3 + 1 = four orrs

Our journey from a family of three to a family of four through the miracle of adoption.

Four Orr’s…..or how about FIVE?!

Wow, what an adventure this has been! If you had asked us in October of 2011 when we took our first steps towards adding to our family (through adoption) what we thought the next few years would be like we would have NEVER guessed the journey we would have! God had planted in our hearts the “seed” of adoption in the years prior and we thought at that point that the seed was to grow along with our family, by adding to our family through adoption. Our drive to adopt was not fueled by difficulty conceiving a child, or health problems as a result of growing a child in my body or anything like that (though me and pregnancy aren’t actually very “good” friends, my body does pregnancy well…minus the puking, but it grows a strong healthy kid and births a strong, healthy kid….or at least has one). Our drive to adopt, was God inspired and we felt strongly that he was leading us to grow our family through adoption and that included preventing biological children of our own for the time (well, we thought forever…). I was asked fairly early on by a friend or two (and again during some really tough times) at what point we might consider attempting to have another biological child and every time I answered with confidence that I didn’t know, but knew that if that is what we were supposed to do Kyle and I would know and know clearly and cross that bridge when we got there.

In time, that time did come, though not at all how we would have expected (are you seeing a trend here, or is that just me?). It came through heartbreak and tears for children we thought were to be ours, it came with the opportunities to pray for numerous children, first families, social workers, attorneys and adoptive families. It came with stretching of ourselves and our boundaries of what we thought we could handle and thought our family would look like (at one point last year we were the non-family option for a sibling group of 3 who were 4 and under….despite that we were not yet working with foster care, that would have meant we went from one five year old to four children five and under over night-hello!). It came with continuing to walk forward and trust God and know HE was in control (I can say that easily, but oh it was not easy, Kyle and I like control….or at least to pretend we have control…especially of things like children joining our family!) and that HE has a perfect plan for our family. Knowing we were to try to have a biological child of our own started slowly (of course), through a few different situations (and disappointments) and truly we came to a point where we just knew that we were no longer supposed to be actively preventing pregnancy and that with biological children we were also just supposed to let go and let God show us His plan (don’t worry, we aren’t the next mega-family, that was an “at this time” sort of thing, not a going forward forever sort of thing :)).

I have had a mirena IUD, and we were approaching the time when I needed to have it replaced or taken out, so removing it was the obvious next step. Here’s where things get a little nutty (again) and we walked forward knowing that God was in control and that this was bigger than us and our shortsightedness. The day I went to have it removed there were two different babies on our radar as “maybe’s,”  yes, TWO. One of which was much more realistic than the other, but both that we were THE choice for if the parent decided to follow the advise she was being given by wise and trusted people in her life (who we were in touch with). Of course my midwife offered other forms of birth control that were more easily reversible if we wanted to continue actively preventing pregnancy; however, that’s not what were supposed to do. We were supposed to not prevent and move forward knowing God is in control even if that meant we wound up with two babies less than a year apart (one through adoption, one through biology). So we continued to walk forward in faith and in time both of those possible adoption situations came to conclusions that didn’t involve us, but we had the opportunity to pray for everyone involved, and shed our share of tears, but still knew God’s plan for our family was bigger than we could imagine and that His plan for us is GOOD even if it was hard.

We ultimately decided to move forward with pursuing foster care/foster-adopt and in January spent two weekends at the DSHS office with some friends who have had their own adventure in adopting (and are now pursing foster/foster-adopt) and a couple great and knowledgeable women who taught us the basics of foster care/foster adopt and what would be expected of us as a foster family. This was not at all where we expected to find ourselves, but it was where we were supposed to be (yes, at the beginning of our journey we had ruled out foster care….and yet God grew it in our hearts anyway). The next step was another mountain of paperwork in order to complete our foster care home study, so we started it….at least a little bit and then in early February found out that I was pregnant!

