Entries from June 2009 ↓

and we’re back!

whew.  after a rollercoaster ride of emotions all weekend, we’re back home, safe and sound.   on our second San Antonio day, we met 7 people who had worked with our agency in one capacity or another.  Most were birthmothers, but there was also a birth grandmother, a birth father and an adoptive parent and her baby.  As they each told their stories with heart-rending honesty, I think we all gained a deeper understanding of the emotions that birthparents go through–and not just in the few days after their baby is born, but for a very long time afterwards (probably forever, but no one on the panel had had their baby more than 3 years ago).  Some of their stories were absolutely incredible.

We shared lunch with them (yum, brisket!) and after lunch, they went home and we stayed to listen to some discussions of legal stuff, money stuff, and then did some role-playing.  just for fun, there was a crossword “contest” with some of the legal terms and, J and I being eldest siblings and therefore competitive, we won!  our prize was a package of onesies and my first reaction was, “great!  now i’ve got a shower gift for the next baby shower and don’t have to go shopping!”  and my second reaction was, “oh wait.  these are for our baby.”  wow.  it has been a long a bumpy road and i know the bumps aren’t over yet, but at least i believe that we are now on the right road and we will get there.  sometime.

we ended the day with dinner at the Alamo Cafe where the agency staff plied us with margaritas (even I drank one!), Mexican food, fresh tortillas and bowls of queso.  Then it was back to the hotel for some late-night chatting with our new friends and then hugs and goodbyes.  Who knows when/if we’ll ever meet again in person?  And when we do… will we all have kids in tow?

For now, it’s back to real life and one more big push of paperwork.

day 1–orientation weekend

we arrived in texas safely today.  there were birds flying around inside the detroit airport where we had a few hours layover.  i tried to get some photos, but they flew away too quickly.  we were able to rent a prius (and had a little bit of trouble figuring out the whole push-button ignition thing, but eventually got it) even though the rental agent wasn’t sure if they had any left and told us something like, “Well, you know, with hybrids there aren’t a lot of options.  Really only Priuses.  Would you rather have another mid-size car?”  Um, no, we’d like to save money on gas and be nicer to the environment, if possible.  We’re not driving the Prius for the flashy styling.  Oddly enough, we saw NO other Priuses on the road between Austin and San Antonio, so…. maybe Priuses have a stigma here?  whatever.  we liked it.

we arrived at the hotel (after some frustrating Garmin-related getting lostedness) around 4:45 and the group wasn’t meeting until 6:45.  Jay and I checked in, brought our luggage into the room, and then discovered that we were both pretty hungry and didnt’ want to wait 2 hours for food…. so…. we went to Las Palapas.  yum.  🙂

We met the other 11 couples and had an evening gathering where we got to know everyone.  There were lots of laughs.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s full schedule, but I’m also really tired.  G’night everyone!

one last (important!) piece of closure

today, after MONTHS of irritating back-and-forth phone calls and messages with both our infertility clinic and our insurance, we finally got notice that the insurance paid the last, big bill from our last attempt at IVF (which was, may I remind you, at the end of January).  I know that we are extremely lucky to have insurance that will even consider paying for this type of treatment, and that I shouldn’t complain that they took so long, but there were a few moments during that months-long process that I began to panic that they wouldn’t pay after all (which wouldn’t have been the end of the world, of course, but would have put an unfortunate dent in our adoption funds) and I was just so ready to move on, beyond fertility treatments, and this one last little bit kept hanging on–like a loose tooth that wouldn’t come out.  And then today, we got the statement from the insurance.  The tooth is out.  and the tooth fairy has paid.  hallelujah.

dear birthmother….

we got another packet in the mail today from our placement agency.  They confirmed our registration for the orientation weekend (good thing!  we’ve already bought plane tickets and booked the hotel!) and sent along a few letters from past orientation weekend participants with glowing stories about the relationships they formed at the orientation and a few “adoption resumes” — also known as “dear birthmother letters” –except these are more of the scrapbooked packet of pages variety than “letter” per se.

way back when we were exploring all of our options, the idea of writing a dear birthmother letter really turned me off of domestic adoption.  “you mean I basically have to advertise myself?  that feels so…. weird!”  Now that I’m further along in the process, I’m beginning to recognize that all of the details that we put into this “letter” are ways for us to try to express who we REALLY are–not just the words and photos, but also the design, the colors, the layout…. and if we succeed at creating a letter that really reflects US, then we’ll have a greater chance of getting a match with someone who has similar likes/dislikes/etc.  And if THEY have similar taste, then maybe the genes they’re passing along to their child will make for a good match with our personalities.  Or at least, that’s the theory.

