Sunday, December 9, 2012

Just A Piece of Paper

Who knew that one piece of paper could hold up so much.  I have gotten by my whole adult life with just one official copy of my birth certificate.  In fact my parents took so long in filing my birth certificate for my home birth that when I requested an additional copy so that I could apply for an updated passport the state of Wisconsin told me I could not obtain an official copy of my birth certificate a few years back.  In order to get an official copy I had to provide a baptism record (I was raised Quaker- no baptism), a birth certificate (haha funny), or hospital record (remember I was home birthed- so haha).  So you would think that I'd have some idea that this one piece of paper could hold up so much.

We finalized at the end of August but we STILL do not have an amended birth certificate.  So despite fighting to get a copy of her original piece of paper (aka birth certificate) we still cannot get her a new social security # (she has one- I just can't know it), we cannot get her a passport, we cannot open a bank account, and I just learned the other day we cannot get a life time hunting/finish license for our state.  I'm frustrated.

So our agency found out the week of Sandy that PA had changed their requirements and thus they had not sent all the required paper work for an amended birth certificate to be created.  So Sandy hit and Phili was busy with Sandy after math (I have sympathy and know the birth certificate is not #1 however the process started two months BEFORE Sandy).  So the courts are backed up in Phili and so now we wait.  It could be mid-January before we get a birth certificate (because they get 12 weeks to provide us with an amended birth certificate assuming the paper work is right this time).  

I've looked into ways to circumvent the need for a birth certificate for after all its just a piece of paper and when I get frustrated I usually crusade.  For the passport I'd need an affidavit from someone that can verify her birth along with a baptismal record (which we have but doesn't have a place of birth on it which the passport site indicates it needs) or birth certificate (haha).  So passport is a likely no- go.  Social Security # I maybe able to get as it states in "some cases" they will accept an official final adoption decree which DH is going to get three copies of tomorrow (we probably should have an official copy of that anyway).  Hunting/Fishing license there is no alternative.  Bank account I need the social security # to open an account.

The funny things is I have not fished since middle school and my husband has maybe purchased a fishing license twice in the past 8 years I've known him.  Its the hunting/fishing license that gets me the most (well maybe the passport and social security number and bank account bother me a lot too).  In our state once a child turns 1 the rate doubles from $150 to $300 for a life time license.  My DH is 4th generation born in the state we reside and it holds some clout.  My dear daughter wont get a birth certificate that honors her being 5th generation.  The hunting/fishing license is as close as she will ever get to being truly from this state (flat landers like myself will be outsiders no matter how long they live here).  Part of me wants to write the Fishing and Wildlife department with our story and I'm sure we can work something out; however it also means I have to reveal her adoption story to a stranger that has no right to her story.

So no trip to the zoo in Canada in our near future.  Possibly no life time/hunting fishing license for our little girl (she likely would only fish but who knows I dont want to hold her back).  We still cannot deposit her checks addressed to her from her baby showers.  

I just feel stuck- like I still not 100% her mom yet.  Just because of a stupid piece of paper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview Project 2012

 When I found Open Adoption Bloggers it was a moment in my waiting process when I realized I wasn't the only one. I realized there were really others that existed in the triad. People who not only challenged the way I thought and helped me grow but also people there to make me realize that I wasn't the first one to have many of the feelings I had while I waited. Sure I read books as our agency required but many of them were written in the 80's and 90's. So while open adoptions continued to grow the knowledge in the books was stagnant.

 The Interview project is a project in which open adoption bloggers are randomly paired, get to know their partners blogs, then interview them. What I love most about this project is not only did I get to read an amazing (new to me) blog I also then was able to read the blogs she enjoyed. So without further ado I'd like to introduce Andy from Today Is The Day. Andy is an amazing Mom to a boy named Liam. Both Andy and Liam were adopted at birth. Andy has chronicled her parenting of Liam, her partnership with Hilary, the reunification with her birthmother Iris, as well as her (and Liams) relationship with food, their family traditions, their love for laughter, and my favorite posts those she calles "caught a moment."

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Q:  You created a post Parenting Tips I'm Working On - What has changed most in your parenting style as Liam gets older?
A: One of the best parts of these interviews is that I get to revisit old posts that I haven’t read in a long time.  I wrote that post in 2008, 2 years before Liam was  diagnosed with ADHD and we started him on medication.  If only I knew then what I know now!  I think the thing that has changed the most is my understanding of ADHD and how it affects Liam. I still work on all the tips listed on that post, and probably struggle the most with yelling and being consistent.  Liam can push my every button (sometimes all at once).  The one thing I have tried hard to learn, is to let go of my expectations.  If he doesn’t want to go trick or treating for Hallowe’en, that’s okay.  It’s not about me and what I think he should do.

Q: You glanced at the topic of displaying birthfamily pictures and would love to hear more of your perspective on what/how much to share?  I thought your insight from the adoptee perspective was interesting as it made the keeping of pictures private made it seem like the topic of adoption was private.  How do you view balancing private vs. public information in relation to adoption?
A: I didn't have any pictures of my birth family until I was in reunion with my mother Iris when I was 30 years old.  Seeing her picture (and one of my older 1/2 sister) for the first time was an unbelievably hard moment, but also an amazing one.  It suddenly made this person that I had only ever imagined real. Pictures for me have always been important, a way to capture memories.  On the few times that I have met Iris in person, it was always important to take as many pictures as I could, because in the back of my mind I always worried that it would be the last time I saw her.  Having a picture of her and I together was priceless.

As I'm very open about my adoption, I don't hide it away. We have 2 walls of family pictures that line the staircase in our house and I have pictures of both Iris and my sister hanging among all my other family members.  I do think that if I were to hide those pictures, or not display them, that I would be conveying the idea that adoption was something to be hidden.  And it's not.

I wish that we had more pictures for Liam.  We have 1 or 2 of his Mom that she sent us early on, but that is all.  They hang among other family pictures in his bedroom, out and proud for anyone to see. 
By nature of blogging about family and adoption, I have made the choice to not keep very much private, though there are topics and stories that I would never include on the blog, Facebook or other public places.  Some of those stories are just too personal, or not mine to share.  My litmus test for what to include on the blog comes down to Mothers:  Would I be okay if either of my mothers, or if Liam's mother were to read what I wrote?  If so, then I continue on.

Q: You shared that an assignment for Liam prompted an opportunity for you and another parent to present on different types of families and how the teachers would adapt assignments to include all families.  What changes occurred as a result?  Do you speak with Liam's teachers at the start of the year about adoption?  Did your parents speak with your teachers?  (clearly not the bio teacher but he seemed unreasonable)    
A: Liam goes to a fairly small private school, so there isn’t a need to speak to teachers at the start of each year, as we have been there for 6 years now and everyone knows who we are and the fact that he was adopted.   I think the biggest changes that occurred at the school is that teachers are much more aware of the impact their assignments can have and they work hard to use more inclusive language. 

 I don’t know if my parents ever spoke to my teachers when I was in grade school – I’ll be sure to ask my Mom when I talk to her next.  However, I know that my adoption was not a secret, and something that I openly discussed with my school mates.  I also went to a small school, there was only 10 of us in my grade and we were together from Kindergarten to grade 8.  One of the boys in my class was also adopted, but he was much less vocal, almost to the point of being ashamed of it.  I got the sense that his parents did not want him to discuss it.  Ever.

Q: Traditions are a big theme in your blog.  Where do the traditions come from?  What is your favorite?
A: I do love a good tradition!  Most of our traditions come from my partner Hilary’s family, but some are ones that she and I have developed over the 19 years we have been together.  By and large my favorite tradition is Table Presents.  This one comes from Hilary’s family and has its roots in British tradition.  For Birthdays and Christmas (and some other holidays if we feel the need to spruce things up) everyone at the table gets a small, usually funny, gift to open before the meal is served.  Our friends and my side of the family have even now embraced this and we all have a lot of fun with it. Some of the best table presents over the years have included bacon mints, bacon peanut brittle and bacon mouth spray.  We have a thing for bacon!

