Tag Archives: Adoption

Talks & Lessons: How the Lord Has Guided Our Path

This was written by Colin and given as a Sacrament Meeting talk on July 28th, 2012. It not only serves as a detailed explanation of our reasons for moving to the Seattle area, but also as a condensed form of our family’s history.

Those of you who know [the bishopric member who assigned me to give this talk] well, know that he has the talent of being able to speak about any subject for a long time. Those of you who know me well, know that I prefer to say things precisely the very first time, with zero elaboration. It will not be shocking to you at all, then, to know that he thought he was doing me a favor by allowing me to choose any subject I wanted and speak for 20 minutes. To him, that may be a favor. To me, it adds an extra struggle, during which I attempt to decide which subject I want to pretend to be an expert in for twenty long minutes.

I’ll tell you what I did. I decided to talk about something I am an expert in, and something I thought would be appropriate, given the timing of this talk. I would like to share the story of my family and see if I can help you visualize how the Lord has guided our path. However, if it looks like I am not going to fill the time, I’ll invite my family up so Jake and Joey can sign “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock”, while we sing.

Jeannie and I have been married [to each other] twice. The first time we were married was before our first date. We even have grandchildren. It’s not as weird as it sounds, though, so let me explain. We were part of the Seattle Institute Chorale at the Seattle Institute of Religion, adjacent to the University of Washington, where we were both students. The Chorale was one of very few travelling groups associated with the church. It may have been the only one outside of the Wasatch front. As such, our choir director, Bro. Niles Salmond, took great care in ensuring that every member of the choir was included both socially and spiritually as part of the group. To do so, he would group us together into families. A mother and father were designated, and they had certain roles they had to fill, paying special attention to the unity of their children and family while preparing to go on tour, and while we were touring.

Jeannie was initially married to some other guy, but he soon got engaged for real, which disqualified him to be a tour husband and father. I was the late-comer and was chosen to fill the husband vacancy. We went on tour and we worked really well together. Our final night of tour was a Sunday fireside in Issaquah, WA, almost back to our starting point in Seattle. That night was a particularly spiritual experience for both of us. I can remember staying in my seat up on the stand after the performance, just soaking in the experience. Jeannie must have done the same thing, because we both ended up leaving the chapel together. We were almost the last ones out. When we were right in front of the exit, we paused to join the conversation our choir director was having with a member of the ward [church congregation] along with his young daughter. During the conversation, the young girl asked Jeannie and I if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We looked at each other and smiled.

Interestingly, I wasn’t as thick at that moment as I have been at other times. I am usually pretty slow to pick up on these kinds of non-verbal cues. I believe the usual sluggish pace of a man’s brain during these kinds of interactions is probably due to some gene on the Y chromosome. Instead, in that fraction of a second, through Jeannie’s eyes, I saw serious thought going on. She was pondering what the girl had said and it seemed she wasn’t opposed to the idea. I wasn’t either. I attribute that superior-to-the-normal-male perception to the spirit.

If that wasn’t enough, my next action was truly inspired. And I mean the revelation kind of inspiration. We sat down together on the bus in the last empty row. As we sat there, quietly pondering our experiences over the previous two hours. I distinctly heard a voice tell me to hold her hand. And let me tell you, I didn’t inch my hand over slowly next to hers and wait for our fingers to brush together. Hoping she would be doing the same thing. [I see a few of you have done that before.] I immediately took her hand, and held it firmly. That has to be the fastest I have ever responded to a spiritual prompting. It was like when Laman and Lemuel were asked by their father to go back, once again, to Jerusalem with the purpose of inviting Ishmael, with all of his pretty daughters, to join them in the wilderness. They didn’t complain, they were probably on the camel even before Nephi heard the message. As I sat there, holding Jeannie’s hand and looking in her eyes, I knew that we would be married. But I didn’t tell her then. I was smart enough to wait at least a week. OK, it was 4 days, but who’s counting.

I was born a skeptic. We all know of some guy or girl who claimed to have revelation about their eternal companion. Only to have their supposed eternal companion get a very different message. Because I’m a skeptic, I worried about being that guy. But, again, my words and actions were guided. When I told Jeannie what I felt, it didn’t frighten her away. Even though we had barely been friends for a month. Even though we hadn’t even been on our first date. She felt the same peace and knowledge that I had felt. We were engaged 6 months later, and married before the next choir tour. We served as grandparents on tour for 3 more years before the next chapter of our life took us away.

