Sunday, February 28, 2016

On Not Being Chosen

About two weeks ago, we were contacted by our MD agency about a situation they were made aware of by an agency in FL. An expectant couple wanted to find a family to adopt their child, and specifically they wanted a Catholic family. We decided to show our profile to them, but found out Friday that we were not selected. The following might be a little rambling as we process this experience and work through our emotions. This, too, is part of our pilgrimage - stepping forward in faith, saying "yes," and then hearing "no, not yet."

When we first learned about this situation, we were so excited. What initially jumped out at us is that the couple considering adoption wanted a Catholic family. While any child in our family would be raised Catholic, since that is our faith, how amazing it would be to know that our child's birthparents desired them to know the faith. Their desire would be our greatest joy!

The situation had other things to commend itself: both of the prospective birthparents had received counseling and so we trusted they had been helped to consider all their options and chose adoption as their best option, instead of feeling like it was their only option. The day after we learned about the situation, we spoke with the director of the FL agency. He seemed competent, kind, and was transparent about their fee schedule and how the process would go if we were chosen.

So we said "yes" to this possibility, and mailed a copy of our profile book to FL, overnight. We thought initially that our book would be looked at the next day or maybe over the weekend, but we didn't hear anything. What it's like being in that position of waiting is hard to describe. Every phone call, every email could bring the most wonderful news in the world - or news that no, we weren't chosen. At times it was quite difficult to concentrate on work, or anything, really, thinking that this could be "it."

It was also hard not to let our minds daydream and wander to the possibility of becoming parents, and soon. Of buying our plane tickets and letting our friends and family know - of names we might choose and what it would be like meeting our child for the first time.

It felt surreal going about our daily lives while this tremendous possibility hovered in the back of our minds.

This past Tuesday (a week after we had found about the situation), we checked in with our MD agency and were told that the couple planned to look at profile books the next day, and that likely we would hear something by Friday. That did a lot to put our minds at ease, at least knowing that we shouldn't expect anything for another few days.

As Friday approached, the anticipation started to grew again. Yes or no? Yes or no? We tried to stay prayerful and distract ourselves through going to the gym, focusing on our work, etc. But wow, was it hard not to think about it!

We got the news via email Friday afternoon that the couple had made their selection, and it was not us. It felt pretty devastating, to be honest. Of course we've realized this whole time that "no" was a possible answer, but to see it there in black and white was pretty tough. This would not be our child. Another family was chosen.

It's very hard not to think "what was wrong with us?" But we know that it could have been any number of things that made the couple choose a different family - maybe they wanted people of a certain race, or a certain location, or who had kids already, or on and on. It's nothing about us, really - it's what the birthparents wanted, and of course they are the ones making an incredibly difficult, generous decision to entrust their child to another family, forever.

Not being chosen also brought up a lot of the grief of infertility. Maybe if we had a child already this might be easier (maybe) but as it is, it felt like another reminder of our continued childlessness. It's not easy to hear "no" for such a long time when our hearts long to be parents, and when we are so much in the minority among those who have been blessed in this way.

Of course this is not the end. We don't know the exact statistics, but anecdotally it seems like many (most?) couples trying to adopt hear a few "no's" before meeting the child meant for their family. Maybe this stings so much because it was our first profile view, making ourselves vulnerable and presenting ourselves to an expectant couple.

Please pray for us as it hurts a lot to not be chosen. This is a low moment of our pilgrimage. Seen in the light of faith, it's an opportunity to unite ourselves more closely with Jesus on the Cross and to offer up our difficulties for others who are hurting. Someone suggested offering up the pains of our adoption pilgrimage for our future child, so we will do that too. We will continue to walk this journey, trusting that the Lord will introduce us to our child if that is his plan. And we will keep these birthparents, their child, and the adoptive family in our prayers.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fundraising and Savings Update #6

We just wanted to update everyone on our progress with fundraising. The good news is that we have now raised $12,648.07 and personally saved $11,551.93 for a grand total of $24,200. Thank you!  

While we know there are many good causes to contribute to this Lent, please prayerfully consider making our adoption cause part of your Lenten alms giving. You would be giving the amazing gift of family to all those involved with the adoption and be helping the "least of these" (Matthew 25:40) - children who are in need of a good home and family, birth parents in need of an adoptive home for their children during crisis pregnancies as well as support during their pregnancy, and us who need help to live the gift of motherhood and fatherhood. If you know of anyone who would be willing to support us, then please pass the word on about our blog too.

