A Baby Shower for Charlie!

Some of you know that Jamie and I are relatively new to Charlottesville. We’ve been here for a little more than a year now, and are starting to settle in. Of all of the places we’ve moved to, Charlottesville has been the easiest place to make friends. People are so warm and welcoming here. I think the fact that it’s a small town helps. Everyone is just so nice. We have friends that we see on a fairly regular basis, we play on a co-ed softball team, and it feels like we’ve built a a nice little social circle.

Because our friends here are all so new, we hadn’t yet shared the news that we are adopting with them. Partly because, well, there really isn’t any news to share yet. And also because it feels like we’re still in the “first trimester” of our adoption, if that makes any sense. Actually bringing our baby home still feels very far away and it seems like only the people closest to us should know in case something goes terribly wrong.

But I felt comfortable enough to tell a couple of the girls recently and was so glad I did. They are really excited, and one of them offered right away to throw me a baby shower. She showed me the save the dates yesterday and they are so cute…

babyshower

It really means a lot to me, especially because my best friends, who would normally throw a shower for me, live on the other side of the country so I didn’t think I’d actually have one. And since we are adopting and everything is so different from an actual pregnancy, I wasn’t sure if a shower made sense, when to do it, etc. But as soon as I told her, my new friend was all about it and starting planning right away. It’s really sweet and I’m so thankful to have met such wonderful people here in Charlottesville. And thankful that we have a network of new friends that will be there for Charlie, too.

There were many times when I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a baby, so the thought of having a baby shower is not something I ever allowed myself to think about. But now that I am having a baby–even though it isn’t happening in the usual way–I get to have a shower, too, just like any other mom-to-be. Because that’s what I am! Having a shower planned makes that feel very real. And that makes me smile.

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Two Months In: Our 2nd monthly agency update

2-monthsIt’s been a full two months now since we’ve been actively presented to birthmothers and have been waiting for a match. Yesterday we got our second monthly update from our caseworker telling us how many birthmothers we were presented to in November and the status of those presentations.

I look forward to this email all month (even though receiving it means we haven’t yet been chosen). We’re pretty removed from this part of the process, so it’s nice to know what’s been going on behind-the-scenes.

The Update

Our profile was shown to nine birthmothers this month, one every few days in November. That’s one more than last month.  Five of them were matched with other couples, (one already had the baby!) two fell off the radar, and two have not yet chosen a couple.

The cool thing about this month was that out of the five birthmothers who were successfully matched, one actually picked us as their third choice. So if her first and second choice matches said no, we would have gotten the call! She was successfully matched with her first choice, but hey, at least we were chosen as runners-up. Although third is not first, it feels like getting chosen at all is a step in the right direction. It’s a reminder that it could happen any time. Our caseworker told me that she was surprised to hear our names come up so fast and that even a 3rd choice after only two months of waiting is good news. That made us smile.

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Enjoying life during the wait for a match

In the adoption info booklet we got when we became officially active with our agency, they told us that waiting for a birthmother match is a very stressful time for adoptive parents and that we should take care of ourselves and try to relax.IMG_1559 But one of the things that has surprised me about our wait so far, is the lack of stress and anxiety I’ve been feeling. Mainly, I’ve been feeling excitement and anticipation because I know there is a baby in our near future. This is much different than being consumed by trying to conceive. Now that we are well on our way to adopting, I’ve realized that we should take full advantage of this time before the baby comes to enjoy life and each other while it’s just the two of us. Because just the two of us is pretty darn special, too.

Our agency gave us a list of things to do while waiting for a birthmother match. Mainly, the list consisted of sleeping, keeping busy, sleeping some more and taking vacations. Well, we’ve been busy, gotten sleep and taken a couple great vacations to Vermont and California and will be going to Chicago for Christmas. IMG_5201But there are a lot of other things we’ve been up to that are making the wait pretty enjoyable. I’m trying to make sure we have fun doing all the things we love to do together that will get trickier, or impossible, once the baby arrives. And I’m also taking some time for myself and the things I love because I know my me time will soon be limited.

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Please, no more adoption horror stories

great loveAny time you decide to grow your family, it requires a tremendous leap of faith. When you conceive a child, you take a big risk in hopes that your pregnancy will be uncomplicated and successful and that your baby will be healthy, happy and born with ten fingers and toes. You hope the “good” genes will get passed on and the less desirable ones won’t make it into the mix. But you never know. Baby-making is a gamble. So many things can go wrong.

It’s the same with adoption. Only with adoption, in addition to worrying about the health of the baby and all that comes with that, adoptive parents have an additional concern. An adoptive parent’s leap of faith is more like a catapulted canyon vault of faith because none of it, is, ultimately, under our control. We hope our baby is happy and healthy, of course, but we also worry about the birthmother suddenly deciding our baby is not really our baby after all. Our biggest fear is that we will get attached to a baby only to have the birthmother change her mind after birth. There is always a chance that could happen, and that would surely be painful, but I try not to think about it because all I can do is trust in our journey. Living in fear of what could go wrong won’t do anything but drive me crazy.

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Watch this: Family is Adoption

I just came across this touching short film about special needs international adoption and an incredible household that’s absolutely bursting with love and hope. This is a different type of adoption than we are currently pursuing, but this family’s story is so uplifting and inspirational. I love what the dad says about adoption and what the kids say about family. It makes me want a whole houseful of little ones! But like Jamie says, “One at a time, Allie. One at a time.”  🙂

It’s a great story for a Friday if you have 5 minutes to spare. I promise it’s worth it.