I told you that story not only to introduce you to the beginnings of our family, but also to illustrate a point. The point is that some things are too important to leave to chance, and that is when our Heavenly Father steps in and guides us in the right direction. I still could have messed things up if I wanted to, or if I wasn’t spiritually prepared at the time. But, instead, I became a case study in how the Spirit uses the well-known pattern of commitment to move us forward. I was prepared spiritually. I had just spent four days in intense spiritual communion, and two hours at my peak spiritual operating capacity. I was also prepared mentally. The girl in the chapel had just planted an idea in my head. Hollywood would call this inception, psychologists would call it priming. The invitation came almost immediately: I was invited to hold Jeannie’s hand, and at the moment I did so, I was invited to consider the much bigger picture of eternity. The follow-up may not have been necessary, but it did occur. Again I was inspired, by the spirit, to share my broader views with Jeannie. She had been prepared also. She was not put off by my strange admission that I knew we were going to be married.

Before we got married, we were aware of the possibility that we could not have children of our own. The fact didn’t bug either of us too much. In fact, it led us to the discussion of adoption. We both agreed that it was an option we would look into when the time came. But, frankly, neither of us were in too big of a hurry. We liked each other so much, that neither of us wanted to change our family dynamic. A number of years went by and we had both applied to about 6 or 7 graduate schools in 3 cities that we thought we would enjoy. Jeannie was accepted to one school in Boston, one school in New York, and one school in Chicago. I was accepted into two schools in Chicago and none in the other cities. It was clear that we would be going to Chicago, even though it was probably the lowest on the list of the three. While we were there, we were again guided through the same model of commitment. We sat through a very spiritual presentation about adoption and LDS Family Services, presented by a friend of ours. We were inspired to move forward with adoption. In this case, the follow-up was necessary. We dragged our feet. We had lost our motivation and were not proceeding with the paperwork and other bureaucratic steps that needed to be completed. For this reason, I feel, we were sent to Chicago. The counselor at LDS Family Services was not one to let people drift through the process. He was on top of our case from the very beginning. One day he received an email about a young woman in Oregon who was looking for some specific traits in the adoptive parents for her unborn son. He asked us to write a letter, even though we hadn’t finished our other paperwork. Even though we weren’t, technically, ready to take that step. We wrote a letter, and the woman chose us to take Warren. From then, it was a flurry to get through the paperwork and bureaucracy before Warren was born so that we could be there to take him home from the hospital.

It happened again when we were finished with graduate school. I was blessed to find a good job in Goleta, even interviewing long-distance from Chicago. This is the part you are more familiar with, but maybe I can fill in some of the details. When we came out, we were about ready to start the process over with LDS Family Services. We did so, but there was a new option. Angels is a local organization that many of you are already aware of. It was founded the year we moved here by Meichelle Arntz of the Mesa Vista ward. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide bonding opportunities for infants and toddlers in the foster-care system. We knew about it, but were scared of falling in love with a child and having to send the child back to his or her birth family. It just seemed like it had very high emotional risk. After watching the Rays and the Jepsons have good experiences, however, we were moved to consider the option. We prayed about it, and felt secure going forward.

While we attended classes, the Angels staff were caring for a medically fragile baby girl while her respite care family was ill. As soon as we finished the classes, Meichelle called us up and asked if we would be willing to take this baby into our home. She explained the seriousness of her medical conditions and what it would likely mean for her and our future. Madeline’s medical conditions don’t seem so serious just looking at her. But I assure you she is alive today due to advanced medicine and science, and the care of angels, both seen and unseen.

When Maddie was about to turn 2, we were ready to go back to Angels and help another child. Jeannie told Meichelle that we would be ready when Maddie was 2, and that we would even take twins if they were available. I thought that was crazy talk. I mean, who would willingly choose twins. Especially with a 4-year-old and a medically-complex toddler. Not to worry, though. Twins are rare, and they had never had twins come through the system. What are the odds that twins would be available when we were ready to take another child. Obviously, Jeannie was a bit more open to spiritual guidance than I was at the time.

Jacob and Joseph joined our home on December 7th, 2010, two days after Maddie’s birthday. They were sealed to our family on March 30th of this year. These children were meant to be in our family. And Heavenly Father saw that it was important enough to guide us in the process. He prompted us to move to this town and paved the way for it to happen. He prepared us spiritually. He invited us to take some difficult life steps. And he followed up to make sure everything went according to plan.

