Showing posts with label National Adoption Month. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Adoption Month. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Support Couples Who are Facing Infertility or Waiting to Adopt

It’s no longer National Adoption month, and here I am still writing about adoption!  I promise this is the last of the adoption posts (for now).  I have really appreciated your blog comments and emailed questions. 
A question that I often get asked is if Ryan and I will adopt again.  Yes, I have no doubt that we will!  Sometimes people ask me if we will ever have our “own” kids.  This is an interesting question because, although I know what they mean, Noah is our own kid.  If we ever have biological children, we will never differentiate between Noah and the biological ones.  They will all be “our own.”  And even if we do have biological children, I know we will adopt again, perhaps internationally or through the foster care system.  For now, I am focusing on my one little baby, and we will see how life unfolds from here.
That said, I did want to mention that we will never stop looking for opportunities to adopt.  Even if our adoption profile isn’t currently active with an adoption agency, we would appreciate knowing about expectant moms who are considering adoption, and we would appreciate if they were referred to our blog.  If the expectant mother is early in her pregnancy, and we all feel good about it, we would have time to get approved to adopt again before the baby was born.  Furthermore, whether or not she was considering us to adopt the baby, we would love to be a resource for her, and we would LOVE to refer her to some of our wonderful amazing friends who are hoping to adopt.  Every day, I wish that I could help my friends who are still waiting find their babies.  (Don’t we all feel that way?)  So if you know of any young women who are considering adoption, send them our way!
Okay, back to the questions.
I mentioned before that one of my friends emailed to ask me how she should support a friend who is about to place her baby for adoption.  Obviously, I don’t have all of the answers, but I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on how to best support the people in your life who are involved in adoption.
How to support a birthmom...
Tell her that you love her.  Tell her that she is strong.  Tell her that you admire her.  You don’t need to tell her that she is “making the right decision” unless she asks you for reassurance.  It can feel like a judgment on her ability to be a mother if you are too quick to tell her that adoption is the best thing.  I was with Katie when a worker in the hospital started preaching to her about how she was “making the right choice,” and it really rubbed me the wrong way.  Katie knew she was making the right choice, and she didn’t need other people (especially strangers) to preach to her.  This same worker said to her, “One day you’ll have another baby.”  Wow.  As if that would make her grief over this baby any less real.  What she said is true, but the timing wasn't particularly sensitive.
Show her that you care.  Send a card, bring flowers, drop by with a dessert. Don’t pretend like the baby never happened.  Ask her about the baby, about her delivery, and about her days in the hospital.  Ask her about the adoption, and ask her how she is doing.  Ask her if she’d like to show you pictures of the baby.  Ooh and goo over him and tell her how beautiful he is.  Chances are, she will be eager to show him off, as any new mom would be. 
I am a very straightforward person, and when Drew and Katie came to visit us a few days after Noah’s placement, I asked them, “How are you feeling?” “Did you cry today?” “How are your friends and family acting?” “How can I help?”  I wasn’t sure if I should ask these questions, but I couldn’t hold them in.  I genuinely wanted to know how they were doing because I care about them, and they didn’t seem put off by my inquiries--they seemed relieved to talk.
Tell her that you are praying for her and that you love her.  Let her know that she isn’t alone.
How to support a couple who is hoping to adopt...
As I write this, I realize that many of the ways that you can support a hopeful adoptive couple are similar to the ways that you can support a birthmom.  Tell them that you love them.  Tell them that they are strong and that you admire them.  You don’t need to tell them that “it’s all in the Lord’s hands” or “it will happen when it’s supposed to.”  They already know that.  A year ago, I was at a church activity, and one of the ladies asked me how the adoption process was going.  I said, “We are approved and just waiting to get picked by a birth mom.”  She said, “It will happen when it’s supposed to.  You just need to learn to be patient.”  Ouch.  What a sting to the heart.  Fortunately, one of my best friends, Laney, overheard this comment, put her arm around me, and said, “Rachel has been patient.  I think her patience is really amazing, actually.”  I can’t tell you how much her support meant to me in that moment.
When a couple who desperately wants children is hurting, don’t try to fix it.  Don’t give a little sermon on God’s timing.  Just say, “I’m so sorry,”  “I love you,”  “You are going to be awesome parents,” or “I pray for you every night.”  In some of my darkest moments, knowing that dozens of people around the country were praying for us truly sustained me.  I remember saying to Ryan, “Even if God isn’t hearing my prayers, I know He’s hearing my grandma’s!” (That woman is a saint.)
Show them that you care.  Send a card, bring flowers, drop by with dessert.  Don’t pretend that their trial isn’t happening.  In a private setting, when the moment is right, ask them if they are comfortable talking about their struggle.  I think, in general, women need to talk.  

