Saturday, January 11, 2014

If at First You Don't Succeed...

In early 2007 I took a job with a nonprofit organization that contracted with King County (in Washington State) to provide legal services to indigent people.  Since then, I've represented parents and kids who have been involved in the dependency system (the foster care system to most people.)

One year before I was hired, an attorney named Kevin Dolan filed a class action lawsuit against King County claiming that the employees who worked for the nonprofit organizations contracting with the County (like me) were entitled to the same benefits that all County employees received because the County exerted so much control over the agencies that it amounted to treating them like employees.  In 2011, after lots of legal wrangling, the Washington State Supreme Court agreed with Dolan and we all ended up becoming County employees.

Being a County employee meant that we all switched insurance companies on July 1, 2013 and when I reviewed the plans, I saw that they include coverage for IVF services - not the medications, but still!  It seemed like a huge opportunity.  Rob and I decided to give IVF just one more chance.

On November 19th, we found out that I am pregnant again.  Our due date is August 1, 2014.

This pregnancy didn't start off very easy. We had one huge scare, one less alarming scare, and one minor scare all before I hit 9 weeks.  I had what's called a subchorionic hemorrhage (also called a subchorionic hematoma or subchorionic bleed.)  My first episode at 6 weeks along presented just like a miscarriage (cramping, bleeding) and as I drove to the doctor's office from work and Rob drove there from home, we were both absolutely convinced we had lost the baby.  Thankfully, when they pulled up the ultrasound they could see the baby (it looked like a little eraser head) and everything looked fine.  The nurse practitioner told us that a high percentage of IVF patients do experience subchorionic hemorrhages and the vast majority of them go on to have healthy pregnancies. That said, she then suggested I spend a lot of time doing a whole lot of nothing and advised me to work on staying hydrated.

After a good four days of lying around, my symptoms resolved and I headed back to work. At work, it's a lot harder to remember to take it easy. I get caught up in what's going on at court and forget that I'm not supposed to carry a lot of files or run up and down the stairs at court.  So, a week after the first episode, we had a second episode.  We went back to the doctor's office and again were reassured that all was well.

Just after Christmas a friend of mine and I went to see the Seattle Symphony play Beethoven's 9th. Our seats were on the third tier and I didn't want to make a big deal out of trying to find an elevator, so we took the stairs all the way up. The next day I had the last scare, but decided to just wait it out instead of running to the doctor's office. At our next regularly scheduled doctor's appointment it all looked just fine.

Morning sickness hit at seven weeks and four days, but has been managed well just by eating a lot. I've put on some weight, and I don't care at all.  Today I am at 11 weeks and 1 day and it's the first day I haven't been notably nauseated in the morning, which makes me nervous on the one hand (am I still pregnant?) but is great on the other (daily sickness has its drawbacks.)  The only change to my dietary choices that seems strange to me is that suddenly I am a big fan of orange juice.

We were graduated from our IVF clinic to a regular OB/Gyn at eight weeks along and had our first regular check-up at ten weeks and five days.  Everything looks great so far, and we are feeling grateful, hopeful, excited, and petrified all rolled up together.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Foster-to-Adopt and Diapers

This week at work I was in a hearing in which an 18 month old child who had lived with a foster family since birth was ordered to be sent to live with relatives in another state. It was legally and maybe ethically the right decision.  The law is clear that relatives have a priority over foster families.  If a child in our extended family needed a home, I would much rather the child be placed with one of our relatives than placed outside of the family. I agreed with the decision.  That said, the foster family was there and you could tell that they were devastated.  They had taken the baby in through the foster-to-adopt program that is supposed to screen in babies who aren't likely to be reunited with their original families, they had loved that baby from day 1, and you could tell that to them, he was their son.  People ask us (especially me) if we've considered the foster care system and I truly have.  But I see these cases all the time and I see what it does to people.  If I thought it was hard to have Ida for not even three full days and then give her back, I can't imagine what 18 months would have done to us.

In lighter news, I thought you readers might like to see the little cloth diapers we are going to be using someday when we match.

  So freaking cute, right?!?

Friday, January 11, 2013


At the beginning of every month I contact our adoption counselor to see if anyone asked to view our profile in the past month. This month I was especially interested because I really want to feel like something is happening. It doesn't bother me to wait a long time as long as I know our materials are being requested. It makes me think that we have done all we can do and beyond that, it's just about whether we are a good fit.

This month my call was kind of fun. Maria told me that my timing was great because she had sent our profile to a woman who asked for it not even one minute before I called. Maria said she could ask around to see if any of the other counselors had sent out our profile last month, but I didn't really care at that point. One was good enough for me!

A couple of friends of mine sent me this link from the NY Times about a couple who went through the adoption process and had a disruption. What my friends didn't know was that the couple had switched to the agency we are using after their disruption, and their happy ending gives me a lot of hope. Here's the story:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reality Television

There are a few shows out there about adoption.  One is called "The Baby Wait" and their latest episode does a good job of showing what it's like to go through a disruption.  The adoptive mom said almost the same thing I said to Ida when it was clear our adoption with her wasn't going to work out - we wanted to match with someone who really wanted to have an adoption go forward, not someone who was coerced.  Here's a link to the streaming episode:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Bill

Since I was really little, I have loved getting mail.  When I was a kid, I once wrote to the tourism offices for about a zillion different countries just so I could get their packets in the mail with all of the photos showing how great the countries were.  Of course, I wrote to so many that eventually I got overwhelmed and stopped paying any attention to the packets, but no matter.  You get the point.  Okay, well if you don't, this is what I look like when I'm waiting for the mail carrier to come:

Christmastime is the very best time to love getting mail, because you get something nice almost every day.  Christmas cards, packages, pretty much fun!  So, yesterday when the mail came I was dismayed to find the bill from the agency.  My initial thought was, "Really, guys?  You wait until the week before Christmas??" and then I braced myself.

