Monday, November 30, 2009

End of National Adoption Month

I've really enjoyed blogging about adoption every day. Well, almost every day. It's a process I knew very little about a year and half ago, but it has become a passion and a cause for me. Adoption is such a beautiful process and sends mountains of blessings to everyone involved. I am always open to talking about it and if you have any more questions regarding adoption, you can ask them any time. I've even had some blog readers email me personally with questions, which is great too!

If you're like me and still can't get enough of adoption, I highly recommend you check out these two blogs. They are very dear to my heart and I've fallen in love with these women and their messages. They are so interesting to read and their very different journeys with adoption will leave you cheering for them.

The R House is written by an adoptive mother and adoption warrior. She is in the midst of a contested battle and pulling out all stops to keep her son.

The Happiest Sad is written by a birth mother who placed her baby after parenting her for nine weeks and loving her child enough to give her a mother and a father. This birth mother's perspective is invaluable. (Go back to her very first post and read it in chronological order. Oh, and have a box of tissues handy.)

And as a reminder, I'll be moving my blog tomorrow to Please follow me there!

Adoption Question 11

To close out National Adoptio Month, I have one final question.

Why do you have to wait six months before finalizing?

Jocelyn was placed in our physical custody on April 21, 2009, although technically she "belongs" to the adoption agency until the courts finalize our adoption of her. Jocelyn must be in our care for a minimum of six months before finalization can happen. This gives the agency time to do two to three post-placement reports to make sure we are treating the baby well and bonding and adjusting normally. This also includes the period of time the birth parents have to appeal their relinquishment, depending on the laws of the state.

If adoptive parents were found unfit to parent the baby, the child would go back to the adoption agency because that agency holds the legal guardianship of that child. After the birth parents relinquish their rights, they cannot get the baby back, even in the extreme case of the baby being removed from the adoptive parents' home. Before finalizing, the adoptive parents don't have the same legal obligation for the child as parents would. If the adoptive family decided for some reason that they could no longer parent the baby, the agency would regain custody of the baby and find a different family for the baby and there would be no legal repurcussions for that.

We filed the petition to finalize Joci's adoption the very day that marked her six months in our home. We finally got a court date, which is next Monday. I am very excited to legally make her ours!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Positive Adoption Language Part II

I know not everyone reads the comments left on my posts, so I'd like to share parts of a comment left on my last post about positive adoption langauge. This post was actually written by Troy Dunn of "The Locator" which I referenced in that post.

"There is no right or wrong answer, only personal preference.

For example, two of my very good friends are black. One of them refers to himself as "black", while the other insists on being referred to as "african american". I respect both of their requests and use whatever term makes them most comfortable when we are together.

So when you see me on the 'Locator' show using various versions of the 'adoption terminology', I am merely reflecting the preference of those whom I am with. I do have my own personal list of preferred terms, but those are irrelevant when I am with others whose lives are the center of our efforts. At those moments, it is their world and I am just spinning on it.

Terms come and go. Respect is forever."

Troy has definitely hit the nail on the head. For me, the terminology "placed" is important. But it's also key to use language that makes others feel comfortable. As a shallow example, when I sold jewelry, a good deal of people "mispronounced" the gemstone peridot. The Old Norman origins of the word suggest it be pronounced "peri-doh" but many people pronounce it phonetically. Both are technically acceptable, but I learned you don't correct someone or you'll lose the sale. This is example is a bit of a stretch, but it's important to use terminology that others are comfortable with.

Like any "politically correct" terms, some of these things may be a little too sensitive and it does no good to get offended by a "wrong" term. But language and connotations are very powerful, so it doesn't hurt to be aware of positive alternatives.

And speaking of "The Locator" it's a really fantastic show. Too bad we don't get new episodes until next March, but make sure to check it out.

Positive Adoption Language

Sometimes the terminology society uses has underlying innuendos and meanings that are negative and possibly harmful. Many common terms used when talking about adoption are those type of negative terms. Here are some of those terms and alternatives to use to break down stereotypes and negative connotations about adoption.

(sorry about the formatting.)

