Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm pregnant, plan to continue my career...oh, and still pursuing adoption

Let's get to first things first: yep...I'm pregnant!  

On pregnancy: It took me a few weeks after seeing the "p" word on the test stick until I could actually say those words.  It's not that I wasn't immediately thrilled - it's that after month after month of negative tests, I prepared myself for another round of nopes.

If you are trying to get pregnant, you know that it can change everything about that monthly moment of discovery.  You know that the clock ticks more slowly, the days drag on and you wait with bated breath leading up to what is disappointment after disappointment.  

I have interviewed women at fertility clinics about the agony that comes with not being able to get pregnant. I have friends who have been there or are currently praying for positive pregnancy news. I cannot imagine their heartache when it never happens - and my heart truly hurts for them.  

For us, it took months - what felt like several long months.  Let me say, though, that I am actually thankful that pregnancy did not happen immediately like I had initially hoped.  The time we spent praying about growing our family definitely grew the desire in both of us to also pursue adoption.  

On adoption: Also is a key word that is incredibly important for me to communicate.  Adoption is not and will not be a second choice option for us - and my prayer is that it is not for others wanting to grow their families.

There are so many families that choose to adopt because they know how many children need loving forever homes.  There are 102,000 children in the United States that are ready to be adopted today!  If we leave that task up to those that are only pursuing adoption because they cannot have biological children, there are going to be thousands and thousands of children still needing homes!  Worldwide, the number is even harder to comprehend: 153 million orphans.

We feel that burden.  It's real.  We have met several of the children that need forever homes and when you see the need right in front of you, it cannot be ignored.

Matt and I are one week away from finishing up adoption certification classes with the Department of Children & Family Services.  We will have a home study, interviews and reference checks within the next 90 days - and then we will officially be certified to match with an adoptive placement.  The certification lasts for a year, then we will go through a couple of easy steps to renew it.  Our plan is to make ourselves available for a placement in about two years.  

The time will come when we can say yes to a placement and I look forward to seeing our family grow in that way, as well.

I've been on the receiving end of several questions/comments from people (with good intentions) in our lives that knew we were pursuing adoption and hoping to get pregnant the good ole fashioned way.  Here's a few examples:

1) So do you think you just aren't going to get pregnant?
2) I have a friend that couldn't get pregnant, then she started the adoption process and she got pregnant!
3) Are you going to go forward with an adoptive placement if you get pregnant?
4) I think you should have a child of your own first to see what it's like.
5) Nothing compares to the feeling of carrying a baby in your belly.
6) Do you worry that you would feel differently for a biological child compared to an adopted child?

On work:

And then there's the inevitable outside career vs. stay-at-home mom remarks:

1) Will you go back to work after you have a baby?
2) How will you be able to handle your early morning hours and take care of a baby?
3) What does Matt think about being home with the baby alone in the mornings?
4) Once you hold that baby, there's no way you'll be able to clock in again.
5) When are you ever going to sleep?  

Again: good intentions, but I think what makes my stomach twinge for just a moment is the idea of expecting people to fit into perfectly-shaped boxes that conform to societal norms.

I can't think of many people in my circle of friends that reflect those "norms."  That's because I don't think most people do!

I appreciate these comments and questions because they typically open up a conversation that allows each party to learn and grow.

Yes I plan to keep working.  Yes, the hours concern me and they can be crazy.  No, I don't like the idea of not being at home when the baby starts his/her day. 

BUT...that's a big "but" (no pun intended)...my career is my calling.  I have worked incredibly hard to be where I am today and while having a baby is already changing my perspective, my career drive is something I see as a positive.  

My job allows me to give back to others - and that ultimately gives back to me.  I hope that as a mother I can pass on the importance of setting goals, reaching them and finding what it is that makes you light up.

I also think I will be a better employee when I become a mother.  From learning to balance multiple tasks more effectively, to connecting with other co-workers that are currently walking this path and as a news personality - connecting with the community through a different set of eyes.

My husband is obviously a big factor in making work...work for us.  He is very supportive and doesn't view a father's time at home alone with the child as "babysitting."  He will be a great, involved father and while our schedules present a non-traditional environment, there are also major pros to that.

We will truly learn what it means to work together as a team.  We will value the role each of us bring in our marriage and in parenthood.  Our child will soak in precious solo time at special parts of the day with each parent and we will spend intentional time together as one family unit.

The point: I guess if this blog post has a bottom line, it's this.  Let's remember that we are all just trying to do the best we can to have a solid marriage, family life, deep friendships and jobs (in and out of the home) that provide.

We might go about life in different ways, but we all need support along the way - so let's encourage that stay-at-home mom who is sacrificing to spend time with her children - and say "way to go" to the career mom juggling work and family - "thank you" to the dad pulling extra hours to save money - and "how can I help" to the person that just had a baby or is adopting.

A little encouragement will energize a person through these life changes.  Trust me, it's meant the world to me.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An unforgettable four-year-old named Darrell

It's very rare that you see a child under the age of five on the Adopt A Child link on the Department of Children & Family Services website.  It's not that there are not young children available for adoption, it's that the state is trying to focus on the hardest to place children in this select group online.

Typically, only 75 or so profiles are listed for the entire state, although there are close to 400 children ready to be adopted today in Louisiana.

When I saw four-year-old Darrell's profile online, it definitely caught my attention.  I thought, "How is this young cutie 'hard to place?'  Look at that smile!"

Then I read his short bio.  Darrell has several medical conditions.  That's a deal-breaker for many.

I have to admit that I was worried when the adoption supervisor with the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) hand-picked Darrell to be featured in The New Family Tree on KPLC.  The segment has been incredibly successful so far in matching children ready to be adopted with families.

The children that we've featured up to this point, though, are healthy, vibrant and well-spoken.

Questions started swirling through my head...What about Darrell?  Will there be a response from people when they learn the extent of his special needs?

When I showed up with my camera to one of Darrell's physical therapy appointments, he was having a rough morning.  He cannot talk, but I could see through his crocodile tears how tough this session was on his fragile body.

Darrell cannot walk without assistance.  His goals on this day were to practice with the help of a therapist and special equipment - walking and riding a tricycle down the hallway.

Most four-year-olds have no problem with these skills, but for Darrell it took all of his strength.

I was so moved by watching him fight to get stronger - and occasionally, his big, bright smile would shine through.

Darrell's adoption worker, Desiree' Bellard, says a forever home could transform his abilities.  "Just a home that would be patient with him, they would have to spend a lot of time with him, give him a lot of attention and most of all - just love," she said.

Darrell has been in foster care for more than half of his life. It is going to take a very special family willing to take on Darrell's special needs to bring him the stability and love to thrive.

DCFS will work with an adoptive family to provide the resources Darrell needs at no cost. "He is getting different therapy sessions for his developmental delays and whatever is out there that we can help provide, we will do that," said Bellard.

Even though Darrell is non-verbal, he can communicate.  He lets you know when he's happy, sad, hurting or excited.  ""He's just fun-loving, he's full of energy, he loves to play, he loves things that are musically inclined," said Bellard.

If you have the capacity to embrace this special child and match his excitement for life, you may be the mom or dad Darrell hopes to be with forever. "Darrell can just give life to a family just like any other child," said Bellard, "he'll just make the family more complete."

Darrell is ready to be adopted through DCFS. 
 His special needs make him a candidate for adoption subsidies to help with expenses. 
Call 337-491-2470 to learn more about the adoption process. 
Click here to check out Darrell's story in The New Family Tree.