Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yosemite National Park: New Years Eve 2011

Our friend Jen gave us a generous gift of money so we could enjoy California while we waited for our baby to be born.  This was very thoughtful because we were beginning to get stressed out financially, knowing we were staying longer than planned.

After sleeping in pretty late (we had been up since 2 am the night before), we decided to drive 2 hours to Yosemite National Park.  The drive there was nerve racking because we kept losing cell service.  We were so afraid that the birth mom would go into labor and not be able to reach us.  We did talk to Cole on the phone while we had decent service and caught him up on our visit with the birth parents.  The drive there was really cool because we got to see a different landscape then we were used to.  It had been foggy in the morning but as the afternoon wore on and we were further northeast, the clearer it got. There were rolling hills along really curvy roads with steep descents as we winded through the valleys.

As we got closer, we still keep going in and out of service and were frustrated.  As we actually got into the park, our service got much better and we were able to relax and enjoy our afternoon there.  It was pretty chilly, about 40's in the shade and low 50's in the sun.  It was a great thing we had our fleece and jacket. We hiked around and found a visitor center where we asked a guide about an easy, yet scenic trail we could hike on.  We wished we could have done one of the longer more strenuous trails, but we didn't have the appropriate shoes (flew out there with my Toms and Brett's casual brown shoes) and my back was bothering me from the plane and car rides.

We decided to hike to Lower Yosemite Falls where we could see the view of the tallest waterfall in North America and actually hike up to the lower portion of it.   It was a very easy hike to the falls and was stunning to see the waterfall from a distance!   We then saw we could hike up the rocks to get super close to the lower portion.  We ventured up the rocks climbing over all of these huge boulders.  I only slipped twice!  (didn't hurt myself though :))  I camped out on this great boulder I found that had a stunning view of the falls.  Brett decided to be more adventurous than me and climb closer to the actual water.  He made it up to the lower pool and took some awesome videos.  I stayed back and photographed the falls and him climbing around.

Brett climbing around. 

Brett is the little white speck on the left hand side in the middle. 

Walking back from the falls, we saw these calm domesticated deer that were just hanging out in the tall grasses near the trail.  They let us come extremely close to them and never budged.  There were signs that said do not feed them!  We saw 5 in total and one was huge according to Brett.  He had a big rack that was like 16 points. :)

We also stopped at Ansel Adams photography gallery located in the park.   We picked out a small black and white photograph of the falls we hiked to for Owen's nursery.

We were on a hunt for a penny machine where we could get a souvenir penny.  We have been collecting these pennies since we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  We have pennies from vacations and places we have been throughout our almost 9 year marriage.  We found a penny machine at the souvenier shop.  The pennies we collect on this trip will one day be the most special to us!

After grabbing a snack, we decided to drive around the park and saw the half dome mountain top that was pretty amazing.  It started getting dark so then decided to head home.  It was so refreshing to be out in the cool air getting some exercise after traveling the whole day before.

We arrived back at our hotel in the evening and where exhausted but decided that it was still New Years Eve and we needed to go out and celebrate.  We got ready and went to Cool Hand Lukes Steakhouse and Saloon next to our hotel.  There signature dish they served with every meal was Jalapeno Baked Beans in a iron kettle which were surprisingly very good.  We had a great meal and watched some football on TV.  We went back to our hotel, watched New Years celebration in New York City on TV, and feel asleep before the ball even dropped (California time)!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Meeting the Birth Parents

What a day so far!  We flew out to California in the middle of the night.  Got here and realized the birth was a false alarm, and now we are going to meet the wonderful birth parents so gracious to pick us to parent their child.  We were so nervous sitting in the booth waiting for the four of them to arrive.  The birth father's parents were coming along with the birth mother and father. They had seem lots of pictures and videos of us from our profile but we had never seen them.

We had gotten a short description from the paperwork of what they looked like and were so excited to see them for the first time.  We told the hostess that we didn't know who we were meeting but that one in the party of four would be pregnant so they said they'd keep the eyes open.

They showed up, we greeting them and then talking began.  It was obvious how much they all loved each other and how much they all were in support of the adoption.  They told us how long they reviewed adoptive parents profiles and how much thought they took into picking the right parents to adopt their baby.  We told them how honored we were that they chose us.  That we would spend the rest of our lives making sure they made the right decision.

It definitely gave us some great insight into the whole adoption process.  All the things we mulled on and were worried about really didn't hold a candle to the burden the birth parents bear in choosing who will be raising their child for the rest of their lives.

They were curious about our house and the neighborhood we live in.  The birth father said it looked really cool in the pictures, but his mom was a little confused on the layout of our neighborhood because it isn't a traditional suburban neighborhood.  They were curious about how the nursery is going, and we explained how its setup will occur once we finish the basement.  Until then we plan to keep the baby's crib in our room so the guest room is available for our grandparents, siblings and friends can stay with us.  We shared how we have been working feverishly on the basement so our family and friends could come and visit and care for and love the baby as he grows up.

It was glaringly obvious that the birth parents are so mature in their decision for giving up their child for adoption.  We really question how we would have been able to handle this situation at their age.  They are very strong and love the baby so much; they know the best thing for him is to let another set of parents raise him.  And we are the ones so blessed to accept the gift. :)

The birth parents are the sweetest and cutest two teenagers ever!  All of our fears melted away upon seeing them and hanging out with them for the two hours.  We are so lucky to have had that experience and chance to get to know them prior to the birth.

