December 27, 2008

Celebrating Christmas Traditions

Some of the most meaningful gifts that I received this Christmas had a common theme of new traditions that would become part of our holiday celebration. This included Christmas tree and snowflake shaped pancake molds and silverware holders shaped like stockings that my mom made. Normally, these things wouldn't excite me, but, with the prospect of sharing these with our new family they were by far the most meaningful gifts we could have received.

Joel and I already have some of our own traditions. One of these traditions is buying an ornament when we are on vacation so that when we decorate our tree each year we can reminisce about all the places that we've been and things that we've seen. (Usually these are fairly eccentric, like sock monkeys and funky key chains from the days before we had real ornaments.)

One of the most incredible and memorable experienes that we've had this year is making the decision to adopt. We added an ornament to our tree in honor of our baby who has yet to join our family. It's a star ornament with intertwined beads in the center- a perfect symbol of the way that lives and histories become intertwined through adoption.

With excitement, we placed this ornament on our tree with the hopes that we'll be showing it to bambino next Christmas.

December 7, 2008

Moving on Up

The beginning of the month marks my call to our caseworker to get a status update on our place on "the list". This month's call was much happier than last month. We moved up four spots and are now at #16- hooray! We moved up four spots since last month!

I also learned that the people in the top three spots have been there for a very long time. Everyone else on the list has only been there since 2008. This is very encouraging news!

November 27, 2008


It's interesting to be in the midst of the holidays. It makes you think a lot about tradition and family. It's a fun time for us to think about what new traditions we might like to start with our family. I look forward to the day when we have a house and our children and we're able to cook Thanksgiving for our whole family. Right now we're still relegated to bringing the wine. I'm sure my mom is looking forward to the day when she can wake up on Thanksgiving and not have to cook for 15 people too.

Despite the fact that our bambino has not yet joined our family, I'm grateful that we're on this journey.

November 14, 2008

National Adoption Day

Joel and I are celebrating our 6th Anniversary on Saturday, November 15. Thanks to a day off and lots of time with the morning news this morning, it's been brought to my attention that our anniversary also falls on National Adoption Day. How fun is that!
We're off to the mountains for the weekend to celebrate and I'm feeling just fine that we're only packing up the dog, espresso maker and our favorite bottle of Argyle champagne (a favorite from our honeymoon).

Each week waiting for bambino is so different. This week I'm a more patient soon-to-be mom.

November 8, 2008

Still at 20

This last month our wait for bambino has been interesting. Sometimes I feel fine with waiting and I'm just enjoying the freedom of staying out late, going out to eat and living life. However, this month the wait has begun to wear on me a little bit more.

Our nursery room seems like a permanent fixture in our house that is never going to see any life. It's only been 6 months but I think I'm becoming a little bit antsy. Patience isn't my greatest quality.

This month I checked in with our caseworker and we're still #20. No movement. It sounds like such a strange thing to say since we are talking about babies being born. How many babies do I expect to make an entrance in a month?

So, I'm going to continue to try to patiently wait. I was secretly hoping to have a baby by the holidays but this spring or summer wouldn't be so bad either. I wouldn't mind being able to take walks and get out of the house a little bit more.

September 28, 2008

Setting Up the Crib

We've been waiting awhile to order the Emily crib from Babies R Us but it has been continually out of stock. Joel received an e-mail alert that it was back in stock while we were on vacation and we were able to successfully order it - hurray!

We've had a lot of difficulty with the crib situation and so I was so relieved to find out that one was on the way. I've been in Chicago all week on business and came home to a large box sitting in our office/baby room. The crib has finally found it's way to our home!

Joel and I have had a packed weekend and so we decided to grab dinner and then set-up the crib this evening. I was commenting to Joel how unusual it was that I was helping put the crib together (after enjoying a margarita at dinner to boot). Probably not the usual role of the soon-to-be mom in crib assembly. After figuring out all the nuts and bolts, the crib was successfully assembled.

I finally was able to pull all of our bedding out of the plastic container it had been living in for the past three months. Ordering the bedding was the most exciting part for me. I found a set online that was the perfect mix of everything I was looking for- gender neutral, modern design and that features animals. We decided to make the crib and let all of the bedding off-gas pre-baby. The crib looks great with all of the new bedding!

The room is beginning to look official (as long as you look past the filing cabinet and camping gear that is still looking for a home).

September 22, 2008

Four Months and Counting

We've officially been waiting for four months for bambino. Honestly, the time has gone by pretty quickly. I've been trying to temper my impulses to buy things for baby for the fear that s/he is going to be dressed exclusively in polk-a-dots and yellow and green. I'm saving some of my shopping for when I'm shopping for a baby that will soon join our family.

