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Let’s Get Serious

I mentioned last week that I had some meets to share regarding our Adoption journey, and I’m here today to spill the beans.

It isn’t really the kind of “beans” that I’d like to be spilling, but beans are beans, people.  And beaners can’t be choosers.

What?!

Nevermind.  Sometimes I get carried away with a common saying and just can’t disengage.

ANYwho…

Studly and I took a huge first step a few weeks ago, and actually started contacting several organizations regarding adoption (organizations being an all-inclusive term to refer to facilitators, law centers, and agencies).  Now, this may not seem like a big deal to you, but for us… it absolutely IS a big deal.  It’s as though we’re finally putting our money where our mouth is.

To be clear, though… we’re not putting money anywhere just yet.  (See?  Another saying and now I’m just confusing people again. *smack! Get it together, Hope!)

We contacted several different organizations we had begun to identify by scouring website after website after website… I think you get the picture.  Basically, thanks to the internets (thank you Al Gore!), there are a lot of resources on adoption.

Honestly, (and this may sound crazy, but its true) we were able to rule out a bunch rather quickly after only briefly visiting their website.  For us, a cheaply created or poorly maintained website indicated come less-than-desirable qualities for an organization to which we’d be paying tens of thousands of dollars to help us grow our family.  So if they can’t even build or maintain what I imagine to be the primary means of getting business in this day and age, then I’m not sure we are interested in digging any further.

Although we plan to do much more research before submitting any applications, we did find about 3 good organizations as our starting point.

After contacting them, we found that 1 was not licensed in our state even though their website initially said that they did (maybe this was more recent?), 1 sent us a good-sized packet of information through e-mail, and 1 shipped us an information kit through the mail.

Out of the 2 that actually sent us information, only 1 asked us our income right off the bat.  This may not be a big deal, but it is a bit annoying.  Quite a few agencies charge fees based on your income, and I find that to be a bunch of crap.  Call me crazy, but that shouldn’t be an initial question.  Should it be part of your home study and overall assessment as to whether or not you can provide for the child? 100%. Absolutely. No question.  Should it be what you use to determine your fee schedule?  Heck no!  Mostly because you don’t know the entire situation just based off of a single number on a piece of paper.  Sorry – already jumping up onto a soap box.  *jumps down… *deep breaths…

Where was I?!

Oh right.  The 1 that asked our income information right off of the bat was more local, and also happened to be the one that sent us some information through e-mail.  I’m fine with the fact that it came through e-mail, but there’s something to be said about snail mail that just seems more personal.  Regardless, the conversation I had with the local organization was pretty short and not very helpful.  She kept making statements to indicate that all of our questions would be answered… and they’d be more than happy to talk with us… etc etc, but I was already asking questions and those weren’t actual answers.  I did try to get down to the reasoning and just asked if they needed to set up some kind of meeting with me and Studly, thinking that maybe this was why she wasn’t being as helpful, and then the truth came out – “all we needed to do” to have this conversation was to submit our application.

Whaaa?!

I’m not going to pay to apply with you before I even have information regarding your organization, what it provides, it’s process and average timeline, etc.  Who would do that?  Well, there must be some people who would do it because it seemed to be their standing policy.   Umm… no thanks.

As I’m sure you can already see from the story so far, it isn’t all that hard to weed out the non-contenders.  And though the list of what’s acceptable would absolutely change from family to family, there’s already going to be something that is identified as a non-negotiable and you’ll find that these things can really help to thin the crowd of options pretty quickly.

So that brings me to the final organization that we contacted – the one that mailed us an information kit.  One of the perks of this organization is that they are nationally licensed, meaning they can work with adoptions in any of the 50 states.  And that translates to more placements each year – averaging around 300.  I’m not sure if you’ve done any research on these numbers, but that’s a really high number of placements for one organization.  We reviewed the information kit that they sent us, which included: a DVD, additional information on their organization, an example of the packet that’s given to potential birth mothers in the selection process, an application, a wall calendar, and a personal letter from the lady that I spoke with on the phone during my initial contact with them.  It was full of helpful stuff.

