Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adoption 360

The meeting...
Before we ever got on the plane to Charleston, we were told that consent had been signed by our birthmom and that she had left the hospital. We were told to go to the hospital at 8am. The hospital was supposed to release Camden to the state 48 hours after he was born, they were doing us a favor keeping him a little bit longer. We called our caseworker, Janine, she was truly sent to us from God and she knew she was too...
...anyway she told us not to go to the hospital, that consent was not signed. Our birthmom wanted to meet us but she was told by the agency that we didn't want to meet her which was totally false. So Janine gave us an address and told her to meet her there in two hours.
We drove downtown, we found the address. She told us that we had to look closely for "29X" because if we blinked we might miss it. And this is why...

We found it. We went inside and there was our birthmom sitting on a couch with Janine. It was just the four of us. She stood up when we walked in, I couldn't help myself and threw my arms around her. I was so worried that I would be a crying mess that I wouldn't even be able to speak. Surprisingly I was able to keep my tears to a minimum and I was able to speak calmly.
We sat and visited with S (our birthmom) for about forty five minutes. She was quiet and reserved. Her spirit was so strong. I kept staring at her, I would catch myself just taking in every detail of her face, her voice, her hair, her jewelry, her clothes...I wonder if she noticed...I just couldn't help it. This is the young woman I had prayed for every day for nine months. I had dreams of her. I wondered what she would look like. I didn't want to forget anything. I knew that someday I would be telling my son about his birthmom and I wanted to have as much information as possible to give to him.
Our caseworker helped guide the conversation as we were all a little overwhelmed by the situation. It was important for S to know about our extended family relationships. She wanted to know about where we lived and if there were other black people in our neighborhood. She seemed very pleased to know that Camden would grow up with a large extended family and that he would be able to play in the snow...South Carolina doesn't get snow...
I was so impressed with how composed she was, I know that her heart must have been breaking and yet she seemed so calm. She told us many times how grateful she was for us. She kept saying that she finally had peace. We found out that when she got pregnant she knew that she was going to place her baby. She wanted to meet us because she knew that he belonged to someone else but she needed to make sure we were the ones. After our forty five minutes together she said, "Well you guys have waited long enough, let's go get your baby."
She went to the hospital with Janine. Aric and I were not allowed to go with her. She still needed to sign consent and have it accepted by the state. So we walked around for two hours and I took pictures to try and make the time go by faster. I wanted to capture this beautiful place so that I could show Camden where he came from. I fell in love with the old buildings, especially the doors....
My Faves

and gates...
We ate lunch at this little pub while we waited for the phone call to go back to the office. Eating was such an issue for me on this trip. I seriously couldn't eat. Aric would make me eat, I was having a hard enough time remembering to breathe...eating required just too much energy.
After two excruciating hours we got the call. I was so excited. We drove back to the office. I will always remember walking through this gate...
...then through this door...
...and seeing this little face...
Camden was actually in S's arms, when we walked into the room. It was important to her that she physically placed her baby into our arms. So she handed Camden to Aric and then S and I held on to each other for a few minutes. This moment is so hard to write about. It truly was sacred. The spirit that overwhelmed that room made it feel like we were taken out of this world and we got to taste heaven for 20 minutes.
My camera was sitting on the coffee table when Janine grabbed it and started taking pictures. (We do have pictures of Camden with S but those we are keeping private just for him)
In this moment my heart that had been aching for so many years was finally whole. This was the moment God had been waiting to give me. It was in that moment that I realized that all those years of hurting and waiting were all worth it. It was those sleepless nights and constant prayers that brought me to this moment. Holding my son for the very first time was magical. It was "delicious to my soul" and I will never, ever forget it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adoption 220

