Friday, October 31, 2008

He's Starting to Get 'IT'

Motor Mouth has a new cousin, Baby Y. We were able to iChat with the newly formed family and the rest of the Widney Clan the night of Baby Y's birth.  It left a big impression on our little boy.

The next day, Motor Mouth said, "Daddy, you and Mommy were excited when you went to the hospital and I came out of KK's belly!"

For years, we have had a picture of his birth mother in his room. For years, we have visited with KK, his birth mom. For years, we have told him the story of his birth and how he was in KK's belly. 

Now, Motor Mouth gets that we were excited he was born. He's starting to get 'IT'.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Family Fun Night - Pumpkin Patch '08

Pumpkin Patch '08

Every year, the Widney Clan meets for Savastano's Chicago Style Pizza in Tulsa for lunch, then on to the Pumpkin Patch in Jenks for pictures, pony rides, petting zoo, and pumpkins.

On Sunday, our family went without us. But that's okay because Motor Mouth's school went on a field trip to Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch in South Barrington, IL, a Chicago suburb. We didn't do the pizza 'cause, well, we live in Chicago now so we can get the real thing anytime we want.

We made our own memory on this day.
It was so wonderful!!

We waited for everyone to arrive
They had a chalkboard for the kids to mess up
Mini Me and Daddy
Mini Me was so wonderful
It was FA-reeeeeeZZZing Cold
What a big pumpkin
Goebberts is a real, working farm
In the background, you can see the field
We went on a Hay Ride through the 'spooky' forest
Petting Zoo
There were 3 petting zoo tents and 1 outdoors
Momma Pig and her Piglets
The kids named the 1st one 'Wilbur'

Momma Kangaroo and her Baby (Joey)
What the heck is that?! 
Cross between a zebra and a horse???
There was a tall, pumpkin eating Dinosaur/Dragon 
Picking up a pumpkin
Holding the pumpkin high in the sky
Crushing the pumpkin with its massive jaws
Pumpkin debris crashing to the ground

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby Y

Introducing Baby Y!!
October 27th @ 10:27 am
7 lbs 4 oz, 19 1/2" long
Mom is J's Baby Sis
Baby & Mom are doing great!

Thanks to the magic that is Apple, we iChatted with the J's whole family in the hospital room tonight. Baby Y smiled at us!! It was so cool.
(pictured with Grandma DonnaMomma)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Widney Pumpkin Patch 2008

 2007 Annual Widney Pumpkin Patch visit
I have to show the 2007 pictures because we 
weren't there 
today to shoot the 2008 annual visit.

Our move to Chicago means we miss out 
on the every day things, like...
- calling up J's parents and meeting for dinner
- enjoying a family dinner at Widney Manor
- the grandparents taking the kids EVERY Friday night
(sometimes Saturday night too)
Today, we missed out on going to Savastano's Chicago Style Pizza for lunch (okay, we didn't 'miss' that) and then heading to the Pumpkin Patch for family pictures, pony rides, petting zoo, hot chocolate and cold fingers.

Tomorrow, we will miss out on meeting our newest nephew, Baby Y. J's Baby Sis is in labor as I type. We love Chicago, but we sure do love our family too.

And this is the crazy bunch we miss so much!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Motor Mouth's school, we were working on patterns. 
I created this pattern. Below my pattern sequence is 
Motor Mouth copying the same pattern. 

Then he got creative on his own and spelled his name!

Halloween Costume

Motor Mouth decided he wanted to be a UPS guy for Halloween this year. John, our UPS guy, is so sweet!! He has delivered almost all of Motor Mouth's school supplies, so we have gotten to see a great deal of each other in the last couple of months. When I told John the UPS costume in the costume catalogue was too small, he said he would bring us a uniform. 
How sweet was that?!!

This is Motor Mouth in the uniform...

Rear View
Is that 'junk' in his trunk?
Even the socks are UPS
Holding a UPS form
So, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Motor Mouth - Promo King

Here is video promo J did for our church in Oklahoma. 
It was filmed in Motor Mouth's old bedroom. 

Mom's Day Out Promo Video 2006

(If a 'Media Offline' message pops up, during the video, that has to do with the way I uploaded, or the connection. It wasn't on the original.)

Our Adoption Story - Part 6: Meeting Mini Me

We have been asked to share our adoption story.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences. I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.