When I first announced that we had started the adoption process, a friend brought over the storybook Guess How Much I Love You and another friend sent a baby blanket.  This was their way of saying, “You will eventually be chosen by a birthmother, and you will eventually be a mother!”  I really appreciated their thoughtfulness.  I should mention that I think this type of gesture is more appropriate for someone who has announced their intention to adopt (and is therefore "pregnant" in a way) than for someone who is struggling with infertility and is not yet pregnant or has not yet seriously considered adoption.  
Finally, when an adoptive couple tells you that they’ve been contacted by an expectant mom, don’t immediately point out all of the uncertainty.  Don’t say things like, “You know, this could still fall through.”  Believe me, they know that.  They are scared stiff about that, and they don’t need you to remind them.  I know people just said stuff like this to me because they were feeling protective and didn’t want me to get my heart broken, but I truly appreciated it when people would just say, “Oh that is so exciting!  I will be praying for you and this expectant mom!” I equate this to how you would react to the news of a friend’s early pregnancy: Everyone knows that the likelihood of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, but if a friend told you that she was six weeks pregnant, you would not say, “Well, you know, you could still lose this baby.”  
When Katie first contacted us, I expressed to a friend in an email that I was hesitant to invest my heart again.  She responded and said, “I understand your reservations, but we can’t wait to rejoice until this is a sure thing . . . we have to rejoice now for this tremendous blessing! If someone prays and prays to get pregnant and then only worries about miscarriage instead of rejoicing about the pregnancy,  she is missing out on the joy of the experience. Same with the birth of a child. A person can rejoice that there is new life, or worry that the baby will get sick or won't develop properly or on and on . . . Obviously this principle applies to many aspects of our lives, not just in 'new life'. There is a place to be reserved, protective, guarded, worried and wary - but don't let that get in the way of taking a moment to rejoice first.”
I loved that.  (How do I have such wise friends??) 
Finally, if an adoption falls through for a couple, do not say, “Well, another opportunity will come along,” as if this baby didn’t matter at all.  This is especially important if the adoption was in the later stages.  We have some friends whose expectant mom recently changed her mind just a week before the due date, after they’d gone through the entire pregnancy with her; and we have other friends who have actually held the baby and even taken him/her home when the expectant mom changed her mind.  The grief is unimaginable.  It’s like having a miscarriage at 39 weeks or losing a baby who is a few hours or weeks old.  All any of us needs in situations as heartbreaking as those is lots of love, hugs, cards, and prayers.
I am grateful for all of the many many people who showed us amazing support during our wait to adopt.  This post feels like I’m preaching to the choir because those of you who are reading it are the very people who offered me so much love during some of the hardest months of my life.  Thank you, each of you, for what you have done to reach out to us.  It has meant more to me than you will ever know.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Katie's Story--Part 5 (The Final Chapter)

Chapter 7 – Today
Noah is four months old today. I am finishing up some high school classes online, working almost full-time as a CNA at a nursing home, and then hopefully attending college in the spring. I am in such a better place than I had ever hoped to be. Throughout everything, my testimony and faith in God has grown so much (which is exactly what my mother was hoping for). I know that adoption isn’t for everyone, but I think in a lot of situations like mine, with young girls such as myself, it is perfect.
It’s good. This place where I am.
Noah has come to visit me and Drew about once a month. He is getting so big, it’s hard to believe he used to be that seven pound little squirmy dude. I love him so much. I love Ryan and Rachel. They mean so much to me. And besides the fact that we are related, they are part of my family.

I miss Noah, I miss him a lot. But I know that he is in the right place. God knows he is in the right place.  I’m happy. I’m happy that Noah gets to have this life I could never have provided him. He has my heart and that’s enough for me. I can only hope one day that will be enough for him too.  I hope one day when he starts asking about me and Drew that he understands the sorrow and loss I have felt giving him away. I never wanted to; it was just what was right. And often times, doing the right thing is excruciatingly painful. I hope that Noah will understand, I did the best for him.

Being a mother is about more than changing diapers and holding your children when they get hurt. It is about doing what is necessary to give your child the best. Always the best. People might think that adoption is the easy way out, for birth moms and adoptive parents. But it is not easy.  Some people might think that I just wasn’t ready to handle a child.  But I am a mother too. Just in this case, I wasn’t the best thing for my sweet little perfect boy. I had to give him the best. For Noah, and for me and Drew, Rachel and Ryan are the best. I would never take back, not in a million years, the experiences I have had.

For once in my life, I feel like I’ve done the right thing.
If the only thing I could give my son was a better life, then that is enough.  I love you so much, Noah. And I love you more every time I see your bright little face.
I love you, and I’m finally happy with myself.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Katie's Story--Part 4

Chapter 6 – And They All Lived Happily Ever After?

It was terrible. That first month was hell. I have never been in a place so dreadful. All I could think was that I had made a terrible mistake. My life was over. What did I have to go on for now? My best friend Drew was at college, my plan to get high school credit at a local college had fallen through, and I had been fired from my job when they found out about the baby. What was I supposed to do now?

I had nothing. Nothing to get my mind off the pain. I walked through life doing nothing. All I could think about was how much I missed my best friend and my baby. No, not my baby. Their baby.

I was angry. I hated Rachel. How fair was it for her to take care of MY hard work? I had been good for nine months. Given my body away for something I couldn’t even keep. I was a mess. I didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed and pretend it hadn’t happened.

I was numb.

The girls at my support group said it would pass – that this hatred and sadness didn’t last forever. I didn’t believe them. It was so hard. I stayed that way for about four weeks. Nothing could console me. One day I would be fine and the next minute I was circling the drain.

Then, on Noah’s one month birthday, something happened. I got on my computer in the middle of the night, and I wrote Rachel and Ryan this email:

Dear Ryan and Rachel,

This has been the best and worst month of my entire life. It seems so crazy that an entire four weeks has already gone by. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to tell you both exactly how I'm feeling right now, but I'll try my best; hopefully it won't sound too scatter brained.

