Foster Care

Our adoption homestudy was approved & we finally got everything done for our profile.

One of the agency’s media specialists worked her magic to put everything together into a pretty little profile that will be sent out to birth parents who match what we’re looking for as well as a version of it that will be published on the agencies website for birth parents to view.

We’ve also had one of the agency video camera’s for the last few weeks & have been working on getting various clips of us as a family to send in for another media specialist to turn into a professional looking 3 minute video of us.

I am really not thrilled about being forced to create a video for this. We feel incredibly awkward & uncomfortable in front of the camera as did our friends who participated in one of the “friend interviews” so I fear this video is going to portray us badly & do nothing more than work against us.

This whole thing being mandatory is apparently new for our agency. Our friends who went through them for their adoption 4 years ago never had to do this & even when I read the agency forums I see talk of people not being required to do this even a year ago, but for us it’s mandatory…. as is the $1,300 fee to go along with it.

I don’t know how much exposure we’re going to get either due to being gender specific for a boy but if we haven’t made a match in a couple months I’ll inquire for stats & see if any tweaks need to be made to our profile.

The agency put our written profile “active” on September 26th. So it’s been about 2 weeks now & we’ve heard nothing yet.

They do have a special “situations” page where they post available situations that they’re having trouble finding matches for. Sometimes it’s via 3rd party agencies or attorney’s who are posting it via our agency & in most cases the situations are available in Florida. This is great but at the same time it makes every one of these situations SUPER expensive. Apparently Florida doesn’t have a cap on how much can be charged for adoptions & I’ve heard sometimes they can even be as high as $70,000… That’s insane!!!

I do understand some of the reasons behind the increased fees since our agency has to get their cut & so does everyone else involved in making the match but $70,000 is ridiculous.

There is one on there currently which I inquired about but they still wanted $41,000 & even that is way above & beyond our budget.

They did tell us for the “agency assisted” program that we’re in (which means they will match us with a baby that is African American in full or in part) that our current budget which we have available is about average. So, I’m trying not to let the $41,000 situation freak me out too much because that is a “special situation” & not considered to be average.

Part of me fears we’re going to be waiting forever. That they won’t match us until we significantly increase our budget which we just can’t do or that no birth parent will find us appealing. I read the forums & see other people who were matched within just days of going active & others who’ve been waiting a year… sometimes two!!!

It’s hard not to let that get me down. I know everyone’s circumstances are different. I don’t know the reasons as to why their waits have been so long & I know that the baby who’s meant to be ours will end up with us when the time is right but I really don’t want to have to wait an incredibly long time for this to become a reality for us.

We’ve already been waiting for nearly 3 years! We had requested a fost to adopt placement of a baby boy back in California, when the girls were about 1-2 years old, but then we got orders sending us to Florida. We then pursued re licensing to foster to adopt here in Florida but then Roy got deployed. When he returned we decided to pursue infertility assistance instead, which then lead us back to adoption but this time we chose to go private instead of through the State.

I’m also terrified of the potential that’s there for disruption, meaning a match gets made & then the birth parent/s change their mind. I just pray if this does happen to us it happens before we invest our time & money into traveling to meet her. Before we ever meet & hold the baby.

Sadly, I’ve read a number of stories where adoptive families go through this sometimes multiple times. Where they go all the way to the hospital, are there in the room for the delivery, & are the first to hold the baby, only for the birth mom to change her mind at the last minute. How devastating!

I’m all for keeping families together when it’s for the best & if a mother truly believe she has what is needed to parent then she should if that’s what she wants but it just sucks that there’s no emotional protection for the adoptive family against this happening.

I suppose no matter which way it ends up going someone still ends up hurt. That’s just the nature of adoption.

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This past weekend was one big celebration of Brooklynn’s birthday.

