Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh, right! We have a blog!

Once upon a time there was this woman named Julie. She and her husband planned to adopt a child and decided to create a blog to keep all of their friends up to date. But one day, Julie woke up from a long summer and realized she hadn't put up a blog post in THREE MONTHS!

Suffice it to say that if there was major news on the baby front, we would have posted something. We promise not to leave everyone out in the cold when we are matched with a potential birth parent or get wind of anything that might be exciting. The only news on the baby front is that the agency's fabulous director mentioned that they were getting busy again for the fall. Perhaps another nod to the "Blizzard Baby" phenomenon?! But we haven't heard anything about a potential match yet.

And, since we were *bored* (or something), we decided to buy a house. OK, not really because we were bored. The prices, low interest rate, and knowledge that our baby is indeed coming made us decide to move forward. So we are leaving our beloved Arlington for the big city! I always thought we were pretty cautious people (OK, Bill is cautious. I'm more impulsive.) but we started the loan pre-approval process on August 3 and we close on September 20! Super fast! It's a great row house in a fab neighborhood and we are psyched!

I figure that one of two things will happen. Either we will move in and 15 minutes later the phone will ring and we'll have a baby on the way, putting me into cardiac arrest, or we will move in and busy ourselves so much with unpacking, making the house fabulous, and throwing dinner parties that when the phone rings we'll be completely surprised. Hey, whenever that phone call comes, I'll be over the moon!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Thoughts

June is our anniversary. Not the anniversary of our wedding date, or of the start of a new job. No, June marks the anniversary of when we first started trying to conceive. It's been four years, this month.

The most recent news from our agency is that there aren't many birth families that they are working with right now. So I need to retrain my mind for what is likely a long wait ahead. Another year or possibly two. And while so many of us keep thinking that we're going to be the lucky ones -- those with a short wait, so fabulous that we're snatched right up off the waiting parents list -- the reality is that it's likely to be another year or more and that I will be less heartbroken if I can stop living day to day for that phone call and instead just live my life, take vacations, enjoy wine and sleep in. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm blue and left feeling like after working so hard and waiting so long already that it feels just maddening to have to continue to wait.

HOWEVER, the wait will be worth every moment. You may not anticipate what I'm about to say. Yes, of course the wait will be worth it for the baby that was meant to be ours and the chance to finally become parents. But it will also be worth waiting because our agency works incredibly hard to support birth parents to make the right decision for them and their families about their babies. As I recall, our agency connects with more than 300 birth families each year and finalizes 20 or so adoptions. Yeah, that's a small percentage. But it means that those families have been supported fully in their decisions, whether or not the choice is adoption. And that's critically important because that wasn't always the case for women.

I'm reading a book right now, shared with me by a friend who is also an adoptive parent. The book, The Girls Who Went Away, is a study of the girls and women in the late 50s, 60s and early 70s who were forced to give their babies up for adoption. Unwed, pregnant women had few options and no voice in making decisions and were routinely sent away to group homes to live out their pregnancies, give birth and sign away rights to their babies. These young women were made to believe that they would be unfit mothers and undeserving of raising their children. If they tried to fight to keep their babies, they were often presented with a bill for thousands of dollars for room, board and medical expenses, which meant that signing a release was the only option. This was in the time before Roe v. Wade and girls were not only left to trust their boyfriends to take care of birth control but also had no choices in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. And these girls carried the guilt and shame of stigmatizing their families.

So these girls were sent away to institutions and special centers, often hundreds of miles from home, with little support from their families. Friends and neighbors were told of a sick aunt who needed care or a special opportunity to summer in a faraway place. And these girls went, had their babies, and were told they would forget all about them. That they would move on and another, more deserving family, would raise that baby. And these girls were sent back home to pretend that nothing had happened, that that little life they carried for nine months meant nothing and to just get on with their lives.

But of course they couldn't and didn't. They thought about those babies every day for the rest of their lives. They remembered tiny toes and buttery skin and wondered, forever, if their babies were okay and if they knew they were loved. Some turned to drugs and alcohol. Some never reconciled with their families. All grieved. And some reconnected with their biological children later in life, often leading to finally coming to peace with what had happened.

