Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Life Since Match

Goal: to record & remember what has happened since the match.

Start with....the happy stuff:

It probably goes without saying that there has been a lot of joy!! No matter what happens, we are ecstatic at the chance to love this little girl from a distance, and to prepare our hearts and home for her. What an absolute privilege. So, lots of happy moments and giddy joy feelings - especially right after the match.

We were showered with love, twice! First at Bethany's work: her kind and generous coworkers arranged a lunch where we could eat together and celebrate our adoption through cake.

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Funny story: before the lunch, we went to Mass (at work) and received a special blessing. The priest gave it after the homily - we stood up and he prayed over us. Well, the blessing was about parenthood, yes, but didn't mention adoption at all - so afterwards, several coworkers who didn't know about adoption congratulated us, asked "when are you due?" and had hilarious reactions when we said "April! ...Oh, we're adopting!"

Anyway, the lunch was lovely. Bethany feels so blessed to have such a supportive work environment with so many people who have become friends. #love

And, we were showered with love once more at our house! Two good friends offered to throw us a shower, which ended up being on March 19, which is usually St. Joseph's feast day, although it was moved this year because March 19 was a Sunday. Our two friends, plus their husband/fiance, plus my parents and another good friend, did all the decorations and food. We enjoyed a lunch out and then came back to a house full of lovely people and JOY!

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This is approximately 2/3rd of the attendees - the others are in the kitchen or backyard or out of sight

We requested a coed party and said people could bring their kids, so it ended up being packed - standing room only - and so much fun! Thankfully some snowy weather in the morning cleared away so the older kids could run around outside. 

Several of our guests had sent presents in advance (since we didn't know when we'd be leaving for California), so our hostesses devised this really neat present-opening system: everyone wrote what they brought on a popsicle stick, and then when we read it off, they'd give us the present. There were a lot of fun surprises! And people were so very generous!!

It felt like a tornado of love had swept through our house. Afterwards we went to bed around 8!

Overall, it has been just so exciting to think of being parents in a few weeks/days. We've talked about a name, set up the nursery, washed a bajillion baby clothes, packed our suitcases, and so much more all in preparation. 

The more difficult stuff: 

Even with such a happy event on the horizon, there have been sad parts of the month too. Most especially was losing our dear friend Louise, who died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 93.

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From her 93rd birthday party at our house

Louise was a special part of our lives for the past five years. We first met her through mutual friends who asked us if we could take her grocery shopping. We did that for a long time, then after she got more unsteady we brought her groceries. Then she moved to assisted living and we visited her regularly. She became a really good friend - very fun to talk with, always interested in our lives. She did not have children or any family to speak of, so we and some other local friends really were her family at the end. Dan and I had the privilege of planning her funeral and helping with some of her affairs after death. It has been hard to say goodbye, and a bit challenging to deal with all the logistics on top of all the adoption preparations, but more than anything it's been a blessing to know such a special lady and get to play a special role in her life.

Adoption related hard stuff....wow, so many emotions. And honestly a lot of anxiety. There is the anxiety over whether the adoption will happen in the end. We trust and pray that the baby's parents will make the right decision for the baby & them, and we don't currently have reason to think that they'll decide to parent. But it's never certain until it's certain. So there's that anxiety.

There is the anxiety of the travel itself. We have all our bags packed pretty much, with the exception of toiletries and last-minute items (which are all on a list so we don't forget!!). We're waiting until we get word that either mom is in labor or a c-section is scheduled. So we don't have flights or a place to stay yet, which is a bit nerve-wracking - but it will come together, we're sure. Dan's mom is coming down from Erie to house-sit for us, which is wonderful and puts our minds at ease about our house.

There is the anxiety of baby's medical needs, which we have some indication of from what we've been told but of course don't know the extent until birth. Will we be able to meet baby's needs? What will it all be like?

And there is simply the anxiety of such a HUGE change in our lives. Very, very wanted - but still a change. We've both worked really hard the last few weeks at work to set things up so there is a smooth transition from us being there to others taking our projects for a while. It's strange now to be working on projects that we may or may not see the conclusion of. It's just strange in general to think of being away from home and all that's familiar for the next few weeks. It's hard to envision what it's all going to be like...

So that's what it's been like in a nutshell since match. A lot of different emotions! Trying to take it one day at a time! Pray for us!

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

FAQs about the Match and What's Next

Here are some common questions we've been asked since we've been matched. Please don't hesitate to ask us anything! As you'll see, there are some topics we're not sharing much about, but still ask. We love talking about adoption!

Will you get to name the baby?
Yes, we will. Although in adoption, it's a little more complicated than usual... The birthmother chooses the name that goes on the baby's birth certificate at the hospital. Once the adoption is finalized and we are the baby's legal parents, she will be issued an amended birth certificate and we can choose the name that goes on that and will be her legal name going forward. (Finalization with CA cases generally happens 6-8 months after birth.)

Also, many times with adoption the adoptive parents use some or all of a name suggested by the birthparents. We think this is a beautiful way to show the birthparents' love for their child, and to honor the child's birth family. In our case, the expectant mother did share with us a name that means a lot to her and the father, and we are taking that to prayer as we decide on a name.