Then started the part where I felt terrible, barely being able to eat, lots of “all day” sickness, constant nausea and plenty of vomiting. I was so sick at one point that I had to go to the hospital for fluids despite taking multiple anti-nausea and anti-emetic medications around the clock (hello hyperemesis gravidarum). Needless to say, the paperwork got set aside (but it was still our intent to do it during my pregnancy), I could barely take care of myself, much less my family. Thank GOD for an amazing husband who took over virtually all the responsibilities that we usually share and those that I normally do in our house! I eventually got to a point where I was (finally) almost functioning normally and could consider who I wanted to see for maternity care this time, we wanted to pursue a home birth, so I needed to do my research and finally at 14 weeks pregnant (and still feeling sick much too often) we had our first prenatal appointment. Everything was normal, we heard the baby (though we’d been hearing baby at home using a doppler), I measured normally in terms of growth, I was still under the weight I started at, thanks to all the puking, but my weight had at least stabilized. We scheduled our next prenatal appointment and our “big” mid-pregnancy ultrasound for 4 weeks later and all was well (other than still battling intense nausea and some vomiting). I’m a “crunchy” momma, I truly believe women’s bodies are meant to handle pregnancy and childbirth and that while there are certainly times that things happen and we need help/interventions from the medical community (eh-hem, my anti-nausea/vomiting meds and IV fluids were definitely a needed intervention), generally speaking our bodies can and will do this and monitoring for complications is good, but that there can be too much testing/monitoring for my “style”. I prefer my healthcare provider to be a little more hands off and let me and my body (and my baby) do our thing, for us this includes not having multiple ultrasounds unless there is a clinical reason. With Aviya I had two, the mid-pregnancy one, which showed placenta previa and thus warranted follow up to be sure that corrected itself and that the birth we were striving for could be safely done. I fully expected something a long the same lines this time, my blood work came back normal, we were discussing the extra testing for genetic abnormalities and trying to decide if we wanted to do that (I am an older mom now, I passed the magic “35”) and expecting the most exciting part of our mid-pregnancy ultrasound to be what the gender of our baby was!

Aviya’s been saying the whole time that she wanted/thought it was twins and we’ve been telling her the whole time “nah, we’d know if it was twins…twins are rather rare…” Imagine our surprise (and her elation until they identified them both as boys) when at our ultrasound at 18 weeks pregnant we indeed found out that we are having TWINS! Two healthy, growing, thriving baby boys! They are identical (we know because they share a placenta and the main amniotic sac, but have separate smaller sacs of their own), for more info about identical twins, ours are monochorionic-diamniotic check out this link. We are absolutely thrilled! A little overwhelmed and still surprised, but more than anything excited.

Therefore, our foster care home study paperwork gets tucked away, perhaps for some other time….we will see in a few years where we are at and where God is leading our family and (at least) for now we close the growing our family through adoption chapter. I’m not quite sure why we needed to spend three-ish years trying to adopt, to give birth to twins, but I know that we’ve learned A LOT along the way and grown in ways that only this journey could have grown us and we know that God’s plan is bigger than we  could imagine and we are excited to see what that looks like with one beautiful little girl, and two handsome identical boys!

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Washing newborn clothing is a normal Sunday afternoon activity…even in homes with no babies…right?

Kyle and I have spent the last two days (and nights ;)) trying to not get ourselves too excited, or get “too ahead” of ourselves, but alas we found ourselves washing a load of baby clothes (and our ring slings ;)) this afternoon and I may have looked at last-minute airfare to New Orleans at some point (shhh). Why you may be asking?! Especially those of you who saw us on Friday evening and to whom we lamented how hard waiting with “nothing happening” was? Because we learned Friday night about a baby boy born in New Orleans last week, whose momma is planning on looking at family albums on Monday!!! Yes, like tomorrow Monday, yes for a baby boy who is already born (and doing well) and is just waiting for his first momma to choose his forever family and for them to arrive in New Orleans! Early in this journey (you know like a year ago when we first scrambled to finish our album, then waited anxiously to hear news) I thought it would get easier to wait, that it would somehow become routine for birth/first families to look at our album and try to know who we are and how much we will love their baby (and already do!) and make this difficult decision of who should be their child’s forever family….but alas, the exact opposite is true! Whatever it is that makes each showing of our album a little more nerve-wracking it is and we are both struggling to focus on anything but the possibility that this could be our baby, please pray for peace and patience for Kyle and I in the coming days (anyone else seeing a theme here?). We do our best to insulate Aviya from this part of the process, it is hard enough to understand and process this part as adults, we don’t think it would be fair of us to ask her to process this range of emotions with us too. Though I so look forward to the day when we get to tell her we KNOW who her baby sibling is and that we get to hold s/he in our arms very soon. Of all the people I’m excited to tell when our match happens, Aviya is the one I’m most looking forward to, assuming Kyle and I are together when we find out of course.

I cannot adequately articulate how much it means to Kyle and I to have so many people who care about us praying and thinking of us, our baby and our baby’s first family. It makes it a little easier to know that there are so many of you that are on this journey with us and feeling our anxiety and who will celebrate with us when the time is right. Thank you for that, thank you for being on this journey with us and thank you for your thoughts, prayers, encouragement and listening ears!