Click on the links to view:

We tried for 2 years before learning we were infertile.
J was not open to adoption. Then he was.
We met our son's birth mother.
We met our son.
A year of emotional disappointments ensued.

Our Adoption Story - Part 6: Meeting Mini Me

In February of 2006, we had the money we needed to pay for the adoption. Then we got a big tax bill. As soon as I opened the letter and read the shocking details, I called J and said, "We're getting a baby!!!" J asked if the agency director had called. I told him no, but we had the money and we got hit with this crazy bill, so that means us getting a baby is right round the corner!!! Murphy's law.

On Saturday, March 18th, 2006, the adoption agency director called to tell me about a birth mother who was due in June that would be a great match for us. She was having a little girl. How perfect was that!!

Not so perfect. By Monday at lunch, J and I were beside ourselves! The nursery was ready for a baby. What were we going to do for 3 months!! How on earth do people wait for 9 months to give birth? That is an insane amount of time to wait.

On Monday, March 20th, at approximately 5:10 pm, I received a phone call from the agency director. There was a birth mom at the hospital who wanted to place her baby for adoption. The baby had been born that afternoon at 2:01 pm. The birth mom was what we refer to as 'a drop in'. That means, she got to the hospital, gave birth, and told the hospital staff she wanted to place her baby for adoption. The agency director told us to standby. We might need to go to the hospital that night to meet the birth mom and the baby. But she had not told her boyfriend's family they were placing the baby, so they wanted to have the evening to tell them.

The next morning, I got a phone call asking if I could meet the agency director at the hospital that morning. I called her back to ask how big the baby was to make sure the clothes I had would fit. It was then I thought to ask if it was a boy or a girl. It was a girl!! It was still early, so I went to Wal-Mart to buy PINK!!!! We had neutral clothes already...But it was a GIRL!! I HAD to buy PINK!

J was shooting a TV show that morning, so he couldn't come to the hospital with me right then. The agency director, her assistant, and I went into the room together to meet the birth mom. 

When we walked in, TT, the birth mom, was sitting on a cot in her room, holding Mini Me. Next to her, was ML, who helped to facilitate the adoption. TT is about my complexion, and could pass for my sister, or certainly a family member. We talked briefly, then she introduced me to Mini Me and placed her in my arms.

Mini Me was THE most beautiful baby I had ever laid eyes on. C-section babies don't get squished, so their complexion and heads are just perfect. Plus, I met her when she was about 19 hours old. Truly, she was beautiful. I do not regret or miss not being in the delivery room. 

TT asked me if I liked the baby. "Like her?" I said, "I LOVE her!!" TT was very relieved that I loved the baby. She was honestly afraid I wouldn't. This was my baby. The other babies over the previous year, they weren't my babies. This was. And I loved her. J managed to wrap early and was there within the hour to meet his daughter.

When we met Mini Me, her first name was Michaela, after TT's boyfriend (not to be confused as being the birth father). And, amazingly enough, her middle name was the SAME as my first name!! How insanely coincidental is that! I had chosen Mini Me's first name a couple years before. We added my first name as that is what the birth mother had chosen. Her second middle name is Faith, after Faith Bond, who used to be our pastor's secretary. Faith is a strong woman of God who I admire greatly.

Mini Me was born at a different hospital that is not as adoption friendly. We did not have our own room. In fact, we didn't get to spend either night in the hospital with her - she had to stay longer as she was c-section. When we brought our baby girl home, J decided she needed a pink room. He set out to re-do the completely finished nursery into pink on pink harlequin patterned walls with black ribbon and fleur de lis, and chandeliers. 

Mini Me was born on Monday. We had been planning a big birthday party for Motor Mouth that Friday. It was an INSANE week! Imagine finding out you now have a newborn, bringing her home, meeting with the attorney and doing all the adoption related stuff, then getting all you need for an all out birthday party the next day! My sister said I MUST have known about Mini Me before that. Ugh...nope. If I had, there is no way I would have planned a birthday party for that same week!

Both Mini Me and Motor Mouth were dedicated at our church on the Mother's Day of the year they were born. How awesome is that!

Leaving the hospital that first night, J said, "There is a grandmother out there that doesn't know she has a granddaughter. We need to find her."  And we did. We have great relationships with Mini Me's paternal grandmother and her paternal grandfather and his wife. We love her uncles that we have met. We've also met her great grandparents. Mini Me has met her birth father. Sadly, we have not been able to yet, but we have a lifetime. We'll meet one day. In the meantime, we communicate via letters and pictures. Her birth father could be J's brother. That is how much they look alike.

