Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I've been doing a lot of talking about "the wait" lately.  As we inch closer and closer to our entrance into the "waiting families" book at Lutheran Social Services, there are lots of questions about what that means for us.  It doesn't mean that we now have a timeline on when we'll get a baby, we're not in a queue that will receive babies in order.  Basically, it only means that we will broaden our outreach significantly and in a way that we know is effective.  We started out at #30 on this waiting list six months ago.  That means that in the last 6 months, 30 people have come out of the book.  We don't know the circumstances behind the people leaving the book, but it's safe to assume that at least the majority of them matched with a birth mother and are no longer actively outreaching.  This bodes very well for us - that's a lot of turnover so we're hoping it means good things ahead for us.

I read an article on "the wait" this morning and it really rang true for me.  The article - which can be found here - listed the benefits of "the wait".  I think this is a really neat perspective.  I am the kind of person who always looks for the greater meaning behind things.  I believe that most life situations are intended to teach you something - either about yourself, or about the world.  I can look back at some of the hardest times in my life and see that those times were usually periods tremendous growth for me, and sometimes, if I'm lucky - I can see that there was great beauty in those times as well.  So I like to think about what this is going to look like in hindsight.  Here is some of what the article mentions:

Waiting has taught you to be more patient.Open adoption isn’t about instant gratification. It’s about waiting it out until the right opportunity comes along and then jumping on it before it slips away. What they say is true: good things really do come to those who wait.

I can only hope that this is the case.  Patience has not always been my strong suit.  I like to take action and struggle to sit and wait.  There's no question that this entire experience has been a lesson on learning how to wait gracefully.  Todd is better at this than I am, I think but there should be no question that we're learning more about patience now than we ever thought we'd experience (pre-children, anyway)!

It’s made you more appreciative.
Some biological parents take their children for granted. Not you. Waiting to adopt has taught you that parenting is a privilege, not a right. And that, in turn, has helped you to savor things that other people don’t think twice about–to enjoy the small things in life as much as the big ones.

Parenting is a privilege.  Not a right.  Is it painful and difficult to watch people have babies with virtually no conscious effort?  Yes.  But we know that everyone has their own cross to bear and we don't know everyone's stories.  What we do know is that the baby we wind up getting will be the answer to more than 100 prayers.  This time is giving us perspective.  We pray for this, and we will never ever take this ultimate gift for granted.

It’s helped you become more resilient.
Adopting isn’t for sissies. Jumping through all of those hoops to get where you are today would have worn down plenty of other people. But you’re not only still standing. You’re standing tall–ready for the next challenge that comes your way.

I think we're getting better at this.  I think Todd and I would both agree that the hardest part was not the beginning.  It wasn't the background checks, or the physicals, or the 50 pages of paperwork we filled out regarding our backgrounds and parenting plans.   It wasn't the home study (which we pretty much sailed through) or the classroom time or the online classes. 

The hardest part of "the wait" has been just putting ourselves out there.  It is uncomfortable to throw our lives out into the world for everyone to see and judge.  On occasion, we have been judged harshly.  The flip side of that is that the overwhelming warmth and support we have received from people (many of you strangers) wayyyyyy outweighs the negative encounters we've had.  And those negative encounters have taught us things too. 

We are definitely ready for the next challenge that comes our way.  We're ready for our lives to be turned upside down.  Every once in a while it gets real and scary  - but I believe that those feelings aren't any different from what pregnant women experience.  We're just human, but we're tough and determined and completely committed to this.

It’s turned you into a more loving person.
Going through the open adoption process can put even the strongest of relationships to the test. But you know that if you can get through this, you can get through just about anything. And be stronger for it, too.

I think we started out pretty loving.  It's hard to gauge whether or not we've gotten MORE loving since we started this, but we've learned a lot about each other.  We've been forced to lean on each other in ways that we never had to before.  It's been a stressful couple of years on our marriage, but we've never questioned our committment to each other.  This is the benefit of marrying your best friend, right?  I think that with the development of patience comes a strengthening of love.  We are a team.  We will always be a team.   And these big scary changes that come after this (big scary) wait seem maybe just a smidge less scary knowing that we're not going to have to go through them alone.  We got each others backs. 

It’s taught you to be more understanding.
Adopting a child requires a shift in thinking–in the way you think of yourself but also in the way that others think of you. Trying to explain open adoption to someone who’s never gone through it is like explaining what it’s like to live in a foreign country. Pat yourself on the back for handling all those pesky questions and comments with equanimity and grace.

I actually LOVE educating about the adoption process.  I love talking about it.  I think it's fascinating and exciting and wonderful.  Unless you've been through it, you probably don't know anything about it.  This is not something that's incredibly transparent in our society -- and trust me, the media is not a trustworthy source on this.  So I welcome questions and love explaining what our journey has been like.  I'm not shy about this - I'm a pretty open book.  

