Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paper Cuts

If no one hears from me in the next couple days it probably means I've either been crushed under the weight of a paperwork avalanche or contracted a deadly massive paper cut. I am coordinating all the paperwork necessary for our home study (a lot) and Randy is coordinating a home refinance (its one of his hobbies since becoming a banker - I think this is our third in 3 years). We joked that all we do anymore is request that the other signs on the dotted line of yet another form. Our marriage has become very litigious! :)

Anyhoo - I really don't have time to write much today because I am busy filling out:
  • financial statement
  • FBI background check form
  • FBI fingerprint card
  • Kentucky State Police background check form
  • Kentucky Cabinet of Family Services records form
  • reference form
  • adoption and child care philosophy quesionairre
  • adoptive father family background questionairre
  • adoptive mother family background questionairre
  • animal safety statement
  • grievances procedures agreement
  • post placement visit agreement

And probably more that I'm not recalling right now!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wreaths, Money, and Secrets!

Did I hook you with my Inside Edition inspired title? Are you ready to delve into the underworld of the black market wreath trade in America? Just kidding - I don't have any contacts in that underworld. But I do plan to write today about what many people find to be a touchy and sensitive subject within the adoption world: money. And wreaths are germane to this topic - I promise!

Background Info Alert!
Let me take you on a journey to the past - about two weeks ago to be precise. I was brainstorming ways to give our house just a little more curb appeal before I took a photo of it to include in our adoptive parent profile and somewhere in the back of my brain I remembered seeing wreaths with felt flowers on Pinterest. During this brainstorm I just happened to be at JoAnn Fabrics so I grabbed a wreath form and a roll of burlap ribbon (and paid for them) and headed home where I made felt flowers using mainly old felted sweaters I had leftover from previous projects. I wrapped the wreath form in the burlap and hot glued the felt flowers onto the wreath and was pretty pleased with my end product. So I snapped a photo of it and uploaded it to Facebook where people started commenting that they would like to order one. Randy and I chuckled at first - not ever having considered this as a money making venture- but then realized that wreaths could be a great product to make and sell. They don't take nearly as long as quilts or even as long as baby hats to make. They are easily customizable, and they represent home - which is a great symbol for adoption. So I threw together a graphic to post on Facebook and the orders started pouring in. People seem to be genuinely interested in supporting our adoption and the response has surprised and humbled us!

I don't think I'm surprising anyone when I say here that adoptions are expensive. Many people don't like to talk about it - it feels kind of icky talking about money in relation to family building - like you're purchasing a child. Some people think it is crass to talk about adoption costs because the process of bringing your child into your family should remain sacred. But over here in the real world I know and you know that services cost money and there are real expenses involved with all of the details that go into completing the adoption process. No one is buying a child. We are paying for legal fees, the services of counselors, therapists, adoption professionals, the costs of background checks, medical care, and travel, etc. When its all added up, the cost of a private domestic adoption in the United States ranges from about $15,000 to $45,000. It is shocking when you first see the numbers and it feels unfair - and maybe it is - on some level. But its reality and its just another challenge adoptive parents must meet on their quest to be united with their child. And its worth it.

 Before the wreath situation popped up we had tossed around the idea of doing some fundraising for the adoption but hadn't settled on anything. We had planned - and still plan - on funding the adoption mostly through our savings and through loans. But any little extra bits help, so supplemental fundraising is always a good idea. For the time being, we will stick with the wreath sale since its still going strong and since I actually really do enjoy making them! If you're interested in supporting Button's homecoming or just in the market for a modern wreath, I've listed the important details below!

1. Wreaths are all hand-made by me using burlap and felt. Some felt was purchased as felt and some was purchased as wool sweaters at thrift stores and then felted by me. So we're also saving the earth a little bit here. :)
2. Each wreath has a signature button on the back as a reminder of why the wreath was made in the first place!
3. Wreaths range from $25 - $35 depending on the style you want. The standard (and my favorite) wreaths are $25 and wrapped in burlap with a spray of felt flowers on the right hand side, like this:

If you would like a "fluffy" style wreath I can make one to your specifications and it will be about $35 (they take longer and use about twice the burlap). Here's a custom one I just finished:

4. I can customize wreaths with colors and special requests. Please comment on this post if you'd like one or "like" Hitched and Stitched on Facebook and request on there!
5. If you are outside the Cincinnati area and would like a wreath I can ship them for about $10 - $15. Let me know and we'll work it out!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chocolate and Vanilla

Since our last post was very info-heavy, I've decided to take this one in a different direction and focus much more on Button - you know - the whole reason we're completing all those crazy steps!

