Thank You, Good Night

Long week: 50 work hours, 5 hours of sleep each night, sick (again), preparing for a garage sale. Apologies for any discontinuity in the following recap.

Check out the bags under those eyes! Eesh.

Check out the bags under those eyes! Eesh.

 

Friday night, 10:30 pm – Finally finished baking 12 dozen cookies for the Indoor Community Garage Sale, our first fundraising event.

Saturday morning, 5:00 am – Alarm goes off on my phone.

Try to turn my alarm off by frantically squeezing the side buttons and sliding my keyboard out.

Remember I no longer have a flip phone.

Frantically slide my fingers all over the screen. Somehow manage to silence the alarm.

Crawl out of bed.

5:03 am – Get Rylie up.

5:05 am – Make a list of everything I need for the Indoor Garage Sale today.

5:06 am – Search for my Chalkboard Marker.

5:10 am – Remember I was supposed to order the rest of my Profile Books from Shutterfly with the $20 off coupon I got from Buy Buy Baby yesterday.

Search my bag.

Search the kitchen.

Search the living room.

Search my car.

5:15 am – Quietly sneak into the dark bedroom to search the laundry pockets.

A voice breaks through the darkness, “You got Rylie up already??”

Indignantly, I verify that I did in fact get Rylie up.

Then I look at the clock.

4:15 am

Wait, what?

WHAT?

*sigh*

4:20 am – Search my car again. Found the coupon.

4:21 am – Search for the chalkboard marker. Ay-yi-yi

4:25 am – Give up on my search and order my Profile books.

5:00 am (again, but for real this time) – Lay down on the couch to nap until I actually have to get up.

5:00:01 – tick

5:00:02 – tock

5:00:03 – tick

5:00:04 – tock

5:00:05 – Consider how to demolish the clock from my place on the couch.

Spend an hour thinking. In the dark. On the couch. With the ticking clock.

6:00 am – Get up and nearly run into Tyler.

Almost wet my pants.

Apologize for my alarm going off so early.

“That was my alarm.” he tells me

Cry a little.

6:03 am – Find my chalkboard marker on the coffee table I had already checked 6 times.

Thankfully, the rest of the day went much better. I met Nick and Jamie (our friends from college who are also adopting) at the venue for the Indoor Community Garage Sale and we got everything set up just fine. In fact:

9:00 am – Doors open.

9:20 am – Run out of Dog Biscuits my friend made for us to sell.

I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came out to support us. People who I worked with, people I used to work with, people who only kind-of know us, people who have known us since college… It meant so much to have so many people come support our adoption.

I can’t even explain how much every word, blog-hit, and gift has meant to us. I probably make ya’ll feel super-awkward, because I feel like I’m fighting back tears each time someone donates or says how much they enjoy reading the blog or shows up at our garage sale. I’m blown away to see names I don’t recognize as “Supporters” on our youcaring.com site. I’m moved by the interest and the support throughout our Adoption Process. And then there’s the random checks in the mail that appear right when I’m feeling discouraged… I’m in constant awe of God’s reminders to us of His faithfulness.

They say pregnant women are emotional, but I think Expectant Motherhood through adoption induces a state of emotional instability of its own.

That or I am tired. Check out the bags under those eyes! Eesh.

Like really, really tired. Can I go to bed now?

*Happy sigh*  Thank you for reading and caring so much about us and our family. You are a blessing beyond what my loopy, tired brain can formulate into words right now. {Thank you!}

P.S. If you want to, you can search “Cheyenne and Tyler’s Adoption Page” on facebook to get blog updates and find out about upcoming events.

Our Profile Book {and also the arrival we’ve been waiting for}

Our Profile Book {and also the arrival we’ve been waiting for}

Look what {finally} came today:

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Also pictured are the cookies I caved and bought 2 days ago out of desperation. Apparently the Girl Scouts didn’t blacklist me after all. They really were just back-ordered. For 3 months.

And now that our approval date is so close, I finally finished the profile book I’ve been working on for 3 months. Oddly coincidental, no?

Maybe my need to keep my mind off the perfectly crunchy, caramely, coconut cookies that drove me to spend nearly 100 hours on this project.

Or maybe it was that cookie-deprival stalled my creativity all this time.

However these two events are related, today was certainly momentous.

So anyway, when a birthmom chooses our agency for finding a family for her baby, we will get an email with non-identifying information about her: when she’s due, the baby’s gender, any health concerns for the baby, her interest in on-going contact. If we feel we would be a good match for her, we let the agency know that they can show her our profile book. She will narrow her choices down by looking through the books and reading our 15 page Home Study Report.

Take a look at a few pages here if you’d like (If you click the photos, you can read the text and see clearer pictures.)

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3

4

5

6

7

1

That’s all I really have for today! Less than 250 words! I think that’s a record. That is, if you don’t count the text on the pages.

