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Friday, February 16, 2018

Adoption FAQ: Post Placement Process

Adoption is a very in-depth journey and I love that I'm learning SO MUCH about it as I'm living it and that I'm able to share my knowledge with others. I get asked a lot of questions regarding post placement and wanted to take the time to answer them all in a single post!



What is Post Placement?

There are six phases of our adoption process:

Phase One: The prep and paperwork phase. Becoming home study approved. Deciding what path to take in the adoption journey.

Phase Two: Waiting to be matched. Presenting to birth moms and waiting for that "yes!"

Phase Three: Waiting for baby to be born. Connecting with the birth mom, making preparations in the home for the new baby.

Phase Four: Waiting for papers to be signed. The days between the baby being born and when parental rights are signed over from the birth mother to the adoptive parents.

Phase Five: Post Placement. The time period after the rights are signed but before the adoption is finalized.

Phase Six: Adoption is finalized!

Our family is currently in Phase Five: Post Placement. Mama E signed over her parental rights to us (and our lawyer) on December 3rd, 2017. Just 40 hours after Spear was born. From the time she signed those papers until the adoption is finalized we are considered to be in the post placement stage of the process.

What this means is that Spear isn't technically ours yet. Technically the lawyer is his guardian too and we're just the caregivers and not officially, legally his parents.

When will it be Finalized?

We aren't sure. Typically it can take around 6 months total time from the start of post placement until finalization.

What Happens During Post Placement?

During this time a lot of paperwork is taking place between the lawyers and government offices. From our end we will have two post placement visits with our social worker (the same social worker who did our home study). During these visits she'll come to our home and see how Spear is developing and adjusting. It's much more casual than the home study but still important for her to see that he's in a safe, loving environment and to see that he's adjusting well and thriving in our care.

She will have two visits with us and after that will then give a report to the lawyer who will file that, along with all other paper work, with the court. Once it's all filed we will then have a date for finalization!

Since Spear isn't Legally your Child, what about insurance?

I was pleasantly surprised about insurance. I don't have a birth certificate or a social security card but they didn't even bat an eye about adding him to our policy. Maybe it's because we already have other children so we have a family plan and they just added him?

I've also been surprised that NO ONE has asked to see his post placement paperwork. I took it to all the drs visits with me and not a single one needed to see it.

What Happens at Finalization?

We may or may not have to travel to Florida to present in front of a judge. Most likely, we will be able to FaceTime with a judge or speak with them over the phone and not have to appear in person. During that discussion the judge will ask us some questions (I haven't been prepared yet as to what they will be but I'm picturing something similar to "This Is Us" ha!).

We will also have to have a notary present to sign documents and then the judge will rule that Spear will be officially a Parker!

At that point he will have a new birth certificate listing Zach and I as his parents and will be given a social security card.

What does Finalization Really Matter? 

Spear is already ours. He's our son. In our hearts and to our family he's OURS. But the finalization makes that legal and official. And that is something worth celebrating! At that moment the adoption journey will officially end for our family and all of our days of waiting in some form or another will come to an end. It will be an exciting day and one that will be special for our family as it will legally give Spear the last name of Parker!!!

Will You Have a Finalization Party?

It's a controversial thing among some of the adoption community to celebrate finalization because some people say that it's like saying you didn't accept the child as yours until it's "official" (insert eye roll here). He's our baby already, but who doesn't love a reason to celebrate?!?! Gaining our last name is a big deal and celebrating the end of this adoption journey is something I'm looking forward to as well! So, duh, we plan to have at least a small get together!

What Costs are Involved in This Stage?

We have to pay for each post placement visit from the social worker ($250 each visit). I don't believe there are any additional expenses for finalization as I think they were all included with our up front fees once we were matched with the lawyer...but it wouldn't shock me if at some point we had to spend more ;)

What about Mama E?

A question I get asked frequently is what the relationship is like, or is going to be like, with Spear's birth mother.

From the start of this process she is in the driver's seat as far as what she'd like regarding communication or lack there of between us. Zach and I have been open to whatever we all decide is best and comfortable for each of us. Early on Mama E expressed wishes to have no further communication with us after placement.

Our in writing agreement with Mama E is to mail photos and an update to the lawyer every month until Spear is 1 and then yearly until he's 18. She can choose to pick them up at the lawyer's office or they will also keep anything we send in a file for her and she can come get it whenever she may choose. Maybe a month later, maybe several years later, or maybe never at all. The lawyer told me that often times they don't get responses from birth mother's regarding picking up things but then years later they will come by express an interest to have the photos and such. It's really whatever she wants and feels comfortable with.

