Realistic Resolutions for 2014

Chris and I just got back from a very relaxing few days up in Lake Tahoe to ring in the New Year with some good friends, lots of laughs and a much-needed dose of nature. The post-Christmas trip to the lake has become an annual tradition, and for us there’s no better way to reflect on the year gone by and begin looking forward to the year ahead.  And wow, we’ve had quite a roller coaster of a year with so much to reflect upon!  And of course there’s a lot to look forward to…

So much of 2013 revolved around our adoption journey, with more ups and downs than I could possibly bore you all with here.  But by far, our greatest high and our deepest low of the past 12 months were both wrapped up in the same experience of matching with a birth mom for five wonderful months and then having it fall through at the last minute. But I believe everything happens as it’s meant to, even when it’s hard to accept.  We’ve been in touch with the birth mother recently and she is ecstatic to be a mom and totally in love with her baby boy — which is the way it should be.  But I can tell you that those five months were some of the most fun and exciting of my life, so I choose to remember them fondly and use them as a reminder of how good it will feel when the right match comes along.

It wouldn’t be a proper New Years blog post if I didn’t mention the big “r” word…resolution. Like many of you I’m sure, I’ve been asked many times over the past few days what my News Year’s resolution is.  To be honest, I’m kind of exhausted from trying to think of a good answer.  My first instinct has been to respond with something about becoming a dad. It usually goes kind of like this:

FRIEND: “What’s your resolution this year?” ME: “To find an amazing connection with a birth mom and become a dad!”

Sounds like a good plan, right?  So easy! The only trouble is that the more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that my resolution must be something I can control.  And so there it is again, that seemingly harmless word that seems to present itself over and over with me throughout this adoption process (see my previous post about A-type personalities!).  So I’ve gone back to the drawing board to think more about what I can resolve to do during the next year specifically related to our adoption, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • First and foremost, I resolve to be patient with the process and stay open to what lies ahead, regardless of how many twists in the road we experience along the way.
  • I resolve to be proactive with getting out there and making sure as many people as possible know we are looking to start a family.
  • I resolve to stay excited and not let the process wear us down.  I want each day to feel like that first day we decided to become dads through adoption.
  • I resolve to keep meeting new people who are going down this same road so we can share our stories and lean on each other for support.
  • And finally, I resolve to keep living our lives and doing the things that make us happy while we wait.  The happier we are and the more experiences we have, the better dads we will eventually be.

Hmmm…now that I’ve written that down it seems like a lot.  But those are the things I can realistically commit to.  I am really excited for the possibilities of 2014 and wish everyone reading this the happiest and healthiest of new years!  I’m looking forward to continuing to share the experiences of our “baby wait” in the months ahead.  Buckle up!

Adoption from an A-type Perspective

This week Chris and I went to our monthly adoption support group meeting hosted by our agency (I’ve never pictured myself as a support group kinda guy, but it’s great).  During the discussion, our group leader said something about the open adoption process being especially hard for A-type people who are used to making lists, developing plans, setting timelines and getting things done. In other words, the unpredictable nature of the process makes it especially hard for control freaks and over-achievers (uh-oh). It was no surprise when Chris immediately looked over at me and smirked when she said that.

So maybe I am a little bit of an A-type personality.  I’ve always considered it an asset in both my career and personal life. What’s wrong with setting goals and getting them done?  After all, we’re all taught that anything is achievable through persistence and hard work.  That’s why there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about sitting and waiting for something good to happen to you.  It’s contrary to the way I’ve approached everything I’ve ever done. And yet, here i sit…waiting for the most amazing thing I could ever ask for to just happen to me.  Well okay, maybe I’m not just sitting…I just can’t.  My DNA won’t allow it.

True to form, I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with whatever I can do to feel like I’m moving the process along.  I created an adoption marketing plan that includes social media, a new web site, videos, blogging (here I am!), direct mailings (yes, of course I’ve hired a mailing house to help) and personal outreach to all kinds of organizations just to get our names out there.  In the end, who knows if all of this is really just a placebo to make me feel better.  But it makes me feel better to think I’m doing something.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve really worked on surrendering to the adoption process and even enjoying it along the way.  And that’s true.  But who says I have to be patient?  And I know I’m not alone — as I was explaining all of this to our support group the woman sitting next to us leaned over and said to Chris, “I think your husband is my soul mate.”  Apparently we might need a separate support group just for the A-types.

