Oh, hello. Guess what?…

WE FOUND OUR STAR!!!!

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Yep, we sure did! On July 27th, 2017 I received an email that someone found our blog online. Her adult daughter was pregnant and had chosen to place the baby with a waiting couple. She explained that the decision was made earlier on but they hadn’t found the couple they were searching desperately for. She made it very clear that we were exactly what they wanted in parents for this unborn baby. For the last few months they had been searching for us as hard as we had been searching for them. We spoke over the phone first then quickly after we face-timed. We all agreed this was exactly what everyone wanted. It felt like fate. See image for re-enactment of our disbelief!

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Our Expectant Mother (EMom) guessed she was due around early October (our favorite month!) but she had no prenatal care at all so it was really just a guess. A lack of prenatal care, although unsettling for us, is not at all uncommon in the adoption world. For many reasons, EMoms choose to forgo medical visits. At first, we assumed she didn’t care about the baby, just wanted to get it out of her and be done with all of us. But, we learned a lot through all of this and one of the biggest things is DO NOT ASSUME other people’s reasonings. Several doctor’s appointments were scheduled and missed for one reason or another. We really started getting worried. We felt that her not going to the doctor might mean she doesn’t want to place her baby with us. When you have been waiting for 10 years to become parents, with many rugs pulled out from under you, it’s very easy to let negativity control your thoughts. This is what happened here. We didn’t understand why she wasn’t going so we let our past sneak in and eat us alive. It started to cause issues of trust between us and her as well as us and the whole journey. We didn’t trust them and they didn’t trust us. Their lack of trust in us led to dishonesty which caused more distrust from us. We knew we had no reason to trust them but knew they could trust us and vice versa but neither side realized that was one of the main issues. She met over the phone with our attorney (BIG STEP) and told us every chance she had that she still wanted to place her baby with us but we didn’t believe it until the day SHE placed our (ours = her and our baby) in my arms and called ME “Mama”. If we could do it all over, knowing what we know now we would have met them in person way sooner and made sure that trust was built early on. I highly suggest this for anyone just matching for the first time.

After many cancellations and rain checks we finally met in person. Nervous tension built on both sides of the equation until the second we all met eyes for the first time. It was like old family seeing each other again after several years. We hugged for a long time before, during and after our meeting. It was clear  in the beginning that everyone wanted to cry but no one wanted to be the one to break the dam first. Surprise, it wasn’t me. It was her Mother who ripped open the seal first. Everyone held it together until “EGrandma” asked if she would be allowed to know how the baby is doing. Mike usually lets me do all the talking but he jumped in quickly to let her know that we are both definitely hoping for an open adoption with them. EGrandma bawled, I bawled, EMom bawled, Mike licked his ice cream cone to keep from bawling. I saw a little tear though.  We sat in a quiet corner at a buffet, we hardly ate anything. In fact, I don’t think anyone got a second plate. We talked for several hours. So much came out into the open and filled in the gaps where our assumptions once lied (Did you catch that double meaning).  EMom made it very clear that I was to be in the delivery room and she highly prefers not to see the baby until after she has gone to court and signed her relinquishment papers. I respected that completely and I was stoked to be invited in the room. It all started to feel real for Mike and me, finally.

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Every few days we reached out to her and her mother to make sure this was all still happening. If more than 2-3 days went by without hearing from them our past told us it was all over and we would start to lose hope again. Then, it was all back on again! Our past kept torturing us both. When one of us felt positive the other one second guessed it all. The up and down emotions of it all were exhausting, frustrating, valid, invalid, and the hardest mental game we have ever been a part of.  We never figured out how to stop it so we just played along and survived the best we could. Me, I was losing chunks of hair and getting almost no real sleep. Thanks PCOS. Oh well, at least it was preparing me for motherhood right?

