The O'Malleys Adopt

Follow us through the ups and downs of domestic newborn adoption

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Your Adopting Friends Are Crazy

Let me do some truth telling. Your waiting adopting friends are probably not “all there” at the moment. They are answering calls, working, going to church, and following their daily routine. But it’s a bit robotic, a bit distracted. If they were honest they would tell you how little they’ve gotten done this week because they’re glued to their phone, waiting for an email. They would tell you how they forget important things like applying the conditioner after the shampoo in their morning shower. How they have burned a number of dinners now by being so preoccupied. They would tell you how a day can seem like a lifetime and a week like an eternity, when you’re waiting on a tidbit of news.

Oh I know its worth it. I know. But it’s a new normal that takes adjustment. I have never carried a baby to term, but I do know that preoccupation my pregnant friends get. They are in the midst of wondering so many things: is he healthy, how will she look, what will those first moments be like, what if something goes wrong? And they rub their bellies just a bit to reassure themselves that this will all be worth it. Your adoptive friends are thinking all those same things.

Your adoptive friends are in a state of high alert at all times. They are fielding decisions left and right, big life changing decisions. Maybe a situation has come up with a medical need that they are researching. Maybe they are looking at their budgets and see if it can stretch to a situation that has a few extra costs than expected. Maybe they have just been heard a hard “no.” And they take a breath and do the next thing. This is where their weariness comes from.

Your adoptive friends marriages are changing, their homes are changing, and their future is changing. And that’s alot to deal with all at once. They are being inspected, fingerprinted, and interviewed. Every possible parenting weakness they might have is being dredged up, while a million possible adoption complications are being spelled out in training classes. They are learning about bonding and grief and children from hard places. They are learning that great joy and unspeakable tragedy go hand in hand with adoption. And that racism is still very much a factor in our culture. And this will be hard to take. There will be guilt. There will be questioning. Then there will be renewed vision.

Of course there is more. Your adoptive friends are learning to be advocates for a very misunderstood cause. They are getting used to mixed reactions….happiness to anger and everything in between.  They are learning to be ok when the 100th person tells them “you will get pregnant now that you’re adopting” or “I still hope you will be able to have a child of your own someday.” They are getting used to giving financial breakdowns of why adoption is “so expensive.” They are getting used to people asking them very personal questions very bluntly.

If you are close enough to a friend going through adoption, you might be getting the details not suitable for blogs or Facebook. And these details might be hard, confusing, and unfair.  I  worry I am giving my friends a more intense rollercoaster ride than they signed up for.  Because being a friend to someone who is adopting is hard work. But if your friends ever needed your support, prayers, and understanding…it’s through the adoption process. It’s the time for the Church to rally and encourage as God does His work of creating a family.  Your crazy adopting friends need you to point them back to God and to remind them of His sovereignty just as much as they need you to loan them baby stuff. They need you to stockpile prayers for them just as much as they need to stockpile diapers. And we are seeing this in real time from our amazing church and friends and it’s been humbling and beautiful to watch.

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The Things God does with Hearts and Minds

Adoption changes you. In ways you didn’t know needed to change. I have no comparisons for it. It challenges my middle class suburban mindset. It has shown me glimpses of lives that are so unlike my own, yet so very precious and God breathed. Adoption is wrestling with thoughts that disarm you, feelings that expose you, and a hopefulness that Is inspired by God.

For me, it was fairly easy to set our limits of what we would and wouldn’t accept in a child. For my husband the boundaries were harder to define because, frankly, he has been blessed with a beautiful, optimistic faith that doesn’t feel the need to place so many boundaries on God. I’ve always admired that.

But that’s not how I operate. I want to know what’s coming. Feel prepared. Wrap my head around what’s next. I can be theological and say it’s “counting the cost” and isn’t that admired in Scripture?

In truth I was unprepared for how the reality of the little lives waiting for their families would wrestle with my expectations and ideals and self imposed limits.

And the further we go on the road, the less self limiting I become. The more expectant I become that God will do something huge. And I’ve started looking for it. And in the end it’s possible that our adoption could look very different than we initially thought it would. Because we are starting to say yes to things we would not have considered when we first started with adoption several months ago.

At this point we have seen many situations, our profile has been chosen twice (and it didn’t work out). And shown and rejected several more times. Even greater have been the number of situations in which we have prayed through budgets, logistics, insurance, drug exposures, and other considerations. God has a plan and I don’t for a moment think one ounce of hope or one prayer was wasted. This part has been a privilege.

I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. I believe that You “set the lonely in families,” help me to also believe that You are bigger than all the unknowns and the hard truths of adoption. And that You are orchestrating something beautiful here.

