Painting on the Walls

Well Andy’s dad is at the house to visit and help with some things around the place. Today he painted the first coat in the baby room and will finish it off tomorrow morning. It looks really great and the grey color turned out really well.

We decided to go for a neutral color on the walls and just keep the accents and bedding in a specific color. Even though we are keeping the accents in a gender neutral color we just like the idea of something subtle on the walls that we can dress up and change however we want. This way as the child gets older rather than needing to repaint the yellow walls we can just change out the décor and leave the wall color alone.

This is just one more thing we needed to do on the way to prepping the baby room and now there are just a couple of small things to do and it will be ready for us to adopt. I am hoping that it doesn’t take years to adopt and we feel stressed by having the room already decorated but for now at least we are thinking positive and hoping for a faster adoption.

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Our First Baby Gift!

Jennifer, Stephanie’s sister, got us our first baby gifts! She had gone on a shopping trip with a girl friend at this huge market/fair ground a little while back and she had gotten some things for the baby she said. Rather than shipping she sent some of it home with mom while she was out there last weekend (although not all of it fit in the suitcase so more presents to come soon!).

They are really cute owl themed toys and bath towels. It incorporates the orange accent color we are using for the baby room so they match great. All of it is super soft and feels like it will be great to cuddle in after a bath or sleep with for a nap.

Love my sister and how she is just as anxious about the adoption as we are (well maybe not as anxious but close)!

Adoption Reading

While reading one of our books we got from the agency I came across the following poem written by an adoptive parent. I don’t see how anyone else can sum up the feelings that I am feeling and that I know I will continue to feel.

“It’s my child’s birthday today
I have no memories of the pain and struggle, as he entered this life
As he fought for his first breath
I have no memories of his life growing inside of me and fighting to be released
I have no memories from the beginning months of his life
Another “someone” was there – Another “someone” suffered for my joy”

Doing the reading suggested by the adoption agency has really helped me to not only understand some of the things we should expect but also to get validation that the things I am feeling are normal. Looking forward to a few more books we got from them and then it is on to more searching for blogs or other books to read.

Dear-Birthmother

Baby Names with Adoption

Since we had been trying to get pregnant for a while Andy and I had already discussed and decided on potential names for children. It is a little odd to realize that we might have to take other people’s thoughts and considerations into the naming though now. Before we started really looking at adoption we had already planned the girl and boy names being Zoe Dawn and Ethan Andrew respectively.

After talking to a potential birthmother and how she wanted to have us involved in naming the baby I realized I am not sure how this will work now. We love the names we have picked out and they have been what we decided on a long time ago. I know technically at finalization we can change the name to whatever we want since the child will be adopted into our family but I am also not sure how I will feel changing the name that the birth parents choose for their child and not incorporating their thoughts into it at all.

In the end maybe we will come up with a compromise and use a combination of what we want and what they want or maybe we will use our names at this point there is still too much that can change so I am trying to not stress over what the outcome will be.

Our First Phone Call

Well we are definitely active. We got a call late tonight from a potential birthmother. Her name is Serena and she is from Kansas City. She seemed nice and already has 4 children currently and did not think she could take care of another one, a boy, at this time so she is looking into adoption. One of the problems we have right now after talking to her is that she seems to want a lot of in person contact which doesn’t seem easily doable with the big difference in location. She wanted to be there for every birthday and Christmas and she also wanted to be there for the first three months after giving birth.

Although I definitely understand that it would be difficult to know you aren’t going to always be there for all those special occasions it also doesn’t make sense to do an adoption so far away if you really want to be there.

We now have had our first birthmother contact under our belts though and hopefully the next one won’t be quite as nerve racking. Andy and I are really excited to know that our letter is out there and getting seen by potential matches which is the first hurdle to get through I think. Neither of us expected that we would have activity so soon after going active though I don’t think. It is just over a week that we have been able to be seen so having any contact is awesome!

P.S. She ended up deciding to try and match with another family on Monday the 15th instead of continuing with us. In the end I think this is for the best since there were some things that we weren’t really that comfortable with in the initial conversation with Serena. On the upside it at least wasn’t a scam and some family out there is getting their chance to grow!

Article About Matching

I was reading an article earlier and I thought that it would be good to have written down these thoughts from a Birthmother on things for after the placement of the baby. It is good to have gotten the perspective and I hope that we can remember these things and try and do them as much as possible.