What will you name the baby??
We're going to keep this a surprise! :) Although at a party Bethany's work hosted for us, many helpful suggestions were given like Dorcas, Minerva, and Hedwig....keeping those in mind, haha ;)

How long will you have to stay in California?
We don't know for sure, but likely a few weeks or more. The baby has some medical issues that will require a stay in the hospital. Once the baby is born and discharged from the hospital, ICPC starts. ICPC = Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children. During this time California and Maryland have to exchange paperwork and approve us to leave the state. If we leave California before we're approved, it's a crime and the same as kidnapping. (!!) This process tends to take between 10-14 business days, and since it starts after the baby leaves the hospital, if baby needs some extra post-birth care then we can't start the paperwork right away. That's why it's just an estimate at this point. Hey, a few more days to go to the beach! j/j :)

Are there medical issues with the baby?
We do not want to go into detail about that as that is very private. Long term the prognosis is very good and we embrace whatever medical condition there is or may come. Come what may, we love this child as our own.

Will the baby go home from the hospital with you?
That is the plan. The lawyer we're working with does what's called "direct placement" adoption so after birth, the mother signs a form making us the temporary guardians of the child and giving us the right to make medical decisions for the child. The baby is then in our care ("placed" with us), so when she is ready to leave the hospital, she will go with us. (FYI: some agencies, including our home study agency in Maryland, have what's called "cradle care" where the baby is not placed with the adoptive family right away but in a temporary foster home during the revocation period.)

What's the revocation period and how long does it last?
Even when an expectant mother makes an adoption plan before her baby's birth, she has a chance to change her mind after birth. This is called the revocation period and it is a different length in every state. In some states it is as short as 72 hours (maybe even shorter?) and in other cases it is much longer. In California, that time period is 30 days, so after birth the mother has a 30 day time period within which she can decide to parent after all. However, California, after third-party legal counsel, also grants the mother the ability to sign a waiver of this revocation period in which case the revocation period lasts 24 hours. We leave this decision completely up to the birth mother. (The rules are a bit different for fathers, and we won't attempt to spell that all out here....the lawyer will be guiding us throughout this whole process.)

Wow, that's a long time for the normal revocation period. Isn't that nerve-wracking?
We are sure there will be SO many emotions during the revocation period! It's a risk for us, and something that we knowingly accept. It will certainly be an emotional time for the birthparents, too. We believe giving this time to prospective birthparents is essential to make sure they make the very serious decision to place their child for adoption freely and with a lot of confidence. (It's interesting to debate what the "ideal" revocation period would be, but that's kind of irrelevant since the state's law is the law.) A good lawyer or agency will help adoptive parents know whether there are any noticeable "red flags" in a situation that indicate that the expectant parents might decide to parent after all. Our lawyer has been helpful in this regard. Yet, it is nerve-wracking. We will try to approach this time with faith in God's providence and also with the motto (shared by an adoptive mom friend) that no matter what happens, "Love is never wasted."

What is the story of the birthparents?
While we completely understand people's interest in the baby's parents, the only information we'll be sharing about them is that they live in California (hence where the baby will be born) and they made the heroically generous decision to place their child for adoption. Regarding everything else - we're not intending to be secretive, but rather are respecting their privacy and the fact that this is the child's story. The child needs to hear from us everything we know about her birthparents (or even from them, if that is possible), and then she can decide what to share with others. This is a principle we learned in our adoption training and we think it makes a lot of sense. We see ourselves as stewards of our child's story and will share it with her as she grows up, so that she knows where she comes from and can share that information however she wants (or not share, if she doesn't want to).

Will this be an open adoption?
We hope so! To clarify, open adoption is when there is ongoing contact between the adoptive parents and birthparents. Every situation is different. This could mean simply exchanging pictures and letters, or talking on the phone, or even meeting in person from time to time. We have spoken with the expectant mom on the phone, which was an amazing experience, and we really hope to meet her in California (and the father, and extended family - whoever wants to meet with us). We know that the expectant parents are interested in having some kind of ongoing contact, although we'll have to talk (guided by the lawyer) about what that exactly will look like. On our part, we believe that open adoption benefits everyone. Our child could have a chance to know more fully her biological background and heritage, and the birthparents can have greater confidence that their child is loved and cared for. As the child grows, we would get ongoing guidance from our Maryland home study agency about how to navigate this unique relationship (they have a full-time person who deals solely with post-adoption care).

Are you just so, so excited?!?!?!
The answer to that is a resounding YES!!! We can't wait!!

If you have another question please let us know! Either in the comments or by email: adoptionpilgrimage@blogspot.com.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Novena to St. Joseph for our adoption

St. Joseph's feast day is coming up - March 19.* St. Joseph is an amazing intercessor for adoptive families, being the foster father of Jesus. (There are good reasons we could call him Jesus' adoptive father too, but that would take another post!)

We're going to be praying this novena to St. Joseph provided by the USCCB Respect Life office. It's really beautiful!! There are prayers each day for the different people involved in any adoption. We are going to be praying for the people involved in our adoption. If you'd like to join us, here is the link (opens a PDF): http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2016/upload/16-rlp-novena-to-st-joseph-secured.pdf

St. Joseph, pray for us!!

*this year it's technically March 20 because March 19 is a Sunday...but close enough!