Sunday, November 23, 2008


It has taken me a while to get the next part of our adoption journey. I think it has been so hard because the next part of our journey is one that was filled with lots of sorrow and heartbreak.

Little did I know how much heartache my heart would have to endure the next three months before Sam would come into our home. I don't know why all of our adoption mishaps happened over three-day weekends. They did and I began to HATE three day weekends.

In January 1999 we received a phone call from the agency about a birth mom who was considering us. She had some questions for us. The social worker went on to ask me some of the questions this particular birthmother had for us. I hated being put in this position. I was on the spot, needed to answer immediately and knew based on whether or not she liked the answer I gave, determined whether or not she would select us to parent her baby. I tried to answer the questions correctly but also remain true to ourselves. I felt really good about my conversation with the social worker. I just had one of those feelings that this was it. However, I soon began to doubt those feelings because we didn't immediately hear back from our social worker. I was beginning to think that she had chosen someone else.

The next phone call I got was from the agency saying that she had the baby. It was a beautiful African-American baby girl. The agency informed me that this birthmother had previously placed a child for adoption several years earlier. They felt that she was very familiar with the process and with the feelings that go along with it. They were very confident that she was sure in her decision. This baby was born fairly local and we wouldn't have to travel far to pick her up. We were to go meet the birthmom and the birthgrandmother on a Friday. This is known as a face-to face meeting. At the time they usually happened once the birthmother had chosen you as the family and before she actually had the baby. However, because of circumstances beyond their control we would actually meet her right before we picked up our new baby girl. We then would be able to pick up our baby and head home. I was so excited. We only had a matter of days to get everything put together to bring a new baby home. We could hardly contain our excitement! Word quickly spread that we were were going to be new parents. Our neighborhood was great. It seems that on Thursday before we were to leave, our doorbell hardly quit ringing. Friends and neighbors brought over clothes, diaper bags, formula, and diapers to help us to prepare for our new addition. About 8:30 p.m. I got sick. I felt nauseated, feverish, and had a terrible sore throat. I dismissed it to nerves and went around feverishly trying to put together the last of the things I would need for the next day's events. Bryon and I finally climbed into bed somewhere around 10:30 p.m. Shortly after we climbed into bed, the phone rang. Bryon answered it. It didn't take me long to figure out that the news wasn't good. The social worker said that things started unravelling earlier in the day but didn't want to worry us unnecessarily. Some workers from the agency had gone to the temple in prayer for this birthmother and for us. Upon leaving the temple, they received word that the birthmother had been released from the hospital. She was having doubts about her decision to place her baby for adoption. She wanted to place the baby with a foster home for the extended weekend to sort out her feelings before making a final decision. We were devastated! We found out the birthmother had been released at almost the exact time that I began getting sick. I believe this to be one of those tender mercies that Elder Bednar talked about at a recent General Conference. I know this was Heavenly Father's way of letting me know that he was aware of me and was helping me to prepare my heart for the heartache that would unfold later that night. Instead of spending a sleepless night filled with the excitement of being new parents, we spent a very restless night wondering once again if our dreams of ever being parents would ever be fulfilled. The next morning, we packed our bags and headed to Burley to spend the weekend with my parents. While we were gone, our neighborhood came and packed away all of the baby items so we didn't have a constant reminder when we came home. We didn't even need to call the agency on Tuesday morning to see what the birthmother's decision was, we knew in our hearts the answer was "Not yet. Have faith and be patient."

