Thursday, August 28, 2014

Second Visit

I'm excited to say that a few weekends ago we had our second visit with K's birth mom, and it went great!  K even got to see/meet a few others from her birth family.  It was such a great weekend!

We decided to try a two day visit this time.  Our last visit was really just a lunch, and we wanted J to have to chance to 1) spend some quality time with K and 2) get to see her little personality come out!

Using Hotwire we got a great deal on a hotel for Saturday night.  It ended up being an extended stay hotel with an outdoor pool, which was perfect!

Saturday morning, right around the time of K's first nap we loaded up the car and hit the road.  Since J was bringing her son (who still needs a car seat) and her grandpa, we decided to rent a car once we got to Columbus.  There wasn't enough room in our car for everyone, and the rate we got on the rental car was about the same as we would have spent on gas to take two cars the whole way.

So, we picked up the rental car around 11:00 and headed over to J's house to pick everybody up.

There was an event going on that weekend called Festival Latino, so we decided to check it out.  It was huge!  So many events and vendors.  I've never seen something like it before.  I was impressed.  The only downside was that the parking lot we chose was $20 a car.  If we go back in the future, we'll definitely find somewhere else to park!

We didn't stay at the festival for very long, though.  It was so hot on Saturday, and there weren't many shady areas to stay in.  We were all very sweaty and ready for lunch!

It was a little difficult to navigate down town Columbus with two cars.  I probably should have turned on the GPS on my iPhone and given Nate our actual GPS, but I didn't think of that until after the fact.  We saw a Johnny Rockets restaurant and quickly decided that was what sounded good.

It was K's lunch time, too and she doesn't ever eat well if there are any distractions around.  So I made her bottle and fed her in the car while everyone else headed inside for lunch.

Once K had finished eating, we both headed inside too.  Lunch was a delicious, but a little rough since it was so crowded in the restaurant.  We successfully dropped an entire sandwich on the floor and spilled a full glass of ice water.  Oh well!  We tried to clean up after ourselves as best we could....

After we ate, everyone decided that it felt like nap time.  We dropped J back off at home and agreed to meet up for dinner.  Then we headed over to check in to our hotel.

I was nervous about our first hotel stay with K, especially since we were in the process of sleep training (check  out my post about it on Northeast Ohio Parent, here).  But, everything went perfectly!  We set up the pack and play in the kitchen area of our room - it was slightly separated from the rest of the room, so miss nosey wouldn't  be too distracted with all of us sharing a room.  Right after we checked in, she ate another bottle and took a nice long nap.  We just turned on her white sound machine, and she slept just as well at night and during her naps as she has been at home.  Such a relief!

Getting comfy at her first hotel stay
It felt so much more comfortable to be checked in to the hotel, and not driving around Columbus in a car packed with stuff.  Our room was pretty tiny, but we thought it would be nice if J could just come over for pizza and hang out with us.  This way she could play with K, and not have to be sitting at a restaurant.  Plus, we had our swim suits so we could cool off in the pool from our hot day at the festival.  I texted J to see what she thought of that plan, and she seemed really excited.

Nate went and picked up J, her son and her grandpa while K was napping.  Then we ordered pizza and headed to the pool.  J's younger sister doesn't live far from where our hotel was, so she came over too and we all went swimming.  It was such a fun night!

Pool Baby!
The next day, J's dad wanted to meet all of us for breakfast.  It was so cute to see him with K, and really was a nice morning spending time together.

After breakfast we went to drop J off at her house, but we still had time before the rental car had to be returned.  We ended up spreading out a blanket and chairs in her yard and letting the kids play.  K's birth dad was there and got to spend some quality time with her.  And later J's older daughter came over to visit, too!

I am beyond thrilled that K got to spend so much time with her birth family, and I think it's safe to say that two day visits are the way to go.  It was hard to leave when K started getting sleepy, but we've found that nap time is the best time to start any long road trip.

So, we said our goodbyes and promised another visit before Winter hits!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Web Browsing Wednesday

Here are my favorites from across the Web this week!

1) What about Transracial Adoption?

http://adoption.com/what-about-transracial-adoption

Like it or not, there are aspects involved in transracial adoption that are not involved in adopting a child of your own race.  While this article doesn't go very "deep," it is important to realize the differences and make a choice based on what is right for your own family.