Through the years, the complexity of our future has become clear to us. Both Jeannie and I have a mentally-disabled sibling. Jeannie is one of two children, and I am the oldest remaining child, and most established of 5. There is a very high possibility that we will be adding 2 adult dependents to our household within a very small number of years. On top of that, Madeline will certainly need more specialized medical attention, possibly including additional open-heart surgeries. Almost every year that we have lived here, we have gone through a process of:

  1. realizing that we can’t, logically, make it work
  2. deciding that the right thing to do would be to move
  3. lamenting that fact because we love this ward family
  4. praying about it
  5. receiving a revelation that we should stay a little bit longer, and
  6. celebrating because we get to stay.

This year it was different. We knew that it was time to ask again after Jake and Joey’s adoption was finalized. We went through the same process. We fasted. We went to the temple. The logical answer is to move. What’s more, the logic is even stronger in favor of moving because we are now concerned about Jeannie’s aging parents. This time, our prayer and supplication led us to decide that we would leave Goleta, at the latest when our lease was up in November of next year. We planned to find a location where we can afford to buy a home with property and prepare a second home for Jeannie’s parents.

Two days after our fast, the new CTO of my company was visiting the office and announced that they are opening a new office in the Seattle area. Once again the same pattern is emerging: His announcement was a priming event, the inception of an idea. We were already spiritually prepared due to fasting and much prayer. We hadn’t made the decision to move yet, but were actively debating the pros and cons of living in Goleta vs. anywhere else. I texted Jeannie during the meeting, and she thought I should talk to Larry, the CTO. Larry and I met for breakfast the next morning and he invited me to interview for the job. I scheduled a trip to Seattle a week later. Before I left, Jeannie and I finalized our discussion and came to the conclusion, again, that it was time to move. This time the spirit confirmed our decision. This was one of those moments where our hearts and minds did battle. We knew, now, with spiritual and logical knowledge what we were supposed to do. The Lord had even paved the way by showing us the possible opportunity to transfer within my company. But it was against the desires of our heart to leave Goleta.

We went forward, trusting the revelation we both received (separately, I might add). I went to the interview and was given every possible advantage one could hope for in a set of technical interviews. They offered me the position immediately, and I was ready to accept, having verified with Jeannie that morning that she was willing to go forward with it.

We were prepared and invited. We acted on the invitation, even though we are even still saddened to do so. And, oh how Heavenly Father has followed up. I called Dave Field to find out how we can get out of our lease. We still have a year left. He gave me his advice, which was very helpful, but not very promising. We prayed that our land-lady’s heart would be softened. I contacted her, and she decided to end the lease early herself.

We started looking for apartments that could fit our large family. I spent half a day calling about apartments between my new office and the place we will be looking to live permanently. Nobody had large enough apartments available. Finally, Jeannie sent me an email about an apartment that she “felt right” about. I called and they had one apartment coming available on the day we planned to move out of our house here. We could reserve it by getting them $200. However, they wouldn’t accept a credit card over the phone. I was worried that if I tried to put a check in the mail, someone else would reserve the apartment before us. I explored a few options to expedite a check, but none of them would have been sufficient on a Friday afternoon. My best option was to call our friends, who live 45 minutes away, when traffic is at its best, and ask them to brave rush hour and get them some money before the office closed. Another blessing was already in the works. Our good friend had taken the day off and they left their children with a babysitter and were spending the day in the temple, 10 miles away from the apartment. Without a second thought, they changed their dinner plans and drove to our new apartment to pay the deposit.

It is clear to me that Heavenly Father is again guiding us along a path that He has chosen. The pattern is clear. He has prepared us and invited us through revelation. He is following up, confirming our faith to stick with this decision by removing all obstacles from the path. I don’t know what He has planned for us to do once we get there, but we have enough faith to go.

Believe me when I say we are heartbroken to leave. Mostly I have been asked if I will miss the weather. Weather is not difficult for me to say goodbye to, but people are. And we have established many relationships with good people here. We must travel the path laid before us, but we will miss you, dear friends.

I bear my testimony that God continues to guide our path. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Adoption Complete!

So many amazing things have happened in the last few weeks. Some good, some not so good. Because of that I am ridiculously behind in blogging. But I could not let any more time pass (it’s already been almost two weeks) without sharing this news: Jake and Joey are officially part of our family! The adoption is complete and we are overjoyed.

