Friday, December 18, 2009

79 Days: Dear Birthmother

Dear Birthmother:

We struggle with what to say as we try to explain what is in our thoughts and hearts. Nothing seems adequate in comparison with this amazing sacrifice that you are currently making. It is our wish that you have not felt alone during this trying time in your life.

We hope that reading this blog will help answer some of the questions you must have and give you a sense of who we are. If you would like to talk with us further, please feel free to e-mail us. We will be supportive and understanding of the situation you are in and will not judge you.

We are both faced with challenges now - you with a difficult choice for your child and us with trying to grow our family. Together we have the opportunity to help one another.

Our goal is to have another child, a sibling for Kasen, not necessarily to be "pregnant." We feel adoption is the path we are supposed to be on, and we are excited to welcome another "miracle baby" into our lives.

We are looking to adopt a child through private adoption because we want to make a connection with you, the birth mother. After much research, we didn't feel that an agency would know us well enough to find the child who will join our family. We feel a better way is to search on our own and, hopefully, all of us will find each other. You have as much control in this as we do, and that is important.

While we feel fortunate in life, we remain modest and are continually striving to become better people. We are dedicated to helping our children get an excellent education, become self-confident and pursue their own unique passions and interests.

Please also know that this child will always know the love and courage your decision required as well as the love and respect we have for the mother who gave them life and how forever grateful we are to you.

We know this is one of the hardest choices you will ever make and can only imagine heartache that has brought you to this point. We hope that as you make the decision about what will be best for you and your baby that you will find peace and comfort.

Monday, December 14, 2009

75 Days: Get to know us!

Because we are doing a private adoption, all of the leg work is up to us! I found this questionnaire while researching how agencies work with birth parents and thought it had some very good questions in it that should be addressed.

1.) Names
Neal and Carrie

2.) Ages
We were both born in 1979, so we are 30 at the time of this post.

3.) What are your religions?
Neal was raised Catholic but doesn't practice. I was never raised any particular religion but am spiritual. We both consider ourselves Christians and plan on allowing our children to explore and find their own beliefs.

4.) What are your professions?
Neal is an electrician for a manufacturing plant. Before that he was in the Navy where he worked on submarines.

I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and am thrilled that I am able to do so now. I am loving it so much! I also became a Shaklee distributor, after falling in love with their Get Clean line of products. (Green, cheap and they work amazingly well!) I've had different jobs over the years - at a newspaper, as a caterer, a cook/deckhand on a schooner in Maine one summer, a call counselor for a non-profit agency who helped cancer patients pay their medical bills, among others - but ultimately just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

5.) Do you have any other children?
Yes. We have one biological son, Kasen.

6.) If you can have biological children, why do you want to adopt?
We want to adopt becuase we tried for three years to get pregnant with Kasen and were finally successful with IVF. The process was emotionally and physically difficult and we don't want to go through it again. Also, the pregnancy was easy for me at first, but towards the end I started having blood pressure issues. During delivery, I hemorrhaged and ended with a prolapsed uterus.

7.) How do your family and friends feel about them adopting children?
Everyone is very supportive and excited about it!

8.) What kind of adoption are you looking for? (open, semi open, closed)
We are willing to send pictures and updates about the baby, but are open to discussing other situations as well!

9.) How do you feel about my friends and family being involved in my decision making?
We think your friends and family should be involved as far as helping you to see all sides of the situation; but ultimately, the decision is yours.

10.) Do you have any pets?
Yes. We have one black lab, Max, who is an amazing dog. He's the best dog I've ever personally known and everyone adores him. I counted once and he knows probably about 100 words and phrases. I should post that list here...

We also have four cats. Mollie is 12 - I got her after the death of my fiance and Neal fell in love with her when we moved in together. Siren is 3 - we found her when she was 2-weeks-old and raised her by hand. Lily and Dexter are 1. We fostered litters of kittens for awhile and kept them from the last litter we had because we fell in love and just couldn't part with them.

11.) What kind of schools do you plan to use for the child?
We don't know for sure yet but value education very much. We hope to instill a love of learning in our children that will let them follow all of their interests as far as they want to!

The area we live in has tons of great resources like museums, science centers, arboretums, etc., and we plan on taking advantage of all of them!

12.) How did you meet?
My best friend of 25 years introduced us after her husband started working with Neal in the Navy.