Technically our adoption plan would be considered "semi-open" because there is an official line of communication and exchange of photos and updates but no set plans of meetings or get togethers.

I wasn't sure how things would go with Mama E's relationship with us following Spear's delivery. We had formed a very close bond prior to his birth, but everything shifts once he's placed in my arms and I understand that. I struggled a bit at first. I'd think about her a lot and worry about her. I just kept thinking about how hard it must be for her and I wanted to be there to comfort her.

I read a message someone else wrote in an Adoption FB group I'm in regarding feeling very much the same way I felt. Someone commented and said that the birth mother is grieving and that as the adoptive mothers we simply can't be the one who comforts them in that grief. It can't be us. While that's hard for me, it also makes SO much sense.

We still text occasionally. The first week or so after Spear's birth it was more frequent but it's faded out as he's gotten older. Which I've also read is very common. It's a delicate balance and very tricky for me. I know he's ALWAYS on her heart but I feel awkward randomly texting her with a photo of him or telling her about his milestones or even just checking in on her because I think it may cause her pain to see him or think about us.

So sometimes I randomly text her and sometimes she randomly texts me but it's nothing scheduled or planned or regular and it's not an ongoing conversation or flow of texts like I have with friends. And I'm not sure what will happen into the future. I don't know if she'll want to get together in person at some point or keep things as they are or draw closer or further away. It's all truly up to HER. Just like we were here for HER through her pregnancy, we're here for HER now. It's about what she needs and what best helps her!

My personal hope longterm is that the door stays open with her, especially since Spear has biological full and half siblings and I think it'd be so wonderful for them to all know each other on some level! I'm truly content though with letting Mama E decide how frequent we talk and if a face-to-face meeting is appropriate. Boundaries are very important for both sides and if she does ever desire more of a relationship with him/us we will all work together to figure out the best fit that makes everyone involved the most comfortable!

For now though I'm sending the photos and updates and continuing to pray for her and continuing to remind her how much she's loved and appreciated!

Will Spear Always Be Labeled "Adopted"?

No.

Adoption is the path that brought him into our lives. And just like I talk about my labor and delivery stories with my bio kids, I'm sure Spear's adoption story will be talked about too. Adoption is the start. But there is SO MUCH MORE to Spear than the fact that he was adopted.

On my blog you will always see posts on adoption. It's an area that there isn't a lot of info out there about and I think this is an opportunity I have to help educate others and provide a real life example of adoption for those who are considering it for their families. While I will probably always have adoption related content...all of my Spear related content won't be mentioning adoption. My adoption page won't be constantly updated with all of his weekly updates. It will only be updated with new adoption related content. My instagram won't have #adoption of every photo of Spear.

Again, it's his start. It's not WHO he is. He was adopted...not is adopted. It does not define him. Not to our family. Not as a person. Not ever.

I know many people handle that differently and there is no right way to do it. But for our family and for my son I want to just have him be ours. Simply and purely our child. There is no need to point out that he's the "adopted" one. There's no need for me to have my bio say "Biological mom of three and adoptive mom of one!" I'm just simply their mama. ALL of their mama!

As things come up in life that are related to his adoption, we'll discuss them. As I'm sure his start will play a role in his future...just like it does for us all. But I just never want him to be set apart from our other kids or to be singled out or to be labeled or judged or thought of in a different way on some level.

When Will Spear Know He's Adopted?

I had a sweet boy say to me "It makes me sad to think about the day he realizes he was adopted." Our plan with handling Spear's knowledge of his birth story and biological beginnings is to be very open and honest from the very start. I don't picture some sit down conversation when he's older...I picture him growing up always having that knowledge.

Just as much as I don't ever want him to be set apart from our biological children, I equally want him to always know about Mama E and his bio siblings and to always have the fullness of knowing how loved he is by TWO families. He's still hers even while he's also ours and he'll be raised knowing that and appreciating that.

His story will always be one of positivity and as a reminder to him that God has had such a HUGE role in bringing him exactly where he is!

Any Advice to Those Considering Adoption?

Pray. Pray. And then Pray MORE.

I have zero regrets over anything throughout our adoption process because we truly just trusted God to lead us in every single aspect of it. SO many moments were reminders of His presence and He provided and blessed us in such HUGE ways. We owe all the glory to Him!

