Monday, July 29, 2013

Dear Baby #2

We spend a lot of time out in the yard, doing yard work or sitting on the porch and just talking about anything and everything. I like to think and write and take in the scenery. This is the view of the mountains from our place. So pretty. :)

Dear Baby #2,

I know without a doubt that we want to add more children to our family. Sooner rather than later. We don't want for there to be a huge age gap between the first and second child. Kal-El, your older brother, is already here. His birth and adoption were miracles for our family. We know your story will be just as amazing and miraculous - it already is. If you come to us through adoption, we won't know your birth mother's side of the story until we meet her and get to know her... but right now I can tell you our side of the story...

You have been fought for, sought after, loved, and wanted for years. Many years before you were born. Your father has wanted kids for over a decade and the struggle to bring you into our family has been a long one. A tough one. I didn't know I wanted to be a mother until I met my nephew - your cousin Evander. He lit up my life. He was an unexpected light of joy for me. I got to hold him at the hospital and I just felt this explosion of happiness and knew I wanted to be a mom to lots of children - as many as I could have. I wanted a big, loving family. And your father and I have prayed many times over the years for God to guide our babies home to us.

Infertility created a roadblock in our plans for a family. But adoption is something that was planted in my heart years ago and I convinced your father of it. Many of our friends were adopted, lived in foster care, or have family members who were adopted. We can see God's influence in those situations. This is a broken world. And not every child is born into desirable circumstances. But life is a miracle and a blessing. Even when it was stumbled upon accidentally, new life - a growing child - changes hearts. And sometimes adoption is a merciful blessing and an answer to prayers on all sides. Families bravely join together over the love of one special baby. And a new family is created. We gained an entire extended family when we adopted Kal and we love his birth family so much! If we could do that again, it would be amazing.

We will keep searching for you. We don't know where you'll come from. We don't know what your name will be (we had a name picked out, but we threw it out the window and will wait to know you first). We don't know if you'll be a boy or girl, short or tall, light- or dark-skinned. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't. When we hold you, we'll know your spirit. You'll fit right in like a missing puzzle piece and make our family more complete. We will do everything we can to give you opportunities for growth and success that you may not have otherwise had. And we will teach you the Gospel of Jesus Christ and guide you to be a strong man or woman of character and integrity.

We expect you to come to us through adoption, but we can't be 100% sure about that! Life can sometimes be surprising. If I got pregnant with you, I would be simply amazed. Either way, you will be loved with all our hearts (you already are), just like your big brother. Becoming parents has been the best thing to ever happen for us. My heart has grown, for sure. I know we have lots more love to give to another child. And Kal will be an amazing older brother to you. We are excited to see you play together and love each other and share and laugh. I know you'll fight at times, but we want to teach you to treasure your siblings. They are like built-in best friends. I was best friends with my younger brother - your Uncle Josh - for many years when it was just the two of us living at home with our Mama - your Granny B. Nothing makes me happier than imagining you with your brother. And imagining your father and I actually having a family of 4 makes me want to smile so big!

There have been lots of ups and downs along the way. We actually thought you were on your way to us a few weeks ago, but God had other plans. We are still waiting for you to get here and join the party! :)

Come home soon!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Grief is an Odd Thing

Grief is a hard thing to recognize sometimes. I honestly didn't know I was grieving until a friend pointed it out. A friend who has had 5 miscarriages! Ouch. She's well acquainted with grief.

I've been going about my life, jumping right back in. Hiking mountains, running races, signing up for a Brazilian dance workshop (it's gonna be SO great). Wrestling with Kal. Going on family jogs in the evening. Teaching myself to cook. Braiding hair. Working a little bit here and there on The Fat Squid. Church activities (loved the yoga class we had!). Enjoying so much time with my hubby before he goes back to work tomorrow morning (noooo!)...

But I've also been seriously absentminded. I have this fuzzy feeling in my brain. It takes me a little while to be able to focus on anything. It's hard to explain... but you know that feeling when you walk into a room and then you can't remember what you went in there for? Starting a sentence and then forgetting what you were trying to say? I've been feeling like that A LOT. Out of it. Loopy. Having difficulty creating a coherent thought.

Zay quietly told me one day that he had been looking forward to Kal being a big brother and that it was a shame that it didn't happen and it's all up in the air again. I sure wish I could change it. I don't want Zay to be sad. All he's ever wanted was to be a father and to be a good father. And I can't give that to him. And I can't tell him everything's going to be okay, because I thought things were going to be okay this time and they weren't. I feel like it's my fault. I'm too trusting.