"Love is blind, indeed, but racism is real, and parents must be equipped to prepare their children for what to expect as an adult."

 2)  We Are A Real Family, Thank You Very Much

http://www.scarymommy.com/very-real-family/

"My kids are real people. With thoughts and feelings. Newsflash: They can hear you when you pepper us, the parents, with questions about our family’s authenticity. Our love is real. Our family is real. It’s all real."

3) Stop Worrying And Start Teaching Our Adoptive Children

http://www.adoption.net/adoptive-parents/node/26339

"We need to teach our kids their birth story (something we’ve always done in our household). We need to teach them that it’s okay to be sad about it sometimes and that it is also okay to have questions and to want to know their birth family. We need to let them know that they never have to worry about talking to us about their feelings. It is so important that they know they can talk to us openly about their emotions relating to their adoptions without judgment or hurt feelings."

4) Is A College Degree Still Worth It? 

"I'm an educator. I believe in the power of education to teach people to think critically, to open their minds to new ideas, and to prepare for the workforce. Education stimulates you to ask questions and evaluate concepts. It helps you make connections. It exposes you to fantastic resources and greater opportunities. Our economy today isn't based on manufacturing like it used to be—it's now based on knowledge and information. College is a foot in that knowledge economy door. So I think college is valuable…but I don't think it's worth going into extreme debt in order to pay for it. Especially for some majors. (I'm not sure a $100,000 degree in French Literature is going to pay off.)"

Personally, this is something we will definitely have an open discussion about with K when as she grows up.

Nate and I  both attended private colleges for our bachelors degrees. Luckily my Nate has a career in his area of study. I have had 0 jobs in my area of study since graduating (and not for lack of trying), and now I'm a stay at home mom with no income (which I wouldn't trade for the World!). It's extremely frustrating though, considering that 50% of our debt is student loan debt. 10% is a car payment and the other 40% is our mortgage. I have a federal loan that will not be paid off until after my daughter starts college. How absurd is that?

I'm fairly certain that we will encourage K to pursue education after high school, but we will try to teach her the things that I wish someone would have taught me. 1) Really think about where you want your life to go before starting college. Don't start taking classes and "figure it out later." 2) What do student loans mean in the long run? What will your payments look like after graduation? Will you be able to afford that? How long will you be making payments for? Are they worth it? 3) Is there a trade school or accelerated program that will help you get the career you want more quickly and with more hands on experience?

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Adoption Love Link-Up: Intro

One of the most helpful resources I found before and during our adoption process have been adoption blogs.  Reading other people's stories is one of the best ways to really learn what's going on in the adoption world.  It gave me hope for a positive outcome when we were waiting to be matched, as well as so much inside information! 

One of my favorite adoption blogs has been Adoption Love.  Kristen is always so positive, and her daughter is too dang cute!

Luckily, Kristen has come up with the best idea... A monthly adoption blog link-up!  And I'm joining in!

http://www.jkadoptionlove.com/p/adoption-love-link-up.html

This month's topic is: Intros! 

From Kristen: "Since this is a brand spankin' new link-up, let's start with intros. How did you become part of the adoption world and where is your family at in their journey?"

We decided that we were ready to start a family in the Summer of 2011. After a little more than a year of trying to conceive with no success, we visited our doctor and found out that we would be unable to have a child without the most aggressive form of fertility treatment (IVF w/ICSI). We had already discussed this and made the decision not to pursue treatment.

After lots of prayer and research, we were introduced to the adoption community and we haven’t looked back since - we quickly completed all of the preliminary paperwork and training to adopt a newborn from the US (home study approved in January, 2013), created a profile book and drafted heartfelt letters to potential birth families, started this blog to document our journey and submitted an online profile for our agency to post to their website.  Feel free to check out our timeline to see all the steps we took.

In August, 2013 we finally received the phone call we were waiting for... An expectant mother, "J" had viewed our profile and wanted to meet us! A few days after that call we met with J and her birth parent counselor and were officially matched less than two hours later!

During our match period, we became very close with J.  We attended all doctor and ultrasound appointments and shared many lunches and dinners afterward.  We texted regularly and tried to prepare for how life would be in the adoption triad.

Finally - on January 12, 2014 our precious daughter, "K" was born!  You can read more about her birth story here.