More details to come soon, I promise. In the meantime, know that we are relieved and grateful that this time has finally come.

On Adoption Day

This was a long-awaited day for our family and finally, finally it was here. We drove to the courthouse in Santa Barbara where we’d state for the record that we loved Jake and Joe with all our hearts and wanted them in our family forever. There we met our county case worker and Angels social workers. Grandma Tuki and Aunt Melissa got to join us as well.

We waited in the courtroom for a few minutes but then were escorted to the judge’s chambers. A little less formal than with Maddie’s adoption.

The judge made some remarks and then asked us to raise our hands to swear that we would tell the truth. Would we care for these boys for the rest of our lives? Oh, yes. And then some.

Then he asked for Jake and Joey to raise their hands. They were not as willing to comply, especially Joey, but I’m sure they were just as truthful.

He handed us the Adoption Order documents to sign and then it was official. They were legally part of our family. To be treated as if they were born to us with all legal rights and privileges. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just like on Maddie’s adoption day, the judge handed out stuffed animals to each child. All four kids walked away with teddy bears in t-shirts. They were all quite satisfied.

And then it was over. Just like that. In 20 minutes time, the State of California recognized what we already knew: We were a family.

These precious boys, Jake and Joey. We loved you from the minute you entered our home, your tiny bodies swaddled in little blankets, sleepy-eyed and so helpless. We prayed that you would stay with us forever. Our prayers were answered.

It feels good to be complete.

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Thank you to all who’ve helped us survive the unknowns and the waiting over the last year and a half. We were strengthened because of your support and prayers. And many thanks to Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara for helping us grow our family. We are forever grateful! And lastly, thanks to Jennifer for taking these pictures so that we have a visual record of this important day!

The .26 Hearing: Terminating Parental Rights

I’ve been sparse with the details of Jake and Joey’s foster-to-adopt tale. Mostly, it’s because we haven’t always known what was going to happen, or it took so long for anything to happen. Also, we’re required to maintain confidentiality about many aspects of the case. But it’s time to share the latest news.

Fostering is a messy and complicated legal process, especially if you are hoping to adopt the child or children in your care. There is a flowchart that attempts to explain the events in a more manageable way, but it’s still pretty convoluted and the truth is it doesn’t always happen as smoothly or as timely as the arrows indicate.

In California, the first step in starting the actual adoption process is the .26 Hearing, or Termination of Parental Rights. By this point, the Detention Hearing, Jurisdiction Hearing, and Disposition Hearing have all been held and biological parents have proven to the court to be unable to reunify with their child. The judge then determines that the parents’ rights should be terminated and the child will become free for adoption, after a 60 day waiting period allowing them the chance to appeal based on legal grounds. After the 60 days pass, the court issues “freeing documents” and the child becomes eligible for adoption. (This site on Q&A: Juvenile Dependency Court sums up these proceedings very nicely, if you’re interested in more information.)

On December 7, 2011 (exactly one year to the day that these incredible boys entered our lives) Jake and Joey’s .26 Hearing was held and the judge ruled to terminate the rights of their biological parents. Again, as grateful and relieved as I am to know this ruling, it makes me sad for these two people who are missing out on these precious, precious boys. Fostering-to-adopt is nothing if not complex.

But for our family, this news is long-awaited and joyous. We have just reached the end of this 60 day waiting period and now Jake and Joe will be free for adoption. We have been working furiously to complete the adoptive home study (post on the details of that to follow) and are now waiting for the various social service agents and offices to complete their portions. We think their adoption could be finalized by the middle of next month. We can hardly wait.

You may be wondering if we or the boys are required to attend any of these hearings. The answer, thankfully, is no. We could if we wanted to, but I can’t think of a single reason that I would want to be at court. Imagining the proceedings can be hard enough to handle without witnessing them in person.

We are so very grateful to be at this point! It has gone faster than we thought, but the months of not knowing if it would end in our favor were difficult. It’s a combination of feeling like time has stopped completely with no progress being made and then looking back to see that it was all over in the blink of an eye. I suppose that’s how most trying experiences feel.

Thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts in helping us through this experience. We couldn’t have made it without you.

We look forward to showing you their cute faces on this blog soon!