 The restaurant where we ate. (taken the next day)

We sat at the booth in the back left hand corner. 

The False Alarm

Once we arrived we got our baggage, our rental car, and made the drive to Modesto, California to find a hotel and get settled before heading to the hospital.  Cole told us to just hold tight as we got all the information from the hospital.  

We found a hotel in Turlock, CA that was an extended stay hotel with a kitchen in every room.  We decided on Candlewood Suites and got all of our stuff settled and freshened up so we could head to the hospital when ever we got the green light.   We got antsy and decided to head over to Modesto (which was just about a 10-15 minute drive from our hotel).  We drove around for awhile updating everyone and getting super excited about seeing the birth parents for the first time. 

Cole then called and informed us that the doctors had finished doing all kinds of tests and her water breaking was a false alarm and that she was just leaking fluid.  They made sure she and the baby were healthy, checked his heart rate and made sure he was moving around.  They actually told her that he was incredible active!  Cole told us that the doctors thought she would go into labor in the days to come but if she didn't they would induce her on Wednesday.  So, we decided to stay in California because she could go anytime and we wouldn't want to miss the birth for anything.  He also told us that they really wanted to meet us and hang out.  He gave us her phone number and told us it was okay to call and set something up.  

We immediately called her (after running to the store to get a car phone charger) and she told us the story of her hospital trip again.  She unnecessarily apologized for this being a false alarm and was really sweet on the phone.  She reassured us that everything was fine with the baby and all she wanted was for him to come out when we has safe, health, and ready.  She asked us to meet them for dinner in about 30 minutes at a place right near where we were located.  

We met her, the birth father, and his parents for dinner at BJ's restaurant in Modesto, California.  It's a nice microbrewery/restaurant that is part of a very nice outdoor shopping center.  

The 2:00am Phone Call

We went to bed that night (Thursday-the day my sister and Will arrived) around midnight and were hoping to sleep in late.  Instead, my cell rang at about 2:00 am and we were totally sound asleep.  I don't even remember the phone ringing.  It was Cole from American telling us that the birth mother's water broke and to start to make plans to head to the airport.  He told us he would keep us updated throughout the night and morning and we didn't have to crazy rush but that we get ready to travel!

We were so excited and couldn't believe this was actually happening!  Although we were really tired, we jumped up and started packing.  (Actually, Brett asked if he could go back to bed for awhile first...:))  I had already started packing all of my stuff and the stuff for the baby so the majority was ready to go.  I went and woke up Laura and Will and they got up to help us out.

I don't know what I would have done without them!  They kept us calm and grounded as we tried to remember everything.  Brett got on the computer and booked a flight that left at 5:50 am to San Francisco with a layover in Denver.  Will got our car seat out of the box and detached from its base and packaged up so we could check it as part of our baggage.  We decided to fly with a little portable baby bed Elizabeth and I found at Babies'R'Us instead of lugging the whole pack'n'play.  Otherwise, we packed just the bare essentials for us as far as clothes and toiletries since we would just be hanging out in the hotel room.  We packed lots of outfits, sleep sacks, blankets, and bottles for the baby-thinking that we could buy stuff when we got out there.

Laura and Will drove us to the airport to catch our flight at 5:50 am.  I can't explain how perfect the timing was for them to be there to drive us to the airport and take care of things around our house after we were gone.  We will forever be grateful to them for everything they did!

The flight to Denver was smooth and uneventful.  I think we were just tired and both in shock that this was actually happening and that we would be meeting our son later that day.

When we arrived at our delay in Denver, we found out that our next flight was a little delayed and we had some time to catch our breath.  We heard from Cole that she wasn't at the hospital yet, that she was going to her doctor's appointment first.  He then told us that this could have not been her water breaking and just a leakage or "accident" and to hold tight and we would get back to us.  He texted us a little later and said that all systems were a go and that her contractions were only about 15 minutes apart so she still wasn't at the hospital yet but would call us when they got there.

While we waited for our flight I updated everybody!  Here is a picture of him drinking a beer at 8:30 am (to us it felt like much later since we had been up since 2:00 am and were up until midnight the night before) on our layover in Denver while booking our rental car for arrival in San Francisco!  The bartender actually brought out a second round for him, but as a responsible "dad-to-be" he declined :)

We got on our flight and headed to San Francisco.  On this 2 hour flight we both began our journals that we will one day be able to share with our son of the journey we took to get him!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Amazing, Supportive Family and Friends

We will never be able to thank and show our full appreciation to all of our family and friends who have embraced our situation as their own.  We have an unbelievable network of support around us that love us and are willing to do anything for us.  This baby is going to be so lucky to be part of the O'Daniell/Driscoll clan!

From the first phone call everyone of our family members and friends offered their help on anything from giving us baby stuff, taking us shopping, helping us with the house and basement, to helping me with my school work.  The day we got the initial phone call the Talbert's even invited us over for some yummy dessert.  It was so nice to hang out with them, Riley and, Jack and enjoy the moment.

We spent the first weekend in Chicago for Christmas and my parents and Laura and Will showered us with baby gifts as "special Christmas presents".  It really became real to us when opening the little lovey, rubber ducky, toys, and fleece orange and blue snowsuit from my dad.  It brought tears to my eyes that they were so thoughtful.  My mom hasn't been able to drive since the accident due to her neck brace so she said she was dying to go shopping after they got the phone call.  Laura and Will arrived at my parents a couple hours before we did that Friday and right when they got there Laura turned around and took my mom shopping for the baby!

