Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another Celebrity Adoption - Sandra Bullock

I'm totally in love with Sandra Bullock adopting too. Above is the picture of her People spread just after she adopted baby Louie. Just like Mariska, I've always loved Sandra Bullock. She's not your typical star, in that you don't see her out gallivanting, vying for media attention.

I know, I know. Stars don't live in our world. They decide to adopt and it seems like suddenly, they have a child. Not like the rest of us, who go through months and years of paperwork and waiting before we are finally matched somehow, some way. Regardless, I think it's inspiring.

I don't think I'll be doing any photo shoots after Robert and I adopt ... but you never know. ;)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Celebrity Adoption - Mariska Hargitay

I've always loved Mariska Hargitay. I just think she's so pretty! And now I have yet another reason to love her. She is an adoptive mother.

The above picture is from an article in More Magazine. (I'm convinced the editors of More have an affinity for adoption.) Apparently, she's now adopted a little boy as well. I'm ever so jealous ... she's pretty, successful and has now experienced two successful adoptions. Well, I can't be too hard on myself. Two out of three ain't bad.

Can't wait to post about our adoption on here when it happens! Still searching ...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chalky's Playlist

Chalky's been into some R&B lately ... and a bit of down home funk. Check out his favorite playlist:

Fred's a little more mellow. Look for his playlist soon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Magazine - Adopting at 55

We've chosen independent domestic adoption, which means we are trying to find a girl or woman from the United States who would like to consider adoption for her child. Still, I love stories. And one of the more recent adoption stories I ran across was one about a lady named Joyce. At 55, she decided to adopt two sisters from Ethiopia. 

Their mother died of AIDS, and their father is HIV-positive but the girls are healthy. Says Joyce, "The choice I've made to adopt is one that few of my over-50 friends would make - and one that I wrestled with for more than a decade. I have no idea where I am headed or what my life will look like when I get there. I just know that once I put my arms around these two girls ... I'll be embarking on an adventure that's as challenging as launching a raft into Class 5 rapids but a lot longer lasting. Sink or swim, no turning back."

The article was published in the September 2010 issue of More Magazine. I cut it out and it is now housed in a folder that holds many articles about adoptions - both domestic and international.

I love the picture of the three of them on the table. The girls have left a continent to move to a place unfamiliar to them both - but there's no fear in their eyes. They're warriors, the three of them. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sun rays, Colors and Words

Frederick by Leo Lionni was one of my favorite children's books when I was a little girl. Frederick is a mouse who belongs to a colony of mice. During the summer and autumn months, all of the mice of the colony are gathering nuts and berries and grains to store away for the winter - all of them, that is, except Frederick. 

When the colony mice ask Frederick what he's doing, he replies that he's gathering sun rays, colors and words. As you can imagine, the other mice think Frederick has gone coo coo. 

Later, in the middle of winter, the mice of the colony have eaten up all their grain. The fruit is long gone and there are just a few nuts. It's then that Frederick the mouse begins to tell his brothers and sisters stories - stories of the sunshine and of the colors of summer and of words that were spoken during months when they were all together in the warmth. Frederick's stories warm the hearts of all the mice in the colony and they finally understand. 

I think of Frederick a lot during the winter months, especially during the month of January. On the coldest of cold days, it's often hard to find something that inspires a ray of sunshine into your day. On those days, I channel Frederick. After all, it only takes a moment to close your eyes and imagine the sunshine on a day in the middle of late summer when you and a loved one shared a moment. 

One of my favorite memories from this past summer is when my nieces and nephews all spent the night with me and Robert. We hung out at the house then went downtown to a local burger joint to enjoy massive cheeseburgers, monster shakes and jumbo onion rings and fries. Then we walked and walked downtown. It was hot and we were sweaty, but we were together, hanging out and acting goofy. Afterwards, we sat around in the living room and fought over which movies we wanted to watch. The next morning, we all got up and met Nana and Pop Pop for breakfast before they had to go home. 

What are your colors? What are your sun rays? What are your words?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Trip to Washington DC

Man oh man did we have a great time in Washington, DC today. Since we didn't actually get there until around noon, we decided to eat lunch first. We stopped in at the Old Post Office to see what kind of food they had.

