Sunday, October 21, 2012

No One Puts Baby in the Closet!

Every week closer we get to this child's birth, the more our home is feeling ready. This weekend, it was time to get the crib in place! Brian's parents generously offered to get us a crib, and we've had the boxes sitting around for at least a few days now. Everything was good to go, except... there was nowhere to put it.

We're planning for the baby to sleep in our room at first, and then eventually to move to his own room next to ours. But for the first few months at least, we'll have the crib in our room. And that thing isn't small! So after struggling with IKEA-like instructions for a few hours this morning, we had an almost fully assembled crib sitting right in the middle of our room, and it didn't fit anywhere.

We tried next to the bed, but it completely blocked the closet. We tried putting it at the foot of the bed, but the blankets seemed like too much of a suffocation hazard. We even tried right by the door, but couldn't get around it to move in and out of the room. But suddenly, there was a stroke of inspiration:

Brian (joking): We could just put the baby in the closet...
Andy: No one puts Baby in the closet!
Andy: Actually... hand me the tape measure.

As it turns out, our closet is actually the perfect size for the crib, down to an inch on either side! We took out the two small dressers and easily relocated them, took the doors off, and voilĂ ! A built-in mini-nursery.

On a side note, we have way too many stuffed animals for two adult men. Luckily, there'll be a baby soon to make it seem more reasonable!

Next step, we need to paint the walls - white walls for a closet makes sense, but is far too drab for this kid!

One more thing marked off our list :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Friday's Ultrasound

I got a text from C. (the potential birthmother we're working with) earlier in the week, saying that she had an ultrasound appointment on Friday. Would I like to be there?

I'm sure you can imagine my response :) Unfortunately, Brian is traveling for work this weekend and couldn't go, but I still wasn't going to miss this! I've never actually seen a live ultrasound before, much less for a child I'm so invested in.

I don't think I was prepared to see this baby move around. I knew intellectually that now, at 35 weeks, this baby is almost fully formed. But actually seeing him on the screen, reacting to us in real time? Completely unexpected. And incredibly amazing. Most parents have the chance to start looking at ultrasounds when the baby's so small it's just a little dot on the screen. We've gone from zero to eight months in the span of two weeks, so I think I'm still experiencing a bit of the "I can't believe this is happening!" feeling.

Anyway, it's all good news! Baby's doing absolutely fine and is a very healthy 5 lbs 7 oz. And I got to see his fingers! The tech wanted to test his fine motor skills; this apparently involved "pissing off baby" by jostling C.'s very pregnant belly around a bit until baby reacted. Seeing his little fists and fingers was the absolute highlight for me.

This was the only one they printed out - I wish it wasn't quite so blurry!

The other great upshot of the day was that I got more of a chance to chat with C. We weren't actually together for very long, but got maybe 20 minutes to just chat in general. After both being so nervous at our first meeting, things felt a lot more natural this time. I'm very much looking forward to us all getting together again when Brian's back in town, especially if we get to meet C.'s almost 4-year-old son!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Hard Stuff - Name Change

For those of you that have read most of our posts, you might remember how Andy and I decided on a single family last name back in August.  That post touched on each option we looked at and how we went with Magee.  However, we also decided not to start the name change right away.  In our home state of Washington, marriage is up for a vote in the November election.  With polling looking favorable, Andy and I thought that we'd celebrate being officially married (rather than in a domestic partnership) by doing the name change after the election.  Of course, recent events have certainly changed that timeline since we want the adoption to reflect our joint last name!

It hasn't even been two full weeks since got the call, but it's been a busy time for us.  After expecting a wait much closer to 2 full years, we've been crunching a lot of things into a short time frame!  One thing on my end has been the name change...and wow.  I never knew it would be so involved, or maybe I was just in denial.  The latter might be more accurate  :)

Changing your name is both surprisingly easy and also really, really hard.  Going through the process of filing with the court and then sitting in a court hearing for your 60 seconds of glory with the judge - easy.  Chasing down all of the following - hard:

> Drivers license, social security, vehicle registration, voter registration, insurance, bank accounts, work information, utilities, email accounts, passport, etc.

After meandering my way through part of the process, here's some tips that I'd pass on to any of you that might consider a name change in the future:
  • Give yourself a timeline  (I'd procrastinate for weeks if not for the adoption)
  • If you have to file in court, never assume a court time of 1:05pm means your hearing will actually be at 1:05pm.  Taking War & Peace to read while you wait your turn is entirely appropriate.
  • Never change your name the week of a voter registration deadline
  • Time your process to avoid airline flights.  I'm traveling on Friday and am waiting for TSA to hate on me.
  • Think ahead about all of your accounts for email, twitter, skype, etc.  If your accounts all have your old last name, decide if you want to keep them or switch to new ones.
  • Practice signing your new name before you look incredibly incompetent as you sign your brand new drivers license that will stay with you for years.
    • Note: Moving your old last name to your middle name is great as you can smoothly transition from signing your old name into just signing your new full name.
  • Make a list of everything you need to update no matter how small.  Otherwise things are guaranteed to fall through the cracks.
With all of that, I'm not done with the process, but I'm far enough along that I'm going to switch to my new name in the most official place possible: Facebook!  Ok, maybe not the most legally official place, but just roll with it  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiting Families Night

Tonight we went to our first "waiting families" event at the agency. Very unexpected that we would have been picked before going to our first event! And also ironic, given the topic: "Surviving the Wait". Yep, that 2 month wait was extremely long and arduous!

