Friday, October 29, 2021

Finding Fridays, 2021 - October 29th


For our final Finding Friday, I wanted to share the letter we have written to prospective birth parents. Please share it far and wide so that we can extend our reach and continue this adoption journey!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Finding Fridays, 2021 - October 15th


Daniel's birth mother, Mimi, gave us the gift of a lifetime when she placed Daniel in our family. The relationship we have with her is something that we treasure and are so grateful for. Open adoption is truly beautiful. It can be difficult for people who aren't in an adoption triad to really understand the symbiosis that can be experienced. In this blog entry, I tell Daniel's adoption story from my perspective and Mimi tells it from hers. I hope that anyone who reads it can feel the mutual respect and love we have for one another and can see how that benefits Daniel.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Friday, September 24, 2021

An Adoption Story: Hope, Grief, Love and FAITH


As you can tell from these last few posts, this process was anything but easy. We often found ourselves feeling like, “If this doesn’t go through, we’re done. We just can’t do it again, it’s too hard.” But then we found ourselves there, solidly on the “it didn’t work out” side of it and we realized that we can’t give up. There’s a child out there who is meant to complete our family. Daniel is meant to be a big brother. We just can’t give up.

Although things did not turn out the way we expected them to with this situation, we find that our faith isn’t shaken. We had so many significant experiences along the way that told us we were on the right path. And we trust those. We trust that our Heavenly Father knows us and knows what’s best for our family. We don’t always understand His plan, but we do trust it. And grieving doesn’t mean a lack of faith, either. Because I struggled with that. Even though I 100% trust Heavenly Father, I was still sad. And I wondered if that meant I wasn’t really as faithful as I felt. But I learned that grief and faith CAN and DO coexist. And I don’t have to kick myself when I am overcome with that grief, I can just let myself feel it, acknowledge it, and move through it. It’s been a valuable lesson.

And so, here we are. Again. One year ago we were planning our big adoption push, full of faith that our child would be coming soon. We formed our Adoption Army, made t-shirts, and recruited your help to get the word out. Remember how love begets action? We saw that love, and have continued to see it, in your actions as you supported us this last year. And we are so, SO grateful. We know that many of you have been aware of situations and recommended us and we have never even known. We know that you have been fighting for us. And we need you to continue to. Because WE ARE NOT GIVING UP. There *is* a baby out there who is meant to be our child, meant to be Daniel’s sibling. And we are ready to fight for that child, our child, again.

So, we are going to re-launch Finding Fridays this October! But we’ll do it a little differently this time around. Every Friday we will post an image or meme, along with a link to our adoption profile or blog, here. All you need to do is share it! And if you’re comfortable, ask others to share it, too. We will keep spreading the word far and wide and I am confident that our faith and efforts will be rewarded.

Friday, September 17, 2021

An Adoption Story: Hope, Grief, LOVE and Faith


The day after we got home from Arizona, we still hadn’t heard anything from the agency. The failed match wasn’t technically official yet and we didn’t know where to go from there. We had been told that a director from the agency would reach out to us, but we hadn’t heard anything. That afternoon, we received a bouquet of flowers from the agency with a note saying how sorry they were and that they were all grieving for us. That bouquet made me so *angry*. Was that it? Is that all we were ever going to hear from them?? So, Brian called the director and he said he’d talk with us the next day so that he could set aside some time to listen to and answer our concerns and questions. That phone call ended up being 3 hours long – and it was anything but pleasant. The director was gruff and dehumanizing. He told us that the agency had a conversation with birth mom and told her that we might sue her and if we did, the agency would support us. And that floored me. Why would he say that to her, especially when they still hadn’t even spoken with us yet?? It seemed so cruel.

I was angry. Angry with the agency for dropping the ball with birth mom’s care, angry with the agency for misrepresenting us to birth mom, angry with the director for not seeing us as human beings, angry with birth mom for choosing to let her child go into the foster care system instead of home with us. But here’s the thing about anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. We often feel anger when we’re trying to deal with other vulnerable feelings, like hurt or fear. And yes, I was hurting. We all were. And it didn’t take long for that anger to turn to deep sadness. I felt sad for birth mom, who wanted to be able to parent her child but had that choice taken from her. I felt defeated with having used so much of our adoption savings on a situation that didn’t work out. I felt anxiety at the prospect of starting our adoption journey over again.

