Monday, November 3, 2014

Newborn Care and Infant CPR

As prospective parents we want as many of the experiences those on the road more traveled do.  So one of the first things I wanted to do was sign us up for a newborn care and infant CPR course.

We have a number of hospitals within about a five mile radius so I thought this would be an easy thing to knock out.  On the one hand, I was right as there were courses on multiple dates in multiple locations. I found just the one we were looking for-a three hour care/CPR combo class on a weekend morning for a super low rate. On the other hand, the online registration didn't have a drop down option for TBD when it asked for due date nor did it accept "I'm good" for the name of my obstetrician.  Not surprisingly these were required pieces of information for the registration to process.  I sent an email through the link provided and later in the week, when I hadn't received a response, called.  When someone returned my call she was super nice and got us registered for the class we wanted.

This reflects this leg of our journey quite well.  It is not easy and requires more effort than your average Joe, but support abounds.  We have been sooo fortunate to have gotten nothing by support from our family, friends and colleagues.  I have read about adoptive parents encounters with insensitive or outright hostile comments from those close to them as well as strangers.  We have been so blessed to not have to navigate through those hurtful conversations.

As the class drew closer and I read the registration information more closely, I discovered that this particular course was recommended for couples during weeks 35-39 of their pregnancy.  Hmm, which of these things is not like the other, which one of these things is not the same?  As I looked down at my babybump-less midsection I groaned.  Fortunately I have never been much of a conformist:).

We were the last to arrive of the 8 couples in the class so at first we (or should I say I?) stood out like a sore thumb.  Fortunately we did introductions right off the bat so we were able to clear things up quickly.   One of us thought we were an expert on child care and the other thought we were an expert on CPR; however, BOTH of us learned a lot.  It was a fun group with a lot of laughs.  As the women shared their due dates (November, December and one lone January) I hoped that we would be right in the game with them.

All things considered our experience was a success and I would encourage any "expecting" adoptive parents to sign up for a similar course.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hurry Up and Wait

Our "2nd Trimester" began September 12, 2014.  The "to do" list was complete... or was it?  What is a planning junkie to do when entering uncharted territory of the unknown?  Well, she turns to google of course:).  Believe it or not a few quick keyword searches will yield a list of things to do while a couple waits to adopt.  Here is what I came up with:

 Ø Seek support from other people adopting either through local support groups or online
Ø  Take a class in newborn care.
Ø  Take an infant/child CPR & First Aid class.
Ø  Read about open adoption, parenting and general infant/child care.
Ø  Talk to your employer and start planning for time away from the office if necessary.
Ø  Research and select baby furniture 
Ø  Research car seats and strollers, with an eye towards a purchase.
Ø  If you have purchased a car seat already, learn how to install it, then get it checked by a car seat specialist (call your local police department for assistance).
Ø  Research and select a pediatrician.
Ø  Research online teaching and/or other from home or part time positions
Ø  Update our driver’s licenses with correct address
Ø  Select names for each gender 
Ø  Discuss and research discipline styles/techniques.
Ø  Research and select a childcare provider 
Ø  Research new parenting techniques i.e., baby massage, using sign language, etc.
Ø  Make some reheatable quick meals and store in the freezer.
Ø  Research baby announcements. Do-it-yourself or order?
Ø  Start a life book of your adoption journey for your child.
Ø  Discuss and make decisions about new wills, life insurance and a guardian for your child.
Ø  Research and request forms to add your new baby to your health insurance plan.
Ø  Research any parental/family leave policies with your employer.
Ø  Research and decide about adoptive breastfeeding.
Ø  Research and decide about cord blood banking.
Ø  Discuss what type of new baby/welcome home celebration you want to have.
Ø  Research and learn how to prevent SIDS.
Ø  Prepare a first aid kit specifically for children 
Ø  Create a packing list and pack what is possible ahead of time.
Ø  Tidy up your closets and storage space.
Ø  Prepare the nursery.
Ø  Start a journal or blog about your adoption journey. 
ØPut your finances in order including a plan how to pay for college for your child
ØTalk with your friends and family about adoption
ØMake your home child safe
ØKnit or sew a baby blanket
ØGet in shape
ØWrite your parents a thank you letter
ØLearn how to take decent pictures, especially of children
ØGet information on local kid friendly activities
ØRejuvenate & Recharge

