Monday, November 30, 2015

Adoption Questions and my feelings

It's a wrap of National Adoption Month and I wanted to answer a lot of the questions that I have received! There really is so much to learn, prepare for, personal thoughts and feelings that go into adoption. And it's not just about those who are looking to adopt there are many things you can learn for family and friends who are looking to adopt or going through infertility. I don't have all the answers, I don't know exactly how to tell you how to feel, and I can't tell you what you should do. But what I do know is that my life is been changed for the better because of these two beautiful daughters of God who've come into our lives through adoption!  I never thought that this would be the way my life's path would lead, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I hope someone somewhere will get some peace from my thoughts. These are just some of my thoughts and I plan on sharing more, but please respect my thoughts as well. 

When do You Know the Time is Right? 

I get asked this question all the time, and to be honest it's so very personal to the adoptive couple and I don't know if there is a magic answer.  Typically at this point most couples have been through years of fertility treatments, drained bank accounts, and hearts holding on to any glimmer of hope.  I believe you have to look at from the perspective of "are you ready to be parents and love a child?" We all know there isn't a handbook that comes with parenting, and the same is true with adoption.  Every scenario, every couple, every birth parent has a different story and situation that crosses the path of adoption.  You and your partner will know it's the right time when it's right for YOU!  Not because you just have to have a baby, or because your sister in law is pregnant and you are not, it will feel right and be right for the two of you!  I think ultimately you will know the time is right when your heart tells you yes, even as scary as the unknown is. 

Things to Know Before Starting the Adoption Process and things you may not expect.

- This is your child! You will love this child more than you ever knew possible.  Yes he/she may have come to you through adoption but that doesn't mean this isn't your child.  Things happen as they should.  And trust me I ALWAYS hated when people would say "it will work out the way it should" or "it will all make sense one day".  But I will also be the first person to say, it's absolutely true and I believe it. I always knew it when people would say that, but that doesn't mean I didn't want to hear it. Your child will come, your family will happen.  You have to know and believe that. 
 - You will deal with a lot of highs and lows on your way to making a dream a reality. You may wait for months or years before being matched with an birth parent or child. You will face intense scrutiny, fill out piles of paperwork,  spend thousands of dollars, and feel like your life is being looked over with a red marker.  It's a difficult process, and it doesn't end when you bring your child home. But of course it will all be worth it when you have your child.  During the process of adoption try and live your life, don't put your life on hold! Enjoy the time with your spouse because you never know when you when there will be 3 of you! 
 - Some people will treat you like you are not a real family. Some people are just silly! (or insert your own word).  People will say things, assume things, that may be hurtful.  But don't let that get you down.  What matters is how much you love your child and they love you!  Look at all the wonderful things around you, people supporting you, people who will love your child, family and friends excited for you to bring a child into your home.  What matters is how you feel and what happens within the walls of your home. 

- Expect some things to not go as planned.  This shouldn't come to a surprise to you at this point, but ...... sometimes in life things don't go as planned!  Wait what????  We aren't in control, (as much as we would like to be)?  I am not comparing adoption to some of life's obstacles like planning a wedding, building a house, a new job, etc but I kind of am!  As you have gone through those times, you have hit road blocks, had unexpected things come up, and even been upset with how things may have turned out.  But you got through it right?  Adoption is the same way, you may get a heartbreaking phone call, but that doesn't mean that the "best phone call" won't happen.  You may be angry that you can't carry your own child, but that doesn't mean that one day you won't be sitting in your nursery at 2am feeding your baby one day.  We are strong people to go through this, but that doesn't mean we can't be weak at times. 

Ways To Help Others in Their Adoption Journey 
As family and friends learn that couples are looking to adopt many haven't ever experienced it before.  They may have known someone, but it may not have been someone so close to them.  There are many ways you can help adoptive families during this time, but wanting to help, looking for help, and learning how to help is step #1. So congrats on being awesome because you are here looking for ways to help them!
- Be supportive Emotionally, Physically, and Spiritually. So many ways to help and you know your friends and family better than anyone.  But with that being said, the adoptive families are going into this blindly as well. Even if adoptive families have previously adopted, every situation is different. So they are scared as well.  The best thing you can do is just be there for them.

Emotionally - it's ok to not have all the right things to say, just be there for them. Sometimes just listening and REALLY listening is all they need. Knowing they have a support team is what can get them through it all. 

Physically - sometimes its just dropping something by to let them know you're thinking of them. It can be helping them get ready for their home study by dropping off dinner so they can have time to clean the house.  We all know what it's like to just know that someone is THERE! 