What does all of this have to do with love?? Well, I firmly believe that you don’t experience that level of sadness without also experiencing intense love. To paraphrase President Russell M. Nelson, “The only way to take sorrow out of [life] is to take love out of life.” We did love birth mom. And we had poured love into that baby, even though we’d never met him. We prayed for both of them constantly. We sent notes and gifts to birth mom and planned and prepared to have that baby boy in our home. We even named him, for heaven’s sake! So of course we were sad, and even angry, that this didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. Because the love that we had for both of them was so very real.

And, lucky for us, we are surrounded by an army of people whose love and support for us is very real, too.  So, when we were feeling all our feelings, they gave us the time and space we needed to be able to deal with them. A group of friends got together and brought us meals every day for a week, so we could just focus on our family. Other friends arranged playdates for Daniel so he could spend time playing with friends while Brian and I dealt with the agency. Another friend worked and prayed for our family to be able to have a very special and sacred experience, which was amazing. And we received many texts, emails, and FB messages from friends who expressed their sadness and love for us, too. We felt the love very strongly. It allowed our grief to be cushioned a bit. And it helped our circles grow so the grief didn’t come around as often.

Interestingly, it was the love that we have for birth mom that finally brought us to peace with the situation. It was really upsetting to me that she was out there with this threat of a lawsuit hanging over her head. The agency never facilitated any kind of direct communication between us and I didn’t know how to reach her to tell her how wrong they were. But it dawned on me that I could reach out to Arizona’s Division of Child Services. I knew she had an open case with them and I thought that maybe I could get in touch with someone there who could pass the message along. So I did some searching, found an address, and sent an email explaining the situation and the message I would like to have passed along to birth mom. I heard back *very* quickly! The social worker said that she could not confirm or deny that that birth mom had an open case with DCS but if she did and she was assigned a caseworker, the message would get to her. I cannot begin to describe the relief I felt!! Both Brian and I felt like a weight had been lifted from our shoulders and we felt so much peace. It felt like we could finally let go of this situation and begin to think about moving on.

Just as anger and hurt are linked, love and action are linked, too. True love begets action. It’s that love-driven action that has allowed us to feel peace with the end of this chapter. And it’s the love that each of you have poured into us that gives us the faith we need to continue on in our adoption journey.

Friday, September 10, 2021

An Adoption Story: Hope, GRIEF, Love and Faith

Things started to unravel pretty quickly once I reached Phoenix. I was headed out the door of the airport to catch an Uber to the hospital when our case manager called and told me not to. She said they had not heard anything from birth mom since she went into the hospital. She also had birth mom's case manager on the phone and I had Brian on the phone, too. Birth mom's case manager mentioned that Arizona's Division of Child Safety (DCS) would get called in once the baby was born because if an expectant mother has not had proper prenatal care, it's an automatic call. She said that as long as birth mom continued with her adoption plan, that wouldn't affect us at all and might even work in our favor. She also mentioned that birth mom had been living in a homeless shelter, which would also trigger a visit from DCS. We were shocked by that revelation. Our case manager had told us two weeks ago that birth mom had been in a shelter for a week because she and her roommate had an issue with the rent, but that she was now living with a friend. So we were shocked when we were told that birth mom was still living in a shelter. That seemed like a pretty big red flag and we were very unhappy that we hadn't been given the full story. 

At the end of the phone call, both case managers assured us that they would continue to work on getting in touch with birth mom. They told me to find a hotel and check in, but to keep my phone on because they would call immediately with any updates. They said to expect to receive a phone call in the middle of the night and come rushing to the hospital for the birth. 

So that's what we did. Brian and I found a hotel close to the hospital and I hopped in an Uber. I told the front desk that I didn't know how long we would be there because of our unique situation, which I explained. The front desk guy and his manager were able to discount the room rate and keep us in our room on a night-by-night basis. That was such a relief! And they were all super supportive. When they would see me in the lobby they would always ask how things were going. That was really comforting to me, especially with Brian and Daniel being so far away still.

I spent a very restless night waiting for a phone call. In the morning, when I still hadn't heard anything and Brian and Daniel were about to head down, I finally texted our case manager and asked if she had any updates. She seemed surprised that I hadn't heard anything and she said she'd call the hospital and get back with me. She called pretty quickly with the update that the hospital said that they didn't have anyone by birth mom's name there. Our case manager said that could mean that birth mom was at a different hospital, or that she had been discharged, or that she had voided the release of information (ROI) she had signed for the agency. Our case manager said she wouldn't know for sure until she could talk to the social worker, who didn't get into the hospital for a few more hours. So once again we were told to sit tight.

