Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ups and Down and Everything In Between

We haven't written any updates in well over a year, so we figured it was high time we did. If you follow The Canadian Baby over on Facebook, you'll have seen a few little video updates sharing that not much has really changed. However, if you did watch our update video from a few weeks ago, you'll know that we do have some things to share.

We're not really sure where to start with it all, so we'll just jump right in. Since becoming an active waiting family last winter, we have received a few situations to consider, but only really a handful. After a lot of talking and agonizing over each one, we only ended up saying yes to two of the situations. Now that doesn't mean we actually said yes to a baby. Here is how this one agency works, they send a "situation" via email where you get some details about the birth mother, birth father, and baby. Usually it contains age of birth parents, medical/psychological history, drug/alcohol use, etc. If it is a situation that we feel comfortable with, we can say yes and that then means that our profile book is presented to the birth mom. She would then have to choose us as a family for her child, in order for anything to move forward. So far, we have not been chosen. So over last summer and fall, we would get our hopes up a few times, only to have them crash when we weren't chosen. It's a rough roller coaster to ride, that's for sure.

Last Thanksgiving weekend, we were presented with a situation that got us talking a lot more about the different risks we would accept. We ended up saying no to that specific situation, but realized that our home study needed some changes made to it in order to reflect what we had discussed. I won't get into details, but this all triggered us getting very frustrated with the whole adoption process in general and we were feeling very discouraged. We decided we needed to take a step back and reevaluate what our next steps would be, since updating a home study is not a quick or cheap step.

In November 2017, we decided to register for embryo adoption through one of our agencies that we were already signed up with for private adoption. Embryo adoption is essentially the adoption of an embryo (or embryos) from another couple and transferring it to a recipient couple. For more information and to read some FAQs, check out this helpful link that Beginnings Family Services has put together. We had actually been discussing the possibility of embryo adoption for a little over a year at this point and decided that we wanted to put our focus on it now. We were feeling hopeful that it would be a good option for us, allowing us to experience being pregnant as well as the joy of open adoption.

In December, we got the call that we had been chosen by a donor family and they were going to be giving us two beautiful embryos. To say we were overjoyed is an understatement. We felt so honoured that a couple had chosen us and we felt like things were finally going in the right direction. 2018 was going to be our year to have a baby, we just felt it.

The next few months involved lots of paperwork, emails, meetings, medical tests, and hope. This was finally happening. We had to switch fertility clinics since not all clinics allow embryo adoption, so our first appointment with our new doctor and clinic was scheduled for the end of March. We had all the steps lined up so that as soon as we got the go ahead from our doctor, we would get the legal part going and were hoping for a summer transfer. Both us and the donor family were excited and hopeful going into this appointment. However, the appointment didn't go as we had planned and we left there feeling like all our dreams had been crushed. The doctor was amazing and understanding and smart and we 100% trusted him. In fact, we wish that we had gone to him four years ago when we started down the road of fertility treatments, as we think he would have been a good fit and would have performed tests that potentially would have given us more answers. To sum up, he did not feel that embryo adoption would be a good fit for us, seeing as I had a history of unexplained losses. With four miscarriages and no reason as to why, he felt like there might be more underlying issues than just an embryo problem and wouldn't feel confident doing an embryo adoption without further testing, including genetic testing of the embryos.

So we went home and we cried and we talked and we hid out in our house for a few weeks. We just felt so defeated. Truly defeated.

But hope is a funny thing. It has a way of sneaking back in when you least expect it. So we talked and talked and came to the conclusion that we wanted to continue with domestic adoption. We decided to switch adoption practitioners to one we were more comfortable with and to update our home study. A home study is good for two years, so with this new home study completed, we are going to give it another shot. If nothing has happened in two years and we are faced with updating it again, we might call it quits then. Or maybe we won't. For now though, we're focusing on our everyday lives and trying to live as normally as we can. While also hoping for that phone call or email that will change our lives forever.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


Waiting is hard. I've never been patient and I have never enjoyed waiting for things to happen, especially when I was really excited about something. But I have never experienced a wait like this, one that can end at any moment or go on forever. We have been waiting for a baby for almost seven years and I am so tired of waiting. The unknowns of when and if and how are really hard to bear.

When we first started trying to get pregnant, I was optimistic and excited and didn't mind waiting so much. Because I thought we would only have to wait 9 months before welcoming a baby into our lives. But that wasn't the case, that wait turned into many years. As the months turned to years, my optimism faded and I really didn't actually believe that we would get pregnant and bring a baby home. My faith in my body was failing and I stopped saying "when we have a baby" and changed it to "if we ever have a baby". It wasn't until we began down the road of adoption that I started believing this would actually happen for us. I still didn't know when or how but I really did believe that it would happen. And I still believe that. I really do.

The problem is, I don't know when or how. Indefinite waiting is so hard. We could be getting a call/email today with a potential situation that leads to our child or we might still need to wait for months or years. I'm not going to lie, this is really hard. Really really hard.