 

Ready or Not

We got an email from our caseworker yesterday asking about moving our Official Approval up to May 5! Apparently our background checks, fingerprinting, and the rest of the paperwork is all completed and approved, so we are ready!

Wait… are we ready? Are we really ready for this??!!??

Let me just give you a sample of how stubborn our firstborn is.

I am trying to prepare our profile book for birthmoms to look through and realized that all of my pictures of the three of us are from a year ago. So my amazing mother-in-law came to take some family pictures. Let me just say these pictures really tell the story better than I could:

IMG_4542 IMG_4544 IMG_4545 IMG_4548 IMG_4551 IMG_4554 IMG_4556 IMG_4555

*sigh*

But I love her to pieces. Even because of her stubbornness and independence. I just pray God uses those qualities for good as she gets older!

Meanwhile our to-do list is almost done. Tyler has pretty much finished the table that is one of the prizes for the Raffle Drawing. On the left is the actual table and on the right is a similar 8 ft. table he made for our friend Sabina:

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Isn’t he amazing? Next I want him to build me a dining room table that can extend to fit 12 people, so you can all come over for dinner sometime!

Our Raffle is in full swing… sort of. We’ve raised $500 thanks to a handful of people, most of whom are family (thank you guys so, SO much!). But we now have $5000 due in 3 weeks – yikes!!! Originally at the informational meeting they had said it would be $2050. We had that and the initial $3000 set aside and had hoped to not have to worry about money until after our Garage Sale/Bake Sale and Dinner, as the final huge portion is not due until we are actually matched with a baby. So the payment schedule goes like this:

Application Process (completed) – $3000

Agency and Legal Approval (May 5th) – $5000

Placement – $13,500

Medical/Legal expenses for the birthmom (only requested in 50% of cases) – $3000

Anyway, God will provide in one way or another, but if it seems like I’ve been annoying on facebook with the fundraising stuff, it’s just because (1) I don’t know how to do a lot of stuff on facebook and have been experimenting with making pages and events and (2) I might. kinda. sorta. be getting a little nervous about having to pay that $5000 so soon.

Fundraising is not my thing. When I agreed to join Girl Scouts, I had no idea it meant we had to sell the cookies.

What do dogs eat? Dog biscuits.

What do cats eat? Catnip.

What should Girls Scouts eat? Girl Scout cookies, duh.

Needless to say, I didn’t last long. In part because of not getting to EAT Girl Scout cookies at every meeting and in part because I was not interested in selling anything. And then there was that Flag Ceremony incident in which they wanted me to do something-or-other with the American Flag. I’m someone who can’t picture things without you showing me first, so I was terrified when they told me how important this job was, then put the flag in my hands and asked me to march down this little aisle of girl scouts all staring at ME. I knew I was supposed to turn one way and do something else…. I never really knew. I’m not even joking, I very vividly remember fighting back tears whilst bearing our nation’s banner.

Oh and then there was that time I had to sew something.

Is that why our Girl Scout Cookies have been “Back-ordered” for 3 months? Good-golly, I caved and bought the Keebler version of Samoas out of desperation. Must be they did a background check and found my maiden name and recalled the national disgrace I bore down on my troop!

Alas, I digress… what was my point anyway?

Oh yeah, fund raising. Yeah yeah, yadda yadda, you’ve heard it already and I promise to stop posting a million things on facebook!

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IMG_4531But exciting things are happening here! Our little one could be out there right now growing in his or her Mama’s belly. So crazy to think about. Please keep them both in your prayers. And the three of us as well! May 5th is just around the corner!

Home study Visit #2 / Such.a.Gift.

We are well on our way to completing our home study! Typically, there are 4 visits spread out over the course of 6-8 weeks. We were told this visit would be a long one where she would talk to both of us separately for at least an hour. I was a little concerned about this. Not that we have anything juicy to hide, but I just expected it would be hard questions to answer about your spouse.

Turns out, the only questions she asked us about each other were, “How would you describe your spouse?” and “Can you describe your family’s relationship with your spouse?” and “What kind of parent is your spouse?” The rest of the questions were about our childhood. At no time did I feel uncomfortable or judged.

Again, this process has been so much easier than I had expected. And the more we talk about it, the more I fall in love with this little person that may or may not even be conceived yet. And the more I feel compassion for the birth mom who is choosing a better life for her child – chances are her life isn’t butterflies and roses, and she is not making the choice selfishly.

We decided to wrap things up in one 3-hour visit on April 4. After that, she has to write a 10 page report about us and get it edited and approved by her supervisor and the court. We are looking at being approved and available as a “Waiting Family” somewhere between May 18 and June 1. And then starts the fund-raising…

lemonadeHave I ever mentioned how much I love fund-raising? No?

Huh…. Yeah… no I think you’re right – I haven’t.