October 25th…. That morning we text her Mother to see how EMom was feeling.  “Fine, tired, ready to be done, no contractions…” All we had to go on was two ER visits where the due date was very much guessed, October 30th or November 7th or maybe even November 14th. Somewhere around there but really, both techs guessed so randomly I didn’t believe either of them. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to receive texted video of the emergency room ultrasounds and it was very clear the techs had very little to go on. It was also very clear that ER techs would not be giving us a gender. 😦

So, we could be parents today, in two weeks, two months, who knew? We could never be parents for all we knew (according to our past that popped in and out of our heads…constantly.) We went about our day, me “working” at the law firm while Mike worked his delivery job about 4 hours away from me. Then, another text came in suddenly less than two hours later. “She is having contractions!!! Head to the hospital now! Come now!” ‘WAIT! What! No, Mike isn’t here. I am too frantic to drive over two hours away by myself.’ What if I drove there and it was a false alarm? After much discussion with Mike and my immediate family I decided to wait and let them get to the hospital first then tell me if I need to come.  EMom had been dealing with Braxton Hicks since we met and it just didn’t seem right that she would all of a sudden be having real contractions. Also, what do I know about all of this? Nothing. We knew for sure by this point the baby would be delivered via C-Section so we have time right? Right? Nope! Less than an hour later they texted,”she’s being admitted and they are taking her back asap. Get here quick!” I bolted out of work and honestly couldn’t remember the drive back to my house at all. I packed so many random things. The diapers bagS were stuffed full on unisex clothes, bibs, swaddles, bottles, etc., for weeks prior but we had none of our own things packed. Mike picked up the pace and headed home as fast as he could. Luckily, my Mama, who a few days prior dreamt we adopted a biracial baby girl with golden brown hair, owned her own business which was 2 days shy of being closed for her retirement. She cancelled the rest of her day and drove me to the hospital 2.5 hours away. I had to potty so bad about 30 minutes into our drive but there was no way I would stop.

22885806_516873475351091_521022511319940484_nAbout 20 minutes before our expected arrival I got the text “its a girl!” I could have easily been broken hearted that I missed the birth but I couldn’t believe I was about to meet my daughter! I don’t remember much about the car ride but I do recall reading those words and immediately slugging my Mom in the shoulder in disbelief.

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We pulled into the hospital and I ran straight to the bathroom while calling EMom’s Mother. “I’m here! Where do I go!” “The second floor in the “*******” Wing!We are waiting on you! She’s beautiful with curly golden hair!” I ran (I just realized I did a lot of running that day and I am NOT one to run) to the nurses station and asked where the ******* Wing was. “What? No, you’re at the wrong hospital.”….NOOOOOOO! So, yeah. We went 30 minutes out of our way and ended up at the wrong hospital. Same name, different location. Ugh. We ran back to the car and dove in only to find out the correct hospital was 21 miles away and we had 19 miles worth of gas. Are you freaking kidding me!!!

During that last little bit of time in the car my past wiggled it’s way in again. I recalled EMom saying she did not want to see the baby at all until after she had relinquished her rights. There must be a reason right? Maybe she knows she can’t handle seeing the baby and will change her mind if she does. I started to panic.

We pulled into the CORRECT hospital, which was a million times bigger than the last one, only to park on the exact opposite side of the where we needed to be. Great. More running.

My heart was racing, my phone was alerting me to text messages from Mike, my Mom was telling me to calm down, I just wanted to get to this baby before EMom bonded and changed her mind. Finally, I was outside the room and inside was who I have wanted so badly for so long, my daughter.  I gently knocked (as if I wasn’t in a full on panic on the inside), walked inside and calmly sat beside EMom who was staring lovingly into the eyes of what I immediately thought was not going to be my daughter. IThanks Past, you jerk. Past told me I was too late. Everything froze as I put my hand on EMom’s hand and smiled at her with what felt like zero emotion. Then, I heard the most beautiful words I have ever heard in my entire life. “You must be the Mama of this little girl, we’ve been hearing about you all afternoon!” These amazing words came loudly from the nurse standing on the other side of the bed. The mama?! Me?! This women who just gave birth to this beautiful, perfect, healthy baby girl had done nothing but talk about me to every ear around. I burst into tears and suddenly my hand comforting EMom was switched to her hand comforting me. She leaned closer to me and said “Do you want to hold your daughter?” I don’t even think I was able to respond but next thing I knew I was holding my daughter, Kassandra Marie and I was a mother.

