Thursday, October 3, 2013

So...This Happened: Vol. II: The Home Study - by Will

So, you saw all those documents on our kitchen table in our previous post, right? If not, the picture is to the right there. We gathered all of that background-checking, health-screening, and weird stuff we didn't even know existed detailing all the intimate parts of our lives all in an effort to set up our home study. Yes – THE HOME STUDY. This is where a social worker comes to your house to make sure you aren't crazy people living in filth. I mean they verify that you are a stable loving couple with a healthy home that can support the addition of a child. The Home Study is technically the only state-mandated legal process a family must go through in order to adopt - so everyone, no matter if you are with an agency, law firm, or going independent, has to have a home study!

I believe we have already told you about the questionnaires that we had to fill out before this could happen. We had to write about our relationship, our childhoods, our anticipated parenting style, and our feelings about adoption. So, as it turns out, the social worker who performs the home study receives those answers and then uses that information to plan their in-home interview with you.

But before that, THERE WAS THE CLEANING. Oh yes, they say don't worry about your house being perfect, BUT come on, we wanted our house to be as perfect as we could make it. Why not try to look really great, and spotless, and fresh, and Martha Stewarty (pre-jail) for the social worker who is deciding whether or not you are fit to bring home a baby? There are also things the agency said we needed to have in place LIKE: a fire extinguisher on each level and a carbon monoxide detector. Also guns had to be locked up (we have none, check) and absolutely no torture dungeons (we walled that up, check). Here's the sweet part about doing a massive clean like that – we are still riding that wave 60 days-ish later. Nice! My office hasn't looked cleaner. My office's closet has...before I moved all the clutter that was in my office into it for the big clean. Sorry closet, you hide dark terrible clutter secrets inside you better.
Terrible clutter closet!

So, the big day came for the in-home social worker interview on SATURDAY AUGUST 3rd. And it was totally casual and cool. Our social worker's name was Pam, and she couldn't have been more chill. We all sat down at our kitchen table and essentially talked for half an hour rehashing the questions from our questionnaires. It was actually kind of fun. Super easy, no sweat. Pam basically said that they like to watch you answer the questions in person and with each other to make sure no one is giving off any weird vibes (paraphrased). Weird vibes like: “crazy liars,” “uncomfortable relationship,” “terrible people,” etc... I also made up all of those categories. The social worker is just there to make sure that all of the information and answers you offered in your questionnaires lines up and that you can interact positively with people. The last thing she did was take a brief tour of our house. She did look in every room (except for you terrible clutter secret office closet, SHWEW). It was fun for us to show her the room that will become the nursery! It already had a few baby things in it that we might have swiped from our own garage sale donations. Don't judge us. And, Pam did notice our new fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detector. Oh yeah! We have the safest house what I imagine she was thinking the entire time. Totally.

Nursery room with stolen baby donations. :)
So she left telling us that it would take her two weeks to write her report, two weeks for the agency to review, and another week or two for the state to approve it. If you're doing that math, that is several weeks. By SATURDAY AUGUST 31st, we received a certificate of home study approval for Andrew Joplin and Will Jenkins – a very awesome gay couple who are also with the IAC who we were very happy to see also had an approved home study. But yeah, not the right certificate for us obviously. They put the wrong one in our packet – the rest of the study was our information. We just got a corrected certificate a couple of weeks later. The certificate is really just a memento – nothing official official. So, it only took 4ish weeks to totally complete our home study! We are officially approved to receive a child into our home legally and everything! Now we are on the clock too. Your home study only lasts a year. Tick Tock. Time to find a birthmother... but alas, more work to be done before we can officially “be found.”

We gotta get our “Dear  Birthmother Letter” finished! (Our next post will be ALL ABOUT THAT...)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So... This Happened: Vol. I: Eclectic Fundraising

It has been a little while since we last posted, and A LOT has happened.  So much so, it's hard to even remember where we started from.  We are going to roll out several new blog posts over the next few days to update you on all of the different changes and news on the adoption front.
  • More Garage Sales and Fundraisers
The month of July was insanely busy.  Besides the fact that I started a new job, we were busy fundraising.  We had a "last hurrah sale"of the summer in July at the last minute when Will's sister told us her new neighborhood was having a sale.  So yet again we carted all of the contents of our garage, plus a few new items we had picked up, over for another long and hot weekend in the garage!  I know we say it alot, but we have been so blessed with amazing friends, and their generous donations, as well as great weather for these sales which has helped.  
I also had an old friend from high school contact me and offer to hold a Lia Sophia Jewelry party with proceeds donated to our account.  So I had some family and work friends over for snacks while we played dress up.  I bought a few of their pieces and wear them a lot now.  

