Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Naming an Adopted Child

I've always loved baby names. I doodle them when I'm bored. I think of all kinds of cute matchy-combos for twins. I have a list of possible future baby names and I love my list. Naming my babies is important to me and is something I've had A LOT of time to think about.

Seriously... this is a screenshot from my "baby names" Excel sheet... don't click on it, it's embarrassing. Ha ha.

In adoption, naming the baby can be a touchy subject with some birth moms. Some want to do the naming themselves, or have a lot of input. And I understand that want, because it's their child too. And part of having a child is getting to name him/her.

I also believe that naming your adopted baby can be a chance to honor their birth family. But when it comes down to it, the adoptive parents have the final say in the child's name - because they will be the parents. And this is hard for some birth moms to accept.

Some adoptive parents will say anything that they think an expectant mother wants to hear, including agreeing to a name that she wants. If the adoptive parents hate the name, that's not cool. They are the ones who have to live with it (and the child, of course). If they decide later to name him/her differently than promised, that's not cool either (breaks trust in the open adoption relationship).

We're really specific about what we like in baby names and we like to take input from expectant mothers, but we usually don't agree on the same names at all. In the future, if adopting a second time actually happens, I want to be clear and firm about that. It's important for me to name my babies, so that's just the way it's gonna have to be if we adopt again. And the right birth mother for our family would at least be okay with that, if not totally supportive of the idea.

I think it's important for the adoptive parents to name the baby because it helps with bonding. I like the idea of hearing what she would have named the baby (if she had a name in mind) and thinking of her while we name him/her, but I think it should be the adoptive parents' privilege and responsibility - part of parenting. And with adoption, SO MUCH is out of our control. We should be able to control something so fundamental as naming our own child.

In the future, if we end up being able to adopt a child from foster care (or international adoption), they will (most likely) already be named. I still think we would change their name. It's symbolic of becoming a member of the family. A new life. A new start. A new family. A new name. (In international adoption, most likely a new country and a new language as well.) If they're old enough, I'd make it an exciting thing to get to change their name and hear their input and have them agree on a name first.

With both of the failed adoptions in the last year, we had baby names picked out. Each one felt specific to that baby and that birth mom. But the name we had for Baby Girl we kept to ourselves and didn't share with (hardly) anyone and somehow that helped the name not get tainted by the situation and I think we'll use it whenever we finally do have a daughter. Part of the pain/hurt from each of those failed adoptions was not getting to use the names we wanted, and knowing they are named something differently now. That pain was small compared to these babies not ever knowing us or us not getting to be parents again obviously, but it still hurt.

Maybe that's an "adoptive parent privilege" attitude that I shouldn't have, but I do. Adoption has worn me out... there's so many things we miss out on. I want to be pregnant. I want to experience a pregnancy and the birth of a child without being deathly afraid the entire time that someone could take my baby away from me at the drop of a hat. I want to name my child and not worry about offending a third party.

The loss of control of when to have children, how many children, and how to bring those children into our family is the worst. THE WORST. I don't think the average fertile couple can understand how much that sucks.

I'm ready for fertility treatments again because now I am armed with more information. I know what's wrong with me. I know what's wrong with Zay. I know it will most likely just be a matter of time and money and patience and effort with the right doctor. We've sunk money into adoption that didn't get us anywhere. I want to put that money towards getting pregnant. I need more control.

I didn't feel this way before and that's why we stopped fertility treatments and pursued adoption. But I definitely feel this way now. It's my turn and I'm determined to make it happen.




Monday, March 24, 2014

Perfect

Today was Baby Girl's due date. For awhile there I was still getting the Baby Center "pregnancy update" emails, and updates on my calendar reminding me of Miss H's pregnancy-related things. Ugh. Even today my calender still said, "Today is the day!" So much for that.


I was texting with Kal's birthmama not too long ago. We talked about how Zay and I are thinking of moving back to Georgia, but it'll take a little time to figure out all the details - Zay transferring colleges, finding a place to live near to where we'd eventually want to buy a house, job for me, school for Kal, etc. There's lots of pros and cons about moving back, but it feels like where we need to be. She's excited for us to be closer. :)

I thanked her for choosing us to be Kal's parents even though we're all the way across the country from her. I know that wasn't originally in her plan. She wanted a local family. But luckily for us her aunt told her she needed to meet us! (Thanks, S! For always being so supportive!)



Thinking back, I'm so glad we flew to meet her, even though we also didn't plan to adopt from so far away. I don't usually think of things as "meant to be," but somehow this adoption fell together and worked out so well. I know it was hard for her. The hardest thing she's probably ever done or will ever do. But she still stands behind her decision. And it's just so hard for me to imagine our life without Kal in it. He is deeply rooted in our hearts and plays such a large part in who we are now. I can't imagine not having that, not having him. He is so amazing.