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Now that I was there, with my daughter in my arms my focus shifted to Mike. I couldn’t stand that he wasn’t there. He was two hours behind me and it seemed like days. Then, just after I watched our daughter have her very first bath there he was. The door opened and he saw her for the first time. I’ll let the photo do the talking:

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Shortly after the first moments we spent as a family, Mike and I were given our very own room where Kassie stayed with us. We visited with EMom and her family often and really enjoyed getting to know them more. 48 hours later we loaded up the car and headed home as brand new parents. 10 years and 7 days in the making. It wasn’t just a chapter in our life that was ending ending, it was like we were starting a whole new book. Like, we finally finished this horrible book, put it on the shelf where it will collect dust as the pages turn a soft yellow, never to be read again.

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Some moments we are still in shock. Some moments it doesn’t feel real. Some days the past creeps in and little thoughts of worry take over until we can put them away again. In the next month or two this beautiful little girl, our Kassie, our Star, our World will become ours forever. For those of you just starting out on this journey to parenthood, we just want to say DO NOT GIVE UP! Most days we don’t even remember all of the pain, tears, torture, and heartbreak we went through to get here. Those 10 years felt like a hundred until we saw our daughter’s face. Magically, 10 years now feels like a single instant in a far off memory.

The best way I can summarize this whole journey is this: Someone asked me. “Candi, does it feel like you are dreaming?” Without missing a beat I replied, “No, it feels like I am finally awake.”

And with that my friends, I will turn off my computer and go cuddle with my Shining Star. Thank you all for being a part of this with us!

 

My next blog post will be in regards to this quote: “There are many complex moments that arise from adoption, because adoption, at it’s core, begins with brokenness.”

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Dear Expectant Mother,

Dear Expectant Mother, 

We are Mike and Candi from Oklahoma. We met as children, spending our childhood in the same neighborhood. Growing up together, Mike quickly became another member of my family. After a few moves across country with his family Mike, in his mid 20’s thought back to his early days with my family and reached out to us.  We had not seen each other in over 8 years but reconnected quickly and fell in love. In the fall of 2005 we were married and our adventures began. Immediately we discussed having children. We wanted at least 2, maybe 3 kids. However, three years after our wedding we began to struggle with fertility. We stayed positive and motivated but, after 8 years we made the decision and placed our hearts on the path to adoption.  At the time of writing this we are 32 and 37 years old. Our marriage is strong and wonderful as we grow together each day. Our long road to parenthood has only brought us closer together and we are both confident that nothing could shake our love for each other. In late 2016 we purchased our very first home. This was not just any home! This home was built by my grandparents in 1972. Mike and I both have shared many memories in this home all the way back to our childhood. Our biggest dream now is to add the pitter-patter of little feet and baby giggles to those memories. 

Thank you for taking a few moments to learn about our life and considering us in this important decision you are making.

One Very Hopeful Mother in Waiting,

Candi 

Our Journey So Far…

Hello! We are excited to have you on our journey. I can’t promise this won’t be an easy journey as the last 9 years and 8 months has already proven how plans can fail miserably. But, in those same years we have learned about love, strength, resilience, and how impactful not only partner support can be but also the support of friends and family. We have had many people in our lives who have no real understanding of what we are going through. Some have run from this, most likely for fear of saying the wrong thing. Some have embraced it. We understand running. It’s uncomfortable. Its ugly. It’s not their responsibility to deal with this. But man, for those who dove right in even if all they could do was just listen or deliver liquor (haha) we salute you! You are the heroes in our story.

