Sixth Wedding Anniversary

Over the weekend was our 6th anniversary and we both just can’t believe it has already been that many years. We spent the day pretty low key. We had celebrated back in August with a dinner out to Melting Pot right before our failed placement since we assumed we would be busy with other things at this point in the year. No worries though it was still great. We went out to dinner at Red Robin (I know gourmet food for us) on Friday night after an evening at the gym. Andy loves Red Robin so to him it is a great anniversary dinner and I like it enough that I don’t mind it being our dinner out.

Then on our actual anniversary, Saturday, I went out to the Yellow Daisy Festival with my mom and started doing more Christmas shopping.  Followed that up with a baby shower party for a good friend that is due in a couple weeks and finally went home to check in on Andy’s day. He got to relax and watch some college football while he wasn’t working on a project of shooting some glass awards. All in all we both enjoyed the day even if most of it wasn’t together. We did get to spend the evening together though and were happy with how we spent our anniversary.

Finally, on Sunday we spent a great breakfast with some friends who were in from out of town for the weekend and got to catch up with them for a little while. We love their daughter and them. Can’t believe that it has only been like 2 years since we first met them online. We already have both traveled to visit each other a couple times and always look forward to the next trip. Hoping to see them again soon and spend some time hanging out again. After we saw them off on their drive home it was time to go to the late church service. We typically go to the 8 am service so the 11 am service was definitely different for us and there were a lot more people there at the later service.

All in all as you can see the weekend didn’t hold anything super special but it was how we love spending our weekends together so it was a great way to celebrate an anniversary. Plus with Andy’s photography schedule starting this coming weekend for Lacrosse it will be harder to have those weekends for a couple months.

Thanks to all those who wished us a happy anniversary and for all those who were able to celebrate with us 6 years ago when we officially became family!

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Summer Update

Well as the summer is starting to come to a close with the weather changing and schools back in session we are looking back at our summer adventures. We had a hiatus from the blog this summer during our match with an expectant mom. There just wasn’t much time to keep the blog updated while navigating the new relationship. Now it is time to get back into the swing of things though and keep our followers up to date on what we have been up to.

We Finished the Nursery

The reason was due to the match although a majority of the room was completed already. It was great to put the finishing touches on it though. We bought the custom sheets we wanted, made a custom ruler to measure our future child’s growth, created a keepsake box, and hung some custom art work. It is great to know that the room is done and ready for an adoption. Luckily we don’t have to pass the room or go anywhere near it if we are having a rough week with the wait.

We Visited Family for a Reunion

millersburgWe have fun visiting family whenever we can but since it is an odd year this summer brought about my side of the family reunion. We were originally planning a week long journey to visit parts of Pennsylvania and some other family but ended up cutting that part out of our plans because of the match and not wanting to waste what little vacation time I have to take off then. We had a lot of fun with the activities that we did get to do though and I am already looking forward to the reunion in 2 years.

 

 

We Visited Friends in Asheville

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Through this wonderful but sometimes trying adoption journey we met some friends of friends that have been so supportive of us. We met them a little over a year ago only but have already visited them twice and they are getting ready to come for their second visit in a couple weeks! While visiting we got to tour around the Biltmore estate and eat some delicious food. Their daughter is also awesome to play with while visiting and she is always excited to see us!

 

We saw my Sister’s Family Twice

HoustonThe upside of having a match in Houston was that we got to visit my sister and our nephews. We don’t see them as often as we would like usually but this summer we saw them three times (two times in Houston and once at the family reunion). While visiting them we got to go to the Lacrosse All Star Game and go with the boys when they got to meet their teachers for the new school year. The next several months will go by fast hopefully when we get to see them again at Thanksgiving!

 

Stephanie Went to Vegas for Work

vegasMy current company has an annual conference that we host and this year it was in Las Vegas. It was five days of lots of work but also lots of fun networking and getting to know so many new people at my company and with some of our partners. Originally Andy was planning on coming with but we will just have to hope that the conference is in Vegas another year for him to join me out there. Luckily he doesn’t enjoy gambling really so even with kids in tow (hopefully in the near future) he will still be able to enjoy the pool and walk the strip taking pictures.

