Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I'm Reading


Absolutely TOO HOT to be outside for very long right about now. Reading inside in the A/C it is, then!

Last year I started attending Book Club at Church and I also found a good reading buddy who is letting me borrow stacks of books from her collection. So I've been reading a lot more actual books than I have in years (I've been hooked on blogs for so long I forgot how fun it is to read fiction!)... I've been to the library and browsed books for fun and I don't even remember how long it's been since I've done that. As part of my effort to de-stress and kick back and relax more often, I am reading up a storm!

Also, I want Kal to be a reader and I want him to see me reading. We read together at night, but I wanna catch him reading by himself. I know he's only 3, but he's got most of the books we read memorized. He'll quote them throughout the day and if I say half of a sentence he can finish it easily. I'm proud of him, but I wanna do better... both with my own reading and encouraging him to read. :)

My reading buddy even made me a huge spreadsheet of books I should read in different genres to decide what kinds of books I like... I told her I didn't know what I liked and wanted to try lots of different genres. (P.S. - I giggle when I meet people who make spreadsheets as much as me.) Every time someone recommends a book, I put it on my Goodreads list. Befriend me on Goodreads HERE and share your faves with me so I can add to my ever-growing to-read list! (Right now I've got 548 books on my to-read list... lol.. this is gonna take a lifetime at my slow pace!)

I was a bookworm when I was a kid, but high school distracted me socially and I didn't spend as much time reading (cuz I was making googly eyes at Zay... ha ha). In college I specifically took literature classes when I could so I could be exposed to different kinds of books and be forced to read for class. I fell in love with philosophy and philosophical books. Now I'm trying to branch out and read lots of different kinds of books. Book Club and my generous friends who let me raid their collections are getting me off on the right foot.

This is what I've learned so far:

  • I love LDS books, general Christian books, and religious books in general (some of my favorite books have been about Islamic, Jewish, or Hindu religions). This goes back to my love of philosophy. I seriously enjoy learning about people and their relationship with God, no matter what it looks like. It's all interesting and uplifting for me. I can learn about a certain religion, understand it and where the followers are coming from, decide whether or not I think certain aspects are actually true, and be uplifted no matter what. Truth can be found everywhere. For my Mormon (and non-Mormon) friends, have you seen the article "I don't think God is a Mormon"? It's a great perspective on what being a "Mormon" really means. At the heart of our religion, we believe in personal revelation. And that the light of Christ is found in people from all walks of life. And that He loves each of us the same, both black and white, bond and free, male and female, Jew and Gentile... and speaks to each of us personally if we seek Him. Revelation did not end with Biblical times.
  • I love historical fiction.... for example, stories that took place during the Civil War (The River Between Us ) or on the Titanic (The Dressmaker )... things like that. I think it's because I love history - but history itself is hard to tell as a story, because different people reported different perspectives when they recorded history. But with historical fiction, the author can take artistic liberties and tell a story that encompasses the feel of the historical time and may represent bits and pieces of real people's stories, but it's not bound to the hard facts about what actually happened. It can take you on a journey to see a historical event from a different angle. That's fun!
  • Similar to religious books and historical fiction, I love love love Biblical fiction as long as it doesn't stray too far from Biblical principles. There are tons of stories in the Bible that are not fleshed out well and are a lot of times hard to even understand what's going on at all. To read different fiction interpretations of what happened helps me to understand how I can interpret Scripture better and imagine a whole scene and what might have happened given the context of the story rather than being limited by a few stilted Bible chapters or verses. (Check out Orson Scott Card's The Women of Genesis series... so good.)
  • I don't like love stories that border on porn (50 Shades of Grey) and/or stalking/abuse/unhealthy relationships (Twilight). I don't like love stories where I can't figure out how the people actually fell in love... they're just desperately in love all of a sudden and I'm like, "How? What happened???" I'm also sick of love triangles/adultery as a common theme. Especially when it's two guys fighting to the death over a girl who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • I do like more of the innocent, young love, first love type stories. Those are love stories I can get into. (Think: just about any Taylor Swift song, but in book form.) And I can handle a love triangle if there's a point to it and some substance to the story.
  • I like twists on fairy tales (Think: the show Once Upon a Time, but in book form). I liked the book Enchantment for that reason, although it wasn't really a twist but it's own story. They liken it to Sleeping Beauty, though.
  • I like stories that involve time travel, if it's done well. Enchantment's got that as well and I loved it. :)
  • I love books that take place in the South (Think: the movie The Man in the Moon, but in book form).
  • I refuse to read Harry Potter. I just can't do it. Too nerdy for me (sorry, friends!)... :) On that same line, I can't do Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Not yet, anyway. That's too much out of my comfort zone. I do like nerdy science-fictiony humor, though. Like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is hilarious, I think.
And that's what I'm learning about myself lately as I soak in books and catch up on classics that I should've read in high school like everybody else, ha ha.

