Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trying to Work It Out

First I want to say thank you for everyone's kind and supportive comments and emails. I am still a mess. I really can't see doing another bingo fundraiser. We'd have to do the overtime to get the money together to even have it, and it's just too much of a risk to possibly lose almost every last dime again. If yesterday's fundraiser had been successful, I might feel differently. Ok, I WOULD feel differently and already be planning the next one!

That said, I've done some thinking. If we were to just work and save up the $18,000 on our own, it would take us probably 2 years. Who knows how long after that it would take to get a placement. Needless to say, we won't be applying with Catholic Charities in January. Why apply if we won't be close to having the money needed yet. We don't want to be matched if we can't act on it. We also don't want to be adopting when Jack is 7 years old either. Which leads to my next flight of ideas...

As I was running around this morning, and trying to take a nap this afternoon, I seriously questioned what we were thinking when we made this decision. We were weighing whether or not to do another IVF cycle (which wasn't a guarantee we'd get pregnant again) and come up with the $10,000 needed to cover what our insurance would not, or come up with the $18,000 for an adoption which would eventually give us another child for sure. We wanted the sure thing. Well, let me tell you what we know for sure. God blessed us with a sweet and lovable little boy almost 3 years ago. We love him to pieces and can't imagine life without him. And then I started thinking...and realized thinking is where all of my problems start.

So I was doing some math in my head. If I had two days of overtime on every paycheck, then we would be able to raise $10K in about 8 months. IF I did one day of overtime each week, and never had a week where I just worked my normal shifts, that is how long it would take me, and that is IF I could get the shifts. It would take us probably a year if I didn't. You can figure out how long it would take for the $18K which by the time we came up with that, adoption will cost even more. As we're getting ready for dinner, I said to Archie, "So, just hypothetically speaking, what would you say if I asked you about going the less expensive route and saving up the $10K we would need to do another IVF cycle, and if it fails again, then we're done and we agree to find a place where we are ok with just having one child, and where we are ok with Jack being an only child and not having any siblings?" I asked this fully expecting to get this "are you kidding me?" type of look from him. The answer that I got was something like this, "I'm cool with that as long as Dr. M is willing to do the protocol we did when we had the successful cycle and not the one that we did this last time." I think I might have stood there dumbfounded for a minute. No argument about whether I needed my head checked? No questioning my thought process? That was easy.

So, am I saying that we're nixing the adoption idea and going back to the IVF one? Not at all. There is a lot more to consider than just what Dr. M has to say about it. I need to have a talk with my endocrinologist about my thyroid issues, and then with my urologist about my cystinuria and stopping the meds that I am on to manage it (they have a very high incidence of birth defects). None of that matters at this point because we don't have the money and our overtime at this point is replacing our roof. But it is something to discuss next year after we get back our taxes and think about making a plan again that does not include fundraising. I guess at that point we'll have to meet with my physicians and discuss if it is even advisable given some of my medical issues, and then what their recommendations would be. That may decide everything for us.

In the meantime while we are in a holding pattern, I'll continue to post here anything interesting that comes up, or thoughts I have about either of these topics. And I said I'd use this blog to post about our family as well, so I will continue to do that. I hope that my followers do continue to follow whether you're from IF-land or adoption world, as I plan to continue to follow you guys as well.

And thanks again for your support.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don't Know What to Say

I don't know what to say. This day was so incredibly hard. It's hard when you know what the reality probably is going to be, when you know how much you have invested in something, when you know how badly you want something and how hard you're trying to work for it, and the odds are against you. I was scared to do the bingo today, but hopeful for what could be. I was scared of exactly what happened today. I was worried about how I would handle it. We used all of the money we'd made on our previous fundraisers and put toward our adoption fund. Plus some.

So, we had 30 people come to our bingo. Odds were pretty good most would win, we had 20 games including the specials, and 2 additional jackpot games. A few people even won multiple things. I think most of our players were happy. I have to say that I honestly did have a good time today. The bingo was fun to plan, fun to shop for, and for wierd people like me, fun to organize and put together. I'll talk about what wasn't fun later. I had fun seeing what people thought of the baskets my mom and I had put together, and which bags we'd selected. We bought way too much food, enough to feed a small army it seemed. But we sent food home with all of our volunteers-our family members like one of my aunts, 2 of my cousins and one of their husbands, and then my mom, myself and Archie. Arch is taking some of the food to work to share with his coworkers tonight, I'm going to take some desserts to work to share with mine tomorrow night.

