Friday, March 28, 2008

We have a date!

Our Caseworker called today to schedule our first homestudy meeting. It's set for April 25th, so just under a month from now. I'm trying not to be too anxious about it but fortunately, I have much to keep me busy between now and then!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

I heard from our Caseworker today. She wasn't in on Friday when I dropped our packet off (actually no one was) so she wrote today to confirm she did receive it and it survived the weekend on the floor under the mail slot. She said it typically takes her supervisor 1 to 2 weeks to review the packet and then the supervisor passes it on to her. Unfortunately, our caseworker will be off for 2 weeks so she won't be there when the supervisor is done. So she returns on April 14th and will call us sometime that week to set up the first appointment. So we have a lot of hurry up and wait. I'm a little disappointed but I'm trying to be firm in my faith that any accelerations OR delays are to make sure we and our children are all ready for each other at the right time so I'm trying to appreciate this wait time.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Done, done, done!

We've finished our packet! We have everything signed, dated, put in order and separated in to various envelopes. The checks are written and the necessary documentation for various things are attached. All 4 lengthy personality tests are done (which I forgot completely about when writing yesterday's post!) and all the personal questions are answered and we've proofread it 3 times! All that's left to do is stop at Staples to copy everything and then I'll deliver it to the office tomorrow! It's such a sense of satisfaction to have it done! I'm not sure if I'll sleep really well knowing we've completed another milestone, or if I'll be up all night with excitement! Either way, you're probably all sleeping soundly, and I'm off to attempt to join you in never-never land! Night!

Glenna asked if this is like a traditional homestudy and adoption process and how it differs from traditional adoption. Functionally, they are identical. We take the exact same adoption education classes as traditional adoptive parents, and actually, all of our classmates will be there for traditional adoption purposes. We undergo the exact same homestudy process that this Agency administers to traditional prospective adopters, with the exception of a few forms about our preferences about the child (race, age, gender, characteristics, needs, etc) since those things don't exist and/or aren't known at the embryonic stage. Our court certification will be exactly the same and actually, that will certify as legally eligible to adopt for any kind of adoption so we could in effect take that completed homestudy and do a traditional adoption.

The only thing that is different is the government's legal classification of the actual transfer of the Embryo. The government does not view this as an adoption because it does not grant personhood to preborn children, and things cannot be adopted. So we don't get the nifty tax credit, and we don't have to do any post-placement court hearings, termination of rights, waiting periods, finalizations, etc, or anything like that but until the point of the actual transfer, this is exactly like a traditional adoption. The only difference in that regard is that the Homestudy and Court Certification are an Agency requirement (by Nightlight, our placement agency), and not a legal requirement (again because of the way Embryos are legally classified).

Good question! I hope I did a sufficient job of answering it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The End is in Sight!

DH brought home the packet and had a lot of his part done. I finished my part and we finished the rest of the joint questions tonight. He has about a dozen fairly short questions left, which he'll work on tomorrow night. I've already finished the general forms. Then we'll read the whole thing together and hopefully I can drive it up and turn it in on Friday! Woohoo!

As soon as we turn it in, they review it and we start the homestudy. So I guess we could say "The Beginning is in Sight!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

OB Visit

I went back to my OB today. It was scheduled to be a follow up to my ultrasound, but since they already told me the results over the phone, that was kind of resolved.

I took the opportunity to tell our OB about our EA plans, and I was hesitant because he is Catholic. The Catholic Church seems to be pretty split on the whole notion of EA because of their objections to the procedure that produces the embryos in the first place (IVF) and at our last meeting, we detected some negativity. We had had a bad few visits in a row and we were praying that things would either shape up or that we'd have success in finding a new OB with whom we felt comfortable.

Today the visit was awesome. It was just like all the visits we'd had before the last few, which made us love treating with him to begin with. He was very enthusiastic and supportive and is perfectly willing to work with a pregnancy after receiving clearance from the clinic. So, I'm excited and thankful.

No updates on the packet--been crazy busy with work. We're still hoping to finish it this weekend. My best friend is on Spring Break so I've been trying to spend a lot of time with her so I've done that in my free time instead of the packet. Hopefully when DH gets home tomorrow he'll have some of his part done and then we can work on the last joint sections together.