I still read my blogs, though. When I was first researching fertility and adoption I found tons of people going through the same thing and I've followed their individual stories for years through their blogs. Seeing someone finally welcome their child home??? Best story ever.

Like THIS ONE from Blessings and Raindrops. This brought huge tears to my eyes!!! Watch their homecoming video HERE. And read their love in this dedicatory post for their daughter's foster mom who took care of her thousands of miles away in the Democratic Republic of the Congo until the country finally issued her exit visa. This is the country I wanted to adopt from, but 1) I don't have the money and 2) they're having issues with international adoption right now and put a pause on most of them. But watching this story unfold has been AMAZING. I'm a sucker for a great adoption story.

AND when people finally, finally get pregnant after years of trying. Like THIS ONE. Her answer to the question, "How did this happen?" is "I never, ever, EVER stopped trying." Love it.

I read tons of blogs. Way too many. But one blog that particularly caught my attention and I got hooked on is called The Moments We Stand. This woman literally found out in the same night that her husband was cheating on her AND that he was murdered by the husband of the lady he was cheating with. Since then she's been working out her anger and grief over the loss of her love, her partner, and the father of her 5 children... yeah. FIVE CHILDREN. She's documenting all she went through to find love again and get through a murder trial and live in the same general area as the woman her husband cheated with. Intense. But she tries to find meaning in every little experience. She's not a master of words, but I get her points and I feel her pain. And I fight that much harder to protect my marriage from outside intrusions after realizing how hard Satan is working to destroy families and how easily people can be fooled. It's been a good experience to read this blog and learn from someone else's struggles. It's always better to learn from other people's examples and be prepared than to learn the hard way, right?

So... yeah. That's a little tiny bit of what I've been reading. What have you been reading lately???




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer is for Swimming

As soon as we moved, we had to stake out the nearest swimming pool. It is entirely too hot not to! For Utah to be known as a snowy place, it most definitely does get hot and bright in the summer. Gah! It's a desert, I have to remind myself. So we found a pool in the shade, 2 blocks away at a friend's apartment complex. YES... our summer is SAVED. And my pastey white self can stay safe and pale in the shade while still getting my swim on, lol.

Kal has a love-hate relationship with water so I'm trying to get him used to it. He's terrified at first and fights me and then when he's in, he loves it and cries when we've got to leave (we're only leaving because we've been there for hours, geez). Any tips on getting kids comfortable with water? Swimming lessons, maybe? I want Kal to be comfortable in the water and know how to be safe. I had to teach Zay how to swim when he was already a grown man. That ain't happening with Kal, I know that much!

I love swimming. One of my favorite things to do. Can't wait to be in tip-top swimsuit shape again (I'm getting there! slooooowly). I'll still blind everyone with my white skin, but I don't care. I embrace my paleness. I'm basically translucent... it's pretty cool. We have a wide range of skin shades in our family. :) 

My super tan boy! As soon as summer hits, he gets deep brown. Love it.

You know what the best thing about pool pics is? Spotting other folks in the background...

Friends. :) ... and a couple of fun random folks in the background.

Me & Kal... and someone's back... and someone's toes. Tee hee.




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Feeling at Home

We looooove the new place we're living in. Feels like home. For serious. Like, there's a peach orchard next to us and a cherry tree in our yard. That seriously makes me happy! Too bad this is yet again another temporary place if we really truly move to Georgia next year (that's the plan...), but we're enjoying the heck out of it while we're here. And it's so nice to finally love a place and know that we're not leaving here unless it's a BIG MOVE out of state. Zay thinks we're going to like it too much here and never wanna leave. I think he's right, but we both know Georgia is where we need to be. I'm just gonna be clinging hard to all that I love about this place until that time comes.

We're getting to know people in our ward, but I still head back to our old ward to see friends there every once in awhile when I'm down that way:

At a ward BBQ at our former RS President's house.


Helping set up!