It’s so hard to believe yet another year has gone by since our precious little angel arrived in this world & today marks 4 years exactly since we first laid eyes on her when a handful of social workers, who had picked her up from the hospital for us, brought her into one of the little rooms they’d stuck us in to wait & plopped her down in front of us. She was this itty bitty little fuzzy baby dressed in a donated shirt & shorts set from the hospital that were sized 6-9 month & clearly too big for her tiny little body that was strapped in to a county car seat.

I was afraid to touch her. She was just so small but slowly I leaned forward and took her out then gently laid her beside me so I could take the over sized outfit off & dress her in a more appropriate tiny newborn outfit that I’d brought with us just for her.

After she was more suitably dressed we wrapped her in a blanket that was also donated from the hospital & had one of the workers snap a quick photo of us as we left the building to carefully place her into the infant seat that was waiting for her in the back of our vehicle.

I remember it all like it was just yesterday… or maybe more like a year ago…

It’s just so hard to believe she’s already 4!

Her birthday was on Saturday & it just so happened that the church I attend was having a Family Fun Fest with bounce houses, cotton candy, pizza, & snow cones for the kids.

After the Family Fun Fest we headed to a field with our friends for a Soccer Kick Off Party since we’ve decided to sign the girls up for some Peewee Soccer this year. I’m not sure how they’ll like it but it’s a chance once a week for them to run around with her friend for an hour, chasing a ball, & learning things such as team spirit.

Over all it was a nice way to spend her actual birthday but the real party wasn’t until Sunday.

We decided to throw her a pool party & invited her classmates (although only one could make it) as well as some friends of mine that I know through our local MOPS group. It was a lot of fun. The kids had a blast swimming, a few parents even went in with their little ones, there was lots of yummy food to snack on, cup cakes & ice cream. I had also been marinading my yummy Chili-Lime Mango Chicken to skewer & grill up for dinner & a couple of friends stayed to enjoy them with us.

After dinner we let her open her gifts & Alanna had a difficult time understanding why she wasn’t getting any but we tried to explain that it wasn’t her birthday so the gifts were not for her to open. She could however help play with them after. This cheered her up a bit but unfortunately Brooklynn has decided to be extremely possessive over her new toys so it’s been an ongoing battle ever since trying to encourage niceness & sharing.

It was a long day & definitely exhausting but I think Brooklynn thoroughly enjoyed herself.

I know I did! :).

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Unfortunately, I don’t have a fresh post written up for today but since it’s special & I had a pretty awesome one for it last year I’m going to copy & paste it here as well since a simple link to the original post just doesn’t do it justice. I’ve added some minor edits also since some things, like my step father’s passing, have occurred in the last year.

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It’s not that I’ve forgotten that it’s Father’s Day today, but more that I have always struggled with the celebration of this particular day.

I grew up without ever knowing who my Father was. I knew his name, had seen some pictures, but I didn’t know him.

Although I desperately wanted to have the opportunity to get to know him, that was never able to happen because by the time I found him… he was dead & along with the news of his death went any hopes & dreams of ever having any sort of relationship together.

Sure, I had a step father (who passed away January 17th 2011, RIP) but he never raised me. I grew up with my grandmother & it was my sister, who is 3 years younger than I, that grew up with our mother & her father, my step father.

To me he has always been her dad & my mother’s husband… but he’s not my father. I don’t say that to belittle him him in any way. It’s just the facts. Still however, I always called him on Father’s Day to wish him a special day (2011 is the first year I won’t be able to)

My relationship with him was more like one of an uncle & a niece… in fact, in the very early years of my life, that’s precisely what I called him when I saw him… “uncle”… because I heard my cousin calling him that & figured that’s who he was.

I have always struggled with this day & remember years of being so angry at school around this particular day (I went to school in Canada where school is in session until mid to late June, not like here in the US where they get out in May). I hated how every Father’s Day we were forced to participate in making special projects to give to them. I would argue that I didn’t have one & didn’t wish to participate & they’d just tell me to make one anyway & give it to my grandmother… but it wasn’t the same.

