Friday, April 28, 2006
Can you hear me now?
Have you ever had a time when you've listened in on a phone conversation that you probably weren't meant to hear? I just had that experience today!

My phone rings, I see that it's an incoming call from the hubbie so I answer.

"Hello! Hello?" No response.

"Oronzo, what are you doing? Talk to me!"

"Can you say 'Hi' Snuggle Bug? Say 'Hi' to him," prompts Oronzo.

"Goobbaa aabba boo," responds Snuggle Bug in his adorable 16 month old baby voice. I guess he doesn't want to say hi. I'm really not sure who he's supposed to be talking to.

I talk into the phone, hoping for some recognition, "Snuggle Bug, do you have Dada's phone? Give it back so Mama can talk to Dada." No response. All I hear is another person's phone ringing.

"Are you done? Hey, done? No, don't do that. I'll take it away. Eat it. No, don't drop it. No," Oronzo firmly scolds.

"No! No! No!" comes Snuggle Bug's lippy response.

Muffled noises break in and out. An older child screams in the background.

Laughter ensues.

"Snuggle Bug, hey. Come this way. No, this way, not that way. You have to go up front."

Squeals of delight from Snuggle Bug and the sounds of little feet pattering away. I can picture him trying to escape Oronzo, thinking they're playing a game of chase.

"Careful baby. Come on, we have to pay."

"Bye, Bye," is Snuggle Bug's sweet parting to someone in the restaurant.

"Good waving, baby." ((Oronzo always compliments Snuggle Bug on his waving skills.))

"Abbbabbba Baa," Snuggle Bug replies cheerfully..

"You're goofy," exclaims Oronzo.

I confess, I plugged in my hands free earplugs and listened to the banter between Oronzo and Snuggle Bug for nearly 30 minutes before finally hanging up. You see, Oronzo is a work-from-home dad and he cares for Snuggle Bug throughout the day, while I'm at work. I miss both my boys and this chance to have a short peak into their day was bittersweet.

I'll revisit that topic at another date.
12:54 PM

Thursday, April 27, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 4)
I left off in Part 3 with awaiting the birth of Snuggle Bug.

Before continuing, I'd like to elaborate on something that I touched on in a previous entry. I mentioned that I was terrified that Giselle or Quinn would change their mind at some point before or right after the birth of their baby.

Logically we knew that, although they both seemed quite determined with the adoption plan for their baby, they would still have to re-make that decision again after he was born. Even though Quinn had terminated his parental rights before the baby was born (in this state the father can sign before, but not the mother), I knew that he still could change his mind after the baby was born and convince Giselle not to place.

Knowing all of this, we promised ourselves not to get crazy with buying stuff for the baby. It had nothing to do with spending money, it had everything to do with our feeble efforts not to become emotionally attached. There was one awkward conversation when Giselle asked us how we had decorated the nursery for Snuggle Bug and we admitted, "We thought it best not to do that until after his birth." We didn't want to offend her or seem unexcited about the baby, but we wanted to be honest in letting her know that we felt we didn't have the right to do this beforehand. My younger sister wanted to throw us a baby shower so that we'd be prepared before he was born. I asked her to wait and throw him a "Welcome" shower instead.

I explain all of this because I was reminded of it again, as the hour of Snuggle Bug's birth drew near. The time was upon us when Quinn and Giselle would have to re-make their decision about placing their baby for adoption.

Although Oronzo and I attempted to sleep around midnight, I wasn't very successful. I was too keyed up to sleep. While Oronzo was snoring away in a chair beside me, I was journaling to keep my sanity. I think I finally dozed off around 2:30 a.m. but woke up at 4:30 a.m. and began pacing the halls in the waiting room outside Giselle's room.

Shortly after 5:00 a.m., Giselle's mom (to be referred to as "Clara") came out to tell me that the nurse checked and Giselle was fully dilated to 10 cm and the baby was ready to come! They were frantically trying to get a doctor on the floor and two nurses began "suiting up" thinking they may have to deliver the baby. Luckily, the doctor arrived just in the nick of time!

Once I heard from Clara, I raced back to wake up Oronzo and he got his camera read. Quinn and Giselle's grandmother (to be referred to as "Ellen") were also waiting outside of Giselle's room. Quinn had passed on the opportunity to be Giselle's birthing coach during delivery, so her mom was in the room with her. Quinn and I anxiously paced the hall right outside Giselle's door.

At 6 a.m., we heard several tiny cries, as Snuggle Bug entered the world! Quinn and I looked at each other nervously. Suddenly, the door opened and a nurse placed a warm bundle into my arms and began ushering me quickly down the hall to the room they had set aside for us, explaining that we needed to hurry to keep the baby warm!

I walked quickly towards the room, as Oronzo frantically snapped pictures in front of me.

What were my first impressions? Shock! It all seemed to happen so quickly. 2 minutes after his birth, I was holding this tiny babe who was wrapped in a warm blanket. I looked down at this squirming package and all I could see was dark brown hair going every which way! I remember thinking, "He's so light!"

Ellen followed behind me and I vaguely remember seeing Quinn enter Giselle's room. These were quick impressions as I was being hustled along by the nurse and I was trying to concentrate on walking, fearing I would trip and drop the baby.

Once we got to our room, the nurse took Snuggle Bug from me and placed him in a clear bassinet, with a heat lamp hung above it to keep him warm. She un-wrapped him and began doing the APGAR (Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration) tests on him. We later learned he scored a nine, signifying perfectly healthy responses.

At that point, he began to really wail (his cries sounded like a cat having his tail stepped on, but they weren't really very loud), especially as the nurse suctioned mucus out of his mouth and nose.

I stood there and watched everything the nurse was doing, soaking in every detail of Snuggle Bug. I counted that he had 10 fingers and 10 toes. His fingers were quite long. He had wide full lips that were very red. His body had a healthy pink color (no jaundice apparent). He had the most adorable little button nose. He had a full head of thick dark hair that was wild and sticky with slime from his birth. His skull was handsomely shaped (no cone head or lumps) and his face had delicate features with no apparent bruising. His little penis looked fine. The umbilical cord had already been clamped. He was breathtakingly beautiful and so very tiny!

