Endings and New Beginnings.

Some people compare adoption to a roller coaster. You get on, you go up, you go down. But, eventually the ride ends. For us, the last seven years have been like enduring one of those ultra-marathons..only, it. never. ends. Has anyone out there ever run a marathon? FPD is a marathoner, but he’s a little obsessed with the ultra-marathon. So, I’ve had to endure many a conversation about how cool ultra-marathons are. It’s when CRAZY people get out there to attempt to run 100-200 miles at a time. On the way to Florida this year, as we’re driving with four kids from our midwestern snow-covered home, FPD made me listen to the autobiography of some guy who is OBSESSED with running huge distances. It was all about his struggle, injuries and eventual conquering of these never ending runs. He never stops. Even through the torture, he. just. keeps. running.

It made me think that it is a total metaphor for what we’ve been through. We started our journey in 2001. We were happy, newly married, totally trusting. We were 22 and 23-years-old at the time. We had a house, two cars, great jobs. Why not a baby? I’m a pediatric nurse, I love kids. FPD, while less experienced, loves them too. We wanted a lot of them from day one. In our high school, lovey dovey dating days I talked about five or six. Pregnancy for me wouldn’t be hard to get to, but I would have to be on bed rest from day one, have a c-section and then wouldn’t be allowed to do it again. ever. One pregnancy, that was it. One child? No way. We wanted our five or six.

Enter the idea of adoption. Birth parents? Too scary. Let’s go international. Since FPD is a Spanish Interpreter, let’s go someplace where they speak spanish! We can share so much cultural heritage with our child. Enter the Social Worker (SW) who suggests Guatemala. Great! $20K? Not great, but we’ll do it. Check written to agency. Promises made of referral in 1-2 months. We’re open to any gender (but I REALLY want a boy). 1 month. 2 months. Where’s our referral? hmmm… 3 months. 4 months. This is getting ridiculous. 5 months. 6 months. What the heck? When questioned, the agency and SW (who know and love each other) tell us that we’re more high maintenance than anyone they’ve ever worked with. Trust the process. Stop bothering them. Hmmm… Enter the REFERRAL. It’s a girl, and not a newborn like we were told, but who are we to question? Our daughter is 10 mos. old. Who cares? We have a daughter. Process should be complete in 12 weeks. 1 month…no progress. No DNA test done, nada. 2 months…nothing. But, the lawyer is working on it. 3 months…STOP asking! Trust the process or the agency tells us they will fire us and take back our referral. 4 months…I flip out one random summer day and make FPD call the embassy in Guatemala. Not one piece of paperwork has ever been filed for our daughter. She isn’t even eligible to be adopted. WHAT? Call to agency that results in the horrendous firing of the SW and agency. Attorney hired, agency sued, money returned (well, minus $2K). Not quickly though, it takes two months and nearly all of my sanity. Lose total faith that God even cares. The end.

Enter new SW. You’re open to ANY race? Think about domestic adoption. There are so many African-American kids in the U.S. that need you. REALLY? Sign us up. We’ll deal with birth parents. We don’t care. They can’t take the baby back right? No! She assures us that once parental rights are terminated it would be unheard of to have a baby go back to it’s birth family. Alright! We’re in. Write “Dear Birthparent’ letter, sit patiently by the phone. Wait. Now it’s nearly Christmas. I had promised myself, no more holidays without a child. Stupid promises. I call a referral coordinator who promises to show our letter to birthparents at no cost. What? She’s Christian, so maybe these aren’t lies. Letter and copy of HS sent. Christmas goes by, we just stare at each other. One whole year wasted. How did we get here? No tree, no presents that year, nothing. No faith left. Nervous breakdown at the thought of HS expiring and wasting more money for new HS (still using the one from fired SW). Call to referral coordinator to tell her to pull our “Dear Brithparent” letter, God obviously doesn’t have it in the plan for us to be parents. NO! She says she’s read it and God is just waiting for our baby to be ready. Have faith. She’s working on it now. She has been praying and has a feeling that our baby is out there. Whatever. I have no faith left. 20 minutes later ResponsiBoy’s birthmom is on the phone. He is born, rights are terminated, come get him! New beginning. Faith restored.

–Enter ResponsiBoy, age 5 months. What a joy!–

In May of 2002 ResponsiBoy’s supposed birthfather sues us for custody of him. Birthmom wasn’t sure of who the biological father was, and apparently, this guy thinks he could be it. I crumple, FPD stays strong. God gave us this baby for a reason. Hold onto your faith. So, we do. Awful torture. Will we have to give him back? Not any time soon, but it will be a long, expensive fight. DNA test requested. Drive across state line to get it. The end? Praying for a miracle. Got one in July.

