected Henry is super healthy and growing at a good clip! He weighs 13lbs and 5 oz!!!! and is 22.5 inches! Needless to say our boy has some chub on him. I WISH I COULD POST PHOTOS SO BAD!!! The doctor seemed thrilled with this however and said it is normal and healthy for babies to have all those rolls, and of course nothing could be cuter!!!
He also had his first round of shots. Nothing prepared us for this. We thought he would cry when he actually got the shot, but no that came later in the evening when for the first time ever he SCREAMED inconsolably for what seemed like an eternity, probably more like two hours until we finally got it together enough to get the drug store and give him some baby Tylenol. This did the trick right away and he slept for a good 7 hours, woke up ate and slept another 5. Then woke up happy as a clam and all smiles. At least next time we will hopefully be more prepared for this possibility and FOR SURE the next time the doctor says "you might need to give him a little Tylenol...", we will make sure that we have some on hand!
That's about all the news around here. I am reading an excellent book called Nurture Shock, recommended to me a while back by my friend Jennifer that I would also highly recommend to anyone interested in children, teaching or parenting. I really only get about a chapter a day read, and I'm not really sure where our days go, because most days HJ and I are happily just kicking around home. Between playing, bathing, a little book time, a little singing and of course lots of naps when mommy does laundry and dishes and house tidying, somehow before I know it the phone rings and it is Daddy saying that he is coming home! I feel so lucky every single day when I wake up with my sweet sweet boy next to me, all smiles as I release him from his baby straight jacket, I mean swaddle blanket. I'm sure some day I will be happy to go back to the work of teaching, something that I loved to do for so many years, but for now I couldn't be happier to be in our cozy little house that finally feels like home now that baby Henry is here at last. Boy was he ever worth the wait!
I know I have been a little lax about posting lately, but you'll have to forgive me since I have been busy taking care of the most beautiful baby in the world!! We passed our 30 day window with no problems and things have been going really well. I thought in lieu of an update I would share with you the letter I wrote to Henry J's birthmom to update her on all that has been happening with Henry. We are hoping to be in an open adoption where Henry and his birthmom will someday meet for visits and we will exchange letters and pictures. For now his birth mom is not certain of what she wants and feels like personal contact would be too painful so we are communicating through our agency. I will try to write monthly updates for her and send pictures to the agency so that when and if she is ready she will have it all there for her. She has recently asked for pictures so I think that is a good sign. I do know that she is an incredibly strong and brave woman so we are hopeful that the adoption will be more open in the future. Okay here is the letter!
June 25, 2010
As you can see, Henry J is growing and growing every day. He is such an amazing and special little boy. We feel like the luckiest people alive to be able to spend our days and our nights with our darling boy. We can’t believe how much he has changed over the past 6 weeks. He no longer fits into his newborn clothes, and some of his 0-3 months clothes won’t fit soon! The last time we weighed him he was 11 ½ lbs! Luckily, his grandmas are keeping him well outfitted. He rarely wears the same outfit twice.
He is such a happy little baby. He is a good sleeper, great eater and rarely cries unless he is hungry, then watch out! He is very alert and loves to look around at faces and at his toys, especially the deer mobile that hangs over his crib. He is also starting to smile, especially at his mommy, daddy and at his mobiles! He loves his vibrating chair. And he occasionally enjoys some time in his swing, but he has to be in the right mood for it.
We, of course, think he is the most amazing and gorgeous baby ever, but we might be biased! Henry has received so many gifts, well wishes and visits from our family and friends. His grandma and grandpa and his Aunt see him almost every weekend. And his grandmama and grandpapa have been out to seem him twice from Michigan, and he will be traveling by airplane in August to visit them too! He has also had a visit from his Uncle from Arizona who is planning to come back out to see him at Thanksgiving. He is already known and greeted warmly by all of our neighbors when we are out for our daily walks. They never fail to comment on how adorable he is! Henry loves to be outside, whether going for a walk in his carriage or sitting on our back deck or front porch. He is always very happy outside.
We think of you every day and hope that you are doing well. We will forever be grateful that Henry’s first mom was such a brave and loving person. Please know that you will always be an important part of Henry’s life and our life, and we want you to always feel that you are welcome in our lives in whatever way makes you comfortable.
Well after having a great week at home with DH and then a week with my mom and dad, yesterday was the first day Henry J and I were on our own. Unfortunately it started out a bit rough because HJ was a bit of a cranky pants from about 4-6 am. And then he did take a good nap in the afternoon but I just couldn't get to sleep. One of my biggest challenges as a mommy so far is my in ability to take daytime naps. Everyone tells me that eventually I will get tired enough that it will happen, so I am hoping that I can train myself to do this soon. Our big accomplishment for the day yesterday was taking both Willow and Henry out for a walk. This involved a great deal of planning in order to get, carriage, baby and dog outside with out really leaving baby unattended but I felt quite pleased with myself once I had accomplished it.
