Getting the Low-Down #1: Mr. N & Mrs. N

Wow… I am so excited to share this!

I know very few parents IRL ( in real life) who have actually adopted children through the public domestic process in their home province/state. Yesterday I got the amazing opportunity to speak with one of the few whom I know, Mr. N, of “Mr. N & Mrs. N.” This is a great couple who work for the same charity I do, but who live in Ontario, whereas Rob & I are in British Columbia. I was out in Toronto for a conference this week, and got the chance to have a brief conversation with Mr. N. Man, do I wish we’d had more time (only 45 mins due to schedules), and that his wife, Mrs. N, had been able to be there, but hey – I’ll take what I can get.

M. & Mrs. N shared on Facebook back earlier this year about their plans to adopt, and their reasons why. I hope to share some of that with you in the future, but the summary of it is that they have a huge heart to provide homes for the children in need in their community. Their story was a bit unique in that they had seen a profile of a young boy (their son) at one of the education course sessions they were at. He had been labelled as “hard to place” and they felt an immediate desire to express an interest in him. The process of getting approval happened very quickly for them and he was placed with them shortly afterwards… that was just this spring (2011.)

Since I didn’t have a lot of time, I asked Mr. N a few specific questions about their process with adoption:

1) How did you decide which medical, behavioural, etc., categories you would be open to with your original application? Mr. N explained that they tried to say which specific factors they were 100% not open to at this time, and then to be open to assessing the specific child and the specific situation for the others. For example, their son had been diagnosed with FAS at the time he entered foster care (at 10 mo’s)… but by the time they met him (at 3 1/2), his development was meeting and exceeding expectations for a child of the same age. He gives a lot of credit for their son’s development to the fact that he was in an amazing home with foster parents who themselves had adopted children through the system, and who were continuing to foster other children. In short, if there are certain things where we feel like it’s “no – for sure and without exception” then note those, but for other things where maybe we’d be open to varying degrees, risk levels, and/or just getting to know the specific situation and child, then leave them open.

2) How has transition been going? Mr. N mentioned (after I shared with him a number of the stages I’d read about in the transition process; i.e. the honeymoon phase, rejecting one parent, etc.) that all of those things are totally true and they’ve experienced them. He also shared that one benefit of starting this process without having parented before is that you don’t know any better… basically that while there are challenges in the process, many biological parents have challenges with becoming parents and with the different steps and stages they experience; sleepless nights, colic, medical problems, etc., and that adoptive parents just have a different set of challenges to face, which arent’ necessarily better or worse. I found this really encouraging!

3) What advice would you give to Rob and I as we start out on this journey? Firstly, he encouraged me that honouring the grieving process of infertility is a wise choice. He said that learning to grieve in a healthy way is actually a valuable skill to have and will help in the future as we encourage our children to grieve their own losses as well. Secondly, he encouraged us to really ‘know’ and ‘own’ our motivations and reasons for wanting to go this route for adoption, because there will be challenges, struggles, and disappointments along the way – so it’s really important to remember why we’re doing this! Finally, he encouraged us to be looking to God for what He has for us in this process, and to honour that. All awesome stuff.

So while we only had a short time to chat, I’ve got to say that I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I told Mr. N that there’s just something about being able to talk about this with others, and/or read other people’s stories that normalizes the experience for me… and that the more information I have, and the more normalized this all feels, the less overwhelming it is. YAY! 🙂

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Getting A Life – Part 1

So since I’m busy thinking through how I should go about getting a life while walking through the upcoming journey of adoption, I thought I’d share with you a short list of some of the ways I’m planning to make the most of this season.

Education

1) TESOL: I have only one or two classes to finish to complete my TESOL certification. Teaching English has nothing to do with my career, but I’ve always enjoyed Lingustics and when I did a volunteer practicum with an ELSA class a few years ago I was really touched by the people. They were all so gracious and genuine. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must be to move your family to a completely new country for hope of a better life. It would be neat to get back into doing that.

