Saturday, November 29, 2008

know how you feel

Lately I've been feeling pressure to be consistently optimistic and positive about how I'm feeling about the adoption process and the waiting stage. Some days it's really hard work to think positively about all of this. At any given time there are half a million things running through my head related to adoption ranging from "this is never going to happen" to "I've got to properly learn how to install a car seat." My emotions are all over the board. But sometimes it all just plain sucks. On many different levels. Seeing pregnant women sucks. Seeing new babies sucks. Going to work everyday with the feeling that life will never change sucks. Anticipating another Christmas and birthday without a child sucks. Knowing your future is in someone else's hands sucks. Waiting for a phone call sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks.

I feel like I should just suck it up and recognize the blessings that I do have in life. I certainly do have so much to be thankful for. But at the same time I truly believe that it's okay to actually FEEL what you are feeling. After my father's sudden death, D and I went to counselling to help me work through my grief. I very clearly remember the therapist telling me to give myself permission to thoroughly feel the emotion I was feeling. If I was angry, she told me to get angry and sit with the anger to feel it. If I was sad, I was to allow myself to be sad and not let anyone (myself included) tell me how I was supposed to feel.

So when I feel like someone "shot my stork" (I saw this blog title the other day and think it's absolutely hilarious and so true) I give myself permission to be angry or sad about how hard family planning has been for us. And when I feel excited and nervous about the idea of becoming a mother I work at feeling those emotions too. In our house we have a "know how you feel" magnet on our fridge which lists a variety of emotions/moods and there is a separate magnet you use to place around the emotion you are feeling.

Right now my magnet is on the "numb" feeling.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I have grown to love this adoption blogging world I have become a part of. I have been given the privilege to take a peek in the lives of strangers and learn about many different perspectives and experiences related to adoption, each of which I have been grateful for. (Although eventually you don’t feel quite so much like a stranger!) I love how Heather at Production, Not Reproduction can post about a fairly controversial topic such as revocation periods and then people from different parts of the triad engage with the topic and everyone speaks from their experience and heart without a lot of conflict.

But the blogging world can be a negative place as well. I am distraught at the inconsiderate, ignorant, and fearful nature of people who hide behind the anonymity that blogging can provide. Paula at Heart, Mind, and Seoul has just put a stop to all public blogging due to threatening comments which has caused her to take police action. I have learned SO much from reading Paula’s blog. She is able to speak from the transracial adoptee and adoptive parent perspective and has much wisdom to share. It is incredibly sad that people aren’t allowed to share their own life experiences without the concern of attack. I sincerely hope that Paula is able to resolve the situation and that she will come back to the blogging world.

I know that some people just don't "get" the whole blogging thing. Starting a blog and regularly reading others can keep me at the computer for quite some time! But this is a part of my therapy. It is a way for me to express how I'm feeling and doing and also to learn and grow from others in similar situations as me. I am so blessed to have some friends in my life who have children through adoption or are currently in the process. Connecting regularly with these women is also a part of my journey. But being a part of the adoption blogging world allows me to learn from adoptee's and first mothers which I find invaluable.

So here's to continued posting and reading!

Friday, November 21, 2008

adoption baby book

I just received the adoption baby book that I ordered from amazon. I absolutely LOVE it! The authors of this book obviously put a lot of thought into each page. A friend who is adopting an older baby from overseas got the same book and it will work great for this type of adoption as well. My only criticism is that there are 2 family trees in the back, one for the adoptive family and one for the first family. I would have preferred one large tree that incorporates both families. But all in all, great book and I would definitely recommend it for all types of adoption stories.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

we're approved

So after I posted my conspiracy theory yesterday, we got the call later that day that we are finally approved! I still believe in my theory (funny how they can get 2 signatures in 2 days when our papers were sitting on a desk for 3 weeks!) but it is just good to know that we have passed this last hurdle. And so we continue to do what we have been doing since September…wait! Actually, we have been waiting on someone or something since the beginning of this process. Waiting for the criminal check, waiting for the medical appt, waiting to attend the education seminar, waiting for the Social Worker to complete the report, waiting while our papers were in transit, waiting for a stamp of approval…waiting, waiting, waiting!