By the time DH got home at about 7:00 I was EXHAUSTED and went up to bed around 8:30 leaving DH to deal with Henry, the dishes and Willow all on his own. When he came up at about 10:00 he looked a little frazzled from dealing with trying to feed HJ get Henry in the ergo carrier on his own, take Willow for a walk and deal with an explosive diaper all in a 90 minute period. By the time he got upstairs Henry was fussing for a bottle again! This meant that he had eaten 3oz at 5:00pm, 2oz, at 6:30, and 3oz at 7:30 and then another 3oz at about 10:15. I was seriously concerned about what the night time was going to bring with a schedule like that, considering he had been up eating frequently the night before also. So about 10:30 Henry fell asleep after his bottle and a change and we had lights out about 10:45 not to hear another peep until 5:00 AM!!! I was so grateful to finally get a good chunk of sleep! Henry ate ferociously and went back to sleep until about 8:00 where he then woke up incredibly alert and cheerful after eating happy to hang out in his co-sleeper while I got dressed, put away some laundry and got everything packed up to take downstairs. (three floors is kind of a challenge!) Then we had some play time he had another bottle and went down for a nap. I figured I better update my blog while I'm not totally exhausted since I find it really difficult to write under those circumstances. I realize this entry is a little heavy on the details and light on deep thoughts but honestly that is where my head is these days. With the exception of last night from about 7:30-10:30 pm I am loving every second of being a mommy and have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that this is actually my life. I'm sure there are more hard days to come but right now when I look down at HJ's precious little face and think about our lives together I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement. I just wish my ankle would get better! I have attached some photos but sadly not of his face due to agency policy on sharing pictures electronically before the adoption is finalized. I am trying to get hard copies sent out everyday so if you haven't received any you would like to just send me an e-mail and I will get some to you! It's killing me not to share my beautiful boy with the whole world!
To say that a lot has happened since the last post would be a serious understatement. So much has happened and our lives have forever changed so dramatically that it overwhelms me to even begin trying to explain all that has happened. Amazingly it has only been three weeks and three days since my last post, but it seems like a lifetime ago. I will have to go back eventually and tell more of the story in detail, but for now I will outline the facts and then I will be able to post more frequently without being bogged down with how much I need to explain!
In my last post I mentioned that we had been matched with a birthmom who was due around May 24th but would have a scheduled c-section. That seemed like such a short time and we were SO excited! I was barely sleeping or making sense trying to get everything prepared. We then found out that we would meet HJ's birthmom that week on Wednesday. Unfortunately Monday morning as I was walking into school carrying boxes I tripped and sprained my ankle terribly. I have never in my life sprained my ankle and it caused me to have two days off of school, and a trip to the ER and now three weeks later it is still not totally healed. Then of course we were ti meet HJ's birthmom on that Wednesday and I was terribly worried about the impression I would make on her if I hobbled in on crutches. I will save most of the details of that meeting for HJ to share with as he would like as he gets older, but I will say that his first mom is an incredibly impressive young woman that DH and I both felt an imediate bond with.
Needless to say we were excited and hopeful after meeting "T" and thinking about all the things we would have to get done in such a short amount of time. Then the next day (Thursday), things really got crazy! We received a call from our social worker saying that "T" (HJ's birthmom) had been to the doctor and that her c-section was scheduled for following Thursday. That's right ONE WEEK to get everything ready and I was barely able to do anything due to my severely sprained ankle. Needless to say that was a very busy weekend. Somehow with the help of dear MIL & SIL we managed to get HJ's nursery together and a few other things done to prepare as well. I think that my insane desire to complete TASKS was also a way of trying not to think about the fact that at any moment this could all fall apart.
Henry Jeremiah came into the world at about 12:30 in the afternoon born healthy and robust 6lbs130z and 19 inches long. Henry for DH's grandpa and Jeremiah was the name given to him by his brithmom who loved hims so much that she wanted to give him the life she felt he deserved and that she was not able to give him at this time. It was the longest morning of my life as his daddy and I just sat in the living room staring at the phone willing it to ring and give us the news we had been waiting for. Every second seemed endless.
The next couple of days were filled with joy, and sorrow and anxiety and JOY. So much so that I simply could not bring myself to blog about anything. It all seemed so fragile. At the last minute on Thursday we were able to rush to the hospital and hold sweet baby boy on his birthday. A gift so precious I will be forever grateful. The next day, Friday was an extremely difficult one for HJ's first mom and as we were getting ready to visit her and HJ in the hospital the phone rang with the call we had feared the most. Our social worker told us to begin to prepare for the adoption not working out. I have no idea how one goes about preparing for that because just meeting him and feeding him and holding him we had already fallen in love and hearing that news was wrenching. That was an awful awful day for us and a tough one for HJ's birthmom too. The next day however "T" made the ultimate loving and courageous decision that what she wanted for sweet baby boy was for us to be his parents and we spent the day at the hospital with her and Henry and then the next day Sunday, Mother's day, we finally brought home our sweet bundle of joy.
Having gone through almost losing him we are keenly aware of the 30 day period in which "T" still has the right to change her mind, but we are mostly grateful to her for every precious second we get to spend with our beautiful son.
HJ has now been home one week and two days. Baby, Daddy and Mommy had a magical week together in our snug little house that finally feels complete as we all got to know each other in our new roles. Then on Sunday Grammy arrived and has been a great help cooking, cleaning and doing laundry, that is when she can tear herself away from baby Henry. Mostly we just watch him and marvel at how precious every sound, every expression and every movement he makes is.
He went to the doctor yesterday and he has already gained back all of his birth weight and then some! He is definitely a good eater. For now he seems happy and healthy and and his Daddy and and I feel like the luckiest people alive.
This is probably going to be a long rambling post, so if you're just reading it to hear what the news is, feel free to skip over parts of it.
The story I want tell starts three days ago. Last Thursday I woke up in a pretty bad mood. Although we have hardly been waiting I started to feel like we were NEVER going to get a baby and how could I possibly just keep waiting without knowing anything. This is compounded by the fact that I don't have a job for the next school year, and although the plan for me to stay home with a baby for a year was a good one--it was going to be a problem if we didn't have a baby. I was also keenly aware that the time when we would have had a baby if our last round of IVF had worked was quickly approaching. I was not really mourning the "biological" child we would be having, but I was certainly in a funk about the fact that if things had gone as planned I would be counting the days until our baby was born and I wouldn't have this feeling that my future plans were totally out of my control.