November is National Adoption Month

The month of November is set aside to celebrate adoption. I can’t think of a better time to contemplate the blessings of adoption than during this month of giving thanks. Families grow through this process. Many times, a child’s life is saved because of adoption. The benefits are endless.

Because of adoption, I have four beautiful children. It was not an easy road (especially with Jake and Joey since we’re still in the middle of the process) but I would do it all over again in an instant. I’m glad that our family grew this way. It has taught me more about sacrifice and love than I could have ever imagined.

So spread the word. Share your feelings about adoption with someone. How has it affected your life? Adoption can only flourish if people are made aware and kept informed. This website provides some concrete ways that you can make a difference.

Adoption is a miracle. It’s the greatest blessing you can give a child in need of a home. A child in need of a family.

Timing

We had it all planned out. We told Angels that we would be ready to take another baby after the new year. Maddie would be two and could handle a younger sibling in the house. We would go on our trip to Cancún, quietly celebrate Christmas, ring in 2011, and prepare our household for the big transition to Family of Five.

Obviously, the Lord had a different idea.

Sure, we had casually mentioned to our caseworker that–should they ever have any– we would be interested in taking twin babies. But they never get twins in the foster system. In the 5 years Angels has been in existence, they have only placed one set of twins. It seemed a long shot to even ask to be considered.

Again, a different plan was in store.

Why would we even think about twins, you may ask. We’re not getting any younger, and the fact that we wanted four children, and the foster-to-adoption process takes so bloody long from start to finish, we decided if the opportunity ever arose we’d be foolish not to seize it. Besides, it was never going to happen.

Someday, maybe I’ll learn.

Instead, we received a phone call five days before we left for Mexico asking if we would be willing to take not one baby, but two little 2.5-month-old boys. We had to decide that day since they needed to leave the group foster home they had been living in for two weeks. We had to get all the baby gear ready, collecting as many items in a day that we could, and adjust to the new baby routine (complete with waking multiple times in the middle of the night), while simultaneously packing for our trip. And we couldn’t take them with us since it was out of the country, so we had to leave them for an entire week with people we barely knew (though we’ve come to find are an amazing family). Then we came home to a house in chaos and had to finish preparing for Christmas. Our present shopping was mostly done but the cupboards were bare and we needed some sort of a holiday dinner but finding time or the means to get to the store was nearly impossible.

We were sleep deprived, half-crazed, running completely on empty as we attempted to hammer out the mechanics of life as a family of six. The lunacy of the situation was settling in but we didn’t have time or energy to dwell on it. The timing of our family expansion plus the rate of growth could only be viewed as poorly planned.

And yet it wasn’t.

Despite all of the reasons why this experience must be timed all wrong, I know it’s not. Yes, it’s been a rough adjustment. But these boys are meant to be in our family. There is no question in our minds.

We prayed to know if we should welcome them to our family and the peaceful answer we received allowed us to go forward with this new plan with confidence. Giving up our own designs didn’t seem so difficult after that.

Our family grows a different way than most others but we’re OK with that. When we look at these two beautiful, sweet boys we realize that our children come to us just when they need to. All we have to do is be willing to act when the moment comes.

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(Note: It absolutely kills me that I have to cover their adorable faces in this picture. Email me if you want to see the real thing!)

Adoption Day

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It’s official! We are thrilled to announce that Maddie’s adoption was finalized today at 9:30AM. After a year of uncertainties, we are thankful to call this sweet little girl our very own for good.

It was an early day for us since the courthouse we needed to attend was an hour and a half away. Thankfully, it was a very quick process. We arrived, waited 10 minutes, and were then escorted into the court room to sit before the judge. We signed the official paper work. Our county caseworker, Carrie, presented our case before the court, we raised our hands as we were sworn in, and we were asked to describe our feelings for Maddie, which Colin thankfully did otherwise I would have bawled my eyes out. The judge expressed his appreciation and then declared our adoption final.

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Madeline was a calm as could be, munching on a cracker while sitting on Colin’s lap. Warren was more nervous. He didn’t want to respond when the judge asked him conversational questions. He brightened up when the bailiff handed him a toy deputy badge and the judge told him he could pick out a stuffed animal for Maddie and for himself.

What an experience. With Warren, we only received news after it was all done. We never had to appear in court. This event made the end feel more real. I’m so thankful it’s all over.