Please pray for this momma and her precious baby boy. Pray that she has the support she needs to make this decision, pray that she has incredible peace, pray for wisdom and most of all pray for her heart! Her heart is quite possibly breaking while making  this difficult decision for her child, she’s sacrificing herself, going against her own instinct (to nurture and parent) because she knows that it is not in the best interest of her child to parent him. I can’t imagine what the last 5 days have held, or what the next week will hold for her, but I know that regardless of whether this is “our” baby or not, that this momma needs your prayers.

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A moment or two of confusion for my heart

We heard more news today about the mom in Louisiana, she has chosen the family for her baby boy, who was born this weekend! The family she has chosen is a family who is in our program (there are only 8-9 of us). That is great news, in many ways-it means our program works to connect adoptive families with birth families, it means that there is a family near us who are rejoicing today about a match and making travel plans to be united with their son, it means there is an amazing and brave mom who has chosen life and adoption for her child. For a time my heart was also heavy because we are so looking forward to the baby(ies) that God has for us! Thus I sat at my desk after reading the update unsure of how to react, on one hand I was disappointed, but on the other I was oh so excited! Truly, for a bit I alternated between tears in my eyes and a big grin. Thankfully my coworkers were either at lunch or working so no one noticed while I did my best to process my thoughts and emotions and refocus on work. A quick message to a wise and understanding friend that was met with validation of my heart’s confusion was just what I needed (thank God for her!). Of course I shared the information with Kyle too, but knew that it was unlikely that we would get to process together until we got home this evening and we did.

There is incredible peace in knowing that this is bigger than us, that every piece of this journey is in God’s control and that HE already knows the perfect little one (and birth family) for us! There is such incredible peace in resting in God’s truth and by that we can also celebrate the match for this precious little one and his forever family who are rejoicing right now. What an honor it was/is to be part of the people who got to pray for that precious mom/family and baby and his being united with the family that is meant to be his! ❤ How great it is to know that there will be many people we know and those we don’t who are praying for our baby and will be praying for us when the time is right. ❤

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Louisiana….or maybe Arizona…or perhaps these mommas just need our prayers

It has been an exciting week for us! First, on Wednesday afternoon I received a call from our agency of a mom working with our partner agency in Louisiana who is planning on looking at family albums next week. She is due in early February with a baby boy. If you happened to be driving North on I-205 and saw the crazy woman in a blue SUV cut across traffic to take an exit (so I could take notes of course!) that was me :). All the information our agency was able to give us about this mom is positive and raises no “red flags” or concerns for us, so I was able to tell E right away that we would love for this mom to be shown our family album. She is planning on looking at albums next Wednesday and has as much time as she needs to decide if one of the families is right for her/her baby (they only show a few albums at a time). Therefore, we may know soon if she is interested in knowing more about us (usually the next thing would be an introduction phone call) or if she chooses someone else or as we have found out before it may take a few days or weeks. Since her due date is quickly approaching I hope we will know relatively quickly, but at the same time I don’t want a mom feeling rushed to make a decision, so I hope she takes all the time she needs! We are praying for courage, peace and wisdom for her and that she has a strong support system as she walks through this process.

Secondly, on Friday I received an email from our agency with a few documents for us to review/sign and news that a partner agency in Arizona had two moms who would be coming in that day to meet with the agency and discuss placing their babies for adoption. Both of these moms are also due in February, so if they decide to move forward with making an adoption plan they will be looking at books very soon and thus we needed to be sure we had all the necessary paperwork in place (check, I’ll be sending the paperwork tomorrow). We are hoping and praying for a call from E this week with more information about one or both of these moms and news that they want to move forward and look at albums.

With all of this news this week I’ve bordered on a little bit crazy and we both have found it more difficult than before to not get “too excited” or stress about the details (maybe because the babies are due so soon?).  A few of the things on our mind have included, what in the world are we going to name our baby,  if we are or are not prepared with clothes/stuff (I don’t feel prepared at all, such as we only have three gender neutral newborn outfits! Kyle says we are fine and will run to the store, borrow from friends etc if needed…you are shocked, I know). I had a friend (thanks Joci!) define it like nesting (which I never really did/felt with Aviya) without the definitive end/due date/expectation and she is so right! We have put this nervous energy to good use this weekend though, Kyle helped me fish the few boxes of baby stuff out of our storage in the garage and I established that not only do we have three outfits, we also have a total of three receiving blankets and a few bottles even. Kyle worked on compiling the information we need for a few grant applications. We know that God is in control throughout this journey, He has led us here,  He has affirmed for us many times that this is what we are supposed to be doing and we know without a doubt that adoption is where we are supposed to be and despite that it is easy for us to get a little nutty and fret about the details (okay, that’s mostly me….maybe). Please keep us in your prayers too, pray for peace, clarity and that we will grow together through this exciting journey.