Finally, please do not forget the important work of prayer for us this Lent! We could definitely use it as we navigate this tricky period of waiting and explore pursuing private adoption (we search for situations / birth parents in need of an adoptive home for their children) in addition to adoption through an agency (they find situations / birth parents in need of an adoptive home for their children), which is our current set-up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

While We Wait: January 2016 (month #1)

We've seen other hoping-to-adopt couples do this "while we wait" kind of post, as a way of documenting time in the waiting pool, and we thought it was a neat idea! Emotionally and spiritually, writing a recap like this hopefully will encourage us to keep living in the present and trusting God for the future, as his plan for us unfolds over time. We thought it would be nice to start this now, in January, because even though we did have a possible situation back in December, that was something of a surprise. January makes sense as the month to start our "waiting clock" because it's a fresh new year and because our placement agency (St. Joseph's) received our application on December 31st. So here we go: one month down, ??? to go.

Adoption-related stuff that happened in January

We took a (free) online course about the adoption tax credit, which is a way that adoptive families can receive financial help from the government. Like most tax things, it was kind of confusing, but the course helped to make it more understandable. In a nutshell, since we are adopting domestically (and not internationally or through foster care), we can request an adoption tax credit when we fill out our taxes for the year after we started spending money on adoption-related expenses (so for us, when we do our 2016 taxes in 2017). We can get up to about $13,400 back by way of not having to pay that amount in income tax, but it will take more than one year and possibly up to five years to get that total money. It's pretty neat! (There's more to it than that - but those are the basics.)

We set up two meetings with local adoption lawyers, to see which one is the best fit for us. We learned that it's a good idea to have a knowledgeable lawyer on retainer in case we run into tricky legal issues with our adoption, or in case we end up doing a private adoption (meaning not through an agency - this most often happens when the potential birthmother and potential adoptive parents find each other through personal connections). And since we'll need a lawyer to finalize our adoption anyway, it makes sense to get this piece squared away now. Further, it is always important to have someone looking out for your personal interest because sadly there are people out there who will exploit your desire to have children, just like there are people who will exploit a mother in crisis. We want a lawyer to guard against both.

We took an infant CPR class at a local hospital. It was actually kinda fun! The instructor was great and completely respectful of us as a pre-adoptive couple. We didn't feel weird or out of place among the other pregnant or parenting people there. And the class was super informational. Not only did we learn the basics of CPR and get to practice our skills on a little baby mannequin, but we got a ton of good information about other safety issues: car seats, baby proofing our house, etc. And the instructor gave us some good leads on other local resources that might be helpful, like a baby care class at the hospital and early intervention services, in case our little one needs that.

"Baby, baby, are you okay?"
Finally, we had two potential adoption situations come up in January, neither of which worked out in the end. Both of them were learning experiences for us as we become more knowledgeable about what to ask about a potential situation and how best to discern what to do. Please pray for us that we meet our child soon!

Other stuff that happened in January

New year's visits: Dan's mom stayed with us for about a week over New Year's, which was a real treat. We went shopping (for baby stuff!) together, went out to eat, did some sightseeing downtown, and she helped Bethany with our quilt. It was great having her around!

Silver Diner - one of our favs. They have real jukeboxes, but more importantly - good food!

American history museum in downtown DC. It is newly remodeled and pretty sweet.
Bethany's parents also visited on New Year's Day and brought their adorable new puppy, Penny.

Picture of relaxation
Downton Abbey started again: for Bethany, this is a major highlight! She is a committed fan. Dan enjoys it too, although his interest waned after the tragic end of season three (don't want to spoil it for those who are not caught up...) This year, a choir friend gave Bethany a beautiful Secret Santa gift, a multi-level tray that is perfect for our little Downton-watching treats.

Blizzard and quilt: As pretty much the whole county knows, our area got slammed with a snowstorm January 22-23. We enjoyed ourselves immensely being snowed in and cozy inside. It was great to have a beautiful winter scene outside and tea, books, games and movies inside. Plus we both got two snow days and two more three-hour delays. #bestpartofwinter

And I finished the top of my quilt! I still want to add a border, but this was some great progress - thank you Storm Jonas.

Dan's birthday: For Dan's actual birthday on the 29th, Bethany made him a scrumptious meal of manicotti and broccoli + oranges, two of his favorite dishes.

And the day after his birthday she took him on a surprise outing to Annapolis, where we went to a gourmet coffee shop + roastery, saw a beautiful old church, strolled by the waterside, and had a delicious dinner at a tavern that dated back to the late 1700's. We love exploring our area and Annapolis is one of our favorite spots.

We hope your January was great!