Saturday, October 11, 2014

OA&FS Annual Report

So a couple weeks ago, our adoption agency sent out their annual report. Being the numbers geeks that we are, Brian and I pored over all the updated statistics they sent. Nothing major has changed, but I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about what some of these items mean for us.

The updated average number of placements per year is now 41. (I'm not sure how far back that average goes, or if it just means there were 41 placements last year.) At the time I'm writing this, there are 97 families waiting in the pool. You don't need complicated math to see that there are a lot more folks waiting for placements than there are placements happening! At the same time, those numbers are fairly consistent with what they've been over the past few years, so there's not much of a surprise there.

At the same time, the average wait time between entering the pool and placement is down slightly to 14 months. So at least that metric's moving in a good direction! There seems to be a bit of a fluctuation with this one over the past few years, though. When we first starting working with OA&FS a few years ago, it was 10 to 12 months; it increased a lot the following year, and now it's back down again. It'll be interesting to see how this continues to change.

I was surprised to see that 23% of placements are last minute, meaning that adoption planning begins at or after birth. By comparison, a few years ago this number was at 7%. When we adopted Dominic, we had the benefit of about seven weeks' notice to get everything ready. But while we've always known it's a possibility that our next placement might have less time for preparation, this drives home how common it's becoming!

It was nice to see this report and get a chance to mull over some numbers, since that's how Brian and I tend to process a lot of this. We've been waiting for about four months now, and while that's a lot less time (so far) than most people wait, it's already almost double what we waiting before Dominic arrived! Who knows when a placement will happen, but I'm enjoying finding ways like this to stay engaged with the waiting process.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 101

Time for another check in on the blog!  Continuing the trend I've been on in previous posts by tracking the total days in the pool, I'm actually enjoying being a dork and tracking our wait in measurable numbers.  Seeing the numbers add up make me feel a little validated.  The way my mind works, when I undertake something big, I like to see continual progress rather than listless stagnation.

Of course, my mind knows that each day that passes also brings us closer to having two kids in the house.  At times, parenting one child is a handful!  Parenting two will be daunting at times.  I still remember when Dominic first came home with us and we became hermits for a few months.  With some luck, this won't happen to us after our second placement:

As another way of passing the time which both makes the possibility of a second child both more real and front-of-mind is that we're continuing to educate Dominic about how he will be a big brother some day.  He still doesn't understand the concept quite yet, but he is now frequently pointing out babies when he sees them out in public.  He also happily points out every "bus" too, but we're making progress!

Waiting Pool Stat Update
We were out of town for an awesome wedding at the start of the month and missed the usual waiting pool stat update.  Pending a more involved update in the future, here are a couple of highlights for the moment:
  • Total Families - 96 (100 in Aug)
  • 14 new families in the pool since we entered on June 5th (14.5% of the total pool)

Friday, August 22, 2014

79 Days - Entering New Territory!

Today, August 22nd, marks a special occasion for our time in the waiting pool.  Our first time around in the waiting pool lasted a shockingly short 2 1/2 months -- or more precisely, 79 days.  We still feel very lucky to have been picked by such a wonderful birthmother so quickly and to now have such a great little boy in our family.

This time around, we're gearing ourselves up for what matches up to a more "typical" stay in the waiting pool.  That effort to develop a mindset of moderately optimistic realism is validated today as we have now officially been waiting 79 days.

Looking ahead, this means that we actually have to be proactive about mentally managing our wait in the pool.  One thing we have on our side is Dominic's endless supply of energy!  He's always moving, excited to explore new things, and read new books which certainly keeps us busy as well!

Leaning against a tree at the park

Occupying 3rd base
Taking a break with Papa on a walk

In addition to all of our regular activities with Dominic, we recently got in a visit with Dominic's birth mother, Carly.  We all had a great time hanging out together playing at a combo playground-sprayground.  Dominic loved the water, play structures....and the mulch.  To recharge after all that playing, we all made an impromptu (and tasty) stop by a Dairy Queen for blizzards.  I'm really glad that Dominic enjoys seeing Carly and that we all have fun during these trips.  It is even better now that Dominic is eagerly saying names these days and can easily say "Carly" before he runs and gives her a hug.

Dominic showing his birthmom Carly how to play with mulch!

For us as the adoptive parents, we have the regular need that typical parents have for personal time on top of the background need to manage our wait in the pool.  Besides taking care of Dominic, life at work, and things around the house, we're really trying to focus on things that keep us active and happy.