Q: You mentioned that you only took a few weeks off when Liam was born.  In the US gay couples, men, and adoptive parents don't typically get paid time off because paid time off is paid by a companies short term disability policy.  Since I (and the other groups listed) never give birth thus never are "disabled" we don't get paid time off with our children.  How does this work in Canada?
A: Here in Canada maternity leave is 1 year, but that is technically broken down into 14 weeks of actual “maternity” leave (based on the woman giving birth and needing to recover) and the rest is listed as “parental” leave.  The parental portion can be taken by either parent or split between the 2 of them.  All of this leave time is paid by our employment insurance benefits and is available to anyone who has worked a minimum number of hours before they apply for it. Employers can choose to “top up” the amount a person is paid while they are off, but those employers are few and far between.  Adoptive parents qualify for the parental leave portion and can have it extended the additional 14 weeks to make up the full year to allow for bonding with the child.
At the time that we adopted, the laws had just changed recognizing same-sex couples as common-law couples, and another law changed allowing common-law couples to adopt.  So my partner Hilary was able to take paid parental leave when Liam came home.

Q: You posted a few times about starting but being unsuccessful at finding your birthfathers family.  Have you considered reopening that search?
A: I go back and forth on this one.  I have very little information, so knowing where to even start is hard.  If anyone knows a lesbian named Carol from Guelph, Ontario who would be in her 60’s, let me know.
And even though I don’t currently have any contact with Iris, my mother, I know that she absolutely does not want me to search for his family, and I don’t want to hurt her or cause her any distress.  From what I’ve gathered in tidbits since our reunion, Iris and my father’s wife were (are?) friends, so that could be pretty awkward.  Another factor is  that my siblings would all be in there 60s and 70s and  I’m not sure how they would handle finding a sibling now.  But then on the other hand, my siblings would all be in there 60s and 70s, which doesn’t leave me a whole lot of time left to try and find them.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

Q: Silence has been the hardest part of our open/semi-open adoption thus far.  The not knowing if letters are arriving or if gifts we have sent to her siblings are being distributed.  How are you helping Liam deal with the silence and has it changed as he has gotten older?
A: This has been the hardest part of Liam’s adoption for me.  I so wanted him to have what I didn’t – a relationship with his first family while he was growing up, avoiding the emotional roller coaster of reunion later on.  For the most part Liam takes it in stride, having never known any different.  Since he is growing up as an only child, the idea that he has siblings close in age is probably the hardest part for him.  He would very much like to meet them and have them as part of his life.  When he does bring it up we explain as best we can, based on our own assumptions.  However, I’m sure there will come a time, as it does with many adoptees, that he will decide that he wants to search for them and we will do everything we can to help him with that journey.

Q: You posted about watching Say Yes to the Dress (which i can admit to watching- WHO has $10000 or even $1000 for a wedding dress? but I digress)  What is your current guilty pleasure?
A:  Ahhhh guilty pleasures.  Right now my guilty pleasure is having an hour to myself in the morning before everyone wakes up, so that I can play mindless computer games, otherwise known as Farmville on Facebook.    I know!  Serious time waster of no value what-so-ever, but hey, I enjoy it with my morning coffee.


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 Thank you Andy for sharing your blog with all of us. I know you have stepped away from adoption blogging and stated it was because you felt that at times you felt you had nothing left to add. I really appreciate your perspective as both an adoptee and an adoptive mother. I hope one day my daughter can feel that I was as open with her as you have been with Liam.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Letters from PA

On Friday as the second repair man left the house there was a package. The package was from the agency in PA. I quickly opened it hoping it was from D. The package was from Ds mom! Though I wish it was from D telling us she would meet us in the spring I was happy to get a letter from her. She confirmed D is getting our letters and the gift we sent to baby girls birth brother was given to him. It makes me glad to know that D is at least getting the letters. I'm also happy that baby girl has gotten communication! Today I got home to learn Baby girls birth sister also sent a package! She told us she looked forward to our visit!!!! She also sent baby girl (and DH and I) shirts she had made up for the team she raised $2000 for autism research. She shared she changed her major from special Ed to psych! Such a smart beautiful girl! She told us they look at the shutterfly account! I've been discouraged because I have felt my letters go into a black hole. It made me feel like what's the point? Will baby girl ever get a letter from D or J I don't know but I do know that her family loves her and doesn't want the communication to stop. I also am hopeful for a visit to PA in the spring. Since we are going that far I'd like to go to DC and see the cherry trees bloom! Though you all would share in my excitement! Also I've signed up for the interview project so Ill be back in November :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thank You and Good-Bye

This journey has been long and I'm glad I had you all along for the ride.  Saying good-bye isn't as easy as I anticipated two years ago.  Most of you I have never met and likely never will.  I will miss you!  I started the blog initially to be able to remember the process.  I also blogged in hopes to help other families going thru the process.  Some that followed my blog are adoptive parents that had already achieved the title of "Mom" and validated my sadness/frustrations from the finish line.  Some joined me as they started the process. Some just stopped by to learn about lactation, dear birthparent letters, and adoption.  Some were personal friends that took the time to understand the process that we embarked on forever ago and I'll never be able to thank you for being gentile with my feelings.

I will miss writing the blog but I think its time for me to move on.  As many of you know personally blogging takes time- even a quick entry.  Some posts take weeks or months to edit before they are ready for the world to critique.  With baby girl here I don't want to miss a moment.  So it is time for me to say good-bye.

For our daughter
Thank you for coming into our lives.  You continue to amaze us each day.  I love getting to be your Mom.  Yesterday you had a spill and I grabbed you up and we snuggled.  I got a rare moment to rock you to sleep in my arms and we slept together on the sofa.  When you woke up I stroked your cheek and you smiled at me.  Its the simple things that make me so grateful to get the title of Mom.  As your Mom I promise to let you fall sometimes but I will always be there to comfort you.
I hope I can share this blog with you at some point.  I want you to know how much you were wanted.  I want you to know that I will always do my best to answer your questions and if I dont have an answer I will work with you to find that answer.  Your blue eyes come from your Mom-Mom, your strawberry blond hair from your birthmother, your complexion from your birthfather, and your infectious smile from your birth-sister.
I am not going to be perfect, but here is a secret: neither was my Mom.  I look forward to watching you grow into an amazing woman- and I will always love you.
I couldn't say it more perfectly then the song Make Me Feel My Love:
I've known it from the moment that we met,
No doubt in my mind where you belong.

I'd go hungry; I'd go black and blue,
I'd go crawling down the avenue.
No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.
 - Love Mom


DH Thank you for going on this journey with me. You are an amazing father and husband. Not all men are up for the challenge you took on. Our daughter will have a role model for the way men should act and treat the women in their lives. Thank you for taking my sadness seriously. Thank you for not treating me like I was crazy and realizing what I needed more were hugs. I look forward to spending a life time with you. -You wife and partner in parenthood

For those of you still waiting.
Each morning my alarm clock played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and each morning I started a new reminding myself that some day I'd meet my baby.  I will not sugar coat it and say it was easy because a portion of the wait I was depressed.  I cried to and from work on numerous occasions.  I cried when a patient told me that I should "get married and have kids" in a bitter disgusted voice "because then I'd make someone else's life miserable" I sobbed.  For me it was easy to turn inward and away from those around me but I was fortunate to have a few amazing friends.  Take time to figure out which of your friends "get it."  As a general rule you have to "live it" to really "get it" but there are a few special friends who can never really understand but will be willing to listen- find them!  I had some dark days where I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue the process.  Confide in your partner- its hard sometimes to remember you both are on the same boat.
I also want to tell you that I fantasized about the day my child would be placed in my arms.  When I met her she was sleeping.  I never had her placed in my arms- I picked her up from a blue bouncy seat and we were tethered to the wall with heart monitors for a month.  I thought she was beautiful the moment I saw her but not a single tear dropped.  Continue to dream, continue to pray, continue to hope, but know that no matter how that baby ends up in your arms you will think they are beautiful and you will find yourself in love.  My last piece of unsolicited advice is try not to guard your heart too much.  Each states waiting period for the TPR to finalize is different for us it was a two month waiting period.  The wait for the TPR to finalize is a roller coaster but remind yourself that to adhear to the legal process means you can look your child in their eyes and say "Your Birthparents made a loving choice to put you first and made us your parents."   I did love her during that roller coaster but a small piece of me did hold back.  I didn't ever schedule a baby photo shoot.  I do regret that.
I continue to think of each of you.  I will continue to follow your blogs.  Just remember keep your faith-


So this is it...Thank you and Good bye!  I could not have made this journey without the blog and you all were part of made writing worth it.  I do plan from time to time to drop by and say hello.  Maybe once I finish Baby Girls Adoption Story I'll write up some sort of outline (without details).  I'd love to share the story of Baby Girls first visit back to PA.  So its not good-bye forever but allows for some closure as well as an opportunity to just focus on my most important job- Mom.  When I started blogging I knew I wanted to create some sort of finality to it.  So often blogs just stop or fade away.  I often wondered where the story went.  So this is our story- we fell in love, we got married, we TTC, we TTA, and now just shy of our 5 year anniversary I'm a Mom.  