Our stomachs eventually led us a barbecue restaurant called Hill Country. Food is served up Texas style in a wrap of paper with lots of hand wipes for that finger-lickin' barbecue sauce. We split the special. Now before you go thinking that you'd be starving if you split a meal, listen to what The Pitmaster included: 1/4 lean brisket, one pork spare rib, one beef rib, quarter all natural chicken and any two sides. We picked mac n' cheese and cole slaw. All that food plus two drinks and tip for less than $28. We couldn't believe it. It's right by the Crime & Punishment Museum if you're ever in the area - and apparently bands play there in the evening. 

After lunch, we began our walk past the sculpture garden to the Air and Space Museum. On the way, we encountered this little guy. He walked right up to us but even before he did that, we knew people must feed him because he was quite a hefty fellow!

We then walked up the street to the Air and Space Museum. I personally wanted to see the Albert Einstein Planetarium so we bought tickets and enjoyed a viewing of Journey to the Stars. Did you know they've discovered objects in the Universe called "brown dwarfs" that are too big to be called planets but too small to be called stars? There are just as many brown dwarfs as there are stars. Fascinating! My favorite, of course, are the nebulas - a cloud of dust that serves as a virtual nursery for the birth of stars. After they're born, stars kind of hang out together in the nebula as a cluster. Our own sun hung out in a nebula until it broke away with the planets. I could go on and on but I digress. 

The Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Mall is full of spacecraft and aircraft - both models and the real thing. And there are missile, like the ones seen here. Yikes! Of course the warheads are removed so these are the Heidi Klums of the missile world - just mere models now.

Here you see the nose of the 747 jumbo jet. We got to walk into the cockpit of this baby. You can't really see the scale here but it was GIGANTOR big.

I don't get as excited about planes like Robert does but I did love seeing the sky lab. I swear I took a picture of it but I can't find it now that I'm looking for it. Anyway, I have such a hard time imagining people hanging out in a cylinder in the sky with no place else to go! Astronauts truly are pioneers, in my opinion. There's also a satellite out there somewhere that has recordings from every country on Earth just in case someone out there finds it. It's like something off of Star Trek!! 

Besides the planes and the spacecraft and the missiles, there were also uniforms - lots of them. 

This was an Englishman's outfit complete with gas mask. Hmmm ... wonder why I was so fascinated by an Englishman's get-up! We also watched a 3D movie called Legends of Flight. It was all about how they designed and built the 787, the latest and greatest fuel efficient airbus (which is just another name for an airplane that can carry a bunch of people). The inspiration for the design came from an albatross - a bird that can glide for an incredibly long time. 

By the time we got through all that we were pooped! But not too pooped for some gelato. We walked to Pitango, a gelato shop on 7th street and had a refreshing treat. I selected cardamom and hazelnut. Robert had vanilla and creme (did I mentioned Robert is allergic to chocolate?). 

It was a great ride home. We talked and talked. About 20 minutes from our exit, we both just went quiet. Now, as I sit on the couch watching "The Guardian" and retelling our story, I think back on how much I learned today. It was definitely a great day for both of us.

Forgive the layout on this post. I couldn't get it to line up then finally decided it's good enough as it is.

Yet Another Resource for Women Considering an Adoption Plan

This blog has some important insights on being a birth mom and making the decision to choose adoption for your child.

Birth Parent Blog

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Birth Mom Blog

Birth Mom Blog

I'm really not sure what the correct term is for a woman who is pregnant and chooses adoption for her child. I've heard "birth mom" and "first mom." A lot of the birth mother blogs I've run across take those terms to heart and feel they carry a negative connotation. I want to respect those who've chosen adoption for their children - and I know you can't please everyone - but don't quite know what an acceptable term would be. I welcome any insight!

Meanwhile, I ran across this blog by a gal who chose adoption for her child. She has a very open adoption with the adoptive family. I have only read a few posts but she says she talks about the negatives and the positives of adoption from the perspective of a birth mother.

Check it out and let me know what you think: Unexpected Stork

Again, I think it's so important that women who are pregnant understand all of their choices so they can make an informed decision about what to do. As I mentioned, we recently experienced a failed adoption (I hate that word! Anyone who wants to put a positive spin on that term is welcome to comment - fizzled adoption? How about practice adoption?). I was sad for a couple of days - and maybe a little angry - but I've come to terms with it pretty quickly and realize the best thing happened. I hope and pray that birth mother's family realizes what a blessing they have in their home and that they give that little girl everything she deserves in life, despite the obstacles presented by the community in which they live.