If you feel like the Lord is putting adoption on your heart...get ready! I had an adoptive father tell me when I first started feeling that push that "a woman on a mission for adoption is dangerous so tell your husband to watch out and buckle up!" When the Lord puts it on your heart He really puts it there. So often the woman does feel it first and my biggest advice is DO NOT PUSH. Present your feelings to your husband and then tell him to wait and pray. I'm SO thankful I gave Zach time and space to come to his own conclusions about the decision as it allowed us BOTH to be equally committed to this process!

If you would like to read every detail of our adoption journey be sure to visit our adoption page here :) If you have personal questions you'd like to ask...I'm always an open book! You can email me anytime at journeyofphood@gmail.com. Also for lots of cute baby pics be sure to follow me on Instagram!
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Spear's Week Two Summary

This post covers Spear's second week of life ( Dec 8th - Thur Dec 14th...but since a big event occurred on the 15th I went ahead and extended this post through that day!). He was 1 week old during this week!

We were also in Florida this week for the second week of our ICPC stay. This week, though, was MUCH less hectic than the week prior and for that I'm SO thankful. While it was lonely on my own for most of the week, it was also such a wonderful opportunity to truly relax, get in a good rhythm and routine, and BOND with my son. I'm very thankful for this special time we had together. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it!

Feeding: This week I shifted from 2 oz bottles to feeding him 3-4 oz per feeding. I had a good stash of breastmilk with me and my goal is to do two breastmilk feedings a day until he's 6 months old then 1 a day until a year old if I'm able to have enough milk (got any to donate? email me at journeyofphood@gmail.com our family has been SO blessed with milk donations!).

He took the bottle great but was a SLOW eater. Which frustrated me b/c I had assumed bottle fed babies would eat quicker? I was wondering if it was my nipple on the Medela bottles so I did switch to the medium flow nipples on my Medela bottles and it helped a little to speed him up! He didn't gag or choke or spit up so I felt like he could def handle the quicker flow!

He did also have some cluster feeding towards the end of the week where he seemed hungry earlier and tended to eat more. So I assumed it was a growth spurt!

Nothing in there buddy ;) 






Sleep: While it was so lonely being solo that week, it was also SO nice having a space completely to ourselves and able to just fully focus on him and his needs. We got into a great routine very easily. He continued to go three hours between feedings and continued to have very, very little awake time. He took so long to eat that he'd typically go right to bed after. He also slept great at night but with his weight concerns I set an alarm to make sure he was eating every 3 hours. 

His schedule was: 7, 10, 1, 4, 7, 10, 1, 4. 

It was ROUGH having that little sleep for myself but I did like just sticking with a solid 3 hour schedule even through the night because it made the days the same every day too. I'm a believer in starting Babywise at birth and even though he wasn't two weeks old yet, he was already falling into that natural 3 hour schedule and natural 7 am start time for the day!

Spear's 4th bedroom...the master closet at the condo ;) 


Burrito Baby!








Already starting to shift in his sleep!


And breaking out of the swaddle!



I bought a new battery for my Snuza before Spear was born and brought it with me for ICPC. I bought the battery direct from the company and it was SO frustrating that it had issues. It would go off randomly and just didn't seem to work the way it had in the past. I'm not sure if it's a battery issue or product issue and I need to call (Spear is now 10 weeks old...I still haven't called haha). It's all I had with me (I have an older Angel Care monitor at home) so I did the best I could to make it work!


Dude sleeps HARD and does NOT like to wake up! His deep sleeping made me eager to get to a point of just letting him sleep at night rather than waking him!


Moms on Call Schedule for this week! I ordered the books (here) but they'd be delivered to my home address so I purchased the app (here) so I could compare it with Babywise and try to combine the two for him!


He did have a few fussy times, especially towards the end of the week where he was cluster feeding/growth spurting. I had brought along a travel swing and gave it a test run with him (it didn't help haha)


I also had a sweet set up with Spear's DOHM sound machine and my diffuser! My first "oily baby" ;)


Other Stuff with Spear:

My ICPC changing table!


My must haves:

Young Living Seedlings Baby Oil


I diffused some Sniffle-Ease for him because he seemed pretty congested to me and I figured it could help!


I also started giving him Probiotic Drops each day (I buy the ones with Vitamin D because I know auto immune stuff is being mega linked to a Vitamin D deficiency so I wanna do everything I can for all my babies!). 


I also got some Saline Spray for him to help with his congestion.


When he gets the hiccups I give just a bit of Gripe Water...the dosage seems like SO MUCH to me so I just give a bit to help! 


Boy Probs haha


He's also my first tush-less baby haha child has NO BUTT and his diapers completely come down! So frustrating because he ends up peeing all over everything in his crib!


Prayer Hands!


