Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pictures from Philly and Camping

This past weekend John and I went camping in Shenandoah National Park - one of my favorite places. This was our last weekend of John's break from school so we wanted to take advantage of it. We went with one of John's classmates and his family. Friday and Saturday we got rained on, but we still had a good time. Sunday was beautiful and we were able to go on a 4 mile hike before heading back to DC. Here are some pictures of our weekend as well as some from our trip to Philly. Philly is first.

Pod Asian where we ate on Sunday night - John and I did not feel "cool" enough to eat here!

The Liberty Bell - much smaller than I thought it was

Inside of Congress Hall

In front of Independence Hall

A side view of Independence Hall - I really liked these clocks

More Independence Hall - we toured it on Sunday afternoon

The dining room of our Bed and Breakfast - so beautiful!

Dinner at the White Dog Cafe on Saturday night - so good!

As we walked to dinner on Saturday night, we came across a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house - John's fraternity at Texas Tech - so I got John to pose for a pic.

Our room the first night at our B & B - our room the second night was even nicer, but I didn't get a good picture of it. I love how Annie is looking up at John adoringly in this picture.

Me by the fireplace in the dining room

I loved this stained glass window which was in the entry way of the B & B

In front of the B & B

The Bed and Breakfast where we stayed in Philly

On our hike to the Rose River Falls in Shenandoah National Park

My favorite picture from this past weekend - John zipped Annie up in his coat because it was so cold and rainy. Annie hates the rain.

Hanging by the fire on Saturday

One of the few pictures we managed to get of the views along Skyline Drive

These deer were just hanging out only a few feet from our tent

One of my favorite things about camping - John cooks!

Maybe I will be able to post more pictures when I see my husband again at Christmas :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Acceptance, Laughter, and Infertility Drawers

First I wanted to thank every one for their support last week. The comments and emails were such an encouragement to me. On Tuesday morning, one of my friends came by with flowers and cards from my friends here in DC which was such a wonderful surprise. It meant so much to both John and I to know that people were thinking of us and praying for us. I believe the Lord truly answered those prayers. In many ways the days leading up to last week were more difficult than the day itself. Once the day was upon me, I had a greater sense of peace and acceptance. Don't get me wrong, there were still tears shed and I know I will always grieve over Johannah, but there was a sense of closure about the day. Going to Philadelphia with John the weekend prior really helped as well. It enabled us to re-connect after his incredibly difficult summer semester at school. We didn't try to pack too much into the weekend. We saw Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, ate some great dinners, and relaxed on the porch at our B & B. Through all we have been through, we have only grown closer together. I find us laughing together now more than we ever did. I love that. I love to laugh. I think laughing together is one of the most important things a husband and wife can do together through infertility. Find the humor in your circumstances where ever you can.

Overall, I am doing okay, though I am still feeling a little overwhelmed as far as adoption decisions. John has actually been having a very tough time these past couple of weeks. Now that he has finally had a break, infertility and his desire to be a dad has really hit him. This is the longest I have ever seen him stay upset. In "The Infertility Companion - Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility,"* the authors talk about the differences between the way men and women handle infertility. They talked about how women think more globally about infertility, meaning it is connected to all parts of our lives. Men, however, are generally more compartmental. They described men as having an "infertility drawer." When a man opens the drawer, he feels sad, but he can close the drawer and not feel sad and many would like to keep it closed. John and I have always found this to be a useful metaphor for us to understand how we each process and deal with infertility. When John brings up something infertility related, I will often say,"drawer's open?" Of course when it is, I will want to settle in for a heart-to-heart about how we are each feeling and........... drawer's closed :) Anyway, this is the longest the drawer has been opened. I know this is a good thing in some ways because I know John needs to fully grieve the loss of biological children and be fully prepared in his heart to move forward with adoption. But I hate seeing my hubby sad. Please say a prayer for him if you would.

I know I have said it before, but I will say it again - I love you all and feel so blessed to be a part of this community. Thank you again.

*The Infertility Companion - Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility is by Sandra L. Glahn and William R. Cutrer. It is published by Zondervan and endorsed by the Christian Medical Association. I found it to be a great resource especially at the onset of treatment.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Remembering Johannah

Tomorrow, August 11th, was Johannah's due date. I am not falling apart, just very sad - sad I never got to meet her, sad I never got to hold her, and most of all sad we are not parents. I have been listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Remembering You" since losing Johannah in January. It helps me to celebrate the short time I had with her and remember that I will see her again because "as the cold winter melts into spring" we are reminded of the hope we have in Christ.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:3-4

These lyrics have always been especially meaningful to me:

"From the first moment when I heard Your name
Something in my heart came alive
You showed me love and no words could explain
A love with the power to
Open the door
To a world I was made for"