During my initial phone conversation, and before we got the information packet, they also set us up with an appointment to video-chat with our adoption consultant.  They were so well organized, very informative, and they took me seriously from the first moment we spoke – which was very nice.

One would think that having taken the step to contact an adoption organization to begin would indicate to them that we were serious about getting information.  It’s pretty sad that only 1 of the many phone calls that I made left me with the impression that this was the case and I wasn’t just another blank face on the other end of the millionth phone call they’d had that day.

Anywho…. fast forward to Monday evening when we had our video-chat consultation.

It. Was. Sooo helpful.

We both felt pretty comfortable with her and she was very patient with our ridiculous amount of questions (correction: MY ridiculous amount of questions).  Studly and I both answered some of her questions and after it was over (over an hour later), we both felt as though it really helped to answer our lingering questions and put things into perspective for us.

Surprisingly, we hadn’t had to submit any forms or pay a single penny to just have a full conversation with someone.

And I was starting to think that’d be difficult to find!

Between the information that we gathered from this consultation, and the research we have conducted over the past several months (though to be honest, adoption is something we’ve been familiar with for many years, due to my work in the pregnancy clinic a few years before we moved)… it all adds up to a long list of things to think through and consider.

We’re still digesting it all, really, and have already had at least 2 lengthy conversations about everything just since Monday’s meeting.

I have a lot to share with you, but this post is already getting a little long, so I’ll leave you with this for now.

Lessons learned so far in this stage:

  • Each adoption organization is not created equally.
  • Also, there is so much to think about and consider that a lot of the time… it feels more like a business deal than it does adopting a child.  And that’s tough.  So much of our heart and emotion is in this, but we haven’t even made it to the point, yet, where that really comes into play.
  • You need money.  No question.  BUT there are a ton of resources (grants, low-interest and even interest free loans, tax credits, employer contributions, etc) to help you get all of that money together.
  • There’s still  a lot to do before we can submit an application anywhere.

That last bullet may be the hardest to swallow, but it’s really important.  We’re not doing anyone any favors by “just” submitting the application.

The biggest lesson so far is this:  You need to be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re ready.

But that’s definitely another post for another day.

I look forward to sharing more of this piece of our lives with y’all soon! And in the meantime, any other adoptive families out there with some pointers?  We’ll take all the help we can get, for sure.

~Hope

Bonus Information

For those of you reading, consider this your warning – this post 100% falls into the category of TMI (too much information) and you will read and learn things that may be out of your comfort zone.

If you have no interest in hearing about pains and processes of the female body and in a detailed fashion, then do NOT… I repeat DO NOT read one.

And with that warning… here we go:

I know that I’ve been MIA.  Sorry for that!  It’s really been a rough 6 weeks.  Basically, I’ve had a 6-week long period.  But more specifically – I started a period on 21 September.  It started a little light and then about 3 days in got to a more average/medium, typical flow.  Then it lasted like this into week 2.  Then into week 3.  And then I started off week 4 and was already SO done, as I’m sure you could imagine.

But it got worse.  It was not longer an average/medium flow, but ramped up to chaos level torture.  I started clotting really terribly.  Not smaller than golf-ball sized, and sometimes up near tennis-ball sized.  I had clotting contractions because my body couldn’t easily pass them at that size, so I literally felt them coming on, had to make myself breathe through them, and then deal with the “aftermath” when it was over.

Boy oh boy did that make things with work difficult, too.  Not to mention my inability to sleep through the night without getting up at least twice.  And one night I even had to change pants and underwear twice… just in one night!  Because there was no possible way to get from my bed to the bathroom in time once I was awaken in such a state of “already too late”… it was not cool (to put things lightly).