So by the end of September we had a new set of tasks to complete; however this time the deadline was unknown.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The First "Trimester"--May 16, 2014 to September 12, 2014

I am a weird combination of Type A and B personalities.  I have the capability of "going with the flow"; however, I love setting up a plan complete with charts, notebooks, visual aids...the works.  As a result, the first "trimester" of our adoption process was right up my alley.  There were books to read, questions to seek answers to, things to research...but more importantly there was something tangible I could do!  For the previous 3.5 years we had done everything we knew to do to grow our little family, and, while it was lots of fun:) I was energized with a new set of "to dos".   As a part of my research I found a great article that helped us see the phases of adoption paralleled to the trimesters of a pregnancy.  For most couples the first trimester lasts three months, and we weren't too far behind that with four.

We worked on all of the logistics (picking an agency, home study, etc.).  Which doesn't sound very exciting, but it was nice to actually have something to do on the trying-to-become parents front that we hadn't already tried to do before.

We also used this time to turn our guest room into a nursery.  Depending upon how we are matched, it may be a call in the middle of the night or 6 months in advance.  Either way I wanted the opportunity to experience the excitement of preparing a room for our child without pressure or stress, so we put it together during my summer break.

Adoption in the 21st century is focused on openness between birth parents and adoptive parents and providing expectant parents with avenues for choosing adoptive parents that they feel will be the best match for their child.  To that end our next steps were developing a profile, website and video that helped expectant parents get to know who we are and provide avenues to reach out to us:

Lifetime Adoption Website

We also found a second smaller site to post this information:


The process of putting everything together was a huge undertaking, but I really enjoyed it because we were actively doing something to move one step closer to our child...wherever he or she (or they!) may be.

Now we wait (hold on, isn't that what we have already been doing?!)...oh, that's right, this time it's official!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home Study in the Books!

Image result for keep calm and fill out the next form

Ahh, a great deal of time was spent this summer completing the "dreaded' home study.  Which consists of a social worker putting your entire life (financial, personal, legal, physical) into a report to receive an official stamp of approval.  I can't imagine the adoption process being in the best interest of children without a thorough home study; however, it having your whole life viewed under a microscope is another step towards parenthood that sets us apart from most of our friends and our families.

Our social worker, Melissa (an adoptive parent herself) was wonderful and made the very tedious (an invasive!) process and easy as possible.  We had to meet with her on three different occassions for the interview phase of the home study.  We got to meet at our house which was nice.  She also gave us opportunities to ask questions and educate us about the adoption process.  The actual study of our home took less than 5 minutes, so the name is not an accurate portrayal of the process at all.  But, oh well!

She is now finalizing the report and it should be ready in the next few weeks.  We are finishing up our profiles and we should be "live" at the beginning of September!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Parenting Books

As a Girl Scout (well until I hit middle school) we were taught to always be prepared.  With that motto in mind once I devoured a healthy dose of books on adoption I forayed into the world of parenting books just in case we were the lucky recipients of a drop-in-your-lap match.

I have only made my way through four of these, but have definitely found some (what I hope will turn out to be) useful information:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Photo Shoots

We tease my mom mercilessly over her poses as a photographer, but she is hands down the best person I know when it comes to archiving memories as pictures.  She not only remembers (more often than not) to take pictures at events and occasions, she faithfully prints them, writes the location, date, and participants on the back and then organizes them in photo albums or photo boxes.  You would think with such a great role model I would be so good at this, but frankly I am the worst!

I almost never take my camera any where, and even though my phone has a camera, I hate asking people (even if it's just J.T.) to break away from the action to get a picture.  There is also the fact that I do not like getting my own picture taken that gets in the way.  In regard to printing, writing on the back and organizing, I was decent at this in high school and college, but since graduating forget it.

This weakness would not be terribly problematic if it wasn't for the fact that we have to create a profile book and webpage that highlights in words and pictures our life together.  It is also strongly recommended that most of these pictures be action rather than posed shots-yikes!

As a result, we spent all day yesterday having a "photo shoot" with my brother and mother-in-law.  With careful planning, we were able to recreate all of the things we like to do--playing games, playing with the puppies, cooking, etc. and have them look like they were authentically happening (we hope!).

