"The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother"- Anonymous

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Year

Our last picture as a family of three (12-17-12)

It was about this time a year ago, that I started to think about expanding our family. We always knew we wanted to have at least two children (I would like three, Steve is happy with two) but we weren't sure how the second child would come to us. We were so blessed with the ease of Gus's adoption, that we weren't sure how a second would go.

The problem was that we still had our house on the market in North Carolina. Our plans were on hold until we got an offer on the house. Otherwise, we simply could not afford to adopt again and have two mortgage payments.

God always has a plan and His timing is always exactly as it should be. We often cannot see it while in the moment, but in retrospect, it's always obvious (to me anyway) that things worked out exactly as they were meant to work out.

At the end of June in 2012, I received a message from a producer for a show on LOGO network called The Baby Wait. They were looking for families who were matched with an expectant mom and in the adoption process. The producer said that Steve and I looked like the perfect couple to feature on one of their episodes and she wanted to know if we had a match. Unfortunately, we did not have a match at the time, and the opportunity was not possible at that time. She said to let her know if we received a match anytime soon. (We weren't even looking... much less ready to match with someone).

I had started some online research for agencies. As much as I didn't want to use an agency for our second adoption, I didn't know how else it would happen. I found one that I liked and I had a call with one of their case workers. She was very nice and explained how their agency works (no hoops to jump through) and I said I'd be in touch once our house sold. I said we'd probably be ready to adopt in the fall.

Right around July 4th I received a PM (private message) on Baby Center from an expectant mom looking for more info on our experience with out of state adoption. She and I messaged back and forth a few times and then I shared our profile with her. Honestly, I wasn't going to share it, but I had a feeling inside that said to do it.

I'm so glad I did, because what came from that contact was an incredible relationship with our son's birth mom.
1 Samuel 1:27  "I  asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request."


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thoughts on Expanding Our Family

I feel like the journey to expanding our family is constantly evolving and growing. I spent a wonderful morning with a friend and her daughter strawberry picking. It was so fun and the first time that I've ever been. Gus had a great time picking strawberries and putting them into his bucket. In the end, he did really well and we picked just over a pound! He'll be enjoying them for a snack after he wakes from his nap.

On the way home, my friend and I were talking about expanding our families. She and her husband are in the process of discussing if they're ready to start trying for baby #2. She feels like she's not getting any younger, and should start trying sooner than later. He wants to wait until they're more financially ready (you're never financially ready). While they were discussing their plans for the future, she brought up our family.

She told him that at least they can conceive naturally and all they have to pay for is a hospital stay. She said that they're very blessed that they don't have to worry about paying for an adoption. Through our car ride, she was saying that she believes that everything happens for a reason, and the timing is always how God has it planned. Then she said, "Well... except for your case."

It's funny, because my immediate thought was, and I said, "Nope. I agree. Had I been able to conceive, there'd be no Gus in my life and I firmly believe that I am meant to be his mama." It's an amazing place to be... one that has taken a lot of time (and tears) to realize. 

I love the relationship that we have with Gus's side of our family. They are our family now too and they've embraced us as openly as we've embraced them.

I pray that should we be blessed with more children through adoption, that we're able to have an open, loving relationship with their side of our family. 

I've always wanted a big family. I'm a twin and I've always wanted multiples and my mom's side has twins that run through EVERY generation. Seriously. The joke has always been that I wouldn't have twins, I'd be the one with triplets. 

When infertility happened, it was a devastating blow of all the could be's in my life. We've had to realign our thinking and are in a better place today than we've ever been. 

We continue to pray that God will lead us to the birth family that we're meant to match with and add into our family orchard. We know there's a birth mother out there somewhere... it's just a matter of time and patience.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Letters to You: Hopeful Family Spotlight: The Walker Family

We were selected as the spotlight family over at Letters to You (a WONDERFUL blog written by K, a birth mother who shares her journey through adoption). I'm so thrilled that K is sharing our story with her readers!!! Please check out her blog and read about her story!

Weekend Special: Hopeful Adoptive Family! The Walker Fam

Cat has been amazingly patient with me in getting this post ready and up! But after 2 weeks of delaying-- it's finally here!! After you read about them here, head on over to their blog and check her out. She's hilarious and exceptionally honest :)

Who are these people??
Steve and Cathy and their son Gus!