The morning after Christmas day my mom, sister, and I went shopping to look at /buy some of the bigger items I needed to possibly travel with.  We went to Buy Buy Baby, which is an amazing baby store by the way, and spent the morning shopping and looking around.  When it was all said and done, we (my mom and sister) bought our stroller (via Elizabeth's research) , pack'n'play, car seat, a blanket, outfit, socks, a hat, and Sophie the Giraffe.  It was so nice to be able to spend that time with them just the three of us!

When we arrived back home, Brett went back to work and I became very busy trying to get the house in order before I went back to school the next week.  Elizabeth, Liam, and Annie came over on Wednesday afternoon and took me shopping at Babies R Us.  She helped me register for some more stuff and gave me all kinds of advice on a variety of baby items!

Laura and Will decided to make the trip down to St. Louis later that week to help us out in the basement and around the house.  They came on Thursday afternoon and Will immediately got to work vacuuming the dry wall dust down in the basement (god love him :)) to get ready to lay the floor.  Laura and I went grocery shopping, did laundry, and straightened up around the house.  The floor then got delivered later in the afternoon.  Ryan came over to help unload along with Will, Laura and I.  It was a team effort and we got it all into the basement before Brett got home from work.  Melanie brought a delicious dinner over and we all ate and hung out with the kids for the evening.  It was such a great time to for Laura and Will to get to know the Talberts.  The guys all worked in the garage painting all the trim and doors for the basement.

Melanie also gave us our first hand made gift for the baby.  A gorgeous and soft knitted hat!!  I had been dying to make him one but hadn't found the time.  It was killing me that he wouldn't have a hand made hat to wear right after birth.  What a precious gift with perfect timing!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Phone Call with the birth parents

We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to talk with the birth parents on a conference call on Friday, December 23.  The birth mother counselor, Cole, set up the call for all four of us to be on including him at 2:00pm.  Brett came home from work so we could be together on speaker phone to talk to them.  We also spoke with our counselor before hand and she gave us great advice on what to say, ask and how to do so.  That conversation just mostly reassured us that we needed to follow our instincts and just go with the phone call.

We talked with them for about 50 minutes and had great conversation.  They seemed like such super sweet, genuine, and mature people.  Of course, I cried in the beginning trying to express to them how thankful we were that they chose us and how much this meant to us.  We talked about things like what we wanted to name him, what color the nursery was going to be, their interests, why they chose us, her family situation (not supportive), how open they wanted to be, and how her pregnancy has been.  We were all nervous at first.  The counselors had told us that it would be like being on a blind first date.  We all loosened up after a while and the conversation flowed smoothly.

They are open to having an "open adoption" which is what we want as well.  They are comfortable with letters, phone calls, pictures, and e-mails.  They want to keep the visits open ended because they only want to meet if him if he wants to meet them.  They want it to be his choice when he is older--which is very mature of them.  They also asked permission to give the baby some gifts when he is born and as they gather stuff along the way after his birth--also so mature of them to ask us. :)

One of the first questions they asked us was what names we were thinking of.  We told them our name and asked them what they were thinking.  They told us a name they each liked.  It obviously was something they both cared about a lot for it to be the first thing they asked.  Brett and I talked about after the phone call and decided that we liked both of the names they came up with as middle names so we would let them choose the middle name.

During the conversation, she called the baby "our baby".  Hearing that was the most amazing thing ever.  It brought up so much emotion in me, I almost wasn't able to hold it back.  It was so reassuring for us to hear her say that.  I am sure she will never know it, but that one comment calmed my heart so much and allowed us to "jump in" with two feet and embrace them and our baby!

We were given each others e-mail addresses at the end of the conversation and told that we could talk back and forth as long as we copied the counselor.

We then packed the car and headed to Chicago for the Christmas weekend with my family.  It was so exciting to be able to be hours away from sharing the joy of our news with them face to face!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Hours/Days After the Call....

In the hours and days after the call, we had so much fun sharing the good news with our family and friends.  It was so positively overwhelming to hear everyone's reactions to our good news.  We can't begin to express how much we are supported and loved by everyone around us.  The day we got the call was Megan's Grandmother's birthday and it was so awesome to call her to give her the news.  She said it was the best present ever and that it made her year!

This good news was just what both of our sides really needed.  2011 was a great year with many gifts,  but it didn't treat our family so well in the medical department.  My sister hit her head and got a traumatic brain injury that she is still recovering from, my dad continued to battle life in a wheel chair, my mom was in a bad car accident and fractured her neck, Brett's grandma was in and out of the hospital, and our sister-in-law has been battling a serious back injury and has been laid up for months awaiting major surgery.  So, needless to say.....this was the BEST NEWS EVER!! Everyone in our family needed and deserved such happy news!

Brett's grandma was in the hospital and he was able to tell her over the phone at the same time he told his parents.  She was so excited. She said, "I wanted another boy, I wasn't going to say anything about it but I'm so happy we get another boy!"  She's been battling pneuomia and TIAs and is back home now, but she says the thought of meeting the little guy is helping get her through it all.

We got all of the documents sent over to us that day and were able to have them signed and notarized by that afternoon as well as the full budget amount transfered over to the agency.  Brett working at a bank has it's benefits!  We also got the birthparents a card and each wrote them a note that was over-nighted to the agency along with all the original documents.