Baby Girl is stirring from her nap....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dear Birthparents D & J

During the waiting process I wanted so badly to have an open adoption.  I wanted birthparents that wanted to be a part of our childs life so that my child would have the ability to really fully understand who they are.  I wanted to be able to change peoples perceptions of birthparents as my own perceptions of birthparents had changed during our wait and then we met our daughters birthparents and my perceptions were reality.

The adoption world pushes us all to speak highly of birthparents and I do.  There is a push to change the perception of birthparents from uncaring soulless people who discard their children because they came at an inconvenient time.  I never thought this.  Now that I've met D and J I realize that during my wait I may have shifted too far the opposite direction waiting to meet these people who were so amazing and I was disappointed.  I realize that statistically my odds were good of meeting an amazing birthmother however like any group of people there will be an assortment of people.  I know that women over 21 are more likely to place their children for adoption and that held true for our birthparents both of them were in fact older then both DH and I.  Birthmothers likely have graduated high school or will go onto graduate high school.  My mother used to tell us to be careful of putting people on pedestals because they will always disappoint you as no one is perfect- I think I made this mistake.  I now have to come to terms with reality- with my childs real birthparents.  They cannot be nor will they ever be perfect and neither am I.

I want to have only good things to say and when I discuss Baby Girls adoption I do make people use positive adoption language.  I am the first to stand up for D and J and do not allow anyone to speak negatively about them.  I stress D and J had a choice and it was the most loving thing they could do for Baby Girl and that D is one of the strongest woman I know because that is true.  I never go beyond that because there is not much more positive to say.  It hurts because I wanted something more for Baby Girl.  I can't change D and J.  I can only come to terms with who they are and in time help Baby Girl understand her story.

Baby Girl is blessed with an amazing extended birth family and I have every intention of giving her that biological connection that I believe that every adopted child has a right to.  I wish that D and J were in a place in their lives to give her that connection themselves.  I morn that loss for her.  I worked hard at obtaining a copy for Baby Girls original birth certificate even though PA does not allow for the adopted child to have one.  I'm glad I did because what I had been told was on there was not accurate.  Baby girl now has proof of where she started and who she is.  Her original initials were KMF and I had been lead to believe she was KML.  She now is LMF.  Again an original birth certificate is a right that every adopted child should have, I wish it wasn't a copy but its the best I could do until the laws change.

I think this letter was the most therapeutic thing I've done.  I feel like a weight was lifted.  From the start  I've said I love D and J just not their actions/choices, I now feel like I actually can believe that statement.  I feel like being honest in this letter has allowed me to break away from the facade that all birthparents deserve to be placed on a pedestal.  In our case we cannot- if we said otherwise we would not be truthful.  In so many cases birthparents are amazingly selfless women and men that make a decision placing their child first and their own pain second.  For our second child I have every intention of seeking out birthparents that can participate fully in an open adoption and D and J have not changed my opinion of birthparents as a collective group.  There is a lifetime for D and J to change, but for now I need to place my anger away and accept the fact that I love the two of them for out of all their poor choices making one amazingly selfless choice to give Baby Girl the life she deserves.  Yes I said it; not a popular statement in the adoption world but so very true in her case and this belief is shared not only by myself but her birth-grandmother and birth-sister.  Its not popular because it implies that the birthmother couldn't parent had she wanted to and in our case that is a true statement.  In many cases a birthmother could parent though it would mean possibly a single parent, or less resources for their other children; but one resource that never would be less would be love.  In our case the state determined that if D did not move forward with an adoption plan Baby Girl would have entered the foster care system with likely the same outcome- adoption.

I avoided this topic for a long time on my blog but felt I couldnt end my blog until I addressed it.  My guess is that it wont be a popular post.  I will likely get flack for bing "anti-birthparent."  I hope all that read this can realize that this is not anti-birthparent or even anti-D and J.  Its the sad reality of this particular adoption story.  If you cannot understand that distinction I ask now that you stop reading.

Dear D and J

I have a great deal I want to tell you.  Some of it I've said before and plan to continue to say.  Some of it I plan to write here and try to let it go.  Adoption isn't easy for any of the members of the triad.  There are moments we all wish I'm sure to not be a part of this triad, but we have been brought together.  As the adults in this triad we have important responsibilities to put our daughter first.  When I use "our daughter" in this letter I am referring to myself, DH, you D and J.  We plan to refer to you two as D and J as well as Birthmom and Birthdad in our home but we are comfortable in knowing that you refer to Baby Girl as your daughter and more affectionately "Baby Girl" which is how I came to call her Baby Girl on my blog.  I know D that you asked me to refer to you as Mom, but I do not think that it is a healthy choice for our daughter but when I use your name as well as Birthmom I promise to always use it as a loving title.

So to start I want to thank you for searching your hearts and making the decision that was best for your daughter.  D your strength amazes me in standing so firm in your decision.  I know on more then one occasion you told me it was a hard choice but a choice you wouldn't change because you wanted what was best for our daughter.  I know you cried a great deal because you confided in me and it always broke my heart.  You are a caring woman that loves your children but you were just as ill as our daughter.  I also know that it pained you to see your daughter cry and hurt in the NICU.  I am sure coming as often as you did was painful and hard but really what was best for our daughter.  Our daughter will always know that you visited her routinely and love to feed and change her.  You were always so gentile with her and gave me so much advice on how to care for our daughter.  Some of the stories you told me about your life were hard to hear but help me explain to our daughter how it came to be that the five of us met.  The day we walked away from you hugging your Mom and crying is an imagine I will always remember how you were able to stand and not crumple to the floor demonstrates your courage and strength.  

J I want to tell you that I am working hard in forgiving you for the emotional storm you caused during each of your visits.  I know deep down that your visits were for your daughter and were not intended to cause me pain.  Your manipulative behavior was not a personal attack but rather a reaction to a situation in which you had no control.  The way you looked at our daughter reminds me that you do love her and you wished with all your heart lifes circumstances were different.  I wish you had been able to visit more often and come to terms with your decision before our daughter left PA.  As much as I dreaded your last visit I wish that you had come to say good-bye like you said you would.  I realize that although you are an adult you still have so much growing up to do.  I hope for you that this experience made you realize how much more to life there is and that it will result in positive change for you.

D and J I plan to work hard at forgiving you for not taking care of our daughter while she was in the womb which is a large part of why I cannot refer to the two of you as Mom and Dad.  D I plan to work hard at forgiving you for denying her existence in your womb for so long.  The role of Mom and Dad means sacrificing your own needs/wants for what is best for your child.  I plan to work hard at forgiving you J for using our daughter as a pawn in your threats.  J I plan to work at letting go of my resentment for your attempts to take advantage of our intense desires to be parents to make personal gains.  I plan on working hard at forgiving you J for not supporting D.    J I know we all want to present ourselves in the most positive light but I wasn't born yesterday.  I plan to work hard at forgiving you for making it seem like D was the only one struggling with demons.  I plan to work hard at forgiving you both for putting me in the middle of your relationship struggles.  I plan on finding it in my heart to let it all go.  I will not forget these things but its not healthy for me and its not healthy for our daughter for me to continue to be angry.  Our daughter will in time know this unfortunate part of her story, but I will share it as she is old enough to process the information.  I will do my best to always present the facts fairly including helping her understand the struggles the two of you endured that lead you to the place you were seven months ago. With the internet at her fingertips I may need to share with her more then I'd like sooner then I'd like as she will likely figured out Google and the results will tell her more then I may want her to know.  She will also know that you did have a choices and you chose to keep her from a system that would have been extremely painful for her and are so grateful.

To both of you I hope you can take time to heal your selves.  The choices you make do not just impact you but also all of those that love you.  Included in those you hurt are your children, your parents, siblings, and now us.  Both of you have loving families that over and over reach out to try to help you heal from damage done when you were much younger.  You continue to reject those offers and it makes us all sad.  I know you have the strength to do it however you have been on this road so long I don't know that it will ever happen and in part of forgiving you is understanding that you will most likely not change.  D I think a great deal of your ability to admit your weaknesses the next step is to just take the help!