Brian and Daniel headed down to meet us and I went down to the lobby to extend our stay for another night. While I was doing that, our friend, Julie, and her son, Jack, arrived at the hotel!! They brought snack food and drinks and a whole lot of love. Julie and Jack took me out to brunch and hung out with me for a while to help pass the time until Brian could get there, which was so wonderful. We are both extraordinarily grateful for good friends.

When our case manager finally got back to me, she said that the social worker had confirmed that birth mom had voided the ROI. The social worker said that she would talk to birth mom once the baby was born, but that there was nothing to be done in the meantime. 

Brian and Daniel arrived around dinner time and it was so nice to be together again! We took Daniel swimming and got dinner and then headed back to the hotel. Everything is kind of a blur from there. There was a lot of waiting around. We didn't want to push birth mom or the hospital so we tried to be patient. Thankfully we had great support from Julie and her family and from the hotel. But every day was a "sit tight" day with very little information. Our case manager finally had some information on Friday. The social worker had been to see birth mom. Which meant that the baby must have been born. The social worker said that birth mom said that the birth process was much harder than she had anticipated and she wasn't sure if she wanted to go through with her adoption plan. Our case manager stressed that this wasn't the end yet, that there was still a chance. DCS would be in touch with birth mom, either that Friday or the following Monday, and a lot would hang on how that went.

At the end of the day, our case manager told us that the social worker had called and said that she had just seen DCS heading back to talk to birth mom. But she was already over hours and she couldn't stay to get  us any information, so we weren't going to find out what had happened until Monday, which was when she anticipated birth mom being discharged. Our case manager told us there was still a chance that we would go home with the baby, but that if DCS took physical custody of the baby there was very little chance of him going home with us.

We spent that weekend feeling very tense. We were ready for answers; even if it meant we weren't going home with a baby, we just wanted resolution. Being held in limbo for that long under that kind of anxiety and pressure is exhausting. We tried to do some fun things with Daniel - Legoland Discovery Center, SeaLife Aquarium, chocolate factory tour, and lots and lots of swimming. And I think we succeeded in making some good memories for him. 

Monday finally rolled around and our case manager spoke with the social worker. That's when we found out that DCS had taken custody of the baby the night before. Our case manager said that there was still a chance that birth mom would sign off on her adoption plan rather than let the baby go into foster care, but it was a pretty slim chance. We were heartbroken. Because either way this went, it wasn't good. Even if we did end up adopting this baby boy, it would come out of a place of desperation instead of a place of love like Daniel's adoption had been. And if we went home without the baby... we would have an empty car seat to bring home, a nursery that was prepped and ready that would stay empty, and an empty savings account. So yes, we were heartbroken. We decided to head home on Wednesday. But now we had to tell Daniel that we were most likely going home without a baby.

Even in just relating this story to you, this is the hardest part. We told Daniel that we were going home the next day but that we would not be bringing a brother home. He was sad and had some questions about why birth mom changed her mind but seemed to take in stride. Until he didn't. We were watching a movie with him, The Good Dinosaur, and there's a part when the dinosaur main character says goodbye to the little boy who had become his best friend and helps him into another human family. Suddenly Daniel was sobbing. *Sobbing*. He climbed into my lap and his little body just shook as he cried. He said, "We have so much work to do! We still have to find Emily and what about Henry??" We all just sat in a pile on that bed and cried and cried. I didn't know how many pieces a heart could really break into until that moment.

Remember how we had prepared and packed a bunch of baby things for our time in the hotel after placement? Well, the plan had been for Brian and Daniel to drive home while I flew home with the baby and the car seat and stroller. But since there was no baby, I wasn't going to be flying home with those items and they still needed to come back to Utah with us. So the car was still full. Full enough that I couldn't safely drive back with them. So Brian and Daniel left early that Wednesday morning to start the drive home and I stayed a few more hours in the hotel until Julie came to take me to the airport for my flight home. That was tough on all of us. And when I landed in the airport, where I had left just a week ago full of excitement and hope, I had a hard time keeping it together. Luckily I had my Diana picking me up from the airport and driving me home, so I didn't have to wait alone for Brian and Daniel too long. It was good to be together and home again, even if it did seem really surreal.

Grief is a cycle, you know? And in the beginning of the loss or trauma that caused the grief, the cycles are tight circles and you are constantly in that grief. Over time the circles get bigger and you are able to spend less time in the grief, but it always comes back around. It never goes away completely, but the circles get bigger and it gets easier to manage.