The past seven months have been absolutely surreal.  It's definitely been an adjustment into parenthood, but I absolutely wouldn't change a thing!  We still maintain an open relationship with K's birth family, and we've had two visits since K's birth.  I'm still working on the post about our most recent visit, but you can read about our first visit here.

I'm really excited that Kristen has started this link-up, and can't wait to see what's in store in the coming months!

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Web Browsing Wednesday

So sorry for the delay on our second Web Browsing Wednesday!  I'm having some technical difficulties with this post...  If anyone can tell me what's up with the random piece of code hanging out in the left margin, that would be great!  Anyway... here's our post for yesterday.  Enjoy!

There have been a lot of awesome finds on the Web this week!  Here are some of my favorites...

http://www.adoption.net/adoptive-parents/node/26029

"I change diapers, give baths, wash laundry, kiss boo boos, soothe fears, break up arguments, prepare meals, clean up after meals, encourage, cheer, answer hundreds of questions, chaufeer, participate in dance parties, wipe noses, offer hugs, snap photos, answer more questions, remind, compliment, read, tickle, repeat the same phrases over and over, sigh, sing, cuddle. Every day. All day."

http://adoption.com/personal-growth-open-adoption/

"We weathered ups and downs, miscommunications, and misunderstandings. I fumbled these tougher interactions, fretting for countless hours that one wrong “move” on my part would ruin my son’s chances of having a valuable open adoption relationship. Through these times, I became stronger, and our relationships became stronger."

http://celebritybabies.people.com/2014/08/12/daphne-oz-daughter-philomena-name-motherhood-hard-the-bump/?cm_mmc=facebook_-august14-_-celebrity-_-none

Daphne Oz: Motherhood Is ‘So Much Harder Than I Imagined’ 

“I think the biggest change and challenge for me was coming to terms with the fact that being a good mom is not something you can read up on or learn from a distance,” she says. “You have to jump in headfirst and get your hands dirty.”

Birth Mother Stories from the 1960's, 1980's, 2000's

How far has adoption come in 50 years?  How far do we still have to go?  Here are 3 birth mother stories from the 1960's, 1980's and 2000's.

Nate and I have learned and continue to learn so much by listening to stories from birth moms we've met throughout our journey.  It's amazing to hear how much adoption (and social implications surrounding adoption) has changed over the years.

http://www.coffeeandcrumbs.net/blog/2014/8/10/a-letter-to-my-pre-mom-self

A letter to my pre-mom self

"Your whole life will be different. Every single day you will wake up with the responsibility of loving a child beyond measure. It will affect every decision you make, every thought you have, every fiber of your very existence. You will slowly learn to let go of control and expectations, a process you will practice every day for the rest of your life as a parent. You will start to see the world as a mom—you will see love and God and humanity through new eyes that will change you and mold you and make you more aware of how small you are and how big God is."

What are some of your favorites this week?  Any thoughts on the ones I posted?  Please comment below!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Seven Months!

{monthly onesie stickers from Clementine Baby}

How can it be?  Our girl is seven months old!  As of Monday, anyway.

She's sitting unassisted now and transitions from bottom to tummy without a face plant (most of the time).  She can hold herself up on her hands and knees.  She scoots and rolls wherever she wants.  She's eating baby food for three meals a day.  And she is constantly smiling.

Are you keeping up?  I barely am!

Someone once told me that with children the minutes can seem to drag on but the years fly by.  This couldn't be more true!

We definitely have our challenging days with Miss K, and on those days bedtime can't come soon enough.  But, really... where have the last seven months gone?

We had our second visit with K's birth family over this past weekend (which I will write more about in another post), and we reminisced about what was happening at this time one year ago.

On August ninth last year, Nate and I received a late night call from one of the birth mother counselors at our agency.  She wanted to tell us that J had looked at our profile book and wanted to meet us!

This year on August ninth we traveled to Columbus for the first day of our two day visit.  It was totally a coincidence, but made the day that much more special.

On August eleventh last year, we met and were officially matched with J.  This year Miss K is turning seven months old on that exact day.

Oh, how life changes in the blink of an eye...


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Web Browsing Wednesday

Throughout the week I read and see so many great posts all over the Web.  I thought it would be fun to start a weekly post of my own, which features my favorite posts from everyone else.  Web Browsing Wednesday, I'll call it.  Starting now!

