Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back Home And Grieving...

Today was supposed to be the day that our birth mom would sign relinquishment papers, and we would officially become the parents of a perfect little baby girl. After two days of caring for and watching over this baby who in our hearts was ours, we received a call yesterday morning shortly before 8am telling us that our birth mom had changed her mind and had decided to keep the baby and parent - our worst fears about this process realized. There is no recourse for us. The devastation, loss, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and sadness we are feeling right now is immeasurable. It is a suffering like we have never had to endure before, and we are now back at home and grieving – trying to figure out what to do next. We feel like we lost a baby. We feel like we have been had and cheated. We feel like we have been made fools of. We feel like we wasted other opportunities to become parents.  But most of all, we feel like we have wasted time, money, emotional investment, and compassion on this birth mom who revealed herself in just a few short days to be an entirely different person than the one who we got to know and cared for in the past five months.  We are beyond concerned for the life that has been chosen for this baby who we held, fed, nurtured, and loved in her first hours on Earth. When we finally feel up to the task, we will share the entire story of what has been some of the worst days we have ever had to face.  No doubt, what we have to say, will truly open your eyes about how the adoption process really can be, and often is like, for many many couples and individuals going through this.  Needless to say, there are no protections and not much beyond very basic and superficial support for the risks we assume.  Thank you all so much for the outpouring of love and excitement for us through this opportunity that we had to grow our family.  We wish we could have delivered you the good news you were hoping for.  We will update you all soon. 
~ Will & Adrienne        

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Now THE REAL Update: We're Expecting...To Adopt!

Like we said at the end of our previous post, we have more to tell you.  In fact, we have A LOT more to tell you.  We had these grand notions of keeping everyone up to date to the day through every little nuance of the adoption process, but as it turns out, almost all of the time, the information we are dealing with is so sensitive and uncertain that it takes awhile before everyone involved feels comfortable enough to share.  We are just now at a point where we can feel certain in sharing the story we are about to tell.  You should know, though, that this has been in development for over 2 months at this point.  We feel kind of strange having just posted a blog about all of the birthmom calls that didn't work out - the implication being that we were no further along than a year ago.  We were, in fact, much further along at the time we posted the last blog, but we felt it was important to tell you about all of the unexpected things we had to navigate on the path that has lead us to this moment:

We couldn't be any MORE EXCITED and HAPPY and THRILLED and SHOCKED and ELATED and GRATEFUL and HUMBLED and ANXIOUS and (still a little uncertain) BUT ULTIMATELY OVER-JOYED, to announce that WE.  ARE.  MATCHED!!!

So glad you're happy, Will and Adrienne - what the heck does that MEAN?  TO BE MATCHED?  Well, if adopting a baby is the wedding ceremony then being matched with the birthmom is the engagement.  A birthmom has chosen us to adopt her baby, and we have committed to adopt her baby.  We have agreed to exclusively work with one another to create an adoption plan.  After all the calls and posts and emails that resulted in nothing but disappointment, we have finally been chosen!   We are now working with a wonderful birthmom, and if all goes as planned, we will become parents in...wait for it...DECEMBER!  That's right, in 8 weeks!  So here's the story: 

In the previous blog, we mentioned that our agency, the IAC, had connected us with a birthmom in Ohio.  This Ohio connection came at such a strange busy time where we were navigating other very time sensitive contacts - something that hadn't happened all year.  We were having a very serious debate about whether or not we were going to pursue the Indiana opportunity independently without the IAC because they wouldn't work with this mom due to some things they found in her history.  It was completely insane.  We had absolutely nothing solid all year, AND NOW TWO?  REALLY?  We were in such a strange state of mind that we thought the IAC was offering us this connection to the expectant mother in Ohio as an unlikely consolation for not being willing to work with Indiana mom. (Unfortunately, the nature of the adoption process causes you to become somewhat of a skeptic about opportunities to adopt - scammers, calls and then nothing, other lawyers/agencies seemingly creating more efficient adoption opportunities for their clients, alleged expectant moms giving you too much information exactly how you want to hear it too soon, etc...).  It was unbelievable that in the middle of one very real, yet risky, opportunity to adopt, that a woman in Ohio just happened to see our profile online at that time, like it enough to request our letter, get it shipped overnight, and then be open to talking to us the same day she read our letter.  It seemed unlikely, but here's what happened:

In August, The IAC sent the Ohio woman several Dear Birthmother Letters, she chose 2 that she liked best.  In the same conversation we were having about whether or not it was a good idea to pursue an independent adoption with the Indiana mom, we told the IAC to let this new Ohio mom know that we were very interested in talking to her.  The IAC called the Ohio mom back to let her know, and by 4:30pm that day - the same day in the morning we were concerned we may lose our only real opportunity to adopt with the Indiana woman, we were talking with a new expectant mother who we would eventually come to match with.  We didn't know that at the time of course as she was still considering us and the other couple.  But, we felt good that we talked to her first and our conversation with her was really great. 