If you will recall from my last post,"Adoption 101", infertility was the beginning of our adoption journey. So this post will cover the next phase...
Making the Decision and Waiting
When we decided to adopt it was actually a very easy decision. We had talked about it before, but it just didn't feel like it was the right time. There comes a point when you realize that making the choice to adopt means that you are giving up on having your own biological least that is how I felt.
We prayed for guidance everyday to know what we should do. One day in late February of 2008, Aric and I both had separate experiences with the spirit telling us that it was time. There was a broadcast our church was having. Aric went in the morning, I went in the evening. Later that night I asked Aric what he thought about the meeting. He told me that it was good but while he was there he felt strongly that it was time for us to adopt. I told him I had the exact same feeling.
That was it. That week I called LDS Family Services and started the process. We chose them because it was through our church and the cost was going to be much less than if we went through an agency. I had looked into foster to adopt, which is through the state, but I didn't feel like it was the right thing for our family. Mainly because I didn't want my girls or myself, to get attached to a baby that could be taken away from us. I think it is wonderful that some people can do it, I just knew that path wasn't for us.
After I spoke with our caseworker on the phone I thought that we would fill out some papers, talk to someone and then wait for a call. I was wrong. I was not prepared for how much work it was. We had mountains of online forms. We had background checks, and physicals for our whole family. We had fingerprints taken, interviews, home still blows my  mind how much work it is for a couple to be approved. Our case worker was very honest with us, he told us that this was going to be a long, difficult process. At first I was annoyed that he burst my bubble like that, but now we realize that adoption is not for the weak at heart and it's best to be prepared.
So after four months of paper work we were finally approved. This was a record for our case worker, it usually takes him about six months to get a couple approved. Once that was done I thought for sure that we would get a call right away. We had felt so motivated I was sure it was because my baby was coming any day. We had a couple of websites that I had made in addition to the LDSFS one that we were on. The hope is that a birthmom would find us on a website and then contact our case worker. But no one called. The next four months were long and I was getting discouraged.
It's an awful feeling to have to sell yourself to someone. It got to the point that I was wondering if maybe my family wasn't cute enough. Maybe Aric and I weren't interesting enough. You feel like you are bearing your soul to the world and no one is interested.
A couple things happened during our waiting period. First of all, Aric and I both, separately had very personal experiences that confirmed that we were having a boy. I'm not sure I'm ready to share those very sacred experiences with the world, so for now I'm going to keep them to myself. But there was no doubt that the Lord was letting Aric and I know that we were having a son.
Second I realized that I wasn't looking to adopt just any baby because they needed a good home. I was looking for my baby. My son. The son that was meant to be mine, that was meant to be in our family. I believe that we lived as spirits with God before we were born. I believe that Camden was waiting for his turn to come to earth. He was always meant to come to us through adoption. So I was on a mission to find my son. I needed to let everyone know that we were adopting so that through the spirit, Camden's birth mom could find us.
I knew about a website called Parent Profiles, it is a website where birthmoms can look at adoptive couples profiles. It cost $50 dollars a month to be on it, but it iss the most popular website visited by birthmoms. In the beginning Aric and I didn't feel comfortable spending that kind of money, so we decided to pray about it and when the time felt right we would put ourselves on it. Well in late October 2008, I felt the spirit whisper that it was time. It took about two weeks to get our profile up on Parent Profiles. It was kind of exciting because it had a counter on it so you could see how many times your profile was looked at, and if someone chose you as one of their favorites. I became obsessed with checking it.