I think its natural for parents to wonder what their baby will look like. For adoptive families this wondering takes on a wholly different quality than for pregnant couples. I'd say an active imagination is required for the former to get anywhere in their daydreaming. For us, the question of what Button will look like is still a mystery. But, we have clues. Because we have decided to adopt transracially. Specifically, our baby will be of African American descent or will be biracial with some African American descent. If Button is biracial, statistically he or she will be most likely to have African American and Caucasian ancestors.

The highly recommended book which is next on my reading list!  


While our decision to adopt transracially was not taken lightly it was also not a big ordeal and actually happened pretty gradually. We had always planned on adopting internationally and had considered countries such as Korea, China, India, and Ethiopia - none of which would have produced a Caucasian child. It always just felt somewhat natural - maybe in part because Randy's extended family is made up of many ethnicities - European, Asian and African American. So Randy especially (and me to a lesser extent) has just grown up with the understanding that families can be made up of people who don't look much like each other. And when our adoption plans finally shifted from international back to domestic, the idea of adopting a Caucasian baby just seemed kind of foreign. Maybe it was because we'd been picturing something different for so long or maybe deep down we just know what is best for our family. But without much discussion or soul-searching we both came to the conclusion that we knew our family would be formed transracially.

Transracial adoption is not without its controversies or its challenges. There are many people who have legitimate concerns over whether the practice is the best for children. Whether a white family can effectively parent a black child in a society that is still struggling with institutionalized racism despite perceived advances in that arena. And while I share some of those concerns myself and realize that the set-up is not perfect, I also know that there are more children of African American descent in need of homes than there are homes for them. They are harder to place (read: harder to find people who will adopt them due to their race) than children of any other race in the US. And while transracial adoption is likely not the best overall long-term "fix" to this problem, Randy and I believe that it is a vital immediate measure while there are still more kids than homes. And we're optimistic. We have seen transracial adoption work beautifully - in our own family and in stories we've read and heard online, in books, and on podcasts from people who have lived it.

For transracial adoption to work though, the family must put a lot of work into it. It can't be treated like any other adoption and the advice that "love will conquer all" is not sufficient for a successful outcome. We will need love but we will also need extra vigilance to combat racism in our everyday lives, we'll need to immerse ourselves in social circles that include people who look like Button and provide Button with role models, we'll need to provide Button with social and cultural opportunities to connect with her background, we'll need to prepare Button for a world that won't think of him as our child when he's older, but as a "black man" with all that that entails. (Note - these are just examples - we don't know Button's gender yet!) Plus probably so many other things that we may not even know about until they come up. And while this is all a little daunting, we feel we are up to the challenge and are even welcoming of it. Because it is for Button.

I read somewhere that when you adopt transracially you don't just have someone of another race in your family. Your family becomes multi-racial. For now and for any future generations. Randy and I are excited about this fact and we and embrace it. We hope that our friends and family do as well. They haven't let us down yet - so I predict that they will rise to the occasion. :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trust the Process

Hey - I'm posting again! In the same week no less! Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through the last post - it was practically a book! Today's post will be decidedly less existential and a lot more practical. I am going to tell you everything you ever wanted to know (and, lets face it - probably way beyond) about the domestic newborn adoption process. Or, at least the process that applies to adoptions like ours and with our agency. ;) Randy and I have gotten a lot of questions from family and friends curious about the process, so I figure there will be enough interest to justify a blog post. And this way future posts about specific steps will make a lot more sense!

Okay. Are you ready? Take a deep breath, and lets get started. There are a LOT of steps. So many, in fact, that I made a binder (and like I said last post - binders mean business) and have spent several mornings and afternoons going through documents, manuals, books, and paperwork to get a handle on everything.

My lovely study spot in Devou Park near the river overlook

Agency Required Reading
Before we do anything, our agency requires that we read their manual. Its basically an overview of the process, an explanation of their specific policies and ways of work, and information about adoption, birth families, and adoptive parents in general. The manual is very detailed and quite informative. Both Randy and I have read it and plan to refer back to it throughout our process.

Adoption Plan
Once we've read the manual we are free to start making our adoption plan. This will include everything from the budget we set for our adoption costs to how open of an adoption we are comfortable with to what races of children we are open to parenting. It also includes considerations about birth parents family medical histories, and whether we are comfortable with special needs or with drug exposed newborns. Its a great tool (our agency provides it as an online questionnaire so we don't have to think up all these scenarios on our own) that helps to create matches that are less likely to disrupt. Having a plan and having discussed and considered everything before hand reduces the likelihood of having to make hard decisions on the spot or getting into situations that we aren't comfortable with or ready for. It forces us to really examine what will work best for our family and it helps the future birth parents to feel more comfortable that we are a good fit for their baby.

