Friday, December 31, 2010

Trip to Georgia

Dec 29th-

We head to Logan Airport for a flight from Boston to Jacksonville, Fl. The baby boy was born on Monday Dec 27th, sometime in the evening in Hinesville, Ga. This is a small town about an hour away from Savannah, Ga.

The plan was for the BirthMom to be discharged from the hospital the night before ,and the baby boy was to be discharged with a Georgia adoption counselor. The counselor took the baby back to her home in Savannah until we could pick him up.

So we arrived at Logan Airport at the Jet Blue terminal to complete CHAOS. The line to check in was literally a half a mile long. Everyone in the terminal was sweating, stressed, and even a few people needed medical help for dizziness. Not a good time.

Actually, after waiting in line for a hour and half, we reach the ticket counter. We checked an infant car seat and the lady asked us "so where's the baby?! " We tell her we're picking him up in Georgia. Then she yells out loud " Oh my goodness, that's the best news I've heard all day, you guys are picking up a baby!" Everyone around us hears this..and burst in applause! Nice.

Fortunately, our plane was only an hour late and off we went to Jacksonville, Fl. We flew to Jacksonville because it had a direct flight from Boston and its only a two hour drive to Savannah. We actually vacationed in Savannah a few years ago and we were somewhat familiar with the city. As an aside, Savannah is a lovely Southern city, I highly recommend it , good food , very friendly people,and beautiful city squares.

So after we land in Jacksonville, our pediatrician in Boston calls us to let us know she has all of the medical records regarding the baby and it describes a healthy , vigorous baby, with no complications. Thanks goodness!!

All systems go!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Week after Christmas

What a whirlwind but I'm almost caught up to real time..meaning now. We're finally on the week after Christmas.

I'll break it down..

The week before Christmas..we hardly get any info. We get the birthmother's adoption application, it looks pretty clean. A counselor talked to her and she is fully on board with the adoption. She lives with her mother and she has a two year old daughter but she realizes she cannot parent another child. The Birthmother is due on Dec 22nd..and we hear nothing.

Dec 26th- the East Coast gets walloped by a huge snowstorm. Blizzard warning in Boston! We eventually get 18 inches.
Dec 27th- I get a snow day! My medical practice closes for the day. Essentially the whole city shut down in trying to recover from the storm.
However, J and I are anxious that we haven't heard a thing from the birthmother. Anxiety ridden thoughts fill our head.."Is she legitimate? Did the idea of gay parents freak her out? Did she decide to parent after all?"
So we decided to call our adoption agency. One of the other social workers informs us that the birthmother finally called that morning. The birthmom is going to the hospital to be induced! This could mean that she could deliver that day or tomorrow.

We're going to Georgia! My paternity leave starts on Tuesday!

The following day, we find out that the BM (birthmom) delivered a baby boy sometime Monday evening!!

We immediately start trying to book a flight down to Georgia but everything related to flying is CHAOS because of the snow storm. We finally book a flight on Thursday morning.

Dec 29th- We haven't received any medical updates about the baby! This is freaking J out and I'm trying to stay positive, but now J is making me anxious. According to our social worker, the hospital is being very tight with medical info.

We make a trip to the agency to sign more paperwork and hand over a big check! Finally the social worker from the Georgia adoption agency calls us from the hospital. Essentially, the baby boy looks healthy, 7lbs, Apgar score a 9 (out of 10). We're relieved but they can't locate the exact name of the attending pediatrician!! Sigh....I need to finish packing!
FYI..What is APGAR?
The very first test given to your newborn, the Apgar score occurs right after your baby's birth in the delivery or birthing room. The test was designed to quickly evaluate a newborn's physical condition after delivery and to determine any immediate need for extra medical or emergency care.
Although the Apgar score was developed in 1952 by an anesthesiologist named Virginia Apgar, you may have also heard it referred to as an acronym for: Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration.
The Apgar test is usually given to your baby twice: once at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes after birth. Rarely, if there are concerns about the baby's condition and the first two scores are low, the test may be scored for a third time at 10 minutes after birth.
Five factors are used to evaluate the baby's condition and each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score:
activity and muscle tone
pulse (heart rate)
grimace response (medically known as "reflex irritability")
appearance (skin coloration)
respiration (breathing rate and effort)
Doctors, midwives, or nurses add these five factors together to calculate the Apgar score. Scores obtainable are between 10 and 0, with 10 being the highest possible score.