Finally toward the end of the month, we were asked by a friend of Will's, Daron Earlewine, to be guests at an event he hosts in town called Pub Theology.  That week they were at the Stacked Pickle in Fishers.  Pub Theology is a grassroots mission to bring church to people where they are every day - restaurants, bars, etc.  They have music and a message.  Daron asked us to share our story and our journey so far. They took up a collection for us which we did not expect!  You can read more about our visit here.   It was a little nerve-wracking for someone like me, who leave's the limelight and speaking to Will, to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers who thought they were just coming for dinner and tell them our trials and tribulations.  But it ended up being very cool, and several people from the audience shared their adoption stories as well.  

We are excited to say have raised just about all of the money we are committed to spend directly with the agency.  There will be additional expenses once there is an actual birthmother and potential baby.  Suffice it to say we are still fundraising.  We are so grateful that our community and friends have shared this journey with us. We are still in the early stages, and most of this stuff is formality and legality, but we are just now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and imagine an actual baby being the end result of all of this work.  It really has been a cool journey.  We have heard stories from people we never would have otherwise met, and experienced what we already knew - we have the best friends and family on the planet! We had several friends and distant relatives offer personal donations as well.  
Oh yeah, how could I forget Marlys Pedigo and Connie Leak, who offered to put our "ad" / poster in their program for Avon's Distinguished Young women event as a gesture of good will and support of our cause!

Continue checking back all this week for more updates and sequels to the story!  Wait till you hear Will's version of the social worker visit! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Please Share our Number!

As you can see above, we are now ready to receive calls from a birthmother!  Feel free to share our toll free number with anyone you know who may be pregnant and considering adoption.  All calls will be private, confidential, and relaxed.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's Getting Real! Agency, Workshop, and Real Adoption Work!

Adrienne and I took a week of vacation so that we could officially join the agency that we decided to go with - The Independent Adoption Center.  After a two day workshop on Friday and Saturday, we are off and running with the real work of adoption.  We signed our contract with the agency, wrote a couple of a large checks, and in only two days after our workshop, were able to collect and complete the massive amount of paperwork and checks and screens and records and physicals etc. that we need so that we can be approved to have our homestudy scheduled.  Check out the picture - Adrienne has labeled all the pre-paperwork we had to complete even before they would consider scheduling a homestudy. (This doesn't include the paperwork we had to fill out as an initial application including all of our financial information.)

If you don't know, a homestudy is the official screening process where a social worker comes to your home and determines whether or not you have a suitable house, stable family-life, and a healthy marriage or relationship in order to raise a child.  The guidelines they gave us?  "Don't have a dungeon, lock up your guns and ammo separately, and if you have a pool be sure it is secure."  Easy enough - we don't have any of those things.  Although, I have no doubt that we will also do a massive blitz cleaning and hide the cat box or something.  Oh yeah, that's the other thing, they meet your animals to make sure they aren't total animal jerks.  Maybe we'll have some propofol snausages on stand by for Dizzy (our hyperactive beagle) - not that she's a jerk, but just to keep her mellow.  PS, we don't really have access to propofol and we're not even sure what a "snausage" is. 
Another interesting piece that comes along with the homestudy are these questionnaires about your own childhood, your marriage, and thoughts on becoming and being a parent.  Adrienne and I had to fill these out separately, and when we completed them, we read our answers to each other.  Not that I'm surprised, but it was pretty amazing and reassuring to see how closely we aligned when it came to our thoughts on how to be parents and what we wanted to provide for a child.  It was a pretty touching moment that we weren't expecting - to actually read our answers to each other.  I guess the social worker who completes the homestudy will use these questionnaires to interview us together and separately on the day of our homestudy.               