 

 

 

 

Andy Worked on some New Projects

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In addition to a couple Lacrosse tournaments this summer Andy also shot a summer camp for children with disabilities and custom photos for a landscape company in the area. He has a couple other potential projects coming up soon too that will be great to keep him busy. Plus, Lacrosse fall league will give him lots of teams to shoot again and have full weekends running around to the games.

 

In Addition

We also had fun celebrating with local friends and family for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and my birthday. Spending time with friends and meeting new additions to their family has been great too. It is exciting that so many of our friends are growing their families and hopefully we will soon too so that we will have kids of similar ages to grow up together.

 

Failure to launch….

Many of you have been following us on our Facebook Adoption page, and thus you know what all happened during the last few weeks to us. But we’ve kept the information to a minimum and gave just the basic information. Frankly, I won’t be going into the deepest information here, but I wanted to address some of the basics and how Stephanie and I are getting through it all.

Leading up to August 20th, the birth day, we were in contact with our Expectant mom (EM), and had good conversations after meeting her in person, as well as her children, and her boyfriend (the father).  We felt close to her, we worried about her health, and her well-being, and did what we could to help her and her family. Stephanie and I have never struggled like our EM has/was/is, and seeing it first hand, was tough for me. Eye opening for sure, which for me made it much easier to lend a helping hand. The hardest thing for me to see was the children struggling. She has her hands full with very little support.

One hurdle during all of this was her lifestyle of only focusing on one moment at a time. She doesn’t look at the future, she looks at today. Whether that is society or personal, it was hard for Stephanie and I to deal with. Stephanie is a planner to the T; by default, I have become more structured, and scheduled. We know what is happening and when. There were times when she needed things from us, and waited until it was last second, which put tremendous pressure on us to deliver and made it more difficult to help since our options at the last minute were limited.

As we neared the arrival date, we started hearing less and less from her. We didn’t see that sign, and chalked it up to her getting things ready for her other kids to be settled while she delivers. We texted Wednesday night that we’d see her in the morning at the hospital… and then nothing.

At 5am Thursday, Stephanie and I arrived at the hospital we were told she would be delivering at (from her, and the paperwork filed with the agency) but she was not registered. We were literally the only two people at the hospital who weren’t patients/staff, with no understanding of what to do.  By 7am,  we were driving back to Stephanie’s sister’s house to gather our thoughts. While I drove, we stared at each other not believing what was going on. Totally unsure what to even say to one another. The phone rings. It’s Stephanie’s mom. It was 2 hours after the “birth” and she was looking for some good news update. There was none. I filled her in that we were heading back to the house (Stephanie was not in a good place to talk to her mom, which I get, because I didn’t talk to my mom on the phone for 2 days, I couldn’t get through that conversation, so I texted).

That day all we heard was that they couldn’t find her or get in touch with her. The agency was trying to figure out what happened, but when the EM doesn’t answer, it’s kind of hard to do that. We all waited to hear something, anything from her. Friday and Saturday went by with no contact, and it became apparent that this was just not going to happen. That child, whether born or not, was not ours, she wasn’t going to be Zoe. We spent Friday and Saturday recovering with family, and that was a great distraction. Saturday afternoon, we announced to everyone that if we hadn’t heard anything by the end of that evening then we were getting up early Sunday and driving home. There was nothing we could do there.

Sunday’s drive allowed us to really delve into the situation as a couple. To hash things out. We realized that our EM was never a good communicator and looking back signs were there, but we never saw this coming. We thought she cared about us, like we did for her. She was always thanking us for whatever help we gave and said she cared about us and was so happy to have matched with us. Was it real and she just changed her mind with the adoption? We’ll never know. That is what we don’t understand. I think what hurts the most is she just didn’t tell us how she was feeling. All we needed was a “I can’t do this, I want to move in a different direction etc”. Maybe she just couldn’t face saying it to us or the agency. It became apparent that we would never get answers to these questions. So what do you do?