Right now it is 1:31 AM on September 1st. I wasn't sure exactly how I should prepare myself mentally for this day, because I didn't want to be caught off guard by my emotions. This was something I didn't really do before Noah was born, because it was too hard to think about how I would be feeling those first couple days. And honestly, how could I have prepared myself for all the things I've felt since Noah has been alive?  There's just no way to know what to expect.

I hoped today would go all right, and even though the day hasn't completely started yet (since it has only been the 1st for an hour), I think it will turn out to be a good one.

I guess I should start this story at the beginning before I get ahead of myself.

The day Noah was born, I cannot express the happiness that he brought to my life. I have never felt the way I did holding him for the first time and seeing his beautiful little face looking up at mine. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, and you also know how hard it is to explain that kind of feeling - whatever it was, it was wonderful! Never in those first moments that Noah entered the world did I think about what was coming in the next few days. I could feel nothing but utter joy that this amazing baby boy had finally been born. It was incredible to see how many people were there to see such a tiny thing, and how much love filled that room during his first hour of life.

This feeling continued on into the next day. When everyone was coming to see him, I couldn't feel anything but happy. There wasn't time to be sad, which I'm grateful for because I would have hated the time I spent with him if I had been sad the entire time.

Then on Tuesday night, after the last of everyone had gone home, it finally hit me. Hard. My little baby, my sweet little baby, was going to be gone. For the first time since his existence, I wasn't going to be there right by his side, right there whenever he might need me, right there to take care of him. That was the worst moment of my entire life. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, and couldn't stop. How was I supposed to let go of this tiny miracle? Never before had I really questioned whether what I was doing was right, but in that moment, nothing seemed more wrong then to place Noah with another family (even one as great as yours). These were things I would never have said out loud at the time though, because I was afraid that by saying them, it would make it impossible to give him to you, which I knew in my heart was where he belonged - no matter how much I wanted things to be different.

That's part of the reason I decided signing the adoption papers should happen before I had gotten to spend tons and tons of time with Noah. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do it if I had been with him too much. Signing was easy; actually walking to your room and placing him in Rachel's arms was the hardest. That night is one I never want to relive again.

Going home from the hospital was strange. I felt numb. I wasn't exactly sad anymore, or maybe I was and had just finally run out of tears... I'm not sure, but whatever it was, I was okay with it. Feeling numb was way better than feeling the way I had earlier. But then, laying in bed while I looked at pictures and videos of Noah, I couldn't stop myself from letting those feelings creep back inside. The only thing that really eased the pain was knowing he was still in Utah for a little while longer, and that I would be able to see him again within the next couple days. If you guys had just left that night, I don't think I would have been able to pull myself together.

The following week I was still feeling okay. It hadn't been long enough for me to really miss him, because it had only been a few days since I had seen him. It wasn't until about two weeks ago that those same feelings started forcing their way back into my head, which is a place I don't like. Actually, I hate it. I hate feeling like there is no hope, and that I had done the wrong thing because in those moments of weakness it is so easy for me to blame everyone except myself for losing him. I hate even going there, and when it's all over (usually the morning after) I know exactly why he is being raised by you two and I know I've made the right decision again. That dark place is a place I try to avoid at all costs if I can. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy to stay away from there.

Lately, especially a lot this past week, I have been thinking about Noah. It seems like everywhere I go, there are things reminding me of him. It also doesn't help that now Drew is gone, so whenever I feel a little down, I can't look forward to seeing him. He always has a way of making me feel better without having to say anything. It's nice to have someone to talk to who can understand how I feel when that dark feeling is taking over.

I was really scared about what I might be feeling today, with both of them not here. But, what I didn't expect was feeling calm, which is exactly how I feel. Today, I know what Drew and I decided was entirely correct for our little baby Noah. It doesn't even really seem like it happened to the same me. Almost like it happened in a different lifetime. I feel at peace with everything.

I was texting Drew earlier tonight, and I'm sure he expected me to be a mess after the bad couple weeks I've had. I bet it was a relief for him to find out I actually feel good about everything. I couldn't be more thrilled that Noah is being raised by a mom and a dad who love him so very much and who can give him all the things I never could have given him. I wanted Noah to have a mommy and daddy who were not only married but were sealed in the temple and would be teaching him about God and the gospel in his life.  I hope one day I can attend Noah’s marriage in the temple. I was raised by those same standards, and even though I've made plenty of mistakes in my life, I'm so glad that I was baptized and that my faith offers me so much to look forward to. That was something I wanted to make sure my son would also have growing up: A healthy family relationship and a love for God.

Without my faith in God, I don't know if I would have been able to accept adoption. It has been such a comfort to me to think that whenever I'm sad, I can just say a prayer and think that He knows exactly what I'm going through and that everything will turn out in the end. It helps so much to think that this is just a challenge He knew I could overcome.

Sorry about getting all churchy. It's probably the most I've talked about the church and how I feel in a long time.

I just want you both to know that I am so happy with my decision to place Noah with you, in such a loving family. And even though at times I might get sad and hateful, I don't really mean it. It's just my way of dealing with this whole thing sometimes. I'm so glad that you are allowing me to be a part of his life. I really cannot thank you enough. I don't know what I would do if this had been a closed adoption.

I love you both so much and there are no two better people on the planet I could think about letting take care of my son.