We have a relationship with TT, as well. For about a year, we got to see TT every other month or so. Then, she disappeared. We are happy to report, TT is back in our lives and we are in phone contact. We'll make plans to see her again when next we visit Tulsa.

And that, in a nutshell is our adoption story. There is more, but you'll have to wait until the book comes out!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our Adoption Story - Part 5: Crushing Disappointment

We have been asked to share our adoption story.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences.
I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.

Click on the links to view:

We tried for 2 years before learning we were infertile.
J was not open to adoption. Then he was.
We met our son's birth mother.
We met our son.

Our Adoption Story - Part 5: Crushing Disappointment

Motor Mouth was a wonderful, calming influence in my life. He was a fabulous baby. Our relationship with his birth mother was on-going. In fact, she slept over so often, J made a plaque that sat on the dresser in our guest bedroom and said: KK's room.

There is a little known fact about the local adoption world.
If you have a card that proves you have registered, certifiable Native American blood, and that blood is of a recognizable tribe, your ability to be selected as an adoptive parent increases to the nth degree. J has such a card. It is the gold card of the adoption world. Once you have such a card, your wait time is reduced drastically. It has to do with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). If you are interested in learning about ICWA, comment with your email address, or email me and I'll email you the details.

In 2005, two potential birth moms previewed our makeshift life book. Normally, the agency does not tell you when someone is previewing your life book. However, we were approached by the agency director, when Motor Mouth was 2, and we weren't ready to adopt again. We didn't have an updated life book, or Dear Birth Mother letter. I talked to KK about it, to see if she was okay with us adopting again. She was. In fact, she loaned us her life book that we put with our family album. KK also did a few phone interviews with potential birth moms for us.

Both of the birth moms decided to parent, instead of placing their child for adoption. That was fine with us. We weren't ready. They were having boys, and we wanted a girl. But you can't tell the agency director which sex you prefer. She would tell you, "You can't choose which you'll get when you have a biological child."

But then it started to hurt.

Anonymous #2's daughter knew of a girl who was pregnant. We traveled to Dallas, to meet with the girl, the boy, and their parents. They were wonderful. It was weird meeting with them without our agency representatives. But, at that point, we were equipped to handle it. We were speaking at adoption workshops together, highly involved in the agency, mentoring girls, planning events, and I was on the Oklahoma Adoption Coalition.

A week later, the girl called to tell us her parents were going to help them care for the baby so they would parent. If you saw how much those two kids loved each other, you would know it was the right decision for them. For me, it was fine. But J had his heart set on this child. It crushed him.

There were several other babies who came across our paths. J and I would take turns feeling the crushing sadness when we were not chosen.

One day, one of the first girls who had decided parent had a change in circumstances. Photog felt as though she was supposed to place her now 6 week old son for adoption. Photog called our agency again and asked if we had a baby yet. As she lived in another city, we started talking on the phone. I didn't think this was our baby and I had to tell her. We were sure there was another family in the agency that would be great parents for her baby, so I took life books to her family home in another city for them to look at.

While there, I got triple hit. The agency director called, J called, and Photog's mom asked if I had changed my mind and wanted to parent the baby. I had a 90-minute drive home to 'work it out' in my head. By the end of the week, I called Photog and told her we'd like to be considered to parent her son. She had appointments setup that Sunday with 3 other couples. They made time for us and thought it would be us. But she choose one of the other couples instead. I was devastated. To say I was crushed was an understatement. I was angry at myself for going back on our decision and for allowing myself to get my hopes up.

We put together a new Dear Birth Mother letter and life book. Soon, we met with a new birth mom and her mother. The baby was due in just a week! We told everyone. But then that adoption fell through. It was more embarrassing than painful.

It had been a full year of emotional upheaval. Around this time, we didn't know where KK was. I missed her. She is a part of our family. She is vital to our son's emotional and psychological development. We didn't know where she was living or working. I felt like my heart was bleeding for KK. I started on a mission to find her.

In the meantime, Photog selected a wonderful family and she moved to Tulsa to live in the agency's transitional home. A home designed to help the girls get back on their feet. The agency assigns a mentor to each girl. I asked to be Photog's mentor. I know, how insane is that! But let me tell we became very good friends. She has babysat our kids and slept over. She is fabulous. Last year, I set her up with the second best man in the world - my Hero, PR. They were married a week ago.