You cut the rope. The silver lining in all of this was because of how things went down that weekend, it actually became pretty simple to move forward in our own different direction. We mourned the idea of Zoe Thursday, by end of day Friday I think we knew it wasn’t meant to be and by Saturday we were already talking about the aftermath what-ifs. Sunday was the start of recovery. We knew we needed to move on, sure we’d been through a terrible situation, and we acknowledge that, but we also know that the best thing we could do was get home, and get back on the waiting list. We didn’t want to put it off and potentially miss something that would turn out to be the right adoption plan for us.

So we are back live on our adoption website. We’re back to our lives, back to “normal”, pushing forward. We are both emotionally exhausted, but are slowly recovering. We’ll find our child someday. He/She is out there. We even decided that we would not let go of the name Zoe. To us, she was never born, we never met her, never held her. So, the name stands. Just like we do.

Andrew & Stephanie

Coping With the Wait

From the beginning of the adoption process we knew we would need to do things to help make the time go by while we were waiting to adopt. There are people that adopt fast (less than a couple months) and those that take years to adopt so we tried to prepare for any situation to lessen the amount of stress we might feel. As the wait continued on farther than either of us thought would happen (past 2 years) we found ourselves looking for other ways to keep busy and feel like we were still accomplishing goals in different areas of our life. Below is a list of some of the things we have been doing this year and hope to continue doing not only through the rest of our wait but after the wait is over too!

1. Started a daily list/note of something good that happened or that we are thankful for:

This list is not something that we post anywhere or for anyone specifically to read but it is a way to focus on something each day that makes us happy or that is going well in our lives. It can be something small such as having a great time watching a new movie or it can be something bigger like buying a new car that will come in handy once we adopt. Once we do finally adopt maybe I will take a top 10 or so from the list and put it in the baby book to show some of the great things that happened while we were waiting.

2. Take trips and have visitors:

We have taken multiple trips during the wait and this has helped us to stay busy and not feel like we are putting our lives on hold while waiting. This summer we already had one trip and have 2 more to still come this summer. The next one is for my family reunion in Pennsylvania and a short road trip leading up to the reunion. We are really looking forward to it though since we will get to see some friends and family on our way up the east coast as well as do some fun things like visit Biltmore Estate. The second trip is mostly work for me but it is hard to be in Vegas for work and not have fun too! Hopefully this will be our last party vacation before becoming parents.

3. Joined a church:

This is a more recent development but we have really enjoyed the church we found in our community. It is exactly what we were looking for and have already met some great people there that we love seeing every Sunday. We are hopefully going to become official members of the church later this month or early next month. The church back great memories for Andy when we first started attending of the church he grew up in and we love our pastor there.

4. Exercise:

Over the last several years we have both gotten a little out of shape and we decided that this was the year to turn that around. Not only are we getting in better shape to be healthy or keep up with an eventual toddler running around, we are also working out some of our frustrations. After a couple months of a few days a week working out we can both already tell a difference in our energy and how we feel. Another added bonus is that any weight we have put on from extra stress during the adoption wait is getting under control.

5. Allow ourselves to be upset and to talk about the feelings we are having:

Holding it all in and not talking about the wait and the struggles/frustrations just tends to make us even more upset and frustrated. We have really been leaning more on our support network of friends/family/adoption support group/counselor/etc. more in recent months but it has definitely helped to have such great support. Although we sometimes don’t talk to people about what is going on we always talk to each other and through this we both know that as a couple we are strong and that we can deal with so much.

6. Stay Busy:

Whether it is going outside and enjoying the warm weather in the pool, having dinner with friends, or going to different events around town we have always enjoyed staying busy. During the wait it has been even more important to stay busy and keep our minds thinking about other things besides the adoption. Surprisingly most of our summer is starting to get booked up with different things so if you want to try and get together we will find a way it just might take a couple different dates before we find one that will work for everyone :).

7. Work on projects for the house or baby room:

The house has a never ending list of projects that we want to get done and accomplish so whenever we have a little spare money we are finding different things we can work on there. On the other hand, the nursery is getting close to being completed. We are working on a couple small projects over the next couple weeks and then the room decorations and furniture will all be completed and ready for a baby to arrive!