After my inventory of Snuggle Bug, I peeled my eyes away to do a quick search for Oronzo. He was standing on the other side of the bassinet rapidly snapping pictures. Ellen was standing right beside me devouring the sight of the baby.

Just then, my cell phone rang! It startled me and I answered it without thinking. It was my older sister, checking to see what was going on. Before I could respond, she heard Snuggle Bug cry. She asked if that was him and I said, "Yes, we're in the room with him now. He was just born a few minutes ago and he's absolutely beautiful!" She started crying and then I started crying and laughing at the same time. I told her I had to go and she said she'd let the rest of my family know.

I watched as the nurse finished her cleaning of Snuggle Bug and then she began inking his feet and his hands to make prints. I was amazed at how many sets of foot prints she made on small cards, stamping ink on his tiny feet over and over again. She ended up giving us several copies and Giselle several copies to keep as souvenirs.

Next Snuggle Bug was whisked up and placed on a scale that had been previously wheeled in. He weighed in at a whopping 6 pounds, 11 ounces. We learned later that he was 19" long. He had stopped crying by the time he was being weighed. Pour little mite was just too exhausted by it all.

We got to spend two hours in that room with Snuggle Bug. During those first two hours of his existence, we got to hold him and try to feed him from a tiny preemie bottle. His poor tummy couldn't handle it yet and he puked all over Oronzo's shirt. Oronzo just beamed with joy! I picked up the camera and managed to snap several decent shots of Snuggle Bug with Oronzo.

Ellen stayed in the room with us for quite a bit. She never asked to touch or hold Snuggle Bug, but she watched him closely. Quinn came in briefly and got a good look at him as well. I went back with him to check on Giselle.

When I entered Giselle's room, she was sitting up in her bed and looked pretty good. I walked over and hugged her and told her that Snuggle Bug was perfect! I asked her if she wanted to see or hold him and she said, "No, thank you." I started crying again as I hugged her once more and she returned my hug with a strong squeeze. I asked her if there was anything that she needed and she said, "No. I'm fine. Honestly, that delivery was a lot less painful than I expected!" I told her I was going to get back to Snuggle Bug and that I'd check on her again. She told me that she'd asked to be moved to a room in the GYN Unit and she'd have someone let us know what her room number was when she found out. I left the room, looking back to see Quinn standing beside her, holding her hand, and Clara close by.

Not long after I returned to our room, Clara arrived and asked to hold Snuggle Bug. We willingly handed him over and gave her the rocking chair. "Do you want us to leave you alone?" I asked.

"No, you're fine," she replied absently, as she gazed down at Snuggle Bug and stroked his soft cheek. Oronzo asked if he could take some pictures of her with the baby and she said that'd be fine. Later, when I looked back at those pictures, I saw a portrait of a woman who had had a tough life and had a haunted look upon her face. I know she appreciated having those pictures of herself with her first grandchild.

Eventually, the nurse returned and told us she had to take Snuggle Bug into the interim nursery for further testing. We were all reluctant to let him go, but the nurse reminded me that I had a wristband and could be in the nursery with him. I followed her in and watched them prick his heel to do some blood work and then give him a bath.

I remember being shocked at how vigorously the nurse scrubbed at Snuggle Bug's head with a small with brush! I was afraid she was going to hurt him, but he didn't seem to mind the water or the scrubbing.

The nurse put a preemie diaper on his bottom, leaving the clamped umbilical cord sticking out, and then a little pink and blue stripped stocking cap was placed on his head. A hospital bracelet was placed around his tiny right leg. The nurse laid him in another clear bassinet, with a heat lamp above to keep him warm and he dozed off to sleep for his very first nap! Oronzo got some fantastic pictures through the nursery window as I stood and watched him sleep. He was so very precious.

I noticed that his little identification card said, "Baby ****" using Giselle's last name. The nurse handed me a blank white index card and told me, "You can put his first name on it and decorate it with some holiday stickers, since Christmas is just around the corner."

As I finished taping the decorated card to Snuggle Bug's bassinet, Oronzo motioned for me to come out and I reluctantly stepped away to see what he wanted, then felt bad for excluding him by staying in the nursery for so long. Oronzo was hungry and wanted to grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria. I was at a loss as to how he could think of food, but I agreed to go. I told the nurse where we were going and she assured me they'd take good care of Snuggle Bug for us while we were gone.

Over breakfast, Oronzo and I talked in excited whispers about Snuggle Bug and how amazing he was. We were both head over heals in love with him! I let Oronzo know that I had seen Giselle briefly and he said he'd make a point to go see her as well. We talked about how grateful we were that the hospital staff was being kind to us and seemed to be treating Giselle and Quinn with respect.

I think I might have eaten some food, but I don't quite remember. I just remember being impatient to get back to Snuggle Bug. I hated missing even a minute of time with him.

When I arrived back at the nursery, I heard several babies crying. With utter amazement, I realized that I could tell which cry was coming from Snuggle Bug! I followed the sound to the opposite side of the nursery and discovered a nurse changing his diaper. He was not pleased! Without thinking, I leaned over this bassinet and, without touching him, said, "It's okay baby. Mama's here." I about fell on the floor in a puddle of gooey love when he instantly stopped crying and turned his head to look at me intently! He recognized my voice and was soothed by it! How could that be? Was it because of the time I'd spent with Giselle during her last few months of pregnancy (going to doctor's appointments with her, frequently having lunch with her and her family)? Or was it because of the CDs she'd asked for of our voices recorded reading children's stories that she played to her belly. I was flooded with overwhelming feelings of joy!