Hope you all are well!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Packet Update

I promise, I DIDN'T set down to take on the packet as a challenge! I sat down to read it last night and we have a digital version of it so I pulled it up on DH's laptop, figuring I'd read it before drifting off to sleep. As I was reading through it I thought, "hey, that's an easy question, I'll just answer it now." Then I thought "well this one's only asking for our names and addresses--I can do that no problem." This went on and on until I had completed about 1/4 of the packet without even realizing it or setting out to do it. There are quite a few pages that don't apply to us because we don't have drugs/alcohol history, criminal history, other children or previous marriages, so there are whole pages of questions that we can skip. DH is taking his portion on his business trip but I think we can finish everything in the next week. I don't know what I was so worried about. I think the personality tests (180 questions and we each take it twice) will take longer than anything!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Caseworker Meeting Report

Our case worker meeting is finished! I was surprised that I slept so well last night because normally this kind of important meeting leaves me with fitful sleep the night before but I managed to sleep well. I thought we were both doing well until we managed to forget DH's cell phone at the adoption agency and my day planner at the finger print agency! Guess we were subconsciously a little more preoccupied or stressed than I thought we were!

The meeting went well. It was a few hours long and consisted mainly of more interview questions of us about who we are, our personal testimonies, why we want to adopt, what we have to offer a child, etc, etc, etc. We are very thankful that the caseworker seems to have no biases or prejudices for or against any one form of adoption, so we detected no hint of displeasure at our choice for EA, which we were afraid of encountering.

She did give us our big packet and reviewed it briefly but I haven't really had a chance to look at it yet. Between the meeting this morning, going back to fetch the phone (we of course had to get all the way home before we discovered its absence!), then going to get fingerprinted, having lunch and then going back for my day planner, I'm really just getting home and I'll have a chance to review the documents. But from what I can tell basically what is entailed is 30 pages of detailed questions about us, various beliefs we hold about parenting, our faith stories, etc. We also have to take a personality test for ourselves and then answer it again for each other. We also have to pass a CPS check, a criminal background check and our fingerprints have to check out. We have to get physicals and submit 6 references. Once all the paperwork is turned in, we have our first of 4 remaining meetings with her. The meetings are 2 weeks apart, and the last one is the visit to the home. We were thankful to find out that the only thing we need to do is fence the pool and lock up DH's guns. We'll eventually want to do other babyproofing too but it's nice that we don't have to expend time and funds on it now, so far in advance. So, we really could be done with our part of things in the next 12-14 weeks! Once our caseworker submits things, it takes the court 3-6 weeks to approve things. Assuming they do, we would then be certified to adopt and could transfer our info to Nightlight to being the waiting process for matching.

It's so nice to feel like we really have a handle on what exactly is expected of us and what we can hope to expect for the immediate future. I am surprised at how much I must have been stressing about this because just like our meeting with the doctor last week, I came away from it utterly and completely exhausted. Adrenaline is a powerful fuel source!

I'm excited to tackle a lot of this paperwork, especially because DH will be away on business so I'll have lots of extra hours alone. Thank you for your prayers. We think that this will be a really good fit and we're looking forward to working with her.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


This really is an odd place to be. I'm in a Women's Bible Study on Tuesday nights. Tonight was week 5. For the last 4 weeks, we've spent the entire post-Bible study chat time talking about pregnancy, child bearing and parenting. It's a 7 woman Bible study. I and a college student are the only women in the group who do not have children (including my friend who is pregnant). So we (the college student and I) participate when we can with nervous humor anecdotes from babysitting and friends kids, but mostly we just sit there staring at the floor and occasionally each other. It's glaringly obvious that we have virtually nothing to add to that conversation and I just feel conspicuous and weird. Even if we didn't struggle with infertility, I still find a little off putting that the persistent conversation is a topic in which only some of the very small group can participate. I feel equally annoyed when the topic turns to husbands, because the group again includes that same single college student, as well as a very recent widow. I can't help but feel uncomfortable for them.

Tonight I had the worst time of it. I think some of it was "good grief, here we go again" but then I found myself equally frustrated at myself. If I participate in the conversation I feel like a fraud because that isn't our world yet, and it still may never be. We continue to tell ourselves that there is value in this journey because it is what God has designed for us. It is valuable now and its value is not contingent on whether or not we get a child at the end of it. So we're not counting on things going "our way." We're just being obedient and following one step at a time, trusting that it is Good, whatever the outcome will be.

On the other hand, if I feel uncomfortable or sad, I feel ungrateful for and insincere in my enthusiasm about the opportunity we have been given in our EA. I found myself very frustrated at this fight between my emotions.