Just before President's Day we got a phone call the first of the week about another possible situation. As I remember she wasn't due for about a month but her blood pressure was pretty high. They were doing some tests on the baby that very week and if the doctors felt like the lungs were developed enough they were going to take the baby. Our worker informed us this was a 99% chance go. The birthmother was a very young girl who had gotten pregnant from a rape. He also told us that her mother had placed a child for adoption years ago and so she had the support of a mom who had been through all of this before. This baby was Guatamalan. We were cautiously optimistic. Yes, we had been burned before but who couldn't possible get excited about a new baby?!? As it turned out we had plans to go to Burley. It was my sister Alyson's senior year. We were going to watch her cheer in one of her last games. Our social worker tried to talk us out of going to Burley for the weekend. I was not going to change my plans to stay home and sit by the phone and wait. We told the social worker we were leaving but left phone numbers where he could reach us. We received word upon getting to Burley that she had a darling baby boy who was small but perfectly healthy. We could pick him up on Sunday (which happened to be Valentine's Day that year). We were so excited. So on Sunday morning we left Burley that morning and drove back to Idaho Falls. We went to the agency where both her worker and our worker were there. The birthmother chose not to be there because she didn't want to meet us. I remember signing the papers and hearing our new baby cry in the next room. After signing the papers, we went in the next room and her worker placed our new baby boy in my arms. For one brief instant, I got the gut feeling that something wasn't quite right. What couldn't possibly be right?!? I had planned my whole life for this day, it was a righteous desire and here we were picking up the baby. What couldn't possibly be right in this situation?!? I immediately dismissed the idea. Little did I know it was my Heavenly Father preparing my heart yet once again for what would lie ahead. We went to Bryon's parents house to introduce them to their newest grandchild. We then headed home. My mom and sister were going to come up after church. They got there in the late afternoon and spent the evening admiring their new nephew and first grandchild. I spent a long night up every two hours to feed our new baby boy. I swear I was smiling every time I woke to feed him. I was just so excited that my family was here. Then that morning Bryon was fixing breakfast and the phone rang. It was the agency. The birthmother had had a change of heart and wanted her baby back. They wanted to know if we wanted to take the baby back to the agency or if they should come and get it. Bryon told them if he got in the car, we wouldn't be headed for Idaho Falls so they better come and get it. I remember the next hour until they got there going by in slow motion. I fed him, changed his diaper, and then put him in the clothes I would send him back to his mother in. I literally felt like I was dressing this baby for his burial. I was in a sense. . . his death to me. I cried my eyes out. When the worker arrived, we told him we didn't want to know of a baby next time until everything is signed on the dotted line. My heart just couldn't deal with this anymore. The worker said to me, "Now, Jennifer, don't be so rushed in your decision." I wanted to scream. "DON'T BE SO RUSHED! I have just survived two months of living hell and you are telling me not to rush to any decisions!" I remember sometime during the day having a conversation with my mom that has stuck with me all this time and I would remember over and over again as times got tough. I told her we would never adopt. I asked her, "Who in their right mind would be pregnant for nine months, go through the pains of delivery and then give that child to perfect strangers? No one in their right mind." My mom said to me, "It takes someone so unselfish to offer such a huge sacrifice." I knew my mom was right, I just needed to make my heart believe it!

Bryon and I decided to take matters into our own hands and look into other adoption agencies. I actually found a girl in Utah that knew quite a bit about adoption and helped us look into other avenues to pursue. We actually filled out paperwork with another adoption agency. This acquaintance had also suggested we look into this facilitator. She said she knew that facilitators got a bad rap in adoption but she had found this one that she trusted. We ended up hooking up with this facilitator. As it turned we ended up being selected for a baby that was born in March in Texas. We had to wire her $3,000 before we could find out the specifics of this baby. That morning again I got that pit in my stomach but dismissed it. We borrowed the money from my parents and wired the money to this facilitator. The baby boy had been born in Texas. We ended up working with the facilitator as well as our social worker on tying up some loose ends for this adoption to happen. I remember it being a Friday. She wanted the weekend and then we were to find out on Monday about flying out to Texas. I called our worker on Monday morning to see what the verdict was, if I needed to buy plane tickets to Texas or not. The worker said to me, "Now who are you?" I wanted to scream. We had been through two brutal failed adoptions and had been working hard the week before on this third adoption and he had no idea who we were. I lost it. I told Bryon there was no hope of us ever getting a child. As it turned out this birthmother had hid her pregnancy from her family. Once they found out she had a baby, they talked her into keeping it.

I think the other thing that has made me drag my feet on posting this is I didn't want to sound negative to birthmothers. I in no way want to convey that. I can only imagine what a hard decision they are faced with. It was a few years later that I was able to talk with the birthmother's worker who delivered in January. I learned a few things about her situation. Some things had transpired in her life over the past couple of years and she needed that baby to help her through. I also on the other hand had a very spiritual experience one day concerning why all this bad had to happen before any good. I know without a doubt that they happened for a reason and we ended up with the children that were meant to come into our home. I know November is over but I really do want to finish our adoption journey. I don't want to leave on such a gloomy note. It really does it get better, it couldn't have gotten much worse! Stay tuned. I have a few other things that I want to catch up on blogging and I will not wait so long to post the rest of the story!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wait and Hope

Bryon and I met with LDS Family Services (it was called LDS Social Services at the time) to see what the process would be in adopting. There were mounds and mounds of paperwork to be completed. Once again, I felt like our life was an open book to be scrutinized by others. It was also required that we take a six-week adoption class that was offered one night a week. The Logan agency (which is where we were going through) met with the Ogden agency in Ogden. Once a week, Bryon and I drove to Odgen to attend the classes. We loved our weekly class. We drove over to Ogden and tried to eat somewhere fun before going to class. We learned so much from these adoption classes. We learned about the adoption process but more importantly we met with other couples who were also going through this process. We learned we were not the only ones! We completed the paperwork in Logan just before we moved to Idaho for Bryon to take a teaching job.

Moving delayed the process a little. We had to redo some of the paperwork and then we had to meet with the social worker here a couple of times. We soon grew very frustrated. Let’s just say the social worker was anything but warm and fuzzy. We had just purchased a new house. When the social worker came to look at our house, he was very vocal about how our house was not “family friendly.” Our house was split level. The master suite was on the top floor and then the other two bedrooms were two flights of stairs below us. I wanted to cry. (Actually, I think I did). We had just bought this $80,000+ home and our social worker was telling us it wouldn’t work. It wasn’t like we could take it back to the store and get a refund! We had also put that we were willing to accept a child of any race. Our social worker strongly suggested that we should only adopt a white-race infant for our first child. He told us that adoption was hard enough for these children to face let alone throwing in the race card. This is such a vulnerable time in the process. We changed the paperwork to match the social worker’s request. It wasn’t long before it was very evident to both Bryon and I putting down we would only accept a white child was not what we were supposed to do. We called the worker and after much talking, begging, and pleading, we were able to change the paperwork back.

