Sunday, January 31, 2010

I thought we were going to Italy!!!

I found this "poem" online. I got such a response from the one about Australia, that I figured I'd post this one, too. While it is not about infertility or adoption, it IS about learning to accept the things we cannot change. It can be applied to many situations, but certainly the feelings of loss, grief, confusion and acceptance are universal.

by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome To Holland".

"Holland?!?" you say, "What do you mean "Holland"??? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy"

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned".

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.
© 1987, by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

For anyone who knows a family of a child with a disability, I hope you learn from them. They teach us about acceptance, grace and unconditional love. I appreciate this poem, which reminds me to not spend all of my time looking back at what could have been...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Waiting (somewhat) patiently

So for those of you who haven't experienced infertility, or gone through adoption, let me tell you our most commonly used word...."wait." In infertility, we do tests and wait for results, we wait through each month, just praying for a positive test, and we wait month after month, year after year, wanting nothing more than to tell our friends and family that we are expecting. IF we are lucky enough to get pregnant, we wait for every blood test and ultrasound with anxiety that grabs ahold of our entire being and doesn't let go, just praying again that we will get good news. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. But the waiting is excruciating.

Then comes the waiting in adoption. I am at the VERY beginning of the process, and I am already sick of waiting...again. Since my last post, I have worked on my autobiography and getting documents together, and have waited, hoping the social worker would email us and give us a date for her home visit and a date for the classes. That email didn't come this week, so I get to hunker down and start waiting again, through the weekend, and in to the next week. Oh, and if that isn't enough, we just did some blood tests that may (or may not) give us answers...and that will take 6 weeks to come back. More waiting. Uggghhhh. If patience is the lesson, I am certainly learning it. But I'm not perfect.

I do believe that the best things in the world are worth waiting for. And I know our child will be the BEST thing that ever happens to us. I just want a break. I just want to be done with waiting. I just want to finally be "there." For me, "there" is having our baby in our arms. I know it will be worth it, I really do....I'm just so sick of waiting.

"Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is lazy. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience." Unknown

Monday, January 25, 2010

I think we're on our way, folks!!!

I have been waiting and refreshing my email ALL day, just hoping and praying I would hear back from the CSS supervisor, since I sent in our preliminary information this morning. Just now, at around 8pm, I got a response! It's amazing how excited one email can make you! I wonder if those working in adoption know how much we adoptive parents hang on their every word. Anyway, here is some of what she said:

Thanks for the information. Your openness is a big plus.
You need not get your medical done yet, but if you do have an appointment, go ahead. The court will accept them for a least six months after they are done and a year out is not unheard of, not that I expect it to take that long.
I will be down to (our town) soon as I now have a birth mother near there and another couple who will be doing an international study, so I will be seeing them. I know I cannot come down this week as we are getting ready for our licensing visit on February 2nd. I will try to come down the following week.
I will keep you up to date about my plans to come down. It may be as early as February 8th. I have an MSW intern who would like to come with me and that is one of her two days with us.
Get your autobiographies done and I can get you the fingerprint cards. I know that both of you are already fingerprint cleared, but the court still wants results in their file.

Ok, holy cow (yes, I just said holy cow), did she just say she's coming here to visit us?! And that she doesn't think it will take a year?! And is she talking about the court already?! OMG! This is getting real, people!!!

Ok, excited rambling aside, I emailed her to ask her if she is starting our homestudy officially when she comes down. I had no idea she was planning on it and then she just threw it out there. So, we'll see. If so, we are REALLY on our way! I will keep you all updated. For now, I am going to enjoy this small step towards our dream. Let's remember the lesson Bob (From the movie What About Bob?) had to learn..."Baby steps..." This journey is made up of lots of baby steps, and if we don't celebrate each one, we don't truly enjoy this amazing experience.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What happened to the PLAN?

There is a time in your life when you realize that planning is for suckers, and that life isn't fair. Well, I guess it's not the planning that is wrong. Planning certainly is safer and it does have its advantages. What is wrong is assuming life will go as you planned. It's interesting how we're told our whole lives, "Life isn't fair." And we say, "yeah, yeah, I know." And we experience it to some extent when we are young...our parents make us move from our friends, the cute boy likes a prettier and richer girl, we don't get the spot we want on a sports team, etc. If we're lucky, that is the extent to which we learn life isn't fair when we are young. But, what we are also taught growing up is that if you PLAN, life will go well for you. If you do well in school, excel at extracurriculars, volunteer your'll go places, get into the good college, get a good job, pick the right partner, have beautiful children, be a wonderful parent, and have a wonderful life in suburbia. So, I did excel, I did go to a good school, I did pick the right man for me, I did volunteer my time, I did care about others, I did save money, I did PLAN. And for awhile, it was going so well.

