A sweet friend of ours took some photos for us Wednesday and she was SO great to work really quickly in editing the photos we need to complete our profile book. Thanks Teagan, you're amazing!
So with the excitement of finishing our book, I've completed my letter to potential birthmothers. This was a very difficult letter to write.. so much to say yet so hard to come up with the right words. Really all I want to say to her is THANK you, thank you thank you thank you... even just for considering us. The courage it takes to choose adoption really blows me away and I have complete and total admiration for birthmothers. Unfortunately, while placement day will be the BEST day ever for us, they will experience great loss. They can't choose adoption for their baby without choosing NOT to parent. I can't even imagine going through morning sickness, doctors appointments, feeling them move for the first time, every kick and hick-up, then going through pains of child birth and deciding parenting your child is not what's best for them. While it's impossible to relate to their feeling of loss, my heart is definitely aching for their sorrow. What a selfless act.
Here's a shot from Wednesday we are using as the last page of our profile, following is the letter I wrote. (thank you sweet sister for helping me edit and organize the word vomit!!).
Dear Sweet Mother,
I imagine this decision will be made with great care and difficulty. I am sorry for the pain you’re experiencing and want you to know I am incredibly thankful for your courage to pursue adoption. Thank you for the love and selflessness you have for your baby, and I deeply appreciate you taking time to view our profile and read this letter.
From the moment I was old enough to realize what I wanted to do with my life, I knew my one desire was to be a wife and mother. I think my background influenced that wish. I grew up in a Christian home with a wonderful family. I am the youngest of three. My brother, sister, and I were very close growing up and lived a very active lifestyle. We were constantly outside and making up games. I lived a very sheltered life until high school. In high school, I rebelled a little but was instantly reminded of the path God laid out for me. I am a Christian and am no way perfect, but because of my faith, I am able to learn from my mistakes and lean on God during hard times. I feel I will be able to relate to my children in many circumstances because I definitely pushed the boundaries and experienced life.
After high school, I had a great college experience. I played collegiate volleyball for three years and enjoyed every minute of it. I met Jake while I was home on summer break, and we instantly hit it off. We went on our first date a week after knowing each other, were engaged three months later, and married within the year. I fell in love with him because he is the best man I’ve ever known. He is loving, caring, gentle, patient, attentive, trustworthy, and so much fun. I knew I wanted to marry him because I wanted to be treated with the love and respect he showed me for the rest of my life. Every day our love grows and we truly enjoy life together. We enjoy spending time with both our families, watching movies, playing sand volleyball, hosting dinner parties, and attending church. We are members at our local church and co-lead a bible study three times a month from our home. We have a great life together, but we desperately want to grow our family.
We began trying to have children a year into marriage. As I previously stated, my desire to be a mother is incredibly strong. The news of our infertility came as such a shock. I was totally heart-broken. One of the reasons I fell in love with Jake was his strong desire to be a father. I feel a man craving fatherhood is a rare gift that I cherish deeply. He will make such a wonderful father and I am so excited for the day we grow our family.
When I picture our children, I picture them happy, healthy, and active. I want to give them a fun and carefree childhood. I wish to shelter them from heartache and teach them about life. I will encourage their talents and try my best to shape them into successful adults. I will speak of God daily and pray over them constantly. I pray they grow up to believe in the God I love. I will accept them for who they are and who they want to be. I also want you to know I’m praying for you. I am praying for your decision and will continue to pray for peace and comfort during delivery. I pray you trust this adoption plan is right for you and trust your child will be in great hands.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and consider us. I promise I will love and mother your child well. I will do my best to equip them with the tools to be successful in life, and they will be able to choose their own path. I will guide them and help them, but ultimately, I will encourage their wants and desires. When I speak of you, I will tell them of your unfailing love and strength in choosing adoption. I pray for the words to teach them about you and love them through any feelings they may have. I want them to be proud of you and love us for the life we are going to provide.
I am ready for our family to feel complete. We’ve prayed for a family, and we trust the Lord has a perfect plan for us. We are incredibly thrilled for the day we get to hold our sweet baby and hope that day comes soon.