Since we are currently finishing the basement, Brett went into overdrive working feverishly down there.  We knew that we only had a couple of weeks to try to get it as completed as possible before the baby came.  I also used my time off to get as much done around the house as I could.  I had gotten the "nesting" bug just days before the call and had already started cleaning and organizing the house.

We are making the nursery upstairs into what is now the guest bedroom.  In order to complete the nursery we have to remove all the furniture in it and bring it down to the new guest bedroom in the basement.  This is the main reason we have to get our basement finished as soon as possible.  Also so family and friends can come to stay with us and visit the baby!

The basement in progress...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Christmas Present Ever

We received our "call" on Wednesday, December 21, 2011.  I had just given the green light for our profile video and told American (the adoption agency) that they could post it on our website Wednesday morning.  I went upstairs to work in my art room, then about 10 minutes later the phone rang with a phone number that had American Adoption's area code. For a second, I thought it was them calling about the video but when I picked it up it only took my seconds to realize it wasn't.

It was Cole, a birth mother counselor, on the other end of the phone line.  He told me that he had a match for us and wanted to tell me the details.  My heart stopped in that instance and I was so overwhelmed with excitement, joy, and anxiety as I listened to the details.  I knew that I should stop him and tell him to call Brett so he could tell both of us at the same time, but I couldn't bare not to here the details as fast as I could.  Cole told me all about the birth parents and how perfect of a situation this was for us.  He also filled me in on the medical history and legal information surrounding this adoption.  All sounded like the perfect fit for us.

After hearing everything, I called Brett at work crying and tried to tell him everything.  It was difficult for me to get it all out so we called Cole back and he told us everything again.  He told us that the birth parents were due on Jan. 11th with a baby boy and they were located in California about 2 hours east of San Francisco. He also told us that they were a young couple who just wanted a better life than they could provide for their son.  He said they were sweethearts and a joy to work with.  We couldn't have been happier with this news.

This was really the best Christmas present ever!

Check out our video above that was posted to our profile: or go to Our Profile at American Adoptions and click on the video tab at the top of our profile!

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's all part of our story...

We have been waiting now for about 2 months...On one hand I can't believe how fast the time is flying by (it is November already!) and on the other hand the days feel like they creep by just waiting for that phone call.  I am sure all adoptive parents experienced these difficult times in the months they waited...

We did get a presented with a very complicated situation about 6 weeks ago that eventually did not workout for a variety of reasons.  It was a really enduring time for us but we know in our hearts that our baby is out there and will find us soon.   While we were researching and learning about the situation, we quickly learned how blessed we are to live in a city with such great hospitals and world-wide recognized specialists.  It is amazing (and comforting) to know there are so many caring and helpful individuals and institutions dedicated to the health and well being of children.

During this time we were really hit over the head with the financial obligation of having a child, especially if other conditions arise that demand more financial support than anticipated.  It also reminded us how quickly this all could happen and quickly our lives will change once we become parents.  While stressful, it all makes us that much more determined and hopeful to grow our family through adoption.   The path to become parents is never a smooth sailing one for anyone and we realize our situation is no different.  Everyone has a story and this is just a chapter in ours...

We are involved in so many things through out the day to pass the time.  Brett is working really hard on finishing our basement so our guests will have a place to stay and I am continuing to put all my creative efforts into our hopesodreams business.  We are also beginning to gather some necessary baby items and start to think about the nursery.  Maybe one day soon, we will actually decide on a paint color and begin to change the extra bedroom.

The other distraction we have had these past months has been the Cardinals in the playoffs!  We feel so lucky and blessed to live in such an awesome sports town.  It has been so exciting (just what we needed) watching the Cards win the World Series.  We even got to go to the best game in world series history...Game 6.  I can't describe how awesome it was to be among the 47,000 people going crazy in Bush Stadium that night.  What a way to get your mind off of things...

We are still working on our adoption video that will eventually be posted on our website.  It seemed a whole lot easier to film ourselves being interviewed for the potential birth parents in theory.  To actually sit down and talk to the camera is a bit scary for me.  We have already filmed a bunch of "short spots"  showing activities we love, aspects of our lives, and us interacting with children.  We have also interviewed some family and friends and just need to complete our interviews and a few more short spots.  Hopefully by the end of the week/weekend we will be ready to send in the video to the specialists at the agency who will work their magic with us.  After they finish a 5 minute glimpse our our life, it will be be posted on the website along with our profile for potential birth mothers.

We have also been busy researching and writing a grant through the organization Help Us Adopt.  An adoptive mom started this as a way to help people with the financial struggles adoption brings.  We spent many hours working on the application and will find out in December sometime if we are able to receive some assistance.  Regardless, we feel strongly about this organization and would love to give back to them when we are back on our feet one day.  Check it out at


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Now we wait...

Brett and I are officially active as of today!  We are so exited and hopeful about the months to come.    But as a very young Tom Petty once said, "The waiting is the hardest part..."

Our profile is now online and being sent to all prospective birth mothers who we match with.  The online profile includes more pictures and information than the partial printed profile from our previous post.  Here is the link to our online profile with the agency:

We know we don't look like this couple,
but its a descriptive picture of how we feel :) 
We have been keeping busy getting ready for our future baby.  I have gone shopping with my friends and my mom.  At first, Babies R Us overwhelmed us but now (thanks to my friends) we have a handle on what we need for those first few weeks in a hotel room.  I am working on our emergency baby bag.  I have bought most of the necessary stuff - now I just need to get it all in a bag.  :)

I have a friend at work that gave me her pack 'n play and another friend who knows somebody getting rid of all of her baby stuff.  Everything is really in perspective for us and it is more apparent than ever that God has a plan for us.  We are really lucky to be one of the last to have kids in our circle of friends.  