I use the term “dear birthmother” lightly because I’ve heard that many prospective birthmothers don’t really like the term.  I mean, until they actually give birth to a baby and then sign papers to say they’ve chosen adoption for their child, they are MOTHERS, not BIRTHmothers.  So then, what salutation to use?  “Howdy”? “To Whom it may concern”? “Yo!”?  Yep.  I”m stuck on the first word.  This might take awhile.

maybe I’ll go dig through my photo archives to try to locate “action photos” that include both of us.  I’m sure that will go more quickly……

*edited a few hours later to add:  i’m discovering the curse of being an active photographer–TONS of pictures of other people, their kids, food, flowers, artsy shots of random weird things BUT….. hardly ANY of the two of us.  Especially ones where we’re both smiling at the camera and neither one of us is wearing sunglasses.  So here’s your chance to help us out.  Does anyone out there have attractive photos of the two of us sitting on your hard drive?  Maybe camping?  Or biking?  Or playing pond hockey?  If so, I would be ever so grateful if you would e-mail them to me before Thursday, June 25.  Thanks!

a quote and an update (and a very boring post title)

awhile back, I read the book The Adoption Decision by Laura Christianson and this quote has kept coming back to me:

“Infertility is a chronic medical condition, one that requires management over the course of a lifetime.  I needed to focus less on resolving my infertility and more on managing it.  Managing infertility means admitting it wounds me–physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Managing infertility means I can expect old wounds to rip open when I attend baby showers or watch a mother nurse her child.   Managing infertility means allowing myself to wonder what it would be like to have a child with Robert’s blue eyes and my thick hair; a child who mimics Robert’s habit of misplacing keys or my obsession with cleaning house when I’m stressed.  Managing infertility means accepting the fact that, while my desire for a birth child has diminished, it will never entirely disappear.”

I find this quote immensely comforting.  While I don’t necessarily agree with it word-for-word (stressy housecleaning seems like a learned trait to me and one that could easily be passed to an adopted child if that’s what you’re looking for) I find it reassuring to realize that when I still have “rough days” it’s not because I’ve changed my mind about adoption or that I’m depressed or anything–it’s just part of the mourning process.  It’s also nice to be forewarned that even after I bring a child home I may still harbor these bouts of grief …. and that’s okay.  It seems much easier (and really more natural) to me to think of “managing” my grief than trying to eradicate it.

I also know that I attended a baby shower last weekend with no “ripped open wounds” and I’m still considering the possibility of nursing my adopted child, so if I, in the end, choose NOT to breastfeed, well maybe that will be my decision and not just something else I’ve had to give up (granted, I could try and not be successful… but let’s not go there just yet, okay?).

In other news, we’ve got our plane tickets, our rental car and our hotel reservations all set for Texas.  Now, we just need to compose a first draft of a “Dear Birthmother” letter, gather together “dozens  of fun, clear, attractive photos” of ourselves and our home, figure out what an adoption resume is and whether we have one, and pack them all up with some “casual, comfortable clothes” and we’ll be all set.

painting the baby’s room

ha!  that’s a surprising title, isn’t it?  well, it’s also a wee bit misleading.  see, the baby’s room will be what is now sort of the office.  i say “sort of” because ever since we both got laptops we hardly ever spend any time in that room, so it’s the perfect room to change into a baby’s room.  it’s painted a deep, orangey red color and i’m thinking of leaving it that way.  partially because i have no interest in a pastel-colored room, and partly because i have no interest in painting over that deep orangey-red color pretty much ever.  i’m thinking that with the addition of some cute black and white accents, maybe a pop of turquoise here and there… it will be perfect!  BUT… up until this weekend, the door trim and the closet doors were still their original dark brown stained wood color.  All of the rest of the room trim and the ceiling were white, but those other pieces had never been painted and I thought that painting them white would make the room more baby-ish.  not so baby-ish that if we don’t have someone to sleep in that room for a year or more it will depress me to walk by it every day, but baby-ish enough that I’ll be able to transform it quickly with some furniture rearranging and maybe a few wall decals when the time comes.  i don’t think i’ll want to be painting when i’ve got a newborn in the house (yuck, fumes!), SO…. since we were finishing painting the fireplace surround in the living room anyway, I figured I’d just tack on those little bits of the office.  It’s done (well, okay, except for the door to the room but that’s an unneccessarily long story) and looks great!  Hooray!