That said, I've definitely had to change the way I think about myself.  Pursuing adoption was an easy decision for me, but that doesn't mean that there's not a grieving process involved.  It is frustrating and infuriating that I can't make my body do what it was designed to do and while I could not be more excited to be involved in adoption and building our family this way, I still have moments (days?) of frustration and grief that my body refuses to cooperate.

I'm not sure how the way other people see us has shifted.  I'm not sure anyone was shocked when we announced that we wanted to adopt.  I don't think anyone even questions that this is the right thing for us to be doing.  We have this amazing network of friends and family who recognize family as something that goes far beyond whose blood flows through your veins.  The reactions we received when we announced our plans were joy and excitement - so if there was a shift in the way they thought of us, we weren't involved in it!

It’s shown you how to become more flexible.
One thing you’ve got to say about open adoption: it takes you out of your comfort zone. Very quickly you’ve learned how to let go of your preconceptions about what it means to build a family and just go with the flow.

Out of our comfort zone?
I am a person who loves order.  I love schedules and timelines and knowing where I have to be and when I have to be there.  Once upon a time I had one of these timelines for my life.  Life has a way of taking your timeline, laughing at it, ripping it up, and setting it on fire.  Not one single major life event has ever happened according to our timeline.  So sure, we're learning flexibility.  And trust.  And I'm learning to let go of my timelines and my love of order and letting myself believe that God's got the timeline taken care of and I don't have to worry about it anymore.
(P.S.  I still worry about it.  But I'm working on it!)

It’s made you more compassionate.
Open adoption involves putting putting yourself in someone’s shoes and putting other people’s needs before your own. Even though this is your journey, you now understand that it’s not always about you.

One of the things I've been most afraid of is our (future) birthparents feelings.
It sounds weird, right?
I'm a very empathetic person.  I don't want to cause anyone else pain, and the fact that pain is usually a part of this whole process is difficult for me.  So - I don't know if I'm more compassionate now than I used to be, but believe me -- it's very definitely not always about me.  It's so important to me that our (future) birthparents are comfortable with us and trust us - we know that this has to be one of the hardest decisions they've ever had to make and we want to somehow make it as easy is it can be. 

It’s taught you to be more trusting.
Open adoption is a leap of faith. You never know when “the Call” will come or who it will come from. You need to trust your instincts and believe that everything will work out just the way it was supposed to. If you don’t, you know that you’re going to have a very difficult road ahead of you.

This may be the hugest area of growth for us.
From almost the first moment on this journey I felt this spirituality in me just open up.  I had to let go.  This - none of this - is happening according to the timeline I mentioned earlier.  It's not on our timeline at all, though I truly believe that it's meant to happen and will happen someday.  I can't tell you how many prayers we've said in the last year (and add those to all the prayers that you've been saying for us).  Right now - we're running on trust.  It will happen.  It will.  When it's supposed to.

It’s shown you how to be more realistic.
At first, you vowed to be a parent in six months. Then in eight months. Then in twelve. Now more than 20 months have gone by and you’re still not a parent. Good thing you’ve learned to manage your expectations and how to put things in perspective.

We had a response to our outreach within days after we began our "media blitz". 
I truly thought that we would find our match like...immediately.  Like the article says -- first in 6 months, then in 8 months, etc.  It then occurred to us (with a few sort of rough reminders) that not everyone loves us.  Not everyone would choose for us to be parents.  So - we know it might not happen as quickly as we thought.  This is where the patience and trust comes in...

It’s made you more hopeful.
Open adoption is about building families. But it’s also about building dreams. So while your match may not have come as quickly as you would liked, it doesn’t mean it won’t come at all.

At the root of all this - the highs and lows -- there is hope. Hope that our family will grow -- soon!  Hope that we'll have a healthy, happy, loving relationship with our future birth family.  Hope that we'll have a happy, healthy baby.  Hope that - at the end of all this, we can look back and see it as a time of tremendous growth and beauty.

It’s shown you how to be more grateful.
Waiting to adopt has surprised you in many ways. It’s proven just how strong you really are. Not everyone survives this part of the process. But you have–with flying colors. And that’s nothing to take for granted.

We are grateful for so much -- for the gifts we've already been given.  The house that we love, the animals that we count as family.  We're grateful for our family and friends.  We're grateful for our jobs.  We're grateful for all of YOU - out there supporting us even though we've never met most of you.  It's not been a completely smooth road, but we've learned a lot about the awesomeness that the kindness and support of strangers can bring to our lives. 

We have so much to be grateful for - we have a beautiful life.  We just can't wait to see it grow. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Todd goes back to work tomorrow.

We are SO excited.