The thing that gets me the most is that baby things are not gender neutral at all these days!  I am trying to buy several outfits that our child might fit in those first few days and can't seem to find anything neutral.  Our baby is going to look a little boyish regardless of the sex.

Our counselor at the agency has told us not to have a shower before we bring a baby home.  They don't want us to associate stuff with a particular baby and then be even more heart broken if the birth mom changes her mind at the last minute.

Although we are theoretically anywhere from 1 to 9 months "pregnant", the whole situation is odd for us since we are not "physically pregnant".  We are looking into taking a "new baby" class at the local hospital and are anxious that we will probably be the only ones not actually pregnant.  We just ordered a book to help us through the first few weeks in a hotel room with just us "three" but are still scared that we won't know what to do with our brand new infant.

We look forward to the support of our friends and family to help us through!   Thanks so everyone who has been there for us through this incredible journey!

Megan and Brett

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Really, really close to being "on the market"

Earlier this week we learned that our social worker assigned to us to do our "home study" had completed the report and her supervisor has approved us to adopt.  So now the paperwork is in route to the Adoption Agency.  That is great news, because the American Adoptions just finalized all of the other paper work we had to complete.  

American Adoptions has completed our "family profile" which they will give to prospective birth parents who are in the process of selecting a family to adopt their child.  The first 2 pages of the profile are included at the bottom of this message.  Once American Adoptions processes the report from the social worker, then the only thing left will be to pay the "adoption activation fee," and then we will be "active."  So we should be actively on the market almost any day!

The adoption agency did a wonderful job putting together our "family profile."  We are very happy with it. We can also do a "video profile," which costs more money but it isn't required.  While we work on the video, our "family profile" will be shown to prospective birth parents, so it will not delay the adoption process.  The adoption agency has told us the many birth parents really like the "video profiles" so it should increase our chances of being "chosen."

So the process works like this, its kind of like online dating.  Our information is put into computer software which is matched up with perspective birth parents who fit similar requests and preferences as the adoptive parents.  They are shown 15-20 profiles and then choose one.

Once we are active (which could be anyday now) we could get the call that we have been selected as parents.   Then one of two things could happen.   One scenario: Since we are willing to do an open or semi-open adoption, the birth mother may still be months or weeks away from giving birth.  In that case we would make every effort to travel to wherever the birth parents are, so we can meet them.  Then we would go back again when the baby is born.  Second scenario: The agency calls and tells us that the a birth mother choose us and her baby has already been born and we have to travel within 24 hours to the state where the baby is.

In either scenario, we have to be ready to stop what we are doing, and jump on a plane to travel to the birth mother once the baby is born.  Our employers are aware of this and very generous with us in knowing that we could be leaving town on a whim.  In most states we have to stay in the state for 2-3 weeks after the baby is born before we bring the baby home.  

So needless to say the upcoming days, weeks and months are going to be very exciting and nerve-racking!  

Below are a couple pages from our "family profile" that the adoption agency put together for us.  So the birth parents will be looking at profiles like ours from 15+ other prospective adoptive parents.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We are "Paperwork Pregnant"

Brett and I are what the adoption world calls "paperwork pregnant".  We have actually been paperwork pregnant for several months as we have moved through all the steps of this long process.

I am proud to say that it is now more or less out of our hands.  We have finished all of our end of the paperwork and submitted it to the agency.  We also have gotten approved to adopt via our home study and are just waiting on the final report.  The agency is now working on our "profile".  This profile is a collection of our thoughts on a variety of questions and pictures we took and collected.  Their media specialists put it together to look really nice and then it is posted online on the agencies page.  It is also sent out to birth mothers that we are a potential match with based on criteria that we filled out in the last round of paperwork.  These birth mothers will get to view about 15-20 potential matches for them and then choose one.

Once our profile is active, we will let everyone know the website so they can check out what we look like "on paper".

The last step of this "paperwork" process is for us to complete a video that will be seen as part of our profile online.  We can still become "active" before the video is finished.  The agency is in the process of sending us the video kit so we can create our clips for them to put together into a 5 minute snapshot of us and our life.

We went out to celebrate one step completed last weekend by going out for a really nice dinner and then going into our first baby store as potential parents.  I have to say that we were incredibly overwhelmed and anyone who has kids can relate to us about their "first time" as well.  Fortunately, I have incredible friends and they have helped me out by going back to the store and educating me on everything I will need in the beginning.

I want to acknowledge Brett in this whole process.  He has been so supportive and aware of my feelings.  I couldn't ask for a better husband and a better future daddy!  :)

Thanks so everyone in our life for their support and comfort.  We couldn't do this without you!

More to come about the waiting part of this process...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lots accomplished today!

We got a lot of steps completed today in our adoption process.  We now have our APQ (Adoption Planning Questionaire) complete with the adoption agency.  It essentially is "Phase 2" of the adoption process.  Now the agency has to follow-up with us to confirm everything we included and then we will move on to "Phase 3."  We received the APQ a few weeks ago to complete, and although we got a good jumpstart, it really raised a lot of discussion points for us to make sure we were on the same page with.

