Friday, July 31, 2015

When Open Really Means Closed...

My wife and I adopted our son about five and a half years ago. The adoption is considered a semi-open adoption – we send pictures and a letter to our son’s birth mom once a year and she sends him back a birthday gift usually a few weeks later (the timing just happens to work out that way). We have many friends who are in adoptions classified as open adoptions. Their agreements range from frequent contact to in person meetings. When I compare their situation to ours, it feels like ours is pretty closed. I know it is not closed in the technical sense, which would mean no contact at all, but its pretty close in my opinion. I call it closed when I speak about it because that’s just how I feel and will do so for the remainder of this blog.

For years I have heard so many stories from adoptive parents in open adoptions. I have heard about the swapping of emails, connecting through social media and talking on the phone. I have been told of visits, seeing birth parents for their child’s birthdays and even spending holidays together. For the most part, I’m told that these interactions are very positive experiences. Obviously, there are some situations that are not optimal due to varying circumstances, but I have mostly heard of all of the great experiences we are missing out because of our agreement.  Their situations sound wonderful and they speak about them with huge smiles on their faces.

We don’t have this relationship or strong bond with the person or people who gave life to our child. We don’t swap emails. We don’t talk on the phone. They have never been to our home and we have never been to theirs.  So how do I feel about all of this? How do I feel about missing out on everything and open adoption can be? Short answer: absolutely fine.

This may seem odd after reading the wonderful things I just laid out and will likely surprise many of you to see someone write this.  It will be especially surprising to those who have been told that an open adoption is the only way to go. However, this is how I feel and if I am being completely honest, I actually prefer it.

I have heard the arguments for an open adoption many times. An open adoption is so beautiful. An open adoption is very beneficial to the adopted child. You are missing out on a wonderful experience. etc.  To be clear, I have never had an open adoption, so I’m not entirely sure how it would feel to have one. The people that I know who do have an open relationship seem to like it. I also know of many who are in closed or in semi open adoptions that wish they had more. Honestly, I have no issue with that – everyone has the right to his or her opinions and wants.

What I do have an issue with (and the reason that I am writing this) are people who feel that a closed or semi-open adoption is not ok. That open adoption is amazing and everyone should want that. I feel society has decided this at some point and ran with it. Try to search the Internet for the advantages of an open adoption and you will get pages upon pages of hits. Now try searching the advantages of a closed adoption. Wait – you are telling me it’s not the same? I can’t believe it (please read the sarcasm here).

This simple search should tell you all you need to know - that the societal view on closed adoptions are pretty closed minded. In an era where we are accepting of gay marriage and the transgender community, why are we so closed off to closed adoptions?  (This is not an apples to apples comparison, but hopefully you get my point). I see the benefits to an open adoption and completely understand why one would want that. This person or people gave you an amazing gift and if they want to be part of it and you want them to be a part of it, then so be it. Keep in touch with them through email, send updates on Facebook, and even have them to your home if you so choose. If that works for you – great. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and I don’t think those that are not in open adoptions should be looked down upon.

In my opinion, there can be some red flags regarding an open adoption. Not every birth parent is someone that that you can trust or feel good about around your child. Again, I understand the ultimate gift they gave you, but it’s about the child’s best interest. Do you want them around someone who is in and out of rehab or jail, for example? Obviously, that would be an extreme situation, but I am using it as an example as it could be a possibility. Even if you yearn for an open adoption, the situation may not end up being one in which it’s good for the child.

I also personally feel some children can become confused about the relationship with a birth parent. Do they have two moms now for example? If the birth mom says that something should be ok that their adoptive parent didn’t – would they know who to listen to? This may sound a little far-fetched, but remember we are potentially talking about young kids here, so who knows what goes through their minds. What if they ask the birth parent why they gave them up? Will every birth parent give the answer that you think your child will understand? (many of these examples are actually from one of the few hits I had from my closed adoption Internet search)

The other person to consider in all of this is the birth parent. What are his or her wishes? Some simply do not want a relationship with the child. In our situation, I know that our birthmother had a very hard time placing our son for adoption. We did get the opportunity to meet with her once. She was a wonderful woman who wasn’t at the stage of her life where she felt she could properly raise a child. She came from what appeared to be a good family (we met her parents as well at that meeting). She was not poor, didn’t have drug issues or an arrest record. She was the kind of woman an adoptive parent dreams of in a birth mother for the most part. However, she didn’t want to have too much contact after the adoption was finalized. She requested pictures and a letter yearly until he is 18 years old. We were told later that she has had a lot of difficulty dealing with her decision and had to seek professional help to aid her in dealing with it. I don’t believe she ever thought it was the wrong decision, but I can only imagine how tough that would be to go through.

Am I eternally grateful for the gift our birth mother gave us? Definitely. Do I feel she would deal well with an open adoption? No. Do I feel its best for both parties in our situation to keep the adoption closed – sorry - semi-open? Absolutely.

I am sure my son will go though many ups and downs though his life dealing with being adopted. We will support him in any we can and answer every question to the best of our knowledge. We agreed to always be as open as possible with him on the subject and will do so always. We are in close contact with other adoptive families and he has many adopted friends. We surround him with all of this in the hope that it will help him cope with some of the issues and feelings he is likely going to deal with. His happiness is our ultimate goal and doing the best we can to get him there is our most important job.

I truly don’t believe there is a right or wrong stance on the subject of open versus closed adoption. There are only opinions as there is with any issue. While I always thought closed was the most comfortable type of adoption for me (truth be told – I am even uncomfortable every year when it comes time to send the pictures and letter), I understand others feel differently and I respect that they feel that way. All I am asking is for those same people to extend that courtesy to people like me.

Written By Rick
Adoptive Father

Join us at our next meeting!  Check out our website for details!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"More Than Chance" - Movie Review

When I sat down last night to write this I was intending on writing about our wonderful weekend camping with the adoption group.  But as usual I didn't get any sleep the night before and mustering up the energy to write details about my son was not happening.  So I decided to "relax" and watch a movie!!  Little did I know it was NOT relaxing!!