Okay, I'm going to take a deep breath and try to make this post as loving as possible. I truly appreciate everyone having SO much excitement for us as we start this adoption process. I will say that as we've experienced the awkward and hurtful questions through infertility I've gotten pretty good at dodging the questions, or having an auto response. Well, this process is very raw and I'm learning a lot about myself and what exactly I "want" or don't "want" to address. If you have asked me ANY of these questions, please please please do NOT think that I'm writing this post for you specifically or directing any anger towards you.
I am not frustrated with anyone, but I've realized that while we sat through an 8 hour course on what adoption is and what it isn't- I realized my sweet family and friends did not have the privilege of learning what we've learned. Also, because you haven't walked in our shoes, you do not know exactly how our hearts feel in the matter- and I do not expect you to completely relate or read our minds.
So this is supposed to be a learning experience for all of us. Also, I feel like I want to touch on some major areas... we are very open and I am a little fearful that if you come across another adoptive family and ask some of these question or make these comments, you might get an ugly response. We know you care and love us very much- and we also know you're curious. All I ask is that you think before you speak and take this post as a way to learn what I need from you. I'm not being mean or trying to be demanding, but after all- this is my blog and you're choosing to read this and support us. Thank you for caring.
...in no particular order:
1) I don't expect you to relate at all to how we feel- Please don't try to come up with a way to empathize with us. It's not comforting, it's frustrating to hear "I know how you feel.." I never agree with that statement. **Perhaps try- "I imagine this process to be very difficult and I'm praying for you to have hope, peace, and a sound mind during this process, please let me know if you ever want to talk."
2) We are truly excited about adoption. We are not forever closed to pursuing biological children but we are NOT adopting so we get pregnant. The phrase "watch, when you adopt you'll probably get pregnant..." Well great if we do- what a miracle! But when I hear this I hear "adoption isn't as good as having biological children" **just mention your excitement for us as we start our family!
3) Adoption is expensive.... really expensive, and while we've shared the number with most, I'm realizing this should be more personal. Most people don't discuss hospital bills after birth, or we generally don't discuss salary or how much we owe on our houses. Let's not discuss this anymore! It's an overwhelming number and I'm kind of tired of saying it out loud, haha. **if you are considering adoption and want to discuss finances on a serious level, please ask us!.. otherwise just know we are working really hard to pull the finances together and talking about how expensive it is really makes it more overwhelming. Just encourage us and ask how are the finances coming along?.. no more numbers.
4) "are you sad you can't have your own children?"... well, am I sad that we've experienced infertility? YES.. have we shed countless tears grieving our biological children? YES.. but through adoption we will have our own children. We will be real parents and a real family. **lovingly tell us what great parents we'll be :)
5) "You're so lucky you get to parent without going through pregnancy, you'll be able to keep your figure and not have to recover from giving birth (pain, healing, breast feeding, etc)".. While I am trying to be positive and I am excited of the differences in adoption vs pregnancy, this is just mean. We desperately want to be pregnant-I would love to feel our baby in my belly. No I don't want to be sick and vomiting and terribly uncomfortable and I'm not glamorizing the gross bodily functions that come with pregnancy but I would LOVE to grow a baby. ** So stay away from this one completely is the best advice I can give.. If I make these comments it's generally a coping mechanism and I should be shut down.
6) The constant stories of people you know who waited for a month, 10 years, failed adoption... the stories aren't comforting at all, ESPECIALLY the negative ones. But even the quick "painless" adoption stories aren't helpful because there is NO guarantee ours will be like anyone else's. **If you're trying to comfort us.. just say "wow, how exciting. I'll pray for you during this process and I know you will get the perfect baby for your family and have your own adoption success story."
7) a few terms we learned in our adoption seminar:
- birthmothers are choosing adoption or choosing an adoption plan. They are not "giving up" or "putting their baby up for adoption" .. it's all about using positive words, choosing adoption is positive, and giving a baby up sounds very negative.
-if after 48 hours the birthmother changes her mind and doesn't sign the relinquishment papers she is choosing to "parent"... not "keeping it". That implies it's like going through your closet and deciding to "keep" an old pair of shoes vs. throwing them out.
8) along the process of birthmothers changing their minds.. please don't tell us horror stories of failed adoptions, terrible relationships with birthmothers, and potential risks of drugs, abuse, mental disability. We've done the research and are totally aware of the possibilities-- we are STILL adopting.
