Friday, August 28, 2009

Open Adoption

Some people who don't know much about open adoption often ask if we want to have a relationship with our future child's first family. My answer is always absolutely. They want to know why. I think Todd summed it up perfectly on his blog when he said this about a conversation he and his son's first father had
Why do I believe in Open Adoption? Ray and I talked as we walked Puppy to the park with the fountain that Open Adoption doesn't take away the pain of adoption, but it gives it the air it needs to breathe and heal. Family looks different, but family is still family.

It is extremely painful for a first parent to give their child a life with someone else. Sure, it's a choice they make as I've been told by people who have never given their child up. And perhaps I believed this to be so simple as well before I started reading things that first parents had posted on different forums. Food for thought maybe. They never forget that child, they want to know that their child is happy with their family that they chose. Much to popular belief, many of these first parents are not drug addicts or teenage moms. Many are just like you and me who are facing circumstances which they believe aren't ideal for their child. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to have to make that decision. But to have a relationship with their child, to be able to see that they are ok, that they are happy must be bittersweet, no doubt, but it has to help in some way. Obviously it's good for the child involved. Who better to answer a question about "why". Who better to answer the question about what making that decision was like for them.

Regardless of the labels assigned to any of us involved in the adoption, family is still family. Ours will grow not only by one when we finally bring home our child, but by even more, there are more people to love that child than just our family as we know it now. I don't think that's a bad thing. I just pray that we're placed with a child from a family who wants to have a relationship with us, so that we can all be there to support our child, and help them grow into a strong individual.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Many people have asked how the fundraising is going. Well, hopefully we will be able to report at the end of September that it's going well. We have not gotten any more responses from businesses, good or bad, and that's ok with us to be perfectly honest. Perhaps they can't help right now, aren't interested in our cause, or disagree with us, but are polite enough to keep their comments to themselves. We're working on themes for the baskets which is actually kind of fun!

We've gotten donations of items for us to sell at a yard sale. Originally I thought we'd have another huge one like we did this past June. But it was incredibly hot, and an awful lot of work, and we required a lot of people, tables, and a big area to hold it. I thought what we would do is have a bunch of smaller sales that Archie and I could manage on our own without asking for a lot of help from others to run. I've had someone important to me say things like "the big one was too much work", they didn't "want to do it again" (which is fine, and heck if we're being honest, even I don't want to do it again, but I also want to get the money together to bring home another child), and then when I talk about doing the smaller ones I hear that "you won't make as much money." Well, I guess I'm darned if I do and darned if I don't. That's just how it's going to have to be. Maybe if we're lucky and do really well, we can raise as much as we did doing the smaller ones over a period of time. We have to try. We just do. And we're open to other suggestions if anyone has ideas for how we can raise more money toward our adoption.

Anyway, I just sat down and looked at my schedule to see when we could have another sale, and it's looking like mid to late October which probably in all reality, is not going to be ideal. What I may do is post the big stuff on craigslist, things like furniture, etc., and someone on one of the fundraising groups I am on posted about selling books online through a website which I will have to go back and check out. I have quite a few boxes of books in my basement at the moment. Our one room we had to store all of these things is now full, so I have to figure out how I'm going to get in there to take pictures of everything to list them on craigslist. But at least that can be done on my own time and before October!

It's funny, as I sit here and think about how we had things planned, they've not really gone totally according to plan. The person who is helping us put together our bingo and giving us guidance told us to find businesses to sponsor baskets/bags, etc., which hasn't happened really. I mean, we've tried to find businesses to sponsor baskets and bags, it just hasn't panned out. If we had gone with Bethany Christian for our agency, we would have had to start our homestudy and forked out a big chunk of money right about now for that, and then we wouldn't have been able to have our basket bingo at the end of September because the money that we've had to use for that bingo would have paid for our homestudy, and thus there wouldn't be a BINGO planned for September. As it turns out we chose Catholic Charities, and don't need that money yet until January, and thus are able to have this fundraiser which will hopefully bring us that much closer to our goal.

I've really thought about this, and it is so true that what our plan may be and what God's plan may be sometimes just aren't the same. I fully believe God has it in his plan for us to welcome another child into our family, but obviously it isn't the way we thought. It was never meant to be "naturally", and while he blessed us with Jack through IVF, our second child wasn't meant to come to us that way either. This way that God is leading us isn't easy, emotionally, financially, it's just not, but we're rising to the challenges presented to us, and I honestly believe that is all part of the "plan". I am sure that there will be many more things happen along the way that we plan differently than he does, but I am sure that as we look back at what our plan was, and how things have actually occured, we will see that it was for a reason. Much like our choice of agency seems to have been for a reason, and how that has helped us be able to continue to raise more toward bringing home this next child.