Spiritually - PRAY for them. Literally get on your knees and pray for them.   Sometimes spiritual strength for couples is low at certain points of the adoption process, because they may be mad, or frustrated. So pray for them that they will feel peace, and that they will and can have the strength to go through this. 
- Learn to the proper terms and things NOT to say!  Couples looking to adopt already are aware that their children will know come to them a different path than they planned. So let's just be frank here.....they are aware that this child's baby picture isn't going to be a spitting image of their baby picture.  And trust me, coming to terms with that is a hurdle in and of itself. But I will be honest I don't look at my children and think "Gosh they look NOTHING like me".  I don't.  I look at them as my children, shocking right? But the things people say sometimes make that awkward, inappropriate, etc.  Here are a couple things NEVER TO SAY to adoptive couples. And trust me I've had every single one of these things said to me, and more more more!  DISCLAIMER: my responses are being sarcastic in what I would say or want to say......sometimes. 
    - "Aren't you glad you didn't have to give birth to your child?"  I actually have no words for this response.  If I did say what I wanted, I would have to probably talk to my bishop about the language I would use. 
    - "Is that "your" child?"  Nope, I don't know who's kid this is. I just grabbed the first grocery cart I saw and she was in it. 
    - "Where is he/she from?"  Let me see, do we need to sit down and have "the talk". 
    - "That's so sweet, we've always thought it would be fun to adopt." You are right, adopting is the new trend these days right?  It will be so fun to tell my child that we thought it would be "fun" to adopt her when she's older. 
    - "He/She's so lucky." Like she won a prize, or like I was saving her from something.  
Ok, some of my answers may seem a little harsh and really I am being completely sarcastic because who would REALLY say those responses,  oh wait people REALLY ask these questions.  I KNOW people are asking the majority of the time with good intent and curiosity. But this video says it perfectly. 


Terms to Avoid                                 Preferred Terms
Real Parents                                         Birth Parents, birth mom, birthdate
Real Children, Natural Children        Biological Children
Give up                                                  Place for adoption
Keep the child                                      Choose to parent
Mixed                                                     Biracial
Adopted Child                                      Child

- Most people, when they inquire about your children, really do have good intentions.  Some are just curious.  Some are considering adoption.  Some have already adopted.  Some are soon to be grandparents through adoption.  Many times they are innocently curious children.  Be kind.  Give them the benefit of the doubt when they are asking questions — until they have proven that their intentions are not good. But parents please teach your kids about adoption!

Top 4 Things to Know After You Have Adopted 
- You are just like every other parent!  You are trying to figure it all out just like every other parent.  There will be emotional hurdles yes you will need to prepare yourself for.  Questions your child will ask.  Things other children will say that are hurtful to your child. But you've got this!! You're their mom and dad.  You love them, you research, you work through it together just like every other parent has to.   But the good will outweigh the bad!  You will laugh, and cry, and laugh again with your kids. 
- It may take time to feel connected and bonded. I know GASP right!  This is something I wasn't prepared for when we adopted our first child. It wasn't talked about, clearly it was something we wondering about prior to but you never know. It is very sensitive and their isn't a magic answer to this.  In adoption there are all different time frames that happen.  Our first daughter we had 24 HOURS to prepare before we met her.  With our second daughter we had a few weeks before she was born.  But it isn't like we have the privilege to feel that connection during pregnancy. Don't feel guilty if you don't have that strong connection at first.  It will take time, bonding takes time.  With that being said, don't underestimate those special moments you will have with your child.  If you look at them as your child and nothing else your love will be endless and they will know that as well.
- People will approach you and feel inclined to ask you questions. This is a beautiful thing, and like I mentioned before most people have wonderful intentions and mean no harm.  It's unfamiliar territory to some people and they just don't know  what to say.  But with that being said, you have every right as a parent of your child to hand it how you would like and don't feel guilty for not telling a stranger your adoption story.  Not everyone needs to know all the details.  I get asked all the time different questions, and sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in honestly and I sometimes will base my answer off how I feel the sincerity of someone asking.  People feel inclined to ask questions about adoptive children that they would probably never ask  to someone who had given birth to their child.  Give them the benefit of the doubt and take this opportunity to show them the how beautiful adoption is.
- ENJOY IT!  You've waiting for this day for years!  Don't feel guilty if someone wants to bring you a meal, even though you aren't in complete physical pain from giving birth.  You are a parent and deserve to be treated like everyone else.  You've been through emotional, physical, and spiritual pain as well. 