The instant the nurse was finished with him, I lifted him gently and cradled him close. I breathed deeply my fill of his sweet baby smell and softly ran my finger down his tiny nose and soft cheek. I touched his thick hair and found it to be as soft as a chick's down. I felt such a powerful connection to Snuggle Bug, one that I was helpless to fight. I prayed with every ounce of my being that we'd be allowed to raise this child and tears filled my eyes at the thought.

At some point, a nurse interrupted my bonding with Snuggle Bug to inform me that we had another room waiting for us on the maternity ward. She informed me that Snuggle Bug couldn't leave the interim nursery without being placed back in his bassinet so I reluctantly laid him back inside. I wheeled him out so that Oronzo and I could follow the nurse to our room.

Okay, that's all for now. Part 5 of our adoption journey will come soon.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 5.

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6:51 AM

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
It's a conspiracy, I tell ya!
My goodness, that last post was depressing. No wonder no one responded. :) That's what I get for staying up too late and not getting my required Zzzz's. No worries, this post will be much lighter hearted.

I think there's a conspiracy going on between the grocery stores and the nurseries in my city!

I went to the store this past weekend and bought a watermelon. There's nothing sweeter than sitting outside on a hot summer's day, eating a juicy watermelon and letting the sticky juice run down your chin and arms! I thought Snuggle Bug might enjoy the treat.

After getting the watermelon home, I cut into it's crisp, thick rind. I had visions of not only eating this succulent melon, but also taking a handful of black seeds and throwing them out in an area of my back yard to grow my own watermelons (I'm so into gardening right now)!

Imagine my shock and dismay when I cracked open the watermelon, only to discover that it was SEEDLESS!! I felt robbed, gypped, duped! I saw no signs at the grocery store touting the seedlessness of this watermelon, or I might have passed on it altogether and looked elsewhere! Damn deceiving grocery store!

Oronzo came over to examine the watermelon, when he heard my outraged gasp. I looked at him accusingly and asked, "Did you see a sign somewhere informing unsuspecting consumers that these were seedless watermelons?!"

Oronzo laughed and replied, "I must confess, I did not."

"Damn it all to hell, I wanted to plant some seeds and grow my own watermelons," I wailed.

"Well, we'll just go to our favorite nursery and buy a watermelon plant for you," Oronzo offered helpfully.

He didn't get it, I didn't want a plant that had already been started for me. I wanted to nurture little seeds and watch them sprout into baby plants with green vines and flower blossoms that turned into melons. I wanted to share this miracle of nature and growth with Snuggle Bug. Why should I be forced by the grocery store to go buy a watermelon plant at the local nursery?!

Swallowing the lump of disappointment in my throat, I decided there was nothing to do but continue cutting up the defective watermelon so that we could at least eat it. I firmly resolved that the next time I purchased a watermelon, I was going to track down the store manager and get verbal assurances that it did, indeed, have seeds!

Snuggle Bug, didn't seem to mind that the watermelon was seedless. He had a grand time getting sloppy and sticky, as he fed bites to his turtle. One for Snuggle Bug, one for turtle...

7:42 AM

Sunday, April 23, 2006
Dwelling on Death and Divorce
Why does it seem, all of a sudden, that people I know are getting divorced?

First, my parents. Yes, after 39 years of marriage, they're now in the process of getting a divorce. I shouldn't be surprised, they've been unhappy together for as long as I can remember and they've refused to seek marriage counseling to try to work through their myriad of issues. I'm hoping that after they get through the ugliness of dividing assets, they'll be happier apart than they were together. I'm amazed at how painful this divorce process has been for me and my siblings. We're all grown adults, so I mistakenly thought it wouldn't affect us all that much. Wrong!! We're getting caught in the cross fire of their mud slinging and loosing respect for each parent in the process. Not fun.

Next, I learn of a college friend that's getting a divorce from his wife of 10+ years. They have a son that they're in a bitter fight over for custody. My friend thinks he's got a stronger case than his soon-to-be ex-wife. He tells me she's not nearly as "stable" as he is. I guess that's for a judge to decide.

Most recently, I learn of a friend of my brother's who is in the process of divorcing her husband of about 8 years. They have 2 boys and it looks like she's not getting custody of them.

Divorce scares the hell out of me, which is why I waited until I was 34 to marry and dated Oronzo for 5 years before finally tying the knot. I know there are no guarantees in life, but I wanted to take my time and find a man that I was friends with, first and foremost. I wanted a man that I could respect, that respected me, and that had the same value system as I did. I was unwilling to "settle" just to be married. I don't want to end up like my parents, living a miserable life in an unhappy marriage, or like my friends or acquaintances who are in ugly child custody battles. I'm extremely happy being married to Oronzo. He's all the things I was looking for, and then some! I just hope that, years from now, I love him as much as I do today!

If Oronzo and I were ever to get divorced, I know that I'm a survivor and could continue on independently. What I worry about now, is how it would affect Snuggle Bug. Children are the ones that suffer the most in divorce situations.

So, as I'm dwelling on divorce because of the ones I'm hearing about, I tell Oronzo how I'm feeling. I tell him that it would kill me to have to share custody with Snuggle Bug and that if he ever has issues with me or our marriage, he damned well better tell me ahead of time so that we can work on salvaging our relationship before it's too far gone. He agrees and promises to do so. We're having this conversation as we're on a walk, pulling Snuggle Bug behind us in his red wagon.

Now, here comes the death part. As we're talking about how to avoid divorce, we pass a house in our neighborhood and notice that there's a police car in front of the house with it's lights on. There's also an unmarked white van in the driveway. We glance over just in time to see a corpse in a black bag being wheeled out on a stretcher and into the white. The driver that wheeled this person out is carrying a large Zip Lock bag full of orange prescription drug bottles. How freaky is that?!!

Our conversation then turns to death and how we hope to die (i.e. I'd love to die in my sleep at home rather than in a strange place). Nice conversation, eh?

Man, I need to go to bed and start a new day tomorrow. I'm usually not so morose!

