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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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.

April Fools Day

I must say that this year was surprisingly the easiest April Fool’s Day to get through since we started trying to have a family. Not a single friend or family member that I saw on Facebook posted a prank about a false pregnancy. Also, I saw multiple friends that posted something along the lines of how hurtful that type of post is to some people and you that people shouldn’t make jokes about it.

While I have never participated in an April Fool’s Day joke I do find most of them funny. Lately it has seemed like people are trying to do a joke though and are instead using some situation that can be a difficult topic for some people to deal with. It isn’t even just the pregnancy jokes that are hard to handle for those having difficulty starting or growing a family but jokes about life events that can be very emotional for people. There were a lot of people that hated the joke that Sam Smith tweeted about being straight since there are so many people that struggle with their sexuality, coming out, etc.

These jokes feel like the person that posts them doesn’t understand how difficult it can be for some people and the reminder of things that they have no control over. I feel like there are better ways to play a prank or joke on someone (or for all of facebook) without playing with topics such as divorce, sexuality, pregnancy, etc. So I just want to thank those that I am friends with on facebook for not pretending to be pregnant. I am not the only one struggling with infertility/adoption and while there are those that don’t feel upset over it there are many more that it hurts. On the other hand if you are pregnant I love to see the announcements! We just had a friend announce a few days ago and I was happy to see that they were expecting again.

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.

March 2015 Support Group – Red Flags/ Risks

Last week Andy and I attended the monthly support group for our adoption agency like we usually do. It was a fairly large group with a lot of new faces (at least to us). When we started going around the room introducing ourselves and where we were at in the adoption process we quickly realized that we were the longest waiting family in the room. There are plenty of people that have been waiting longer than us (some are good friends) and while we know there are many just starting out on their journey it was a little depressing to be the longest wait in the room. Only one other couple in the room was already live and the rest were working on paperwork or profiles.

We had also already attended a group session on this or a similar topic so we weren’t sure what new information we would be getting. We do love to go to support group though just to be around other people that know the pain and frustration that the process can bring. At this point of 2 years into the wait we have attended almost every topic session that the agency offers but we still go and meet new people and hopefully get some new perspective or information.

This month we had a checklist of different characteristics or background information that we might potentially be faced with in an expectant mom looking at placing her child for adoption. A majority of the risk factors seemed fairly straight forward to both of us though with a couple things that we hadn’t really thought too much about. For instance if she is due around the holidays, if she comes to the adoption center later in her pregnancy, or her age. While an expectant mom might have certain risk factors it doesn’t mean she still won’t place (if it is the right decision for her) but it does give us an idea of some things to think about if we see or hear any of the risks in a potential expectant mom we are talking to.

It was a pretty good night though and we got to meet a bunch of new people that are going through the adoption process so that is always fun. Maybe our next social gathering outside of group session will have a couple new faces!

Momma Drama…

This is Andy writing because I have to get something off my chest. Many of you know me, and I am a pretty emotional guy. I love everyone, talk to anyone, and support anything that they do, I let people in.

This past month, almost to the day, has been a whirl-wind of emotions. On Jan 9th, we received an email from a expecting mom that wanted to talk to us about adopting her child when it arrives. I was the lead on this communication, as I am more social and talkative than Stephanie is online, but also more available. Stephanie has been busy with work, I am more or less waiting for my photography shooting season to start.

Right away we felt comfortable with this young lady, and talking came easy. We chatted over FB Messenger and once a week or so would even Skype. We talked about all sorts of things, from work, to travel, and of course about the baby coming.

The stories she would tell were very high drama, and Stephanie and I had questions about it all. Nothing was a complete deal breaker really, but just head scratching…as in she’s too young to have really gone through that much. I wont get into detail on those.

As the month went on we talked and talked, and last week, Stephanie and I decided that we should start thinking about getting her to talk to our agency and get proof of pregnancy (something that the agency will want first anyways). We talked to her about it, and she said she was having printer issues. Everyone has printer issues, but why do you need a printer? A picture or an official email would have worked. (it never came)

There were a lot inconsistencies and this was kind of the final one for us. Things just didn’t add up and the timeline seemed to be shifting or changing about certain events she talked about. Also, there were several high drama things that she was talking about that just seemed like it was too much.

