Clean Home, Home Study

Tomorrow morning is our homestudy visit. We're excited to have our wonderful social worker Angela see S again. The last time she saw her in person was when S was just a few weeks old.

We have been cleaning. Not really for Angela or my Dad (who arrives Friday) or Arnd (our friend who arrives on Tuesday). We have been cleaning for us.

But between the trials and stress of daily life - there have been a few things that...ahem...didn't get done.

So we're doing them now. Cleaning baseboards. Touch up painting walls. Cleaning under the fridge...you know...the usual.

I told M that we should adopt a baby every year so we have to do these little things...

He said, "We should adopt a baby EVERY week!"

Anyone have a spare 20K a week?

Yeah, I didn't think so. :)

More after the homestudy.


Sounds Like Life

My mom is so funny.

Lately, whenever I call her and give her an update about the funny, awkward, trying, and adventurous antics of our little family, she responds with,"Well that sounds like life!"

Ahem....that was not what was written in the script I sent you Mom....

The correct line included sympathy, commiseration, knowing laughter....not "That sounds like life!"

Amazing how frustrating life can be when people don't read their scripts...Sheesh. :)

But in the darkness and light of the last few days, I have begun to see that she was right. 

So now I am publicly apologizing for the eye roll - even though we were on the phone and she didn't see it. Sorry Mom!

Life has hit in full force in the last few days. 

Wednesday night (the night of the Creepy Puppet Guy) ended with my husband breaking his foot in a freak accident. On one of his busiest weeks of work ever. Three weeks before our European trip. With hundreds of adoption paperwork and homestudy looming,. Wed. night I felt so hopeless, so frustrated and worried about what might come next.

Sounds like life.

Thursday morning I called my doctor to confirm the time of my physical for the adoption only to find out it began in 5 minutes and I was 40 minutes away. That was her LAST physical appointment before our homestudy interview on Nov. 30th. Lovely. (She was able to get me in Friday, do a quick physical, give me my TB test and write for blood work and should be mailing off my form in the next day or so! Amen for her!!)

Sounds like life.

Friday I found myself at the local public library. Since I work from home, sometimes I need a change of location and have found the library to be a fascinating place to get some work done. I finished typing up all of our questionnaires for the homestudy documents and graded 25 papers in just about 3 hours all while listening to a crazy man read about asteroids out loud! I emailed all of our questionnaires (all 84 pages of them) to our social worker and was relieved to be done.

Sounds like life.

Saturday morning brought news from Germany that M's grandmother had passed away. We had planned a visit while in Germany to see her, but now will be gathering with family to honor her and share memories. We were so blessed to have her in our lives as long as we did. M thought about heading out early to try to make the funeral, but even with bereavement fares and our travel insurance, the cheapest flight I could find was $1900. So unfortunately, he won't be able to make it home in time.

Sounds like life.

Saturday night we had an impromptu family gathering. My mom had my nephew overnight and brought him over to play with S. My brother and sis-in-law came over to get him and joined us for dinner. I finally cooked a meal that a) tasted great and b) didn't require much work at all. (See recipe below if you are interested.) We had a great night watching the kids interact. We even captured our little stinker attempting to trick me while sharing a yogurt on our new video camera (a Christmas gift from my family). Once I figure out how to post video, I'll share it. It was a fabulous night, full of laughs and good food.

Sounds like life.

In the joys and sorrows of the past few days, I am grateful and thankful for the ups and downs of this life. It is  a wild ride and I need to remember to stop and enjoy the little things, work through the rough patches, figure out how to celebrate and honor the moment and not always focus what it still to come.

After all it will come, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the love, the laughter....

Sounds like life. 


Creepy Puppet Guy

Alternately titled: "I Spent 26 Dollars for This?" or "Don't Touch That" or "So Much for the Christmas Spirit!" or "Man, I Sound Uber Bitchy in this Post" or "Apparently We Didn't Get It"....I could go on for days... :)

We did not enjoy the "Reindeer Romp" at the Orlando Art Museum tonight. We went because we wanted S to have some semblance of an American Christmas before we left for Germany. We're not decorating or doing much since we leave so early in December this year.