My gramma was indeed pulling double duty taking on the motherly & fatherly roles in our single parent household but a mother (or grandmother) simply cannot take the place of what a positive male role model can bring to a young girls life no matter how much both she & the school may have felt that she could.

What I have realized however, is that I need to find a way to put my dislike for this day behind me because now there is a very special Father in my life who deserves to be recognized & celebrated to the fullest.

He has been so kind as to come along on this band wagon of taking in children that aren’t ours & accepting them as our own until they were.

He’s opened his heart, his mind & his home.

He’s changed diapers, fed bottles, cradled the crying, & wiped away tears from all of us.

He is kind & gentle, patient & understanding.

He’s been a teacher to our girls & their most favorite person to play with.

He brings them into fits of giggles on the floor around him & I listen as they beg for more.

He wakes early in the mornings, works a difficult job, attends strenuous physical trainings 3+ times a week as a requirement of his job & has a very real understanding of what it means when “duty calls”.

He has always been there for us.

Not only has he provided for us by keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs & insurance to keep us healthy while at the same time giving me the opportunity to be a stay at home mother & consistent care taker in our young childrens lives….

… but he also serves his country too!

I love my husband & his level of devotion & bravery more than words can express. I am so proud of him & couldn’t ask for a better role model & Father for our children.

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Well, this was certainly an unexpected twist of events.

I had my HSG procedure yesterday, which is where they flushed the dye through my uterus & whatnot to check for any issues. I thought at worst they might find a tilted uterus & maybe some cysts but definitely nothing that would be much of an ordeal.

Unfortunately, they found a whole lot more then I ever could of dreamed of, as many of you already know from my Facebook status’s & mini updates on the side bar here.

As the doctor was attempting to flush the dye through my reproductive system she was inserting a small catheter & trying to inflating a small balloon in my cervix to hold it there while she flushed the dye. The first problem was that the stupid balloon kept falling out because apparently I have a loose cervix (issue #1).

After repeated attempts at flushing the dye through, all that could be seen was half of a uterus & one fallopian tube on the monitor & all were a very small size (issue #2).

Finally, the Doctor ended the procedure concluding that I have some rare condition called a “Unicornuate Uterus”, which means my uterus is half the size of a normal one & only has one tube. Also, because the kidneys develop at the same time as the uterus when us females are developing in utero there is a chance I may only have one kidney as well (issue #3). So, she wants me to undergo another type of test that will determine whether or not I have both & if I do whether or not the second is functioning at full capacity or not.

My Uterus:

A Normal Uterus:

In the mean time she wants me to try to obtain some medical records from a few procedure’s I had done in my past (12-15 years ago!) to see if they explain anything further as one of them was a Laparoscopy checking for endometriosis (which I don’t have) but should have been able to see what was going on in more depth. However, I was never informed about any of this until just yesterday….

Everything regarding IVF is now completely on hold. With my uterus being only half the size of a normal one my chances for miscarriage have skyrocketed. The loose cervix to go along with it makes my chances even higher & if I only have one kidney they may refuse to IVF on me all together.

Late last night I was looking through the paper work for the shared risk program that we were going to use to give us 6 cycles (3 fresh & 3 frozen) with 70% refunded if at the end we didn’t bring a live baby home from the hospital because it would essentially give us the chance to start over & try yet again. Unfortunately, one of the eligibility requirements is that “The woman must have a normal uterus“. So, that door has also pretty well been slammed shut in our face now too.

If we are allowed & want to continue to pursue IVF I’ve been told due to the smaller size of my uterus they will only be willing to transfer one embryo at a time & we’ll have to pay per cycle, which can be anywhere from $3000 to $10,000 a pop depending where we go, & with the risk of miscarriage now being so high our chances of success is truly limited. We would get just one chance per cycle & if it fails have to start all over again which would become very expensive very fast.

