Friday, November 22, 2013

A few things I have learned about adoption...

During our adoption journey these last few months I have learned quite a bit about domestic (In the US) adoption. I am sure Troy has learned quite a bit as well, but will let him add his thoughts later.
I would love to talk to anyone who is interested in more details about adopting themselves.
First. There are LOTS of kids out there who need homes. There are many older kids especially. There are also quite a few babies especially if you are open to any ethnicity, possible drug/alcohol use and or any special needs. We kind of followed a non traditional way of connecting with our birthmom. Many families who decide to pursue adoption research agencies and sign up with just one of them to handle everything for them. When doing this they let the agency know their preferences if any and then the agency lets them know when chosen by a birthmom who has also selected that specific agency. The way we did it was initially we used an adoption consultant. She educated us quite a bit, helped us with our profile book then recommended a few agencies with little or no up front cost to register with. By reaching out to multiple agencies this expanded the potential expectant moms we could be matched with. Doing it this way was also a bit more challenging because in order for our family profile book to be shown to a birthmom the agency/attorney would have to contact us first each time and make sure we were interested and that we weren't presenting on any others right then as you can only present to one at a time. When you present you are committing 100% to adopting this child if you are chosen. For us this meant presenting 16 times in about 4 months. Sometimes these were babies already born, due any day or due in a few months. This was an exciting time, a stressful time, and a time full of much prayer.

We ended up networking with many other agencies so that I believe at the end we were hearing situations form 10+ sources. Most of the situations (an expecting mom looking for a family to place her baby with) that we presented to were kind of "overflow" cases from the different agencies/adoption attorneys. Typically there were cases that for whatever reason the adoptive parents that had registered with them were not interested. We saw mostly minority children, although not all, a lot of drug use/alcohol use situations and quite a bit of special needs from minor to extreme. When we would hear of a situation we would pray about it and then decide as a couple wether we felt God was leading us to present. This was such a faith building time. There were a few situations that were really scary feeling to us, but after much prayer we both felt there wasn't a clear no, so we presented and left it in Gods hands to decide.

Second thing we realized early on is that you really have to do your homework about many things. There are MANY adoption scams out there. Working with someone reputable can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars. Even working with someone reputable, there will be at risk expenses. Every mom has the right to end the end decide to parent her baby. Depending on the agency/attorney you work with the amount at risk can vary from $1000 to $18k or more. That brings me to the financial aspects. Domestic adoption is expensive! Most situations we saw were between $30,000 and $60,000. The exception to that would be older kids or more severe special needs, in those cases many times total fees were $10,000 or less. The costs really varied from state to state depending on the expenses the birthmom was requesting, rent, food, etc, and if she had medical insurance or not.

If you are being led to pursue adoption I would love to talk with you more.
One free resource if you are starting the process is a facebook group called Adoption situations. There are lots of helpful families and many situations posted there that once you are homestudy ready you can research further.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankfulness list continued...

I started this blog originally as a way to keep track of a thankfulness list after reading the book 1000 Gifts. Needless to say I wasn't on tope of it as I didn't get to far, but I love this idea especially in this season as there is just so so much to be thankful for.
23. times of quiet reflection.
24 Gods hand of provision throughout our lives
25 Financial blessing and provision for our adoption costs.
26 spending preciou stime with the birthmom and her foster mom.
27 healthy, beautiful baby girl
28 Favor with nurses at the hospital.
29 Growing, stretching in the times of waiting
30 Blessing of staying with Godly, encouraging friends
31 Time spent with other old friends from far away.
32 Gods hand orchestrating everything in His time and for His Glory and our good...
33 a wonderful husband caring for kids while I am away
34 involved caring grandparents helping out whereever needed
35 kids excited to meet their new baby sister
36 the prayers of many, seeing how God works through them each step of the way...
37 seeing Gods hand at workeach step of the way, a car seat, clothes stc, all with people saying I had meant to give these away sooner, but something held me back...:)
38 loving, sweet birthmom thanking us for giving her baby something she wasn't able to in her situation
39 Gods hand on us and with us through our time at the hospital. Being able to get ahold of the attorney around 10pm at night right away to get through a crisis situation.
40 "Great is thy Faithfulness" on Pandora at just the right times:)
41 knowing and believing God is Faithful.
42 staying on a beautiful lake with a nature path to be able to get out and enjoy Gods creation.
43 loving, supportive friends and family
44 After being told by the attorney not to "mother" the birthmom, the blessing of being asked the final day by the birthmom and foster mom to help hands on with her care.
45 Baby Faith

