Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Update from the adoption agency.

After a period of silence from the adoption agency, we got two updates yesterday.

Carla is doing better.  She's still in the hospital, but has been given day passes.  She seems less manic.   Yesterday, she walked down to the agency to speak to the birth mother counsellor.  She wanted to ask her to pass along this message to us.

It's a boy.

:))

Oh, my goodness!  It's a boy! A son.  Our son.  Wow.  

I'm feeling so much more comfortable with the fact that this is going to happen.  That our hearts aren't going to get smashed.

A couple of days ago, I went shopping for baby clothes.  I bought a ton of stuff.  Half way though shopping, I was feeling mildly disappointed with the gender neutral offerings.  I decided what the heck! I am going to buy boy things and girl things!  I thought, I could quickly wash what we need and return everything we don't need once the baby arrives.  

I've had it all displayed on our couch for days.  I just love looking at it.  It makes my heart sing.  I like showing my family it.  It makes it all feel more real.   So what if we can't sit on the majority of our sectional couch.  ;)

This morning, after I heard the news (via email), I put away the girl clothes.  I hid a note amongst all that remained, that says "I'm a boy!" and "My name is S (boy name) not C (girl name)" I'm waiting for D to get off his morning call so I can show him.   I wonder if he'll even notice, hehe.

All is well in my world today.  I am so thankful.  Things could be so different if it wasn't for Carla.  We are lucky.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Carla and looking back to two years ago

There hasn't been much word on Carla.  The agency hasn't had a lot of communication with her, because only family is allowed in the hospital.   The hospital social worker has been communicating with the agency and she says she is doing better and may get to go home soon.

I'm doing a digital clean up this weekend of my computer.  Mostly my pictures, but I'm getting my documents in a little better order too.  I came across this poem I wrote two years ago, just after my 33rd birthday and after my 8th treatment had failed.

While the two years in between writing this were a lot of the same, I'm grateful to be in a different place now.  The pain that existed in so many moments for me is fading.  There were times that I didn't think that it would.

I guess I should read the writing,
It’s on the wall
I don’t want to
I don’t want to

It’s so painful to never know why
Despite so many tries

So many needles, so much medicine
I thought it was just a matter of time
Or another dime
Before it was our turn
Used to think it was for a lesson to learn

Why couldn’t it have worked?
Not in the cards, not in the plan
That is simply just something I can’t understand

So much invested
So much taken away
So heartbroken
Wishing the babies just stayed.

A current beneath the flesh
That will always run deep
We won’t forget you
Even though sometimes we might try
Endurance can get ugly

It’s only to forget the pain of
Living our life without you
Just isn’t the same

Families are growing
But loneliness is around us
Even God seems further way

Am I supposed to move on now?
I don’t see how
I don’t see how
How do you travel beyond

We will never get over this
It’s too painful to erase
Too many scars, sitting in just this one place

Each passing birthday
Just reminds
The part of ourselves
That we just can’t find…

Trying to fill the void in any other way
Just doesn’t work

But I’ll try anyway?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Carla's in the hospital

Thank you very much for all of your kind words on my last post.  Reading them warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes.  I read them again and again. :) It was kind of you to reach out and share in this chapter of our lives.

There have been lots of things happening with Carla in a few short days.

According to the social workers, after our meeting, Carla's condition deteriorated further.  Her behaviour was increasingly agitated and erratic.  They said she was experiencing mania.    She is now in the hospital (at the same one where she plans to deliver), and they plan on keeping her until possibly until the baby is born (she's due October 15th)!

This was surprising news for us to hear.  She was noticeably emotional and agitated during the meeting with us, but we didn't think that was all that strange given the situation.  Having an unplanned pregnancy and anticipating a birth, making an adoption plan, breaking up with the birth father, and meeting us after she wasn't that keen on doing so was A LOT.  Add into the mix, tension and conflict with her relationship with her divorced parents.  We felt like, "who wouldn't be a mess?" under those conditions.  She is experiencing some of the most major things that anyone could possibly experience, and all at once.

