Friday, May 16, 2008

TGI Friday

This is such a busy month for us! I find myself with a few free hours today and wanting to do nothing but rest!

C's son's wedding rehearsal was last night. I "ran" much of the rehearsal dinner for C which was a blast but between all of the errands and relocating 3 times due to weather, I'm plum exhausted. The wedding is tonight and I am setting up the centerpieces but am hoping that I can pass off cleaning them up to the woman who wants to reuse them tomorrow because I'm so tired-I don't know that I can make it to the end of the reception!

A very close friend from college was in town this week and we had dessert with him. He's another one in my "good for soul" category. We'll see him again next month and the only thing that would make it better was if his wife could fit in his suitcase and come along too--sadly, I don't think his employer would appreciate that. (Priorities, people!)

I'm a little run down. We got back from Jon's wedding and I immediately jumped in to Cs son's rehearsal details. That's all done as of tonight. We have a week to work on the house (still not done with all our homestudy goals) and then next Saturday we leave for another wedding in Michigan. Then we get back and SIL will be here before we are and we get to spend the week with her, which we're very excited about. In that time we also have another homestudy meeting, and an important meeting (more on that in a minute) and then the visit to the house here. So it's a busy time and I'm pooped! We'll have a short visit with my friend H from Sweden. Sometime this summer, we want to take a trip to Hawaii with our free airline tickets. We're sort of waiting for our HS to be done and then we'll go "celebrate" but we'll see. Since the tickets are free, we're at their mercy as to when there are two free seats available and it's not like anyone else on the planet likes to vacation in the summer time ;)

On the Embryo Adoption front...I think I can share a little news that I hinted at earlier in the month. I asked for prayers for wisdom regarding a decision that we have to make. At the end of April, we were approached by a couple we've interacted with in my Christian IF community, who asked us to pray about adopting their embryos. Over the last several weeks, we've done a lot of praying and sought out a lot of counsel from people who have adopted under various circumstances (domestic, international, closed, open, traditional, embryo, etc), as well as a lot of soul searching (having to put our desires for a match down on paper for the first time was a bit overwhelming!--to our happy surprise, they didn't run screaming!) and we've done a lot of talking with them. None of us have made any decisions yet, other than that after many emails, we're still interested in each other and would like to continue to learn more. It looks like we're going to meet up with them in a couple of weeks and I think after that, we'll both have a better idea of how/if we want to proceed. We do know that if we do proceed, we will still go through Nightlight. We would just enter in with them "prematched" instead of their workers doing the initial match.

So, we'll see. It's big news, to be sure, and I don't at all mean to sound underexcited. We're just trying to proceed cautiously and guard our hearts. I know my heart and I know if I commit to these children now, before it's prudent to do so, I'll be done, hook, line and sinker and retreating at that point would be devastating. We all 4 obviously want what's best for these children so I think all 4 of us are being pretty level headed about proceeding with both appropriate enthusiasm and caution. None of us wants to jump in carelessly, but we don't want to let the fear of the unknown dictate us, either. So we're all 4 proceeding as prayerfully and responsibly as we can, knowing that God has the perfect match out there for both our families and just waiting for Him to reveal to us whether its each other or not.

One thing I really have appreciated though, even if our conversations ended today, has been the opportunity to get to know the hearts of some genetic parents and really try to understand what's going on in their heats and minds. I have so much respect for this couple--they are working painstakingly hard to do what is best and right for these children. One thing is for sure-these kiddos are going to end up with amazing parents because so much care is being taken in selecting them.

I also appreciate the learning process it's been for us. We've had to think about what our non-negotiables are, what things we can really give up, and what things we hadn't even thought about before. The process has solidified our thinking in some areas, relaxed it in others, and still in others, expanded it. We've learned so much in talking to them, to other adoptive families and to our amazing caseworker at Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency.

I don't feel terribly comfortable sharing specifics about the family or the embryos, because they're not our children (even if they will be, they're not yet), so by answering, we'd be sharing someone else's family privacy. I'll share more if and when it becomes appropriate to do so but please forgive me for not taking those kind of questions at this time. If you have questions about us, fire away! :)

