domestic adoption

The Journey to Adopting our Sweet Zachary

Our sweet Zachary is now 12 weeks old so I figured it’s about time to share the story of how we were lucky enough to be chosen to be parents for a 2nd time through adoption.  I always find writing about our adoption stories tough because although we are over the moon to welcome another son into our lives, for Zachary’s birth parents comes pain and sorrow over this loss.  We will be eternally grateful to them and admire them so much for putting Zachary first.

Without talking much about Zachary’s birth parents (that’s Zachary’s story to share if he wants down the road), here is the amazing journey that brought our sweet, sweet boy into our lives.  This story was definitely a rollercoaster ride filled with highs and lows.

We were told it was harder to adopt a second time since a lot of birth parents choose couples without kids and while Chris was anxious to put our names into the ring in the fall of 2014, I was a bit hesitant.  I was in a great place at work, I’d wanted to put savings aside for the process and life was great.  I did agree to start the adoption process with Chris in December as the paperwork takes a while.  By February we were adopt ready and I was getting the ‘itch’ to have a baby again – it amazes me how fast it can come on.  Too bad we were told it would take longer this time around.

At the end of February I received a phone call through our Canada Adopts online profile from a birth mother due in 2 weeks.  She lived in another province so I needed to call an adoption practitioner with experience adopting out of province.  To make a long story short, this adoption didn’t work out and while on the phone with the adoption practitioner to discuss it she asked if we had one of our adoption profiles we could send her.  She wanted to present us to a couple the next day.  We felt like it was a long shot and perhaps her just wanting us to feel hopeful again.  Normally birth couples pick an adoptive couple within a couple of days so after 2 weeks of not hearing anything we figured they had either changed their minds or chosen someone else.

The Highs

Fast forward to March 24th – I’m at a pub with my best friend enjoying a nice big glass of wine when at 10:00pm my phone rings.  It’s the adoption practitioner.  She asks if we’re really adopt ready and when we leave for Florida.  We were leaving that Friday (3 days away) to have one last trip before Jackson turned two.   The bizarre thing about it was that was exactly what had happened with Jackson’s adoption – we had a trip booked to Florida when we heard the news we’d been chosen.  She said the birth mom of the couple we were presented to was in labour and while we hadn’t been chosen officially, she was pretty sure we were the top choice.

I run home and wake Chris up to tell him.  Chris is pretty out of it when he’s woken up and didn’t really understand haha.  He had thought the birth couple had chosen a different route.  It wasn’t until the next morning that he started asking questions.

The official phone call came at 2pm on the 25th.  Zachary had been born on the 24th and we were officially chosen [insert happy dance combined with holy cow we are about to be parents of 2 boys, 23 months apart].  The next step was to drive to Ottawa on the Thursday to meet the birth parents and make sure they did want to move forward with us.  We were all set to cancel Florida but everyone wanted us to take the trip, especially since Jackson had asked ‘airplane day?’ every day that week.  Talk about a chaotic 10 hours – we had to find a sitter for Jackson, take the dog 40 minutes away to where he was staying while we were in Florida, finish the laundry, pack for Florida, tie up the loose ends at work so we could go on vacation, tell my boss our news that I could be leaving work in just a couple of weeks (gulp!) and think of baby boy names (the last one was the fun part!).  The good thing about the adoption process is the adrenaline you get and not needing to sleep. Plus, why not start to get ourselves prepared for little sleep with a baby right?!

The meeting with the birth parents went really well.  They’re amazing people and we instantly felt a connection to them.  It was definitely a nerve-wracking process still as you don’t want to say the wrong thing or do anything to have them change their minds and the whole time you’re worried they will.  The interesting thing we learned was one of the reasons they picked us was because we are in an open adoption with Jackson and they saw how happy he looked in our pictures.  They also liked that we travel.  We then drove back to Toronto Thursday night, Chris drove the babysitter across Toronto to her house and I finished packing.

Needless to say Florida was a much needed break and great to spend some last one-on-one time with Jackson before becoming a big brother but it was also a very nerve-wracking week.  Birth parents sign adoption consents 7 days after the baby is born and then have an additional 21 days to change their minds.  We were still in the early days with a long road ahead.

The Lows

This time the adoption waiting period was absolutely brutal.  I can’t imagine what the birth parents go through during this whole process and in our case some second thoughts on their end were happening.  Because of all the uncertainty and having Jackson at home, Zachary stayed in an extremely loving foster home in Ottawa until the waiting period was up.   We did get to go visit him and received email updates with pictures.

During this waiting period, our lowest low of our two adoptions happened.  We were going to see Zachary for a 2nd time when we were told it might be best to drive back to Toronto from Ottawa as things weren’t looking good.  Chris and I were devastated, especially as there had been a possibility we would bring Zachary home that day, had all our gear in the trunk and had told Jackson about ‘Baby Zack’ coming home so he’d be prepared (luckily he hadn’t come on any trips to Ottawa at this point).  We got into the car and started a somber drive home…….for about 20 minutes and then pumped the tunes and sang and danced (well I chair danced, Chris does air drums) and knew that if it’s meant to be, it will be.

