Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Open Adoption

When we started our adoption journey, we had to attend adoption classes that our agency had. One of the things that was discussed was open adoption. That means many different things to different people. At the time, it kinda freaked Kevin and I out. We had the image of the birth mother coming and kidnapping the baby or other such crazy ideas in our head. We most definitely had the Lifetime movie version of adoption. Not real at all.

The longer we waited, the more I read about openess in adoption and what it really means. I learned that it's actually better for all involved. It's better for the birth parents to be able to heal and know that their baby will be able to know with a surety that they really do love them. It's better for the adopted child to know that love and to know that they were adopted. It's better for the adoptive parents to have a relationship with the birth parents because of the great gift that is being given that will forever tie your adopted child to their birth parents.

Imagine being an adopted child and never knowing until you were an adult. Can you imagine the identity crisis that would occur? Wondering where you came from and why your birth parents didn't want you? Even gaining access to who your birth parents are would be a nightmare in a lot of cases. Then once you had contact info for them, what if they didn't want to meet you? Wouldn't that be heart breaking?

On the other hand imagine being an adopted child and always knowing you were adopted. You would always know that your birth parents loved you and because they loved you so much they wanted more for you than they would be able to provide. Because of this they hand picked who your parents would be. In some cases, open adoption means having your birth parents in your life as you grow up. Your birth parents wouldn't be your parents, they would take on a role of a favorite aunt or uncle, but would always be there for you. Isn't that a much nicer image? Having the love of both your birth parents and your adoptive parents in your life from day one?

Kevin and I warmed up to an open adoption as we waited for two years from the time we put in our papers to the time placement occurred. We realized it was best to have an open adoption. Once we actually met our girls birth mother, there was no way we could even consider having something other than an open adoption. We love her so much. She has given us the most amazing gift and she's always trying to make sure things are easy on us. Medicare had sent her cards for the girls past when she told them they would be off of it. She texted me to let me know she needed to talk to me and to call her when I could. She was so worried it would cause problems for us. It ended up being Medicare just wanted the girls covered for sure for a couple months in case there were any problems with our insurance. She was going to pump breastmilk for the girls, but her body didn't cooperate with her and she was devastated.

We are okay with her seeing the girls. She hasn't asked yet, and I'm not sure she will. I'm pretty sure she'll just wait for us to ask if she wants to see them. This isn't even scary to us because there is so much love for her and for her boyfriend. We trust her and know she wants what's best for the girls. I am so amazed by her courage and devotion to these girls. We formed a bond that will not be broken with time. It might change a bit as time goes on, but it'll always be there. Open adoption isn't scary, it's a blessing.

For us, open adoption means, we still text with the girls birth mother. We still talk to her on the phone. We still email her. We send her pictures of the girls. We plan on seeing her again. For others, it might be just email and pictures, but the communication is always there. I couldn't imagine having anything other than an open adoption.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The first week

Back on March 20th, I taught the lesson for our primary class. It was on the Savior teaching about prayer. In the lesson it stressed the importance of the students learning that prayers are ALWAYS answered. Not always the answer we want, nor the timing, but they are always answered. I shared with our class the personal desire of Kevin and I in wanting to add to our family and having been unable to we were led to adoption. I told them that our prayers were finally being answered and that we would soon have two girls in our family. I told them it had been years since we had wanted to have more children in our family. One of them asked how many years and I told them that we decided we wanted to add to our family just before Ed's first birthday and that he'll be six this year. They looked at me completely shocked. The thought had never occurred to them that it could take that long for a prayer to be answered. I bore testimony that prayers are always answered. I hope it struck a chord with them to know that no matter how long it takes, their prayers will be answered.

It was surreal driving home from the hospital. Just knowing that our girls that we had waited and prayed for so long for were actually here and in the car with us was amazing. We felt a lot of love for the girls and for our loving Heavenly Father.

We had to stop off at the agency on the way home to pay the adoption fees. The secretary had to come out and see our precious angels. She congratulated us and then we went on our way.

As we pulled into the driveway, we saw our boys riding their bikes and scooters while Grandma watched while sitting on the grass. As soon as they saw us, the boys rushed over to the van. I put Ed up on the foot plate of the van so he could see the girls. I told him he couldn't touch, but he could see them. He was so excited. Then it was Brandon's turn. He had the look of pure amazement on his face. He loves his sisters so much.