So this was my mindset on Thursday. Short fused would be an understatement. A very minor schedule change was thrown at me at the last minute at school and I had a mini-breakdown, complete with me calling DH and telling him I wanted to quit my job ( there is only about 6 weeks left in the school year mind you) and sitting in my classroom crying ( luckily my students were in the art studio). Anyhow 3:00 finally came and to add salt on my wounds I had to drive all the way out to the Main Line to pick up our car, which has been a complete disaster for us (despite only having about 45,000 miles on it) and has been in and out of the shop way too much. So this was the backdrop to my phone ringing while I was completely stopped in traffic on the blue route due to all of the crazy construction.
I saw that it was Lisa our social worker, but I was in such a NEGATIVE state of mind that it didn't occur to me that she might have news. We had just sent off copies of our profile in Spanish to her, so I assumed she was calling to say she had received them. Also I knew she had told DH the week before that she was leaving the agency (another source of unhappiness for me) so I figured she was calling to to talk to me about that too. So I answered the phone exchanged pleasantries and she asked if I was in the car. I answered yes, because who lies to their social worker? But soon regretted it since she started in about how she doesn't believe in people talking on cell phones while driving etc. etc. and I should call her back later. I told her I was on my way to the dealer to pick up our car so it would be a while before I got home and she said that would be no problem just call her when I got home.
In retrospect this should have been a clue. But I was in such a NEGATIVE state of mind that I was just annoyed that she was one of those anti cell phone zealots and now I would have to wonder what she wanted to talk about. I honestly did not think this was "the call". It crossed my mind but I just dismissed it. I called DH to complain about how long it was taking at the dealer to get the car back, and mentioned Lisa's call. He agreed it was surely not "the call" or she would have said something like "I have good news for you!" or something along those lines. In retrospect this doesn't really make that much sense but at the time it made perfect sense.
So I finally got home and called Lisa. She didn't answer and I left a message. It was a beautiful day so I was sitting out on the back patio and DH came out to join me and hear about my miserable day. Then the phone rang and it was Lisa. I answered it and the first thing she asked was whether DH was there and can I put the phone on speaker. Well I'm dense but not that dense. My hands started shaking and I handed the phone to DH and said I have no idea how to do this you do it. (It's super easy, I've done it before many times and he did it no problem but I was starting to totally freak out!)
Then she told us that we had been picked by a birth mother! I went into to total shock. I was shaky and teary and could barely speak. She told us that ours was the only profile she had liked and she picked it because she could tell we really "liked" each other and she felt like if we were that happy with each other we could surely love her baby too. This is something adoptive parents involved in open adoptions always wonder about. You spend all of this time putting together your profile and wonder what if anything will make someone think you might be worthy of parenting their child. Sometimes birth parents are never able to articulate exactly what it was. I will be forever grateful that the love DH and I have for each other was somehow clear in that profile, and also that we really do "like" each other. We are best friends and partners and feel eternally grateful that we found each other and I'm glad that somehow we were able to express that.
Okay-so here comes the paragraph that every adoptive parent involved in domestic open adoption needs to throw in there. THIS IS NOT OUR BABY YET. EXPECTANT MOTHERS CHANGE THEIR MINDS ALL THE TIME!!!! In Pennsylvania ( which is where this em (expectant mom) is living, a mother has 30 days after her child is born to change her mind for any reason. This means that even if we have the baby home for a month we could have to give it back because --it's not really our baby yet. The reason we picked out agency is in order to mediate this risk. They will do lots of counseling with the expectant mom to make sure this is the decision she really wants to make. To help her understand how she will feel and how she will deal with these feelings etc. But of course birthmothers change their minds and they have every right to do so and that is the reality of adoption.
For now though it sounds like a pretty good situation for us. I won't blog about the details of the situation, because IF this works out it becomes not so much my story but my child's story and they will need to decide how much they want to share publicly about their story.
We are meeting our expectant mom on Wednesday. We are SUPER nervous. But one thing we know for sure. It is an amazing and brave woman that even considers making an adoption plan for her baby knowing that although it will be incredibly painful for her it is in the best interest of her child. I don't know many people that are asked to make that kind of utterly self-less decision in their life.
As for us we are beyond excited. Although we are mindful of what could happen, we know that no matter what at this point we will be disappointed if it doesn't work out so we might as well enjoy this time because if everything works out we could be parents in less than a month!
I also have to admit that panic is slowly starting to set in for me. I have to write reports for my students, pack up my classroom prepare the babies room, read about a thousand books about baby care and figure out if there is more "stuff" that I must have. Oh and did I mention that DH starts a brand new job next Monday? Meanwhile I can barely string together coherent sentences or complete a task without getting completely distracted.
I know this is a rambling post but I want this blog to be a record of this crazy roller coaster ride and to say there is a lot going on right now would be an understatement.
I will leave you with one final thought that. If this works out: May 24th would have been basically the exact due date we would have had if our IVF had worked out. Isn't life crazy?
Last week my wonderful colleagues and friends at my school showered me with love by throwing me a surprise baby shower. I thought I was just attending a plain old staff meeting. I wasn't even suspicious when our head of school insisted that we go over to the "barn" aka the art studio to "look at something" . Although-- in full disclosure I did grumble about having to go over! So you can imagine my shock when we walked in and there were delicious snacks and piles of presents and baby shower decorations. It actually took me a second to register that it was for me. My first reaction was "Who's having a baby?' and then I realized the answer was ME!!