The last thing I want to tell you is something we discovered at the end of our first day of the workshop:  while the IAC (our agency) will help us write and put together a great "Dear Birthmother Letter" to send to their database of birthmothers and also build us an adoptive parent profile website that will be added to their networking sites, Adrienne and I can begin reaching out to potential birthmothers now.  The IAC will do everything to match us with a potential birthmother through their processes and procedures, but Adrienne and I can do our own marketing and networking too.  Simply, we could find a birthmother on our own as well.  We have already set up a toll free number: 1-888-410-3526 - that women who are pregnant and considering adoption can call to talk to us.  This is the thing:  while we have an agency who will support us in many ways with health vetting, counseling, legal procedures, and hospital plans, ultimately, the birthmother and adoptive parents lay the ground work no matter how we find each other.  So, we are prepared now to find our future birthmother, and if you can help with that as part of our very important network, please pass along our number:  1-888-410-3526! Which is 1-888-410-ELBO if that helps somehow.  Probably not, since ELBO isn't a word, but it's better than nothing!  We just thought it was funny because we could've paid a lot of extra money for a vanity 1-800 number that spelled "adopt" or "baby," but I guess we are too practical.  So, hey, if you have elbows, don't have 'em, or are just a fan, think of our adoption number!  :)     

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For Love and Coffee

When you think of meeting with friends, catching up, or just hanging out, let's be honest, what do you usually do at the same or drink.  My husband and I love having people over to the house to hang out on the back porch by the fire, roast marshmallows, drink wine and make coffee or hot chocolate for guests.  Food and beverage always seem to bring people together.  When I heard that there was a fundraising plan involving coffee, I thought that sounded like a great option to offer to our friends and family.  So many people drink coffee, and so many people love to try gourmet or boutique versions that this company seems like a perfect match.  Even if you don't drink coffee, maybe you have a friends that does, and it does smell good :).  We would love for you to try some products from our personal storefront at  "Just Love Coffee Roasters", our latest partner in our adoption journey.  

 This company was founded on great principals and strives for quality in their coffee.  You can purchase organic, sustainable, fair trade products and support a great cause as well.  They say it best themselves:

The Mission of Just Love Coffee

"At Just Love Coffee Roasters, our mission is to bring out the unique qualities inherent in each coffee bean. We do this by taking a small-batch artisan approach to all of our specialty coffees. We don’t use automation or computers during the roast process, but instead carefully roast every batch to perfection using smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. We’re always searching for the best Fair Trade, organic, and shade-grown coffee beans available.
And as passionate as we are about creating outstanding artisan coffees, we are equally passionate about helping those in need. Every delectable cup of Just Love Coffee you drink has a portion of its proceeds go to someone who could use a helping hand. In our first two years of business we have given over $200,000 to adopting families, non-profit organizations, and the arts. "

So, if you're looking for something different or are adventurous with your coffee (not just sticking to the local Starbucks)  We would love for you to try Just Love Coffee.  They are very open and transparent on their website about how the fundraising proceeds are set aside:

What are the Proceed Amounts?

13oz. Coffees (non-small lot): $5
8oz. Coffee (non-small lot): $3.50
Tastes of Africa (4) 8oz. Sampler: $7
Tour of The World (4) 8oz. Sampler: $7
Coffee Cupper's (11) 8oz. Sampler: $19
Jamaica Blue Mountain (small lot): 4oz. ($3)  13oz. ($9)
Special Blend–I Love Mom: $5
Special Blend–Pinky Beans (Available in October only): $0
T-Shirts: $5
Sale T-Shirts: $3
Sale Hoodie: $4
Beanie: $3
Hat: $3
Stoneware Mug: $2
16oz. Steel Tumbler: $2
Aeropress: $5
Aeropress Microfilters: $.25
Coffee Scoop: $1
Chemex Brewer: $3
Chemex Filters: $0
LaMarzocco Espresso Machine: $0

If you can't remember these links, you can always bookmark them and come back to them when you're interested in making a purchase.  Thanks again!!

~Adrienne and Will

Sunday, June 16, 2013

These Past Few Weeks!