I am glad she is in the hospital, because I know she is safe, and the baby is safe.

However, I am also scared for her health now, and after the baby is born.  I am also scared for the stress the baby is under.  I am worried about if they decide that she needs medication, because I know the side effects to the baby can be worrisome.  I feel like this poor little child has already been through so much - smoking, marijuana and stress.   I am glad that she will be less likely to be able to find a way to smoke anything while in the hospital, which is a relief.

I am thankful to live in a country where she can get medical care, even though she does not work.  I am thankful that the people working at the adoption agency took her condition seriously and followed up with her and encouraged her to seek care.  I am thankful that the people at the hospital recognized the need for her to be admitted and are carefully weighing the risks of medicating her.  It is good that her care is happening this major hospital, where she plans to give birth.

I was speaking with my friend Lainey the other day.  She said to me, "people think adoption is all roses.  But there is a lot of pain and loss".  I'm getting deeper understanding of that today.

The social worker also says that in her current state, she is would not be able to sign consents for the adoption.  She said asking Carla to bank the cord blood would be too much at this time, that we should just forget about that.  She left those little bombs on my voicemail.

I'm disappointed about the cord blood.  I know it's a luxury to even think about being able to do such a thing,  but I selfishly feel like how hard could that be after going through a delivery? It doesn't hurt her, but has so many potential benefits for the child.  I get the desire not to add any more stress to her situation, but, uh. :/

I'm not surprised about the consents, but will call the social worker today when D's done his meetings to get more information.   It probably just means a longer wait period before the baby she is able to revoke her parental rights, and uh, more counselling fees for the agency.

One good thing is that I haven't heard that she's been having second thoughts about the adoption plan she's made.  Those will be my comforts for the day.  1.  She's confident in her plan.  2.  She and the baby are in a safe and caring place.

I'm tightening my seatbelt and preparing for what's ahead.








Friday, 5 September 2014

Meeting with Birth Mom and Grandmother

Woah.  What a stressful day, but a good day.

The adoption agency stuffed us into a tiny office.  D and I, the birth mom (I'll call Carla), and her mother (I'll call Lynn), and two social workers.   It was hot outside, and we were in an older building where the air-conditioning was next to nil.  The room was sticky and warm.  The temperature didn't do any of us any favours, especially Carla being 8 1/2 months pregnant.

The workers prepped us before the meeting to say that Carla was having a rough time the past couple of days.  That she just broke up with the birth father, and she seemed to be on a "bit of an up swing".

A previous note in her file, said that she described herself as bipolar, but we all did not think that that diagnosis was made after a proper evaluation.  We all agreed that it seemed to be a label that someone had given her, perhaps a little too easily, and she had hung on to it.  The only information relating to this in her file, was that she reported one episode of depression and hospitalization after a long term relationship break up two years ago.

In her current state, her mother, and the counsellors wondered if she was experiencing a mania. Especially due to some of her recent behaviour, which they didn't elaborate much on.   (Side note: We had already researched that risk, and felt that it was something we could accept, especially since it is something that has been in our families. )

Lynn wondered if the meeting should be cancelled because of Carla's state?  The social workers said no, they encouraged us to meet, even if it was for a short time.   They felt that she may find some relief in meeting us.

We met with everyone in what seemed like 15 minute intervals.  First we met all together, then just with Lynn while Carla was taking a break.  Then we met with with Carla and the birth parent counsellor, and then alone with Carla.  It wasn't planned to be like this, but there was a lot going on.  D and I stat patiently, glued (actually literally) to our leather chairs.

When Carla and Lynn first entered the room, there were smiles, and Lynn had what seemed like happy tears in her eyes to meet us.  I'm sure the moment of meeting us was bittersweet for her, she had been involved in helping to select our profile, and later she shared that she had two miscarriages and became a mother around my age too.  Carla and Lynn both gave us hugs.  I felt an extra squeeze, and a lingering in Lynn's hug.