For those who aren’t familiar with our story, sadly it’s not an uncommon one anymore. I will nutshell… (Edit: Just kidding. I don’t know how to nutshell)

The Two Year Wait:

Mike and I met as children in Oklahoma. He became like a second brother to me. A few years later his family uprooted. We stayed connected over the phone and even through one week long visit where Mike flew back and stayed with my family. Over time we lost touch, but, after 8 years the phone rang. The date was September 25th, 2004. I was 19, he was 24 and after 11 hours on the phone we knew it was a done deal. In the Fall of 2005 with the world at our feet and a desire to be parents ASAP we said, “I Do”. On the drive down to Galveston, TX for our honeymoon we talked about becoming parents. It was agreed upon that we would wait 2 years. Not an easy decision, as we already had names, nursery themes, family vacations, eye color, hair texture…our path was planned out. We counted down the days until our second anniversary. Our innocent little minds thought that the two year wait was brutal. We had no idea what was in store for us. We almost cheated and secretly tried for a baby early. Thinking about it now, I just can’t believe how the heck we ended up here. This is our story.

It’s Time:

I am feeling every emotion, both positive and negative at one time as I write this. It is for sure a weird feeling to journey back through all of this. By our 3rd anniversary we were still not pregnant and I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). ‘What in the world is that?’ In 2008 it wasn’t talked about. Social Media was still an infant to this world. We didn’t even own a computer yet. I could talk for days about PCOS but I won’t. Not right now. This isn’t so much about what has stopped us from our dreams. This is about what  we are doing to make our dreams a reality.  This is the story of how we came to our current path. Okay, back to it. I basically ignored my diagnosis for a year or so then, while getting pedicures with my friend Chassity I told her our story. I hadn’t talked to many about it at the time. My parents knew and maybe a few really close friends. After telling my story to her she referred me to a wonderful fertility doctor in my area. Her sister, also having PCOS, had a now two year old son, and was working on her second pregnancy (SURPRISE! She got TWINS and then immediately after a surpirse baby girl!). She has given me hope by sharing her journey privately with me. However, the idea that I 1) Needed a Fertility Doctor and B) Had to pay out of our tiny pockets to make a baby meant that I had to come to some ugly realizations about my own womanhood. I had to own up to the fact that my body was “broken”. That because of me, we needed help, time off from work, and a lot of money.

The Two Week Wait: (Much longer than the Two Year Wait)

After our first try with the doctor it was time to shell out another $200 for Mike to get tested. The tech said, “We are looking for 3 things: Quantity, Motility, and Morphology. Don’t worry yet, guys. As long as it’s not Morphology we can make this baby happen fairly easy!” Guess what it was? Yep. Low Morphology. Lets go ahead and fast forward through our 3 rounds of fertility treatment which included injections (done by both doctor/tech and Mike right into my pelvis and hips), pills, positioning, baby making sex (NOT as fun as not baby making sex), timing, charting, horrible vaginal probings while in the middle of a medicine induced menstrual cycle with 2+ people watching, and money flying out the window. At some point around this part of the journey we decided to be more open. We started talking about it as if it wasn’t killing us on the inside. We talked about it like it was a friend that we spend a lot of time with even though they got on our nerves. It became this 3rd being taking up space in our home, our hearts, and our minds while draining our wallet. It was time for a break.

The POSITIVE:

Eight weeks after deciding we need a mental, physical, and financial break from fertility treatment we found out we were 6 weeks pregnant. It was 4:30am on a random Monday. Mike’s alarm was still thirty minutes away from waking the rest of the house. I stood in my bathroom with three POSITIVE tests that I just knew must be broken. I woke up Mike with zero excitement and explained the broken tests. He threw on some clothes and drove to Walmart for the more expensive tests because obviously the more they cost the better they work, right? (That is not at all true.) Twenty minutes later I stared down at 5 POSITIVE tests that I still believed to be broken. ‘No way! This can’t be right.’ After what seemed like several minutes of dead silence, I raised my eyes from the counter and gently spoke the words to Mike “we are going to be parents.” No excitement. I didn’t trust excitement anymore. Mike stared at me, then burst into screams of “CALL MOM AND DAD! NOW! WE HAVE TO TELL THEM!!!!” He instantly skyrocketed to cloud nine. We called my parents, it was around 5:15am. My Dad laughed in a shocked, jovial way. My Mom immediately went into Mom-Mode. “Candi! Are you sitting down? Are your feet up? Are you resting! We can’t lose this baby! Be careful! Call in sick! You’re not leaving the couch until that baby is here!” She was basically screaming in the most calmed way she could, the way only concerned mothers know how to do. At 8am, when the doors opened Mom and I were standing outside my doctor’s office waving my POSITIVE tests in a Ziploc bag. We walked in and I high-fived every single person on the staff. They all had gotten to know me by this point. My blood was drawn and a test for Progesterone was requested. That afternoon I got the report, “Blood test is POSITIVE! You are pregnant! Congratulations!” (Our nurse, Stevie even cried a bit when she told me.) “Candi, your Progesterone is pretty low. We have rushed a prescription to a specialty pharmacy and they will have it asap. Please go immediately to pick it up and start.” Great, more things entering my sacred chamber, now a vaginal suppository. But, I don’t care! Lets do whatever it takes! I got home, popped my feet up, gave myself the suppository, and cried tears of joy for the first time. I was letting myself feel it now. Mike was texting and calling every 5 minutes. I had stayed quiet on social media. Not Mike. “ON CLOUD 9!” Many figured it out. Some, he flat out told. I was more of the “Anyone we tell, we have to un-tell if we lose the baby” kind of girl.

The Un-Telling:

Wednesday morning I returned to my doctor for more blood work to ensure Baby M. was growing. They always called me pretty early in the day with results however, on this day I knew it was bad news as they ignored my calls until it was 5 minutes before closing time.  As my poem says: “For two days, in my grasp, tight in my hand, seven years, fighting for a plan. It was here, finally. Then it wasn’t. Two days on Cloud 9. One moment is all it took, to fall back to earth from another missed chance at new birth.” Calling Mike with the news was the worst moment of my entire life. He was driving over the road and had been texting me obsessively for an update. I couldn’t make him wait any longer as hard as I tried. His voice was a jailed calm. He shut down all emotion going in and coming out. He refused to feel anything. He did not come straight home that night. I was getting concerned. Mike was not a drinker but I found him sitting in the corner of a dark bar neither of us had ever been to. He was hiding from everything, from emotion, from friends and family, from infertility, and even from me. I pulled up a stool beside him and ordered a drink. There we sat for I don’t know how long, with our one drink and our silence. My Mom drove us home that night. For several days we didn’t know how to act around each other. We both had jobs and didn’t have time to feel. To cast off the need for grieving of a miscarriage because “a lot of women have them” is not even the worst thing that was said to us. Miscarriage is more than losing a fetus. It forced us to re-feel the last 7 years of torture. In those 2 days of pregnancy you better know we did everything for that baby. Every breath I took was for our baby, every piece of food was researched and confirmed to be safe for our baby. We knew our due date (March 20th). We planned the next 18 years of our lives in those two days. I had already closed my eyes a hundred times and pictured our baby. I saw Mike’s face as he gazed tearfully at our baby. We had already thought about names and the out fit he/she would wear on the day they came home. That baby was as real to us as if we were already holding them in our arms. Miscarriage is far more than what it is painted to be. There is no funeral. There is very little support. It’s stomach cramps, and blood, and back pains, and leg pains and heart ache, and loss, and depression, and tears, and tears, and more tears. It’s hoping your body will shed it’s “unwanted” baby naturally to avoid another surgery. It’s not knowing how you will ever be able to breathe again. How will normal conversations ever happen again? How will I ever stop feeling this? After a few days of waiting for the miscarriage to actually start I realized we had a lot of people to “un-tell”. It was brutal. It was uncomfortable. No one said the right thing. No one said the wrong thing. No one could fix this. Everyone wanted to fix this. We became this broken thing that no one could do anything about it.