Home Study
The often dreaded and feared home study is a huge chunk of preparing for an adoption. It entails much more than just having a social worker tour your house looking for safety hazards. It involves gathering documents such as birth certificates, marriage license, and tax returns as well as getting background checks and FBI fingerprints. It means filling out pages and pages of questions about your marriage, child-rearing plans, your own childhood, and your mental health. It requires a trip to the doctor for certification that you are in good health and documentation of your financial standings, including a tallying up of your assets. It also involves interviews with the case specialist and finally, the tour of your home to ensure safety and cleanliness. I never thought I would be intimidated about the home study but the prospects of its approach are beginning to fray my nerves the slightest bit. Our adoption agency does home studies in certain states, but ours is not one of them so we are charged with signing on with a local agency to complete our study. We are also encouraged to start this as soon as possible, because this is the step that often takes the longest.

Adoptive Family Profile
Adoptions a few decades ago were handled much differently than they are today. They were mostly closed, meaning that the birth parents and adoptive families never met or knew anything about each other. The agency made the matches and the records were sealed. Today, birth parents have a primary role in choosing the adoptive family they want for their baby. Birth parents (usually mothers) are shown profiles of available families who the agency things might be a good fit considering all the variables in her situation. These profiles in the past and still at most agencies were/are basically scrapbooks in which the prospective adoptive parents place photos and stories about themselves to try and paint a picture for the birth mother of what their child's life would be like were she to choose them.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Long Time Coming

This post has been a long time coming in more ways than one! Obviously, its been ages since I updated anything around here (since March!) and while I could blame it on laziness, I think I'll go with a different defense. Deep down, subconsciously, I must have been waiting for something really exciting to post about. Wait...that won't work. Because in March I got a niece (Baby Claire Bear) - and that is super exciting. Okay fine, we'll go back to laziness. Anyway...the other reason this post is a long time coming is because it is to announce that we are finally, officially adopting!

The application for our agency right before we filled it out!
I guess if you want to get technical about it (and I always do) our adoption journey really started about 5 and a half years ago. Waaay back in 2008 on an exam table in a hospital during a routine fertility test called an HSG. The test revealed significant blockage in my fallopian tubes, which spells big trouble in baby-making land. The test also hurt. A lot. (It doesn't always - but since my tubes were blocked it presented complications.) And right on that table I decided that if this was what fertility treatments would be like, then I wanted NONE of it and would prefer to skip right to adoption. Randy agreed. We had both already been interested in adoption - me ever since I was a Brownie Girl Scout with a girl who had been adopted from Korea, and Randy because a large portion of his extended family was formed through adoption starting before he was even born. We decided we wouldn't waste the money, time, or heartache (not to mention other aches) on fertility treatments and instead work on getting our baby from across the ocean.

And that is exactly what we did. For a while. We researched, we read books, we met with adoption professionals. We even made up a BINDER of information - you know its serious when a binder is involved. But in the mean time my OBGYN had sent my test results to a Reproductive Endocrinologist and urged us to meet with him just to go over options. So we did. And we decided that while we pursued adoption research we'd go ahead and try out the lower-end treatments (i.e. minimally invasive and relatively cheap) like IUI (formerly known as artificial insemination). These treatments happened and failed. The next step would be IVF - and we weren't on board. Crazy intramuscular injections with monster needles, general anesthesia for egg retrieval - it was all too much. Until...... a coworker going through IVF with my very doctor clued me in that my information about the procedure was outdated. The needles are now tiny and twilight sleep has replaced general anesthesia. And so, we decided - after realizing that we'd always wonder what would have happened if we didn't try - to give IFV a go.

After one failed IVF attempt we decided to join the fertility clinic's shared risk program, which would entail at least 4 rounds (it ended up being 6 for us) of IFV accompanied by a money-back guarantee if the rounds all failed to produce a live birth. And gradually, somewhere along the way we grew attached to the idea of a mini-me child who combined the best of both of us- a concept that we thought we were above back in the adoption only days. How were we to know that we'd get pregnant three times only to lose all three (or up to six, since there were always two embryos transferred) babies? Or that we'd be among the unlucky 20% of people who never achieve a live birth after multiple rounds of IVF?

