Entries from October 2009 ↓

photos from the blessingway

i had a lovely time last night.  as you know from the last post, we asked everyone to come to the event with a word in mind.  If I had to choose a word for last night, my word would be “sated.”  From the richness of the desserts to the richness of the beautiful words and their accompanying explanations, I went to bed feeling full.  up to the brim.  sated.  here are a few photos for you to enjoy.

first, the desserts:

my friends who were planning the party had generously stopped at my favorite bakery in town and purchased the yummy fruit tarts and jam cookies you see in the foreground, then a quick trip to Trader Joe’s landed the apricot almond tart and the “chocolate pringles.”  The layer cake?  well…… i got a hankering to make a fancy cake.  ever since I read the book Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray I’d been wanting to make a really yummy, decadent cake.  But there’s not often enough people around to justify baking a giant cake, so…. I’d put it on the bottom of my ever-growing “could do” list.  But yesterday was the day.  I’d been brainstorming myself through my baking mood (geez, this cake needs its own blog post, doesn’t it?  bear with me….) and had a flash of inspiration–chocolate cake + pumpkin cake + cream cheese frosting = amaaaaaaazing.  And so I baked two round pumpkin cakes the night before, two chocolate cakes that morning, then right before the party, i whipped up a big (but apparently not big enough!  Look at those crumbs peeking through!) batch of cream cheese frosting.

apparently, my naughty kitty thought that the frosting was amazing too.  oh well, we’re all good friends (and many are cat owners) so we all had a good laugh and cut that part off of the cake before slicing into it.

oh. my. goodness.  moist, delicious, and stripes too?  yum.

but enough about the cake (I was just so excited that it turned out!  it’s not like I can really practice making a cake like that!).  The really fantastic part of this event was the friends, and the words, so here are a few photos of some of the pendants and their beautiful words:

(in this shot you can also see a few of the many beautiful candles that were set up all over the room)

here are all of the pendants, ready to be baked.  aren’t they beautiful?

the words that everyone chose were so beautiful.  In the invitations that went out, I consciously chose not to include “example” words because I didn’t want to influence their choice and everyone totally amazed me with the variety of words that they chose.  There were no duplicates (which wouldn’t have been a big deal if there had–who couldn’t use an extra helping of peace or hope?) and everyone had such lovely words to say around their chosen word.  they also wrote out these explanations on cards that were included in this lovely album (and a framed poem that they all signed) which i can read whenever i need to hear those words again and which i can also add to over time.

all told, it was exactly what i’d hoped it would be–no, it was actually way better than i’d ever hoped it could be and i thank all of you (including those of you from afar who have already sent me more words to add to my book!) for this incredible gift of friendship, love, and support.

an invitation to you, the readers of riftraft

while we were still mired in paperwork, a friend of mine asked if I would like to have a “blessingway.”  I’d only recently even heard of blessingways and my impression was that they were sort of touchy-feely, incense-laden versions of baby showers and my only clear memory of what actually happens at a blessingway is that the mother-to-be gets a henna tattoo on her very pregnant belly and everyone shares stories about their birth experiences.  Needless to say, I was a wee bit skeptical and hesitant.  But I had been thinking that it would be nice to have some sort of ritual gathering, some sort of ceremony to … say goodbye to my “dream (genetic-related) child”?  ….. affirm our plans to adopt?  … gather together a group of friends in a showing of support for this upcoming journey?  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so I asked my friend to send me some ideas of what a blessingway WAS and what the people attending one might actually DO.  I certainly didn’t want anyone tattooing my belly, henna or otherwise.

My friend sent me a few links with some ideas and one idea in particular jumped out at me.  The idea was that at the event, each person was to weave (braid) a bracelet from embroidery floss (or whatever) and then wear the bracelet until the baby was born, as a show of support during the time of waiting.  Wow.  The idea that someone would wear something every day until we brought a baby home still brings tears to my eyes.  What an incredibly strong symbol to say, “we know you are waiting.  we know you are thinking about this constantly.  we are waiting and thinking with you.  no matter how long it takes.  this thing that we’re wearing will remind us that you are still waiting and thinking.  It will remind us to send prayers and thoughts of strength and peace and patience your way.”

The original braided bracelet idea was only supposed to last a matter of days or weeks and it didn’t seem like a sturdy enough symbol to last the amount of time we might have to wait before we bring our baby home.  Plus, who am I kidding?  I don’t even wear one piece of jewelry every single day (well, except for my wedding and engagement rings, I suppose)–how could I possibly ask anyone else to do the same?  But I do have a necklace that says, “Be Peace” that I wear frequently.  I’ve worn it throughout this process.  I wore it each time I went in for an embryo transfer.  I’ve worn it each day that I’ve needed the reminder and the comfort of that simple message.  Maybe I could ask my friends to create or purchase some sort of pendant that they could wear occasionally and when they’re not wearing it, maybe keep it near a mirror or somewhere visible in their house or car as a reminder of our wait and as a reminder to send a quick thought or prayer our way.