In this phase we had to determine what type of communication with the birth parents we are comfortable with.  We have agreed to be very open with the birth parents.  There were 20ish essay questions. Many of the questions deal with making sure we understand how the "match process" works and how we will be "presented to birth parents."  Other questions are more to confirm what type of research on adoption we have done involving reading and also talking to support groups, friends and family.

To give you a specific example, here is one of the questions.  "Have you considered how you will discuss your child's adoption with him/her?"  Here is our response:  We will talk about from an early age with the child how he/she did not grow in his/her mother's belly but that he/she is our child. The child will be so comfortable with that fact that it will be second nature. We have already purchased multiple children's books related to the adoption process and we plan to start reading them with our child at any early age. Megan will make a "book" for the child explaining all we know about the birth parents and the child's adoption story. This will be in place of a typical baby book. We will make a point to have the child involved in the adoption of a pet at an early age to insure that he/she feels very close and a part of the pet's life.  

An example of another of the 20 essay questions is "What are your biggest fears/concerns about the adoption process at this time?  Here is our response:  Uncertainty to when it will happen, how it will happen, and how quickly we will bond with the child. We realize no matter how concerned we are about the situation, the birth parents are going through something even more significant. We'd love the chance to get to know the birth parents to ease their both of our fears, but realize that they might not want that kind of contact.

We had to specifically decide on what races we are comfortable with adopting.  One of the biggest discussions we've had regarding all of this is to determine what we are comfortable with regarding substance use and frequency on behalf of the birth mother.  With this adoption agency we have to be open to daily cigarette usage which is apparently overwhelmingly common with unplanned pregnancies.  Also, we had to choose how much Alcohol, Marijuana, Amphetamines, Anti-Depressants, etc. usage by the birth mother we are comfortable with.   When you take in consideration how many times you hear of someone not knowing they are pregnant and having a drink, it puts this question more into perspective.  Also, considering the amount of people out there dealing with ADD, depression and other common disorders, it becomes very cloudy as to what a typical pregnant mother might expose their child, whether the pregnancy is planned or not.  

The APQ requested more typical questions like what types of hobbies we do together, how we plan to pay for the adoption, as well as where we work and what we do and things like that.  The "Home Study" social worker who we met with for the first time last week, will be verifying similar information like this independently as well.  The meeting last week with her went very well, and we were able to get her 80% of the information that was needed.   We've gotten the rest of it complete, and now that the APQ is done, Megan will schedule the next (and final) meeting with her tomorrow.  Then (pending the social worker's approval) we will be moving on to the next step!  

What is the next step?  Good question.  The adoption agency will be sending us a "Phase 3" packet which will request tons of information regarding what Megan and I do specifically in our lives.  This information (including pictures and videos) will be what is presented to birth parents to help them decide whether they can relate to us and then ultimately determine if they want us to adopt their child or not.  Our hobbies, our favorite things to do, family activities, favorite movies, and things like is the type of information that will help the birth parents determine if we are a good fit or not.   We've gotten a head start on that as well, we've been taking pictures (with help from friends and family) as well as discussing all our favorite things like "what is your favorite holiday movie?" (Christmas Vacation for Brett & Christmas Story for Megan if you were wondering.)  

In addition to all of the adoption process stuff we have going on, Megan is preparing to sell Hopes O Dreams merchandise this Sunday at the Flea Market here in our Neighborhood.  Megan's friend Beth (and her family) are coming to visit us this weekend and she is going to help with Megan's booth at the Flea Market.  Beth is a Clothing Merchandising Guru with lots of experience managing Express retail stores, so Hopes O Dreams apparel will be properly (profitably) presented to the public.  Rumor has it that many of our friends from the Edwardsville/Collinsville area will be in attendance too, so its great to receive all of this great support we are getting from our wonderful friends. 

On top of all of that, we got the Building Permit approval from the City of St. Charles to complete our basement today.   Now construction can (officially) begin.  We got all of the lumber for the build-out moved into the basement this last weekend (with lots of help from Brother-In-Law Will and Megan's parents.)  God bless them for doing so much help in the 100 degree St. Louis weather.  My brother is tentatively planning to come down next weekend to help construct the walls.  The basement will play a big part in the adoption process since we will have more room for friends and family to come stay with us to visit and help nurture our soon-to-be child into our family!

Thanks again for reading, we are sincerely blessed to have so many friends and family members who are so supportive and helpful with this whole process,  Brett


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Busy times at our house

We've not been very good at updating this blog lately because we are very busy - but busy in a great way.  We get our first visit from the home study social worker early this week.  In preparation of her visit we got another packet of information ("Phase 2" - they call it) about a week ago with another round of forms to complete and information to gather up.

Birth certificates, marriage license, insurance cards, verification of employment, vaccination records (for Albert of course), medical and drivers licenses are just some of the documents we had to copy.   Those are actually some of the easier ones to get together (with the help of our employers, our parents and and Dr. Little at Elm Point Animal Hospital.)  The birth certificates we actually never have had to have for anything, but thank goodness our parents both kept them for us.

We also have to get Physicians Reports from our doctors which is a bit of challenge for me since I haven't seen a physician (other than the eye doctor and dentist) in nearly 4 years.  And that doctor moved to New York, so one of my big priorities right now is to get a new doctor soon.  We also had to complete a financial statement and document all of our assets, expenses and income.  The bank I work for requires this type of info all the time for people who want to borrow money, maybe I should propose to the Board of Directors that we open an adoption arm of the bank :)

We also got a safety list of required items for the house to adequately support children.  Good stuff that we should have had already, but we had to make a trip to Sam's and Lowe's for a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detectors (for each floor), and a lock for a closet door to store things you don't want children to get into.