Any thoughts you'd like to share on death or divorce? Perhaps those of you that have been married a while care to share your secrets to a successful marriage? I'd love to hear those!
11:46 PM

Friday, April 21, 2006
Ah, the silence of a sleeping child. I think it's time to go have a drink!
All is quiet in our household. Oronzo and I have just finished with the flurry of cooking dinner, with a toddler underfoot, eating said dinner, bathing said toddler, and letting him run willy nilly naked in his crib, punchy tired but laughing hysterically. Eventually I managed to get a diaper and pjs on Snuggle Bug and I proceeded to read him not one, but two bedtime stories. The first was The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit and the second was The Going to Bed Book. Sandra Boynton rules!

After bedtime stories, we went into the master bathroom (that sounds much more elegant than it is) and brushed our teeth. Then it was time for Snuggle Bug to say "goodnight" to his Daddy and his 3 kitties. He waves and blows kisses. It's very cute!

Having finished his bedtime ritual, I took him back into his nursery, turned on his lullaby cd, and laid him down in his crib. Of course, his Fisher Price aquarium had be turned on as well. He settled down quickly and is now fast asleep.

Now, it's time for Mama to go out with 3 lady friends to a Polynesian dive bar and have an enormous drink called a Scorpion! It's the size of a kid-sized fish bowl! It's been far too long since I've been out for a drink with the girls. Oronozo is staying home with Snuggle Bug and getting some work done. That's okay, I'll drink some for him too!

Deanna, I'll be thinking of you as baby Jake is due to arrive today!
7:22 PM

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Ignorant jackass!

I've read a lot of threads on various adoption forums about prospective and adoptive parents being subjected to ignorant, rude, and intrusive comments about their family being formed through adoption. I've considered myself lucky in that most comments sent our way have been positive and encouraging, until this week!

I work on a military base. I'm not in the military, I'm just a government contractor. Every morning, I have to check in at the base gate and have a guard with a big gun verify my base ID and let me in. I've gotten to know the guard supervisor a bit and we've conversed on occasion.

Earlier this week, he saw me walking to a building on base and he stopped to say, "Hi." Our conversations in the past had been pleasant enough, so I allowed myself to be detained. What a mistake and a complete waste of my time!

Here's how my conversation went with this man, the one that I once thought was a pretty decent guy:

Military guy: "I saw you and your husband on the news a while back talking about adoption. I didn't realize you adopted your little boy." ((We were asked by the agency we used for our licensing to be one of three couples interviewed for an adoption segment on a local news station and we gladly obliged. Snuggle Bug was shown during this interview.))

Me: "Yes, we did adopt him as a newborn."

Military guy: "So, if you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for him?"

Me: ((annoyed but not particularly surprised at this common misconception) ) "We didn't pay for our son, we paid for the services that were necessary to adopt him."

Military guy: "Yeah, whatever. So, how much did it cost?"

Me: "That's information we choose to keep private."

Military guy: ((astonished look on his face)) "Well, at least you adopted a white American baby. I don't understand people that go and adopt those Chinese babies. I would never do that! At least you got yourself an American baby." ((giving me a look of approval))

Me: ((shocked, angry, and hostile expression on my face)) "The race of our child was irrelevant to us! We chose to adopt domestically simply because we wanted to adopt a newborn and that's not possible if a couple adopts internationally. Otherwise, we'd have no problem adopting from China!"

I abruptly ended the conversation by tersely informing this prejudiced excuse of a man that I had to go, before I gave in to my urge to berate him for the ignorant jackass that he is and end up face down on the concrete with his gun pointed at my head!

I have never been so offended in my life! As I stormed away, I called Oronzo on my cell phone and subjected him to the brunt of my rage and indignation! After I relayed the conversation, Oronzo laughed. I asked why he was laughing and he told me that I could either laugh at his stupidity or get angry, but I wasn't going to be successful in "educating" him.

So, it's finally happened to me as well. I'm thankful that Snuggle Bug isn't old enough yet to understand these types of insensitive and hurtful comments, but I supposed I need to eventually prepare him for what's to come. How does one prepare a child for such ugliness in the world?

Have any of you been subjected to ignorant, rude, and intrusive comments in regards to adoption? How did you deal with these painful conversations?
8:31 AM

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 3)
I left off in Part 2 with meeting Quinn for the first time and mentioned that we wouldn't see him again until the day of Snuggle Bug's birth.

An odd thing happened, as we waited for Snuggle Bug to arrive. In September 2004, we received a phone call from Oronzo's mother (to be referred to as Aleiza), telling us of a friend of a friend's granddaughter who was due to have a baby in October (Snuggle Bug was due in December) and who chose to place the baby for adoption (so much for the myth of there being no newborns available to adopt). Aleiza said she'd already had contact with the expectant mother's grandmother and it was determined between them that they wanted Oronzo and I to adopt the baby girl!

Many conversations were had between us and Aleiza, with her urging us to consider accepting this match. We did consider it, in length. We imagined the various scenarios. One, that we pursue both babies (the little girl due in October and Snuggle Bug due in December) and have near-twins, assuming that both expectant mothers were okay with such a scenario. Two, that we pursue a match with the baby girl's expectant mother and turn down our match with Giselle if we were truly picked by this other expectant mother. Three, that we turn down the potential match for the baby girl and stick with the original match with Giselle and her baby boy.

After many conversations, Oronzo and I agreed that we didn't feel confident enough, as first time parents, to raise two babies so close together. And it didn't feel morally right to turn down our current match to pursue a baby that was due only two months earlier. In the end, we chose Snuggle Bug. Oronzo and I both realized that we were already quite attached to Giselle and her unborn child and, come what may, were going to see it through. We were determined not to consider anything that might jeopardize our current match.

Aleiza was quite disappointed when we told her of our decision. She tried to persuade us to change our minds and, when the healthy baby girl was born in October and was successfully placed with adoptive parents in New York, I prayed that we had made the right decision.