We should be really good at waiting but alas, it still doesn’t come easy. I’m curious to know what my perception of our waiting time will be once we have a family. How quickly will I forget the distress I feel right now? Oh well, all I know is how I feel in the moment and all I can do is acknowledge where I am at in the process today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

conspiracy theory

Today it is 9 weeks since our paperwork arrived in the States. The approval process was to take 6-8 weeks. D called on Monday to get an update and was told that our file was STILL with board member 4 (that makes 3 weeks – what does one do with paperwork for that long?). When D questioned the length of time this was taking he was told not to worry, that really everything is good to go, our file is “sort of” approved, and it’s really just a formality to get the final 2 signatures. We’ve known all along that once they got our paperwork if there was a potential match they would have expedited our approval process, so according to us we have been waiting since September. However, according to the agency our wait only begins once the final 5th signature is on our file. Our agency has a low average wait time from approval to placement, often this happens in a couple of months.

Are you starting to put 2 and 2 together?

We think that the agency is sitting on our file and not formally approving it to keep their average wait time low. For instance, if a baby was placed with us in February, we would consider our wait time 5 months. However, the agency would only consider our wait time from day of approval which if that happens in November, our wait would be 3 months. It’s all about numbers and averages. And this makes me sick. Oh the things I have learned about adoption ethics. There are many things about this agency that are really good but then something like this happens which makes me question and wonder. We really don’t have a hot clue about what goes on at the agency since we’re many miles away. We would really like to call out the agency on their approval process but like so many other times when we’ve questioned policies and procedures we stay silent. We stay silent because we don’t have any control. You feel powerless as a prospective adoptive parent. We must work to reform the system but how do you do that when you’re very invested in it like we are? Of course we won’t agree to a match that feels/is unethical. But what can we do in our current situation when there are subtle agency practices that make us question, and ultimately feel mislead? We are afraid that if we push back our file will become “lost” or stuck at the bottom of the pile. I don’t know if anything like this would really happen but when your future lies in the hands of others you begin to believe it.

I’m feeling stuck. Stuck in the middle of a system that lives, breathes, and takes on a power of its own. I don’t know how to work for reform in this system because I’m contributing to it. Maybe you can only really work for reform after placement. Or maybe I can’t see the ways I can currently advocate for reform because I am so emotionally invested. At some point I need to just trust my instincts, check my motives, and pray that our adoption proceeds in an ethical manner. In the meantime, I will continue to advocate for the child/adoptee and expectant parents/first parents with our agencies and with others.

Monday, November 17, 2008

this is me enjoying my current lifestyle

Friday: After work, D and I, along with some people from our church served a meal at a local homeless shelter. We all then went for coffee afterwards to talk about the evening and experience of serving others in need.

Saturday: Slept in. Had plans for coffee with a girlfriend but she was sick. Church in the early evening. After church we went to a friend’s 40th birthday party. Had a fabulous time, ate too much amazing food, and stayed out late.

Sunday: Slept in. Lounged around all day, watched Grey’s Anatomy downloaded from last week, had a nap in the afternoon. D and I went out in the evening to a movie.

And I didn’t have to think about nap schedules and childcare once during the weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

please don't say...#3

When you discover that someone is planning to adopt a child, please don’t say…"So you can’t have your own kids?"

I still get all flustered when asked this question. Firstly, I’m irritated with the question because it generally comes right after I’ve shared with someone, often an acquaintance type friend that D and I are in the process of adoption. This question quickly shifts the focus from our excitement over an adoption and family to genetics and fertility. I end up feeling that adoption is second best and a less valid way of forming a family. I feel like I have to defend our choice and how it is an exciting time in our lives. And secondly, what does it matter to an acquaintance anyway? When it comes to talking about reproduction it seems there are no boundaries. I don’t know what sort of answer people expect to get when asking this question. Do they want to hear about our experience at a fertility clinic? Do they want a run down of how long we’ve tried, what we’ve tried? Do they want to hear about the loss and grief? Maybe I should launch into a descriptive explanation of the hysterosalpingogram test...that might divert the question!

For the record, I really don’t have a problem sharing my story with someone who is genuine in asking.

I realize that some of my reaction to this question is my own issue and I need to learn how to deal with the emotions that come up for me. But I always react to the use of the word “own.” This child will be ours in that we will have been given legal responsibility to care for him/her. What the person means to ask is "can you have biological kids?" but instead biology is equated with ownership. I’m sorry but no one "owns" their children whether they were birthed or adopted. Parents have been given the responsibility to take care of a child but they are not possessions. Isn’t parenting a process of letting go anyway?