Luckily for us, the Ohio mom enjoyed her conversation with us so much that she simply told the IAC that putting her in touch with the other couple was unnecessary.  So now, we had a second prospective adoption opportunity on our hands.  And as you know from our last blog, a week later we would get a call from the Michigan mom who was due in a week.   Needless to say, having three choices nearly killed us:  a birthmom due in September, October, and December.  Ultimately, the correct adoption opportunity and choice rose to the surface.  While the Indiana and Michigan opportunities were tempting because they were happening sooner, there were major red flags and concerns and gaps of information that, in the end, were just too risky for us.  The contrast being that our Ohio mom called us regularly, gave us a lot of information, was really articulate about what she was looking for in an adoptive couple, very friendly, and easy to talk to.  The start to our relationship with her was the way we expected the open adoption process to go.  Over Labor Day weekend, she even sent us an ultrasound picture of the baby.

The day came that we had a major decision make.  It was Monday September 8th.  While we loved the way our Ohio mom was communicating with us, we did keep the door open on the other two opportunities for a week.  It was the week following Labor Day.  We scheduled a trip to Ohio on Sunday September 7th to meet our expectant mother, but in that same weekend we were also waiting to hear back from the Michigan mom who was due on September 11th - in JUST A FEW DAYS.  The Michigan mom told us she would call us by Sunday evening.  Meanwhile, we had a really lovely lunch with the Ohio mom where we finally had a chance to get a sense of one another in person.  It went very well.  So well that she called the agency later that afternoon to let them know that she was ready to match with us - which means we would get taken off the books and the online search as being an available couple.  Here's the rule we didn't realize - when an expectant mother says they are ready to match with a couple, you then only have 48 hours, as the couple, to say "Yes, we want to match too," or "No, we would like to stay available for another opportunity." 

Suddenly, the clock was ticking.  We had not heard from the Michigan mom since Friday, and she was supposed to be having a baby in the upcoming week!  We did not hear back from her Sunday evening like she had told us.  What do we do?  Do we match with the mom from Ohio or go with the baby who is allegedly supposed to be born in Michigan in three days?  So, it was Monday September 8th in the early afternoon, after repeated attempts to reach the Michigan mom and no response, we called the IAC to let them know that we wanted to match with our Ohio mom.  It made more sense.  It felt right.  She was the right fit for us.  Even if we had heard back from the mom in Michigan (which we eventually did, by the way), there were still too many unknown variables and concerns that we had about the situation to risk losing our opportunity with the mom in Ohio.  We knew selecting to match with our mom in Ohio was the right choice for us and what our Ohio mom had already decided was the right choice for her.

Over the next several weeks we exchanged a lot of phone calls and text messages, got to know more about each other, and began the formal process - ie paperwork and meetings with the agency, to make it official.  We have since made one other trip to Ohio where we got to be present for a 3D ultrasound, and we had lunch and hung out all day.  We feel good creating a strong relationship and bond so that this child will know how much they were planned for and how much we both prepared.

We feel pretty comfortable at this time to tell everyone the whole story now... and to share our excitement with everyone who cares to hear it!  (Actually Will wanted to tell people as soon as we matched, but Adrienne wanted to wait a little longer - like another month).  Nothing with adoption is ever 100% certain, and all of this could change at any minute - even after the baby is born - but we feel like we are in as confident a place to be in this process to share our news.  Here it is!:

We're Expecting Baby Girl Pfaffenberger 12/24/14!!! 

We have tried really hard to be cautious with this story and experience.  At this point we feel like it's ready to be shared for several reasons.  #1 We are just excited and want to enjoy it.  We want to have a little bit of what an expectant pregnant couple would have:  planning, wondering, hoping, and sharing this journey with others.  #2 We realize that anything could go wrong with this match at any time and that has made us fearful of having to take all of this back and worried what that would feel like - the less people we tell, the less we have to explain later.  However, any pregnancy is uncertain too.  We really want to share the truth about adoption and matching and potentially unmatching is part of that.  Hopefully we never have to share that, but it is a very real possibility.  We feel it's only fair to write the whole truth and not just the shiny happy parts.  But, right now, we feel like we're in a pretty good place.  The time is going quickly and it's getting harder and harder to avoid the topic or skirt around the subject when people ask!  Right now, we are matched, expecting to become parents of a baby girl in December, and we really couldn't be any happier!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Even When It's Good, It Is Hard To Get Excited...

Since June, this adoption journey has taken us on some serious ups and downs.

Over the summer, we officially became desensitized and grew accustomed to the process of fielding one phone call from a potential birth mom never to hear from her again.  Our last one of these kind of calls was in June from an expectant mother in Michigan.  We really liked our conversation with her, thought it went really well, and then she just disappeared, which for us, had become par for the course up until that point. 

We then took a vacation (see last blog post), which was a welcome distraction and a nice get away for the two of us, but very soon we were back to the reality of nothing happening on the adoption front. 

In July, the only thing we had going was having to go through the process of renewing and re-upping the stuff that goes along with our home study (background checks, fingerprints, health check-ups, etc.) since we were approaching our 1 year anniversary of having it approved.  You have to renew your home study every year.  That's right, IT'S BEEN ONE YEAR NOW.  We were really hoping something would happen before we had to do this, but no such luck. 

