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!)

Borderline Morbidly Obese

Doctors, man. I rarely leave a meeting with a doctor (especially one related to my reproductive parts) without at least one incredibly painful line that will follow me around for years to come.

We had a truly banner day, recently. We “met” with our adoption  consultant (over the phone) and are now officially “started” on the adoption journey.

We also met with a local fertility specialist for the first time. We are in a new area and about 8-9 hours from the last one we worked with. There’s one frozen embryo (hereafter referred to as Frosty) left from our IVF cycle last year and we both feel like we have a moral obligation to give it a shot. It’s a life.

That being said, we are now officially eight years into infertility. By that I mean we’ve been “trying” for eight years. During that time we’ve had three chemical pregnancies and an ectopic pregnancy. And about six years of zilch. Apparently that one fallopian tube I lost was the good one.

So you’ll understand why we are less than optimistic about Frosty’s chances. We have had multiple pregnancies and not one has made it past 10 weeks. Would it be delightful and miraculous if Frosty was the one that made it? For sure.

Do we expect Frosty to make it? Not remotely.

That being said, we’ve spent years wishing and hoping and praying for a kid, watching others raise theirs, and turning off news stations where folks mistreat or abuse kids. Life is precious. We have a life that we created and we are not going to let it go. We are going to fight for it. Even if it’s a losing battle from the start, it’s still worth fighting for.

SO.

We met the local fertility doc. And it was generally pleasant. He knows what he’s doing. He’s friendly. He’s positive. He’s even slightly pushy about the whole “don’t give up” thing, which we expect from a doctor whose specialty is making babies. But dude.

Apparently I’m borderline morbidly obese.

This comes as a surprise to me. It’s been increasingly obvious that I’m overweight. It’s been on my mind. I’m mildly active. I know the activity could use an uptick, but truly it’s the diet that needs to change. I’ve been crossing my fingers that the metabolism of my 20s reappears so I can keep eating delicious restaurant food four nights of the week and drinking a beer with dinner. Every time I look in the mirror I’m like “just a few more years with sweet potato fries and craft beer! Please!”

All that came crashing to the ground, though, with the proclamation of “borderline morbidly obese.”

So what did I end up with from that banner day? Hope and joy that we will soon be parents through the sociological miracle that is adoption? The faintest glimmer of possibility that I might actually be able to give birth once in my life? No. No. Nope.

Look, I know that guy was off. I understand the unreliability of BMI as any kind of accurate gauge of health or weight. I know it’s actually a small spread with a lot of grey area and room for interpretation. Even within those broad parameters, “morbid” obesity is so much further down the road than where I am. I can look at myself in the mirror and see that his words are a gross overstatement.

But still.

It’s a doctor. It’s an “expert.”

I’m so tired of medical people. I 100% can not wait to be done with them in relation to my reproductive parts. They are THE WORST.

On the slightly brighter side, now I have the appropriate level of self-disgust to give up sweet potato fries and craft beer. Bravo, doc.

Dr. Cox exercise program | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com