About a week after being on PP, we found out about a birthmom, through a friend, who was five months along and having a boy. She had been placed with a different couple but that couple had just found out they were pregnant and decided that they were no longer going to adopt. I called our caseworker right away, he gave us a little more information about the situation. He told us to think about it over the weekend and then let him know on Monday what we wanted to do. Aric and I talked about it, and prayed about it. Although my heart went out to this girl, and I wanted this baby to be my baby, I knew that it wasn't mine. I can't even begin to tell you how awful it felt to write the email telling our caseworker that we weren't going to move forward with this birthmom. I had to type through my tears. But as soon as I sent the email, I felt peace. And these words came clearly into my mind..."Now you will know when it is your baby."
Four days later I was on a "Turkey Trot" with some friends while Aric was home prepping the Thanksgiving Turkey.
While Aric was wrist deep in turkey guts my cell phone rang and he ignored it. After a few minutes he decided to check and see who called. It was a lady from an agency that saw our profile on the PP website (it had been exactly two weeks since it had been up) and she said a baby boy had been born and we needed to call her back right away.
Aric couldn't get me because he had the girls and I had the car with the carseats, so he sent our BFF Mike to go find me. When he first pulled up I didn't understand what he was saying. Then all of the sudden I heard..."Jessica, a baby boy was born last night in South Carolina, you need to go home now!"
The emotion that overcame me is impossible to accurately describe. But in that moment I knew this was my baby. I knew it with all of my heart and all of my soul. I jumped into BFF's car and he took me home. Aric was in the driveway waiting for me. We gathered the girls and had a family prayer. We called the agency and started the process, which was not easy. Because we had been with a different agency, we had to switch every thing over to them. It was Thanksgiving day and nearly impossible to get a hold of the people we needed to. The new agency wanted a crazy amount of money up front....$24,000. Now that is whole other story that I don't want to get into right now. Just know that thanks to the holiday it was impossible for us to get our hands on that kind of cash so they had to settle for $5,000 and that was enough to get us on the plane to South Carolina.
Being it was a holiday and we were booking our trip on such short notice, our tickets were a WHOLE LOTA money and we had three layovers. We got a lot of interesting looks running through airports with an empty carrier and stroller.
But honestly, I didn't care. My son was clear across the country, all alone in a hospital nursery. I was going to do WHATEVER it took to get to him.
That day was a blur. I had every emotion imaginable. I was thrilled to get the LONG awaited call. I felt bad that we had invited the Stockman's and Romney's over for Thanksgiving and instead of hosting them they had to fend for themselves.
I was angry that people can charge that kind of money for a baby. I was scared that the agency was scamming us and that we were going to end up on Dateline. I was so sad about leaving my girls, not knowing when we were going to come home. I was nervous that I was going to screw up the paperwork. I was so humbled by the love and support of our friends and family. I was anxious to see what my baby looked like. I was overwhelmed with love for this baby that I waited so long for. I was completely and totally grateful to have Aric by my side.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I like things to be in order. I like to have things planned. This threw me for a loop, and in the moments that I would realize what was happening I could hardly even breathe. At one point I asked our good friend Ryan to give Aric and I blessings because I didn't think I had the strength to go on. The blessings he gave us were so powerful. I relied on my blessing many, many times during the following days, weeks and now...months later.
Heavenly Father warned us that this wasn't going to be easy, but he promised that he would send people in our path to help. He told us he would open doors and provide miracles on our behalf. He kept his promises, I felt his hand guiding me. I felt His arms carrying me. I watched miracle after miracle happen, I am still so humbled as I recall them.
There is no question in my mind that Aric and I were supposed to adopt. Camden is our son, he was always supposed to be our son. I was never supposed to carry him physically, but I can tell you that I did bear that child. I carried him in my heart for four years. The moment I saw him was just as sacred and beautiful as the first time I saw  Maya and Eden. I will tell you more about that in my next post.