Eventually I was tired of arguing with myself and I excused myself to the bathroom, collected my thoughts, returned to get my things, and left. 6 months ago the exact same scenario would have sent me to tears. I'm grateful that I'm not at that point anymore. But I guess I still find myself sensitive to heavily saturated exposure to the topic. Though we're grateful for this journey, it still hurts that we have to work so hard and that our wait has been long for something that others come by so easily. I guess those kind of conversations, at such a frequent and prolonged interval, just remind me of that. I feel uncomfortable, and then I feel guilty for feeling uncomfortable. CS Lewis said something like "Grief is unpredictable. It never stays where you put it." I guess that's what I'm dealing with because I was surprised to be caught by grief, when I have so much joy for our journey. I don't think I'll ever be "cured" of my grief. A lot of it is resolved, but some of it is not and I think that's ok. But I guess I feel like the world expects me to be "over it" now that God have given us this new dream so I am hesitant to share my heart with anyone, save you, dear readers!

I guess at the end of the day I don't think it's completely unreasonable to think that 7 women should be able to find something else in common to talk about. I don't want to pretend like pregnancy, childbearing and children don't exist, but I guess this journey has made me painfully aware of my surroundings and of those awkward moments when you glance around the room and wonder if the topic at hand is making someone uncomfortable. Maybe I'm hypersensitive. I don't intend to say anything to the group, but like I said, the internal struggle between my emotions is frustrating. Have other IF "graduates" experienced and dealt with this? Have any tips? It's not like I don't want it to never come up, but I do think that every week for nearly the entire visit is an excessive amount of time to visit about any one subject that doesn't include the whole group, especially since our group is very small so finding commonality in Christ shouldn't be hard.

I also recognize that Satan can do a number on my heart and that in a blossoming small group built on the Lord is exactly when I should expect an attack, so I don't want to give this an undue position in my heart and I want to call a spade a spade, if it is indeed a spade. But I also want to be responsible with navigating my emotions and being obedient to the Spirit in dealing with the cobwebs and spiders that escape as He overturns the rocks in my heart.

Our meeting with the caseworker is tomorrow! I am excited! Hopefully we'll come home tomorrow with a much clearer understanding of what lies ahead of us, procedurally. We'll update tomorrow! In the mean time, thanks for thinking of us and for joining us in prayer!

Monday, March 10, 2008

We're home

We had a free night in a hotel and some Christmas money so we decided to take a mini vacation and go to Tucson. Todd hadn't been since his adolescence, and I had never been at all. We visited a state park, the Botanical Gardens, the only Titan II Missile Silo that wasn't destroyed, Tombstone and Kartchner Caverns, one of the best preserved living caves in the world. We had great fun! We got glimpses of the outside of the mission and the airplane boneyard too, but the mission had some meeting going on and the boneyard isn't open on weekends so we've put those on our list for next time. All in all it was a great time to be together and a nice break, especially for DH, who'd had a particularly stressful several weeks at work.

If anyone is interested, my pictures are here. I didn't take a ton because I didn't want to be behind the camera the entire time but I did get some.

I have a long article (45 pages!) that I'm reading and want to review so hopefully that will be done soon.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hello new friends!

Hello readers from Nightlight and Snowflake Family Readers from the Yahoo group! Megan shared with me today that our blog is on your radar so we wanted to say hello! Please feel free to chat with us here on the blog. One day we'll be able to chat with you in the yahoo group once we submit our Nightlight application. But in the mean time, howdy! I think what you all have done and are doing is fantastic and we are excited to one day, God willing, be able to join your ranks!

Off Topic

Allow me an off topic indulgence for a minute. Earlier this week, Brett Favre, my second favorite player on my very favorite Football team, retired.

Thanks, Brett. We already miss you!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Book Review: Embryo Donation and Embryo Adoption, Loving Choices for Christians

Embryo Donation and Embryo Adoption, Loving Choices for Christians, by John and Sylvia Van Regenmorter, is a book with a noble purpose. It aspires to educate readers on both sides of the Embryo Adoption process--the processes involved for both the Genetic and Adopting Parents. I was excited to discover such a recently written book on the subject, and purchased it earlier this year.

However, as a tool for anyone who has more than a cursory knowledge of the process, this book is unhelpful.