Phew! What an exausting and fruitful 3 weeks! We have made it through alive!  We are both very excited at the progress we've made toward our fundraising goals.  We have been collecting donations for about a month.  We started with the plan of just having one weekend of garage sales, but we quickly realized that we had way too much stuff - it barely fit in our garage- and needed some extra days to sell.  Luckily Stephanie (Adrienne's sister) and Pam's (Adrienne's mom) neighborhoods both had community sales that we joined in on.  We moved heavy furniture and probably asked too many favors of friends and family members (borrowing pick up trucks, packing and unpacking boxes, storing stuff in their garages).  So thank you immensely for your help!  Also big Thank You to both of our moms and sisters for sitting with us during each sale.  Adrienne finally came to terms with selling her high school car - A Chrysler Sebring Convertible.  It went to a very happy and appreciative home - but a little sad none the less.  But hey, selling it helped us take a big step towards our goal, so have a sweet new life convertible!
A huge thank you goes out to all of YOU who came out and supported us, who bought items you needed, wanted, or didn't really need :).  We even had some anonymous donations given to us along the way. We managed to have productive sales every day despite rain, heat, early mornings etc.  It was pretty stressful at times to get everything moved to 3 different households in 3 weeks and set up and be ready for sales to start early every Friday and Saturday.  We just had to keep remembering our end goal and try to make the best of every tough situation.

Now that we've had some time to relax afterward, we can appreciate how good it feels to reap the rewards of hard work.  We also have heard so many encouraging stories from so many families who have adopted, who are adopted, who are trying to adopt as well, or who are birthparents.
The greatest outcome of all of this is that we officially filled out and signed the application and registration form and wrote our first (of many) checks to the adoption agency we have chosen:  The Independent Adoption Center. We will attend a weekend workshop at the end of June and get this thing started.  Now the real work starts - the emotional work of having our lives scrutinized on several fronts to prove that we are willing and able parents.  Please keep the words of encouragement coming as I am sure it will be much needed in the months ahead.  We are open to all forms of positivity: prayers, good karma, good vibes, wishful thoughts and crossed fingers.  Thanks once again to everyone who supported these garage sales in any way.  We can not begin to tell you what it means to us to be able to start this process and really feel like we are on our way to being parents.

As always, please keep sharing our page and our story with friends and those who might have an interest - while we've raised enough to begin this journey, we still have not reached our fundraising goals.  Unfortunately, there are many more expenses to come.  After we officially start in a couple of weeks, there is the small chance that everything could happen very quickly, so we want to be sure we are prepared for that possibility as well.     Continue to support us by clicking on the links:  Amazon gives a portion of all products purchased through our links back to us for our fund. Also, if you love coffee, check out this link as a sneak peek:  (More on that later!). 

And you can always make a direct donation to our go fund me account:

Thank you all so much again!  And we're sorry we haven't given you a blog update in awhile - the business of preparing your life for the adoption process is pretty much all consuming. Seriously, we filled out the agency application on top of a pizza box so we could multi-task squeezing in a dinner while completing the official paperwork to finally get started.  I'm pretty sure the agency will see that we'll be great parents because we managed to not get one grease stain on the forms - so if forms and babies are anything alike - we'll definitely have a grease-spotless baby (and all the parents out there are laughing).


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quick Update on Garage Sale - THIS WEEKEND!!

** Update We're having a second sale this weekend May 31, June 1 at the Parks of Prestwick, Baltustrol St. Avon**
Just a very quick update about our sale.
#1 We have been inundated with donations for our garage sale.  So much so that we are having to store stuff inside our living room because the garage can't handle any more tables, boxes etc.  We have been setting up since Sunday, every night this week going through donations etc.  Thanks so much to everyone who gave us stuff.  There are still other's who are wanting to donate and we just don't have the room.  I'll follow up with you ASAP.

#2 The date has been set... It's TOMORROW!!!  Friday 5/24 and Saturday 5/25 at our place.  Just look for the "Adoption Fundraiser" sign on 10th St. west of 267.   We couldn't find a reasonable alternative.  I will also be hosting a second garage sale the following weekend 5/31 and 6/1 at another neighborhood garage sale in Prestwick in Avon (more info on that to follow).