I think it's been important for me to start preparing. I'm not going to have 9 months of pregnancy to get ready for baby mentally, emotionally and physically, so, it's been helpful to begin preparing a space for baby both in our physical space and psychologically. Shopping and reading baby books and books about adoption are helping me to accomplish this mental and emotional preparation.

Part of me is resisting the urge to go crazy and buy everything. I think it's going to be important for me to be shopping for my actual child. Of course, in the back of my mind, I still have a bit of fear about doing this. It's easier to shop for a hypothetical child in adoption than a real child. What if our birthmother changes her mind and I've bought clothes and toys for a baby that will not be coming home to me? That's a hard reality about adoption. It's one that doesn't happen as often as people think but one that lives in the back of my mind and creeps into my consciousness every now and then when I think about baby.

We live in a two bedroom condo in the city so I can't help but to see the baby's room. It used to be our office and it is directly across from our bedroom. When I get up in the morning and leave our room the first thing that I see is our changing table. I try to picture my baby on that table. Sometimes it's an African American boy, sometimes a girl with dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin, sometimes it's a freckled girl with red hair. I really have no idea what my baby might look like so I just change up the bambino every so often in my mind. I wonder if people who are having a biological child do this? The variations probably would not be as vast. Probably more like green eyes vs. blue or brown hair vs. blond.

September 1, 2008

We're Really Starting a Family

I wouldn't allow myself to do anything baby related until after we turned in our video. Really, the likelihood of us being selected without a video is probably pretty slim.

Once we turned in our video I truly felt like we were starting a family. It was really going to happen.

I had this horrible feeling the entire time that we were going through our infertility that buying anything baby related was depressing and pathetic. Why was I stocking up for an impossibility, an unreality?

It was a little bit hard at first when we were accepted into the adoption pool that the outcome was really going to be a baby. After everything that we'd been through I no longer allowed myself to believe that that day would ever come.

It was a strange transition to walk into Babies R Us. No longer was I wishfully thinking that I belonged among the aisles of baby paraphernalia. For the first time I actually felt like I had the right to be there and I wasn't just a voyeur into someone else's reality.

Consequently, I really was on the verge of tears the entire time we were registering because I was shopping for a real baby that someday would be inhabiting the crib, car seat, socks and onesies that we were purchasing.

July 20, 2008

The Dreaded Adoption Video

Our final exercise to complete our adoption was to complete a 5 - 10 minute video that profiles my husband and I.

Through our agency, birthparents and adoptive parents that have profiles that are compatible (think are paired. The birthparents are given the first five families that meet their criteria to screen. This screening includes reading the letter we have prepared and watching our video. While the letter was intimidating, I would imagine that the video would be more critical in the decision making.

This process is truly excruciating. You want to do your best to honestly convey who you are as people; however, in the back of your mind you are always thinking "What does the birthparent want? What could I say to make them pick me?". My answer to both these questions is to be myself. I truly feel that we'll be connected with a mother and child who identify with some aspect of our personality, beliefs or lifestyle. I feel that the only way that we'll find the child meant for us is to be as honest as possible and to let our true genuine selves shine through. Of course we were diligent to highlight the positive and sweep over the negative - we're only human!

The process of making the video was difficult. Both my husband and I are creative but our processes are completely different. I help to produce videos for work that are documentary in nature and my husband has produced videos that are more informational in nature. Neither of us do this full time. You can already assume that this created some creative wrangling.

My husband wanted to write a script and create the video in that fashion. I understood where he was coming from as he had to edit it and going through 2 hours of misquotes and outtakes would be tedious; however, I felt that it would feel too canned. I, on the other hand, wanted to create an outline of basic themes we wanted to convey and then just speak naturally about each. I forgot that speaking naturally in front of a camera is completely unnatural to my husband.

We spent a few hours recording one video only to scrap it. My husband meticulously set up lights and sound but the video was horrible. We set up a potted plant next to the video camera that we both had to speak to (interview style). The plant did nothing to enhance my rambling dialogue or my husband's deer-in-the-headlights anxiety.

We ended up scraping the entire video and started over. We had a close friend come over and crafted questions for her to ask us. These covered everything from how we met and our roles in the marriage to our personalities, our philosophy on parenthood, our families, our view on faith and religion and our hopes for a child. It was such a blessing to have our friend there to prompt my husband to extrapolate on his answers and thoughts and to tell me when to shut it. I'll just say I'm not the queen of soundbites. There was at least a three minute clip on my views on religion that begins with "I most identify with the Jesuit tradition of Catholicism". It was all down hill from there. BORING and tedious! It was great to have someone there who knew us so well to make sure that we were truly staying on topic and portraying our true selves.

We ended up turning in our video to the agency two weeks late. But, we were still married after the process and I felt we sumbitted a very authentic video about ourselves and our life together.

I hope that it is watched soon!