Here is what wasn't fun. My mom and I told the people who helped us organize this bingo that we had never done something like this before, and that we needed to know everything possible to make it successful. We bought prizes for a cash pull-tab game that never happened because come to find out today, the prizes were not what they were supposed to be. No one explained to us how much each prize was supposed to be worth, they just told us that the bottom 5 were your smallest and that they get bigger as you get closer to being the only person left. And we were not going to sell tickets to win something that wasn't up to snuff. Nevermind the fact that there is no way we could have sold that many pull-tab tickets to the 30 people in our bingo. We would have needed at least 100 players to even begin to sell that many. The next major issue was our advertising. We posted on all kinds of basket bingo websites for MD, and quite a few of our customers were a result of that, so that was something that worked and that we would do again. We put out flyers everywhere-work, churches, other basket bingos last night..., and we put an ad in the local city's paper which they put somewhere it was never going to be seen, despite my arguing exactly that. That was money well wasted. Then when we tried to place an ad in our local town's paper, it was like pulling teeth. We manage to get the editor to do a little news bit on us for it, but didn't get any customers as a result of that. The girl who was supposed to make sure our ad was placed dropped the ball, and another girl who was supposed to list it in the calendar of events assured me two Thursday's ago she would do so, and come to find out last Wednesday-she did not. Last but not least was our Longaberger rep. I had someone I was going to use, but the ladies auxilary at the fire station where we held the bingo mentioned that they use a particular rep, and so we went with her instead. She was hard to catch up with sometimes, but she was good at taking our order, fixing it when it arrived incorrect, and gave us a 10% discount. Meanwhile the other lady I had not used was upset we didn't use her, we asked if we could use her in the spring if we had another bingo, she agreed. She also told us that she'd give us a 25% discount and some door prizes. That was already more than we'd gotten with the other lady. Then today at the bingo, there were two more reps, one who said she would give us a 25% discount, not charge us shipping or taxes on our items, and had 30 people she guaranteed to come to our bingo because they go faithtfully to all of her bingos. She also said there is no way that our baskets should have cost us what we paid.

I'll be honest. I didn't leave there feeling really disappointed. I was just going through the motions. We cleaned up quickly, and we were out of there. But then we got home, and I was unpacking the car. Oh my gosh, even after unloading a ton of pulled pork bbq, chicken salad, etc., on our family, we still had a ton of food leftover. Heck, we forgot one unopened 8lb bag of fries in the freezer at the hall, as well as an opened bag, and hot dogs in their fridge. Then it really started to irritate me, all of the obstacles that we'd encountered. My mom and I had even questioned whether it was meant to happen. The problem was that we'd spent all of this money, if we didn't have the bingo, we'd have lost the money in those baskets and bags for what reason? What if more than the 23 people who reserved their tickets in advance showed up? What if we had 100 people? Then it would be worth it. The ladies at the station asked us twice this week if we were sure we didn't want to cancel. If we cancelled after having our name all over our flyers for the bingo, and people showed up to see it was cancelled, then we had another bingo in the spring, who would want to come? Certainly not the people who had showed up only to find it cancelled. We felt like we had to take our chances and try to recoup any of our funds that we could. After settling our charges, we came away with $205. If you recall from our fundraising thermometer on our blog, we had raised $2425. That means that overall, we lost over $2000. It's really hard to swallow, trust me. My mom called this evening even more irritated over our obstacles, the lack of assistance and guidance from people who knew we were clueless, the inept people at the paper. I had been really irritated with all of it prior, and just didn't have the energy left for it this evening. I just wanted to be with the child that we do have and enjoy him. I remember thinking at one point that I regretted ever leaving him to do the bingo. There was a silver lining today though. That is these things-our family and friends and the players at our bingo were all really supportive of us; and we came home to find that my father-in-law who had been with Jack all day, had left us a grocery bag of about 7 "bottles of love" filled with coins (by my in-laws and I think some of their coworkers) and some even had cash as well. God love and bless all of these these people because we really needed the support today, and I honestly believe that it helped me get through the day.