At this time I have no idea what we’re going to do. I’m still in a state of shock about it all. I’ve had a full range of emotions from saddness to anger, to denial to hope & then hopelessness, frustration & confusion. I’ve gone around & around in circles & many tears have been shed, escpecially yesterday. I am grieving what very well may be the loss of my chances at ever being able to carry a child myself & although it’s not the end of the world it’s something I felt truly passionate about. I really really wanted to experience this. Difficulties & all… I wanted it!

Sure, we could look into surrogacy & all that but it wasn’t so much about having a biological child as it was about being able to experience the carrying & delivery of that child… our child…. right from the moment of their arrival…. no lawyers, no court dates, just ours.

We may decide to go back to pursuing adoption but I’m not sure it’ll be one through foster care as neither of us is up for the roller coaster ride it all entails with all the unknowns & “what ifs” & all the daily drama as to whether a child placed with us will ever truly become ours or not.

For now, I’m doing a tiny bit of research on domestic adoption but mostly just waiting to find out more about what is going on with my body & what this all really means.

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We’ve been pursuing the path of trying to re license to fost/adopt here in Florida pretty much since we got here almost 2 years ago.

Back around July 2009 is when I first phoned for info & they gave me the run around saying they wouldn’t even consider re licensing us until at least a year after we’d finalized Alanna’s adoption so we had time to “settle in” together as a family. I explained that she’d been with us since birth and we were already well established as a family… it was just taking forever to finalize her adoption.

After making more phone calls, attending a foster parent orientation & having it explained by another source that they would indeed license us, but not until we re did all our training because they could not accept the training method that we had taken previously back in the State of California.

All the current training sessions running at that time were full so we were advised to try back in a few months when they re-started them again.

In November 2009 after I was somewhat recovered from my Gastric Bypass Surgery I once again started phoning around trying to find an agency that was about to start up a new training class. One Agency hung up on me after saying they didn’t do “that” any more & another told me they weren’t accepting any new foster families any longer despite the fact there were pleas all over the TV & Radio trying to recruit them.

Upon reaching a supervisor with another agency I was informed they were now only accepting new foster parents from certain locations & that those potential foster parents had to be willing to take an additional 7 week “special needs” training course on top of the regular 10 week training course to even be considered… so we signed up for both & in June 2010 we finally had all the necessary training completed.

By the end of July 2010 we had all our paper work completed signed & submitted, our interviews & home inspections done & our foster parent homestudy was just pending approval by the State of Florida.

A few weeks later we were informed the State wasn’t sure about our stability for fostering a child due to us being Military & requested more info wanting to know how much longer Roy planned to stay enlisted, how much longer we might be stationed here, whether or not we understood the potential disruption that we could cause a child placed with us if we got orders & had to suddenly leave forcing the child to be removed & then placed somewhere else.

I responded to all the questions since Roy was already off training for his deployment & then we waited & waited…. & waited.

Eventually, I found this house & after showing pictures to Roy & discussing it with him decided to move us over to it. I signed for the keys on November 15th 2010 and moved us in a week later. Then in January 2011, after all the holidays were over, the worker doing our homestudy came over to the new place & informed me we had to revise everything now due to the move. We have to obtain a fire extinguisher, a life saving device like a ring & rope or Sheppard hook type deal (because if I have a child drowning I’m going to stand around waisting time trying to convince them to grab onto one of those as opposed to just jumping in to the pool & saving them?). They needed some paperwork re filled out, an additional smoke alarm installed, another Radeon test performed & an another environmental inspection of the place before she could send everything off to the State for review again… yet I still don’t know what the massive delay was between August & November before we moved to the new house.

By late January I discovered I had Gallstones & would be in need of surgery so my focus turned to getting Roy home from his deployment ASAP so I would have assistance during my recovery for both me & the girls. I sent an email off to the homestudy worker letting her know what was going on & that we would be pushing the homestudy stuff to the back burner until the Gallbladder surgery was over with & I was recovered.

