Think Outside the Box; No Thank You.. We Are Thinking “In The Box”

On Friday September 25th, we officially were declared approved for open adoption and our profile is now “in the box” to be presented to potential birth parents.  It was a fast journey, from the time of our first information session to approval, it took us 6 months in total.  We had some slight delays at the end, due to R’s Dad needing to get fingerprinted for his criminal record check.  This happens from time to time, so we anticipated the delay.

I know six months sounds like a long time to some, however, there are many steps and activities that must be completed in order to be approved for adoption.  So we did work very hard to move so quickly.

The magical box containing our profile.
The magical box containing our profile.

I decided to write a brief summary of our journey this year, to recap our experience.

To say that 2015 has been a whirlwind year for us would be an understatement.  We finally made the leap to begin our adoption journey with AO, and take the steps necessary to move from being a family of two, to a family of three.  Our journey began in March by attending an information session, after 11 years of finding one reason or another to postpone our start.  We had fallen into the trap of believing we needed to first “have the bigger house”, “grow our careers” etc. It was a series of one thing after the next.  Finally, we realized that none of that mattered.  What mattered most was that we could provide a stable, loving home for our future child.

Walking into the information session in March, we weren’t sure what to expect. I had attempted to research open adoption in Canada, but the information on line was limited and so much of it was U.S based.  I wasn’t looking for information on the steps, I wanted information about what to expect… what questions would be asked, how I was going to feel and learn about the process for others.  None of that was available. In light of that I decided that I would start of blog.  For two reasons really; one was to document our journey and use it as a journal of sorts, and the second was to create a means of connecting with others who are on the same path.  It has been a process that I found very useful, and I recommend journaling or blogging to keep your head on straight and explore your journey.

The information session was helpful; it confirmed that this was the right choice for us.  That night we scheduled our application meeting for the following week.   Now things were getting very real.

I remember the morning of our application meeting, I stood in my closet trying to figure out what outfit looked “parental”. Sounds strange I know, but for me it was definitely how I was feeling, like I was going to be scrutinized at every step.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Within minutes into our application meeting, we felt supported, at ease and had a lot of laughs and a few tears. We came prepared with a list of questions, and learned about how the double match system worked.  One thing we learned was that despite the fact that we were together for over 11 years, if a birthparent said “married couple”, we may not be presented.  So we decided to get married in between the time of our application meeting in the beginning of April and our two day education session at the end of May.  Let’s just add the stress of a wedding into the mix, right?

Our May education session came quickly.  I remember entering the room and recognizing several faces from our information session.  We were nervous, not sure what was going to transpire, but excited as we checked off another step in the journey.  Introductions began to happen and I remember thinking, “Wow, all of these people would be great parents”.  Until then I had been living in a bubble.  I had been in the safe space where all of our friends and family constantly told us what great parents we would be, and assuring us that we “would be matched right away”.  After day one, I left feeling pretty defeated.  My bubble had been burst somewhat.  I suddenly realized that we were going to be in a box with over 80 other couples that were equally great, and equally ready to be parents.  Truthfully, it also may not have helped that every speaker and facilitator that weekend had all experienced reversals.  I mean what are the odds?!  I was emotionally drained.

By day two I had pulled myself together, with a lot of support from my husband and was ready to get my head back in it.  We left that Sunday with homework that needed to be completed in order to move forward with our next steps.  Not being ones to waste time, we got started on our homework and contacted AO on Monday to move forward.  We had a meeting in early June to review our dear birthparent letters, photos and our paperwork. We really struggled to compile four pages of photos that reflected our life together. We took a methodical approach of starting with folders of pictures, each of us taking turns using the power of veto to eliminate those that we felt were not flattering, before finally settling on what we felt was a perfect balance. Another step checked off.

Our home study was now scheduled to start in July. The day of our first couple meeting came quickly, and I remember entering AO that morning completely unsure of what to expect.  When you read about the process on line, you hear a wide range of questions that could be asked.  As we were brought to the room that we had grown to know so well, we swore we could hear Darth Vader’s theme music playing.  We had never met our home study social worker before, so on top of not knowing what to expect, we also didn’t know if our personalities would mesh.  Once again within no time of meeting the social worker, we relaxed.  The home study wasn’t an interrogation, instead it felt very conversational.  It was one part therapy, one part interview and another part coffee with a curious friend. We had a series of meetings at the office, one as a couple and one each one on one.  Then the big meeting, the home visit!  In the information session they tell you not to go overboard cleaning; but who are they kidding?  Initially I thought we’ll just do a light tidy as our house is relatively clean.  Next thing I knew we were washing baseboards and organizing closets.  It’s normal, and was something I had to do in order to feel ready.