Here are my favorite finds for this week:

http://adoption.com/lemons-into-lemonade

"There is a lot of wisdom in that old quote all of our mothers used to tell us over and over again when we were little. “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” To most birth mothers, myself included, getting pregnant was definitely a lemon. After that, we have two choices: We can give in to the shame, guilt, and sourness of the situation, or we can see our mistake as what it was–a crossroads and opportunity to grow–and face it head-on with optimism and hope."


Why You Won't Be Seeing Baby Pictures at the OB

The reason is different than I expected, but I'm wondering what others think of this.  For me, the OB was one of the worst places to go during our fertility struggles.  Everybody expecting or just recently welcoming their little bundles, while I sat in there waiting to learn why there would be no baby for us.  The last thing I wanted to see was photos of newborns and happy families.  Of course, this was before our adoption journey and the arrival of Miss K. 


An innovative new website—Instant Checkmate is now revealing the full “scoop” on millions of Americans. - See more at: http://www.instantcheckmate.com/pr?src=AOL&mdm=DISPLAY&cmp=AOL&cnt=CAFEGIRL&affid=11&campid=358&sid=AOL&s1=CAFEGIRL&lp=pr#sthash.qzJc4DVS.dpuf

An innovative new website—Instant Checkmate is now revealing the full “scoop” on millions of Americans.

I did a search on myself, and sure enough my info is there.  What about yours?

This drives me crazy!  Where do "they" get this information, and why isn't there a way to say that you don't want it "out there?"  This is not the only site where I've found my personal information listed, but it still bothers me.  A lot.  Of course, you have to create an account and pay a fee to get the full report.  But, the free information that they show to entice you is still annoying.

http://www.adoption.net/adoptive-parents/node/26161

"Our kids have two families. As much as people like to try and “forget” that, it’s a fact. Our kids are allowed to know them, see them, and love them. At the end of the day, my husband and I are still Mom and Dad. We will always be Mom and Dad to our kids, but our kids have every right to know where they came from."

And with that, I'll conclude my first Web Browsing Wednesday!

What are some of your favorites from around the Web this week?  I'd love to check them out, so comment below!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O-"fish"-al!

As of a few weeks ago, Miss K's adoption is finalized!

We had a big "O-'fish'-al" themed party at our house the Sunday before our court date.  I found matching invitations, cupcake toppers and a banner on Etsy.  Petite Party Studio even customized the wording for us, and everything was so adorable!



Also from Etsy, I found a super cute "It's My Gotcha Day" shirt for K to wear.  Trimbles Threads was awesome to work with!  I found the shirt at the last minute, of course, but they were able to customize the shirt for me (I had the date added to the back) and rush shipping so I would have it on time.  K already had the matching pants and headband, and I just thought she looked too cute!


Our friends and family from Ohio all came out to celebrate, and my sister, brother-in-law, dad, step-mom and their granddaughter even made the six hour trip from Michigan to be with us.  We had plenty of yummy food, a bounce house and corn hole.  It truly was such a fun and memorable day!




The next day our family gathered at the court house about an hour before our hearing was to start.  I had scheduled a photo session with Julie from Country Summers Photography through Red Thread Sessions.  Julie captured some super special photos of our family as well as some candid shots that I will treasure forever.  If you haven't heard of Red Thread Sessions - be sure to check them out!  What a great organization, supporting adopting families.




The actual court proceedings were very quick and easy.  The judge called us forward, our attorney spoke on our behalf and then we agreed to raise and love K forever (obviously!).  Then the judge brought down an adoption certificate, which we all got to seal while K hammed it up for the entire courtroom.  There were three other families finalizing at that time, and she had everybody laughing with her big smiles and baby talk.




After we sealed our adoption certificate, the whole family got to come up - all 21 of us!  We had our photo taken together, and that was it.  We all gave hugs and congratulations and went our separate ways.  Considering that K had been up since 4:30 that morning, and wouldn't eat a thing - she must have been too excited - I wasn't surprised when she fell asleep before we even left the parking garage!  We headed home and spent the rest of the day relaxing together.


There are still a few more steps we need to take to complete all the paperwork.  We've already received our final adoption decree, but we're waiting on K's new birth certificate.  Once that arrives we can get her new social security card.  I've heard that this can be quite the adventure, so I'm sure I'll share more on that when the time comes...

Nate and I really have had quite the journey as we worked to start a family, but we are so lucky and beyond blessed in how things turned out.  I can honestly say that K is the daughter we were meant to have, and I absolutely can not imagine our life without her.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Exciting Things!