I believe if that birth mom had understood all of her options, she may not have found herself in the predicament that she was in - struggling at the last minute to match with a couple who could afford to pay a large sum of money in expenses, thinking she couldn't provide for the child. If she had taken the time to educate herself about all options, she might have made the decision that was right for her at an earlier stage in her pregnancy - then again, maybe not. Who can say. A woman can change her mind when reality hits, after all. As they say, that's our prerogative!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pregnant? Adoption Is a Powerful Choice

We decided to adopt independently, which means we are looking for our own potential birth mother who is considering adoption for her child. As part of an independent adoption in Virginia, we're in charge of finding our own birth mother. Today we're sending letters out to people in the community to let them know about our wishes to adopt.

Help us get the word out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Boogie Shoes

I've mentioned on a number of occasions that I work from home. I chose to work from home so I could provide a loving, stable home for an adoptive child. Working from home provides flexibility, saves money (because I'm not driving back and forth to work) and I think more productive. Plus you get to work in your pajamas, unless you have a Skype meeting. Though me and my boss have a Skype meeting every Friday in our pajamas.

The one thing I find challenging about working from home is staying motivated to exercise. I do some form of exercise almost every single day. Most of the time, it's a walk outside or on the treadmill. Other days, it's yoga (did I mentioned I'm in a yoga teacher training program?). I also keep three-pound weights by my desk so I can get up every once in a while and give my arms a mini-workout. But staying motivated to do all that requires .... you guess it ....

My Boogie Shoes

I used to get dressed and head downstairs to my office in my slippers. But I found my slippers are so comfortable that I'm not motivated to get up and exercise. I've started a new routine now. I get dressed every morning and dash downstairs in my Boogie Shoes! They're cute. They're fun. They're just the thing to get me up off the chair ... and onto my treadmill at various intervals!

Funny how a pair of tennis shoes can make all the difference in the world, huh. And did you know walking is one of the best exercises if your pregnant? Just saying. Of course, check with your doctor first. Heck, your doctor might just want you to take a load off. If so, then definitely grab your slippers.

Just for Fun - Roald Dahl Stamps

What would an adoption blog be without a little bit of fun? Nerdy fun, that is. 

As I mentioned, my in-laws are from England. They are what is known as dual citizens, which means they are citizens of both England and America. (Remind me to tell you about Robert's mum's citizenship test ... whew!) From time to time, the post office in their village sells booklets of stamps. Robert's mum started sending me booklets, like Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter ... oh, and don't forget Lord of the Rings. These little booklets peaked my interest in stamps. Now I fancy myself a novice stamp collector. (I warned you this was nerdy.)

Yesterday I received a little parcel in the mail. Inside was this lovely booklet. It features Roald Dahl, the author of such children's books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the booklet says Dahl was a chocoholic ... they say write about what you know!), Fantastic Mr. Fox and Matilda, among others. I'll be honest when I tell you that I knew these books from childhood but I had no idea who wrote them! 

What does this have to do with adoption? Well, you could say that one day our adoptive child will have quite the stamp collection on his or her hands. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Compassion During the Adoption Journey

One of the things I've learned from doing yoga is to have compassion for myself. The Dalai Lama says, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

Compassion doesn't always come easy for me. I get angry, sad and sometimes feel like people are treating me badly, just like everyone else. When I'm having those moments, Robert is very good about reminding me that I am only human. "Be kind to yourself today," he says. And whenever he reminds me of that, I instantly take a deep breath, my shoulders drop and I smile.

And so I remind myself and anyone else reading this blog to:

Be Kind to Yourself
Be Patient
Enjoy the Ride

Monday, January 16, 2012

Follow-up to the Failed Adoption

I think I forgot to follow up on our failed adoption. Failed adoption is such a negative term, don't you think? It wasn't really a fail for us - it was a learning experience. But I do have to say it was heart breaking for me and I've been a little off-kilter ever since. I'll get back on track, though, with a little time. In fact, today we picked out a color for the nursery walls - a warm, whimsical and inviting color. I can't wait to pull out the paint roller!