After Drew and I signed the adoption papers, my dad gave me a Willow Tree statue of an angel girl holding a butterfly up towards the sky so it could fly away. He told me that this was supposed to represent that even though what I was doing was hard, it was the best thing in the end. And even though letting go of Noah and letting him live with a different family would be hard, it would be worth it and so much better for him.

Rachel and Ryan, you are both incredible and I couldn't have asked for a better plan then the one we were given. Everything almost seemed to perfect the way it worked out, which is part of why I know this was meant to be and that God knows this was the right thing for all of us.

Please remind Noah of the reasons Drew and I chose this for him. I can't stand the thought of him ever thinking it was because we didn't want him. We love him so much. 

Everyone knows that if you love someone unconditionally and with your whole heart, then you will do what is best for them, not you. I have never learned a harder lesson than giving Noah up for adoption and I probably never will.  I cannot wait to see all three of you in October, and I hope this email kind of explained a little more about how I was feeling (especially to you Rachel), because I never want you to feel like its your fault when I'm down in the dumps. Sometimes, being depressed is just something you have to be for a little while in order to experience true happiness.

Love Forever,
Katie
. . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Katie's Story--Part 3

Chapter 5 – It wasn’t Goodbye, more like See You Later.

I was in labor for twenty-six hours. Noah was born on August 1, 2011 at 1:51 AM. That day at the hospital was sort of a blur. I didn’t have an epidural, and I don’t really remember much of the day that Noah was in the process of greeting the world with his cuteness. But I guess if women remembered all that pain, we would all only have one baby.

When Noah was born it was like a wave of calm and happiness washed over me. I couldn’t stop smiling. He was so handsome. And Rachel and I had been worried he wouldn’t be cute--I can’t help but laugh at how silly that thought is now.

I spent those next couple of days in the hospital with Drew, who after seeing the miracle of birth finally realized how much he loved Noah too. Rachel and Ryan had a room down the hall, and Drew and I decided they should be with Noah at night. On the morning of August 2nd, we signed the papers relinquishing our rights as his official guardians. That was the easy part.

For those few days, so many people came to say hello to our own little superstar. We all couldn’t get enough of him. Really, no one could only stop by once. But on the night of August 2nd, Drew and I told everyone to leave and we spent the last hour we had Noah by ourselves. We held him together and cried with each other. He just laid there peacefully and slept. I have never been so happy and so devastated at the same time. I couldn’t help sobbing, and I never imagined it being that hard. When our hour was up, we asked for a little more time with our precious boy.

We packed all of his things with him in his little baby basket and walked him to Rachel and Ryan’s room. Drew put his arm around my shoulder as I wheeled his little cart. When we saw Rachel and Ryan, I couldn’t stop crying. This was it. This was the last chance for me to turn around and never look back, but I couldn’t do that. That whole day, Ryan and Rachel had looked so happy – they deserved a baby to love more than anyone I had ever met before. When I entered the room, Rachel smiled at me lovingly, and I just started to cry.  I looked over at Drew and picked up tiny little Noah. I put my hand on his cheek and felt his soft skin in my palm.  I took a deep breath and walked the two steps forward to Rachel and handed over their precious baby. The baby I knew they would give as much love, and more, as I would. For a couple minutes Rachel and I stood, embracing, with Noah in the middle of us. We didn’t need words. We just hugged and cried. Finally, I pulled away and gave him a kiss. Drew gave him one too.

That was as much as I could handle. I pulled Drew to my side, we said our good byes, and we left the room. We slowly trudged back to our hospital room. It seemed so empty. So dark. My eyes were flooding with tears and Drew grabbed me. We held each other for what seemed like forever. I was too scared to let go. It was done. It was done. It was done. He was gone. I couldn’t stop shaking and sobbing. I cried out in pain and Drew just held on tight. He was braver than me. Even though he was feeling the exact same way as me, he had to hold it together somewhat for both of us.

. . . 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Katie's Story--Part 2

Chapter 2 – Now what?

Drew’s mom hated me. She always had, and as far as I was concerned, she was not going to love me anytime soon. I had corrupted her son.  How was I supposed to tell this woman that her first grandkid was going to live with another family? I had read about people trying to let their baby be adopted and the birth father’s mother wouldn’t let it happen.

What if that happened to me? I couldn’t take care of this baby.

I thought back to early December and the Christmas card my mom had gotten in the mail. The brown card with the photo of the girl in the wedding dress on the front. Hadn’t that card said something about a couple looking to adopt? Was it the newly married couple? I couldn’t really remember. Back then, I didn’t actually think I would need that card. Now, I didn’t even know where it was. Maybe it was already thrown out. Why would my mom think to keep that card?

That’s what I was thinking about as my twelfth week rolled around. You have to see your doctor before thirteen weeks and I hadn’t made an appointment. I hadn’t even told my parents yet.  I just kept hoping that this problem might disappear somehow. Like it hadn’t really happened to me. How could I be having a baby? I was only 16. Drew wasn’t even an adult yet.

I walked upstairs to my mom and dad’s room late one night and sat down on the edge of their bed. My mom was watching TV and my dad was putting my siblings to bed. For weeks now I had been trying to tell my mom what was going on but it had just never seemed like the right time. And this is what I learned:

It’s never the right time to break your mom’s heart.

She was sad, but for the most part normal. I hadn’t expected that. I thought she would cry, but she didn’t. Not in front of me, anyway. I told my dad and it was about the same reaction. I was shocked. I told them about the brown holiday card.  Those were the people I wanted to give this baby to. It had to be them.