The girls had a doctor's appointment this past Tuesday to make sure they were gaining weight. They hadn't been eating too much in the hospital and they wanted to make sure they didn't lose too much. Emma had actually gained weight above her birth weight, she was 5lbs 3oz and Ellie was almost to her birth weight. Not too bad for it only being a few days since they came home from the hospital.

The week has been tiring with them waking every 2-3 hours, but it's been so worth it. I feel truly blessed. The boys love helping out where they can. Ed's been a little sad that I don't have as much time to snuggle with him, but he's adjusting well. They are definitely our precious little angels.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How my girls came to our family

It's been a whirlwind of emotions the past couple of weeks. Let's start back at the day before Brandon's baptism. I texted our birth mom just to check in on how she was doing and to see if her truck got fixed. Earlier in the week, she had missed an OB appointment because both her and her boyfriend's trucks were broke down. I never got a response. I was kinda bummed, but didn't worry too much about it. Especially, not with Brandon's baptism the next day.

By Sunday afternoon (the 27th), I still hadn't heard from her, so I sent her another text asking her if she needed a ride to her OB appointment the next day. Once again, nothing. That evening I texted her again letting her know that if I didn't hear from her that night, I'd call in the morning to make sure she would be able to get to her appointment. I also started to panic a bit. Lack of communication from a potential birth mom can mean that they are having second thoughts about placing. I sobbed and sobbed just thinking about such a possibility after waiting so long for this. I sent out messages to my friends asking for prayers. I didn't update all of facebook about the situation, though. I also sent an email to our caseworker letting her know of the lack of communication.

The next morning I was still really down about it all. I posted on facebook that it'd be a really long week for more than one reason. I called our birth mom around 10:00am and got her voicemail. I left a message, but was devastated at that point because it seemed that she was ignoring me.

Finally, around noon, I received a text from her. Apparently, text messaging isn't all it's cracked up to be. She just barely got all the texts I had sent from Friday and Sunday. So, there I had been sobbing and in the depths of despair when she just hadn't received the messages in the first place. That simple text changed my whole outlook on the day. Amazing.

I asked her once again if she needed a ride and she told me that they got her boyfriend's truck working. She also told me that she was going to skip the OB appointment and just go straight to the hospital. She was having a lot of pain and since she was past 37 weeks, she was going to see if they would induce her. At that point we still thought both girls were head down.

I waited and waited and finally texted her that I was on pins and needles waiting to see if they'd induce her. At that point she had actually just gotten to the hospital. A bit later she texted me and told me that twin B had flipped and was now head up. Because of that, they would not induce her. They were waiting to hear back from her OB to see if they could do a c-section right then or to schedule one.

Finally, word came back that they were sending her home with a prescription for lortab for the pain and the c-section was scheduled for Sunday, April 3rd.

It was at that point that I realized what a crazy emotional roller coaster of a day it had been. I had gone from sobbing, to relieved, to hopeful, to disappointed all in the matter of my waking hours. I was most definitely emotionally exhausted.

Tuesday, March 29th rolls around and I'm just going about my business of organizing things, doing laundry and such when I get a text from our birth mom that she was having labor contractions, but the hospital wanted her to stay home for now. Apparently, they weren't close enough together for them to worry about it. I didn't think much of it since she had been having contractions off and on for a long time.

Then, it happened. My home phone rang and after a couple rings, my cell phone rang. That could only mean one thing, our birth mom was calling us. I picked up the phone and sure enough, it was our birth mom. She was at the pharmacy trying to fill her prescription for lortab when she realized that the contractions were getting worse and she was going to go to the hospital. [For those who don't understand the phone thing: we had given our birth mom a google voice number. That way, she would always be able to reach us. With google voice numbers you can set it up to ring multiple phones when someone calls you using that number. We had tested it out before and found that it rings the home phone first and then the cell. Since we really hadn't given that number out to others, I knew this was it.]

I messaged Kevin on yahoo instant messenger which he always has up at work. I told him that our birth mom was in labor and that he needed to come home now. He asked me if I was sure. I told him that I was and so he came. While he was coming home, I was busy gathering everything up and taking it out to the car. Thank goodness I had installed the car seats the day before. I then called the person who had said I could call at anytime to take the boys only to discover there was no answer. I then had to figure out who else to call that could pick the boys up from school.

