Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mission Adoptable

Well, we did it.  We hosted an amazing fundraiser this past Sunday.  We had 104 people attend and raised twice the amount of money that we were hoping to raise!  We are still on track to be shown to birth moms right around Valentine's Day.  I feel hope.  I feel lucky.  I feel good.

I did not think that I would have the capacity to feel any of those things not too long ago. I will admit now that I was so wrong.

One of the many tables of supporters

Crowd shot
The event was from 12-4.  We got there around 10 and started setting up.  A former coworker of mine donated her DJ services.  Another friend offered to help run the basket donations.  Gary's dad and brother, as well as my brother, sold raffle tickets like they have never been sold before.  One friend donated the beer.  Some family donated the wine.  We got a discount on the food as the owner of the restaurant we used also used adoption to grow his family.  We had more than 15 baskets to raffle and many gift cards, certificates good for ski lifts, house painting, my hair saloon and more.  I was watching it all come in and unfold and was mesmerized. All of this for us?

We ran out of hot food within the first 2 hours and had to order 10 pizzas!  We never expected the turnout to be as grand as it was!

We had support from the start..."How can I help?" was texted and emailed to me over and over.  We had support setting up.  We had support breaking everything down.  I remember my mom telling me to take a minute to absorb the magnitude of the day...and the love that was in the fire hall that day.  

We had an agenda that we tried to abide by...welcome announcement at this time, 50/50 raffle at that time.  My dear husband who is usually much more introverted than I am, worked that room like it was something he did every Sunday!   We saw so many people from our life interacting and laughing and having a good time.  I saw faces that I had not seen in years.  We had friends come in from Connecticut to Virginia and states in-between!

The pictures are starting to come in. Here is a small sampling. We are going to use some of the group shots for our Profile Book so that we can show just how much love and light is in our lives.

The event was such a success that our Adoption Social Worker asked me to write an article about it for their company newsletter!

Our story is not over.  Our daughter made sure of that.  A new chapter is about to begin.

Our nephews and niece orchestrated a karaoke contest.  Gary and I tied!

"Here Comes the Sun" - our song for Allie and now her little brother or sister

Some of our loving friends

Some of the generous donations to be raffled off

Another popular raffle

Baskets everywhere!
Desserts For Sale - BIG hit!

From the personal piggy bank of a special little boy

Friday, January 25, 2013

Home Study

On Wednesday, our Adoption Social Worker came over for our Home Sudy.  It was the last part of the evaluation and the "in-person" segment of all the paperwork that was due earlier this month.  We cleaned and dusted and vacuumed and left work early to eagerly await her arrival.

We really like our social worker.  She is honest and compassionate and I would imagine she takes a lot of pride in her job. I would also imagine her job is much more than that to her.  She came in to our house and we gave her the tour.  It was a brief one - this is the kitchen, this is the garage...but enough for her to see where our baby will one day live. We showed her our guest room and explained that it will one day be converted back into a nursery and we are looking forward to having a reason to do that.

Then we sat at the dining room table and began to talk.  She asked us some questions about the paperwork we filled out and then we had the chance to ask her some of our questions, too.  We had an informative conversation and talked frankly and openly.  We had given her an advance copy of our Profile Book (the book that will be used for potential birth mothers to get to know us) and she had a few suggestions for us to make to it.  

She told us that in getting to know us on paper and in person, she can tell how much Allie is a part of our lives.  She pointed to the chair next to her and said that she was so sure that Allie was even at this table with us right now.  But she warned us to be careful in how we tell our story.  We do not want a pregnant woman to feel sorry for us and then give us her baby - we want her to give us her child because she knows that Gary and I are the right parents for that child.  It hurt me a little bit to think that we came off that way - I do not now nor did I ever want any pity, but I could see what she was saying.  If you do not know us and you only know 8-10 pages of us, reading Allie's story can create sympathy.  And perhaps pity.  So we are going to fix it so that in the same short amount of pages, we can create joy and light - the emotions that we still feel when thinking about our daughter.  We want anyone reading to know we are strong and that knowing our daughter has made us better people - and that is the opposite of pity!

And about an hour later, she left.  We felt it was a very good visit and we were relieved that we could check one more thing off of our list.  We smiled and hugged and felt good.  We went to dinner to celebrate.  