And so, we are having a blessingway this weekend.  There may be some henna (for hands or feet only, not bellies!).  There will definitely be yummy desserts and cozy hot drinks.  And I’m hoping that there will also be a chance for everyone to create a pendant (using clay) imprinted with a word or two that is their wish for us during this time of waiting.  When our baby comes home, I’d love to put together a mobile or some other art piece that incorporates these pendants (if my friends are willing to part with them) as a beautiful symbol of the community of friends and support that this child will be welcomed into.  But during this time of waiting, I’d love to just be able to believe that every day, at least one of my friends is wearing their pendant and thinking of us.

Many of you, dear readers, live very far away and were unable to attend this event.  If you would like to create a pendant or some other symbol, I invite you to choose the word you’d like to use, then either craft your own pendant (I can send suggested instructions if you’d like) or purchase one (many of the sellers on etsy will make custom jewelry pieces.  search for “name necklaces” or “name pendants”).  Then, I’d love it if you would take a photo of your pendant and send it to me, along with a message about why you chose that particular word.  I’ll collect these messages together in a notebook (the blessingway attendees are also writing down messages for this notebook) and whenever I have a frustrating day, I hope that I can read your words and gain strength from them.  Even if you don’t choose to participate in the necklace thing, you can still feel free to choose a word for us.  I so appreciate knowing that we have such a supportive group of family and friends to help us weather this next chapter in the story of building our family.  thank you.


for about four years now, I’ve been arranging my life (at least somewhat) according to the “what if.”  –I shouldn’t sign up to do another mini-marathon this year because what if I’m pregnant by the day of the race?–I shouldn’t make plans to travel out of the country by next March because what if I have a baby by then?–I should take this new job because it’s less hours and that will be nice when we’ve got childcare issues to contend with……  Now, I find myself with the same “what if’s” only compounded by the lack of a 9-month (give or take) known buffer zone AND a tiny dose of disbelief that this will ever REALLY happen (because, hey, we haven’t had a baby SO FAR, so maybe nothing that we ever try will ever bring a baby into this home*).  I’m currently grappling with the question of what class to enroll in next semester.  I’m on the one-class-at-a-time plan towards a master’s degree and I’m a little over halfway done with it.  Most of the classes that I have left to take can be taken online.  There’s only one more in-person class left on my list of requirements.  It’s offered about once a year (some of the other classes on my list are only offered every other year) and next semester it’s being taught by a professor that (at least most of the time) doesn’t drive me crazy.  The other class that fits into my schedule for next year is being taught online by a professor that does drive me a crazy a little bit more often.  And this will be the first time that class is being taught online.  AND it will be that professor’s first online class ever.  AAAAND the things that drive me a little crazy about her tend to center on certain communication misunderstandings.  Usually the misunderstandings happen over e-mail.

So the question is….. do I bite the bullet and take the online class on the off chance that we will get chosen and placed sometime before next May and the online class would offer more schedule flexibility?  Or do I risk taking the in-person class and possibly ending up with an “F” for failing to complete the course IF we get the call and have to go to Texas and also become new parents?  I e-mailed that professor to ask what would happen if I had to leave mid-semester to go meet my child and the response was something to the effect of, “well, if you don’t think you’d be in Texas for longer than a week or so, it would probably be okay.  Assuming you can resume classes as soon as you return.”  HA!  Do you think he’d say that to a pregnant student that went into labor early?  “well, as long as you wouldn’t be in the hospital for more than one week.  And could resume classes right after you bring the baby home.”  Am I being overly sensitive here?  I’m just tired of that feeling of irritation that happens when I realize that something that I avoided “just in case of baby” could have been done after all.  And if there ISN’T a baby before next May, I’d really like to have this last in-person class out of the way!

Also, I’m just getting really tired of not having control over my own life.  I know that sounds like I’m about 14 years old, but it’s a truth that has become apparent to me this week as I’ve gotten pouty about all sorts of things that aren’t going “my way” that wouldn’t normally be quite as big of a deal as I’ve been acting like they are now.  My apologies to everyone who’s had to put up with me.  And also advance apologies because although I’m now more aware of why I’m feeling like this, I can’t guarantee that I won’t still try to take control over every little thing that I think I can.  I hope you can forgive me.  I hope I can forgive me.  And I hope I can make a decision one way or another about which class to take.

