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All the Lyrics are About Us

9 Apr

A long time ago I wrote a short post about how at some point in the adoption process everything seems like it is about the adoption process. Especially music. Every song I heard seemed to be about adoption, even songs about romantic love. This obsession with finding the hidden adoption connection has not passed despite the Bird’s arrival and full integration in our lives.

In fact, it has probably gotten worse. Almost as soon as the Bird was born, I confess that I was singing Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe to him. Only my version went like this:

Hey, I just met you
And this is crazy
But I’m your mama
And you’re my baby

Terrible, right?

The last two weeks the song that has been giving me an ear worm is actually a song about teenage vampires in love, but I’m sure it’s secretly about adoption. It’s “A Thousand Years” performed by Christina Perri for the Twilight saga.

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more


Christina Perri- A Thousand Years (Official Music Video) from W3ndy on Vimeo.

What do you think? It’s totally about adoption, right?

Passing the Time

23 Oct

Photo courtesy of smellslikeupdog
Half-Past
courtesy of smellslikeupdog

Our video profile was posted on September 10 and it was, one one hand, a big relief. We went around and around with our agency over the video contract and then we ran into all sorts of problems actually getting it filmed.

What kinds of problems, you ask? Well, for example, I had an Avastin injection on July 2 that resulted in a big, red burst blood vessel in the white of my eye that was hardly the kind of thing I wanted immortalized on video. Then our puppy, Casey, got into the foam packing for the video camera and destroyed it. Oh puppy.

Anyway, once the video was posted, I  was relieved. For about three days.

That’s how long it took me to realize there was nothing left for us to do. We filed all our paperwork. We passed our home study. We filled out the Adoption Planning Questionnaire. We created our family profile. We filmed our video profile. All the tasks were done and all that was left was the wait. We’d been waiting for three months already by the time the video was posted, but our profile wasn’t technically complete until that video was online. Until then, I was still mentally checking things off a list.

And now I’ve come to the end of the list. Nothing from this point forward is in my control. We’re just waiting for time to pass.

It’s terrifying. As a project-oriented person, the end of a to do list leaves me feeling at odds.

I waited a month, hopping that feeling would pass. No such luck. A series of events in late September left me feeling even less in control of the world.

Our called our adoption specialist who offered this advice on passing the time: Decorate the nursery. Travel (with trip insurance). Go out to dinner and to the movies. Finish up any lingering house projects.

Oh – and start thinking about new photos we might want to put on our profile in three months or so.

Ah-ha! A project …

Four Months

4 Oct

 Source: clker.com via René on Pinterest

It’s been four months to the day since our profile was posted. No news to report, just wanted to mark the occasion.

C’mon, baby. We’re ready to meet you.

 

Cha Cha Cha

2 Oct

After our profile was posted, the agency instructed us to keep busy doing the things that would be harder to do in the first few months after the baby arrives – go to the movies, have quiet dinners out, travel.

With that advice in mind, we bought a Groupon back in July for a two-night stay aboard the Mississippi Delta Queen.

Ahoy. The Mississippi Delta Queen

The Delta Queen is a turn-of-the-century steamboat  that is now permanently (?) anchored in Chattanooga, Tenn. We dragged our feet booking the trip and before we knew it we were running out of time. When we finally called to reserve our room, the only days left were a Sunday and Monday night. As it turned out, the price difference in two plane tickets with a Saturday stay over was significantly less than a hotel room, so we booked our trip for three nights and used Priceline to get a good price on a hotel for one night.

Neither of us had been to Chattanooga and for a variety of reasons we didn’t have a lot of time to do any advance planning. We arrived at the airport with just a vague idea of what the next four days would hold.

Spoiler Alert – We had a blast.

After we checked in Saturday afternoon, we rented bikes and rode the 12 blocks or so to the waterfront area for lunch. Jumping on the bikes not only saved time, but helped us get the lay of the land. We also checked out the World Championship Dog Frisbee Competition because 1.) dogs and 2.) dogs catching frisbees. Duh.

Thanks to Chattanooga's awesome bike sharing program (very similar to the one here in the DC metro area), we were able to jump on bikes at a variety of places during our trip.

Saturday evening we were actually able to meet up with friends who live in Chattanooga. Jasmine used to write for Don’s first blog love, We Love DC, but moved to Chattanooga with her fiance Allan six months ago.  Somehow I failed to take a picture at dinner, but here they are just one week later.

They said, "I do!"

I know. So cute, right? Anyway, the restaurant we wanted to eat at (Taco Mamacita) was overrun by a high school homecoming, so we checked out a restaurant owned by Allan’s cousin called Brewhaus. It was excellent – the food and the company. And don’t be sad about Taco Mamacita. We ate there Sunday night instead.