She told me, "He belongs with y'all. It's perfect. :)" Awwww.... my heart!

Love that girl to death! She's such a sweetheart and we intend to make sure Kal knows that about her. One of the biggest reasons we want to move back to Georgia is to be close to family - all of our family, including the family Kal was born into. It only makes sense. There's nothing keeping us in Utah anymore since I graduated from BYU. That's the reason we came out here. Now we're just trying to figure out what the heck we're doing with our lives and staying where we are doesn't make sense anymore. (I am SO going to miss our friends, though!)

BYU's motto is "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve." That's something both Zay and I believe in. That we need to go "home" and build up a better future for the people there. To take our education and experience back to a place that needs it. I know there's a lot of good that could be done there, especially in the Social Work field, which is what Zay is going into. He wants to make a difference, to be a mentor. And honestly, in Georgia... there's a lot of difference to be made. Zay is going to do a lot of good in his career - I'm so excited to see that! I've been drawn to Foster Care for awhile now. And I think that's where we should do it. There's a huge need for foster parents there. And a whole lot of black and bi-racial kids in the system. And not enough black or interracial foster parents.

This was the blog post I was writing when I was praying about whether we should keep trying to adopt (in the meantime, before we move back to Georgia). I was asking myself, "Are we asking too much to try to have this happen for us twice? When the first one was so perfect?" I think the answer is yes, this could happen for us again and we should definitely leave the adoption door open just to leave that chance, that possibility available. It's just not going to come as easily, as we've already seen. But I think perfect definitely could happen twice. I'm just not counting on it, ha ha. (I'm ready for fertility treatments again!)




A Prayer Answered

I believe in prayer and in receiving personal revelation and a God who individually guides His children as they seek Him (or even when they don't). I believe the Spirit can help us make important decisions if we listen, and that no big decision should be made without praying about it with an open heart, knowing that the answer you receive may not be the one you were inclined to make.

About a month after we learned we actually would not be the parents of a little girl in Mississippi, I finally got up the courage to do what we knew needed to be done - take down our adoption profile, let our caseworker know we're done trying to adopt, and then live happily ever after with the family we have now until we can save the money for other options: international adoption, fertility treatments, or buying a house big enough to begin foster care.

But before I did that, I prayed. Really hard. I let God know what was in my heart - that we really couldn't do this anymore. That the waiting and the emotional vulnerability that is required of us and the heartbreak when it doesn't work out is just way too much. And that we're confused about what to do, but we are really only hesitating slightly right before pulling the plug. That we know without a doubt that we were supposed to do this (adopt) before. That Kal came to us at the exact right time and could've only come to us the way that he did. But that maybe now we weren't supposed to be doing this anymore. We did what we were called to do and now that chapter is over.

I started a blog post that morning (that I never published), using it to work out my feelings about all this before calling it quits. I wrote that we were "closing our file if something doesn't happen soon (even though we just barely renewed our homestudy for the year). We'd need a HUGE OBVIOUS sign to keep going if this is what we should be doing. I don't see it happening, but I'd love for someone to prove us wrong!"

That same exact day, only a few hours later, I saw a short email from an expectant mother working with LDS Family Services in Maryland saying she'd like to speak with us and she'd prefer the phone and as soon as possible. I literally laughed out loud. I wasn't actually expecting a sign. I was expecting nothing to happen. We were already set on not going through this anymore. That we were done. That it was over.

I quickly emailed her back and gave her my phone number. It was Zay's birthday and he decided that all he wanted for his birthday was to be able to take a nap. So he was sleeping. I took Kal outside and we watched the rain as I waited on her to call. I started to get really nervous and my hands were shaking. It took about an hour before she called, so I nervously fidgeted and grabbed a pen and the back of an envelope out of the minivan and started jotting down questions to ask her.

Right when I thought she wasn't really going to call, she did. We talked for close to an hour. At first she wanted to keep the gender of the baby a surprise. She said she wanted to find a couple who didn't care about the gender and then when she decided what family she wanted to go with, she'd let them know with the ultrasound picture (how sweet is that?)... but she let it slip on accident and we both laughed about that. It's a boy! Due April 20th. She was just shy of 33 weeks along.

She let me know her situation and why she was choosing to place him for adoption. The birth father's involvement. What she wants in adoptive parents. What she wants for her son. Ideas for baby boy names.

She wants her goodbyes to be at the hospital and to not have anything set in stone about openness until she knows how she feels afterwards. At the very least she wants to be there to answer his questions when he's older, but she doesn't know if she could handle pictures and visits. We told her we'd respect that, because everyone who places a child is different. But I made sure she had an idea of how our first adoption works and that she can be open with us with communicating what she needs. And that we wouldn't disappear on her, ever.

