Stressful May – Both Fun and Emotional

Well May is officially over and another month of the year has gone by. It is amazing how fast this year has already flown by and it seems like the rest of the year is going to be the same way. This month was a little crazy and a lot stressful just with the wait taking so long and some of the things going on throughout the month.

May started with having our annual home visit for the home study renewal and finalizing all the paperwork needed to get everything done in time for the update. We ended up having some problems with some of the paperwork going missing and then some of the tests that we had done needed redone by the doctor’s office. Needless to say we are happy that we have another year until we have to think about home study updates.

During the home study update it brought back a conversation of reviewing any contacts that we have in the last year and unfortunately that meant going over some of the emotional and financial scams that we have had. While doing more networking and putting our profiles out on other profile sites work for some to bring home a child faster it also opens you up to more scams usually. We decided that we were done with the other profile sites and that we would look at other options for networking instead.

Deciding what we are willing to spend money on for networking at this point in the adoption and other options that we are starting to look into on if they are even possible. We started researching doing a video of us to post on social media and YouTube so that it can be shared and help spread the word about our hopes to adopt. Also, we designed a pass along card that we can send to friends/family and have them hand out to anyone that might know someone looking to place a child a for adoption. Once we figure out what we are going to do and if we need help from our friends we will definitely let you all know! Everyone has been so supportive of us so far and we feel truly blessed with the support we have gotten.

Every year Mother’s day is hard to deal with while waiting to adopt for me and this year wasn’t any different even though there were lots of activities planned for the weekend. I had a great time spending Mother’s day with my mom and a friend going to the Fox Theater for Pippin. The show was amazing as usual and it was fun to have a girls afternoon out. In addition that weekend we also had our adoption agency annual picnic, lacrosse games for Andy’s business, and a friend’s house warming party to go to.

We have a few projects around the house that started up in the month of May too. We are in the process of getting a new roof for the house (if it would just stop raining one of these days), quotes for mulching the backyard, pricing out painting the house, and then a couple smaller inside projects too. We did get a bunch of artwork framed that we have been collecting for several years and just need to hang them all on the walls now. Look for a separate post about some of our house projects during the wait later this summer to see just how busy we have kept.

Finally there were some outings/dinners with friends throughout the month that we had a blast at. Staying busy now has been our saving grace to keep from stressing too much over the wait. Check out a couple pictures from the last month!

New painting that I did that we are hanging up in the nursery.

New painting that I did that we are hanging up in the nursery.

What a fabulous crawfish fest as per usual every year!

What a fabulous crawfish fest as per usual every year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging out between games at the Lacrosse fields.

Hanging out between games at the Lacrosse fields.

I finished planting all of my different planters for the porch.

I finished planting all of my different planters for the porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy working hard shooting lacrosse games.

Andy working hard shooting lacrosse games.

Andy meeting our friends new daughter for the first time!

Andy meeting our friends new daughter for the first time!

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So what is it like to be a man during/in the adoption process?

In two words…shockingly difficult.

 The beginning…

Our adoption story started when I was 36 years old. That was the age that the adoption paper work began. However, for me, I wanted to be a dad in my late 20s, early 30s. I was ready. Maybe not professionally, or financially, but I wanted children long ago, only Stephanie was missing. Maybe it was babysitting neighborhood kids, maybe it was having so many cousins, I can’t put my finger on the moment it happened, but I have known I wanted to be a dad for a long time.

I realize growing up in Michigan, and then moving to Georgia during prime marriage/kid years and starting over took some wind out of that sail. But it was that move that set me on the path I needed to be on. It set me on a career path that would define me. It sent me down the path that lead me to marrying Stephanie, and ultimately where we are today. It was the right path.

Sure when I met Stephanie I immediately had questions about our ability to have children together, but we were told we had a good chance. We tried and tried. Nothing. This is where things got really tough…even for me, the man. Over there, she was now struggling on the fertility drugs, the testing, and the ups and downs of hormones coursing through her body. She had it rough, but it bothered us both a lot.

Because of the hormones she was hair-triggered sometimes, stressed beyond my calming etc., and I could do nothing to settle her nerves. Damn drugs. I struggled silently with ups and downs of her moods, and her false positives when she took pregnancy tests. We had a bunch of those, and I found out years later during the adoption process, she stopped telling me because she knew it killed us both a little each time. Knowing what I know now, I wish she would have just told me, it was only fair we face the negatives together.

Line in the sand…

We drew a line in the sand during all of the trying, for a place to just say enough is enough, and move on to something different. As the months drew on from fertility drugs, we began to talk more about adoption, and started researching agencies and collecting information. We reached the line.

It was really hard to “give up” on trying to have children of our own flesh and blood…but we’d talked about that possibility for a long time and there was nothing we could really do about it now.