We finally got it all situated and were on our way to the hospital. Unfortunately, by the time we made it there, they had already taken her back for her c-section. Her boyfriend who did not want to be in the room, was forced to be there and I missed being there during the c-section. I was disappointed, but still happy that our girls would be arriving that day.

The hospital social worker came and visited with us. She told us that if we needed something to eat, now was the time to do so and that we had time before she would be out of surgery. Apparently, we didn't have enough time. We brought the food back up to the L&D floor only to find our birth mom's boyfriend there looking for us. We set down our food in a room the nurses told us we could and we went back to visit with our birth mom.

After a little bit, they brought our girls to us. We finally got to meet our little girls after so long of waiting for them. They are simple beautiful and we love them so much. I can hardly believe they are with us. Emma Noelle was born first and weighed 5lbs even. Ellie Jayne came next and weighed 5lbs 6oz.

Our birth mom's mom was there and she was sad, but happy. We asked her if she wanted to hold the girls and she told us she couldn't. She was afraid of getting too attached to the girls. She knew that as hard as it was, it was best for them to be placed with us. What a brave grandma for knowing she wouldn't be able to handle holding the sweet babies.

The hospital provided a room for us next door to our birth mom's room. We had the girls in our room most of the time during the hospital stay. We would take the girls over our birth mom's room to visit with her and her family. I do have to say that the hospital pull out couch/bed is only slightly better to sleep on than the floor would have been.

Finally, the day arrived when the doctors said that we could be discharged the next day (Friday, April 1st). Our birth mom planned to sign relinquishment at 10:00am and a caseworker would be there at 10:30 for us to sign. It wasn't our caseworker as our caseworker actually had another placement to be at that morning, but we had already met this caseworker before. After all the papers were signed by both parties, we went in to see our birth mom and give her the gifts we had gotten for her.

I first gave her the Build a Bears that the boys had made for her. She loved them. Then I gave her the blanket I made for her. I most definitely chose the right fabric as she loved the Super Girl fabric and was excited that it was soft on the back. I hope she's enjoying it now while she recovers. Lastly, I gave her the scrapbook album to assure her we would be sending her photos.

I'm so very grateful for our birth mom and have so much love and respect for her. Her OB came and spoke to us at one point during the hospital stay and we asked him how she was doing emotionally as far as he could tell. He said that she was doing amazing. He told us that when she first started coming to him for this pregnancy, he was really worried about her. Then once she made the decision to place for adoption, things started to look much better.

The caseworkers for both sides kept mentioning how smoothly this adoption had gone and that they've never seen it where neither the adoptive couple nor birth mother weren't panicking/stressed. I know that Heavenly Father played a hand in this adoption. The girls are meant to be in our family. Without him, I'm not sure things would have worked out quite so perfectly.

More to come on how things have been since we've had the girls home...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brandon's baptism

This morning my wonderful boy was baptized. It's surreal knowing that I have an eight year old. The baptism was beautiful and I cried lots of tears during the confirmation. I am so proud of my sweet boy and know that he knows he made the right choice and that he was able to feel the Spirit. He is a very special boy and he sees the world in a way others don't. We are very blessed to be his parents.

Now that the baptism is over, I can also breathe a sigh of relief that the girls decided to stay put and not mess up their soon to be big brother's big day. We got through all the stuff we had to get through and now we just wait some more for them to arrive. They'll be with us within a week, most likely.

Heavenly Father is so good to us. He hears our prayers and knew that it wouldn't work out well if the girls came just before or during Brandon's baptism. We are truly grateful that He allowed Brandon to have his special day before the girls arrived. This way it's his day and not getting pushed to the side like I was worried about if we had to reschedule.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still Waiting

We bought carseats, an extra crib, girly crib bedding, and preemie prefolds/covers. Then we moved the changing table dresser downstairs and got the nursery all ready. Since then we've been waiting and waiting and waiting. We are still waiting for the girls to arrive.

We were so prepared for them to be born early in the next few weeks after meeting Kendra that it feels like it's been longer than it has. It's been just over a month since we met Kendra and learned that she wanted to place the twins with our family. It won't be too much longer before they join our family,though. She will be induced in a couple weeks if they haven't come on their own. Her OB told her that they won't let her go over 38 weeks, so I assume that means she'd actually be induced next week sometime as she'll be 37 weeks on Saturday.