Negative term................................................Say this instead
Gave up (or put up) for adoption                    Placed for adoption
                                                                             or made an adoption plan
Real or natural parent                                       Biological or birth parent
Adoptive parent                                                Parent
Adopted child                                                   Child
Is adopted                                                        Was adopted
Keep baby                                                         Parent baby
Own or real child                                              Biological child
Track down                                                      Make contact with
Unwanted child                                                 Child placed for adoption
Illegetimate child                                              Born to
                                                                          unmarried parents

Those are just a few. I wasn't aware of these things until our first adoption class in Boise and I still slip up a lot. This language totally makes sense. The "negative" term I am most sensitive about is "gave up for adoption." After talking to several birth mothers, not one of them thinks they "gave their baby away". What they did was very courageous and loving. It's an easy flub because that is how society has always phrased it. I always said it too! But it really drives me crazy when people who should know better say it. Like there is this show on We TV called "The Locator" where an expert named Troy Dunn helps adopted children find their birth parents and vice versa. This guy is also an LDS bishop, by the way. Anyway, it drives me nuts that on the show they use the terms "gave your baby away" or "gave your baby up". As a modern show that is meant to be a feel-good program, it's just backwards for them to use that terminology.

Okay, that's my soap box.

Sorry for the lack of posts. We've been partying in Cody, Wyoming, with family for Thanksgiving and I've found myself playing Scattegories late into the night rather than blogging. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We Are Thankful

I wonder if it was a coincidence that National Adoption Month is during the month of Thanksgiving. With adoption, there is so much to be thankful for. We have a daughter -  the greatest gift that could ever, ever, ever be given to us. Our hearts our full when we think of this priceless gift given to us by Jocelyn's birth family and by our Father in Heaven. We are thankful to many who made it possible. People who meant to and people who helped us without knowing. So many were generous in uncountable ways.

"Family" is usually at the top of the "what I'm thankful for" Thanksgiving recitals. Hug your loved ones tonight. Your parents who love you the way I love Joci. Your sweetheart who you build your dreams with. And your babies. Hug them and love them. Tell them you are thankful for them. And tell your Heavenly Father while you're at it.

I am thankful for Him. He's one of those generous individuals who made our family possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adoption Question 10

Because November is National Adoption Month, I'm going to answer any questions you care to ask me about my adoption experience. Please post questions in the comments area at the bottom of any post. You can even post anonymously if you'd like.

After watching the season preview of "Find My Family" all about adoption, I was left wondering why people choose to place their baby without having an open adoption. Is it because they are ashamed of their choice?

I didn't watch this show but I read up on it after I got this question. The family featured in that episode placed their child 29 years ago. Back then (sounds like it was so long ago even though it really wasn't), open adoptions were unheard of. Agencies, counselors, adoptive parents, doctors, experts, everyone  thought closed adoptions were the way to go. This thinking seems to have originated during the Victorian era when sex, illegetimate children, etc., were really looked down upon. It wasn't until maybe twenty years ago that open adoptions first started cropping up. And that was with great resistance.

(Read more about the history of closed and open adoptions.)

For some reason, experts thought everyone would be happier to just be in denial about adoption. Assimilate them in. Forget their past. Seal the records and burn all indentifying information.

I remember watching a movie when I was a kid and it showed a woman in the hospital who just had a baby and it was being adopted. She delivered the baby and the doctors whisked it away before she could even see it. I remember her screaming, "Does he have ten fingers and ten toes?"  And that's the way it was. People were afraid of birth moms bonding or changing their mind. And the laws reflected those fears. Open adoptions weren't even an option.

I guess the experts figured that having a closed adoption would help the birth parents move on. Just pretend it never happened. Like that could ever happen. Adoptive parents were instructed to never discuss adoption with their children.

Go here to listen to a short radio program of an adoptee who found her birth mom when she was 30. She makes some wonderful, interesting points. She first asked her mother about her birth mom when she was fourteen, I believe. Her mother (doing what she was told to do by counselors) said that the birth mother was dead. The child knew her mother was lying. Asking about her birth mother was the most important question she would ever ask her mother and being answered with an obvious lie instantly bred resentment, hurt, and anger. Anyway, it's a really wonderful, short interview. Give it a listen.

Jocelyn's birth mom wasn't sure how open or closed she wanted to be. With our agency we decided to send 2 letters and ten pictures a month and if the birth parents wanted them, they could come get them at the agency. After spending days in the hospital with our birth parents and growing close to them, it was very natural for us to commit to an open adoption on placement day. We exchanged emails and phone numbers.

Last weekend when we were visiting our birth parents, our birth mom and I got on the subject of an open adoption. She said that at first, she didn't think she could move on with her life and heal with an open adoption. But she says she is so glad now that we are open. It means the world to her to see Joci and know she's well and happy, and how she's made us happy too. In the end, an open adoption has helped provide her with the healing she needs.