I suppose I had a hard time mentally giving up the idea. I am the only son of my father, he too the only son. Without a blood son, my family name would end. But that is just emotions talking…and it’s stupid. Any son I have will have my name, blood or not. It became less and less important.

 Wheels start turning…

We jumped into open adoption and hit the ground running. You can read about all of that in past posts. Adoption was a simple choice; there are kids out there that need homes and moms sometimes want to know where and who their birth children are in the future…of course, why not? It was a simple choice and we’ve learned so much along the way.

The paperwork is crazy. The hoops are insane. Adoption is hard. But it’s not as hard as the fertility drugs where. Papers get turned in, and you get in “line” and you wait. Ahh the wait. For some people, it’s a month, for some year after year of nothing. In open adoption, we just don’t know when the checkered flag will wave. We are currently at 19 months.

To tell you that waiting 19 months for ANYTHING is easy, I’d be lying. I am a terrible waiter. I want, I want, I want…and I want it now. After all, most of our checks have been cashed; only after we match will we write even more checks. What does the wait feel like? You know those claws at the carnival where you try to get the amazing prize out of a glass box, and you get candy instead… well at least there is candy in that box.

So what does a man’s mind go through during adoption? Where do I start? Of course I think; when will this happen? Why has it NOT happened yet? What is wrong with us? Is it me that is holding us back? Is she really ok? How is she handling this? Did she just yell at me because I am an ass, or because she’s upset it has been 19 months?

Those questions can drive a man or anyone insane. I think about adoption daily. I think about being a dad pretty much everyday. Over the last two years, I started to shoot a lot of youth sports with kids, and I absolutely love it. It’s my calling. What is better than using photography with kids AND sports. It’s a win-win-win deal for me. Watching kids play basketball or Lacrosse competitively hits me in the heart every time I get to do it. I don’t know if it’s watching the kids, or watching the parents watch the kids that get me, but I am a softy…I have sobbed on the sidelines. I have the images of those exact moments etched in my brain, and my hard drive.

Right in the chest…

Facebook is amazing. It is also soul crushing. On one hand, Facebook is how you are reading this. It is how we spread the word fast, and easy, and keep people informed. But it is soul crushing. Everyday I read about friends and family having babies. Being in photographer groups that are full of baby pictures does not help either. It is not so hard to deal with now, but in the beginning it was brutal.

How brutal? In the time that we have been working on adoption, some friends and family have had SEVERAL children. Soul crushing. It is just THAT hard for me. Honestly, I love all of you parents out there, because that is what I want to be. I envy you, I am jealous of you. I wont say I don’t throw my phone down, and walk away from your post about your second or third, I do, but I am happy for you, and it is my WANT to feel that way more than anything in the world.

I am interested in seeing how I am as a dad. I have always wondered how I would stack up. Will I be the best dad ever? No, clearly not. I don’t have the attention span or patience for that, but I will be the best dad I am capable of. I learned parenthood from my parents, and they raised me pretty well. Combined with Stephanie and her mad skills, our children will have a great home to grow up in.

So I sit here typing, pouring out my soul, letting you in, because it is easy, I love to talk. People tell me I could/should write a book about the adoption process…but it would not be that interesting. It would have 18 chapters of waiting. It is brutal.

Thanks to all who support us, it helps immensely.

-Andy

More Paperwork

So as the year is starting to wind down and our schedules are starting to wind up with things for the holidays with friends and family it is also the time of year when we need to do more paperwork for the adoption. A decent portion of the paperwork needed for our home study needs to be renewed every year to keep our profile active. Now that we know what paperwork is needed it will hopefully not be so daunting of a task.

I remember going through the list last year at first and thinking it was going to take forever to fill everything out for the home study to be complete. Now though I am looking at the list of 10 or so documents that need to be done and I am thinking oh well that will be easy I can get all that done in a week no big deal. Although, it does help that the biography and question forms are not needed again because I think those two things took longer than most of our other paperwork and the rest was just finding the time in our schedule to get them done.

The one part that we can’t speed up no matter how hard we try is the FBI fingerprints that need to be completed. For that one item it can take up to 12 weeks to process them. Last year I think it took closer to 8 weeks only and I am really hoping that it is that fast again this year but you never know really.

Here’s hoping for a quick review/processing of some of the documents!

Birthmother Letters Shipped

Our letters are printed and being shipped tonight to us! A full 4 business days sooner than they thought they would get in the mail which is awesome! By this time next week we should have them and be ready to go active! It will be nice to start out a new month with an active profile. Plus when we go to group session in two weeks we will have some news to tell everyone that we are officially on the waiting list!

Approved Letter – Finally!

Well it is officially approved and we have submitted the proof approval to the printing company. I am getting so excited to get the letters in the mail so we are active and can hopefully start finding a match for our future son or daughter.