Here are five interesting things about Cathy:
1) I am a twin (I have a twin brother)
2) I can wiggle my ears
3) I speak fluent Pig Latin
4) I’ve been an Elite Yelp member for three years straight and I’m quite proud (2010, 2011, and 2012)
5) I was a Scholastic Teacher Advisor for two years and I am currently a member of the Scholastic Mom and Dad Squad! I get to review children’s books and they post my reviews online and in the Book Club flyers!

Here are five interesting things about Steve:
1) He has traveled all over the world and yet his favorite place ever is home
2) He’s a HUGE Cincinnati Bengals fan and has been since he was a little boy
3) His favorite car is the Ford Mustang
4) He reads the newspaper every single day
5) He went to Space Camp TWICE as a kid!

How, when, where, etc did you and your spouse fall madly in love?
We met online (love@aol.com which is now match.com) in 2004. He was on my “hot list” and so I sent him a wink. His profile heading was “Are you looking for your prince?” so when I messaged him, I said, “I’m looking for my prince!”

He got me as one of his “hot list” matches and had saved my profile. When I first saw his picture my first reaction was, “He has cheeks just like mine!” :-)

We ended up Emailing and IMing for about a month before moving to talking on the phone. Through emails and IM chats, we really grew close and I felt like I knew him more than anyone else. I shared things with him that I hadn’t shared with anyone else and he did the same.

We decided to meet after a month of communicating and decided to go to Mass together. On March 6, 2004, I drove to his apartment and we headed to Mass together. While we were in church, he held my hand. I was smitten. We went back to his apartment and made dinner together and spent the entire night laughing and it just felt like the part of me that had been missing my whole life was finally there. For the first time ever, I felt whole.

We have been inseparable since our first date. We got engaged in September of 2005 while camping with friends and I was totally not expecting it at all. It was perfect and while it wasn’t “romantic” it was totally us.

Our wedding was on July 8, 2006 and we got married in the Bahamas. We were married at noon, both of us were barefoot, and we said our vows while standing on the beach. It was the most incredible experience. Within an hour of being married, we were lounging in the pool sipping tropical drinks as man and wife.

Have you adopted before?
Yes! We adopted our son Gus in May of 2010.

Share your journey to adoption. Why now? Why adoption? What has helped get you through your journey?
As soon as we got married we started trying to build our family. It was fun and exciting at first, and then after several months of no success, it because worrisome. I read the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” and we started charting EVERTHING.

Through charting, and taking my temperature every morning, we realized that I was not ovulating regularly. I took all my data (almost a year’s worth of charting) to the doctor to find out what was the problem. I had blood-work done, lots of tests, internal ultrasounds, and found that there’s nothing wrong. I’m just not ovulating monthly (but I do ovulate). Her advice was to keep trying and hope that our timing would be perfect.

We tried for five years. It was agonizing and I had repeated visits to the doctor to find out if there was something else going on. It was determined that I have “unexplained infertility.” I’ll never forget the feeling of desperation each time we took a pregnancy test. We had the hopes and dreams of it being positive and our lives changing forever… only to be met with a negative test, and feeling destroyed.

The endless tears, depression, and stress on our marriage was taking its toll. We knew that we could overcome anything placed before us, but it was so hard to be denied the one thing that we both wanted more than anything in this world. We KNEW we’d make great parents and knew we could give so much to a child. We just didn’t know why it wasn’t happening for us.

Neither of us wanted to go through the IVF route. Not only is it super expensive, but more often than not, painful, and leads to multiple failed pregnancies. We didn’t think we could handle anymore setbacks and disappointment. We decided that instead of putting ourselves through that, we’d adopt. We both have adoption in our families and had talked about adopting at some point in our marriage, so it wasn’t too difficult of a decision to reach. We knew there was a risk of a failed match, and knew that at any time, a birth mother and father could decide to parent, but it was a risk that we were willing to take.

We started the adoption process in December 2009 with an agency in North Carolina (where we were living at the time) and finished our home study in March of 2010. We became an official waiting family in April of 2010. We shared our “live” profile with friends and family on Facebook and via email.
At the end of April, we went to MI (where we lived before moving to NC and where I was born and raised. While on vacation, my cousin contacted me about our adoption profile that I had recently posted on Facebook. Her coworker’s niece was pregnant and looking to adopt, and my cousin had shared our profile with them. They loved what they saw and wanted us to adopt the baby.