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baby is Here!! WOW what a wild ride...and it isn't over yet. PRAYER REQUESTS TOO!

So the end of last week we got a text from our attorney saying that our expectant mom was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday. So we excitedly got the last of our things packed and ready and flew out Sunday night. We wanted to make sure even if delayed that we would be there for the birth. As the last time we had Skyped with her she had said she would really like us there and in the room with her for the delivery. Once we arrived we found out that we may be able to meet with them on Monday before the delivery. We ended up going to dinner with the expectant mom (EM) and her Foster Mom (FM) and the social worker. We had about an hour and it was great to have a sort of icebreaker before the big day Tuesday. I was surprised at how small the EM was she was very petite and all belly. She was super sweet and shy:) Her FM was nice and very opinionated about various aspects of the plan. She had views and was not afraid to express them. At dinner they asked if we could pick them up at their home the next morning to get to the hospital at 7am. We were both exhausted after taking a red eye the night before and only getting less than 2 hours sleep. So we arranged for a cab for them and planned to meet them at the hospital at 7am.
The next morning the timing was perfect and we arrived at the hospital just as they were getting out of the taxi. We helped them carry their things up to the room. We also met the EM's brother who had come for the day to support her. He was nice and we were able to talk with him at various times throughout the day.
The doctor came around 8:30 and started her on the Pitocin. They asked us to leave the room while they got everything settled. Then the BM's attorney arrived and asked us to stay out of the room a while longer. we just had to roll with the requests. Then around 12 the attorney came to us again and said we should leave the hospital and go to lunch, just to stay within a 15-minute radius. This was a bit disappointing, as I really wanted to be there for the EM. The attorney said she would call us around 3 with an update.
Around 3:30 we got a call saying things still weren’t progressing quickly and we could come back to the hospital for a visit with the EM. We hurried back and went right to her room. At that point they had stopped the Pitocin as they said the babies movements had slowed down quite a bit when she started having some bigger contractions. So the EM was just sitting in her bed, which she had been doing most of the time. she said she really couldn't feel any contractions at that point. The baby’s heartbeat was strong. We stayed in the room with her 30 minutes or so then were asked by the attorney to go to the waiting room. About 5pm the FM came to the waiting room with tears in her eyes saying that they were doing a cesarean. We found out at that point that they had broken her water shortly after starting the Pitocin, and that she really hadn't progressed. Really felt horrible for her having to go through a cesarean at such a young age. We were not able to see her before she went in for surgery, then at 6:47 baby was born. The attorney came to get us just a few minutes after and we went to the nursery window to see her for the first time. She was so tiny and just screaming. then she sucked her fingers in her mouth and settled right down. About 30 minutes later they brought her out to see us for the first time. She was just beautiful perfect in every way. Her scores at birth were 9 and 9. She had quite a thick layer of vernix so the Pediatrician said she was probably about 38 weeks gestation.
Initially our plan with the EM and FM had been for the EM to have one hospital bracelet and for me to have the other. This would allow us unsupervised access to the baby. When the birth happened the hospital gave the bracelets to the EM, now the Birth mom (BM) and the FM. So at that point we had to only be with the baby if she was in the room with the BM. We checked with the hospital about spending the night there and they offered to let us stay in a room about 3 doors down from the BM. We met with the BM attorney again and she strongly advised us to not stay there, but I really felt I needed to. So later that night probably 9 or 10pm The nurses told us as long as we showed picture ID we could be with baby. So at that point Troy visited for a little while then he went back to the hotel which was just a few minutes away to get a good night sleep. I was able to have the baby in my room most f the night, which was an amazing blessing. The first time we had some quiet alone time I was just holding her and talking to her and praying over her and it just felt like we were so connected already. It felt as if my heart was bursting with love for her and for her birth mom who was making this amazing choice.