So please remember, the correct word to use is "biological" when speaking about your kids to someone who has adopted a child or is in the process. And determine if you really need to ask the fertility related questions (or look for the right time) or can you instead be excited for prospective adoptive parents and look forward with them, joining them in that journey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

must not call agency

I’m trying to summon my willpower today. It has been 8 weeks since our paperwork arrived at the US agency. Our file has been working its way through 5 board members for their approval process which is to take 6-8 weeks. We were told that board members 1 and 2 would take the longest because they would read through it with a fine tooth comb so to speak. However, our papers made it past these members quite quickly which signified to us that everything would be said and done well before the 8 week mark. It seems that we were a bit too optimistic. I called for an update early last week and was told that our file was still with board member 4 and had been with this person for 2 weeks. I was assured that he would sign off on it that day and then we just needed the signature of the agency executive director. I was told that they would call us when this occasion occurred. It’s now a week and a half later and still no word. I really want to call but I’m trying to hold off until next week. I’m suspicious of why it takes the agency so long to approve paperwork...feels fishy to me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

babies everywhere

You know how when you decide to buy a certain make and model of car you start seeing that particular car everywhere? Today I saw babies everywhere. I went grocery shopping this afternoon and since it's a holiday here I think everyone was out at the store. I think all the families with newborns decided to go grocery shopping at the same time I did! Everywhere I turned in the store I saw a car seat, stroller, or arms housing an infant. I came home and informed D that I was not going grocery shopping again until I was with a child!

So three days after my post on waiting, and how I'm trying to be really intentional about being okay in the waiting and learning from this time, and how D and I need to enjoy our time left as just the two of us, I crash in the grocery store from the proliferation of babies. I know this is a part of the process, this going back and forth from being okay in the wait to not. But it's a terribly frustrating part. I almost have to keep myself prepared to see pregnant women and families everywhere I go since this is how the world stays populated! It's just frustrating for me to feel strong in the wait and then fall so quickly back into my wants and desires. Intellectually I am strong in this process but my heart is often so weak and just wants to be a mother.


Edited on 12 Nov 08 to add that my reference to purchasing a car is in no way to compare adopting a baby to buying a car. Rather, I was referring to the idea of how when you want something you begin to see it everywhere. And no one called me out on this, I just thought I would make myself clear!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

adoption and advent

A while back someone referred to our waiting period as a time of Advent (thanks C!). Initially I thought, yeah, that just sounds like a nice analogy, but I've had some time to think this through and have realized the perfect connection between our waiting and the waiting during Advent. Advent is a term meaning "coming" or "arrival" is about preparing, anticipating, and waiting during the Christmas season. This advent refection really resonated with me and in my mind so clearly links my waiting time with Advent...
"Within the preparation and anticipation, do we make time for the waiting? Waiting in quietness to hear God speak. Waiting in wonder to know Christ...Waiting in silence to experience the Holy Spirit enfolding us. Let us prepare, anticipate, and wait..."

Mm...more things for me to ponder. Am I too wrapped up in preparing for and anticipating a child...or have I made time for the waiting? What does this waiting time really mean for me? Is it a time to wish away and hurry through so I can finally become a parent? Or is it a time for me to learn and grow from? What does it mean to "wait in wonder?" The word "wonder" means amazed admiration or awe. Truthfully, I'm generally not full of too much awe and amazement when I consider my waiting time! I'm still not quite sure how to "wait in wonder" during an adoption but I feel that I need to be very intentional during this time.

So, this year Advent will start a bit early in my house! D and I have committed to engage in some simple practices to firmly root our preparing, anticipating, and waiting for a child in the Lord. Since the beginning of November, every Sunday dinner and evening is mini-date night in our house! We spend these evenings together first prayerfully talking and processing our waiting and the waiting during Advent and then we do something fun together just the two of us. I believe this is also a commitment to our marriage and will help to strengthen the foundation we have already built during the past 12 years (can't believe it's been that long!!). We need to make good use of the time we have left as a family of two and hopefully this will help to prepare our relationship for the chaos that awaits us!

I know the waiting will still be hard but I pray that I am able to use this time in healthy ways so as to keep myself sane(!) but most importantly, to learn and grow from this experience.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

things i'm learning about myself

I admit it…I’m a fact-finder!

Well, truthfully, I only exhibit some fact-finding tendencies as outlined by the Kolbe test. The Kolbe test is about discovering how a person takes action in certain situations, what one will and won’t do. It’s not about your personality or intelligence, but how you "do". According to Kolbe, there are 4 modes of action: the fact-finder, quick-start, follow-thru, and implementer. I haven’t officially taken the test (although I would be interested) but I think I've got some strong quick-start and fact-finding qualities.