This is going to be such a huge change for us.  And yes, we've done it before.  I mean, for most people this is the default, right?  But we've fallen into a new normal the past eight months and I think we're both a little scared to give it up.  It's been nice to have a "house husband" who could run to the grocery store during the day when it's not busy, and take care of a multitude of other home projects.  It was like having a contractor and a maid and a pesronal shopper all in one.  We also sort of liked the idea of having Todd be a stay-at-home dad if a child had come our way during that time.  There was a little dream in there and at one point I thought maybe it was the reason for his unemployment.

Don't get me wrong.  We are beyond excited that he has this opportunity.  Unemployment took a serious toll on morale and confidence in this house.  We 100% believe that him going back to work is the very best thing that could happen for our family.  Todd will be happier working.  It will be less stressful with two incomes coming in and LOTS of families don't have stay-at-home dads, and they get along just fine. 

So will we.  We'll probably get along even better because, as I mentioned, more financial stability and a boost in our morale. 

We're just feeling a little nervous on the eve of this next new adventure.  It will change the dynamic of our household again (and, *sigh*, I guess I'm going to have to start pitching in on the cleaning again), but we're very excited about this opportunity.  He'll be in a good place with lots of room for growth, and I am so so proud of him and excited for him. 

We are ready for new adventures and it looks like we're about to embark on one!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Another Weekend Roundup

This seems to be the pattern I have fallen into.  We've been hard at work on cleaning up and plowing through some last minute projects before Todd starts back to work a week from tomorrow.  It's amazing how quickly the last month has flown by.  It seemed like we had forever to get things done and now here we are scrambling to do as much as we can in the last seven days.  We're both very very excited for him to get back to work full time, in this job that seems very promising and stable and very very good for him.  I'm just going to have to get used to not having a house-husband anymore. :)

This weekend was much like last weekend - a good mixture of work and play.  We didn't get as much work done on the nursery as I had hoped, but we did buy the primer and get a teeny tiny start on taping and spackling the walls.  We spent most of Saturday shopping - we got a BUNCH of stuff for the nursery (I'll post pictures eventually) and new light fixtures.  It seems that I am nesting, which I am told means that I am now 100% ready for a baby. :)

Today we celebrated my grandma's birthday.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, in fact I think I may have gotten my first color of the season.  In March!  In Minnesota!  We were able to enjoy a lovely meal outside in flip flops and t-shirts.  My whole family on my mom's side gathers once a month to celebrate birthdays, so it was a big, rowdy affair once again.  I'm pretty sure we embarrassed my grandma with our loud and outrageously off-key rendering of "Happy Birthday" - but she had a good time nonetheless.

In exciting news on the adoption front we received word last week that we are currently #3 on the waiting list to go into the Waiting Families Book.  To clarify, going into the waiting families book really just means more waiting.  It's not a guarantee that our wait is getting close to finish.  Just that our wait to go into the BOOK is nearly finished!  Once we're in the book, we'll have our profile listed in every Lutheran Social Services office.  This just broadens the reach we have, so hopefully it will expand the number of people who are seeing us and maybe make the wait much shorter.  Many many prayers to that end.  We've been waiting to go into the book since October - we started out at #30 on the waiting list, so it's exciting to finally see some progress there.  All of our stuff is printed and ready to go once we get the notification that they're ready for us!  We are beyond ready for this!

Another bit of exciting news is that our Lutheran Social Services has begun profiling families each week on their Facebook page.  Our profile will be the profile of the week this coming Wednesday.  Again, another opportunity to reach a new audience and hopefully network with more people to get our information out there.  After months of feeling a little stalled out, these new opportunities are really exciting to us.  If you haven't "liked" our Facebook page yet, please feel free to stop by and do so here:  I'll share the profile once it's posted on Wednesday!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekend Round Up

On Thursday afternoon we packed up the car and headed west with 16 of our family members for an overnight getaway.  We were off to visit my great-aunt who lives in Western Minnesota and has had some health problems lately.  As a child, we used to go visit my great-aunt every Thanksgiving and Easter.  The grown-ups would play cards, and the kids would play board games or pool in the basement. 

Playing cards is a huge family tradition.
One of my strongest family memories is of falling asleep on the pull-out couch in my great-aunts living room, listening to the sound of the adults laughing and arguing over card games in the next room.  Man, I love that sound.  As you can see by the picture above, card games are still a part of our family tradition.  Not much has changed really -- here, the "grown-ups" are playing cards.  And HERE:

We are also big fans of board games!
The "kids" are playing Apples to Apples. 
Those not engaged in one of these activities, entertained themselves in other ways:

Our nephew Matthew, playing "bag"
"Uncle Todd" and our nephew Ben in a tickle fight!
It was just a short overnight.  The next day we met my great-aunt for lunch and spent some time visiting before making the trip home.  A whirlwind, very fun getaway.

