Monthly Archives: May 2015

a frustrating reality…

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

today is not a good day…actually the last few weeks have not been too good.  i try to maintain a persona that, yes i have bad moments, but that i am completely ok with everything that has happened and everything that is going on.  i have been hesitant to write anything negative in a while dealing with the adoption or infertility because the fear that i have that my words will be misconstrued or used against me somehow.  when i have my “poor me” and “bitterness” episodes i fear that people (i don’t have a specific person i am looking at – but rather just people in general) will take what i am saying out of context.  that they will say i will be a terrible mom if we are ever placed because I still have insecurities about the hand that was dealt to me.  i fear that someone will take what i am saying and make generalizations that i am unhappy and bitter towards all people who have biological children.  i fear that my words will be mixed up and used to imply that deep down i always feel this way.  i fear that people will look at me and say i deserve everything that has happened.  i fear that people will look at me and say it is all my fault.  i fear i will be considered selfish (again).  i fear that i will become one of “those people” that people won’t feel it is genuine when i have positive things to say about our situation or about theirs.  i fear that people will be nervous around me so that they don’t “upset” me or will constantly be worried that they will make me mad.  i worry that people will walk on egg shells around me just in case i am having a bad day and that they won’t share things about their kids/pregnancies/etc.  i fear that one day my child could use my words and thoughts against me and question my love.  but mostly, i fear that my thoughts make me a horrible monster.

 early on when we were dating we dreamed of being married and having a family.  we had no reason to suspect that when we were married that it would be difficult to have kids so we dreamed of the days that were to come and the excitement and adventure of the milestones that we would get to experience.  after we got married i was living out my fairy tale and day dreaming of the possibilities, waiting on the moment that we decided the time was right.  when the timing was right i was elated at the possibilities (and my day dreams got bigger and my hopes soared).  after several months when panic was starting to set in it wasn’t so fun.  it wasn’t until then that i realized how much hope i had in those milestones.  how much i wished that they would come true.  how my daydreams had pretty much ruined me and finally how my world came crashing down all around me.

after the months of treatments and the time after where we talked about what we wanted to do next, part of me didn’t want to admit anything about the treatments or about the adoption because i felt like i was giving up on my dreams – on what i always wanted.  i was acknowledging that i would miss those milestones and that i lost faith in me and i was giving up on myself.

in my devastation that i wouldn’t be able to expand my family in the way i planned, those milestones flowed through my head like racing hot lava.  a list, constantly growing, formed and circulated around in my thoughts causing my heart to break a little more with each bullet point – when i didn’t even know it could hurt any more.

 i will pause from my pity party to emphasize that we HAVE gained from this experience, but there are times when it is difficult to see the positive and to not dwell on the negative.  this is one of those times.

let me be dramatic.  each mother’s day i feel like a little bit of my soul dies.  i feel like my heart is being shredded from the inside out and the bile rises up and the taste lingers in the back of my throat.  it isn’t that i am not thankful for my mom and all of the women who have been wonderful influences in my life.  it isn’t that i don’t think about all of my friends and family who are mothers or are about to be mothers, because i do.  i give thanks for them and for their children and pray they know how blessed they all are to have each other.  it is the day that constantly reminds me of what i am not able to do.  that i have to rely on someone else to pick me to make my dreams come true.  the reality is that someone has to pick me out of a lineup and read my profile book like they are buying a car and i hope that they do it quickly so we can be done waiting.  it reinstates those negative feelings i have about myself.  i expressed those thoughts with someone and was asked, “don’t you think that will change once you are placed?”  my answer is simple.  it will change but not in the way one would think.  if that day ever comes i will be thrilled (for the biggest understatement of the year) but that day will always be a painful reminder of our struggles.  it will be like a birthday of someone who has passed away or the anniversary of the death of a loved one – it will be bittersweet.  i will relish the homemade gifts and crafts (hint: andy, remember that).  i will act like my over done pancake breakfast in bed is the best thing i have ever eaten.  i will slip my macaroni necklace over my head while tears of joy threaten to overflow.  i will take a huge breath and will look at my child that will call me mom and i will look at my husband who has stuck with me, even when i gave him an out, and will smile.  but later that night i will kiss my baby on the head and will tuck them in bed, andy will be reading a book, who am i kidding, watching something on tv, and i will slip out of the house to sit on our porch swing and take 10 minutes to stare at the stars while the tears roll down my face in memory and silent reflection of all that has been lost.