I hope it doesn't sound like we are trying to be misleading, as we actually do or have done everything we had photographed, but due to our lousy photography skills (and the fact that they recommend no sunglasses or booze in any of the pictures) we had to improvise.

Thanks to my mother-in-law's skills, we ended up with a lot of usable shots and had fun in the process.  All in all it was a win, but also a firm kick in the pants to do a better job of taking pictures in the future!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire Drill

So even though our home study is not complete we have gotten a taste at what it is like to get "the call".  A colleague who is aware that we are adopting (he and his wife have adopted themselves) called on Thursday to see where we were at in the process and whether we might be open to a situation of which he was aware through his church.

My heart stopped as he began to explain the details and I got super excited!  I immediately called J.T. and gave him the information we had.  We became a bit concerned when a quick google search led to a pretty strong suspicion that there was exposure of which we were uncomfortable, but decided we would continue to just play things by ear.

On Friday I left to meet some girlfriends out of state (prepared to turn around at any moment if necessary).  On the way I got a call from my colleague explaining that the new mom was not clear on what open adoption truly was, her expectations were not going to realistically translate to a placement, and that her family had agreed (and preferred) to help her raise the baby.

So our excitement was short lived, but it was interesting to get a glimpse into the whirlwind of emotion we will get to experience when the real time comes (sooner rather than later-fingers crossed!).  We decided it was like our fire drill and believe we passed with flying colors:).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Adoption Books

I love to read!  The first book I remember reading myself was Cinderella .  I would read books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, the TV guide, cereal boxes...anything with words and provided anything that told a story, shared an opinion, or provided information.

When we decided to adopt, the internet was a bit too intimidating with its millions of resources from a zillion sources both research based and purely anecdotal.  As a result, I ended up looking for the most comprehensive best selling books to download to my Nook and then, gasp, did something I haven't done in years--went to the public library and checked out their supply.

I selected books written by adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption attornies, and social workers just to be able to see my new found world through the eyes of its many representatives.  Some books were written to provide information for those just starting, in the process and with an adopted child in the home.  Others were narratives or short stories that gave an insider's perspective of one family's experience/

Below you will find my top ten books (in no particular order) on adoption:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Where to Start?!?

Step 1:  Read a book (or one weeked) to get the big picture
Step 2:  Make some critical decisions

  • international versus domestic
  • private versus public 
  • Agency versus attorney
  • newborn versus older baby or child
We landed on domestic, private, newborn adoption through an agency before the weekend was out!

Step 3:  Which agency to choose?  Geography is not a determining factor when selecting an agency.  After researching one local, two regional and one national agency, we felt the national agency would best meet our needs.  We would never be able to sit across the table from them (they are in California), but their connections to nearly all 50 states would best help us find our little girl or boy.

Step 4:  "Introduce Ourselves"  through a profile book, website and video while at the same time completing our home study which legally qualifies us to become an adoptive family.

It's nice having something to do:).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A New Leg of the Journey

We went to our RE for our first IVF consult Friday.  We sat down across from the doctor and listened to him review our situation to date and the statistics of where IVF could take us.  As a nerdy, data loving educator this conversation should have been right up my alley.  However, with each relatively positive statistic he provided I could not stop the tears from first filling my eyes and then rolling down my cheeks.  We asked a million questions, and he provided an answer to each.  While I never openly sobbed, I couldn't stop the quiet waterworks.

We left with the understanding that a June cycle was a definite possibility.  We were headed to meet some friends for dinner.  We got there about an hour early.  We were trying out at a trendy Gastropub and surrounded by craft beers, tapas and hipster strangers we made a life changing decision.  Within one hour of leaving the RE we had come to the mutual agreement that IVF was not our next step.  We landed there from a place of logic and firm belief that IVF was not how we were meant to start our family.   Our path would be be continued through the gift of adoption.

For three and a half years of uncertainty and infinitely more questions than answers, we now had a sense of direction not previously experienced before.  In our new excitement we shared our news with our families and, upon their arrival, our friends.  All of whom shared in our excitement.   We sat down to order drinks, three beers and a water for our friend who was 5 months pregnant.   For three and half years, like other women in my position, I struggled internally with pregnancy announcements, baby showers, gender reveals, and all things expecting.  The sense of peace I felt that evening that replaced the stab of jealousy/frustration/shame I usually experienced when discussing all things baby was further confirmation that we had made the decision we were meant to make.