Carla nervously munched on a veggie/pita/fruit snack while we met.  Giant tears flooded out of her eyes and landing on her teal cotton dress, leaving dark marks.  She was fidgety and her hands were shaky.  Ours were too. She flipped her thick beautiful wavy blonde hair back and forth, trying to get cool.  She kept apologizing to us, and we kept asking her not to.

They asked Carla to talk about why she chose us.  They said, "what did you like about them?" With tears, she said "everything".  We couldn't have dreamed of hearing anything better.  We remember saying something similar to our worker sitting around our kitchen table, while drafting up a matching report.   Carla told us that she read through our profile again last night, and asked us for another copy of it.

The entire meeting was tremendously emotional.  All in the same moment, my heart wanted to shatter into a thousand pieces thinking about what they must be going through, while swelling with love and empathy for Carla.  Our hearts overflowed with joy and excitement thinking about that precious baby she was caring.

So many words that came to mind after meeting Carla.  They are: strong, courageous, stylish, genuine, beautiful (wow, they told us she was, but really!), vulnerable, scared, caring, and emotional.

She told us privately about her dreams to pursue a health diploma at college next year.  She said that her mother viewed her as a child.  That she wouldn't let her drive her vehicle.  That she was more mature than anyone thought.

At 20 years old, I could tell that she was right about this.  She made one of the hardest decisions that anyone could, and was following through on it.  She told us she wants to have the things we have one day, and it melted my heart.  If I could have given her those things, or something to ease her discomfort right then and there I would have.

While alone with Lynn, she kindly told us about how Carla's view of adoption was "old fashioned".  That she always said she may not want to have children.  She said that at first, she just wanted to give the baby to us, and not have any contact.  The agency was coaching her to have some contact with us, and with the child in the future.   We communicated to the agency that we didn't want to push her.  We told Lynn that ultimately, we just wanted what was comfortable and best for Carla.

We told her that we started a password protected blog where they could login to get updates on the baby and us.  We liked the idea, because we thought that a text, phone call or email may not be received at a good time.  That she (or others) could save up the posts and read them all at once, or keep up with them regularly.  We liked the idea that she, the birth father, and other family members could comment on the blog.  We imagined that it might be a great keepsake for our child (OMG - our child!) one day.   We told Lynn that this was just one idea on how we could update them.  (Oh, and a nice bonus, was that I also liked that I could see who was reading the blog on the stats page!)

Lynn said she might like more updates than Carla.  We told her we would do that.  She was interested in reading the blog, but isn't internet savvy.  The worker offered to show her how to use the site.

Lynn said that she viewed this baby as our baby.  That she felt almost like a surrogate.

When asking about what she might like to name the baby, she was interested to hear what we had chosen.  She said that we should name the baby, that it is our baby.  We nervously told her some of the names on our list, scared that she might hate them and it could derail everything.  One boy name that was the name of her Mom's cat ... that was kind of a weird moment! If it was a girl, told her we thought it might be nice to name her combination of her name, and mine.   She seemed to like that idea.

D and I had talked about that girl's name and agreed we both liked it.  Somehow though, he thought that I had on the spot come up with the the fact that it was a combo of our names.   He told me later that he was super impressed, and I sheepishly admitted that this what I had in mind with this name the whole time, I just must not have communicated it well.   I should have maybe just let him think that I was that smart under pressure!

She told us that they couldn't tell the sex of the baby at her last ultrasound.  That she had another doctor's appointment tomorrow.  She asked us if we would like to know.  D responded by saying, do you want to know? And she said it was up to us.  I said that we would like to know if it's possible.

The birth parent counsellor asked her to tell us about what she'd like to happen the day of the birth.   She was having hiccups, her eyes were still flooded, and the baby was moving a lot-  we could see her whole abdomen moving.  There was a lot going on, she was upset and so the counsellor asked if it would be okay if she shared what they had discussed with us?