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Don’t put adopted children in a box

One of the things that worried me when we first considered adoption was the emotional scar that adoption leaves on adoptees. I know adoptees feel a loss, even if adopted as infants, and that it’s natural and understandable for them to wonder why their birth families couldn’t raise them. If I was adopted, I would wonder that, too, and I’m sure it would hurt. But some of the stuff I’ve read online makes adoption seem like it’s a life sentence for misery. The notion of the “Primal Wound,” in particular–that a child is irreversibly damaged when separated from its mother at birth–is disturbing. At first, this really freaked me out. Is it a given that my child will grow up to be miserable just because he or she is adopted?

growBut then I realized I shouldn’t believe everything I read. I don’t agree with this at all. Yes, adoption involves loss and grief. But adopted children are not broken, irreversibly damaged, or hopeless. There are many other, perhaps far worse, hurts a child can experience in life and still remain resilient.

My parents went through an ugly divorce when I was nine and shortly afterwards, my mother, brother and I moved out of the small town we had always called home and away from all of our family and friends. Did I feel a tremendous sense of loss from that? You bet. I was a daddy’s girl and it was incredibly painful when he was suddenly no longer a part of my day-to-day life. And it was scary and difficult starting a brand new life at that age away from all that was familiar. But many wonderful things also came out of that divorce and move. I gained new family members and friends who I treasure, for example, and opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I learned to be brave and strong and independent and unafraid of change–all things that have served me quite well in life. Did the loss and pain from this experience determine who I have become and my happiness as an adult? Yes, but in some very positive ways.

Adopted or not, life is full of loss–for all of us. That’s just life. What matters is what you make of it.

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Learning to share…

ATWhen I first started writing this blog, I had it set to private so no one could find it. I was going to treat it like a personal journal of our adoption process. Writing has always been therapeutic for me and sometimes it’s the only way I can sort out complicated emotions. But even though they taught me to share in kindergarten, I rarely do when it comes to writing about matters of the heart.

But after writing a few posts, I thought I’d share it with my mom so she could stay updated on what was happening and understand how I was feeling since I’m not always so good at verbalizing that kind of thing. I hadn’t planned to share it outside my immediate family because it just felt too personal.

I have a tendency, as I think most people do, to keep painful things private. Somewhere along the line, I learned to keep my pain to myself which is why most of you didn’t know we had been struggling to start a family. If we had decided to progress with infertility treatments and pursue IVF, it probably would have remained that way–a very personal thing. I would have continued to suffer emotionally and mentally, in private and without ever telling you what was happening. I wouldn’t have shared the hell I would surely have been going through if and when IVF failed. It’s in my nature to want to project strength, not vulnerability, even if vulnerable is exactly how I’m feeling. It’s a defense mechanism, I think.

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Getting over it: on acceptance and adoption

A part of me has always known that I would not have a biological child. I’ve just always had a feeling that it would not be that way for me. It used to break my heart and I spent so much time worrying about it. Don’t get me wrong: it didn’t consume me entirely–I enjoy my life very much, particularly the last few years–but I also lived with a dull, ever-present heartache for a long time. Psychologists say the emotional pain of infertility is similar to receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. There have been moments when I absolutely believe that. Not being able to start a family when everyone around you is doing so is absolutely, end-of-the-world devastating.

Summer-s-Stages-of-Grief-the-oc-10182118-333-500Looking back now, I can see that I went through all five stages of grief (illustrated here by that girl from the O.C.): 1. Denial: It’s no big deal. I need to “just relax” about it. If I try this supplement or that herb or stand on my head for twenty minutes or whatever, it will happen. 2. Anger: I can’t take seeing another pregnant woman or newborn! Why can everyone get pregnant but me?! Screw you, body! Up yours, world! 3. Bargaining/pleading: Please, please, I will do anything. I will give all my clothes to charity, volunteer at the soup kitchen every night, help old ladies cross the street, anything. 4. Depression: Crying. Crying. More crying. Sappy chick flicks. Not wanting to get out of bed. Avoiding life in general.

I cycled through numbers 1-4, on and off at varying intensities, for several years. But then like a ray of sunshine… the stage I had been waiting for finally appeared, # 5. Acceptance: I’m not going to have a biological child. And that’s OK. Get me off this crazy train, please.

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Monthly agency update – 8 is great?

adoption searchNow that we are officially active and waiting to be chosen by a birthmother, we will receive monthly updates telling us how many prospective birthmothers were presented with our profile. We got our first one yesterday. We had no idea what to expect, but over the past month our profile was presented to eight birthmothers. I’m not sure if that’s a good number or not. When I see all of the waiting families on the website, eight birthmothers does not seem like very many. And I’m sure our profile was just one of many sent to these eight women.

Of the eight birthmothers we were presented to, three chose another couple and have been matched, two women fell of the radar, one “screened out” of the process (which I’m assuming means our agency discovered something that made her ineligible), one is in the process of matching with another couple, and three have not chosen a family yet. So, I guess we are still in the running with those three women. And if November is anything like October, we will be shown to a new birthmother every few days this month, too.

I’m not going to lie–we were anxiously awaiting the update and knew that we had not been chosen yet, but it was a little disappointing anyway. Just a little bit… kind of felt like not being picked for the A team in gym class or something.

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Heartbreak, hope and healing

Many times in the news we see adoption stories gone bad. But The Today Show has been sharing a lot of happy and successful stories lately. The show has been celebrating National Adoption Month this week and finalized twelve adoptions live on the air yesterday. It’s so great to see adoption in the mainstream spotlight. It’s probably just because I have adoption on the brain right now, but I’m seeing it everywhere. birthmotherstorytoday

I especially love reading stories like this one: Heartbreak, Hope and Healing: A Birthmother Tells Her Adoption Story about a birthmother who documented her journey to adoption. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, as I think most adoptions are. I’m really struck by the depth and beauty of the special relationships I keep seeing between adoptive mothers and birthmothers. It’s really quite special.

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