I wanted to just move on and pretend the whole adoption thing never happened. Because, it didn't happen. It wasn't even real, I told myself. It wasn't my story. Not my baby. My baby's still out there somewhere and I was just mistaken about this one. Stupid me. I felt silly being sad about losing something that was never even mine to begin with. Not even real. Just a bump in the road to finding our child. That is all.

But... my friend is so wise. She told me what I was feeling was very real. Similar to what a miscarriage does to you. For instance... if you miscarry early on in your pregnancy or if you miscarry when you didn't know you were pregnant, you may start to think it wasn't even real. That it wasn't a real child. But it's still a loss. Something that needs to be processed and it will affect everyone a little differently. There's no one way to grieve and you can grieve differently each time you experience a loss. It's very personal and unique to the situation. You just have to let yourself feel what you're feeling. No one can tell you how you're supposed to grieve.

I've been hurt, sad, angry, frustrated, and in denial of the whole thing. And now I'm walking around with a serious case of fuzzy-brain. Lol. Numb, I guess.

So... we (Zay is definitely grieving, but differently than me) are grieving the loss of an idea. A very real idea, a dream. We planned for our lives to go one way and they didn't, so the loss is real. We had imagined a life that we lost. Our love for this child was real, no matter how the adoption turned out.

It's not fair to myself to deny the realness of it. I have to allow myself to feel what I'm feeling. Pretending like it didn't happen isn't going to help me get through it any better.

Thank goodness I have such great people surrounding me. Supporting me. Telling me to GRIEVE! Bringing me treats. Stopping by to check on me. Who invite me to climb mountains and go dancing. Thank goodness I've got a husband who'll run 5k's with me and cook me great food and cuddle with me ALL DAY if I need it.

The thing is, it just takes time. Time I didn't want to give to grief. But it's not something you can fast forward, you've just gotta feel it. So, I took a day and I journaled and journaled and journaled until I got out every feeling I had. Good and bad. Just blurted it all out and got it off my chest. And I'll keep doing that, and keep venting to the people who love and support me, and keep praying (today I prayed at Church and thanked God for our trials) until peace comes.

My current journal. I go through like 6 a year, ha ha. Love it. :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some Days I'm Not Okay

Leading up to the adoption, I was a mess. Happy, excited, but an emotional wreck.

We'd been shopping for a second car for awhile. We couldn't find exactly what we were looking for. We didn't want to finance it... just wanted to pay cash for it. I wanted something bigger, something we could grow into as our family got bigger. I wanted space for family trips, especially since we were planning to drive across the country. I thought maybe an SUV. We like Toyotas.

I was sick of being lied to by car salesmen. And private owners. Every time we thought we found something, our mechanic would find something wrong with it... something that wouldn't be worth it to fix. Ugh.

I went car shopping on my own one day. Well, me and Kal. It was hard to car shop with a toddler. It was just a hard day for some reason. I walked into yet another used car place and told the guy what I was looking for... and then burst into tears.


I told him I didn't want to be lied to anymore. I told him I was nervous about an upcoming adoption. I told him "I'm sorry" about a million times and he got me a bottle of water and was all concerned about me. I was way too embarrassed for breaking down in public like that, so I told him Thanks and left.

That same day I went to go test drive a minivan at another place. I had no expectation. I was just trying one more thing. I didn't really want a minivan. Zay definitely didn't think it would suit us. But I left Kal with Zay and went and test drove it... and I loved it. I sat in it and I felt so comfortable. I thought, "This is totally me. I'm a soccer mom." Lol. I was just going to drive around the block a couple times, but I ended up driving all around town. I didn't want to return it, because it was out of our price range and we'd have to finance part of it. But I loved it. I wanted it. I've never owned my own car and I'm 27 years old, dangit. I texted Zay and told him I was getting it and to please, please, please be okay with it. He was. But he said, "Really? A minivan??"

Now, I have a minivan with only one child. I feel kind of ridiculous. "How do you like your new minivan??" Ugh. Ummmmm, I love it. It's just a little empty.

Zay makes me feel so much better. He thanked me for getting it. He told me he feels like we're a "real family" now... a real Mormon family. Ha. We're not just playing house anymore. We're the real deal now that we have a minivan. :)

I want everything to be okay. I keep telling myself everything's gonna be okay. But some days I'm not okay. Zay's not okay. He goes back to work in a week. It's taken him this long to get up the motivation to get back into his routine.

Everyone talks about babies. And child birth. And it seems like all my friends are pregnant or have new babies. Everyone at Church is pregnant. Everyone at the park. Everyone at the grocery store. EVERYONE.