Adoption 101

This post has been a long time coming. There is a whole lot I have to say on the subject of adoption so I decided to break it up instead of overwhelm you all at once.
First of all, November is National Adoption Month...oh you didn't know? Well I didn't either until adoption became part of my world. I have always been open to adoption, even before my infertility issues, I thought that if we felt prompted, we would look into it. But in my mind it was always after we had like three or four biological children.
Of course we know that our plans aren't always in sync with God's plan. Adoption became part of my world because of infertility. Being infertile mom hates that word but there is no better word for me to describe it.  Go here to read  in more detail about my struggle.
"We are good people, we are good parents, we have a good marriage..."
"Aren't we supposed to "multiply and replenish the earth..."
"Why can a drug addicted teenage girl get pregnant and not me..."
"Maybe I can't handle more than two kids..."
These were some of the thoughts that polluted my mind during the years I struggled with infertility. There were many days that I felt like I was falling...falling into what, I'm not sure. All I know was that it was dark and I didn't like it. It was an everyday choice to not get swallowed up in the pain and frustration.
In case you might know someone who is struggling with infertility of any kind, (mine happened to be "secondary infertility"...I had my first two kids without any help but for some reason my body wouldn't make anymore) here are some helpful hints.

The DO-NOTS...
- DO NOT tell them that they need to relax.
Really....REALLY!!!!! So many people said this to me, it made me crazy!
- DO NOT tell them that as soon as they stop trying they will get pregnant.
Yes, we've all heard the stories of someone who was trying to get pregnant and then as soon as they stopped trying "voila!". Well great for them...but I didn't want to hear about it.
- DO NOT withhold your pregnancy from them.
Just because I couldn't get pregnant didn't mean I couldn't feel the joy for my loved ones who were pregnant.
- DO NOT avoid pregnancy talk.
I understood what it is like to have morning sickness, I know that in the end you feel fat, ugly and uncomfortable. I can relate, don't feel bad that you are venting...just don't complain all the time.
- DO NOT tell them "at least you were able to have two children...".
I know that this comment comes from a sweet place but it just made me feel guilty and bad for wanting another baby.
- DO NOT tell them all the tricks you used or someone else has used to get pregnant.
Here's the thing...if someone has been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, trust me they have heard every trick and tried everything.

The DO's
- DO ask them how things are going from time to time.
I so appreciated it when my friends would ask me how I was doing. Struggling with infertility for four years is a long time. It's nice to know that people haven't forgotten you are hurting.
- DO invite them to baby showers.
I won't lie, it did sting a little when I had 14 friends/family who were pregnant at one time...but I never forgot the miracle that it is to bring a baby into this world. If anything my infertility made me appreciate this even more. I hosted half a dozen showers during my infertility years and it actually brought me comfort.
- DO give them lots of unsolicited hugs.
Sometimes that is all I needed. No words needed to be said. It was just so nice to know that someone cared.
- DO pray for them, and let them know you are praying for them.
Seriously. You can NOT underestimate the power of prayer. Only Christ can take away that kind of pain and give the comfort that is needed.
-DO be sensitive, but don't treat them like they might breakdown at the sight of a stroller.
Don't get me wrong, there are days that I wanted to scream at every teenage pregnant girl I saw, but really, most days I just wanted to feel normal and do normal things.

I was so blessed to have wonderful friends and family who supported me during those difficult years. And if any of you did any of the "don'ts"....don't worry about it. I know it was coming from a loving place and I love you for it.
I am grateful that those years are behind me, but I learned so much from the long suffering.
  • I became closer to Christ and truly felt his arms around me.
  • I gained a strong testimony that God has a plan. His plan is the best plan, even if I don't understand, I have to trust in His wisdom.
  • I learned that God does, absolutely, love me. He knows me. He knows what is best for me.
  • My marriage was strengthened during those years. Even though we both had to deal with the infertility, we had two very different experiences. Aric was so loving and supportive.
  • I know with out a doubt that every birth is a miracle.
My heart goes out to every woman who is going through infertility. I wish I knew then what I know now, but with out the trial I wouldn't know what I know now...does that make sense? If you know anyone struggling with infertility you can send them to my blog or give them my email. I know how it feels to have your arms ache, and your knees weary because of such a righteous desire. I have my baby now but I will never forget what it felt like to feel like your prayers were falling on deaf ears.
Now, I realize this post is titled "Adoption 101"  and I haven't hardly even talked about adoption. But what a lot of people don't understand is that  infertility was just the beginning of our adoption it is for many couples. It is where our adoption story started. I think it's impossible to truly appreciate the adoption process until you understand the agony of infertility. So there you have it, now stayed tuned for the next installment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blogger Down!

