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Monday, June 5, 2017

13 Months Waiting

This post covers our 13th month in the adoption process. It's from April 29th - May 28th.

You can read ALL the details of our entire adoption journey on our adoption page here!


Continued thanks to Lemon Treehouse for our monthly "in waiting" cards :) 


Things Learned and Accomplished This Month:

This month was a BIG month of learning for us about this process. We learned a TON. 

On Thursday May 4th we were eating a rushed dinner because we had a crazy busy night as a family with Kye's Art Show and Payton's school play. I am constantly refreshing my email in hopes of seeing something from Casey Z. As we were sitting down to eat I did a quick check and there it was! A situation from Birth Mom #3! Much like our first situation, this was a rush-rush-rush type deal. Which was tricky because we had a SUPER busy night (after the play Mrs Charlotte was coming to help with garage sale stuff) and I have to have everything in the mail by the next morning. Reading through the email it all sounded super great. 

In comparing our three Birth Mom situations the first one I felt like "this could be it!" the second one I felt like "this is probably not it" and this third one I felt like "please, please be it." A LOT about this situation was super desirable for us. I had so much anxious excitement, it was tough to focus on the events of the evening!



This situation was different than any others we've seen because this expectant mama is incarcerated. The process is different and part of the difference was that I had to select 15 photos to have printed off and then write "about us" on the back of each one. The birth mom would receive these photos instead of our profile book. It meant a good bit of extra work because who has any printed pics anymore? When we were driving around that evening I talked through with Zach what we wanted to highlight about ourselves, our kids, our family etc. and mentally kinda knew what photos I would be hunting for. Once the kids were down, but before Mrs Char came over, I selected the prints and got them sent off. First thing the next morning I picked em up and rushed home to write the stuff on the back and then rushed again to get it all sent overnight to the needed location. 

All that going on AND we still got so much set up for the yard sale! 


Our life. In 15 photos. 

So. Much. Pressure. 



So, so much about this situation felt right. The baby is due in September which is the month we were hoping we'd deliver baby #4 if we'd gone the pregnancy route. Incarceration means the pregnancy is well monitored, the mama is well cared for, and there is a much less likely chance of drug use. This birth mama didn't use drugs and is very into health and fitness. 

On top of all of that, as part of our decision to submit to be presented, we had to call and speak with the lawyer working on the adoption. I instantly LOVED her. She was SUPER nice and sweet and has an office both in Florida and South Georgia so she'd be a huge asset to us. Their fee structure was much more reasonable and they carry over fees if there were to be a failed match. Speaking with her only got me more hopeful and more excited. 

We did decide to continue with NOT telling as many people about this situation. We didn't tell the kids. We didn't tell Zach's family. I told a couple close friends but that was it. I kinda just want to share it with a smaller group right now of people who are able to be excited with us and talk through my crazy random thoughts and concerns with me too. 

I'm SO thankful we have Casey Z. I told her about my excitement and she told me point blank that this situation wasn't just desirable for us, but for several other families as well. She said to guard my heart. 

It was a big blow reading that from her, but it's a blow I needed and appreciate having. I knew I had to set myself up for a NO on this one. I knew I couldn't allow myself to be excited. The first night we had heard about the situation I didn't sleep AT ALL. I had worked out every detail of this baby. I felt so much joy already about it. Having her email come through was tough, but I needed it. I needed to let go of all the imaginary plans "if this is our baby" and focus more on the likely chance that it wasn't. 

This experience was HUGE for me. 

In this process I've always thought about it from our perspective and the perspective of those who know our family. Of course a birth mama will choose us! We are a great family. We love our babies. We have so much more love to give. But up until this situation I hadn't thought about the birth mom's perspective OR the fact that it's not just about "choosing us" it's about choosing us over other families who are presenting. 

Basically I feel like we're contestants on The Bachelor but we don't know who the 24 other eligible suiters are. Obviously adoption isn't a competition and a birth mother/her baby aren't a prize to be won. But thinking about it in this way helped me to see it from a perspective of it's not so much about US as it is about the whole picture. 

These birth mothers are seeing so many wonderful families. And of course each of us are showing our BEST photos. Sharing our BEST parts of ourselves. Which makes it even tougher to choose! And families with no children? I can see how our family with three bio kids would be "hard to compete" with a couple who has struggled with infertility and just longs for a baby in their arms. Heck if I was a birth mom...I'd probably pick that situation overs ours too! 