I had pretty much assumed that I wouldn't have a shower, too stressful trying to explain everything to everyone, and too worrisome that everything would fall apart even if we were matched. But this was perfect. Everyone there has been with me this whole journey. They know about the infertility and the failed IVF and every step of our adoption and they were all 100% certain that I was going to be a mommy sometime soon. And that made me believe it a little bit more too. Now if my baby would just hurry up and show itself!
Well I just heard from our social worker and we are now officially paper pregnant! Considering we started this process in September and have pretty much been working on it non-stop since then it feels like a pretty big accomplishment. We also heard about the two expectant mom's who they showed our profile to. One mom delivered her baby and decided to parent herself and the other is still undecided. I'm not exactly sure what this means but I really don't want to get my hopes up because to me "undecided" doesn't really sound that promising. Besides in all my reading about adoption and getting to know women on-line I have never heard of anyone having no wait. That would be a little ridiculous.
In other news our baby items continue to pile up! My mom sent us a huge box of baby clothes. Some new and some were handmade items my Grandma had made for me when I was a baby. They are so sweet and literally my hands just ached to put a tiny plump little baby into them. DH's mom very generously bought us a crib, changing table and bunch of other stuff a few weeks back so we are pretty much ready anytime. Just missing a baby! I know we will need some diapers bottles and formula also at some point. I have heard people recommend buying the diapers over time so that the expense of it doesn't hit you all at once.
Today when I asked our social worker again about how long she thought our wait would be and she basically said again that she really doesn't have a crystal ball blah blah blah. However as I continued to pressure her she said she thought it was LIKELY but not definite that our wait would be more like 6 months rather than a more typical year wait because we are open to a lot of different situations. At first even 6 months seemed like such a long time off but then I thought about it and 6 months is really just September and that doesn't seem that far off at all. Of course really we have been waiting for a baby for three years. And three years and 6 months is a long time. Oh well at least we are finally pregnant! :)
I had big plans for lots of blogging during my two week Staycation spring break. Unfortunately that all fell apart when I got super sick with bronchitis and some other stomach ailment situation. That has also meant that many baby readying tasks have also not gotten accomplished. I have barely mustered the energy to do a few loads of laundry, the dishes and clean the bathrooms, much less organize the baby room and move furniture. I think the other reason I haven't posted for awhile is that I imagined my next post would be entitled "Paper Pregnant" This is a term used in adoption for when all paper work is in and filed, profiles are in the hands of those that should have them and literally all you are doing is sitting around waiting. Sadly we are not quite 100% there yet. This weekend we did make some progress in that we FINALLY got all 25 copies of our portfolio printed out and bound and ready to be sent off. This took 4 trips to Staples over the weekend and one ill fated trip to try to FedEX them on Sunday-which of course we couldn't do because they were closed. I'm very annoyed at myself for not getting them in the mail today, but for most of the day I felt so sick that it was easy to talk myself into believing that tomorrow would be a fine time to send them off. Once those are in the mail we just need to send an electronic copy of our "Hello" letter and a picture of us to our agency for them to put up on their website.
Another thing that was going on was about two weeks our social worker called us to say she was rushing to finish up our home study and that we needed to get three profiles to her ASAP because she had some expectant mothers who might be interested in us as potential adoptive parents. Of course this came with lots and lots of "don't get excited" 'This is unlikely to be the one" etc. etc. warnings. But of course I was excited and now of course it turns out that this was not the one. Bummer. I think that might also have to do with why sorting and arranging things in the baby room has lost a little of it's shine for me. In the future it will be much better because we won't know when or if our profile is being shown. In this case we only knew because of the need for us to rush through the final stages of being ready. I know we are very very close to having everything done and I can already tell that the waiting is going to be tough.
As some of you know I was first inspired to start my own blog after following many other blogs for awhile. One particularly cool spot I landed on was the Open Adoption Bloggers site. If you are at all interested in this topic I would highly recommend checking it out. You can click on the orange Open Adoption Bloggers icon on the left hand side of my blog to do this. Anyhow one of the things that came out of this was the chance to pair up with another open adoption blogger and interview them. I of course jumped at the chance! Below is a transcript of my interview with Robyn C over at http://www.adoptionblogs.com/ you can see the answers to my questions if you click over to her blog as well!
Here are my questions and Robyn's answers:
1.) Can you explain a little about how your blogging for adoption blogs works? How did you come to write for them?
This is a long story. I was active on the adoption.com forums, and "met" Jenna (of Munchkinland fame), who found me on LiveJournal and we "friended" one another. In 2007, she posted that AdoptionBlogs.com was looking for writers, so I sent in some samples. I never heard back. In 2008, there was another post, and I sent in samples. I heard back that they were probably going to hire me, but then never heard anything again. Finally, last year, Jenna posted that Adoption.com was launching new forums and wanted people to help get them up to snuff. So, I applied for that. At that point, Brandy, the editor, emailed me and asked if I was still interested in blogs. I was. By the end of the week, I was up and writing.
Brandy and Jenna are, as far as I'm concerned, the brains of the operation. They coordinate all of the bloggers and answer our questions. We agree to do 15 posts per month, and we're paid a small fee for every post. Almost everyone writes for multiple blogs. I write for Transracial Adoption, Hoping to Adopt, and, my favorite, US Infant Adoption.
I love writing and I'm passionate about adoption, so I was incredibly happy to have a "real" writing gig about something so important.
2.) In your blog you mention that you were unhappy with certain aspects of your first adoption experience. If you knew then, what you know now, what would you do differently?
That's tough, because if we had done too much differently, we wouldn't have Jack. Most of what we could have done differently, yet still had Jack to show for it, centers on the hospital experience. I had it on my to-do list to call the hospital's social worker. I even had her name and number. But my grandfather died unexpectedly and I ended up helping a great deal with some of the funeral elements. This was 11 days before we were scheduled to go to Missouri. Our adoption case worker said she would call and make sure everything was OK. She didn't, so it wasn't.
