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.

 

April Group Session

This month we attended the group session again and learned a lot of information on how the hospital agreement could look and the things to think about. It was great to hear about more of the process once you are ready to match and get some experience going through the type of questions so that we can prepare ourselves.

For the most part the questions are fairly straight forward and are things you would expect on the agreement but then others were things that make sense only in hindsight. Although we can have ideas and preferences for what we want to happen at the hospital for the most part this plan comes from the birth parents and their wishes. For instance, if the birth mother wants to see us or the baby at the hospital or when she wants us to arrive at the hospital once labor has started.

Also, the hospital agreement is more of a plan than a must follow document. So even though one thing is written during the match meeting it could change before delivery or even at the hospital itself. Being able to adjust and be flexible will come in handy during the hospital stay, however that is not something that I am usually great with as I like plans.

After we discussed the hospital agreement we also discussed some of the things we might face at the hospital and how we should deal with them. It will be hard in the moment to think about some of the things so going over them now when we aren’t already running around a little crazy with emotions is helpful. Andy and I hope that we don’t happen to be at a hospital that isn’t familiar with adoptions and how to proceed but we have to put faith in the counselors at the IAC helping us through any hurdles we might face.

 

Group Meeting March – The Match Meeting

So I have fallen behind on updating the blog on our group meeting from last month. Especially since tonight is this month’s group meeting. It was a great meeting last month and had a lot of useful information for us to know what to expect in the match meeting for an adoption through our agency. (We hope to be experiencing this soon :))

We walked through all the questions on the agency form for the type and amount of contact that will take place between the adoptive parents and the birth parents. It is a very detailed form with pretty much any question you can think of on the ways to communicate today. Since the match agreement is legally binding in the state of Georgia it is great to know that it is very specific so that everyone knows what to expect out of the relationship that will bind everyone together.

This topic also bought up questions for some of us on how to handle contact questions after the placement has taken place. For example, some birth parents might fall out of contact for periods of time while others might be looking to revise the match agreement to get more contact. Andy and I are fairly confident in open adoption and we look forward to the contact that will hopefully be a part of our child’s life. We want them to know where they come from not just the family that they grow up in.

There are a lot of open questions that we know won’t be answered until we are actually matched with birth parents and even still there might be questions after placement but we love that our agency is there to support and help everyone through those questions/concerns no matter when they happen. In addition to the discussion during the meeting it was great to catch up with some of the other people in the group that we have gotten to know through the sessions and see what they have been up to. We look forward to seeing some of them again tonight.

Open Adoption Relationships

Andy and I have met some great people through our agency and even got to meet birth parents and adoptive parents that have already been through the match, placement, and the beyond. It seems like the people we have met are the best case scenario and we could only hope for a birth mother like those we have met to be who chooses us in the future.

Since we haven’t had to go through it yet we wonder what the match meeting will be like and if we will have to negotiate what we want/need in forms of contact or if everyone will already be in agreement as to what they want. It can seem kind of scary to invite a stranger into your life for the rest of your and their life but at the same time we hope that our birth mother wants to be somewhat involved with the family and not just want pictures and emails.

We have heard that over time the amount of contact we have from the birth mother will likely become less frequent as their lives go a different direction. While you can understand how as people change as they get older and will hopefully have lives of their own to keep them busy (different jobs, school, marriage, other children, etc.), as the child who was adopted gets older I hope for their sake they have contact with their birth mom still to be able to ask questions about their heritage.

In the one call we had with a potential birth mother the amount of contact she wanted seemed a little scary to us just because she lived so far away and wanted contact on specific dates of the year when typically we aren’t always home but with our respective families instead. If she had been a local birth mom though I think Andy and I would have been happy to have that much contact and would figure out what that would have meant.

Open Adoption Positives

Through the open adoption process that we are going through there are many pieces to the puzzle. One of those is the open adoption agreement that we will complete at the match meeting. There are only a handful of states currently that hold this agreement as legally binding though and Georgia is now one of them. The great thing about the agreement is that it talks about what kind of contact the birth parents and adoptive parents are going to have after placement of the child. It can be things such as how often visitation will occur, if there will be phone/skype calls with the child as they get older, or letters/emails to give updates and pictures of the child. Although it is legally binding, it is only binding from the adoptive parent’s side (i.e. what they agree to they have to at least offer that much contact to the birth parents) but the birth parents can decide to have less contact if they wish.

The importance of the open communication and contact between both parties is for the best of everyone involved in the adoption. There are so many positives that come out of open adoption that it makes me happy we have decided to do open adoption. Each situation is different and even if we start with an open adoption with contact at first it could end up being that the birth parents choose to not have contact and we will have to accept that but we will at least be able to get information at the beginning no matter how the relationship continues. Below are some of the positive things that come out of open adoption:

The child being adopted:

–          They have more self confidence in knowing who they are by knowing where they came from and the history of their birth family. Whether the child is a different race/culture from the adoptive parents or not they typically have this desire to know more about who their birth family is to see if they would have been a different person if they were not adopted.

–          There doesn’t have to be a struggle with how to tell their adoptive parents they want to find their birth parents since they already know them. In a closed adoption some adoptive children feel like they would hurt their parent’s feelings by telling them they want to search for their birth parents thinking they might believe they are not happy with them as parents.

–          The sense of abandonment is less because they can find out why they were given up for adoption directly from the birth parents and know that the  choice was so that they could have a different life than what the birth parents could provide at the time.

The adoptive family:

–          Access to medical history of the child they are adopting can be beneficial in case there are any health issues or even if there aren’t any when they are children it is good to know that history to have any preventative screening for genetic conditions they could potentially have.

–          Feeling more secure, knowing the birth parents directly allows them to feel more assured that they aren’t going to change their minds and try to reclaim the child they placed for adoption.

The birth family:

–          There can be updates and visits to see how the child is growing and that they are happy and healthy in their home. This can reduce the guilt they might have over giving up the child and not knowing what happened to them.

–          They get to select who the adoptive parents will be for their child and find someone that they can relate to or that they think will raise their child they way they would. They have found a lot of birth parents will look for adoptive parents who have similar interests or similar history to them so that they can be raised similar to how they would raise them if they could.

–          Guilt is lessened as well because they don’t think about the adoption as ‘abandoning’ their baby but making a choice for them to have a life that they can’t provide and taking an active role in choosing that life.

Andy and I hope that knowing all of the things that can be gained by an open adoption that we have a birth parent who is interested in staying in contact after the placement as not all birth mothers are. We know though that whatever type of communication we have with the birth parents we will make the most of it and make sure we can tell our child as much information as possible when they ask questions.

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.