Regardless of that, it was really great to have a chance to meet other folks who are also waiting in the pool now. (Technically, we're all "waiting families" until after a placement actually happens.) We recognized a few faces from the website, and had a chance to get to know a number of them. More importantly, it was eye-opening to realize how much variety there was in everyone's individual process. There were certainly other couples there who, like us, have only recently started working towards an adoption. But there were also quite a lot of couples for whom adoption has been a multi-year process already, and they're still just waiting. One couple in particular we talked to worked with three other agencies before OA&FS - definitely a huge amount of time has passed for them so far!

During most of the evening, we decided not to share the news that we'd recently entered adoption planning. Given the topic and the emotional battle scars that were apparent for a number of people, it almost seemed like bringing up our good news would be gloating. But we did end up sharing it with a small group at the end of the night, and I have to say it was gratifying to feel their excitement for us! And Katie (the agency counselor we worked with for the homestudy) was facilitating tonight's meeting, so it was fun to chat with her about our recent developments as well.

The only sad part about tonight is that there's only one more event for waiting families before our potential placement on November 12. We were hoping to get to know a whole network of other adoptive parents, both pre- and post-placement, before our placement happened, so now I guess we'll have to amp up that whole process! But I guess there are worse problems to have :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quick Update

To get started, I want to thank everyone that's been reading the blog.  All of your comments and support through facebook, emails, calls, in person, etc., has really been amazing!

On Thursday, our series of posts documented everything from getting 'the call' up through our first meeting with our birthmother.  Where we left off, the next step was for Courtney (our counselor from OA&FS) to check back with everyone to make sure we were all happy and ok to move forward.  Good news, that was the case so we're still on track! 

Over the next few weeks, we'll have lots of fun posts as we get to know the birthmother more (perhaps even share her name here if we have permission), ultrasound pictures, and our thoughts as we progress through all of the  fun baby preparation work we have ahead!
  • Waiting Pool
  • Chosen by Birthfamily 
  • Adoption Planning I
    •  Between Adoption Planning I & II
  • Adoption Planning II (1-2 weeks before delivery)
  • Delivery (C-Section scheduled for Nov 12th)
  • Placement

Thursday, October 4, 2012

We've Been Chosen!

It's been insanely tough to avoid posting this for a few days, but Andy and I have been chosen!  Last Friday, we got a call from Courtney, one of the OA&FS counselors to tell us that one of the birthmothers she had been working with chose us!  It's been a whirlwind week and while we've updated close family on current events, we opted not to post any blog updates until we were a little further along.

In a way, I think we didn't want to jinx ourselves by posting too early.  Luckily for all of you, we have been writing down posts in the meantime and are posting them today now that we've had a meeting with the birthmother that chose us:

It's a Boy! - A rundown on the events of last Friday when we got 'the call'
Babies Need Stuff - Thoughts following a trip to Babies 'R Us on Sunday
Adoption Planning I - Our first meeting with the birthmother who chose us!

Beyond these posts, it might help to have a refresher on the overall adoption process:
  • Information Meeting
  • Pre-Adoption Seminar
  • Homestudy
  • Waiting Pool
  • Chosen by Birthfamily 
  • Adoption Planning I
  • Adoption Planning II
  • Placement
>>Andy insists upon a Debbie-Downer disclaimer here: nothing's set in stone until a placement would actually occur in November, and an adoption may fall through for any number of reasons. We're very excited and we're confident enough about the placement that we want to share it publicly, but there's always still a small chance that it won't happen.

Assuming everything continues to move forward, we will spend the next few weeks getting to know the birthfamily.  Adoption Planning II will be our last major meeting with the counselor (Courtney) and the birthfamily where we go through lots of details like how things will go in the hospital, level of contact in the open adoption, etc, and this will take place about a week or two before the baby is born.

Overall, this is really exciting for us!  Andy and I are really thrilled to be on the path to an open adoption with an amazing fun and kind birthfamily.  While we have a lot of posts going up today, there will be plenty more in the coming weeks between now and mid-November!