8. Work Work and more Work:

It’s hard to stress about the wait if you are so busy working all week long. Plus both Andy and I love our jobs which makes the work not seem painful and like the weeks never end. I stressed over changing jobs during the middle of the wait and although it will mean that I won’t get as much time off post adoption as I was going to get before it means on a week by week basis I am happier.

9. Work on adoption networking:

No matter how much networking we do it still feels like there are other things we could try. We try to add new things every once in a while to see if something different might bring us closer to being parents. New ideas and things that we have either done recently or might be doing in the near future are: pass along cards, redo website, update pictures, work on our blog, take pictures for instagram, work on an adoption video, etc.

10. Go to support group:

Even if we have been to the topic before it helps to socialize with those going through the same thing and to validate that how we are feeling is totally normal. Having people to talk to that know the pain and heartache makes venting so much easier. You don’t feel like they might be judging you for having your thoughts and feelings and they can agree that they have been in the same place.

Recent Updates and Activities

So this month has been a little crazy and busy as I alluded to in one of our earlier posts. Keeping busy and accomplishing goals has helped make the adoption wait go by smoother even though we still have difficult days to get through here and there.

We had an awesome support group earlier in the month. The topic was infertility and adoption and although we did talk a lot about that topic the group in general just had a lot of great topics to talk about. We met several new couples that have recently started the process or the wait too which was great. I think this was our third time going to this specific topic at support group and it has never been the same. Andy and I love the conversation and support that we get by going to these meetings and even when we are not sure about the topic we always find that we were happy to have gone.

We also replaced my old Saturn car this month. I have had it since college and it lasted me well over the years but it was finally time to move onto something better. We got the new VW Golf Sportwagon Diesel and I love it (so does Andy but it is my primary car)! We got the hand controls put on without too much issue although a few of the places I called were annoying about not answering my questions and just asking me a bunch of stuff instead. We bought this car specifically since I am not into SUVs or vans and with our hope to be adopting sooner than later we wanted a vehicle with more storage for my chair, a stroller, a car seat, and everything else we need.  We will be going on a road trip this summer for my family reunion and we can’t wait to take the new car!

A had a girls night out at Eclipse for some delicious Tapas a week or so ago which was a blast and so much good food. They are all small plates at the restaurant so you can order multiple things (which is a good thing because you want to order everything off the menu). I stopped myself at 4 different plates and after stuffing myself and having some girl talk I was so happy to have the chance to hang out with the girls! We always have a blast together even if all we do is eat good food and talk. Now to figure out when to have the next one!

One of our things we wanted to work on this year was our health and while our diet is going well we decided to join a gym and get a trainer as well. Andy’s blood work a couple weeks ago showed that his levels are so much better in just the last 3 months and with adding in the gym they will hopefully be back to where they should be soon. I am already excited to be back in the pool swimming after almost a decade off, even if it is just swimming a few laps. My goal is to be able to swim a mile straight and build back up some of my strength (those nephews of ours are still growing and still insisting that they should be on my lap).

Another thing we ‘accomplished’ this month was finding a church. We have been talking about it for a while now and a couple weekends ago we had done our research and found a church to try. We love the church that we found and are excited to get up on Sunday mornings and go to service. Living in the south there are a lot of churches everywhere you turn however a majority of them are baptist or non-denominational and we were looking for a Lutheran church to attend. We both like the more traditional services and were lucky enough to find a church that holds both contemporary and traditional services.

Finally, Andy has had Lacrosse, Lacrosse, and more Lacrosse photos! He is staying so busy with his shooting schedule this spring that I am sure he is looking forward to the summer when things slow back down for him.

Letter to our future Child (second edition)

I think about you being here all of the time. The day we meet you is going to be the best day of my life. Yes, I did say the best day. Marrying your mother was a very close second, but waiting for you to arrive was/is much more difficult. I often wonder if you will be into sports, or music, and what your talents will be. Stephanie and I will allow you to explore your interests and support your goals in those areas.

As I spend my weekends on the Lacrosse fields snapping memories for other parents, I can’t help but visualize supporting you doing whatever you chose to do. I stand on the sidelines and watch kids get knocked down. I watch parents pick them up, and brush them off. I live for that moment. It makes me happy to see parents care so much, but let their kids do what they want to do. When/if you get knocked down, I will always be there to pick you up.