There are different reasons why birth parents may have a closed adoption. In reference to the show Finding My Family and older adoptions (those that haven't taken place in the last decade or so), there really wasn't a choice. I don't think they were ashamed. I think they were forced. Because their parents were ashamed, or society was ashamed. As for birth mothers now who actually have an option, I think most of those who want a closed adoption do it as a way of coping and moving on.

Monday, November 23, 2009

We Have a Court Date

On December 7, 2009, we will be in court for Joci's finalization.


I kind of wanted a November date because I thought it would be cool to have it finalized during National Adoption Month, but that's not really that big of deal.

I got a copy of the petition for adoption. This is in the very last paragraph. It was written by our amazing caseworker Claire from A New Beginning:

This appears to be an excellent placement for the Zierkes and Jocelyn Rose. It is with much pleasure that this worker makes the recommendation that the court approve the Petition for Adoption of Jocelyn Rose as filed.

That was really cool to read. I am so excited. I would love anyone who wants to and is able to come and be part of our finalization. You're officially invited!!!

Jocelyn and Claire

Adoption Questions 8 and 9

Because November is National Adoption Month, I'm going to answer any questions you care to ask me about my adoption experience. Please post questions in the comments area at the bottom of any post. You can even post anonymously if you'd like.

Would you adopt an older child?

Does it cost more to adopt a baby versus an older child?

The answer to the first question is quite possibly. Justin and I are finally at a point where we feel like talking about our next adoption and how we want to proceed with that. We haven't really searched our souls yet (we've been too content with Joci to really seek for that direction) but we haven't ruled a thing out. We are open to foster, international, and domestic.

To answer the second question, as far as my limited knowledge goes, I would say it usually is more expensive to adopt a baby than an older child. I don't know everything and there are exceptions to all situations.

International adoptions are often times more expensive than domestic (but not always) and it's very rare to get a newborn because it is such a long process. Most children are 12 - 24 months old when they come home. I've heard that in Ethiopia, a family can adoption a baby that is only a couple months old and our agency informed us that we could adopt from Columbia and find a baby as young as six months old.

The truth is that most adoptive parents want a baby. The odds of a child being adopted over the age of 3 plummet dramatically. It's easy to understand why. As a family made in a non-conventional way, adoptive families want as much time together as early on as possible to bond and make memories and raise their children the way they have chosen to. With babies, particularly newborns, you know their histories. Older children might have been abused, starved, neglected, beaten, or a many other of things that need to be addressed but can't be if you don't know. For me, I really wanted to experience having a newborn baby. I felt I deserved that because I don't konw if I will be able to experience it any other way.

So, looking at marketability, there is a supply and demand factor, which seems callous, but it's the way the world works. The demand is higher for babies, so there's more competition, marketing, and money that goes into that.

Most older children available for adoption are in foster care. The government has a lot of programs in place that offset the cost of adopting from the foster care system which makes it very affordable and sometimes even free.

There are situations when infant adoption can cost less. Like an independent adoption where the adoptive couple have located a birth mother on their own with little or no cost and with a smooth adoption, the court fees could be minimal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Latest Obsession

I can't get enough of this video. Funniest thing I've ever seen in my life

Our Family, Created By Divine Design

Justin and I met when I was a senior in high school. I had gone to Western Wyoming College to check it out and interview for a full-ride academic scholarship. I was interested in the theatre department and I met Justin. I don't remember him and he doesn't remember me, but we know we met. I had even gone to his apartment where I was introduced to some other students.

We truly met in September when I started school the next fall. We had our first official date at the end of September. We fell for each other immediately and spent every waking moment together. Several days later, we confessed our feelings for each other. It was happening too fast that it spooked me and we talked about that too. But the thing is, even though it was scary and fast, it felt right. We came up with our dating/life motto of "just let it happen." Don't force things one direciton or another. Ten days after our first date, Justin proposed to me and I accepted. We were married the following June.

We brought up our motto many times after that. Jobs. Moves. School. And more. It helps us remember that things happen for a reason and happen how they are supposed to. There are circumstances we just need to accept and be happy with. A better word for this approach might be fate. Or kismet. Or God's plan. Whatever you call it, we call it "meant to be."

Not saying that you can just be lazy and life happens in its fullest to you. Life still requires work and effort. But life can take a direction we don't plan and throw us curve balls. Like getting engaged within the first two weeks of college. Seriously, I was looking forward to playing the college field for a bit. :P

A huge trial of our faith came when we found out we were infertile. After seven years of trying we casually mentioned to our family doctor in a visit that it had been seven years with no success. He told us that was a problem. Around that same time I found a lump in my lower abdomen. To make a long story short, I have endometriosis and uterine tumors and Justin's swimmers aren't the best athletes either.