Our attorney called us yesterday to tell us that he had followed up with the birth mother. She's going to keep the baby. Why didn't they say that in the first place and prevent all of the heart ache and stress they caused me and Robert? I guess we are all only human, after all. We faced some tough decisions over the past few days - and I missed my yoga teacher training because we thought we would be driving to Florida. That means I won't graduate for another year because I'll have to make this weekend up. But I refuse to think of it as a negative. When I make this weekend up, I'll meet all new students ... and might retain a friend or two.

Regardless, if raising the baby on her own is what the birth mom wants, then that's what's best for the child. I wish her and her baby the best of everything.

Quilt for an Adoptive Child

My mother-in-law is like Martha Stewart. Present her with a project and she'll not only master it, she'll teach you how to do it too. That goes for quilt-making. Last summer, she got it in her head that she was going to take a quilt-making class.

Now, we told our families not to go buying anything for our adoptive child just yet - or making us anything. The reason? We have no idea about the whens, hows, or ifs of our adoption. But you know, people just can't help themselves.

One day, I went out to the mailbox and found a parcel. Wrapped tightly inside was a surprise - a quilt. I immediately called her and thanked her. She assured me that this quilt is not for our adoptive child. But, with those primary colors and whimsical theme (all of the pets we've had, including Chalky the Parson russell, Fred the beagle, Wellington the black lab and P-rudy the cat), who else would it be for?

Here's one side:

And here's the other side:

It's perfect for lying on the floor to create a comfortable padding for baby to lie on while we talk, play, cuddle and hang out. You don't fool me, mother-in-law. I know your tricks.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Traveling Baby Kit

So we experienced what's known as a failed adoption. A good thing that came out of that experience was our realization that we need a "Baby Kit." What's a baby kit? Well, for us soon to be adoptive families, a baby kit is a collection of stuff that you can pack into your car (or airplane) quickly in case you need to rush to another state and meet a birth mother who is delivering in another state ... or some similar scenario.

You've heard of adoptive parents staying in hotels for a week or longer waiting for the ICPC paperwork to clear. Well, during that time, the baby needs to eat, sleep and (ah-em) use the facilities. How's a little baby supposed to do that in a hotel room without a baby kit?

Now, we may not need a "Baby Kit" - because our adoptive baby may come from a local birth mother - but even so, it never hurts to be prepared. As Winston Churchill once said, "In failing to prepare, we prepare to fail."

See those diapers and wipes in the corner? Well, they might last us a day ... but it's a start! Also seen here are swaddling/burping cloths, blankets, hooded towels, wash cloths and I think some socks. We couldn't really focus on pink or blue because we have no idea what gender our adoptive baby will be. So we picked a little of both - and some neutral colors as well. Once we know, we can pick out more gender-appropriate colors. Remember, this is kind of like an emergency kit!

On the other side of the closet, we have bottles (4 oz for newborn), lotion, baby wash and powder, a bottle brush, pacifiers and nail clippers. Oh, and don't forget the onesies. These have little hand covers in them so baby doesn't scratch his or her face. So cute.

The thought of giving a baby a bath in a hotel bathtub is not my most favorite idea. So we bought a little baby bather just in case. Of course we'll clean out the tub ourselves to be sure it's as clean as can be but a baby bather is just the ticket to provide comfort and security. Next to the baby bather, you'll see a traveling bassinet. Made just for baby, this little bassinet provides a little Nook for a newborn to sleep just in case we have to stay for a week or so out of town. This might also come in handy if we take a trip to Nana's house anytime shortly after the baby is born.

Not pictured here (because the picture was blurry) is the Boppy newborn lounger we bought. I just love these things. My friend has one for her newborn daughter. It allows baby to sit right next to you on the couch, the bed, the floor ... whatever!

This diaper bag isn't necessarily what I would choose right off the bat but Robert wanted one of his own. I'm calling it his man-bag. We'll pack it with all the necessities and head on our way just in case we get the call. Some might say we're nesting before it's time. Oh well, our little shopping trip helped us deal with the heavy emotions we felt after our failed adoption so we're considering it a healthy coping mechanism. And it's not like we won't use the stuff. We're READY!

As we were unpacking our baby kit and storing it away in the nursery closet, the boys were quite intrigued. "A baby? What's that?" Oh just you wait, Chalky. Just you wait.

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The Chicco Travel System

Chelsea Chelsea!