Our daughter is changing each day.  She is so smart, vivacious and amazing.  I see your faces in her face.  I see her birthsiblings smiles on her face.  She has hit every mile stone early- rolling, sitting, crawling, pulling herself up, and now taking steps when we hold her up.  She loves to clap and get those around her to smile.  She is the sunshine in our days.  She knows about you both and we always start her birthstory talking about her Birthmom D and Birthdad J.  She knows that you made a hard decision because you were not well enough to care for her.  She knows that the two of you picked us as her Mom and Dad and our job is to keep her safe and love her for always.

I hope that she is able to continue to visit each year and get letters from you letting her know how much you love her.  Our daughter is what comes first though.  I will not continue visits if you cannot come to those visits in a state that is healthy.  I will not allow you to hurt our daughter over and over- the potential damage you have already caused is enough.  She is a very sensitive and smart girl and will pick up if things are not right.  

Adoption is beautiful.  Adoption is what made our daughter, DH and I a family.  Adoption is a loss of ones birthparents and a gaining of adoptive parents.  In many cases an open adoption allows for a continued connection to help explain that initial loss.  I hope you two can heal for our daughter so she can receive hugs from you each year.  So far we have heard nothing and that tells me that soon I will have to morn and then forgive you for breaching your end of the contract.  Please prove me wrong.  So often adoptive parents are vilified for closing adoptions.  Remember you asked for visits, you agreed to send us letters.  Our relationship is not about you D, you J or even DH and I.  This relationship is singularly about Baby Girl and what is best for her.

I will continue to work to free my heart of anger.  I am not perfect.  Just as I ask of you to do your best I will try the same.  I hope you two can work to free your selves of your own monsters.  Know you are loved by one special little girl- please do not hurt her.

In peace,
M

Friday, August 31, 2012

Finalization


August 29, 2012

The process started two years and four months ago and today the adoption process is over.  Although the process is over; adoption is forever part of our lives.  The application process was our conception, the waiting was our pregnancy and now we completed seven months of labor we are legally considered Mom and Dad.

I've read blogs that ask when did you start to feel like a "mom" and I've read more then once it was when they child called them "mama" for the first time.  I distinctly recall in the hospital a moment seven months ago the first full day I was alone with Baby Girl at the hospital.  I got this intense feeling of needing to protect her.  Many days in the hospital I felt like I had no control.  Doctors and nurses were making decisions, D was not being consulted, and I wasn't able to.  My child was part of a "system" that unfortunately most children go thru alone.  Although I'd never wish to relive that month in PA I know it made me feel like a mom.  Since no one was making decisions I started to advocate for what I thought was right for my daughter.  Legally they could have chosen to disregard my advocacy but I'm firm in believing that the love I gave her as well as the advocacy that I provided she came home to us sooner. Both D and J had signed their termination of parent rights paperwork prior to our arrival but since Baby Girl was still at the same hospital that D gave birth she was under D's original admission.  Many of the babies in the NICU were from different hospitals and had that been the case D would have had no rights.  Had baby girl been discharged and then the problem was identified and she was re-admitted again D would have had no rights.  It was this loop hole that meant that a woman struggling to just care for herself, who already had determined that she was not going to parent was still the legal decision maker.  It still makes me upset to think back to the legal limbo we were in.  I understand the need for a "system" as there needs to be rules; but at the same time children like mine suffer the consequences of a system that sometimes neglects these precious beings when those involved choose to stick to the rules with no regard to the situation.

This morning while we listened to our daughter babble in the crib happily DH asked me if seven months ago I thought we would arrive at this day.  I told him I did most days.  Baby Girls Birthfather at times chose to drift in and out of the picture and wavered in his decision depending on the moment.  I felt confident in D's decision and knew if she allowed us to leave PA we would be able to get to this day.

As we drove to court this morning I was nervous.  I'm not exactly sure why.  My nerves were quickly masked by panic as we realized that we went to family court as we had been instructed and the finalization was at probate court.  The woman who was trying to find our court room at family court was confused "You are here for a divorce?"  NO!  She finally figured out we were in the wrong building.  We quickly walked the six blocks with Baby Girl and myself in the lead.  We had eight people in tow as we made the five block walk (with five minutes to spare).  My rational was if Baby Girl and I made it- I'd just have to be a single mother but there was going to be nothing to stop me from getting there on time.

Lucky for us the paper work had an error which they were correcting so they were a few minutes behind.  The proceeding was fun with a total of 14 people in attendance.  The judge had music on when we arrived and sat across the table from us.  She had us sign an unofficial adoption certificate which Baby Girl signed as well and then a legal version (that Baby Girl did not sign).  We took lots of pictures with the judge and family.  We went home and had brunch.

After all our friends and family left we planted a cherry tree.  We had been planning for a few years to plant a fruit tree for our five year anniversary since that is the year you give wood as a gift.  The tree is now a shared gift- an anniversary/finalization tree, but I suspect we will call it Baby Girls Tree forever.

Its a relief to finally have the process over.  I have noticed though that I've been in hyper "fight" mode for a while.  I was on guard while we were TTC and not successful, I was on guard about adoption and our wait, I've been on guard regarding baby girls health at the start of her life.  This whole process is one that is unfamiliar to most and when someone is ignorant (willfully or otherwise) they often say things that are insensitive.  I put my guard up and disclose so little that I think my overall demeanor comes across as negative.  The process was long, it was heart wrenching, part of me wants to say I'd do it again knowing I'd get Baby Girl but the other part knows how wounding this process can be.  A friend at the brunch asked me  how it felt to have it be done.  I told her relieved but that paper work starts again if we want a sibling for baby girl.  I'd like to think that I could "just be happy" but adoption still for me is in part a reminder of our infertility and just how unfair life is.  Adoption also is a reminder of what an unfair start baby girl got- unfair that baby girl couldn't have been born healthy, and unfair that her birthparents couldn't parent.  So yes I'm relieved that this process is over but the process is not exactly like a pregnancy where you give birth and you are happy.  There are many sorrows as well.  Baby Girl lights up our lives and I can't imagine life without her and she was worth every moment of fight.  Now I have to remember to take on her joyful perspective of life.


*************
My plan is to write two more blog posts
1) Dear Birthparents
2) Thank you and good-bye

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eve of finalization

I've been crazy busy w work and getting baby girl ready for her first day of daycare.  This morning I dropped baby girl off for her first full day of daycare.  I cried from the coffee shop to the center but was ok once I got her out of the car.  She was really happy this morning which is her usual disposition.  I set her down and she instantly was engaged in playing w a purple phone.  I stayed a few minutes then kissed her goodbye for the day.  She could have cared less.

Part of me was sad but part of me knew she did well w the transition because we worked hard at exposing her to different people, sounds and experiences.  If she was safe and fussing in someone's arms I tried to comfort her without taking her into my own arms.  She is willing to explore on her own because she is confident that I wouldn't allow her to be unsafe.  It broke my heart but made me beam with pride.

This morning I was her Mom.  Letting go while still wanting to hold her close.  To the other teachers and parents I am her mom.  I am the one that can share her likes and dislikes.  Recommend her routine and answer care questions.

In some ways it's fitting that her first full day of daycare was the eve of her finalization.  It is confermation of what I already know.  D is the woman that gave Baby Girl life and chose ME to be her mother.  I'm part of a special group of moms that can say: I was chosen for this ultimate role and granted this title of Mom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finalization "problems"

Friday DH and I took baby girl to get a dress for her finalization. We went to a thrift store since we have no intention of spending $40 on a dress she will wear once. She is growing out of her 6 mo. clothes but the 9 mo clothes are just too big so we wanted to get a 6 mo. dress. There was one dress I LOVED but it didn't fit and then there was the dress DH liked and well; it fit. So DH won. Its cute I like it I just dont LOVE it.

 So then it was my turn to find something to wear. I went into every shop in two malls, plus the main downtown shopping strip and found nothing I liked. I was primarily shopping the end of season sales because I wanted something a little more summery so the outfits I did like didn't have all the sizes. I'm also not over excited about buying clothes because i'm 5-10lbs lighter then I normally am and I'm struggling to gain back the weight I lost in PA back (I know sob story- but it really is a problem for me right now).