We cannot thank you enough for your support and prayers and words of encouragement. We could not have done this alone. Thank you, Carrie, for your attention to detail and efficiency. Thank you, ANGELS–Meichelle, Stacy, Jennifer, and Rosa–for bringing our little girl into our lives. She’s just where she needs to be.

The Labor of Adoption

A long post I hope will convey some of my feelings on the journey of adoption…

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Colin and I knew early on in our marriage that our children would come by way of adoption. Though we both have infertility issues, we decided that the fertility treatment road was not for us. Prayer confirmed many times throughout the years that such a course was not necessary for us to grow our family. I believe that pregnancy and birth are beautiful and noble experiences, and I’ve wondered what they would be like, but they have never been an aching need for me. I just wanted to be a mother. Adoption always seemed the way I would get there.

Despite my peace with this answer, I’ve felt the sting of misunderstanding as others have expressed their opinions and thoughts on adoption. Not once but several times people have commented about how lucky I am to go through this process instead of childbirth because of the lack of physical pain or the discomfort during pregnancy. To them, adoption appears easy because you never have to give birth.

Easy would never be a word I would use to describe this process. For all the joy and love that accompany adoption there is also much worry and heartache. Indeed there is a labor to endure, only this one is emotional.

As many of you are probably unfamiliar with the specifics of the adoption process, I thought I’d explain some of what it entails. It is complicated, and involved, and varies greatly among those adopting, but here is the general idea:

Becoming certified to adopt

Though I understand the reasoning, I still haven’t gotten over the feeling of being scrutinized or the irritation from needing to prove over and over again that I’m not a psychopath. Why, you ask? Because the following must be completed each and every time we apply to be foster parents, which then makes us eligible to become adoptive parents:

  • An application and fee
  • Autobiographies (which includes family background, financial data, marital history, and parenting philosophies)
  • The MMPI-2 psychological evaluation
  • Live Scan fingerprinting (both at the Federal and state level)
  • Employment verification
  • Medical examinations and reports (including TB tests)
  • Current drivers’ histories (including DMV records, license info, and proof of insurance)
  • First aid and CPR training
  • Parent education classes (40 hours)
  • Letters of reference (at least 3)
  • A home inspection and home study (personal and couple interviews with the social worker assigned to your case)

Waiting to be chosen

It is wearing going through such rigmarole only to have to wait an indeterminate amount of time for anything to happen. At least that’s the case with private adoption agencies such as LDS Family Services. You become certified, you tell everyone you know that you’re hoping to adopt and then you wait. And wait. Birth parents have access to a thorough adoptive profile that you’ve compiled and you hope that someone looks it over. But the reality is that so few contacts become a possibility. We had two calls from Family Services in the year and a half we were on their waiting list this second time around. Neither one amounted to anything. With fostering through the county, especially with a liaison organization like Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, there is no waiting. You are placed with a child almost as soon as you are certified. But there are drawbacks to that route, of course, as the placement may not end up being permanent.

Receiving a child

The joy of holding for the first time an infant you’re hoping to call your own is indescribable. In my experience, there is no turning back at that point. The moment I first looked at my little Warren’s face I was in love. Our first day of caring for Madeline, my heart was immediately linked to hers. But one mother’s joy at this amazing gift means the heartbreak of another. With both children, I have wept pondering their birth mothers’ grief and loss. No matter the circumstances, willing or unwilling relinquishment, there is tragedy knowing that the birth mother sacrificed her rights to raise the child you now call your own.

So it’s not the red tape or the waiting period that are the source of unease and worry, though jumping through those hoops is more than a little annoying. It’s the fact that nothing in adoption is ever guaranteed. Ever. Not until the judge stamps his seal of approval can you breathe easier. Countless people have cared for babies they’ve thought would be theirs forever for months only to have a birth parent come back and change her mind. And the foster-to-adopt path is even worse since the goal of foster care is to reunify child to biological parents. It is a walk of faith to open up your heart and home to a child this way.

This post is not to complain but only to show that it’s far from easy to adopt. I’m not even attempting to claim that adoption is harder than pregnancy. I only hope to demonstrate that both roads to parenthood come with ups and downs. Who’s to quantify the pains of physical versus emotional labor? Both are difficult. Both are valid.

Tomorrow, Madeline will legally become a member of our family. We are overjoyed! Cliché as it may sound, all this worry, all this waiting, it’s all worth it.