Seriously I don't know what it is but I can't seem to bring myself to blog. I have a whole lot to say and too many pictures to count.  I usually make the time to get a post out, but for some reason I'm checked out. I still read my favorite blogs but I'm feeling....blah.
I will really try to get out of my funk but in the are a few of our family pictures recently taken by my uber talented friend Randi...I build stuff for her, she takes pictures for me. I am lucky...
...I am lucky to have a friend who has such a gift. A gift that allows me to have the loves of my life captured, like art, documenting this moment in our lives for all time. 
Gracias Randi xoxo

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Living and Learning

In my last post I mentioned how I wasn't feeling so hot after my Halloween weekend. The day after that post I was feeling horrible. I had a fever and body aches, I stayed in bed until 8pm. At that point I felt like my fever had broken and I decided to start cleaning my house. The next birthday, I still wasn't feeling great but I felt a whole lot better than the day before. I DID NOT want to be sick on my birthday so I willed myself "better".
(The lesson to be learned is still to come...)
I had to get better because my drivers license expired on my birthday. I had waited until the last minute so I had to get it renewed that day.
Lesson Learned...don't wait until the last minute to renew anything.
I had been looking forward to renewing my license for FIVE years! And this is why....
You see when I went to renew it five years ago I didn't realize I had to get my picture taken so I ran over to the DMV after I worked out one day. This picture is so hideous, every time I had to pull it out I was embarrassed. Seriously I look like a man!
Anyhoo, I made sure that I was not getting a bad picture, so I put extra effort into looking good. As I waited for my turn, I watched person after person get their picture taken and I couldn't believe how NO ONE smiled. I don't understand this! Well when it was my turn I worked that DMV camera....
I am MUCH happier with this picture.
Lesson Learned...Every five years you have to get a new drivers license picture, make an effort to look decent.
That night Aric made me stroganoff and the he and the girls showered me with these gifts....
I got a piece of chocolate cake all to myself...we recently found out Aric can't eat chocolate anymore because it has some acid in it that makes his kidney stones. So he didn't want to make a big ol cake. I also got a apple pie flavored caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and some sweet onion chips. The best gift was my very own tool set. I had been asking for one. I am not fond of going out to Aric's tool box and not finding what I am looking for. Some of us are better at putting things back where they belong than others....No one is allowed to touch  my tool box!
By the end of the night I was starting to feel bad and I noticed a cough coming on.
Wednesday, not feeling good but still making major efforts to maintain our routine. Two of my friends thought that Wednesday was my birthday so I got two extra surprises. That night we had a bishopric dinner to go to and so we went.
Thursday, I'm really going down hill but I tell myself that I'm really not that sick. My friends had planned a dinner for me and I wasn't going to miss it. Funny things is three of my friends didn't come because they were sick or had sick people in their house!
Friday morning, I'm in BAD, BAD shape. My breathing is labored, my cough is ridiculous and I am coughing up pinkish phlem. Yes I just said that, and yes I know how gross it is. Aric insisted that I go to urgent care, so I go. While checking in the receptionist asks me to wear a mask. I look around the waiting room, no one else is wearing one. I feel dumb, but do it. I get my temp checked I'm at 101. Who knew!?  I seriously didn't think I had a fever.
Then the doctor takes one listen to me and says you need an x-ray. So I go get and x-ray. I wait forever and then my doctor tells me that I have a severe case of bronchitis with what looks like the beginning stages of PNEMONIA! WHAT!!!!!?
He says that I probably had the flu earlier that week. I should have stayed in bed and drank water until it passed. But because I didn't, I am now  paying the consequences.
Lesson Learned....I have to take care of myself when I am sick. I need to slow down.
He gives me a prescription for an antibiotic and an inhaler. I get the antibiotics...three pills=20 bucks! The inhaler...45 bucks! I decided not to get the inhaler and went home.
My breathing got worse and worse. Amy let me use Mike's inhaler...after she swabbed it good and hard with alcohol...and it definitely made a difference. Before I went to bed that night, I used their nebulizer and I was able to sleep and finally breath again.
Lesson Learned...get the inhaler, there was a reason the doctor prescribed it.
On Friday Aric and I had to cancel our reservations for my birthday dinner that I had been looking forward to for weeks. On Saturday, my sister was going to take me shopping and I had to cancel that too.
Lesson Learned....birthday dinners don't have to happen the week of your birthday. The food will still taste good and I will be able to enjoy it so much more. Also, the deals only get better the closer it gets to Thanksgiving.
On Saturday I had four people bring us food! Seriously, I'm not sure how people found out I was sick, but the food and the phone calls were heaven sent.
Lesson Learned...a meal is not just a meal. When you bring someone dinner, it truly is a gift. Not just the food that was prepared, although it did fill our was the love that was brought with the meal, that truly is the gift.
So now I feel much better. I am at about 75%. Aric has really stepped up and taken good care of me. He has insisted that I rest and has taken over the house and kiddos. I have been able to read two books...Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
Lesson Learned...Aric takes better care of me than I do of him. I really need to work on that. Also, now I know why I am not an avid reader....I do not have the discipline to stop reading. I experienced this before when I read Twilight. I read three of them when my kids were at my moms. Then I neglected everyone for two days while I read the last one. Thankfully I had an excuse to be checked out the last two days. So now I know why I should never belong to a book club.