Thinking about all of this gave me a lot more peace about this birth mom situation as well as for the entire process moving forward. I know it's going to take the EXACTLY right match for us for it to happen. We may see dozens of birth mom situations before it's "the one" and we really just have to have full faith in God's plan and hand in that! 

That Monday I went on my Disney Solo Day and it was great timing. I felt so much peace about the adoption process and it was nice to get away for a bit and come home refreshed! That following Monday (the 15th) I got an email from Casey Z letting us know that the birth mama did choose a family, but that it wasn't ours. 

It's still a punch in the gut no matter how prepared for that "no" you may be! 


Z was out of town but sent a super sweet text at the news


I'm thankful we had SUCH a busy day with friends! It really kept my mind off of things!


It got a little tougher that night since Z was gone and I was alone. So I did some shopping rather than emotional eating ;)


During the wait of the birth mom seeing our photos and waiting to hear her decision, we had an appointment to talk on the phone with another adoption lawyer to potentially add her to our list of people we're working with. We'd planned on working with their firm much sooner but every time we had an appointment scheduled to become active with them, we'd be presenting to a birth mom. The fee to have the consult and be added to their network was $300 so I didn't want to spend that if whichever birth mom we were presenting with picked us! 

Knowing that this 3rd birth mama probably wasn't going to go with us made me decide to KEEP our scheduled consult this time around. I'm so glad we did! 

Zach and I both spoke with Alice for 2 hours and learned a TON. She was wonderful and I told Zach that I feel like God keeps introducing us to so many amazing people that I'm so thankful to know are part of our "team" of support. Zach appreciated her fee schedule and her upfront and honest approach about the financial aspect of things. (Y'all. It's CRAZY how badly the adoption system needs to be overhauled and done in a more structural way.) I took a solid 8 pages of notes during our talk and feel like I truly understand the ins and outs of domestic adoption SO much better than I have up until this point. 

When we got the "no" from the third birth mom part of my peace about it came in knowing we were working with so many great resources! Surely we'll see more situations now that we have a wider reach! I also decided to FINALLY call the well-known local adoption lawyer in town. We have put off talking to anyone in Georgia because Florida is SUCH an adoption friendly state and Georgia isn't (Georgia gives birth parents 10 days to change their minds after they sign). But I've heard this lawyers name from SO many people. FOR YEARS. Even before we ever thought about adoption I heard about her and saved her name "just in case." When we first decided to adopt a friend stopped me in my car to tell me I needed to call this woman. During our yard sale several people also mentioned her to me and said we needed to call her. One lady was especially persistent about it and looked me right in the eyes and said "call her right away."

In this process I'm trying very hard to stick to my motto of "stepping out in faith" I look for God in everything and I believe He's been behind the constant recommendations to call Ms. Patti. Even just today I had a message from another friend recommending me to call her! I waited until we got that "no" and then gave her office a call the very next day.

Zach and I discussed it prior to placing the call and we both agreed that adoption is hard. It's hard if you match with a birth mom due in September and she decides to parent in July. It's hard if you match with a birth mom due in 2 weeks and she decides to parent the day the baby is born. It's hard if you match in Georgia and sign everything at the hospital and then when the baby is 10 days old she decides to parent. It's ALL hard. None of those options are ideal or what we want to have happen. But we have to continue stepping out in faith. What if our baby is right here in town and we hadn't even thought to look into it?

I had a GREAT phone call with Ms Patti and can see why she's such a "local legend." We emailed her some things and got some forms to fill out and planned a face to face meeting with her when we got back from Mexico. 

The biggest takeaway I had in speaking with both her and Ms Alice was that we need to do a better job of networking on our own. Spreading the word. Getting our profile book into the hands of people who may meet a mom who is considering a path of adoption. With Zach's job he sees TONS of people. Why not mention that we're looking to adopt to everyone he meets? Who knows what sort of connection they may have? My outreach isn't in the people I meet face to face but more in my social network of friends and acquaintances. Why not put up a post on IG and FB letting people know a little about what we're open to/looking for and to contact us if they know of anything that may be a good fit? You never know! And I NEVER want to put a limit on where God may be leading us!!!