But this grief was (is) a little different. When we would meet someone who didn't know what we had been through and we would tell them we just lost a baby, we both felt the need to minimize that loss and quickly followed it up with "but it was just an adoption." JUST AN ADOPTION. It's hard to grieve for a child that you never even saw, in a situation you knew full well could happen. It's hard to feel like we're entitled to feel the sadness we are feeling because it was JUST A FAILED ADOPTION. 

So it took a little while for us to feel like we could really process the grief. Grief from the emotional loss, grief from the physical loss, grief from the financial loss, grief from the time lost. And we are still processing, although our circles are much bigger now. And that's due, in large part, to the love and support we have felt through all of this. From people that don't minimize what we have gone through and have helped *us* to stop minimizing it.

Friday, September 3, 2021

An Adoption Story: HOPE, Grief, Love and Faith

 Hello, Army! Thank you for sticking with us this summer. It was a rough ride at points and we’re so grateful for all the support and love we’ve received, and continue to receive. 

As part of our healing process, I’d like to share the story with you. 

I plan to do it in 4 parts, and post one part a week. It’s a story of hope, grief, love, and faith, so today we’re starting with HOPE. 

On April 2nd, our family was matched with a birth mother in Phoenix, Arizona, through an Arizona agency that had reached out looking for LDS families who were adoption ready. The gender of the baby was unknown at the time, but we didn’t worry about that because we knew that, of course, the baby would be a girl and be our Emily - why else would this birth mother have chosen us? We found out that night that the baby was a boy. And we were floored. 

The next morning was the first day of the April General Conference for our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). We prayed and listened anxiously for answers and reassurance about this situation we found ourselves in. During the second session that afternoon, we heard a talk all about adoption - and the speaker even told us the name of the baby girl in the adoption story was Emily. This was still very confusing to us!! BUT, we felt a lot of love and peace from this experience because, although we didn’t get a direct answer to our questions, it was made clear to us that God was very mindful of our family and our circumstances.

We were able to go down to Phoenix a few weeks later and meet this birth mother. It was a short, awesome visit and we felt even better about this match. We started thinking about boy names (though we still wondered if that baby would be born and the ultrasounds would be wrong and it would be Emily!), we took the pink down from the nursery, we went through Daniel's old baby clothes and blankets and pulled out items that would work for this baby, too. We continued to try to connect with this birth mother, but after about a week into May, we stopped hearing from her. The agency told us she was coming in to pick up her checks, but she didn't have time to do a phone call with us. They also told us that she wasn't making it to her doctor appointments. Those things were very concerning to us, but we kept moving forward. Our case manager wasn't worried yet, so we tried not to be as well.

At the beginning of June, our case manager told us that they hadn't been able to get in touch with this birth mother for about a week - they had no idea where she was or what was happening. They said they were checking with the hospitals in the area in case she ended up there and that they would keep us updated. After about a week, they finally heard from her and we got to have another phone call with her. She seemed super on board still, asking us if it was ok if she made the decision about circumcision for the baby, which we were, and everything felt like it was on track. She said she felt like she would be going into labor sooner rather than later and to make sure to keep our phones on! (She had invited me to be in the delivery room when the baby was born) So I started packing. I packed a diaper bag with what we'd need for the baby while he was at the hospital. I packed a carryon suitcase that I would use to fly to Phoenix that had enough to get me through the day or two it would take Brian and Daniel to drive down and meet me. I packed a larger suitcase with more baby items and clothes that we would need for our stay in the hotel while we waited for the paperwork to go through before we could go home. I packed suitcases for Brian and Daniel. I packed all the gifts that we had bought for the birth mother. And we were ready!

During this whole process, I really wished our temple would open. The Church had to close temples around the world due to Covid. And although I knew we didn't need the temple to receive assurances or answers about this situation, I really wanted to be able to go there and pray about this. I prayed that our temple would open in time for us to be able to go before this baby was born. And then it did. And were able to get an appointment to go on the very first day it was open. What an amazing and direct answer to a very fervent prayer! We went and we both had some very significant and sacred experiences that helped us to feel that whatever happened, we were on the right path.

The next afternoon we got a phone call that the birth mother had gone to her doctor appointment and they had sent her to hospital. It was go-time! We found a flight that was leaving in an hour and half, grabbed my carryon and the diaper bag, and Brian rushed me up to the airport. I made my flight and Brian and Daniel planned to drive down the next day. It was super exciting! We couldn't wait to meet our little Henry.