After ordering them today it says that the latest we will have the printed letters is April 8th, 2013 but I really hope that we get them sooner than that because even those 2 or 3 weeks seems like so much wasted time. The letter approval process took a lot longer than I would have thought at the beginning and what makes it even more shocking is that we didn’t have as many revisions as most people end up needing.

Our friends that are going through the same process are having a lot more frustrations around getting everything approved. We started the birthmother letter process around the same time and at this point we are printing and they are only now getting ready to submit the soft copy for full approval. I think it will probably take them another 3 weeks to be at the same place as us. It is a shame because I know they are really excited to get active as well and their main problem has been around photographs for the letter.

Now that I got to hit print it seems almost anti-climactic though since there is still a couple weeks time between this and when we will have them in our hands.

Hard Copy of Birthmother Letter

Finally got everything straightened out with the proof and we will have a new one in the mail today and hopefully get it tomorrow. If we can get it tomorrow then we can drop it off and hopefully have the approval by Friday this week to start the ordering process.

Found out that they don’t do a hard proof after the first one unless you call and request. It would have been nice to know that though last week or we wouldn’t have missed all weekend on waiting for the proof. The one upside is that my mom was able to read through the soft copy proof online this past weekend and she found a small typo. While I am sure that it would be missed by most people and would not be a big deal I really don’t want any typos if someone has seen it.

That meant fixing the layout over the weekend and then getting the new proof ordered. If this proof has an issue though I might go a little insane because I am ready to be finished with this part of the process and active in their system. I am anxious, nervous, and excited all at once for that time when we can be searched for online.

All About Us – Birthmother Letter

Well today is mainly just going to be a quick update on how everything is going in the process. We finally got the information back on our layout for the birthmother letter. While the changes were small and easy to do, we finished them tonight, we are both a little annoyed that some of these text changes had not been brought up earlier in this process.

From here we are really hoping to get a fast answer that we changed everything that was needed and it is now approved for us to start the printing process. Since we have an approved home study, waiting on this to be completed is annoying because if it was already complete we could already be waiting for contact from a birth family.

I know in some ways I should be happy that it is taking a few extra weeks to get through everything because I was so worried about the money being there when we got the call about adoption but at this point I am just ready to be a mom and let my money worries be gone.

Home Study Approval!

We have an approved home study! Glad that part is done for the next year at least. I am not looking forward to keeping all those forms updated if the adoption takes longer than we hope but in the end a little paperwork is a minor thing to deal with for an end result of a little baby boy or girl.

I was a little shocked that we got it back as approved as fast as we did since it was supposed to take up to 6 weeks after the home visit and it has only been about 3 at this point. It is only good news though that it is approved early so I am definitely not going to complain about how fast they went.

Now I am kicking myself for not finishing the text on the birthmother letter sooner than I had. I had written almost all of it and gotten pictures gathered by the end of December and then I left the last section that needed written for another couple weeks for some reason. If I hadn’t we might actually have finished with that step by now too, but all well it will be done soon enough!

Home studyI need to get a better picture of this at some point to display since this one is kind of blurry…

Workshop and Paperwork

So with the holidays coming up we have been a little busy with all of our friends and family commitments. This year though in addition to the craziness that comes we have also been busy with the start of the adoption process. We completed the weekend intensive about a week ago and since have been working on filling out as much paperwork as possible. It seems like there is a never ending list of documents and papers to sign and get filled out by different people.

The longest time commitment though is the fingerprints that we had to get done. The state of Georgia requires both GBI and FBI fingerprints to be run, however, the FBI fingerprints could take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to get the results back from. Needless to say that is one of the first documents we got sent off as soon as we got the paperwork last month.

In addition to all the registries and databases that we had to have checked for our information we also have personal information to get completed including full medical histories, questionnaires, biographies, letters of recommendation, etc. to get filled out and it seems like we both are going to be writing a lot in the coming weeks.

Although we know the reasons for all the background and checks that need to be completed it can also at times be annoying at the extent the paperwork seems to go. I have included a list below of the documents the state of Georgia requires for a home study completion currently, some of them just seem so strange as to how they ended up on the list but I know that we will finish the list soon and be ready for an adoption.

  • 911 Call Report for all addresses we have been at in the last 5 years
  • Adoption Home Study Autobiography for each adoptive parent
  • Adoption Home Study Questionnaire
  • Birth Certificate
  • Child Abuse registry
  • FBI Clearance
  • Foster Parent Child Safety Agreement
  • GBI Clearance
  • Health History Form
  • Gun Safety Form
  • HIPPA Form
  • Letters of Recommendation (4)
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Insurance Information
  • Monthly Income/Expenses
  • Physical Exams
  • Sex Offender Registry
  • Verification of Employment
  • Septic tank inspection