So after that night (which happened week 4, night 4), I had to call out of work.  AND I finally called my old doctor from when we lived on the East Coast.  I hadn’t yet gotten in with a new GYN, so it was really my only option besides maybe going to the ER, which felt like a less than awesome idea.  I left a message with one of the nurses who informed me that my old doctor was actually out of the office, but she said she’d send him a note and have one of the other doctors review things and get back to me.  About 2 hours later, I had a call back and a prescription was put in to my local pharmacy for Megestrel (essentially a high dose progesterone) to help stop the bleeding and clotting.

So I trudged out of the house in my pjs to pick up the meds and went back home.  Thankfully making it without incident.

There was a slightly awkward moment when the pharmacists at our new pharmacy wanted to chat since we were new to the pharmacy.  He was very nice and I appreciated his wanting to make sure we felt like we weren’t just another piece of paper in his stack… But he did ask a very awkward question (though I later found out why).  So he introduced himself, asked where we were from (turns out he, too, was from Maryland), and then said something along the lines of “So this medication is given for quite a few different things.  Why was it prescribed for you?”

Queue my fumbling, awkward stare.  Umm… “Uh… I’m having some… bleeding… issues?”

He quickly picked up on the awkwardness and moved on.  And just a few moments later I was well on my way home to take the first dose.  As I took the meds out of the bag to take the first dose, I realized why he’d asked me about the reason for it being prescribed.  It’s apparently typically prescribed for women struggling with breast cancer and/or uterine cancers. Ahah.  Now it all made sense.

Anywho – I took the meds for 5 days, and the bleeding/clotting immediately slowed down after the first dose, and stopped completely by the second.  Thank the good LORD!  Finally… sweet relief.

So I was able to breathe again.  Sleep through the night again.  Get through meetings at work again without having to excuse myself in the middle and run out to the bathroom.  Life was feeling pretty awesome in the normal day-to-day grind.

I had a work trip planned the next Friday (call it the end of week 5 for reference) and then…. it happened again.

While on my work trip (thankfully back in Maryland where there was at least SOME familiarity), It started up again.  So on what we’ll call Week 6, day 1… it came back.  WITH a vengeance.  The Day before I was already cramping something fierce, but it was manageable.  Just some non-fun cramps.  Nothing major.  So I started out right into an average/medium flow on what I call week 6, Day 1.  Then it got worse each day.  Again.

Clotting contractions and fun results came shortly after the restart.  On day 2 I was heavy and uncomfortable.  Day 3, Clotting and contractions were back, though the clotting size wasn’t all the way where it had been before… thankfully!  But then with each day it to worse and worse.  Well on its way to where I had been just a week and a half before.  And I was already unable to sit through meetings all the way.  And what made that even worse was that these were meetings that I had set up myself and half of them were meetings that I was leading.  So talk about awkward and terrible timing!  It’s never easy to deal with something like this, but being away from home, working a very very busy, packed-full schedule, and living out of a hotel just made things even more stellar (where’s the sarcasm font when you need it?  *sigh).

So on week 6, day 5, I finally called my old doctor to see if they could possibly fit me in.  They left me a message on my cell later that day and said they’d fit me in the next morning at 0800.  Thank goodness I have a doctor who cares and worked with me like a partner.  He had no room, but he MADE room based on the situation.

I went in that next morning.  They did a transvaginal sonogram and we chatted about everything.  While performing the soon, he informed me that quite a bit of clots in the lining, just sitting there waiting to be passed.  “That’ll be fun” he said.  Did I mention I love my doctor?  Because I really really do.  He also brought up the contractions I hadn’t even told him about yet.  Due to their size and how long I’ve already been on my cycle… he confirmed that they really were contractions because of my cervix having to dilate and then close back up in order to allow these clots to pass through.  Fun times.  smh

He finished up the soon after measuring my ovaries and noting the cysts (which I always have, so no biggie, really).  Right ovary was pretty typical with quite a few cysts chilling there.  And my left ovary had at least one “good sized” cyst among the others, which wasn’t a surprise since I had already felt that bad boy anyway.  Just another day in the life of someone with PCOS, I suppose.  So he talked to me about ordering some blood work, and then asked the question that I knew would be coming.