So much wasn't happening with adoption over the summer that we started to wonder if we needed to go in a different direction.  We started researching Foster Care and other similar types of opportunities to become parents.  We went to hear the lawyer the IAC uses do a talk at the agency on a Saturday morning just so we could basically feel like we were doing something proactive.

We wondered if our Dear Birthmother letter wasn't good.  We wondered if we needed to do more traditional paid advertising.  We wondered what the IAC was doing to help.  We wondered if we should hire another lawyer or agency to also work on this for us.  We had a pretty detailed laundry list of concerns that we were going bring to the IAC for our annual home study renewal check-in meeting, and then the flood gates opened in August...

We aren't sure why, but things started happening after two things -
1.  Adrienne found an abandoned baby bird in our driveway and we took care of it in a box we put in a tree until it flew away. 

2. Will posted this picture of the nursery we've slowly been assembling asking if anyone knew a baby who would like to live this room.  This actually generated a lot of viral response we weren't expecting.   

We know that those things were probably coincidences, but if you think they had something to do with it, nurse a baby bird back to health and post a pic of your empty nursery on social media if things are going slow in your adoption process.  If you just do those two things then you'll get an overwhelming amount of response like we did in August...

August was nuts.  Will refers to it as the most stressful and rigorous month of work he has ever had - all of his jobs culminated into major projects all at once.  He had to go to a radio conference in Chicago, he was opening a new $3Bill Fringe Show, and he was running a major tournament event for his soccer club for the first time.  Why not add on to that an inordinate number of calls from expectant mothers?

We received a call from a woman in Nebraska.  Adrienne talked to her briefly and then nothing.  THEN, we received a Facebook message from an expectant mother in Indiana who was due in October - more on that in just a second.  THEN, we received a call from an expectant mother in Indiana who had JUST GIVEN BIRTH - more on that in just a second.  Our agency then connected us with an expectant mother in Ohio who had requested our letter.  And Finally, remember that call I wrote about just a few paragraphs ago that took place in June?  Well, that expectant mother from Michigan called us back too - about a week before she was due.

Here is the insane story about how all of this played out - adoption is not an easy road, friends:

The expectant mother from Indiana who was due in October was definitely pregnant (an important thing to know for sure before moving forward because sometimes they aren't!).  We even met her for dinner once, and she seemed very nice, but with a few eccentricities.  Upon receiving more information, the IAC determined that they would not work with this woman due to some things they had found in her history.   They would not work with her because we are doing an open adoption, and in an open adoption, to one extent or another, there will be some kind of relationship between the birth mom and the adoptive parents and the agency.  The IAC felt like these issues (based on history of dealing with them) would prevent this woman from maintaining a positive relationship with us and the agency...POTENTIALLY - no one really knows for sure if there would've been any issues at all.  So, this left us in the awkward position of having to decide whether or not we wanted to move forward on our own without the agency's support and just hire a lawyer at an additional expense to help us complete this adoption.  This was a very difficult decision for us because this was the first time that we thought that we had a real opportunity to match with an expectant mother.  Ultimately, no agency support and a lot of uncertainty about the situation lead us away from this opportunity, but it was so incredibly hard to even consider walking away from this chance.  We couldn't believe that our first real chance to become parents was a situation that our agency wouldn't support.  We spent several days sorting through the information, consulting with our families and agency representatives, and trying to find ways to make it work, but after many of hours of exhaustive practical and emotional analysis, we concluded that it just wasn't right for us.  And on top of that, we suddenly had a lot of other expectant mothers calling us simultaneously...

So then, there was the Indiana Birthmom who called us who had just given birth:  She was in the hospital with a new baby.  Her friend sent Will a Facebook message while he was on the air around 7:30am requesting the link to our adoption profile, and Will replied with the link.  This happens all of the time, so he thought nothing of it.  At 10am, Adrienne received an emotional phone call from this woman.  She had just given birth at 4am, she was considering adoption as an option but the baby came earlier than she expected it to and so she had not gotten far in the process.  After this conversation, we notified the IAC, and they simply told us to wait for more information.  From this point forward, we had a couple of more conversations with the friend who FB messaged Will, and she gave us updates as the day progressed.  By the end of the day, the woman was having meetings with the hospital counselors and by the next morning, she decided to parent.  But, it was a crazy 24 hours for us to think that we might have had to have prepared to have a baby in our house that fast.  Also, incredibly exciting and ultimately disappointing...  which, if we are being honest about the adoption process, is kind of how this always works.  Just when you think you can get excited, there is always something that will most likely disrupt that feeling... usually in a big way.

Speaking of ups and downs and things that happen more regularly in the adoption process than they should - let's talk about the expectant mother from Michigan.  She first called us in June and told us she was due on September 11th.  She and Adrienne had what seemed like a great conversation.  Then - she disappeared.  Usually this happens because once an expectant mother has a conversation with a real person on the other end, the prospect of adoption becomes suddenly very real for her and all of those emotions and considerations come pouring to the surface.  Many reconsider adoption at this point from what we understand.  In our case, we don't know for sure, but most of the time when this happens it means they have made a different choice. Well, she called us back for the second time about a week before she was due just a few weeks ago.  At this point, we had moved on in our minds, but again, the opportunity to adopt is something HAVE TO always consider - we never know how many chances we are going to get.  We felt like we weren't going to have any chances based on how the year up until this point had gone.  SO NOW, we were talking to the expectant mother in Indiana, had been connected to an expectant mother in Ohio, and now had a call from an expectant mother in Michigan due in a week.  