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Another Match Falls Through

The last two weeks I have entered some of the “hard stuff” of adoption. In the midst of waiting there are so many challenges.

One of our agencies called to tell us we had again been chosen! A little boy due in November.

But our agency contact said that they were going to consider it “tentative.” There were some things going on with the birthmother that lead them to believe she might not place and wanted to make sure of her decision before we signed anything. We were thankful for the way the agency was handling it.

During our tentative match another situation in our budget came to light, but we had to say no, because of the commitment to this situation. Since our profile has gone live, we have seen few situations in our budget (currently $25,000 or less, most range $27,000-$35,ooo and some are more). Then two weeks later, the agency calls to tell us that the birthmother has decided to attempt parenting.

Which puts us back at square one.

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Ups and Downs

In the last two weeks we were alerted to four adoption situations and we presented to all of them. I cannot tell you the fortitude that is required to perform well at a photo session when you get a call 15 minutes before it with the question “Would you consider this situation, we are presenting in the next hour” and then go over a full budget/medical/social with your hubby pulled off on the side of a little beach road with bad cell service. Oh my goodness. Praise God I know beach sessions like the back of my hand.

And not only were these all really great situations, they were all with babies either already born or due in the next two weeks. Which brought to light how unprepared we were for a “stork drop” quick adoption. So I spend my days off gathering baby things just in case we were picked by one of them. My business partner and I came up with contingency plans for what we on the calendar for the next few weeks. Because our chances were pretty good right? Well, who knows really. I have no idea about how many other families were presented. But with adoption you have to be all in when you say yes to a situation. That’s one of the hardest things, to be willing to take this baby home tomorrow and not be crushed when you find out someone else gets that privilege.

So I procured a box of little girl clothes, a box of boy clothes and a box of preemie clothes just in case. We waited and each time the answer came back, “no.” Not you, not this time. And you take a deep breath and there is a moment of reboot, where that particular hope has to be cleared and reset.

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Matched! And then not.

Today was a rollercoaster day. We were picked! Our profile went live on June 29th and the very first time our profile was shown we were picked! Wow. I started crying when i got off the phone with our consultant. Is this our baby? Is this the one, Lord?

A little boy due in December.

The next few hours were a whirlwind of emails and phone calls. Then some requests from the birthmother’s side we weren’t prepared for. They needed a decision right that minute. And then it was over.

I am not sure how to process this whole experience. I am a mixture of guilt and dissapointment. Should we have said yes to her requests? There was no time to think. We had to make a decision right then. So we had to go with what we talked about, the place answer we felt was the right one for us right now.

And I’m in the midst of one of the busiest weeks of my year with work. There is no time to process beyond trusting God that there was a reason for all this.

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Homestudy, Paperwork, and Prayers

Once we had decided to adopt, we jumped in with both feet. That first weekend we were immersed in paperwork. We had signed on with our wonderful adoption consultant Susan VanSyckle at Christian Adoption Consultants. We were reading through all the info she had provided, as well as working through our homestudy paperwork.

The homestudy process was as intense as everyone warns. I think we filled out a combined 18 hours or so of documents and spent additional time gathering supporting items, getting fingerprinted, medical releases etc. It took two full weekends to get everything done and ready to go. Our visit prep was also very intense, made more so by the fear of not getting everything “just right.” But the actual visit was much less stressful than I had anticipated and our social worker was just wonderful. We did not have to remove our wall sculpture that my husband built and he understood the boxed of items waiting to be sold on Ebay. He did not go through my cleaned out pantry for expired items or spicy food (I had read horror stories online.) And our pool was not going to disqualify us so long as we install the fence we had purchased before finalization.

A big stack of homestudy paperwork, ready to be mailed

A big stack of homestudy paperwork, ready to be mailed

We had our approval on May 29th 2013. I felt more excited to receive that approval than my college diploma.

When you’re adopting, they call this stage “paper pregnant.” You may not have a belly to rub, but you’ve got that signed document saying you’re expecting a baby. It’s an amazing feeling! And perhaps even more significant is the permission this gave me to really EXPECT a baby, something I had never given myself permission to do through infertility. Permission to begin imagining his or her fingers and toes, and think about what they might be doing *right now*. Are they kicking? Sucking their thumb? Are they about to be born or not even conceived yet? What color would their skin be? Eyes be? What would their little personality be like?

And with the expectation came prayers. Prayers are precious for adoptive mamas. Because we don’t have ultrasounds and stirrings of a baby in our wombs. Instead we have stirring in our hearts that prayers cultivate. And with the danger of sounding trite, all the sayings I’ve seen about how adopted children grow in their parent’s hearts, they are so true. Our baby would not be more real to me if I had a big belly to remind me of his or her presence in our lives. They are here, just not HERE.