First, the book is not at all scholarly. While the conversational tone and simplistic writing make it easy to read, it results in underdeveloped logic and assertions. Almost nothing is cited, and they offer strong opinion statements about about anonymous donation and about the level of openness in adoptions without any depth, substantiation or development. It is irresponsible to make blanket statements about the morality or Christian-ness (or lack thereof) of certain choices if one is not going to take the time to logically outline and support those statements. Where they do offer explanation, I found the logical arguments to be weak. For example, in their case for open adoption, they offer that it will be satisfying to the adoptive parents to know "Maybe that explains why he enjoys hunting while I have never owned a gun." I have never met anyone who thought gun ownership was hereditary and frankly, that example doesn't even make logical sense. There may be good reasons for open adoption, and there may be good comforts to the adoptive parents, but this is not one of them. And since they only presented two examples for how open adoption benefits the adoptive parents, and the other example was almost as weak, I would have preferred they leave the subject closed altogether because it was wholly insufficient to offer any useful examination of the topic.

Further reinforcing my impression of the nonacademic nature of this book was the casual, inconsistent, and almost lazy way sources in their "research" list were offered. I try hard not to fault a book for not being something it wasn't intended to be, and I realize this was not designed to be a lengthy treatise (the book is only 50 pages), but in this case, a more responsible, researched and detailed explanation was the only way to properly handle this subject from the beginning.

Second, it is very evident that the authors have very little personal knowledge of or experience with Embryo Adoption. I found their summation of why couples might choose Embryo Adoption (over traditional adoption) to be superficial at best, which indicated to me that they spent little time trying to understand the hearts of Embryo Adoption Parents. It is true that I have some of the reasons they mentioned as my own reasons for pursuing Embryo Adoption, but as soon as I read their explanation of those reasons, I was frustrated with their obviously underdeveloped or non-existent understanding of the actual thoughts of people who have truly been there. This was solidified by the fact that there are virtually no interviews with or references to real families who have adopted embryos. The only reference to real people is a short anecdote about a Genetic family and even that is too brief to be useful. This book would have been stronger if written by someone with first hand knowledge of the process, be it a donating parent, adoptive parent or employee/volunteer specifically of an organization's Embryo program.

Third, the book focuses almost exclusively on Bethany Christian Services. While I think what Bethany does is admirable, they have only been publicly active in the Embryo Adoption world since 2005, and so are most definitely not the experts, nor do they have the historical foundation to offer much depth of perspective. If one endeavors to write a "primer" on something, one should consult the experts, or at the very least, multiple sources. This wouldn't have even troubled me as much as it does were it not for the glaring evidence that they did not even attempt to understand the programs of other organizations, including the pioneer of Embryo Adoption, Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency. This was communicated through subtle nuances such as referring to the "Snowflakes Organization" (no such entity exists), their claim that some organizations such as Nightlight, "will accept a traditional-adoption homestudy for their embryo adoption program," (which is contrasted with the fact that Nightlight requires a traditional homestudy), the fact that their outline of the Embryo Adoption Process for Adoptive Parents describes only Bethany's process and the fact that their index in the back describes Bethany in depth and Nightlight in just 5 sentences, three of which are exact duplicates of Nightlight's own description of its statistics, easily available on their website and with no direct interpersonal contact with Nightlight required. I really doubt that these authors communicated at all with anyone from Nightlight, which I think is a gross oversight considering the fact that not only did Nightlight pioneer the concept of Embryo Adoption, they have been facilitating these adoptions for 11 years, and have had hundreds of successful placements and births in that time wherein Bethany's number can realistically be no higher than the dozens, given the youth of their program.

Toward the end of the book, they even admit their bias for Bethany (page 42) which in my opinion is completely inappropriate in a book presented as a neutral primer. I would really not have purchased the book had I known it was a case for Bethany in disguise, not because I dislike Bethany, but because we have already decided on Nightlight and in fact, Bethany does not even exist in my state.

However, even AS a case for Bethany's Embryo Adoption Program, I still find the book to be largely useless. Bethany's own website has a much more thorough explanation of their process, and consulting it is free, whereas this book is $13.

Additionally, this book is written exclusively for the adult members of the adoption triad. Thus, the book is also not terribly useful as a primer for third parties such as friends, family or pastors of donating or adopting families or even activists wishing to educate themselves on the options available in their area of interest be it science, adoption awareness or pro-life campaigning.

It should also be noted that this book promotes Embryo Adoption (Homestudy, Court Certification, Matching, etc) exclusively. The reference to "Embryo Donation" in the title refers exclusively to the act of donating done by the Genetic parents, and not to the anonymous/semi-anonymous Embryo Donation process that is offered by many fertility clinics.

