What now?

Our foster baby’s parents had court this week, and I’m no longer feeling good about our chances to adopt.

I’m having a hard time getting any answers from the social workers (which is SO FRUSTRATING), but it seems like the mom definitely has a newfound purpose to get her baby back. She also all of a sudden started buying tons of stuff and sending it home with the baby after visits (when she shows up, which has been pretty spotty, but I’m guessing that’s about to change as well). This week, she bought a new carseat and sent it home. I am really beginning to hate foster care, and the people who always suggest it as an avenue to build a family.

On the domestic infant adoption front, we just ran out of profile books again, exactly 6 weeks after they were available to expectant mothers. I would like to think we’re REALLY popular, but I think that due to our experiences with foster care and our suddenly comfortable financial situation, we’re just available as a choice to many, many more expectant mothers than most other couples. Which is good for our overall chances I guess. I’m really curious about how quickly other couples go through books. I feel like this is going to get very expensive very quickly and we may end up empty-handed. I’m just not feeling positive about our chances to ever have a family.

I have also decided that if I can make it work, I want to try to get my Asherman’s fixed. Not because I want to get pregnant (but I wouldn’t be upset if it happened), but because I’m tired of feeling so horrible 3 days out of every cycle. It really sucks. I would happily trade more bleeding for less pain. The only issue is that the closest specialist is a 6-to-8-hour drive or 1.5-hour flight (plus the whole airport rigmarole plus car rental etc) away. So if I did that, it would require very careful planning, especially if we still have a foster baby at the time. I’m not sure what to do.

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Another update :(

Just want to write a quick update. My friend who had her slam-dunk adoption baby went to court a month ago to cease services and change the goal to adoption. It was contested, and a new hearing was set for yesterday. The judge declined to change the goal and offered additional services and visits to the dad. I was shocked, and so was the social worker apparently. Since our hearing is next week, I texted my social worker to find out what’s been happening, since she told me she’d let me know right away if anything changed. Well, apparently two weeks ago, our baby’s mom decided to try to get her back. She hasn’t started services yet, but she’s in intake. I’m guessing she got the notification that they are trying to change the goal to adoption, and she panicked. Our social worker said she is still going to recommend adoption, but… our county’s judge really likes to give parents as many chances as they want. So now I’m incredibly nervous. On top of that, the paternal grandmother is now trying to get custody, although I’ve been told it’s unlikely.

My heart feels so heavy. For one thing, I don’t want to take a baby away from a mom who is willing and able to parent. I don’t know if this mom is able, and I’ve definitely got concerns about her willingness considering how long it’s taken her to make any effort whatsoever. But still… our poor baby. She will be 8 months old next week, and her parents have shown no interest in her until two weeks ago. D is really upset with the whole system. He still believes that we’ll be chosen for domestic infant adoption based on our profile alone. Considering my age and our lack of religion, I’m thinking our chances are really low. D also doesn’t want me to create an adoption website for us (and I’m not even sure it’s legal in our state). He’s tired of the waiting, tired of not knowing, tired of keeping our lives on hold. I don’t blame him. I’m tired of it too.

So what do we do now? I don’t really know.

Adoption questions

Can anyone explain how adoption profiling/matching works? We have our agency. We filled out all the questionnaires about our matching preferences, and we created our profile book (quick side question – should we create a profile website too? I feel like we should). Our first batch of books was printed and was shipped… somewhere? Then potential birth mothers go… somewhere? and somehow find out about us and request our book? I really don’t understand how this all works.

And the reason I’m asking is because this is the timeline of how it’s gone so far:

Mid-August – we finish everything and are available to be matched (I guess?)

August 29th – our first book is requested by a potential mother

September 27th – we get our first report, showing that 12 books have been requested so far. We are also #12 on our agency’s list (whatever that means)

November 20th – I inquire about our status since I haven’t heard anything in nearly two months

November 20th – I hear back from our agency that we are out of books and I get a report showing that all of our books have been gone since October 10th!!! I immediately request more books to be printed and ask to be notified more quickly when we run out, because that’s a little ridiculous.

November 29th – I get an email that our books are printed and on their way to… wherever they go after they are printed. I don’t know where this is, honestly.

So basically we ran out of books (28 from the first printing) in 6 weeks, and then we spent over 6 more weeks without books and NO ONE TOLD US! Apparently no one told our agency either. What I don’t understand is WHO is supposed to be telling our agency? Or should our agency be requesting reports more regularly?