I remember the day we took this picture. I had graduated grad school, we both had good jobs, we had just bought this beautiful home, and we had just taken home our "baby," King. Isn't he cute? It seemed like the plan was working. All our hard work was FINALLY paying off. We knew there were lessons to be learned, but we thought we could take on anything. Because why? Because we planned, and we (or I guess I) thought that was all it took.

Wow, were we wrong. Three years later, Jason's going to an academy, I'm stuck with a house that I need to sell in the worst market that has been seen in decades. We realized all the plans in the world didn't prepare us for this, or for our move across the country. And so I finally moved to Arizona, and started to realize that life can take some very unexpected turns. I NEVER would have imagined I would live in Arizona, on the border to Mexico, on a ranch with cows and rattlesnakes and scorpions, oh my! But we did ok. We survived. The lesson was not yet fully learned.

And then the real lesson came. And the day I learned that life is REALLY not fair and REALLY unpredictable came. I thought I knew before then, but I had no clue. I remember it like it was yesterday. April 4, 2008. We learned our longed-for baby, our first baby, had died. This is the day my view of the world truly shattered. There had been some cracks in the lens, but this day, the whole thing just shattered. And I'm still reconstructing a new lens, a new way to look at life. Every time I think I have it, a new crack comes, and I have to start all over again. Loss, infertility, month after month of infertility treatments, more loss. Wow, how do you make sense of that? How do you pick up each of those pieces and move on? I just want to scream, "I got, it I got the lesson! Can you give me a break already?!" Meanwhile, people around us are living their plan, their dreams. So far, for them, the lens has not been shattered. It is not easy to avoid the "why me?" question. But, really, I can't help but ask....why me? And not them? Do I know logically that we all have our journeys and they all have ups and downs? Of course. Does it FEEL like everyone else's journey is easier right now? Absolutely. Why do I have to learn this life lesson THIS way? Couldn't I have learned it another way? Another way that let me keep my babies? I'd give my right arm for that to have been the case. But it's not. This was how I had to learn this lesson...the lesson of fairness (or lack thereof), of patience, of courage and of grace. Uggghh, I hate life lessons like these! People say this will make me a better, stronger person. Maybe so. Some days I'd rather be a bad, weak person, if that means I could be a mommy and our babies would be still with us.

So, today I am grieving the plan that went so very wrong. And I am also (somehow) celebrating the wonderful things that are ahead of us...that may not be part of the plan, but are even more beautiful because they aren't.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Where we are for now....

I just felt like it was a day for an update, so here it goes. I talked to the Catholic Social Services supervisor yesterday and got really excited again! She said that she agreed with me that it is time for classes. They have usually done them 3-4 times a year in the past, but haven't had one since last April! She understood my impatience. She said she will talk to her staff and maybe they can set a date....finally!!! I also was frustrated because they won't let us do a homestudy with another agency...well, they said we could do it but they would have to do an update if we did, for $1,000! The other issue is they won't let anyone start a homestudy with them until we've done their classes, which they won't start already! Ugggghhh!! BUT, she did send me some preliminary paperwork to get started on, including the outline for the autobiographies we have to write. Yep, we get to write our life story to make sure we are capable of being parents. She also told me that if we are open to babies who are preemies, have history of mental illness in their family history, or are substance exposed, we may be better off as far as getting a match quickly. We are open to some portions of each of these categories, so who knows? Dare I hope that we have a baby in a year? Ahhh, it's so hard to hope. So much has been lost already. I'm so excited, though, to get moving on SOMEthing at least. I'll keep bugging her and maybe she'll continue to send me documents so that we can move forward:). If I am one thing, I am persistent. And it might just be the thing I need to help us get moving.

In other news, the doctors were unable to get enough fetal tissue to test our precious angel, so we may never know what happened to her. Our otherwise perfect baby just stopped growing. Her heart just stopped beating. And we have yet another disappointment this week, which is that we may not have answers. We will do our own genetic testing, but I was really hoping to learn more about our baby. Some days just aren't easy.

So, for now we wait, and wait and wait....and hope for better things ahead of us....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Different Trips, Same Place

Different Trips to the Same Place

Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You’ve heard it’s a wonderful place. You’ve read many guidebooks and feel certain you’re ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you’ll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait-and wait- and wait.

Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, “Relax. You’ll get on a flight soon.” Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, “It’s not fair”.

After a long time the ticket agent tells you, “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat.”

“By Boat!” you say, “Going by boat will take a very long time and costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane.” So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite that you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than by air.

People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, “Oh be glad you didn’t fly. My flight was horrible, traveling by sea is so easy.”

You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you get there, but in the place itself.