 7:50 (10 minutes before I told DH I'm head home) I went into one last store which is modern/college aged was not really feeling it, really wanted to skip it but went in anyway. I first found a dress that looked like a casual bridesmaids dress but I liked the color. As the girl brought it back for me to try on she asked casually what occasion the dress was for. I stumbled over my speech because I didn't plan to tell anyone the reason I was dress shopping because I didn't feel like having "the conversation." I told her that I was adopting my baby Wednesday (the simple way to explain finalization). She got really gushy and asked if I knew the name/gender/etc. So I told her our daughter has lived with us since she was born and that she had a name. I figured she was gushy because she probably worked on commission and would say anything to get me to buy a dress.

I didn't like the dress because it was too formal, though I dont think I liked the dress because I didn't like any dresses that night. So she told me she would grab other dresses. I thought to myself "how is this bubbly college girl going to find me a dress when I dont even know what I want?" She came back with three outfits a red dress (super cute if I was 10 years younger), a steal grey dress, and a pants/shirt out fit. When she brought the pants/shirt set she told me not to buy the black pants from their store because they were $300 and with adoption being so expensive I probably didn't want to spend $300 on pants (my eyes raised to that comment but it was true). Each dress fit me perfectly which in my case people usually judge me heavier then I am so I usually turn down people getting sizes for me.

 I caved and bought the steal grey dress. It was a cop out, its simple, its classic, I can't go wrong. Its not exactly what I envisioned I'd wear but what do you wear on the day you finally are recognized as your daughters parents? As she checked me out she shared with me that she has a brother that is adopted. She told me she wished adoption was easier because its a hard process. She told me it cost too much and the process takes too long. Her maturity on the topic floored me and I appreciated her enthusiasm for my daughter joining my family. I took a risk by sharing my story and in turn I got to hear hers.

When I got home I panicked. I initially thought of not telling DH I bought a dress (I'm not sure I can return it) and keep shopping. I stayed up googling hundreds of adoption finalization pictures until I was satisfied that there are moms that have worn black dresses before so I wont be the first to take the easy road. It feels somewhat cold/professional but I'll have to dress it up with a colored belt and jewelry (and lets face it I'm kinda up tight anyway so the dress suits my personality) But really- What do you wear on the day you become a legal mother? I guess it really doesn't matter :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Live in Nanny

So my older sister just left this morning after three weeks here as our "live in nanny." It was so nice to have an extra set of hands especially when Baby Girl learned to crawl during those three weeks. Growing up like any sisterly pair we didn't always like each other. Even as adults we have had our power struggles. The dynamic really seemed to change with Baby Girl around. I was nervous about having her stay with us for three weeks but I'm so glad she was able to use her summer vacation to help us bridge the gap between when DH went back to work and daycare starting Monday. We chose my older sister and her husband as our daughters God Parents. It was nice for the two of them to get to spend quality time together. We also spent time watching the shows "I'm Having Their Baby" and "The Baby Wait." Watching those shows gave us an opportunity to talk about adoption without necessarily discussing Baby Girls story. At the start of her stay my sister would use "give up" and by the end of her stay if she said "give up" she would correct herself and say "Placed." I never specifically told her to change the way she spoke but thru our conversations I think she understood why I had a preference. It means a lot to me that she took the time to listen to me as the "expert" and molded her language based on my preferences. Unfortunately for us our family lives far away and so we dont get many opportunities to spend time having them get to know Baby Girl but I'm grateful for each opportunity they get.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

blog

So my plan from day one was to blog until finalization. Finalization is the 29th but my sister is staying with us until the 25th to watch Baby Girl before daycare starts on the 27th. I don't like blogging from my phone so I've taken a pause while she is here. We also will have family in town for the finalization and some of them are planning to stay until labor day. I have a few more topics left, then I'll close this chapter. This blog has provided me w an outlet to express my joys, frustrations and sorrows. I will miss it but I think it also will allow me to take a step away from adoption and just be mom.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crawling

My baby crawled today for the first time!  DH and my older sister were home to witness and video tape- but I was at work :(  She has come so far from that sick baby we met.  She has been strong from the start and I can only wait to see where she goes in life.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lucky Girl

Today as I pushed baby girl in her stroller and I heard a debate behind me I smiled and turned around.  I witnessed a boy wanting something that Mom wasn't giving into.  This sight was sweet but only made sweeter when I could see that this family came together by way of adoption.  I only know of the way this family was brought together because of his smooth coffee brown skin and her and her husbands porcelain skin.

We continued along listening to the debate continue when a man standing waiting to be seated at the diner smiled at us- then said "What a lucky girl."  Oh yes - I am a very lucky girl.

I beamed the rest of the way to our car.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

FINALIZATION DATE!!!!!

We have a date!!  August 29th at 9:30 AM!  (assuming DH can get off work)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Sound of Silence

I just got our third set of letters off today.  I forget what its like to print pictures!  I again in my letters requested communication back.  Yesterday I saw a post about a birthmother that was terrified that once she placed the adoptive parents she chose would close the adoption.  I never feared having no communication back- I na├»vely assumed that if a birthparent wanted communication that they would want their child to know who they were as well.  There is so much written about adoptive parents closing adoptions and I know its because adoptive parents hold a great deal of control.  The silence from the other side makes me realize how much control our birthparents have as well.  Both D and J assured me they would respond- but Baby Girl gets nothing while they get pictures of her smiling face and letters about her development.  I've read that adoptions that close are the most harmful to birthparents emotionally.

Part of me wants to give up- stop sending letters and pictures but I then remind myself that I agreed to send letters/pictures.  I know that especially D needs anything that can go in her favore and depression over the adoption closing would the the worst thing for her.  At the same time- what about Baby Girl?  As time passes and I hear nothing I will likely truncate most of the letters and maybe write a long one twice a year.  Each letter has been a paged single spaced with each word evaluated takes a lot of time and emotional effort.

The silence reminds me of a documentary that I watched a few months back (which I blank on the name of).  It was a closed adoption but the daughter was able to establish contact thru letters with her birthmother.  The birthmother wrote maybe two times, and then nothing- silence.  The depression that the daughter exhibited was heart breaking- she dropped out of school, she started to perform poorly in her sports, and she found herself pregnant.

I know that Baby Girl and I will have hard conversations.  I dont know what will be hard for her.  I'm anticipating her sadness, and rejection and want to fix it before it ever hurts her.  Each time we send another pair of letters I hope to hear back even if it was a one line note saying "Baby Girl I think about you."


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Questions from a prospective adoptive Mom

I'm starting this post before I go to meet a former co-worker.  We were friendly at work though I worked pediatrics and she worked adults so we rarely were in the same building.  Since leaving the hospital we have kept in touch swapping dogs for vacations, and she started a professional journal club that I attend.  I was aware of her dietary changes as well as her using acupuncture.  I was nearly positive that it was for infertility but having been down that road I never said a word.  The last thing I wanted when I was going thru that process was prying eyes.  If she wanted to share with me she could.

About a month ago she contacted me asking me for a quick summary of adoption and what agency we had used.  I shot an e-mail back and let her know that I'd gladly meet her for coffee or lunch if she wanted to talk about our experience as well as help guide her thru the process.  She responded yesterday asking if we could meet- so tomorrow we will meet for coffee.  I am brining all of my adoption books as well as our portfolio which I picked up from our agency today.

I found out that D never did receive a copy of our portfolio.  I asked that a copy be offered to her and sent if she wanted it.  I trust that our agency would give her a copy if she had wanted it so I'm guessing that she didn't want a copy.  The agency asked if they could keep the other copy to share with other families.  I plan to agree with the only condition being that they share with families that I DONT recommend having your family complete pages (that was added stress).  The ironic thing is we stressed over the book so much but D never saw our book- ever.  She was verbally presented with information about us like the state we lived in, our names, our jobs, and how long we had been married.  Those are the facts that I know D knew before we arrived.  D had asked the agency to find a family that was married (she didn't care homo/heterosexual) but beyond that she had no other requests.  She had not asked to even approve the family though the agency did present her with limited information verbally before they had us drive the 8 hours to PA.  (so I digressed).