Sunday we lazed around at the hotel, then hopped on the bikes again. First we cruised by the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Yes, it’s real.

Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

Then we rode the bikes downtown for brunch and bought tickets for the River Gorges Tour on the Tennessee River. Stunning.

It's just gorges. See what I did there?

After the two hour or so cruise, we visited the Tennessee Aquarium. Honestly it was the one thing that everyone who heard we were going to Chattanooga agreed we must see while there. It’s probably because of the penguins.

This little dude would not stop looking at me.

There were tons of other cool exhibits as well, including lots of tanks of the various kinds of jellyfish. I always find them beautiful to watch with the safety of glass between us.

Spineless!

After we finished up at the aquarium, we checked into the Delta Queen. I’m going to be honest; we didn’t have high expectations. After we booked it we read some really bad online reviews so I was totally prepared to chalk it up to an experience and ignore the dingy rooms.

There was no need. The room, though super small of course, was in great shape. None of the dirt or mold or mildew that I had read about.

For some reason I will not be able to explain now, we decided to get up at 6 a.m. Monday morning to watch the sunrise from Chattanooga’s awesome pedestrian bridge. Lovely.

After Sunrise

When  the sun was up, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the day’s activity – a visit to Lookout Mountain to SEE ROCK CITY. There are three big (tourist) attractions on Lookout Mountain: Rock City, Ruby Fall and the Incline. Being tourists, after all, we decided to do all three.

BUT, before we got to Rock City, our first stop, we pulled into a Civil War Battle location. While there we happened to glance at the trail map where Don noticed a label for “Whiteside Trail.” So you know we just had to find that.

But first, Rock City – which was surprisingly fun. The best part was definitely the swinging bridge, though.

What's Up? Nothing. I'm just hanging.

The Incline was pretty awesome, too. The steepest portion, near the top, is about a 77 degree angle.

Whoa!

Ruby Falls was just okay. The story of how it was discovered is pretty neat, but the inside of the cave today was nothing special (especially coming from Virginia – land of Lurray).  We did find Whiteside Trail, by the way.

Me on my trail.

AND we found Whiteside Street!

Don on his street

So we ended up loving this little city that we knew nothing about before we left home. It made us think we should visit more mid-sized towns soon – Charleston is next on our list I think.

You can see more Instagram pictures from our trip on Flickr.

Have you ever visited Chattanooga? Did you hike Whiteside Trail or is there a trail named after everyone there?

Temporary Blindness

1 Oct

Welcome, baby!
Welcome, baby!
courtesy of Bethany Ann Khan

Two weeks ago Don and I got an e-mail from our agency with the subject line, “Can we show your profile – BABY BORN”.

It’s not the first time we’d gotten a request to show our profile to a birth mother outside of our APQ, but it was the first time that the baby had already been born.

I was at Johns Hopkins visiting my eye specialists when I read the e-mail. I was between appointments and walking to the coffee shop when the email came so I quickly scanned it. What I first saw was baby girl, a budget number that didn’t make me freak out and the baby’s birth date. September 11. The same day we lost my cousin to lung cancer.

I called Don and we talked through the things I had not wanted to see on my first review of the situation. Scary things that needed consideration. Like the fact that the birth mom was an IV-drug user, was positive for Hep B and C, had received no pre-natal care and that the baby had been born at home.  The baby’s temperature was elevated, she was on antibiotics and she had tremors when startled. None of her tests results were recorded yet.

I called our adoption specialist and asked when the test results might be in. She said it could be up to two weeks for some of them. I asked if the baby had been born at home because the mother was using at the time of the baby’s birth. Angie said she had definitely used drugs on September 11, though it was unclear how long before she went into labor she had shot up.

I blame the eye doctors for my case of temporary blindness that day.

We passed on the opportunity. Angie told me three other couples had said yes so I didn’t have to worry that this precious little girl wouldn’t find her home. She is someone else’s daughter and they will love her. By now, they already do. By now they might know some of the medical issues she will face in life. She has a name. She has a mom and a dad. She has birth parents who will be part of her life as they are able and if have the desire. And someday, she will hear the complicated story of her birth.

I’ve been thinking about that little girl a lot and hoping for the very best things. She deserves an amazing life.

Just Needed to Relax for a Minute

31 Aug

20120831-062727.jpg

I have shingles. Again.

As I mentioned last year when this happened, they are caused by stress or other factors igniting the dormant virus that lives in the systems of anyone who has ever had chicken pox.

In my case it’s a combo of stress and increased prednisone doses when I have a fare up of my eye disease.

So to relax a little, I took an unplanned week off and headed to the beach. It’s hard not to be calm when one is starring at the ocean.

See you after Labor Day.