Russia in 2000...  On the porch with a woman holding a baby.  She is poor and needs to get help since we see she has an infant she cannot afford.  Her friend sitting next to her explains that God will provide and everything will work out.  We flash forward to the year 2002 at an orphanage.  A man and his wife are shown traveling to Russia to adopt this little girl, clearly the little girl from the porch. We now go to Ohio and within the next few minutes we find out very quickly that the adoptive father was not interested in this adoption and when he is left alone with his daughter one night, he loses his temper and chokes her so hard he breaks her neck leaving her a paraplegic.

WOW! So here is what I am thinking so far.  At this point in the story I should be engaged enough to feel something for the dad or the child or the wife.  NOPE.  The scenes are way too short and don’t give you enough to really understand why the father would just lose control so fast.  The little girl, Kelsey, was playing on her drums in front of TV and he just says be quiet or I’ll show you how to be quiet.  I am not condoning this act. What I am trying to say is that if your going to show this violent act lets lead up to it so we feel something besides just shock that it happened within a few minutes of the story starting. Last note before I continue – the little two year old we see in the orphanage is blonde and pale skinned.  As we get through the next scene we have a young girl with black hair and very dark skin. I guess they didn’t have enough money to casting for continuity!! 

Ok lets continue…

Kelsey is now in the home of foster parents who have had experience with this type of disability since they had Stacy.  Just so you know we don't ever find out who Stacy is but they mention her many times.  Moving on… The foster mother sits with the social worker in charge of the Kelsey case and they argue about the best placement for her. After the social worker leaves with no resolution that I could see, the foster parents have dinner with friends and let them know that they are considering adopting again.

Ok let’s stop here for a minute.  I'm so confused again!  When did they adopt a child before this? Was it Stacy?  The story is jumping around and they seem to mention the word adoption a lot and Kelsey was in a foreign country and doesn’t speak the language and she was mistreated.  Ok that part of the story they were getting sort of correct.  The story never finishes a scene. The social worker was there and said they would decide on her placement but then we see Kelsey is grown up in the next scene.  So I guess they allowed her to stay with the foster parents… oh boy can't wait to see what happens next.

We go to the adoptive father in court.  The little girl, Kelsey, is now about 8. She waits outside the courtroom door by herself in her wheelchair.  The judge speaks to the father explaining to him the horrifying trauma that he inflicted on the little girl deserves two consecutive terms for his erroneous acts against her.

Ok that was the best part of the movie so far.  They even got the legal wording correct in that speech.  But don't get me started on the acting.

We now move onto Kelsey.  Since she is older now, her character is brought in more to the story. We learn that she goes to OT and doctors appointments.  While at an appointment she meets an OT assistant that is a troubled teen.  Kelsey and her have a weird conversation in one of the offices at therapy and the scene abruptly ends.

Here we go again! The scenes keep moving on and on with them ending suddenly with no point or resolution.  It’s kind of obvious that the two will become good friends. What a terrible script.  But just like my last review of “A Deadly Adoption”, I am going to watch until the end to see what happens.

To give you an idea of how choppy the scenes are: In one scene we see the foster mother sitting on the sofa talking with a young girl, about 10 years of age.  In the conversation we learn that this is the foster parents newly adopted child!!  Wait what?  The foster mother is explaining why they don’t get to spend time with her; that Kelsey needs them right now. Then the scene ends!  We never see that young girl again.

Kelsey and Melissa, the OT assistant, bump into each other in the next few scenes.  They are starting to open up to one another.  Kelsey is trying to be a ballerina and Melissa a basketball player. 

By now I am starting to get confused again since we start seeing more characters and more scenes that make no sense being there. Friends of Melissa dealing with life and never really seeing the daily trauma that Kelsey is going through.

I don’t need to go into details about the next few scenes.  They are random and to me they were not part of the main plot line of the adoption, the violent act and learning.  Finally, we have a pivotal scene when the adoptive mom comes to visit the foster mom. It's sad to hear the adoptive mom say she always wanted to be a mom and she wanted to give Kelsey a better life.  The foster mom was so sweet and ended the scene by saying “you can come see Kelsey whenever you’re ready”.

The movie ends with Kelsey being able to walk unassisted with crutches for disabled children and leg braces.  It was actually nice to see there was a good ending.

Now for the shocker!  It’s a TRUE story! The young girl playing Kelsey is playing herself!  EEEEK!  Sorry for the spoiler but I couldn’t believe it.  What a terrible film!  I am saddened that the writing was so poor and the acting so bad that I couldn’t feel anything for anyone.  After the credits we see the real life foster parents and their family.

Kelsey does a small PSA (public service announcement) on adoption abuse. They state the statistics on child abuse and almost 5 children a day die from abuse.

The idea of the writer was there, but she should have stuck to the story of Kelsey and not introduce any other characters besides family and maybe therapists.  After reading the true story, I was shocked to find out that the foster parents have three biological children and six adopted children with special needs! If the writer stuck to the true story it would have been much better!!


Written by Chemene
Group Co-leader
Adoptive mom

Join us at our next adoption support group meeting or kids event!! Check out our website for details or email us at!

#kelsey #russia #adoption #trauma #infant #ohio #abuse #disabled

Monday, July 27, 2015

We Are Diverse...

So, when I was asked to contribute to this Blog I was super excited, but I have been slacking, as I have only written one blog entry. I have the best intentions, but because of my crazy life, 10 kids at home ranging from 22 to 2, that in itself is a few stories, but I am going to try to get this one done today. Ironically I am writing this blog entry at “work”. Not really, my friend owns a great little thrift store and she wanted to take her family camping, so I am in charge for three days, it very quiet. So I realized this is the perfect opportunity to get at least one entry done.

I have thought of so many topic to write about, my family’s adoption story being one, my passion for the adoption of older kids from foster care being another, but today I feel compelled to right about the idea of an adoption journey.