I’ll build LEGOs with you, lay on the floor and play with Hotwheels with you (I have massive collections of both of these things) that we’ll get to play with. Whether you are a boy or girl, I will be playing on the floor with you, playing with whatever  you want to play with. We have your first kitchen set waiting in your toy room for you. They were made in the 70s for your aunt Sara and I by your grandfather. They were passed down to cousins and family friends for decades. They will be yours.

I cannot wait to meet you. We have so many things we want to do with you, places to show you, things to teach you.

Spring Visit to Houston 2015

Well I am a little behind on getting this blog out there but last week ended up being a little crazy… more on that in a later blog.

The weather kept us from watching the nephews play baseball and lacrosse over the weekend (which had been the main purpose of our trip this time) but we still ended up having a great time. We had fun eating some awesome food (mexican, bbq, burgers, etc.) now the diet has begun again. In addition to joining a gym a couple weeks ago we also signed up for a personal trainer last week to help keep us focused on our health goals and get us to where we both want to be.

My mom, sister, and I got to do a girls night out on Saturday with a dinner out and then a night of painting at a paint studio close by. I have gone several times already and have a blast and mom and I went just a couple weeks before this but we thought it would be a blast to do all of us together. We had looked for a painting we could take the boys to as they love art too but it just didn’t work out on this visit so it will have to be another time.

In addition to the delicious food over the weekend, the whole family went indoor sky diving! This was one of the craziest things we have done as a family I think and was not even aware that it was on the table for possible events until the last minute. The indoor sky diving place was called iFly and they were amazing. Since I am in a wheelchair we were unsure if they would be open to helping me in order to enjoy the experience with everyone. They ended up being so great though with the instructor helping me get into the wind tunnel and guiding me as needed. If you have an iFly in your city and have the desire to go I would suggest it as an awesome activity to do with friends/family. At the bottom are a couple links to the videos for both Andy and I in the tunnel…

 

We also were able to watch my younger nephew’s piano recital with just enough time to make it to the airport. Luckily, his piano teacher was able to move the schedule around so he was first to play otherwise we would have missed that as well. It was awesome and he is such a riot. He played two different songs on the piano and the second song he actually played twice. The first time he played it sitting and the second he played laying down on the bench… haha!

What a whirlwind vacation/weekend but such a great time was had by all of us!

Stephanie’s Flight

Andrew’s Flight

Letter to Our Future Child

Tomorrow we leave to go on a quick trip to visit your cousins. We are excited to see them and happy that we will be able to watch them play lacrosse and baseball this spring. We can’t wait to take you on trips to see them and play with them as you grow up. When we get to visit family we often think of you and how great it will be to have you with us one day for the trips.

We have been waiting for you to come into our lives for a while now. We hope that you get her soon but also know that you will get here as soon as you can so we can become a family. We can’t wait to love you, care for you, and watch you become your own unique person. We have never met and although you are not biologically related to us we already love you. We love the thought of feeding, cuddling, snuggling, and soothing you as an infant, playing, teaching, and acting goofy with you as you go from toddler to child, and watching you mature through the teen years into the adult you will become.

I often find my mind wondering if you will be a boy or girl or what you will look like: African American/Asian/Hispanic/Caucasian, blonde/brown/red/black hair, blue/green/brown/hazel eyes, tall/short, etc. Will you like sports and want to compete/watch them, will you be really into art and be creative, or will you be super smart and into learning about new things. There are so many unknowns as to who you are or will be and the not knowing makes the wait hard. We do know that we will love you with all our hearts and we will do anything we can to make sure you are taken care of and have everything you need to grow up into who you are.

While it will be one of the happiest days of our life, the day we meet you, we also know that it will be one of the saddest or hardest days of someone else’s life as well. The day we get to take you home and become your parents is also the day that your birth mom will be choosing us to be your parents. We can’t imagine doing something as difficult as she will do that day. Hopefully, having an open relationship/communication will allow for her to grieve when she needs to but also get comfort in still knowing you as you grow up.