Something in my heart came alive after getting pregnant and losing Johannah. My heart was opened up in way it never was before, forever changing me. All the defenses I had built up to protect myself from the pain of infertility came tumbling down. I could no longer block out the pain or pretend it didn't exist. I was completely humbled and broken. I began to cry out to God in prayer over my own infertility rather than only praying for others. I was able to let some things from my past go and experience complete healing. I became more open to love - both receiving it and giving it - and the suffering and pain of others. Now when I hear or read about the suffering of others it affects me in a very real and profound way. I often cry over others' losses and suffering in a way I was never capable of before. And for these things I am grateful. Jesus said the 2 greatest commandments were to love God and love people. Because of Johannah, I have gotten better at both.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heading to Philly

I spent almost every night this week researching adoption. I am learning so much about the different options out there. I found a couple of agencies here in Silver Spring that look promising as far as our home study goes, but I am not sure of anything else yet. I have always been a person that likes to do a lot of research before making a decision. I am not a jump right in kind of person.

In other news, John took his last final yesterday and is now on a 2 week break from school. We are heading to Philadelphia this weekend for some time together. With it being the weekend before Johannah's due date, I wanted to do something fun with just the two of us. I know there are a lot of people thinking of us and praying for us right now which we really appreciate.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Many Thanks!

Thanks so much for all the recommendations, advice, encouragement, and prayers. Whether you sent me an email or left a comment, I truly appreciated it.

I think one of the main things I learned is there are even more options than I had originally thought. I have not had a chance to do much more than a initial read through of the recommended agencies' websites because of a very busy week at work last week so no decisions yet. I am hoping this week will be a little less crazy. John has finals this upcoming week, but then he has 2 weeks off until the fall semester starts. John is planning to use some of this time to do some research as well.

Some thoughts, , clarifications, and responses:

I not sure why I thought this, but I had not considered the possibility of adopting from another state until I made the request for info. Somehow it seemed like it would complicate an already complicated process. I am thankful for the suggestions of national agencies and those located in other states. With the law in Maryland giving 30 days before parental rights are revoked, I think it may make a lot of sense to adopt from another state.

I am less overwhelmed by the application/home study process. It is starting to seem more manageable to me.

I realize that $18,000 is on the low end for a domestic adoption. I really didn't have an objection to the price Bethany was charging, I was just mentioning the price had increased. I knew it was well within the price range for a domestic infant adoption. For those who may not know, the cost of domestic adoption ranges from $8,000 - $40,000. The low end is usually for stepparent adoptions. We have decided we can spend up to $25,000 if we save a portion of my salary. The main portion of my salary has to go to paying John's parents back for the $24,000 loan they gave us to pay for fertility treatments. We spent a total of $30,000 for 2 IVF/ICSI cycles including the cost of all our meds. Because we participated in the shared risk program, we got $16,000 of our money back which we will put towards adoption.

The reviews of Bethany are so mixed - some people love them, some people don't. Unless Bethany calls us and says they can fit us into the fall training session, I don't think we will go through them. I think there are large variations in Bethany's timing and quality of services from state to state. I have no problem with Bethany's 2 year wait for placement (of course I hope it would be much, much less). What I have a problem with is the 1 year to complete the homestudy and get approval. I think that may answer A's question (see comment section on previous post) about the time frame between the initial application and the approval and waiting as far as the requirement for it to take no longer than 6-7 months. It will take them 1 year to complete the homestudy so we won't have a home study that can expire. They will not come out for the home visit and interviews until you have completed the training, but since we can't get this training from them until March/April it will take a year before we have a completed homestudy and final approval. Other agencies seem to be able to complete a homestudy in a few months time. Sorry if I wasn't clear about the timeline. As far as the screening interview prior to the formal application packet, I think they do this so you don't waste your time and theirs if there is something in your background which will disqualify you from adopting.

Jess, thank you for the suggestion of an adoption consultant. I had not heard of such a thing, so I will definitely be looking into it. Your comment really hit me when you talked about setting up a nursery. I am just not there yet. After 4 1/2 years of infertility and a miscarriage, I am not yet at a point where I can believe I will actually have a child in my arms some day. I know many view adoption as a when and not an if, but I am not able to do so yet. I have always struggled with feeling not good enough and so I worry about getting approved. At a minimum I can not imagine setting up a nursery until we got approved, but even after that I know it would be a struggle for me. The fear of a failed adoption looms large for me. But I know I have to open my heart again. I have more to say about this, but it is a post for another day.

Niki, I think I have msn messenger through my hotmail, I will be in touch.

Alicia, as far as a specific prayer request, I would ask everyone to please pray for God to open our hearts to whatever way He wants to build our family. We are considering other options besides domestic infant adoption. Pray for God's leading and will for us, that our ears hear a voice behind us saying, "this is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

Again, I can't thank everyone enough for praying for us.