–Enter Middle-Middle (M-M)–

Born prematurely, family lined up but passed because they’re too scared. Can you take him? YES! HS had already been re-done because we were praying about it anyway. Not one boy, but TWO. God is good! And, while we’re traveling to get our new son we get a call DNA not a match! Case dropped. On to finalization of both boys. Two years of pure bliss watching them grow and change. Signed up with ResponsiBoy’s agency again. Requested a girl. Called in March of 2006. Surprise! Baby is born, he’s adorable. HE!?! Don’t care. We’re coming anyway. God has a plan and this baby is it. New beginning.

–Enter GigantoBaby–

THREE boys. Awesome! GigantoBaby is so big that we get the triplet question all the time. Are you ever going to request a girl? Maybe. All in His time. But, I have been praying. So, when GigantoBaby turns two and FPD tells me he has been praying for pink, we update the HS again. This time we’re matched with a mom before she delivers. Many phone calls, will she place? New territory here. She is wonderful! She delivers. I fly out alone. She sees me and hands me my daughter! We cry together. I love her instantly. My daughter…our daughter. New beginning.

–Enter Divalicious (Divalish)–

Divalish is almost one now. What about an older child? My work as a peds nurse has me working with families with older, adopted, African children. Is this something we can handle? More prayers. Definitely moving forward. He plants the seed for a reason. Research. Since I work so closely with Ethiopia, I’ve seen the waiting child lists. So many little faces. There is a four-year-old boy on the list that needs us?!? Instant love. Months of paperwork and money for HS. Not an inexpensive program. Told our family. They don’t get it. Can’t you just be happy with the four children you’ve got? We are. That doesn’t stop the calling for more. Discuss it in generalities with the boys. They’re on board and excited, even though they seem to understand that it won’t be easy. Falling in love with the idea of this little boy and our new family of FIVE kids. Agency calls. Referral was ready to be sent, but orphanage lost its license. Referral will not be issued. What about this boy? They don’t seem to care. Too many children that already have referrals in place to worry about our little boy. Can they just tell us what will happen? No, they say, he’s not your child. We can get you another one! Or, you can just be happy with the four you’ve got! Grrrr…The end.

This happened two weeks ago. I don’t think I got out of my pajamas for three days. But, I do have four kids. So even though it feels like Guatemala re-visited, I don’t have the luxury of time for self-pity. Is there a new beginning out there after this? I don’t know. But, I haven’t lost faith. I won’t lie, I cried a lot and asked Him why. Hadn’t we paid our dues? We just wanted to add to our family with a child that needs us as much as we need him or her. It’s not about paying your dues. It’s about finding the path that He intended for you. So, for now, we just put our heads down and keep running until we find it.

–Full Plate Mom

What’s the deal? An Introduction.

This is my first attempt at a blog. I’ve read A LOT before, but never jumped in. There were reasons for that, and they involve the four little people that live with us. They joined our family through adoption. Wonderful, difficult, joy-filled, challenging adoption. Their birth families are everywhere and anywhere. We don’t know.

We met some members of our children’s birth families, but not others. We respect their decision. We love their decision! Because it made us a family. But, we also have to respect their privacy. Some of our children’s families live right here in the U.S. and some of their families don’t know about our children.

Adoption plans are not made lightly. We saw each and every one of the kid’s birth families struggle and grieve. I worry about showing the children they gave birth to, the children they loved in their hearts. Would it make them sad all over again? Definitely. So, out of respect for them and our children, we started this blog with code names for our kids.

Some of you whom I personally invited know us and our kids. Welcome! Since you know the kids personally, the stories are all the more real and charming. Otherwise, enjoy from a far. Everyone out there has known kids that are our kid’s ages. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

None of this means I won’t tell OUR story. FPD and I have lived through some heart breaking experiences ourselves trying to find our children. Those stories are free for the sharing, mostly because we don’t want anyone else to have to endure what we did.

–Full Plate Mom

Meeting Cam

I am entering these posts into the blog during the fall of 2021.  These entries were taken from handwritten journals that I kept during our first adoptions.  We had a failed adoption from Guatemala at the end of 2002.  Cam entered our lives in the very first days of 2003 through domestic adoption, quite a bit of pain was endured during that time.  If only I had known then what I know now.  None of these entries will reflect anything that I now know about what a child endures when they are ripped away from everything they know and placed with strangers.  These entries are here for my children, so their journey is chronicled, but they’re also here so you can learn from my mistakes.  

For our new son, Cameren James,

It’s Gotcha Day!  We flew to Atlanta today and drove to Augusta where you’re staying with your foster mom.  At 4pm we arrived in our hotel.  I was so nervous because I knew that in just one short hour you would be placed in our arms.  Your dad wasn’t too nervous, until about 4:55pm when we were both standing at the hotel room window anxiously awaiting your arrival.