People wonder how I just knew that Rachel and Ryan were the right couple for me when I couldn’t even remember their names. It wasn’t even their card-it was Ryan’s mom’s! But God works in mysterious ways, and you don’t fight what you feel in your heart.

The truth is, every couple out there trying to adopt is the right couple. They are all great people and are so ready to start their forever families.  I knew that if I went searching further for the “right” family to take care of my little baby, they would all be right.  Somehow, I just knew that Ryan and Rachel were who I wanted, so it wasn’t worth my time to try and compare them to someone else.

You can’t do better than perfection.

Chapter 3 – The Second Trimester

It was after school and I was around 16 weeks. I still hadn’t called Rachel, and I was so nervous. How do you call someone up and say, “I’m pregnant and I want you to have my little baby”?

Well, that is exactly what I did.

I’m sure Rachel’s heart practically stopped and I’m very glad she didn’t get into a car wreck (considering the fact that she was driving when she found out this life changing news). We talked for over an hour about me and my plans and who I was exactly. Then we hung up and I called Drew. I had told him I knew who this baby was going to, and he thought whatever I wanted would be the best thing. I just wanted him to know I had told our couple the good news.  He didn’t answer so I left a voicemail.

Later that week, Drew and I had a meeting at LDS Family Services to talk more about the adoption. I drove to his house to pick him up and waited for him to come outside. I waited. And waited. And waited. After many angry and threatening texts Drew came outside. He had been crying. He had just told his mom for the first time. I felt like the most heartless person in the world for being so mean to him for not being on time.

After our meeting, we went back to Drew’s house where his whole extended family was waiting for us. And when I say the whole family, I mean the whole family. This was extremely awkward for me. Drew’s mom said she was sorry for hating me, and that it was different now. Not exactly how I wanted her to start loving me, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Since that day, Drew’s family has basically been my family. I love them as much as I do my own flesh and blood.

The rest of this part of the story goes something like this:

Drew turns into a jerk. He acts like a typical teenage father and almost disappears off the face of the earth. His friends are more important than the girl carrying his baby. I get fatter, but not cute baby bump fatter. Just thicker, and one-too-many-cream-filled-doughnuts fatter. My friends stop calling me to come over, and I sit at home watching sad movies and sleeping. School sucks. People start wondering and I could care less. Let them talk.

That pretty much sums up my crappy junior year.

Chapter 4 – Those Summer Nights

I was a whale, an extremely fair colored whale. My best friend tried to make me go outside and get a tan with her, but carrying around an extra life makes you hot already. I didn’t need the sun to heat me up even more.

Drew was gone. He had a life beyond me and was out partying with his friends all the time, on vacations and having fun while I sat in my boring old town because I wasn’t allowed to go on vacations. Dang doctor’s orders…

The only real thing I had to look forward to was Rachel coming to stay with me while my family went to Washington (which happened to be the week Noah was born).  Ryan and Rachel had always gone out of their way to make the pregnancy special for me and to remind me they were thinking about me. I received many care packages in the mail filled with anything they thought might brighten my day. That really helped and cheered me up when I would get a surprise package in the mail after a bad day at school or work.  When Rachel came to stay with me, Drew wasn’t really a huge part of my life. I wanted him to be, but he was dealing with this the only way he knew how: By pretending it wasn’t happening. I wish I could hate him for that, but I can’t help understanding what he was going through. 

Rachel and I hung out almost every day that week: going to dinners, watching movies, even baking cakes for Ryan’s early birthday. Towards the end of the week though, I started to spend more and more time by myself. I was really irritable and just wanted my pregnancy to be over. I wanted to see what my little boy looked like already.

I tried all the ways in the book to make Noah come, and on Saturday, July 30th at midnight my water broke.

. . .

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Katie's Story--Part 1

Now that you’ve heard far too much from me, it’s time for you to hear more from Katie.  I hope you all got to read the letter that she wrote to another birth mom.  My blog was doing crazy things this week with repetitive posts and posts that disappeared.  If you somehow missed Katie's letter that I published a few days ago, scroll down and check it out. 

These are the questions that were submitted for Katie to answer:

-What is your “story”?  What was it like when you found out you were pregnant?  How did you choose adoption?  How did you choose Rachel and Ryan?
-How did people treat you during your pregnancy (those at school, church, in the community, friends and family)?  What was helpful?  What was hurtful?
-Was it helpful to choose your adoptive couple early in the your pregnancy?  If so, how?
-What did Rachel and Ryan do for you throughout your pregnancy that was helpful?  Anything you wish they would’ve done?
-How did you prepare yourself for placement?
-What was the time in the hospital like?  If you had it to do over, would you change anything about that time?  Did Rachel and Ryan do anything that was helpful during those days?  Anything you wish they would’ve done?
-What were the days and weeks after placement like?  What helped you cope?
-Did you ever regret your decision?
-How are you feeling now?
-Has your experience with adoption changed your relationship with your family?  Has it changed your view of yourself or others? 
-What do you think of open adoption?  Does it make it easier or harder for you to see photos of Noah and have visits with him?  What do you envision for the future of the adoption relationship with Noah and Rachel and Ryan?
-Have you changed as a result of the adoption?

In response to all of these questions, Katie wrote ten pages about her experience.  She broke it up into different “chapters,” and I will post a portion every day this week.  I hope you are as excited to read her perspective as I was. 