But I do love planning things, so I guess I just need to get over the label of “Fund-raising” and get to it.

Our plan is to do several things:

1. Start applying for grants.

This is pretty much like applying to college: Filling out paperwork, answering really personal questions, writing essays, etc...

2. Have a garage sale June 4-6 at my father-in-law’s house. 

Have you ever seen Storage Wars? Our dear friend and spiritual mentor for many years has offered to help us by bidding on storage unit auctions. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed with emotion I was when he shared this with me. 

3. Plan a food-event. 

Everyone loves to eat and we love to cook, so I thought it would be fun to feed people. I make a mean lasagna and have won a chili cook off.

Your Feedback please:  Any ideas for what time of year to do an event like this would be helpful. Seems like during the summer everyone is gone a lot. Weekday? Weekend? Summer? Fall?

4. Hold a Raffle.

Friends of ours adopted and this was their most successful fund-raising approach. They bought I-pads and several other expensive electronics that people could win. Then they sold tickets over the course of 2-3 months and drew winners for each of the prizes. People loved that each $5 bought them a ticket for a chance to win a prize. 

Your Feedback please:  Does $5/ticket seem like a good idea? What kinds of electronics are people into these days? What other prizes would you be interested in winning? Should we do the raffle drawing at our food event?

5. Publicize this Blog.

I’ve seen blogs where you can donate to the blogger’s cause, but have no idea how to get this set up! And honestly, I am very concerned that people’s financial information be kept safe. Also, I need to actually find time to network with other bloggers so that people besides my Facebook friends can follow along and have the opportunity to read my blog. It would be nice to maybe open the raffle up to readers. Maybe??? I don’t know…

Your Feedback please: Umm… just Help!!!

6. Work.

We certainly can’t ask people to help fund our adoption without working our hardest to save money as well.  We are both so thankful that we love our jobs so much. Tyler is tutoring on the side, and I have been working quite a bit of overtime. So far we’ve been able to pay out of pocket for the application and home study, but the other 75% of the cost is due when we finalize our adoption. 

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THIS is what’s most overwhelming to me. The fund-raising part is why we decided to start the process earlier than we had originally planned. This way we have the summer to work on this, since Tyler has almost 3 months off.

I can’t sufficiently describe how it feels to need to depend on others to help you expand your family. Every gift is such.a.gift. Think about what money normally buys: food, clothing, gas, housing, repairs, medicine, vacation. Some of those things are such a drag to pay for and others – though fun and exciting – are still fleeting. The gift of a child is forever. And every little bit – even $5 – is still a part of that gift.

God will provide for us no matter what. We paid for IVF almost all by ourselves, and it was such a relief when we made our final payment on our 15-month 0% interest credit card! Adoption costs 3x what IVF cost us. But if we won the lottery it would be much less humbling than relying on the gifts of people who want to support this baby we are adopting. Not that we want to be humbled.

Wait, that doesn’t sound good.

But you know what I mean. ❤

VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  You should in no way feel obligated to donate money to us just because you know us and are reading our blog. The primary purpose of this blog is to keep people updated and to create more awareness about what adoption is really like. While I think it’s important to be charitable, we all have different causes that are important to us – so give where you are led to give!

That was easy.

Homestudy visit #1 down. Three to go.

And the “Home”-part of the Homestudy went like this:

Do you have a fire extinguisher? 

Can you point out your smoke and CO2 detectors? 

Do you plan on moving anytime soon?

What is your neighborhood like? 

Can you give me a tour? 

(peeks her head into each room)

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14 hours of cleaning for a 3 minute tour. She didn’t even use the bathroom.

The bathroom in which I insisted on scrubbing the blinds mercilessly.

The bathroom in which I ensured every towel was hung with perfectly straight lines.

The bathroom in which I carefully surveyed every square inch for hair.

Long hair.

Short hair.

Baby hair.

Dog hair.

Leg hair.

Do you realize how hard it is to remove every trace of hair from a humid bathroom?

Hard. Very hard.

But our house is so clean and pretty now! So in spite of wanting to drag her through each room and point proudly at every sparkle and shine, I refrained. I held onto the knowledge that even if she wasn’t able to fully appreciate all the work we put into preparing for those 3 minutes, we would appreciate having a spotless house for 2 hours.

So what did we actually do then?

Mostly, we answered questions that will become a preliminary plan for what situations/conditions we would be open to for our adoption. For example:

How open would you be to adopting a child with special needs?

How open would you be to adopting a child for whom you don’t know the father’s medical history?

How open would you be to adopting a child whose mother smoked/drank/did drugs/has mental illness or cognitive impairment/ has a family with a history of mental illness or cognitive impairment?

And some really, really sad questions like:

How open would you be to adopting a child who was conceived by rape? 

How open would you be to adopting a child who was conceived by incest? 