I got this painting of the Mt. Timpanogos temple for our living room at a ward's Women's Workshop. Kal was sealed to us here. He knows it as his temple. :)

I don't know why I don't have pics of actual people, ha ha. I loved our old ward! But we'll make new friends at church here in our new place. Kal is already adjusted and makes friends at the drop of a hat. And he loves his new room. It's SO big. I actually measured it, because I wondered how many children we could get approved for if we did foster care here and it was close to 200 sq ft. But that lucky little sucker gets it all to himself, cuz I don't think we'll do foster care just yet (I think we should do it after we make that BIG MOVE and get settled into Georgia).

One day I was washing the dishes and looking out the kitchen window at Kal trying really hard to ride his bike (he's just now getting good at it) and I realized - we've never lived in a place that had a window over the kitchen sink before. It kind of amazed me how noticing something small like that meant so much to me. Looking out over the yard where Kal is playing while I'm getting some dishes done... I don't know. It was one of those "perfect moments" and I wished I could capture that feeling and just live in it always.

We live next door to one of Zay's best friends. They met at work and instantly knew they were meant to be friends. Any of you watch the show Psych? They totally act like Shawn & Gus when they get around each other. I don't know how many times I've slipped up and called him Shawn instead of his real name, lol.


They are hilarious together and his wife is a sweetheart. I love that we can just sit out on our porches with our neighbors and feel completely content, sharing our food, and laughing at (and mean with) Kal... he's a clown and loves to entertain people. There's been a couple times when our neighbor's wife has come out to water her flowers and Kal has randomly stripped down naked in the yard. Yep. She's like, "Kal! Where are your pants???" And he'll just grin and put his fists on his hips, naked as a jay bird. My goodness, boy. I knew I shouldn't have taught him how to pee outside, lol. He also likes to go over to their door and peek through the screen and say, "Hiiii!" Ha ha. I think he has a crush on her.

My mama likes to send me things in the mail all the time. She's so sweet. I don't know how many times I get a letter (like, the 5 page long kind of letters) or a card or a package from her. Not to mention all the hours-long phone calls! My mama can talk/write as much as I can. Kal calls her "Granny B." If I catch Kal pretend-talking into my phone, I'll ask him who he's talking to and he'll say, "Granny B!" Ha ha. She sends him books and little gifts whenever she can. Getting stuff from her reminds me of home all the time.

"Happy Early Christmas!" ha ha ha... I'm pretty sure she sent this in May.

Anyways, we're all unpacked now. Definitely settled in. Packing and unpacking this last time encouraged me to purge a lot of baby stuff. I still had formula, clothes, a swing, diapers, bottles, bassinet. All kinds of things. I figure I can get those things when I need them... I really don't need to hang onto them. Hanging onto them is like hanging onto trauma. Letting them go is a relief.

What I'm really excited for is to super simplify right before we leave the state. THAT'S gonna be a blast! Have a yard sale and get rid of every single last thing we own. That's gonna be awesome. Freeing. Simplifying to the point where only our essentials will be in the van with us when we make that cross-country trip to start over. I don't know why, but that sounds so fun to me.

But I won't get ahead of myself. Enjoying the present is priority #1 for me right now!




Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Frozen"

My child, along with everyone else's it seems, fell in love with Frozen the moment he watched it. Yep, boys love it too. Ha ha. I know everyone's sick of it by now, of course. But I never wrote about it and I think it's important to document Kal's love for this movie!

Every night I ask Kal what song he wants me to sing before he goes to bed. The usuals are "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "Popcorn Poppin'," "The Wise Man & the Foolish Man," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," and "Let It Go." Seriously. And I have to sing the whole thing from the beginning or he'll correct me (sometimes I try to cheat and skip parts). When we're walking home from Church on Sundays and I ask him what songs they sang in Nursery, he'll say, "Let It Go!" and I'm like, "No you didn't!" Ha ha. He just giggles.

Personally, I think the movie has too many plot holes...

Video of Everything Wrong With Frozen In 10 Minutes Or Less (Warning: language!):


But I think the music is fabulous, so I don't mind watching it as long as we limit it to once a week. Ha ha.

A friend told me about an event a local animal shelter was having and "Anna, Elsa, and Sven" would be there. I told Kal about it and he just lit up. YES, I wanna see Queen Elsa! YES, I wanna see Princess Anna of Arendelle! Tee hee. I hear him playing in his room by himself sometimes and he'll be announcing all dramatically - "Princess Anna... of Arendelle!" Makes me giggle.

That morning I got him ready and told him there would be lots of fun animals there. And that we'd get to meet Elsa and Anna. He was thrilled. We got there and the first thing he saw was a FIRETRUCK. All thoughts of Frozen went out the window and he was glued to that thing. He crawled right up in it, took a seat, and was trying to figure out how to buckle himself in. I only managed to talk him out of the firetruck by telling him that there was an actual fireman jacket and helmet and gloves he could put on! I didn't get a picture of him all loaded down with the heavy fireman gear... but he was SO CUTE!