I have found that I am learning things as we go through this process. I have to learn to push those negative comments out of my thoughts and ignore them because they don't help. I feel like I have to do that for my own emotional sanity. Just like with the letters. I have to just remember that it's not helpful, the letters, or other comments, and just stop thinking about them because it doesn't help me be upbeat and positive. I am learning about adoption reform. I am learning about the trials and tribulations that go along with open adoption, and trying to learn from other's experiences in an effort to hope our family can avoid some issues later. I am learning to put my trust in God, and to have faith that things will work out as they should.

As an aside, Archie and I were talking the other day about emails I had received inviting us to come to different churches to see if we felt any of them were a good fit. He said to me, "I thought we'd chosen a church." This was news to me as we have tried churches, he has told me he liked them, and when asked to go back to them all of a sudden he's not interested. It turns out he really likes the church my aunt goes to, and I liked it as well. So, I'm happy to report that I think we've found a church. Thank you to everyone who extended offers and told us about their churches, but it seems that we may be staying put now!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some Good News and More Updates

We did go out on Tuesday to many businesses. Most said that they needed to speak with their owners/co-owners, or general managers, but two did make donations for our basket bingo. For that we are grateful.

We've gotten two rude letters from businesses lately, which to be completely honest makes me nervous to go to the post office and pick up any other mail. I think I may open up the mail and if they look like not nice letters, just trash them and move on. Our cause hasn't been well received this time around surprisingly, but I guess that people who haven't been there just don't have any idea. I'd prefer if this disagreed with what we are doing that they just throw our letters in the trash and go about their day rather then saying something hurtful.

We've got themes for the baskets going, and most of the items bought to go in the purses! Things are coming along nicely. The Longaberger rep we are working with asked us to email her a copy of our flyer and she will forward it on to others, so that's exciting! We're hoping to get more interest through her, as well as posting them at work, and giving some to the auxilary at Elkridge VFD to put out at a bingo they have coming up. We've already posted an ad on Craigslist, as well as a few basket bingo websites, and we put an ad in our city's newspaper. We're waiting to hear back from another local paper about advertising with them as well. It's only a little more than a month away now! We're starting to get excited, slightly nervous, but mostly excited!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

An Update

I haven't posted because there hasn't been too much happening lately. We weren't able to go out and speak with businesses on Thursday because we were waiting for the Terminix guy to come and take care of a wasp problem we had out front, and by the time that he finished it was time for me to rest before coming back to work for overtime. Boy, as exhausted as I am right now, I almost wish I hadn't picked up that overtime, but that would have left work stretched thin, and we had so many babies to take care of.

Anyway, I think we will try to go out to those businesses this coming Tuesday if I'm not incoherent after being off only tomorrow night before coming back in for overtime on Sunday and working my normal shift Monday night. I am exhausted and the thought of not coming home and crashing into my bed immediately is daunting, but I know it's for a great reason-to help us bring home another little blessing.

I also recently posted to Craigslist to ask for any items in good condition that people might be getting rid of that we could possibly resell either on Craiglist or at another yard sale in the spring. Yes, I am planning already this far in advance, though not nearly as intensely as I am the basket and bags bingo which is now just a month and a half away. There will also be another basket bingo if this one is successful!

Someone posted a comment to our last blog entry and offered to help us by doing the bottles of love for us with her Sunday school class. I cannot even begin to say how much we appreciate that. I have no idea how to get in touch with this person as there wasn't any contact info, but I did leave mine in the hopes that she will come back to read it. One of the reasons we began looking for a new church is because we want a church with a good children's program, and we want to feel like we are becoming closer to God and getting to know more about Him. Another reason was because our church left a really bad taste in my mouth. I spoke with the head priest about what we were doing (when we were doing the last yard sale), and asked if we could put flyers in the bulletins for Sunday, or if the church would be able to help us by letting us put out bottles of love, and we were denied both. After speaking with other people after this who knew this priest it was told to me that this is how he operates. If you are wealthy in the congregation, you are thought of, considered, listened to, but otherwise, not so much. I have no desire to be a part of a congregation like that. Here this person posted a comment on our last entry and she doesn't know me, I don't go to her church, and she is offering to help us. God is providing. Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for us throughout our journey.