#3 Please come on by our sale any time.  We would love to see you, meet you and hopefully you'll find a good buy from our huge stock of stuff!

A few new items that we will have for sale include:
Matching Couch and oversized side chair
2 office desks, corner desk
Stationary Bike
Bench Press
Coffee Tables
Video Games
Strollers, car seats, baby swing, sippy cups, bottles, formula, toys, games, puzzles

Hundreds of infant, baby, toddler, tween, junior and adult clothes for girl or boy, ladies and mens.  Several formal dresses.

All of these items sold last week! A brand new microfiber couch
2 full bedroom suites (one with queen mattress and box spring) 
A toddler bed with mattress/ boxspring.
We should have the 1999 Chrysler Sebring on site for sale and for test drives.
A lot of other furniture: Coffee tables, end tables, filing cabinet, mirrors,  Patio table / chairs.
There is even an iphone 3 in the mix somewhere.

Oh and chotchkes, don't forget the chotchkes!!   

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let the Fundraising Begin!

Phew! What a couple of weeks!  Sorry there haven't been any new blog posts lately.  We have just been busy with life.  Work, planning, work, Mother's Day, work, research, etc.  I felt like it was time for an update.  Please read on for awesome ways YOU can help!

Will and I have been hard at work trying to come up with some fundraising ideas for our adoption fund.  We have been gearing up for a huge garage/ yard/ rummage sale.  We have 1/2 our garage full of amazing donations from friends who have gotten donations from their friends.  It has been yet again, an amazing outpouring of support.  We are so appreciative of the support we are getting and the amazing love people are showing for this cause.  It seems to have affected everyone in some way.  It is great to have all of these donations, but we are struggling to find a place to host it.  We would love to host this event in a large public place with good traffic flow.  There are some neighborhood garage sales we may be involved with, but it is amazing that there is no place that will let us borrow a parking lot or unused / vacant lot for our sale... without wanting a deposit and proof of liability insurance.  Who would have thought! So anyway, we were hoping to be able to post a date and location for our great sale to all of our wonderful blog readers, friends, and family - so stay tuned it will happen, but we're still working on the logistics.  We are also planning some other avenues to sell items through CafePress, as a direct "gift" for assisting with our costs.  I hope to incorporate some of my photographic work as art for sale for this cause as well.  What are some of your favorite fundraisers either to participate in or to purchase from?  How did you guys raise funds for your adoption or other cause?  Keep in mind, Will and I are not a 501c3 non-profit corporation, donations to us are not tax deductible and therefore most common fundraisers don't apply - large companies or organizations aren't going to allow us to participate in their standard fundraisers because it is just like giving money directly to a person's bank account - not their school/ church/ business / charity etc.  That kind of muddies the water and a lot of places don't know how to deal with that request.  You can't even legally do a basic raffle without a gambling license.  It's really hard to raise money now-a-days.  Not to mention - Have you seen the economy lately?  (Sorry, that's all probably a little too pessimistic)  We have been very blessed with the assistance we have gotten so far.  It is wonderful, appreciated, and amazing!  Even if we get nothing else, it will be more than we had when we started :). 

Make no mistake - we are also tightening our belt around here - no summer vacations, no major home projects, less eating out.  We have been working really hard to pay down all of our debts for the last year and we are getting really close.  Dave Ramsey has some good insights on setting up a budget and systematically getting rid of your debt in a manageable way.  If you're looking for some advice in that area, we highly recommend his books.  It helped us see things a little differently.  We're not always the best pupils, but we know we can make a dent in our finances.  You can also search for a ton of topics on his website or radio show- even for adoption savings advice.

While on the topic of resources, I've also come across and like the advice and perspective given by the podcast and website :  This is a site that deals with all aspects of "creating a family".  They discuss fertility, adoption, and all of the tough decisions and situations that may arise in between.  There is also the book / website for Adopting Without Debt.  I plan on applying for as many grants as I can find that we qualify for.  Of course, there is still our GoFundMe site as well.  So many options :)

Finally we have added a banner add over here in the sidebar
If you are looking to purchase items from Amazon, please use the link here to access all of Amazon's items and we will get a portion of the proceeds for "advertising for them".  Just another great tip we've learned from the Adopting Without Debt website.  