Andy recently gave me the thumbs up to go get a kayak.  It's something I've talked about doing for years and finally did!  So far, I've been out on the water twice, and it's amazing.  The ability to be out in the kayak free from responsibilities and meeting the needs of others is refreshing.  It also makes for a good workout too!

The view from my kayak on Lake Washington

So... we're now 79 days in with potentially many more to go?  Who knows!  We won't know how many days are left until we get the call.  It could be today or it could be a ways down the road.

Just for fun, the earliest prediction from our prediction post was November 12, 2014 (Elise).  While today is #79 in the pool, Nov 12th is day #161.  Strange to realize that we're only at the halfway point to the earliest prediction!

A lot can happen in life over 79 days.  With our next semi-milestone in 82 days, there will likely be plenty more things that mark the passage of time.  While I know I will still continue to keep one eye on the waiting pool and our ever increasing time in the pool, we already have a wedding to celebrate, Halloween outfits to prep, and a 2nd birthday to plan for.  Whether we're consciously trying to make it happen or not, our life is helping us manage the wait.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Managing the Wait + August Stats

When you're expecting to wait days, weeks, months, or even years for a single call, how tough is it to manage the wait?  For us, we have already waited 56 days.  Two months have gone by pretty fast, and it's strange to realize that over 50 days have gone by already.  Of course, there are occasional reminders that bring the wait to the forefront with thoughts like:

"I don't want to go to work today... it would be awesome if we got the call!"

Some of the thoughts like this are silly and make me smile.  Other times I catch myself dwelling on it more than I should.  Especially because dwelling on it won't change anything.  Time is starting to add up for us, but we have still waited a relatively short time.  Managing the wait is a huge topic for adoptive families.  It's one that our agency really focuses on as for many families, it can be tough to wait day after day for any sort of news about being selected.  Eventually, most families are picked.  It just takes time.

August Statistics
It's been relatively quiet in the pool.  The total number of families is the same and only 2 new families entered the waiting pool with 3 leaving and 1 returning.

Since we entered the waiting pool on June 5th, 9 other families have joined.

Looking back from today to January, 32 families have entered the pool since the start of the year and none of them have left the pool.  In total, that's a minimum wait of 7 months.  While this doesn't mean we're automatically going to wait 7 months, it does provide some perspective as to how we should be managing our wait.

Monday, June 30, 2014

25 Days & Counting

Ok, we're technically not counting, but it makes for a good title!

Amazingly, it has only been 25 days since we entered the waiting pool.  June has been a really busy month for us, so it's seemed like we've been in the pool much longer.  We aren't getting anxious, but it was a good reality check when I added up the days!

One question we've gotten a few times has been if we've had any screening calls.  Andy may post more on this later, but we have gotten 1 screening call so far.  It was a fun surprise when we got it the day after entering the pool!  I remember last time around when each screening call (really it's a screening email) would give us an immediate adrenaline rush, cause us to drop everything, run around in circles, and do some research.  This time around, I felt like a pro since we took our time and then gave our answer.  We can both already tell that this will be a more relaxed time in the pool as we have bigger fish to fry between work, taking care of Dominic, and our large array of other activities.

Is anything else new?  Of course!  We never really sit still.  The blog has been pretty active.  Earlier this month we posted a prediction pool on some fun baby possibilities and then put up a summary post over the weekend.  Earlier tonight, I posted the latest Waiting Pool stats which show that the waiting pool is up to 100 families for the first time this year.

Since we have plenty of time left to go until we're picked (November at the earliest by the predictions), we'll have lots of other fun posts to put up and things to share.  If you have any requests or topics to suggest, feel free to post them in the comments!

Waiting Pool Stats - July

After 6 months of posting statistics on the waiting pool, we are now officially a part of those statistics!  These graphs will take on a little extra meaning now for us.

Total Families in the Waiting Pool
Since I just put together a more substantial post here, this entry will just be about the basic nuts and bolts of the numbers.  As shown below, there is a clear upward trend in the number of families that are in the waiting pool.  For the first time this year, the number of waiting families has hit the 100 mark.

Compared to June, there was a net gain of 2 families.  However that only tells part of the story.  In total, 8 new families joined the pool while 6 families left the pool.
Next up, our ongoing stats by orientation.  Even with 6 families leaving the pool and 8 new families joining, there were was minimal change with each group changing between 0 and 2 families total.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Prediction Roundup

It's been a couple of weeks since our last post asking for predictions and we had quite a few predictions come in.  Just for fun, we put together a little chart that summarizes all of the guesses!