Today I looked back at some of my initial posts.  I read the first one.  I read the post about my fears.  I read about our interviews.  I read our portfolio.  I wish I had a real live person that had been thru the process before to ask questions to.  To share with me that it was normal to see the check list and want to recycle the list.  It would have been nice to have had someone tell me that the portfolio is important but dont drag it out for three months- be yourself and move on.  Same with the check list.  The things I worried most about checking off where non-issues and the things I though I was OK with turned out to be my biggest stresses.  I'm interested to hear her questions, her fears, her reservations.  I dont know if her husband will join us.  I dont know if she has gotten the application yet.  I really do hope that I can be a person to lean on for her.  I do plan to share my blog with her if she is interested.  Best of all I have baby girl to share with her (I confirmed it was OK to bring her) and show her that its all worth it.

So we met.  We chatted for two hours.  Baby Girl was perfect she played with her toy and pounded on the table.  She is at a point where she is deciding between IVF and moving onto adoption.  She has family members that are not in support of moving onto adoption.  I'm glad I'm not at that place anymore.  It also reminds me that I'm grateful that DH and I had determined an end point prior to starting even trying to conceive.  I dont envy her position.

She asked the typical questions-
Will I love a child that is "not mine"?
My answer- yes.  The child will by YOUR baby.

Will open adoption make me feel like I'm raising someone else's child?
I feel like open adoption is like having an extended family.  I am Baby Girls Mother.  She has an extended family larger then most including her birth family.  They want to know how she is doing and have comfort that D made the best choice for her.  They do not offer advice on how to parent and we dont have to visit them for every holiday.  The relationship is for Baby Girl and not for me.  I'll admit I'm insecure at times but the more we talk about it- the more it normalizes it.  D is part of Baby Girls journey to our family but D will never replace my role as her Mother.

If we have an Open Adoption with the Birthmother show up?
NO.  There is a relationship and a trust that is established showing up with break that trust.

Nature Vs. Nurture?
Nature determines genetics, how tall Baby Girl will be, her eye color, I think her personality (she is WAY more out going then DH or I am).  We will instill our values on Baby Girl.  We will share with her our views on right/wrong.  She will challenge us and we will learn from her as well.  D had a hard childhood and had things happen to her that were outside of her families control.  Unfortunately those events lead her to a lifestyle that was harmful to herself and her family.  Baby Girls siblings as well as D's siblings are perfect examples that there was love in D's home I firmly believe that the trauma D experienced outside her home resulted in her downward spiral.  There is no such thing as a perfect home or perfect life.  We as parents try to protect our children the best we can but there are people outside our home we cannot control.

Race?
Given the community we live in we felt we could not provide cultural experiences as well as mentors for most races.  My concern was not that our child would look different from us because there were some races other then caucasian that we were open to based on our ability to provide mentors/ cultural experiences.  Baby Girl already routinely hears about her adoption story and how it makes her special.  As I have heard from other blogs that having an transracial adoption means you will need to be ready for the best and brightest of our society making comments that are hurtful not only to you but your child.  Baby Girl does look like us but we still get comments from those we know best- family/friends and in some ways I think those comments are more hurtful because they are from those that know us best.

Domestic Vs. International?
Neither is easy.  Domestic provides more regulation and birthparents should be provided education on their rights (though unfortunately there are agencies that do not do this sufficiently).  Domestic allows you to meet your child sooner and even potentially be in the hospital room when they are born.  Domestic does have a risk of a birthmother choosing to parent and an adoption resolving though heart breaking I do think of this as a positive.  I've said this before I take great solace in knowing that I can share with Baby Girl that D made a choice to place her with us.

Adoption isn't for everyone and its not an easy road.  The road leads to the gift of parenthood.  I wont go as far a to say that adoption results in pain for your child because if you are a well educated adoptive parent the lines of communication between your child and you should be open (this isn't just regards to adoption communication).  Having communication (even minimal like in our case) with the birthfamily will also help in making your child feel secure in their home with you.  There are children that are adopted that turn into unbecoming members of society but there are biological children that turn into unbecoming members of society.  Adoption will not define Baby Girl but I strongly believe that having her questions answered will make her comfortable in who she is.  She grew in D for 9 months and then was placed with us to be loved for a lifetime.

Comments/Additions to my answers would be gratefully received!  I do anticipate that she will read my blog at some point.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bank Account

So DH got a call yesterday from my MIL telling us that her Aunt had sent us a check for Baby Girl and we still have not deposited it.  When we received checks for Baby Girl we wrote thank you notes and explained that as soon as we could open an account for Baby Girl we could deposit the check to start a college savings account.  I plan once we finally are able to open an account to write and remind the gift givers so that they expect the check to finally be deposited.

I had DH call his Mom back and explain that we dont have a social security # thus we can't open an account to deposit the checks.  We also do not have a birth certificate or other legal documentation with Baby Girls name on it.  We have documents with her birthmothers last name on it but nothing with ours.  So we told her as soon as we could we would open an account.  She didn't understand.

DH had to explain AGAIN why we do not have a social security number (and thus could not open an account).  Last weekend he had to AGAIN explain to her why we had to go to court and NO we did not have the court date yet; nor have we gone to court yet.  He also had to explain to her why it would be nice once we get the court date for her to come to the court the day our daughter becomes legally our daughter.  We have explained all of these things to her more then once.  I'm starting to think that she is suffering from dementia- I no longer pity the fool I now think I'm worried about her memory.

Today we did get an e-mail from our agency stating that they had received the paper work to submit to court from the agency in PA.  So as soon as the paperwork is submitted we will have a date.  I need to clarify if they need to wait a month before submitting or if they are going to submit right away.  If they submit the paperwork right away we will hopefully have a court date at the end of August/start of September- we shall see.

(There also were hints that we had not sent thank you notes to some of her family- I remember writing the thank you note in question, and I have a check next to the name of the person in question.  Its possible in the 150 thank you notes I sent out (in between taking care of a newborn) that I might have put a wrong address or it may have fallen behind the couch- I dont know but I wrote the thank you note!  When I offered to write a new one (which I will do anyway) I was told "not to worry about it."  Then why bring it up!?  I am a stickler for thank you notes so it was hurtful to be accused of not sending them.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back To Work

DH had his first day back to work.  I was so terrified I'd not get up in time to have Baby Girl ready for my aunt I woke up each and every hour starting at 1AM.  Before I went to bed I had asked DH to come in before he left for work at 5:30 AM and make sure I was up.  He must have shifted in bed because I thought he had crawled into bed.  I started to get up and ask something to the effect of "Are you here to wake me up?"  He didn't know what I was talking about.  I woke up with a start at 2, and 3:30 then baby girl woke up at 4.  She talked in her crib until almost 4:45 when she started to cry.  I got up, changed her, fed her and put her back to sleep.  I then went back to bed. I then told DH I was going to sleep until 5:45 since baby girl was already ready for the day with the exception of her clothes.

When I woke up she was still sleeping so I laid out her outfit.  I had already gotten the diaper bag ready including the bottles the night before so all I had to do was finish getting myself ready.  My aunt arrived at 6:15 as planned and I left at 6:30 as planned.  She was still sleeping.

As soon as I got into the car I felt sick.  Sick to my stomach.  I drove to get my coffee and nearly got sick.  I called DH to tell him he was the one my aunt would call if anything happened since I'm harder to get a hold of.  I shared with him that I felt sick and he just didn't understand why I would feel sick.  So I rushed my day left only 10 minutes late (compared to my usual at least 20-30 min).  I got home to find out that Baby Girl was perfect- no tears, naps on schedule, and ahead on her bottles.  Go figure- all the worry for nothing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paternity Leave Ends and the Police Schedule Resumes

Tomorrow DH's paternity leave ends.  He actually was given an extra week since he was only scheduled for two days so they gave him those days off.  So we jump back into the police schedule.

DH has enough seniority that he can pick any shift he wants.  For the past two years he has been on day shift which I enjoy.  Night Shift is my second favorite followed by Evenings.  Night shift he can gift me a kiss on my way to work in the morning- he sleeps all day- then when I get home he wakes up.  He starts his days back on fives which means he works five 10 hour days on, three days off for five weeks.  Then he switches to four 10 hour days on, four days off.

Its complicated though a little less so now that I don't work Sundays.  The police schedule makes daycare challenging.  For example his first week back we need daycare Thursday and Monday then don't need daycare again until the following Monday (since he has off Tues, Wed, Thurs and I have off Fri, Sat Sunday).