Here are the highlights:

  • The cookies were tasty. Store bought. Publix I think. S loved them!

Here are the lowlights:

  • I thought it was at the Mennello Art Museum, so we decided to part at M's work and walk. Although the real event was nearby, walking that far with a 32 pound toddler who would neither walk or let M carry her, makes for a sweaty, tired Mama before the event even began. The trek back was even worse. 
  • There was this lady (elf?) by the door with a coat with many pockets. Essentially it was like a wearable advent calendar. The kids stood in line to reach into her pockets to pull out a toy, or a piece of candy. My kid was too scared to reach in, so I did it for her. M was holding her at the time. I secretly wanted him to reach in, but I thought that would be a bit too creepy. 
  • This event is NOT for toddlers. Non mobile infants strapped to carseats would enjoy it, but whoever thought advertising for toddler attendees was a little misguided. Here's why: Imagine a room full of awesome trees and beautiful gingerbread houses and you can't touch any of them!!
  • My kid was tired and not in the best mood. I was tired and not in the best mood. M was tired and not in the best mood. Seeing a pattern? 
  • I learned tonight that my kid was afraid of Hello Kitty. Good to know.
  • She kept glancing at Santa looking terrified, so no 45 minute wait in line for Santa this year! :(
  • The wait for the balloon animal guy was too long, so we decided to move on. My kid simply wanted a balloon doggie, but asking a 2 year old to wait in line when cranky = no fun for all.
  • We finally made our way to the craft section, where my kid decorated a paper tree. She didn't want to add them to the tree mural on the wall, so she walked around carrying them for the rest of the night.
  • We watched a puppet show. The.Worst. Puppet. Show. Ever. Personally, I find puppeteers creepy to begin with, and this guy was no exception. My kid started to fall asleep during the puppet show if that gives you an idea of its entertainment value. Imagine draping a sheet over a chair and putting on old Christmas songs and acting them out with sock puppets. That would be a few steps up.
  • As we watched the puppet show, we had to dodge the huge carpenter ants that were crawling all over the area. I sure hope a portion of the 26 dollar donation I made goes toward pest control.

I don't mind donating for the arts. I really don't. But there is no way I will be attending this event again.

Heck, I'll even send the museum 26 bucks next year, just for the priviledge of NOT attending. 


Speed Dating for Adoption

I know it's impractical of me, but sometimes I wish they had speed dating for adoption.

Hear me out....

What if a group of potential adoptive parents gathered in a room with a group of potential birthmothers? There was a "speed dating" round, where we could all meet and then those interested could contact the ones they "like"  and could potentially move forward.

I'm not oblivious to the problems for all parties from meetings like these. Can you imagine how overwhelming this would be for a birthmother? Also consider the raised expectations of all parties that "today might be the day!" Side note: I wake each morning thinking, "Today might be the day..." The air would be heavy with anticipation and many would leave unsatisfied and unmatched. 

Developing your family profile is like preparing for a round of speed dating.

Umm...just so you know....I wasn't good at dating, speed dating or any other kind....just ask anyone who has know me prior to M! :)

I feel so awkward right now - stressed over presenting our family in the best light so that potential birthmothers will "LIKE" us.

I fret over each little detail of our family profile.

Are we funny enough?
Do S look happy enough?
Are we too eager? Not eager enough?
Too fat? Too thin?
Too boring? (Life with us is certainly NOT boring, in my opinion).
Too Christian, not Christian enough?

The reality is that we are just like many families. Neither perfect or perfectly normal.

We are your fairly normal, bilingual, multicultural household with a two parents, a toddler, a cat, a minivan, a house on a lake, enough to be comfortable, faith, loving and supportive family and friends, a lot of laughter, and an abundance of love.

How do you put yourself out there and try to make yourself appear to be "more worthy" than another family?

Families seeking adoption are there for a reason. Heartache due to child loss, infertility, some feel called to adopt, or a whole host of issues that led them to turn to adoption.

This occurred to me as I was talking to Lianna and we were discussing presenting our profiles to the same location. This means that the same potential birthmother could be looking at BOTH of our profiles and deciding who gets the honor or raising her baby.