When we finally talked about adoption, our decision actually was made very easily. Again, we "just let it happen." We decided to keep proceeding with our fertility treatments. It was only logical  to finish the course of treatment we started, but we pursued adoption because in our hearts we felt it was what was meant to happen.

I could go on and on about the amazing "coincidences" that led us to the agency we used. Or looking back, how our let down by a couple of potential birth moms was really meant to be. There was one family we were working on being matched with. I was excited because it was the closest we had been to being matched, but something just didn't feel right. I ignored the feeling in the pit of my stomach because I just wanted so badly to be matched. We accepted the situation even though deep down I felt bad about it. It's no surprise that we weren't matched in the end, and I felt relief because I knew it wasn't right. About a month later we were matched with two birth moms on the same day. Instead of overthinking the situation, we just let our hearts make the decision. There were no lists of pros and cons, no lengthy debates. We just individually thought about both situations and a day later, we both knew. We'd found our baby.

I know I can get verbose. The point is this. Life is messy. Life is complicated. Life can't be planned, it can only be lived and enjoyed. God has a plan and it's always harder and always better than the plans we have for ourself.

My family was brought together by divine design. It's definitely not the way I planned it - it's way better. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us next.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

National Adoption Day

Today is National Adoption Day. Yep, not only does adoption get its own month, it gets its own day. Over 6,000 adoption finalizations will be processed today (through the foster system) and many lawyers and judges work for free today. I think it's so exciting that, by now, over 6,000 kids have permanent homes today!!!

For more info on National Adoption Day, go here.
We are in Boise right now and we got to visit with Jocelyn's birth family for awhile and go out to dinner and just hang out. It was so refreshing to see all of them. It was fun to be able to compare Jocelyn with her birth sister. We found out that her birth sister started teething at about 7 months, so maybe Joci will start soon. We found out her birth mom is allergic to bees, grapes, and coconut, so now we can watch out for that kind of stuff. It is obvious that they are doing really well and they are happy. It was a joyful reunion. It's fun that we got to do this on National Adoption Day, too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Off to Boise We Go

Tomorrow we're going to Boise for a visit with Jocelyn's birth parents. We're excited. It will be a fun weekend.

Yay for New Moon!

I'm so glad I'm a girl and enjoy things like this. I'm glad I have girl friends to sneak out from work to go see cheesy girlie movies. I'm so glad I have a hubby who was jealous he couldn't see it with us and has a date planned for the two of us to go to it next week.

Adoption Question

Do you think that in spite of your best efforts there might always be some emotional damage to navigate for Joci and how are you prepared to deal with that?

Thanks for this courageous question. I am really glad it was asked.

To the first part of the question, yes. I would be extremely naive and ignorant if I thought there would never be any tricky waters to traverse with Joci as she grows to understand her adoption and what it all means. The truth is, adoption is born out of tragedy. From the Ethopian child who lost his parents to AIDS, to the child of a rape victim, to the child whose parents know they want more for their child. It all comes from tragedy. In the end though, adoption is a healing option that can turn that initial tragedy into something beautiful. The legacy of the tragedy of adoption and the legacy of the beauty of adoption will be a part of Jocelyn forever.

This is on a tangent a little bit, but this car analogy is something that really helps put the adoption decision into perspective. This is taken from the R house blog.

a young man and a young woman are out on the lawn outside of a very busy street.

the child they are both responsible for runs out into the street. at the same time the couple becomes aware that there is a car coming at a very high rate of speed. there is no chance that the child will not get hit. the car is coming much too fast.

the couple as four options.

1. they can do nothing and watch the child get hit and killed by the car. the psychological memory of this inaction burned in their minds forever.

this is abortion.

2. they can both jump out and sandwich the child between them to brace the child for the collision. if they can stay together, there is minimal injury to the child. however, there is a 80-90% chance that they will split upon impact.

this is couples that try to stay together and/or get married because of a crisis pregnancy.

3. one of the parents can jump out in front of the car by themselves. injuries to the child are more substantial.

this is single parenting.

4. one or both of the parents can run out into the street and push the child out of the way of the speeding car and into the outstretched arms of a couple on the other side of the street.

this is adoption.

however, even with adoption, the birth parents always get hit by the car.

collisions like this are happening everyday, in every town and in every neighborhood.

for every 16 adoptions there are 1,000 unwed births.

for every 17 adoptions there are 1,000 abortions.