  • Nothing means more than calling the child we share an immense love for ‘our child.’ Recognizing that the child does in fact have two sets of parents who love him or her means the world to us birth parents.
  • That old, crinkled up sheet of paper with errant crayon scribbles all over it that you are about to throw away because you’ve already kept approximately 8,000 of them? Don’t. Send it to your child’s birth mom or dad, no extensive letter necessary. What may be every-day and semi-”meaningless” to you may mean the world to a birth parent.
  • You can never send enough photos. If you don’t want to send one for fear of being too “pushy,” I can assure you almost certainly that you are not. If we aren’t ready to look yet, we’ll save it for later. But just knowing you thought of us means everything.
  • Including us as part of your family is the biggest honor you could give us. Even if visits are not part of the adoption plan, including us on group emails (with photos) to far-away family members doesn’t go without notice. (My daughter’s adoptive mom sent a photo of our little girl waving two flags in her hands last year on the 4th of July. I love emails she sends only to me, but to see all of my daughter’s many aunts and uncles from both sides of the family included on the email, along with myself and my mother, made my heart practically burst!)
  • Likewise, being part of your “Christmas card list” is also amazing. If you’re one of those families who takes professional Christmas photos and sends them out on little postcards, consider sending one to your child’s birth family. (I still have mine from the two Christmases that have passed since she was born).
  • No matter how much we love you (which, trust me, is a lot!), it is still extremely hard to trust someone else with your child. Think of how nervous you were the first time you let someone babysit your children…this is how we felt at placement, only it was magnified seven-fold. This is not to say we don’t trust you – we more than trust you, and we are secure in that trust – but keep this fear in mind when we send quick texts or emails just to see how everyone’s doing. We don’t mean to bug you.
  • Sending us quick emails just to say hello, check in, or wish us luck on upcoming finals or whatever it may be, mean the world to us. Feeling like we not only share a common interest in the child, but also share a friendship, is wonderful.
  • Not sure if we want that low-quality, grainy video you took on your cell phone? We do! You may have better ones that you took with a digital camera, but we cherish anything – and I mean anything you send us.
  • Always keep your promises. This goes for birth parents and adoptive parents alike. Promises in open adoption are worth gold…there is no relationship more delicate or fragile on earth, so promises are sacred.
  • We may not admit it, and a lot of us may share our pain quicker than we share our joy, but we love you for providing our children with what we couldn’t at the time. Whether it’s a two-parent household, a solid financial ground, or just a house period, it’s something we couldn’t provide or provide properly. I’ve heard it said that people think adoptive parents should “owe” their child’s birth parents the world for “giving them a child.” Well, birth parents feel indebted (in a good way) to adoptive parents for loving their child above themselves. We didn’t give our child to you, we gave you to our child.
  • Don’t hold back on what you tell us. Don’t be afraid to tell us that you missed ‘our’ baby while you were away on a business trip because you’re scared we’ll think “how do you think I feel?.” The feeling we get when you are expressing your love for our child will eventually win over any jealous feelings we have about the time you get to spend with them that we don’t.
  • Allow us to send gifts. While some of us can’t bear to walk down the baby aisle or the kid’s toy aisle at Target, others find immense comfort in buying things for the child. The occasional “spoiling” we get to do feels amazing.
  • Sending photos of your child wearing outfits we sent to her/him or playing with toys we sent are priceless.
  • Always feel free to send us the “outtakes,” too. While pictures in nice lighting, in cute outfits and with huge smiles are great, we want to see pictures of our kids just being kids, too. Not sure if you should send the picture where his or her back is to the camera and they are playing with toys? Please, send it! That one where they are crying or in mid-scream…send that one, too. We want as much insight into their daily lives as you are willing to give.
  • If you don’t already, please understand that as long as the safety of the child isn’t at risk (mentally or physically), it can never be a bad thing for more people to love a child. When everyone has that child’s best interest at heart, the more love the better. Please don’t close us out, we are not a threat. We don’t want to take over your title or role and 99% of us would never have that intent nor would we dream of trying. We just want the opportunity to let our child know that he or she always was and always will be loved by us.

Initial Contact Session

So we had our meeting tonight with Kristine (our counselor) at the IAC (Independent Adoption Center) to go over what to expect in the next phase of the adoption. We mainly talked about things going on right now and any questions or updates we might have.

We did discuss things that we should avoid talking about in the initial contact with a potential birthmother. Most of those things that we already knew about such as expenses, too much detail information, situation on why she is thinking of adoption, etc. while others like the birthfather were not things we would have thought about. It also gave us a chance to talk about how we have taken this next step so far and what we think are going to be the hard parts for us going forward.

Even though we are both really excited to start a family this part can be very nervous because you aren’t sure how long it will actually take and what to expect out of the contact that you do have with birthmothers. We are hoping that things go smoothly during the contact, not that there won’t be difficult things to talk about but that there won’t be paperwork issues, and that we have the chance to have a good relationship with the birth family that we get to meet.