Yet another great memory. A few years ago, we took a trip to England to visit Robert's parents. As a gift, Robert's parents gave us box seats to a Chelsea game. We took the train from the village into London and arrived early to Stamford Bridge. It was a cold day so we started it with a bit of coffee. Have you ever had coffee in England? Awful. It tastes like liquid dust. You're really better off with a hot cup of tea. Still, it warmed our bones. What an experience.

Love and Rockets

Digging through some old photos last night, we found these pictures of a lovely Thanksgiving afternoon. Me, Robert, two of our nephews and a few other family members walked up to the park and set off some rockets.

Once there, Uncle R and the boys launched away.

You just can't beat memories like that.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rise UP!

Just because ... love this song!!

Chicco Travel System

That's right. We bought the mac daddy of strollers today. The Chicco Travel System. And it was on SALE!

Pretty cool, huh.

It comes with a key-fit infant car seat for two-in-one functionality.

Can't wait to see who's going to sit in that seat!

Failed Adoption

I think we just experienced a failed adoption.

A couple of nights ago, the phone rang, waking us up out of a deep sleep. It was a woman who said her niece is due tomorrow. I'll call her "C." She wanted to know if we were interested. Of course we said yes and it went from there. She immediately mentioned that she had been working with an adoption agency and that they had only offered to "compensate" her $3,000. Of course that was an immediate red flag but we still felt it was worth getting more information to see if this was a good situation for us.

We all know BMs don't get compensated for their babies. Sure, some reasonable expenses can be paid - such as attorney fees and medical bills - but compensation is completely unethical and, frankly, against the law. I pulled out my list of questions and went through everything as thoroughly as I could, asking for the birth mother's (BM's) name, address and phone number. Me and C made plans to talk in the morning.

The next morning, I texted and called the numbers that C had given me. She soon called back and I asked if we could talk to the BM. The BM got on the phone. She had just turned 23. She was living with her aunt and she was due that day. I asked her a few questions like why she wanted an adoption plan for her child and how she was feeling. She was very soft spoken, well-mannered and answered all of my questions with a little giggle and a "yes ma'am." I got a feeling that she deeply cared for her child and wanted only the best for it. When I asked her what her post-delivery needs might be, she told me I'd have to talk to her aunt. Another red flag.

I spoke with one of our adoption friends that afternoon. I told her about my concerns regarding the "compensation" discussion and the fact that the BM always deferred to the aunt. Our friend reminded me that these folks aren't in the same situation as us. We have no idea what their socioeconomic status might be or what they've been through to get to where they are. I'm so thankful that she reminded me of that. I began to see things differently and gave the aunt the benefit of the doubt. I thought, "what if my niece was in this situation?" I'd fight tooth and nail to help her out. Yet something continued to bother me, and it continued to bother Robert.

That night, around 10:00 or so, we received a text from the aunt. The BM was in the hospital and would deliver soon. We got ourselves ready to put the dogs in the kennel and make a 13-hour trip to the hospital ... not a light decision! That would have meant both of us taking off work until further notice, running to the store to make sure we had everything we'd need to stay with a baby in a hotel while ICPC cleared in another state, book a hotel, buy something lovely for the BM and who knows what else. All that before we even told our families!

We conferred with our lawyer. When he talked with the aunt, she immediately brought up "compensation." Without going into details, she said the BM had living and other expenses and asked for a large sum of money. We were willing to provide the BM with a reasonable amount (and, in fact, the law allows for "reasonable" expenses to be paid). Based on the information provided by the aunt, however, the expenses she was demanding didn't seem reasonable to us, and the lawyer agreed. Plus, we've saved and saved to provide a child with the comforts a newborn deserves.

After much deliberation with our lawyer, we decided to sleep on it and make a decision in the morning. It's my thinking that if the Universe has decided this baby is our adoptive baby, it's going to happen even if we wait eight hours to make a decision. We turned off our phone and went to sleep.

The next morning, I turned on the phone and there it was - a picture of the baby in a little white onesie, sweet as can be. I showed the picture to Robert and we sat down to talk. We decided this baby was worth fighting for. We called our lawyer and told him what we could afford to pay for expenses ... and we felt good about it. What we offered allowed us to help out the BM somewhat (who is a healthy, young 22 year old going through probably the roughest time in her life) and provide for her child in a way that we felt the child deserved. The aunt's reply? She said she'd take the baby home, get on the Internet and find another couple who could afford to pay what she was requesting.

