Sunday, July 26, 2015

While We Waited - Months 3 & 4

This update is a two-for-one. You'll understand why as the post develops!

First, I have to say how grateful I am that our lives have kept us busy with things to do and distractions. Waiting has certainly become more difficult as the months begin to add up. Four months is not very long in the big scheme of things, and we know this. One can be aware that it is very reasonable for us to still be waiting. The heart, however, is irrational, and it seems like every day, more and more room is made for a child, and that hole is more obvious the bigger it gets. All we can do is pray for patience and keep it all in perspective. We especially remember that for us to become parents through adoption, a mother must decide not to parent her child, for whatever reason. That fact is a very sobering thought and something we do not take lightly. We remind ourselves often that this isn't on our time. It doesn't feel right to wish the time to hurry along, so we don't.

So, what has kept us busy and distracted the last two months, you ask?

The blanket. It's done! It was such a great project. I have searched Pinterest for other baby-related items to make but haven't started a new project yet. It was great to work on this while we watched TV and relaxed. I'm very proud of it!
This lovely pink bedspread is leftover from my grad school days and graces our guest bedroom.

A giant business trip and THE test. I had a long business trip in early June that took me to Madison, Wisconsin; Denver, Colorado, and Gering, Nebraska. I was in Madison to take the certification exam and attend a conference. I passed the exam! I definitely over prepared, but that made me more confident the days of the test (that's right, dayS, as in two). It also made it more than just passing a test. I really dug into a great professional development experience that I'm grateful I'm completed. I'm also grateful that I don't have to retake it. Only one in three test takers actually pass.

I celebrated with my professional friends with a great conference and wonderful meals with Wisconsin beer and Madison's signature cocktail, the old-fashioned. I also got to see an old, dear friend and her great husband. We biked through Madison and also enjoyed great food and beer together. Then, I flew from Wisconsin to Colorado for one night because it was easier to drive from Denver to Gering than to fly back to Omaha and then drive out/back to Gering. The pit stop in Denver was short but sweet. A peer and I made the trip together, stopping at Odell Brewing Company for a bite and a pint on our way to Gering (our husbands were very jealous, sorry Andrew). We had another great conference in Gering, and I finally made it home after being gone 9 nights. To say I was ready to come home was an understatement.

A little trip as a couple. To celebrate my success with the certification exam, we planned a little getaway weekend to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It is just a few hours from Omaha. We rented an apartment and enjoyed their incredible trails system. We also happened to be there the same weekend as a wonderful music festival - just a 5 minute walk from our place and only $15 for the whole weekend (including a beer tasting)! Andrew was instrumental in my success with the exam, so it was to celebrate us working together as a team and having some fun after weeks and months of that exam directing our lives!
Breaking for a picnic lunch on our 20-mile bike ride around Sioux Falls.
As we sat in a pub, enjoying a pint on Saturday afternoon, my phone rang with our old Kansas area code. We thought that could mean one of two things: a call about our house on the market, or a call from our adoption agency. It was our real estate agent telling us there was an offer on the house - what fantastic news! After three attempts to sell this sucker over two years, we finally had an offer, and it was an offer that we could work with. So there was even more to celebrate that weekend. We ended up breaking out a special bottle of beer we had been saving, Cantillon Gueuze, a Belgian lambic, with more to celebrate than we originally thought. It was great to toast to success with the exam and success with the house.
Our special celebration beer. Photo courtesy of
We discovered a new game. We brought King of Tokyo with us to Sioux Falls and figured out what a fun game it is! It moves pretty fast, so you can play several rounds in an hour. We have figured out that it's really fun to bring to a pub or the beach, and the ways to strategize are endless.
First time playing... I think Andrew won.
Passing the studying torch. Apparently, studying for a certification is contagious in our house. Andrew has decided to undertake the process of becoming a certified Cicerone, basically a beer expert. Think Sommelier, but for beer. He has already made it through the first level of certification, Certified Beer Server, and now he's working on level two. So far, it hasn't taken over his life the way my process did eventually, but when it does, the plan is for me to be there for him the way he was there for me.

We had visitors. My parents came to visit us last weekend, and it was great. We don't get a lot of visitors in Nebraska, and combined with the difficulties of waiting to hear adoption news, we've been feeling pretty lonely. Mom and Dad cheered us up, and we had a great time showing them our place, taking them to the beach (yup, we have beach 10 minutes from our house in Nebraska, awesome), and celebrating Father's Day and my dad's birthday by going to Late Night Catechism in town. We Catholics got a real kick out of it, especially my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a very wonderful, special weekend. It means a lot that you made the drive to see us.
Thanks for coming to see us, Mom and Dad!
We taught. Just this weekend, we had our first experience as facilitators for the marriage preparation weekend for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Over 40 couples gave us their (mostly) undivided attention for three hours on Friday and eight hours on Saturday as we went over a lot of concepts that will help them have a fruitful and faithful marriage in the Catholic faith. What we love about these weekends is that they make us revisit a lot of the topics: communication, prayer life, finances, etc. By helping these couples think about these things, we get to enhance and enrich our marriage. Double win.