I must admit, although were matched easily with Giselle and things seemed to be going well (communication was open, she appeared determined to follow through with her adoption plan), I was a bundle of stressed nerves during the 5 month wait! I was nervous about the Home Study and the steps involved to become licensed to adopt (we had to jump through a lot of hoops, but it wasn't as painful as I had anticipated). I had never dealt with adoption lawyers before and I feared we'd be taken advantage of or misguided by either our lawyer or by Giselle's. I was anxious to learn everything I could about the legalities of adoption, fearful that we'd somehow accidentally break the rules along the way and be accused of coercion. I never, ever wanted that to happen!

I was nervous about the health of the baby, since we had absolutely no control as to how Giselle took care of herself during the pregnancy. It appeared that she was taking good care of herself but she admitted to being a smoker and I worried.

Most of all, I was afraid that, in the end, Giselle or Quinn would change their minds and decide to parent. My mind accepted that this was a reality and that they had every right to do so, but my heart ached at the thought of this happening. Despite our best efforts to not get attached, it was clear that remaining emotionally detached was impossible. I loved this child, before he was even born! If I could form such an attachment to an unborn child that I wasn't carrying inside my body, I couldn't even begin to imagine the internal struggle that Giselle was experiencing during her pregnancy.

And if the adoption did take place, I wondered how we all would survive afterwards. I felt such guilt with the knowledge that my happiness in becoming a mother would be at the expense of another mother's pain at loosing her child. I hadn't just become attached to Giselle's baby, but I had also become quite attached to Giselle! The more I learned about her, the more I respected and liked her. Considering that Oronzo and I originally didn't intend to have personal contact with a match, these feelings of attachment were unexpected and scary at times. Adoption is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Finally, the time we were all waiting for had come. The day before Snuggle Bug was to be born, we got a call from Giselle letting us know she was having mild contractions and would probably be going to the hospital. By then, we were in the same city, awaiting the arrival of her child, so we were able to drive to the hospital when her mother called back a couple of hours later and asked us to meet them there!

Oronzo and I sprang into action. We threw a few of our things in an overnight bag, just in case (we already had a little bag packed for the baby stored in the trunk), and drove quickly to the hospital. We were met at the information desk by Quinn. He appeared calm and managed to greet us with a smile. He escorted us back to Giselle in the birth center (which we had toured just a few days previous). We found her lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to a machine that monitored the baby's heart beat. We got to hear his heart beat and, again, the sound brought tears to my eyes.

Giselle looked calm, but it became clear that the contractions were causing her discomfort. I went to her and held her hand for a bit as we chatted to her and her mother. Quinn was fairly quiet.

Eventually Giselle was put into a wheel chair and taken to a private room. We were invited to follow them. I remember feeling quite out of place, not sure where we should be and not wanting to make Giselle or Quinn feel uncomfortable. I was very grateful that we'd met with a hospital social worker previously and gotten a tour of the birthing rooms and a run-down on what to expect, which helped to alleviate some of the fear of the unknown. This hospital had done many adoptions in the past and the staff that we talked to came across as professional and compassionate, not just towards potential adoptive parents, but also towards potential birth parents.

After Giselle was settled in her room, the nurse asked all of us to leave so that she could talk with Giselle in private. We learned later that this was when Giselle gave the nurse a written list of her desires in regards to the birth and the pending adoption. For example, she made it clear that she wanted the baby to go directly to us and that she wanted her mother to have some time alone to say "goodbye" to the baby before they left. Giselle was still of the opinion that it would be best for her not to see the baby.

After talking to Giselle, the nurse came and talked to us. She shared with us the wishes that Giselle had expressed that pertained to us. We assured her that we'd do whatever was asked of us and that if Giselle changed her mind about wanting time with the baby, we fully supported that choice. The same went for Quinn and any other family member! Our family would not be present. Oronzo and I felt that it would be in poor taste to have our family there celebrating the baby's birth with us, while their family went through such an emotionally difficult time.

We learned that when the baby was born, we'd be given a private room a few doors down and the baby would be brought to us immediately and that he would be cleaned up and weighed in our room. I was told that I would be given a hospital bracelet that would allow me access to the nursery and that Giselle would be given one also.

Snuggle Bug was not in a hurry to arrive. Giselle's contractions slowed down and we alternated pacing the halls and sitting in her room along with her mother, grandmother, and Quinn as we all waited. As we waited, Oronzo and I went out and called some of our family members to let them know where we were and to promise to keep them updated. By about midnight, Oronzo and I finally gave in to exhaustion and got blankets and pillows from the nurses station so that we could doze in chairs outside Giselle's room while she, too, tried to sleep. Giselle's mother and Quinn assured us they'd wake us up if the contractions began to pick up again.

Okay, here's a good stopping point. I'll continue on with Part 4 of our adoption journey in the near future. Stay tuned!

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 4.

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10:20 AM

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Easter Greetings!

To those of you who celebrate Easter, Happy Easter! Our little family is heading to my in-laws' house (a two hour drive) tonight. Since Grandma and Grandpa will be doting over Snuggle Bug, I'll probably have some spare time this weekend to continue on with my adoption saga, It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 3), so stay tuned!

By the way, Site Meter tells me that I've got quite a few viewers of my new blog. Kind of neat! Apparently, most of you are lurkers, just as I've usually been in the past. That's okay. :)
2:09 PM

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 2)
Now that I have a chunk of un-interrupted time, the saga continues.

I left off in Part 1 with my first phone conversation with Giselle, the expectant mother that we'd been put in contact with through a friend. It was a somewhat painful, brief conversation, but it was a beginning.

I don't remember how long it was until the next conversation, but Giselle and I had three more over-the-phone conversations probably within a month's time. Each conversation got a little easier. We got more comfortable with each other and began opening up and sharing more. Each time more questions were asked, on both sides. I spent many hours pacing our backyard patio, usually barefoot, as Giselle and I talked. By the third conversation, she knew what city and state we lived in and so much more about us. She shared with me information about the baby's father (to be referred to as Quinn), and let me know that they were dating and that he supported her adoption plan. Things were looking hopeful.