They had lots of animals there from animal rescues in Utah.


Kal had no qualms about walking right up to this alligator and petting its tail. Apparently someone had tried to keep this thing as a pet for a few years before it got taken away from them. You can't keep alligators as pets!!

"Sven," the reindeer

We finally found Elsa & Anna... and Kal was terrified. Wouldn't look them in the eye. The ladies were so sweet to him, though. Referred to him as Prince Kal. He was just too overwhelmed in their presence, ha ha ha.


Shoving food in his mouth to avoid looking directly at them. Star struck, I guess!

Elsa's hair cracks me up in this one, but it was the best shot we got! :)

We ended the day standing in a very long line for balloon animals. This lady and her balloon utility belt was funny, but she was good at what she does... and looked exhausted!

Sword fighting with their eyes closed, lol.

It wasn't till we were leaving that Kal was like, "I need Queen Elsa!" and he was all sad that he didn't talk to her. Too late, kid!

The Frozen love continues, though... We went to UVU with some friends last night and watched the sing-along version and ate popcorn and ice cream. It was fun! Something about this movie makes kids go nuts and I had to hold Kal in my lap a few times when he was just getting TOO wild to get him to settle down. But I love little kid events like this where everyone expects the kids to go crazy. :)

Video:



Pictures!

Being goofy with his friends, hiding under blankets.



The gang.

Got to steal this lil babe. She doesn't snuggle with anyone but mom, but she loved me! :)

Precious!! :)

Mmmm... chocolate.

Thanks, Frozen. For being such an awesome source of fun for this boy!




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Starting From Scratch

Previous fertility post: IUI or IVF?

Okay, here's what I know... or at least what I think I know, at this point in time about things affecting my fertility:

I have a hormonal imbalance. Duh. My whole hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis with all the associated hormones aren't working quite right. There's a disruption happening somewhere, but it's hard to say what's a cause and what's a symptom. It's all connected. So, I need a comprehensive plan to achieve normal hormonal balance. And advice like, "You should just try primrose oil/ acupuncture/ chaste berry/ etc." will make me roll my eyes. It's way more complicated than that. (Note: I'm just annoyed with people who don't have a clue and are Miss Fertile over there popping out babies without a problem who like to give me advice from something that worked for a friend-of-a-friend or whatever... I actually don't mind advice in general in my nice infertile community, cuz I'm still learning! :) )

My thyroid is under functioning, but it's not terrible. Right now it's in a very broad "normal range," but still not where I or the doctors want it to be. I've tried 3 different thyroid medications, trying to figure out what works best for me (a ratio of T3 and T4)... and I've learned that I absolutely cannot increase the dose of my thyroid meds rapidly or it very quickly brings on a panic attack. That is scary, but now that I know what it feels like, I can recognize it quickly and go back down in dosage. Zay has been super understanding when that has happened (which has only been twice) and drops everything to make sure I can rest and recover. Over time I do need to increase my dose, but I need to do it veeeeerry slowly. So, I'm gonna have to find a pill cutter rather than trying to freehand it with a razor so that I'm getting more accurate dosages consistently. That way I can increase it slowly by cutting the smallest pills in half. I really have to increase it in super duper baby steps. I get my thyroid levels checked with a blood draw 10 weeks from now and we'll see how things are going. Also, I learned this tidbit from my doctor: thinning near the outside of the eyebrows is a sign of a thyroid condition. Hmm. Did not know that. Many women in my family have thin eyebrows...

I'm insulin resistant and I have high testosterone (due to PCOS). I'm taking Metformin to help with both of those, although I hate Metformin. That's another medication that doesn't appear to work for me unless it's in a super high dose, but getting up to that dose is a pain in the you-know-what. Literally. It destroys your stomach. So I'm increasing my dose veeeerry slowly. I increased it too much once (on doctor's orders - to his credit, he asked me if I thought my stomach could handle it and I said yeah, ha ha) and I ended up vomiting all over the place and then devouring a huge stack of pancakes (with syrup and whipped cream, lol) because I felt like my blood sugar dropped super fast and I was gonna faint. No good. So, baby steps on increasing the Metformin. Many have found success in restoring ovulation on a regular basis with it, so I'm gonna stick to it and let it get in my system and not give up when it gets hard.