It's easy for me to say that we shouldn't have been at the hospital at all, but Jack's birth mother wanted us there, and I have a need to know everything, even if I can't control it. I think we should have discussed more about the hospital experience. We should have had some support there for us. There are a lot of things I wish I had known about labor and delivery. It's an incredibly stressful time, but no one ever talks about it. The adoption books are like "you've been matched" and then it's "when you bring the baby home" with nothing in between. I hated the whole hospital experience, and I really feel like I failed Jack during his first few days.
That said, we're starting the process again soon, and I know what we'll do differently now: - Get an itemized list of what "legal services" are provided. - Make sure that we have someone to support us during the hospital experience. - Check references! (and not just the ones the agency gives us) - Only travel to states in which we have friends and/or family. - Make sure that the final amount of money doesn't change hands until placement and parents' rights are terminated. (In short, don't pay the whole fee at the match.)
3.) What has been the most surprising thing about becoming a family through adoption?
I think it's how much I feel the outsider sometimes. I've never been a big fan of pregnancy, labor, and delivery stories, but it seems that many moms just can't help telling them. Our MOMS Club meetings were the same stories over and over again. I would just sit there and be grossed out.
It's harder to put what I've felt lately into words. It's just that there are some little things that are different. There's the expectation of others that, when they meet my husband, he'll be black. Jack and I were in Chuck E. Cheese on a busy afternoon, and I asked a server to help me find my husband. I just told him that he was tall and wearing a baseball cap. She dragged over this tall black man in a baseball cap, and I was like... OH... right... I should have specified.
Sometimes I'm expected to be a font of information about adoption, which I don't usually mind. Sometimes it's annoying though, and I'm never sure if I'm boring people.
4.) What was the most helpful book your read to prepare for becoming a transracial family?
Honestly, I've only read two books about transracial parenting. I own a third. I checked one out of the library just around the time Jack was born, but I never read it. The two I read are, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla, and Black Baby, White Hands. I really liked I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla, though apparently some "experts" don't. I found it very informative and accessible. So far, I've found it to be correct in terms of how children process race and color.
5.) What baby item did you find most valuable as a new mom that was not a "necessity".
I'm going to cheat and put two things here.
The first is the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. Best sleep book ever! I read ALL of them. Jack would not nap. Within 3 days of using the techniques in that book, Jack napped.
But, that's really a Mom thing, not so much a baby thing, so...
The Boppy Pillow. Easily the best "non-essential" baby item ever invented. Even better than the ring sling, the Baby Bjorn, the sound-activated baby monitor, the baby gym, the pacifier... you get the point. I love the Boppy Pillow. And I have to hope that I get it back from the mom I leant it to.
6.) Is there anything that you wish you had been better prepared for when you adopted your son. ( Could be a feeling or a task or a baby item)
The loneliness. My husband and I moved here, and aside from my parents and grandmother, we really didn't know anyone nearby. The first year of Jack's life was mostly Jack and me going places by ourselves. I finally joined the MOMS Club, and we found a few friends through that, but even that was a little tough because we couldn't always make the scheduled events. Also, the only thing I had in common with most of those people was a kid, and my kid was adopted, so a few people sort of treated me differently. It wasn't until Jack started at his preschool (2008) that we really started making friends who shared our interests. We now have a great group of friends, but it was tough for the first two years.
7.) What kinds of things did you do to facilitate bonding and attachment with your son? How long did you wait before having visitors?
OK, so I'm going to get some flack for this, but I don't believe in the "no visitors" rule. We had to be in a hotel room for Jack's first 11 days of life, and we had Jack's birth mother's family over a couple of times. (I actually wish we had arranged to see them more.) The day after we got home, we had my mom, my dad, my grandmother, and my good friend and her daughter all visit. We were all about showing off the baby to anyone who would look. The photos from first month of his life are a who's who of people in our lives.
That said, we did hold him constantly. He didn't like the mei tai, and I was afraid of the sling, so he was always in our arms. I couldn't put pants on if my husband wasn't home to hold Jack. We fed him close to us, we let him sleep on us (which may have caused some of the napping problems he had later on), we very rarely put him down, except for bed time. We also tried to "play" with him, as much as any new baby can play. He really liked rattles and singing and dancing.
I realized much later, that, what I truly hated about the hospital, was that Jack was alone. Again, it's a long story, but he spent huge stretches of time in the nursery by himself. I think I wanted to make up for all that time by not letting him go.
8.) What do you find is the most challenging aspect of being a transracial family. What do you find the most rewarding?
Another really good question!
I'm not sure we've gotten to the really challenging parts yet. From my reading and through online friends, it seems like the tween years are going to be the hardest. So far, I think it's just a feeling that we should be doing more. Most of our close friends are white, two are Indian, four are Hispanic, and one is Asian. Jack's school has kids of all colors, but we're not friends with the black families. I realize that the people we are friends with are the ones who are involved the most in the school activities. I don't know why we're more active than others. It just kind of happened that way.
The most rewarding, right now, is that I'm finding all of these books and toys that I think a lot of white parents of white children would overlook. I'm also learning a lot about Black history and culture, which, again, I might not have paid attention to otherwise. I always try to add some color to my friends' children's lives, through the books, dolls, or other items that we get them for birthdays. I feel like I'm learning a lot, and getting a chance to expand my horizons.
Thank you so much Robyn! I feel like I learned so much!
