Friday, May 25, 2012

Surprises and car seats

There is a lot of information out there on adoption. But, there are a lot of different ideas on when one should set up a nursery and buy things for a baby that you aren't sure is coming soon. We have a lot from a dear friend of ours, Regan, who already has her two boys. We have a baby swing, bathtub, some clothing, a bouncy, a Bumbo and a Boppy. First of all- where do they come up with the names for these things???? Bumbo, boucy...??? There was a time when I had all of these things in our empty room (to be nursery) and I was excited. We had these things even when we were going through infertility. After our IVF failed, I went to the room and stuffed everything in the closet out of sight. I couldn't bare to see those baby items there when we didn't and weren't going to have a baby to use them. I was brokenhearted. Those things are still in the closet, but we are now having to decide what to do as far as the nursery and what we need to buy now. We know we will need items such as a carseat, but there is no way to tell how long we will be waiting. We do know it can be as short as a few months or as long as 2 years. The planner in me wants everything done yesterday. The emotional side of me is still carrying the wall around so I can put it up when I need to.

Back to the carseat conundrum- We felt it was okay to at least start looking at carseats after our interviews. So we have been on a trip to Babies R Us. It is a chore trying to lift and fold and carry a carrier and stroller. I am a nanny and I have done it several times, but I am still only 5'0" : ) I have felt apprehensive researching a carseat and stroller. I prayed on the way to the store that the lady who helped us would understand and be sensitive. When I told her we were adopting, she said, "Oh, my kids are adopted." I have been floored by all of the positives during this journey. The lady helping us at the baby store, our social worker who adopted. It has been so great to have random people come into our lives who have helped us make it through this journey. We are still up in the air on the carseat. Many people say buy only new. Some people say buy used from someone you know. My biggest concern is safety. We have waited so long for this and we are still waiting. I guess like anyone anticipating being a new mom - I want only the best. But, I also have the reality of finances.

I am an interior designer so originally I planned a girl nursery and a boy nursery. That was when I thought the miracle of modern medicine was going to get us pregnant. Now that we are adopting, I am really digging bright colors and modern touches that can be for a girl or boy (I do not like the term gender neutral so I won't use that here).

So, the impatient, crafty me has gotten a new design in my head. One that will take time and effort, but will be great in the end. I am a do it yourselfer and my husband loves working with tools! Best of both worlds! I don't want to have an entire nursery together because I know heartbreak can come throughout this process, but there are a few things I have found that we can do now AND it will keep us busy. I am loving Pinterest because I can save pictures of ideas I have.

I bought a used dresser recently that I wanted to refinish for our living room, but it may end up in the nursery to be used as a changing table/storage piece. After all we have been through emotionally, physically and financially, I can't see buying pieces of furniture that will only ever serve one purpose. I want a room that can grow with our child.

I also am recently in love with Board and Batten. It is a process where you add boards to the wall in a design. It was originally used as an exterior form of architecture and then it began to be used in the interior especially in the Arts and Crafts time period (my favorite by far). They used this in older homes and I love bringing older features of homes into modern homes in an updated way.

Board and Batten Origins

Alphabet letters- I also love the idea of Alphabet letters in the room. I paint them and sell them also so I have done quite a few. I thought having a "shelf" around the perimeter of the room using the board and batten would make a great surface to put them on.

Any ideas on how soon to prepare your nursery? I have time now, but no baby. Soon I hope to have a baby ,but I know then that I will have NO TIME.

Interviews and a clean house

At the beginning of this process, we were led to believe that we couldn't have any birthmothers look at our profile with the adoption agency until our Home Study was completed. We were wrong. As soon as we were approved to begin the Home Study, we were also approved with the agency. They said if we got our pictures and information to them soon, they could go ahead and post our profile. We quickly gathered all of the information and got it to them. We are still waiting on them to get back to us on what changes need to be made and what pictures we may need to add. That is the frustrating part. We rushed to get everything together and we are still waiting 2 weeks later. We were also doing this while we were preparing for our Home Study. I was trying to gather things, write a heartfelt letter to the birthmother and clean my house at the same time. I knew I need pictures of the rooms of our home for the Home Study so every piece of clutter I saw made me cringe. I was so stressed out during this time.

We finally got it all out of our hands and scheduled our interview with the social worker. We had to drive an hour to get to her office. We then spent two hours talking with her. We pretty much had to restate a lot of what was in our autobiographies except this time answering her questions. After two hours, we were drained. At the end of the interview, she wanted to schedule the next two interviews. We happen to be doing all of this when summer has just begun and people are going on vacation. So, to work around our vacation with friends to FL and her vacation, we ended up having our last two interviews one day apart. I was again in a mad rush.