*this is the really bleak voice that sometimes whispers into the back of my brain.  I mostly try to ignore it.

the “dream” child

one of the losses that adoption literature tells us that we might experience, is the loss of our “dream child.”  This is the child that we’ve always dreamed that we’d parent.  When I first read about this concept, I sort of scoffed because although I had (of course) always thought about a “dream child” in my mind, I never really expected to HAVE the dream child (you know, the one that never misbehaves and is super cute and charming and never wipes their snot across the back seat of the car), so surely that loss must be minimal because I never actually expected it to happen, right?

Then, tiny little details cropped up that made me realize who the real dream child was for me.  In my head, I always assumed my child would have wispy, white-blonde hair like mine (which was really only about a 50% chance since my husband’s and all of his family’s is dark), so one day when I saw a child with hair like that, and for a split second thought, “that’s what MY kid’s hair will look like” and then got kicked in the gut when I realized that there was a pretty decent chance that it won’t.  Another day, I began to realize that the special boy-name I’ve been secretly saving for years may never go to a son of mine.  For one thing, I may only have daughters (not an adoption-specific loss), but if my son is of Hispanic heritage, I’m not sure I’d give him this name as it doesn’t translate well to Spanish, or we may find ourselves matched with a birthmother who hates that name and I would have to think about it for a long time to decide whether I was willing to let my special name be a sticking point in our relationship.

On the other hand, whenever I find myself thinking about how my poor future sons will have male pattern baldness issues because it runs in my dad’s family or about how my future daughters will always struggle with their weight because that runs in my mom’s family, or how my children will have terrible eyesight or giant gaps between their front teeth because both j and i do…. I smile, realizing that I won’t be responsible for passing these family traits on to my children.  Of course, that just means that now, I’m embracing the dream adopted child.  Who will, of course, never even get a runny nose.

up in lights!

today, the first page of our profile appeared on our texas agency’s forum gallery and we like to call that being “up in lights.”  every couple that signs the internet waiver gets their profile posted on this page which can be seen by prospective birthparents, but can also be seen by all of our friends on the forum.  it’s kind of fun to see how all of these new friends designed their own pages.

i also talked to the agency today and found out that our homestudy has been finally 100% approved (actually, it was apparently fine as-is, no edits needed.  hooray!) and we are all ready to go.  she also shared that the birthmother that I spoke with last week has chosen another family in our agency that she felt a close connection to.  one of the benefits of that original orientation meeting, where we met and got to know 11 other waiting couples, is that when i heard that someone else had been chosen i was soooooo thrilled!  (granted, i might have felt differently if I’d thought the birthmother and I had a strong connection, but although our conversation was pleasant, her decision to choose another couple was not a surprise.)  it is so exciting to see so many couples from our group already being chosen!  four out of the 11 couples already have matches.  what hopeful statistics!

“coming out”

tonight we announced our adoption plans in church for the first time.  it seems like we’ve been sitting on this “secret” forever.  way back when we began this process, we talked about when we wanted to tell people and we decided that it would be a good idea to wait for the church announcement until all of our paperwork was done.  that way, many of our major decisions would already have been made and people would be less likely to want to offer helpful advice when we were still struggling with so many big questions ourselves.  Plus, it seems somehow more hopeful to make an announcement that now we are “just waiting” than to say, “we’re in the process of filling out a bunch of forms.” Quite a number of people had already heard about our plans either from us or from someone unknowingly spilling the beans, but there were still lots of people who had no idea.

i was surprisingly nervous and I KNEW that i would cry, so I made j do the talking.  he did a fabulous job, just touching on the last 4 years of struggle we’ve had and giving more detail about these adoption plans that are helping us to feel hopeful right now.  We had lots of people come up to us after church to give us big hugs and smiles and words of congratulation and of understanding and compassion for what we’ve been through.  I never doubted that we had a huge support group in our church family.  It’s nice to finally feel like everyone knows where we’re at.  Now we’ll just see how quickly I get tired of people asking for status updates when nothing’s happening….

a gestation period of indeterminate length

and now we wait.  yes, it COULD be a short wait, but our adoption agency’s forum recently posted a message stating that most of the birthmothers coming in to the agency have been requesting childless couples who live in Texas.  So it could be a looooong wait.  There could be lots of bumps along the way.  Recently, I read (and began subscribing to) this blog which has a very sobering story about one couple’s wait.  They’ve been chosen twice and both times the birthmother decided, in the very end, to parent her own child.  I read this blogger’s story and found myself thinking, “this could totally happen to me.  this person has done nothing differently than I would and this could be my story.”  granted, there are also lots of other happy stories about people getting matched right away with a birthmother who is a perfect fit for their family… but there are also stories about people getting pregnant on the first try, and people getting pregnant on their first IVF, and so, if I seem a little reserved in my excitement about being done with the initial paperwork phase, I hope you’ll understand.  I’m just trying to protect myself and be realistic.  Even if we don’t have a birthmother who changes her mind, this could still be a long wait.  I’ve got plenty of distraction to keep me busy in the meantime, but I could be waiting for this baby much longer than the traditional nine months.