all of the times i prayed and begged to be pregnant “this” month, all of the treatments and tears, all of the negative pregnancy tests, when the doctors gave up on us.  in all those times and more infertility has robbed us.  it has taken from me so many different milestones that we promised each other.  it took away part of me:

i am hesitant to continue, but writing has been surprisingly therapeutic and why pay someone when you can write?  i feel like when i put my words down in black and white i can look back and see them and there is something tangible that i can hold on to – i can look at them and feel like my feelings and my rampant thoughts are conveyed and together.  it organizes the chaos that is in my mind, somewhat.  i feel that i am too far gone and despite my hesitation here goes…my compiled list (thus far) of how infertility robs us.

i will never know what it is like:

1. to see that plus sign on a pregnancy test and feel the excitement of knowing a tiny human is growing inside me.
2. to use one of the many ways i came up with to educate/reveal to andy that he was going to be a dad.
3. to go to the first doctor’s appt after the positive test and to see that black and white image and hear the heart beat.
4. to grab andy’s hand and cry with him as we listen to the heart beat.
5. to have andy look at me the way expectant husbands look at their wives.

6. to have andy place his hand on my belly and talk to our baby.
7. to have that print out of the ultrasound (and possibly have a fun ultrasound – for once).
8. to use one of the hundred ways we talked about to tell our parents and then our families that we were expecting.
9. to dress in maternity clothing and apparently use maternity pants as buffet pants on down the road post birth.
10. to have weird cravings (and for that to be socially accepted and expected).
11. to take “bump pictures” (even though i hate pictures) and to post them along with updates on “today my baby is the size of an orange”
12. to feel the baby move – which people constantly will say is their favorite thing about being pregnant and people constantly say that is the time when they felt like they “connected to their baby.”
13. to pee all the time (ok with this one it is more of the excuse of the pregnancy to pee all the time – seriously i could drink a ton of water and pee more in a day than any pregnant woman).
14. to pee a little when coughing or sneezing (ok the older i get i think i don’t have to be pregnant…)
15. to use mommy brain as excuse for everything (once people announce they are expecting EVERYTHING becomes “due to mommy brain”)
16. to cry at everything for no reason but to have an excuse that people accept.  people don’t like the crying for no reason because of treatment side effects.
17. to bond with the baby inside me.  to ride down the road in an empty car and to know that i am not alone.
18. to experience the bonding with andy over the pregnancy.
19. to have andy pull me into his arms and thank me for making his dreams come true as well.
20. to take naps “for the baby” (everything becomes “for the baby”)
21. to have people ask me if they can touch my belly or ask me other exciting questions because i am pregnant.
22. to park in the expectant parent reserved spots at the stores.
23. to experience the birthing class with andy.
24. to have weekly doctor appointments where i can “see and hear” my baby.
25. to experience some ice cream or take out tradition after my doctor appointments.
26. to pre admit for the birth and have a tour of the labor and delivery center.
27. to pack the suit case for the hospital and worry that i will forget my pillow.
28. to have baby showers that are normal and where games come directly from being pregnant.  where there isn’t a fear of “giving back” gifts because a mom changed her mind.
29. to participate in pregnancy nesting and having a pre-baby to-do list and crossing things off that list.
30. to have the frantic ride to the hospital if my water broke at home.
31. to have the dull ride to the hospital if being induced.
32. to experience the entire birthing process.  sitting in the hospital bed, getting an iv, being hooked up to fetal monitors, seeing the lines move predicting contractions, holding andy’s hand during bad contractions, watching andy turn various shades of white, having andy tell me that he loves me before things get crazy, getting the epidural and watching andy create an excuse to leave the room to update family, knowing that family is out there or close by waiting, pushing, the nurses and doctors being in the room, the excitement and the rushing.  the end result.
33. to hear the doctor announce boy or girl after months of waiting to find out.
34. for andy to kiss my forehead after that announcement.
35. to hear that first cry.
36. to have the baby put on my chest and to know that immediate love. and to know that one of the first people other than the medical staff holding my baby was me or andy.
37. to have those moments right after everything has calmed to be a family of 3 without the rest of the world in our room, where andy would present to me an awesome push present.
38. to see the face that i have carried for 9 months and know that “we made that”
39. to have family and friends come in so they can be introduced – and to tell everyone their birth story.
40. for andy to go to the waiting room and simply say boy or girl.
41. to experience the post birth shower that everyone claims is the best shower ever and if you never experience it – you haven’t ever really showered…
42. to experience breast-feeding and once again that “connection” that people talk about.
43. to not wonder if it was something that i did wrong years ago and wonder what i could have done differently.
44. to not worry that when we are placed the parents will change their mind and come back for their child.
45. to not worry that one day my child will ask me about their birth story and to possibly have no clue – thus making my child feel different.