The top entry for "Average Wait" represents the low end of the average wait time for our agency.  We don't have up-to-date numbers, but this is likely 18-24 months.  Compared to this, everyone is very optimistic for us, so we appreciate your happy thoughts!  :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Baby Predictions!

We've officially been in the pool for over a week now!  It's been a great week as there hasn't been any adoption homework or need to obsessively keep tabs on our pool entry process.  I know eventually that I will get anxious about a placement, but for now it's really nice just to settle in and to wait for things to happen.

While we're settling in, it's time to repeat something we did for our first adoption!  We put up a prediction thread letting everyone guess some basic things about our placement.  There was even one guess that got Dominic's exact birth month and year right!

Last time around, it was really fun with tons of predictions, so we're going to do it again here!  Just leave a comment here on the blog with your guesses for each of the entries below.  Whoever gets the closest wins a massive Super Deluxe Luxurious Grand Prize*!

Prediction Categories
  • Placement Time:  Month and year
  • Gender: Boy or Girl
  • Birthfamily's Location: Washington, Oregon, Other, or a state/region of your choice

*Super Deluxe Luxurious Grand Prize may include a mention on the blog and a contractual obligation to provide 18 full years of babysitting.  Thanks in advance!  :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Waiting Pool Entry!

Andy and I are officially in the waiting pool as of today!  This means that we are essentially "pregnant" but with an unknown due date.  With OA&FS (our agency), an adoptive family can be selected at any time once they are in the waiting pool.  There is not a set amount of time to wait until we have a placement.

So on average, what is our expected wait time?  In our last post about waiting pool stats, I noted that there were 98 families in the waiting pool at the start of June.  Our agency has about 35-45 placements each year.  Assuming 45 placements per year, it would take over 2 years for every family in the waiting pool to get selected.  For us, we're assuming an average wait time would be about 1.5 to 2 years.

This means we likely have plenty of time to splash around in the waiting pool.  A couple of years ago, we splashed around with Charley, the happy adoption waiting pool whale.  This time around, I think we'll hang out with Ginger, the glamorous waiting pool giraffe.  Considering that this time around, we'll likely be waiting much longer, I've upgraded us to have a slide and a fountain!  (It's entirely possible I might have to buy us one of these now that I've found it online...)
Ginger, our waiting pool giraffe

Monday, June 2, 2014

Waiting Pool - June Stats

While we're waiting to get word that we've entered the waiting pool, it's time for a fresh round of statistics on our adoption agency's waiting pool.  This post holds extra meaning as it essentially represents the baseline for when we enter the pool!

First up is our ongoing chart that tracks the total number of families in the waiting pool.  Ever since the start of 2014 in January, the waiting pool has expanded in size from 89 families to 98.  If we count our family as #99, that makes for an increase of about 10%.

For every family in the waiting pool to be selected for placement, it would take about 2 years and 73 days.  This assumes an average of 45 placements per year and that no new families join the waiting pool.  (Unrealistic on that last one, but it provides some perspective.)

Next up is families by orientation.  All groups of adoptive families have held mostly steady since January.  The biggest increase taking place in Straight and Single-parent families.

The last chart is one that I first created in April.  It shows the waiting pool breakdown between adoptive families that have children already and those that do not.  Aside from being a gay family, we feel that this is one of the other big categories that a potential birthfamily would use to sift through the waiting pool which is relevant to us.

Since April, a total of 6 families were selected or left the waiting pool.  Of these 6 families, 5 did not have children and 1 family did.  This doesn't provide enough data for any conclusions, but the rate of selection for adoptive families with children comes out at 1/6 or 17%.  In April, the percentage of families in the waiting pool with kids was 18%.

So, what does all of this mean?  It means that I'm a total dork.  No more, no less.  I just like to track stats, and it helps me make sense of a process that is completely beyond my control.  Also, it will give me something to do in the upcoming months of waiting for a little baby boy or baby girl to join our family!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Approaching Splash Zone

After months of preparations, we're nearly in the waiting pool!  In total, we have provided all of our materials to the agency and checked off every box on our list as of Thursday last week.  The only thing left is for OA&FS to handle the internal paperwork before we're in the waiting pool.  I have my fingers crossed that this will happen by the end of May (this week), but it could potentially be further out than that.

