Wow. To say that this week has been a whirlwind has been an understatement. It’s been crazy. Emotions are high, the parents are exhausted and it’s Noah’s first week back at school to boot!
I’ve been thinking about the next blog post in our adoption journey for a while now. I thought about writing a post on our various fundraising attempts like the fundraising letters (which were not successful for us) and the yard sale (which went well and brought in over $1000 for our adoption!) I thought about writing a post about the “no’s” and the how hard it was to hear that the mother(s) we presented to had chosen another family for her baby. Instead, I did not say anything. I did not mention our adoption journey on social media or our blog for over 3 weeks. Adopt a Love Story called and was like “hey, when are we pushing another fundraiser?” and I did not have an answer for them. I felt like all I was hearing was “no.” I honestly started to question if we had made the right choice to pursue adoption right now, knowing that we were not in the position to fully fund our own adoption. Knowing that my husband works long hours and that our twins aren’t even fully potty-trained yet (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.) We hadn’t even heard from three of the four agencies that we applied to! I felt like we were at a standstill in the process, but at the same time, it was hard to move forward with other non-adoption-related things because I knew there was a possibility (even though each “no” made that percentage of being picked seem smaller!) that I would have to give up these new roles once there was a new baby in our family. For example, in the past month, I have started teaching the Kindergarten Sunday School class at church and taken over as PTA Board Secretary at Noah’s school. When accepting the positions, I made sure to communicate with the church and board members that I did not know how long I would be able to serve, but I expected it would be several months before we would have to discuss me leaving these positions.
Each time that we presented, we wrote a letter specifically to the expectant mother about what we knew/liked about her, what we had in common. Those letters were so hard to write, but eventually, I started writing them like I write our blog. Like it was just me talking to the mom about the things we have in common and about the things we like to do as a family and that, yes we were a big family with three children already, but that we wanted to adopt as a way to complete our family. I shared that I had wanted to adopt since I was Noah’s age and that adoption was my first choice, not my last. Changing the way that I wrote the letters seemed to make a difference in our presenting. The first time I changed my letter writing “technique,” we were chosen for a phone interview as one of the “top 2” families the mother had picked. I was a nervous wreck because I had just told Tommy that Sunday afternoon that he could stop looking at VRBOs because we were not going to be picked. A few minutes later, the phone rang…
Every agency does these phone interviews differently. With this particular one, we were answering questions from the agency’s attorney who would relay our answers to the mother and then call us back that afternoon to let us know if we had been chosen. AHHH! Well, we did not hear anything that night except that they had not been able to talk with the mother that afternoon. We found out the following Wednesday (yes, I was a total crazy person by that time, after waiting 3 days for news that I thought I would be waiting 3 hours for) that we were NOT the family picked. That pushed me deeper into the “what ifs” and questioning. We did not know the reasons we were not being picked and my already over-thinking brain just did not understand. We did not tell many people when we were presenting at this point because I absolutely hated to send all the texts letting people know that another family had been chosen. Here’s the deal, guys, I KNEW God had a certain baby in His plan for our family. I did not know when the baby was going to come into our lives, but I knew God had promised us this and would fulfill it in His time. I was just too hung up on my own timeline. Anyone else do that? I started a new devotional at that point to help me refocus my thinking on God … and less on my timeline. It’s a great 60-day devotional called In Due Time and I highly recommend it for anyone that’s in a season of waiting.
We were sent a new situation on Friday, August 11th. We received information about a young mother, gender unknown, due in October and decided to throw our hat in the ring. It was the longest letter I had written so far. It flowed easily onto the page as I connected her likes with ours. I tried to be funny and sweet and empathizing (young mother to young mother) and after I pushed send, I remember thinking that she was probably going to think “who do these crazy people thing they are. They don’t know me” and in a few days we would get another “sorry, not this time” email from our consultant. We were told the mother would be presented with profiles the following Wednesday the 16th. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the mom had to reschedule her meeting with the adoption attorney’s office a couple of times and ended up not receiving profiles until the 23rd. After our consultant confirmed that the mom had received the profiles on the 23rd, we knew we still had a few days to wait for the dreaded second email.
On Friday, August 25th, I received an email from the adoption agency that the expectant mom had loved our profile and wanted to have a phone interview with us on the following Monday, August 28th. I couldn’t believe it! I made sure that T could be home on Monday at the suggested time and then asked how many families she was interviewing. JUST ONE!! She had come into the office that Friday morning to say that she loved our profile and was not interested in interviewing any other families, just US.
I am not sure that Tommy and I really slept at all over the weekend. I was a bundle of nerves, anxiously awaiting the call from the agency to prep us with some talking points and then getting everything ready at home for a 6pm phone call. That’s prime dinner time at our house! We cooked dinner and rented a movie for the kids and set them up downstairs at their little table (this was a super special treat because they have never eaten dinner downstairs.) We also popped popcorn to go with their little movie night and had that ready to go when they were done with dinner. We told Noah that we were going to be having a very important adoption-related phone call upstairs and that we needed his help to keep the twins downstairs watching the movie while we were on the phone. I think the Holy Spirit might have done a little baby-sitting at our house Monday night because our children stayed downstairs for an entire hour and 10 minute long phone call! T only went down once when they turned the volume up and our house was bumpin’ from the bass! They ate all of their dinner and popcorn and were sitting on the couch together when we went down at 7:15pm. I was expecting dinner and popcorn kernels all over the carpet, but they hadn’t even made a mess. What a blessing!