As for the second part of the question, while it's impossible to prepare for everything, I think we've taken the biggest step, which is awareness. By acknowledging that there will be tough times and sensitivities, we have taken a big leap in preparing ourselves.

More specifically, we have read books, attended adoption classes put on by adoption professionals on different kinds of topics, gone to counseling, become involved with FSA, and networked and befriended other families built through adoption to offer ourselves a support system (and in the future Joci will have friends who were adopted to confide in and relate to).

Another important preparation we have done is given Jocelyn the blessing of an open adoption. She will have the opportunity of having a relationship with her birth family. It wasn't her choice that she was born into the circumstances she was. It wasn't her choice that she was placed for adoption. It wasn't her choice that we became her parents. But we are giving her the choice of having a relationship with her birth parents and birth siblings. When she's older, she can determine the extent of that relationship. The choice will be hers. And empowering her with those kinds of decisions will give her confidence and security.

An interesting thing we learned from one of our classes was that in some ways, adopted children are like children whose parents are divorced. In a messy divorce where there's anger and power struggles between the parents, children are caught in the crossfire. They have feelings for both parents but aren't allowed to express them. These feelings are very natural, and in a situation like a messy divorce, children wind up feeling shame and guilt for these feelings, and that turns into resentment for the parent. In more healthy situations, divorced parents work together for the child and support the child. The child can openly express their natural feelings for both their parents without shame, guilt, or resentment.

Adoption can be the same. Jocelyn will have questions, concerns, and grieving. But by allowing her to express that, by being secure in our position as her chosen parents forever and ever, and providing her the opportunity to have a relationship with her birth family, she will be happier, healthier, stronger, and more confident in the end. She can openly celebrate both of the legacies that are hers.

Yes, adoption is tricky. Yes, adoption stems from tragedy. But it doesn't mean the tragedy is permanent or that emotional damage is unavoidable collateral damage. There are children with divorced parents, children with single parents, children with step families, and children in many other circumstances who experience as much if not more "emotional damage," for lack of a better term. And we know kids in all these circumstances that are strong, adjusted, happy individuals. Adoption is not that different.

By being aware, being secure, making connections, and seeking out as much education as possible, we are arming ourselves to help Jocelyn navigate those tricky waters ahead. With a stable, two-parent home, two sets of doting grandparents, adoring birth parents, and so many other friends and family members, this little girl has a lot of things going for her. Like the strong, beautiful, mythical phoenix, she'll rise from the ashes of her tragedy, taking that legacy with her and shaping a very wonderful future.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Frustrated

So I just spent an hour on a really great adoption post. It went to change something with the formatting and somehow lost the whole darn thing.


Two nights in a row without an adoption post.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Six Month Pictures

I will let these pictures be my adoption post for the day. Every time I hold my sweet baby or listen to her beautiful coos and sighs, I know that adoption is a miracle.

These gorgeous pictures were taken by the very talented Miranda Johnson of Sweetpea Photography. She also took Joci's newborn pictures. Take a peek at her blog for some additional photos of Joci from this same session.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things I Could Live the Rest of My Life Without Hearing Again

For some reason, people can say pretty tactless things when it comes to discussing infertility/adoption. I don't know if it's pure nosiness or just that it isn't commonly addressed in social situations so people don't realize what is and isn't appropriate. I know that the people who said these things to me did not mean to be insensitive, so I don't hold a grudge. But I've heard all these things multiple times and I would be as happy as a clam if I never heard another one of these things again:

Now You'll Get Pregnant
We've been hearing this from the moment we submitted our application for adoption to the day we brought Joci home. I'm sure it happens to a few couples. But it's not the norm. Infertility is a medical diagnosis that cannot be "cured" by adopting a baby. This is this most annoying thing I hear. And it's only a variation on a theme that I've been hearing for about five years - You Just Need to Relax and You'll Get Pregnant. None of the three infertility specialists I went to told me to "relax" or "adopt" to cure my problem, but countless friends and family have. I've never heard a well-intentioned person tell someone else with cancer, or appendicitis, that they'll be cured if they "just relax" or if they "just stop trying so hard." (Probably TMI, but we've tried for about 80 months straight. If we haven't been relaxed for at least one of those 80 months - despite the cruises, vacations, and whatnot - I suppose we never will be.)

