Well it has been a very busy few weeks, as it always is really, so I am just finding the time to get this post written! We have had two more classes on some really important topics so I just wanted to share a little bit about those with you in case you are interested.
Class #5 was on "Covenant and Commitment". This is in reference to the covenant we make with the birthmother of our child, as well as the commitments we are making to an open adoption. We discussed the differences between a "contract" and a "covenant" and how we would not be entering into a legally binding contract with this woman, but we would be making a covenant with her. Not something that could be legally enforced, but something in my opinion is a heck of a lot more serious.
When we are matched with a birth family, we decide together what level of involvement we are all comfortable with. How much contact will we have, how often will we send pics or videos, how often will there be visits with our child's birth mother and/or birth family? A covenant provides a general schedule for the birthmother to know when she can expect to hear about the baby's progress and when she can expect to see the baby again. It lets everyone know up front what the boundaries and expectations are. When all of this is agreed upon, we all sign a Covenant with each other. It isn't legally binding, as I said before, and can technically be revoked by either party if they choose, but it is something we are promising to one another, a commitment to the child, a covenant before God that we will not enter into lightly. Much like a marriage, we are committing to a relationship with this person for the rest of our lives, and setting our child up for the kind of relationship he or she will have with their birth family. We commit to a certain number of visits per year as well as the kind of contact we will have. Will there be frequent emails? Pictures? Texts? Phone calls? How often? Who is welcome at the visits? How far in advance do we need to plan them? What will they look like? How long will they last? These are just some of the things discussed in the covenant agreement.
I am very aware that the thought of having an open relationship with our child's birth mother and family seems really strange to some people. It is not something I ever would have pictured myself being open to, and Josh was even more leery of it going into this process. But we have learned a lot and have seen what that kind of healthy relationship actually looks like, and we understand that having at least some kind of relationship is what is best for the child mostly, but also everyone involved. We do not expect everyone to be at the same level of "okayness" with this as we are because we've had more time, more information, and more exposure to the idea of open adoption than most people. We know it will probably take everyone awhile to "catch up" to where we're at, and it might even take actually seeing what our family's relationship with our birth family looks like for our friends and family to "get it". That's okay! We are okay with being the pioneers here in our group of friends and family. We are hopeful that seeing what we've gone through and what God does with it all will possibly soften some other hearts out there towards adoption of some kind!
We talked in our class about what the role of a birth parent looks like in a healthy open adoption. It is similar to that of an aunt or uncle or cousin, their role is to love the child without assuming any of the parental responsibilities. They are the child's link to his or her genetic heritage. We talked about how many birth parents cannot be good parents at this time in their life, but they can be champion birth parents if given the opportunity.
We are thankful that our agency is always there and ready to help us if situations ever arise that we aren't completely sure how to handle. This will be very new to us and we are glad to have such great, experienced supporters that can help us figure out and nurture a great and healthy relationship with our child's birth family.
We discussed the possibility of the birth parents being unavailable, and how sometimes, despite our intentions and willingness and desire to have an open relationship with our child's birth mother and/or family, they just aren't able or willing to do that at this point. To be completely honest, when I entered into this process, that sounded like the "ideal" scenario to me. Cutting ties with the birth family and pursuing a closed adoptionseemed like the best idea and possibly the "easiest" for all involved. But I know Josh and I have come a looong way because the thought of that now makes me very sad. I truly want our little one to have a connection to his or her roots, to have some kind of relationship with his or her birth family, to know and understand the reasons behind their adoption, to know in their hearts that they were always loved and wanted, to be able to ask questions of their birth family that I can't answer. We are praying very hard for our child's birth mother and are hopeful we'll be able to have an open relationship with her.
Class #6 was called "Transracial and Special Needs Adoptions". We spent the first part of class discussing the effects of drugs, alcohol, and mental illness on children. Working at a children's hospital, none of it was really news to me, though I think Josh learned a lot. We talked about the possibility of adopting children who were exposed to a lot or a little drugs or alcohol in the womb. We discussed what special needs those babies might have either immediately or down the road or both. We again talked about our "Child Desired Form" and are all being asked to redo them after our classes to make sure we haven't had a change of heart towards certain scenarios.
Our instructor talked about how this is a really personal decision, and that we should really be in prayer about what we're open to. She said, "This isn't the time to be politically correct. You guys have to make a decision for your family and go into it with eyes wide open, knowing what your particularr family unit can handle and nourish and thrive in." She talked about how she knows it is extremely hard to fill that form out because you feel like a terrible person if you don't check every single box, and then if you don't check a box, you wonder why you don't check it and if that's really the right decision and what if I don't check it and my baby that's supposed to be "my" baby never comes home to me because I didn't check the box??? It is not an easy paper to fill out.