She agreed.  She said that she wanted us to be notified of her labour right away.  That she wanted us to come to the hospital but not in the delivery room.  We heard about how her mother would be there with her.  About how her mother wanted to hold the baby, but how she didn't want to see her doing so.  The counsellor shared that she wanted us to immediately begin to care for the baby.  That she would go home as soon as possible and we were to stay there with the baby.

She said, again "this is your baby" to us.

We've been petrified of her changing our mind since we heard the news.  Hearing that was the best thing we could have heard that day.  It was almost like getting the news all over again that we had been chosen.   But this time it seemed a lot more real.

D and I had plans to shop in the city after the meeting.  However we were so drained, I don't think either one of us could even think about navigating there, or actually shopping.  Instead, we walked across the street to a nearby pub.  Over a glass of sparkling cider and a beer, we talked about the afternoon, and even had a little toast.  We are going to be parents!

Later on in the evening, we texted Carla.

"It was so nice meeting you and your Mom today.  We wanted to thank you again for this precious gift, you are truly changing our lives.  Let us know if we can help you in any way.  With love..."

She wrote back a few hours later:

":) thanks for the kind words, you both will be amazing parents, i feel really good about the both of you! I know ur the missing puzzle piece.  This baby needs you both, good night! Exhausted!"

Tears are flowing.  I am so thankful to her.



Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Name Game

Things have been going by at a rapid pace.  Buying things for baby.  Researching stuff.  Then not buying things because we're scared the birth parents might change their mind.

Tomorrow, we meet with the birth mother, and the maternal grandmother.  The birth mom and the birth father just broke up, so he's not coming.   We keep hearing about how lovely she is.  I'm excited to meet them, but also super nervous.

Basically we've been doing a lot of thinking, and a decent amount of unproductive worrying.

Tonight we've been feverishly working on names.  We had each been coming up with our own list, but never really talked in detail about important things like which names go together or even which ones we can both agree on (there are a few names, but not many).

I am indecisive on a good day.  Making a major decision on something like a name is stressing me out.

 Julia Spencer is a pen name which came from the names I thought I may one day want to name my child.  As it turns out, naming a kid in real life is a lot harder.   Especially when you have a more difficult last name, as we do.  It's a name that a child could struggle with, or be teased about.  When I married my husband, I thought long and hard about it, but I chose to take his name.

Now, I'm wondering if (for the sake of the child) I should change my name back to a hyphenated name with my maiden name and his name, and give the kid my maiden name.  Or hyphenated name, although I don't like that idea much because the two don't sound all that great together.  And I'm personally not a huge fan of most hyphenated names.  

To add a little pressure to the situation, we have the adoption part of the equation.  The child will be named by the birth mother, and a birth certificate will be prepared.  After the child is legally ours, we will change the birth certificate to what we choose.   That child will in all likelihood have an easier/more desirable name originally if we went with our current last name.   Humph.

The adoption agency recommends choosing a name with the birth mother, or that the birth parents choose the second name and we choose the first.  That sounds like sunshine and lolly pops IF they like nice names.

However, throw in: a) our difficult last name which they may or may not know about already (we think for confidentiality reasons they don't know) b) that we are scared of ANYTHING that might make birth mom think we aren't the best parents for her child, and c) changing your name back to your maiden name might be weird, d) D and I have differing opinions and e) we are supposed to talk about names TOMORROW, and oh, f) We have D's and his parent's feelings to consider.

It's our first big parenting decision and it's a bit of a mess.   Wish us luck.

Feel free to chime in with your opinion too.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Healing dinner

We had Lainey and Paul over for dinner last night. They brought their teenaged nephew who was visiting from overseas, and their gorgeous 2 month old daughter. 

I made this yum-um-my plum cobbler for the first time. Served warm with a little vanilla ice cream, it was devine. I would cut way back on the 3/4 cup of sugar added to the plums. They are sweet on their own. It was a nice change. I don't usually make desserts with plums, although now I wonder why I haven't before. I thought I would share. 

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/m/recipes/plum_cobbler/

(Sorry- I'm typing this on my phone and I don't know how to make this a link)

Lainey and Paul are the couple that I wrote about having the heart wrenching and almost failed adoption earlier this summer. We haven't been to see them earlier because we were away, but we've been communicating often. 