But you see, I know Lianna's story. It's just like mine - at least the heartache part is...
I want them to be parents more than anything.
More than myself? Probably - because I already have S.

See the dilemma?

I know, I'm a little slow in realizing all of this adoption stuff - but it never really occurred to me that we would be "competing" against other couples for a child.

But on the other hand, I have no doubt that our child (or twins) will find us....

All I can do is put the best and most realistic version of ourselves out there. Pray for patience. Pray for peace and know whoever the birthmother chooses,  it is the right decision.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.



Adoption Q and A

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about adoption. I had a conversation about adoption with my new blogger friend Lianna, and there were a few things that she asked that I thought were important to share.

1. Why the lack of real names on our blog? 
Our birthmom (whose story I haven't completed) struggles with addiction and lives in the area. With her history, we feel that it is safer for us all to not have a fully open adoption at this time.

2. Why not foster/adopt? 
My journey through infertility was one that broke my heart. It broke my spirit. It made me feel like a failure despite all of the other successes in my life. Although it has since mended quite a bit because of S, I am not mentally or emotionally prepared to welcome a child into our lives and have them removed from our lives. Yes, adoption has risks - but the more I can buffer my heart from those risks, the better.

3. Why did you not pursue fertility treatments? Why adopt?
M is adopted. So is his sister. With my ovarian condition, the odds were not good, and if we invested all of that money into trying to create our "own" and it didn't work....I simply wasn't interested in continuing to "fail." M and I discussed going the IVF route for this baby, but ultimately decided that adoption was a better option for us. Why created something new, when there are so many children that need safe and loving homes? Do I think we might "try" again (or adopt again) in a few years....YES! After all, we have a minivan, a big house, and even bigger hearts. There is plenty of room! :)

4.What about the risks of a failed adoption?
We feel that if an adoption situation fails then that simply means that child is not supposed to be ours. Will we be heartbroken? Of course!! But our firm faith in God simply says that our child will find us.

5. Where are you in the adoption process?
We have our homestudy interview on November 30th. We only have a few more documents to complete (and due to S's illness, I am WAY behind!). As soon as our homestudy is complete, I will submit our applications for grants and loan funding. Then the waiting begins!

6. Are you locating your own birthmother?
Yes and no. Maybe so. Not sure. Our current agency does not actively recruit birthmothers. They might get wind of a situation that would work for us, but that is a MIGHT. So we are seeking out other resources. We're planning on using social media (twitter, etc.) to try to network with someone who might know of someone....also we are looking at an agency in AL that has a small application fee and nothing until you get a placement. There is also a school in Northern Florida that is for pregnant teens and I'm contacting them about potential situations. As I've said before, our child will find us. (The key is being patient....speaking of that- S has taken to saying , "It's coming. Be patient!" a bunch lately. Usually it is in reference to the TV taking time to warm up, but what a great reminder! She also calls her baby brother to be, Bukas).

If you happen to know of an adoption situation that might work for us (Full Caucasian boy or b/g twins) or want to ask questions, make recommendations, etc....our email address is ourlittleerdnuss@gmail.com.

Thanks and please remember to vote daily (link on right). We have been bumped off the Top 10 and are no longer leading the Personal category.

HEALTH UPDATE: S got a clean bill of health from her cardiologist on Monday. No fever. Still not quite herself, but hopefully will be soon. It's so nice to have my sweet, snuggly girl back. Off to the dermatologist this morning. Will report later. Ciao!


My Poor Girl

Is sick.

Like sick, sick.

As in, coughing so much that she gasps and chokes.

I'm watching her like a hawk and hoping to avoid a trip to the swine infested ER. We're headed to the ped in the morning after cardiology.

Our trip to Jacksonville was not fun (except the brief good hours S had while visiting Lianna). We had a great talk about adoption.

Oh and today I got a contract to develop an online course. The amount that I will be paid is exactly the amount of the check I sent to our agency. God does provide!

More when I know more....

Until then, if you are interested in more of S's story :  click here.