Chapter 1 – Once Upon A Time

A lot of people might think my story is too good to be true, and they’re right. This story of how I found the perfect couple for my son is too good to be true.  It’s like when you watch those cheesy chick flicks where at the end the nerdy girl gets the perfect hunky guy and they drive off into the sunset, and all you can think about as you’re leaving the theater is, “There was no way that story could ever be true.” Things like that just don’t happen to ordinary people.

But this time, they did.

I was, for the most part, a good girl. I had tried the whole “bad girl” scene and decided it wasn’t for me. I finally had the life I had been searching for since I’d moved three years previous. I had the friends, I had the grades, the world’s best boyfriend. I had it all. The relationship with my parents had been slowly rebuilding to what it once had been, and for the most part I was happy. It was the first time in a very long time that I had been happy with my life.

I asked Drew, my best friend and also my boyfriend of half a year, if he would want to go to the Christmas Dance with me. The Christmas Dance marked the day before our one year anniversary of meeting each other, and of course he agreed to go with me. To everyone, it seemed as if nothing was wrong. Everything was fine and dandy.

At least for everyone except me.

Our dance group had Chinese food at my house before the dance. We were all having a good time, but inside I couldn’t help but feel sick to my stomach – literally. I just smiled and pretended like it hadn’t been five and a half weeks since I’d had my last period or the fact that I felt like going to sleep even though it wasn’t even eight o’clock.

The evening turned to night and the dance was almost over. I had a great time and before we left, I headed to the bathroom with my best friend. Still, the little spot of blood wasn’t there. She knew I was worried and asked me if what I suspected might be wrong was really happening. I blamed it on the stress of planning the dance, that’s why it hadn’t come yet.

But I knew the real reason why. You don’t need anyone to tell you – when you know, you know. Some stupid test doesn’t change what you already know.

The rest of the night I tried to keep from vomiting as we played games. Well, everyone else played games and I fell asleep on Drew’s shoulder. It had been a long day, that’s why I was so exhausted. I kept telling myself that, even though I didn’t really believe it.
The next few days flew by and there was no period. I drove to Planned Parenthood so they could tell me what I already knew was the truth. I was pregnant. I was six weeks. And I knew what I had to do, but could I do it?’

“If you are indeed pregnant, what are you going to do?” the nurse asked.

“I dunno,” I replied. “Adoption. Maybe I’ll decide to keep it. But not abortion. Definitely not abortion.”

I cried then. I cried and then I was done crying. What was there to cry about really? You shouldn’t cry over babies, at least not a sad cry.

I called Drew and he came over after work. My family was gone, so we were alone. Before I even opened my mouth, he understood. He kept pacing and saying, “We screwed up big time Katie. We screwed up.”

And that was the truth. We had screwed up. Katie had most certainly screwed up.

. . .  to be continued tomorrow

Friday, November 25, 2011

Looking Back: Journal Entry, June 6, 2011

**To celebrate National Adoption Month, I have been posting some of my journal entries (written in the midst of our waiting) to try to give a clearer picture of what it's like to adopt.  This journal entry was written four months after Katie first contacted us, two months before Noah was born.
---
June 6, 2011

When I was visiting Sarah in St. Louis in February, right after Katie found out the gender of the baby, we went shopping for some baby clothes.  Sarah asked me how I was feeling—was I still sad about my infertility? Or had that been cancelled out by my excitement about the adoption?  Did I wish we were shopping for maternity clothes?

It was an interesting question—and a thoughtful one.  I felt grateful that she acknowledged the fact that I might still have some infertility sadness, since I felt too ungrateful admitting that to anyone.  I told her that, yes, I was still sad about my infertility, but it was okay because of my excitement about the adoption.  I told her that I’d learned to let go of my old dreams and to form new ones instead.

I’ve had to let go of a lot of dreams, both with fertility and adoption.  At least for now, I’ve had to let go of the dream of being pregnant and giving birth to Ryan’s baby—a little boy or girl with his eyes and sweet nature.  But I’ve formed a new dream: Kneeling across from Ryan at an altar in the temple, our little baby all dressed in white in between us, being sealed to us forever.  A different moment, but surely just as sweet.  I’ve also had to let go of some adoption dreams, like getting a baby while we were still in Buffalo so I could be close to all of my friends.  I even had the dream of getting the baby with just a few weeks notice, not telling any of my friends, and then just inviting them over for dinner and surprising them.  (Man, that would’ve been fun.)  Instead, I will have to wait for six long months for the baby to arrive, and I won’t be with my friends when he comes.  But my new dream is forging a special and close relationship with Katie, as we support each other through the pregnancy.

A few months ago, my friend Nelda wrote me the most profound letter (she’s good at that), and in the midst of telling me about a disappointment in her life, she wrote, “Sometimes our disappointments are someone else’s tender mercies.”  I don’t know why that line hit me with such force, but it felt like a direct answer to my prayers.  My infertility disappointment will hopefully be a tender mercy for Katie.  Our adoption disappointments (with so many birth moms changing their minds about us) eventually became other adoptive couples’ tender mercies as they received babies.  I used to feel jealous of those families that ended up with “our” babies, but now I can see that things have worked out the way that they were supposed to.