Sure enough, after two more grueling weeks it was meant to be.  We drove to Ottawa the day the waiting period expired with our fingers and toes crossed that our phones would not ring with bad news and they didn’t (yippeeeeee!).  On Thursday, April 23rd, with Jackson, we went picked Zachary up and brought him home with us.

Having Zachary in our lives was worth every minute of the process and we couldn’t be more in love.  Jackson is the best big brother and we are so blessed to be lucky enough to have such two amazing boys so close in age.  Everything really does happen for a reason.

Advertisements

A letter to my son during the adoption waiting period

We have only met once but it was love at first sight.  I am not yet 100% sure you will get to come home with us and grow up in our loving home but I pray that you do.  I know that no matter what happens you will be loved by many, many people.

There are only 8 more days until we will know for sure and all I wish is the best for you whatever that destiny may be.

We think about you every day so even though we can’t have you in our home yet, know that you are definitely in our hearts.  Jackson says Baby Zack every day and ‘brother’.  It’s really sweet.

Although 8 days seems like a lifetime right now, we know it will pass quickly.  After all, vacations of 8 days always seem so short don’t they?

All we can do is keep our fingers and toes crossed and wish your birth family all the support and love we can give during this tough time.  And promise to them that if everything works out, we will honour our open adoption commitment to them.  We want you to know where you came from and how this adoption is completely built on love.

So while I wait, I will keep dancing to my music cranked in my kitchen and binge watch Nashville after Jackson goes to bed.  I will enjoy sleep while I can.  And I will pray that everything works out the way it’s supposed to.

Love,

Shannon (hopefully mommy)

The Dreaded Waiting Period in Adoption – Waiting to See if Birth Parents Revoke Consent

My husband and I recently adopted our 2nd child through Domestic Private Adoption.  While I still have to write our success story, I wanted to share a couple of posts I wrote during the waiting period.  Here’s one from day 13 of the 21 day waiting period (which starts 8 days after the baby is born and the birth parents sign consent).

8 days left!  8 days left!  8 days can seem way too short for a vacation yet way too long when you’re waiting for news.

Chris and I are on our rollercoaster ride yet again trying to adopt a 2nd child – maybe this is incentive for me to finally try the Leviathan rollercoaster at Canada’s Wonderland this summer.
I’ll spare the details of this adoption right now until things are more final but I just wanted to share what the waiting period is like for those out there trying to adopt.  I’m not going to sugar coat it – it sucks!  I wonder if it’s similar to child birth – after time you forget about it and are all ready to do it again.  Either we forget how we felt during the waiting period the first time around or this time is much harder.
There are definitely good days and bad days and each day I struggle with how positive to me. I’m generally a very positive person but some days I’m worried about being too positive and getting hurt. On the other hand, if something doesn’t work out I tend to dust myself off pretty quickly and focus on the good in our lives and what the future holds.
Right now everything is day by day for 8 more days.  Our family starts our mornings with high fives and my two-year old son doing a dance knowing there’s one day less in the month long waiting period.  Some nights if I need a big glass of wine and to watch 5 straight episodes of Nashville on TV, that’s what I do. Anything to get my mind off the waiting.
For any of you currently in the waiting period, not every day is hard.  I’ve had way more easier than harder days and up until this Monday with 9 days left of the period it hasn’t been bad.
Good luck and I’ll keep you posted!

Picking a day to celebrate

Adoption is anticlimactic, I’m not going to lie. Of course it has its amazing moments and I wouldn’t change any minute of what we went through to adopt Jackson but it definitely had its ups and downs. Many of you reading this know our story but for those who don’t, here’s a recap:
• April 6th, 2013 – day we got the call from the adoption agency saying we’d been chosen by the birth parents – we were in shock – was it finally happening – amazing, amazing day!!!
• April 14th – a week before Jackson’s due date and a day before we were to meet the birth parents – was told the birth mom had gone to the hospital to get checked out. Didn’t hear any more news that day – anxious day!
• April 15th morning – day we found out our son had in fact been born the day before but that they weren’t sure when we would meet the birth parents. Told to drive back to Toronto from my parents instead of going to meet birth parents – extremely anxious! Also didn’t have any boy names ready so spent the drive going through names.
• April 15th afternoon – day we were asked to turn around from Toronto and drive to London to meet birth parents after all at the hospital – nerve-wracking yet exciting!
• April 15th nighttime – we met Jackson’s birth parents and families for the first time in the hospital and instantly hit it off. We also met and held Jackson for the first time which was incredible and heartbreaking at the same time. How do you act in front of the birth parents when it’s one of the most painful days of their lives? Left hospital feeling incredibly heavy and wondering what tomorrow would hold when it was time for Jackson to go into a foster home.
• April 16th – met Jackson when he arrived at the foster home. Told him his name. Incredibly beautiful moment but then the realization of holy cow, we’re parents? We had 9 days notice! Lol. Then the realization Jackson was placed in a foster home for a reason – to give us time to prepare but also to learn from this amazing couple who had fostered 94 newborns before Jackson and taught us everything we needed to know about formula, diapers, etc. Of course we have tons of people in our lives to help us with this but it was really appreciated.
• April 27th – day that Chris, his sister and I drank margaritas and painted his nursery while listening to music and dancing. We were parents!!!!
• May 4th – the day we brought Jackson home – beyond amazing but it also meant that there were 10 days left for the birth parents to change their minds.
• May 15th – day the waiting period ended. The day we’d been waiting for. The day we’d saved our champagne for and the day I had to go to bed at 7pm and skip the champagne as the stress caught up with me – talk about anticlimactic haha.
• Jan. 29th, 2014 – day I opened the mail and received what looked like the adoption finalization record for Jackson dated January 22nd. We were told it wouldn’t happen until closer to April and the agency hadn’t been notified yet so again, a very anticlimactic day. We couldn’t celebrate as we weren’t 100% sure it had happened.
• Jan 22nd, 2015 – celebrating the 1st anniversary of the date our son’s adoption became finalized in the Court. The day we can all truly celebrate as a family!