 We went from absolutely no prospects in May, June, and July to THREE VERY REAL prospects in 
August, and for the first week in September were having very elaborate conversations about what direction we needed to go in.  Who do we choose and how?!  HONESTLY, we wanted to say, "Give us all three!"  But you can't do that, and I'm sure all you parents are laughing at us right now saying, "How about you try one first before making such a bold claim?"

Well,  here's what happened... Without the agency's support, we had to move away from the Indiana birthmom - the IAC made sure she was supported by other organizations to assure she could pursue an adoption elsewhere.  AND THEN, the expectant mother in Michigan sounded like an amazing immediately gratifying opportunity and would have been much faster for us, but when we attempted to reach back out to her, she essentially became unavailable AGAIN.  Knowing she was due in a week or two did not seem to generate the same amount of urgency for her and as it did for us.  And keep in mind that we knew nothing about her - health, history, background, etc.  There IS A TON to establish with birthmoms and adoptive parents before the due date and we were hoping that we would get the responses we needed to trust and understand her and feel comfortable moving forward in this kind of relationship with her. Not to mention that the laws in Michigan would require us to stay there for 2-3 weeks awaiting clearance to cross state lines and come home, on very short notice.   Unfortunately, we never did get the conversation we needed to have with her so all of this excitement has still left us in the same position... Waiting.  It has definitely been a learning experience.

All the while, we haven't really felt comfortable talking about anything, which is why there have been a lack of posts. We've shared with our families, and gotten some advice throughout this process, but it's really hard to talk about something that is so uncertain.  It's also difficult to go through all of this in such secrecy or to celebrate any small victory like a regular pregnancy.  We don't want to talk about it and get people's hopes up, or worse yet, have to explain how or why things didn't work out.  It's not like being pregnant and having a pretty good idea of what's going to happen in 9 months.  Nothing is certain until all the papers are signed - which, by the way, is months after the baby is born and in your home.  So many hurdles left!  

Don't worry, there is still more to tell, but this post is super long.  We'll continue the updates very soon! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Little Southern Indiana Vaca

It's probably time for a bit of an update.  We have finally given ourselves some down time and taken a little vacation through southern Indiana.  We chose to check out a few in-state areas that people have always told us were neat, but we have never been. 
We started with a trip to Madison, Indiana on the Ohio River where we stayed in Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park.  We enjoyed some small hikes to the waterfalls.  We walked along the river.  We ate great food at cute local restaurants - The Hollywood Tavern and Grill and the Crystal and Jules to name a couple.  We went shopping and enjoyed the views from our hotel room balcony. How could I forget watching the US vs Germany World Cup soccer match?  We have watched almost every World Cup soccer match that has been on in various bars and hotel rooms across the state.
Broadway Fountain Madison, IN - Make a Wish!
On one of the rides at Holiday World
See the falls behind us!
We left after a few days and drove across the southern part of the state to the western corner for a day at Holiday World and Spashin' Safari.  I (Adrienne) have become a little wary of thrill rides and roller coasters, but that is why Will is a good match for me.  He makes sure I have fun, and we rode several rides.  I made sure to safely watch our belongings as he rode the Voyage and the Legend.  My favorite was the Raging Rapids.  Not too rapid and you get wet and cool off :) They also have a "Turkey Gobbler" which is like the Buzz Lightyear ride at Magic Kingdom where you shoot turkey targets - I had the high score! 
Holiday World Carousel
The Seymour Reunion Band
The back roads of America
From there we crossed back through southern Indiana to Seymour for the evening to watch Will's dad's band play at his 50th high school class reunion.  Will's dad plays the piano / organ / keyboard in the band.  They were the life of the party.  I think they were glad to have us there for support.  We spent the night about an hour away at Monroe Reservoir near Bloomington, IN.  It was a little rainy this weekend so we stayed in mostly, doing some shopping, getting a massage and yet again watching soccer.  We met up with my aunt and cousin for dinner one night to visit and catch up.
Our final stop on our road trip was two nights at West Baden Springs hotel courtesy of my parents who wanted to treat us to something nice to celebrate our anniversary (a month early).  They've been to West Baden and French Lick hotels and really enjoy them and wanted us to see what it was all about.  We did a little gambling in the casino - Will won $60 - we went to the pool, had lovely meals, walked in the beautiful gardens and grounds and yes, yet again, watched World Cup soccer.

 We'd like to think we've become rather experienced at the "selfie" on this trip.  What do you think? 
The one thing we know for sure is that this trip would have been a whole lot more fun and interesting with a little one in tow to share it with.   We'll try to post some more about what we've been up to this summer in the near future!