This word journey is defined as an act of traveling from one place to another; travel somewhere and no matter how we come to adoption or where we end up, we all have a journey. Unlike many people who come to adoption, my husband and I did not suffer from infertility, we have 4 biological children, neither of us have had this lifelong yearning to adopt, we are not called to adopt by some higher power, we kind of fell into it 12 years ago, and our first adoption was a 15 year old girl from foster care. This was not at all planned, but our life’s journey got us there, and since then we have legally adopted 3 more children and fostered somewhere in the range of 40 children, many of whom we have “morally” adopted, made an unconditional commitment to be their adult and I know our journey continues on. Our oldest daughter is Irish and Italian and if you saw us out, she looks like she could be our biological child, since then we have adopted children of several different races, cultures, special needs and sexual orientations, 10+ years ago, if you would of asked me if this is where we would be, I would of said you are crazy. Our oldest child graduated from High School in 2004 and our youngest will graduate in 2031(holy crap) and our journey carries on.

I tell you all this because about 6 months ago I joined this adoption support group and I was wary because I have gone to these groups before, I never felt quite included, if it was a foster care group, I would feel out of place, typical domestic adoption group, I would feel out of place, International Adoption group, I would feel out of place. I love and crave support, being an adoptive parent makes your parenting experience unique, and I wanted to be around people who understood. I went to my first meeting, and my husband kindly said to me please don’t get into a fight, as he knows me very well, and knows I have strong opinions about adoption and parenting, and I don’t always have the best filter, I promised I would try very hard to be on my best behavior. Sometime after midnight I returned home, and he asked how it was, and I was so excited to say it was awesome!!! The group was made up of families, most of which became or are becoming families in very different ways than us, but they respected my journey. We are a mixed group, all at different places on out journey, all of us on different paths, but remarkably we all journey together. In the short time, I have called these people my friends, I have watched family’s courses take many twists and turns, and I am honored to be on this adoption journey with this particular group of people.

As adoptive families we are diverse, domestic infant, agency, private, international, special needs, foster care, but the common thread is the journey. No matter where or how your adoption story goes, the one thing we all have in common is that we are on a journey.

Written By Danielle
Foster Mom
Adoptive Mom
Biological Mom 
Group Member!

Join us at our next meeting! Check out our website for details!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Can't Do This (Part III)

The moment has arrived.  I was now about to venture into pain and agony of another kind.  At that moment I realized I had watched way too many movies over my lifetime and I had a false sense of what I thought would happen.  Beauty and love and I would look amazing and my hair flowing... NOPE not at all!! 

When the doctor came in at 1:50pm and said ok let's get ready to start pushing, I began to shake and my teeth started to chatter like I was cold but I wasn't!  Fear!  All I can say is fear!  I hate to be so honest but I thought after all these years of bad luck, this would be the live all end all of bad luck and my child would not make it to see my face.  I didn't want to be so negative but to me it was reality and I lost so much before so why would this moment be any different!

I began to do what the doctor said and it came pretty natural what I was doing.  Guess the movies helped somehow. After awhile we finally got to the point where the baby was sort of out and all I heard were the words the cord is wrapped around its neck and then a pause...I didn't look ... I didn't move... I kept my eyes closed knowing that if this was the bad luck moment well I would be ok and I could survive!  I was afraid and tried whatever I could to talk myself through this!!  After about what it seems to be a few seconds, I heard the doctors say push!  I knew by the sound of the doctors voice we were in the  clear and I pushed and it was out! I finally raised my head at the last second to see a little tiny weenie sticking up at me.  A boy!  I have a boy! Another baby boy!  This one a little less tan than the first!

The shock was still there... I didn't cry tears of joy nor did I do a happy dance. I just looked at Josette and said "there's a baby over there!"  She giggled at me like usual.  "They're not gonna make me sign for this one huh?"  Josette laughed at me again knowing full well I was not used to this process at all.  For years I have been an adoption support group leader and I help teach new members how the adoption process works... So for me I know nothing else but adoption paperwork!  This was so weird.  I was even shocked on how you get a social security card - you fill out paperwork while your at the hospital and then a week later you get a card!  Easy!! There was no waiting a year or getting a TIN number or calling the offices a thousand times to tell at them for getting it lost somewhere and it's an original!! (That's a whole other blog entirely)! 


I have been asked by many about how the bonding process was for me now that I know both sides of building a family - adoption and pregnancy. My answer is simple - I feel like I would be comparing apples to oranges. My first son was handed to me at an agency in a conference room and I had to wait 8 weeks - yes 8 weeks before we knew he would be ours!!  (Yes we had some difficulties to say the least).  And now I was at a hospital with a biological child that just came from me and is using my body to get food!  Of course I was going to bond with my second son faster.  They had SUCH different stories of how they came into our family. But in the end we are all family no matter how we got here!

Well I don't need to say more about the process of what happened at the hospital except the one piece that meant more to me than giving birth - having "L" meet "A"!!  Before we left for the hospital we had to explain to "L" that mommy was going to have the baby now and it would be coming out of her tummy.  And your safe with nana!  He didn't get it at all but he was ok for the time being.  I took pictures of him and I together with him kissing my bump and sharing in the last moments of being a family of three.  I took a selfie of our last nap together on the sofa to mark a special moment of my little boy becoming a big brother!

It was time to bring "L" in to meet the baby.  I have seen tons of pics of my friends in the hospital after having a second child and the family shot is so wonderful and special!  Well... we are who we are and our picture looked terrible ... "L" couldn't keep still and wanted to wear the surgical gloves and masks and could care less about a baby! Ha! The moment was not what I thought it would be - but really is it ever?

So our journey of "starting" a family came to a close and a world of family of four opened.  I look back at the 10 year journey and I think of all we went through. All the things that my sons will NEVER comprehend.  Thankfully. Hopefully. It was a terribly hard journey and I will never forget the pain and agony we felt for years.  When people call me today I try and remember how I felt at that moment - the IVF failure or the adoption call came. 

You can never understand someone until you are in their shoes but in this case on this topic  I CAN UNDERSTAND!!! 

Now to explain to my adopted son about procreation EEEK!

