This is Hard.

I’m having a particularly rough week. It’s been a month since I stopped working and the reality of being forced back into a one-income household are staring me in the face.

There’s been a lot of laying awake at night, wondering what I did wrong. I’ve spent a huge amount of time pondering life’s questions between 1:30 and 5:00 in the morning.

Much of this situation is necessarily tied to family building. How will we have enough to adopt, now? And if I start a new full time job, we’ll probably have to wait at least another year before I’ll qualify for any kind of leave. If I don’t work, we don’t have the funds to adopt a baby. If I do work, we don’t have the time.

There’s not much else in my head right now. Just those thoughts, and a vague attempt at coming up with something that will fix what seems to be an impossible situation.

Rough week.

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Checking Boxes

Progressing, actually progressing, toward adoption.

So we are progressing in the many Things we Must Do to legally qualify to adopt. Most of these things involve paperwork.

We are actually pretty decent at this.

We were not always decent at this.

paperwork by anomalous4
{image by anomalous4 on Flickr}

We used to be pretty terrible at it, actually. Not only did we have trouble identifying or maintaining key pieces of paperwork, but we also used to get really irritated with each other if one or the other had dropped the ball on whatever documents we were looking for.

You do that for five or ten years and you start to develop a system for maintaining documents, and a lot of patience for each other when dealing with document-heavy requirements.

Right now, specifically, we are collecting things like date of birth of every family member under the sun. Medical clearances – basically doctors’ statements that we are fit to care for children. Addresses for the last ten years (more challenging than you would think…). And lots of financial info.

The financial verification stuff will be doubly useful to us as we are also about to begin the process of getting a personal loan. Adoption is expensive (in the range of a luxury car) but it’s not really the amount itself that’s the kicker, it’s more that it’s all due at once, and generic financing options don’t really exist. Most who adopt either do huge amounts of fundraising ahead of time or go into debt to cover the cost.

We are not fundraisers. Also, we have the income to handle the debt. In fact, we have saved quite a bit towards our budget already. Turns out we ARE able to save money when properly motivated.

All this means that the timeline toward having a child in our home is actually… there. It’s not a dream anymore, we are steadily working our way toward a finite reality.

THAT is kind of bizarre, especially after almost 10 years of pipe-dreams. Takes some getting used to. In a good way.

Adoption Consultant

We’re going kind of non-traditional with the dependence on an adoption consultant. This is a relatively new thing in the world, so I thought I’d explain what the job is and why it’s something we opted for.

Our consultant describes the job as an “adoption coordinator,” and equates it (loosely) with the job of a wedding coordinator. Adoption is a big process, she explains, with a ton of *important* moving parts and its invaluable to have someone who is overseeing the process, making sure all the things get done, and done well.

(This isn't our consultant, but the message is similar.)
(This isn’t our consultant, but the message is similar.)

Adoption agencies have a moral and legal obligation to the expectant parents, and then to the infants, and last to the adoptive parents. Thus, their attention and energy is not prioritized toward meticulously walking us through every step, answering our calls or random questions, or sending us daily updates, etc…

For our first ever experience with the whole of the private adoption process, we kinda’ wanted that.

The luxury of an adoption consultant is that adoptive parents are the only clients. Time and resources aren’t divided; all the attention is on the needs of the adoptive parents. For us, this has been incredible in terms of peace of mind and manageability of ALL THE THINGS that need to happen for this process to work.

We’ve had really detailed, personalized instruction and feedback on every step of the process thus far. Now that we are beginning to contact agencies and attorneys, our consultant is person we call with questions or concerns, rather than trying to get someone at an agency to respond.

Like a wedding coordinator, an adoption consultant is an added cost. Unlike our wedding (which was a total DIY affair), this process is one we absolutely want and need to get right. Neither of us have the mental or emotional fortitude to shoulder the responsibility of “getting it right.” Thank all the stars in heaven that there’s a better option. And even more, for two full-time jobs!

Domestic Infant Adoption

OPTIONS ABOUND for those who wish to adopt – the only limits are time and money. With a biological child, you get what you get and they only come one way – very young.

So let me tell you about our options and what we decided.

First decision: international or domestic? We could go to a different country or stay in the States. We were not keen on international paperwork, so we decided on domestic.

Second decision: public or private? We could adopt through the public (e.g. “state”) system or through an agency/attorney. The difference is mainly in who is relinquishing the child to us – for public it’s the government and for private it’s first parents. We were not keen on the government being heavily involved in the process for this go-round, so we decided on private.

Most private adoptions are infant adoptions. So we’re doing what is generally known as domestic infant adoption.

Some of the work still goes through the state government. Our home study has to be submitted and approved by a licensed state social worker, for example. And the actual placement and finalization paperwork is managed by government entities. The majority of what we’ll be doing, though, will happen with private agencies or attorneys.

The Adoption Has Officially Begun

I feel like The Adoption needs to be in all caps. We are really truly officially off the ground and, if not running, at least moving along at a decent clip.

Strange to suddenly be IN this, instead of studying it and soaking up a lot of information. For those who kinda’ know the buzzwords, we’re at the front end of our home study. Home studies can take months; we expect ours to take maybe two, max. Thankfully, we found a home study provider who is local and *not* three months behind, as can sometimes be the case.

If it takes six months, though, that’s how long it takes. We know the end of all this will mean our family includes a child, so we’re not married to a specific timeline.

1977134004_fcbe79ff1d_oThere’s a LOT of gathering of paperwork involved in this part of the process. All the documentation that proves we are who we say we are – birth certs, marriage certs, proof of residency, income, etc… Most of it has to go back ten years and some of it we’ll have to get from family members. Mom, Dad, expect a call.