Monday, November 2, 2009

HalLoWeEN W-EEKenD 2009

Thanks to germs that infested my house the week of Halloween was almost bust. Eden managed to be well enough for her party.
Maya was not.  By lunch I realized that Maya was well enough but I didn't think it was right for her to miss school and still party.
I am Eden's room mom so I was in charge of the party. Luckily I have had a few years experience so I delegated pretty much everything. All I had to do was show up and bring some foamie stickers.

That night my sister's ward had a chili cook off and trunk or treat.
I am very picky about  my chili...give me Nalley's I brought a crockpot full of Nalley's and totally forgot to bring candy.
We enjoyed the festivities...
Notice how Aric didn't dress up this year? Yeah I'm bugged about that. In fact I am bugged that out of all of my friends and family, I am the only adult that dressed up, or ever does. An Old Navy "Happy Halloween" t-shirt does not count....I repeat DOES NOT COUNT! 
However crazy hair, funky tights/socks, and black fingernail polish TOTALLY count!

Saturday morning Eden had her last soccer game of the fall season. She could hardly walk do to the shin splints she was experiencing but with some physical therapy from Papa Joe and some encouragement from mom and dad she was in the game.
On the way home we took the back roads and found a pumpkin stand...all pumpkins $1.oo! Since our trip to the farm was rained out the week before we still hadn't gotten any. Well we grabbed plenty at the stand and carved them when we got home.

That night Camden was feeling pretty sick so he stayed back with my mom while Aric, Joe and I took the girls trick or treating.
Eden was still nursing her shin splints so Aric helped her out...

We have some pretty fun neighbors...
Maya does not like going to their house, she prefers the not so scary decorations...which is why our house looks like this...
After getting kiddos to bed, Aric and I went to watch a scary movie with our scary movie friends, the Sampson's. Only the movie wasn't scary at all...but that was okay. We've had some bad luck recently with scary being too scary, too ridiculous, or too boring....
Sunday was quiet, sort of...I kept the girls home because of their coughs and Camden was still sick, so Aric and I took turns going to church. The thing is the girlies really could have gone, they were making me crazy with all their tattle tailing. I was so happy to get out of the mad house!
I had Young Women's in Excellence which has consumed a lot of my time but it turned out great. I was in charge of decorations, the armor, the punch and I had to give a talk! I know that Heavenly Father gave me just enough energy to get through that night because when I woke up this morning I could hardly move or breathe. I got the cold germ that I tried so hard to avoid.
I know there are a few of you who also serve in the YW's program who read my blog, so I thought I would share...
Our theme was putting on the armor of God.
Each girl shared a goal/experience that they have recently passed off. They told how that experience helped her strengthen her armor.
Then she would put a piece of the armor on our model...
Early we had taken pictures of the girls doing things that strengthen their armor...praying, reading scriptures, going to church, etc...then we put them on shields that they took home. The shield said, "Have you put on your armor today?"

The girls wore head pieces that represented the value experience that had accomplished.IMG_5902
I love serving these young women! They are precious, and worth every minute of the time that I gave in preparation. I truly get more out of teaching them, they get from me.