My suggestion for anyone considering Embryo Adoption or Donation would be to consult resources such as google searches, the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign, ASRM and Hannah's Prayer Infertility Ministries. Consult facilitation programs directly (the big three are Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency in California, Bethany Christian Services based in Michigan, and the National Embryo Donation Center) and request information about their specific processes and requirements. From that information, choose a program and proceed with contact with them. This book is neither generic enough to be a useful introduction or primer for the completely uninformed, or detailed enough to offer new or robust information to anyone who has done even a little bit of research already.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Doctor Update

Hi everyone,
Thanks for praying for our appointment with the new clinic. It went "ok," I guess. I've been trying to think about my reaction. I wasn't unhappy, but I wasn't thrilled either. I think what I've determined is the finite nature of embryology is so difficult for me to understand, even with much effort, that I'm responding to that and not to any specific complaints about the interpersonal reaction or the communication. The meeting was informative and the doctor was very nice. I didn't "click" with him but again, I think that's because the nature of the subject was so difficult for me that I was concentrating really hard on that and not on the overall interaction. I learned enough about embryology today to make my head spin for several days! I wish we could get our hands on the nifty book he was walking us through so I could read and re-read it but alas, it's an out of print medical journal and "real book" alternatives are too pricey to interest me. Oh well, I'm sure there's a huge amount of information online and I just need to do some searching.

One huge praise was that he didn't "push" anything. He told us what our options were because he said he didn't want us to have made the decision for EA because we assumed we didn't have other choices but as soon as he presented them and we affirmed that we are doing EA even with the knowledge of our other options, he dropped it. It wasn't pushy at all and we thanked him for respecting our decision. I was really thankful for that answer to prayer because I would hate to be in a position of having to "fight" with our doctor. We're not threatened by questions and I don't mind if people don't agree but it's a little different story when your doctor has issues with your choices.

DH seemed really happy with him. And like I said, he is nice enough. I had no specific complaints.

Another praise is that he confirmed that we shouldn't need anything in addition to the infectious disease screening, the Mock Transfer and SonoHSG, and the actual Frozen Embryo standpoint, so that's nice from a financial perspective because insurance covers nothing, and in some women's cases, they've had to do additional procedures, medications and tests. Things can always change of course, but he said so far, everything looks ok! I did forget to ask him about Monday's "discovery" but I still have an appointment with the referring doctor so I'll just ask him.

Other than that, nothing new to report!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Adoption Agency Meeting!

Woohoo! We received our Case Worker Assignment and I got the chance to visit with her for a little while today over the phone. She sounds really nice and enthusiastic about her job.

We have a first meeting with her next week and then she'll give us all the paperwork we need to complete. She said it's extensive paperwork and she's seen a couple complete in as short of a time as 2 weeks but the average is a couple of months. Taking a deep breath and pacing myself here... I can be a little obsessive over a project so I can easily see myself sitting down and not getting up until it's done! After all that paperwork is done, then the Homestudy itself actually begins.

We're excited to meet her and start the process!

Also, I had my ultrasound today to follow up to the one in December that revealed that I had a new cyst, as large as the one I had removed surgically a couple years ago. This morning's ultrasound revealed that the new cyst is now completely gone and no others have grown in its place on either side! I'm so thankful! The tech did tell me about something else about my internal construction that is abnormal that I didn't know about (she thought I knew already which is why she commented on it). I don't think it's troublesome but it is abnormal. Once she realized I didn't know about it already she couldn't tell me anymore but I'll ask the clinic this Wednesday and my own doctor who ordered the U/S to begin with about it . I don't think it is anything to be worried about. I'll definitely be praying to that end, if you want to join me. But I am thrilled at the dissolution of the cyst because it means I don't need another surgery and avoid the risk of new scar tissue. Praise God!

She gave me a disk of my images to take to the new doctor since there won't be time to do an official transfer before our meeting with him. Out of curiosity I stuck the CD in to look at the images. I've determined that Ultrasound Techs and Radiologists have superhero vision that enables them to make meaning out of what looks to me like a bunch of gray nothingness. It seriously fascinates me how they can look and say "this is that" and such. So while it was cool to look at the CD I've resigned myself that in this particular element of my care, I have absolutely nothing to bring to the table because as far as I'm concerned, those images could just as easily have depicted a basketball or an alien and I would have been none the wiser.