Christmas Wishes…

A friend of ours saw one of those Wendy’s adoption ads (like this one) the other day and texted me saying that she thinks maybe we’ll have a child by Christmas.

Hahahahahahah!!!! ;-D

After I stopped laughing, I thought about the nice (albeit completely obliviously un-educated) comment, it led me to wonder how many more Christmases it will be until we have children of our own. Two years ago, I was confident about last year. Last Christmas I was pretty darned bitter and sad, and had dwindling hopes for this Christmas.

This year, as we prepare for another childless Christmas… with little hope for next year… I feel wistful.

I’m wistfully hoping for, and wondering about what it will feel like on that Christmas day. A hope and a future.

So I was really encouraged by Laurie’s post, here, from Adoption Creates Families. How exciting to think that “one day” can and will become “now” one of these days.

Hope. Springs. Eternal.

 

Bitterness, Openness & The Adoption Triad

So I’m a researcher. I read a lot. Before making a major life choice/step I like to learn as much as I possibly can about the subject matter.

I knew (almost) everything about conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and newborns/infants that one could learn BEFORE we even started TTC.  I know more about the subject (except, obviously, for personal experience) than far too many moms I know, and/or have spoken to about the subject.

By the time we’d gotten to our appointment with our RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist), I was basically prepared for any inevitability of what our diagnosis would be, and how we could handle it. By the time we decided to stop ART and pursue adoption, I was already pretty darned prepared.

This habit tends to shock people a little bit. My brain is so over-filled with random information and trivia that it gets a little daunting. Part of this process is, for me, therapeutic. Knowledge is power, right? And after too long of feeling so out of control, there’s something calming and relaxing about feeling like I’m in control of at least one thing – my knowledge about something.

Anyhow, point being – I’ve been reading a lot of blogs recently. First it started with basic information blogs, like adoption.com, the AFABC’s website, Canada Adopts!, etc. And don’t even gets me started on the MCFD’s website… I’ve practically memorized the entire thing.  I quickly moved on from there, and now I’m reading a lot more personal blogs. It started with Carrie Goldman’s Portrait of an Adoption blog, from the Chicago Now website, and from there my obsession has blossomed. <sigh>

The thing that’s shocked me most, however, have been some of the adoptee/adoptee rights and birth/first/original parent blogs I’ve read. I guess I wasn’t prepared for such waves of bitterness. 

Bitterness of those who felt forced into surrendering babies. Anger from those who feel that more should be done to preserve family units by addressing poverty and social disparity issues, rather than ‘solving’ the problem through placing children with adoptive families who may have more financial/social means. Adoptees who feel like the system is broken and like they are victims of an unjust process. Discomfort of those who are in awkward open adoption arrangements.

Now I’m feeling a little panicked. Like there’s no option for success here. Many of the adoptees who express their discontent seem to say that they (concurrently) love, respect, and appreciate their adoptive families; and are bitter, frustrated, angry, etc., about the fact that they were disconnected with their birth/first/original families.  Seriously – this sounds like a lose-lose situation for the adoptive parents.

I’m also reading some blog posts about embracing openness when it’s difficult, like this one. The part of the post that freaks me out is this quote: “I understand that some would use any of the ample excuses at my disposal as a reason to close an adoption.   Run-ins with the police, active addiction, inappropriate gifts, uncomfortable situations, angry family members, criminal activities are all reasons we hear for closing up relationships.  My kids first parents live complicated, confusing, difficult lives.  That I do not deny. And I love them.” 

Seriously?!? Honestly, if my kids’ bio/first/birth family were constantly being arrested, actively addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, etc., there is NO WAY that (at this point could imagine that) I could feel comfortable continuing in openness – for the sake of my kids’ safety!

YIKES!

I understand, and respect, the importance of understanding one’s origins; getting a clear and open picture of the circumstances that led to one’s adoption, maintaining connections with safe and caring family members, etc. BUT, I honestly don’t understand the value of placing a child in that sort of environment – intentionally.