I follow a few adoption blogs and these things come up later, but I realized it's never too early to address them.
1) Unless the birthmother we get paired with chooses a different title, we like birthmother.- we do not want to answer the question "where is their "real" mother or "real" father?" WE will be their real parents.
2) We are open to several different races and we don't ever want our child to feel uncomfortable. Please start checking your heart now so that you never say anything inappropriate towards our family. Along these lines- the number one thing I hear people say to new parents is who the baby looks like... this baby will not look like us. Not saying it won't resemble us by some cool coincidence, but genetically it will not have our eyes, smile, hair, or skin color. Now, you all KNOW we are adopting so this shouldn't be an issue but try and keep this in mind for children you are so quick to compliment in the store on looking so much like their parents. Looks aren't all that important and they may be adoptees. Just a change in perspective.
3) The history of our birth mother is ours to share. We will disclose information as we feel comfortable, but we really want to protect our child from hearing things too soon or from a secondary source. So if we choose to share something with you, keep it to yourself. We will do our best to keep you informed of our parenting plan so you are able to respect our family.
4) Touching on finances again, please never ask in front of our child how much "they cost".. I've heard of this happening WAY too often... I don't want our child to feel like we bought them from the store :/
okay that's all I have for now!
I realize most people reading this post love us and would never really think to do any of these things, especially not with ill intent. BUT I just want you to know what generic responses I hear on a daily basis from those around me when they hear we're adopting... I try to respond graciously and take into consideration most people don't know what to say and I KNOW I've said some really crazy things to people when I didn't know what to say. This is a way for me to send it out there and educate you as best I can on some of the heart issues that come along with adoption. It's not meant to sound hateful or negative--it's just my reality. If you don't know what to say- "congratulations, how exciting!" will NEVER fail :)
I spoke with our agency early last week and confirmed they received our application. They informed me they had all they needed from us and to wait until they contact us to set up the Home Study. I was glad to touch base with them and know they're looking over all of our finances and deciding if we are qualified to adopt. I really haven't been fearful of them turning us down or anything, but I'm just a little anxious about how long the process will take. ---again, they gently told us to wait... I'm sensing a common theme ;)
Well, I logged into our bank account on Friday just to pay some bills and double check everything. To my surprise the check we sent with our application for the Home Study is already cashed!! Now, we haven't heard anything from them yet but we took this as great news. I don't know how soon they'll contact us, but that little bit of progress was SO encouraging and exciting. Quick reminder of the upcoming process.. once our application is approved they'll schedule a home study, the Home study is three separate visits to the home. They will conduct three different interviews in our home- one together, Jake by himself, and me by myself. When Home Study is complete we will pay a fee to "activate" our profile- give them our 8 family profile books for potential birthmothers and we will officially be on the list. As soon as they have our profile and activation fee they could show our profile that very same day!! I will update as soon as we hear anything!
In the mean time, a sweet friend of ours is taking adoption "maternity" photos for us this Wednesday. We are going to use some for our profile book and hopefully use some for the nursery makeover. I'm so excited to see how these turn out. It's a beautiful way for us to document this exciting time and not feel we are "missing out" on ALL things related to starting a family.
Here's a shot of the props I'm working on for the shoot.
Good news: our application is complete! Hope Cottage will receive our paperwork monday and hopefully schedule our Home Study very soon. :)
Now, on a slightly heavier note- I had a disheartening revelation this week. Our infertility has undoubtedly been an emotional roller coaster, but I somehow convinced myself I wouldn't be overwhelmed by "waiting" during the adoption process. Last week our paperwork was ready to go minus one little detail about health insurance for our future child. It was a minor glitch and took less than a week to solve, but in waiting for paperwork I realized I was frustrated with the lack of normalcy in starting our family. I believe we are more crushed by our total lack of control or the change in plans than we are with the actual outcome. So, I had a small moment of "after all we've been through, why can't this adoption just be NORMAL"... I don't even think I know what normal means, but I felt so entitled to everything going smooth and in my time. Who promised me things would be exactly the way I imagined? Well, nobody, and adoption is really a process of waiting and full of unknowns. We are also only in the very early phases of this whole thing. In adoption there aren't guaranteed trimesters, promised due dates, or any clear indication of WHEN we will meet our child, and I need to expect a season of waiting and ask the Lord to strengthen my weary heart.