So, as you can see, we've kept ourselves occupied. One question for me lately has been how will I keep occupied now that the test is done. The test was such a great distraction, something important for me to focus on. Since the test, I've relaxed, gotten back into reading, and focused a little more on fitness and nutrition again. But I'm definitely feeling the itch to dig into some sort of project. One of the hard parts is the factor of not knowing when The Call (from the adoption agency) could come. It could be today, it could be a year from now, it could be something in between. It's hard to commit to things in the future when your future could change at any moment in a really big way. But, we're finding that it's healthy to look forward and commit to some things. It keeps us sane and gives us things to look forward too. Just like with infertility, it's not good for us to live in an in-between stage where we don't commit to anything "just in case." We've got to live and be grateful for what is in our lives in the present.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

While We Waited - Month 2

I'm writing this on a Sunday morning with an open balcony door to my suite just off the Las Vegas Strip, fresh air blowing in. I was up way too early! I'm here for a work conference and will get to enjoy the city and spend time with some fun colleagues from across the country. Normally we would have found a way for Andrew to come along so we could enjoy a getaway together for less cost, but Andrew's staying home and has been since we started the adoption journey. Being able to travel frequently for work has been a nice release for me, and I wish Andrew was able to have that too during this time of waiting and uncertainty.

Neither of us are very anxious at this point, as we are still early in the wait. Odds are, we will wait several more months before being matched with an expectant mother who wants us to be a part of her adoption plan for her child. Here's how we spent our time this month.

We bought a dresser. Like the crib we bought last month, it's still in its box, not yet assembled. Some waiting families get a baby room 100% ready; some can barely prepare because of no time or the inability to open their hearts up in such a vulnerable way. We're somewhere in the middle right now. Yes, I like to get things done, but I've never been much of a decorator, and we're not interested in putting together a matchy-matchy baby room. The only matchy-matchy thing I've done in terms of decorating is my roster/chicken-themed kitchen. We haven't decided when we'll put the furniture together, as there really is no knowing how long the room would sit empty. I'm also finding it fun to peruse the clearance baby items at Target and pick up little things here and there.

We trained. We love running. Before I started to try to address my health problems, we ran long distance races all the time. The last long race we ran was Grandma's Marathon in Duluth in 2013, just shy of two years ago. When we decided that we would no longer pursue medical treatment to grow our family, the door to run long distances again opened for me. So, in a week we run our first half-marathon in over two years, and we are stoked. It has been fun running together for long stretches again. I see a marathon in our future!

We continue to try to sell the house in Kansas. We had a flurry of activity right away, a young couple that loved the house that were talked out of it by parents, and that's about it. We don't talk about the house much, as it's a touchy subject! On the bright side, we are fortunate to have renters in it and have good reason to believe it will stay occupied relatively easily if we cannot sell it this time.

The baby blanket looks more like a blanket! It's been very rewarding to find a little bit of time each week to work on the blanket. To think that a little dude or lady will one day be wrapped in it still seems like a dream. Sometimes I think that we won't be matched until the blanket project is finished, like it's some sort of task that needs to be accomplished first.

I studied. My professional certification exam is a mere 20 days away! Both of us are ready for this to be over. I really haven't had much of a life the last two months (sorry, friends!), and both of us miss me doing my second favorite hobby (after running): cooking. The weather has been great, so Andrew's been handy with the grill a bunch. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm looking forward to sharing household duties with Andrew again. He's been wonderful doing all of the heavy lifting so I can memorize, memorize, memorize.
These are just the notecards I brought on my business trip (with my study buddy). I have just as many at home!
We binge watched Breaking Bad. We started a month or two ago, but we've really made it through a lot of episodes over the last month. We're somewhere in Season 3. It's when I get most of my knitting time in.

We keep learning. We continue to educate ourselves about our society's adoption culture and additional challenges that we will be taking on as parents of an adopted child. There are so many things to think about and be very mindful of. We've learned that when it comes to the adoption triad (the biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee), the adoptive parents are by far the most privileged group, often praised by society (we are not fans of the "adoptive-parents-as-saviors" mentality). Plus, the adoption process involves decision making by a bunch of adults, and the child often has no say in this very important decision about their future. Plus, the change in the relationship between the birth mother and the adoptee is very real and painful for both parties, and we want to be respectful of that. So, we continue to learn in the hopes that we can be as supportive and respectful as possible when we enter into and nurture these relationships.