It's so strange to have to continue life as normal knowing that we could change any plans we have real quick. I'm scheduled to volunteer at the Scrapbook Expo this Friday to earn volunteer hours at Spectrum. I volunteered to do it with the stipulation I might have to cancel at the last minute. Then Brandon's baptism is Saturday morning. That may end up being rescheduled depending on when the twins decide to be born. At this point, I hope they decide to stay in until after Brandon's baptism. It's too close for comfort for them to be born before. I'm not sure how Brandon would feel having to have it rescheduled. He had a meltdown when I had tried asking him about possibly changing it before. Let's hope it'll all work out.

It's really amazing that Kendra was having preterm labor and had to get shots to stop her labor and now that it's okay for them to be born, they have decided to stay put. Pretty ironic, but I've heard it's actually pretty common. So, for the time being, we are still waiting...

Oh and in case you didn't notice, I created a guess when the twins will be born thing. It's on the right hand side of the blog under our picture. Click it and make your guess.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two sweet girls and their birth mother

As we continue our journey of adoption after being matched, I am continuously amazed at how wonderful our birth mother is. We text almost daily and she truly wants what's best for the girls and she has our interests on her mind as well.

The one morning I got a text from her telling us that she'd been thinking and that she's okay with us naming the girls. We would name them regardless, but to know that she feels like we should name them is truly wonderful. At that point we had already decided what their names will be. One will be Emma Noelle and the other Ellie Jayne. We haven't decided if the first one out will for sure be one or the other.

Then this past Monday, she sent a text letting us know that labor may be soon as she lost her plug. I'm not sure if she knows a pregnant woman can lose their mucus plug and have it reform many times before labor actually begins, but it shows that labor is near. Since she feels like it'll be soon, within the next week is what she's guessing, I asked her if she wanted us to be there for the the labor/delivery or if she wanted us to wait until after to come. She texted, "They are your girls, too, so it only feels right for you to be there." I about cried when I read that.

Yesterday I got to go to an ultrasound with her. She asked me to come early because she had other appointments as well prior to the ultrasound and wanted to make sure I'd be with her when it was time.

I got to sit with her as she had a NST. Never having had to have one of those before, I didn't know exactly what it involved. Pretty much it's just monitoring the baby's heartbeats for about twenty minutes. The silly girls were very active and were not happy to have the monitors on them. They kept kicking at them and moving all over the place. One of them got the hiccups during it. Kendra and I just talked about random stuff as we waited for the test to be done with.

Then it was time for the ultrasound. We got to see the girls moving around. One of the girls was facing the wrong way and was too low to really get a good look at her face. The other one I got a profile shot of her. She kept moving her hand up in front of her face, so while we got to see her in 4D, there was never a time that they could print a picture of it. I'm so excited to meet my sweet girls. They both have hair which will be interesting since both of the boys were bald when they were babies.

They did an estimate on their weights. One is just under 4lbs and the other is about 6 ounces heavier being over 4lbs a bit. The doctor said that they are both a good size for the gestational age and that they are growing well. They are both head down ready to go and at this point they won't stop labor.

Kendra texted me later yesterday and said that she forgot to tell me that she's planning pumping and freezing the milk for us to be able to feed the girls with. I hadn't talked to her about that at all and to have her offer to do so was just amazing. I have a friend who had already offered to donate breast milk whenever we adopted, so to know that their own birth mother wants them to have that as well was just wonderful.

I don't want Kendra to feel so empty after placing, so I've made her a quilt. Awhile back I had found some Supergirl fabric that I bought knowing I'd use it for a birth mother blanket when the time came. It took a long time to complete it, but it is now ready to go. I'm also going to take the boys to Build a Bear and have them each make a bear to give Kendra. She's excited that the girls will have big brothers so it's only right that they give her something to show their thanks.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Incredibly blessed

This past weekend was kind of a whirlwind for us. Before I get into the details of the whirlwind, I need to share some background information. About three weeks ago a friend of mine that lives in Ogden contacted me through yahoo messenger. She asked me how we felt about adopting twins. I told her that we would love to adopt twins. She then proceeded to tell me about her friend's brother's girlfriend who was starting to considering placing her twin girls for adoption. I told her to pass along one of cards and that was that. I talked with her right before fast Sunday, so I chose to fast for her and that if these babies were meant to come to our home that she would be drawn to us.

Weeks passed and we heard nothing. Since she was due in April, I wasn't too concerned, but it's always nice to hear back on a potential adoption lead. I continued to pray for her.