Since it’s been a while since I posted I had not gotten to share the exciting praise we have regarding our family albums! With the changes to our adoption program a few months ago we needed at least 15 more family albums, they are expensive, about $25-$30 each plus shipping! We knew with the holidays we could find a deal, so we had everyone we knew keeping an eye out for us and found one (thanks Jessica!) through Snapfish to buy one book and get two free (Sweet!). This deal would have made the books about $13 each which was right in the middle of our goal, so we quickly recreated our book on their site and ordered them, our total was under $300, which was great considering the retail value. Through a series of errors some of our books were delayed in getting to us or incorrect, the problem was only with two of our five orders and Snapfish was great about taking care of it and rushing new shipments to correct the problems. THEN I received notification that because of the errors we were going to receive credits for 3 of our orders! This means we received our books for about $5 a piece, that’s amazing, Thank you God!

Thank you for your continued prayers, thoughts & encouragement, even if these three moms are not “ours” we know they need our thoughts and prayers and appreciate yours for them as well. Please also continue praying and thinking of our baby(ies) that they are growing strong and healthy inside their tummy mommy and for that amazing woman (and her family) that she is feeling supported, loved and that her needs are being met.

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Update and changes to our adoption program

We had a phone conference with our agency earlier this week where we learned more about the work they have been doing over the last few months to further develop the domestic infant adoption program we are part of (remember this is a pilot program, we were one of the first few families to complete our home study). It is now “just” a domestic adoption program, no longer is it focused on African-American or biracial adoptions (though those are still a big part). They’ve secured contracts with an agency in Louisiana and Texas and are awaiting the contract from one in Arizona. They are also now licensed to work directly with moms in Michigan, Ohio and Oregon; furthermore Washington’s documents are undergoing review now and they are expecting that approval soon (hopefully this month, but certainly before the end of the year) and Kentucky is also in the works.

What does that mean for us? This is GREAT! It means more possibilities and a “bigger pool” of birth mothers and families that we can connect with (have I mentioned how much I hate phrasing that makes babies and their tummy mommies sound like a commodity?! AGH, I hate it, but sometimes there is just no words to better explain). With these changes also comes more details/work for us as each state has different rules, each agency has different rules (within their state rules) and of course our agency has their own rules (within OR and WA rules) so it is confusing and overwhelming. Each agency (this means there are four possible agencies not counting ours…so five actually) has different fees too and we have to give each agency in each state 3-5 printed versions of our family album to have on hand, which means we need about 15 more than the what we’ve already done. For printing more albums I’m hoping there will be some great photo book deals in the very near future because of the holidays and that will hopefully make it more affordable. One of the most exciting things to us is that two of the three new agencies have placed 3-5 babies per month, that’s fantastic for us as a waiting family! One of the agencies most often places/matches after a call from the hospital once mom has given birth and decides adoption for her baby, so it is even more possible with working with them that things (at some point….you know after all this waiting ;)) might go really fast, as in call to be shown, to match, to baby being placed with us (in their state) from the hospital all within the few days after birth!

Phew, okay so if you are still with me here are my freak outs for the moment: for the last month or so I’ve had a growing feeling that once things go they are going to go fast. For whatever reason, I just don’t feel like we are going to be the textbook of match in the third trimester, know an expected due date, sort of be able to plan blah-blah-blah, perhaps it’s wishful thinking (minus the part that I like planning!), and only time will tell, but that’s my gut feeling for now. Also because of that feeling and seeing the financial stuff (and new financials) written out again I’m having a tough time not stressing about the money side of things, specifically because at match/placement there are fees due to the placing agency and  we have about half of those saved so far not considering the travel expenses. We are working on other funding options, grants, fundraisers etc, we just have to narrow down our selections and go for it. Thank you for your prayers & encouragement for patience in waiting, for clarity in which grants/financial options to pursue, for our baby(ies) that they are growing strong and healthy inside their tummy mommy and for that amazing woman (and her family) that she is feeling supported, loved and that her needs are met.

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