Nelda’s letter, which was dated February 13 (just a few days after we were initially contacted by Katie and before I was telling anyone), went on to say, “I went to the temple yesterday morning, thinking about you and Ryan.  The temple is only two blocks from my house, so when I walk there I like to think about people who anciently went up to the temple in Jerusalem with their lambs or doves, ready to offer something to God.  Yesterday, I was thinking about Elizabeth and Zacharias, whose prayers for a child probably included sacrifices.  But I don’t have any doves to offer for Rachel and Ryan, I thought, so what should I bring?  And I didn’t come up with an answer, other than the thought to write a letter to you, and to put your names on a little slip of paper to be prayed over in the temple.  I heard a story recently about a Japanese fisherman who had a special request of his ancestors, so he rang the shrine’s bell three times to get his ancestors’ attention.  And I thought about how wonderful it is to know that God’s attention is already on us, no bell-ringing required.  I love you, Hermana, and wish you the best of Februarys.”

I am so blessed to have people in my life like Nelda, who think about me and pray for me and share in my joys and my pains.  Feeling so much love and support was an unexpected dream come true throughout this adoption journey—something I probably wouldn’t have felt if I didn’t have fertility problems. 

Life doesn’t always (or ever) turn out as planned—but God always has beautiful things in store for us.   Somehow, He can always make “beauty for ashes.”
---
I think it's appropriate that this journal entry be posted during Thanksgiving Week.  Ryan and I have so much to be grateful for.  The experience of adopting Noah has been a dream come true in so many ways.  We are thankful for him, for Katie and Drew, for family members and friends who have offered so much support and love, for our religion and the hope that it brings us, and most of all, for a loving Father in Heaven who brought little Noah Bug into our family.  

I recently attended the funeral of a close family friend.  Her life was one of challenges but always of joy and faith.  She lost her mother at 15, and as an adult, she struggled with a period of depression and a period of infertility.  In spite of her trials, she was one of the happiest, kindest, most Christ-like people I've ever know.  She died of ovarian cancer, though she was only in her early fifties.  I left her memorial service feeling inspired to follow her example and live a better, fuller, happier life. 

Last Easter, she wrote her family a letter explaining how she had gained a testimony of Jesus Christ throughout her life, and her daughter read it at the funeral.  She started in her childhood and touched on those experiences throughout her life that had defined and tried her faith.  As she wrote about her years of infertility, she quoted a scripture from Job 23.  It brought tears to my eyes.

     "Behold I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him:
     On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him.  
     But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

I related so much to the longing expressed in the first few verses--the desire to find God and to know His will for your life.  The waiting and wondering and praying and pleading.  And then the declaration that even through those times of darkness and confusion, when it seems so difficult to decipher God's hand in your life, "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

I have learned so much and grown so much through our adoption journey.  I would not change a moment of the heartache due to what it has taught me and where it has lead me.  

After all, it lead to me this:


And surely that picture is my dream come true.  

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!  

Looking Back: Journal Entry, April 17, 2011


**To celebrate National Adoption Month, I have been posting some of my journal entries (written in the midst of our waiting) to try to give a clearer picture of what it's like to adopt. 

With this journal entry, I wanted to illustrate that even after we had been chosen, there were still lots of moments of uncertainty, worry, sadness, and guilt. 
--
April 17, 2011

Dear Baby,

Little one, I am sad tonight.  I haven’t really heard from Katie in a month, and I am worried about her.  I think about her every day and wonder how she is doing.  I know she must be showing by now, and I wonder how her peers at school are reacting to her pregnancy.  I wonder how she is feeling physically and emotionally. I wish I could be closer to her and to you during this pregnancy. I am envious of people who get to carry their babies with them throughout an entire pregnancy.  It must be amazing to have your baby inside of you—to have him with you all the time and to feel him and to know that he is growing, thriving, and on his way.  Right now, you feel so far away from me.

Sometimes I feel so very guilty that Katie is enduring all of the physical and emotional hardships of this pregnancy, and she won’t even get the reward of having you. Sometimes I think she must hate me for that.  I really hope that she doesn’t because I love her, and I love you, and I don’t want to cause anyone any pain. 

Oh how I pray I will hear from her soon.

Love you, Baby.
Mom

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking Back: Email to Katie, February 28, 2011

**Throughout Katie's pregnancy, she and I often wrote each other long emails.  I have kept all of them.  They are in my journal, and I am also going to put them in a special book for Noah to read someday.  I decided to post this email to Katie because it records how my family supported me throughout the infertility/adoption process, as well as how God reminded me through small "tender mercies" that He was aware of me and my situation.  Though He can't always intervene to save us from heartache, He is always there.
___

Date: February 28, 2011
Subject: God Answers Prayers, Even Little Ones

Hi, Katie!

I am stuck in an airport in Detroit without a cell phone to call Ryan and tell him what's going on.  Man, life can be inconvenient sometimes!  