The Situation the third call, we get it around Dec 19th. Our social worker checks in and asks if John's trial is definitely over. I confirm that John is flying home right now. She explains that there is a birthmother in Georgia who is due on Dec 22th. The past medical history is pretty clean except for ongoing smoking. Who cares?!! There is some pysch history related to a traumatic event in the birthmother's history but considering the circumstances I would have a psych history if I had this trauma.
The birthfather is not in the picture, which is taking a chance.

She's open to a gay couple...all she wants is a loving family. So we tell our social worker.... let's go for it! Meaning let's move forward..and get more info!!

The Calls..or the "Situations" after about one month, we got our first call about a "situation" from our social worker. This call is what adoptive parents are expecting and dreading because you're being presented about situations that one may or may not be able to handle.

First call...Situation- Baby boy was born Nov 22nd, healthy baby, big boy , born 10 lbs! Currently in foster care. Birthmother is already back at work! She works in a warehouse driving a forklift! Hearty woman. The one red flag is evidence of substance abuse found in the baby meconium. Actually this hardly fazes us. Based on literature, discussions with pediatricians, sustained alcohol binge drinking is much worse than occasional cocaine use, LSD, speed, pot, etc. Essentially, if the birthmother drinks ..forget it. We would've considered the situation but "J" had a trial in NYC. This happens about once a year . So its bad timing. Our social worker warned that once these situations come up , we would have to drop everything..and fly/drive out to the birthmother. In this case, she lived in Kentucky, and "J" couldn't do it. I could ! But obviously , both of us have to make the trip. So we passed....

Second call ,about 5 days later. I remember this distinctly because I was sick as a dog with the FLU! We get the call about a situation that has so many red flags. Sketchy medical, psych history, birth father in jail, birthmother's jail history ..there were too many we passed.

Then we get a third call...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the Wait ..then the Calls!

"The wait" adoption language, is the time period after the home study when the portfolios or albums and the birthletters are submitted. You wait for the approval from the agency or in our case, the social worker. Then your profile becomes "live"..some adoptive parents call it "paper pregnant". I really don't care for that term.

The wait could be very short or it could stretch out to years. The wait is determined whenever you are matched with a birthparent or when a birthparent picks your profile. The waiting period is likethe calm before the storm. You literally don't hear anything during the wait. You can call your social worker but you don't want to appear needy.

So when we entered the waiting period, I knew I had to tell my boss at work. My boss and other supervisors were very supportive and I could see the excitement in their faces. That's one of things I like about my work. Its a small practice, and generally it's very supportive of life events, illnesses, family matters, etc.

During this wait..I started trolling through adoption blogs ..specifically blogs from parents who are waiting. I read the success stories , the long waits and awful bogus sham matches. That's domestic adoption. The timeline is up in the air.

So after waiting for approximately one month. We received a series of three calls or situations from our social worker.....

Saturday, December 25, 2010

After the Home Study....

To be honest ..I haven't caught up on " real time" adoption updates...I'm trying to fill in the blanks on the adoption process, so I can look back and reflect on this tumultuous journey.

So ..going back again.... After completing the home study, we had to make up a photo album, an adoption portfolio about us as a couple. There are websites geared to this , sort of like scrapbooking on the internet. There's Picaboo, Shutterfly, and even companies that will design an adoption portfolio .

I choose Picaboo, the program was very user friendly and I took to the task like a person obsessed. I spent two weeks obsessing about every picture, caption, design element, wondering if I was marketing it for the perspective birthparent ,or was I just designing it for my personal tastes?

So after doing the initial design of the photo album, I had "J" critique and add it his two cents. Let's just say it got tense and argumentative. I spent two weeks on this album and "J" just tore it up with his 'red marker". I was expecting it. "J" is a lawyer and that what he does for a living, analyzing , critiquing everything.

Anyways, another week of back and forth editing ..and it was completed!