You get used to it and I really don't mind it most of the time.  I try to keep track of "real weekends" and utilize them to the best of our ability.  DH has time to mow the lawn/go to the dump on his days off we dont share and I go to the grocery story and run errands on days I have off and he works to utilize our time together the best we can.  Having Baby Girl will complicate this some because before when we had days off alone we could just get stuff done.  Now we will have to watch baby girl and do our weekend chores.  

Morning routines and bedtime routines will also have to be worked out.  On days we both work DH leaves at 5:30AM and baby girl doesn't start daycare until 7:30.  I used to start work at 7 but will likely start at 8.  So it makes sense for me to get her ready in the AM.  Bed time again will likely be me because DH has to be in bed by 8PM to get 8 hours of sleep.  At this point baby girls bedtime is 9, though its slowly moving earlier.

Its going to be an adjustment.  Baby Girl doesn't start at the daycare center for another month so we will have some time to practice.  My aunt who lives down the street is watching her this Thursday and Monday then my older sister who is a teacher from WI will watch her Aug 5 until daycare starts.

Another adjustment is- its not just me and DH anymore.  We live in a safe area though bad stuff still happens.  Traffic accidents are actually the primary cause of death in the line of duty for police officers.  He no longer rides the police motorcycle (per my request) which makes him a little safer.  I know DH works hard to be as safe as possible and I trust his co-workers they are like extended family.  There is a reason the police symbol is "a thin blue line" and to me its a reminder that my DH is no different then the officers that have fallen in the line of duty except that he didn't respond to the call they did.  What gives me comfort is that IF heaven forbid anything were to happen I know that the guys/gals their husband/wives would be there for us.  I try not to think about it but every now and then I give my chance to consider what I'd do; almost in a hope that if I think about it- it will never happen.  I married DH knowing the risk and I know he is good at what he does, and couldn't be prouder of his willingness to keep us safe.  On days he works and I'm home alone it give me peace to know that he is keeping not just our home safe but the town safe.  


I think i'm more sad for DHs leave to end then I expected.  It will be an adjustment.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Birthmother Grief

I will never know the pain of placing a chid for adoption.  I know I blogged prior to Baby Girls arrival about how I was uncomfortable with the notion of adoption being the end of my pain while knowing that it would be the start of a heart break for another Mom.

On the day we left the hospital in PA and began our journey home D came to the hospital.  She arrived hours late puffy eyed with her mom as her support.  I left the three of them alone- three generations of family.  I knew that this would be D's last time alone with Baby Girl.  There are many things that I wish D did differently to better herself and the lives of her two children her mother is guardian of.  I know options she had but chose to reject.  In reading birthmother blogs, adoption books, etc that a birthmothers grief may dissipate but it never goes away.  I know D blames herself for baby girls condition at birth.  I wonder at times if D's choice to reject her alternatives were a way of punishing herself, and covering the grief of placement.  D is an adult (older then myself significantly).  She has choices, she has support from her mother and daughter, but continues to spiral downward.

Adoption books often shed light on adoption as a means for birthmothers to "better themselves."  Baby Girl was headed down a road towards DCF custody not going home with D.  Based on D's track record I think the outcome would have been adoption regardless.  I wish for D that at some point she finds it in herself to have enough self worth to take the support she has and the resource offered to her better herself.  So as I send letters and receive silence in return I remind myself that D is grieving.  I want so badly for Baby Girl to have communication back.  How will I explain to Baby Girl that we sent letters/pictures to D but D does not have the emotional resources to write back?  I also sometimes wonder that the letters/pictures D requested cause her pain vs. comfort?

Today as I left work a co-worker asked me about Baby Girl.  While we waited and after baby girls birth she has said very little about baby girl or adoption so her conversation felt a little awkward.  She shared with me how happy she was for our family and that six months has just flown by.  She then timidly shared that a friend of hers placed a child for adoption many years ago and since has married and had three children.  She shared that her friend still grieves over the placement and it was during the time of closed adoption.  She told me she had shared our excitement as perspective adoptive parents and now parents with this friend.  She shared with me that she felt like sharing our experience from one of the other perspectives of adoption helped her friend.  I didn't ask and I'll never know- but based on her story I actually wonder if she herself was that birthmother we helped.

As I started- I will never know the pain.  I can only guess it to be a fraction of the pain of infertility because at least with infertility we knew that adoption would grant us the ability to be parents.  For birthparents once you sign those papers and the waiting period is over- there will never be a chance to parent that child.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fake It Until You Make It

From the draft box-  I wrote this post just days before we learned of baby girl.  I never had a chance to post it.  I never did have that follow up MD appt to check my blood pressure (though the stress of PA I probably could have used it).  Its interesting to read this post now that I've completed the process.  I have been planning on but have not yet had time to write a post to reflect on my lactation experience.  To sum it all up in two sentences- I'm glad I induced lactation the best I could given the circumstances.  Had I chosen not to try I think I would have forever wondered what it would have been like if I had.  Oh and now I think I could write a post with the same title about parenting :)  So here is the post in unedited form:

Fake it Until You Make it- January 27, 2012

One of my Occupational Therapy professors told us before we went out on our field work placements (aka clinicals) to "fake it until you make it."  When we were about to graduate and were terrified that someone would pay us to work in the "real world" he again reminded us to "fake it until we make it."  In hind sight I think he was telling us to fake our confidence and that we knew a great deal more then we gave ourselves credit for.  Until you have practice with your expertise its hard to have that confidence.

I recently started getting hits from Adoptive Families website.  I thought it was weird at first and then it kept happening.  I finally went to the website and searched TTA to see what came up.  On the Adoptive Families Communities website someone asked about Establishing Milk Supply.  Someone commented that I was a waiting mother and I was working on establishing a milk supply.  I felt like the post upped the expectation.  I panicked!  I'm not an expert!  I am just some mom to be that wants to breastfeed their baby.  Will it work I dont know but the tenderness of my breast are any indication I'm expecting some sort of results.  I can only follow the protocol and hope for the best.  At worst I'll know I tried and well... thats all we can do as parents- right?

One insight I think I can give is that remembering to take meds 4x's daily is hard.  So here are the strategies I've come up with.  My pill box sits on the sink between the edge of the sink and the basin I can't do anything at the sink without reaching over them so that takes care of my AM med.  When I get to work I write on the top of my coffee cup meds so when I finish my coffee at lunch time I dont forget (yes- I drink the cold coffee I can't finish in the morning w my lunch).  My 4PM one is at the sink again when I get home and change out of my uniform.  I also have added a reminder on my phone for this one since I dont always go straight home.  8PM I have a reminder that goes off on my phone.

So here I am faking it until I make it.  I have expertise in my experience of going to the doctor and getting the prescription, and I have expertise in remembering to take the meds in 6 weeks i've missed two pills.  In two weeks I go back to the doctor to check my blood pressure (which I've been doing at work as well w no problems so far).  I do hope that once the protocol is complete and baby is in hands I'll be able to shed real light on the process.  Until then I'll keep taking my 4x daily snack.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Where is she now?

February 2011 we had a potential match.  I didn't qualify for FMLA and just like baby girl she was in PA it was unclear how long she would be in the hospital for as she was born premature.  We didn't have funds for an out of state adoption.  We didn't have a place to stay.  She also had medical complications that DH wasn't comfortable with.  I cried in the drug store parking lot on my way home from work that day.  I was sobbing so hard I couldn't drive.  My dear friend talked me down but event still I just felt like she didn't understand my heart break for a baby that the timing wasn't right for.

The baby was "offered" through an e-mail to all prospective adoptive parents at our agency since there were no families that "matched."  She had minor health challenges typical of a premature infant but it was unclear when she would discharge from the hospital to a family willing to love her.  She was already almost a month old at the time of the e-mail and they had been searching for a family to love her.  The TPR was almost run out given how long she had already been waiting.

Tonight I had to stop at the ATM on my way home from work.  The bank and drug store share a parking lot.  As I parked the experience flooded back to me.  I think of this baby girl often.  I wonder how long she had to wait in limbo until someone would claim her as their daughter?  I wonder who loves her.  I wonder how strong she has gotten.  My eyes always well up with tears thinking about her.  My sweet baby girl who arrived a year later was so similar.  It was as if this first girl got us ready to say "yes" to our daughter because one week shy of a year later a one week old little girl needed us to be her Mom and Dad.  A year prior the idea of going to another state for a child in the hospital for an undetermined amount of time was something we were not ready to do.  In having the ability to digest the prospect I had told DH I would say "yes" to if the situation arouse again and we would do just as we did- I'd stay where the baby was until we could come home.  I couldn't endure that sadness again.  I wasn't willing to have another little girl be "matched" via a mass e-mail.  It breaks my heart to think that no one wanted her.  It makes me sad to think that our healthy little girl was considered "high risk" just as this other little girl had been a year earlier.  I have been given the impression from our agency that they were worried about how long it would take to place our daughter.