I had a fragile day at a friend's house on Sunday. I kept tearing up and I didn't know how to make it stop. Embarrassing. All the kids were playing together and I just want so badly for Kal to have siblings. I want a house full of kids. Zay asked if I was okay and I just had to hop up and go to the bathroom, because I wasn't. And I didn't want to have to explain to anybody. I don't understand it myself. I couldn't talk to the adults or I'd cry, so I tried staring out the window into the distance and taking really slow, deep breaths. That didn't work. So I colored with the kids and blinked the tears away quickly until I could get myself in check.

Eventually I could smile and laugh again and everything went back to normal. When I have a day to myself, I may let myself cry. But not now. Not at someone else's birthday party, not in front of someone else's children. Not at Church when I'm greeting new sisters and taking their pictures for the photo directory. Not at a playdate or the grocery store or the park or the library, out in public. Not while I'm doing someone's hair. I don't need tears dripping on my fingers and mixing with some poor client's hair moisturizer. Ugh.

Maybe when Zay goes back to work. When Kal's asleep. Then I'll cry. Until then, I've gotta keep it together.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

After a Failed Adoption: Things We'll Do Differently

I'm still learning. I want to adopt ethically. I don't want to feel like I coerced someone into following through with an adoption plan when it wasn't really what she wanted to do... if she would come to regret it later.

It's hard to know if an expectant mother who is making an adoption plan for her child is really sure about her decision or not. Even if she says she is. Making a plan for a child who isn't born yet is tricky. A lot of emotion is involved. A complicated set of circumstances that brought her to adoption can make decision-making tough. It's not a black and white choice. Very, very gray. What brought one woman to an adoption decision may not mean anything to another. It's all very personal and for a lot of women includes a lot of spiritual struggling, prayers, and tears.

Hypothetically speaking...

Even with what she thinks is a spiritual confirmation of her adoption choice...
...even if she thinks she's certain that this is the best thing for him...
 ...even if she has a laundry list of reasons why adoption makes sense...
...even when she voluntarily goes to an adoption agency and selects a waiting family for her unborn child because she's so sure...

Even after the comfort of meeting an adoptive family and thinking, "They would be so perfect for my son."

Even when she thinks she's certain... she may not be. Maybe she's just too young to know any better and is trusting the adults around her to help her make these decisions rather than listening to herself.

As time goes on, things could change. Her circumstances may suddenly - unexpectedly - drastically change for the better. Then closer to the birth, the reasons she had for her adoption plan might begin to unravel. She begins to have second thoughts about it and now it all doesn't seem so certain, but she doesn't want to hurt anyone. Time passes and she doesn't speak up. She has the baby and it hits her that the reasons she had for placing her child for adoption aren't as big of hurdles as she thought. Maybe she's in a healthy relationship now. Maybe she just got a job that could provide for her family better than she could have imagined before. Maybe she didn't feel attached to her son while she was pregnant, but now that bond is so strong she could never imagine breaking it. Maybe she thought her family wouldn't support her in keeping him... or thought they wouldn't care if she placed him for adoption... but they do. Maybe her reasons for adoption just weren't good enough.

Meanwhile, maybe the hopeful adoptive couple called her son theirs. Maybe they threw a baby shower and showed the expectant mom all the pictures and gifts from that wonderful day. Maybe they named her baby. Maybe they told her how much it would mean to them to be at every single doctor's appointment and in the delivery room, so she didn't let them down and invited them. Maybe they told her all about their infertility and how hard a road it's been to finally be able to adopt a child. In her heart she knew the adoption shouldn't happen, but she goes through with it because that was the plan. Because the adoptive parents had staked claim over her child already. Because her adoption counselor told her it would be a terribly selfish choice to parent her child. So she goes through with it. And she regrets it every day of her life.

Ugh. You see what I mean? It's hard to be excited, but not be excited. Because as an adoptive mom, my excitement comes from someone else's pain. Even under the best of adoption circumstances, it's still a hard thing to place your baby with someone else. And I don't know if I could forgive myself if I contributed to someone doing something so life-changing when it wasn't the right choice for her or really what she thought was best for the child.

This wasn't our story. I'm just thinking out loud. But I'm glad D changed her mind about adoption and didn't go through with something that she obviously felt wasn't the best choice. Even though people we know are saying, "She shouldn't have dragged you guys into this," I am not angry with her about her change of plans. That is her right as a mother. And I am not in her shoes and do not know how it feels to face what she's facing. I wish she would've told us how she was feeling, but I guess she felt like she couldn't.

