Saturday, November 12, 2011

Well, it's been almost a month since my last post, about time I wrote again, isn't it? ;)


Yes, we received our letter of congratulations from the adoption agency, we're up-to-date on the payment side, so now we can officially be "shown" to birth parents.  But you probably want to know what's led up to this, so here's a recap:

We had 2 face-to-face meetings with our caseworker and completed our home study.  The first visit was basically separated interviews.  She questioned Waylon for an hour and a half, and me for about 20 minutes.  :)  The questions were largely about our childhood, our families, and how we arrived at the decision to adopt.  Big, vague questions like:  "Do you have any good and any bad memories of your childhood?"  and "How did your parents influence you?"  and "Describe your appearance and personality" and "How do you keep the romance alive in your marriage?"  Just kidding on the last one.  No, there were NO awkward, intimate questions like we had feared.  I know you were hoping, but sorry to disappoint.  The second meeting was all joint interview and a brief examination of our home and property.  Our house passed, even following an interior flood (long story) and the only thing we had to take care of was purchasing a gun safe.  Before the caseworker left, she gave us a verbal approval and told us she'd get to printing up the study right away.

After that, we set on getting the rest of our documentation ready for the agency.  This consisted of 5 letters of reference, a signed medical history form for each of us, and a conviction statement - each of the last 3 required notarization.  Then we had to turn in tax returns for the last 2 years, proof of Waylon's employment, proof that our health insurance will cover an adopted child, copies of all of our financial records, birth certificates, our marriage license, and a budget.  It sort of felt like applying for a mortgage again.  Oh, and the photo album (which turned out beautifully!) along with 4 color photocopies.  There was also a letter to the birthparents and a de-identified adoptive parent profile included with the photo album.  I seem to keep leaving things out, but I think that was it.  It felt sooo good to get all that finished!

So now we wait, and start to educate ourselves.  Our agency asks that we complete 2 readings (or videos, seminars, etc.) every quarter on something related to adoption, and then turn in a typed report summarizing what we learned from each.  They even have a library list to help us get started.  This sounds a bit like going back to school, but at the moment, we don't mind.  We know that we know almost nothing right now and will really benefit from this. 

Also, I need to pick out a paint color for the nursery (something neutral), and start researching items for the registery.  Wow!  Oh, you need to see a picture of this:

This is my cradle, that my grandfather had made for me.  My dad delivered it to me a couple of weeks ago, and Waylon and I set it up in the nursery.  It's currently the only thing in the room right now, and our first piece of baby furniture.  I love it!  I will need to figure out where to get a mattress for it, though...

It's very weird to be planning for a baby when you're not pregnant.  I have to keep reminding myself to move forward, plan ahead.  But I don't mind at all.  I am so stinkin' HAPPY.  This is the first time in years, that I've felt truly hopeful and excited about our family's future, the iminent future.  The doubt is gone, the sadness lifted!  I am so grateful to God for what He's doing, for the baby that He's preparing for us.  I actually look forward to meeting people again, because I know when they ask me if I have children (which they always do), I now can say I'm in the process of adopting!  And then we can smile and laugh together as we discuss the future, instead of simply listing the past and our failures to grow our family.  It's like a weight has been literally lifted. 

If you've been praying for Waylon or me, thank you so much!  You will never know how much your prayers are treasured.  And please say a prayer every now and again for those moms and dads who are still waiting on their little ones.  Pray that they won't give up hope, and that God will soon fill their arms too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What are you listening to?

I wish I was more of a man  
Have you ever felt that way  
And if I had to tell you the truth  
 I'm afraid I'd have to say  
 That after all I've done and failed to do  
 I feel like less than I was meant to be

I started to believe the lie again.  It always happens, right after I learn of someone else's pregnancy.  The lie socks me right in the stomach and tells me that I'm Defective.  Abnormal.  A broken body, not even able to perform one of the most basic functions a woman should be able to perform, one that makes her a woman.  I can't conceive and carry a child within me, therefore I'm less than who I was meant to be.   And I might always be this way.
What if you could see yourself  
Through another pair of eyes  
What if you could hear the truth  
 Instead of old familiar lies  
And what if you could feel inside  
 The power of the Hand that made the universe  
You'd realize... 