In addition to the meeting we also had a group session tonight talking about how to talk to other children involved in adoption. At first I thought the session would be primarily around other children we have but after going we found out more information about not only other children we might have but also friend’s children, nieces/nephews, and birthmother’s other children.

It was a relatively fast meeting last night though and a small group together which can be nice. I still feel kind of odd like the other people there aren’t willing to share their feelings and experiences at time. I think that it is the best place to talk about the stuff going on and that if you can’t talk about it with other people going through the same process who will you talk about it with. Andy and I had no problems talking about our views though (I know shocking).

Adoption Support Group April Meeting

Before attending tonight’s meeting I wasn’t sure if this would be important for us to attend or not but I wanted to anyways because I like to listen and talk with other people going through adoption like us. Tonight was about adoption involving other children. Since we don’t have any other children yet we figured it wouldn’t matter for us. After getting there and catching up though we started talking about the topic and learned that it discusses not only any children we have but also previous children of the birth mother or other children related to us that will be interacting with our child.

We talked about how to prepare any children for the possible placement during the match period and how to handle any children that meet the new child before final placement has occurred. They mention how to make sure that they don’t become as attached by not referring to the new child as a brother/sister (could be cousin for us with my nephews) but explain it as you watching the child until the birth mother determines if she can be a parent.

If the birth mother is the one with other children it went over some questions and ways to talk to the child that was placed for adoption about why they were placed for adoption instead of kept like their biological brother/sister. Although these topics wouldn’t be happening for at least a few years down the road it is important to realize that it will be a conversation we will have to have regardless of why their birth mother didn’t raise them. I am hoping that when this time comes we can explain it and help them through their questions and concerns.

It can sometimes seem daunting to realize the questions and topics we will have to navigate that most parents don’t have to deal with.

Finding a Match

I have been doing some research on questions and thoughts to think about during initial conversations with potential birthparent matches. I came across the following list and I think it really covers all the key points that we should think about when we talk to these potential matches. If I can tell that the match would not be beneficial or was the wrong fit from the beginning I don’t think I could cut the call off as opinions can change but I think I want to print this off and keep it with our contact binder to keep these thoughts in the front of my mind and to help steer the conversation to helping determine about matches.

  • Can you see yourself being friends with this person?
  • Can you see your family and friends welcoming her/him into their circle?
  • Do you share common interests and beliefs?
  • Are you comfortable with the amount of contact she/he is wanting and are you realistically able to agree to it?
  • Are you willing to embrace this potential birthmother’s child, including race, ethnicity, prenatal exposures, mental health history, and physical health history?
  • Are you comfortable letting the birthparents make decisions that are right for them, even if you would choose something different?
  • Are you comfortable, based on the information you know about the birth family and the situation, moving forward?

I think that turning away from a potential match will be one of the hardest parts of this time during the adoption process but I also know that if we match with someone we don’t think is the right fit for us it will mean including that person in our lives (in some form or another) for the rest of our lifetime.

People in group have talked about how when they matched they knew right away it was the right birthmother for them and that they just seemed to click right away. It seems odd to me to think that will ever happen for us but hope that it does and the situation just seems to fit everyone involved.

History of Open Adoption

So today I was doing some more research and reading and came across this blog about the history of open adoption within the US. The article really helps to shed some light about how our society has started to come back to the origins of adoption in the US and how as always there are times when it is two steps forward and one step back.

Adoption started out as being more for practical reasons than for the desire/want of a child. In the beginning families that had too many children to feed or take care of would give one of their children to a family that had none or needed more because of their economic situation (think someone on a farm could always use more hands to help out whereas someone in the city might have a hard time raising more than a couple children). At this time it wasn’t a legal proceeding or handled by some third party that didn’t know what was going on but between families.

As time progressed though the government got more involved and started putting rules together to offer security to all those involved in the adoption to avoid any issues down the road. The laws made things more secure and more cut and dry in an adoption but it also fed to people’s fears around adoption. It made the subject of adoption and being adopted taboo where it was something to try and hide rather than just being a part of their history.

Luckily people like those that work at our current agency have gotten to know the parents (both adoptive and birth) and the adopted children and realized that what might have seemed like a good idea wasn’t really helping anyone involved. There was still the fears that people had and now there were doubts and questions in their minds; how is my child growing up are they well and taken care of, will the birth mother take away my child, who are my birth parents and where do I come from?

Although when we first took a step at open adoption it was scary, the more information we get and read the more secure we feel in our decision. I don’t want to adopt a child and have them afraid to tell me they wish they knew who gave birth to them because they have so many questions. I would rather know the person myself so I could thank them for all that they are giving to us and get to know them so that even if we lose touch with them (like sometimes happens) I can tell my child the story of them and where they come from.