A Different Kind of Matchmaking

Ten years ago, when I met the guy who was to become my husband, I officially retired from the online dating game. No more Match.com or AOL chat rooms (yes, I’m that old), no more agonizing over choosing which photos didn’t make me look fat, and no more meticulous crafting of personal profiles that talked about how unbelievably terrific I was (all true, of course).  For the record, I didn’t meet my husband online so all of the effort seemed a bit unnecessary in retrospect.  As I erased myself from the online dating world, I sort of breathed this big sigh of relief that the search was over.  I was officially done with all the online self-promotion and personal brand-building…forever…

Until we decided to adopt.

And now here I am again…officially and completely back in the online “matchmaking” universe.  Only this time I am not on a seemingly endless solo journey to find Mr. Right.  No, this time Mr. Right and I are on a whole new journey together in search of that one special birth mom who is willing to give us the ultimate gift of a child and take us on as an extended part of her family (and I’m not sure which will be harder for her….haha…just kidding…).

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the adoption path we’ve chosen, let me just say there is a lot of online self-marketing involved. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not complaining — but diving into the online adoption world and trying to be noticed in a sea of couples hoping to find the same thing isn’t easy.  The opportunities to create an online presence and “market” ourselves are numerous: adoption site profiles, Facebook pages, Facebook ads, Twitter, Instagram, blogs [cough], customized web sites, Google ads…you get the picture.  We’re not doing all of these things, but we are trying to do as much as possible.  It can’t hurt to try, right?? It’s an online world.

I will admit that it seemed a bit odd at first to associate the word “marketing” with our search to find the right birth mother. But in the end, that’s really what it is. I happen to work in the communications industry, and I’m constantly reminded that being a good marketer means being truthful, transparent and authentic.  People see through what isn’t real.  And maybe that’s what’s different for me now — it’s not so much about choosing the photos and words that make us look good, it’s about being who we are and hoping the right person chooses us.

 

 

 

 

Same Destination, Different Road

Growing up as a young kid in the ‘burbs, I remember one of my favorite things to do on a summer day was to hop on my bike and start exploring.  It was a different time, and moms didn’t worry as much when their kids took off in the morning and said they’d be home later. I would usually have some end destination in mind, maybe a friend’s house, the grocery store or even a park — wherever.  But the greatest thing was that it wasn’t really about where I was going, it was about figuring out new ways to get there.  There I was, pedaling along, and I could choose any route I wanted.  I would try new turns, explore new streets and blaze new trails.  Of course sometimes I would come across a dead-end road, but I didn’t think anything about just turning around and starting again. I know a lot of it was probably just the thrill of being young and those first tastes of freedom, but there truly was a joy I got out of finding different ways of getting to the same places.

As I continue to go through this adoption journey with my husband, there is a lesson here that I’ve just sort of realized — and that is there are a million different paths one can take to get to the same place, but you’ll get there just the same.  Some paths are short and direct, while others are long and meandering.  While the shorter paths get you there faster, it’s often the longer ones where you get to see, learn and experience more along the way. Who can say which is better?  I can say that the adoption road we’ve been on definitely feels like the longer and winding variety, but I’m learning a lot along the way, meeting new people and trying to enjoy the journey without losing sight of where we are heading.  I’ll be honest, sometimes it can be frustrating when I see others speeding by and I know they’re going to get where I want to be much faster. But in those moments is when I need to stop and remember I’m going my own way.

All of this feels especially relevant tonight because tomorrow marks what was supposed to be a milestone day in our road to adoption. Up until a few weeks ago, we were matched with an amazing birth mother, who we spent five months getting to know and love. She is 18 and in many ways we felt like we had kind of adopted her as well!  Her baby is due on October 10, and we were scheduled to fly tomorrow so we would be with her leading up to and for the big day.  As it turns out, she changed her mind and decided to parent the baby herself.  As heartbreaking as this has been, we know in our hearts that she had to do what was right for her.

So it’s right now that I’m reminding myself about what I’ve learned from my experiences as a kid.  We’re still heading to the same place — we’re still going to be parents — we’ve just hit a dead-end and need to take a different way.  It’s the same destination, but a different road.

Is Adoption Always Desperate?