The hardest part of today was saying nighttime prayers with Jack. I really tried hard to keep it together, and I think I did a really good job of it today. Not tonight. I laid him down and said, "Ok, ready for our prayers." to which he smiled and responded yes. I try every night to find something to thank God for, whether it be for the little boy in front of me, the fun memories we made that day, a successful fundraiser, or whatever. Jack repeats everything I say during our prayers. We started it, and as I usually do, I said, "Lord, thank you for" and I stopped because I was trying so hard not to cry in front of Jack, trying to get myself together long enough to finish our prayer and say our goodnights. I've cried more than I care for in front of him this week, and he gets upset, and I always explain that everyone gets sad sometimes. Just like he gets sad or mad sometimes and cries, so do mommies and daddies. I didn't want to have to do that again tonight. Well, there was no way I was leaving his bed without thanking God for something, so I thought, and I thanked him for bringing the people that he did to our bingo. And because of my struggling voice, of course, Jack knew that I was close to it and he was trying to find my tears in the dark. That made it even worse and darn if I wasn't crying after that. It broke my heart. He just wanted to wipe my tears and make it better.

My brain is fried after today, my emotions and thoughts are all over the place. Will we do this again? That's a great question. We've got a ton of bingo paper in my mother's basement, dabbers, and we've been through this once and pretty much get it at this point. We know what worked and what didn't. I now have 3 Longaberger reps who want to help me, how do I handle that? It was fun, and a lot less heavy lifting work than our yard sale was. It had the potential to really bring in a lot of money toward our adoption. Perhaps we will do it again, we have the stuff, I'm just not sure that my inclination won't be to cancel it if we don't have enough advance response, and how we would go about doing so. We also had someone mention that we could do a bull roast-she's organized two of them for her children's sports leagues, the first of which raised over $10K, and the second raised $21K. The only problem with that is that she started off by saying that we would need to get a lot of places or organizations to sponsor items for a silent auction-I believe that will not work for us given our lack of being a charity or 501(c)3, and given our difficulty with getting sponsors to assist us with even a basket bingo. For that reason, I think it may not be a good fundraiser for our family, but I think it might be a great one for our fire department to do.

My aunt who helped us today, sent me a sweet email this evening after she thought about today and how we must be feeling after it, and she made a point. God has already chosen the child who will be placed with us. That child may not be conceived yet. Perhaps this obstacle is meant to happen for reason of God's perfect timing. I have no idea. I know that He has a plan for us, and I for sure don't know what it is, I'd just like to think we'll have everything we will need as far as these funds go when our child is ready for us. I don't know what else to say. I'm open to suggestions or ideas if anyone has any. If you've read this far, and I've not lost you, thank you for sticking with my rambling. I had to get it out of my head so that I might actually sleep tonight.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Go Lucky!

That is what I'd love this blog to be. Happy Go Lucky! I swear I try to be happy when I post. But this week, I'm failing.

Our bingo is on Sunday. Perhaps this fundraiser (not our adoption) is just not meant to be. I say this for many reasons. We've had no luck with our local paper doing what they were supposed to (the editor did last week, but the girl in advertising didn't publish our ad, and this week the girl who was supposed to put it on the calendar of events didn't and never bothered to call me). Our city's paper which we ran an ad with insisted on putting it somewhere people won't see it unless they are looking to see who adopted recently. The two calls I have gotten as a result of that were just people interested in what we were doing, or wanted to sell us baskets for our bingo.

We have advertised it everywhere we could think. Craigslist, some basket bingo websites, bingo halls, people's cars in grocery store lots and bingo lots (I know, I hate flyers on my car too, but it's a good cause, and darn it I'm freaking out!). We've told everyone we know, and had it all over facebook. Do you know how many tickets we've sold???? 14. Yup, and we had 210 to sell. I am praying that we have a ton of people just show up who didn't reserve tickets. Our difference in price for reserved vs. at the door is only $2. What didn't I consider when we planned this bingo? The Raven's game. I am kicking myself. I'd love to be watching the game, we are huge fans, but I planned the bingo for 2pm, and the game is at 1pm. That's ok for us to miss it, but no offense to the rest of the football world, we are really hoping there are some football widows out there, and some non-sport people who will come. My girlfriend had a dream that she and her mom showed up thinking for sure they'd get seats since we'd only sold 14 tickets, only to find that the place was mobbed and we'd sold out. I pray that her dream comes true (and we will make seats for them!).