Then again, I also have to remember my “privilege.”

  • I grew up in a loving, stable, healthy nuclear family unit.
  • My parents are each other’s best friends – they love and LIKE each other.
  • I’ve never been hungry, never experienced poverty, or racism, etc.
  • I’ve always lived in (nothing fancy, but) comfortable suburban homes, in safe neighbourhoods.
  • I’ve never been abused; physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually.
  • I’ve always had a loving extended family – both through relationship, and through my extended church ‘family’

The list could go on… I’m certain that some of my shock at the idea of exposing children to abusive/dangerous situations comes from the fact that these sorts of things are ones I avoid. They’re ones I would never want for my children.

We live a pretty sheltered (naïve?) life here in suburbia.

Maybe I’m being selfish for hoping that we can give our children a good, happy, non-bitter, non-jaded life here. Maybe such a thing as a truly successful adoptive process doesn’t exist. Maybe it does and I should stop reading the angry blogs. Am I being greedy for hoping to have a family? Greedy to hope that my children won’t resent me for having adopted them in the first place? Maybe I haven’t researched this enough, and I’m not getting the full picture. Maybe I’m thinking this through and researching too much – working myself into a tizzy for nothing… I don’t know anymore.

Ugh.

First Meeting… Update!

So we had our first meeting with the “Adoption Recruitment Coordinator” (from now forward to be known as Recruiter Lady) on Monday night, and it went really well! I was (as I mentioned) a little nervous in advance… plus Rob ended up leaving work later than expected, but thankfully we were both able to make it on time! Yay!

Anyhow, the meeting was about 1 3/4 hours, and was pretty casual. She gave us a massive information package, with some great articles I (shockingly) had NOT already read yet, as well as a booklet that explains all of their definitions for the Adoption Questionnaire (http://goo.gl/Xy1bF)… and that was handy. I’d not before seen anything from the ministry on how THEY define some of the risk factors/behaviours, so that’s very good to heave.

Note to Self: This is a bureaucratic process. It’s the government. They have their own definitions for things. Learn and go by THEIR definitions for things, and not your own.

She asked us about infertility and the whole grief & loss process, and where we were at with that. We answered (Rob mostly shrugging and saying that he was fine with it. Me sharing more… no shocker there) and she seemed pretty happy with our responses. She smiled and nodded and said “You’re at the right place to proceed with adoption.” Woot! Hurdle #1 – Passed! 😀

Recruiter Lady also explained to us that (for our health region) the Adoption Education Program (“AEP” – the BC version of PRIDE/other types of required training for prospective parents) is over a series of 6 weeks of Thursday nights (7-10pm) and 2 (likely soon to be 3) full day Saturdays. That’s actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be… I was certain it was going to be 6 full Saturdays PLUS the one evening a week. We were both pretty relieved that it wouldn’t be as rugged as that! Also, we may get into the class that starts at the end of January, 2012, as long as we get our application in soon.

So herein lies my dilemma. We’d committed to each other that we would wait until January 2012 (4 months after we stopped TTC and fertility treatments) before formally putting in our application. This was supposed to be time to process, grieve, research, think, talk, pray, etc. BUT, I really wouldn’t want to miss this class and have to wait for the next one in May – Ugh. This entire process (again, being very government-style) is all about “hurry up and wait” for everything.

I’m kind of thinking that we should submit our application a couple of weeks early, just to make sure we get in… but I’m reticent to go back on that initial timeline at the same time because we set that to make sure that we’re taking a healthy amount of time for all of this. I know that grieving has no timeline, but Recruiter Lady seemed to think we’re OK to proceed as we are. Thoughts? Ideas?

Anyhow – that’s it for now!

First Meeting…

We have our first meeting, with the “Adoption Recruitment Worker” at the BC Ministry of Child and Family Development (“MCFD”) tonight. Five o’clock PM.

I’m kind of freaking out.

I know that we’re pretty boring, normal people, and that we don’t have anything to hide or to truly be nervous about, but still my stomach is all butterflies. And I’m a little emotional.