Tuesday marked the completion of a huge step in our journey. Our social worker came for her last visit and we are officially approved! Just awaiting her to write up the paperwork. That means that all that is left is for us to make some edits on our profile, get an actual bound hard copy made up to submit for edits, and then once it is approved make up our 25 copies and then we will finally be ready to do some serious WAITING! It was a very low key visit with our social worker, as they all have been. FYI- Homestudy--no big deal! We talked a little about what I will be doing next fall once my school closes. She seems to think that although the average wait for a couple is around a year, she seems quite confident that our wait will be shorter because we are open to a child of any race. This is at once both incredibly exciting and a bit anxiety inducing since a short wait will certainly make a new job somewhat complicated. This dilemma has been keeping me up for the last couple of nights but i think my plan for now is to actively pursue a job but be completely open about our situation. Since nothing says "hire me" like telling someone you may be taking three months off at any time with no notice--I'm thinking that the unemployment plan B may quickly become plan A, but I am still hopeful. After all isn't it totally worth it to wait 12 weeks to be able to hire such an awesome kindergarten teacher? Yeah. Right. Anyhow for now I am taking things one day at a time and hoping that somehow things will work themselves out. I have found that this does generally happen. One way or another.
One thing I know is that we are not getting any younger. This was solidified for us on Monday when DH celebrated another year on our planet. It was a pretty low key celebration, we went out for dinner and saw a movie. I think for both of us it was an occasion of subdued hopefulness. I know I remember last year thinking that surely we would have a baby by DH's next birthday. That's the problem with with milestones and holidays when your infertile. You start to feel like life is passing you by, another birthday, another Christmas, another school year. Where you can clearly remember thinking "next year at this time...." I am cautiously optimistic that this will be our year to create our family but one thing I know is that you just don't know.
In other baby news I've become addicted to looking for baby bargains on craigslist. After scoring our fancy stroller and car seat, it calls me like a siren. Tomorrow we are going to pick up a pack 'n play for $50 that supposedly has only been used on one vacation one time. We shall see--but I admit I'm kind of psyched... After scrimping and saving for IVF and then adoption for the past few years I've had to pretty much give up shopping as a hobby. It's nice to have an excuse to at least be looking for things to buy with the justification that we really will NEED them at some point.
Well, unfortunately my meeting with the social worker was cancelled again due to the weather. Unfortunately I had arranged for a sub at school and my school was OPEN. This gave me some stress because it means that I will now have to arrange for another sub and take another day off which is kind of hassle. But what can you do--you can't argue with mother nature! Our social worker did kindly offer to do an evening interview but I decided that I would rather take another day off and get this over with sooner. Now that we are pretty much finished with our profile we are anxious to get into the pool of waiting families.
Last night we went to a class offered by our agency designed to give you a better understanding of what to expect once you have been matched with a birth mother and the child is born but has not yet been released for adoption. Not surprisingly this is one of the most emotionally fraught and difficult times of the adoption process. And it is the time when birth mother's are most likely to change their mind about their adoption plan. The director of our agency said that it happens about 20% of the time in fact, a fairly daunting statistic. Overall it was good information filled with do's and don'ts for us to best support our birth mother and to try to make an incredibly difficult situation goes as smoothly as possible. There is no way that it won't be an angst ridden time for everyone. No matter how much we will want that baby to be our baby it won't, and at any time the birth mother has every right to decide to parent her baby herself.
The most important point that was made last night was one that has often crossed my mind as I imagine what it will be like to adopt our baby. This is the fact that the day that all of our dreams are coming true and we will finally be able to have the family we ached so long for, will also be day of unimaginable grief for the birth mother of our child. In almost all cases birth mother's make adoption plans not because they don't desperately love and want to care for their babies, but because they realize that the circumstances of their life don't allow them to. In all likelihood it is because she is too poor and too unsupported by our society to care for her own baby, that she will have chosen adoption for him or her, not because she does not want to be able to be a mother to her baby. Many adoptive parents have said that they were taken off guard by how deeply they were affected by the birth mother's grief. Driving away with a baby who's mother has just said had to day goodbye to him or her after she has nurtured this baby in her body for nine months is i an incredibly sad and difficult thing to do. In a horrible irony that makes my head and my heart hurt to think about it, our baby will probably come to us because we live in a culture that doesn't make it easy to care for a baby if you are poor. No easy access to health care, or childcare or housing or education are what usually make adoption the only viable choice for these women. And this is that will likely be fresh in our minds as we drive home from the hospital with our baby. Not excitement or euphoria over finally becoming parents, but grief.
Infertility comes with many losses and one of them will be the the opportunity to have a joyous celebration at the hospital when our child is born. That will come later of course, once the dust has settled and the papers are signed and the grief subsides. Instead we will need to focus on making the occasion as peaceful and dignified as we can for everyone involved, remembering that despite it's bitter sweetness it is and always will be the beginning of the story of our life with our child.
Slowly but surely we are making progress. A rough draft of our profile is very nearly complete-we are hoping to be able to send it off to our agency for review by Monday, if we have some time to tweak it tomorrow. Wednesday we will be going to our class on the "Hospital Experience" and on Thursday I will have my final meeting with our social worker which will, barring no unforeseen problems, wrap up our home study and allow us to begin to be shown to potential birth parents.