I can only read this book in small doses -- it's extremely emotional. And while we will be so happy to have a baby through adoption, I don't forget for a moment what these birth families are giving up so that I can become a mom. As someone who has wanted to be a parent for at least five years, I can't imagine what it must feel like to decide that the best option for you and your baby is for someone else to raise him or her. But it relieves me to know that now women have options. For some, abortion is the right option and even though adoption is how we will build our family, my pro-choice stance hasn't waivered one inch. For others, maybe the right choice is to raise that child alone, or with less means than one would like, or to have a parent, grandparent or sibling become the primary parent. And for others, adoption is the right decision and for one of those babies, Bill and I will become dad and mom.

I guess what I'm trying to say is thank goodness women have choices about their bodies and their families and that our agency works tirelessly to support women in making the right decision for them. And that every day that we wait for our little one and every day of our little one's life we will be in awe of that birth mom who made the most selfless, difficult decision of all on behalf of her baby.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Still waiting...

Not much happening, but I'm feeling lame that we haven't posted anything in awhile, so I thought I would at least put something up since I know people are keeping their eyes peeled for news!

We know we've been shown at least once to a birth family, so that's good. And while we're bummed that the fabulous Director of Domestic Programs at our agency has stepped down, she is being replaced by the equally-fabulous social worker who did our home study, so I hope that will help in some way, since she knows us so well. But at the end of the day, the birth family makes the choice, so it's still very much up to fate and when it's meant to be.

In the meantime, I'm trying hard not to be totally restless. We still have plenty to do -- we need to get the nursery together and start registering for the things we know we'll need so that if we get a call with little notice, we can just pull things off the registry and be ready to roll. And we need to research child care options and get ourselves on some daycare lists.

But it all still seems far away and sort of unbelievable. It's hard to remember a time when we weren't wanting to try and have a baby or actively trying to have a baby or grieving the loss of a baby or filling out paperwork to adopt a baby. And while I logically know that little Green-Murray is on the way, it's still really hard to imagine. But I can't wait! I hope that phone rings with good news soon! Come on, phone call!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This is National Infertility Awareness Week. While we are thrilled beyond measure that we are going to become parents by adoption, and while I feel firm in my belief that this was the path always meant for us, there will forever remain scars on our hearts from our little ones lost and the years-long journey through the dark forest of infertility.

To commemorate this week, I'll just share the following link to a well-known infertility blog. The comments list -- a compilation of "what ifs" from women and men who are currently experiencing or have experienced infertility -- is a powerful and emotional reminder of where we have been. CLICK HERE.

Reading through them brought me back to some hard times. But I am so elated to replace many of my own IF statements -- for instance, it's no longer IF I'll be a mom, but WHEN I'M A MOM!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Julie and I are (only three weeks in to the waiting) are feeling very well taken care of by Barker. We have been matched with and met with two mentor families who are incredibly helpful, open and nice; we have attended our first (possibly of many) waiting parents group; and just recently attended The Barker Foundation's annual conference.

The conference was just full of great information and people. The keynote was given by Collins Tuohy, sister of Michael Oher (if you're not familiar with either of these names, see The Blind Side). While her delivery was a tad tone deaf at times (she twice referred to "Orientals"), her message was basically a good one - don't think, just go out and help. Now this talk was also a tad awkward for this audience because her message was all about adopting a child to do a good deed. Admirable as that is, it is not the reason Julie and I (or I suspect many adoptive parents) are adopting. We are adopting because we want to be parents, not because we want to be saints.

The closing speaker was Scott Simon (he of NPR Weekend Edition Saturday fame) who was, as you might imagine, a fantastic speaker. He and his wife have adopted two girls from China and he has a book coming out this summer called Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption. He was an articulate and funny speaker who hit all the right notes about adoption and parenting.

In between these two speakers was an afternoon of breakout sessions that covered topics like transracial adoptions, blended families (families with birth and adopted children), and open adoptions. These sessions were extremely helpful but really reinforced that my education about adoption is just beginning.

I often wonder if I will be able to keep all this in mind while dealing with everyday parenting. There can be so many levels to parenting an adopted child that it seems like it can be overwhelming to keep it all in mind. Though I suppose all parents feel like this and most do great so I'm sure I will get there. The mountain always looks more daunting at the bottom.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Because I know y'all were worried...

I'm happy to report that the FBI has finally declared that I am NOT a hardened criminal!

That makes our homestudy officially complete and approved. And per my last post, now all we have to do is wait to be matched with our little one! :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And then they were waiting...