On a different tangent, infertility is a major loss and there is a grieving process that goes with it. We grieve for the baby with Justin's eyes and my curly hair. But unlike those who've lost someone to death and they know that person is never coming back, our wound is reopened month after month. Don't you think the "maybe this month..." thoughts go through our mind? Month after month. That wound is reopened constantly. We are tortuously aware of that glimmer of hope. People pointing it out in this way just pours lemon juice and salt into that never healing wound.

Are You Afraid She'll Search for Her Real Mom?
No, I'm not afraid she'll search for her real mom because I am right here. I've changed her dirty diapers, cleaned the boogers out of her nose, comforted her when she cried, rocked her to sleep, paid for her clothing and medical appointments, etc. If you meant to ask me if I am afraid she'll search for her birth mother, the answer again is no. We have an open adoption. Joci will have a relationship with her birth parents. She already does.

She's Lucky to Have Two Parents
People assume that Jocelyn's birth mom is a teenage statistic. Her birth parents are actually married and supportive of each other. They made their adoption plan together knowing it would be best for their daughter. I honestly don't mind questions about our adoption - I love to talk about it! But I get tired of assumptions.

I Could Never Give Up My Baby
Just count your blessings that you've never been in a situation to even have it cross your mind. I know our birth parents didn't make this decision based on what was "best for them." It was what was best for Jocelyn. And I am so touched and proud of their courage to make such a painful choice. Sometimes I wonder if people who say they "could never do that" really don't have as much love and courage.

Why Didn't/Don't You Try IVF?
People say this as casually as "Why did you get a Honda instead of a Toyota?" These choices are a lot more complex and not interchangeable in the slightest. It's a very personal question as well. IVF is very expensive with low odds. One month treatment is extremely expensive - most people can only afford to try once, let alone multiple times to compensate for the low success odds. IVF is physically taxing. Daily injections of hormones that effect moods, self-esteem, and overall health in general (my hormone therapy weakened my bones and caused me to lose about 1/3 of my hair). IVF also raises muddy ethical issues like the chance of having to selectively abort fetuses (or refusing to - anyone hear of Nadya Suleman?) or what to do with "leftover" embryos.

The decisions we made on how to grow our family were private and personal. These decisions did not come easily. We did some soul searching for our own needs, desires, and tolerances, and ultimately we hit our knees and took our problems before God. By questioning why we didn't chose IVF or asking whether or not we'll try it in the future feels like it belittles Jocelyn's adoption miracle and the divine direction we received for our lives.

Aren't You Afraid the Birth Mom Will Come to Take Her Back?
I'm not. Know why? I ask her. I talk to her. It's one of the benefits of having an open adoption. She sees how happy Jocelyn is and she knows and feels that she made the right choice and that we are her parents. This knowledge and reassurance is just one of the fringe benefits of having an open adoption. Plus, there is no legal way that could happen. It's called kidnapping.

You Still Visit/Talk to the Birth Parents? or I Could Never Have an Open Adoption
These comments are usually said with a derisive tone. I can tell these people are uncomfortable with the idea of open adoptions. That's okay. It's not for everyone. But like all of this, it was not a decision we came to lightly, and it is the best decision for us. It was seven months ago when we took Jocelyn home and it still is today. It's not for everyone, and that's okay. If those people ever adopt, they can opt to have a closed adoption. But we are happy and secure in our decision and if you can't support it, keep your mouth shut.

Are You Afraid She'll Have Problems?
It irks me when people automatically assume that adoption causes severe emotional problems. I had someone close to me tell me while we were doing our paperwork that all adopted children have reactive attachment disorder (a very uncommon disorder where children don't emotionally bond properly). Sometimes I just want to ask annoying things back, like "You have three kids sharing a room? Are you afraid they'll have problems?" or "Remember how you snorted Smarties in seventh grade? Are you afraid your kid will have problems?" or "Your son likes to play dress up with his older sister? Are you afraid he'll have problems?"

We know things will come up and we actively learn all we can to handle those things as best we can. Research has proven that adopted children tend to do better in school, have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to do drugs. It's really offensive that people assume she'll have problems because she was adopted.

Okay, so that's my rant for today. I know I was very honest and maybe even bordered on rude. But seriously, these things are rude. And I've heard all of them - more than once. They're hurtful and disrespectful. We love our baby girl and the journey we went through to get her. It is no less than a miracle and we'd do all again - in the exact same way - in a heartbeat.

Adoption Is About Patience

It's a lesson the Lord obviously wants me to learn. Again...and again.

And again.

I have to especially remind myself of that now as I anxiously and very unpatiently wait for a court date for our finalization. See that pretty little counter on the right? It's counting down to our sealing date which is in less than a month. But that event can't happen until we have our day in court.