I’ve been reading a lot about creating a “lifebook” for our future kids, and how parents can help to add to the lifebook by sharing little tidbits of where they were at and what they were doing at the same time as their child was in foster care / the orphanage, etc., and this morning on my (painfully long) drive into work I was thinking about telling our future kids about today… about these first official steps towards us finding them. “On November 21st, we had our first meeting with the social workers who would help us to find you,” I would write, “and we were really excited and a little nervous, because we wanted to do everything the right way so that we wouldn’t have to have any delays before we got to find you.”

Then I got all teary-eyed… and said out loud; “We’re coming. Don’t lose hope. We’ll find you as soon as we possibly can, and then we’ll be together – a forever family.”

And then I just plain-old started crying. (I’m such a dolt… don’t know why I get myself so worked up about all of this.) I just hope that whoever our kids are, and wherever they are right now, that they’re safe. I keep praying that God would protect them (physically, mentally, emotionally) and that they wouldn’t give up hope.

I haven’t, and I won’t.

Wish us luck!

Finding the Up-Side…

So there have been lots of moments over the past couple of years when I’ve been panicked about infertility. I’ve been angry, excited, fearful, hopeful, anxious, despondent… you name it! That’s a big part of why we decided that we needed ‘a break’ after ending our TTC journey early this September, after our final failed medicated IUI. I just needed a break from the endless disappointment and axiety. He just needed a break from me being crazy. We both just needed a chance to catch our breath from the past couple of years.

I’ve still been seeing my counsellor, just because I think it’s a good idea for someone like me who’s walking through a lot of stuff… and just in general a good idea in general! One of the things I asked my counsellor last time I was there was if there were any areas in how I was working through all of this that she thought were things I needed to be working through more before starting the adoption process. I was surprised, but encouraged when she said to me that she feels like I’ve dealt with it in a very healthy way, with a lot of grace, and that she feels quite confident that there are no ‘red flags’ there.

Can’t tell you how much that encouraged me!! I keep thinking that I must be over-reacting or that I’m a little nuts – it’s nice to hear that this is normal and that I’m OK, even if it doesn’t feel like it some days!

Anyhow, that led me to thinking about what some of the up-sides are of adopting, through foster care, after infertility. Now keep in mind that some of these are a tongue-in-cheek, but that’s part of the dark humour that comes from walking this road!

  • Not having morning sickness! My SIL, Dawn, is about 8 weeks pregnant now… and she feels like garbage. She’s got morning sickness ALL DAY long. I hate nausea, so this is something I’m pretty excited about not experiencing. 😉
  • Our kids will likely already be potty-trained… nice! I mean seriously – who likes diapers? (Well honestly, I was really excited about getting those cool cloth diapers and being all hard-core earth mom and all, but that’s something I’m OK with not having to do!)
  • Our kids will be able to use words to tell us what’s wrong! True – lots of kids who come from hard places often face challenges in understanding what’s upsetting them, and knowing how to express that, but hey – we get to actually ask them, and they can tell us. Bonus!
  • We get to do fun stuff right away! When Rob and I think about the idea of kids, the things that are most exciting to us aren’t googling at babies – they’re about DOING stuff, like camping, playing, picnics, and ball games… you know – fun stuff.
  • No stretch marks… well, no new stretch marks! Pregnancy does a number on a woman’s body, but me – I’ll never have to deal with that. Go team, right?
  • Our kids may not be doomed to have complete pancake butts! Rob and I both have super flat white-people bums, and we used to joke that our poor future kids wouldn’t stand a chance… so now, who knows! We could end up with kids from any racial/cultural background, and they could have actual proper padding on their behinds.

OK, maybe that last one was stretching it, but I’m still new at this. I’m hoping that hoping will be a good thing – that looking forward to the future with optimism and hopeful anticipation will be a lot more enjoyable than the misery and constant disappointment that TTC/IF turned out to be, so hey – one step at a time, eh?

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! 🙂

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! 🙂