True to her word, your foster mom arrived at 5pm.  She had her teenage daughter and 7-year-old with her.  We took a lot of pictures, you smiled and laughed for us!  We received a lot of instructions about caring for you.  Your foster mom’s daughter cried a little.  I guess she wanted to keep you?!?

We took more pictures and then went to eat at a nearby restaurant.  You slept in your infant seat the whole time.  I knew right then how easygoing you are.  Such a good baby.  We got back to the hotel, put you in your pajamas and rocked you to sleep.  You only woke up twice overnight, but I barely slept.  I guess I’m way too excited about being a new mom!

We Lost Our Daughter, Who Was Never Ours.

I am entering these posts into the blog during the summer of 2021.  These entries were taken from handwritten journals that I kept during our first adoptions.  We had a failed adoption from Guatemala at the end of 2002.  Cam entered our lives in the very first days of 2003 through domestic adoption, quite a bit of pain was endured during that time.  If only I had known then what I know now.  

Today we officially stopped Madi’s adoption.  I’m writing this in the last page of this journal.  That seems so fitting.  It was a horrible decision to make, but it had to be made.  The agency will not let us contact embassies ourselves in Madi’s case.  We have no way of knowing then if her birth mom really does want to make an adoption plan for her, or if this is trafficking?

We can’t do that.  We can’t do this without transparency.

The agency says that because we chose to end the adoption, they won’t be refunding any of our money.  My parents are paying for a lawyer for us.  We will sit down the lawyer next week and see what we can do.  If we can’t get that money back, then we won’t be parents.  We didn’t want to chance a pregnancy because of my health and how hard it would be on me.  Maybe that would have been a better answer?  We were so afraid that I would be out of work the entire time I was on bed rest.  We depend on my income.

But, now we’ve lost our life savings!

Our social worker won’t give us our home study, the approved and paid for one.  She says it is still approved, but it is “on hold” until we complete six months of therapy for our obvious anxiety.

She is giving us the anxiety!!!

I don’t know what will happen now.  I question every choice we made.  Should we have just kept going with the adoption.  I don’t know.

We are heartbroken.

A Meeting With Our Social Worker

I am entering these posts into the blog during the summer of 2021.  These entries were taken from handwritten journals that I kept during our first adoptions.  We had a failed adoption from Guatemala at the end of 2002.  Cam entered our lives in the very first days of 2003 through domestic adoption, quite a bit of pain was endured during that time.  If only I had known then what I know now.  

I couldn’t write before now because the last few weeks have been awful.  Madi’s DNA testing hasn’t cleared the Embassy in Guatemala, and we couldn’t get answers as to why.  The agency kept telling us not to question them, that we have to have mutual trust.  Our Social Worker recommended this agency.  She says they are very ethical.  So, should we trust them?

Joe thinks that’s garbage.  We have spent $20,000 here.  That is everything we have.  We saved for two and a half years to have that money.  He is panicked that they’re not being honest.  They won’t let us speak to our lawyer in Guatemala.

After much prayer, Joe called the U.S. embassy in Guatemala to check on our adoption case.

We were shocked.

No paperwork has been submitted.  Our daughter’s birth mother is not a Guatemalan citizen.  She is from El Salvador.  The embassy feels our lawyer is not being honest.  They have concerns about him trafficking children from El Salvador over the border into Guatemala for international adoption.

We didn’t know what to do.  So, we called our Social Worker.  She was SO angry that we had made that call.  She said there was an explanation for all of this, she was sure of it.  She demanded we meet in person on Friday.  After a long meeting, she told us we don’t have any mutual trust left.  She asked us if we wanted to continue this adoption.  We told her we were so stunned by the news from the embassy that we don’t know what to think.

She has told us that if we decide to end this adoption, then that is our choice, but that she will then require we do six months of couples therapy for our anxiety, because we are obviously not ready for the adoption process, and the uncertainties that come with it.  It would be another 18-24 months then before we could be parents!  She would require that we do our home study ALL OVER!!! We are devastated.

But, Madi’s birth mom is from El Salvador.  That doesn’t feel right?  We would need her papers to go through the embassy there too.  And, I want answers as to why she placed her in Guatemala?  Was she trafficked?  What is happening?

Joe wants to continue, but only if he is allowed to have direct communication with both embassies now.  I’m not sure they’ll allow that.

We might be losing our daughter.

We were so upset, we felt like we needed to get away for awhile.  Away from the house, with her nursery in it.  We are at a hotel in Minneapolis.  We’re spending the weekend in the city, enjoying the sites and just trying to escape this nightmare.