Will there be a While We Waited - Month 3 post? Who knows, but probably.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

While We Waited - Month I

Yesterday marked one full month of officially waiting to be selected by a mother to parent her child. The month flew by, and we were busy! Some agencies let waiting families know when their profiles are being shown, but our agency just lets us know at the end of the month how many times we were shared with a mother considering adoption. Not all mothers they consult make an adoption plan, and sometimes a mother will look at profiles but not make a plan until months later.

Waiting hasn't been too bad so far. We felt elated to just be able to "go live" and officially wait. Plus, we had a lot going on that kept us occupied. Like what, you ask?

We bought a crib. It's not set up yet and won't be for a while, but a crib is definitely an item we know we will need, and it was fun to research the different styles, make a decision, and have it delivered.

We put our house back on the market. We've tried twice before to sell this house that we left behind when we moved to Nebraska a year and a half ago, and we're hoping that third time is the charm. Previously, we were on a fall/winter selling cycle, so we're hoping that the spring cycle treats us better. Selling the house would obviously mean tons as we continue to save!

I started knitting a blanket. Here's hoping I can finish it before Baby Harry arrives. I think a lot about him/her and his/her parents while I'm knitting. I picked a basic pattern because I don't knit all that often. I had to restart it about five times because I kept making minor mistakes, and I want it to be perfect!
It's maybe 1/4 finished?
We worked. A lot. My job is often demanding with long hours on some days and travel (but flexibility to recover), whereas Andrew has action-packed days every day for a specific period of time. His job has needed him for overtime the last several weeks, and every little bit extra helps us prepare for Baby Harry.

I studied. I'm hoping to sit for an important professional certification in June, and if I want to pass, I'll need to study 15-20 hours a week (on top of work). I've been dedicating as much time to it as I can. Our second bedroom will become the baby's room, but for now, it has my desk in it and is my study zone. Andrew's been great by picking up the slack with household maintenance.

I saw a statistic somewhere that 50% of waiting families are matched within six months. Who knows what half of the statistic we'll be in. Either way, we are "out there" now, and we trust that no matter how quickly or slowly it happens, we'll eventually be parents.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

It's Alive!

Our adoption profile, that is! After over six months of preparation, our adoption agency has everything they need to "turn on" our eligibility. That means that now, our family will be presented to expectant parents as a potential family to select to raise a child.

So, now we wait. It could be days, weeks, or months until we get "the call," which will mean that an expectant mother has selected us to adopt her child. We could get matched with a child that isn't due for several months, or we could get matched with a child that's already born. If the latter happens, we will have to drop everything right away and travel to him or her within 24 hours. It's fun to think about how long we will wait and what the situation will be, but we're trying not to think or stress about it too much because we can't control much about that part!

Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts, and please remember our future child and his or her parents too.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Hardest Thing We've Ever Written

Andrew and I both have advanced degrees, so we've done our share of writing stuff. I have also stressed over writing the perfect email to a friend or family member when there is something incredibly important to say. Writing well is really, really hard.

We've been creating our online profile. The online profile is a way to show expectant parents who you are as a family, what values you have, what parenthood means to you, what sort of life a child will have with you, etc. There are parallels between adoption profiles and dating profiles, most definitely. Since Andrew and I met this way, we thought we'd have a leg up on writing the perfect adoption profile!

Au contraire. This is has been ridiculously hard! How do you communicate to someone who is experiencing a very life-changing, emotional, difficult process how badly you want to become parents, while communicating to them that you have profound respect, compassion, and admiration for them because they are considering adoption? How do you honor the grief that they are or will be experiencing when they eventually place their child, when that event will be one of the happiest moments of your life? How do you tell them everything you want them to know in just a few pages of writing? How do you find that fine line between cool, fun-loving people and creepsters?

The answer? You simply just do your best. We're not perfect, and our profile won't be either. However, it will be sincere. We've poured over what we want to say and how to say it for weeks now. The time has come for us to give a final look-over and say that we've done our best, and "hand it in," just like a college essay that we've tried so hard to make perfect. The letters start to bleed together after a while, and eventually, you just need to hand it in and place it in God's hands as you wait. Only we're not waiting for a grade - we're waiting for the chance to become parents! Yikes!

The wait! We are dreading it and ridiculously excited at the same time. We don't know how short or long the wait will be. We will actually have two waits - the wait to be matched with an expectant parent, and the wait for the baby to arrive. We don't know how much time we will have to prepare to drop everything and travel to wherever in the US Baby Harry is being born. But more on that another time. We've got to get this profile finished so we can hurry up and wait!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Houston, We Have a Home Study.

Fun fact: Andrew met the dude in the middle with the tie (oh wait, they all have ties) when he was a kid.