Dan and I have started talking about summer plans and I can't help but think "what if we have a baby then"? It's hard to make plans when you don't know what life will be like at that time. Here's the thing of it though, life can always change at any minute of any day. Whenever you make plans in advance, things could be totally different by the time those plans come about. None of us knows what our lives will look like in 6 months time. I'm trying to remember that. I'm trying really hard to just go on with life as I normally would and not factor children into things. To make plans and organize trips or events or house renovations without thinking "what if we have a baby then". If we are blessed to have a baby by the time those plans comes to fruition, we'll deal with it.

In the meantime though, in this hard waiting period, I will hold on to hope that one day we will have a child to call our own and our dreams will be fulfilled. I will just keep waiting, sometimes not so patiently.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Home Study

This post is way overdue but I figured I should finally write and share about our home study process. This is a necessary step for anyone planning to adopt and in Ontario, it is usually done over a couple of months with 4-6 interviews/meetings. We are planning on adopting privately and so we hired an adoption practitioner to do our home study.

We started our home study back in May 2016 and we were so nervous. It feels like a huge invasion of privacy and there is so much pressure to look good. Or at least that's what I thought. Really, they are just looking for a happy normal couple in a happy normal house, they aren't out to fail you. It's still an intimidating process but if you go into it with a good attitude and answer the questions honestly, that's the best you can do.

Here is a sampling of what was involved in our home study:
  • A home visit, where they check the safety of your house and property
  • Interviews as a couple where you talk about your childhood, your marriage, your current lifestyle, etc. They ask tons of questions here, a lot of them very personal. 
  • Interviews individually, where they once again ask about your childhood and yourself as a person
  • Medical evaluation by your doctor
  • Police checks and fingerprinting
  • Financial information
  • Five references, two from family and three from friends
  • Child Welfare Agency record checks
  • Lots of forms and questionnaires 
We were lucky to complete our home study relatively quickly and everything was done and signed off on by the middle of September. We weren't delayed by any forms and the interviews were done every few weeks.

The home study process is different for everyone, depending on who your practitioner is and whether you are doing it privately or publicly. We were fortunate that ours went smoothly and there weren't any major hiccups, which was a nice start to our adoption journey. It felt long while we were in it but looking back, it actually went pretty fast considering.

For anyone who is just starting down this road, my recommendation would be to find an adoption practitioner that you like and trust and to just be open and honest when answering questions. Ask for clarification on things if you don't understand and don't be afraid of learning as much as you can. You are paying for a service (if you're doing it privately) and you deserve to get the most out of it as you can.

The home study being completed means one more step closer to our baby. Every step of this journey will be worth it one day.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Adoption Training

It has been quite a while since we completed the mandatory adoption training but I thought that I would write up a blog post about our experience since a lot of people don't know what is involved in becoming "adopt ready". The short version of it is, you need to complete the training and pass a home study. The long version of it is, well, a lot longer.

Dan and I made the decision to start the adoption process in March of this year. We had been discussing it for quite a few months and one day just made the decision. It kind of happened fast, one day we were still weighing pros and cons and researching and thinking and the next we had decided we would just dive in. That is one thing that I find hard about adoption, you have so much to think about and so many decisions to make that it can be overwhelming and you tend to overthink everything. It's not a quick easy decision, it needs to be considered and discussed, but on the other hand, will we ever feel completely 100% ready? Either way, we made the decision on March 10th and immediately started moving forward. We scheduled our training for April, which was the first step we needed to complete.

The mandatory adoption training has an acronym, which is PRIDE. It stands for Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education. Phew, that's a long title and a lot of words to remember. Which could be why I rarely remember it when someone asks.

Like I've said, this training is mandatory no matter what kind of adoption you are pursuing. The only difference is how it is taught. If you are adopting through Children's Aid, this course is usually spread out over several weeks and is offered for free once you sign up with them. We are doing a private adoption which means we had to pay for this training and find a date and location that worked best for us. It was a 27 hour course that was taught over four days, which took up two full weekends and cost $1,400. I liked having it all done at once so that it wasn't drawn out and you could ask any questions you had immediately, but on the flip side, it was a lot of information for such a short period of time.

There were 30 people in the class and our teacher was really good. He has been a social worker and counselor for many years and has been teaching this PRIDE Training for quite a while as well. He had lots of experience and was able to answer all of our questions. It was taught to us in a classroom style format, with the biggest text book I've had in a while.

Fortunately, we didn't have to read the whole thing, it was used more as a reference. We occasionally broke into smaller groups to discuss case studies and work through different scenarios, which was nice because it gave us a chance to discuss things with others in the same shoes as us. There were also three families who came in to share their adoption story with us and it was so educational and eye opening to hear people's first hand experiences. We heard stories of people adopting through CAS (Children's Aid), privately (infant adoption) and internationally. This was definitely one of our favourite parts and I took tons of notes on everything I heard.

Overall, the course was very educational and we left feeling like we were better equipped to move forward with adoption. It was also exciting to be able to check one thing off of our mile long to do list!