ETA: So I do know the person who wants to the bottles of love with her Sunday school class-she is one of my coworkers!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Unusual Request from Us

So any of you who know us know that we're not super religious. We believe in God, we pray, and we're in search of the perfect church for us. Here's the thing. Fundraising when you're not a non-profit is really hard. It's hard to get donations, sponsors and the like. You rely on others who do this on a regular basis for guidance and advice. Well, it seems like we hit obstacle after obstacle despite which type of fundraiser we plan.

We've spent close to $1600 already in Longaberger baskets and Vera Bradley items for our bingo coming up. We spent $900 to rent the hall and bingo equipment and for one of their people to call bingo for us that day (they require it if we rent their equipment). We were told that a bingo supplier very close to us always donates most of the stuff for fundraisers, so to contact them, which I did in person yesterday. They called today to tell me what they decided and what they decided was to give us a 10% discount which left the cost of the bingo supplies at $776. Ouch. I was sleeping after work when I got the call, and I just felt defeated. You question whether your cause is as worthy as others. I don't have a family member who needs surgery, thank God. We just want to bring home another child and are willing to do the work for the fundraisers, but we're only asking for some help getting there. We're putting so much money, time and energy into making this a successful event, it's just frustrating. It's hard. It's hard to go out and ask businesses during a recession if they could donate anything, even closeout items, gift cards, or services to help.

Last week we sent out letters to about 100 businesses. We're waiting to hear back from even one of them. I am prepping some more letters to go out later this week. This Thursday we will be going out to personally ask some businesses to help us. It just doesn't make you feel very good to question if your need for assistance is seen as worth it to others when it is so important to you and your family. I guess I'm just feeling discouraged, mainly about the bingo supplier, especially when they supposedly generally give others everything that they need to do their bingos.

Anyway, our request is just prayer. We know that God can provide for us and we trust that He will and that this whole fundraiser will work out. There was another blog that I discovered yesterday where He did just that. You can see their pickle jar post here. The entire $20K cost of their international adoption has been provided for. How awesome! And it's funny because she talks about how they want to "pay it forward" and help others struggling through the same thing, which is what I mentioned to Archie. I crazily enough really like this fundraising stuff, except for the fact that it's so hard to ask for donations when you aren't a charity or non-profit organization and so we can't provide documentation for people's tax purposes. I said to Archie that after our adoption, I'd love to set up a non-profit for the purpose of helping other families with their fundraising. That is exactly what this family is going to do for others, and I think it's great. We've already told them we'd help however we could to support their endeavor because I was already thinking about doing something like that myself in the future. Pay it forward.

We're not expecting for our adoption to be paid for, believe me. We just hope that some will help us in our endeavor, and find it a valuable enough cause to support. Please just pray that we get some businesses or individuals to help offset some of our costs by sponsoring the baskets and bags. Please pray for patience and strength during this process for us. And please pray for us to continue to put our faith in God's plan for us, whatever that may be.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Update on fundraiser and emotional status

So it seems that posting to get my feelings out may actually help. I've been asked if my friend I referenced in my other blog looks at my blog, and I believe she does. Does that worry me, not particularly as I know that all of us who have dealt with infertility can identify with the jealousy we sometimes feel towards others who are pregnant whether it occured with or without help. Would my feelings change toward her because she is pregnant is another question I've been asked. Absolutely not. I love my friend and she would be my friend regardless of whether or not she was pregnant. That said, I'm feeling much better this weekend about it and not so jealous, so I'm glad to report that.

As far as our bingo fundraiser goes, we've got times set and info available! We are having a 1/2 Longaberger Basket 1/2 Vera Bradley Bingo on Sunday, September 27, 2009 at Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department located at 6275 Old Washington Rd in Elkridge, MD 21075. Doors open at 12:30pm, games start at 2pm. Tickets are $18 in advance, or $20 at the door and each person admitted must purchase a package (including children). Only 210 tickets will be sold. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. There will be 20 regular games (5 specials included) and two jackpots (one Vera, one Longaberger-these are extra cost), as well as door prizes. Multiple raffles including a 50/50 raffle, a Vera Bradley set, a Longaberger set. There will be a King Tutt, cash pull tabs, and a balloon pop! Parking is limited at the station, but you may park at Norbel School about 2 blocks down from the fire station on same side, and there will be a shuttle to help transport you to the hall until 2pm. People who purchase tickets in advance must be there to check in no later than 1:30 or your seat will be released.