She seemed super happy to talk to me and almost didn't want to talk to any other couples. I encouraged her to take her time and really be sure about her decision. Look at all her options. I told her I'd talk to Zay and have him call her the next day so she could get to know him a little as well. She said she would love that. And that she'd want to make a decision by the end of March. If she is leaning towards our family, she will want us to fly out and meet her beforehand and then come back after the baby is born. I told her we'd be willing to do that.

My mind quickly raced with the possibility. A son. To make up for the one we lost last summer. Same ethnicity, same beautiful little face in my mind. The name "Malik" came back to me. If I use a name from a failed adoption, could that make all the grief forever go away? Make it seem like it never happened? For a split second, I imagined this woman as our child's birthmama and how we could interact with each other over the years. What that relationship would look like. For that brief second, I could see it.

How awesome is this quote? Part of me still loves adoption.

Zay woke up and I summed up all that had went down while he was asleep! Ha ha. I asked him would he like to talk to her... and does this sound like a good idea? He said yes immediately. He called her after work the next day and... she said she was sick and she'd get back to him. And then... she never did. We haven't heard from her since... and we haven't heard from her caseworker in Maryland at all.

I looked up all the adoption laws in Maryland, just in case. To see how it would likely play out if by chance she did get back in contact with us. I found out Maryland has 30 days for the revocation period (time period after birth parents sign relinquishment papers in which either one could back out and change their minds about the adoption plan). THIRTY DAYS from the time they sign papers, which could happen only after the baby is born. I don't think I could do that. Fly out and meet her? Fly out a second time and "adopt" her baby, leave the state, have a son for up to a month and then have to possibly fly back and return him if she panics and wants him back and changes her mind??? (because we know TOO WELL how that happens)

Ummmmm, NO. That is too much. That, plus the baby is due a week before Zay's finals and he'd have to fly back to Utah to take them and then come back out to Maryland with me and Kal and the new baby, all shacked up in a hotel. My mind kept going back to the conversation I had with her on the phone, and this girl really sounded like she didn't have a clue how hard the whole adoption thing was actually going to be. It didn't really add up to something I think we could commit to after all. Zay understood and knew it would be too hard for us and not the right timing. I don't think we're ever going to hear from her again anyway, but I'm glad we were able to come to that decision together and be okay with it.

I still marveled at that answer to my prayer. Out of all the times we could've been contacted by a potential birthmother, it happened the day I was pouring my heart out to God about it. I needed a sign. Something to say, "Don't give up yet." And I think that was it. AND I think I've learned that it will be okay to say "no" to a situation that doesn't feel right. If the girl from Maryland calls again and it still feels like something we can't do, that's what I'm telling her - "no." It's not going to work for us, sorry. And that's okay. The world will not end. It will just save us a lot of pain.

So, our adoption profile is still up. We're not taking it down. We'll ride it out until our homestudy expires next January or so. But it won't be our focus. If something is supposed to happen with adoption again, it'll happen. But we'll be off trying to make babies again in the meantime. We have an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist in May (after Zay's semester is over) - I'M SO EXCITED!!! We're gonna get the fertility party started again and jump right into an IUI. We'll leave the adoption door open, but our lives will not revolve around it and possible-baby-mamas anymore. It just can't.




Sunday, March 23, 2014

*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part XIII

"princess crown braided bun with beads" was her request





Guess whose braids look better?? Huh, huh? Yep, mine are better. Go Heidi!


MMA fighter


Zumba girl!




Gym Rats

I've never been a gym person before, but we got a family pass to a rec center at the beginning of the year and we've gone at least a couple times a week since then.

Zay plays basketball for hours on end. Kal shoots on the kid-sized goal and gets some coveted electronics time while he waits for us, or sometimes tries to join in when there's an exercise class going on (especially if there are ladies... he loves the ladies and the ladies love him, lol). I head to the weight room or the elliptical (where I get some TV watching in, and strain my eyes/brain trying to read the captions and be coordinated enough to not fall off the dang thing in the process).

I'm still not a gym person, but I make myself go. I'd rather be out hiking! But I think I've hiked myself out. Maybe when the warm weather comes back and sticks around it'll push me to get back out there in nature. I'm just gonna keep making myself go to the gym until I find something to motivate me physically again. I need a challenge. Maybe a Spartan Race? :) We'll see. It's been hard to maintain the level of fitness I reached a couple years ago when I was training for the Tough Mudder, but I want that health and energy back. I had almost completely eliminated sugar from my diet and everything! Man, I need that focus back.