I could stand to lose a few pounds. I'm over the BMI line for "overweight." Laaaame. My ideal goal weight loss was 40 lbs and I'm down 12... so 28 to go! Slow changes in my diet and making time for exercising (which I love, but sometimes takes a back burner to other things) are what's gonna do it for me. More baby steps. My doctor told me to think of "HALT" when I'm headed to the kitchen to eat something... am I Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely/Bored, or Tired? If I'm tired, go take a nap. If I'm lonely/bored, get out of the house and play with friends. If I'm emotional, deal with those emotions and what's really causing them. If I think I'm hungry, am I hungry enough to eat an apple? No? Then I'm not really hungry. If I really am hungry, drink a tall glass of water first and then eat sensibly. As for exercising, he wants me doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. No excuses. That's not too hard. I just have to make time and find that motivation that I had 2 years ago.


I do not ovulate because I don't have a normal menstrual cycle. I found the word for it! All these years I didn't know it had a name: amenorrhea. I've been doing a ton of reading about hormonal imbalances that disrupt the normal menstrual cycle and I Google a lot of things like "primary amenorrhea" and "chronic anovulation" and "cyclical progesterone hormone replacement." I do A LOT of reading. What I've decided is the best approach to this problem right at this very moment is that I need to have a cycle. Right now. Whether I actually ovulate or not at first, I need to teach my body that cyclical rhythm of a regular menstrual cycle. So I'm taking bioidentical progesterone pills (I decided against the cream, because I just don't like the messiness of it and worrying if it's rubbing off on other people) for 14 days on, 14 days off... then 14 days on, 14 days off, etc. I'm not positive what this will do for me in the long-term. (I haven't found any studies on the long-term effects of bioidentical progesterone replacement/supplementation yet, but the potential benefits are GREAT and I've read a lot of personal stories where women hail bioidentical progesterone as the miracle for them.) In the short term, I'll be having a period every 28 days, which is healthy and is something I need to get used to. It'll also be introducing my body to a hormone it does not make on a regular basis - progesterone. Which is something my body needs! Maybe it'll jumpstart my own production of progesterone. Maybe I can wean myself off it some day. Maybe the regular cycles will remind my body that it should be ovulating too and do that. Maybe it'll only benefit me while I'm taking it, but go back to irregular cycles when I get off it. Maybe it'll only give me a period but not assist in me ovulating. I'm not positive about what it'll do for me, but I'm hopeful and I'm going to give it at least a year to see what it's really helping with. After a few weeks since starting it, I sleep much deeper and my acne is freaking out (lol) and I got my period right after stopping the pills - just as expected. That's all I know right now.

For my overall health, my doctor told me how to conduct a candida yeast infection self exam. Basically, you just spit in a cup of water right when you wake up... and see if your spit grows little "tentacles" or if it just sits on top. If it grows little legs or sinks, it's a positive sign for candida yeast overgrowth in the gut. And of course, my test was positive. The answer to that is to find a really good pro-biotic. I've been taking one but I'm going to research a better one. A friend recommended ProBio5 by Plexus, so I'm thinking of checking that one out. Another thing I should do on top of that is a low-carb, low-sugar diet for 3-6 months. Ugh. Maybe. Not now. But maybe.

Possible food allergies: I personally don't think I'm allergic to any foods, but my doctor wants to rule out any sensitivities (like gluten) and wants me on an elimination diet to see... but I've been having a hard time sticking to it for any length of time. I love my gluten. I decided I could give up milk, but I love my cheese. I'm afraid if I do the elimination diet and find I'm allergic or sensitive to something, then I'll have to give it up. And I don't wanna! Ha ha. So, I'm avoiding finding out. I'll work on this one after I get some of the other things down first.

I just did a cortisol test and am waiting to hear back the results from that. I would NOT be surprised if I had elevated cortisol levels. That's the stress hormone. Failed adoptions have made my stress level dramatically increase and I've been working on ways to calm myself down over the last few months. I think I'm getting back into a good place, but I sure wouldn't be surprised if my body says otherwise. I've been reading a lot about something called Cushing's Syndrome that mimics PCOS and occurs when your body has/ is exposed to high cortisol levels and part of me wonders if I have it. I know I shouldn't even bother with researching something caused by high cortisol levels before I even get my cortisol test back! But that's what I do. We'll see what those results are in the next week sometime.