-Author Unknown

A wonderful woman I met recently, who also happens to be an adoptive mommy, sent me this. It is SUCH a perfect metaphor for this trip we are trying to take. Currently, we are waiting at the airport, getting ready to head to the port to take a boat. And, I can assure you, we are not getting pampered. We are stuck in decision making...which boat do we take? One offers a quicker start to the trip, but the other offers a little more peace of mind and a little cheaper price for the fare. We are stuck. And I hate being stuck. There is something about having a plan that helps me be at peace with whatever I am facing. This trip, adoption, has many bumps along the way. No one rubs your belly, tells you that you are glowing, asks how you're doing in your paper pregnancy, sends you expectant parent cards, or dreams about your little one with you. For the time you are waiting indefinitely, you may be alone, depending on who you choose to share your journey with. I think this lack of support can also make the boat ride a little less appealing than the plane ride. No one likes to be lonely at sea! So for now, we're still stuck trying to figure out which darn boat to take. And until we choose, I will be awake every night, just thinking! But, I do believe we will get to Australia. I do think I will look back at our bumpy, LONG trip on the sea and be so grateful for all it brought us. Holding that in mind, I may be able to survive the ride without jumping overboard out of frustration, anger and sadness! For now, I guess I will continue to watch others fly back and forth to Australia over and over again, and hope and pray that our day to board the boat and finally set foot in Australia will come...and soon! I know the beauty will be literally breathtaking.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is there a reason for this pain?

"And when the paralyzing ache of despair engulfs you, and you reel shaken from the blows that life deals you, and you scream out, demanding to know what you've done to deserve it...And when you know that you can't take any more but it strikes you again, harder this time, from another side, and you are just hanging on by a thread until you feel yourself curl inward and die a little..Know that there is a reason for it all..."

" If you look back and examine some pain of the past, you will see that it taught you so much that no other teacher could...Only when wounded do we stand still and listen. Bleeding, you will be brought to your knees many times. But somehow, nourished by an indomitable thread of strength will go on."

Taken from "Ano Ano The Seed" by Kristin Zambucka (1978)

A good friend gave me this book recently, knowing I had just lost my second baby, after taking 1.5 years to conceive our angel. She knew I could very easily wallow in the "why me's" and, honestly, some days I do. And that's ok. It's interesting, I actually don't believe that things happen for a reason. Nope. When I think about it, I can't imagine that our babies are taken from us for ANY good reason. No matter how much strength, wisdom and courage I gain from this journey, I just can't wrap my head around the idea that pain and suffering is ever worth it, especially after the excruciating pain I have endured over the last two years. So that is what I think. What I feel in my gut is that this is all meant to be. I feel as though this baby came into our lives to offer us hope and happiness when we were running very low. We were flying high when we saw that heartbeat and that growing baby! For the first time in a year and a half, we felt like life could go on, like we could be happy again as a couple, as a family, as parents. Yes, we lost our angel. But we gained the strength and love to go on, to look forward to the day when we get our happy ending. This baby gave me that hope, and I am working hard to hold on tight to it and not allow the loss to extinguish it. I hold on to the picture in my head of us, sometime in the future, holding our baby, and I know that we were meant for THAT baby. Thoughts can be nasty things, telling us we deserve this somehow, life is unfair, we have a right to hate those around us given all we have suffered. But feelings, what is in our hearts, can lead us to understanding and maybe, just maybe, peace.

I am going to continue to read this book, and really experience the words. I have worked to surround myself with people, books and thoughts that encourage love and hope, rather than anger and hate. Believe me, it's not easy! Some days, the loss just overtakes me, and I shake with grief, and I cry with anger. Some days, I look back on how many days, months, years I have ached to be a mother (all the while watching every friend we have as they enjoy easily achieved and healthy pregnancies, many of them now the parents of multiple children), and I get angry, and incredibly sad. What I have learned, though, is to not fight that feeling. It is OK to be sad, to be angry, to truly feel our grief. What is not ok is to allow it to define who we are. I am trying hard to do that. It takes work, every day. I am thankful to my friend for sharing this book with me. It has helped me on my path, and I have learned to be thankful for each gift, big or small, that helps me along this very difficult journey.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I begin this new blog with a heavy heart, with feelings of loss, confusion and anger. I expect to end this blog with pictures of our child one day! This page is yet another attempt of mine to accept this journey we have been given. We cannot fight it. This is our path. So, if nothing else, I'd like to share our path with others understand what it is like to be on our path. I have found so much strength and hope in others' stories. I have no doubt at the end of this journey, when we can post a picture of our smiling faces holding our precious child, others will find strength in our story. For now, I simply want to thank all of those people who have supported us through this difficult time in our lives. Your love has given us strength.

"Nurture your hopes. Hold them close and understand that they are the seeds of good things to come."