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!