Once we had successfully passed our training course and received our certificates, we were ready to move on to our home study.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Moving Forward!

I feel like it's high time for an update post, since things are progressing and everyone keeps asking us what is going on. So without further ado, here is where we are at.

We are finished our homestudy!

This has been ongoing since May and it feels awfully nice to finally be finished it. I realize that not everyone knows what a homestudy is and what goes into it, so I plan to write a post with some more info and give you an inside scoop of what we went through.

To sum up the last few months, we have completed the mandatory training and the homestudy, and have also raised enough money to pay for an adoption. Which means we are adopt ready and could technically accept a match at any time! This news in itself is pretty darn exciting.

The only hitch is that we haven't really advertised much yet, so that is what we are working on now. We have to put together a profile that we can then give out in book form or post online, for prospective birth mothers to see. The birth mother will choose us, so we need to make sure we are visible to her through many different avenues.

We are currently working on writing up our profile, which is one of the hardest things I've ever written. There feels like there is so much pressure to write the right thing, so we are slow at getting this finished. Once it is done, we can then post it to some online sites that are designed to show birth mothers profiles of waiting families. Our profile will also be given to our agencies in book form to be shown to birth mothers who come in looking to make an adoption plan for their baby.

Which brings me to our next item on our to do list, signing up with our agencies! We have chosen two to sign up with, JFJ Hope Centre Adoption Services in Mississauga and Beginnings Family Services in Hamilton. We figured being signed up with two agencies might up our chances of being found by a birth mother.

So there's the update, we are busily filling out paperwork and working our way towards being an active waiting family. Exciting!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Truly Humbled

I am writing this post way sooner than I ever thought I would be, but I am happy to share with you all that we have reached our fundraising goal. Yes, you read that right and yes, you can be totally amazed.

We had such a successful first fundraiser, bringing in almost $2,000 with our yard sale, and were busy planning future fundraisers that would hopefully bring us closer to our goal with each one. But God had other plans and those plans included a very generous gift from an amazingly sweet and generous donor. We are so incredibly humbled and shocked, we never in our wildest dreams thought we would reach our goal this fast.

Because of this change of events, we will not be holding any more fundraisers, other than the ones already in motion. Our awesome friend Vicky is currently promoting a babysitting fundraiser that she will follow through with and that money will go towards our fund as well.

We were told to be prepared to spend somewhere between $15,000 to $20,000 on our adoption and our goal was to raise between $12,000 to $15,000. We figured we would be able to swing the rest, seeing as it wouldn't be needed all at once. Our biggest concern was having the $12,000 retainer that is needed once we are matched through our agency. We wanted to be sure that money wouldn't be holding us up when the time comes that a birth mother chooses us.

I am pleased to announce, that as of today, our adoption fund is currently sitting at $19,310. We have been blessed beyond measure and the amount of love and support that has been poured out onto us has totally floored us. As the title of this post says, we are truly humbled.

Thank you just doesn't seem good enough to say right now, but it's all that can really be said. Thank you to every single one of you who has helped us reach this goal, whether it was by praying, donating money or donating time, we couldn't have done it without you.

*Our generous donor would like to remain anonymous and we are respecting that. Please don't ask us questions concerning them, just celebrate with us that we have reached our goal.*

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Yard Sale Success!

Our kick off adoption fundraiser, a huge yard sale, was held last weekend and it went way better than we could have imagined. Like, way way better. We were hoping to get maybe $1,000 and instead we ended up bringing in $1,815! Can we just take a moment to let that sink in and appreciate how blessed we are?

The prep for the yard sale was more work than I could have possibly imagined, mostly because we got way more donations that I had expected. We had over 30 people make donations to our event, mostly church family and friends but even strangers were giving us stuff to sell. It was incredible and I was floored by how much stuff we had.

The basement full of stuff
My sister-in-law Trish was superwoman leading up to the event and came to the church and helped me sort through things for two days straight, and then returned for the day of and helped for 10 hours. Plus, she did this with 3 kids in tow. If it weren't for her, there was no way I could have gotten through all the boxes and there would have been way more crying involved. Instead, we laughed and sighed and worked and worked and worked and were actually ready come Saturday morning. Thanks a bajillion Trish.

Can you find me in the above picture? 
We were so lucky to have a beautiful day for the sale and it was crazy busy. We had eight volunteers helping us put stuff out, set stuff up and then sell things. Plus, we had a pretty sweet refreshment table with cookies, lemonade and coffee.

Refreshment stand volunteers
The sale officially started at 8:00am but people started showing up shortly after 6:00am once we had some things out. From that point on, we had a steady flow of traffic all the way until it ended at 2:00pm, although there were a few lulls come midday. We sold a ton but still had two trailers full of leftovers that we donated to a local Christian day camp. Once again, people were so generous and we couldn't have done it without them.

Dan and I feel super loved and can't thank people enough for their donations, their help and their support as we kicked off our adoption fundraisers with a super successful event. We are so encouraged and are excited to keep going, each step bringing us closer to our child.