On the homestudy and adoption education front, things are ok. We're halfway through, which was a nice milestone. We're on the downward portion of the hill. The entire process has been sort of a let down. I feel like we paid the agency quite a bit of money and have learned remarkably little. We were told by someone (I can't remember who and in the agency's defense, it may not have even been them) that the home study is 70% education, 30% interrogation. We've found that nothing could be farther from the truth. We spend the HS visits talking about things we already know about ourselves, and the classes do little more than push the agency's agenda for one very specific kind of relationship with the biological parents. I understand it's necessary for them to interrogate us because they have to be wise and responsible when they write their report about us, but I guess I expected us to get something out of it too, and I don't really feel like we are. The classes are taught by a different person every week, which makes having a fluid dynamic hard. This last class was a huge repeat of stuff another teacher had already covered. We are enjoying getting to know the other couples but in a few cases, the teacher has put a quash on any social interactions with the other parents, even in non-instructional time. And no matter how many different ways they try to push this specific openness scenario on us, at the end of the day we are responsible for and accountable to God and our kids for the decisions about that dynamic and I really would like to be well-informed from an objective stand point. Questions are worded "What are the benefits of this kind of relationship?" rather than, "Are there benefits to this kind of relationship? What are they? What are some of the disadvantages?" "Studies" and "experts" are referenced, with little specifics given as to who or what those sources actually are.

I guess I always resist "one size fits all" approaches in any non-doctrinal area of Christendom--worship, evangelism, church style, leadership, marriage, parenting, discipline, etc. We may ultimately end up at the same place the agency advocates (though I doubt it) but I want it to be because we've prayerfully considered and logically researched all angles--not just the singular view they present.

Maybe my expectations of the process were wrong. I'd be interested to hear from other adoptive parents about what their HS process involved/involves. I was really wanting to learn constructive, concrete things, like age appropriate language for adoption, ways to introduce it, how to celebrate while not communicating that the child is "different" or an outsider, how to educate family and friends. So far we've received a lot of lecture on why open adoption with direct relationship between kids and biological parents is the only way to do things 100% of the time. At the end of the day, I just don't think it's the Agency's place to make that decision for us.

Fortunately, Nightlight (seriously, I love them!) has been much more "neutral" and has helped balance the equation for us, as have other adoptive families. Don't get me wrong, we absolutely believe in full disclosure about adoption and about the special way in which the child will have come to join our family, and we want enough of an open relationship to know who the genetic parents are, what their cultural and medical history is, and how to put the child in contact with them at age 18 if the child so chooses, but beyond that I think there is a lot of gray area that's going to vary from family to family, based on family dynamics, child(ren)'s temperament and mental capacity, and other family factors that just aren't universal.

So anyway, didn't mean to get off on a tangent! I'd love to hear what the HS and adoption education process has been like for other families. Maybe I just came in expecting the wrong thing and that's ok. In the mean time, we're supplementing with readings and counsel from other sources to fill in some of the gaps. We're confident that God will lead us to the right decision for our family and certainly the HS and Adoption education have given us some things to consider and factor in, and I'm confident that they're sincere in their efforts to do what they think is right and honoring to God and the children involved, but I guess I just feel less equipped than I expected to be at this stage in the game. Maybe that's my fearful nature kicking in too, who knows.

Gotta run. I've been operating in slow motion all day (still feel like a truck ran over me last night!) but I've got to get to doing something! Hope you all are well. I'll try to make blog rounds this weekend!


  1. Just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience so far. I am praying that God's will be done for both you and the bio family regarding these embryos.

  2. Jen, Thanks for sharing everything you're going through with us! I was wondering, what kinds of questions (the general categories) come up when you are talking with biological parents about possibly adopting? I can see that you would need to decide on how much contact (if any) they would have with you and the child. What other kinds of things do you need to work through? I ask because you mentioned that you guys have had to consider your "non-negotiables" and other things. I was just trying to figure out what kinds of topics might need to be considered.

    Thanks again for all your insights!

  3. Prayers for your (maybe) embryo adoption. That's an area I was really hoping to pursue, but God hasn't opened the doors for us.

  4. wanttobeamom...good question

    Our non-negotiables included (in no particular order)

    *being able to use my doctor and hospital for prenatal care and delivery (thus we wouldn't agree to anything that would preclude that)

    *that we have the biological parents' medical information and that they notify us if any thing develops in the future that could be a risk for the child (and we would notify them if our children developed anything)

    *that we have the parents general cultural background history, if known--mostly for the child's curiosity

    *that we get to name the children

    *that we have permission to give the biological parents' full names and contact info to the child at age 18 if the child so desires and if no relationship has already formed before then

    *that we have final say on the amount of contact directly with the child when the child is young, factoring in the child's temperament, the dynamic between us and the child, the dynamic between the child and other children we may have, the child's mental capacity, etc. We're ok with direct contact between adults, but are resistant to committing to anything firm right now before we know the people involved, if that makes sense? I think every family is different and every child is different and we may have multiple children to consider (and possibly multiple genetic families)

  5. I didn't find the homestudy process difficult. I know some people find it invasive, but I do understand why it's done. At the same time there was a little part of me that WAS bothered by it in that whenever I heard about a crack addict (or whatever) becoming pregnant I thought about how pretty much anyone can become pregnant and have a child, but adoptive parents have all the intimate details of their life examined.