We can’t wait to meet you and your birth family. We hope that there will be visits, letters, phone calls, and pictures to share between all of us. For you to get to know them and understand that family can be so different and include all of us because being family just means that you love someone unconditionally. No matter where life takes us or how much contact we have with your birth family we will always love them because without them we wouldn’t have you.

Looking forward to meeting you for the first time!

2 Years and Counting

Well today is day 1 in the third year of waiting, can I just say ugh. We went live with our agency on April 5th, 2013 which seems so long ago now. It has been hard to stomach that we have not adopted yet since our agency has a 80% adoption rate by the time you have been waiting 2 years. While Andy and I both still hope and feel like this is the year it is going to happen, this particular milestone to reach has been a little more difficult than the others. We are both so ready to be parents and the not knowing of when it will happen is getting harder. Both of us feel like if we knew the date that it would happen, even if that date was a year in the future, it would be easier knowing and not stressing about the wait so much.

Since knowing the date is not something we can know until it actually happens we are both making some changes in our lives. We are getting a couple doctor’s visits taken care of, looking into churches to attend, joining a gym (that has a pool in case I want to swim), looking at purchasing a new car, etc. It is also time to do some more projects around the house and we are looking forward to a few trips coming up over the next several months, including one this weekend to visit our nephews in Texas. We typically have very busy lives in general and we haven’t put anything off during the wait that we want to do, other than a couple really large trips (like Europe or a cruise). As the wait continues it is just finding other things we want to do before we have a child that will make travel or date nights more difficult.

Over the last week we did get the chance to have a date night and see the movie Home, which was hilarious and awesome. It has been a little while since our last date night just because of my changing jobs and Andy’s crazy schedule of photography in the spring. Also, we used Andy’s new smoker to do up some delicious ribs and have my parents over for dinner. They turned out great and next time we will try and improve upon them by cooking them even lower and slower. We finished up the week with a little Easter celebrating with the family. My mom and dad had us and my aunt’s family over for a ham dinner last night. It was delicious food and fun to catch up with the family a little bit.

I have been thinking one way to kick off the new year of waiting is to start a thankfulness/positives jar. Where every day we try and put in 1 thing positive that happened or 1 thing that we are thankful for that day. While we can then focus on the good things that are happening for us and around us we can hopefully stress less about the wait. Today I am thankful for everyone that has supported us so far in this adoption process. It is amazing to see over 1000 people on our Facebook page that have been following on our journey, the people we have met in support groups help to keep us sane when we feel like no one else can understand what we are going through, and our friends and family are anxious to see us as parents and look forward to updates no matter what the update is.

It’s all about the kids.

As many of you know I am a photographer. The direction I took my photography professionally, started out very personal. There I was wanting to get out and shoot something that nobody else is, and provide a way for people to see that subject differently. It all started with Wheelchair basketball. Over the last few years I have donated my time to a wheelchair organization called BlazeSports here in Atlanta. I have followed their tournaments and shot many of their big tournaments, and a local event they host every year (including track, field, swimming, etc). I provide the company with marketing materials to use in fundraising and recruiting.

Today, I shoot Boy and Girls Youth Lacrosse. While I have turned it into a money making opportunity, for me it is way more than that. Just like the Blaze deal is, it is all about the kids. What I do is allow parents to watch games, and not have to worry about taking pictures. I allow parents to support their kids during their sporting events so they can stay connected.

As I shoot each game, I see parents handling their kids with love, and the kids respecting them back. Sports does that for kids. It teaches them gamesmanship, respect, teamwork, skill, and hard work. It rewards you with wins. Some of the nicest family’s that I know are from Blaze and Lacrosse.

As we wait for our adoption, I watch parents with kids more and more under a microscope. What would I do in that situation? Did they handle that the same way I would want to? Is that kid having fun? I have seen these kids take nasty hits and not get up right away. I’m not going to lie, I get choked up watching it. But then I see his dad, or a coach come get him off the field and all is well in the world again. Just a hand to pick him up off the ground, brush him off and prepare him for his next adventure. That is parenting. That is being a kid. That is weekend sports. I cannot wait to see if our kids get involved in sports.