Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adoption on our mind

We are back on the road to adoption!

We met with a new agency and explained our background and situation (Last summer we had started a home-study, but had to pause our efforts unexpectedly in fall). The new agency agreed to work with us and everything seems very positive, despite some extra steps. We are filling out paperwork (again) and our sweet references are completing reference forms again (thank you so much!).

It feels crazy and nerve-wracking to attempt adoption again. Envisioning Mike as a daddy makes me so excited. It keeps me motivated to plow through all this paperwork.

Love our new agency! The first agency took a "bare bones" approach and didn't really get to know us. Their forms looked like they had been photocopied from the 1980s. The paperwork from the new agency is more involved and in-depth. I appreciate their attention and thoroughness.

We went to an "Adoption 101" class a few weeks ago. It was so helpful to learn more about the process, and hear anecdotes from those who have adopted.

One thing we learned is that adoption involves loss experienced by three parties: 1. The birthparents, 2. The adopted child, and 3. The adoptive parents.


In choosing to place their child for adoption, birthparents lose the opportunity to raise their child. This is a HUGE sacrifice for a parent to make, and one that often leaves a permanent hole in their hearts.

Adopted children typically experience a sense of loss knowing that their birthparents weren't able to parent them. They need to come to terms with this in their own way, and often go through a period of grieving the loss of their birthparents.

Adoptive parents often come to adoption from the loss and pain they experienced during infertility (like us). As excited as we are to adopt, we have experienced a real loss in not being able to conceive.

While it breaks my heart to think of the loss and pain experienced by those involved in adoption, I am glad to at least be aware of it. I'm also glad that open adoption is more common. I never want to minimize the feelings of loss that our adopted son or daughter may experience, and I always want to honor the sacrifice that their birthparents made. I think it's important to acknowledge these losses in order to embrace the real beauty (and sorrow) that surrounds adoption.

In class we were also reminded of how God has used "adoptive families" in history to carry out His plan. Examples given were Moses (being "adopted" by Pharoah's daugher), the prophet Samuel (his mother Hannah conceived him after infertility and allowed the priest Eli to raise him), and Jesus, whose adopted father was St. Joseph. How beautiful that God has used adoptive parents in history to carry out His plan of salvation!

While I'm not looking forward to more paperwork, I am grateful for our agency and what I'm learning in our classes.

If you know us IRL, please don't share our adoption efforts with others quite yet. We plan to be more public once our home-study is approved. Please stay on the lookout for any birthmother's considering adoption...our home-study process can speed up if needed. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Summer is Here!

Thanks to Kathryn for hosting. Here's a little update on what's going on in my neck of the woods.

1. Summer Concert
Our city has orchestra concerts in the park on Thursday nights. We went with some friends and their kiddos last night and it was lovely. Sitting on a blanket, playing with the kids, chatting, and listening to great music. So glad summer is finally here!

2. Sound of Music
One of the songs at the concert last night was a Sound of Music medley. It made my heart soooooo happy. I need to watch that movie again. It's been too long.

3. Camping
We try to go camping once or twice a summer. This weekend we are going to my favorite childhood campground. It is on the grounds of a Christian conference center/retreat house. You can hike to several "prayer towers" and climb the stairs to see a great view.

4. Lots and lots of books
Mike is changing jobs and moving to a much smaller and shared office. When leaving his old job he had to find a place for an entire wall of books. We turned one wall of the second bedroom into a "book wall." Our first attempt was to buy 26 rustic crates (a Craigslist find) and stack them against the wall. I thought it looked pretty nice, but Mike was nervous about his books being damaged from the un-sanded crates. Also it wasn't exactly a polished look. 

Our second attempt was a wide bookshelf we bought at Ik.ea. It cost only a bit more than the crates, and looks A LOT nicer. ...If only we would have thought of this the first time around. 

Below are before and after pictures. ...and it only took 4 days to sell the crates on Craigslist!! :)

Before - Our stacked crates (26 in all)
After - Our Ikea bookshelf
5. Orthodoxy
Speaking of books, my book group is reading Orthodoxy (by G.K. Chesterton) this summer. I have been wanting to read it for awhile, and reading it with a group will hold me accountable.

6. Phone detachment
I'm realizing more and more that checking my phone is a bad habit. When my phone is nearby I find myself checking email and Face.book compulsively and frequently. Too frequently. I think I need to detach. I love having a smartphone for so many reasons (keeping in touch, calendar, gps, shopping lists, budgeting, reading blogs, etc), but my constant screen swiping has to go! A friend of mine instituted "No technology Tuesdays." She and her husband put away their electronics on Tuesday evenings. I was thinking of some sort of "turn-off" time in the evening, after which I won't check email or Face.book.