How could it take so long to process our paperwork after months and months of prep?  If you're asking that (hi mom!), you're probably not alone.  I have that thought crop up from time to time, but then I remember what the agency's priorities are.  Getting families into the waiting pool is very important to them.  However, many of their staff and counselors need to drop what they're working on when placements happen.  Speaking from past experience, when we went through Dominic's placement, that was the time that it mattered most to have support from the agency!  The engineer in me wants a hard and fast deadline for pool entry, but I keep telling myself that it'll happen when it happens.

A freakin turret!
In the meantime, May has mostly been a month filled with various projects and the relief of not having adoption "homework" hanging over my head most nights after work.  We have made a lot of fun trips to the park with Dominic now that the weather is getting nicer.  I've been training with actual consistency for a half-marathon next month, and we have also been working on Dominic's new bedroom!  Eventually, Dominic will move to the bedroom next to his and his room will switch over to the baby room.  (We might have decided it was easier to redo an entire bedroom for him rather than take apart the crib.)  One of things we did for that new bedroom was to make an IKEA run to get some shelves and bins for the closet.  While we were there, we bought lots of frivolous things that seemed like fun: a mini-chair and table set for Dominic, lingonberries for me, and a turret.  Yeah, that's right.  We bought a freakin turret!  Best $20 we ever spent.

For now, no other notable updates on the adoption front.  We're still at a similar point to last time, but I need to drive this story into the ground like I'm a one-man-CNN.  BREAKING NEWS - ALMOST NOTHING NEW HAS HAPPENED!  But seriously, something is about to happen.  When?  Who knows.  I'm tempted to speculate on it....but I won't.  You will all just have to look forward to our next post  :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Waiting Pool or Bust!

This is almost like our checklist...
It's been an incredibly busy April for us.  I've been juggling one deadline at work after another, my parents came out to visit, and we've also been working towards the last few checklist items to complete before we get into the waiting pool.

The last two items we've had to complete have been the Family Introduction Letter and the Family Book.  These two things are the most important pieces of our preparations to enter the waiting pool.  They are the first things birth families see when looking at potential adoptive families for their child.  (No pressure!)

What is a Family Introduction Letter?
When you visit the profiles of families in the waiting pool, the text on their profile page is the Family Introduction Letter.  In essence, it's like reading the first page in a new book or the opening of a 60-minute presentation.  The good Family Introduction Letters get your attention and make you interested to read more.  They make you feel connected to the people that wrote them while also giving a good sense of who they are, what they value, and what sort of parents they would become (or are).  On some levels, this is really tough because you get 1 page to cram a giant pile of information into place while also making it seem light and effortless and fun.

Family Book....that sounds like a novel.  Did you write War and Peace or something?
Oh my god it felt like it.  This one was incredibly tough for us to make as it was brand new and was not something we prepared for our last adoption.  The Family Intro Letter seems like a piece of cake as it's condensed down into a neat little 1 page package.  This behemoth took us over a month to pull together.

The Family Book is a 20-30 page book filled with photos and text.  You know how people make cute little photo books on Shutterfly or Snapfish that show off pictures of their weddings or vacations?  Yeah, those books are easy.  Hell, someone could pick up a pile of 100 vacation pictures, shove it into one of those sites, and it will spit out an entire book in 60 seconds.  

I may be exaggerating a bit, but the Family Book is something that, for us, required a lot of thought, preparation, rifling through thousands of pictures, and the entire month of April.  The hardest part was just building an outline and a base of pictures that started to help it all make sense.  Until that happened, it was like having the same piece of homework every night after work and never making any progress, but in the end we crammed in 87 pictures, 67 text boxes, and far too many customized layouts later we have a drafted copy of this ready to go!

What Next?
We sent drafts of both the Letter and the Book to our counselor, Katie, just last night.  Earlier today we heard that she's headed out on vacation for a few days (lucky for her!), but that we'll hear back in a week as this will be at the top of her list.  We'll likely have some tweaks to take care of and then after that we'll have these finalized and ready for production.  The only other big items out there are for Katie to finish up our homestudy report and for us to send in a big fat check to the agency to cover pool entry/marketing.  Barring any issues, we could be in the waiting pool by the end of May!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pictures on the Fridge

Last week, we put up a whole bunch of pictures on the fridge. Brian and I have been saying for a while that we want more photos of our family and friends
around where Dominic can see them, but we just hadn't gotten around to it. So over the weekend I got a bunch of magnetic sleeves, had some prints made, and voilĂ ! Instant portraits for Dominic.

And wow, were they a hit. Without fail, every morning since then the first thing he does after coming downstairs is to run to the fridge and start pointing at all the people. He loves it! I was surprised by how much he enjoys looking at all the pictures, and also at how well he can identify everyone. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends - he knows every name, and can even say some of them!