June 12, 2008

Bambino not "The Kid"

We've decided to call our soon-to-be-baby bambino. My husband has been using the phrase "when we get the kid". His mom pointed out that this wasn't the most endearing statement. (He meant it affectionately but didn't have another word to use). We've now begun to call future baby the "bambino". We're not Italian, but, it's sweet and endearing.

May 22, 2008

Dear Birthparent Letter

The "Dear Birthparent Letter" is so absolutely intimidating. The mother of our child will make her decision as to whether or not to choose us as parents for her child based upon this glimpse into our lives.

My "Dear Birthparent" letter was off to an auspicious start. Despite 12 years of Catholic schooling my penmanship is abysmal. I finally got the letter to a somewhat acceptable state (under 3 pages and highlighting all the pertinent details of my life, philosophy on parenthood, relationship with husband and family etc.). It took me approximately 3 hours to successfully copy this (not messing up on the last line of the second page for the 9th time) to the beautiful stationary we had selected.

My handwriting is horrible. For starters, it tilts the wrong way. I believe that handwriting (if right handed) is supposed to slant to the right, mine slants to the left. If you've ever seen a junior high boy write in cursive, that pretty much sums it up. People always comment on how crazy my handwriting is and how it doesn't fit my personality. So, I was very concerned about the birthparents not being able to read the letter at all. I called our caseworker to see if I could also provide a typewritten version as a crib sheet. She didn't believe that it could be that bad. I brought it in to show her the illegibility and she recommended I find someone to write the letter for me. This was the second time in the history of the agency that this has had to be done. Excellent! My mom was kind enough to help out with this task. Very sweet of her but very humiliating for me.

May 12, 2008


It's so silly to think that we wouldn't be accepted; however, with everything that we'd been through it really felt like a distinct possibility in my mind. Up until this point, it seemed that the unvierse was conspiring against us in starting a family and so I was holding out hope until we were offically accepted.

On May 12, the day after Mother's Day, we were accepted!!!! This was the most exciting part of the process thus far (other than actually making the decision to adopt). We found out that we were number 33 on the list. It really felt like we might be able to start a family!

Unfortunately, my husband and I drove seperately, so I made the half hour drive back home by myself. I immediately called my sister and left her a message. I was sobbing on her voicemail that we were finally going to have a baby and that we were 33 on the list! It was hard to believe that this was actually happening- now all we have to do is sit back and wait for baby!

April 10, 2008

The Checklist

The hardest part of the adoption process was completing the adoption checklist. Essentially, this is a list in which you indicate everything that you are willing to accept in a child. This list gives your identity, morals and values a run for their money. It is extremely excruciating to go through a checklist in this amount of detail. Some of the options are easy but most are incredibly difficult decisions to make especially when you just want to become a mother.

The first portion of the checklist includes the birthparent's health history. You go through a list of dozens of health conditions that you would be willing to accept in either parent's genetic background. This includes things like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, lupus, mental retardation etc. etc. This feels incredibly hypocritical and crazy as you would never sit down with a potential partner to review both of your health histories before deciding to start a family (unless there is a history of inherited genetic disorders). Both of our families have had cancer, heart disease, arthritis etc. We're not really a genetic jackpot so it felt strange to select certain attributes for our child's birthparents. Needless to say we weren't all that worried about most items on the list in consideration of all of our own genetic shortcomings.

The checklist becomes harder when you have to determine your tolerance for drug and alcohol use by both of the birthparents. The detail on this list is very impressive. You can select which trimester and to what degree drugs or alcohol were used, if at all. We did very thorough research on the effects of various drugs and alcohol when completing this list. The most challenging aspect is a woman finding herself pregnant without intending to start a family would likely not know she is pregnant for quite some time and might go about life as normal including potential drinking and drug use. I know that when I wasn't trying to get pregnant I did my fair share of happy hours. It's hard to balance what you would do as you are trying to start a family with the reality of how a woman who has no intention of starting a family is living her life. This for me, was the biggest psychological hurdle to overcome. I'm not the person who is pregnant. Of course, I gave up alcohol, caffeine, took vitamins and ate organic foods while trying to become pregnant. It took me a few weeks to get over the fact that I need to be realistic about our situation and realize that the birthmother is making a mature decision to care for her child after birth and of course this would also apply to the pregnancy. She might not be drinking organic spinach juice but will be doing her best to care for her baby.

The final portion of the checklist pertains to the physical characteristics of a baby. I found some of the checklist items to be ridiculous- droopy eyelid, off-center pupil etc. Really! I'm just happy to have a healthy baby- droopy eyelid and all. My husband and I have decided that these questions are added to screen out people with unrealistic expectations for another human being. Of course, some of the characterstics are life-altering like Downs Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy and other medical conditions. We were very realistic about what kind of life we could give a child with special needs and what those needs might look like.