Other questions had to do with our expectations and hopes for our relationship with the birthmom/parents:

Are you willing to provide written updates to the birthmom?

Are you willing to make personal contact with the birthmom, either at a neutral location or at your home?

Are you willing to adopt from a mother who insists you use a certain name for the child?

It was a lot to take in. Thankfully, it seemed that Tyler and I were on the same page for every answer. The hardest thing is that we both strongly feel every child has just as much value as another. It would of course be easier to adopt a child with no complicated family of origin and no pre-existing conditions. By that criteria, I would love to open our house to any child needing a loving family!

But our current lifestyle — though fairly simple — still finds us busy with our jobs, with our families, and with our church. Of course, our children will always come first. And if I were to get pregnant with a child that had a special condition or disability, we would certainly rearrange our lives. But we can’t help feeling that adopting a child with special needs might suit us better a-ways down the road. Maybe even through foster care.

We answered most every question with a score to indicate that we would prayerfully consider those situations, but in more severe conditions, feel it would be unlikely that we would be ready to commit.

Please pray that God would lead us to the child that is meant to be ours. He will, and we know it. But we still may have decisions to make ahead! 

And if adoption is something you are considering for you future, please don’t let this scare you from it. Our caseworker assured us that every child finds a family, and there are families out there who know they specifically want to open their home up to a child with special needs. These were also not binding statements of intention. The agency asks these questions so that if you know you wish to adopt a child with certain circumstances, you would be their first choice. We in no way felt we were being pushed to commit to anything.

Thank you all for your prayers and support! It’s been overwhelming to see how many people are interested in reading our story!

Where We Are

100_4788For us, there was no question that we wanted to adopt after doing In vitro for Elise. Adoption had already captured our hearts, and we were so thankful to have experienced pregnancy and delivery. Do I ever hope for two pink lines again someday? It’s hard not to. To have a surprise pregnancy that didn’t involve a single needle would be… incredible. But we are excited and fully committed to this child with whom we will be matched through adoption. Adopting is not our second-choice, back-up plan. It is an indescribable gift that few experience simply because they don’t know enough about it, or it is more expensive and… ahem… difficult than it is to typically get pregnant!

But we are learning that many of our preconceived fears about adoption have little founding. More to come on that someday later!

For now though, here are answers to the two questions we are getting most often right now:

Why did you choose domestic infant adoption when you had originally wanted to adopt from Ghana?

Unfortunately, adoption from Ghana has been suspended. We seriously considered adopting from South Korea as well. However, upon contacting the agency that was recommended to us, the state of adoption from Korea right now is very slow – 2-3 years for approval, referral (matching), and placement. At the earliest, we could have brought our child home at the age of 18 months. A lot happens in 18 months and we are both working full time, and would be unable to take the necessary time to ensure proper attachment was formed. We didn’t feel this was a fair choice for any child of that age. 

Where are you in the process?

The process of adoption through our agency is this:

– Request for Formal Application (This included basic information and statements of intention and of faith.)

  {Done}

– Formal Application   (Detailed information including contact information for references, experience with children, and interest in children with special needs, older children, or children of a certain ethnicity.)

{Done}

– Meeting our caseworker   (This was… nothing really. We sat in a room and chatted and tried to keep Elise occupied. Thankfully Elise only demonstrated one of her meltdowns – when she realized the clothes that came with the baby doll the caseworker lent her were sewn together. Alas, what a tragedy to an 18 month old!)

{Also Done}

– Random Errands   (Getting references to complete their questionnaires, obtaining proof of employment, getting our well-water tested, getting fingerprinted, making copies of our ID’s, getting a copy of our dog’s vaccination records.)

{Mostly Done}

– Homestudy Visits   (In which our caseworker comes to the house to interview us on our family backgrounds, our relationship, our community, our home, and other personal information. The point of this is not to find fault with a family, but to (1), ensure both partners are equally committed to parenting an adopted child as their own and (2), to glean enough information to write a detailed report about the couple that will give a potential birth-mother a thorough idea of what kind of parents this couple would be for their child. Most birthmoms aren’t looking for perfection; just a safe, responsible, loving couple eager for a child to call their own.)

{Not Done – starting on Thursday!}

– Homestudy Approval    (Basically, just a short month or two of waiting for all the paperwork to be approved)

{Obviously Not Done}

– Waiting    (This is when waiting couples are informed about birthmoms planning on adoption, and given information about the birthmom and the baby.  This would include information about her due date, gender if known, and what amount of involvement she would like to have with the child. Then birthmoms view online profiles and profile books of any couples who were interested in her, and she starts narrowing down who she feels would make the best fit for her child.)

{Average wait time: 1 year}

– Referral   (When both the birthmom/birthparents and the chosen couple agree on an adoption plan for the baby.)

– Placement   (Bringing the baby home!)

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We have really only just started the process, but I plan to give updates as we progress!