This picture was taken from U2's stage Sunday night. The cool part is when we saw it we had just gotten a text about one of those births on July 17. Our dear friends gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Max Joseph! Congrats Rachel and Jake Germann!
In the meantime, we are working through some of the materials for Phase 3 which includes very specific details including things like what type of medical conditions of the birth parents we would be comfortable with for the adopted child.  The birth parents complete similar questionnaires regarding the adoptive parents as well, and then the agency enters all our information into computer software that makes matches.  Kind of like online dating.   There is enough information about that for it's own blog entry so I'll leave it at that for now.  

We also are gathering pictures of us doing the things we do and the places we go.  This all will be included in our profile that will be shown to prospective birth parents to help decide if they will choose us or not.   So as we go on bike rides, go to games, cook-out, exercise, hang out with friends and family we have to get more pictures, because the agency requests a lot of pictures to choose from.  Then we have our individual hobbies that we have to cover too.  Fun stuff, just lots to do.

On top of that, Megan is still working feverishly on baby clothes for friends and family and I have taken on the chore of finishing the basement.  I'm submitting plans this week to the city to get the permit, so construction will start soon.   We always planned to start and finish the basement once Megan got pregnant, but now we could realistically have a baby as quickly as 1 month after the home study is approved and our information is gathered.  So I've got to get to work so we have room for our friends and family to stay with us when the baby arrives!!!

We continue to lean heavily on family and friends for support and help to get us through this process.  We appreciate it and we can't express our gratitude enough.

Thanks for reading, Brett

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hopes O Dreams @ Old Campground Festival in New Lenox, IL

Our first big craft show on June 25th was a great success!  Thanks to my wonderful family (Mom, Dad, Laura, Will, Grandma, and our third cousin Emily) we were able to set up an attractive booth and enjoy a busy day at The United Methodist Church in New Lenox. Brett and I would never have been able to do this with out all the help. (Especially because all of my items were not finished and ready to go upon arriving in New Lenox.)  Laura and my Grandma were packaging greeting cards and even cutting off strings on the O'Burps (hand sewn baby burp cloths).  We were also very lucky to have the support of my childhood friends.  My biggest shoppers were some of my friends' moms spoiling their grandkids!  I even got to meet one of my great friend's 9 month old for the first time.

I brought my Cans O'Flowers (garden flowers made out of soup cans), O'Swaddles Wraps (soft, flannel swaddle blankets), tie-dye headbands, Greeting Cards with my designs, O'Burps, and my tie-dyed clothing items along with all my designs to iron on.  Our biggest seller was the baby onesies and the toddler and youth tie-dye shirts.  Due to the hard work and determination of Will and my mom, we were able to have electric ran to our booth so I could plug my iron in and customize the shirts.  Everyone had a great time making their purchases unique and in the future I will definitely offer the ability to customize at any other show I do.

It was also really great to share our adoption story with a variety of people.  I am a firm believer that we need to get our story out there because you just never know who might be listening!

Our next show is another Flea Market/Craft Fair in New Town on July 31st!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

hopes o dreams events

The neighborhood we live in hosted a "Flea Market" event a few weeks ago so we got a booth and brought out some of Megan's products to sell.  It was a rainy & cold Saturday morning which contributed to a very low turnout, but we still were blessed to sell some clothes and we got to share our story with a lot of our great neighbors.  We are very lucky to live in such a supportive community.  There is another Flea Market on Sunday, July 31st.

Equally as cool was that my parents came over the night before and worked their tails off well past midnight to help us get some products completed and ready to sell.  Then we were up and at 'em to get up the Flea Market for the 7am start time.  We couldn't thank my parents enough for all they have done to help.

We've got another opportunity June 25th in New Lenox, Illinois where Megan grew up.  Her parent's church is having its 36th Annual Old Campground Festival and we are going to do a booth there too.   Her parents have volunteered to come down in a few weeks to work in the "hopes o dreams" factory to help us prepare for that one too.  Megan's dad plays in the praise band at his church and will actually be playing a set of songs at the Art Fair, how cool is that?  Here is a YouTube video of the United Methodist Praise band.  Megan's dad Marty is on the far right.

On the Sunday before Memorial Day, Megan hosted a "tie dying" party at a friends house for her daughter's birthday.  She helped over 20 children tie die their own shirts and then put a custom design on each one.  The weather was great and the kids (and parents) were incredibly happy with the turnout.

thanks for reading, Brett

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the concept behind hopes o dreams

There is a bit of "baby fever" in the O'Daniell household these days.   Megan started tie dying shirts for a project at her school (she is an art teacher at Churchill Center & School for learning disabilites.)  She loved it so much, on the nights and weekends, she started tie dying baby onesies and shirts as gifts for some our friend's children.  Like us, many of our friends and co-workers are smack dab in the middle of the "prime-time" age for baby making.

The response has been so great, that we realized we could put all the proceeds from sales of products to help us create the family we have been dreaming of through adoption.  Many say by the time it is all said and done, we could spend well over $40,000 on the adoption.  We realize it is a huge financial commitment, and are very gracious to everyone who buys Megan's products.