Oh friends, it was such a perfect visit, at such a perfect time. We're so lucky to have them as friends.  Seeing them gushing over their little girl, and seeing D hold her (in the funny awkward/frozen way he does, lol) was so great to see. Holding that sweet tiny baby was was so therapeutic for me. 

I loved listening to her share about which type of stroller she chose, and why, and so many little details of how they are parenting. It's the first time in a long time, (or maybe ever!) that I remember acutally enjoying this kind of dicussion. I think I am healing, folks! 

The visit was perfect timing, and really helped wash away so much of yesterday's stress and anxiety. That is what we are after. That is why we have endured, and will continue.  

They have the same social worker and agency worker that we have, so they can relate to so much of what we are going through. What helps also, is that Lainey is a social worker so she's really good at listening, not judging and offering support. 

With the exception of D's mother, they will be the only ones (in 'real' life- I'm so glad to have all of you here too!) that we will confide in about specifics about the pregnancy and the birth parents. Our social worker has reminded us to use discretion, because much of this is our child's information. They should get to know their history before the rest of the world does, she says, and I agree. 

I'm also keenly aware that some of my veggie-charting friends might judge this baby, even if they don't know they are doing it. I want to shield him or her from that as much as I can. 

I feel like I'm becoming a Mama.  Tears are pouring out now.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Curve ball

Last night the social worker sent us the medical and social histories of both birth parents. 

As D grilled our meat outdoors, and I prepared the rest of dinner, I scanned through the documents. After looking at the egg donor profiles, I've become a lot faster at scanning through to quickly see if there is anything glaring. After dinner, I planned to have more thorough look. 

I expected no big surprises. We had spent 30 minutes on the phone where the social worker reviewed the information with us, basically reading from this document, line for line. 

Except there was something. 

She has smoked marijuana throughout her pregnancy. It said "Every day in the first trimester, and now once on weekends".

WTF. 

UM. So, it was important that they told us that he loves performance cars, and that she takes Zumba classes, but NOT about THIS? 

My heart dropped. 

I'd never researched the effects of marijuana on a baby. I've had no reason to. 

I thought maybe it was a typo. I calmly emailed the social worker (SW), asking her to seek clarification from the birth parent counsellor.  After all, the agency worker made a big deal about how great of a situation this was, and the fact that there were no drugs, other than prescriptions for a UTI and morning sickness pills. 

The agency worker and birth parent counsellor were conveniently on vacation today, so we talked to someone else. She said they would try to reach one of them on vacation. We thanked her. 

In the mean time, we had a meeting scheduled with our local SW for the afternoon to sign paperwork for this adoption, one document of which, said that we were comfortable with, and had reviewed their medical and social histories. 

I emailed our local SW and told her about what was happening. Her response was that "maybe it wasn't identified as a risk factor"- Ummm, sorry, WHAT!?!? She also said that is "her 15 years experience marijuana that it isn't associated with major problems".  She said she's seek clarification from the other SW. 

It wasn't the "let's get to the bottom of this" ..."I'm sorry that happened" ..."that should have been presented to you earlier if that was the case" social-worky answer I was hoping for.  

We had friends stop in that evening, so we kept things to ourselves and calmly waited things out until morning. 

Then, I woke up this morning and had a full blown, anxious, teary freak-out. I'm getting really good at those. I have lots of practice under my belt, I guess. I should add that skill to my resume. It really is impressive. 

My thoughts were: 

1. This wasn't a typo. It wouldn't have been written up as it was. 

2. What is this agency doing? Why was this missed? Was this intentional?  Are they incompetent? What else is missing!?!

3. Who is this pregnant woman who CHOOSES to smoke cigarettes and marijuana when she KNOWS she is 7 months pregnant!?! Why!!! I think about the baby in her womb being exposed and I cringe.  She's taken prenatal vitamins since week 3 of her of pregnancy. I remember that she wrote that she wants to take a health program at college next year, haha! I feel furious at her. I hate that she is doing this to that baby.   