Stephanie and I knew from the start of our journey that a financial or emotional scammer was possible, and we were educated on spotting them and dealing with them. We treated this as suspect from day one, to protect ourselves really, but of course we always hoped this was real. It was not.

On Wednesday, I noticed that she had un-friended me on FB. Interesting, we had not had a bad conversation yet so it was out of the blue. But then it got interesting. I was contacted by a member of an adoption forum that was “friends” with the expecting mom and noticed that we were talking to her on FB as well.

She went on to tell me that our expectant mom was in fact not expecting at all and that she and her husband had been in contact with her as well. They started hearing the inconsistencies and rather than seeing how it unfolded they started doing an investigation into her. She found out that everything we (and they) were told was a complete lie. She had multiple facebook pages and had weaved an impressive lie to try and scam unsuspecting waiting adoptive parents.

I just really wanted to get all this drama off my chest. While we knew it might turn out this way, it was very hard for me to deal with right away because I really let this person into our lives. We included her. We worried and thought about her.

I am glad that both Stephanie and I talked our way through this like it was a dream, because it ended up that way. She and I knew that the expectant mom might be playing with us, and for that I am glad that we could detach from it. I am thankful that the IAC trained us to see these things for what they are, a possibility.

People are mean, vengeful, and sick. I feel bad for her, she is missing something deep, and needs help. She never asked us for anything, not once, but apparently has with others. We are one of at least three couples she has been doing this to. One of the other couples is where we got the real scoop. That waiting mom was just like me, hopeful, and is also hoping for a child someday, and thankfully did some hard research and uncovered the truth.

The truth about lies.

Choices

Everyone has choices in life. Every day we are faced with choices on what we will do that day and although there are consequences to certain choices we still get to make those choices. You can choose to go to college, be happy, make good grades, smoke a cigarette, learn an instrument, go to work, find a new job, etc. as long as you are willing to put in the effort to accomplish those goals/dreams. We definitely have a choice in if we will have a family or not. Andy and I have made the choice from the beginning of our relationship, that we wanted to have a family and that it was important to both of us no matter how those children enter our family.

Although it is taking us longer to realize our dream of being parents, we are still fully invested in one day being parents. Now that we are waiting to adopt (and have been for almost two years) our only choice really is to continue the adoption process and wait, or to stop and not become parents through adoption. Neither of us is close to being at our stopping point for the adoption rollercoaster, so we wait for someone else to make a choice that will include us. We cannot imagine not having a family, and we are willing to put in the time and effort to have one. Also, we know someone out there will choose us and will want us to be parents.

During the waiting you come to realize that you are now waiting for a choice to be made by someone to say I choose them. I choose them to be the parents to my child because I cannot give them what they will need or what I think that they should have as they grow up. It is humbling to think that there is someone out there that will one day say if it can’t be me that raises my child then these people are who I want to raise him/her.

There are lots of adoption sayings out there saying “I am chosen”, in reference to a child that has been placed for adoption, when the child is actually being chosen twice. The birth family chooses to love the child so much that they want a different life that they cannot give them. Then, the adoptive family chooses to make the child a part of their family forever.

In open adoption it is not about one choice but many choices by several people that will one day make us a family. We look forward to having a child and we also look forward to knowing the birth mother and making her part of the family as well. We know that with open adoption the amount of contact might not be a lot (depending on the birth mother and us) but we hope that we can all be part of each other’s lives even if it is just through emails or calls.

Support Group January

This month’s support group meeting was on talking to your child about adoption, basically what information to share and what age to share the information by. It was a great meeting and had a lot of good discussion and comments by everyone that came. It was awesome to not only hear the ages we should be telling specific information but to also hear from other people the ways or things that they have thought about bringing up or talking about specific topics.