Anyway, we're still here plugging along toward our ultimate goal of adopting our son or daughter - hopefully in the near future :). 

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Paradigm Shift

While there are some very practical, logical and pragmatic issues related to adoption.  I also can't help but wonder about the more emotional, intangible, and philosophical issues related to starting a family through adoption.  (This is Adrienne by the way, can you tell?)  I have asked myself all sorts of questions and continue to seek out new opinions on what it means to be a family.  I have been comforted by quotes and ideas about adoption that fall outside of my initial and "traditional" view of family. 
When all this began -and as this moves along - I have had many, many questions.  They go something like this:

Am I ready to be a parent?  Why can't I get pregnant?  Should I try harder to have a biological child?  Is adoption giving up on having a biological child?  Are we being impatient, or making a premature decision?  Should we tell people?  Should we ask for help?  Are we ready for all of the uncertainty of the adoption process? Should we spend the money on fertility vs. adoption?  Can we afford this?  Will an adoptive child love me and think of him/herself as "mine"?  Will I be able to love and bond with a child I did not carry and does not have my DNA?  Am I ready to parent a child with a family and medical history that I can not be sure of?  How will my family feel about this decision?  Open adoption?  How do I explain adoption to my child?  Do I have to allow my child to have an ongoing relationship with their birth parents?  How do I deal with the "loss" of having a child that does not look like me, like my parents, or feel a biological connection to my family tree?  And on, and on, and on...

I am gradually coming to the conclusion that it is a universal human characteristic to love, to want to belong, to share, to nurture.  It is not reserved only for those who are biologically related.   Will and I want to be parents, we want to share our knowledge and ideas and insights with another person.  Not just another person, but a child who we can nurture and guide from infancy to be a positive, compassionate, driven, creative, responsible member of our family and society. 

There is a paradigm shift occurring in me that I did not expect which is really broadening my view of family, parenting, relationships, and what it means to guide another person through this thing called life.   I am realizing that a lot of the questions or hesitations I have are not specific to adoptive families, but to all families, or interpersonal relationships.  My biological child could just as easily have a physical or emotional impairment.  There are many difficult topics I will have to breach with my child, and adoption is just another one of them, such as: sharing, rules, bullying, death, sex, college, career, heartbreak, love etc.  I could come across financial hardship in any number of other ways.  I think I will always wonder what a child who is half me and half Will would look or inherently act like, but I have to believe that nurture is at least as strong as nature in most regards.  I have to believe that our influence as parents will be received and that Will and I will see ourselves reflected back to us in the life and character of our child rather than the color of their hair or shape of their nose.  I suppose only time will tell, but I know we are going into this with the right mindset.  

Below are some images and quotes that have helped expand my view of Adoption, Family, and Parenthood.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

So, Now What? (Our findings)

First, we would like to genuinely thank all of you for the outpouring of support, love, insight, and just simple positive excitement for us since we made our pursuit of adoption public over the weekend!  It is amazing the reach Facebook and word of mouth can have sometimes!  We feel truly fortunate to be surrounded by and a part of this incredibly cool circle of people.  Little did we know when we put this out into world how many (so very many) valuable adoption resources we would find so quickly in our friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, friends of friends, and kind people who we have now interacted with for the very first time.  We knew you were all great, of course, but thank you so much for YOUR personal adoption stories, contacts to other couples who have gone through or who are also going through this process, links to blogs, willingness to share direct contacts at various adoption organizations, phone calls and emails with advice, and even an unexpected/unsolicited donation to our "GoFundMe" adoption account (We'll get to that).  The point is this:  keep sharing EVERYTHING with us.  No piece of positive or helpful information, perspective, contact, or advice you have will go unnoticed, unconsidered, or unused.  We will eat that up because we really love a lot of info.  It is a little sick how informed we like to be, but ultimately this helps us make the best decisions possible as we take the next steps forward.

