January 24, 2009

Joel's Perspective on the Highs and Low of Adoption

This blog has exclusively been from my perspective on adoption; however, Joel posted a comment to my blog that I wanted to publish (with his blessing) since it's great to have his perspective:

"My sister wrote me an email offering her support - I've been meaning to post my perspective so I thought I would just share my response.

Thanks for the kind words. It has really helped that everyone has been so supportive. Yeah, we were close but the birth mother decided to parent. Jen and I were pretty sad for a couple of days but I think we’ve pretty much recovered and are feeling optimistic again.

Frankly, for me it’s almost good that I was able to experience this false start. The last minute rejection has always been a fear of mine. I couldn't imagine how terrible it would make me feel to be almost matched and have it fall through at the last moment. I've now come to see that having that fear affected how I approached the initial process of adopting. I went into this last match with lots of reservations, knowing it could fail and result in some pretty intense feelings of loss. I wanted to feel the excitement and intensity of the moment but wouldn't allow for fear of the consequences if it didn't happen. But you know what? After experiencing it, it’s not so bad.

Yeah, it sucks at first; you feel like somebody punched your gut pretty hard, but you move on. After a couple of days with some time to reflect and the support of friends and family, the situation doesn’t appear as bleak as it once did.

I've come to realize that just because this one opportunity didn't come to fruition, it doesn’t mean we’ve reached a final end. It just means that our baby, the one meant for us, is still out there. And now, moving forward, I don't carry that fear of rejection as much. The next time we have a potential match, I think I'll be able to enjoy it much more. I’ll allow myself to feel the wonder and excitement that this unique experience offers. Even if it doesn't happen and the match falls through at the last minute, I now realize that there are events in life that can be devastating, but a failed match is far from one of them."

January 21, 2009

The Morning After

So, for all my stoicism and "I'm just fine " yesterday, today was much harder. I woke up and it sort of sank in that I wouldn't be picking up bambino this morning. Of course, I knew that, but sleeping on it somehow made it worse and more real.

I think more than anything I was just thinking about how we might not have a girl. I don't really care what gender our baby is but knowing a gender is the closest we've ever come to parenting. I could actually think about having a baby girl. An African-American baby girl at that. That's the only opportunity I've had to this point to actually have a realistic mental image of our child. It's always an ambiguous baby with morphing gender and ethnicity. I think it was a little bit harder because I had a mental image of our baby.

I took today to work from home so that if I randomly burst into tears I didn't have to feel awkward and run for the bathroom. If anything, I'm definitely NOT a public cryer. It was nice to be at home, get work done, and have time to process. I'm feeling so much better this evening after having some time and space. I'm so grateful that if this had to happen it was over the course of four days rather than two months. I'm also wishing all the best to birth mom in her new journey.

My husband, friends, family, caseworker and colleagues have been so phenomenal through this process. It has really made me realize how loved and supported we are. That's an amazing gift to have.

January 20, 2009

Back on the List

I woke up this morning after very little sleep, cautiously optimistic about the prospect of meeting our child today. We had spent last night going through names on Post-it-Notes to come up with a short-list for our meeting today.

I couldn't sleep all night (as noted in my earlier 1 am posting). I know that movies make me pass out so I put on some bad Netflix film that Joel has refused to watch with me and ended up falling asleep on the couch. Joel was very sweet and woke me up on the couch and moved me to bed. He woke me up several hours later with a steaming latte. Nothing could be better. I woke up a little bit pessimistic and didn't have a great feeling but also knew that I can't predict the future and that I've had a range of emotions over the last twelve hours.

I did a couple of things for work and then hopped in the shower. I contemplated whether shaving my legs would have any baring on my future of parenting and decided to skip it to save time. I agonized over what to wear. If I was meeting our baby and birth mom had been in labor all night, maybe I should wear jeans. I also wanted to make a good impression. I settled on a casual skirt, shirt and boots. I didn't really look like a mom when I looked in the mirror - whatever that means, but, that's what went through my head. Maybe I should wear something more matronly. So silly. I decided to go with a skirt and black shirt accompanied by the necklace that I wore in our adoption video (just in case that sealed the deal) and my boots.

Joel and I decided to stop at Dazbog and grab a couple more coffees and breakfast burritos. We started our trek to south Aurora. We were on I-225 almost at the Mississippi exit when I got the dreaded call. I saw the blocked number on my cell phone and knew it was our caseworker- birth mom was feeling like she wanted to parent. She said that birth mom's caseworker was still trying to meet with her and our caseworker would call us back before noon to give us an update.

I signaled to Joel to turn around. I didn't really cry. I just wanted to drive somewhere else super fast. I asked Joel if we could head east on I-70. We headed past the airport toward Watkins. It felt really good to be moving and watching the landscape fly by me. Going home meant dealing with my reality and I need to avoid it for a little bit. After awhile, we decided to turn around. On our way back to Denver our caseworker called again. It was definitive- birth mom was going to be a parent. She told us that birth mom wanted us to know that it was nothing personal and that she really liked us. I think our hunch was right that she held baby and couldn't imagine being without her. I can certainly appreciate that. It wasn't our baby. Ours is yet to come.