The whole thing just felt dirty and unethical. I mean, the aunt is playing with people's lives ... and I'm not talking about ours. We are certainly disappointed, yet in the great scheme of things, I feel like the right situation will find us somehow and all will work out. We'll be fine. For that baby, though, the future is uncertain, as it is for the BM. If the aunt and BM hadn't planned on taking the baby home, chances are they don't have the first diaper, a bassinet, bottles, and all of the other essentials that a newborn needs to provide him or her with comfort and a good start in life. I hope the baby has love, though. I suspect as much because despite all the challenges, that BM loves her baby.

After talking with our lawyer one last time, we've moved on. And to help us move on, we went shopping. We hadn't bought anything for our nursery under the advice of many adoptive parents. They told us to wait because, chances are, we'd have a few weeks or even months to buy all that stuff after we were matched with a birth mom. After that experience, though, we felt it better safe than sorry. We called our friend who had just had a baby and asked her what "essentials" she would recommend in the case that we have to travel and stay for a while in another city with a newborn. Here's the list:

  • Stroller/car seat travel system 
  • Head restraint for car seat
  • Traveling bassinet
  • Boppy (okay not essential but great to have)
  • Diaper bag
  • Bathtub
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Bottles
  • Bottle cleaner
  • Pacifiers
  • Burping cloths
  • Nail clipper set
  • Onesies
  • Socks
  • Baby powder
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Lotion

I know, doesn't really seem like a lot, does it - but the bill was $550. It sure does add up. And so, even though we thought all of these wonderful things (and more) were meant for this BM's little baby, we know now that everything we bought today and all the love and comforts we have to give are meant for another little baby somewhere. And we'll be ready.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Working from Home

This past weekend, Robert and I took a lasagna over to some new friends who just had a baby girl. They had just arrived home from the hospital on Friday after a three-day hospital stay and we knew they'd be too tired to cook.

During our visit, I talked with "B", asking her about her experience in the hospital and her plans for the next few months. Here are some of the questions I asked her:

Q: Are you planning on daycare so you can go back to work?
A: I wish I could quit my job and stay at home full-time but we need the insurance. I drive an hour each way to work so I'm not sure what we are going to do. Daycare is $200/week.

Q: Why don't you find someone locally to take care of her while you work? That may save you some money.
A: Yes, that's a good idea. We hired a lady to take care of my first child and he is still close to her today. She lives in another town, though, so I would have to find someone close to home.

Q: When do you have to go back to work?
A: I took 10 weeks off and am planning to enjoy that time. My husband doesn't have time off because he is a contractor. He won't get paid if he doesn't go into work.

Q: Is she sleeping through the night?
A: She is doing pretty well but now that she has her appetite, she is waking us up quite regularly.

Q: When we adopt, I'd love for you to go shopping with me and help me pick out all of the stuff we'll need for the baby.
A: I'd love to do that. There's so much to buy and I know all of the right places to go to help you save money on things like a crib, a stroller, a car seat and the rest of the basics.

Q: What's your biggest expense right now?
A: Formula and diapers! You wouldn't believe how much it all costs. She's worth every penny, though.

Of course there were so many more questions because we hung out with them for a couple of hours. Since that visit, I've been very thankful that I have the opportunity to work from home. Working from home will allow me the flexibility to provide a stable environment for a child.

It was just over a year ago that I was working as a freelance writer. When Robert and I decided to adopt, I approached my favorite client and asked her if she would hire me full-time. It took her a month or two but she finally said yes. I set up my office at home and haven't looked back since. I'm able to conduct meetings on Skype and on the phone so I can schedule them at a time that suits my needs.

Because of my flexible schedule, I can drop work at a moment's notice and address the needs of a child. If he or she wakes up and needs a bottle, I'm there. Doctor visits are no problem - even unexpected ones! And because I have a flexible schedule, I can spend a lot of time with a baby when he or she is awake to cuddle and bond.

Even cooler, Robert's job provides insurance and he's home every day before 5pm. He comes in, kisses the dogs and unwinds then we spend the rest of the night together doing whatever - cooking and eating dinner together, talking about our day, watching television, playing Scrabble ... and once a week we go out on a "date night," which usually means taking a walk downtown and eating at a new restaurant. We're a very stable and predictable couple ... but one that is ready to care for a child.