The home visit was once again pretty straight forward, followed up on some questions and a quick tour of the house.  Part of me was disappointed that she didn’t open my closets as they had never been more organized. We went over a few of the other documents required, criminal record checks started and medicals complete.  I could see “the box”…we were so close.

A month later our report was complete and we went to AO to review.  As we read the report we were amazed at the detail! Then there it was at the end of the report, the words that we had been working so hard to get to “recommended for placement”.

This was it… we had achieved box worthy status!  For months we had been on an emotional and learning journey to get to the point of being placed in the mythical box.  The way this box is spoken of, I half expect it to be a bejewelled chest, wrapped in rainbows and sealed with unicorn kisses.  I certainly don’t want my visions shattered to learn that it is a run of the mill corrugated box.

We now begin the wait for the perfect match.

What have we taken away from the process?  We’ve learned that this process is not only about ensuring that we are able to provide a safe and loving home, but it is also a chance for us to learn about ourselves and to become strengthened as a couple.  We have learned to trust in the process, and to simply be true to ourselves and the steps. Truth be told, we enjoyed it and took so much away with us.

So as we wait, we continue to move on with our lives.  Keep our heads in the game, and feet on the ground.  We could literally get the call at any moment now, but we also have to be realistic that we could also be waiting for several years.  Either way, we are ready and have done everything we can to add to our family.

Summer of Activity- Watching for the Life Lessons

Summer 2015 has been a summer of change, activity and possibilities on the horizon. We kicked of the summer season by getting married, and then as newly married couple we dove head on into our adoption journey.  It was a summer of meetings, home studies and learning.  A summer of  laughter and dreaming of the adventures to come.

This summer was also one where I decided to stretch my abilities and try new activities.  (It may have also been a way to keep my mind clear and stop the constant adoption thoughts).  I took part in three different paint nites and ran in 6 different 5, km, 10 km and half marathons!

I used to think that running was only helpful if you were being chased; but I am actually

Midway through the Manitoba Half Marathon
Midway through the Manitoba Half Marathon

growing to really enjoy the challenge.  I am by no means a phenomenal runner, my times are mediocre at best.  I have had to put aside my natural competitive spirit though, and remind myself that what is important is that I am trying it.  I am putting myself out there. I  have learned some great life lessons from running. These races have reminded me  that if I focus, if I push through when things get uncomfortable and just listen to the natural rhythm

Laughing hard as we cross the finish line at one of our 10 Km runs.
Laughing hard as we cross the finish line at one of our 10 Km runs.

 

 

 

my body wants me to take, I can accomplish the task.  Even the pain and ache the next day after a race serves as a reminder that you worked hard, and while it may hurt a little, you are better for it in the end.

Paint Nites have also taught me important lessons to take with me.  In life sometimes you just have to let go and try something new. Paintnite You don’t have to be perfect, and by letting go and just enjoying the challenge you can produce things you never thought were possible.  Each paint nite you begin with an oath, place your hand on your blank canvas.  “I promise to relax and have fun. And not to judge my painting or the paintings of others.” The oath continues with us pledging to not say “My painting sucks”, “I can’t do this”, “I ruined it” or “Can you do it for me?”. Then we toast and begin the night.

I know it sounds hokey.  My first time was met with an eye roll or two.  Then I thought about it.  In life I need to relax and have fun.  I can’t judge myself harshly or ask others to do something for me, just because I’m worried I might not be the best.  By making something as simple as an oath before starting an activity, it changes how you approach it.  You become aware of the negative self talk and the barriers you can put up for yourself.  IMG_1078Sometimes you just have to let go, be in the moment and that’s when the creativity happens.

As summer comes to a close, I look back on my summer of challenges and I am looking for the life lessons.  With winter on the horizon (yes I said it), I am thinking of ways to continue this trend.  As someone that hates the cold, and avoids being outside at all costs during the winter.. my challenge to myself will be to get active outdoors this winter.  Find new ways to push my boundaries, and try new things.

Be in the moment and look for the life lessons in the everyday.