And I know that God won't give us more than we can handle, but to be honest, between our roof needing to be replaced and leaking, our having spent everything on this bingo because not many businesses would sponsor baskets or help fill them, and then the poor advance response to the bingo, I think I might break. We pray every night, and last night my mind was so full of this bingo stuff that I forgot until my two-year-old said to me at bedtime, "Mommy, we say our prayers?". God love that child. My mind is not clear. I am just trying to keep my head above water and get through this weekend.

Please pray that this weekend goes well and I don't lose it!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Family Update

Ok, so I have to say that yes, our adoption is a huge thing for us right now, and this blog is obviously titled to reflect that. However, people who do not know us personally don't know much about us as a family, and my family is pretty darn important to me. So, in addition to blogging about our fundraising, status with our open adoption and trials and tribulations associated with that, I want to write about what is going on in our lives.

So, a brief update. If you want more of the back story with how in the world we got here, please read this post. Jack is doing great. He is now completely potty trained, we're only using pull-ups at night, and that is really just to use them up. My mom had said before we left for vacation that he was still occassionally having a wet pull up in the morning, but that hasn't happened for us in quite a while. This past week he started going to school 3 times a week instead of the normal 2. He likes school so much that sometimes on our way home from work in the morning, when I would pass the exit for his Gemma's house and his school, he would say, "Jack don't got to school today?" I would say, "No buddy, it's not your day." To which he would respond with tears and whining. I thought that hanging out with me all day was pretty cool, but evidently even at almost 3 friends are way cooler. Pity party for me! I guess I should be ecstatic that when I go to pick him up from school, he's all about seeing me and leaving right then to go home and play with me instead of his school friends. The fact that "Mommy, Daddy, Gemma, and Aunt Holly" are all his best friends is all pretty awesome. So I guess as much as it pains me to sit around wondering if he's having fun, paying attention and listening to his teachers, and missing him to bits, it really is healthy for him, and I'm just glad that he enjoys going there.

His school is a small Christian preschool, and he really looks forward to seeing his friends and teachers. He learns so much, and it never ceases to amaze me how much he knows and how smart he is. He's so social, intuitive, and caring, especially about whether people are happy or sad. Shoot, I get teary just sitting here thinking about how special our little miracle is. Archie and I just look at him doing something funny, cute or sweet, and we look at each other and immediately we know what the other is thinking..."Thank you God, we love this boy so much." We're not extremely religious which you will see if you look back at some previous posts, but we do believe in God, we do believe that He is the reason we have Jack, and we believe that He is the way to our next child. For some reason, which only He knows, it wasn't meant to be as easy for us to conceive as it is for others. We don't take any of it for granted. We love every moment that we have with Jack, and when we say our prayers at night with Jack, we pray that God helps us to stay healthy, and helps to lead us to the child meant to be placed with our family, and that whatever child comes to us will grow up to know love, their story, and their first family.


Crazy...that is how I would describe my life since I last posted. I have a ton of things to put into this post, so I will try to organize it to flow as best I can, but it may just sound like a bunch of thoughts.

My brain is fried. We came back from vacation to a stinky house. What was that smell? Our roof was leaking into our bedroom, had saturated our carpet and our wall had a watermark going to the floor. We called in a roofer and are going to have to replace our roof. Then we're going to have to probably have some mold/mildew remediation done. Perhaps not in that order. They may start the remediation before the roof is done. That said, I'm calling our homeowner's insurance on Monday morning to see if they will cover any of those expenses. So that's what we've been dealing with for the last week.

We are now 8 days away from our basket and bags bingo. Exciting? Yes. Stressful? Heck yes! Overwhelmed, well that about describes me at the moment. We have had 14 people reserve tickets which is great. But we have 210 seats to fill. And the Raven's game is at 1pm on that day. I didn't think to check our football team's schedule when we planned this event. That may account for some of the poor response. Being as we took all of the money we had raised with our yard sale back in June and put it towards this and then the additional money we've invested into this, I'm a little panicky.