46. to not worry that whatever child we are placed with will resent us at some point in time and tell us that they wished they were with their “real” mom and dad and that they hate us.

as i sit here and read back through my words i have mixed feelings.  i have such bitterness that boils up and anger that bubbles to the surface and both of those roll into one ball of irritated, irrational, frustrated, rage.  another part of me has weariness and fear: weariness that we have waited so long to be parents and a fear that we will never be chosen to be parents.  there is a part of me that reads through that list and has a list just as long as the things that we get to do because we are adopting that “normal” expecting couples will never get to experience – and that really is exciting.

i spoke to a friend and to make a long story short she asked how i was.  i will admit it hadn’t been a great day and with the thoughts above running rampant in my head i jumped on my soap box before i even really realized it and felt bad about it.  my words (not directed at her in any possible way) were dripping in annoyance and hurt.  i told her that i was sorry i got up there and she said it was ok that “i think your soapbox was right on point” and “you deserve to be frustrated and have your grief.”  she didn’t call me selfish or overly dramatic or insensitive and those simple words of acceptance and understanding came flying at me during a time i needed my feelings to be validated.  so yes i am still sulking and mulling around all of the ways i have been robbed because of infertility (as i do from time to time) but they are becoming, more and more, just bullet points in a mere chapter of our story.  a story, that like most, has highs and lows.  as the bitterness simmers, and i work my way back to dwelling on the positive i tuck my ever growing list somewhere deep in my mind. 

our 2014 seniors

since we work with youth we have a lot of kids (spanning all of the churches we have attended).  we get to spend time with them in their best and sometimes worst moments/years/days.  we get to be there for the hard questions about faith and life.  we get to see them laugh at themselves and at each other during stupid youth group games.  we might send them home at the end of the day (or week), but they are our kids.  we are proud of them when they accomplish something they feel is great/huge and we are proud of them when something small happens and they don’t even know that they should feel proud.  we try to be there for them when they need us and a lot of times they are there for us when we didn’t even know that we needed them.

one of the things that stresses me out the most about working with youth is what if i am wasting their time?  what if what i am telling them isn’t deep enough to make them claim their faith as their own?  what if our discussions are only on the surface and what the youth needs is to go more in-depth?  what if on the weeks we have serious conversation, the youth really needed to play stupid games to get their mind out of a dark place?  what if what we are trying to do and say never sinks in?

it is at graduation time that i look at our kids growing up and see that they are moving on.  they have not only graduated from school, but from youth as well.  i can only hope that they have gotten something from our time together because the time i had with them (held captive on sunday/wednesday evenings) is gone.  there may be a short conversation in person or through social media, there might be a phone conversation, but the dynamic has changed forever.

as we watch them go across the stage at graduation or talk with them afterwards i look for glimpses that they got something from our time together.  that even if they got nothing else from youth that they at least understand that we are proud of them, that we will always be here at a moments notice and that we love them so very much as if they were our own.

a little late – but congrats class of 2014.

cleo was our senior class for gcpc

(with her brother (wyatt) and bff (emma) at church for graduation cleo sunday)

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i love going to graduation here.  it is a little more fun and laid back.  they actually talk about God (at our graduation that was a no-no).  they get to go crazy at the end throwing their caps and having silly sting (at ours they threatened to hold us through summer school).  it is great to watch the kids having fun and celebrating their graduation.