If you know of any businesses or individuals (especially people who do things like Pampered Chef, Arbonne, Tastefully Simple, Party Lite, etc) who would be interested in donating and letting us advertise their business at the bingo, please have them contact us!

If anyone wants to help, we still need some people to come out that day and help us run this bingo. We'd be forever grateful!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I think about stuff...a lot. I think about everything because I am Type A and have to have a plan for everything. It drives me crazy and it drives my mom and husband crazy, but unfortunately, it's me and I just have to get this out.

I've been thinking about our adoption stuff a lot lately. I've had a rough week. I've done pretty well since our failed cycle (well, not initially, but after a few weeks, maybe a month, I started feeling better) and just accepting that other people can have kids and we can't seem to, at least not the "easy" way and let's be honest, cheaper way. So I have a friend who I've "known" for at least about 4 years. I say known like that because I have friends on my forums who if we all lived closer, we'd be hanging out together all the time, but she lives in another state. The friend I am referring to, I've met her and her family, we had dinner and swam when we took Jack to see my grandmother 2 years ago. She is a person from one of my online forums who I met when I joined a group for people working night shift who were trying to conceive. All of the girls on the two groups I am still on (yes even though we're no longer trying to get pregnant, most of us have had at least one child and just remain on there because we like each other's company) are all close and if they needed something and I could, I'd be there to help them. Anyway, she had her little boy, and about a year later, I had mine. She's had struggles with infertility as well, and was doing some treatments this year to try to get pregnant again. She had just given up last week and said that she felt like God was calling her to adopt. It was everywhere she looked, us, another girl from that online forum who has adopted two little boys (and been so supportive of us in our journey), billboards, people at her church...and I thought, "Great, I have someone else to go down this road with!!!" Then Sunday night, she posted that she thought her last cycle was a bust, and low and behold it turns out she was pregnant. I'm happy for her, I truly am, but I just sat at work (yes, work unfortunately, you can never predict when these emotional things will happen) and cried. I think this was for more than one reason.

First is that while I am on adoption forums, I am frequently a lurker who just gives out congrats, or asks a little question here and there. They can be rather heated forums because you've got the prospective adoptive parents, adoptive parents, first parents, and some adoptees on there and all of their experiences with adoption are different, and what each is going through is different. It's bound to be hostile at times, but also because we aren't actively in our homestudy or officially started the process yet (although I do consider choosing an agency part of the process), I just don't feel like I have much to say yet. So I sort of feel alone, and when she said she was going to adopt, I was excited. The other part of that is that I wish I could be the person who thinks about adoption and ends up being pregnant. I already know the reality of that is slim to none with our issues. That's fine. I thought I had accepted that and moved on, but I was actually quite surprised at my reaction of finding out she was pregnant. I didn't feel that way with my friend Alison when she found out she was pregnant, and heck, we were talking about what my due date would be if we got pregnant with our last cycle the day before we got our bad news with regards to our cycle. We were only going to be 6 weeks apart (with our last children, we were 10 weeks apart but Jack came two weeks early) and that was a really unique experience. No jealousy toward her. Another girl on one of my other forums (trying to conceive with IVF/ICSI) found out she was pregnant literally a week before our cycle went south, and no less, she was pregnant with twins. Maybe because she got pregnant before I finished my cycle it only bothered me initially when she posted that it was twins, but I was over it really quite quickly. There are people I know who I am very jealous of that they are pregnant or have had other babies and I haven't gotten over it, but those people I've had these feelings about long term. I don't know if it's that this friend was going to go the adoption route and then got pregnant that sparked some green in me or what the deal was. I felt awful that I felt that way. I am happy for her, seriously, I'm just sad for us. I really thought I was past this. And she says she still wants to adopt, which is great, but I don't know, I've just not been dealing with it well I guess.

Perhaps it is something we will always be aware of and feel sometimes given that this is what has happened to us. I don't know. It's just been a hard week. After the email from my friend announcing her pregnancy, I had the joy of admitting a preemie later that night. The mom was a drug user, and I was so irritated. It was like the icing on the cake that night. Why can they get pregnant so easily? Why can't people like us have babies so easily, and let the people who are using drugs be the ones to have to have help to conceive? If I asked myself this question that night, I've asked myself a million times since we started trying to have our first child. It's just frustrating.