It seems like our profile is popular, as far as I can tell. That seems like a good thing. I’m really sad and a little upset that we went so long without profile books, but I’m happy that I got it sorted out quickly once I found out. And it’s not a huge deal because…

We have a new baby in the house. We were called by a supervising social worker a month ago about a baby that needed a new foster home. She didn’t give us much information at all, other than that they were planning to recommend adoption at the next hearing. Of course, that’s not a guarantee of anything. I have a foster parent friend who has had a foster baby for about 9 months and it was supposed to be a slam-dunk for adoption. Mom wasn’t interested in parenting, Dad wasn’t doing anything to get the baby, and then a few weeks before the hearing he suddenly started doing what he was supposed to do (or at least making an effort – I don’t really know the details). My friend is heartbroken, and even though she supports reunification, to have come so far and then suddenly have it pulled away is hard. And there’s no guarantee that the dad will actually follow through. From what I’ve heard, he really doesn’t seem the type, and he also doesn’t seem like a safe person to have a baby. But it can literally all change in an instant.

Anyway, our current baby is 6 months old, absolutely adorable, and likely headed for adoption and I’m counting down the weeks until the hearing when we’ll have a better idea of what’s going to happen. Having been through this process so many times, I have to say the worst part is just not knowing.

What’s next? Maybe surrogacy?

I think I may be done with foster care. I just can’t do it anymore. There was a call this week for 2-year-old twins and their 1-year-old sister, and I so badly wanted to call back and take them, but then I thought about having to say good-bye again and I just couldn’t do it. If we had a forever baby already, then maybe I could. I have loved having all of the little ones we’ve had, it was SO much fun. Our house was full of love and happiness. But to go from three little ones to an empty house again? Nope.

We’re still waiting to get picked for domestic infant adoption. Honestly, we haven’t been waiting that long, less than two months. It’s hard to wait and not know what’s going to happen, and I worry about never being chosen since I just turned 40 and I know that’s not an appealing number to birth moms.

We recently received half of my inheritance, and I will be receiving the other half relatively soon. It’s more than enough to pay for surrogacy with egg donation (either from my sister or someone else). Surrogacy never appealed to me in the past, considering how many kids there are that need homes, and the insane cost, but now that we can afford it and knowing the ridiculous competition for both domestic infant adoption AND foster care adoption of kids under 3, it’s starting to seem silly to not move ahead with surrogacy and let others who don’t have surrogacy as an option have a better chance of adopting.

Yes, we could adopt an older child, but I know enough know to admit that it’s not for me. I have a hard time seeing kids older than 3 (maybe even 2 and a half) as anything other than “someone else’s child.” And I don’t really like other people’s kids that much. I don’t know why I feel that way. Maybe if/when I have children of my own and I watch them grow up past that age, I won’t feel that way, but right now I do. It’s funny, because once they get a bit older, like high school age, I stop thinking of them as “someone else’s kid”, maybe because I stop thinking of them as kids and start thinking of them as proto-adults, but I really enjoyed the time I spent mentoring high school kids and when I’m older I wouldn’t mind fostering teenagers, I think.

But right now, I really just want to start with a baby. And have them stick around. So I’m thinking freeze some embryos, wait a bit to see what happens with adoption, and then maybe start looking for a surrogate.

A needed vacation

I’m currently on my way back from a much-needed vacation in Iceland. It was seriously awesome. I mean, it was cold and windy and it rained quite a bit (and even snowed!), and driving could be terrifying at times because the highways were narrow with no shoulders and sometimes even UNPAVED (and I did all the driving, in a tiny little car), but it was so incredibly beautiful. I’m definitely a mountains and snow person, and not an ocean person, which was really driven home when we stayed in a tiny little fishing village in the north and it just felt so isolated and lonely and sad, and then when we drove back down south over a desolate mountain pass where it had snowed the night before, all I could think was how beautiful and peaceful it was.

Anyway, there were mountains and glaciers and waterfalls and hot springs and geysers and even some northern lights (and I’m seriously annoyed with D that I didn’t get to enjoy the northern lights more but that’s a story for another day). It was spectacular.