Backing up, the way you get billed for private adoptions through our agency is broken up by service.  You pay for the initial seminar, the home study, the entry into the pool, and then you stop for a while and wait to be matched.  When you get to the match, it all starts adding up based on how close you get to placement.  Each step closer involves several thousand more dollars.   The idea is that you're not paying for the baby, you're paying for the services provided by the agency as you move towards placement.

I'm not going to give dollar amounts here, but I will say that we made it through ALL of the steps.  We matched.  We met with the family. We decided to move forward.  We negotiated an open adoption agreement.  We took placement of Ida.  That's it - there are no more steps after that, and therefore we technically owed the entire amount, even though the placement disrupted. In addition, we owed the money due to the attorney the agency had to use as we were moving through the process, and because of Ida's ambivalence, there was a lot of interaction with the attorney. If you imagine how much a private agency adoption costs, that's about what we owed.

Back to the mail.  I started opening the envelope with the fear that the savings account that holds all of the money we've saved for the adoption was about to be decimated, but with a faint little hope that the agency decided to be kind to us.

The bill shocked me so much I almost woke Rob up (he's working nights this week) to celebrate.  The agency was very, very kind.  As in, unfair-to-themselves kind.  The attorney fees were about what I expected, but the agency fees were significantly lower - in fact, the agency charged less than the attorney did.

So, Merry Christmas!  Our adoption savings fund is in healthy shape, and we are ready to go if we match again!  Hopefully, we won't be waiting so long that I end up looking like this:

Art credit to:  Cory Basil

Monday, December 17, 2012

Screening Email in Dublin

Rob and I had planned a trip to Dublin, Ireland for this month, and had to deal with a few adoption logistics. First, we had bought trip insurance, something we had never done before, in case we ended up having to stay because of an adoption match (we almost canceled it when we got Ida - just hadn't gotten around to it yet) or leave early for the same reason.  We also had to think about how the agency could reach us in Dublin.

We bought an international calling plan for my phone to include texts, calls, and data, all within certain limits.  We chose a plan that gave us 200 minutes of calling, 50 texts, and 300 MB of data.  I figured that would be enough for all of the different communication methods and arrangements we would need if something popped up.

Jet lag is not something I've ever been good at handling.  I'm learning that I need to plan trips to the UK or Europe to be for at least two weeks because it takes me most of the first week just to adjust.  I spent a lot of time this past week in Dublin wide awake all night long.

On our second or third night, a friend of mine called (not realizing I was out of the country), and when I got up to see who it was, I saw that I had a screening email from the agency. I knew that our agency had started to reach out more nationally, but this one was actually brought to them by an Oregon attorney regarding an expectant mother in the southwest who was looking for an adoptive family for her daughter, to be born in January.

I called the agency and asked the questions I always ask - "Is she nice?  Does she want an open adoption?" and this time there weren't any answers to those questions.  The agency was still working to get information from the attorney, and had hurriedly sent out the screening email because of the short time-frame before the expected date of birth.

Rob and I had to really talk about this one.  It looked as thought the baby was going to be healthy, so that was great, but we really want an open adoption and we didn't know if the expectant parents wanted that or even how that would work with the geographic distance.  Ultimately, we ended up asking for our profile to be shown, but we did it with a "we'll cross that bridge if we get to it" attitude.  We figured tons of families would be shown to the expectant parents, not only from our agency but from many other sources, so the chances we would be picked would be extremely slim.

We still haven't resolved that issue, though - what would we do if we were picked by someone who didn't want an open adoption?  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Monthly Bulletin

Every month our agency sends out an email bulletin that reports on their outreach efforts and provides a list of all of the people who have entered the pool, been selected by birth parents, taken placement of a baby, or disrupted.  For the month of December, after the longest list of baby placement announcements I've seen yet (about 10% of the waiting pool), came this:

  • Shannon and Rob of Seattle were chosen by a birthmother to adopt her two week old baby girl.  They met with the expectant mother and her parents at OA&FS on Saturday, November 24th and spent some time getting to know each other.  Afterwards, Shannon and Rob welcomed the expectant mother and her parents into their home for a visit and tea.  The baby was placed with Shannon and Rob on November 27th at the end of a long day and many hours at a local Chinese restaurant that hosted for the final stages of adoption planning.  Shannon and Rob provided loving care for the baby for two nights.  After a very difficult decision-making process the birthmother decided to parent her baby.  Shannon and Rob were incredibly thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic and caring throughout their journey with the baby and birth family.  Our warm thoughts and support are with Shannon and Rob as they process this experience and continue on with their adoption path.
 I knew it was coming, I had said it was okay, and I still wanted to go home from work.  

That said, I felt a lot better today.  It is getting better, just like I knew it would.  When I was out for coffee with a friend today I showed her a photo of Ida.  She teared up and I didn't, and that right there is major progress.