Troy came back in the morning and we spent the day getting to know the birth mom and her FM. Troy had taken her brother home the night before in our rental car. The birth mom was in so much pain it was really hard to watch. After that first night she was refusing all pain meds. She also, later in the day, kept getting up to walk around to try to recover faster. It was really shocking and hard to watch her go through this, but the whole time she was amazingly strong and kept reaffirming her commitment to her plan. We spent a lot of time that day in their room with baby and she really didn’t want to hold or see baby very much. The FM was the same and just tried to keep her distance from baby but they really wanted us in there with them (I think to see how we were doing with baby). Towards the end of the day she did hold baby, but then when baby started to cry she held the baby to ne and said come get your baby. She said another time that she never really felt like the baby was hers and she felt that was our baby.

She said another time that she never really felt that the baby was hers.
The day was long and we finally went to be around 11 and baby was allowed to be with me again through the night. It was interesting tome how different bottle-feeding was. I am so used to breastfeeding it was awkward to figure out when and how much to feed her. But I was so thankful for that time, Troy slept back at the hotel again. That afternoon also the FM had agreed for me to have the bracelet as the nurses said now that I wasn't allowed to see he baby along without it, so that was great, but the FM wanted me to make sure to not leave the floor for any reason or she wanted the bracelet back...
The third day was spent mostly again all of us in the room with the birth mom and her FM. Troy took the FM home to get a few things, and it was great getting o know them and to hear more of their lives, as sad and hard as it was to hear. At a few points throughout teh day we were able to have time alone with the birthmother and just repeatedly thanked us for giving her baby right now what she wasn't able to. She did around dinnertime also secretly let us know that her FM hadn't had anything to eat that day and she didn;t have any money to buy something, so Troy went and bought a pizza and dropped it off ath their roon. Throughout out hospital stay the nurses had been good to us, but the FM's strong personality and her methods were really building up I think on the nurses and doctors. The care the birth mom was reviving was defiantly below par and the doctors and nurses really did as minimal contact with her as they could. at one point the second day the birth mom was complaining that one of her sides really hurt and they called the nurse in. The Dr. was on the floor so she said she would get him. She came back a few minutes later and said she told the Dr. and he said to just tell her "she is fine". I was shocked to say the least, even the nurse looked a bit embarrassed that the doctor didn’t even come check her. So later that afternoon the FM called me into their room, her knee had been bothering her so she was trying not to walk around a lot. She asked if I could help BM get up out of bed and into the shower. I was so thankful to be able to help. Early on I was told by the attorney to not interfere or try to help the BM as much as I really, really wanted to. She said I needed to respect the FM's mothering, as different as it was to mine:). So up til this point I had just been trying to keep quiet and still and not offer to help unless asked. So I was able to help her shower and help bind her breasts after. But really this was something the nursing staff should have been helping with, but they never did... So tensions continued to build between FM and the staff. That night we were just trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour it was after 10 and we had just gotten into bed. I had asked as it was the last night if Troy could stay at the hospital with me as I was exhausted and could use the help, but really wanted baby to stay with us verses going to the nursery. Anyway Troy had just fallen asleep when there was a knock and our door was opened by grandma who was VERY upset and saying they were leaving the hospital.