7. Back to school
Another reason to detach from my phone, is that I am going back to school. I'm starting coursework to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and this requires 7 classes. It normally takes two years to complete the coursework, but I found an accelerated program that takes one year. I'm going to try it. I figure I might as well be studying it while Mike is writing his dissertation. Coffee shop study dates here we come!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy this summer weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reading about Adoption #1

It all started a few years ago. We were having difficulty conceiving and starting to think more seriously about adoption.

I had so many fears and concerns about many aspects of adoption, and knew I needed to learn more. So, started reading books about adoption. These books have been so helpful in answering questions, calming  fears, equipping me for the future, and giving me a real life perspective on adoption.

This is the first in a series of book reviews on adoption. Hope you find something that might be interesting to you!

I'm starting off with three of my favorites:

1. Hypothetical Future Baby by Claudia Chapman.
This is the most recent book I've read. It is an adoption memoir written by an Australian woman, living in England, who is adopting twins from Ethiopia. It was endearing, gut-wrenching, and funny all at the same time. The author shares her difficult experience of infertility and the roller coaster of foreign adoption. She and her husband traveled a tough road to bring home their children. She is so open and candid about her experiences, that I felt like I was having a cup of coffee with a dear friend.

The author's writing style is tongue-in-cheek hilarious. No joke! I think one of the best ways to cope with infertility treatments, and the mountains of adoption paperwork, is to have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself. The author does just that, while also incorporating her faith in a non-preachy way.

For example, the back of the book lists questions the author wrestles with: "Were my friends this obnoxious before they had kids? Will the social worker notice if I only vacuum in the middle of the rooms? Does God really hate me, or does it only feel that way? And, most importantly, will anybody find out that sometimes, I pretend my cat is a baby?"

I also learned that adoption in the U.K. involves even more red-tape and bureaucracy than in the U.S. Ugh. The author and her husband were required to have a certain number of childcare hours caring for pre-school aged children, and be interviewed by an adoption panel (yikes), as part of the approval process. As the author put it, "For the first time in my life, I wish I lived in America, where home studies take a few weeks and adoption panels do not exist" (pg. 41).

This book was helpful and entertaining (and not just for those considering adoption). I hope you'll read it and let me know what you think!

2. Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children, by Rachel Garlinghouse
Mike and I are considering openness to transracial adoption. We both grew up, and currently live, in a mostly White area, so transracial adoption is one area in which I feel particularly ill-equipped. Family and friends tell me that they think black babies are so cute (and I agree), but those babies grow up to be black men and women. If we are a black child's parents, I want to make sure that we provide the support, mentors, and resources they need to become confident adults. If we adopt transracially I know our adoptive family will stand out. That means questions. I want to be prepared to speak in confidence and in a way that honors my son or daughter.

This book was an amazing resource in my humble opinion! It was written by an adoptive mom with two black daughters. The chapters discuss preparing for transracial adoption, hair and skin care, answering others questions, creating a support network, and discussing adoption and race with your children. I really appreciated the author's caution about sharing two much information with others about your child's adoption story or history. That story is your child's to tell.  Just because someone asks doesn't mean I am obligated to tell (for a "chronic over-sharer," this is something I will need to be really deliberate about!).

My favorite part of the book is end of each chapter. Each chapter closes with questions for discussion ( maybe for you and your spouse?), practical application tips to illustrate the topic, and resources for BOTH parents and kids (books, magazines, movies, etc). I know I will use the resource lists in this book over and over (and over) again.

3. Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It. by Dr. Ray Guarendi
Growing up my mom used to listen to Dr. Ray Guarendi give parenting advice on Catholic radio. My hubby loves listening to Dr. Ray now. Dr. Ray is a Catholic psychologist who is known for his practical, no-nonsense advice to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. I knew he had a lot of kids, but it wasn't until I started reading this book that I found out that all of his 10 children were adopted. Wow! I guess that gives him some credibility, when it comes to talking about adoption.  

I wrote more about this book in a prior post, but wanted to include it this series of reviews, because it's just that good!  The book covers several helpful topics, such as different ways to adopt, home studies (the process whereby a couple is approved), how to talk about adoption with your child(ren), answering questions from family, friends and people at the grocery store, open adoption, transracial adoption, special needs adoption, birth order, discipline, and costs. He addresses issues in a practical, entertaining, and often humorous way. 

For example, regarding the potentially unknown, or even known, background of the child, Dr. Ray says: "Genetics maybe the foundation of the road, but Mom and Dad are driving the bus. The kids sit in separate seats, but the bus is going in the same direction. Once more, 'You can't know what your getting.' Absolutely true, no one can, be it with a birth or an adopted child. Much of the genetic world lies beyond our control, even understanding. Yes, there may be more unknowns in the histories of adoptive children, but how and where those unknowns become known is the big unknown. If one wants certainty in life, having a child is not the place to start" pg. 45.

I've come to realize that I will probably be reading about adoption for the rest of my life. Thankfully I don't think there will be any shortage of books on the topic. I hope to post my second set of reviews soon.