One of the reasons we chose to pursue open adoption was that we wanted our children to know where they came from, and to be able to have a relationship with their birth families. To that end, we've seen Dominic's birth family a number of times over the past year and a half, and I'm confident we'll continue on that route throughout the course of Dominic's life. But the kid's only 17 months old - I assumed that even though he's seen his birth family often, he didn't yet understand who they were. Surprisingly, the fridge has proven me wrong.

Dominic's birth parents are both on our fridge, and somehow Dominic already knew who they were without us having to prompt him at all! He can identify them by both name and relationship: when I say "Carly" or "birth mom", and "Jason" or "birth dad," he knows them both. And he smiles when he points to them, but there's one other picture that he gets even more excited about: the one of him with his birth brother Mickee. I guess he knows a cute picture when he sees it!

We spent a lot of time during adoption preparation worrying about how we'd interact with a birth family. And we still worry about it sometimes; any human relationship has to be approached with care and sincerity. But it's nice to know that at least for now, things seem to be off to a good start!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Waiting Pool - April Stats

It's a new month which means that it's time for a fresh round of stats!

After some graphs showing some less than exciting changes in the pool over the last month, time for a new chart!  Now that we're going through the pool a second time, we have an entirely new perspective considering that our family is different from so many others in the pool.  We have already tracked waiting families by orientation, but this time around it made sense to do a quick look to see how many other families have children as well.

As shown above, only 17 families out of the 94 total have children right now.  Each birthfamily will look at the available waiting families differently.  Some might want to choose a family without kids while others might choose an adoptive family with kids to guarantee that the child will grow up with at least one sibling.  Admittedly, we're hoping for a family with the latter perspective or one that is open to either case!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Homestudy and Transracial Adoption

In February, we had all of our homestudy meetings with our counselor, Katie.  We also turned in a giant pile of paperwork...
Office Kitty is not impressed with our papers
...recorded a video of the two of us that will go online with our profile where we answered the typical questions of "What do you like about your spouse?" and "Why does openness appeal to you?"...
Oh dear god, never do an image search on "openness."  Kids, the internets are scary.

...and then we also talked a lot with Katie about some major adoption topics like transracial adoption, attachment, and exposures.  Since we have plenty of time coming up and will review some of these later, I'll keep this focused on transracial adoption.

What does transracial adoption actually mean?
It's a fancy term for when you adopt a child of a race different from your own.  For us, Andy and I are both white.  A transracial adoption for us means that we could be adopting a child that is hispanic, asian, african american, etc.  The end result is that the child may look obviously different from us.  Looking at our first child, Dominic is a white baby that easily fits into the societal mold where people can easily assume that we are his parents.

With two dads and an old brother that are white, some of these kids might look the same as us while others would look different and be confusing to people that don't know our family
Even the folks from Avenue Q tell us that our family
will be judged at least a little bit whether we're a
transracial family or if we're all white
One point that really stuck out the most to me is that our future family could all be together in one place (Andy, myself, Dominic, and a future little brother or sister), and someone walks up and talks to Dominic about his "friend".  Thinking about how we perceive families, typically a child that looks different would normally be a friend or relative rather than part of the family.  It's something that would come up over and over again: at the grocery store, at security with TSA when we fly anywhere, on the playground, at school, and many other instances.  These are situations where adoptive parents and children are outside of societal norms and need to educate those around them.  For our family, we're already a little unique and adding one more layer of depth to our family isn't really that big of a deal to us!

So looking ahead, where are we at in the process?

  • Information Meeting
  • Pre-Adoption Seminar
  • Application Submission
  • Application & Intake Interview
  • Homestudy Interview #1
  • Homestudy Interview #2
  • Homestudy Interview #3
  • Homestudy Interview #4
  • Homestudy Completion
  • Pool Entry
  • Waiting in the Pool [0 months to 2+ years]
  • Chosen by Birthfamily

  • We're moving right along!  There are still several weeks of wrapping up our homestudy and getting background checks done by the FBI.  Beyond that, we also need to write and prepare all of our materials for our online profile for the OA&FS website.  Still a fair amount of work left, but we're likely less than 3 months away from the pool and should be "swimming" with Charley the Waiting pool whale again before summer starts!