Then my mom, well meaning, sent me an email suggesting that perhaps we could try the ovulation predictor kits again and do the deed when it said I was ovulating. She really was well meaning, but again, we know the reality of our situation, and while it's not entirely impossible, but highly unlikely we would conceive on our own, I just can't put the energy and emotion into trying to conceive actively. I just don't have it in me. We've made the decision to adopt, and that is what I need to focus on. I can't be on both roller coasters, I just can't. If we did happen to get pregnant on our own, we'd be ecstatic, but I just refuse to put all that energy into it when it's unlikely and we've decided to go a different route. My mom truly understands where I am coming from, and has been our biggest supporter and cheerleader since we decided on adoption. It was just an idea she had was all. I've had other friends when we began talking about adoption suggest doing a shared risk cycle at Shady Grove where you pay something like $20K and you can do 3 fresh IVF cycles, and 3 frozen embryo transfers, and I remember feeling so annoyed that they would suggest that after I just finished saying how bad our last cycle went and that we were moving on to adoption. I think people mean well, it just doesn't always feel the way it should on the other end.

When I think about the adoption stuff, I think I most think about what I want our relationship to be like with our child's first parents, and what I want life to be like for our child. Ginger, whose blog I follow posted yesterday about what they don't tell you and this is written from her perspective as a first mom. She talks about what you're told by the agency or the aparents, and what actually happens, either in her case or her friend's whose sort of sparked her post. Her first comment is this: "They tell you can send letters and cards but don't tell you that they'll be upset if you sign them 'mom' or how strange it will feel to simply write your first name." I can see both sides of that. Would I want our child's first mom to send a card signed "Mom"? No, it would upset me because I want my child to know me as Mom, and I want my child to know that she is their first mom, but I am "Mom". Seems normal enough right. But how does that make the first mom feel to sign just her name? I imagine it makes them feel awful and unimportant, and they are very important. Their story is important and their child is important. While I can definitely see both sides, I know I would be bothered if she signed a card to our child "Mom". So what do you do, and how does one bring this up with their child's first mom? I have no idea. Maybe I'll ask Ginger. A lot of what she talks about in that post is basically rules and how do you know when you are close to that line unless everyone is communicating, and how messed up things can get with misunderstandings and breaking of rules that you didn't know existed. This was one of the biggest things I posted that I was hoping for with whoever ends up being our child's first mom. Communication in both directions so we can talk about what we are and are not comfortable with. She says, "They promise visits but they don't warn you how much it will hurt to listen to your child cry for "Mommy" and not mean you." How gut wrenching. This is something I can say I truly dread when we do have visits with our child's first mom. I am going to feel so bad that their feelings are hurt, and they will be no doubt. I hope that once she's had time to reflect on it that she thinks at least her child loves us and is loved and know that she is still thought of as a our child's first mom and is important to us and our child because of that. It still doesn't make it any easier and I know that. Unfortunately that one is one that we will never be able to work around.

I just love reading Ginger's blog because she is so honest and I want to know the other perspective, and I want to be able to put myself in their shoes so that when we are placed we can keep that in mind and have some compassion and understanding (however limited that may be without being in their shoes for real) for what they are feeling and going through.

I have learned so much since we made the decision to adopt. I knew that it was hard for a first parent of course, but never realized some of the things that they think and go through. I never realized that some things are downright unethical. I've learned a ton about open adoptions. And how I want our adoption to work out has changed so much since I started reading other's blogs, getting onto adoption will probably continue to change and be different still when we do finally get placed. I just never realized how much misinformation I had until I started, or how the way you said things made such a big difference.

Thank you if you've read this far. It is our adoption blog, and I know I put a lot in this post about my feelings relating to my infertility, but that is how we ended up on this adoption journey and I feel it's still relevant. It's a part of who we are, and has shaped quite a bit of how we feel about things. Shoot, the week isn't even over, but I'm hoping that getting this off of my chest will allow me to refocus on our adoption plans, our next fundraiser, and put this behind me so I can just be truly happy for my friend and jealous in the least.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Our next fundraiser is in the works...

So I've been asked by people when and if we are doing anymore fundraisers. Thanks for asking, we are! We have booked Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's hall for September 27th for a Basket and Bags Bingo. We will be holding a bingo where the prizes are Longaberger baskets and Vera Bradley items. There will also be raffles, door prizes, balloon pops, King Tutt games, as well as food and drinks! We haven't set an exact time yet, but we're thinking the doors will open around 1pm, and games will probably start around 2pm. We will be taking reservations in advance at a lower cost to the players, and when we've figured out those logistics, I will update you on that.

If you're available and would like to come out and help us, that would be great, we could certainly use it. If you want to come and play, grab a few friends, and we'll see you there!