Not exactly sure why things are taking so long. My caseworker is on top of things. My lawyer is on top of things. (I contact them weekly and am getting peskier all the time.) We have the "ideal" adoption - instate, both birth parents support the adoption, overseen by an agency so all documents and such are in order. When we signed the petition for adoption with our lawyer in October, he said that we would have this done by Thanksgiving, easy as pie. Well, Thanksgiving's coming. We don't have a date yet. Chances our, our court date will be about three weeks out from the time it's scheduled.

See why I'm getting nervous?

At least the judge who will finalize us is a longtime colleague/friend of Justin's. We specifically requested him. He'll push our date through fast enough.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ghost of Christmas Past

Christmas is so much more fun with kids, isn't it? Jocelyn hasn't even had her first Christmas yet, nor will she even really "get" this upcoming one. But still, my mind imagines those Christmases in four or five years when Jocelyn truly is filled with the magic of the decorations, the carols, Santa (I accidently typed Satan first...please don't let her be filled with the magic of Satan), Christmas trees, special goodies, fun traditions, and all the wonderous joy the season has to offer.

I already feel like a kid again.

I can't wait for her to get her first Barbie. Her first LiteBrite. Lincoln Logs. My Little Ponies. Pogo Sticks. The Candyland game...

Oh, I guess I'm a little retro. There are probably much cooler toys now days. But it got me thinking and missing my good ol' toys from the '80s.

What toys from the '80s do you miss? Are there any modern toys you just don't get?

Lady Lovely Locks - one of my favorites. I had the castle and the pony.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Adoption Question 6

Taking Questions

Because November is National Adoption Month, I'm going to answer any questions you care to ask me about my adoption experience. Please post questions in the comments area at the bottom of any post. You can even post anonymously if you'd like.

How often do you talk to the birth parents and how long do you have to keep in contact with them? 

We write letters and send pictures to Jocelyn's birth family at least twice a month. We have a phone call every couple of months.

Our decision to be open with the birth family is not legally enforceable after finalization. But why would we want to ever stop our contact? The reasons we chose to have an open adoption are to benefit Joci, her birth family, and us for years and years.

Our baby's birth family has really become like extended family to us. I wish we had more phone calls and emails, but they don't always have access. I miss them. We're going for a visit next week and I can't wait to see everyone.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Favorite Adoption Story

Ever since we officially decided to adopt, I've been kind of obsessed with it. I think it's a necessary obsession because adoption is a lot of work. I'm obsessed with other people's adoption stories because they are all unique. And they are all the same.

I learn so much from every story. I think it's important to be open to learning because the "hard" part of adoption isn't over. Adoption is hard, period. And always will be.

Like when Joci asks why other kids her age don't have birth moms.

Or when she has to do an assignment in school about genealogy.

When she asks why her birth family placed her for adoption.

When despite all the answers I can give her - and her birth parents can give her - she feels rejected and unwanted on some level.

But there's a lot of love and a lot of healing that can soften these hard parts.

I find strenght in the examples of others. Know who my favorite example is?

Joseph, the earthly, adoptive father of Jesus Christ. The man God trusted to raise His only child.

Have you ever thought of him that way?

I hadn't until recently, and it brings on new meaning for me in Joseph's role. After the accounts of the holy birth in the Bible, we don't hear much about Joseph. But by reading between the lines, it becomes obvious that the was a caring, patient, adoring father.

The picture above is a painting called Joseph the Guardian by Kendra Burton. She has some beautiful things to say about her journey of creating this painting. If you're interested, read about it here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Considering Foster Adoption

There are about 500,000 children in foster care right now.

According to 2006 statistics, 79,000 children in foster care were available for adoption.

A child in foster care will live, on average, in three different homes.

Each year, almost 25,000 children "age out" of foster care. Many of these young adults wind up unemployed and even homeless.

81.5 million Americans (40 percent) have considered adopting a child. If just one in 500 of these adults who considered adoption actually adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family.

Just something to think about. :-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Drama, Drama, Drama

This morning, I was ready to run for the razors. Not a "slit my wrists" kind of way. No, this was in a "I'm going to shave my entire head like Britney Spears" kind of way.

And as I was holding a pair of hair scissors in my hand, my dear husband stopped me. I kid you not. They were in my hand.

Seventeen bad hair days in a row will do that to you.