Serendipity/too much time on my hands led us to our first big baby purchase. This has been an incredible source of excitement/anticipation/ obsessive Internet researching for me this week! I periodically peruse Craig's List for baby items never knowing what I'll find, or really even what I'm looking for. On Wednesday I happened to see a listing for a Bugaboo Frog for $250 dollars. If you are not a city dweller you may not be familiar with these, but they are a super chic kind of baby carriage that then converts into a stroller for older children. It's supposed to be uber good at maneuvering uneven city sidewalks and turning on a dime. It also has tons of bells and whistles like a mosquito net, and rain cover etc. The Frog's also have a feature where you can unsnap the seat part, add a converter, and snap on a car seat. Sounds great right? The only down side is the $800 price tag, obviously and absurd amount of $ to spend on a stroller. Anyhoo DH and I have always admired them, even when we lived in Hoboken and didn't really want a baby yet, just a bugaboo, because well, they look cool. So you can imagine how psyched I was to see such a good price, even on Craig's List they are often asking $400-$600. When we went to pick it up today they also offered us the car seat converters and the car seat for another $50. This was a great deal since the converter alone retails for about $45 dollars and the car seat they had was of course a super fancy kind of car seat that is made in Italy and is supposedly the safest one you can get (it's called a Peg Perego). Luckily I had researched this a bit and knew that those suckers were expensive also. Car seats do technically have expiration dates on them, but even using the most conservative standards we should have at least 2 years left on this one, which I hope will be long enough since it is only good for an infant up to about 20 lbs.
One of the things about adoption that I still struggle with is the lack of control over the timing. I know that if I were pregnant I would have nine blissful months to prepare for baby and I know that I would be a nester on steroids. I like to plan and decorate and research and shop! So, for now, I have decided that I am going to prepare for our baby with the joy and enthusiasm of any other expecting mom while keeping in mind that even if we do get matched with birth parents there are no certainties. All of this gear currently in our dining room and all of our planning is for OUR baby when it finally makes it here. There is no telling whether that will be from our first match or our fifth match because in the end the reality is that birth mother's change their minds and it happens. A lot. But-- for now we have an AWSE stroller and car seat which we got for a song and if there is one thing I love more than really cool stylish gear, it's a great bargain!!!
Well we spent the weekend digging out from the 28 inches of snow that fell on us Friday and Saturday. Frankly the timing couldn't have been more despicable. So far this winter we have had two snowstorms of over 20 inches, neither of which have yielded any days off of work. Really mother nature? Why do you mock me so?
They are forecasting another snow fall for Wednesday. I am scheduled to have our third and final visit with the social worker on Thursday, and I am so convinced am I that I am ENTITLED by the universe to a day off, that I have put off all of my cleaning chores to be completed on my snow day on Wednesday. This could make for a very hectic Wednesday evening. Especially since we are also attending a class in center city that evening entitled "The Hospital Experience". This will try to prepare us for what it might be like for us when we are at the hospital waiting for our potential birth mother to decide whether or not she wants us to parent her baby. This is understandably supposed to be one of the most difficult times in an adoption and the period in which the adoption is most likely to disrupt. Hopefully this class will give us some pointers on how to deal with it all.
The upside to being snowed in all weekend is that we finally got to work on our profile. This is the scrapbook of pictures that will be shown to potential birth parents when they are choosing parents for their baby. Needless to say it is an important step in this whole process and one that DH & I have been struggling with.
How do you say please give us your baby I promise we will be awesome parents in 40 pictures or less?
The person from our agency that they sent to help us answer this question was in fact the opposite of helpful and put all kinds of restrictions on our photos based on her past experience with potential birth mothers. Only one photo with animals, no wedding pictures, no pictures where anyone is drinking anything etc. Plus she really gave off the vibe that she didn't find us to be all that photogenic by looking at our photos and saying things like "hmmm...do you have any more?" Actually-no we are really the kind of people to take a million photos of ourselves at every event. I have sweated and cried over this and today I fianlly just banged it out with what we have. Guess what? I used three wedding pictures and two pictures with animals. Sue me. I think it's pretty good--just missing a few photos of my family which hopefully my mom is putting in the mail tomorrow. I'm sure we will get some serious "feedback" on it once it is turned in but at least we have a definite jumping off point. DH is working on our introduction letter as I am writing this. Next weekend is a long weekend so with any luck we will be able to hand in a first draft of this $%!@@#$ thing some time soon.
Well my powers of persuasion over mother nature are apparently quite impressive, and I am basking in my extra two hours of found time this morning as a result of a bit of snow causing our school to have a two hour delay. I impulsively used this gift of extra time to make my first baby purchase. It's a baby book geared towards babies who have been adopted so that way you have space to tell your adoption story and don't have to deal with all of those blank pregnancy pages. About a week ago someone on my adoption BB had posted a link to it, it was on super markdown for only about $6 and several women who have already adopted chimed in to say they had the book and they loved it. I looked at it several times and thought about getting it but hesitated. Too much disappointment, anguish and water under the bridge for me to actually, really feel confident that somehow or another we are going to have a baby and need a baby book. But today I ordered it. So I guess deep down I really am starting to believe we are going to have a baby. Either that I am just giddy from the excitement of our two hour delay and I'm not thinking clearly. Plus, I REALLY LOVE a bargain. The only bad news is I guess this means we actually are going to have to tackle putting together that @#$#$# profile book.
On Thursday night DH and I attended a workshop on transracial adoption. This is a required class for all couples considering this option, but we would have jumped at the chance to go regardless, since it is a topic that has been on our minds since we first began to think about adoption as a possible choice for us.
I think this is an incredibly complex topic and I've been wrestling with it for awhile now. First let me state unequivocally something that I'm sure anyone who knows us well already knows: We would have no problem loving a child of any race with all of our hearts. This is just a non-issue for us. I think, for DH, the story more or less ends here. We would love our child, our child would love us, it would have some struggles but we would help him or her through them and our love would be enough. I like this story. I want to believe this story, but I think this is where my life as a kindergarten teacher comes in. I have seen children struggle with racial identity and I know it's incredibly difficult under any circumstances, especially if you happen to be saddled with white parents. The story for me gets stuck on the question of what is truly best for our child. I honestly think that probably the best case scenario for an African-American baby is to be raised in a loving home by loving, awesome African-American parents. But here is where the story complicates further, there are not enough African-American adoptive parents to provide homes for all of the African-American babies eligible for adoption. Unfortunately the same is not true for white babies, largely because of the intersection of class and race in our society and that African-American mothers are disproportionately poor.