We were excited for that last match. We were excited for another son. And that could've clouded our judgement. It may have. I'm sure I said something I shouldn't have at some point along the way. And I know on my blog I totally staked claim over someone else's child - we did name him, we did plan for him - but I tried not to do that while talking to the expectant mother. I wanted her to know we were excited and would love him so much, but I also wanted her to know that we wanted her to disregard our feelings when she was making decisions about what was best for her son. Because I didn't want her to feel guilt-tripped into going through with it if she ever had second thoughts.

I got so excited on this blog, because I want to be excited. I want to have a countdown. I want to have something to look forward to. Like pregnant women do. I think I'm still dealing with some lingering infertility struggles, because when I get to know an expectant mom who wants to place a child with us... I want to know all about her pregnancy, I want to be there in the delivery room when the baby is born, I want to be involved as if it were me having a baby. But that's not what adoption is. And I've gotta learn that my excitement has to take a backseat.

After this failed adoption, all the baby hungriness got beaten out of me. All the feelings of wanting to be involved in the pregnancy and birth, gone. It's not my right. I have no right to be involved in any of that. That's sacred time for the expectant mother.

In the future, there are a few things I want us to do differently or better:
  • We won't accept a match just because we were matched or because an expectant mother says we're the ones she wants to parent her child. If it doesn't feel comfortable, we will walk away. Rather than just trying to make the best of whatever match we get just because we want a baby so badly or because it's hard to say 'no' when a child is involved. If adoption is the right answer, she will find the right family... and it may not be us.
  • One criteria we'll include in deciding whether to accept a match is how far along the expectant mother is. We accepted this last match when the expectant mother was about 30 weeks along. That was way too early. Way, way too early for us. Too much time to agonize and wait and worry and get attached. Too stressful. Not fair to the expectant mom who may think she wants to or should pick a family by then, but who really doesn't need to do so that early on. I'm thinking closer to 36 weeks. The later the better. I'd actually prefer she went through her whole pregnancy, had the baby, spent that first couple days with him, picked a family (and a couple backup families) from the agency's waiting family profiles, signed the relinquishment papers, and then had her adoption caseworker contact her preferred family to see if it's a good fit for them. I'd handle that kind of phone call better than the "She's 16 weeks along and says you guys are the ones!" kind of phone call.
  • If we are matched with an expectant mom and we're spending a little time getting to know each other, I want to make sure she knows how to contact us to let us know if she's having second thoughts. And that it's 100% okay that she could change her mind about her adoption plan at any point, but that she should tell us immediately or her caseworker or lawyer or somebody so that we're not left in the dark. And that it wouldn't hurt our feelings. We'd be so, so, so happy that she was just honest with us. Honesty and communication are all we care about in this process. That makes everything so much easier. The right situation will work out. So, just be honest!
  • We will make sure to ask the expectant mom exactly how she wants the hospital experience to go, and not assume we get to be there. She may not feel comfortable with that. That may be imposing. In fact, I want to tell her how we feel about those first moments being sacred time for her.
  • Driving across the country to be told "nevermind" was absolutely a slap in the face. I would rather relinquishment papers already be signed before we go anywhere. Especially if it's out-of-state. Especially if it's 1,800 miles away!!!
  • We'll be extra vigilant in not being presumptuous with the expectant mom. Even if she calls him our son, he's not. So we can't take that liberty and call him "ours." I'm not sure sharing baby names is a good idea. D asked us what his name was going to be and we told her. I'm not sure we should've done that. We can't think for even one second that he is our child, not until she signs the relinquishment papers. No matter what she says, no matter how certain she says she is, no matter what she shares with us - ultrasound pictures, whatever. He's still not our child until she signs relinquishment papers and the adoption is finalized. No baby showers. No announcements. Just patience. Celebrating can wait.
I think it might be easier to follow these guidelines now. Our paperwork is all complete. All our new baby stuff is set up and ready to use. So, we don't need anymore prep time. We are ready for a baby. We were ready for a baby when the adoption fell through. If we got a call today about a baby that was born and needed a home, it would be an easy transition. We also know what it feels like to wait 2 1/2 months for a baby that wasn't ours, so we won't do that again. We know what it feels like to travel for nothing, so we won't do that again. We know what it feels like to let people know about our adoption plans and have them fall through, so we won't do that again (except with my good friends who I tell everything to, ha ha). 

I think we learned so many good lessons from this failed adoption. I remember telling Zay on the way to Louisiana, "There are so many hard lessons we could learn from this if it doesn't work out... But I don't want to learn any of them." And then we were forced to.