And the girl in Dallas we met? Her mom and I kept in touch. I've seen pictures of that adorable little boy. Next time we go to Dallas, we will be sure to meet up with them for coffee or dessert, or something.

On Saturday, March 18th, 2006, the agency director called to tell me about a birth mother who was due in June that would be a great match for us. She was having a little girl. How perfect was that!!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Our Adoption Story - Part 4: Meeting Motor Mouth

We've been asked about our adoption journey.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences.
I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.

Click on the links to view:

We tried for 2 years then found out we were infertile.
J was not open to adoption, then he was.
We met our son's birth mother.

Our Adoption Story - Part 4: Meeting Motor Mouth

We had 3 weeks to get to know our child's birth mother, meet with the adoption attorney, adoption counselor, get a nursery ready, buy baby gear, register at Babies R Us, attend birthing classes and doctor appointments with the birth mother, and I had to prepare my office for a substitute to take over. Yikes!!

It was an insane time. It made me realize the 9 months of gestation is not really for the baby's development. I mean, God could have made that all happen in 5 months for everyone. Those 9 months are purely for the parents to get ready!

The first doctor appointment we attended with KK, the birth mom, we were all suddenly ushered next door to the labor and delivery room. Due to a situation being played out, and for the safety of the birth mother and the baby, we checked KK in under an assumed name. We left for lunch, and it appeared we were going to be having a baby!

KK was experiencing pre-eclampsia. Everyone left the room. It was just KK and me. I leaned over, and told her how special she was to us. That she was our hero and we loved her. I meant every word I said then, and I mean it today. Soon, her blood pressure when down, and we all got to go home. Crisis averted.

One day, I was really low. It was all hitting me. Hard. Babette stopped by my desk. She told me what I was going through were MY labor pains. She might as well have been my labor coach, because those few words made all the difference for me.

On a Saturday night, we were hard at work on the new nursery. It was about 11:30 pm when we pulled into our driveway. My phone rang. It was the birth mom's house mother. KK's water had broken. They were going to shower and be on the way to the hospital. We called J's mom, who was also going to be in the labor room.

We ran into the house to shower and grab the hospital bags. J heard me crying and came into the bedroom. Through the birthing class, I learned once the water breaks, the baby has to be delivered within 24 hours. That meant our son would be born on March 23rd. March 23rd was the day my grandfather passed away. I was his favorite grandchild. He was my favorite person in the world.

We were up all night. J's whole family showed up at the hospital. I had never heard of such a thing! My family waited at home for the call. My mother-in-law was in the labor room with us. I thought it was great all these people were there. It was just foreign to me.

J was supposed to cut the umbilical cord. J's mom was to be in the room when her first grandchild was born. At the last, KK got shy and asked her doula to ask them to leave the room. At first, J was angry. But then he remembered what the adoption counselor had said. She said that whatever was in the best interest of the birth mother, was in the best interest of the baby. If KK was more comfortable without him and his mom in the room, the baby would have a better delivery.

I held KK's left leg as she pushed. The doctor was wonderful and included me. He had me look, to see the baby's head crowning. I was right there. Right there. The baby came out. I cut the umbilical cord. It looked different than I thought it would. So did the afterbirth.

I didn't know what to do. Should I go to the baby? But I didn't want KK to think all I was about was the baby. Should I go to KK? But I didn't want KK, or the doctor and doula to think I didn't care about the baby. I didn't know what to do. Finally, someone told me to go meet my son. So I did.

I was expecting a monkey. All newborn babies look like monkeys. I was surprised he was beautiful. Of course, he had a hat on that covered his cone head from the suction cup used to pluck him out, but the hat just helped to frame his perfect little face. I didn't know what to do with this minutes old baby. I remembered hearing about people counting fingers and toes. So I did.

J came in and we stood there, staring at this baby boy. He was here. 10 days EARLY, but he was here. On the most special day ever.

Our son was born on March 23rd at 2:10 pm. Exactly 2 weeks to the day his birth mother asked if I would be her son's mother. 22 years to the day my grandfather passed away.

J picked our son's first name. He knew twins in Missouri, and one of them had a really cool name. KK chose the middle name, after a boy that was really nice to her when she needed a friend. I always wanted to name my son after my grandfather, but J didn't want 2 middle names. When our son was born on the same day my grandfather had passed away years before, J changed his mind!