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we were also lucky enough to be able to attend morgan’s graduation (a former youth that moved to VA right up from where we live now).  luckily we didn’t have anything else going on that day of her graduation so we were able to attend.  while she was walking across the stage she did a selfie with the administrative staff on the stage – it was funny.  not only did we get to see morgan we got to see travis (another former youth who happens to date morgan).

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unfortunately jackson (another former youth) graduated on a thursday that we already had stuff going on.  so we missed him walking across the stage and the big graduation party, but we made a point to stop in and see him and celebrate a little late with him.

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we couldn’t be any more proud of our kids and of all of their accomplishments.  we are so glad that we get to be a part of their lives and to celebrate these milestones with them.

girls asheville trip 2014

i have been blessed to work where i do.  it isn’t always fun and games and it isn’t always easy and stress free, but i love it.  we laugh a lot.  we have fun.  even in the stressful events and days we find a way to support each other and get through it together.  again this past year i was invited to girls day in asheville – a day of shopping and wonderful food (much appreciation to Nat for the Christmas meal) and friendship and gingerbread houses at the grove park inn.

the winner of the gingerbread house was this chess set.  it was amazing with the details…but it wasn’t a house…

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beautiful view before dinner


not everyone could be there this year and we had two that had to leave early but part of my wonderful work family.


next year we might rent a u haul to get all of the stuff back – but i think we did great cramming it all in the car.

blackwelder beach trip 2014

this post is about a year late…but here it is anyways.

we joined andy’s family at the beach again last summer and got to spend some time away from work and with family.

the drive down was long (it always is) but the views were beautiful and then we hit a ton of rain!

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we went dolphin sight seeing.  most of my pictures are of dark specks in the ocean but there are a few that turned out.  ellen was less than impressed but she had a great nap.

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cj told us that she saw three pirates.  we didn’t see them, but she saw them.  i think they were nice pirates because she waved once and then that was it.  they showed us some “trash” that the shrimp boats get and that included a baby shark and andy and cj where thrilled.

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we had fun at the beach playing in the ocean and in the sand and before we know it beach trip 2015 will be here for more sun and sand!

adoption update

after the decision to adopt, we found an agency and went to an information meeting.  at that meeting we listened to the agency talk about the different types of adoption, what to expect, time lines and next steps.