I feel as if we’ve taken the Nestea plunge, into the pool, fully clothed.  I realize that in our situation, we’re talking about a “pool of candidates” and not an actual pool, but I’ve been coming up with clever phrases to announce here, on the blog, that we are “in the pool” (i.e. that our profile is being shown to potential birthmothers) and now, much to my surprise, we’re in!  We had been under the impression that our homestudy would have to be 100% complete before our profile would go public, so imagine our confusion when we got about 4 messages from the texas agency yesterday telling us that there was a birthmother who wanted to talk to us.  (Our homestudy is still on their editing table.)  Unfortunately, they’d called at about 5:26 and wanted to set up the call between us at 5:30.  And neither J nor i was near a phone to get the message.  And so we missed the opportunity.  The way it works with this agency is that they call us to say that a birthmother wants to talk to us.  They give us a phone number and a time to call (sounds very cloak and dagger, doesn’t it?).  If we miss the window to call, then they have to set up another calling appointment.  I was a little hyped up last night to say the least.  Not only were we in, but someone already wants to talk to us!  Woo hoo!  Maybe our profile is working!

The agency called me again this afternoon with a different phone number and time to call this same birthmother–this time with a full 45-minute warning!  I found a quiet spot at work (ahem, a closet), and made the call.  The first thing she asked was, “so, are ya’ll from Dallas?”  Hmmm…. maybe our profile didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.  We must still just look like another “rich” white couple that wants a baby.  Oh well, we talked for a good 25 minutes about this and that.  I think the agency usually has birthmothers choose 3 couples (from the profiles) to call and talk to and I know that she talked to at least one other couple before us.  It may lead to nothing, but at least I’ve got a phone call under my belt and we are most definitely in the pool!

a calculated risk

If you have read other “adoption profiles” or “parent profiles” (or if you haven’t yet and you want to, you can find lots online) you may have noticed that the vast majority of them begin with the obligatory, “Dear Birthmother” letter*.  These often include phrases such as, “we admire your courage” and “we know this is a very difficult decision for you,” etc.  And if you HAD read lots of these other profiles, you might have noticed that our profile doesn’t contain a letter like this.  Leaving that letter out was a calculated risk on our part.  If we leave it out, does it imply that we DON’T admire her courage?  Or that we can’t empathize with her pain?

Early in this process, when I was poking around on the internet, looking at adoption information and I read the first letter like that, I thought, “Wow!  What a great letter.  They’ve really reached out and tried to see the situation from her point of view.  That’ll definitely communicate their thoughtfulness and kindness to her.”  Then, I read the next sample.  Hmmm…. similar words that began to lose their “wow!” factor for me.  By the third one, I wanted to say, “get on with it!  Yes, I know that you think she’s an amazing human being, and that you will never be able to understand what she’s gone through, yadda, yadda, yadda, but what she has come here to find out about is YOU!  Who are you?  What kind of family would you provide for her child?  That’s what’s going to set you apart from every other couple listed here!”

I was talking with my sister about this concept and she wisely pointed out that if we lived in bizarro world and birthmothers had to put together profiles that adoptive parents would pick through, would I want to read (over and over again) “we will never understand the pain of your infertility” or “we admire your ability to love a child that isn’t biologically related to you.”  no thanks.  Why force me to read through those painful phrases over and over and over again?

And so we left those words off.  I don’t have any doubts that I personally like this approach better, but there is still a teeny, tiny, itty-bitty voice in my left pinky toe that sometimes wonders if it will look like an intentional omission that indicates that we don’t care about or respect the woman who may eventually entrust us with her child.  Because we DO admire her courage, but we also want her to feel free to show us her cowardly, worried side whenever she needs to.  And we DO assume that this is a very difficult decision for her, but we have no idea what her particular circumstances will be and have no idea what individual difficulties she has faced and it seems somehow…. phony to say those words until we know her unique story.  I just hope that our words and photos will be true representations of us and will speak to the right woman at the right time who will understand (and maybe even appreciate) why we took this small, calculated risk.

*I’ve also read that “birthmothers” don’t really like to be referred to as a “birthmother” until they’ve actually given birth and made the decision to place their child for adoption.  Until then, they’re just an expectant parent.  Also, this phrase sort of cuts out the Dear Birthfather if he’s in the picture.  Or the Dear Birthgrandmother.  Or the Dear BirthBestFriend.  Kind of a loaded phrase, really.  I advocate avoiding it altogether.