Thanks for all the support. Please vote daily using the link on the right.


Indicative of My Day

Here's hoping tomorrow will be a better day!


Mystery Not Solved

Oh my sweet girl! Last night was pretty rough on us all. Not much sleep to be found...note the bags under her eyes.

I awoke to her wheezing and rattling this morning. Not good. After not eating any dinner last night, she asked for pizza for breakfast. I happily complied since it's been days since she has really eaten much. (M said that I took away one of those college "firsts" - eating cold pizza for breakfast! Oh well! She ate!) She lost a pound over the last week!!!

Put a call into her pediatrician and her pulmonologist (which reminds me that they never did call me back!) Well considering they almost killed her months ago....maybe that's a good thing.

Ped called back and wanted us to come in. S was diagnosed with another ear infection last week and it appeared that the drops weren't working well and we might have to switch to oral antibiotics. I HATE oral antibiotics, especially since S spent 14 weeks straight on them earlier in the year. Ugh.

So we went into our peds office and I took these pics. (Yes, I did let her wear her pajamas in public. So sue me. They're cute, and I was TIRED.)

Trying to escape!

Come on Mama, let's go!

If you won't let me leave, then I will just hit you and tear up this paper. (This was followed by a time out!)

But I want to put the pulse ox back on! Now! Now! Now!

This was not a pleasant visit with a grumpy 2 year old and a 2 hour wait....but we ended up with good news.

It isn't Influenza A or B. Or Strep. So just a cold. No explanation for the crazy heart rate/fast breathing/peeling hand thingy. This doc (not our usual ped) also recommended that we head up to Gainesville for a rheumatology evaluation. She thinks S has some systemic inflammatory disorder. Lovely.

Her O2 stats were a bit low for S, between 95-97, but other than that...

She is running a low grade fever tonight, but we are still headed out of town in the morning. I may live to regret this trip, but it isn't really that far, and if S gets really sick, then we'll just come home.

More tomorrow.

Please remember to vote for this blog. Click on the Orbbies link on the right hand side. Thanks!


Quick Health Update

So yesterday I learned that S has been exposed to H1N1 at her preschool. This was distressing, but not unexpected. (I mean, where isn't the piggy flu now?) We got her the vaccine, but only 8 days ago...

When S gets sick, she usually gets into moderate respiratory distress. Normal breathing rate for her age is per min is 30. Our pulmonologist gave us an outside margin of 35. Tonight, as she sat still in my arms, S's was between 48-50.

Not good.

She currently does not have a fever, but is obviously working hard to breathe. Her little heart is racing again too because she is working hard to breathe or she's working hard to breathe because her heart is racing. I don't know.

This isn't the first time. She's a mystery.

Poor kid has a pulmonologist, cardiologist, ENT, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, opthamologist, nephrologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon and soon a dermatologist (rheumatology and immunology are coming shortly too). We know quite a few nurses on staff in both the ER and the pediatric floor.

We have an appointment next Monday with her cardiologist to discuss whether her peeling hands and feet over the last few months have any cardiac implications. She also has an appointment with dermatology on Wed. of next week to discuss some eczema issues and further investigate a cause of the peeling hands and feet. Lovely...

I just want to fix this....and I don't know how....

Yes, I worry. Something minor can spiral out of control so quickly with S. No one knows why.

So I'll be up most of the night probably....maybe I'll go sleep in there with her - just to be safe. Hoping this is something that can wait until morning, but that remains to be seen.

I just went back in to check on S. Respiration rate is 33-37 and pulse is better. She is sweaty, cold and clammy. Will check on her again in a few.


Bittersweet Miracle

There are always two sides to every story. Adoption is no different.

As blessed as we have been to get the honor to raise S, we also recognize that is another side of adoption. The choice. The heartache. The consequences.
The loss. The loss. The loss. The loss.

We cried as S's adoption was finalized in court. We recognized that our gain, was her birthfamily's loss and it was heart wrenching. We cried for the siblings she would never know. The grandparents who will not get to watch her grow or listen to her laugh. We cried for the father who met her just twice. We cried for the ache that lives in her birthmother.