When Two Months Feels Like an Eternity

4 Aug

Photo courtesy of planeta
Tito’s Pineneedle Basket, August Calendar #freeposter #oaxacatoday @BigHugeLabs
courtesy of planeta

Our family profile was posted on June 4 – two months ago today.

Rationally, I know that two months is not that long. I have had colds that lasted longer than two months (stupid, stupid suppressed immune system). But emotionally? Well, that’s a whole different story.

When we posted our profile, part of me just knew that we would fall outside the norm. I figured the six to nine month average range touted by our agency would come and go without finding our match. I feared we’d approach the 18-month mark before we had a match. I also assumed that it would be a three-month match, making our entire wait about 21 months.

And still another part of me thought we’d get a match in the first 13 days and that it would be a short match period – just two weeks.

Seriously, those were really the only two options I considered likely. A 21-month wait or less than one month. I have no idea what I thought might happen in all those other months.

One month passed and my parents were preparing for a two-week trip to see family in another country. I was then absolutely certain that our match call would come as soon as my parents boarded the boat that would sail them up the Rhine River in Germany – utterly unreachable. I played out complicated, “Surprise! You’re grandparents,” scenarios in my head. I imagined how we’d already be enjoying a blissful ICPC stay with our new baby – a champion sleeper, by the way* – in some state or another when my parents returned. But as the third day of their trip turned into the fourth and fifth days, I started thinking that we might not get the match call.

This weekend, my parents will return home and we’ve not been matched.

The summer is drawing to a close. As autumn ticks closer, I have to start preparing myself for the very real chance that our son or daughter will not be born in 2012. That he or she might not be in the same class as the children of three of my good friends who had babies this year.

It’s okay. I always knew there was that chance.  As I turned the calendar to August earlier this week, I came to terms with it.

Year of the Dragon or Year of the Snake, this little baby is going to be so loved whenever he or she gets here.


*What? It’s a fantasy, okay?

40 weeks and counting

24 Jul

Source: etsy.com via Katie on Pinterest

 

A typical pregnancy last 40 weeks – nine full months. A typical adoption lasts a lot longer.

Case in point, 40 weeks ago today we had the first of three meetings with a social worker required for our home study. We had been working on an adoption plan for a long time before we even got to that point.


Here’s a look our timeline to date:

Summer of 2010 – Attended three open houses for local agencies that provide home study services.

Fall of 2010 – Bought our first home and selected our home study agency. Put further progress on hold as we began home renovation projects

Spring 2011 – Decide to begin working on adoption in July despite on-going renovation efforts

August 2011 – Met with adoption attorney to learn more about independent / parent-placed adoptions, met with Datz Foundation and started paperwork

September 30, 2011 – Submitted application and first round of paperwork to Datz Foundation

October 13, 2011 – Realize application was lost in the mail

October 14, 2011 – Resubmitted application electronically

October 21, 2011 – First home study interview

November 1, 2011 – Second home study interview

November 15, 2011 – Third and final home study interview

(and between September 30 and November 15, we did a whole bunch of other required tasks like getting fingerprinted, lining up our letters of reference, getting our state background checks, submitting to a FBI clearance and getting medical exams.)

November 19, 2011 – Attended American Adoptions open house in Northern Virginia

November 28, 2011 – Applied to American Adoptions, and began APQ process

November 30, 2011 – Home study draft received, and changes submitted

December 4, 2011 – Completed home study arrives in the mail

December 5, 2011 – Launched our independent adoption profile website and ordered adoption business cards (actually 4 x 6 photo prints)

January 2012 – Completed our APQ and began the process of planning our family profile

April 16, 2012 – Family profile completed

May 2, 2012 – Signed activation contract with American Adoptions and paid the hefty $10,000 activation fee

June 4, 2012 – Profile live on site and being shown to birth moms

July 2012 – Working on adoption video profile

July 12, 2012 – While on the phone about something else, adoption specialist mentions that our profile has been shown 24 times

July 24, 2012 – Wrote this post


So there you have it. It’s been two years since the day we went to our first adoption open house, about a year since we started getting serious about it and 40 weeks since we became actively engaged in the process. In short, long enough to have given birth to two children if that was the route we had decided to take.

Adoption is not easy. It takes a long time. It’s emotional. There is more paperwork than you can imagine. It’s expensive.

And it’s going to be worth every minute, every paper cut, every dollar and every tear.

Stock the Bar: A co-ed wedding shower

6 Jul

The agency-provided documents on preparing for a successful match instructed us to stay busy during the period of time we’re waiting.

Well, that hasn’t been an issue so far.

Right after we activated our crazy summer schedule kicked in. We had our annual Flag Day party one weekend and the very next weekend we hosted a co-ed bridal shower.

Our friends Kate and Ed are getting married in October and Don and I are both in the wedding party. Maid of Honor, Clare, and I planned a very cool Stock the Bar party for the happy couple who are both craft cocktail connoisseurs.