I'm loathe to admit it, but the completion of our paperwork and submission of our photo books lacked some anticipated drama. I expected to be overjoyed to be done with all the "work" (prior to the REAL work that lies ahead!) but I honestly was in a little bit of a funk for a few days.

I majored in music in college and studied flute. I practiced for hours every day and in my senior year, I spent the entire year working on really challenging repertoire for my senior recital -- April 30, 1995. Every ounce of energy was spent preparing for that concert. The culmination of my music career to that point, starting with picking up the flute in the 4th grade. Friends from near and far and family were there to watch. I bought a special (and now totally dated) outfit and fabulous (and, yes, totally dated) shoes. I walked onto the stage as proud and confident as I'd ever been. And I remember that I wasn't at all nervous. I knew that music cold and I got to just revel in the pleasure of playing for the audience.

I expected that once the concert was over, I'd feel great relief. All that work -- now over! I could now just cruise through the end of senior year, having fun with friends and hanging out! But I woke the next morning about as blue as could be.

My friend Beth, who had studied psychology, "diagnosed" me with what she called (or I remember she called) post-transcendent fulfillment letdown syndrome. My funk was a "now what?!" disorder -- I had lived so much of that year in preparation for that one moment and now that that moment was over, what was I supposed to do? Who was I? Where was I headed?

So I thought of that "condition" (and Beth, wondering if she'd made up that name or if it's something real!) when the paperwork was done, the photo books printed and delivered. The work of the last several months was over. Now what?! Now we wait. We reorganize. We talk to other adoptive parents (our fabulous agency has connected us with some mentor parents). We read and research. We register. We celebrate the little moments we have together, because sooner or later, there will be three of us. Funk over.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Off to the Races (almost)

The photo book and dear birthparent letter are done and IN from Shutterfly! The agency seemed to like it and our social worker used the word "love" three times to describe it, so we done good! They look so, so nice and I'm really pleased with how they capture our spirit and energy! Oh, you'd like to see it? Sure! I think it'll work if you just click HERE.

We'll deliver them to our fabulous agency in the coming days. The only thing left outstanding is the issue of my FBI background check. Since I have unreadable fingerprints, they have to search me by name, which I suspect means they won't find me because, to my knowledge, I am not a hardened criminal. But we've been waiting on this to get taken care of for 3-4 weeks now, so hopefully we'll have that done soon. Because when it does, we are officially out there, waiting for our baby!

So I am officially allowing myself to start the fun stuff -- we got rid of some old furniture this weekend and bought a lovely, compact desk that will sit in the corner of the nursery. It will house, among other things, our new MacBook (which we HAD to have for the baby, of course). We have a little more re-org to do on that room and then we can paint, get a crib, and start decorating! FUN FUN FUN! Thanks to all the friends who have been sharing their lists of what we do and don't need -- if you have advice, please share.

A colleague told me today that I'm glowing and I have to say, I've never been happier!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Julie and Bill, THIS IS YOUR LIFE!

After a few too many days of fun looking at paint swatches, cribs, and reading "Baby Bargains," I finally got back around to work on our photo book and "Dear Birth Parent" letter. Without those, I won't really be needing that pretty little nursery I'm getting all excited about...

For those that don't know, domestic adoption is done through a matching process. The birth parent(s) have the opportunity to choose who they want to raise the baby. So while we don't have lengthy dossier paperwork as is required in an international adoption, we do have the task of putting together a photo book about our lives along with a letter about us, our families, our values, and how we will raise our child. For me, this has been the hardest part of the process so far.

First, the letter. We want to show our appreciation for the birth parent(s) who is/are selflessly choosing what is best for their child, which is to be raised by another set of parents. As someone who has desperately wanted kids for years, I can't imagine being pregnant and realizing that you aren't in a position to be a parent to that child. And at the same time, my heart is full of compassion and empathy for someone faced with that decision, and incredible appreciation that that decision will lead to us fulfilling our dream of becoming parents. Then, we want to share in this letter that we're pretty fabulous people -- well-rounded, good families, lots of support, fun and responsible. And finally, we need to share how we will raise this child. What will life be like in our home? What are our hopes and dreams for this child, who we do not yet know? How will the birth parents be incorporated into our lives? All this in under two pages that have to be woven into the context of our photo book.