Stress-related: The last time I went to the dentist, I got the wonderful information that I needed an extra deep cleaning (not as pleasant as it sounds, I found out) and a twice daily gum disease rinse. Ugh. I never have teeth problems and now all of a sudden I do. I asked what can cause that so quickly and the dentist told me that stress could do it. Well, that's just great. I also had 2 fillings done and my last wisdom tooth extracted (did 3 of them a few years ago, but left one that was completely sideways) and am still recovering from that. So, with all that money spent and all that pain and annoyance, it taught me that I really need to pay extra close attention to my teeth and take care of them. More than I already do. And, I really really need to lower my stress level because it's affecting my health. Even down to my dang teeth. That's ridiculous. So I'm paying attention and making good habits.

So... that's where I am right now. I want to be healthy and treat my body like it's a temple. I can't ignore big obvious symptoms/diagnoses of a health problem (infertility... anovulation... insulin resistance... polycystic ovaries... hyperandrogenism... hypothyroidism... PCOS) and not do something about it. For my health, not just for future possible babies. I think this is the right approach.

Next fertility post: Attempting to Achieve Hormonal Balance




Thursday, July 3, 2014

Video Flashback: Kal Learning to Stand!

This is a video of Zay, my brother, and I cheering Kal on the day he learned how to stand up on his own without holding onto anything. This was an exciting day!

We laughed about how weird it was when he just randomly started to rise up in the middle of the living room floor. It came out of nowhere... when we had just been talking about him earlier in the day and wondering when he was going to get on the ball about standing and walking.

Is it bad that we compared him to a chimpanzee? Or that it looked like a key moment in human evolution when he went from crawling to slowly standing upright? Ha ha ha. He is SO adorable and I mean nothing bad by the chimp comparison! Toddlers ARE little monkeys. :)

Watching this video today makes me tear up. He was SO LITTLE. Watching your child grow up is very surreal.

P.S. - I have since learned to hold my phone the right way when I'm taking a video, lol. Sideways videos bug the heck out of me, but I am guilty of it too.

Video:



I didn't mind my first baby staying a baby for so long. I enjoyed the heck out of those first 15 months. Once he started standing up on his own, walking soon followed, and now he's a big boy! The sweet baby days are long gone... and videos like this make me cry. Ahh! :)




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fresh Courage Take

Back in January when it was plainly obvious that our second match wasn't going to work out, I started a blog post like this (one of the many I always start and rarely finish):

"So we're plunging right ahead with adoption plans. Open to new situations. Ready to see what happens in 2014. But very aware of the heartache another failed adoption could bring. Very aware of the flurry of hope when an expectant mother reaches out to us, followed by the reality of uncertainty that hits - because it is the most uncertain of anything we've ever undertaken and that reality does eventually hit us, followed by the terror of not knowing if each particular situation is THE ONE when a baby is born (how can you know? when it's not in your hands?)... and the painful disappointment when the moment comes when we realize it isn't going to work out how we hoped and imagined."

The second verse of "Come, Come, Ye Saints" sticks out in my mind every time I think I am SO DONE with trying to adopt, specifically the phrase "fresh courage take":

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right. 
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight? 
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake; 
And soon we'll have this tale to tell--
All is well! All is well!

I didn't want to believe it - that all is well. I wanted to be angry. I wanted something to blame, so I blamed the entire adoption establishment, lol.

But as of this moment, the pain is gone. The heartache has eased and dissipated. Time has healed and here we are still. Life goes on. And I say that with a peace and joy that I know from experience now. I had to sink pretty dang low to know what true happiness really is. And that it comes from within. And that I have it already. It's a weird combination of feelings, but I know two things for certain: I love my life and my family of 3 and could die happy this very moment, content with everything I've been blessed with... and also, that I have more children coming to me. I just don't know the path they're going to take to get to me yet. I'm content, yet I know there is more to come. Does that make sense?

Maybe this is our "second wind"... or our last shot in the dark before the adoption door closes for us. I don't know. Man, I really really really wish I could see the future! But we're working from a really good place now. Whatever works out for us or whatever doesn't, it's going to be okay. But I'm not going to "shun the fight." Not now. Not when all is right and I know God never left us through it all. Failed adoptions weren't the end of the world after all. And maybe we shouldn't bite the hand that fed us. Adoption brought us a miracle before, it could do it again. Meanwhile, we're not going to put all our eggs (no fertility pun intended) in one basket - fertility treatments and foster care are still on the table as options for us. The details are still unclear about how and what and when and where we're going to pursue those two things, but we'll figure it out. We're not giving up on adoption, though.

Fresh courage take!