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

    Waiting Pool - March Stats

    It's been a crazy week at work, but here are the "official" statistics on our adoption agency's waiting pool as of today.  It's been an interesting month with some shifting in the waiting pool that has seem some families leave the pool and a lot of new families join.  In the end, the waiting pool is nearing 100 families in total with 97!

    Since our February totals, 11 brand new families have joined the pool and 7 families have left the pool.  There were also 3 families that re-entered the pool which resulted in a net gain of 7 families for the month.

    Why would families re-enter the pool?
    This feels like a good opportunity to feature a question some people might have about the waiting pool.  Why would families leave the pool and then come back into it later?  There are 3 main reasons that this would happen:

    1. Disruption
    2. New home
    3. Taking a break
    Of these, the first one is one that is always a possibility for any adoptive family.  An adoptive family can be "chosen," leave the waiting pool, and prepare for a baby to be placed with them.  During that time for a variety of reasons, there can be a disruption.  It can cover a large range of things with one main example being that a birthfamily opts to parent the child.

    The other two reasons are entirely on the adoptive families.  If a family moves to a new house, then that means their homestudy would need to be updated.  (Luckily, Andy and I are settled in our home and won't be moving anytime soon!)  The last is that sometimes other families want to take a break.  It could be a breather after being in the pool for a while, or some families might travel out of the country on vacation and decide to remove themselves from the pool for a few weeks.  That's definitely not required, but it could help some families relax a bit more and enjoy their trips!

    Back to the Waiting Pool Stats
    Time for our last chart which builds on previous data by orientation. Nothing earth-shattering here as the only changes are an increase in straight families and a sizable jump in single adoptive parents from 3 to 6.  Still, no news is some news as it shows a fair amount of consistency!

    If I get more time for next month's post, I'll try to skim through all of the profiles and draw stats on which families have at least 1 child already or simply who has pets. 

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    It's a (Death) Trap!

    In preparations for last week's homestudy interviews, I realized one super important thing that we'd completely forgotten.  Despite filling out or gathering over 32 separate pieces of paperwork for our homestudy documents such as reference letters, autobiographies, contracts, background checks, FBI background checks, birth certificates, marriage license, driver's licenses, self-assessments, tax returns, etc. etc., I realized that one key piece of making sure that our homestudy interviews pass with flying colors was having everything prepared on the homestudy checklist.  (Yet another list!)

    This homestudy checklist requires us to have a home evacuation plan posted.   It also has lots of things on it that make sense for Katie to check off.  Basic items that legally need to be confirmed before saying a home is acceptable for a child.  You know, like running water, heat, smoke alarms, and that the house isn't a giant haunted house death trap. 

    Back to the evacuation plan, it makes more sense for adopting older children, but it's kind of laughable to have to do one for a newborn baby.  Oh well, we did one last time around in our old house and I threw yet another copy of one together for our new house too.  While I didn't do a fancy version drawn up in CAD software this time around, I still took a little time make some pretty pictures for it in PowerPoint!

    The next time any of you are over to visit, this will be conveniently posted next to our patio door.  Be sure to spend 2 minutes getting to know this while our house burns down around you before you take 2 steps evacuate along the golden path to freedom.

    Also, since this is being posted after our homestudy interviews, I should probably mention that we passed with flying colors.  Hooray!  We'll likely post more follow up items in the future, but this is just a quick update for now.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Waiting Pool Stats - February

    Last time around, we tracked some basic statistics about the waiting pool.  Since I'm a dork, I'm going to do it again for fun.  Mainly, I just find it interesting to see how Andy and I would fit in with the other families that are in the pool and to see how the waiting pool changes over time. 

    One important thing to note is that we don't really see this as a competition with the other families.  In the end, we know that every family that gets picked will do an amazing job of parenting their little girl or little boy which is what matters.  This is really just a way to pass the time and come up with pretty data-based graphics to entertain us in the meantime!

    Now on with the pretty graphics and bar charts!

    First up, we have the statistics for the entire pool.  I tallied up the number of adoptive families in the waiting pool at the start of the year in January and just yesterday.  Over the month of January, there was very little change.

    *One important note with these stats is that we use the current profiles displayed on the OA&FS website.  Sometimes the website does not show immediate updates, but this is what we will use to establish these stats.

    One breakdown we did last time around was the number of adoptive couples in each orientation grouping.  Admittedly, we tended to compare ourselves the most with other gay adoptive families in the pool.  That doesn't mean we think we'll be picked by a birthfamily that is only looking at gay couples.  It's an easy metric for us to follow.  Also, with 90 families in the pool, it's a lot easier to skim through 21 profiles than all 90!