~Adrienne & Will

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring = Garage Sale Season!!

Spring has finally sprung in Central Indiana and you know what that means....


We had such success last year, that we are hosting our first garage sale of the season to raise funds for our adoption.  We have raised enough funds to get started, but we need to be able to cover unexpected expenses like hospital fees, lawyer costs and be prepared for any curve ball that might stand between us and our son or daughter!

Come visit us Friday and Saturday May 2nd and 3rd 2014!!!


The garage is overflowing again this year with awesome donations and treasures!  
Come on by and check out our newest stash of household items, clothes, toys, furniture and much more.  We've gotten many great donations again from friends and family.  
photo from last year's garage sale - This year's date is 5/2-5/3!!

photo from last year's garage sale!!
Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook!!

Please share our information with anyone and everyone!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

We're On Instagram!

You an now follow us on instagram!!
We hope to use this account to network and help spread the word and find the right woman or couple considering an adoption plan for their child.  We will share inspirational quotes, and other images related to adoption and our family plans!


We are also getting ready to start another round of spring fundraisers.  So look for upcoming posts and information about how you can help!  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How To Contact Us!! {Adrienne & Will Open Adoption}

Hello Blogisphere, Internet, WorldWideWeb, etc.,

I wanted to just take a quick second and say thank you to all of the people who have offered their support and suggestions as we work up to the one year mark of this blog, and this adoption journey.  I noticed that a lot of people have been suggesting agencies and attorneys to us as they learn of our adoption plans.  We certainly love and appreciate all of the information, I think it is good to know all of the options.  But, it occurred to me that people may not realize that we are already working with an adoption agency out of Indianapolis.  I guess we need to make it more obvious on our various online platforms, so here is my attempt!  Our agency, the Independent Adoption Center is nationwide.  We feel like we have a pretty good network on our side. Below is a link to our online profile with the Independent Adoption Center.

A long time ago, we had to weigh the options, educate ourselves about the process and send away for information packets on all types of family planning options (IVF, Surrogacy, clomid, private adoption, law firms, foster care system, and on and on.)  Our minds continue to be open and decisions are fluid, but we think we have made the right decision for us and our family right now.  
Right now our adoption goals include: an open adoption plan with an expectant mother & father if possible.  These days, the hope is to create a relationship with an expectant mother in the months leading up to the birth of her child.  We hope to get to know each other and build a strong foundation of trust, mutual respect, and love.  The agency is available to help us on our way, but the relationship is ours to develop. 

We are hoping to adopt an infant from within the United States.  We are open to options that include some drug &/or alcohol exposure.  We are not limiting on race or ethnicity.  If you know of someone, or you yourself are considering adoption, or would like to know more, please contact us, read our online profile or call our agency.  Our phone # is below and it rings directly to our cell phones!  (pretty cool).  The agency number is below as well, if you are just wanting  preliminary information or counseling.  

We have a Facebook page to share information and help network with potential birthparents.  We can also be contacted this way.

We are happy to receive emails as well at our designated adoption email account also!
(click the icon below to open an email browser window)

All of our decisions have been made after careful consideration and weighing of all options that we feel will work for our family.  The best help we can receive at this time is sharing our story, and word of mouth discussions about the great gift of adoption within your personal and professional circles.  You never know who is out there looking for an answer to an unplanned pregnancy.  We hope to offer the gift of security and love to another family.  We know we are ready to love and parent children.  We know our family will grow someday! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In The Meantime

Yes, the waiting process is very hard, but as we've said, we try to keep busy.  I wanted to follow up the serious posts with a few of the fun things we've been up to.  Some families wait years before matching or finalizing an adoption with their child.  We have no clue what the future holds for us, we hope very much that we will not have to wait long, but in the meantime, we have to go on with our lives and stay sane by doing what we do best.  We love our jobs, we are ambitious people with an entrepreneurial spirit.
In November and December we worked very hard getting a new photography studio ready for the new year.  We kept it a secret from our friends and family and revealed it on Thanksgiving!  Adrienne celebrated her birthday with a Grand Opening in January! Check it out!

Of course we love the holidays.  We decorated our tree and our family room.  Unfortunately the weather changed so quickly that we never got our outdoor lights up.  Our Christmas tree may or may not still be up in our front window.  Adrienne made sure to watch all the holiday classics on TV - her favorite being White Christmas.  Will and his comedy group put up a hilarious Christmas sketch show called "Waiting Up."  Every night was sold out!  We got these cute mugs from Adrienne's cousin.

We went to the Justin Timberlake concert in December as well.  Everything is better with JT, am I right? 
We also just got back from a ski trip for Will's work.  Will is the adventurous one of the two of us.  He did well skiing the slopes, Adrienne took the introductory course and was just happy to not fall!

We are planning a trip for this spring.  We've gotten tickets for one of Adrienne's favorite bands, Nickel Creek, and hope to make a vacation out of the trip to Chicago!!

As always, we are hoping for a call or a contact from the right person who is open, ready, and willing to help us complete our family.  We hope it happens sooner rather than later.  Every day we watch other people parent, some well, and some not so well, and we get more and more eager for our chance.  We think we can do a pretty good job.  (The state of Indiana concurs.)  We just want to be given a chance to do our best.