2) CHRP (Canadian Human Resources Professional) certification: This one’s a ‘maybe’ for me. Despite the fact that this is my current work (an an HR Director for a national charity), I waffle on whether or not to focus much more in the field of HR. Part of it is the fact that once we do (positive thinking – positive thinking) have kids, and I look for part-time work (hopefully 20-30 hours/week), there’s NOTHING in my field anywhere close to home. Seriously. Nothing. So that being said, I’m a little nervous about painting myself into a career corner, so to speak.

3) General Interest Continuing Ed: Maybe pottery, or photography courses… or a language class or two. Just some fun stuff to learn new skills and develop new hobbies. 🙂

Community Involvement

1) Emergency Social Services (ESS): I’ve recently started volunteering as an ESS volunteer in my community, and am really excited to continue with training and practical experience of helping people in my community, during their time of need. There’s some great free training available through the province, so I’m excited to get more involved in that as well!

2) Our Local Church: We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from much involvement, over the past year, as both Rob and I have felt overwhelmed with pretty much everything in life. We’re joining a community group again, and I’m happy to be getting more connected with old friends and new. There’s something very healing and encouraging about being part of a group, isn’t there?

Health/Physical Activity

1) Sprint (aka mini) Triathlon: OK – this is for sure my loftiest goal… but I feel like it’s actually achievable over the next 7 months before the race happens in late April, 2012. A sprint triathlon is basically one for beginners, with only 5km of running, 20km of cycling, and 700m of swimming. While definitely a stretch for me with my post-Clomid and frantic-panic-about-2WW-exercising body, I need to get moving and active again. My brother and I will be doing this together, which is AWESOME, and while he’s definitely more fit than me, that’s all the more motivation and accountability for me to get practicing!

Phew! That sounds like enough to keep my free-time full! Looking forward to being so busy that I won’t have enough time to obsess about infertility and adoption!

New Chapter

So it’s been a while since my last blog post here on the new site. A lot has happened since then… we got our infertility diagnosis, completed more testing, tried a bunch of alternatives, and them completed a couple of medicated IUI cycles, after our first one was cancelled.

Then I called it. I couldn’t keep doing it – we couldn’t keep doing it. I honestly can’t imagine continuing with this process and I have the utmost respect for those who are strong enough to keep putting themselves through it all; through IVF, the injections, the constant monitoring, the emotional and mental up’s and down’s of it all.

In the end, Rob and I decided that having kids, and being parents, was more important to us than having babies. I’ll post more on how we came to that decision soon, but the point is that we decided to stop TTC (trying to conceive). We’d talked for years about the idea of adopting, and about adopting children who were in foster care… and now we’re finally (and I still can’t even believe that I’m saying this) going to go for it!

We’re taking a break between now and January 2012 when we’ll start the adoption process. Mostly it’s time for me to obsessively research, talk with some of the adoptive parents I know, etc., but it’s also time to process and grieve the loss of a dream. That being said, once January arrives it will be great to actually complete the application and get this next journey started.

From what I’ve read so far, here in BC the application/education/homestudy process takes and average of 6-12 months, and the average wait time for the category of kids we’d be interested in (known in BC as “BC’s Waiting Children,” who are categorized as “special needs” because they’re older than 2 and/or are part of a sibling group), is 1 1/2 years. That gives us (by average to conservative estimates) about 2-3 years to get ourselves organized and ready to meet our kid(s)!

What that means for me is that I need do some serious work to not go nuts. Infertility has really kicked me in the gut – far more than I’d ever thought it would or could have – and I know that adoption isn’t any easier. In my mind that means that I need to figure out a few things:

1) Support & Information (people who’ve been through it and can give actual practical advice; and lots of useful, applicable research/education for me to dig into)

2) Community (not feeling so alone in all of this… there’s lots out there about private domestic adoption, and international adoption, but shockingly little about public domestic adoption… I need to connect with others who are in a similar space/process)

3) A Life (I feel like I put everything on hold for these couple of years of IF – I need hobbies. I need interesting challenges and ways to channel all this pent-up energy that aren’t just all about having children)

So anyhow… that’s the jist of where we’re at now. I feel like we’re back at square one – just a different square one than we were the first time. I’m a little more tired, a lot less blindly optimistic, a lot more resolved, a little more bitter, and yet still hopeful.

Here goes nothing everything! 🙂