Finally, you may choose the gender and race/ethnicity of your child. My husband and I are both white and we both took a long time on this topic. Obviously, we would love any child that we were fortunate enough to have join our family regardless of gender or race. However, it's naive to not consider the social and emotional impact of transracial adoption on your child. My husband and I took awhile to consider what we should do. We would love a child of any race but also had to consider what the implications of that decision would mean. We read many many books and spoke with different people including our families and others who have adopted transracially.

My greatest concern was for my child. I have no illusions that racism is alive and well both overtly and subtly in our society. As a white person, you have the unfortunate position of being subject to comments from other individuals regarding people of other races. Usually this is very subtle, veiled racism, but, racism none the less. I could not comprehend what I would do to someone who made a comment like this to my child. (I have a fiery temper when it comes to those close to me). I thought about my African American male teenager being racially profiled by cops and about strangers making comments to us in a grocery store. How would I react? Would I be prepared to support my child in a positive and self-affirming way? Would I be able to provide my child with the cultural identity that they needed and the self-esteem that they needed? How would I prepare my child to deal with the realities of the outside world and give him/her the skills to cope?

I have the privilege of living in an inclusive, diverse community with a great support system. My husband and I decided that we were open to adopting a child of a different race and doing everything in our power to make them feel loved and proud of their heritage and their race and to help them build a healthy self-esteem by including them in events and programs that support their racial identity. This was not an easy decision. More than anything in adoption, I think this really brought home to our families that this child would not look like us. Of course, a white child wouldn't look like us either, but, I think this was very poignant for everyone. Our families are supportive; however, they too are not naive to the challenges that this will present to everyone.

Creating our checklist was very eye-opening to me. It truly makes you explore and own your feelings about physical disabilities, attributes and race. It's a very humbling experience to go through this list and see your values on paper. However, as painful as it might be, it was so important for us to be true to ourselves and realistic about what we can handle. I would have loved to go through the list and say yes to everything, but, that's not fair to our future child or to ourselves. Each child deserves a family that can truly and openly meet his/her needs and provide a supportive and nurturing environment.

Finally, with the checklist completed, we were ready for our final meeting!

March 22, 2008

The Adoption Process

We offically began the adoption process in mid-February. The process was lengthy but not overly intimidating. We began by filling out an application with our personal information and waited to hear back from the agency. We received a call a week later to being the process.

The process includes multiple home visits, meetings and background checks. This can be a long process; however, my husband and I both felt that if we had to determine if someone was fit to care for a child we'd do the exact same thing.

The home visit was the most intimidating aspect of this process. I spent two days cleaning every nook and cranny of our house. I organized every square inch of closet space and worked on my hands and knees in corners that would never even be seen. I wanted to make the best impression possible as we already felt at a disadvantage living in the city. (We'd never want a white-picket fenced suburban home but were worried that that would be the expectation).

The dog got washed and receive an extra-long walk just to make sure that he'd be his perfect doggie self. We wanted to make sure everything was perfect. But not too perfect, I opted for buying cookies instead of baking my own. Through this whole process I've vowed to be authentic and I'm just not a baker.

I was so disappointed that our case worker didn't want to rifle through our closets and drawers! Of course she just wanted to make sure that we had a suitable envirnoment for a child. As a result, any friend who visited our house for a month after the vist had to humor me by looking in my closets. I wasn't about to let all that organization go unshown.

January 1, 2008

The Backstory

I was really hoping to be more on top of things than I have been thus far, but, I figure better late than never!

After trying to conceive for three years, including four months of Western fertility treatments and six months of Eastern fertility treatments, my husband and I came to the wonderful decision to adopt.

I had always felt that I wanted to adopt a child; however, it seemed like a complicated propsal. My husband and I decided to create a family the easy way- by having a biological baby. After discovering the "easy way" wasn't easy for us, we began to consider adoption. We came to the conclusion to adopt while on a hike in the Rocky Mountains by our house. We were on a fall hike all by ourselves when the most beautiful snow began to fall. Joel and I began to talk about the journey that we had been on for the last three years. We both came to the conclusion that adoption was right for us and that that would be the path we'd take to start a family. An enormous weight felt like it had been lifted from my shoulders. It was the most natural and wise decision we ever could have made.

We quickly began to research adoption and decided that domestic adoption was the right choice for us. I have absolutely no tolerance for bureaucracy and I couldn't fathom having my life in the hands of a foreign government. I had read so many stories of adoptions becoming mired in politics and corrupt government and I couldn't fathom going through any more obstacles than we already have.

We attended a few educational classes on domestic infant adoption and settled upon Adoption Options in Denver. This agency really seems to have experience and stature in the community and the field. I was really impressed with their staff and, more importantly, with their philosophy of open adoption and with the care they provide to birth mothers.