~Adrienne & Will

Monday, January 27, 2014

Part II: Dear Birthmother Letter, Approval, Waiting, Cool Stuff for Us, Scammers, and Statistics!

Now that you've read about what it was like getting our Dear Birthmother Letter produced, approved, and posted live so that we could officially become available to be selected as adoptive parents through the IAC, let's talk about what that means and what has happened with all of that and us since November.

We have been live for two, almost three, months now.  This means our iheartadoption website/profile is available to be found by potential birthmothers considering adoption and the IAC has a stack of our Dear Birthmother Letter brochures to send out to any mother they do an intake on who matches our adoptive profile.  And that's it.   This is what they call "The Baby Wait."

We wait.  And while we wait, we pretend like our lives are exactly the same and try not to dwell on how much we really want something to happen.  We stay busy.  For example, Adrienne decided that it was time to take her photography business out of our house and into it's own commercial space.  In November, we found the perfect place in Avon, signed a lease, renovated the entire space in two weeks by ourselves, and revealed the Adrienne Nicole Photography Studio to our families on Thanksgiving Day.  She was unofficially taking photos at her studio in December and just this past weekend had her official grand opening to the public!  She had two newspaper articles about it and is picking up clients left and right.  For me, it was business as usual - we did all the Smiley Morning Show holiday stuff, Three Dollar Bill Comedy produced another sell out Christmas Show for The IndyFringe Theatre, I finalized plans for USA of Indiana's winter soccer training for our travel teams, and made 2014 plans / continued producing The Will Show Podcast / Radio Show.  We realized that this adoption thing is going to unfold at its own pace and as much control as we would love to have over the developments, until something happens or there is a break-through of some sort, we just have to keep moving forward with all of our regular ambitions.  In fact, we are happy to be busy with all of these things that we love because otherwise we'd be going crazy about there not being many developments on the baby front.  We are the type of people who like to go make thin
gs happen, but with adoption, it seems like it pretty much just has to happen to you.  We accept that it'll happen when it is supposed to.            

That's not to say nothing has happened!  A couple of things have happened. Since going live at the beginning of November, we have had 2 or 3 phone calls to our adoption line, been "selected as a favorite family" on our website two times, and have exchanged emails with one scammer lady in Ohio.  All of these leads have essentially amounted to nothing beyond fueling our hope for a short amount of time.  It at least confirms the fact that we are findable as a couple looking to adopt.  To be fair, we were told that this is how it works - a lot of leads, not a lot of developments.  So, we've rolled with those punches, and it really hasn't bothered us that much.

I had the forethought to grab a screen shot during an actual phone call.  
Adrienne took the calls on our adoption line.  One was inquiring on behalf of a friend or an acquaintance whom we never heard from again.  One was an actual expectant mother who left us a message and never called us back after our attempts to reach her.  And, I think one was just a no message hang up.  We did find out that our 1-800 number must have been associated with some herbal pill company before it went out of business because we have received a couple of calls from people "lookin' for their pills!"

From Adrienne: The first time the phone rang, and really every time, I stare at the phone, take  inventory of if I have a pen and paper available and if I'm even in a position to speak and give enough time to the phone conversation.  It never fails that it rings when I am in the bathroom or have my hands full coming in from the car.  I let the first few calls go to voicemail because my heart was beating so fast, I had no clue what to say.  Luckily they were wrong numbers or telemarketers.  I've since been able to answer the phone and say, "I'm sorry you've got the wrong number, we don't sell vitamins."  ha!  and at least practice how I will answer.  It is definitely nerve-wracking!

As far as being selected as a "favorite family," we have no idea what the implications are for that exactly.  It just means we were starred or liked or bookmarked by someone who read our iheartadoption profile online.  It could be a real potential birth mom OR it could be a crazy scammer lady like the one we dealt with for one day right before the new year.

So, here is that story:  We received this email in our iheartadoption inbox from this lady, we'll call her "N" from Ohio (as much as we want to call her out, she's obviously going through something to make her want to act like this.  Also future potential birth mothers or expectant mothers need not worry).  Her note seemed a little odd because it was about two sentences long and offered way too much detail about the pregnancy up front - as if to answer the questions we would have asked next before we asked them.  We kind of thought it was fishy, but we entertained the communication as if it were real.  We constructed these emails back and forth to establish a rapport and get some more information.  We gathered enough info to google her and found out her approximate age and a link to her facebook page.  After seeing some strange stuff on her FB and discovering that she was older, we definitely became suspicious, but we continued the email conversation to the point where we asked if the IAC could contact her.  She actually said yes!  It wasn't five minutes later that we received a phone call from the IAC telling us that this lady was a habitual scammer who had done this to other couples on the iheartadoption site.  She apparently does it for the attention or fun or something.  I guess she was so good at saying the right things, that in October, she even got so far as to send a fake ultra-sound picture to the IAC as proof of pregnancy for intake.  Obviously, she was quickly discovered to be mentally ill, but because she really isn't breaking any laws, this woman is still out there.  For us, we decided that it was good practice in constructing casual inviting emails to establish rapport and an important reminder about how careful you need to be when developing these new relationships.