Stability and a regular schedule are key to providing a sense of security and self-worth in the life of a child. I am just so thankful that Robert and I are able to provide that stability.

As for our friends, we are looking forward to babysitting, and I'm sure they'll take us up on that soon!

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Parenthood: Open vs. Closed Adoption

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Parenthood: Open vs. Closed Adoption

I don't know if you watch the show Parenthood, but right now, there's a story line about adoption. Julia and Joel have a little girl but decided they wanted another child. After trying and trying, they learn that Julia is infertile. They decide to adopt. (Isn't this just wrapping up nicely?) Julia meets Zoe, a coffee barista who works in Julia's office. Turns out, Zoe's pregnant. Julia strategically strikes up a friendship with Zoe and then asks Zoe if she can buy the baby. Yes folks, I did say "buy the baby." I was appalled at that language - especially since the Julia character is a lawyer - but television is television, after all. (See my post on Juno.) Zoe, who really likes Julia, says no. Shocker for all.

Never having adopted (but truly wishing that an adoption will come through for us), and never having had a baby, I have never been in the situation that Zoe is in. (Again, I do realize this is a TV character and not real at all!) But when Zoe told Julia the reason she didn't want Julia and Joel to adopt the baby, I was surprised ... she wanted a closed adoption.

In a closed adoption, the birth parents remain anonymous to the child. In an open adoption, the birth mother or birth parents decide on some level of contact with the child. Whether that be yearly photos and a letter, periodic emails or a higher level of contact is up to the birth parents and adoptive parents to decide. I always assumed that for our adoption, the birth parents would request some level of openness.

Robert and I are willing to consider all of the birth parents' requests without judgement - no matter what they are. And I have no judgement about this character Zoe at all. (Even if she was a real person and not a character on a TV show.) I have not been in that position and don't know what I would choose if that choice was mine. I think what's important to understand is that birth parents have choices, and they should explore those choices to decide what's right for them. And vice versa.

A television show is fine for what it is - entertainment - but if you really want to know what your options are, educate yourself. Read as much as you can. Talk to people who are experienced. An adoption attorney (lawyer) is a great place to start. Meanwhile, you can start your journey here:

Unplanned Pregnancy: Educate Yourself

Creating Traditions

Robert and I don't go to church on a regular basis. He was brought up attending the Church of England and I was raised as a Presbyterian. Both of us have read the Bible and have faith, but don't feel the urge to attend church in order to practice that faith. Christmas eve is a different story, though.

When I was a little girl, Christmas eve was a magical time. Our entire family would gather together and go to a restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, we'd head back home, read The Night Before Christmas and set cookies and milk out for Santa. Then, late in the evening, we'd head to church and attend a candlelight Christmas service. 

Candlelight Christmas service at our church was like nothing you've ever seen. Everyone was dressed for Christmas and in the best of spirits. The church was adorned with garlands and wreaths. A white-lighted Christmas tree sat in place at the front of the pews. Attendees sang Christmas tunes (including the German version of "Oh Christmas Tree") along with the choir. The preacher read verse from the Christmas story in the Bible and delivered a 15-minute litany on peace and love. But the topping on the cake ... the event I always waited for ... was the singing of "Silent Night" in candlelight. 

Ushers lit candles at the front of the church then stopped at every pew to light a church-goer's candle. That church-goer would turn around and light his neighbor's candle. One by one, all of the candles were lit to the tune of Silent Night. At first, the organ player tapped along but by the last verse, the hall was quiet except for the voices of the church goers and the light of those beautiful candles. Magic. That's all I have to say about it.

This year we attended the candlelight service at my parents' church. It's an old church, erected gothic-style in the 1700s, and has the feel of my childhood. Everyone in my family attended, young and old. Sure, my sister and her son were playing hangman on the program and my sister refused to take communion ... modern ways avail. But by the time we sang "Silent Night," everyone joined in. 

Creating traditions is what creates family. We have a lot of traditions in my family but one I hope will never go away, and that's the candlelight service on Christmas eve. Of course, after we adopt, we'll create new traditions. For Christmas, Robert says we are doing away with leaving out a glass of milk for Santa. In England, Santa gets a glass of sherry and a mince pie ... that sounds like a great new tradition to me!
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