Our first interview was on a Friday- this was one with the two of us, the second was on the next Tuesday with me alone and the third was on Thursday with Gary alone and at our home. I fought the waterworks in our first interview. We have told our story so many times about our family and how we met so that was no biggy. But, she did delve into our infertility also so we had to retell that story. I could tell that Gary was still a little raw about the whole thing. He tends to talk too loudly when he is passionate about something. His voice got louder and louder as he kept talking. I held back the tears though.

The part that really made me tear up was when our social worker started giving us advice. She herself has two adopted children so she was easy to relate too. She asked us when we would tell our child that they were adopted. We couldn't pinpoint a day or time. At her advice, there won't be a specific day or time for our child/children. She said it is best to always talk about adoption even when they are infants. We should keep a picture album/journal of meeting the birth mother, trips to the hospital, the birth etc. to show to our child. We could even add facts about the state where they are going to be born. I thought these were wonderful ideas. The waterworks came when she began talking about how difficult it will be at the hospital. The tears. The birthmother. The raw emotion. Since her job is to be at the hospital during adoptions, she has seen birth mothers who cried so loudly you could hear them in the hallway of the hospital. That ripped my heart out. Here I am trying to adopt a baby knowing the pain of never being able to get pregnant. And, I picture a birth mother laying in a bed at the hospital after carrying a precious life inside of her for 9 months and growing to love her baby only to have to go through the pain of delivery and then the pain of watching someone else carry her baby out of the hospital. To feel that kind of pain so we can feel our kind of joy. It is so selfless!!! What a wonderful gift to give. I haven't that emotional since we decided to adopt and forgo the fertility treatments. I have felt we are again in control and doing something. I know I will have tears for a whole different reason in the coming months or years. However long we have to wait.

Home studies and more...

Well, it has been a while since my last post. It seems like we have been in a tailspin for the last month. We finished the garage sale with the help of many friends and neighbors. We were so tired that Saturday. It was a long day, but we made almost enough money to pay for the Home Study. It was perfect timing too because after everything was done for the day, we checked our mail. In the mailbox was our Home Study packet. As tired as I was, I wanted to tackle it right then. So, I opened everything up and began looking at the list of over 50 things we had to do and gather. They told us initially that the Home Study process would take 1-2 months, depending on how fast we worked on our side. Of course, with my drive to do everything in MY power to move this along as fast as possible, I wanted to get it done. It was daunting to say the least.

The process began with an autobiography for both Gary and I. Mine was 14 pages when it was all said and done and I think his was 10 or 11. They did give us a guide and questions we were to address, but I felt like I was having to really dig in my memory to write this paper. It was a reflective process though. It reminded me of some things from my childhood - both good and bad memories. It also allowed me to reflect on how Gary and I met and fell in love. It was truly a trip down memory lane. For any of you out there who are just beginning this process - a timeline would have been very helpful throughout this process. That is a timeline I created of my life as I lived it with dates, names and places. I know I am not that old - many say 34 is still very young - but as time goes by, my memory has faded some. It was nice to read Gary's autobiography after he completed it and see what he remembered that I had not.

After the autobiographies were complete, we also had to fill out a questionnaire with 21 questions on it. They were in depth questions about what led us to adoption, our views on parenting and more about us. I thought going through infertility was rough (it forced us to think about and make decisions we thought we would never need to make), but going through the adoption process really forces you to look at yourself as a person and to reflect on your ideas, how you were raised and your belief system.

The autobiographies and questions were sent in immediately so our social worker could get started. We then went to work on all of the other documents we needed. Background checks, fingerprinting, physicals, drug test, TB test, updated vaccinations, licenses, birth certificates, reference letters, etc. etc. etc. and in our case documents for Gary's permanent residency.

Before we were even halfway through with this hunting and gathering process, we got a call to schedule our first interview with the social worker at her office. It became a mad rush to gather everything and put it in order so we could spare the expense of mailing a giant package. We wanted to give everything to her in person. We did it! After a few stressed out days and a few arguments. We got everything together except our fingerprints which we did right after the interview. That was the end of our paperwork for a while. The fingerprints will now be processed by the  FBI which will take up to two weeks and our report will be completed from the social worker in about 3 weeks so we are moving along. We are ready for this part to be completed so we can apply for a few grants. Sadly, we already had to write a huge check to the adoption agency and the grants can only be applied for AFTER the Home Study is complete. We will hope for the best.