silly little things that trip me up

So I was looking through a new craft book called Handmade Hellos* the other morning and came across an idea for a really super cute (and appropriate) baby announcement card.  It was designed to look like a book and on the inside is a library due date card in a book pocket.  The baby’s stats were listed on the due date card as “Title: [baby’s name], Authors [parents’ names]” and that’s what got me.  Can I call myself the “author” of my future child?  Or would we be more like the editors?  Or the publishers?  It feels like it would be plagiarism to call ourselves the authors of our adoptive baby.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I think I’ll be skipping this announcement design in any case.  There are lots of other super cute options out there.  Just one more tiny example of the differences between adoptive and biological families.  Or maybe not.  Maybe biological families would feel weird calling themselves the “author” of their child too?  How about calling yourselves the bindery?  The illustrators?

*If you click on the link above and then look at image 6 of 6, you can actually see the page I’m talking about.

another stepping stone in sight!

yesterday, i was enjoying a visit with a friend and talking about how I needed to call the placement agency to see if they’d gotten our packet and to see if they’d verified the date for the Orientation Weekend yet and just then my cell phone rang.  It was the agency!  This is exciting for me because they’ve never called me before (I’ve always called them).  It was also exciting because she told me that they had received our packet and were mailing out the registration form for the Orientation Weekend which will be the last weekend of June!  Woo Hoo!  The date is set!  Now all we have to do is find plane tickets to San Antonio for under $1000 apiece…..


Many of our friends and family have expressed frustration for us that we have to endure all of these “hoops.”  i went through a phase of being very indignant that we have to do SO much more than people who give birth to their children, but at this point, I’m actually glad to have some classes to prepare me and I know that all of the hoops we’re jumping are there just to ensure the safety of the children involved in this process (to make sure they don’t get placed in unhealthy situations).  My big concerns about adoption now are the ones that will likely never go away–the emotional pain that a birthmother will go through while making her decision to choose adoption (and whether I’ll always feel a little  guilty that my joy comes from someone else’s pain); any potential “primal loss” my child will feel at not being raised by their biological family; etc.  If I could make those go away by filling out forms or going to classes, I’d fill out a million forms and go to class every week for the rest of my life.  But instead, we’ll just have to learn how to deal honestly with those concerns and do our best to raise an emotionally healthy child.  Hopefully, they’ll cover that in one of these classes.


whenever j and i finish any big task in life, i like to write a big imaginary check mark in the air and say, “ch-check!” and today’s accomplishment is… that we DID get the placement agency paperwork to the post office today!  yay!  the only minor hiccup was that for some reason, when i opened the packages of photos of the inside of our house, only three of the nine were there, so i had to call walgreen’s and ask them to please reprint the photos and then go back again to get them.  but hiccups, schmiccups, that hoop has been jumped and now i can relax a little because our other hoops are less time sensitive.

tonight we attended our very first parenting/adoption class.  according to the state of wisconsin, we are required to complete 18 hours of education before we can be approved as adoptive parents.  This evening’s class was our first three hours and dealt with the topic of Positive Parenting.  I found it to be a great class.  First of all, it was the first time we were thrown in with a group of other adopting couples which was interesting, occasionally slightly awkward, but considering that we were complete strangers, I felt like we actually opened up pretty quickly as a group, willing to joke around with each other and give quickie summaries of our respective adoption journeys.  It helped that there were one or two very outgoing and friendly members of the group (note to self:  don’t be afraid to BE that outgoing person if necessary).  Second of all, the class topic was one I found very useful.  Basically, she talked about the difference between punishment and discipline (in short, punishment is punitive, discipline can be more instructive and healthy) and then gave us general philosophies to keep in mind and some practical applications and ways to follow her guidelines with our future children.  I felt very encouraged when I realized that most of the techniques she mentioned I had already been seeing in action in my friends’ families and in families that I see at the library and admire.  These aren’t brand new ideas for me.  I’m sure they’re also not all second-nature to me yet, but …. well, it’s sort of like when I started working as a children’s librarian and couldn’t remember ANY kids songs or fingerplays other than the Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Wheels on the Bus.  The longer I worked in the field, I kept discovering more rhymes–some new to me, others that ring bells of memory for me.  I gained new knowledge and was reminded of old, buried knowledge.  In the same way, when adoption forms ask me to talk about my views on parenting and discipline, I”m really at a loss to put it all into words, but I DO “know” the skills–redirecting, offering choices, understanding that kids behave the way they do because of different developmental stages or because they’re tired or hungry or getting sick–I just had to be reminded that I knew them.  Now if I could only figure out how to fit everything into three lines….