So I started praying to hear the Truth.  The truth about who I am, who God made me to be, and how He sees me.  The truth about what my purpose is.  And in His infinite faithfulness and patience, He reminded me:
  • I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made  (Ps. 139:14)
  • He, himself, put all my parts and pieces together in my mother's womb - and He is in complete control of which ones function correctly and which ones don't  (vs.13)
  • I'm not so small or insignificant or dysfunctional that He's forgotten what He made  (Matt. 10:29-31)
  • I am serving His greater purpose now, because I am uniquely qualified to bring His love to other women suffering with infertility
  • He will always provide me with comfort, often through the same women I'm serving
My God loves me, and you, so much!  As soon as I started to ask Him to remind me of all these things, He did - before I'd even finished speaking the words!  The words printed in italics are lines taken from one of the many songs declaring God's awesomeness.  This song isn't about infertility.  It's bigger than that.  But as He so often does with song, God used it to meet me where I am.  I hope it encourages you wherever you are today.

...He made the lame walk  
And the dumb talk  
He opened blinded eyes to see
 That the sun rises on His time  
Yet He knows our deepest desperate need
And the world waits 
While His heart aches 
 To realize the dream
I wonder what life would be like 
  If we let Jesus live through you and me
What Life Would be Like by Big Daddy Weave

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Let the scrambling begin!

Last week I prayed hard about how annoying I should become to my adoption agency.  I've talked to quite a few adopters, past and present, and they've each said it's good to be pro-active and call when you don't know what's going on.  Or even if you do know.  You want them to remember you and keep working hard for you.  (I've done a fair job at this so far, probably more like medium-active).  So I thought about what they said ... hoped I wouldn't have to do it ... and then finally decided I'd take action this week if there was still no word.

Monday passed and nothing happened.  Tuesday, I was touched in my core by the response and spontaneous prayer of one of my students and her sister.  As I was telling her mom that we'd decided to adopt, my student immediately said "I'll be praying!"  Not 3 seconds later, her little sister shouted, "I said a little prayer for you right now!"  I don't know why, but it jogged my memory about how much the Lord values the prayers of His little ones...

...and I gained some courage.

That afternoon, I emailed Colleen at the agency, and spent a lot of energy trying to politely word an email asking "WHEN will we be able to set up this home study?!"  I promise it was not that obnoxious.  Waylon approved, and he's much better at being sensitive than I am - at least in this area ;) 

And wouldn't you know it, she emailed back that very afternoon, proposed a date for the study, and even said she's "looking forward to meeting" us ... and used a smiley face!  Thank you, Father, for once again paving this road for me. 


Let the scramble begin.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Remembering Mom

Jacquelyn Stockman McCarthy; Jackie; Mom
 This is my mom, biologically (clarification explained later), and tomorrow marks the 11th anniversary of her move to Heaven.  I cannot wait to see her again and catch up.  I'm sure she'll have lots to say on the things she's been watching from above.  I remember so many times growing up when I did NOT want to hear what she had to say... and then later, I became an adult and started loving her for talking to me so much.  By God's grace, we became extremely close before she died.  She was my best friend - for a while, one of the only people I'd really show my full self to.  As you can see from this old picture, we shared a love of cats.  (So to all those who call me a cat lady, I can't help it; it's in the genes)  We did not share a love of short hair.  This is the ONLY time in my life I've had hair this short, and it only occurred then because I could've cared less about hair at that age.  One of my favorite things about her was the way she shared my sense of humor.  We had very similar brainwaves in this area, always laughing at the same things, usually some form of slapstick comedy.  Looking back, another of my favorite things about her caused quite a bit of stress between us.  I think we were probably quite similar in a lot of ways, and that resulted in many arguments, shouting matches, and tears (mostly from me, but she had her share too).  Dad got to play peacemaker a lot during my teens.  But by the end, things had calmed down, and I couldn't imagine anyone ever filling the hole she'd leave when she left.

But God wasn't going to leave me without a mother here on earth, so 5 years later, and within the span of 6 months He blessed me with TWO more moms!  Here these lovely women:

Donna, my mother-in-law, came first.  She is an absolutely amazingly talented woman.  In addition to her skills of playing the piano, decorating like nobody's business, sewing probably anything you could ask for, and cooking restaurant-quality food at home, she puts endless amounts of energy into taking care of her family.  She has taught me how wonderful a spa can be, the number of hours needed to properly cook a roast (which I still have not tried), and how to use spray paint to liven up furniture (which I also still have not tried... can you tell I'm a bit intimidated? ;).  She's one of the few people who has successfully surprised me for my birthday - that is not an easy feat, folks, ask Waylon.  She also has the most tender hugs when we visit. 

