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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let's Get This Thing Started!

We had a class at the Sans Pareil center yesterday. We are being registered to be a foster family in case we get a child that is less than a year. In that case, we would foster to adopt, so we have to complete the state required classes. Yesterday we had to watch a video about fostering. It was definitely an attempt to sell fostering and how it can help the mother who lost her children. To me, it seemed pretty unrealistic since it portrayed very close relationships between the case worker, the foster family, and the mother. Our adoption advocate, Simone, told us, "It is not a good idea to keep in touch. This video is not realistic." Good to know. Next came the shaken baby syndrome video. That will freak you out.

The application process is crazy. I am working on filling out a 22 page application. Additionally, they need copies of EVERYTHING. Proof of income, residency, social security...ok I can see that. But photos and a floor plan of your house? Pet vaccination records? The best is pictures of your car registration and inspection stickers. Really? What in the world? By the time this over, they are going to know more about us than we do.

We also have to do a photo book. This is definitely up my alley. The book will be used at placement staffings when trying to match us with a child. We have to "sell" ourselves to the case worker for the child. I knew they did this for private adoptions, but had no idea for a CPS adoption.

Overwhelmed does not begin to cover the emotions we feel. I have started thinking of names- we will be changing the baby's name from whatever it is. Apparently, most families do this. Simone said it is a symbol of starting the new life with your family.

Ideas for girl names; Avery, Joslyn, Brenna, Jensen

Ideas for Boy Names ( really hard when you are a teacher): Brock, Jensen, Corbin

Every time I come up with a name and run it by Scott, he says something smart ass like, "I prefer Sheniqua, or La Tay Tay." If he isn't careful, I will just pick the name without him.

I am seeing subtle change sin both of us since we have started this process. Seems like everything I do, I think how it would be with the baby. Little things like balancing the laundry, knowing that will have to be childproofed, thinking of the baby's room, etc.

Scott has not said much, but he is definitely changing in the way he interacts with our friend's kids. Before, he would smile and talk to them, now he is playing with them and actually holding them. We babysat our nephew who is 2 a few weekends ago, and I could not get my hands on him. It was all Scott. He even sat down and watched The Princess and the Frog with him.

I wonder about these changes in us. Is this normal? Is this what happens when people find out they are pregnant? Is there anything I should be doing to get ready that I am not? SO many questions.....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Getting Started

In the days leading up to the orientation, we didn't talk about it much. Neither one of had much to say. I don't think we wanted to get our hopes up. We met with Simone on April 30th.

We talked about the risks of CPS adoption, the process, and asked questions about a "legal risk" adoption. Through Child Protective Services, this is the only want to get an infant. The risk comes in because the state gives the natural parents a year to get it together. If they don't get it together, the child is up for adoption at one year of age. With luck, he or she has been with their foster family, bonded and will be able to be adopted. The risk comes in if the parents actually get it together within a year. Scott and I could not handle losing a child in this way. We talked to Simone about that, and she totally understood. She said there are unique situations that come up within the system that do allow children to be legally adopted before a year, and she would not even offer a placement for us unless she was sure the child would come up as adoptable. She stated she would never offer a placement for us in our situation unless she was positive it would lead to adoption. She was so passionate as we talked about this, I knew she would look out for our interests.

So, we officially agreed to a child 0 months to 3 years, but we are really kind of hoping for 1-3 years. I figure, if we get to pick, why not skip all the waking up every 3-4 hours to feed stage? Plus, two of our good friends have one year olds and our neice's kids are ages 2, one that is less than a year, with one on the way. Our child may not have sibling in the traditional sense, but they will grow up with kids their age whom we love as if they were our own. Nothing about this has been traditional, so why start now, right?

So, we are starting our 30 hours of classes required by the state. Some of our staff developments we have taken for school may count, and Simone is looking into that. Our next class is May 21st. After classes, we will start the home study.

That is where we are now. Enough adoption talk. I have to get ready to go eat crawfish. :)

Revisiting our Past to Embrace the Future

For my first post, I felt it appropriate to go back to 2000 to the event that almost destroyed me, but led me to this place in our lives. Many on you know this story, but for those who Scott and I have met since then and those we have reconnected with, you may not.

To hear the words, "You have Stage IV cancer" was not in my master plan. Scott and I had been married for 8 months, I had only been out of college a year, and had just started my teaching career. I was only 24. In a matter of 6 weeks, I was diagnosed, had a full hysterectomy, and was unable to have children. As fast as it came, it was gone, but the aftermath still exists in me somewhere deep and quiet. A constant fear, and a sens of grief at the loss of my child. The one who would look like us. Scott's eyes, my smile....

The most amazing gift God gives women is the ability to grow life. That gift for me was gone, and I felt the sting of that every day. As the years went on, that ache faded. It became easier to go to my friend's baby showers and to hold their children. While I was always happy for their joy, there was an ache that I would never know that feeling. As time went on, I changed my focus. I focused on career, friends,  and having fun. I eventually came to accept this part of me, and had faith that God had the perfect child for us, but he would let us know when we were ready and when that child would get here. We could make a difference in a life that we never would have considered if we had our own. So, life went on....

Scott and I had talked on and off about adoption. I knew I wanted kids, but it was always, not now. I would play around online and look into adoption agencies, but I knew the cost was way out of reach for us. So, I put it on the backburner. I wasn't ready anyway.

When my nieces began having children, I looked in the mirror, and said, I'm not getting any younger, it is time to really think about this. I began dropping hints to Scott, and he would just grunt at me. ( anyone who knows Scott, knows this grunt that happens when he doesn't want to talk about something or he has nothing to say) In January of this year, I asked Scott if he even wanted kids. We were  and still are so accustomed to our way of life, we both knew to make this decision would change it forever. He simply said, "sometimes I do, sometimes I don't." I knew exactly how he felt, because I felt the same way.

Over the next few months, we had more conversations about getting older, thinking it may be time, etc. In March, one of my teachers at school, shared with me the Sans Pareil center in Houston. He said he and his wife had been to Depelchin, and a variety of other agencies, spent thousands, and had finally found this amazing organization. They are non profit, so the adoption is 100% free. the best part is, the adoptions are through CPS, and I had felt for a long time that God had aplan for us. As he told me about this center, a feeling of complete joy and excitement came over me. This was it. This was a God thing. I called immediately, and talked to the placement counselor. Simone is awesome. She is blunt, honest, and has the same passion for helping kids that I do as an educator. We clicked immediately, and I made our orientation appointment.

Now, how to tell Scott?

We were sitting on the back porch after work in early April. I told Scott, 'I know what I want for my birthday." He rolled his eyes, like here we go... I told him about the appointment and what I had learned about the Sans Pareil center. i asked him if he was ok with us going to the orientation, seeing what it was all about, and going from there. He actually said yes!