I guess the last part to talk about are our statistics!  That's right!  The IAC sends out stats every month about how many of your Dear Birthmother Letters they've sent out and how many matches they have made within the agency.  Well, in November, our first month of being live, the IAC sent out... DRUM ROLL PLEASE...  0, yes ZERO, of our letters!  Lol!   So, not great.  All that means is that there were no potential birthmothers within the IAC database who matched our adoptive profile.  Maybe December will be better...  we still haven't seen those stats.  I guess it takes a full month later to get them.

Oh, one last funny thing!  At Thanksgiving, we finally got around to sending thank you notes to everyone who helped us raise our adoption funds in the Spring and Summer of last year through our garage sales and fundraisers and donations.  We are happy to say that we made our last payment to our agency in November and have enough left in the adoption account to cover the next payment we have to make when we match with a birthmother in the future.  So, sorry for the delay in your note, but we couldn't think of a better time than over Thanksgiving to let you all know how very thankful and appreciative we are of you and your support.  We couldn't have gotten this far without many friends and family and acquaintances and kind strangers who have helped.  This journey is far from over, but we've come a long way, and it certainly would not have been possible without all of you.

AND... if you know someone who is pregnant and considering adoption, send them our way this year!  You'll get a bigger card for that. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Part I: Dear Birthmother Letter, Approval, Waiting, Cool Stuff for Us, Scammers, and Statistics!

Okay!  We're back with our quarterly update!  LOL.  Sorry about our blog deficiency!  We are lagging bloggers.  Our intentions for this were far more ambitious, and we intended to immediately update you all on every little detail as it happened.  But man!  Some of these steps are so drawn out and you work so hard to get them completed that the last thing you want to do is rehash them immediately in writing.  The end of 2013 was really busy for us in a lot of great ways (which we'll update you on as well!), but we totally procrastinated on our adoption blogging.  But now, here's what you've all been waiting for - an update from October 2013 to NOW (MLK Day 2014) - a day we both have off to catch up!

At the end of the last entry, I said I would talk about our experience writing our Dear Birthmother Letter.  We probably didn't want to write about it then because we were so OVER the whole process.  This was, by far, the most frustrating step so far... not because it is hard to create, but because of the process the agency has in place to get it approved.  In case you don't know, the Dear Birthmother Letter is basically a produced brochure displaying how wonderful and great and fun and responsible and loving you are.  It is a quick overview and look into your life to demonstrate the kind of great home and parenting you could give a child.  The agency keeps many copies of this brochure on file and sends it out to potential birthmothers who match your adoptive profile (the adoptive profile is a set of criteria you have defined for the type of baby and mother you are looking for:  health, race, religion, drug-use, etc.).  One final catch to this:  you are not live on the website or considered as an available couple to be selected for adoption through the agency until this letter is done and approved!  SO… 

Outside of blogging, we are pretty efficient, quick-turnaround, proactive, A-type, task-accomplishing personalities.  We do not suffer delay and inefficiency very well.  (Unless we're busy catching up on all seasons of Game of Thrones or American Pickers, or Pawn Stars, or Downton Abbey, or… well, I digress).  When we decide to do something, we dig in and do it right away, and we do our best to do it well.  So, the first half of writing this letter where we had control of the timeline and effort went well very for us.  We sat down with the IAC's binder, it showed us an outline with the sections we had to write toward with some specific wording guidelines and tips, we split up the writing duties, wrote our first drafts, traded, proof read, edited, emulated other Dear Birthmother Letters we liked, and after several rounds of that, together we honed this letter down to the 950 word document with 10-12 pictures that we would now submit to the IAC's editor.  Now, keep in mind, we did our entire first draft over the course of two evenings at the beginning of September - almost immediately after our home study was approved.  And in our minds we were like, "WE GOT THIS!  We're going to be live on the website before October!"

Some of our favorite images from the cutting room floor.
Apparently sunglasses and helmets are frowned upon! :)


NOW, this is where it gets hairy...  The IAC has one letter editor.  He is based at the IAC headquarters in California.  We were told and also read that each time you submit a draft to the IAC editor, he will take a week to get back to you with notes and revisions.  So, we knew up front that we wanted to submit a nearly perfect first draft to expedite the process.  We hoped for only one or two rounds and felt that two or three weeks to get approval was a fair estimate for producing a document in the digital age of communication and production.  We understood that it was worth the wait to receive professional insight to crafting our language and design to be the most appealing and effective to potential birthmothers.  After all, we are marketing ourselves, and this editor, we're told, knows how to do this best.  So, we submitted our first draft letter and pictures via a dropbox account at the beginning of September.  We agreed to immediately make any suggested changes right away and resubmit as quickly as possible after receiving feedback.  Our thought was that an immediate edit and response would, in some way, quicken the editor's timeline on the other end.  We would reset our week clock as soon as possible and maybe be the beneficiaries of quicker feedback or approval.  