First, there was the Rickey bar.

Oh, Rickey. You're so fine.

 

What’s a Rickey? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

You're so fine you blow my mind.

 

We also featured other classic cocktails like Dark ‘N Stormys, Pimm’s Cups, Moscow Mules and fabulously dangerous gin punch.

As you can see on the Rickey bar sign above, there was a definite art deco vibe going on at this party. The black and white accents were hard to miss.

The bar was stocked at this Stock the Bar party.

 

Scattered around the party were these easy centerpieces – just an assortment of white flowers in liquor bottles.

Seven centerpieces made from pretty alcohol bottles

 

I love the way they turned out.

Adorning our mantle. Hey, isn't that a Nice Mirror back there?

 

Casey had a great time at the party, too.

Casey loves a good puppy den and will make one just about anywhere.

 

I’ve mentioned before that while I can rock party food and decor, planning party games is not my thing. Well, my losing streak might be over.

Kate and Ed love Cards Against Humanity, a party game billed as Apples to Apples for Horrible People.

**Warning: Before you click on the Cards Against Humanity link you should be aware that some of the responses are truly horrible.**

The guys who created Cards Against Humanity are so nice (not at all horrible) that they make the entire game available for free online (or you can buy a nice professional version of the game).

About a week before the shower, I had a great idea for the shower game. Cards Against Humanity: The Kate & Ed edition.

First, I printed out all the possible answers from the CAH website. I wrote the number “1″ on every card for the first sheet of answers, number “2″ on the second and so forth, and then cut each card out. In the end I had 23 answer packs each with 20 possible answers.

Then I created new questions pertinent to the situation. Questions included:

  • Until she married him, Kate had no idea Ed had a thing for ______________________.
  • Ed was sure to dress carefully for the wedding to avoid _______________________.
  • When  Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about ____________________.
  • The thing that surprised Ed most about his honeymoon was _______________________.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the ____________________.

I hung the 12 questions around the house with an envelope below each sign. As guests arrived they were given an answer pack and told to remember only their number. Then they just had to roam around the house choosing their best answer for each question and placing them in the envelopes below the questions.

I can’t remember all the winning combos, but here are a couple of possibilities:

  • Until she married him, Kate had no idea that Ed had a thing for soup that is too hot.
  • Ed was sure to dress carefull for the wedding to avoid peeing a little bit.
  • When Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about the miracle of childbirth.
  • The thing that suprised Ed most about his honeymoon was all you can eat shrimp for $4.99.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the Care Bear stare.

Later when Kate and Ed opened gifts, we read the questions and answers in between gifts. Kate and Ed picked the answer they liked best and announced the number written on the back. The owner of the most winning numbers got a bottle of gin.

I have never laughed so hard during a shower game. It’s a great option for people who aren’t likely to be into traditional shower games. If the CAH answers are a little too edgy for your crowd, just use the answers from Apples to Apples. It will be every bit as funny:

  • When Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about Regis Philben.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the charging rhinos.

Incidentally, both versions of the game work equally well for a baby shower:

  • Mama’s name did not expect to find ____________________ on the maternity ward.
    (CAH answer: A monkey smoking a cigar, A2A answer: Richard Simmons)
  • Some say the baby looks like mom. Some vote for dad. Most think the baby looks like ___________.
    (CAH answer: Brittany Spears at 55, A2A answer: Elvis Presley)

The last thing you need to know about Kate and Ed’s Stock the Bar party is that I made these whiskey caramels as the party favor gifts. They. Are. Amazing.

Seriously. You should go make some right now.

Have you thrown any showers lately? What games did you play?

The 80/20 Factor

5 Jul

Photo courtesy of jorenerene
20120520-21-jorenerene.com
courtesy of jorenerene

Now that our profile is active, Don and I were given access to a new set of documents to help us prepare for a successful match. That’s where I found this:

“On average, American Adoptions matches are successful 80 percent of the time.”

That’s not bad. I mean, sure, 20 percent of the matches disrupt for one reason or another … but far more of them work out.

It did get me wondering about national averages.

And here’s why I love Google. Two second after first wondering about it, I found this information:

How many adoptions disrupt?

Individual studies of different populations throughout the United States are consistent in reporting disruption rates that range from about 10 to 25 percent—depending on the population studied, the duration of the study, and geographic or other factors (Goerge, Howard, Yu, & Radomsky, 1997; Festinger, 2002; Festinger, in press). A few examples are listed below:

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Of course, a lot of this information is based on older child adoptions, not infant adoption … but it’s pretty interesting.

Did you experience a disruption? How far into your match did it happen? Did your agency prepare you enough for the chance it could happen? How were they to deal with once it did?