We made a commitment to ourselves that we would exhaust all of the IVF possibilities within our shared risk program and then, if that failed, quit all medical intervention for good and begin pursuing parenthood through adoption. No moving on to donor sperm, egg or embryo, or surrogacy for us. The allure of just one more IFV try, the latest breakthrough treatmeht or a new drug protocol is too tempting for many patients - sucking them in for more more more medical intervention - sometimes producing a successful pregnancy. But we were spent, emotionally and physically, and knew where our stopping point had to be. We realized that we had spent years fighting this disease and being medical patients above every other aspect of our lives. We wanted time to find out who we were again and to be normal for a while. To enjoy a regular life rather than being in crisis mode all the time. So after our last round of IVF (which also happened to be our last miscarriage) we decided to take that summer to remember how to live lives not ruled by the disease.

Surprisingly for me, I ended up sort of floundering during this "living life" summer (which turned into autumn, and then winter, and eventually two years had gone by) rather than moving immediatly and too quickly to start the adoption process. I tend to be an "I want it yesterday" sort of person and to languish, adrift in a sea of uncertainty and ambivalence was uncharacteristic. But I guess grief doesn't move at anyone's timetable. That combined with what seemed like an Everest sized mountain to move in order to make adoption happen ate up the better part of two years. I'm not sure what finally pushed us over the edge and into action - we started healing enough start thinking about it again, of course. But I think the real spark that got me off my butt was starting to feel old and worrying that if I didn't get going I'd be ancient by the time I ever got my baby! I've mentioned this to family and friends who all scoff at the idea that I am old - but the fact is, most of my contemporaries have already started their families, I'm much older than I had ever planned to be when starting a family, and the adoption process can take a long time - especially if your match fails and you have to start all over again. In the grand scheme of things, Randy and I are on the young end of the pool of families seeking to adopt. But we aren't getting any younger, and that's as good a motivation as any to get us into action.

After a lot of research, discussion, mind-changing, and more research and discussion we have decided that a good fit for us is domestic newborn adoption. We have found a national agency that gets good reviews, has an A+ rating with the BBB, and has been very helpful, informative, and professional with us. So we took the plunge and officially applied with them. Though there are countless steps still to undertake (creating a family profile, completing a home study, and securing funding to name just a few), this first one feels important. It feels like we're really doing it now. Not at all like when we were pursuing IVF - that always felt like a gamble - like we were walking on eggshells and couldn't even talk about our future baby because it was so tenuous. This adoption will happen. We will get our baby. It might take a while and matches might fall through, but in the end we will have a baby and we are "expecting" parents. It feels so good.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Merrrrry Christmas to all and to all a good.......hat? Yes! Santa is bringing "teeny weeny hats" (name that Muppet Movie from which I stole the quote for bonus points!) to some teeny weeny preemies this year, and I'm acting as elf. As in I'm makng them all but letting the fat man take credit. No wonder Hermie wanted to be a dentist! I kid, I kid. :)

But seriously - once my spontaneous Christmas quilt was finished my fingers were itching for something else to make. And just as spontaneously as the quilt came about - so did a plan to knit a preemie hat to include in each of my family members' gifts this year and then donate to the NICU in their name. Though it would be my preference, I know that switching to an only charity gifts system in my family would NOT go over  well. So I decided to play within the system and do a little of both. And I loved makeing these little guys - so quick and satisfying! I hope they add comfort to some sick little babies and their tired and worried families.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

a Christmas Quilt is a Bowl Full of Cherries

So I made a Christmas quilt. I totally wasn't planning it but somehow I was at the fabric store and a bunch of Aneela Hoey's Cherry Christmas prints jumped into my arms and somehow made it out the door with me. (I did pay for them!) And a few days later I was making myself a Christmas quilt. Backed with minky.  Could it get any more cozy? Only when shared with a wiener dog and a cup of chai latte.

I used a quilt as you go method on this quilt - I think there are a few different types. The type I used (and I basically just winged it without looking at many instructions - as per my M.O.) was to quilt each individual block onto batting and then piece the quilted blocks together. Once I had a completed, quilted top I basted it to the minky backing and then stitched in the ditch along my block seams. In the end, I don't really think it saved me much time and the whole thing was rather bulky to stuff through my machine on account of the thick batting/block seams. This would be a good method to use if you wanted to do some really intricate or complex quilting that you felt you couldn't accomplish when quilting the piece as a whole with a regular sewing machine. But I think I'm done with this method for a while - didn't seem worth it to me.

But making a Christmas quilt totally was worth it! Randy is in love with it and it may be the warmest quilt we have ever owned. I plan to take it out of town with us over Christmas to brighten up our hotel room. In the mean time we are snuggling up underneath its cheery warmth while watching Christmas movies, drinking Chai lattes, and stroking our wiener. :)

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