Adoption Planning I

Adoption Planning I is what OA&FS calls the first meeting between an adoptive family, a birthfamily, and the OA&FS counselor.  This meeting is a direct follow up to the birthfamily choosing a specific adoptive family.  It gives everyone a 'get to know you' session where everyone involved can actually meet, talk, and see if they would be comfortable being connected for the rest of their lives.  To sum it up, it's almost like an extended round of speed dating that can result in marriage within days/weeks.

Following Adoption Planning I, the adoptive and birth families each have a day or two to think it over and then confirm with the OA&FS counselor if they want to move forward.  If both sides say 'yes', then everything moves forward.  If one or both sides say 'no', then the adoptive family stays in the waiting pool until they are chosen again, and the birthfamily chooses a 2nd adoptive family or explores options other than adoption.

For this post, both Andy and I want to plug in our individual perspectives to give a full view on how things went today.

Brian's Take
All the way through 'the call' and this past weekend, I'd been pretty even keeled.  However, I definitely started getting really nervous ahead of today's meeting.  For once, I was more nervous/jumpy/emotional than Andy!  Before we met with the birthmom and her dad at 1pm, we had a quick sit down with Courtney (the OA&FS counselor) at a nearby Starbucks.  Not long after, all of us were at Olive Garden sitting down to a great lunch.

I wasn't sure what to expect since I had kept myself from making any assumptions or forming preliminary expectations.  From the moment we met them, all the way through lunch, and then on our drive back home, I was constantly thinking about how nice, fun, and great the birthmother and her father were.  We had some great conversations about our families, passing around pictures, and talking about how each of us got to adoption.  While I already felt that things were going great, it was even better when I learned that the birthmother loves football!

Looking ahead, I'm definitely on board to move forward.  I have my fingers crossed that she will want to move forward too.

Andy's Take
Brian's definitely right that he was more nervous than me, at least in advance of the meeting. Even as we were chatting with Courtney at Starbucks, I felt strangely calm about the situation. Very excited, of course, but not overly anxious. But then as soon as we pulled into the Olive Garden parking lot, it hit me all of a sudden. We were about to meet the woman who might be carrying our child!

(We're not going to mention the expectant woman's name on the blog, or her father's, out of respect for their privacy. Rather, we'll refer to her as "C.", and her father as "M.".)

In advance of the meeting, Courtney prepared us very well by telling us a lot about the birth mother (C.). And specifically, I think she tried to fill us in on all the "bad" things so that we wouldn't be surprised by anything. Not that there's anything really "bad", so to speak; just that C. might take some time to warm up to us as new people, and if she seemed standoffish at first that would be normal for her. So of course I was prepared for the worst - I think I expected C. to sit there sullenly and silently stare at us for a hour. Thankfully, I couldn't have been further from the truth!

It probably took ten or twenty minutes for us to settle into comfortable conversation, but thankfully Courtney was an expert at coordinating that. And really quickly I think everyone was chatting like we were old friends. Okay, maybe not entirely like old friends, but at least well enough that C. started showing some of her dry, sarcastic humor in her interactions with M. After hearing so many details on the phone from Courtney earlier in the week, it was a great experience to be able to actually meet C. and get to know her for ourselves.

We spent maybe two hours at the restaurant, talking about our families, our hobbies, and telling stories. C. even showed us pictures of her three-year-old son, who will be a full sibling to this baby. We left the meeting with a very positive feeling about the entire situation, and we're excited to tell Courtney that tomorrow. And unless we entirely misread the situation, it seemed like C. felt positively about it as well! I guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow, but in the meantime I'd say we're very optimistic about where this is going.

Babies Need Stuff

Note: This post was written a few days ago. We chose not to publish it immediately until we had more information about the situation!

So when our last post left off, we were pretty close to setting up an initial meeting with an expectant mother. There was just a bit of clarification we were waiting on from Courtney (the counselor), but we were definitely leaning towards saying "yes". Well, that information got settled, we agreed to the meeting, and set it up for the following Thursday. That meant almost a full week of nothing but nervous waiting for us!

In the meantime, we quickly discovered how entirely unprepared we are for a baby. I don't mean mentally or emotionally; that side of things is good to go! No, I mean in terms of actual, physical stuff. If a baby were to show up at our home today, we'd be woefully unprepared. Now, don't get me wrong - we actually planned it this way. We wanted to avoid having an empty nursery sitting around for potentially years as we waited, and so we planned on not buying anything until a call came. What we didn't plan on was getting picked so quickly! The hope was that we'd have a list of necessary baby items ready to go. But, I guess that wasn't meant to be.

So on Sunday it was time for a trip to Babies 'R Us to find out just how screwed we are. Wow, I had no idea how much "stuff" babies need! There's diapers, there's wipes, there's bottles and pacifiers; cribs, pack and plays, bouncers, and more. Just looking at the sheer amount of merchandise available was enough to make my head spin. And all that was before we got to the baby clothes.