All that is over & done with. I am now recovered. However, neither of us has much desire left in us to continue this seemingly endless pursuit of licensing to foster here in Florida.

We’ve now come to a place in our  lives where we no longer feel up to dealing with the drama it all entails, the visitations, transportation, record keeping, therapy, possible court appearances & constant stress of things going back & forth not knowing whether or not the child/ren we have placed with us will be reunited or adoptable along with the countless other things we’d face that can’t even begin to be predicted.

I have come to a place in life where I want more than anything to experience pregnancy, to give birth, to have a child biologically. I’m nearly 30 years old & my biological clock is quite literally screaming at me to hurry up and do this before I’m too old. I want to have a baby of our own, who is ours from the moment s/he’s conceived instead of worrying for months on end (or more likely years) whether or not we’ll really be able to call them ours or not.

Sure we could do private adoption but why spend multiple thousands of dollars doing that when there’s so many children in care that need to be cared for & loved too. Who can potentially be adopted for no cost other then that of an emotional roller coaster?

The emotional roller coaster can happen via any means of trying to have a baby. Through foster to adoption it’s the constant not knowing, the risk of having to say goodbye after you’ve already fallen in love. For private adoption it’s planning it all out, falling in love & then having the risk of a birth parent changing their mind at the last possible moment. For trying to conceive our self it’s the risk of waisting multiple thousands of dollars trying & never having it happen, or worse yet conceiving & falling in love & then losing the pregnancy.

It all comes at a risk. Terrible heart breaking risks…. but I am risk taker! I always have been.

What’s important to me & to us right now, at this time in our lives, is to try to conceive with the help of a fertility specialist & this week we officially took the initial steps towards that goal.

Tuesday, Roy had an appointment with his Primary Care Physician to request a referral to a Urologist in hopes that we will get more answers on what’s going on & what our options are then we did when we initially tried to pursue this over 4 years ago back in California.

Today, I had an appointment with my Primary Care Physician to request a referral to a Center for Reproductive Medicine where we figure we’ll end up after testing is completed via the Urologist for Roy. I also found out today, after speaking with our insurance company – Tricare Prime, that they will cover the consultation, all testing & medications necessary but not the procedure itself in our efforts to achieve pregnancy. This is a huge plus as we thought originally that they didn’t cover anything related to fertility assistance.

This afternoon Roy got a call from the Urology Doctor scheduling him an appointment for April 11th & we have a tentative appointment scheduled with the fertility clinic on April 27th assuming we have all Roy’s test results completed via the Urologist before then.

What it’s all going to come down to is determining if there are any viable sperm, & if there is, finding out if they are coming out when he does his “donations”. If there is viable sperm & they are coming out then we can do a relatively inexpensive procedure called an IUI also known as Artificial Insemination where they will just grab some of them from his “donation” and deposit them into me at just the right time.

If there are viable spermies but they aren’t coming out due to a blockage then our only option is a much more invasive & expensive procedure known as In Vitro Fertilization where they have to extract the sperms from the source which means ouchies for him. I then have to take a bunch of injections causing me to produce extra eggs, which means ouchies for me. They then remove all these extra eggs when they’re ready which is more ouchies for me & put the eggs & spermies together in a lil dish to hopefully form a bunch of healthy happy embryo’s & eventually put however many embryo’s per cycle back into me at just the right time so that hopefully at least one of them will implant & become a nice healthy pregnancy.

We also run a higher risk of ending up with multiples with In Vitro too….

So, that’s where we’re at with things. A definite change of plans & pace. I’ll keep you updated as we go along & would appreciate any thoughts & prayers for this to work out as quickly & inexpensively as possible for us with a happy healthy pregnancy & a happy healthy baby because, although I might be a risk taker, I’m not sure I’m entirely prepared to face the awful feelings this will bring if it doesn’t work out well but what I do know for certain is that nothing will happen for certain if we don’t at least try!

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