She told us how once we've filled out the paperwork, it doesn't mean it is set in stone. We can call up our case worker at any time and tell her we've changed our mind about a certain situation and would like her to change our form. God might open or close our hearts to certain things, and we are just trusting that He will get us comfortable with whatever He has in store!
We spent a lot of time discussing the topic of transracial adoption, and had some special guest speakers who adopted children of a different race than their own. It was a really interesting discussion and we feel like we both learned a lot about what that really looks like in day to day life, the issues that arise, the views people (strangers as well as friends and family) may have, and the things that are extremely important to consider if we are open to adopting a little one who isn't the same race as us. Just as an FYI, Josh and I are totally open to this, so we are doing our best to prepare our kids and family and selves for the possibilty of becoming a multi-racial family! We are aware that it completely changes the look and dynamic of our family, and we are praying that God will prepare us for all of that if He decides to bless us in that way.
This class was definitely a little scary. We are being asked to take a really good, hard look at the type of situation we are open to considering. Some of the scenarios are downright frightening, some of them are just different, completely different than what we've ever dealt with, and that is a bit scary too! We simply have to trust that God knows what child is perfectly made for our family, and know that He will bring us to each other and work everything out and equip us to handle whatever that brings.
One of the speakers talked about how the very things she was completely closed to and terrified of were the exact scenarios each of her adopted children had when they brought them home. God challenged her in ways she never wanted or planned on, but she wouldn't change a thing. There are definitely a lot of scenarios that terrify me, and ones I'd just rather not have to deal with, but I am really trying to trust that God will equip me to handle whatever He asks me to handle. He's done it before, and I'm sure He'll do it again.
When I was growing up I always heard people say, "Ohhh I hope I have twins someday! I've always wanted twins!" Not me! I never wanted twins and couldn't understand why people would. Hadn't they ever cared for a screaming infant? They want to double that? No thanks. I wanted to have my babies one at a time like God intended. ;) Lo and behold, my very first pregnancy, TWINS!!! And you know what? I was right. They were incredibly difficult just as I thought they would be, and during my pregnancy and those first few months with my infants every time someone told me how lucky I was to have "killed two birds with one stone" I wanted to stick a fork in their eye. But. But, oh my gosh the blessings. Worth every single ache and pain of a full term twin pregnancy, worth sleeping a total of three hours a week for six months, worth the craziness and the chaos and the giant double stroller only The Hulk could handle. Thank GOD He didn't listen to my whining! I absolutely adore, absolutely adore, having my twins. I am the luckiest mama alive and I am so glad God challenged me in that way!
I am confident God knows what we need, what we can handle, and who will be a perfect fit in our little family. We are open to what He's planning for us, as scary as that is, because over time we have learned that to say "No, absolutely not, God, not me!" is to basically dare Him to do it. ;) And things are a lot harder when you're completely unwilling to bend to His will.
So that sums up the last two classes, though we learn and cover far more than I have time or energy to put here. We only have ONE MORE CLASS left!!! Yippee!!! I can't believe how fast everything is going! I am still anxiously awaiting the arrival of our Match Letter in the mail. The company I created it with is refusing to send me the PDF of if, for copyright reasons apparently, so I have to wait to get it in the mail before I can make copies of it and send it to our agency. Boo! ;)
We have one last meeting with our caseworker on the 7th to go over our new "Child Desired Form" and hopefully, hopefully (please God!) hand in our Match Letter copies and fee. Our Raffle/Genghis Grill Fundraiser is less than a week away! We have sold over 230 tickets for the Raffle and are spreading the word like crazy to get people to come on out to the Genghis Grill at Arrowhead for lunch or dinner on Wednesday! Remember, you must have the flyer with you for us to receive the 20% of your ticket, so print one off here and don't forget to bring it! Every dollar counts, and if you will notice, our thermometer is slowly but surely creeeeping upwards with each ticket sold!
We have some AMAZING baskets to raffle off, and there is still time to get your tickets! Click HERE for the list of prizes you can enter to win. Entries are just $5 a piece! Contact me to get yours! Special thanks to my mother-in-law, Robin, for helping me put all those baskets together and even donated two herself!! Also to my mom and dad, my sister, Ashley, and Heather N. who donated baskets for the Raffle! And THANK YOU to everyone who donated items for it as well! So many people stepped up to give us gift cards, money, handmade items, their business services, and their time to make these baskets extra awesome! Every single basket has entries in it, and that is all thanks to you guys and your generosity!!! I'm so excited to see who will win!
Thanks again for keeping up to date with our journey. We are getting SO CLOSE you guys, I am so proud of how far we have come and of all our friends and family who have walked this road with us and helped us so much. We could do none of this without your love and support. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Thank you for sticking with us!