At times, it felt like it was going to take a room full of brainiacs to get this sucker done, but we did it! We have a home study!

Hardest parts of the home study process. We each had to document 10 hours of learning - reading articles, watching movies, etc. There was no doubt we've spent way more time than that on educating ourselves, but it was hard to document it correctly and still work on all the other home study items and keep educating ourselves. We also had to get fingerprints for an FBI check (all clear in case anyone was wondering!) and child abuse background checks in every state we've live in the past five years. Those that know us know that we've moved around a lot in these first years of marriage, and we had to get checks done in 4 different states! While it seems silly that two folks who just want to be parents have to go through all of this vetting, we get it. Someone is about to entrust us with the most important job: raising the child they carried. We'll go through a little discomfort/paperwork to make ourselves eligible for this very serious, rewarding opportunity to become parents!

Easiest parts of the home study process. We had to meet with our social worker for six hours so she could get to know us and learn about our life. It was pretty easy to talk about where we were in our journey, how excited we are, and how committed we are to each other and growing this family. Some social workers are terrifying (not Cecilia!), but ours was very easy to talk to and really is a cheerleader/support for us.

Most amazing part of the home study process. The references. We had to ask five different people/couples (and only one could be family) to vouch for us. Everyone we asked said "yes" immediately. Some said "yes" and got their forms to the social worker in record speed when we asked right around the holidays - the busiest time of the year! When we read our home study and saw the quotes pulled from the reference forms, we were so touched by what folks had to say about us. We are incredibly blessed to have the folks we have as family and friends and that they think we will be awesome parents!

What comes next? This week, we sent the home study and additional documents to our "main" adoption agency - the one that will match us with a birth mother and take care of all the legal details to complete the adoption. They are a national agency and have to make sure that our home study meets all the criteria of all the states combined so that we are eligible for adopting our child, no matter where he or she is born. We also get to work on our profile. That's all the information, photos, and video birth parents get to look at when they begin to discern what family is the right fit for their child. It's also our chance to speak directly and intimately with birth mothers through a heartfelt letter. We haven't written that yet, but we think that will be one of the hardest parts of creating our profile. How do you communicate to someone all the feelings that you have in a situation like this? I'm sure we'll figure it out.

We pray for our child's birth parents everyday - for peace, safety, and strength for them. There are so many unknowns in this journey for us, but one thing is known: our birth parents are out there and in need of prayers just like anyone else.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Ten 2014

Andrew and I like to send out a Christmas letter every year with a photo collage of us and his and hers top ten lists recapping the good stuff that happened that year. We didn't go that route this year, so we thought we'd use this nifty new blog to share our lists as 2014 comes to a close. This is the third holiday season that I've dreamed about having a third list that belonged to Baby Harry, but that's OK. Here's hoping that there will be a 2015 top ten list that belongs to Baby Harry!
10. Seeing old friends in Las Vegas and watching the lip-syncing Queen of Pop.
  9. Making new friends in our community.
  8. Accompanying my wife on her work trips to California, Minnesota, and Texas.
  7. Starting a beer club at the local Hy-Vee store to help bring better craft beer to the community.
  6. Moving into a house with a lot more space so we can host lots of visitors!
  5. Watching Notre Dame win two football games this year (obviously this was earlier in the season).
  4. Starting my part-time job at Infusion Brewery in Benson. I give the brewery tours, and I love it.

  3. Being surprised by my wife with 2 tickets to Paul McCartney! I got to see one of the Beatles!

  2. Meeting my nephew Grant (and keeping the annual Jimmy Buffett tradition alive) in Indianapolis.

  1. Spending one week with my wife in the Boundary Waters canoeing and exploring the the Great North.

10. Visiting LA and Palm Springs to see dear friends and make new ones!
  9. Seeing the Pixies in Kansas City, David Sedaris in Omaha, and wishing that Britney Spears took her own advice and Worked B**tch during her Vegas show (*yawn*).
  8. A fun destination wedding on Madeline Island, WI to celebrate with some of our favorite people.

  7. Checking out the David Bowie Is exhibit in Chicago. I didn’t want to leave!

  6. Introducing Ms. Rosie Rios, the Treasurer of the United States, as a keynote speaker at an economic development conference.
  5. Receiving an award for leading a young professional and student engagement task force for the International Economic Development Council.
  4. Getting back into improv comedy and having a regular acting gig in Omaha’s murder mystery dinner show.
  3. Surprising Andrew with tickets to see Sir Paul McCartney in Lincoln. That just might be the best concert I’ve ever attended.
  2. Welcoming our new nephew, Grant, to the Harry side of the family.

  1. Spotting a Sasquatch on our canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. Yes, there is photographic evidence!

From us to you, we hope that 2015 has a lot of love and blessings in store for you!