I have to admit.  This space has not received the love and attention I'd like to give it lately.  I never intended for this to be a digital scrapbook centered on my kid, but that's what it feels like it's becoming.  I only have one good excuse, and that's the fact that Miss K steals all of my love and attention!  Even during her naps, it seems that I'm trying to learn how to be the best mom I can be for her.

Other contributors are the fact that my lap top charger melted itself (thankfully I decided to stay up that night for one last Facebook check, and smelled burning plastic), and the fact that it's been a busy summer.  As I type, I'm uploading photos so I can have some printed in time for our second visit with J this weekend!

We also had a big get together at our house a few weekends ago to celebrate Miss K's gotcha day!  That's right, it's official!  We finalized her adoption in court the following day, and I owe you a post about the whole thing.  It's coming, I promise!

And I've been working on becoming a blogger for Northeast Ohio Parent!  I've already written a few posts, and I'll make sure to include links here when I post more in the future.  I'm so excited for this opportunity!  Be sure to check out what I've written so far here.

I've been working on a few other things behind the scenes, too.  So I hope to start making some changes around here.  I really want this to be a fun and informative space, where people can come for adoption and parenting resources.  Even if some of those resources are just examples of our family life.  So bare with me, please!

In the mean time, I figured I should do Miss K's six month update.  We're closer to the seven month mark by now, but in the name of consistency, I'll share!


Weight: 15 lbs 14.9 oz (46%) {up from 14 pounds 10 ounces (58%) two months ago}
Height: 26.38 inches long (70%) {up from 24.21 inches long (36%) two months ago}
Head Circumference: 16.54 inches (43%) {up from 15.94 inches (45%) two months ago}

Since my last update I feel like there have been a lot of developmental changes!  She sits up very steady, which is so nice!  She can sit on the floor with a few toys and entertain herself for quite a while.  She has what we call "go, go Gadget arms," since she reaches for and grabs whatever she sees, all of which goes directly into her mouth.  Favorite items are paper and my hair.  She responds immediately to her name, and usually looks for Nate or myself if asked "where's mommy," "where's daddy?"  Her upper body strength is improving by the day, so she holds herself up well when on her tummy.  And she's even started pulling her knees up, trying to get on all fours.  The doctor seems to think that she'll be mobile sooner rather than later.  Watch out!  Right now she just scoots and rolls to wherever she needs to go, which I think has something to do with her new sleep habits, oddly enough.

Last week we started sleep training, which I'll probably write more about in another post.  We're using The Sleepeasy Solution as a guide, and we stopped using the swaddle cold turkey.  It was time.  The first night was a little rough, but after about an hour of crying (with checks) Miss K fell asleep and didn't get up until 6:30 the next morning.  Since then she's been sleeping 7:30 pm to 6:30 or 7:00 am consistently.  She takes three naps per day, which are usually 40 minutes to an hour and a half.  Not only are we all thrilled to be getting the sleep we need, but I can tell a major difference in K's personality.  She's always been a happy baby, but she is so much more content now!  She focuses on what she's doing, and doesn't get frustrated as easily.  On top of that, she is rolling all over the place!  I can only attribute this to not being swaddled at night any more.  I see her rolling all over her crib at night, which must be practice for day time!

Miss K is also consistently eating a fruit and a veggie for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  She eats almost every vegetable we give her, except for peas.  I can't say I blame her - they smell rancid - but we'll give them another try in a few days.  Surprisingly, she's really not that into most of her fruits.  She loves pears, but most everything else gets the same reaction as a Warheads sour candy.  Remember those?

She still get a bottle every four hours, and we tried a few different types of rice cereal.   Each time K would get very fussy and stay  up all night after a few days on the rice.  The doctor said that he has no concerns if we want to skip rice, and so far she's doing great on her fruits and veggies.  I did get some Earth's Best oatmeal cereal to try for a little more variety.

Other than that, it seems like K is just along for the ride.  She really does great when we're out and about - she's a people person, that's for sure!  It seems like everyone is drawn to her, and when they come up to talk to her she just smiles away and charms them with some baby talk.

I think that about sum up K's 6 month in a nutshell...

Hopefully I'll be posting more often here shortly.  Thanks to everyone who has followed the blog, and who sticks with us during the quiet times!

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