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.