At first, Oronozo and I were reluctant to share the details of this prospective match with many. I'd read enough on adoption forums to know that even if we were matched, there were no guarantees. The parents of this unborn child could, before or right after the birth, decide to parent, and rightfully so. Oronzo and I agreed that, if at any time before the termination paperwork was signed by both Giselle and Quinn, we would do nothing to challenge their parental rights, even if it meant that we had their baby in our home before those papers were signed and had to give the baby back. We felt strongly about this.

When Oronzo and I did start sharing news of this potential match with close family and friends, we kept prefacing our comments with, "If things work out..." I have to admit, I was amazed at how much negativity we received from certain family members and close friends, both before we were put in contact with Giselle and afterwards! Not because we were building our family through adoption, everyone was very supportive of that, but because of the misconceptions people had about the process of adoption and of birth parents in general. It was alarming, to say the least!

In the beginning, I was continually told that finding a newborn (especially a healthy one) was impossible. Even after we'd been connected with Giselle, certain friends cautioned us that she probably wouldn't match with us unless we were able to offer her a lot of money along the way, which we would never want to do for fear of coercion. It was quite discouraging to hear these things and I defended Giselle by telling these friends that I could tell that she wasn't in it for money, she was considering an adoption plan because she loved her child and wanted what she felt was best for him. Despite the negativity, we pressed on, determined to see how it played out.
Towards the end of our third phone call, Giselle requested that we meet with her. She said that she needed to see us in-person before she could attempt to make a decision about placing her child with us. By this time, I suspected that this request was coming, and I had already discussed the possibility with Oronozo. Surprisingly, we both felt comfortable with an in-person meeting, something we would've never even considered just a month ago, and we found ourselves wanting to meet her too. So, when she asked, I told her, "We'd love to!"

We drove seven hours to the city where Giselle lived for this face-to-face meeting. Giselle, Oronzo, and I scheduled to meet in a restaurant. We arrived first and I was a bundle of nerves. I chose a table and a chair that allowed me a clear view of the entrance door.

When Giselle arrived, I knew instantly who she was, mainly because of her pregnant belly, but also because of her searching gaze that swept across the restaurant and the air of vulnerability that she exuded. I stood up and walked towards her, thinking two immediate thoughts, 'Wow, she's beautiful, and so tall!' She was about 5'10", medium build, with long blond hair and bright blue/green eyes. She smiled a sweet smile as she realized who we were and walked the few steps to our table. Oronzo stood up as well, greeted her, and offered her a chair. It was clear to me that she was as nervous as I was, but she remained calm and composed.

For two hours we talked, mainly asking and answering questions back and forth. It quickly became clear that Giselle was putting a lot of thought into her screening of prospective adoptive parents. She came armed with a list of about 40 questions, many of them quite personal. We, too, had well thought out questions to ask her.

During this first meeting, we all seemed to "click." I was still so nervous though that I didn't eat a single bit of the lunch that I had ordered! Oronzo and Giselle didn't have that problem, they finished every bite on their plates. I remember Giselle ordered a tall glass of milk with her lunch. She noticed me glancing at it and smiling she said, "I'm trying to drink more milk with this pregnancy."

During our talks, Giselle asked us if we wanted to know the sex of the baby or not, and we told her we wouldn't mind knowing. We also told her that the sex of the baby wasn't important to us, we'd love a boy or a girl. She told us she was carrying a boy and showed us an ultrasound picture of him. After we both looked at it closely, I handed it back to her and she carefully tucked it back in her wallet.

As our meeting was nearing the end, I presented her a simple gift. It was a photo scrap book that I had created (there was no way I was going to ever give her a "Dear Birthmother" letter). Inside, the album had 20 pictures of Oronzo and I and our extended families. Each page had a single picture and a handwritten paragraph describing what was going on in our lives at the time. Before handing it to Giselle I said, "If you're anything like me, I'm sure you're not making this decision alone so I put together a photo album for you to take back and share with the baby's father and your families. I want them to have a chance to get to know us a little better as well." Giselle seemed very appreciative of my efforts. Before parting, we exchanged more personal information (phone numbers and email addresses).

As we said our goodbyes with hugs and promises to be in touch soon, Oronzo and I felt that the meeting had gone well. Giselle had told us upfront that she intended to interview several couples before making her decision and that she would get back to us with her decision in the near future.

By the time Oronzo and I drove the seven hours back to the city that we lived in, we were quite surprised to find an email waiting for us from Giselle! In the email she explained that she had taken our photo album back and showed her family and her boyfriend and that she had shared our answers to her questions, as well as her impressions of us. Then she wrote that she had decided not to interview other couples, that she wanted us to be the adoptive parents of her unborn son! Oronzo and I were floored! We never expected her decision to come so quickly! We felt overwhelmed, panicked, and excited, all at once. She picked us!! We were amazed that she'd picked us after just one in-person visit! Now that I think about it, I know matches happen with much less contact, but it seemed surreal to us at the time. We called family members to share the news!

Over the next few months we scrambled to hire an agency to do a Home Study and get us licensed, we hired adoption attorneys for us and for Giselle, and we hired a counselor (of her choice) for Giselle so that she would have professional support before, during, and after the adoption. She initially didn't feel the need to seek counseling, but we encouraged her to go and so did her lawyer, and so she did. In fact, not only did she go, but so did her mother. I know Giselle met with the counselor not only before the adoption, but also after.

Once Giselle chose us, she made a point to keep in touch frequently. She called or emailed us after every doctor's appointment, she continued to ask questions even after she picked us, and she invited me to attend some of her doctor's appointments with her. I got to hear Snuggle Bug's heart beat at one appointment and the sound brought tears to my eyes. Giselle once placed my hand on her stomach and I got to feel him kick inside of her belly. He was quite strong!

Over the course of the remaining five months of her pregnancy, Giselle invited us to meet some of her family and eventually she arranged for us to meet Quinn.