Now, I'm pretty sure that baby clothes are the most adorable thing in the known universe. I mean, who wouldn't love a little child dressed up in a monkey onesie? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), Brian had laid down some ground rules before we went in: we weren't there to actually buy anything. Since this was only a potential placement and we hadn't even met the expectant mother yet, we were only there to make a list. *Sigh* So, no cute baby clothes for me that day. But sometime soon, I hope!

I started the weekend pretty overwhelmed by how much we had to prepare for the arrival of a child. After we got through making our lists, I realize that we still have a lot to do, but that it's also going to be at least manageable. But if this placement does indeed happen, the next six weeks are going to be a wild ride!

It's a Boy!

Note: This post was written on Saturday 9/29, regarding the events of the previous day. We chose not to publish it immediately until we had more information about the situation, so please excuse the lateness of the post!

Friday was supposed to be a slow, relaxing day. I had Lasik surgery done on my eyes the day before, and so even though I was feeling fine and could see perfectly, I was taking the day at home to give my body some time to recuperate. I had a follow-up appointment first thing in the morning, and then was home by 9:00, ready to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.

A couple hours later, I had just finished watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Brian called. I almost didn't notice the call (the phone was on silent on the table) and got to it just before it went to voicemail. When I answered, Brian asked what I was doing, ascertained that nothing major was going on, and then he said it: "We've been picked."

I know it sounds cliched, but I was completely speechless. For at least a few seconds, I sat there in silence, trying to comprehend what Brian had just said. Finally, I managed to stutter out "...are you serious?" I couldn't actually believe he was telling the truth, and therefore it must be some kind of joke. See, we've only been in the waiting pool for about two and a half months. The average waiting time in 2010 was 14 months for same-sex couples, and the size of the pool has almost doubled since then. So two and a half months? No way!

But despite my disbelief, Brian assured me it was for real. He had just received a call from Courtney, one of the OA&FS counselors. It was 11:15 - she was available to talk with us at 11:30, or else she could talk with us the next day on Saturday. Well, waiting a full day was not going to happen! Unfortunately Brian was at work and I at home, so we weren't together for this discussion, but we settled on putting together a quick conference call with all three of us, so that Courtney could fill us in on all the details.

Our call with Courtney lasted about an hour, and it was a whirlwind of information. Out of respect for the birth family (whom we haven't met yet), I'm going to avoid writing anything specific about them online. But suffice it to say that Courtney had us reeling from the information overload we got in that hour. We heard all about the birth mother, why she was choosing adoption, what the family situation is, her health history, and all sorts of other information as well.

Keeping up with Courtney was hard, especially with the emotional impact of what we were hearing. I was able to keep everything kind of at arm's length for most of it, so that I could try to objectively analyze what I was hearing. And then Courtney asked, "Do you want to know the gender?" Brian and I both paused a beat, and then simultaneously let out an exclamation that must've sounded like "ohmygod*nervouslaugh*ofcourse(holycrapthisishappening)yes!"

"It's a boy."

And then I was done. It became real. We're having a little baby boy! All of a sudden, it all felt right. I think I missed the next few minutes of our conversation, because I just kept picturing the child who had suddenly become so real to me. But alas, Courtney had more information to give us, so I needed to come back to reality, at least for a little while.

Now came the difficult parts of the conversation. There are some risk factors in the pregnancy that we need to consider. Nothing extremely concerning, and all within the parameters we'd already set, but we do have some things to think about. Courtney did a wonderful job filling us in on all the details she had, and then let us know about our next steps.

Basically, we need to make a yes/no decision to this situation. We need to take all the information Courtney's given us so far and decide whether we're comfortable with it. If we say no, then it all goes away like nothing ever happened. If we say yes, then we're meeting with the birth mother next week, and at the meeting we and she would make a mutual decision about whether we thought it's a good match.

Right now, we're really, really close to saying yes to the situation. The birth mother has a specific medical condition that we weren't previously familiar with, and we're currently trying to do more research to find out about that illness and its effect on fetuses. But otherwise, the overall situation seems really wonderful, and we're very much leaning towards a "yes".

If we say yes, then we meet with the birth mother next week. And then if that goes well, the baby's due to be born via a C-section on November 12. November 12! We could have a baby in just over 6 weeks! Holy crap!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Even if we say yes, and even if next week's meeting goes well, there's still a number of things that could happen between now and November 12 that might cause this to fall through. So I try to keep reminding myself that I'm allowed to be excited, while still acknowledging that this is far from a sure thing. But damn, is it exciting!

There are so many questions right now. We know a lot about the birth family, but there's a ton more we don't know. And of course, I'm an emotional mess right now. I'm incredibly excited, and even more nervous, and somehow I still can't quite convince myself that this is all real. No matter how everything turn out, the next six weeks are going to be a wild ride.