Written By Chemene
Support Group Co-Leader
Adoptive Mom

Join us at our next meeting1 Check out our website for details!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Who Gets The Embryos?

Have you ever wondered about the law regarding parental rights when one of the parents doesn't want to be a parent? 

OK, maybe I didn't word that quite right, let me try again. Let's say a girl is pregnant but doesn't want to be and the father wants the child, what does the law say about that? I did a little research, and as it turns out, he has no say in whether or not she keeps the child. Since it is her body and she physically bears the child and is more directly affected by the pregnancy she has all the rights. I bring this up because I recently heard about a couple who are in a battle over parental rights in a somewhat similar way.

She is a doctor and he is an investment executive and they used to be married. Early in their relationship, she was diagnosed with cancer so they froze several embryos before her treatment. It is now years later, they are now divorced and she is unfortunately infertile due to the cancer treatments. He doesn't want her to use the embryos but she says they are her only chance for a biological child.  They both signed an agreement that states that the embryos would be destroyed in the case of a divorce, which should have stopped the battle but the clinic went on to say that really that agreement is more of a guideline not a contract. So the battle rages on. He insists he would want to be involved in his child's life but can't be around her and fears she would poison their child against him.
So I started to really wonder about who is right here? She is claiming she has the right to use the embryos because she has the right to procreate and I guess she has a point but does she have the right to create a life with someone who doesn't want to?  Does he have the right to prevent it? Or is he just being spiteful because the marriage didn't work? Maybe it comes down to ownership or in parental terms, support. It is not free to store the embryos, so do they belong to the one paying the bill for the storage? Also, does she really have a right to procreate? To say something is a right means everyone gets it, but not everyone gets to procreate so isn't it more of a privilege? 

This couple went to court to decide the fate of their embryos and in as little as a few weeks a judge will set a precedent with a ruling that could decide the fate of not just this couples' embryos but  thousands of others still in storage.

What do you think? Should she be allowed to force him to be a parent against his will? Should he be allowed to deny her her biological child? 

Seems to me there is no clear cut, easy answer. You could say, she can still have a child with donor embryos or donor eggs and you'd be right. But I'm still on the fence about that decision myself. I would so much rather use frozen embryos from an ex, even if it ended badly than embryos or eggs from a stranger if it were possible.

It sure would have been easier if they had frozen the eggs and  sperm separately!

If you want to learn more about this story, here is a link to the article I found that best described the on going battle!

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo

Written By Bonnie
Group Member
Future Mom
Retail Store Owner

Join us at our next meeting!  Check out our website for details! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Journey Continues...

For about a week I've been stressing over what I would write about when it came to be my turn again. So far I've been writing about things that happened to me or something I saw on the news or something like that but this has been a pretty quiet month. Also, I finally found a doctor that took me seriously when I told him that I had no real control over my emotions and needed help with depression. So, if nothing of note happened, nothing interesting was in the news and I've been able to skirt the dark side of depression, what would I write about?
Hmmmm . . . .
Then it came to me, thanks to Chemene! In her post "I Can't Do This...Part 1" she said something that I remember vividly and wanted to talk about a little more. One of the early thoughts in her mind when she found she was pregnant was about us, her adoption group, and how we would feel. As in how upset we would be, not how happy we would be for her. I think, most people, I mean regular people, would be confused by that. I mean isn't everyone thrilled when someone is having a baby? Aren't we all just bursting with joy over their good fortune? Who is throwing the baby shower? Where will it be? What will I get for the mom-to-be? What will she name the new “bundle of joy”? Right?
Actually. . . . no, we are not. I know it's jealousy or envy  or something like that but there it is. We are not ALWAYS overjoyed for the pregnant masses who seem to take for granted their good fortune. Sometimes, we are downright angry about what they can do so easily and is a complete impossibility for us. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve actually compared myself to some of them (I’m smarter, I’m healthier, I’m more financially stable, etc.) trying to figure out why it is that I get to be the one in the “1 in every 6 women” who suffers with infertility. They whine about their swollen feet, how uncomfortable they are, how they have to pee every three seconds and tons of other things not even realizing that so many of us would give anything to go through all those "miseries".
Not this time though. Chemene called me and I could hear something in her voice that sounded like bad news was coming. I thought somebody had died! I thought somehow I had fallen short and there had been a vote and I was being kicked out of the group. I was driving and had to pull over because I was so nervous about what she was about to say, I couldn’t be kicked out could I, I mean, I need these people! They’re the only ones I know who understand how I feel and how I think!  I don't remember the exact words but I do remember she was kind of dancing around the news before she told me that she was pregnant. I think I was the newest member of the group at that point and completely understand the hesitation. We had only known each other a couple of months (meaning we had seen each other 2 or 3 times) and she had no idea how I would take it. There was not a single moment of envy or jealousy. So strange that I could be completely happy for a person I barely knew and for people I am close to I had twinges of jealousy. I was actually happy for her and had all those thoughts I previously thought I was incapable of, will it be a boy or a girl, will I be invited to the baby shower, what can I buy or make for the baby, etc.? We talked several times over the course of her pregnancy, and she told me of her fears, how uncomfortable she felt and how bored she was. Knowing past experiences, that should have sent me into depression and anger etc. etc. but instead I wanted to help and entertain her.  I didn’t count the minutes to when I could get away, I tried to think of things I could do to be there for her.
I've thought about that time a lot and came to the conclusion that I could be happy for Chemene because I know that she will never take for granted what a gift her children are, and that she truly understands the struggle that we all have gone and are going through.  

Written By Bonnie 
Group Member
Retail Store Owner

Join us at our next meeting! Check out our website for details!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Time to Adopt Again - Surprise! (Part1)

I work full-time and have a little guy with some special needs.  We've always wanted at least 2 kids.  We can't have an only child!  But how can we do this again?  How will I have the time to answer the calls?  How will I have the energy?  How can we afford to do it again?  Can we do this?  