Well, we discovered that the IAC editor takes every single bit of the week turn-around to offer feedback.  We are talking end-of-business Pacific Time on a Friday evening no matter what day of the previous week you submitted.  But, it was probably going to be worth the wait, right?  Well, a week later, what we thought was going to be some revelatory edits and suggestions ended up being only one or two suggestions for consolidating sections and titling one section differently.  It wasn't revelatory and definitely didn't take a week to write the feedback, but we guess it was good because the time we took to write it right the first time paid off.  So, no real edits, just re-organization.  That was easy!  Within five minutes of receiving his email, we resubmitted our second draft with everything corrected from his two suggestions.  In fact, we completed it so fast, we naively thought that he might've even still been looking at his email.  MAYBE JUST MAYBE he would even give us the thumbs up that same night seeing as how it took us less than 5 minutes to respond - he might just quickly go in, see that we made the corrections, and say we were good to go.

NOPE.  Cut to the end of business Pacific Time that next Friday.  Approved.  Seven more days for a simple approval.  Now we are basically two and a half weeks into this process since we finished our first draft.  It may be our own personal problem that we are frustrated by delays like this, but for the feedback we received, it was hard for us to comprehend why it took so long.  I get that he is one guy for many couples doing this, but I still chuckle at the idea of telling people in this day and age that it'll take seven days for me to do anything let alone correct two sentences.  "Hey Will, can you cut the promos for tomorrow?"  "Sure, I'll have tomorrow's promos to you in seven days.  Sound good?"  "But in seven days, tomorrow will be like six yesterdays ago."       

And this wasn't the end of the process.  We still had to get the DESIGN (graphics, colors, layout, fonts, etc.) of our letter approved by the same editor.  Luckily, Adrienne had been working on that the whole time while we were waiting for our language and pictures to be approved. SO, the same Friday that we got our language and pictures approved, we immediately submitted our fully designed letter.  Same deal - the same hour we received the editor's email, we submitted our full design back to him.

You guessed it.  Cut to the end of business Pacific Time that next Friday.  3 weeks now - we are in October at this point.  Again, the editor made just a couple of suggestions that were mainly subjective in nature - nothing that really seemed to indicate that once fixed would be more appealing to a prospective birthmother.  I guess we were hoping for some expert insight based on historic data or research or experience like, "We've found that these color combinations along with this font style and layout seem to generate more positive feelings and matches in expectant mothers."  Even though the feedback wasn't that detailed, we felt good that the edits were easy for us to correct.  We faithfully made the suggested corrections and resubmitted.  Same night.

So, we didn't get an email that next Friday.  And this is the end of the 4th week.  Remember, we thought that we would be done with this, approved, live on the website, and be an available couple to be chosen by a birthmother by the beginning of October.  No such luck.  On this particular Friday, we discovered that the editor had left for vacation during the week and was going to be gone for a week.  GEEZ.  Cut to Friday of the 5th week.  No email.  Finally, at the beginning of the next week - this is the start of week 6 - we received an email that said that our design had been approved and that we needed to print a proof for our local agency representative.  Yes!  Finally.  Sort of.

The printing process could have also been complicated had we used the online company that was recommended in the binder.  It was going to take a full week to send one proof and then another two or three weeks to receive the 50 copies we needed to send to the IAC headquarters in California.  I'll spare you the details, but luckily we found a local printer here in Avon - Rogers Marketing and Printing - that printed a proof in one afternoon.  We dropped that proof off at our local IAC agency the next day.  Within the week, it was approved.  We immediately had Rogers print 100 copies which they easily completed in one day.  I overnight shipped them to the Central Letters office at The IAC.  By the 7th week, we were approved by the IAC to finish our iheartadoption profile.  By the 8th week, we finally received the email that said we were live on the website and now available to be matched with a birthmother through the agency.  SO, after two months of letter writing, one month of home study and the approval process, and one month of workshops / collecting and submitting personal data to the agency, we were finally actually really truly available to adopt a baby at the beginning of November!  I can't tell you how excited and relieved we were to read that email.   

Now the IAC would tell you that being live in 4 months from your workshops is relatively fast.  I would tell you that, for people like us who really tried to do everything to expedite the process, found it to be a real test in patience.  But now it is all done, we're live, and you can see the finished products here:

I apologize that this particular entry had maybe a negative vibe to it, but we made the choice to be as honest as possible about going through this process. At the beginning, a lot of people said this whole thing could be frustrating and challenging at times.  We felt some of that here, that's all.  It was more of a self-imposed frustration of wanting things to develop more quickly than it was the system not working as we were told the system would most likely work.  There are many more variables in play than we ever realized and nothing is as simple as it may appear to be.  There's not just a big room full of babies somewhere just waiting to be picked up by good people.  Everything has to line up just right, and we are learning that this could take awhile for that to happen.  But, we just roll with with punches, keep ourselves busy, and hope 2014 will be the year we add to our family.

Check out Part II of this update, where we will write about what it means to "be live" and tell you a couple of stories about calls and emails we received from potential birthmothers.  This will be the more positive part that includes "Cool Stuff For Us, Scammers, and Statistics."