So steps: Uh-huh, now what?  Well, you might have guessed that we did some research about how this adoption thing all works - where to go from here.  We've certainly arrived at a couple of conclusions about the desire to adopt:  A.  Deciding the right next step is hard.  B.  It is really expensive.  As in - would you like to purchase a yaht OR adopt a baby kind of expensive (exaggerated for illustrative purposes - adopting is only like buying 1/4th of a yaht).  Right now, as we understand it, couples looking to adopt have essentially 4 paths:

1.  Join an adoption agency.
2.  Hire an adoption lawyer.   
3.  Find your own birthmother, then find a lawyer.
4.  Become foster parents or adopt out of the foster care system.

Paths 1 and 2 are essentially the same service for very nearly the same amount of money.  Roughly $25,000-$30,000 - and that's if you stay in the USA.  For that money, they guide you every step of the way - from finding birthmothers to read your "Dear Birthmother Letter," to navigating each state's specific adoption laws, to mediating terms and communication with birthmothers, to counseling.

 Now, the third option is to find your own birthmother.  So instead of an agency or lawyer, we would  do all the marketing and networking OR  just be lucky enough to find an expectant mother who wanted to find an adoptive home for their child.  While this significantly reduces the overall expense of adoption, our understanding is that trying to find a birthmother on your own and then successfully navigating the delicate communication to establish the terms of your relationship can be tricky.  (It can and has been done though.  One of our friends, by happenstance, found and connected with a birthmother through a professional acquaintance without going through an agency or lawyer.  They only brought in an adoption lawyer to guide them through the final legal process at the end.)

So, in the end, there are always going to be fixed legal costs to finalizing any adoption (obviously). 

We are diligent stewards of our finances and we really hate using credit or relying on debt to accomplish our goals.  Thanks Dave Ramsey.  Adoption, for us, is no exception.  We do not think it is wise for us to get a loan against our house, borrow money, or use a credit card  when we can raise the funds we need to do this with a little tightening of our budget, creativity, and extra effort.  The high mark from what we've seen so far is around $30,000, which is A LOT of money.  It is an amount that, let's just say, gave us some serious pause (aka anxiety attacks).  But, at the same time, it isn't an impossible goal with time and focus.

Right now, before commiting to one specific adoption path, we are asking ourselves, "Could we use a creative combination of these paths to reduce the final cost of adoption?"  Maybe we can find a birthmother through our own networking efforts and then only use the mentorship and resources of an agency or lawyer to help us navigate the trickier parts.  Another one of our friends who adopted recently said that should she try to adopt again, she would try to do more of the work on her own that she paid an agency to do for her.  The two of us have never been afraid to do the extra work for something we were passionate about!      

As we figure out how we fund this adventure, we are leaving no options off the table:  garage sales, t-shirts, selling a car, comedy shows, extra photography, and anything else we can do to responsibly raise this kind of money.  NOW - I mentioned our GoFundMe account earlier - you can see a link/widget to this on the upper right side of the blog.  This is a crowd-sourcing service.  Crowd sourcing is this new age concept (not really) of asking a large mass of supporters (usually through digital/social-networking means) to individually contribute a small amount in order to raise a large amount of money.  It is like that Kickstarter service for artists, only instead of raising money to make a bizarre avant garde record, you raise money to assist with the expenses of adoption.  We read that a lot of couples have been successful using this service, so we created our account as an additional resource.  We did the math, ok?  If we can get 30,000 of our closest friends to put $1 in there, we'll be set - LOL, we may need to borrow some of your friends!  Seriously though, if you feel moved to be a part of our "sourcing crowd," any amount you offer will be humbly and graciously appreciated.  Thanks in advance for becoming our giant flock of storks :)

Now, we are off to make a list of who to call and talk to next!  So many of you came out of the woodwork (By the way, what comes out of the woodwork?  Bugs?  Sorry, if we're calling you bugs right now.  We mean "bugs" in the most respectful way possible) that we have a ton of new info to collect.  Can't wait hear more stories!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Adoption, Here We Go!

Thanks for visiting our Adoption Blog. We can't wait to become parents, and after much thought and consideration, have decided that adoption is the right way for us to start our family! This blog is our home base to share our story and keep our friends, family, and supporters updated along the way. We know this process will be challenging and uncertain at times, but ultimately joyful. We hope that by sharing our story, we can be a source of encouragement as others have lovingly supported and encouraged us. We can't wait for the day that we write our final post about how all of you helped us grow our family!