When I made the social media post, I didn't really think about it all the way through. I assumed my connections would see it and maybe offer to keep a profile book of ours at their office or something. I didn't expect it to be "shared" on social media or as many times as it was! I had a few really great random people reach out to me. One is someone who works on adoptions in Georgia and she gave me two contacts of people to reach out to who see birth mothers pretty regularly (both are lawyers). One is in Florida and the other in Arizona. I'm still sticking to "close to home" right now so I am waiting a bit on Arizona but reached out to Florida. He added us to his list of families and he just sends mass emails of any situations he comes in contact with. He's sent us several already (none that were matching our specifics) and it's a GREAT feeling having yet another resource!!! Yet another reason to keep updating that inbox ;)

Our big goal was to have the nursery "sleepable" by the time we left for Mexico. Not completely finished, but far enough along where if we get a stork drop situation or a June baby or something we'd be able to have him sleep in there! It's def still got a good bit of a way to go with things but I'm also trying to space out spending and figure why rush and order everything when we have no clue how long the wait will be? It's smarter to spend slowly and to hunt for deals/wait for sales! 

I LOVE how this wall has turned out! My husband has SKILLS!


When Britt used this room, we couldn't stand it. And I kinda forgot just how much I can't stand this room until now haha It's TERRIBLE for arranging furniture. The placement of the HUGE window so close to the closet is just super tough. I moved all the furniture in the room around and around to try to figure out what the best possible option is for it. Our original plan was to keep the room as we had it for Britt's nursery with the changing table on the decorative wall and crib on wall beside closet. I want to use these large letters above the crib and just didn't like how it looked. It looked way too busy and too crowded to me! 


So I tried several different things out!



And really just love the crib against the decorative wall! Zach worked so hard on it and it needs to be shown off!!! We are going to do the changing table with dresser on the other wall and have the "OH BOY" over there :) 



Financial: When we started the adoption process Zach and I both agreed that we wouldn't be applying for ANY grants that could be taking funds from other families who may need it more than we do. We also didn't feel comfortable with doing direct fundraising like Go Fund Me etc. However, we felt find with t-shirts because I know I like getting shirts too and I know others would enjoy helping us and having something to show for it! We also loved the idea Robyn had about doing a yard sale fundraiser. 

It's a GREAT fundraiser idea for several reasons! We collected donations of items from local friends and family. This was great because it allowed our friends and family to be involved and help us by simply giving us items that they were already planning to donate anyway. We had SO many people donate items and I still can't get over how much STUFF we had!!! We appreciate it all SO much! 

It was also a great fundraiser because it was a yard sale. So people who were buying the items were going to buy them anyway, their money was just going towards helping our adoption rather than being some spending money for some other purpose. I didn't feel any guilt accepting donated items or selling them to others because that's what you do at a yard sale.

Then what was left we donated to a local charity. Which means all the donated items that didn't get sold were still donated to a worthy cause. Plus we will be able to write off this donation on our taxes which is further help in our adoption expenses! 


We also used it as a way for the kids to be involved. They helped make some baked goods to sell during the yard sale and had their own booth that they were in charge of running throughout the length of our sale!




Zach also went to Sam's Club and picked up several things to sell and we had some baked good donations too which was super helpful and thoughtful!


Our neighborhood has a community wide sale every 6 months so we planned to have our fundraiser sale during their spring sale. We got everything organized and set up in the garage on Thursday night then just got up SUPER early Saturday morning to drag everything out and finish it up.


We had so many cute clothes donated that I may have snuck a couple things into my closet haha



The morning of the sale Mrs. Charlotte, Zach and I dragged stuff out of the garage at 5 am and got all set up. We didn't price a single thing! We also had HUGE tarps on the grass and all the clothing items were organized by size and then just dumped on each tarp. I read an AWESOME tip for selling clothes at yard sales: have a bunch of grocery bags and have people "fill a bag for $5." It worked like a CHARM and is something I will do at any yard sale I have in the future for sure!!! You can really see how massive this yard sale was in this video!

Payton came to help too and the kids had quite the booth set up!


I had bought donuts for them to keep them busy and it def worked for Tess ;) 







Aunt Cheryl made this for us! 



Of course we had a ton of breakfast food and cold drinks assuming it'd be HOT like usual...and it was cold enough where we all wore jackets most of the morning! I think it affected the bake sale overall sales but Kye didn't let it stop him ;) 


So many sweet friends stopped by to shop and show support! 