As blessed as we are and how much our lives have been touched by adoption - I know I couldn't do it.  I knew, from this first touch in the NICU, that I could and would never give her up. And she wasn't even ours yet...The choice to give a child up for adoption is one I am still just beginning to understand and come to terms with - even two and a half years after S was first placed in our arms.

So even though we grieved for S's birthmom, her other children, and extended family we also grieved for S. When her birthfather died - we grieved for the man S would never have the opportunity to meet. (If she had chosen to). Even with the recognition of the heartache and sacrifice, I was unprepared when a package arrived from her birthmother.

Included in the package were updated pictures of S's siblings. More information about her birthfather's death.

And a few cards.

Those cards were written to S using her birth name. A name that we never use, but one that we refer to in communication with her birthfamily. They were signed....
Love, Mommy and Daddy

Believe it or not, I didn't fully comprehend until that moment that someone else also considers themselves to be her Mommy. I mean, I knew that, but I didn't get it. I didn't get how complicated this whole adoption thing was - for all of us.

As I struggle to identify what this all means, I wonder how I am going to explain this to S someday in the near future. And I wonder how the lessons we've learned so far can help in our upcoming adoption.

Adoption is a bittersweet, loving, heartbreaking and joyous miracle.


Reflection of Myself

I will admit that it was good( in a strange way) to actually capture the horrible events of last week in a blog post. I was shaking while writing it - proof that the feelings were still incredibly raw and close to the surface. As with all wounds, time will surely heal.

We had frustrations with S's adoption too. There were delays and frustrations on that journey, but the memory of those experiences faded once S joined our family. (I suppose for mothers who labored and birthed their own children - it would be similar to forgetting how crappy childbirth was!)

Even through the trials of our adoption of S, they seem minor compared to the trials and heartbreak we experienced over the 4.5 years we tried to conceive a child of our own.

Honestly, I hadn't thought too much about those years or reflected upon them because simply I was too busy being a mom.

That was, until I stumbled upon a reflection of myself. Let me explain...

I'm not even sure when I first started reading Lianna's blog, but it must have been more than six months ago. The ache in each post was so acutely familiar that it was almost too difficult to read.

Each post I read I must have thought,"I remember feeling like that" or "I've been there" a million times. It was as if I was reading my innermost thoughts during one of the most difficult periods of my life. Like I said, I stumbled upon a reflection of myself.

I won't deny that I wanted to scream at her, "Just adopt!!" (I tend to think that is an obvious answer - but I forget that others must get there on their own.) I was much more diplomatic than that. I sent her an email about how her posts reminded me of my own angst and how adoption changed my world. An excerpt:

"I just wanted to be a mom.

I knew I was supposed to be a mom. God also knew...and His will was made clear in a million different ways on our adoption path. There is NO doubt in my mind that S was supposed to be our child. She just came to us from another mother. But she was supposed to be ours. I don't know if I can articulate this as well as I want to since it is so late, but I know that she was sent to us. To heal us. To teach us lessons about life, sacrifice, love, hope, and struggle (health).  And even though I didn't give birth to her, she is my daughter. And I am a mother because of her and the loving sacrifice made by her birth mom."

She wrote back enthusiastically and wanted more details. And I didn't write her back....

Now in my defense, it was during the height of S's health stuff....but kinda sucky on my part. :(

Months passed. I think I got back in touch with her via her blog. And she wrote back and I actually responded this time!

She lives in a city north of here that M, S and I are going to be visiting this coming weekend. So if all goes well, hopefully we will get the chance to meet!

After constant heartache, Lianna and her husband have started down the path toward adoption. I am so excited for them!

I'm excited about the sharing this journey of filling out paperwork, trying to recruit (for lack of a better word) a birthmom, and trying to articulate how I never thought I could love anyone or anything as much as I love S.

It wasn't until I read her posts that I realized that those feelings I felt while trying to conceive weren't entirely gone. But they have been diminished by my love for S and the joy she brings to my life. I cannot WAIT for Lianna to feel that way too.

And now I leave you with a picture from last night of my pigtailed, smiling, Pirate! I love her so!