So... the next couple hours were a flurry of panicked phone called to both attorneys trying to calm her down and convince her to just stay the night as the attorneys were scheduled to come in the morning anyway. The FM insisted that they needed to leave now or "she would end up going to jail" So she signed forms that against medical advice she was taking her daughter home. This whole time she was still affirming that the baby was still ours, but that they just needed to leave. She said we could come to her house with baby and sleep in her bed and she would sleep on t eh couch. This was something we were very uncomfortable with as Troy has visited their home twice at this point. We tried to convince her to let us stay at the hospital with baby as that was something the hospital agreed to, but she was adamant that if she was leaving we all needed to leave. So about 12:30 it was finally decided that we would all leave and go to a nearby hotel. Our attorney booked us both rooms there. We had to take everyone in our small rental car so they decided that Troy should take them and baby first to the hotel then leave them there with baby then come back to the hotel to pick me up. At this point I was so scared that when we got to the hotel they would end up keeping baby, but as with the past three days I just had to go along with their plans as much as it was scary. There were many, many, many prayers being said though. So that was what happened. It was after 1am when Troy came back to pick me up, as soon as we pulled to the hotel though we got a phone call before I was even out of the car from the F saying "come get your baby" she was fussy and wanted me:). WHAT a relief I didn't unload anything just went as fast as I could to their room. Then at that point after 1:30am now, she wanted to say all her goodbyes and take pictures:) I can only imagine what our faces look like at that point...

We got to our room around 2am and quickly fell asleep.

The next morning the attorneys were scheduled to come at 10:30. We got a call saying they were delayed and it wouldn't be until 11:30. Around 11:45 I got a call from the FM she said "Lorene honey I have some bad news.....long pause..."we love you guys HAHAHAHAHA!" needless to say I didn't think it was funny at the time:) then she sent a text a few minutes later that she was still laughing and wished she could have seen my face... this was pretty similar to to things that had gone on all during our stay, just a very different personality. So then around 12:30 we heard the attorneys were meeting with them signing papers. About 15 minutes later they came to our room and said it was all done. Then a few minutes later the BM and FM came to our room for the adoption ceremony and to really say their good byes.
Wow this is all so much harder to write then I thought it would be...
Going into adoption you hear what a powerful, emotional, difficult process it is, but until you have walked through it is so much bigger than anything I could have imagined or expected.
Our attorney wanted to video the ceremony and took pictures throughout, nut sure when we will be able to watch it, but I am sure someday it will be good to share with Faith. The Birth mom had a teddy bear that talked and although it sounds kind of corny it was some beautiful words about adoption. Then Troy and I had a letter prepared to share with her. Even before Troy started reading we all were crying. I gave the Birthmother a customized necklace I had made just for her.It was a hugely powerful, emotional time for all of us. Then we took some more pictures and everyone hugged a lot and then it was over. Our attorney met with us to go over a few more lingering details and we would appreciate your continued prayers about these aspects.
At this point the birthfather is "unnamed" so there is a legal process that has to be taken to terminate his parental rights. M understanding is that this process takes 7-10 business days. So there is a small chance that the birthfather will not want to terminate his rights at that point then the court will have to make a decision. Our understanding is that if he has not been involved up until this point there would be a very small chance that he would be able to keep his parental rights.
Secondly Troy flew home Saturday to be with the rest of the kids at home. Please pray for him extra measures of patience and energy. Lastly I am still in Florida with baby Faith, staying with some wonderful friends of ours, and so thankful for them. I cannot leave the state with the baby until the paperwork clears which at this point is estimated to be about a week and a half more. I would love to get home sooner. Please pray that this ICPC paperwork can be expedited in some way.
Lastly unrelated, but related, Troy is home now and last night there is an issue with a drunk neighbor and the police were called multiple times. Troy and kids are all ok, just shaken up. Please prayer for wisdom for Troy and safety for them all.
We so appreciate your prayers through every step of this process. We saw God at work so many times. Faith is doing great she is eating well, growing and sleeping really well for a newborn:) Also another small blessing is that with the timing of weaning Sam form nursing I was able to rebuild my supply and I am able to breastfeed her which is great for bonding and extra health benefits too.
Thank you again for reading this long rambling, I think I could have written pages more, but this gives you an idea. We are so in love with this precious new daughter and can't wait for you all to meet her!