We only met Quinn once before Snuggle Bug was born. It was in a restaurant and it was just the four of us. We talked more about their reasons for wanting to place him for adoption (I don't feel comfortable sharing those reasons, it seems like an invasion of Giselle & Quinn's privacy, even if I am using fictitious names). We talked about our collective hopes and desires for Snuggle Bug. Quinn got to ask us questions and we got to learn more about him. He came across as an intelligent, soft spoken man. He was tall, nearly 6', and was slender with brown curly hair and a great smile. Giselle had warned us, in advance, that Quinn was taking a back seat in the preparations for their baby's adoption. He was supportive, but left the planning to Giselle.

I remember a point that Quinn made during that dinner conversation. In part jest, I made a comment that Snuggle Bug would probably rebel as a teenager and yell at us, "You're not my REAL parents!" Quinn got very serious and responded, "You will be his REAL parents! Don't ever forget that." I was surprised at the firmness in his statement, and I assured him we wouldn't forget.

We wouldn't see Quinn again until the birth of Snuggle Bug.

Okay, here's a good stopping point. I'll continue on with Part 3 of our adoption journey soon.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 3.

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11:52 AM

Monday, April 10, 2006
Look what Snuggle Bug is addicted to...
Snuggle Bug is addicted to this Fisher Price aquarium. We've had it in his crib since he was a wee little one.

Whenever he was fussy as a newborn, we'd turn on his aquarium and he'd stare at it intently, calming down almost instantaneously! I'm not sure if it was the motion of the fish swaying back and forth, the water churning around in circles, the light glowing, or the lullaby music/ocean wave sounds playing that kept his attention. It's probably all of those combined. Whatever it was, he's always loved this thing and he often times would fall asleep while watching his fishies.

The tricky part about this contraption is that it has a timer. You push the on button and it'll go for a certain amount of time and then shut off. That was always a bad thing! If Snuggle Bug hadn't yet fallen asleep, he'd cry when the aquarium turned off. I'd have to go back in and turn it on for him again, sometimes several times before it'd finally lull him to sleep.

Well, this morning, for the first time ever, I watched Snuggle Bug figure out how to push the on button (located on the right side of the aquarium) himself! Not only that, he figured out that the other button on the right changes the sound from various lullaby music to ocean waves every time you push it. When he realized I had entered his nursery and was watching him, he turned to me, danced a jig in his crib, and beamed at me proudly!

So, it took him 15 months to figure out how to control his aquarium. Who cares! I'm just thrilled that I'll no longer have to be in another room, listening for the music to stop, ready to jump up and turn it on again!

Ah, the simple pleasures in life!
3:28 PM

To squeak or not to squeak, that is the question!
! Snuggle Bug's favorite pair of shoes are his Mickey Mouse sandals. It's not Mickey Mouse that makes them so alluring, he could care less about that. What he loves is the fact that they squeak when he walks!

These sandals were a gift. The first time I put them on him and then stood him up on his feet, they squeaked and he was amazed. He stomped one foot and they squeaked again! Then, he did a little happy dance and got so excited with all the squeaking he produced! He spent the rest of the day contently toddling around the house, squeaking as he went. At least we knew where to find him, right? Thankfully by the time these sandals become too annoying, he'll have outgrown them. Right now, they're just darned cute! The joy that he gets from wearing them is adorable.

Snuggle Bug has another pair of sandals that I think are pretty darned cute as well, and they matched one of new his outfits so, to get him ready for church yesterday morning, I dressed him in the outfit and put on his froggy sandals. He didn't seem to mind my choice, until I stood him up. As he walked away, his expression became puzzled. He stopped, lifted one foot, and stomped it once and then again. The second time he stomped in frustration. He turned and gave me accusing look. I knew what he was thinking, 'Where's the squeak?!'

I told him, "Sorry baby, those sandals don't squeak but they match your outfit better." I couldn't very well take him to church in squeaky sandals! The priest would have a conniption, can you imagine?! Snuggle Bug threw me a disdainful look and left the room without looking back.

After mass and brunch, we came home and he wanted to play outside. I took pity on him and took the froggy sandals off and put his squeaky ones on. To assuage my guilt for making him wear the non-squeaky shoes in the first place, despite his obvious disappointment, I even let him play with the garden hose and get all wet. He was quite pleased! Toddlers are so much fun!
12:54 PM

Saturday, April 08, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 1)
I've never been one of those women who had a timeline in know, get married by 23, have 2.5 children by 25. I've always known that I wanted to be a mother, but I always prefaced that with "Some day."

When I was 19, I had to have a partial hysterectomy, due to severe endometriosis. I'm 37 now and, back in those days, they didn't think twice about doing a partial hysterectomy given such circumstances. Maybe there are better alternatives today. I remember my doctor (the one I'd had since I was born) explaining to me that a partial hysterectomy would mean that I could not get pregnant and carry a child. Wow, really?? ((enter sarcasm here)) Since I wasn't given any choices, there wasn't much I could do about that. At least with a partial hysterectomy I was left with one estrogen producing ovary, for which I'm thankful.

I went through a grieving process for the loss of being able to get pregnant and carry a child, but it was short lived. I was young and I just told myself, "Not a problem, I'll adopt," not really understanding anything about the process of adopting and not bothering to do any research because it was that "some day" situation. I have to be honest, now that I understand the heartache that couples go through as they struggle with infertility, I'm almost thankful that I had to have a partial hysterectomy so long ago, because it meant I always knew what my outcome would be. I had 2 close girl friends that struggled through 8 years of infertility treatments and I watched and learned the agony they went through each time they didn't get pregnant. I saw what a strain it was on their marriages. Both have since adopted, they did newborn domestic adoptions and inspired me to try that route as well. One of those 2 girlfriends was even one of those myths that you hear about...after adopting her daughter, she got pregnant with twin boys 6 months later. She loves all 3 of her children to pieces.