Kye made us SO PROUD. He knew going in that it was a yard sale for funds for the adoption and he didn't hesitate. He didn't care that it wasn't money he'd get to keep, he wanted to help and was eager to do so. The girls lost interest very quickly but Kye never stopped. He sat at that table from 6:30-12:30 non-stop!!! He called out constantly about his items he had for sale and would say "come get your baked goods!" Even if there were only a couple people around haha! Here's a video


This child probably ate 20 donuts haha


So thankful for everyone who came out to help day-of too! We couldn't have possibly done it all without their help. I was SUPER nervous leading up to the day about the kids and keeping an eye on them with the busy traffic and all the people but it really all went so, so well!


Mema was there with us too but left before I could get a photo of her!




As it warmed up more people came for the food! I also realized a couple hours into the sale that we needed to be more hardcore about talking about adoption. I made it a mission to speak to each person who came up and mention that the sale was for our adoption fundraiser. I was blown AWAY by how many people have been personally affected by adoption. People shared their stories and it was amazing to hear and to feel those connections. 




Pizza for lunch!




And more donuts for dessert haha


These kids were such troopers!!!


It was hilarious because I told Mrs Charlotte to not stress about pricing. We didn't price anything and we didn't care what it sold for. We just wanted to make as much as we could! So when things started Mrs Charlotte was just selling. I guess she sold some pretty fancy sconces for like $5 and Z about died and told us from then on to ask him about any prices. Turns out he's like a salesman for a living or something ;) He really did SO awesome! No one ever asked a price and left without the item they asked about! Dude has some skills!!! And Mrs Charlotte and I didn't sneakily sell much when he wasn't looking ;) 



We appreciate everyone who donated their items, time, baked goods, and money to our fundraiser!!! It was a HUGE success!!!


Z counted it all up and we made roughly $1400!!!


Kye did such a phenomenal job and with his efforts he raised $225!!!


We sold a TON but still had a lot left that we were able to donate!!!


At this point in the game we have no other plans for fundraising efforts. I know many people have asked about ordering shirts and we may do another shirt campaign but probably want to wait until we're matched to do so! We'll see!

We also really are done spending any money for now too. We will have to start the process to renew our home study soon and that will cost a good bit but otherwise we're just waiting to be matched! Most of the situations we've seen require a TON of money (like $25,000) within 7 days of matching. We haven't looked much into loans and such yet either. I feel like that's all something that may make more sense to do when the time comes and the money is actually needed rather than start adding up interest on something! Plus you never know, a few of the lawyers we've talked with have had MUCH lower costs than we'd been planning on!

Encouragement: 

Seeing so many people share our post about adopting really made me feel so loved and it means the world to me! I love seeing friends post pics wearing the Step Out in Faith shirts too!


I've also had a few people reach out to me about breastmilk which is SO awesome and such an encouragement to me. It does make me feel a bit of anxiety about hurrying up and having this baby in my arms so I can take advantage of these kind offers of milk!!! 

I am always finding quotes and posts from others that encourage me along this walk:





In this adoption journey I've seen our anniversary trip to Mexico as a big shift in the process. We've said all along that we can't have a baby in our arms until after Mexico. Our flight and the trip weren't refundable so we couldn't do any due dates before the trip or weren't open to any stork drop situations until after we retuned home. After the trip our "waiting" will feel different. There is NOTHING that WE are waiting on or working "around" for this baby any longer. The future is an open book for us and we're just hoping and waiting. I'm interested to see if this stage of waiting feels differently. If it'll be tougher knowing that we're READY for a baby yet don't have one yet? 

Overall this month was such a big month of learning and of expanding our reach. I love thinking about all the people who know about us and who may just be the ones to meet our baby's mother and be the ones to connect us! How cool is that? We're currently working with 5 agencies and 2 additional lawyers PLUS all the situations Casey Z may see on her end and anything from anyone connected to our story!

I feel really good about where I'm at emotionally in this process. I think each birth mother we've presented to has taught us so much and I learned a LOT from Birth Mama #3. I feel more mature in my thinking on things and like I have a better perspective of the larger picture at hand. 

Zach and I were so excited and eager to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and the relaxing days in Mexico were JUST what we needed!!!


Goals for the Coming Month:
  • Keep working on nursery
  • Have Zach keep some of our profile books in his brief case and focus on mentioning our adoption plans whenever he goes
  • Begin seeing what the process is for renewing home study
  • Begin considering applying to agencies/lawyers outside of FL and GA
  • Wait patiently :) 

  •  I have PLENTY of adoption profile books and we have our own lawyer who can handle any parts of the adoption process, including answering any questions a potential birth mother may have. If you are in a place where you may meet potential birth mothers or happen to know of someone in such a situation, we'd be honored for you to think of us!!!
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