These are all my husband and I asked ourselves before we adopted our 2nd child.  Where there's a will there's a way is what I knew.  The paperwork took longer this time - I felt like I was in slow motion.  All those questions rambled on in my head.  The answer was always the same that I need to be a Mommy to a 2nd child - we WILL make this happen.  

My theory was that we wouldn't have the feeling of desperation this time, it wouldn't be as stressful.  My theory was partially right and oh so very wrong at the same time.  

We finally got certified and thankfully never even had the opportunity to advertise.  Being a part of our support group was a huge part of how we met our youngest child's birth mom.  A few other potential adoptive moms passed along our number to expectant moms that they didn't match with. I was speaking to five expectant moms at one time, four of which were emotional scammers.  The fifth was "P".  We hit it off right away.  She was my age and a Mom of 5, with her 6th on the way.  We started talking the end of September and she was due the end of December with a girl.  

We were thrilled when she chose us!  In Mid-October "P" filled out all of the paperwork so we could get the medical records to review.  Instead of records I got a text that she was on her way to the hospital.   Wait a minute!  What?  Her new due date was now November 1st and she is in labor!  RIGHT NOW!!   We were freaking out!  We get medical records (proof of pregnancy) that day.  I left work early to pack and realized I would have to prepare our three year old for what was about to happen.  We had to wait for the official call from our attorney to tell us to get on the road and head down to see her.  I ran to the store to pick up some pink socks and clothes to be ready. 
After trying to explain to our son in the fastest version I could, I kissed him goodbye while crying my eyes out and  my husband and I were on the road by 5pm.  We drove straight through from NY to SC.  About 9pm we get a text from the nurse at the hospital that baby and mom are both doing great.  We didn't make the hospital in time for the baby's birth, but were so ecstatic!  So nervous and excited at the same time!  About 8am the next morning, as we are arriving in SC, we get a text from "P" that she has a surprise for us, because it was certainly a surprise for her.  

What could it be? Twins? A red head? A boy?  

Make sure to read Part 2 to find out!

Written by Josette
Adoptive Mom
Group Co-Leader
Special Needs Teacher

Join us at our next support group meeting! Check out our website for details!

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Can't Do This... Part II

After the doctor told me in the ER that I was pregnant, my dad drove me home and we waited for Rick to arrive.  I knew it would be weird to tell my husband this news with my parents staring at him - it was not the way I thought this would happen years ago.  Candle light, surprise at dinner or rose petals on the bed.... Wait was movie am I in?? 

Rick finally made it home and we sat him down to tell him the days events.  I even told him step by step of how the doctor closed the curtain, etc. and then said told me I was pregnant.  Rick didn't flinch.  He waited and waited and I said nothing.  I realized that all these years of joking when I was sick, that I was probably pregnant, knowing full well I wasn't, was in his head. I stared at him and said again, "I'm pregnant."  He choked quietly. He was in shock and I could see the wheels starting to go.  I knew exactly what he was thinking, it wasn't so hard to tell.  MONEY!  How could we do this?  How can we afford this?  How did this happen??

These were all valid questions running through his head.  After my parents left, we finally had a chance to sit and really let it sink in what was happening.  I was still not feeling great and had to take medication to help me stop spinning but we talked a little about it knowing it was most likely moot conversation.  I was going to miscarry anyway.  It happened so may times before so why get upset or excited or happy or sad when we don't even know what the future would bring. 

I was 42 years old and exactly 28 days pregnant...

Over the next few weeks I learned the process of pregnancy from another side.  It was a scary side.  From the start I learned this wasn't going to be like I dreamed. Not in the least.  Did you know they don't see a pregnant woman for checkups everyday?  You only get in once a month or something like that.  You don't get sonograms all the time either!!  Well I made them change those rules fast! 

I felt like I was in a nightmare. I wasn't happy about this at all. I woke up every day expecting to walk in to the bathroom to pee and find blood on my underwear.  Kinda like the IVF process was for me, where I would wait for the 14th day after my  transfer to find out it didn't work and now I was devastated and at work! UGH!  I prayed everyday that God would end this quickly and peacefully for me. I was so scared.  I just kept thinking how my last miscarriage could have killed me! 

The guilt of not being happy and NOT wanting to do this was getting to me.  I was happy and content with my life and I spent so many years putting things on hold for IVF or for adoption.  I was not taking this well and I knew there was NO one in the world that would understand my pain and confusion.  My son had special needs and we needed to be able to provide for him the best we could and I thought this would change that.  I heard over and over that "there is always a way". It didn't help though.

On the day of the 5th month checkup we had to find out results to some of the genetics tests we took.  Without getting too detailed, this was a major day of decisions and one sonogram would determine our path! But in true fashion, we found out the sonogram of the baby was PERFECT but my body was faltering.  I now discovered that I could miscarry if I stood up!  YIKES! Now I had to lay down for the next 5 months in order to save the baby.  NO PRESSURE!!

I tried very hard to NOT connect with the baby.  I kept as busy as one could laying in front of the TV.  I tried reading but that is so hard to do from a horizontal position.  I slept a lot and watched TV.  I had a lot of help from family but I was more shocked to find that my support group came to my rescue as well.  Each day during the week I would have a friend come over and help feed me and my son.  I never wanted to hurt anyone and I was scared they would hate me for what I was now doing and they weren't able to ... but they didn't care...they wanted to help their friend!

By the 7th month, I realized, finally, that this was happening and I was going to have to tell my son more than I thought one day.  I thought over and over how I hope that he knows how special he is and how much we adore him and adoption is just a word and he is more to us than an adopted child - he is OUR CHILD!  He is my son!  He made me a mommy! Can you tell I was not handling this well! 

When you really read my story, you will start to see that I wasn't confused or scared, I could care less if we could afford another child; I was actually just in shock!  Years of trying to get pregnant with no results then a long grueling adoption journey, and now one day I wake up and a genetic counselor tells me that 3-6% of the population are effected by celiac disease causing infertility.  I wasn't conceiving due to pizza, pasta and bread! This was NOT a typical situation. 