Dating was somewhat difficult, because the few times that I allowed things to get serious, I had to explain to my boyfriend that I would never be able to give him biological children. I had that conversation with 3 men. All three took it well. The last man I had that conversation with ended up becoming my beloved husband, Oronzo.

I remember the day I had the conversation with him. We'd been dating for about a year. Things were looking serious, as in I could see myself spending the rest of my life with this man, so I decided it was safe to have "the talk." I sat on his ratty old couch left over from his college days, the one that the cats had scratched to pieces and the dog had gnawed on, and I told him I had something to tell him. Oronzo sat down, noticed my serious expression, and listened intently. I explained what I had had to go through at 19, my eyes instantly filling with tears, and let him know that I couldn't bear his children. Before I'd even had the opportunity to suggest an alternate means of becoming parents, he said gently, "So we adopt. I don't care how we become parents. A kid is a kid. Besides, my mom is adopted." Just like that, the conversation was over. Of course, my tears weren't. I again grieved for the loss of a chance to be pregnant, but I also cried tears of joy that I'd found a man that was so fantastic. As he pulled me into a hug and patted my back while the tears streamed down my face, I knew he'd be a spectacular father!

It would take us 5 years of dating before we married (more about that wonderful experience later). Less than a year after marrying, I was ready to explore our adoption options. So, the research began. There was so much information out there that I was quite Overwhelmed! Thus the reason for my original username of Overwhelmed (feel free to call me OW for short). I had no idea how to begin! I looked in the phone book and saw many pages of adoption agencies, so I started calling them and asking them to send me packets of information. The packets began pouring in. I also scoured the Internet for other information.

Oronzo and I read through the packets...okay, I read through the packets, he just skimmed. I was definitely the one who did the most research. For a while, it was like he was just along for the ride. I was kind of turned off by the approach most of the agencies took. It all seemed so slick, too commercialized. I hated the "Dear Birthmother" letter concept (little did I know at that time that it was insulting to even be addressing those letters in that way, these women weren't birthmothers, they were expecting mothers and deserved more respect).

The packets from the agencies discouraged me and I set the stuff aside for a while. Besides, many of them required that you be married at least 3 years before they'd work with you. I called and checked with one to see if the fact that Oronzo and I had been together for 5 years before marrying counted. It didn't. I was heartbroken at the thought of having to wait 2 1/2 years to adopt. I was 34 and ready to be a mom. "Some day" had arrived!

If it wasn't for my 2 girlfriends, mentioned earlier, I wouldn't have even known enough to think of the private adoption route. But they had both been matched through family and friends by spreading the word on their own. I figured, well, if it worked for them, it could work for us, right?

So, in 2003, we put a paragraph in our Christmas newsletter, letting everyone know that we were looking to adopt a newborn and asking people to let us know if they hear of any adoption situations. 7 months letter, a friend put us in touch with a young woman that was pregnant and had made the difficult decision to place her unborn child for adoption. Our friend gave us this expectant mother's (to be referred to as Giselle) phone number, with her permission of course.

You have to understand how terrified we were. Oronzo and I had in our heads that we wanted a closed adoption. We didn't know what the hell we were doing, so that idea was very fear based. Suddenly, we had the phone number of an expectant mother that was willing to talk to us. It dawned on me then why some people were willing to pay large sums of money to an agency to act as an intermediary. If we called her, she'd have our phone number. We weren't sure how comfortable we were with that. I know this is quite idiotic thinking, but I'm being honest about how we felt at the time. Fear not dear readers, we pulled our heads out of our asses over time.

We took the plunge and I made the phone call on my cell phone. I was so nervous when Giselle came on the phone. I explained who I was and how I'd gotten her number and asked if it'd be okay to ask her a few questions. She told me that'd be fine, so I began. Sadly enough, these were canned questions that I'd found during my research on the Internet. Questions like:

"How far along are you?"
"How are you feeling so far in your pregnancy?"
"What made you decide to place your child for adoption?"
"Does the baby's father know of your decision and does he support you in this decision?"
"Does your family support your decision?"

I know there were many others that I'm forgetting and I didn't ask them all in that first phone conversation. I'm sure I sounded very stiff and uncertain and I finally admitted to Giselle that I was nervous. She laughed a bit and admitted she was nervous too. I also admitted that I really didn't know how this was all supposed to work. She said she felt the same way. She said the one thing she did know is that she didn't want to go through an agency to place her child. I told her we didn't want to go the agency route either.

Our first conversation was brief, but I asked if we could talk again at another point and she agreed.

Okay, that's enough for now. I'll continue on with my story in another post.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 2.

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10:30 AM

Friday, April 07, 2006
Family Friendly
Family-Friendly Blogroll

1:30 PM

Mama's little gardener
This is the reason why I am Overwhelmed With Joy! My beloved, precious son is my guiding star in life. I love him to the moon and back! Each and every day, I give thanks that I have been entrusted to raise this gentle, beautiful soul. How did I ever get so lucky?

I am a proud adoptive mother. Our son (to be referred to as "Snuggle Bug") was placed in my arms at 2 minutes old, and has been the most important part of our family ever since! He is now 15 months old.

My husband (to be referred to as "Oronzo", I love picking fictitious names) and I have a semi-open adoption relationship with his birth parents. We've agreed to send pictures/updates twice a year (although we send them more frequently).

We are happy to have contact with Snuggle Bug's birth parents. We feel it's beneficial for him. One day, if he wants to seek them out, our plan is to already be in touch with them and to point him in the right direction. It helps that we've met his birth parents and can pass on information to him when he starts asking questions.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this blog, other than communicate with other bloggers that I love to read. Who knows, maybe with a bit of encouragement, I'll turn in to a bit of a blogger myself.

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12:45 PM

Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

Beautiful adoption video
Date Night Bliss
Family Rules and Values
In the swing of school
It's time for the kiddos to head back to school a...
Flying home for a nice, long visit!
Baby fix!
Easing back into blogging
A shocking phone call
1 year anniversary for Boo

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