13.) How long did you date before you were married?
A little over a year and a half.

14.) How long have you been married?
4 years (October 2005)

15.) What number marriage is this for each of you?
First for both.

16.) Are there any diseases that run in your families?
High blood pressure on Neal's side. My brother died of an undiagnosed heart condition at age 20, but we don't know if it was congenital or not. I have had tests and everything came back normal for me.

17.) Are there any mental problems that run in your families?
Besides depression due to life events, not that we are aware of.

18.) Are you willing to financially procure for me during the duration of my pregnancy?
Yes, but under Ohio law, only the following can be paid: medical expenses, counseling, attorney fees and court costs.

19.) How big are your extended families?
Neal has three younger siblings. Cheri, 29, lives in Nebraska and is teaching at a college. Brent, 27, is married to Katie, and is living in Missouri while he goes to medical school. Nick, 21, goes to college in Nebraska. His parents, Rich and Colleen, also live in Nebraska. His dad works for a government agency and his mom works as a cook for a local high school. He also has aunts/uncles/cousins who all live in or near Nebraska.

My parents, Dave and Debbie, live in Newark. My dad retired last year from a plant and they own rental properties. I had a brother who passed away in 1995. I have many aunts/uncles/cousins who all live in this area.

20.) What do you do for holidays?
Some years we fly to Nebraska to be with Neal's family for either Thanksgiving or Christmas or they come out here. Whichever holiday we don't spend with them, we spend with my extended family. We also regularly visit my family on just about every other government holiday for cookouts.

21.) What are your hobbies?
Neal is big into building things... he is an engineer at heart. He does construction, gardening, landscaping, electrical work, computers... the list goes on. He is constantly surprising me with the skills that he has. If he doesn't know how something works, he will figure it out and usually make it better!

I enjoy reading, blogging, scrapbooking and am have recently started (oddly) enjoying working out at the gym.

22.) How much contact do you want before the child is born?
We would love the opportunity to get to know you well so that you would feel very much at ease with us and confident in your decision to place your child with us if you choose to do so.

23.) Do you want to be in the delivery room with me when the baby is born?
If you are comfortable with this, we would love the opportunity - but if not, that's fine, too! Whatever you want.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

74 Days

Honestly, I didn't think it would work.

IVF, I mean.

I felt that life had been pointing me to adoption for years and I was ready to just go down that path. My husband - not so much at first. I figured expensive failed fertility treatments had to be what would open his heart to adoption so in my mind IVF wasn't going to work for us.

I think the first thoughts of adopting crept into my head around the age of 7 when I realized that not every child had a home. This knowledge came to me with the gift of my first Cabbage Patch Kid, Polly. Filling out her "birth certificate" made me so sad knowing that apparently her first mommy wasn't able to raise her. I was happy to know that I was able to give her a loving home and I took being Polly's mom very seriously. She slept with me each night, got preferential treatment over the stuffed animals and went everywhere with me. I remember being very upset with my own mother when she wouldn't let me bring Polly into the store with me because she was afraid I'd lose her. (As if!) I think I even pointed out to her once that it was child neglect to leave a baby in the car by herself and that she would never dream of leaving her own child unsupervised while she shopped.

She still didn't let me bring her in.

When I was older and learned of poverty and orphanages and laws like China's (One Child Law ), it made me want to adopt even more.

At 17, I met Richard, who quickly became my best friend. Two months after we started dating, he was diagnosed with cancer which was devastating, to say the least. After the initial shock of the diagnosis, we learned of the treatment plan they wanted to do for him and then were informed that most likely the chemotherapy and radiation would end any chances of him ever being able to have children. We opted to have some of his sperm frozen so we could try to have children later once we were out of school and married. Even then I knew that that would only allow us a limited number of chances to try to get pregnant and in the back of my mind, life was pointing me to adoption.

Sadly, Richard didn't beat the cancer and he passed away a year later. Five years after his death, I made the heartbreaking decision to have his sperm destroyed. I was single, living with my parents, didn't have a job that could support a family, and didn't want to bring children into the world knowing they would never have a chance to know their father.

All I ever wanted to be was a stay-at-home mom. I had never wanted to have a bunch of college degrees or some grand career, but decided that if I wanted to adopt, especially if I was single, I was going to need to be able to afford to do it. So I enrolled in college.