Since we started this process we knew that adoption should always be a part of our child’s language. Incorporating information about their adoption story even before they can understand what it means so that they have a positive view of adoption is important. Just because a 2 year old doesn’t understand what adoption or a birth mother means they should associate that we as parents are ok talking about it and what them to talk about when they have questions.

Having an open adoption will hopefully mean that we have more information about their adoption story (why they were placed for adoption, who their birth mom and dad are, history about their birth family, etc.). This information will be helpful as our child grows and has questions about their adoption. We also hope to have contact with the birth mom/dad so that they can see us interact with them and vice versa in order to know they are a part of our family or to be able to answer questions about who they were/are and why they decided to place for adoption.

Throughout all ages we want to make sure to use positive adoption language (I have talked about this before a little bit) and make sure that our child knows they can talk to us about any questions they have. Even if we don’t have the answers to their questions we want to be able to have them know they have as much information as we have and that we are not hiding things from them. The earlier they associate adoption as not being a negative and know that we are comfortable talking about it, the easier it will be as they get older to come to us when they are struggling with who they are as a person.

We also want to make sure that our child feels empowered to share their story as they want to share it. If there is a part of their history that they don’t want to share with friends/family then they should have the right to keep it within our family. Giving them the power over their story helps to give them confidence in who they are.

There are a couple more articles of information that we didn’t get to go over in the meeting and I am looking forward to being able to sit down and read them this weekend. In addition there were some great ideas that we want to consider looking into doing for the future. Things such as a family tree that includes a birth and adoptive family section, an adoption story book that is specific to their story, put up pictures of the birth parents in their room (we already have a frame just need a picture), and regular children’s books that focus on adoption stories are all going to be helpful to us in explaining adoption.

New Year’s Resolutions

Well it’s a new year which for most people means new resolutions to try and accomplish. For us our resolution hasn’t changed: Become parents. We are hopeful that this is the year someone will choose us for their child. While the holidays are hard to deal with when you want to be parents and aren’t yet, they also remind us of all the things we want to do when we are and the memories we want to make. The New Year Eve/Day holiday brings with it a new beginning as well so it’s one holiday that is easy to jump on board with while waiting to adopt.

Although I have never made resolutions in the past for new year, I have to lose for my goal weight thought about what I want to accomplish this year. Doing this will hopefully help keep my mind off of the wait and enjoy all the wonderful things we do have in our lives.

Health

Last June I decided I needed to start losing some weight because I wasn’t happy with my appearance any longer. Even though I did well, I still have a few more pounds to lose for my goal weight and I hope to be there by March. In addition to the weight Andy and I are both resolving to workout more. For me it is to build up more muscle and for him to lose weight and get healthier. By the time a baby does come into our lives we will hopefully both be healthier and happier with ourselves.

Travel

Another resolution I have is to take a couple trips. We have already started planning two: Vegas (woohoo) and a road trip on our way to a family reunion. Other thoughts are to go camping, a quick beach getaway, and go to a cabin in the mountains. They would all be shorter and a stand in for the trip we really want to take, 2 weeks in London and Paris, but are things we love to do and would be exciting to us too! In addition we have a couple planned visitors this year, more are always welcomed.

Adoption Support

Plan more get togethers with our friends we have made through adoption. Last year we did a girls night painting and a night out at a sports bar for dinner and drinks. We also plan on continuing to go to the monthly support groups and agency gatherings. Hopefully this year we can do at least one get together every quarter. The people we have met are all wonderful and we know that they understand all of the crazy things the adoption journey has brought us already and what is still in store ahead.

House

Finally, I want to work on some home projects that will be more difficult to handle when we are parents. We have chairs I want to build, a cabinet to refinish, shelves to build, yard work (fire pit!), and random little things. Over the last couple years we have done a couple big projects and some smaller ones for the baby room, so hopefully I am not being too ambitious.

All of this is of course in addition to my work and Andy’s crazy photography schedule on weekends. This year is looking like it could be great for us and it hopefully will be. Wishing for luck in this new year for all those trying to be parents!