Our dear friend, Laura, brought flowers to the hospital for me and for KK. How sweet was that!! Our Sunday School teachers came to the hospital. How special was that!! And all of J's family was there. How wonderful was that!!

We had our own room at the hospital. KK came to visit the baby in our room. That night, we were up talking forever late. I was exhausted, but KK was on a high. She had been able to nap before and after the birth. I hadn't. Finally, I suggested she take the baby to her room for the night. I was tired. I wanted to sleep. I was going home with the baby. She wasn't. I wanted her to be able to spend as much time with him as possible. And I wanted to sleep.

Criteria 1
I had been so concerned about finances and having everything we needed for a baby. Motor Mouth came 10 days early. We didn't have the baby shower yet. Other than the sleepers and blankets J had bought at Wal-Mart that night, we didn't have anything. Faith Chick, J's sister-in-law, was due in 2 months. She had already had a baby shower for her daughter. Faith Chick was so wonderful to let our son use her daughter's brand new stash until our baby showers. We had 3 baby showers with a guest list of 200 of our closest friends and family. Our son was so blessed to have received EVERYTHING on the registry and EVERYTHING he needed. We were blessed with fabulous people in our lives.

Criteria 2
J had been so concerned our son would not be brown. He was. Not real dark, but, in addition to his caucasian blood, he is part Hispanic and Cherokee Indian, so he does have olive skin and intense, dark eyes. J got his brown baby!

Our once empty baby sleepers now had our baby in them. Our dead dream rose up, fully manifested and his initials are JDP.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Adoption Story - Part 3: Meeting the Birth Mom

We've been asked about our adoption journey.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences. I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.

Click on the links to view:

We tried for 2 years before learning we were infertile.
Jason was not open to adoption. Then he was.

Adoption - Part 3: Meeting the Birth Mom

Thursday evening, we got a call from the agency director. A birth mom wanted to interview us and 2 other families. Would we be available to meet her the next afternoon? We were. Well, we weren't really. We were working on a catered volunteer banquet for 700 volunteers that night. But, somehow, we finished everything in time to make it to the meeting - in jeans and not looking our very best.

We were sitting at the restaurant when in walks this tall, beautiful blonde girl with green eyes. Great. I figured she was not going to place her Aryan baby with brown-skinned me! We talked and had a good time getting to know her. At first, she was shy, but talking about our life book helped us find common interests. She was a very articulate, personable girl.

Based on the physical characteristics of the birth mother and what we knew of the birth father, we figured this baby would be blonde with green eyes and not be brown skinned. The funny thing is, I told Jason, the baby would fit more in my family than in his, with my mother's green eyes and very fair skin, and my brother's biological daughter's blonde hair and blue eyes. J has dark haired people in his family.

I told J it was fine by me if the baby was white, because I had wanted a white baby and that was why I married him. He told me would be disappointed if the baby was white, because he wanted a brown baby and that was why he married me. Maybe we should have discussed our expectations before marrying...

Financially, we were not in a good position to become parents. In addition to his full-time job, J had been working part-time for a company that was encountering financial hardship. All the staff were laid off, including J. This meant 1/3 of our income was gone. We could do it, we thought, but we needed some time to save up for all the baby stuff.

That night, at the volunteer banquet, we were all abuzz talking about the adoption meeting experience. We told our family and friends we did not think that was our baby. That the timing was not right. We didn't have the full funds just yet. The room wasn't ready.

The baby was due in 3 weeks, we wanted to wait 6 months to a year for a baby. I had heard stories of women sitting in the nursery, rocking, waiting for their baby. I wanted that. I wanted to rock and wait. Our nursery was an office at the time. It was only a few months into the adoption process. People usually wait for years for a baby, don't they? We weren't desperate yet. We could wait up to a year.

On Sunday, at church, OJ, our dear friend and former music minister - and the minister who married us, gave me a message for J. OJ said God had told him to tell J, "Don't pass up a blessing because it does not meet your criteria." I mentioned it to J at lunch. Okay OJ.

When we pulled up in our driveway, I got a call from the birth mom we had met. She said she had a question to ask me. Okay. I figured she wanted to know where I went to school or something like that. "Will you be my baby's mom?" she asked.