Megan has been working franticly since her birthday (April 21) on "hope O dreams."  On her birthday we established the name.  Megan and Tami Cralleye were talking one day and they came up with the idea "hopes & dreams."  Megan and I took it a step further and decided to personalize it with a sprinkle of our last name, thus "hopes O dreams" was born.

Additionally on her birthday, we created the logo and bought the website address which now points to Megan's etsy account. She has uploaded dozens of her handmade products and adds more and more each week.   We underestimated the "custom order" aspect of all the products, but Megan has loved coming home each night from school and cranking out custom "baby o onesies."

School is out for Megan now, she is going to be helping at school for a week, and then she gets to spend the rest of the summer living and breathing "hopes o dreams."  She is so excited, and I can't say enough how lucky I am to be married to such a creative and loving person.

We both are so blessed to have so many caring and supportive friends, family and neighbors who are supporting us as we navigate through this very exciting time in our lives.

Thanks again for reading, Brett.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Received Our Adoption Packet Today!

Brett and I received our adoption packet today from American Adoptions!!!  YEAH!!!

In it was a big manual we need to read that explains the process and how to fill out all the necessary paperwork.  I actually read a lot of it while working out at the gym!!

It also included the home study packet to fill out along with the criminal, background, and child abuse forms.  We are currently filling out this information while enjoying the Cardinals (they are up against the Giants) and a glass of some excellent V. Sattui Cabrernet provided by the Stigalls! Thanks Elizabeth and Bill!

Photo from last night at Botanical Gardens
with Bill, Elizabeth and our God Child Liam.
The other part of the packet was a long form we have to fill out called the Adoption Planning Questionnaire.  This is completed online and is basically a ton of questions about our future child and our future birth parents.  It is where we basically hand pick a child.  It is very weird to have to check boxes indicating "yes" or "no" on a variety of questions that most parents don't have a say so in.  It includes anything from race, medical history of the birth parents, our adoption budget, how open we want the adoption to be, and a bunch of open-ended questions regarding our knowledge and thoughts about the process.  This will probably take the longest to complete and will require a lot of conversations between Brett and I.

There was also the information about creating a photo and video profile (which we are the most excited about).  We get to collect about 50 photographs about all aspects of our lives and submit them along with  some text about Brett and I as individuals and as a couple.  We submit all of this online and the agencies professionals put it together for our photo profile that is about a 4 page spread all about us.  This is what gets send to potential birth parents to market ourselves! :)  This part also includes a video camera that will be send to us after we send in the pictures to help us collect video clips of us, our neighborhood and our friends and family.  These clips are also put together by the agency's professionals as our video profile.  This is also sent to potential birth parents to help them make an informed decision.

This part of the process is what really sold me on this agency.  Potential birth parents only receive about 15 "matching families" and those family's photo and video profiles.  The agency has this awesome and complicated program that spits out matches based on all the criteria the birth mothers and the adoptive parents submit.  They are then send our profiles (video and 4 page spread) to help them make their decision.  I loved that the birth mothers get the opportunity to see us and hear about us along with all aspects of our lives. I also love that the stress of creating these items are taken off or us!  We have been through so much that the thought of how much stress Brett and I (being the creative perfectionists we are) would acquire in creating these items would put us over the edge.

So......if you are wondering what we are up to in the coming will be PAPERWORK! and of course working on items for our store on etsy!

We might we coming around to some of you for photos and video clips!

Thanks for reading and we can't thank you enough for your love and support!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Our journey begins...

We officially began the adoption process when we completed the adoption application for American Adoption Services on Saturday.  So the adoption process has officially begun for us.  It will be a long road and God only knows where the road will lead us.  But whatever that might be, we are very excited about it.

Once our application is processed, the next step will be to get an "adoption home study," which involves having our home inspected and approved that it is safe for our soon to be child.  Also involved are criminal and financial background checks, as well as personal background checks.  So eventually, friends and family members should be prepared to be called and "interviewed" about whether we would make good parents or not.  We will let you know when that time is near.  The whole "home study" process should take anywhere from 30-90 days.

Seems like we have been working towards creating a family forever.  We started trying to get pregnant nearly six years ago.  We got married in April of 2003, so we really have been working on this the majority of our marriage.  It's been a humbling experience for us, and ultimately has brought us much closer together.   Over the last year plus, we have done many IUIs to no avail.   The IUIs are extremely invasive, including injections and visits to the clinic and drugs with unpleasant side effects.  This post is from a male perspective, so please forgive me as I cannot accurately describe or express what Megan has gone through to this point.

Our pregnancy specialist suggests that the next step is in vetro as he insists neither of us are infertile.  The success rate of that can be anywhere from 35% - 65%.  Considering that in vetro is an even larger financial commitment than IUIs, we have decided that adoption is where fate is leading us.  Both adoption and in vetro can cost upwards to well over $20,000 apiece.  We have decided to use that financial commitment to adopt a child.  We have seriously considered in vetro and we respect and admire anyone anyone who chooses that route. 

Good time for a disclaimer here: These are the opinions of me, and I am not looking to offend anyone with my comments or thoughts (including my wife Megan).  We've definitely learned (and will continue to learn) that everyone who goes through any stage of any of this, will come to their own conclusions and suggestions.  We respect that whole heartedly and wish to hurt no ones feelings with anything we post on this blog.  This blog is purely an informational point of view from us, as we find ourselves talking and sharing with many friends and family members. 

We will share much more soon, but if you want a quick insight into a little more of what Megan has had going on recently, check out 

Thanks for reading.... Brett