In a year, we’ll start all over again with number 3…

The .26 Hearing

Since we are adopting Maddie through the foster care system, there are many more legal hoops to jump through this time around. Warren’s adoption through LDS Family Services was fairly straightforward and we didn’t have to wait very long for it to be finalized.

Maddie’s story is different. Although her serious medical conditions led us to believe, in the beginning, that the case would be clear cut and faster than others, it soon became apparent that we were in for an emotional ride. Namely, we would have to wait on her birth mother’s decision to proceed with the adoption. We felt fairly confident that all would be well and that she would ultimately decide to go forward. But, for a time, it was uncertain. It took several months of agonizing visitations and constant contact to arrive at a place where she felt ready to relinquish her parental rights.

But on November 5th, she finally agreed. The .26 hearing took place and her rights were terminated.

We are relieved and grateful for this step. We’re now required to wait a 60 day period to allow for appeal before the parental rights can be completely severed. After that, it’s a matter of presenting the completed paper work to the judge for his approval, which can take up to 2 weeks. At that point, our adoption will be final. So, we’re hoping for some time around the beginning of February.

I should be jumping for joy that the hearing finally took place (especially since it was postponed from July because of a clerical error in the county office), but my experience has been strangely bittersweet. Of course I am thrilled that Maddie is that much closer to becoming a legal part of our family, for she’s already a permanent one. But I also feel a great deal of sadness for her poor birth mother. Her pain was so real as we hugged goodbye at our last visitation. How can I so quickly move past her sacrifice and suffering at giving up a part of herself to celebrate my own gain? I can’t. And I won’t. Adoption is an amazing gift but one that comes at a great price.

In a Funk

For the last few weeks I’ve been down. Bummed out. Heavy hearted. Gloomy. In the dumps. Blue. Melancholy. Depressed. Whatever you want to call it, life has felt overwhelming for me.

The reasons are many but mostly I’m fixated on two questions: where are we going to live and will we be able to adopt Maddie? In many ways, the two go hand in hand. I don’t have answers for either and try as we might to resolve them, Colin and I can do nothing but wait for the outcome.

We are desperate to settle down, have our family take root. We’d love it to be here but the absolutely ludicrous prices of homes in the area make that option almost laughable. I’m not asking for much. Just a 3-bedroom with a yard and a washer and dryer in our actual dwelling. We’re not even looking to buy right now–just rent– and yet the prices seem far beyond what feels comfortable. Our circular conversations that started the moment we unpacked the last box in this apartment have us worn out:

I can’t stand it in this apartment any longer! Should we stay? No! Let’s look around for something better. Oh look, here’s a listing for $2,400/month. Should we do it? Yes! But it’s so much more than what we’re paying for our current dump. You’re right– we can’t really afford that anyway. Yeah, we should just stay here and save money until something better comes along for cheaper. Yeah, let’s just stay here. It’s not that bad and surely we’ll find something else soon… I can’t stand it here any longer! Let’s look around for something better… (repeated at least 800 times)

I want so much to change the home we live in, but it’s just not happening. We’ve both prayed and felt that we should stay here in town for as long as the adoption process takes. That means any chance of upgrading our space is at the mercy of the Goleta housing market. So, I keep pouring over Craigslist hoping for a miracle.

And then there’s Maddie. Our sweet little girl who we love with all of our hearts. Will you be ours forever? We’re not sure. Without going into any details, sadly, her birth mother is vacillating on her decision; I cannot imagine her pain. Does that mean the adoption won’t happen? It’s difficult to say. We’re not panicking. But the chance that it might not, even if it’s only a slim one, is almost too much to bear. We’re no fools, of course. We never thought for a moment that this process would be smooth sailing, but we hoped that Maddie’s health situation would make a more clear-cut case. But nothing is easy when it comes to adoption. And there are never, ever any guarantees.

With these questions weighing on my heart it’s been difficult to get things done. The dishes pile up more often. Laundry lays unfolded for a few days. The vacuum hasn’t been turned on in who knows how long. I haven’t blogged in weeks. But the worst is the mountain of thank you cards that are untouched and desperately overdue. From the thoughtful presents from dear friends given while we were in the hospital, to Julianna’s “minkie” and loaned Laura clothes, to the wonderful friends’ baby shower gifts, I am horrendously behind in showing my gratitude.

So, it’s time to snap out of this funk. I’m moving forward. No, I don’t have many answers. But that doesn’t mean that I should put myself on hold waiting for them to come.