I'll leave ya with this oh-so-gorgeous pic of me and Kal. :)




Thursday, June 26, 2014

All About the LDS Family Services Adoption Announcement

On June 17, I received an email from the Commissioner's Office of LDS Family Services outlining changes to LDS Family Services' adoption program. This is the agency we have used the past few years while we've been officially waiting to adopt and when we adopted our son in 2011.

I immediately had a feeling of what it was about, because I'd heard rumors last year that LDSFS wanted to pull out of being a full-scale adoption agency. In fact, our adoption that fell through in Louisiana last summer gave me a taste of what it would be like if LDSFS was just a counseling service rather than a full-scale adoption agency, because a few offices had already been implementing these new changes - and our office in Louisiana was one of them.

So, I wasn't surprised when I got this letter, but was anxious to know all the details and how it would affect us if we decide to stay on this adoption roller coaster.

CLICK HERE to view the letter as a Google Doc.

That same day I started seeing it all over the local and Church media - that LDSFS was closing its doors to adoption, that the Church would no longer be subsidizing adoptions, etc. Speculation as to why (low adoption placement rates, bad publicity for the Church when adoptions go wrong, etc.) cropped up. My first thoughts were: How in the world do they think that these changes are going to help increase adoption opportunities for LDS couples? And how do they think that in most cases this won't impact cost of adopting or that it could be less expensive with the new program? Lots of people across social media were confused as well.

Last night I attended an info session held by my local office that covered any and all questions about the changes and how it would affect us as prospective adoptive couples. And I took LOTS of notes! So I will share them here:

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  • Current prospective adoptive couples (defined as any couple who has at least attended Orientation before June 17, 2014) will have the choice to continue with the old program or explore the new program, until the end of 2014. New prospective adoptive couples (defined as any couple who attends Orientation after these announcements were made) will begin with the new program immediately. Beginning January 1, 2015, everyone will be moved to the new program. The only exception is for couples who are "matched" at the end of the year - LDSFS will facilitate those adoptions with the old program, if the couple so chooses. Any questions/concerns about the transition will be taken into account and LDSFS will err on the side of fair to each prospective adoptive couple as the new changes take place.
  • LDSFS will no longer be a full-scale adoption agency after December 31, 2014. Instead, they will be shifting their focus to better align their services with Church and welfare principles.
  • The two-fold reason for these changes is to 1) increase opportunities for LDS couples to adopt and 2) give more support to families and leaders who are assisting single expectant parents. While pursuing these goals, they want to better meet the needs of a worldwide membership and decide where they should put Church resources vs. where they should refer to community resources and not duplicate their efforts. What can LDSFS uniquely provide? And what can the community do well that doesn't need duplicating?
  • Increasing opportunities for LDS couples to adopt:
    • The itsaboutlove.org site currently draws a very limited traffic flow and is limited in its ability to reach a large audience of expectant parents considering adoption. Its function (to list LDS adoptive couples' profiles online) will be completely replaced. Right now, LDSFS is in negotiations to work with a much more high-traffic "parent profiles" type site in order to get LDS adoptive couples listed on their site for a discounted cost which LDSFS will cover. This will increase exposure for LDS adoptive couples to include much more traffic from non-LDS sources. This is part of LDSFS effort to pull away from trying to duplicate something that is already done in the community much better/ more efficiently/ to a broader audience, and re-focus its efforts elsewhere.
    • LDSFS will now be an adoption consulting institution rather than an agency. The goal will be to encourage couples to be their own adoption advocate, to take charge, and to reach out and talk to adoption professionals to find more opportunities to adopt. LDSFS will be there to point couples in the direction of community resources (attorneys, agencies, foster care, places that will do home studies, adoption education, placement and post-placement services, etc.) and to continue to counsel them free of charge throughout the adoption process. Their goal will be to expose prospective adoptive couples to many community resources and arm them with information to make the best decisions possible on their adoption journey. They will be having an "adoption info fair" sometime in July (to be determined) to help facilitate that.
    • The new requirements to work with LDSFS no longer excludes couples who are "fertile" and biologically capable of getting pregnant and having children, or couples who have more than 2 children. In the past, infertility treatment had to be proven with a doctor's note and a couple couldn't have more than 2 children.
    • Although these changes may increase potential cost (which will now vary depending on each adoption's situation rather than be a flat fee), especially for out-of-state adoptions, it could also save money by removing the agency costs and "pass-through expenses" from the equation. For example, I'm in Utah and if I adopt in Utah with a relatively straight-forward case with no hiccups, it may be less expensive than the old program's flat fee, depending on which attorney we used (which LDSFS would help us find - the best and least expensive). Even if this does turn out to be more expensive for LDS adoptive couples (the Church was subsidizing $18,000+ per adoption on the old program), it still will generally be much less expensive than working with another agency (although that can still be done if the couple so chooses).
    • The new program will help screen out some scammers by requiring expectant parents to meet with LDSFS, but if they need any assistance (what used to be covered by "pass-through expenses") they will also have to meet with their assigned Bishop and he will have stewardship to judge what welfare the Church can help her/them with. This is in line with how welfare is distributed Church-wide.
  • Assisting single expectant parents:
    • How well are we serving and meeting the needs of the single expectant parents in our midst? This is a vulnerable population who is making decisions for another vulnerable population (the children they are carrying) - are they getting all the support they need to make good decisions? This is where LDSFS focus should be - on supporting them, counseling them without being an "adoption agency," and helping them find the resources they need to make good decisions.
    • What's unique and distinctive about LDSFS is that they can provide a place where an expectant mother can find screened LDS adoptive couples. For someone specifically looking for that for their child, LDSFS will continue to screen the couples they work with to meet the high standards of the Church. Now, without the restriction on adoptive couples to those who are infertile and have no more than 2 children, expectant parents are empowered to choose the family she wants. Maybe an expectant mother wants to place her baby with a family with 6 kids. That option will be opened up to her.
    • Without the "adoption agency" title, LDSFS is hoping to become known as a free professional counseling service rather than an agency, by removing that potential conflict of interest and to relieve pressure on expectant parents to place their child. To better serve single expectant parents, LDSFS will focus on counseling and pointing them in the direction of community resources, their Bishop for assistance, or if they so choose - a listing of screened LDS adoptive couples. They want to be a bridge between single expectant parents and the information they need to make the decision that is right for them and find support/assistance no matter what that choice is.
    • Non-LDS expectant parents can still meet with their assigned Bishop and counsel with him and it is up to his discretion what help is given. I imagine that counseling with them to help their lives become more consistent with Gospel principles may be a part of it. Inactive LDS expectant parents may be encouraged to return to attendance. Counseling with LDSFS and/or the Bishop is designed to really reach each expectant parent and help them on the whole. If they choose to parent, they need a good start at it and may need help (counseling, spiritual encouragement, job opportunities, information, guidance, etc.) to be in a good place to do so. This is the goal of the new program. All Bishops will be trained to handle these situations appropriately.
  • Other things to note:
    • The $1,000 application fee that adoptive couples have already paid will no longer apply to placement fees after the changes are in effect, unless they are matched before the end of the year and choose to use the old program to finish out the adoption. From now on, no application fee will be required of adoptive couples. All services through LDSFS under the new program will be free of charge.
    • Instructions will be given on how to migrate from itsaboutlove.org once a decision/contract has been made about the new site that will list LDS adoptive profiles, sometime before the new year. Again, this will greatly increase exposure.
    • Statistically, there is one unwed pregnant mom-to-be per ward per year. Adoption placement rates for unwed pregnant moms-to-be are about 1% nationally. Adoption numbers are down as times are changing and single moms are given much more support. At the same time, if adoptive couples want to increase their chances of adopting, more online exposure in this social media-driven world is the answer.
    • Adoptive couples will no longer have a specific caseworker or have an "adoption file" with LDSFS, since home studies will be done by a different entity of the adoptive couple's choosing.
    • LDSFS will no longer run "Families Supporting Adoption," but will encourage families touched by adoption to continue their own support groups. From the outside, FSA may not even look like it changes very much, because there are so many wonderful volunteers that will keep it going (although the name might change). The adoption community in Utah is amazing!
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Those are all my notes! WHEW. It was a very informative Q&A and I was very glad that I went. All my questions were answered.

I love the direction they are going, ethically, in regards to expectant parents. And for me personally, I love the new website idea for increased exposure.

Adoption is still up in the air for us, so I'm not sure if any of these changes will actually matter much to us. Who knows? Maybe something will come up for us soon. But as we saw with both our Louisiana and Mississippi failed adoptions, if our children are meant to come to us from out of state, we may have to swallow the extra cost of hiring our own attorney in each state.

CLICK HERE to see our adoption profile right now as it's still listed on itsaboutlove.org (I'll be updating it with new family pics in a couple weeks!)

FSA adoption walk in honor of birth mothers. :)

Cute quote board I found, someone was selling. I want one!!





Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday #tbt

September 2012, Zay & Kal

October 2012, Tough Mudder weekend



October 2012, Trip Home to Georgia







October 2012, Trip back to Utah

January 2014, Haircut Day





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