... and met Neal about 6 months later. In one of our early conversations, I told him how I wanted to adopt. It was something he had never given any consideration to... he didn't even know exactly what orphanages were.

I had spent years gathering information on adoption but once our relationship turned serious, I began researching it more to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of adoption to see which would be the best fit for us if we were to get married.

What I found out is that adoption is... overwhelming. The time, the cost, the things you have to consider, the choices you have to make, the paperwork... it makes "just getting pregnant" seem like the easiest choice.

Neal and I were married about 2 years later. During that time, I learned of my husband's phobia to paperwork. Due to the amount of stress he was under at his job at the time, adoption just wasn't in the cards for him at that point so we began trying to get pregnant.

And trying.

And trying.

And trying.

I had always had the thought that getting pregnant was going to be hard for me... though I didn't know why I felt that way. I had never been diagnosed as having any problems. My cycles had always been normal - on or off birth control pills. My family was incredibly fertile... I even have multiple sets of twins on both sides. There was no reason why I should think that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant, yet a year of dealing with the month to month heartbreak of yet another negative pregnancy test and we were getting a referral to see a specialist.

What we found out was that not only do I have PCOS (which causes me not to ovulate), but Neal also has severe male factor infertility... which basically means "really crappy sperm."

Two more years of heartbreak, including 5 months of Clomid and 4 IUIs, and we were faced with three possibilities: Pull out the big guns of IVF; adopt; or live child free.

Living child free was never an option for us so that was easily out.

My initial reaction was - let's adopt. I had spent three years reading blogs and researching fertility treatments. I'd read about the heartbreak of failed IVF. People racking of hundreds of thousands of dollars trying and trying and trying again only to fail repeatedly. Miscarrying after finally achieving a pregnancy. The ups and downs of the hormones being pumped into your body, which I had already partly experienced with the Clomid. I didn't want to go through that.

But Neal... he was convinced that there wasn't really anything wrong with us and I truly don't think he even thought we needed IVF.

Until our new doctor told us that we only had a 1% chance of getting pregnant on our own.

That news was shocking to him, I think. For me, the thought of never having biological children had been with me since I was a child, so while this news was very sad for me, I had already partly dealt with the possibility and was still okay with just skipping IVF and moving on to adoption. But for him it had never *not* been a possibility. And because all this time he had continue to think that we would eventually just get pregnant on our own, he still hadn't put much thought into adopting.

Ultimately, we decided to give IVF a shot.

And, well, I didn't think it would work on the first try.

But it did.

We transferred two embryos and one implanted.

Kasen is 6 months old and now I can truly say that I was meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I finally feel like I am on the path I was always meant to be on and I'm loving life right now.

Except there still feels like someone is missing.

Multiple someones actually.

We want more kids.

None of our other embryos survived long enough to make it to freezing. I refuse to do IVF again. It is emotionally, physically and financially draining. The only reason we were able to afford it before was because we made a profit on the sale of our house and used some of the money to pay for the cycle.

So once again, adoption is entering into the picture. I had no idea how we would be able to afford it or how Neal would find it in himself to deal with all of the paperwork, but then...

About two months ago, a co-worker of Neal's approached him. He knew we had problems getting pregnant and that we were considering adoption to continue to build our family. The daughter of a friend of his was considering making an adoption plan for her baby, who was due within a month. He had told her about us and she wanted to talk to us.

I wasn't sure that Neal was truly ready to pursue adoption, but he shocked me by being ecstatic.

It turns out that while there is a ton of paperwork if you are adopting from another country, through an agency or foster care, if you do a private adoption, it's really not so complicated because you are skipping the middleman and doing all the leg work yourself.

We had our home study done within two weeks.

Long story short, the birthmom decided to parent the baby. We were disappointed but hadn't allowed ourselves to become attached to the situation because we didn't realize at the time that we could get all the paperwork in order so quickly. Ultimately, I am just grateful that the experience not only opened Neal's heart to adoption, but it threw me into actually doing something instead of just reading about the steps that would need to be taken and helped me to find out that adoption doesn't have to cost $30k+.

So we have been legally ready to adopt for 74 Days... we just have to find a birthmom who's considering adoption for her baby.

And this is where that journey begins.