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Archive for September, 2007

Scattered

Where do I start.  We covered so many things in our two day PAC training that I don’t even know what direction to move right now to get the ball rolling with information sharing. I will admit that we are both exhausted, head-achy, overwhelmed, and revving our engines yet unable to move.  Our jaws are also aching from that pack of gum we chomped to release our excessive nervous energy.

People would ask if we were excited to attend the PAC sessions.  Excited really isn’t all we were feeling.  Yes, we were excited to get the process moving, but were nervous of shattering our arms reach perception of how our process would unfold. There was also some uneasiness from knowing that some group bonding would be encouraged and along with frustration of forced learning of information we probably already researched.  Anxiety was also present because we knew we would get more information about the process and be able to move onto the next step, we didn’t really know what the “next steps” were.  I can honestly say the meetings met our expected rainbow of emotions, but in general everything went well.  It went from well to even better after we decompressed with some of our small groupmates over drinks after the 2nd day and realized they took the same things away from PAC as us.

We learned our process could take anywhere from 6 months to over a year, but so much is really unpredictable because so many things play into the time frame.  We learned about attachment and transracial parenting on the surface level, which we personally have already researched even deeper than presented.  The country specific information was a highlight and I had to fight back tears as I saw the amazing care the beautiful Ethiopian babies received in the CHSFS care center in Addis. We were very obviously divided into groups based on factors not confirmed but hypothesized to include income, previous infertility, and education level.  The majority of the families in our small group were just like us and we joked that these were the easiest forced friendships we ever made.  We will post more on these things and more later, but now I want to address where we are right now.

Three days ago I would have told you that we would be working all weekend to complete our paperwork and move forward in the home study process, but now I don’t think we will be moving that quickly.  Even though most of the information we received over these past two days was pretty basic, a small amount was incredibly thought provoking and involves additional conversations that need to occur unforced.  For example, we need to decide if we are open to a sibling set, multiples (twins or even triplets), or a single child. Also, we need to work through a two page list of medical conditions and check yes, no, or maybe to things like known birth conditions, developmental issues, medical conditions, and family background/exposure conditions.  We also need to compose separate essays to answer a list of 19 questions.  Obviously we have a lot to do, but before we can get started we both need to decompress and process.  We also need to make these decisions for us and on our own, as a couple.  We are fortunate to have a lot of family and friend support and along with that wonderful support comes many opinions and advice.  Most of the time that is a plus, but in this situation we need to decide for ourselves and by ourselves what we want.  I feel awful saying that, but since this is a new experience for us and many of the people in our lives, I feel the need to draw some of the boundaries.  Please do not be offended if we do not seek your advice or validate your suggestion, but we do appreciate the support you offer.

Since I want to share at least some of the basics about the training we just attended, I though I could at least list out our agenda below. Specifics and observations on each of these topics will follow in the next week or so.

Day 1

Small Group Discussions (Loss, Grief, Gains)

Attachment

Your Child’s Origin’s

Dinner & Small Group Discussion / Activities

Adopted Persons Panel

Birth Parent Panel

Day 2

Country Specific Presentation (1)

Country Specific Presentation (2) – we are only interested in Ethiopia so we got coffee with some small group friends

Lunch & Small Group Discussion / Activities

Transracial / Transcultural Parenting

Small Group Discussion &  Next Steps (homework, process, what to expect)

Post Adoption Resources

Parent & Children Panel

I guess the most important thing we took from PAC was confirmation that we are doing the right thing for us to grow our family. As we drove home, we both felt something we have not felt in the past 4 years of trying to grow our family.  We felt happy.  It sounds simple, but embedded in this new found happiness is some assurance that we are doing what we both want. This is the path we have chosen to bring children into our life.  It is for us, it makes us excited, and we already love that child that is waiting to be loved by us as parents.  We both were staring longingly at the two children recently adoption from Ethiopia in the final panel and knew that someday that will be us, talking about our experience and knowing that we still may not have answers to all questions in our heads, but that doesn’t matter as much because there is a child tugging on your hand, calling you mom or dad, and needing all the love and guidance you can provide as their parent.

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Transitioning

We officially start our adoption home study process with a total of 16 hours of meetings tomorrow and Friday.  For the first time in the process, I can say I am more excited than scared.

Deciding to adopt a child is a very personal decision.  Although there are two of us partnering on this endeavor, we are still two separate individuals with different needs, fears, and emotions.  While my husband was ready to move on to adoption earlier in the process, I needed time to adjust to the fact that as a woman I would be growing my family in a less traditional way.  I know how to get pregnant, or try at least, but I don’t innately know how to adopt. My body is programed to be pregnant, birth, and care for a child presented to me this way. I feared that I may not have the same maternal instincts with an adopted child.  Will those instincts kick in? Am I doing the “right thing” by taking a child away from their culture and imposing mine?  Will I be able to relate to my child and will they love me as their mother?  What if they have questions about their life before me that I cannot answer? For a while the questions consumed me. While we were undergoing our 3rd IVF,  I tried to prepare myself for adoption by reading adoption blogs, but it only freaked me out further. 

Once I realized that you cannot pursue fertility treatment and adoption simultaneously I was truly able to embrace how wonderful adoption is.  Although they are both processes with the same desired end, the mindset you need to be in is entirely different.  They are two distinct paths a family can pursue to grow their family.  A side by side comparison doesn’t work and just exacerbates the areas where each path needs a little reinforcement. Adoption cannot be a back-up plan.  When going through fertility treatment I was asked repeatedly, “Why don’t you just adopt?”.  There is no “just” in adoption.  The path each family decides to pursue is very personal and involves many factors – one is not a substitute for the other.  We could pursue additional treatment but right now we want to pursue adoption.  

Although my questions may not be entirely answered, I am not certain they ever will be.  I am OK with that now.  By deciding adoption is the path we want to pursue, answering those questions loses some urgency and my fear of the unknown shrinks.  With that fear shrinking, my excitement is able to grow and is doing so continually.    I know we will not be perfect parents, but I am certain we will be better than adequate.

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