And I tell you that God works in mysterious ways. I called my salon this morning, praying for an appointment sometime this week with the ultimate hair diva, Amy. Last time I booked an appointment with my stylist, it was eight weeks out. So the fact that I was able to get in today for a cut and a color with two different time options to choose from is nothing shy of a miracle. Someone upstairs knew I needed a break.

I visited Joci before my appointment. She was happy and having fun. Then onto the salon. I wasn't totally crazy for freaking out about it because even Amy said, "What is going on with your hair?!" Two cups of Aveda tea, 20 grams of customized color, one hand massage, and two and a half hours later, I loved my hair again.

(Just a little plug - if you need a great salon, you need to go here. You'll love it. I promise. So worth it. Oh, and tell them I sent you.)

We put in caramel and cinnamon highlights. So fun. The pictures don't capture the beauty of it. It's perfect for autumn. It's like the hair form of pumpkin pie. And pecan pie. And cinnamon hot cocoa. All things delicious this time of year. :) And while the cut doesn't really look that different, it's way more manageable and a more flowing shape. Hallelujah!

Whispier bangs and a nicer shape. The style is a little flat because I was in a steamy bathroom for awhile (read on for an explanation)

See the pretty caramel and red highlights?

So I dashed to pick up Jo from daycare. She was sounding pretty wheezy. She has a sinus infection and is on medicine for that, but she kept sounding worse and worse. I went to the store and was bothered by how shallow and fast her breathing was. I called my sister who is a pediatric nurse at Primary Children's in Salt Lake. She advised me to time her breathing. If there were more than 60 breaths in 60 seconds, she needed to see a doctor. Well, Joci had 81 breaths in 60 seconds, so off to the doctor we went. After a breathing treatment to rule out asthma and allergies, it was determined that she has RSV.

She'll be home the rest of the week. She'll sleep upright in her carseat in our room tonight with the humidifier. Every few hours we'll turn our bathroom into a steam room for a little therapy. And we'll just keep a good eye on her to watch for signs of it worsening. It's a virus, so we can only wait it out. If it gets really bad, then we'd be off to the hospital for oxygen. But for now, Joci is doing alright. She's still smiley and playful, so that's good.

Here's our little sickly gal:

Adoption Question 5

Because November is National Adoption Month, I'm going to answer any questions you care to ask me about my adoption experience. Please post questions in the comments area at the bottom of any post. You can even post anonymously if you'd like.

How did you get in touch with the birth family and get Joci?

When we decided to adopt last year, we knew we wanted to go through an agency. We researched several and to make a long story short, selected the one we felt most comfortable with - A New Beginning. It's an Idaho agency headquartered in Boise but they have contracts in different states so we could be promoted in Oregon, Texas, Alabama, Utah, and Florida as well.

We advertised on our own as well. We made "pass-along" cards and gave them to anyone who would take them - friends, family, doctors' offices, schools, clergy, etc.

Last October, one of Justin's clients knew a pregnant teen who was considering adoption. She wanted to meet us. So we drove out to that town and met for dinner. It went really well and we all liked each other a lot. This young lady invited us to her ultra-sound which was only a couple weeks away. After that night, she kind of disappeared off the face of the earth. We don't know what happened to her, but we hope for only the best for her and her baby.

In late March, we'd gotten a call from an agency in Utah that A New Beginning was contracted with. There was a birth mom who was very interested in us and we scheduled a conference call. We had that call on April 1st. It went very well. Her caseworker said she loved us and needed to think about things, but we were probably who she would choose.

Literally not even five minutes after that call, our caseworker called us. I thought it was to see how our call went. Nope. A family in Boise wanted us to adopt their baby. Several days before, on a Sunday, they came knocking on the agency's door. The agency is closed on Sundays. But it just so happened that on this Sunday at this exact moment, the agency director had popped in to grab something. She heard a knock and answered the door. Both our birth parents were standing there in tears, asking for help. The director talked to them for awhile and let them look through all the family profiles. When they returned the next day, they had our profile memorized. The agency always asks birth parents to have a first-choice family and a second-choice family just in case the first-choice family doesn't work out for whatever reason. This couple absolutely refused to make a back-up selection. It was us.

We were floored! Two families? And on the same day???? Crazy!!! What a hard, yet exciting decision to make. Justin and I decided we wouldn't talk about either situation with anyone for 24 hours, but just ponder them ourselves. At the end of our 24 hours, we had both came to the same decision. The baby in Boise was our baby.

And Joci came just a couple weeks later on April 17th. She was 3 weeks early, so it was a bit of a shock to get the call from our caseworker that said, "Your daughter is being born right now! Come to Boise!" And the rest, as they say, is history.


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