Belinda came next.  Her gifts of listening and patience are medal-worthy.  I know it's part of why Dad married her and part of why she has such a devoted group of girls seeking her mentorship at church.  Belinda radiates calm and contentment (unless she's in the kitchen; then it's all business:)  She has taught me to take a breath, and try to see the side of an argument I don't really want to see.  She reminds me of the value of wisdom and unwavering trust in what God may be teaching me in any given situation.  And she daily lives this out in her own life, refusing to worry or get upset over those areas where she has no control (also intimidating!).  Her hugs are right up there with Donna's.  Oh, and interestingly enough, Belinda, too, plays the piano.  ;) 

I am so blessed to have these mothers.  They are truly "beauty from ashes", and a lovely example of God's own tender and compassionate and creative and wise heart.  I don't tell them enough how much I love them, so here goes: 
                                               Mama and Mom ...
                                  I LOVE you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Colleen wrote me back last Thursday to say she would give me a call about the home study. 

I guess setting up a home study can be as time consuming as actually getting it done.  But I'm happy - something is definitely happening on the other end.  :)

In the meantime, I'm working harder on our photo album, and we're continuing to look ahead at what paperwork we'll need filled out with the help of others.  For example, we need specific insurance information stating that our child will be covered either from birth or from date of placement.  Waylon's HR manager has told us that the baby will definitely be covered, but finding that somewhere in writing is taking a while.  We're also waiting to hear back from our finance guy regarding what it will take to liquidate some savings. 

Last weekend, we had some good family time in Arlington.  We celebrated with my sweet sister-in-law the upcoming arrival of her baby girl, and got to visit with relatives that we don't see very often.  And it was a joy to be asked about our adoption.  It helps me feel like I'm in an alternate "pregnancy", with it's own timeline.  I admit, I did hear quite a few comments about everyone's friend who adopted and then got pregnant... but that was to be expected :)  I'm sure I would have said the exact same thing not very long ago.  I love seeing smiles on faces as family asks how we're feeling and what's happening.  And I love telling them!   Bring on the questions.

My biggest... well, maybe one of my biggest... fears, is that others might view our adopted child as a consolation prize, or a means to an end (pregnancy), or not as worthy of praise because he's not a blood relative.  (And yes, this is very blunt but believe me, there are people out there who look at life this way.)  It's crushing to realize that someone would rather talk about someone else's pregnancy than your adpoption.  It takes daily prayer and effort on my part to remember that God set this baby apart for ME, before time began, so I know it may take others just as much effort to learn the same, if not more.   It's just a difficult lesson to learn.  I know God will give me the strength I need to battle through the lies and show His grace to those who may not respond as I hope.

[But I'll insert a small word of educational advice here:  if you know someone who's adopting, treat them exactly as you would an expectant parent.  Because that's what they are.]

Two weeks til the garage sale and I'm excited and nervous!  Excited, because I'll finally be getting rid of things that needed to be gone a long time ago - and hopefully getting paid for them -, and nervous because I've never held my own garage sale.  Neither has Waylon!  He mentioned he might keep his gun handy, just in case.  Yes, you get the picture.  We want people to come by, LOTS of people, but we're worried about the wrong type of people coming.  Well, mostly Waylon's worried... I'm probably too trusting.  Anyway, we went through the house when we got home, and started setting things aside and figuring out asking prices.  It was actually fun!  Clearing out the garage so we can set things up in there will NOT be fun...  Next week I'm going to place an ad on craigslist mentioning the sale, and when I told Waylon he said, "You're not putting our ADDRESS on there, are you?"  

I told him not to worry, I'd just be putting the name of our neighborhood, since it is a community sale.  How on earth would he have handled this if just WE were holding a sale?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Small updates

I think I've begun to experience the "slow" parts of adoption:  periods of time where nothing seems to happen, even though it probably is.  It's a good thing I was warned about this while researching.  And I'm also grateful for the warning that I'll need to be prepared to fight to keep things moving forward.   I've started this battle with placing two emails to the agency to see if they really are scheduling us a home study.  So far I've only heard "I'll have Colleen give you a call."  That was only a week ago, but it feels longer.  I'm ready, Colleen.  Call any time. 