We were SHOCKED. Our agency wouldn’t work with us because the adoption would be taking place in another state, so we used an attorney. My cousin had called us on May 3, 2010 and we were told that the birth parents didn’t know the gender, and the baby was due at the end of May/beginning of June.

We had JUST ordered our crib the day before (my parents bought it for us and it was being shipped to our house in NC while we were on vacation). We arrived back home from vacation on May 8th… the crib was there. Steve put it together on May 9th and we unpacked from our trip.

On May 10, 2010, while sitting in the car, while waiting to go into a Durham Bulls baseball game, we got a phone call from the aunt (my cousin’s coworker) that her niece was in labor! We freaked out and immediately headed back to the house to pack. We made some necessary phone calls, threw all that we could into a bag and drove 12 hours to get to the hospital for our son’s birth.

Our journey has been amazing. We have the most incredible open adoption and feel that we’ve gained another tree into our family orchard. Our son’s birth family is as involved and important to us as our own biological families are. We see all sides of our family equally and send texts, emails, pictures, and FB messages equally to all of them.

How did you come to the decision to do an open adoption?
My twin brother has two children with his fiancé. When his fiancé had given birth to their first daughter Lily, I had a feeling of so much love come over me. I was madly, deeply in love with my niece and couldn’t wait to meet her. We were still talking about adoption but had not started the process yet.

We’re her God parents and love her so much. While attending an information session with our agency, we were talking about the pros/cons of open/semi-open/closed adoption. I had a realization that my brother’s fiancé, whom I LOVE and ADORE, could decide at any minute to take Lily and leave Scott, and we’d never see Lily again.

It was a devastating thought. It literally brought a flood of tears just thinking about what it’d be like to know I had a niece out there and not ever get to see her, hold her, or know her.

That’s all it took for us to decide that open adoption was the only way for us to go. Not only does the baby have birth parents that are making a decision, but they have extended family members who are impacted by the decision they make to place the child for adoption.
The thought of having a baby and denying aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and cousins the right to know them was unacceptable. We knew then and there, that we wanted an open adoption. Even if the birth parents decided not to have anything to do with the baby, we wanted the extended family to have the right to know them.

What is your ideal birthmom like? Describe your ideal adoption. Is it open? Closed? Do the birth parents live geographically close? Are they in another state? Are you hoping to adopt international, foster, or domestic, newborn?
Our ideal adoption situation would be to have a birth mom AND birth father in the picture. We’d love to have a situation where two people make a plan, choose us, and wants to be part of our family. We know it’s not always possible and the chances of a birth father being in the picture aren’t statistically great, but in our ideal world, that’s what we’d have. We feel that birth fathers are just as important as birth mothers!

Our ideal birth mom/dad would be 100% certain of their decision to place their child for adoption. They’d have the support of their families and would want their extended family members to be as involved as possible as well.

We’re really only interested in open adoption. The circumstances would have to be very particular for us to decide on a closed adoption. Otherwise, we only want an open adoption. We feel that in an open adoption, EVERYONE wins. While the birth mother/father are not parenting, and it’s a decision that they’ll have to face for the rest of their lives, in an open adoption that works, they get to be part of the child’s life forever and still hold a very important role in their life.

We’d prefer to be geographically close, but that’s not a must-have thing for our adoption of baby #2. We aren’t looking to adopt out of the country though, so it’ll be a domestic adoption. We live in Georgia right now and would love to adopt in the state of Georgia, but we’re open to other states.

When we adopted Gus, we were held in MI for TWO MONTHS waiting to get to come back to NC with him. It was so hard… hopefully if we adopt out of state again, we won’t have the same problems as we had the first time!!

We are hoping to do domestic newborn. Child number three might be through foster care… but it’ll be a while down the road before we go that route. At some point though, we do hope to foster-adopt a child.

What advice do you have for other hopeful adoptive families?
If you’re with an agency, don’t get wrapped up in what other people are doing and don’t get jealous when someone else has their moment. When we were first waiting, it felt so competitive and we felt jealous at times when we’d see matches happening or babies born to families. We’d ask, “Why not us?” I was checking the blog daily to see what was happening and if any new matches took place overnight.

We learned that God has everything figured out and it’s best to just trust in His timing. The baby that you’re meant to parent will come to you when it’s time.