going in we knew that we wanted to do domestic adoption (adoption in the US) and after that meeting we knew that was still what we wanted to pursue.  a few days after the meeting and after we processed the information we were given, we emailed our caseworker and told him to send us a preliminary application.  i will be honest, i don’t remember a lot about that application.  i know we had to put some of our information down and i think our history (as far as why we want to adopt).  we sent that back in (with a check to cover our informal application) and our caseworker called and set up a meeting.
at that meeting, he gave us our formal application and a book of other paperwork that would have to be completed with our formal application.  all of that paperwork is considered part of our homestudy (screening of our home and us through paperwork, as well as interviews).  once we had our book of paperwork, we started working on it.
 in our paperwork we had a formal application, additional questions, personal statement of faith (which was hard to write despite having direct questions), statement of intent (that we planned on adopting and that if our family status changed we would notify them), fingerprinting instructions, background check information, IRS forms (past 3 years), financial worksheet, credit check release form, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, health insurance form, employer reference letters (for each of us), family reference letters (one from each family), friend reference letters (total of 3), medical exam report, family history data, self study (SAFE questionnaire – state mandated), family info sheet (non identifying information for the family), letters to birth parents (which was one of the hardest things), openness questionnaire (which i will go into more detail later), discipline policy statement (we can’t spank or anything until the adoption is finalized), triad release form, and our reading requirement checklist (we have to read 3-4 books).
once we got our packet of paperwork, we started going through all of it.  most of it was just simply trying to get documents together and making copies to send in.  we did that first.  then we had to work on answering questions and filling out forms.  we were able to get a lot of it done very quickly and send it in (with a check for our formal application).
this would be a good time to note that no one really knew that we were going to adopt at this time – including our families.  we didn’t want to say anything yet (mostly because of my perceptions at the time and because we wanted to be further along in the process).  one of the things i worried about was that when someone announces that they are pregnant there is a time line (9 months) and then the baby is here.  i feared that if we said something when we first went to that meeting that people would be tired of hearing about it (especially since we didn’t know how long the paperwork process would take and since we have no idea how quickly we will be chosen).  as stupid as it sounds, i didn’t think it was fair to our baby to say anything too soon because i feared that the excitement would be gone because of the longer than 9 month wait time and that by the time we were chosen people would be rolling their eyes saying “about time, thank goodness they can stop talking about it now.”  isn’t that weird?  it wasn’t about us, but more for the baby.  i guess since it will be a different story of how they came to be with us – i wanted them to have some sense of normalcy when we talk about it and tell them that people were excited that they came to the family.
with the letter to the birth parents we had strict rules about what we could and couldn’t put in there.  we couldn’t put anything that would help identify us (like the name of places we work, name of town, our last names, church name, etc).  they gave us ideas of what to include and we wrote our letters.  the weirdest thing to me was writing to someone i have never met and trying to tell them about myself being as vaguely detailed as possible, all the while trying to say what is from my heart about being a mom – hoping that they pick me and that my heart felt comments don’t change their mind to keep their baby.  that is one of the weirdest feelings i have ever had.
openness questionnaire: questionnaire of what we are open to as far as situations and how open we want to be with the birth parents.  in this questionnaire we had 3 answers: yes, no, and willing to consider.  it asked us specific questions like boy or girl?  we said either.  it asked us if we would meet with the expectant parents before placement.  yes.  how open will you be after the baby is placed?  we said willing to consider different options.  it went through several scenarios about the birth parents and their history.  we put willing to consider on a lot of things because if you put a definite ‘no,’ you could be overlooked.  we prayed and decided that we would take each scenario as it comes up and go from there.  we didn’t want to limit ourselves.
we got to a place where one of the only things we lacked were our references.  we realized we would have to ask our references before we just put them down so we asked them (2 family, 3 friend, 2 employer, 1 pastoral) and begged them to keep our secret for a little while longer.
we mailed the paperwork in and waited (story of our lives).  we waited and waited and waited and finally got tired of waiting so we emailed our social worker and asked if we were missing any paperwork.  he said yes. all of it.  so we told him when we mailed it and he finally e mailed stating that he had our paperwork, but that someone put it on the wrong desk so we had been waiting for almost 6 weeks for nothing.  but he went through the paperwork and we had to do a few more things that hadn’t been included, and waited a little more.  about 2 weeks passed and andy e mailed him to make sure everything was still ok.  we got an auto response that he was no longer with the company and gave us the name of our new caseworker.  i emailed her (in a panic) and she responded very quickly, which was great for my nerves.
we mailed our second packet of paperwork while we were at the beach.
we had a state mandated training that lasted an entire day.  i had to ask off and luckily my boss knew by this point so i didn’t have to fabricate some story with her why i needed a day off.  at that meeting we listened to people who have adopted, a birth mother presenting her story, and two people (16 year old and 50 ish year old) that had been adopted.  we met other people that were in the midst of the adoption process.