From Adrienne:

I have always been open to the idea of adoption, even when I was younger, not married and not ready for a family. I always thought it would be a nice way to add to a family and give wonderful opportunities to a child who might not otherwise have them. I never thought it might be my only way to have a family. Who knows, maybe my body and my hormones will straighten themselves out in the future, but for now, we are ready to move on. 

Will and I have been struggling with trying to get pregnant actively for over a year, and technically forever. We have never avoided getting pregnant, so now, almost 7 years into our marriage, clearly, we have been unsuccessful. It has been almost a year exactly since we got some of the best and some of the worst news we could get all in the same week. I got a positive pregnancy test at the end of May 2012, and by the first week of June I had lost the baby as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. It sucked, totally sucked, not only was I losing this baby I had barely had time to process was there, but I had to actively take medicine to end the pregnancy so that my life was not in danger. I know miscarriages are rather common, but it was definitely dramatic for me. 

You grow up thinking that if you do the right things, make the right choices, that you will reap the rewards. I feel like I have done that, made responsible choices and am actively choosing to start my family at a time in my life that I am ready and able to provide. I have come to learn through all of this, that I am not in control of whether or not I am able to get pregnant. But through adoption, I feel like I have a little more control in becoming a parent. I am excited and anxious to see where this decision takes us, and I know that Will is the best partner, husband, and hopeful father to have through all of this. There is a quote that says, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” The potential in that statement is profound and exciting. I know we are ready to be parents, and just like all hopeful parents, are just waiting for the day that we get to meet our little boy or girl.

From Will: 

If you know me well, and you probably do if you're here for our first post (I'm pretty sure strangers aren't anxiously googling "Did Will Pfaffenberger start an adoption blog today?") then you probably know that I am a less-than-serious, ok, outright, ridiculously goofy silly person.  I live my life laughing at everything along the way - the absurd, the awkward, the sacred, and the obscene!  Yes, I react to most things with humor, and certainly everything in life has a laugh it in somewhere for me.  AND, because I do this in very public forums - on the radio and on stage - Adrienne who is genuinely sincere, sweet, polite, quiet, thoughtful, generous and always doing the kind and appropriate thing for all occasions, will often be asked, "What's it like living with Will?  How do you do it?"  

She's awesome, that's how!  (That's true, but she could probably write an entire separate blog with the real answers to "How I deal with Will:  Coping Mechanisms For Your Absurd Husband.")  But here's MY real answer:  she and I are a lot more alike than you know. 

We are pragmatic planners.  Yes, I confess.  All of my outward spontaneity and silliness is, what I believe to be, a luxury afforded me by my drive to have a plan, set goals, and feel confident and comforted when I work toward those things, achieve them, check them off my list, and know that what I have built is there to support me and my family.  Adrienne and I have built a life together on setting and meeting our professional, personal, and relationship goals.  We somehow grew up learning how to objectively deconstruct, analyze, and evaluate all this life stuff - maybe to a very nerdy fault.  People sometimes ask if we ever have fights, and we do, but to you they'd look more like contract negotiations or debates supported with thesis statements, rational arguments, data points, and a compromised resolution (It's actually not that nerdy, but you get it.).  We make a great team in this way and our mentality to thoroughly investigate every major decision we've ever made has worked very well for us.  Together, we have put many of the pieces in place that we have always dreamed of having as adults.  

Ok, I've read 3ish paragraphs - talk about babies!  While we have never prevented the possibility of having children, we always wanted to be in what we believed was the most optimal life circumstance to be the best parents possible.  We are now confidently in a place where we are ready to be great parents!  That's the cool part.  Unfortunately, our very pragmatic plan to allow biology to take its natural course - certainly it would after 7 years of marriage, right? - did not play out the way we expected it to.  And not even some intervention from this medicine-science did the trick.  This obstacle, however, has not diminished our resolve to be great parents and start a family.  Adrienne and I are very excited to begin this adventure of adoption, and we feel very lucky and blessed to have all of you here to help us along the way!