I am thankful the Lord is quickly revealing my lack of faith in Him and changing my heart early in this process. I desperately need to rest in His timing. I view this temporary frustration as a time to realize I am not waiting on an agency, I'm not waiting on a birthmother to choose us, I'm not waiting on paperwork--I'm resting in the perfect timing of our Maker.
So, until further notice- we wait... this song by Meredith Andrews really spoke to my spirit and our call to wait on Him.
Also, I hand stamped these bracelets for us. It was my first attempt so they'll do for now but I'd like to try and make a few more. They are an exciting reminder as we try to patiently await the arrival of our sweet baby.
Jake is off work until Thursday and we are really glad we anticipated needing time to work on our application. Not only is it wonderful to spend time together, catch up on much needed rest, and play :)... we were able to complete the bulk of our application yesterday! We worked over 6 hours answering questions, hunting down all our information, checking bank statements, and making copies!
Everything we could get done yesterday we did... now we need to make a few calls to insurance, go to a clinic for TB/HIV testing, and have a quick physical assessment! Hopefully we will get those checked off today or tomorrow! I believe we may be the "over achievers" of our seminar! Once complete I'm driving to Dallas to hand deliver- mail is TOO slow.
I'll say one thing, they definitely won't be waiting on us for anything! Let's get this baby ;)
We weren't sure what to expect from the seminar but we are SO grateful to Hope Cottage for putting so much effort and care into those 8 hours.
We left with so much excitement and peace. Our questions were well addressed and it put an end to all our fears. There is so much unknown as each adoption story is different; however, they went through so many scenarios it really felt as though we could handle anything. Or at the very least we knew we could trust our agency to do everything possible to make this a smooth and healthy process for us and the birthmother.
We learned three very important things at this seminar:
1) We are so very pleased with our agency and realize the fee of partnering with them is SO very worth it!
All the women on staff are very passionate about adoption and they offer so much counseling to the birthmother, waiting families, and post adoption care. The very complicated aspects of legal paperwork made us realize why the financial aspect is so significant. Their post adoption care also made us realize a semi-open adoption with communication through them would be stable and dependable. They have been around for so long and they have gifts and letters in storage from over 30 years ago they keep for adoptees. Pretty amazing.
2) We realized semi-open adoption is not as scary as it sounds. It is in no way shape or form co-parenting. It is a way to help birthmothers know their child is being cared for well. Semi-open is controlled and agreed upon before birth and is not a binding document. We only need to commit to what we are comfortable with, and it is ultimately our responsibility to decide what's best for our family. It is a way for us to know the answers our child will ask about their birthmother while explaining their magnificent story. We want our sweet baby to be full and to have all the pieces of their story as possible-who they are, where they come from, and want them to know their birthmother made an amazing choice and gave us the best gift we could ever receive!!! We do understand the birthmother may want completely closed and we are already praying for the words to explain everything and anything to our sweet child.
3) We gained so much respect for birthmothers. Choosing an adoption plan for their child is such a selfless act. They are realizing parenting is not the very best option for their baby. Wow, the courage it takes to choose adoption amazes me. Also, the harsh language in the relinquishment paperwork and having to sign the dotted line stating you understand your legal rights are forever terminated. Another reason why Hope Cottage is so amazing. They provide extensive counseling during the pregnancy so when the time comes the birthmother is prepared and supported. We also realize the moment we hold our sweet baby for the first time we will be overwhelmed with joy but in that exact moment the birthmother is experiencing significant loss and sorrow. Knowing Hope Cottage provides post adoption counseling for the birthmother is really neat.
I Wished For You- by Marianne Richmond
All in all the seminar was GREAT! We were given a lot of information and we also shared our personal experience and touched on why we were choosing adoption. It was a very emotional day and we both were fighting the tears so we weren't the blubbering couple in the corner, haha. On the drive home we were both totally fried. I've never been in a seminar or class where I've wanted to absorb EVERYTHING... we enjoyed every minute!
Jake said something on the car ride home that instantly made me tear with joy.. "our child could already be conceived".. it is very possible. Our sweet baby could be growing this very minute.