Joel and I decided to go on a hike to get out some of the extra energy and angst. It was 70 degrees in January and there really wasn't a better day to hike. We got to spend time talking about how we were coping. Strangely, we both seemed to be coping with everything very well. I think years of infertility can prime you for disappointment and you know a little bit better how to roll with the punches.

We're now back on the list waiting for the next call. Today was super-hard and I wouldn't want to repeat it but it definitely confirmed that our baby is still out there somewhere.

January 19, 2009

She's in Labor

I received the message this afternoon that birth mom is in labor. I was expecting a call to tell us what time our meeting was the following day since I had been so scattered on the phone on Friday. My mind raced when I found out the news. How could she be in labor?!?! She's not due until February 25. I immediately called Joel to tell him the news. He was certainly in shock as well. I called our caseworker back and she informed us that birth mom had gone into labor and had been in contact with the agency. This certainly changes everything.

I quickly condensed five weeks of maternity leave planning at work into an hour long meeting that was also filled with advice on what baby products I absolutely needed and which were non-essential. It took me about three hours to get out of work with the prospect that I wouldn't be returning for three months.
On the drive home when I had time to be quiet, everything began to hit me. I called my sister and my parents and gave them both the news. It's definitely not as expected, but what has been up until this point?

When I arrived home I had so many emotions. I'm worried about birth mom realizing that at this very moment she is in horrible physical and emotional pain. I'm worried that the baby is being born five weeks early. I'm excited because I might have a baby in two days. I'm freaking out because I might have a baby in two days and don't have diapers, or a name for that matter.

I decided to do something to honor my feelings of helplessness and my anxiety surrounding birth mom and bambino's present states. Joel and I lit a "Laughter" candle and prayed for birth mom, the bambino and ourselves that everything would work out the way that it was meant to be. The outside of the candle has a prayer which seemed very appropriate: Let me see the bright side of life. Let the joy of laughter enter my life every day, bringing happiness and healing to my heart. I concentrated a lot on bringing happiness and healing to everyone's hearts in this situation.

It's now 12:45 am and I've slept for about an hour. I can't sleep. I'm so wound up with the multitude of possibilities in my head. I'm a mom beginning tomorrow; it was a false start- I'm not a mom yet. Is everyone okay? What are we naming her if she is truly our bambino? What should I wear tomorrow to meet birth mom? What do I say to her? She's going to be a complete wreck after having given birth. Has she held the baby yet? Did that change her mind? If she hasn't held the baby is the baby lonely in the nursery all by herself? Will she change her mind seems to be the most common theme. Tomorrow at 9:30 am can't come soon enough.

The Call

I spent the week in a conference in Portland with my colleagues from the Western region. On Thursday night, Joel flew in to spend a long weekend with me. I had a half day left of conference activities. While I was sitting in the conference, my phone was ringing. I received two calls from the same blocked number and then a voice message. I didn't really think anything of it and thought it might be Nina calling to give me an update from a date she had the night before.

The conference ended and I rushed back to the hotel to pack and check-out. After we checked-out of the hotel, we began to wander toward our lunch destination. I finally remembered that I had a voice message on my phone that I needed to check. The second I heard, "Hi, Jen. This is 'caseworker' from Adoption Options" I knew that this was "the call".
I immediately almost burst into tears with Joel trying to calm me down. We had no where private to go to make the call and nothing to write with. We ran across the street to a pharmacy, but, they had no pens. We then realized we were a few blocks from Powell's Books (my favorite bookstore). We ducked in there and quickly bought a Powell's pen and ran back outside to call our caseworker back.
She informed us that we had been chosen by a family. Birth om had watched our profile and chose us. She had watched four other videos and began to jump up and down when she saw Joel and I. She liked our sense of humor and thought we seemed fun. The next step is to set-up a meeting with our caseworker and her caseworker for a formal presentation and then meet birthmom the next day. Today is Friday and this was all to happen on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Everything seems very positive and like it should work out very well.

January 7, 2009

Still at 16

We just received our monthly update from our caseworker. The update this month was a little bit ironic. Usually I contact her to ask our number on the waitlist. This month, I've been extraordinarily busy at work and felt that I'd rather not know our current standing.

There's so much going on for me personally and professionally and so I felt that I'd rather just wait until February for an update. Our caseworker sent me an e-mail this evening to give us an update. The good news, there were 61 placements last year and there have already been quite a few in January already. The bad news, we didn't move at all.

It's hard not to move. It makes the wait seem that much longer. I know it's all somewhat arbitrary anyway, but, moving up makes you feel like you're making some progress toward starting your family.

Joel is very Zen about the whole experience. He's never overly excited if we move up and he's never disappointed if we don't move at all. He feels that our baby is out there waiting for us when the time is right. As much as I'd like to take his lead, Joel and I are not emotional birds-of-a-feather and really, that's a good thing, for everyone.