That said, we have had the event posted on multiple websites, craigslist, facebook, our city's newspaper, and hopefully next week the people at our local newspaper will finally publish our ad there too. Thursday night my mom and I went to one bingo hall in an attempt to post up flyers on cars, and quickly got booted by the security guy. We tried another and were able to put a bunch of flyers on cars, as well as cars at a nearby grocery store. Then before I came into work last night I went to my fire station's bingo hall and put flyers out on the tables hoping that we might get a few interested people there. I will do the same thing tonight before I come back into work. I need to talk to my Longaberger rep and get our baskets which should be in(lest I really lose it!), pick up tickets for the raffles, put out more flyers at the bingo halls on Friday and Saturday night, go get all of the food for the kitchen, pick up a few more things for the baskets and organize them.

My request is simple. Please pray for us to sell all of our tickets, to at the very least break even and not lose money with this event, and for us to handle whatever the outcome of next Sunday is as best we can. Thanks guys.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Theme of Loss

I had an interesting conversation with a woman yesterday. We have our basket and bags bingo coming up at the end of this month, and we have advertised it in our local paper as well as The Sun which is Baltimore's paper. Anyway, when I got the phone call, I got excited, and I thought that this person was calling to reserve tickets. She always looks for basket bingos in the paper (she has a Longaberger affinity and is trying to liquidate some of her items), and when she saw adoption mentioned in it, she wanted to call as she herself had been adopted.

It turns out that this woman who is 54 years old works at the same hospital that I do, in a different department. She is a nurse as well. We talked on the phone for a good 15 minutes. She was adopted when she was young, and her parents had always told her that they had come to get her, but she doesn't know how old she was when she was adopted, or anything about her first family. And she's not interested in knowing about them. She says that when kids would ask her about her adoption and ask her if she ever wanted to find her parents, she would say that she didn't need to, she had them in her life everyday. She would have liked to know things like why, but she was satisfied with the love and family that she had growing up. She was a child in a closed adoption. There aren't many of those anymore, obviously if you've been following my blog, we've talked a lot about open adoption. Her mother passed away a few years ago, and her dad is living with her and her husband, but has Alzheimer's and will shortly be going to live elsewhere. We talked about him (this conversation brought tears on both of our parts, her for her situation, mine for what she is going through), and about her and her husband's struggle with infertility. She now has furkids (dogs), and thinks that if she had a child, the child would be 14-15 years old, and it would be really hard to support both her child and her ailing father. She believes God knew what he was doing. She said something to me during our conversation which really got my tears going. While talking to her husband about her father's disease and his deterioration, she said to him, "I will be an orphan again." He, of course, told her that she'd always have him, her aunts, and her uncles. She said that she knew that, but it was different. Of course it is different.

Adoption has a theme of loss. All of the children in adoption go through the loss of their first family. Our child will have suffered at least two losses before coming home with us-the loss of their first family, and the loss of their "foster" family, the family who takes our child into their home while his or her first family makes their final decision on parenting them. Children in the foster care system suffer many more than that sometimes, they are shuffled from home to home and if they are lucky, they are adopted by a loving family. This woman, at 54 years old, is still dealing with this. This is not something that biological families has to deal with. Sure, a grandparent may pass, aunts and uncles, but adopted children will face those losses as well. Adopted children face loss everyday. It is a part of their story. It is a part of them. I hope that we have a good relationship with our child's first family so that while there were definitely some things that they lost by being raised by that family, that they may still be able to have a relationship with them, and that is not completely lost.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Naming Game

What a hot topic in open adoption!

Heather posted the topic for the Open Adoption Roundtable #6. The question was this: Write about names/naming and open adoption.

It is a hot topic in the adoption world for good reason. What parent doesn't want to name their child? Not many, for sure. It's something we tend to take for granted, that we will be able to name our child. We named Jack. He is our biological child. Expectant parents are giving their biological child up for adoption. So, who has the naming priviledge? This is something that not too many people agree upon. Heck, if we're being honest, I'm not even sure that I can come to a conclusion with how I feel about it myself. So I will just spill to you how I feel about it and the things that go through my mind when I think about this.