Trying out our bouncer for the first time!


This is totally a new mom wardrobe! It's interesting to me that I did NOT give birth yet I still just really have craved comfort clothes during the newborn phase! 



Sending selfies ;) He's always looking sexy in a suit...


while I'm makeup free and scrubbing in ;)




These are a few pics I didn't post there ;) 




That hair...so handsome!




And we had his first Disney Day! I shared this in a Disney group I'm a member of and I was blown AWAY with the amount of love on it! A lot of people use that group to complain and people just loved seeing something so happy and positive. Disney people are so my people ;)


I also mentioned Spear's eye in an earlier post. It def looked worse this week to me than the week prior. Swollen and red and bruised on the lid but everything I read said not to stress it!


The day after Disney (so on Wednesday) we had our FIRST DAY of just totally relaxing ALL DAY. It was literally the first day of his LIFE where we didn't have a lot going on!!! Crazy right?!?! 13 days old and FINALLY just RELAXING! It was such a great day and Thursday was a repeat of the same thing. Two full days of bonding and resting and sleeping (and blogging for Mommy!)









By Thursday I was getting very nervous about being able to go home over the weekend. Zach and I weren't sure what to do. I wanted to be together as a family. I couldn't handle a full weekend alone after the several days solo. I wanted him to just come down with the kids but at the same time I didn't want to have him make that trip with them and find out we could go home ya know? It was a delicate thing with the timing and we just had no clue if we'd get the go ahead to come home on Friday or if it'd be into the following week!!! Eeeek! 

As a compromise I debated checking out of the condo and we could travel somewhere further north to be closer to home and have Zach bring the kids just for the weekend to that location which would be way closer to home than Orlando. I'm so thankful to everyone for their suggestions of places to stay! I did talk to the condo where I was staying and they were SUPER sweet and said they'd kinda "pre book" my room to keep it held for me in case I needed to stay past our plan of me checking out Friday. 


I had a bit of a breakdown Thursday night after 5 pm when I hadn't heard anything. I had been refreshing my email like a bazillion times and I just felt so disheartened that I hadn't heard anything. I was SO READY to be HOME with my whole family. It was just a moment of weakness for me and I just had to have a  bit of a pitty party about it!



In the end we decided for me to just stay in the condo. Zach waited to come and we decided IF we heard we could come home on Friday then he'd rush down and help me leave (I had too much stuff to all fit in the vehicle I had) and head home. If we didn't hear then he'd load up the kids and come down for the weekend. 

Sure enough I got THE EMAIL at 8:30 Friday morning! We were cleared to LEAVE!!! Whooo hoooo!!!!!


Zach rushed down and while he was on his way I got everything packed up and ready and loaded the car. It was funny b/c I literally could have gotten everything in IF we hadn't decided to leave some of the other kids' stuff down there from their last visit. Oops! Zach was so precious in his excitement and I was so amped that I wasn't even too nervous about the long drive! I was just SO PUMPED!!!

Spear and I actually didn't wait for Zach to arrive before we headed out. Zach met with the real estate agent at one of the houses we'd looked at to look at it again since it was such a good opportunity to do so and then he went to the condo and grabbed the rest of the stuff and hit the road behind us!

Officially two weeks old and headed HOME!


I stopped every hour to get Spear out of his car seat. The drive was a BREEZE thanks to all my energy and excitement! We stopped at a Chick Fil A again so I could feed him and that's when Zach caught up to us!!! Oh my goodness he's never looked more sexy to me. Such a sight for sore eyes and I was just SO HAPPY. 



We got home to THE BEST welcome. I wish I could have had it on video. Keeli happened to be driving by and she said she saw the kids come running to us and she started crying haha so sweet! They were waiting outside and just RUSHED to us. Jumping up and down and just SO HAPPY. It was THE best moment EVER! 

They had made an adorable, precious Welcome Home sign for us too!


HOME as a family of SIX!


Proud big siblings!!!


They all just wanted to hold him right away!


So, so thankful to be together forever!!!



The realtor sent donuts for the kids too!


Omg SO SWEET to come home to a clean house AND flowers!!! 



And all the packages haha!



First changing in his room!



At. Last.



Whew so thankful week 2 was more relaxing than week 1 but even MORE thankful knowing that week 3 would be at HOME all TOGETHER!!! 

Love this precious boy and will always cherish this quality time we had together at the start of his life!























Videos from this week:
Sibling Comparisons:


Out of all the kids I think he favors Tess the most. I know, I know he isn't blood related but it's still fun to see the similarities ;) 


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