So the photo book has the letter woven throughout, with lots of photos illustrating things the letter talks about. Lots of pictures of us together, us with family, us as babies, us with friends, us on trips. All I can say is, thank goodness we live in the digital age and we could create the whole thing on shutterfly, because I am SO not the scrapbooking type. Can you picture me with all those fancy scissors and stickers and scrapbooking pages and shit?! Yeah, me neither.

So after about 6-7 hours of work, the draft of our photo book and letter have been emailed off to the agency and our fabulous social worker for their feedback. With luck, they'll love it and we can get several copies from shutterfly. Once they are in-hand at the agency, AWAY WE GO! We will start being "shown" to birth families whose criteria are a match with ours. And then it's back to painting, furniture shopping, and all that fun stuff!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quick update!

I know that certain friends are awaiting an update and some (ahem, Megan...) have noted that we need to step up and post updates more frequently. So here's just a quick update on where we are:

1) After interviewing all of our references (THANK YOU, DEAR FRIENDS!) our fabulous social worker submitted her draft of our home study report to the agency a few weeks ago. She is awaiting (or perhaps has received) comments and edits from the agency's director of domestic adoption so they can finalize the home study. I am hopeful that we'll get to see a copy when it's all done!

2) Unfortunately, I seem to have illegible fingerprints. After submitting a second set and having them also come up unreadable, the agency is going to discontinue that process and have the Commonwealth of Virginia do their search on my by name instead. The agency thinks that we should have all of our state clearances soon, despite this hiccup.

3) We are in the process of writing our "Dear Birth Parent" letter and putting together our photo book. The letter and photos will be given to parents to give them more of a sense of who we are and will be how we will be chosen by a birth family to be the child's adoptive family. So far, the letter has been the hardest part of the process. As you can imagine, it's full of emotion -- heartache for the decision the birth parents are making, incredible appreciation for their selflessness in choosing what they feel is best for their child, excitement in sharing how we will parent our child, and hope that this letter will compel someone to choose us to become parents. So not a simple thing to write... I hope we can have drafts of both done within another week or so to show the agency.

In short, I think we're 3-4 weeks away from being Parents-In-Waiting. It's amazing that we've moved through this process so quickly and to be almost to this stage...

Which means that we are also starting in on the fun stuff -- researching cribs, picking colors for the nursery, etc. I can't tell you how amazing it was to go looking at Babies R Us recently, after years of shopping there for friends. And after sometimes not going near any baby stores because it was just too painful. This is really going to happen!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Update and more

So we had our final meeting with our social worker (Rebecca) and everything seemed to go great. All we have to do now is wait for her report, which I believe will suggest that we are approved to adopt. Then comes the big wait. Will it be two months or two years? Who knows?

Now onto the "and more" part of the entry, which will be the vast majority of this post. So, as you know, we went to visit my family in California a couple of weeks ago. It was a wonderful visit! We got to spend great time with our niece (Emily), our nephew (Hayden), my sister, my brother (in-law but the brother part is the most important) and my parents. Usually when we visit my family we generally spend time with everyone all the time. This time we tried to have a little bit of extra time with individual people. My time with everyone was precious but I am going to talk about my time with my dad. We just made time to go see a movie (Avatar in 3D - such a great movie!). But it got me to thinking about all the time and activities we've shared over the years and all the things I hope to share with my child. It is impossible to name everything my dad shared with me - the subjects are too numerous and there are many that I'm sure are a part of me but I don't remember learning. However, here are the things I can point to in no particular order:
The 49'ers
John Wayne movies
Action movies in general
The SF Giants
His stories about growing up

But the one thing that is most a part of me is photography. My grandfather gave my father an SLR in that late 1970's - a Fujica. That was the camera with which I learned to take photographs with the help of my dad. I learned to take pictures in Yosemite, which is possibly the most beautiful and most forgiving place to learn. Everywhere you turn there is a beautiful scene. It was easy to build my confidence - especially with the help of my dad who was quick to encourage and offer tips. Photography is now my creative outlet and my zen activity. When I am taking pictures everything else melts away. It is my way to connect with the moment and leave all concerns and stress behind even if only for one shot. The result of all this is that I have managed to take some decent photographs. Some of them are now on display at the Cherrydale Library in Arlington, VA. If you are in the area and feel like it, stop by - my photographs are pretty good and so are the photographs of the other artist on display. If you're not in the are and interested, here is the link to the photos:

More to the point I hope and dream that I will be able to have that kind of connection with my child and to share with them something that gives me so much pleasure. It gives me great pleasure to think about sharing my passions and interests with my child but it also makes me anxious to know that I have such a responsibility. I will do my best to live up to that responsibility.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Things are moving -- and quickly! We had our first meeting this past Tuesday with our social worker, Rebecca. She is fantastic! She very quickly eased our minds, expressing that her role in the process is as advocate and support to us as we move forward. While she will still be in a position to evaluate our readiness, it seems that she is in a position to get us ready, not "turn us down" for adoption. (Which I think has been obvious to everyone around me, but given all we've been through in our parenthood journey, it's hard not to believe that we'll hit roadblocks...) We had a 2-hour conversation which flowed wonderfully -- it felt much more like a dialogue than an interview. She's coming over to our house tomorrow to meet again and, while here, will walk through our cozy home and meet with each of us one-on-one. She's actually condensing three interviews into one evening, which is fantastic! Then, Rebecca will write up the home study document, which we hope will express that Bill and I are approved and will be fabulous parents! :-)

Beyond that, we need to do a short online training, put together our photo book and a "dear birthmother" letter and then we'll be officially waiting! With domestic adoption, it's a matching process, so we will be put forth as a prospective adoptive family where our "qualifications" match the desires of the birthmom or birth family. Which means we could be matched in a few months or in a few years.

One question that Rebecca asked is how we'll handle the waiting. Honestly, the wait feels fine to me! I know that I may get itchy if/when we hit the year mark. But given the sometimes minute-to-minute, day-to-day anxieties of the fertility process (am I pregnant? am I still pregnant? will this cycle work? etc.), this wait just doesn't feel hard to me at all. And because this time, it's a matter of WHEN instead of IF. So exciting!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Unexpected Gift

Bill and I are back from our trip to California -- we had a great visit with friends and family and a lot of bonding with our niece and nephew. I miss them terribly already! The good news is that we have our first interview with our social worker on Tuesday, January 26 -- yay! I am so thrilled to be moving forward.

We started contemplating adoption in the midst of our fertility struggle, and then seriously last March, but it wasn't until fall 2009 that we really started moving forward with our plans to adopt. And now, just a few months later, it feels so completely amazing. For the first time our journey toward parenthood feels "right."

And I think what's really on my mind most these days is what a gift adoption is for me in ways I never expected. A gift in all the ways I feel I am growing and learning about myself and the world around me as I look at life through the new lens of adoptive parent and through the eyes of our someday child. As I think in very deep ways about race and what it will mean to likely raise a child who not only doesn't share our ethnic heritage but may also likely be subjected to others' racism. I'm thinking about our child's birth parents, who will have selflessly given their child to us to raise, which will be an enormous loss for them and for my child. I'm thinking about how we will incorporate our child's birth family into our lives and that it will be what's best for our child, but may at times be challenging emotionally. I'm preparing for the first time my child tells me that I'll "never really understand" them because I am white and was raised by my biological parents. It's all hard to think about on one level, and on another, it's completely invigorating. I love being stretched in this way and thinking about how Bill and I can provide not just all our love to our child, but also support and connections and an open and trusting relationship that will ensure that we tackle the hard stuff together, as a family. Somehow, I feel more ready for this than for all the 3:00 AM feedings that await us...

For Christmas this year, we gave a book, "Adoption is a Family Affair," to all our immediate family members. It's a great book (though perhaps a little harsh in tone) and a good primer for us to all be on the same page as we welcome our child into our family. Some of our family and friends have already read it, which means the world to me -- that we're all together thinking already about what this child may need and what makes raising an adopted child different from raising a biological child. I recommend it and look forward to my continued thinking and having deep discussions with so many family and friends as we continue down this road... It's all helping me to grow and getting me ready to be a mommy...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another step forward

Good news today! We heard today from the Barker Foundation that they have received all of our paperwork and assigned us a social worker. The next step for us is to schedule our appointments/interviews with the social worker. After the four interviews the social worker will write up a report that hopefully approves us. At that point we need to put together something of a scrapbook (more like a photo album with words) about Julie and I that will be put in front of birth parents. Then it is up to the birth parents to choose. Could be a couple of months or closer to two years but it will happen. Exciting!