My getting stuck in this airport is a long and harrowing story...and since I have nothing to do whilst sitting here and waiting for the next flight...and since I want to record this story for my posterity...I'll go ahead and tell you the entire tale.  I hope you don't get bored!  The day after our last failed adoption, I wrote a blog post titled "Heartbroken" about all of our disappointments in trying to get a child.  My aunt Muriel, who is a famous artist, read it, and she said that she just started crying for me, and she wanted to do something to help--she wanted to fix it, but she knew she couldn't.  So, instead, she decided to do something to show me that she loves me and is constantly thinking of us and praying for us to get a baby: she did a painting.  I was so touched because this is a woman who literally gets thousands of dollars for her paintings, and she did one just for me.  Such a sweet and thoughtful gesture of support.  The painting is of a baby inside of an avocado—that sounds a little weird, I know, but she said that it was a "fertile image" and that she was sending lots of "good baby mojo" our way. :)  (I love that woman.)  Interestingly, you contacted me just a few days after she sent me a photo of the finished painting.  And even more interesting, the day after you called me--literally, the day after when no one but Ryan, Sally, and my dad knew about you--she emailed me this message:

"Hi honey!
I had a dream with YOU in it last night. Sometimes I do have such strange dreams...almost a pre-cog kind of thing. I am wondering if there is some baby action running high right now? OK this will sound weird to you because it did to me! I was with you and your sisters and all of us were creating things. Cooking creations, art creations, crafty creations all together in the same room~ and the strangest thing....I WAS PREGNANT! It was a bit disturbing to me in the dream even. But when I woke up, I realized it was you who was pregnant in my dream, not me...hmmmmmmm~I wondered if there was something big going on. Or am I just the crazy aunt? Yeah, that could be true too! (=
Love you and hope that my dream was a hint of things to come (one can be pregnant with potential adoption too you know!)!
XOXOXO
Auntie Muriel"

Crazy, huh?  It's like the woman has ESP!  

Anyway, this aunt lives in St. Louis, so she gave me my painting while I was visiting my sister this week.  It was all cardboarded up to protect it, and I brought it as one of my carry-ons on the flight.  I also have a ginormous and heavy duffel bag because I didn't want to pay to check a bag.  Well, the flight from St. Louis to Detroit went off without a hitch, and I was careful to protect the painting.  But then, I went to the bathroom in the airport at my layover in Detroit, and I accidentally left the painting in the stall!!!!  I was so weighed down by my big duffel that I didn't realize it.  I had a very short layover, so I hustled to my next gate (which was literally across a huge airport in a totally different concourse), and I just made it to the gate as they were boarding.  Standing in line, I looked down at my duffel, and it dawned on me: "I left the painting in the bathroom."   I completely panicked.  I stood frozen for about thirty seconds trying to decide what to do: If I run for the painting, I will almost definitely miss my flight...But if I don't run for the painting, I will be losing a priceless and precious heirloom from someone who really loves me...If I run for the bathroom and I miss the flight, I will probably have to pay big bucks to rebook a ticket to Buffalo...If I get on the flight, I could probably call Lost and Found and get the painting shipped to me, but I've lost stuff in airports before, and it was never found...

Finally, I just started running.  I knew that the painting could not be replaced.  I ran all the way across the airport hauling my ridiculous duffel bag.  I wanted to just throw it into a corner and come back for it later, but I was afraid that I would cause a bomb scare.  (Crazy girl throwing a bag in a corner and then sprinting away probably wouldn't look so good in an airport.)  By the time I got to the bathroom, I was so out of breath.  I was coughing and panting and praying (literally).  It wasn't in the bathroom, so I ran out to ask a janitor or worker if they had seen anything.  Unfortunately for me, I chose the meanest Delta worker in the history of mankind to ask.  She was so snippy, and when I told her that the painting was really important to me, she said, "Well, if it was so important to you, maybe you should've held on to it."  Uhhhhhh....DUH LADY!  DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT?  Thanks so much for your empathy and compassion!

The mean lady told me to go try the airport Lost and Found but she doubted it would be there.  At this point, I started bawling.  

I started to walk toward the Lost and Found, saying a silent prayer asking Heavenly Father to help me find the painting.  All of the sudden, I had the thought that the painting was probably still close by.  After all, it had been less than an hour.  I turned around and found another flight attendant.  Luckily, she was really nice, and she actually tried to help me instead of making me feel like an idiot.  After a few minutes of searching, she found the painting behind one of the gate desks (someone had brought it from the bathroom).  Talk about relief!!  By this point, I had missed my flight, and when I told her that, she rebooked me on a later flight for free.  I was so grateful!  

Anyway, I wanted to record this story because I plan to hang the painting in the baby's nursery, and I want the baby to know that the painting was created by my Aunt Muriel's love and was saved in the Detroit airport by God's love.  

Stories of God helping people find things sometimes really bother me.  When I hear people bear testimony that God helped them find their CTR ring or cell phone or whatever, I think it somewhat trivializes the true meaning of prayer.  I always think, "There are people in this congregation who have been earnestly praying for years for God to bless them with children or heal them of a terminal disease or help them overcome destructive addictions...If God hasn't yet answered their heart wrenching prayers, how is it going to make them feel to hear that He has responded to such trivial concerns?"  Yet, I do think that God helped me find the painting.  Despite my skepticism of such tales, I had the thought, "The painting is around here.  Talk to someone else."  Maybe God can't always solve all of our biggest problems (such as infertility or disease) because they are just part of the mortal experience and the test...but He can show His love for us by helping out with little things along the way--those "tender mercies" that let us know that He is listening and wants to help us in any way that He can.

Anyway, that was a long story!!  I told you it might be boring!

My flight is now boarding, and I don't want to miss another one, so I better run.  Thanks for listening, and I'll write later.  :)  I can't wait to finally see Ryan in just a few hours.  This has been quite a week!

xo
Rachel

Aunt Muriel's painting hanging in Noah's nursery.  (Sorry the picture quality isn't great.)
Doesn't the baby look like him with the wild brown hair?  She really does have ESP! :)