We had the profound good fortune of being recommended an adoption “coordinator” who has already been an incredible help in organizing our process and directing us as to best practices and possible road blocks. This whole thing felt huge and un-manageable in December and now it feels huge and totally manageable.

Guys. This time next year we could have a kid. That. Is. CRAZY.

Goals and Resolutions, 2016

I’ve mastered the art of non-committal and generally general goals and resolutions for 2016.

imageI read a short and sweet article the other day about the difference between goals and resolutions for the new year. Essentially, goals are finite while resolutions represent more of a lifestyle change. “Lose 20 pounds” is a goal; “exercise five times a week” is a resolution.

For 2016 I have a few goals and resolutions. I would like to lose some weight, but daily exercise continues to be a challenge. So I have a goal and a related resolution. (I also have some new outside gear for the MUCH colder weather in our new city.)

We would like to adopt this year. There are a lot of “finite” things we have to accomplish to see the big goal, but a major one is money. So I have a resolution related to regular savings, as well as some sub-goals related to financing.

As ever, reading/writing and creativity are part of my brain space. I’d like to write more (a resolution), and work on getting something published (that’d be a goal). I’ve been going strong on the handlettering, so I have a resolution related to doing that regularly. And I discovered a reading challenge that appealed to me greatly. I’ve already knocked one book off the list.

(I’ll probably post more fully about that reading challenge, along with my personal list, over on RaeReads.com at some point in the near future.)

Finally, I discovered this thing called “bullet journaling” which is a catch-all term for a simple planner and/or a long-term to-do list. The name “bullet journal” can be attributed to a specific guy, as well as one way to “do” bullet journaling. It’s a flexible system, though, and useful for getting and staying organized with tasks. I started trying it out in early December and have actually simplified how I “do” bullet journaling over the last few weeks. It’s handy.

I’m curious about your own goals and resolutions. Please share in the comments, or link to a post about what you look forward to in this new year.

Feliz año nuevo. (Improving my Spanish is a resolution!)

Pile O’ Blood (round 2)

blood draw | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
I had a friend ask me “what the heck is going on?” so I figured I’d work it out on here, and thus have a better explanation (at least a more succinct one) next time I get that question.

In the back half of 2013, when we got our butts in gear (and realized we weren’t going to have any kiddos on our own) we had two major options: infertility treatment and adoption. When we first started exploring our options, I wasn’t super keen on infertility treatment and Hubs was hesitant about adoption.

On my end, I was loath to endure any more time with doctors, in hospitals, being poked and prodded, and told severely stupid things (which seems to be a chronic condition in emotionally sensitive medical situations). For Hubs, he was concerned about the basics of adopting – from where would a child originate? What about the family background? What would a personal connection be like?

What we decided, after a lot of thoughtful conversation, was to do one round of IVF. If it resulted in a kid, we’d consider doing it again. If it did not, we would not. When IVF failed, adoption was the next step. We had two reasons for this finite limit to infertility treatment. The first was that neither of us wanted to endure a limitless regime of shots, doctor visits, hormone fluctuations, and failed pregnancies. The second was that all our options have a substantial cost associated with them, and our resources are finite. In terms of having a family, adoption is a sure thing; infertility treatments are not.

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a multi-step process. First, a barrage of tests (for both of us). Then I began two months of medications and hormone supplements, mostly delivered by daily shots (self-administered). All went well with the hormone regimen, so our doctor harvested a multitude of mature eggs from my ovaries in a singularly uncomfortable outpatient procedure.

Those eggs then spent three days in a lab, being transformed into embryos. On the third day, two good looking embryos were deposited in my uterus, in another uncomfortable outpatient procedure. We went home, and the remaining (lab) embryos spent another two days maturing in a petrie dish before being cryogenically frozen. Only one of our embryos made it to freezing.

In the meantime, we had a chemical pregnancy, which is a medical way of saying that at least one embryo hung on for a week or two before dying off. That was rough.

After that, we started looking into adoption. We started working through the foster-to-adopt program with the state, but that went poorly. We figured we’d wait until 1) we moved to a different area, where we could retry foster-to-adopt with a new group and/or 2) our financial situation changed.

Both conditions were met this year. We moved to a new city and I got a new job that pays much more than what I was previously making. After even more thoughtful conversation, we decided we don’t want to depend on the state system for our first kid, so we fixed on private domestic adoption as our next step.

However. We still have that one frozen embryo hanging out in cryo. (That sounds so sci-fi.) It’s a life. We made it. It seems wrong to leave it in limbo forever. Also seems wrong to discard it. So, before we pour ALL the coal on the adoption burners, we are going to get that one little guy defrosted and give it a go.

What we’ll be doing (called a Frozen Embryo Transfer, or FET for short) is basically the last step of the IVF cycle – a fertilized embryo will be placed in my uterus, and we’ll wait a week or two to see how it fares. Given our history, our expectations are nil. We will be overjoyed if it works out (I feel like that doesn’t even really need to be said at this point…) and we have zero expectation that it will work out.

Part of the workup for this process is another round of tests for both of us. Since we are in a new city, we are working with a different doctor for the day to day stuff and that doc wants all his OWN test results. So I recently spent a morning getting a ton of blood drawn.

I have to lie down when I’m getting a lot of blood drawn. Have I told that story? I feel like I have.

So that is not at all succinct, but it is thorough. For the friends who wonder, I can now direct them to this post.

Next test: a hysteroscopy! Hopefully the last one I ever endure IN MY LIFE. Onward and upward!