I got an email last night as we were packing to leave with our first report for adoption matching. Our profile book was requested 12 times in about 3 weeks. I’m thinking that’s good? I have to say, the one thing that vacation was good for was getting my mind off thinking about if/when we’d be chosen. The suspense is killing me!

And the day before we got the report, I got a phone call for a newborn foster baby. I didn’t answer, since we weren’t really in a position to take a baby (and D is completely out of vacation time). We’re not ready to take another foster baby, and we may never be honestly. I’m not sure why they called us directly, unless it was some special circumstance. I hope it wasn’t a direct-to-adoption case, because then I’d be kicking myself, so it’s probably better that I don’t know. But afterwards I saw people posting about how they wanted that baby. People who currently have foster babies, under a year old, who are going to adoption. People who already have multiple kids. I can’t help but feel like the foster community can be kind of greedy when it comes to babies. Most of the foster parents I know want to adopt. Every single foster parent I know already has kids, but they will all fight tooth and nail to get the babies who need homes (and they rarely take the older kids, even though they’re far better equipped for it than D and I). It’s so frustrating, and it makes me glad we’re pursuing domestic infant adoption. I hate the feeling of this desperate fight over babies.

Moving forward with adoption

I’m going to start by saying I think we made the wrong decision. Maybe. I’m still excited about domestic adoption, and I really, really hope it works for us. We’re expecting our profile to be available to expectant mothers by the end of the month! D is convinced we will be picked very quickly. I know the heartache that so many others have been through, so while I’m still hopeful, I’m a bit more realistic. I honestly don’t know WHY I still have hope after everything we’ve been through, but I guess that’s my nature.

Why do I think we made the wrong decision? Well, I thought for sure I’d want a newborn. We made the decision right before we had any foster babies. At that point, our youngest foster baby had come to us at 20 months. I love her still (and I get to see her still!), but a year later I was sure we’d never have a baby and I ached for a baby. The fact that an international adopted child wouldn’t come home until the age of 2 was really frustrating to me. Then we got N at 8.5 months, and that was awesome! I loved that age! I love that baby still, and I know I’ll probably never see him again. Six weeks later we got R at 6.5 months, and he was slightly delayed at the time, but that was a really fun age too. It made me think we had made the right decision to stick with domestic adoption over international adoption. And I still wanted a newborn, at least once in my life.

Then all our babies went home, and magically we got our newborn three weeks later, after almost two years of being foster parents. This was frustrating to me, as almost everyone we’d met through the whole foster approval process had taken in a newborn within a few months, and the vast majority of them were adopting (as a matter of fact, the only foster parents I’ve met who AREN’T adopting are the ones who are infertile – all the adopters have children of their own). And while our little newborn has gone to live with her family (who are capable of taking care of her, so yay!), I had my chance to have a newborn. And I’ve decided I think I like slightly older babies better, say 3-4 months. Luckily, newborns grow into 3-month-olds and 6-month-olds and 9-month-olds, so getting a newborn will still be awesome.

But I’m on a mailing list for international children who need families, and while the vast majority of them have cases that are too difficult for us to handle with two working parents, a two-story home, and limited family help, in the last few weeks we’ve received notifications for quite a few whose only health issue is that they have limb differences. D works with kids who have limb differences, he volunteers at a camp for kids with limb differences, and he has a limb difference himself. He actually works with a lot of kids who have been adopted from other countries, who were available for adoption because of their limb differences. When the older kids find out he’s trying to adopt, they always advocate for him to adopt from their home country (it’s pretty sweet actually). We’ve already decided that we want to do it, hopefully for our second child (since we’re still hoping domestic adoption works out for us for a first child). But knowing that the kids coming from other countries will be at least two years old, it makes me wonder if we’re doing this all out of order. Should we have done international adoption first? How long should we wait after adopting domestically (fingers crossed) before we try to adopt internationally? I just turned 40, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up

Some thoughts on a newborn after (but really during) infertility

Having been through five years of infertility and counting, and six foster kids in less than two years, and attempting to adopt a newborn, and finally getting to parent a newborn for almost six weeks (while working full time!) I can say this pretty definitively: caring for a newborn is nothing compared to the minor hell of infertility or the major hell of foster care/trying to adopt. It’s actually quite delightful in comparison. Baby snuggles are the best.

Anyway. I’m 40 today, and expecting my latest foster baby to leave today also. I’m feeling very defeated.