Our future child's parents could stipulate when looking for adoptive parents for their child that their name be the name used for their child. They could decide that they don't want to name their child for many reasons, they don't want to have that attachment, they may think that if they don't name them, they won't feel as bonded and thus won't be as hurt when that child is no longer with them. Or, as Ginger stated on her blog about this topic
"I was terrified that insisting on the naming issue, or even giving my opinion on the naming issue would chase away the parents I wanted...and so with much regret, I gave that up."

No joke, that statement gripped me. Oh my God. How awful to feel like you couldn't give the slightest bit of input or feel a certain way about a name because you wanted a set of parents for your child so badly. I try really hard to see "the other side". If I am honest, I sat here with tears streaming down my face. These moms who are contemplating adoption and making a plan for their child have enough other stressors and things to think about without having this worry on their minds as well.

A lot of my coworkers and friends have said, "Well, it will be your child, you should get to name them." For us, it's just not that simple. Some adopted children later feel like they lost a connection to their first family when their name was changed. They wonder if they had a name before they were adopted. What was it? Why did my parents change it? I stated in a previous post that in an ideal world, our child's first parents would want to at least give us some input into a name. To be completely honest, if a parent was dead set on a name and the stipulation was that we had to keep that name, and we hated it, I think we would feel like we had to either honor their wishes with the name, or move on and wait for another child and family to come along. If we liked the name, it wouldn't be an issue. But there are just some names we can't get with. Where I work, we see our fair share of names, and to be completely honest, some are downright hideous! I would feel awful turning away from a potential match because of a name. But, I would feel even worse asking that first mom to give up something that meant so much to her for her child.

We have name ideas of course. Names we had thought of for the child we thought we might be able to conceive earlier this year with our last IVF cycle. Will those names be the same top choices at the time we end up getting placed? No one knows. The name choices we had when we were brainstorming during our pregnancy with Jack aren't exactly ones I would choose now. I have to say that I am not sure what we would do if all of the suggestions our potential child's first mom came up with were names we could never see ourselves using. The last thing we want to do is hurt anyone's feelings or insult them. A lot of people we know don't understand that. The thought is that it would be our child, our choice. But in open adoption, at least in ours, we truly do hope to have a good solid relationship develop over time with our child's first family. We want to start off on the right foot. If our child's first parents don't want to help us name the child, I would like to think that they would at least give us their opinions on names that we like so that we don't pick something that they totally despise.

When we were thinking of names for Jack, and before our last IVF cycle doing the little daydreaming that couples trying to conceive do, we talked to people about our names we liked. My mom, our friends...and everyone has an opinion of course! I have no idea how we will bring this subject up with a potential expectant mom, maybe she'll bring it up with us. When Luna, a blogging adoptive mom wrote about this topic on her blog, many of the thing she mentioned were the same way we felt, but she's been through it already. We haven't. But this rang true on her blog if naming our child with the first parents is to be as successful as we can hope.
One thing was clear. We would not discuss names with anyone but K. No one.

We may be able to try to get ideas for names elsewhere to bring to the table to discuss with our child's first family, but coming to a decision has to be between those of us immediately involved, us and the child's first family.
This may kill us, particularly me. But once you've named your child, people are less likely to say right to you anyway, that they hate the name. I will know with some people like my mom right away whether or not she likes it, and she won't have to say a thing. Her facial expression will say it all. LOL. I remember being a kid and telling her I loved the name Dakota Rose, and the look on her face I will never forget. No doubt she's glad I dropped that name a long time ago! Wow, I am so much like her in that way! I may have to work on my game face for some discussions to be had later on particularly if we plan to be open to hearing what a first mom might like name-wise. Remember, my whole "not offending" her and starting the relationship off on the right foot.

I am sure that I may have to rethink some of this as things develop and I continue to read about other Open Adoption Blogger's experiences. I hope that at least some of this makes sense-I slept for two hours out of the last 30 hours, and that two hours was broken with multiple phone calls. Sacrifices we make so we can have fun with and make memories with our little ones. I just had to post about this now because it's something I think about all the time, and it actually gives me a bit of anxiety. We just want everything to work out as smoothly as possible with our adoption, and this is a very important aspect for us.

There are a lot of different experiences and perspectives to consider where naming an adopted child is concerned. If you're interested in reading more blog posts with regards to this subject, please browse through the OA Bloggers listed on Heather's site.