2015 (A Fresh New Start):

After a second miscarriage that was taking place during our New Year’s Eve Party I decided it was time to slowly plant a seed of adoption in Mike. Yeah, you read that right. The morning of our annual New Year’s Eve Party I was miscarrying our second baby. We didn’t know we were pregnant. We were still not back to our fertility treatments yet. Once we knew, I did the math. 6 weeks again. I told Mike if we cancel our big party the infertility monster that lives with us (see above) will win. I refused to cancel. Instead, Mike headed to Walgreens for adult diapers. My husband has been such a trooper, y’all. i mean, AMAZING. Yep. I was basically the New Year’s Eve Baby, with my diaper on and my champagne in hand. We started the first day of 2015 with losing our second baby. Honestly, as horrible as this was it was nothing like the first one. We knew the ropes. We knew what to expect. We were used to having the rug pulled out from underneath us. We’ve played this game before. I began researching adoption. The first problem: $25,000-$55,000 average cost in the United States. Mike and I don’t make a lot of money. Our savings account was bone dry thanks to fertility treatment costs and a surgery I had to prepare my body to carry a baby (Sigh), combined with a little money management neglect. Then, I found out about adoption through the foster care system. This was our chance! Over the next several months I gently brought it up to Mike. Still hanging on to the hope of fertility, Mike was not ready. I was very patient. I knew if I pushed him, he would close off. Is that a man thing? I don’t know. But it is a Mike thing. On Thanksgiving morning, our youngest nephew, Trevor was begging Uncle Mike for tickles and air tossing. I sat on the couch across from them and watched Mike in a total euphoric state with our tiny toddler nephew giggling like crazy. Mike was glowing and grinning from ear to ear. This is not at all uncommon when Mike and children get together. But this time something was different. There were several people in the room, the house was loud from cooking, kids, family talking, dogs barking, the football game etc. But all I saw were those two. Everything else melted away. Mike looked at me with the biggest, twinkling eyes and mouthed “I’m ready. Let’s adopt.” I disappeared outside by myself and bawled my eyes out.

The Adoption Journey Begins:

In January of 2016 we attended our first meeting with our state foster system. After much consideration we decided that fostering was not for us at the time. We knew adopting younger children from foster care is a longer process, full of red tape and heart ache. (Omg, that would be a great adoption song! “Red Tape and Heart Ache” :copyrighted:) But we were used to that so we proceeded. We did every single thing asked of us and because of my anal-retentive personality we went above and beyond what was expected. In 17 months we went through 3 adoption workers (might be more, it was all confusing. I think we had some quit before we even met them), 1 Home Study worker, a Foster/Adoption teacher, 4 medical exams, fingerprints, vet visits, reassessments, 1 adoption party out of town, and about 987,563, 927, 949er, 764, 324, 985, 749 documents. It was brutal but if you haven’t caught on by now, we were used to that. In May of 2017 we were told that our favorite adoption worker was leaving. We had gotten so close that she even called us on a Saturday with a choked up throat to tell us goodbye and wish us luck. She reminded us that we were of her favorite adoptive couples ever. Our new adoption worker came out to our home a few weeks later. She seemed cool. Two days later an email arrived with the subject, “FYI”. The body of the email basically said that unless we are open to teenagers they can no longer work with us. I wish we were. I wish we had it in us. But, it wouldn’t be fair to anyone if we faked that we felt comfortable with the idea. Welp. Rug pulled out again.

Domestic Infant Adoption

So, you’ve made it this far in our story. Impressive! Thank you! This is where we are now. Like, right now. You are now in this moment with us, on this journey with us. We have narrowed down to 3 adoption agencies. We have just completed our first FUNDraiser! Using Bonfire.com we were able to sell 39 t-shirts bringing in the first $558 towards the big goal of $25,000. Mike is working 7 days a week between his two jobs. I have been allowed overtime which I am maxing out now. We have come up with some fantastically fun ideas for raising money and making sure it’s beneficial for everyone who chooses to be involved. If you would like to help us on our journey click here.

Thank you so much for reading! Feel free to comment below, email us, or say hi if you find us on Facebook or instagram.

-Candi, Mike, and Baby (Wherever you are…)

Baby, we have fought for you for almost 10 years. We will never give up on our shining star. Wherever you are. Mommy and Daddy are coming for you. We love you!