I had only skipped one month of a period – which for me is extreme commonplace and never surprising, but even after having skipped up to 6 months in the past I have NEVER ever had this heavy or long of a period.  Then came the question – “When you skipped that cycle, did you ever take a pregnancy test?”

Yes.  I took two.  Call it force of habit a this point, but I always know that it’s the first question I’ll be asked when I have to call the GYN about any variation to a normal cycle.  Even a variation from a “normal for me” cycle.  So I know to take them when I’ve skipped a period.  Then I typically wait almost a week and take another if it still hasn’t come.  Because, if for no other reason, I will be asked when I mention skipping the period.

The doc took a beat.  Didn’t immediately respond.  So I did.  “So of course something like this was me wondering in the back of my mind if somehow maybe I was pregnant and didn’t know it… and that this is something to do with something like that.”

He looked at me with kind eyes.  “We definitely think about that, too.  Of course we hope that this isn’t the case, but if it is, we’ll want to know.”

I told him that I didn’t dwell on it or let myself obsess over the possibility, but it was definitely a thought floating around in there. I know so many people who think something like this and then go crazy over it.  Month after month even being a day late they obsess over whether or not this could be the month.  And I don’t blame them!  But I’ve worked really hard over the past 7 years not to let myself do that.  Some months it’s harder than others.  But I don’t want being a mother or getting pregnant to become an idol for me.  For us.  Studly and I check in with each other regularly to make sure we aren’t doing that.  Because that’s what can lead down the path of putting things before your relationship.  And that’s a very dangerous, very slippery slope.  But back to the topic at hand…

“Well, you are right to wonder.  But we will see what we can find out.  I’ll order an hcg along with your other blood work and we’ll start to figure some things out, hopefully.  And it’ll give us something to compare to in the next week or so if need be.  So we’ll get your new doctor set up and I’ll give you enough meds to make it until your appointment with him.”

So that’s that.  I went straight from his office to get the blood work done.  Then went to pic up my prescription and started on it right away.  Right now I’m at Week 7, day 1.  The meds haven’t worked as quickly this time, but they have slowed things a tiny bit and hopefully they will fully kick in soon.  I’d like to feel some level of normal again, if that’s possible.  I’m starting to forget what that feels like.

I’m currently sitting here in my hotel room, cramping, clotting, and not wanting to move much.  Only left today to go grab some lunch, and don’t plan to leave again until I have to eat something for dinner.  For some reason this seems to be the only hotel that has no information about room service in their rooms, but… that would’ve made things way to easy on me, right?  And who wants that.  *eyeroll

I’ll keep you guys posted, or at least those of you who want to be kept in the loop.  And thanks for understanding my absence.  Hopefully this’ll be over soon, there will be a *simple* reason of all of this, and it’ll end up not being anything pregnancy related. But if it is?  We’ll deal with it.  We’ll get through it and we’ll process as necessary.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I did have a moment as I was getting dressed after my appointment.  The emotion of possibilities started to hit me and I took a few deep breaths as the tears started to build up and burn my eyes.  I closed my eyes, and started to pray a little.  Because at the end of the day, regardless of what this all is or means, God gives and He takes away… and His is still Holy.  He has a plan and a purpose for me that is to prosper me and not to harm me.  It’s hard to see the first through the trees, but my God is loving.  And though any outcome of this could be painful for now, and maybe even for a long time, it’s still just one page or chapter in the story.  And a story is never about just one page or chapter.

I hope you’re all doing well.  I look forward to catching up on your stories while I’ve been MIA, but please stay patient with  me and I get there.  I’m still trying to be smart and not overdo it when I can help it (since I can’t help it with my work stuff while on this trip).

I love you all.

~Hope

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