Earlier today, we got an email with the official home study approval attached!  We are good to go!!!

We have a 1/2 day class on February 6th to review our Profile Book and discuss how they are going to "market" us.  One February 9th, we get together to make a 5 minute video for potential birth moms to see.  Then, once our Profile Book is edited and reviewed and printed, we go "live".  In essence, we could be shown to birth mothers as soon as mid-February!  Which means we could be matched while there is still snow on the ground. Or it could take longer.  We will have to be patient and see.  One thing is for sure, our baby is out there for us - I just know it!

This weekend is our big fundraiser.  Even without ticket sales, we have already raised over $5,000!!!  And the gifts and donations keep coming.  We are expecting well over 100 people to come out on Sunday and are so excited that so many want to come out and help us and love us and be there for us.  What a blessing.  If I think too much about it, it brings tears to my eyes.

I am so very thankful.  I can't wait until the day I can blog with my baby boy or girl sitting (or squirming!) in my lap.  I am starting to let myself imagine what it will look like for Gary to read our child a book before bed.   To imagine the guest room turned back into a nursery.  To almost hear the sounds of laughter and giggling within these walls.  It feels so good to have hope again.  To know that there will be a baby here with us some day.  Maybe even some day soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Just the Beginning

It started when we lost Allie.  People wanted to do all that they could to help us.  They sent food.  They sent flowers.  They sent cards.  Many wanted to come over and sit with us.  Most wanted to take the pain away.  As the dust settled and the hours turned to days and days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, what I remember most of those dark days was the pain.  What I remember next was that we were never alone.

After a tedious year of medical intervention and stress and injections and hormones, we decided enough was enough.  We were physically and mentally exhausted and we made no progress to grow our family and we were not doing as much as we could do to honor our daughter, either.

Making the plan to adopt was easy once we we decided that was what we wanted to do. Gary and I were and are on the same page and knew that we wanted to be parents...how we got there was not really the issue! The more time that has passed and the more papers that we have filled out has just confirmed that this is so right for us.  We have a whole day education class this week and I can't wait to spend time with other people like us that have also made adoption their plan. 

The only issue that bothers me is that I can't really plan for a baby like I could when I was pregnant.  I have no idea if our baby has been conceived yet (I suspect her or she has!). I can't call and set up my FMLA for work as I have no expected date as to when I will be out on leave.  I can't think of what we will do when we first bring the baby home because we have never gotten that far before.  As different as the path of adoption is, the planning for a baby is familiar territory for us.  But the rest is not.  

I do not want to set up the nursery until we have the baby here with us, in our arms.  I am not sure I can stand the emptiness of that room again.  We have a boy name and we have a girl name so in that respect, we are ahead of the game.  But no shopping, no shower, no anything until we have our baby home.  I suppose that is normal for parents who have lost a child, but I don't always love our new normal.

Still, I choose not to dwell on that and instead focus on the positives.  I wrote before about Random Acts, but I still can't wrap my head around the kindness of the people that have donated money to us to help us bring our baby home.  We are hosting a fundraiser event at the end of this month and have over 90 people coming out to support us.  We have already raised more money than I had hoped and that's without selling a single ticket!  I should have listened harder when people said they wanted to help because they really do. The icing in the cake?  I went to talk to a local restaurant on Friday to discuss them catering our event and the owner adopted his daughter.  His eyes welled up when I explained that our benefit was to help with the adoption costs.  He gave us a huge discount and is coming over to set it all up for free.  Amazing.

This baby, our rainbow, will be raised by a village.  He or she has already been welcomed into our family.  His or her cousins are ready to play with him or her.  My mom said she can already feel the baby in her arms.  I know Gary and I feel that there is more than enough room in our hearts.  And as it gets closer, we will physically get ready for our baby, too.  Allie's little brother or sister is coming...we may not know how and we may not know when, but one thing is for sure, our baby will someday (soon) be coming home!  

It started when we lost Allie.  But it will not and did not end when we lost Allie.  She was just the beginning.

Adoption In My Heart

Today was the Adoptions From The Heart Annual Picnic . We love this event. It is close to our house, it is early enough in the summer that i...