Well I made it! Me and my little peanut made it!  After trying to hold the baby in for 10 months, I had to be induced.
Years before this one of my closest friends gave me the opportunity to share in her sons birth knowing I would not be able to experience the beauty of delivery.  Of course we both never dreamed this could happen.  So i decided to pay it forward like my friend did and have my BFF and partner the opportunity as well!

I won't share the gory details but let's just say Josette made sure she up in there to learn everything she could while my husband lay next to my eyes being my cheerleader.  All the work over 10 years was coming to this moment.  The shots, the bruising, the pain and loss, the weight gain, the vomiting, the doctor visits, blood work, everything led to this... The moment was now!!

Written By Chemene
Adoptive Mom
Group Co-Leader

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Stirring the Pot

Last week my daughter and I had one of our adoption conversations, and naturally we were in the car.  She just loves to liven up our errands a bit, not to mention test my ability to concentrate simultaneously on both the road and helping her form a healthy identity as an adopted child. So there we were, on our way to pick up some ice cream for a family party to celebrate her graduation from elementary school.  Something she had just been watching on TV had stirred the pot in her brain containing Adoption Stuff. The show featured two teenage girls who were in the process of getting to know their birthparents. So naturally G wanted to know when we could go to California to find her birthmother. She wanted to know what I knew about her. What did she look like? How old was she? Why didn’t we have a picture of her? Why couldn’t we travel to the town where she was born and start knocking on doors and asking if they knew a woman named D who had given birth to a baby girl in January 2004?  It's a small town, after all.  The next thing I knew, she had my phone in her hand and was googling the population of that small town, comparing it to the relatively small town we live in now. She's got it all figured out. It can’t be that hard.

By the time we got home, ice cream in hand, she was all about the party and pretty much dropped the subject. Most of these conversations are like this…one or two, or maybe a flurry of questions…then she's distracted and onto something else. I’ve always sensed -- and professionals have confirmed for me -- that she will only ask for and take in what she can handle at a given time. We had our party and then she was off to sleepaway camp two days later.

Coincidentally, the camp she is at is for adopted children. I know how that sounds: Do we really need to segregate our kids from the non-adopted population, even at a summer camp? But it’s really a wonderful place and a great experience for all the kids. It's a camp within a larger camp (for “regular kids”, lol, that my adopted one mixes with during the day). They're not beaten over the head with adoption talk at all; their days are filled with normal campy stuff like kayaking, hiking and crafts, but they do talk adoption at certain times with other children and counselors who are adopted. Given our recent conversations, I so wish I could be a fly on the wall during those chats. But I'm pretty sure I will hear something about them when she gets home. Suffice to say, the pot will be stirred again. And again.

We have what's called a semi-open adoption. I have a file of information, including a profile that D filled out, detailing her vital statistics, family information, interests, hobbies and medical background. I mentioned it to G during that pre-party conversation, and of course she said she wanted to see it ASAP.  Well the party intervened and so did SleepAway. But I have a feeling she'll be asking to see it soon after she gets home next week. I wish we had more, and wish especially that we had a picture of D. Eleven years ago, I remember the feeling of relief my husband and I had when we were told that her birthmother wanted no contact and didn't even want to meet us. But you know what they say about Hindsight. At the time we adopted, we were still relatively new to the adoption universe, and had much to learn and much to experience via our friends who would adopt after us. I've heard so many beautiful stories of birth and adoptive parents meeting, some even experiencing their child's birth together. Looking back, I don't know how ready we would've been for that, but boy, do I wish we at least had a picture to show G (and also to satisfy my own curiosity).

As other bloggers here have said, if you are an adoptive parent-to-be, PLEASE think carefully about what you would be open to. And if you can't imagine contact with your child-to-be's birthmother, take it from me and make sure you at least ask for a picture!  

Written By Aileen
Adoptive Mom
Group Member

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Story Part III...

Friday May 30, 2008
Around 4:30p.m. B’s attorney called and said to meet her in front of the hospital. She said to change "S" into the outfit we wanted him in and she would walk him out after the papers were signed (Pennsylvania Law).
Time to say goodbye. We asked B if she would take a picture with us. She was kind enough to do so. We thanked her again for the wonderful gift that she had given us, our beautiful son. She walked over to the cradle and gave him a kiss, she said I love you and then we hugged her and said goodbye.
That was a really difficult moment for all of us.
We waited patiently in the truck outside of the hospital, watching each person walk in trying to figure out who B’s attorney was. It seemed like time was going backwards. A few minutes passed and there he was in his little cradle being wheeled out to his Mommy & Daddy.  After some paperwork declaring us as having temporary custody of "S" was taken care of we drove away from the hospital with our beautiful baby boy! What an amazing feeling. We also found out that the paperwork was to be signed on Sunday.
We couldn’t believe that we had our little boy.
John always said he knew it would happen someday. I was a little more, o.k. a lot more pessimistic. But dreams do come true and baby "S" will always remind me of that!
That first night was a very long night. I don’t think any of us got much sleep. We were in one bed and Shane was on the other bed in a small travel cradle bed. With every little peep out of him we were both up in a flash. We were nervous and exhausted. John was wonderful taking care of "S". I was a bit nervous to hold him too much I was afraid that I would get attached and then what would happen if B changed her mind.
Saturday May 31, 2008
Thank goodness for the Garden Inn at Hilton’s endless pot of yummy coffee. Today on the elevator a couple was admiring "S" and kept looking at me. Eventually they asked how old he was. I told them and they responded with “wow you look great!” That was pretty funny. We of course told them that we had just adopted "S". We hung around the hotel most of the day today. Still in disbelief that we had our son.
Sunday June 1, 2008
We’ve been at the hotel for 4 days now. It’s funny how employees look at us. We checked in with out a belly or a baby and now we are walking around with a newborn. The news soon spread through the hotel and the regulars new our story. We woke up on the anxious side since we hadn’t heard from B’s lawyer yet. At 10:00a.m. John called the lawyer. She was very abrupt on the phone and said that she would call us right back. She didn’t. We spent the next 3 hours hanging around the hotel lobby, nervous, nauseas and stressed out. Why wasn’t she calling us back. We tried not to think about it. Everyone was calling asking what was going on and we had no updates as of yet. A little while later the phone rang. We expected it to be the lawyer but it wasn’t. It was B. She called to tell us herself that she had signed the papers. She also wanted to wish me a Happy belated Mother’s Day & John and Happy early Father’s day! We were so relieved and so grateful. We thanked her over and over again. B also wanted us to know that she would be going before the judge and relinquishing her 45 day rights. This meant that she was giving up the 45 days that she had to change her mind. What an amazing gift that she had just given us. We could now rest and enjoy this time with Shane without the fear of having to give him back.
After speaking to B we called our families and shared the wonderful news that we officially had a son!
I think that was the best night sleep we’d had in a long time.
Over the next ten days we ate at every chain restaurant you could think of. One night we went down to the hotel restaurant and we had a celebratory glass of wine.
We toasted to the arrival of our son.
Written By Christine
Adoptive Mom
Group Member