I feel like I had an epiphany recently about this. Just because we’ve adopted doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt anymore than we’re infertile. A great friend of mine (she also adopted a child), posted a blog post about this and it was enlightening. I came to the conclusion that had I been able to conceive a biological child, there’d be no Gus in my life. We were meant to be his parents and had we had biological children, we never would know him. It brought a sense of peace and comfort.

While I think you need to let things progress as they’re meant to happen, if you’re waiting a really long time (over a year), do something about it. Share your profile with as many people as you can, network, post on Facebook, get your name out there. You have to be proactive and take some control… and don’t give up hope.

We’re excited to start the process again in 2012 and think that Gus is going to be an amazing big brother. He loves babies and as he gets older, he’ll only be more ready for a sibling. I love that he and his sibling will share being adopted with each other.

So how can you find out more about this awesome family??
If you're interested in reading more about their adoption journey, check them out at Here We Go Again

Or you can check out their adoption profile on Hoping to Adopt.org!

Cat is also wonderful about responding to email: Steveandcat@steveandcat.net :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Typical Day

Steve works Monday through Friday and while he's at work, Cathy stays home with Gus. Each day brings something new and different, and you can never predict what will happen in a given day. 

That being said, Cathy does a great job of keeping a pretty organized day for Gus. Sometimes they'll do something spontaneous, but usually it's planned out. Here's an example of what a typical day looks like for them.
Cathy made a daily schedule chart for Gus to see what's happening next

Gus wakes up around 6:30-7:30 (depending on what time he fell asleep the night before). Cathy wakes up and usually will try to get in the shower before Gus is too vocal.

Cathy heads up and gets Gus. Sometimes she gets him dressed for the day (depending on their day) and sometimes he stays in his pajamas.

They come downstairs and have breakfast and usually will watch a cartoon while having breakfast. While Gus is watching his show, Cathy usually grabs her phone off the charger and checks her email, texts, and Facebook.
Sharing a bagel for breakfast

Every Monday they have a morning play group to attend (10:30-12:00). It rotates among seven different moms and the kids are all the same age as Gus.

If there isn't a playdate, they usually spend the morning playing, cuddling, and listening to music. Sometimes, Cathy will go grocery shopping if we didn't go during the weekend.
Snuggle time

Grocery shopping at Kroger


Riding his tricycle while listening to music

Gus loves apples for his snack!
Gus loves to wash his hands

He's such a big boy!

If they don't have playgroup, they spend the morning playing. Usually there's Pandora on the television and they listen to music while playing. They practice counting, singing the ABC song, Gus rides his rocking horse, plays in his Cozy Coupe, and they play with his doodle board. Gus also likes to play with his Mr. Potato Head.
Gus in his Cozy Coupe
Gus's doodle board
Mr. Potato Head
At least once a week, Cathy takes Gus to a place called "Catch Air." It's a HUGE indoor play place with tons of toys, inflatables, a huge train table, and a big ball pit. Gus loves it!!

Gus at the train table
Gus in the ball pit

After a morning of playing, they have lunch. Cathy tries to make sure that Gus has a balanced diet of fruits and veggies, as well as proteins. She likes to give Gus a variety to choose from and he enjoys having so much to pick from!
Various foods in an ice cube tray
After Gus's nap, they sometimes have popcorn and watch a movie (like Cars, The Polar Express, or Finding Nemo). They often go downstairs and play until Steve gets home. Gus loves playing at his train table, and with his puzzles. 

Playing with his Sing-A-Ma-Jigs
Puzzle fun

Fun at the train table
Indoor slide

If the weather is nice, they'll either go to the park, or play right here at home in our backyard!
Fun on the trampoline
Our swing set
The afternoon flies by and before no time at all, Steve comes home! Gus is always eager for him to get home! Then it's time for Cathy to make dinner and either Gus and Steve play, or Gus joins Cathy in the kitchen while Steve watches television or reads the paper. 
Cutting his fruit
Dough time
Gus at the door looking for daddy to come home!
Helping mom in the kitchen
We have dinner and then it's bath time, brushing teeth, and a story then bed.
Yummy noodles!
Post-bath snuggles with Steve

After Gus goes to bed, we usually hang out in the livingroom and catch up on each other's day or we head to the bedroom and talk. Steve gets ready for bed and then Cathy heads back out to the office and checks email, Facebook, and blogs. We're usually both in bed around 10:00.

Sounds like a pretty fun day doesn't it?!