Oh well, I'm using the time to keep planning things on my end.  At the moment, this involves putting together a photo album!  Once we reach final approval from the agency, they will present our photo album (along with several others) to various birth mothers, depending on how we "match up" to each other.  This album will contain a letter to the birth mother from us, de-identified information about us, and lots of family/friends/life pictures.  The birth mother chooses adoptive parents largely based on what she sees. 

I'm also realizing how much I do not like taking pictures.  Or maybe I'm just not that sentimental about them.  Whatever the reason, I'm so glad I have loving family and friends to email me pictures that I didn't take but should have :)

Another thing that needs planning is emptying of the future nursery... (wow, didn't think I'd get to use that word for a long time, if ever.  This is momentous!).. Right now, this room is "the junk room" and yes, there's a lot of it.  Thankfully, my neighborhood has a garage sale coming up!  Most of the junk is old furniture we don't use or want anymore.  But the closet is another issue.  Right now it's got storage bins covering the floor, and the rack has all my ironing hanging there.  Where will I put the ironing stuff from now on?  It HAS to be near the TV (which is upstairs and far away from the laundry room, and the laundry room is too small to keep ironing stuff in anyway) because there is NO WAY I'll ever iron without having something to distract me.  I'm thinking the guest room closet will just have to be filled...

(I just reread this post and it's a little bit boring... too factual and not enough humor.  Why are you still reading?)

Here's my latest moment where God showed me again, how much me cares about the details in my life:  Today BSF started, and He kept the one girl from my small group last year, who's also adopting, with me in this year's group.  All the other girls were put in different groups. 

Alright, time to re-ignite the photo album creativity!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yes, I've finally started blogging!

I've been asked many times now, "Why don't you start a blog?"  And I think, "That's a lot of work and who would even read about what's going on in my life anyway?"  And then I also think, "I don't have much to write about, other than funny things my piano students say or do".  But that's all changing now!  Adoption is definitely worth writing about.  And don't worry:  if you're one of the few who wants to know the latest way my students are trying to bribe me for less homework, I'll still tell you :) 

Adoption wise, here is the latest:
We've chosen a wonderful local agency, Adoption Angels, that specializes in domestic infant adoption.  We met the director a couple of weeks ago, and fell in love with her.  That weekend, we filled out a 10-page application, which included great detail of our finances, our feelings on race and ethnicities other than our own, and our thoughts on child discipline, among many other things.  It wasn't something we could fill out in an hour.  For example, here's one of the questions we were asked:

Describe your ability to maintain the cultural or ethnic identity of a child from a different background:
And then we were given 2 little lines to fill in our answer. 

What would you have written?  Probably something better than us, which was along the lines of "We feel we are very capable to maintain the cultural or ethnic identities of a child from a different background."  Our answers to other questions were much better than this, and I promise, they took much longer to fill out.

Thankfully, we know they didn't mind this answer because 3 days after mailing in the application, we got a voicemail saying we were accepted to the program!   It was incredible, being able to celebrate that moment, particularly since we were surrounded by family when we got the news. 

Since then, we've begun Planning.  There are so many little steps, and I know I don't even know all of them yet!  It kind of feels similar to planning a wedding, which I have to admit, I loved.  The first thing we did was ask the agency to set up our home study.  Here is the way our application summarized what this is:

A Home Study is an investigative evaluation of your family and home to determine your suitability for the special circumstances of bringing a child into your home through adoption. This is an excellent learning experience as it helps you to shape your expectations and preparedness for an adoptive placement.
This is a very condensed definition for something that costs over a thousand dollars and will involve stacks of paperwork as well as joint and separate interviews for Waylon and myself.  Oh yes:  a friend recently told us that some of the questioning will be reminiscent of the Newlywed Game... as in, we'll be separated and asked the same questions to see if our answers differ.  And we should expect to share some really intimate things with the total stranger conducting the study.  Can't wait to do THAT.  (that was sarcasm ... I know you're still learning how I change font to show emotion)  Don't worry:  I'll be sure to let you know at least most of the embarrassing questions. 

This blog is getting a little long, and I want to make sure you aren't getting too bored to come back in the future, so I'll stop for now.  I'm glad you're reading :)