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Can't Do This...

Each person has their own story to tell and each person feels their story is unique.  As i do... so here is the unique side to my story.

In January 2010 we adopted my son!  After many years of IVF and losses our journey to parenthood was over!! Thank goodness!  The relief and sighs were felt across the Atlantic!! In 2011 my son became ill and started having his seizures which I have talked about in a previous blog.  ?????? The journey to finding out his disorder was long and grueling.  We put our health and issues on the back burner like every parent would.  After my son was diagnosed and we were on a road to stopping the seizures, I finally remembered that my husband and I hadn't been to a doctor in a couple years for a check up.  I was having some issues each month where I would throw up all the time.  My migraines were getting even worse and my acne (yes acne) was growing every where! I scheduled my OBGYN Appointment for February to discuss pre-menopause concerns especially knowing my mom started at an early age.  I knew I would throw up more around ovulation time and my cycle time ... So I was figuring my hormones were to blame! In January 2013 rick and I went to see the general practitioner for our annuals.  Last time we went there was about 3 years before to get our prescription of good health for our home study!!

As part of the normal routine we got the typical tests done.. heart, blood pressure, nerves, and blood work.  Over the next week I remember feeling really sick and I told Rick that I hope he would understand that when I saw my OBGYN that if I can see if I get my ovaries removed that I would in a heart beat.  The headaches were debilitating and the throwing up was getting more difficult to control with having a child around.  I prepared myself happily to do anything to stop these terrible symptoms of pre-menopause from happening and causing issues for my body.  My family was complete and I was ready to move on! 

Well my plan didn't work out as i found.  A week after the blood tests, I found out I had celiac disease.  I knew a little about the disease like no wheat but when I found out that I had to go gluten free and do it cold turkey, well that was not easy.  I started to read anything and everything on going gluten free (GF).  I joined this one group on Facebook; The Celiac Foundation, and every week they would ask the question "what was the strangest GF find this week?"  It was the best and worst question for a celiac patient.  I found out that besides cookies and bread and OREOS (yes OREOS), and pizza, I now had to change the following:

my toaster (for cross contamination)
my shampoo
my hair spray
my hand sanitizer
my maxi pads!!! WHAT!!
my plates made of plastic (the coating is sometimes made from wheat based ingredients)
my nail polish
my lotions
my makeup
my chocolate
my coffee!!!
my wine!!!

I could go on forever! I was literally in shock!  I thought i could get away with NOT changing some things but come to find out I was breaking out all these years over my back and arms from my hair products! Well the next 2-3 months were brutal.  I didn't want to eat anything and I was starving. I was terrified that I would die or something from food.  Slowly but surely I found how to substitute things and get the cravings satisfied. I had to try so many things and make so my mistakes but I did it.  I lost 25 pounds pretty much right away; i stopped getting acne; i stopped throwing up all the time; and my migraines went away.

Well i also learned a few other things too.  One night while doing my research I came across a picture and it listed all the symptoms that celiac disease can cause.  

One stood out - I mean REALLY stood out.  It said that it can cause miscarriages and infertility!!!! I sat on my bed that night and turned to my husband and said "if this is what caused all our issues, I am going to kill someone."  Ok not literally!  He simply replied, "how the heck are we ever going to know if that is what caused our issues."  He was right!  I couldn't go back in time and see what would have happened.  But it hurt to know that there was another question tacked on to the hundred others of WHY we couldn't have biological children.  OH WELL!

Fast forward 5 and half months... every year our support group goes on a camping trip for the kids.  This was our 3rd annual trip to a place on Long Island.  One afternoon we all went to the playground and the adults chatted while the kids played.  Now my son had to be watched a bit more than others since his seizure condition left him with vertigo and he fell a lot more than "typical" child.  He played nicely with his friends on the jungle gym but at one point he got too close to the edge and he began to fall.  I jumped up onto the gym and whacked my head very hard on a bar above me (which of course I didn't see).  The pain was terrible and I couldn't help but cry.  After a few minutes and some much needed ice, I felt better.  It hurt and left a nasty bump but I never thought anything of it.  We left for home the next day and everything was fine.  The following morning is when I woke up spinning!  And I mean really spinning! My brain just felt like it was on a spinning ride at an amusement park and i could tell my eyes were actually going back and forth. I knew what it was but never knew how bad it was...VERTIGO!  I couldn't walk without throwing up and I couldn't reach my phone.  My husband had already left for work and my poor son was so confused.  I crawled down the hallway and while holding onto a bucket throwing up and had my son find my cell.  I texted my mom that i needed help and she and my dad came right over.  My dad rushed me to the ER while my mom stayed with my son.