    So, there we have it.  Our first Waiting Pool statistics post shows....almost nothing.  January was a slow month and the only change was adding one straight adoptive family to the pool.  Future posts will likely show more action, but this goes to show that the world of adoption can be incredibly unpredictable.  Some months there will be 5+ families going through adoptions.  Other months will be quiet ones like January.  With some luck, February will be a more active month as I know there are 90 wonderful entries in the waiting pool.

    Now, given that today is February 2nd and Super Bowl Sunday, I need to end this post appropriately...

    Go Hawks!

    Friday, January 31, 2014


    It's official!
    Dear Andy & Brian:

    Open Adoption & Family Services is honored to welcome you into our program. Based on your Application & Intake meeting, it is apparent that your values and expectations for your adoption are well aligned with our commitment to creating healthy open adoption relationships. We feel that you will be a great candidate for our program and look forward to working with you.
    We have officially received our acceptance letter from by OA&FS and are on track to continue work to prepare for our second adoption! On Tuesday, Andy and I went over to their office to have our official Intake Interview with our counselor, Katie.  Going through this process for the second time really provides a different perspective.  Compared to the first time we went through and did this interview, it was a lot more relaxed.  The fact that we already know Katie and that she knows us made it incredibly easy.  It has also helped that we have been very active with our agency since adopting Dominic as well.  We have been to two holiday parties (2013 and 2014), I was a guest speaker at one of the pre-adoption seminars, and we also attended their summer picnic back in August.  Sometimes I wonder why I always feel so busy... this might explain a trend.

    So why did we have this interview?  OA&FS has every adoptive family go through this interview to make sure they are ready to 'buy in' to the concept of open adoption and that they are a good fit for the agency.  Interviews like this one help protect adoptive parents, birth families, the agency, and especially the children to make sure everyone is committed to working together towards an open adoption.  A few questions we had in our original intake interview which reflect this were:
    • How did you decide on adoption?
    • How do you feel about openness?
    • How and when did each of you decide that you wanted to have children?
    This time around, a good chunk of our time with Katie was spent talking about Dominic and our current relationships with his birth parents, Carly and Jason.  Beyond that, there was plenty of talk about personal perspectives, describing our experiences during Dominic's adoption, and what we expect for the second adoption.  (We certainly feel more prepared, but understand every adoption can be different!)

    We also spent some time talking about the upcoming process for entering the waiting pool again.  There is still a lot to do (paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork!) which we'll likely touch on in some posts in the coming weeks and months.  Speaking of future posts, there are plenty of other topics we talked about with Katie that we'll be exploring further in depth as well such as:
    • Homestudy interviews
    • The chance of adopting a baby from another state and how that would be different for us
    • The size of the waiting pool
    • Preparing our photo book
    Overall, we just reached a big milestone in our process, but there's plenty of work left to do.  Thinking about all of this on top of my regular duties at work, I'll be ready for a vacation soon.  Any place that's warm, sunny, and near an ocean sounds just about right. (*hint hint Andy)

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    January Events

    It's been a busy January for us and now that we're actively preparing for another adoption, there's been plenty of things going on!

    First off, we attended our agency's holiday party last weekend.  While we likely would have gone to the party anyway, it put a different perspective on it for us as we got to spend time with adoptive families we have gotten to know over the past couple of years as well as some new families in the waiting pool.  One of the reasons we have really liked working with OA&FS is the environment.  It truly is an adoption "community" in so many aspects.  During the adoption process, they help waiting families connect with each other and with families that have already been through the process.  This type of process is a profound and life changing experience that links people together that might never have met otherwise.  This continues long after placement which just adds another great layer to how OA&FS works with families.  On an exciting note, Andy and I had the wonderful surprise of knowing that our blog has helped other adoptive families out there.  When we started this blog back in 2012, we mainly wanted to use it to keep in touch with family and close friends.  It quickly expanded and picked up far more interest than we expected which was a wonderful surprise.  Hopefully, our posts the second time around will continue to be exciting and interesting...but we'll see  :)

    Speaking of doing this process a second time, we have our intake interview scheduled for Tuesday (1/28)!  We were recently contacted by Katie (our original counselor) to let us know that she'd be doing our homestudy this time around as well.  During this interview, Katie will be evaluating us to make sure we're ready for another adoption and she will also likely give us an update on how the rest of the process will go.  Considering that it's been about two years since we last went through the homestudy and paperwork, a lot has probably changed!