I came across a column in yesterday’s LA Times that caught my eye because it focused on the adoption story of Baby Veronica, who was recently reunited in Oklahoma with her adoptive parents after a long and bitter legal battle with her biological father. I could write a whole blog (or ten) just on that story, but instead I wanted to focus on a couple quotes in the column from a psychologist who counsels families involved with adoptions.  She said, “Adoption doesn’t happen because things are going well,” and went on to say “It’s hard for a lot of people…especially when everyone is coming to adoption in crisis. Generally, things are desperate on both sides.”

Hmmmmm….that made me think.

As an adoptive parent, am I coming to this situation in crisis?  Are my husband and I looking to start a family out of desperation?  After a few minutes of pondering, I officially decided that no, those descriptors do not ring true for me.

Before I go any further, let me say that I totally understand that in many cases birth mothers are looking to place their babies in adoptive homes because they are facing desperate situations.  And yes, there are adoptive parents who have been through years of pain and desperation in their attempts to start a family.  I totally respect and empathize with everyone’s journey that led them to the path of adoption — but that’s just it, everyone has their own path and I guess it bothers me that adoption is painted in this column with a broad stroke of always being an act born out of “crisis” or “desperation.”

When I think of the word “desperate,” I think of it being rooted in despair — and I would never want our child thinking he or she became part of our family through an act of despair, by either us or a birth mother.  Instead, I want our child to associate words like “courage,” “love,” and “selflessness” with adoption.  Because even when a birth mother is facing a crisis or desperate situation, these are the qualities she’s showing when she chooses to place her child in an adoption.  And even when adoptive parents feel desperate to have a child, these are the qualities they are choosing to embrace when they decide to adopt.

Anyone who knows me will say it’s not like me to be so heavy, so for them I will say there are some things I am desperate for — I’m desperate for my Golden Retriever puppy to stop chewing through our house like a canine shredding machine, and I’m desperate for ABC to bring back “Brothers and Sisters” because I really miss the Walkers.  But when it comes to having a baby, words like hopeful, excited, anxious…..and even impatient…would fit the bill for me a little better than desperate.

It’s Kind of Like Being Pregnant…without a Due Date

When people ask me what it’s like to go through the adoption process, I tell them at this point it’s a lot like being pregnant, only without a due date.  Of course I don’t mean this literally because I’m obviously not experiencing all the physical aspects of being pregnant (although I swear my ankles were swollen the other day and I had a strange craving for chocolate covered bananas…), but it’s that feeling of “expecting” that feels the same.  It’s that feeling of knowing your life is about to change forever and trying to get your head around the fact that you’re going to be responsible for another human being.  It’s that feeling of laying awake at night trying to imagine what it will be like when there’s a newborn baby sleeping (or screaming) just feet away from you.  And it’s that feeling of knowing you’re about to experience a kind of love that you never knew was possible.  That’s what I mean when I say it’s kind of like being pregnant.

But for us, right now it’s a waiting game.  We are waiting for that one special woman to come into our lives and grant us an unimaginable gift.  We know it will happen, we just have no idea when.  And so the days and weeks and months go by and we continue having all those feelings of expectation.  We wonder if we’ll have a spring baby, or maybe a Christmas baby, or…who knows?  We’re experiencing all the fun and excitement of thinking about names, envisioning the perfect nursery and walking by baby stores just dying to buy everything inside — but we just don’t know when it all will become a reality.  So that’s what I mean when I say it’s like not having a due date.

But along with this uncertainty and not knowing comes a kind of nervous anticipation that I’ve learned to embrace.  I like to wonder about what our birth mom will be like, and the kind of relationship we’ll build.  I like checking our email to find out if “that” special message from her is waiting for us — and what it will say.  And strangely, I’ve even come to find excitement in waiting for our phone to ring with that one special call. Some of my friends and family don’t share my surrender to the process and just want it to happen…like right now.  Don’t get me wrong — so do I.  I’m just finding the positives in the unique experience of “being pregnant” without a due date.

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Starting with the basics…

So this is my very first blog post…ever.  My partner, Chris, and I are on a journey to become dads through open adoption.  Here’s the link to our adoption profile page for anyone who’s interested in learning more about us and what we’re up to. This blog is really just my way of sharing our experiences and observations as we go through the adoption process.  I hope it will be interesting to read, but I can’t guarantee it!  Thanks for coming along for the ride with us.