The doctors in the ER tested me for signs of a stroke that resemble vertigo. And they took tests and blood and they tried to get urine but I couldn't get up.  Finally after 2 hours and a couple of meds later, I was able to give them urine and the throwing up started to slow down.  At this point the ER doc came in and drew the curtain back, stood over me and said, "I have some interesting news for you."  Of course i started throwing up again thinking that he was just about to tell me I was going to die.  He said, "you're pregnant!"  My dad, who was sitting at the bottom of the bed, spit with laughter.  I, on the other hand, said, "with who?"  What did I say that for?  Of course I knew with who but when, how, why??  I told him I couldn't be pregnant, I run an adoption support group and they would be pissed, I'm an adoptive mom and I have miscarried too many times before.  What I was saying made NO sense!  But I did manage to eventually say to him, "listen I have had a few very bad miscarriages and all my pregnancy tests were wrong so you can't look at the urine as the right test."  Well guess what I was wrong again.  The nurse came back about 30 minutes later and asked how I was doing.  I said I would be better if I could find out about the blood results.  She said oh those came back awhile ago you're very pregnant!  OMG!  Help!  I was 42...I couldn't do this... I didn't want a baby now ... I had my baby...  We just started to plan our trip to England next year.  I was panicking!! This was NOT what I thought was going to happen at this point in my life.

Stayed tuned to find out the second half of my journey!

Written By Chemene
Adoptive Mom
Group Co-Leader

Join us at our next support group meeting!  Check out our website for details!

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Are They Twins?"

This is the question we get asked constantly when we’re out with our girls. We have two five year-olds and a 2 year-old. The five-year olds were born nine days apart (see my previous blog for that story!), so they’re considered “virtual twins”. We’re the same race as out girls so we never thought the topic of adoption would come up so often when we left the house, but it does.

When they were infants, they were both about the same size and had similar coloring, so whenever I took them out, total strangers would ask “are they twins?”. For some reason, people are fascinated with twins and feel the need to comment.

Here’s how the conversation would go:
Stranger: “Are they twins?”
Me: “No”
Stranger (with a confused look on their face): “Well, how far apart are they?”
Me: “Nine days”
Stranger: “How did you manage that?”
Me: “We adopted”

What I really wanted to say was “Well, it was a long labor”, but I never had the guts to do that.

But for most people though, I would end up telling the kids’ whole story. I found that when you open up about some struggle in your life that people start telling you about their struggles as well. When people found out we adopted, some would talk about how they adopted or about their IVF attempts. I spoke with one girl who even had the same fertility doctor as me. Of course we also had the people who said “God Bless You”, or “what a great thing you’re doing” – as if the girls were so lucky to have us. But as any adoptive parent knows – we’re the lucky ones!

Now that the girls are older, and they’re different heights, we don’t get the “are they twins?” question as often, but when we do, I’ve been starting to cut back on who I tell their story to. I don’t want them to feel like they’re a curiosity or I’m revealing too much personal information to people we just met. At some point I’ll ask them how they’d like us to answer, but for now I’ll say no and continue to work on my come-backs.

Written by Allison
Adoptive Mom

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Roller Coaster of Life...

I've heard of the process of trying to create a family referred to as a journey and for a while I just didn't understand and then it hit me, when something is considered easy it's a walk in the park or a picnic. A vacation or a trip hints at relaxed and easy while the word journey conjures images of danger and difficulty so, yeah, I guess journey fits. I've also heard that the adoption process is a roller coaster and that one was much easier for me grasp . . . the highs and lows, the twists and turns . . . it all makes sense. 

So sticking with this theme, I'm on my journey, not exactly sure how to get there but sure of the goal. I've made it to the amusement park but I'm still not sure about the roller coaster. Is it too high? Are the drops too sudden? I can't go upside down without closing my eyes! What if I get half way through and can't go on? My husband gets migraines on roller coasters!

Maybe I'll try one of the smaller rides first.

Somehow, I stumbled into the Haunted Mansion recently. I have no idea exactly how I got there but I was stuck there for a whole week and let me tell you I was NOT having fun! It's easily the darkest place I've ever been and feels like there is no exit. Things that would normally make me angry made me sad, things that would normally make me sad. . . I don't even have words for how they made me feel. Things that would normally make me smile where completely wasted that week. It was all I could do to get out of bed to go to work and on the weekend I didn't even fight it, I never got out of bed. I reached out to some friends and even some professionals but in the end I had to find my own way out. That's the longest I ever got stuck in the haunted mansion and no matter how many times I find myself there I have yet to figure out what it was that I did to get out. Even as I'm writing this, I can feel it pulling me back there.

Wait a minute!!!!

Needed a cuteness break!
While all this was going on there was another post on this blog about difficulty bonding with an adopted child. I had my husband read it because, well, it was written by a man and I thought he could relate better with that one than any other. That's when he confided that that is one of his big fears too. At first I couldn't understand how he could possibly worry about that. He is crazy about several of our students and mourns the loss whenever they stop coming to us for lessons, and when an employee leaves, it's like loosing a family member. He still feels bad about scrapping and old car of his years ago as if it feels abandoned! He refused to get a dog for many years after his favorite passed away because no dog could ever be as good and he couldn't see himself loving another the same way.  Knowing this, I thought, how could he possibly have a problem bonding with and loving a baby? Then it kind of smacked me in the head, what if babies are his cryptonite? What if he can't bond with someone he can't really have a conversation with? Hmmm, something else to think about!

IVF with a donor egg is a ride we could try. He seems to be ok with that but I, for some unexplained reason, feel odd about using an egg that isn't mine. 

Embryo adoption is another ride we could try and we'll have to talk about that one a little more. 

There's also adoption from foster care . . . probably my favorite option and probably his least favorite. I know I'd miss the "baby experience" but foster kids have a more urgent need. There will always be more people looking to adopt babies than there will be babies to adopt but very few people want to take on a child beyond the toddler years. 

It makes me very sad to still be on this journey and to know that I may never get the family I dream about but I can't take the next step until we are both sure and on the same page. I don't remember the exact words but my father used to tell me but they were something to the effect of he and my mother needed to be strong in their relationship for the rest of the family unit to work. So until we are sure of the right course for us . . .

I think I'll get some ice cream, find a bench in the shade and watch the roller coaster a little longer.

Written by Bonnie
Business Owner
Group Member

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