I'm forcing it right now, but I do have a reason to get fit again... so I need to figure out how to get my motivation to match my goals. I wanna get healthy because I wanna have a baby. From my own dang body. I'm ready for that. I'm ready to try fertility treatments again. But I'm picking myself up from being beat down constantly by adoption, so I'm having to force the energy, force the motivation until I snap out of it. I've also been walking with a friend for about 3 miles 3x a week, which is fun and doesn't feel like exercise, so that's been good. :)

I'd like to think Kal was trying to take a picture of his sweet ole Mama, but I'm thinking he might've been eying the girl in pink.









Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Two Fave Guys!

Zay turned 32 at the end of February and Kal turned 3 a couple weeks later. 

Zay feels old. Too old. Like his body is creaking and popping and clicking when he gets up in the morning, ha ha ha. He is NOT old, but he acts like it. He didn't want a party, so we made very little plans. I made sure he ate 3 awesome meals that day: breakfast burritos with REAL bacon (I always buy turkey bacon), Sensuous Sandwich for lunch, and spaghetti w/garlic bread for dinner... I make a dang good spaghetti (when I don't burn it)! Plus fudge brownies and ice cream for dessert. All he wanted for his birthday was to take a good long nap, so he napped in the middle of the day and we watched whatever he wanted to watch when he woke up. And I put Kal to bed super early so we could have some alone time. It was a great day. :)

We celebrated Kal's birthday the weekend before his actual bday... it was gorgeous weather (Utah, you've been SO GOOD TO ME this winter!) and we spent most of the party at the park with him and his friends running around like little crazy people. Then back at the house for food and ice cream and cake! On his actual birthday I got to talk to his birthmama and I sent her a book of all the Instagram photos I've taken over the last year. Next year I think he'll actually be able to talk on the phone to her - right now he just gets shy and runs from the phone or holds it to his ear with a smile on his face without saying anything, lol.

Super Kal! Poster for his room. He LOVED IT, omg.

Making his cake.

He's "helping."

Trying to figure out the best (or hardest) way to make a cake I was envisioning in my head.

Creepy armless, legless cRaZyEyEs monkey cake...!


Figured out how to add hands and feet.

THREE!

Kal loves monkeys and dinosaurs, so he was impressed. :)

We made some chocolate and sprinkles-dipped frozen bananas. I took a picture of the sprinkles and forgot the actual bananas when they were finished! Ha ha ha.

Chicken salad sandwiches and a few other goodies.

Very happy that the day was all about him!



Walking to the park.

He had so much fun. This is the only pic I could catch him in, ha ha.

I look better in black and white if I'm not wearing make-up! My face is too pink! :)

We all got in on the fun park action. HA HA HA. There's actually a hidden child behind Kal; we squeezed 4 people on that thing. :)

Let's see if we can get a good picture of these 3 buddies...





... I think this is as good as we're gonna get!

One of Kal's bday gifts. He was in shock. He opened it and said, "Oh wow look at that!"

I do believe we're gonna have trouble getting him to take this off! He silently stared at himself in the mirror for a good long while. He was AMAZED. Ha ha!

"We need dinozord power!" -- Kal

Kal is always a fan of the big kids! He loves his friends. It was a good day. :)





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trip to Colorado

I got to see my nephew last month! It's been so long. His mom moved with him to Colorado a couple years ago and I've missed them so much and have only gotten to see him a handful of times. My brother, Kal, & I took a road trip the first weekend we had the time and money. I was so happy it finally happened! Our schedules never line up like that. Zay was sad I abandoned him to a couple days of bachelor living, but he was glad I came back grinning and renewed after the visit.

We met my nephew's step-dad, who was super nice to us and talked a ton and cooked us lunch. And, um, we found out they had had a baby. Evander's got a little brother and neither one of us had any idea, so that was shocking. I wish we had more involvement in his life the way it used to be, but Zay, Kal, & I kind of got thrown out of the family along with my brother. I get why, but it sucks. We had nothing to do with them breaking up, but it has to do with who we're connected to. So, the plan is that my bro will get everything together to move closer to his son and get to be a father on a regular basis. Staying in Utah is no longer relevant for him. And I'm really hoping that happens, but I know my little family won't get the same opportunity. I'll take what I can get.

This boy is so energetic. We played "zombies" out in the yard and board games and toys in his room. Before we left, I told him I loved him and I hoped he'd always remember that. He nodded sadly and told his dad that he should "stay in Colorado and live at my house!" (lol... I don't think that would go over well with mom or step-dad). But it was so sweet.  I was sad to leave, but happy that he was so happy and that I got that small chance to see him. I'll always remember that visit.











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