Whoa!! Wasn't there some sort of protocol? Shouldn't the agency director ask us? Our answer was no! Thankfully my filter worked that time. I managed to tell her we were flattered and we just needed to pray about it some more. Thank God for prayer!! What else do you tell someone when you want to stall for time - ? I gotta pray.

I called the agency director who was thrilled and said she had told the girl to call us. I told her our answer was "No". She said no one had ever said no before. Urgh! Desperate people! We weren't desperate yet. I told her we would talk and pray about it and get back to her.

Then we freaked out!!!! We couldn't pray. We were too wooooooooooo in our heads to pray. So we called everyone we could get a hold of to pray. We even left voice messages for them to pray for us. That is when OJ's comments came back to mind. Our criteria were all about money for me and J wanted a brown baby.

Why did OJ have to give us that message!! Then, sitting at our kitchen table, J held out his hand to me and said, 'Will you jump with me?' I said 'Yes' and walked over to him. J stood up, we held hands, and jumped over a grout line in our ceramic tile. Then we called the birth mother and the agency director. We were having a baby!!!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Adoption Story - Part 2: Open to Adoption

We've been asked about our adoption journey.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences. I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.

Click on the link to view:

We tried for 2 years to get pregnant before learning we were infertile.

Our Adoption Story - Part 2: Open to Adoption
J was 200% adamant that he did NOT want to adopt. I had wanted to adopt since I was in my very early 20's. There was one boy in particular, Jesse, my then boyfriend and I wanted to adopt. I never forgot that boy and pray for him often. That put the adoption buzz in my heart.

With J not wanting to adopt, I had to resign myself to never being a mother. We went so far as to look at a 2-seater sports car because if we weren't going to have children, we should at least have some fun!!

J and I both worked for our church. The church had a private school. The new school receptionist, C-Mom6, had 6 children, one of whom was adopted in an open adoption. I thought she was insane for having 4 biological children and wanting to adopt a 5th when she was pregnant with her 6th. C-Mom6 was even more curious because of that whole open adoption thing. Every chance I got, I would ask C-Mom6 about adoption and open adoption. I remember stealing glances at her son's birth mother, who came with them to our church's Halloween party. They were strange people. Odd. Peculiar at best.

One morning, I did my usual questioning of C-Mom6 about her peculiar family. J was there this time. We were in his office. While she was talking, all of a sudden, I literally saw a lightbulb go on in J. He was finally open to adoption. At the start of that 15-minute conversation, he was closed like Fort Knox. By the end, he was wide open to adoption.

I jumped on the adoption bandwagon immediately. That night, I officially interviewed C-Mom6 and her husband, P-Dad6. I searched the Internet, talked to people, made phone calls. I was shocked to find out so many of our church friends were adopted, had adopted, or knew of someone that was adopted.

We were signed up with the state agency, with the tribal adoption program, and I was investigating every possible agency in town and in state. There were no stones I planned to leave unturned.

There was this one agency in town that was insane! They required a FULLY open adoption. Like, you not only exchanged names and pictures, but you met regularly, and maybe even had the birth mom to your home! I wasn't closing any doors. I signed us up thinking I would 'say' we wanted open adoption then after it was finalized, we'd be like, 'see ya'! (Don't be a hater, I'm not the only one that thinks that way).

That agency required us to read a book called 'Children of Open Adoption' by Silber and Dorner. Well, I did. It was through this book, that I learned how important an on-going relationship with the birth parent(s) is for the adoptee. My child would be better off emotionally as an adult if we maintained a relationship with the birth parent(s). Well, if it's good for my child, I'm there. J not so much.

In late February 2003, I dragged J to a workshop presented by this renegade adoption agency. We fell in love with the organization. We were all about volunteering, which was the basis of the organization. They required their adoptive parents to volunteer a minimum of 100 hours before the adoption was finalized.

J even changed his mind on open adoption. By the end of the workshop, J was 'let her sleep over' where I was 'she can come to my house, but I don't talk to my mother every week, do I have to talk to her every week?' Once we grasped the concept and benefits of open adoption for our child, for us, and for the birth mother, we no longer felt the need to kick the girl to the curb after finalization.

That weekend, the agency director told us she needed our Dear Birthmother letter and lifebook to show to 2 girls who were pregnant. Yikes!! We hurried up and got it finished. J did it on the computer, so we were able to print off 2 copies.