Loving on the one miracle we do have. :)

It Wasn't a Scam


I've been asked if we lost a lot of money with our failed adoption. Some wonder if the expectant mom took money and ran or anything like that. But no, that's not what happened. Thankfully.

There are adoption scams all the time. Women who may or may not even be pregnant who hit up adoption agencies and adoptive couples for money, living expenses, medical expenses, rent, groceries, whatever. And then vanish. And agencies have to jack up their fees to compensate. Or kind-hearted adoptive couples just get robbed, basically.

Luckily, this wasn't the case. We weren't providing her with anything other than counseling. The money lost was for the lawyers' fees (for whatever work they actually got accomplished during the course of this whole thing - we're waiting to get refunds for the work that they ended up not having to do), travel expenses, and now the opportunity cost of Zay taking a couple weeks of unpaid leave from his job. I'm estimating about $4,000 down the drain? But that's okay. Lessons learned. Oh, and we paid a $1,000 fee to our agency, but that'll roll forward and they'll apply that to our next adoption, so that's cool.

It really isn't about the money. I just wish the adoption had happened. Lawyers had to be involved and they want to get paid, though. So it is what it is. Bills get paid and life goes on.

Between now and the next adoption situation that should arise... we'll have a little time to re-save that money and be prepared financially again. I like to have the money sitting there, in the bank, ready to use when the time comes rather than dipping into other savings or scrounging around for the last bit of cash. So, even though we really don't have any set plans about what the heck we're doing as far as trying to add another member to our family... we're in saving mode again. Just in case.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Past Year in Random Pictures

I have pictures everywhere on this poor computer of mine. When I briefly had an iPhone, I kept everything super synced and organized with my Mac. Now... not so much. I try to stick to a system of keeping them organized, and then somehow every once in awhile I forget what my system was. Lol. I need to write my own handbook to keep track of how I do things. I'm getting so absentminded lately.

So, anyways. I'm sitting here during Kal's naptime, sorting through pictures for fun. :) Here is a compilation of random pictures from the last year!

Birthday party for one of our really good friend's son. Kal went nuts dancing with the big kids. He LOVES other children, and gets so squealy. He's so outgoing. That's my boy! :D

We went to one of Zay's work parties and someone brought a "Walking Dead" themed cake - with zombie hands reaching through the chained hospital doors. So friggin awesome. Wish I would've thought to get a picture of it before it was eaten!

I love making fun of Twilight. And Zay totally knows how to make me happy. He bought Breaking Dawn Part 2 for me on Blu-ray the day it came out. I was *so happy* to get Kal to bed, pop it in, turn off the lights, and have a giggle fest with Zay.

Feeding the birds the day I went and interviewed a friend about his adoption experience.

We have a nighttime love affair with Netflix. We've burned through countless shows that we get addicted to until they're over. And then I'm sad because I got so attached to the characters... and then we find a new show. This was when we were hooked on "Alphas." It's a game we play to find crazy names in the credits. :)
After a haircut. The many different haircuts of Kal...

We stopped by a little place when we were in Tennessee for a wedding and checked out some local art. We picked out our favorites. This was Zay's favorite.

This was my favorite.

And we both really liked this one.

Kal likes to climb up on our headboard and look out this basement window. And there's our bonsai tree, Mr. Miyagi. And a random Gears of War video game statue Zay has that I think is ridiculous, lol.

Back when it was snowing and it was never-ending and I was trying hard to appreciate the beauty of a Utah winter. :)

Helping me take out the trash.

Playing in the leaves.

Being so stinkin cute in his hat.

Date Night: BYU's art museum.

Chillin with the babysitter.
Switching hair colors for the upteenth time.

Out getting some hot wings at Iggy's.

He likes to be wrapped up like a burrito when he colors.

Coming from Church volleyball.

I'm pretty sure this hit me right in the face, lol.

Hanging out with friends.

This knucklehead of mine. :)

Ready for crazy Utah weather.

When spring finally tried to show up.

Shorts and long sleeves. Can't decide what to wear!

I like to burst into Kal's room in the mornings and take a picture. LOL. I'm so mean. He's NOT a morning person if he didn't wake up on his own.

Snow in April. Ugh.

Sometimes I don't know what to do with these two knuckleheads. Kal & Moo Moo.

His absolute favorite thing to do. Shoot baskets all day.

Trying to squeeze into our teeny tiny couch to watch a movie together.

Storytime at the Provo Library. Omg, way too many people there!

He, of course, found a picture of Superman at the Library!

Date Night

I'm sure there are a million more, but that's just a sample. :)

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