We really enjoyed that first conversation with Mama J. She had so many great questions about us and our family. She wanted to make sure that we were close with our families (grandparents, siblings, cousins,) attending church, making education a priority, etc. I could tell how much she loved her precious baby and how much she wanted for that baby right away. I was so nervous (like actually shaking!) but talking with her was easy. She told us on the phone that night that she would like for us to parent her baby. She loved that I stay at home with our children and that Tom is a doctor. We made her feel safe and comfortable. She loved that we have 3 children already because she wanted her baby to grow up with siblings. She even liked that we had a dog that we dressed up in silly costumes (we included a picture of Manning as a lion in our profile book!) The conversation went really well! I anxiously awaited the feedback from the agency the following day because they had prepped me that they would ask her if she wanted to interview any other families after speaking with us. Was this really our match?
By Tuesday afternoon, we got the email from the agency that we were considered matched with Mama J and sent all the legal documents and payment schedule to make it official. One large check was to be paid within 7 days of receiving that agreement but, because Mama J is due in mid-October, all of remaining fees were also due by September 13th. We have been saving for our adoption for months now, but we do not have enough to fully cover our adoption fees. We do not have enough to cover half those fees. The moments that I hoped to feel elated because we were going to adopt the baby I have been wanting and praying for for decades, felt overwhelming due to the task in front of me– determining how we would pay our agency fees in less than two weeks.
We have spent almost $6,000 already from our savings for our consultant company fees, home study fees, profile books, agency applications, etc. We also had enough saved to write that first $10,000 check to submit with our legal documents this afternoon and still have a little left over in our savings for travel expenses when our baby is born. The progress bar you see above is the amount we have left to fundraise to cover our remaining agency fees, that second BIG check due September 13th. When we set this amount on our Adopt a Love Story page a couple months ago, we knew that our adoption would cost more than this. We were aware that it would cost between $40,000 and $50,000, but we did not want to use that amount for our Adopt A Love Story because we knew that we would be paying some of our expenses on our own. I’m a stubborn person, guys. (Surprise! Haha) I HATE asking people for money. I want to pay for this all on my own, but I can’t. I know everyone just bought school supplies and back-to-school clothes. I know your child’s school is asking for money for field trips and supply fees and PTA membership dues. And on top of that, there is the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey where so many have lost their loved ones, their possessions and their homes. How can I ask for donations for our adoption when I should be rallying donations for hurricane victims or a hundred other completely-worthy causes? Back in March when we were meeting with our pastor about our adoption plans, I talked with him about the money required to adopt and how I was worried about fundraising. Pastor Kendrick said that he felt confident that God would provide. I cling tight to that confidence right now.
I do not want my anxiety to overshadow the joy that is being matched with our baby. I do not want my fear to keep me from developing the best relationship with Mama J. I do not want our children to see this time of preparation for our new baby as anything other than wonderful as we finish up our last month as a family of five. Less than 6 weeks, guys. Our sweet baby will be here in less than 6 weeks!
There is so much to do, totally unrelated to adoption fees. First, we had to announce our match to Noah, Eli and Emry Jane. I fell in love with this Love makes a Family photo idea I found on Pinterest in the beginning of our adoption journey. Originally, I had planned to use that idea to announce that we were adopting, but we ended up announcing our adoption on social media with our Adopt A Love Story video. (Speaking of, if you have not seen our adoption video, you can watch it on our Adopt A Love Story page!) When I was talking with Amy on Tuesday night about what to do for our announcement photo, I went back to that same photo and the idea for announcing our match was formed… The kids and I went to get the balloons right after Noah got out of school on Wednesday, but I would not tell him why we had the balloons until Tom got home. I have now learned that he does not like surprises, just like his mama, because his attitude was off the charts when I would not tell him why we had balloons that spelled out LOVE. My sweet neighbor agreed to meet us at 5:30pm at Noah’s school on Wednesday to take our pictures.
After we took this picture, I lined the kids around another chalk board with the date October 13th 2017 written on it. I put a small pair of white converse on the open side of the square and asked Noah why we would take pictures with a date and baby shoes and using the phase “love makes a family.” It took a few moments, but he realized that we were “getting our baby.” (This is a phrase he has been using for months. At every step in this process, he asks if that’s the time we are getting our baby 🙂 ) The twins were very excited too, jumping up and down saying “we are having a baby. We are having a baby.” 🙂
I thought of the idea for this picture on Wednesday morning when I noticed the little pair of white Converse in the twins’ closet that I had saved “just in case we decided to adopt.” I had to let Noah borrow MY white converse because he has recently outgrown his pair. ( I cannot believe we wear the same size shoes!) I am SO GLAD we took this shot. I sent both photos to Mama J on Wednesday night and she loved them. She said that they were beautiful and that the shoe photo was her favorite, which meant a lot to me. Mama J and I have talked a little every day since Monday and I am so thankful to be able to build this relationship with her. Tommy and I cannot wait to meet her (and see our sweet little one on ultrasound!!) in a couple of weeks!
In the meantime, our “Move Mountains” t-shirts are available to order to fundraise for the rest of our agency fees, so be sure to snag yours on our Square website. The shirts are super soft and come in great colors. I wear both of mine all the time! Amy, my sister-in-law, has THREE of them! Be like Amy 🙂
Here’s the link to order: https://squareup.com/store/christianson_adoption
Our shirt order will be about open online for about 2.5 weeks, so that we will hopefully have time to get everyone their shirts BEFORE baby comes!! Stay tuned for our other fundraiser that is launching VERY soon 🙂
Thank you to those that read all the way through our match story. Thank you for reading through the scary parts AND the exciting parts and for your support and prayers as we continue on this journey! God is writing the very best story for our family.