A Dear Birthmother letter is basically your adoption resume. It is a brief synopsis of your lives growing up, in your family, and about your wedding and current life. The lifebook is a pictorial and minor editorial on how wonderful you are and why you would be the perfect parents for this girl's child. No pressure. Just get it right, or you don't get to be parents!

A little over a week later, we got a phone call from the agency director.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Adoption Story - Part 1: Infertility

We've been asked about our adoption journey.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences. I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.

Our Adoption Story - Part 1: Infertility

J and I were married in 1999. We wanted to wait until we were established to have children. By that, we wanted to provide our children with the same basic material things we each had growing up - a house, a yard, the security of a home to call their own. We wanted the American Dream - 2 kids, a house, a yard, a dog, a couple of cars, not necessarily a white picket fence, but a fence none-the-less.

In 2000, after a "pregnancy scare", we stopped using birth control. We decided to put the timing of our family in God's hands. Besides, at age 30, I wasn't getting any younger! While we wanted children, I prayed every month that we NOT be pregnant. God knew I wanted our own house before having children. When we thought I was pregnant, we had been living with J's parents. We were scared alright - you can't get pregnant while living with your parents! That's just wrong.

In 2001, I still wasn't pregnant. We had the house. No fence, but a beautiful back yard with a shed, and a pond at the edge. I did the daily temperature readings, and charting and we were cautious to set to work 'in the window'. It got to be less about fun and more about work. Each month, I was disappointed. I felt like a failure.

Finally, we went to the doctor for testing. J got to get happy in a cup, while I had to undergo some very painful fertility testing procedures. To my deep surprise, I checked out perfectly healthy. I had had several operations and a pretty serious bout with endometriosis when I was in my early 20's so I thought for sure my tubes were blocked or out of place or something.

I remember exactly where I was sitting when Dr. Cole called to tell me J "didn't have enough bad boys to do the job". I know that sounded cold, but I loved Dr. Cole's presentation. I liked that he was a frat boy gyno. He gave me the news the way I needed to hear it. He made the news bearable. J went for further testing. We had second opinions. Apparently, it is a little known chromosome defect J was born with but no one knew.

I also remember clearly, the $11,000 desk the infertility specialist sat behind when he told J and I that our only option to have biological children together was to do in-vitro fertilization. It was going to cost us $15,000. Without skipping a beat, he said based on my cycle, he had an opening in 2 weeks that he could start us on. Yeah, like I have $15,000 just burning a hole in my pocket.

Our families had their own money drama going on, so in-vitro was not an option for us financially. But there were some social and spiritual reasons why we couldn't do it as well. With in-vitro, it was possible that we would have multiple embryos formed. Do we implant one at a time? Multiple at a time? We could scarcely afford one round of in-vitro. How were were going to afford two or three? And what if all the embryos took? I don't want to carry twins or multiples!! Do we do selective eliminations?

And what about the embryos after we are done having kids? Do we destroy them? Do we sell or adopt them out? And if someone else gets our embryo(s), would we know who and be able to stay in touch for the next 30 years so our kids don't end up dating or marrying their sibling?

My heart goes out to anyone who goes through fertility treatments. It is NOT an easy road, nor is it a string of easy decisions. I will never condemn anyone for choosing the path they chose to become parents. It is not an easy road at all.

The good news is, J's parents felt sorry for us and took us to Disney World the following month. We had a wonderful time but that was one of the hardest weeks of our lives. I can't tell you how many mixed race children were running around all 5 or 6 of those theme parks. At one point, I asked J if it was mixed race child week at Disney World - there were that many of them there. It was a wonderful trip, but I really could have done without all those mixed children around. I wanted to cry half the time.

I hated getting my period each month. It was a regular reminder of what a failure I was. I thought maybe this was my punishment for my youthful indiscretions. I felt like J, who was this wonderful man that would be a terrific father, was being punished because of my past sins. Logically, biblically, not accurate. But if I didn't blame myself, who could I blame - my husband for something that he was born with? My in-laws for birthing him? Or God? It was me. It was easier, neater, cleaner, more acceptable to blame myself.

I did not know it at the time, but J thought I might leave him for someone who could give me a child. Leaving J was not a thought on my mind. To me, it was J who had wanted children so badly. I wanted to be able to fulfill J's dreams. Our roles early on in our marriage was J as the dreamer with grand plans and ideas and me as the figurer outer of how to make his dreams come true financially. I couldn't make this dream work out for him. I felt like even more of a failure.