4.  Even though he hasn't said it overtly, I know D wants this baby regardless of this new information. I feel pressured, and that he could be making a decision out of desparation. 

5. I don't know how I feel about this new information, and if it is a deal breaker to me. 

6. I have not fully researched this or called the Motherrisk hotline about the effect of marijuana on a baby.  All I've read are a bunch of mostly non-researched based internet garbage articles saying that it may not be that bad. 

7. I think about how my aunt told me that my mother smoked pot before she knew she was unexpectedly pregnant with me (and she took birth control, and who knows, she probably drank too?). I maybe could have been a rocket scientist without that exposure, but I really don't feel much worse for the wear. 

I sobbed in the shower, and then after I got out. This isn't going to be easy either.  Why!?!

8. I think about that beautiful little baby girl or boy. I feel a sense if protection for him or her. I think about who they are. Are they less loveable because of this? Would my parenting experience be harder/less rewarding if a learning disability or some other possible marijuana effect were present? Absolutely not.  

9. Is perfectionism and worry about being judged playing into this? 

I think about some of my friend's pregnancies. I recall a friend who kept a chart on her fridge to keep track of if she had her exactly proper number of veggies that day. 

10. I think about all of the things I've done to increase my hideous fertility, even by just a smidgeon. I think of the care and love I always imagined doling out to my future unborn babies. I think about care the love I did give the babies I lost. 

11. I think about my four embabies on ice. 

12. I feel my own compound losses coming to the surface again.  I see my anxiety, and D's growing by the minute. 

Shortly after the shower, I told D that we need to talk. I blurted out all of the things I just wrote about, only not as coherently.  I said, "we need to cancel our SW meeting. We need more information.  I can't decide on this today, we have time. Let's postpone this meeting." He agreed. 

Except, we couldn't get a hold of our SW, because she was in an out of town meeting. 

She finally called us, 15 minutes before our scheduled appointment. 

We briefly discussed things, and she suggested that we should meet anyways, just to talk this out, and to get some other paperwork cleared up. We agreed. 

15 minutes later, she arrived at our door with a birth parent counsellor. (We had met her a few months ago.  She was not the counsellor that interviewed our prospective birth parents.)

The meeting was mostly good. We  especially valued the non-judgemental, and informed insight  and support of the birth parent counsellor.  Our local SW wasn't as great of a support or as professional as we would have hoped for. 

We reviewed the social and medical history line by line. She talked about her experience with adoption and recreational drug use in pregnancy. We talked about the strengths of the couple. 

"This is just about as clean of a history as we see", they both said. We were both surprised to hear this.  They failed to mention that in our homestudy and adoption preparation! 

"There is no alcohol consumption. There are no hard drugs. There was prenatal care.  The pregnancy is not hidden and the birth parents seem confident in their decision to place the child."

They offered us no judgement, if we decided this match was not right for us. 

I told them that I was upset that this was not brought to our attention earlier. That it made me lose confidence in this process, and the agency.  They acknowledged our concerns, and talked our their confidence in this agency, and with the experienced and thorough birth parent counsellor who did the intake with the birth parents. 

They talked about how this birth mom seemed honest about disclosing her history, and that may other mothers may not have been as forthcoming due to many factors. 

Part of the way through the meeting, the agency worker called. We put her on speaker phone. She explained that it was an error that she has not mentioned this earlier. That she had been working from an older document, and this information had not been disclosed at that time. She apologized sincerely. She said it was okay to change our minds. She apologized some more. She really felt bad for the error, and she owned the problem. 

It is all a lot for us to take in, especially because we are so new to the adoption world, and truthfully, because I haven't fully given up my dreams of my happy little embabies turning into happy pregnancies and real, live babies. 

We ended our meeting with them, telling them that we would talk it over, do more research, and get back to them. 

We're taking the night to think about it, but I think we've mostly decided. 

This is still our baby.