    14 months old!
    Meanwhile, life at home keeps moving forward.  Dominic keeps getting bigger and is already 14 months old. 

    We also have plenty of projects at home in addition to the adoption which will keep us busy and certainly occupied once we're in the waiting pool.  A fun one was finally getting some toy bins for all of Dominic's toys and mounting our tv.  Our living room is no longer a death trap waiting for us to trip on 50 toys!

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Adoption #2 - The Process

    As Andy noted in his latest post, we have officially submitted our application to our adoption agency (OA&FS)!  Over the past few weeks and months, our blog has been rather quiet.  Dominic has kept us busy and in effect, our adoption blog didn't have any adoption-related things to post about.  However, now that we are back in the middle of the adoption process again we'll have lots of fun things to post about in the coming weeks.  Being the engineer that I am, I tend to like lists and schedules which means I'm going to use this post to outline as a refresher on the adoption process.  If you have any questions about our process or are potentially interested in an adoption with OA&FS, this post is a great starting point!

    Adoption Process
    This time around, getting the process started has been rather easy as we're veterans.  We've already picked our agency and completed our application paperwork which we started back in November.  So what's next?  Officially, our agency has a list on the Steps to Adopt on their website which shows a summary of steps from the beginning all the way through legal finalization.  The last time through, we put together our own list which was similar but had more detail on the early portion of the process:
    • Information Meeting
    • Pre-Adoption Seminar
    • Application Submission
    • Application & Intake Interview
    • Homestudy Interview #1
    • Homestudy Interview #2
    • Homestudy Interview #3
    • Homestudy Interview #4
    • Homestudy Completion
    • Pool Entry
    • Waiting in the Pool
    • Chosen by Birthfamily
    Out of these steps, we're already pretty far along!  This is because we have already completed one adoption with OA&FS which gives us a bit of a head start.  Back in February of 2012, we attended the Pre-Adoption Seminar for our first adoption.  That seminar can continue to satisfy a few adoption requirements for several months to come, so we don't have to redo the full 2-day seminar (woo!). 

    Looking ahead, we won't have anything else that we can jump past.  There will be meetings, papers to fill out, and plenty of other baby prep to do.  Last time when we blazed through the process to get into the waiting pool, it took about 6 months.  This time around, we started in November, and might target getting into the waiting pool before summer starts.  Speaking of the waiting pool, we had a series of posts last time around that tracked some basic statistics.  For those of you that enjoyed those posts, we'll be doing the same thing this time around too in the near future!

    Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    Welcome 2014!

    Happy New Year to everyone! With all of the reminiscing that's been going on the past few days, I thought it seemed an appropriate time to fire up the ol' blogging machine and send out a quick update.

    January 1, 2013
    Dominic's ready to root for Big Red!
    It's amazing how much changes in a year. One year ago, Dominic was 7 weeks old, we were new parents, and our entire lives seemed majorly in flux. I wouldn't say that we were in over our heads (not completely, anyway), but there was definitely a steep learning curve. Lucky for all of us, I think we made it through all right!

    Fast forward a year, and Dominic's an entirely new person: he's walking, talking, and eating real food like a pro. Where he once seemed helpless, he's now asserting his independence and learning new things every day. I'm so thankful that he's a part of our lives now, and I can't imagine things any differently.

    So... on that note, it seems an appropriate time to mention that we're about to make things extremely different! Today we mailed in our application forms to OA&FS, officially starting the adoption process again. Sometime within the next few years, Dominic will have a little brother or sister!

    January 1, 2014
    Going for a run in the park
    I'm not entirely convinced of our sanity right now. As much as Dominic's grown, he's still just over a year old and we've been extremely busy just keeping up with him! But I think we're ready, considering the timeline. The paperwork took us approximately 6 months last time, and I think it'll take around the same amount of time now - we've already done it once and can use that as a base, but we also have to do it while caring for Dominic! Once that's finished, the average time waiting in the pool of prospective adoptive parents is around 18 months. We got picked quickly last time, but there's no telling how long or short it'll be this time. All in all, the back-of-the-envelope calculation says we're likely to adopt again when Dominic is 2 or 3 years old, which seems just about right to us.

    No matter what, though, we'll make it work. If we get picked right away (like our friends who got picked 5 hours after finishing their homestudy!), it'll be a bit of a stretch but I'm sure we'll handle it. And if it takes much longer than expected, well then we'll have more time to prepare and make sure Dominic's ready too. Either way, it's an exciting way to start 2014, and we're looking forward to chronicling the process again!