after that we had to schedule our interviews.  couples interview was first.  it was stressful.  we met with our local caseworker and had to fill out another SAFE questionnaire (state mandated) and we weren’t allowed to sit near each other or talk while we were doing it.  it had questions on there about personal experiences / family history / our relationship.  we talked to the caseworker about our lives and she asked a lot of questions.  after a while she closed her notebook that she wrote everything down in and told us to call in a few weeks so we can set up the individual interviews.
we set up the individual interviews on the same day as each other so that we could ride together.  i went first because i thought i was going to throw up if i had to wait.  she pulled out the two SAFE questionnaires.  there is some sort of grading scale on those and we had to talk about the ones that were red flags for her .  one of the questions that we talked about was that i put that we witnessed an act of violence.  (it was a domestic violence thing in the neighborhood years ago).  i explained it and she made notes.  another thing she asked me about was i checked that i had alcohol before lunch or during work hours.  i explained that i had a mimosa on a few occasions at bridal showers and weddings.  she wrote things down.  she asked about my family and had me clarify some answers.  she flipped through the rest of the paperwork and asked more questions (that have escaped me) and then it was andy’s turn.  he went into the room and i was just as nervous.  i was nervous that he wouldn’t answer something the way i would/did.  he was in there for what seemed like hours (maybe 40 minutes) and then came out.  we left and compared notes.  it looked like we passed!
next came the home visit (this is not the same thing as the home study – but is part of the home study.  this is where they actually come to the house and look around).  i was nervous about this too.  we cleaned the house from top to bottom.  under beds, in all cabinets, in all closests.  we had to lock some of our cabinets to prove that we wouldn’t let our baby drink bleach.  we had to test all the smoke detectors and had to show that we had a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.  we also had to show that otis wouldn’t eat a child.  the caseworker came out and into our perfectly clean house and we sat at the table and went over our paperwork one last time.  she explained the financial agreement.  she petted otis and he jumped on the couch and went straight to sleep.  we gave her our homestudy fee.  she walked around the house and looked at everything she needed to.  she told us she would write up our home study and would let us know when it was done.
several weeks went by and we got an e mail and a letter in the mail stating that we had been approved and that we were officially a waiting family (family that has been approved but is waiting to be picked by a birth mother). 
we had to put together a photo book of our family, friends and lives for an expectant parent to look at if we matched their qualities.  it took hours and days of putting it together.  this is basically the thing that the mother will look at to pick us.  we tried to put pictures in there of all our family members so that they could see who we belong to.  we put in there pictures of vacations and things that we have done.  we had a page of otis so they would know we had a beagle.  we put in there a page of farm and cows and a page of the donkeys and horses.  we tried to put together a book that captured who we were so that someone looking at it would have a good idea of if they wanted their child to live with us.  it was very hard.  at the state mandated training we heard stories of how certain pictures led the birth family to pick the adopted family.  for example: one couple was picked because in one of the photos the husband had on a college hat and sweatshirt of the birth father’s favorite team.  another was picked because they included photos of their doberman dogs and the birth mother had two dobermans when she was a child and loved them.  another family was picked because in one of the pictures they had on camouflage and it reminded the birth mother of the times her and her brother went hunting with her dad.  so with each picture we tried to choose pictures that would be interesting but not threatening.  for example: at the farm, we included pictures of us on the outside of the gate (to show how safe we are) and inside the fence (to show that we love the animals and will allow chances to be close to them).  we included otis as a puppy to show how long we have had him and as an adult to show that he is still spoiled.  on the inside of the book we included our birth parent letters.   we had to order 5 books and were so happy with the results.  we turned them in and our books are available for birth mothers to view!
now that we have all of our paperwork in and our books completed there is nothing more to do than to wait and pray.  we go to waiting family meetings (where we learn different things and have a support system).  we pray constantly for our future child, for the other waiting families, and for the family that will be giving us the chance at our own family.
we are still raising money for the adoption.  we have paid 1/3 already up front and are still trying to get the rest.  we have been selling things on bossy donkey company and we made some jelly and sold that.  we have been looking at grants and will be sending applications for those in the next few weeks.  we have to have all of the money up front.  when we go to the hospital to pick up our baby once we are chosen, we have to pay the balance on our account.  since we could have months or only hours notice we are trying to get the financial part taken care of.
now that we have moved, we will have to do an update…but we don’t have to have it done yet so we are holding off for a little while longer.  we have the nursery room picked out and ready to be completed.  we have talked about colors and designs for that room but for now we haven’t done anything – it is a blank slate.  (we have already put some things in the closet – books and stuffed animals and some other things that we have been collecting for a while).  we have talked about names for boys, girls and twins.  we are a family of 3 (including otis) and we have talked about what it will be like to be a family of 4 or 5.  we have talked about getting twins and how that would be.  we have talked about day cares and vacations.  we have dreamed of holding our baby and bringing them home.  right now that is all that we have – the dream that our prayers will be answered.