Back to the fact-finder action mode. D is a fact-finder, through and through, and I am learning that at times I lean this way as well. I wouldn’t have pegged myself as acting at all as a fact-finder considering that at work I really don’t feel that I exhibit many fact-finding characteristics. But I truly am a fact-finder in any situation that is important to me. (Not that work isn’t important…it’s just that…well, you know…its work!). I have learned this tidbit about myself while working through this adoption process. D and I are VERY aware of the process, what needs to be done and when, we’ve researched flights, hotels, immigration, etc. and have all the information ready to go at our finger tips. There is a strength in our ability to operate in this way, as we both have a high level of awareness and feel at peace when we know what is all involved in the process, however, this leaves little room for us to “go with the flow” or be spontaneous. We constantly need to remind ourselves that surprises will pop up during the adoption (especially during the custody and immigration piece) that we had not accounted for and we’ll need to be okay with that. This is a part of why the waiting is hard in adoption…because I like to know all the details of what’s going on, it’s hard when your future is in someone else’s hands. We lost our control in family planning a long time ago and I think that is what threw me into action. I could finally DO something, gather information, research and understand the process. Now that the doing is over, it’s back to “being.” It’s hard to just BE in the wait, especially when you don’t have much control over what the wait will look like.

I just thought of another area in life where I exhibit some fact-finding and quick-start characteristics….at Disney! Don’t get in my way and a good time at any theme park! I will take control and manage the theme park map and create a realistic plan and direction, needing to know everything that’s going on at the park that day. Many of you reading this have experienced this phenomenon first hand…and would likely just call it being bossy!

I wonder what the fact-finder action hero would look like?!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election fever

Unless you have been living under a rock during the past 6 months you are quite aware of the significance of today! It is election day in the US. D and I were living in the US during the Bush and Kerry election in 2004. We did our best as Canadians to ignore the copious ads (seriously, it's so much worse then here!) and our friends talking about Republicans versus Democrats. I must admit that I didn't really understand either party and didn't care to, especially since I was unable to partake in the vote. Over the last 4 years I have become much more interested in politics, both here in Canada as well as the US. I agree that this is a historical election of paramount importance in US history. We just went through an election in Canada not too long ago, but I am far more interested in the results of today. I wish I could vote...I would drive over the border to cast my ballot! Instead I will vote in my heart. I will vote Democrat and I hope Obama is declared victorious by the end of the night.

Take a look at this post which speaks to the historical significance of this election. The pictures almost make me tear up! There are many reasons why I would choose to vote Democratic but one of them is summed up in the quote at the bottom of the above linked post under this picture of two young African-American boys...

"These two boys waited as a long line of adults greeted Senator Obama before a rally on Martin Luther King Day in Columbia, S.C. They never took their eyes off of him. Their grandmother told me, “Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King’s words can be true for them.” Jan. 21, 2008."


Saturday, November 1, 2008

the dichotomy of adoption

Dichotomy. I love this word, which is strange for me because I'm really about using plain language!

I first learned this word when attending Seminary with my husband. A dichotomy is a separation of a concept into two parts that differ widely from each other or even contradict each other. I recognize the many dichotomies' that exist in my faith and have tried to create space for both parts that seem to contradict each other and live within the tension. For example, God gives us free will and choice, but yet He knows what lies ahead for us.

The day I came to the realization that dichotomy exists in adoption is the day everything sort of fell into place for me. Adoption is a blessing and adoption is about loss - these two parts seem to contradict each other and it creates a sort of tension. To ignore one or the other would be detrimental to all members of the adoption triad. My journey is about learning how to live in this tension acknowledging blessing and loss together.

When someone finds out that we are adopting, often the reaction is one of excitement for the child - this child will be one lucky baby - but yet this child will experience profound loss so I'm quick to acknowledge that truth with most people. It's tough to find a balance in doing this because I don't want people to think that I'm not excited about our future family, because I truly am, but I also need to provide some insight into the adoption process so as to educate others. The day I signed the adoption application form is the day that I became an educator! So when someone says "This child will have a better life with you, there are too many social programs now that keep babies with young moms, this will be a lucky baby, etc" we say, "Yeah, it's too bad that there are difficult circumstances in this world that many people have to deal with. This child may have some different opportunities but will also have some unique challenges related to adoption. Our job is learn how to be the best adoptive parents we can to help this child deal with these challenges in healthy ways." I don't know if our reply is too vague, not educational enough...any insight from members of the triad? It's tough to find the words to say when I know we won't sit down and have a longer conversation. I have to find phrases or words that can quickly convey the dichotomy of adoption to others - the blessing and the loss.

Some may not think this is really all that important or that I'm over-thinking things again, I completely disagree with that. This is extremely important and worth putting a lot of thought into! Many lives are effected by the adoption process and all too often the focus is on the blessings. In general, many of us struggle with having the conversations that bring up sorrow, loss, and hurt. In adoption, we must be open to having those conversations because only then can we find balance in the dichotomy and live joyfully within the tension.