This past Wednesday, my friend asked me if we'd heard anything yet. She had asked her friend and as far as she knew the expectant mother hadn't decided for certain on placing. Then Thursday night rolls around and the expectant mother emails us. She said that she wants her girls to go to a good home and she almost cried when she saw our picture on the card because we look like such a great family. I got the email Friday morning after my boys were at school. My heart was full of so much joy. I immediately contacted my caseworker to let her know she gave me pointers in how to respond. I then proceeded to let my friends in FSA know about the situation and ask for them to pray for us.

My caseworker emailed me back as I was writing a response. I changed a few things and sent the email. I knew from my friend that the expectant mother didn't have a job so I sat around waiting for a response all day. It was torture waiting, wondering if she'd want to meet us. Luckily, I got to have a slight distraction by going on a lunch date with my wonderful husband. We were both in shock that a potential birth mother had actually contacted us. I finally got an email back right around dinner time.

Her name is Kendra and she said that she'd love to meet us and the boys. She told me that she's 24 and has a three year old son who is being cared for by her mother. She told me she that she's due April 16th, and that she's 32 weeks pregnant and that she's already had shots to stop contractions, so it could be soon. She told me about upcoming ultrasound appointments and that she'd give us everything she has for the girls even though it's not much. She then gave me her phone number and told me to text her first so she'd know what the number was. Since it was dinner time I didn't call her right then. I then went to Relief Society after dinner and knew I wouldn't be calling her when I got back from that.

I had a fun time at Relief Society and let the women there know about the possibility. I emailed my caseworker to let her know we'd gotten a response and that she wanted to meet us when I got home from Relief Society. I told her that it seems like she already has her mind set on us by the things she said, but she hadn't gave a definite "I want to place my twin girls with your family".

Saturday morning, we went to the church for Brandon's baptism preview. Once we were home, it took me awhile to get enough courage to call Kendra. It was around 11:30am when I called and she had just woken up from a nap. She was still a little groggy, but when I asked her if she wanted to meet up, she told me that she just needed to shower and then could do so. I had been thinking dinner at the earliest or maybe this week sometime. She must have felt the need to meet us asap,so we met for lunch at 1pm at a Denny's, her choice.

It was great to actually meet her. We talked about her interests, her plans for the future, then we moved into more adoption related stuff. We let her know that we were comfortable with an open adoption as much as she was. If she's okay with visits at a neutral place, we are fine with that, if that makes her uncomfortable, we won't push it. She said she wants at least pictures so she can make sure they are doing well. She kept saying she wants them to go to a good home, but once again she hadn't said that she wanted to place with us. She was implying it, but I wanted to be sure.

The Denny's had a crane machine and the boys wanted to try it out. I happened to actually have some quarters with me, so Kevin went over to help them with the game which left Kendra and me alone at the table. I asked her if she felt comfortable with us. She told me that she did and that her friends had introduced her to other adoptive couples and none of them felt right. She told me that one of these other couples even had the audacity to tell her that they'd be willing to adopt one of the girls. She told me she just looked at them thinking, "Ummm, hello, there's two of them in there." So, at that point I knew that she was serious about placing her sweet twin girls with us. Soon after that we were finished with eating and it was time for us to part ways. I asked her if I could hug her and she said yes. I thanked her and she thanked us for being willing to take care of her girls. She invited me to her next ultrasound appointment on March 2nd.

On our drive home, Kevin and I were in a state of shock. A beautiful birth mom had actually chosen us to place twin girls with. It's amazing. Heavenly Father has truly blessed us. I had a feeling we'd have twins and at least one would be a girl. When I had miscarried twins in between Brandon and Edward I had the distinct impression that I would still get to raise those twins in this life. I later had a dream about them and they were girls. Of course at the time I just assumed that I'd get pregnant with twins again. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought they would come to our family through adoption.

The birth father of these twin girls is of Irish decent with blond hair and blue eyes, and Kendra's son has blond hair, so it's quite possible that these sweet little girls will fit in with our family in regards to how they look. It's really all amazing and Heavenly Father is so good to us. His plan is always grander than our own even when we can't see it. I have grown much through this and I am grateful to have had the trial of infertility and waiting to adopt. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but it's the path we had to take to have these sweet girls come to our home.

I'm looking forward to seeing them via ultrasound in a little over a week. It's so incredibly amazing.