There is this song, by Heart, that talks about a woman who picks up a hitch hiker. It turns out, she picked him up so she could get pregnant because a child was the one thing the man she loves couldn't give her. I used to think she was a horrible person. And what a horrible song. But now I understand how someone who was desperate to have a child could do this. To this day, I have a hard time listening to that song, but I can't turn it off either. Leaving my husband was not part of my thought process. Sleeping with another man to have a child was never an option. I don't agree with the choices of the woman. But if I met her today, I'd give her a hug because I know she was hurting.

It hurt so much to see other people with children. To see pregnant women. Two days after being told we would never be parents, a friend took me to a paper party. There were 6 women there, including us. Of those, 3 were pregnant!!! I wanted to run in a room and cry. I wanted to get out of there but my friend was driving and she wasn't leaving any time soon.

I remember J's brother, Marine 1, and sister-in-law, Faith Chick, going through infertility testing around the same time as us. Faith Chick, told me the doctor said Marine 1 had 'champion sperm'. How unfair was that!! They were brothers. They should both have the same defect. But life isn't about fair.

Then Faith Chick got pregnant. That was so hard for me. I had to be happy for her. They had been trying and she had had her own fertility issues to deal with. But it was hard to be happy. She lost that baby. And I felt so horrible for her. Then she got pregnant again. And again, I tried to be happy for her. My mother-in-law was so happy and thrilled. Giddy, almost. I had to sit there and pretend to be 'in to it' when all I wanted to do was apologize for being such a failure as a daughter-in-law and all I wanted to do was bawl in a corner. I felt like a selfish, spoiled brat. I hated myself. I worked hard not to hate pregnant woman. Faith Chick's struggles taught me that I should not look at pregnant women with jealousy and bitterness. That I had no clue what that woman had to go through to get pregnant. It helped to heal my heart towards pregnant women.

I was open to adoption. I'd been open to adoption since I was in my early 20's when my then boyfriend and I saw Jesse, a little boy on the city bus, with his foster family. We said if we ever got married, we would go look for Jesse to adopt. I still pray for that boy to this day (Jesse, not the ex-boyfriend, wink!). J did not want to adopt. He was dead set against adoption. He was dead set against using donor sperm. That really ticked me off because our insurance would have covered most of the expenses if we used donor sperm. Infertility makes you ask yourself some hard questions. It makes you look at options you would never contemplate under normal circumstances.

We tried to move on with our lives. We even went car shopping and seriously thought to get a sports car. We thought we would be able to travel to world and do some fun stuff. Heck, if we can't have kids, we can live life up!! We ended up buying a Jeep instead - good thing!! Only I refused to get the one with the rear a/c upgrade. We weren't going to have kids. No way was I paying more for something we'd never use. In hindsight, I wish I gone for that upgrade.

Inside, I was dying. I remember yelling at God one day. I told him that if He wasn't going to fulfill this desire in my heart to be a parent, then He HAD BETTER take away the desire. It was too hard. Too crushing. Too overwhelming to live with that emptiness inside me with no recourse.

The thing is, I didn't realize just how much I really wanted children until I found out it wasn't an option. I thought it would be nice to have kids but I thought I could live a very happy, normal life without them.

J was working crazy hours on our church's new multi-million dollar children's building. He spent countless hours setting up lighting and sound to enhance an already decadent children's facility. A facility he dreaded going to every day because he would never have children of his own to walk those halls.

One night, J and I were arguing about it all. J left the house late at night. It scared me. He didn't normally leave after an argument and not that late at night. He came home with a bunch of baby stuff from Wal-Mart. Sleepers, blankets, socks, diapers. I put it all in a Longaberger basket. We kept that basket of baby stuff on our dresser for about a year, believing that one day, God would fill those clothes with our baby.

In the meantime, JH, one of the school teachers on staff with us shared a scripture verse at staff devotions. It was Ezekiel 37:1-10 where God commanded Ezekiel to speak to the dead bones and command them to live. JH paraphrased it to speak to her dead dreams,
"So I prophesied to my dead dreams like God told me to, and I commanded life to come into my heart's desire. And that inner dream God gave me lived and rose up, fully manifested."

I asked JH for a copy of that verse. I taped it to my computer monitor and believed that we would one day have a baby. That although our American Dream had died, God could revive those dead dreams.