How Do You Know if Adoption is Right for You? 

I think you will know that adoption is right for you when you can ask yourself some very difficult questions and feel a sense of peace and be comfortable with them.  It doesn't mean it's going to be easy or that you have to know exactly how to feel all the time.  You are allowed to have good days and some bad. 
Some things to consider before adopting. 
    - My partner and I are on the same page about this?
    - How do you feel when you meet adoptive families and children? 
    - How comfortable do you feel raising a child who may not look like you, be of a different race, etc?
You may be unsure about questions you have to ask yourself and that's ok.  Most times in life you won't know exactly how you're going to react to a situation until it's right in front of you.  But you need to be somewhat comfortable with some issues that come along with adoption.  You are strong enough to do this! 

There were many times before we adopted Olivia that my husband was ready to move forward and I was not, and then there were times when it was the opposite.  Like most issues YOU HAVE TO TALK about it.  Listen to one another.  It's ok to not feel completely the same way about it or agree on everything. But you have to talk about it. Ready books, talk to other couples who are looking to adopt or who have. It's normal to not know exactly how you are going to feel about certain things that you haven't even considered before or weren't expecting.  And don't feel guilty for feeling a certain way about things. What is right for your family may not be for another family. 

How to Keep Hope During the Adoption Process 
Don't give up!  You have to have just that "hope"!  The definition of hope is: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen! Sometimes that's all you have to rely on, and some days you may doubt but don't give up.  Write down your thoughts during this time, surround yourself with your support system and meet others who have adopted or looking to adopt.  They will understand exactly how you are feeling.  Remember that good things take time. 

Please Don't forget......
- The Birthparents.  Please please please respect where they are coming from.  It's hard to know exactly what they are going through, just like it is hard for others to know exactly what you are going through.  You want others to respect, be considerate, support you. So do the same for the birthparents. Pray for them, think of them, tell your children about them.  There is nothing you can do or say that will show them how much you love them and appreciate them other than by your words and actions towards them and about them to your children.  I think about our birthmothers daily, am I perfect example of writing them or showing them how much we love them. But one thing is for sure, our daughters know how much they love them. 

- You Can Do This.  It's a long scary unknown road but you can do this.  On those days you are sad and angry, be sad and angry. On those days you feel grateful, write it down. Because on those hard days you may need reminders.  Your children will know one day how much you prayed for them, cried for them, begged for them.  Try and enjoy it as well. It's not all bad and horrible.  There are so many special moments we had during our adoption process that I will never forget.  Our marriage was strengthened because of those moments, my testimony was uplifted, and I knew those are those moments that we as adoptive families get to have! 


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Our Finalization

I recently put the question out there on what people wanted to know about adoption, questions that they had, how I felt about certain things. And  with this month being National Adoption Month I am going to begin to share some of our experiences, feelings, etc. Some very easy to discuss and others I have laid up at night wondering how do I answer this.  So bare with me as we experience this together.  I truly believe that we need each other, not only for support but for validation in what we may be feeling.  I don't know everything. I am not an attorney. I am not an agency worker. I am a mom who loves her family. A woman who prayed for years for her family to grow. I am a women who faced infertility and still does. I am a women who has at times felt inadequate for being a woman if I can't get pregnant.  I am a woman who's marriage struggled during the difficult times of facing this trial.  But I am a woman like you who didn't and won't give up.  I know this is something worth fighting for, something worth drained bank accounts and sleepless nights.  I am just like you, wanting answers to a broken heart.  But knowing that I had hope and still have hope that what we believe in and want more than anything would happen. As I go through this month, it won't all be serious, trust me. If you know me personally you know I am really the farthest thing from being serious all the time. You have to allow yourself to laugh in moments, if not you will go bananas. I mean really, you can't cry all the time. I've tried it and it doesn't work. I hope you are reading this, it may be for you and your family, or for a friend and you don't know what to say, or a sister that you can't relate to because you get pregnant if you look at your husband. (See...we have to laugh). I hope in some small way we can learn about adoption together, talk about infertility, and laugh and most likely cry.   

Our October in a Nutshell

October.... it's going to be a hard one to beat. November you've got your work cut out for you.

Between our Adoption Finalization, Temple Sealing, Millie's Baby Blessing, pumpkin patches, and our favorite holiday we are on cloud 9 and REALLY tired. 

One of my favorite moments of the month was when Olivia and I went to try and find the perfect dress for her to wear to the temple.  It wasn't an easy task I will tell you that.  Besides not wanting to spend a months salary on a dress and finding one that was the perfect fit, we looked and looked!