Adoptive families celebrate many different days. We will always celebrate Jackson’s birthday as that’s definitely the most special day of the year but we wanted another day to celebrate as a family as we didn’t know him on his day of birth. We originally thought we would celebrate his ‘gotcha day’ – the day we brought him home which is also very special but again, it was still part of the waiting period. The day we are choosing to truly celebrate as a family that will always have positive thoughts is the day our adoption became finalized – January 22nd!!!!

How Meeting Birth Parents in Adoption is very similar to Dating and at times, The Bachelor

As much as I hate to admit it in public (oops, too late), I love The Bachelor and it is one of the only shows my husband and I watch together (who will also hate that I admitted this publicly haha).   Recently after Sean’s season (one of my favourite Bachelors), I started discovering the similarities between it, and dating in general, to meeting birth parents, which I’ll talk about below.

To recap previous posts, we’ve been trying to have kids for 4 years now, the last year being through adoption.  In the last year we’ve had the privilege to meet 4 birth parents – 2 in person, 2 via phone.   With these 4 birth parents, we were either contacted via email or received a phone from birth parent(s) who saw our online profile and want to know if we’re still looking to adopt.  Here’s how it plays out (from my side of view although Chris shares in the sentiment).

Getting contacted – Oh wow, yay, an email – someone likes us, yippeeee!!!!  Ok, now how to respond.  Let me draft an email, show it to Chris, review it probably 10 times and then hit reply.  Ok, now let me check my email every 10 seconds to make sure I didn’t miss their reply coming in.  Oh wow, a reply, yay!!!!!  Repeat above cycle.

Preparing for the meeting – what do I wear, what are we going to talk about, what don’t we want to ask the birth parents to make them feel uncomfortable.  Should I try and look like a parent or something cool to be more relatable?  Ok, maybe something in the middle – but not all black, I need to have some colour.

The meeting – think of it as a blind date.  You’re not sure what the other person looks like and you know very little about each other.  The beginning is a bit awkward but if you click, conversation will come naturally.  This is where Chris is good at breaking the ice and admitting it’s awkward for everyone so everyone can relax a bit.   It also helps us to remember we’re all in the same boat and the birth parents are usually going through the same emotions as us as they want to impress the prospective parents as much as we want to impress them and if it’s just the birth mother you’re meeting, she’s outnumbered and doesn’t have someone there for support.  Once the dead silence starts setting in, you know it’s time to bring the meeting to a close.

After the meeting – I always like sending an email afterwards to thank the birth parent(s) for meeting us.  Then the hard part begins, waiting for the reply and seeing if the feeling was mutual (sound familiar?).  No reply?  Ouch!

The wait – this is the hardest part by far.  Even if you had a connection and did get a reply from the parents, anything can happen.  Birth parents can meet other couples and pick them or decide to parent their child.  We had a really great conversation with one birth mom and then never heard from her again.  Not only do you have to have some type of connection but they also have to see you as the parents of their child.  Whatever it is is completely out of our control, we can’t force anyone to pick or like us!

The philosophy – this is where The Bachelor comes into play.  Meeting all of the birth parents has been incredible and I truly admire each of them for this extremely difficult decision so I only wish them the best if we don’t end up being the match for them.  I also believe that you have to show them how much you’d love to be chosen and that you’re there to support them no matter what.  I also feel it’s important to get to know them and find out what traditions, values they have so they can be carried forward.  The girls that didn’t show Sean how much they liked him even when they did were sent packing!   So for me, I will jump in with both feet and get excited when a birth parent contacts me even though my heart could get broken in the end.  It’s a small price to pay in our journey to find our child!Image