    You guys have to decide what you're comfortable with. For example we know we're not comfortable with open adoption, but we are comfortable with semi-open adoption. I'm not saying there wouldn't be full disclosure, of course there would be, I'm saying pictures and letters through a third party until the child is old enough to understand and decide if he/she wants to meet the bio parents. I guess I sort of feel like open adoption where the bio mother is around all the time seems more like the adoptive parents are care takers vs. parents.

    We actually were approached about a open domestic adoption and we kept wondering if that mean the bio mom would be at Christmas dinner? Birthday parties? Take part in the parenting decisions? You get my drift. All of that has to be spelled out before the adoption. By a lawyer in writing so there are no questions. The girl who was interested in us wasn't able to be concrete so we said no.

  6. I've never heard the 70-30 percentage before. I was given a completely different set of expectations as fas as the HS was concerned. I thought that the entire thing was so that our social worker could ask us questions about our childhoods, marriage, IF history, family dynamics, parenting plans, and thoughts on adoption. And it was TOTALLY all of that. I talked, she listened and prompted me with questions. It was like chatting over coffee. I did not expect to learn a whole lot through my HS; I thought the point of it was for my SW to learn about us better. Now, we were allowed to ask questions at the end of each visit and we did. We were also given our reading list after our first visit, and that also gave me things to talk about at our following visits. But...this may be where the difference between embyro and other adoption plans comes. ??

    That's my experience with our HS. I really enjoyed the visits. I didn't feel like I was being interrogated...just asked to talk about myself--kind of like therapy!! LOL. :)

    I will be praying for you about the possible match with the couple you have been talking with!!

  7. Oh I don't find the questions at all too invasive or too interrogatory...I know why the questions are necessary. It's just that we haven't really learned anything new through the process. Maybe that wasn't the point though...

    I don't think it has anything to do with the embryo versus traditional adoption thing because we're doing a traditional HS

  8. Excited to see how God continues to guide you through this process. {{{hugs}}}

  9. Thank you so much for being so open about everything as you experience it! I am so interested in this whole process because my husband and I are praying about going through Snowflake adoption (which you introduced me to) or local adoption. we are just trying to wait for God's guidance, but i want yo know as much as possible as we wait!:)

  10. Jen--I don't know if this info is helpful, but here is the rundown on my aunt, uncle and cousin...

    My aunt thought the homestudy process and adoption classes were largely one of those things you had to do to adopt but not really something that was useful. They felt that the info was either already something they knew (child locks are needed on cabinets with dangerous chemicals in them) or an opinion that the social worker was trying to push on them. Their caseworker really pushed open adoption, but after my cousin's adoption was finalized, my aunt gradually reduced the amount of interaction my cousin had with her bio mom because my aunt felt it would be too confusing for my cousin. As far as when she told my cousin, I think my cousin always knew. For one thing, my cousin is tri-racial and my aunt and uncle are white. But even before she understood that sort of thing, they always read children's books about adoption and I think my cousin just thought it was the regular way that parents had children.

  11. Thanks for helping take us down some of the steps of the embryo adoption process, I find it so interesting and love hearing about it! I want to wish you the best of luck with whatever option works out, whether it be the couple mentioned, or another one. I totally think that limiting your info about that couple is very respectable and honorable on your part for their privacy. They are very lucky to have met great people like you and your husband! Thanks so much for the kind words, and thoughts on my page. You always have such a great way of looking at things. You are so right about the 100/100% not the 50/50. I never looked at it that way. You always make me read and go, huh...she is so right! Hope you are able to get a little rest and have a great weekend.

  12. Hi, Jen!

    Honestly, the push for open adoption is one of the reasons that we haven't actively pursued adoption. A year or two ago we contacted CFCA and talked to them, but they were so adamant about open-adoption-only that we decided not to go any further with them. Frankly, I think that open adoption (like they mean it, with bio-parents participating in EVERYTHING) is absolutely ridiculous, and I don't know why they are hard-headed about it. Enough ranting. I'm sure they're a great agency, and I know that the W. family has been very pleased with them. We'll pray for the rest of your HS process!!

    And great job on H&B's wedding!!! The decorations were lovely!!

  13. Jen, Thanks for sharing your non-negotiables. You have obviously done a lot of research and thought about this stuff a lot. I hadn't even thought of half the stuff on your list... I am learning so much from you. If we ever decide to pursue adoption in the future, I know who to ask for guidance... =)