The rest of the weekend was spent continuing work on the nursery, doing the annual lazy-dog-owner clean-up on the backyard, and watching our animals do cute things.

A real dog, snuggling with a stuffed dog.  Ridiculous.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Round Up

This weekend was mostly about blood sweat and tears.
Well - blood and sweat, anyway.  Despite the existence of those two things, there was a remarkable absence of tears.  After months of pretending like that back bedroom's sole existence was to hide all our junk when people stay at our house, Todd put the ball back in motion to resume stripping the room of it's sea green floral wallpaper.  Casualties so far include one finger cut, one fingernail "situation", and unbelievably sore shoulders.

I have to admit something here.  I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  I've known that we had to get back to the wallpaper at some point but I couldn't get myself motivated to get back to it.  Earlier in the week Todd had called me to impart some random piece of wisdom about wallpaper removal and then informed me that he had been working in that room, without me asking him to.  As I continued to work on it today, I became very grateful that he did this.  It lit the fire under me again.  I guess I needed him to lead the way to get me back in the game and once he did, I jumped in enthusiastically and now I'm on a mission.

Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for Todd?

One of the things that came to mind as I was scrubbing goo off the walls of our soon-to-be Dr. Seuss themed nursery was a game we used to play in high school.  I cannot remember what it was called or exactly how it worked but involved a deck of cards and it basically played like MASH.  I think you assigned a person to a card type (spades, clubs, hearts, diamonds) and then you'd say things like "this person will be my best friend for life" and then flip the top card of the deck over and whatever the symbol was indicated who was going to be that for you.  You picked one card to be set aside and that card was revealed at the end as who you were going to wind up with.  Of course it's a ridiculous game and I didn't wind up with anyone I ever listed in those games (*sigh* your loss, Donnie Wahlberg), but I remember that in every single game I ever played one of my statements was "this person will be my Dr. Seuss."

I am happy to report that I did wind up marrying my Dr. Seuss.  Like I said, it wasn't anyone who was ever assigned to those cards.  The cards totally lied.

I don't know what the thing is with Dr. Seuss and my life except that Dr. Seuss created worlds full of color and quirky characters and laughter and wild imaginative words and stories.  That's exactly what I wanted my life to be. He brought lightness and silly to a heavy hard world.  I wanted to marry someone who would bring that to me.    Things don't always (read: hardly ever) work out the way I planned, but Todd brings those elements to me in different ways almost every day.

Anyway - enough about how awesome Todd is.  He's getting a big head.  :)
So, the nursery is coming along and once we get past this grueling wallpaper process, I'll share photos as it progresses.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A February Retrospective

We didn't write much in February, and when we did update the blog, it was fairly photo heavy so I thought I'd give a brief February (Random) Retrospective.

It was my birthday - and we celebrated with a little weekend getaway.  We had great food and great fun.  As a birthday present, Todd had bought me tickets to see my favorite comedian, Mike Birbiglia.  We had seats so close it we could have been sitting in his lap.  If you've never heard of Mike Birbiglia, you're missing out.  Here's a sample:

NOTE:  This is not my favorite bit by him.  He does a bit about the Scrambler that literally has me falling out of my chair every single time I hear it.  Unfortunately, the internet does not seem to contain a good copy of this which I guess means that you're going to have to see him live to get the experience!

It was also Daisy's birthday!  Our little goober is two years old! 

Birthday girl with party carnage behind her
She didn't get a weekend getaway or a comedy show, but we did give her an extra treat and she seemed to enjoy our squealing and fussing over her.  She pranced around like a real princess all night long. 

The rest of the month was spent recovering from all the birthday festivities!  Last weekend I spent with two girls I've been babysitting since they were 5 and 7.  They are teenagers now - which pretty much blows my mind.  I don't see them as often as I used to, so it blows me away how much they've grown and how mature they are.  We had fun watching the last Harry Potter movie (I hadn't seen it yet!).  It's our tradition to have macaroni and cheese and hotdogs for dinner when I'm staying with them.  I've told them 100 times that I can make more things than that, but ever since they were little it's what they've always wanted when I'm there and it's become our own tradition.  It was really fun to catch up - they're a reminder to me of how fast time flies, and how much I look forward to building new traditions with our own children someday.

Finally, my sister-in-law unearthed this picture of me:

This was taken shortly after Todd and I got home from our honeymoon.  We had stopped by Todd's parents house to catch up with them.  We were sitting around talking and catching up and the next thing I knew our little (ugh, not so little anymore!) nephew had crawled into my lap and fallen asleep.  It's one of my favorite pictures - and while it happened 4 years ago rather than last month, I just finally got my hands on it last month and wanted to share!

So -- we've been busy.  March is shaping up to be another busy month.  Todd has gotten back to work scraping the wallpaper off the nursery so hopefully we'll have some forward momentum on that soon!  Spring is coming -- and with it, renewed hope!