Now..for the letter to the birthparent. We each had to write one personally...essentially spilling out our hearts and lives in a 400 word letter to some birthparent out there. It took me a whole week to complete mine. It took "J" just one day and his letter was awesome! I remember reading his draft at work..and I began to get very emotional about everything. Anyways, I held it together, because at work..most don't know about my adoption plan. I told my immediate boss but for the most part , I didn't tell anyone because this process could happen immediately or we could be waiting for years! However, I slowly started to spill the beans ......

Timeline- completion of Adoption Photo album, letters to birthparents.

-Our social worker approves both, print them it's onto the waiting game!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let's Go Back....

Let me back track and document on my or I should say " our" journey to the land of parenthood. My partner (who I will call "J") and I have been together for about 15 years. Jesus! that's a decade in a half. It actually doesn't seem that long. Which may be a good thing or an indication of my memory.

Anyways, we've been talking 'bout having kids thru adoption but work, school, renovations ..just plain life ..just kept butting in. We definitely had reminders from friends " I thought you guys would have a couple of kids by now!" " when are you guys adopting?". Also in our neighborhood, there were a handful of gay couples who were having kids. I admit that seeing the other gay couples with kids gave me twinges of envy. I thought to myself " that was fast!" or "those kids are practically in high school!". I liked the idea of children but was I ready to commit to it. Am I ready to drop extra-curricular going out to the movies, playing tennis, shopping..Because its different for us..meaning gay couples. Right??!!

With gay couples.....Besides domestic adoptions, there's domestic surrogacy and international surrogacy, if you want to go for the discount route.

So, we actually sent for the adoption application last year and it kind of sat in our dining table buried deep among papers, magazines, bills, solicitations, etc. We started filling it out and like most people who have filled out these applications ..they are LONG! Autobiographical statements, CORI checks, FBI checks, physicals,reference letters..... it's quite exhausting.

However, we sat on the adoption application because we were buying a house which also took up alot of time, attention and money.

As this year was flying by...I started feeling anxious, My GOD we're in our fourties..if we wait any longer, we'll look like Grandparents! Who the hell would pick grandpa and grandma as adoptive parents.

So around mid-summer, we contacted our agency to let them know that we would be sending our application. However, the agency owner said that they has too many families waiting and there was a waiting list!

I was so disappointed when I heard this...I felt like our clocks were ticking. We're not getting any younger, we have to act now! I didn't want to be on a waiting list , I wondered how long would that take?

Then I started researching surrogacy. Domestic surrogacy seemed outrageously expensive...what about international surrogacy?!

The Wall Street Journal had a great article about surrogacy in India and how clinics there were receptive to gay couples.

Soon I had visions of flying to India picking up our baby. There were pros and cons. The pros were cost, about a third of the cost of domestic surrogacy. One could pick the donor egg (usually from India) and one of us would provide the sperm..freeze dry it then ship it to India. The cons were ..spending about a month in India , dealing with the government red tape in bringing the child home. I read numerous blogs of parents documenting their experience about international surrogacy. We can do this !

However, my partner, J, had reservations. He had concerns of traveling to India, or another country, dealing with their laws/ regulations regarding surrogacy. So he called our agency again, and somehow, the agency realized that we were open to a bi-racial baby. To be honest, most couples involved in our agency are white couples. Judging from the pictures on adopted children, most are white, and a few are bi-racial. Naturally, since we are a bi-racial couple, I always thought our kids would be mixed race. Probably most of the couples with our agency are interested in kids that looked somewhat like them. So with that piece of news, the agency accepted our application.

SO here's the timeline.

Mid August- Sent in our application

Mid September- Homestudy begins

Oct 15th- Homestudy completed!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I guess my flu shot didn't work this year. For the past week , I've been battling low grade temps, sore throat, and aches. No upper respiratory coughs thank goodness. Usually when I get the flu I become feverish, with the chills. It's definitely not a good time.
Since I'm a nurse practitioner, my patients always ask me .."Can I still get the flu even if I get the flu shot?" I say of course but it won't be as harsh or you might get a different strain. I must've gotten a different strain because I feel like I feel like I'm completely drained. Please let this pass!