One thing I know as an early childhood educator and as an avid reader of all information I can find about adopted children, is that it is an unforgivable burden to place on a child for them to have to feel like they were any "luckier" to get adopted than a child would be that happened to be born into a lovingbiological family. Do I think that the students I teach are "luckier" than the children in earthquake ravaged Haiti right now? Sure, but do I think they are told this on a regular basis by strangers? Doubt it. Do people feel like that's an okay thing to say to children who have been adopted internationally or into a transracial family? Apparently it is something these families hear frequently.
Okay so back to the question about our family. We know that whatever baby finds us WE NEED and WANT more than any parents could have ever longed for a baby ever, but is it okay for our baby to need us a little bit too? I don't know. I wrestle with this a lot and I don't have a clear answer. I do know that in some ways DH and I are better equipped than some of the other white families who were at this seminar to be up to this job. Many, (but not all!) of them seemed to have the first part of the story down. They wanted a baby and felt certain they would love that baby more than anything regardless of race. But for many of them their story ended there. At least I know for certain that when we think about our story it has a few more pages at least. The concept of White Privilege was brought up and and excellent article by Peggy McIntosh was distributed. (http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/UnpackingTheKnapsack.pdf) This is not the first time I've seen this. Or the second or the third--maybe like the 5th or 6th. Because a million years ago I was a college student majoring in sociology with a specialization in social injustice, and a dual degree in Woman Studies to boot. This article was pretty much standard fare in every course pack I ever had, and in fact was assigned again while I was at Bank Street. I've spent my share of time thinking about White Privilege. These ideas are of course always with me, but as a benefactor of white privilege I have put them on a shelf for a while and spent a lot of time thinking about the developmental stages of painting that children go through, and the benefits of play in early childhood education. But like I said, transracial adoption has been whispering in my ear, and with it all of these things that I used to spend so much time thinking about.
The woman conducting this seminar was amazing. She had adopted transracially 23 years ago and was a therapist who specializes in working with families that are struggling with these issues. I wanted to sign up for therapy with her right away, but at the very least I am glad she is out there as a resource. At the end of the seminar she said that one way that she personally felt like families were ready to embark on this journey was when they were filled with doubt and anxiety over how difficult it would be, so I guess I definitely qualify there!
She also shared with us many difficult questions her daughter had posed to her growing up and one that she said was the most difficult was when her 5 or 6 year old daughter asked her why she wanted a brown child instead of a child with light skin like her. I have thought a lot about about how I would answer this in the last couple of days. The workshop leader said she responded by saying she had brown people in her life that she loved, and always wanted to have a family that had brown and white people together. I think that's a pretty good answer and it makes me think about all of those hours spent thinking about racism, racial identity and social injustice when I was young, and grateful that regardless of what baby finds it's way into our home, I'm glad those truths have made it to the forefront of my mind again.
Ultimately we are doing an open adoption (more explained about what that means later--this post is way too long!) We will not choose who our baby will be but instead we will be chosen by our baby's first parents, or it's birth parents as they will be come to be known to our child. I have no idea who they will be or what they will look like but for now we are open to a child of any race and I will keep wrestling with what that will be like if our baby happens to be of another race.
On a more mundane note it is FREEZING cold here today and I am so glad to be here in our warm house hanging out with our poor little doggy Willow who is recuperating from her 2nd and hopefully last surgery. She is much better this morning and is, fingers crossed, on her way to recovery. We are now trying our best to keep her as immobile as you can keep a 75 lb dog. DH is at the auto show with his dad, something that I would rather gouge my eyes out than have to do. :) FAB
Today was the second of the three visits we need to have with our social worker in order to complete our home study. This interview was an individual visit with just DH so I went to school just like any regular day. I have to admit I did toss and turn over this a bit last night. Clearly the control freak/super nosy part of me was driven crazy by the fact I wouldn't be there to hear what was said and to have MY say. Also for some reason he refused to have any snacks out to offer her. Last time we had scones and clementines and I made her tea and she seemed to enjoy it, but DH was ADAMANT.
Overall I think everything went fine, but of course DH has worries about whether he revealed too much or not enough but I think that's natural in any interview situation. Afterwards you can't help but over analyze everything you say. Especially in this situation where we are interviewing for the job we want more than anything--to be parents! I do think I will have snacks out next time though.
We are really lucky to have a wonderful social worker who we seem to have a nice connection with. She even called me this evening to make sure we were okay after our whole profile debacle with one of the other agency workers ( another post). I thought this was really nice since I had pretty much decided not to even bring up again, but I am glad I had a chance to process this with her and I definitely feel better about the whole situation. Two visits down and one more to go. Oh and of course we still have to do our @#$#% profile!
It's kind of surprising to find myself writing a blog since I really have always hated writing. But I do love to read blogs and recently I have found a whole on-line community of people who have been going through infertility and adoption and I have really loved reading their blogs. Since I won't be buying maternity clothes or snapping photos of my baby bump I thought keeping a blog might be a way of chronicling this time as we anticipate the arrival of our baby.
As a matter of record we are probably about 3/4 of the way through the process. All paper work is in and we have completed the first of our 3 home visits. Wednesday the social worker will meet with DH and then in two weeks with me, and then we will only need to put together our profile in order to be "officially waiting". More about all of this later but for tonight, I am just dipping my toe into the world of blogging.