These "high risk" babies are real babies that just need someone to hold them in the hospital.  Let them know they are loved and they grow leaps and bounds right before your eyes.  My baby girl did the fighting in the hospital but I know my ability to comfort her helped her get stronger faster.  To think that this other baby girl who they were unable to find a match for was alone for at least a month in the hospital breaks my heart.  My baby girl was alone for a week before we arrived.  I try not to think about her time alone in the NICU.  I saw babies cry for 45-60 minutes while nurses were occupied.  Its not that the nurses dont want to love these babies but they can't.  There isn't time in their day and I'm sure emotionally they only have so much to give.  So they sit alone waiting for someone to love them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Are We So Judgmental?

All Moms judge each other.  Cloth diapers vs. disposable.  Breastfeeding vs. formula.  My baby is smarter.  My baby is bigger.  My baby is going to Harvard.  I do admit I compair.  Its hard not to.  We have a friend who's baby is just a few weeks younger and well they will do things around the same time.  Baby girl does a little more in the physical front but she also started out with a strong extensor tone and thus could hold her head up the first day we met her.


I'm also fortunate to be part of a passionate group of Moms.  I'm an Adoptive Mom.  Each of found our way to the path through our own unique journeys but traveled the same road.  We each were given choices about what we would "accept."  We all had ideas about if we wanted open/close adoptions and made agreements with our birthparents.  We all at some point will be (or have been) matched with a baby.  We then all parent.


You would think that once we joined the parent crowd we could just judge each other on the same playing field as all other moms.  My baby is smarter, bigger, faster, breastfed, home schooled,  etc.  I've been surprised though now that I've gone from a waiting mom to an adoptive mom how judgmental the adoptive world is.  So now not only do I have to answer to other Moms I have to answer to the adoptive world.


I've started a post called "adoption isn't rainbows and sunshine" in which I discuss what I have found challenging about adoption and what I wasn't prepared for (I thought I was prepared since I read a lot and attended every adoption support group I could).  One big thing I wasn't ready for was the judgement.


I read on the Adoption Magazine forum today an adoptive mom thinking of closing her adoption temporarily until the birthmom was no longer in an abuse relationship.  The birthmom's boyfriend (boyfriend is not birthfather) is involved in gangs, drugs, and is monitoring all of the birthmoms communications.  The adoptive mom felt unsafe and has chosen to temporarily close the adoption.  A good number of people ganged up on her saying that she couldn't make an agreement with the birthmom to have an open adoption at birth and then close it.  By closing the adoption (even temporarily) wasn't fair and it was taking advantage of the birthmom.  Too often women dont listen to their gut when they dont feel safe.  This Mom felt unsafe and that her daughter was unsafe.  No other mom would be expected to bring her child to visit someone if they felt their child was unsafe- why is an adoptive mom expected to override her motherly instinct and continue to bring her child into an unsafe situation.


Stepping back a little there maybe other solutions besides closing the adoption.  If I were this mom I wouldnt think twice about telling D that we needed to stop visits until I felt we could establish visitation that was safe for my daughter (visits in this case were happening monthly).  I would feel comfortable with letters as we do now sent by way of the agency and would be willing to include pictures in the letters.  D doesn't have access to our facebook accounts so I wouldn't have to end that contact as this Mom needed to.  We have a shutterfly account that allows D to see pictures when she chooses and is dedicates specifically to Baby Girl.


Adoption agreements are important but are made at one snapshot in time.  Many birthparents move into places in their lives where they could parent and could possibly allow an adoption to become even more open.  There are birthparents that dont.  Its not fair to tell an adoptive parent- sorry you agreed to visits- even if you dont feel safe- you have to maintain what you agreed to.  Changes shouldn't be taken lightly.  Changes shouldn't happen just because there is minor disagreements.  If the issues is something that can be worked on it should be and every attempt should be made to maintain contact.  If safety is of concern have it be the birthmom is showing up under the influence, or you feel like the birthmoms boyfriend is a threat.  Its fair to say visits are suspended until the birthmom is in a place that is safe for the child.  


Its not fair to judge each other.  Its OK to suggest alternatives or offer places to receive guidance but I think us Moms are judged enough.  I actually turned off anonymous posting because of some of the strong judgements I was receiving.  I'm OK with a healthy productive discussions and even a challenge to think outside the box but lets stop the judging!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Its a boy!

I just found out tonight that a couple that started their wait a few months after ours was matched.  They left for FL on Monday and were discharged from the hospital today.  They are waiting comfortably in a hotel waiting for  the interstate compact process to complete.  It always seems so much simpler and perfect from a distance.  I am sure they are on a rollercoaster ride as well as I know this was an "unexpected" arrival.  I believe (and I'm not positive) FL is one of the states that when the birthparents signs unless they can prove distress it very quickly becomes binding (unlike PA where we had to wait 30 days).

I am so very happy for them and can't wait to meet this guy!  Assuming they stay in their current home; baby girl and their son will be classmates!

We are so fortunate to have so many families that grew with adoption in our neighborhood- I think the current count (i'm aware of) is 5 kiddos including baby girl.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Superstar

I think about adoption each and every day but its become part of who we are.  I try not to let it define us  or make me feel like less of a parent.  Its been much easier since leaving Phili because I'm not constantly reminded that I'm not "mom."  In the hospital I was reminded daily that I wasn't mom and it made me mad.  I hated that feeling of not being able just to decide what was best for my child and move forward.  Instead the agency had to be called frequently and was the final say in things.

Now that we are home as long as fools dont use comments like "real mom" I just dont think about it (most of the time).  Besides being able to open a bank account for her there is nothing I feel like I can't do with her... until tonight- I was reminded again- I'm not "legal" mom- just plain old regular mom.

My aunt innocently enough handed me a flyer from the newspaper for an open casting for a local company.  They were looking for infants to be in their ad.  My aunt of course thinks Baby Girl is the most amazing, vivacious, superstar of a baby so she cut it out and gave it to me (I have to say I fully agree with her opinion of my superstar).  Its a company that I like, I love their products, and their mission.  Well I'm not "legal" mom.  So I asked DH if he thought we needed to ask the agency if it was OK?  At this point we have completed our post placement visits with no concerns and are just waiting on a court date.  TPR has long passed and I have not asked the agency permission to do anything since we walked out the doors of the hospital.

I've considered going.  I have off on Friday and DH has off the other days that would be required IF she was picked (and of course she would be) .  I'm just dreading getting their and them asking for a social security number, a birth certificate, something that proves that this baby belongs with me.  Something that shows that I am her mom.  I've had this argument a few times over with people (when we flew, when I inquired about a bank account).  People INSIST that babies get social security numbers and birth certificates AT the hospital.  In baby girls case her birth mom didn't get these things at the hospital, rather they were mailed to her and she didn't get them until around the time we went home.  So even if I was her "legal" mom from day one I wouldn't have had these documents from day one.

Those pieces of paper mean little to me.  I AM her Mom.  Though I'm sometimes reminded that in some eyes I am not really Mom until I'm "Legal Mom."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

3rd Post Placement Visit

We walked down.  Baby girl was tired but stayed awake.  The social worker asked for any updates and how baby girl was developing.  We shared her Bmoms current situation and our contact with her bsister.  The social worker agreed that we likely wont have contact with D.

She shared the next steps in the process which will be they will submit the paperwork to the courts and we will have a court date.  I need to email her and clarify because she said that the six months started the end of february.  Not sure if this because baby girl was in the hospital until then.  She told us she didn't expect a court date until late September/early October.  It would be fitting if our court date was the first week in October as that would be a full two years since our profile "went live."

We took pictures with the new social worker who did all of our post placement visits.  We will use the pictures in our "My Family My Journey" book for Baby Girl.  The social worker that was the supervisor and was our contact during our time in PA stopped into the office.  It was nice to personally thank her for all of her support during our time in PA even if it didn't result in us getting back home any sooner.

Really the only changes that this last visit insights is- no more visits to the agency, and no extra paperwork when we go to the doctors.  Other then that its parenting as usual.