Then the wait began. We waited and waited and waited. We would get calls wondering if we would accept a certain situation and then would never hear back or would hear back that she had chosen another family.

I always thought I would have to be a working mom. We decided to take a huge leap of faith and I soon left my job working at a local bank and decided to start watching a few children in my home. This was a blessing. I was able to work from home, I would be able to be at home with our children when they came, and still bring in some income to help make ends meet. However, this was very painful at first. Watching other’s children was a constant reminder for me, that I couldn’t have what I wanted most. . . a child of my own. I had also worked outside the home for the first three years of our marriage. I loved the social aspect. All of a sudden I was home alone watching children that fell short of meeting my social needs.

It would be another long and painful eight months before we would welcome our first child into our home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Broken Dreams

Like I mentioned, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. I really wanted to get our adoption story written: not necessarily for whoever reads this blog but for our family. I guess I better get writing because we have been blessed with four beautiful children through the miracle of adoption and the month is already half over!

After Bryon and I were married for a year before we decided to start a family. It seems like being a mom or a dad is something you dream and plan for your whole life. You never dream in a million years that there will ever be a problem in accomplishing this dream. When there are problems in accomplishing this dream, it is a huge SHOCK. We had been trying on our own for about six months before we felt like maybe we should start looking for medical help. We worked with my OB/GYN doctor for about a year. We did everything from the basil thermometer, to Chlomid, to having Bryon tested. I got so frustrated with this process. This process was hard for me. I began to feel “dehumanized” in a sense. It seemed to me that most sacred and intimate part of our relationship was now an open book for doctors to prod and poke at. After working with my doctor for a year, he suggested we go to Salt Lake to see a specialist. I was so excited! Finally we were going to be able to work with someone who deals with problems like ours day in and day out. Bryon on the other hand had a total opposite reaction. He felt like we must really be bad off for them to send us to a specialist.

We only went to Salt Lake twice to meet with specialists. Bryon and I felt like we had gotten all the answers we needed to move on to the next phase of trying to start a family. There were a couple of things that happened during these two visits that helped us make our decision. During our first visit with the specialist he said some things that really stuck out in my mind. He must have seen the stars in my eyes. I just knew he was going to help Bryon and I reach our desire to have a biological child. He said, “Some couples come to me with stars in their eyes, expecting me to perform a miracle for them. Sometimes that miracle isn’t in the cards and they need look at other options to have a family.” At first, I hardly gave this comment much thought. However, as we began trying to make some decisions, this statement would ring over and over in my mind. There was one medical procedure that they said we could try. The cost was around $12,000. However, it gave us a 20% chance that month of getting pregnant. I know you are thinking that 20% is not very good odds. The doctor told us 20% chance is the percentage that any couple not using any form of birth control has at getting pregnant during that month. I was so excited. For the first time in this whole process, I would be able to rank right up there with a “normal” couple. My dreams were soon dashed when the doctor reminded me that most of these couples aren’t paying $12,000 at that 20% chance. At that point in our lives, Bryon was still going to school. We weren’t exactly raking in the bucks. Bryon was studying to be a school teacher and so we knew we would never have a ton of money. The talk of spending $12,000 on one simple procedure struck us more than probably any thing else.

At this point I felt like having a family was totally out of my control. I felt like my dream of having a child was slipping through my fingers and I had no way to grab and hang on to that dream.

I often get asked how Bryon and I finally arrived at the decision to adopt. For every couple, this is such a personal decision. For us the decision to start the adoption process was a very easy process. Bryon and I are both doers. So if having a biological child wasn’t in the cards for us, what was the next step? For us, the next step was to look into adoption.

This decision was an easy one for us but it didn’t mean it was any less painful. We mourned the loss of a biological child that would never be. This time in my life was truly one of darkness and despair. Here are some of the quiet thoughts and feelings I had during that time. I felt that God was right. The whole reason I wasn’t able to conceive was I would be an AWFUL mom. I felt like God had forgotten me. I was a very rebellious child in junior high and high school. Was this God’s payback for what I had done? I grew to hate Mother’s Day programs at church and began skipping church on Mother’s Day all together. It hurt so much whenever I heard of some one expecting a baby, or attending a baby blessing or baby shower. Not that I wasn’t truly happy for those who were celebrating this new phase in life, it was just that I ached so much to feel that same joy.
It is amazing to me that out of all this doubt, darkness and despair came some of the sweetest blessings in my life. I never felt closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. There were days in my life where I could literally feel the arms of my Savior around me and helping me along the way. My testimony grew tremendously during this time. I became aware that my Heavenly Father was indeed there. He was mindful of me. He was watching over us and would prepare a way for us to have a family if we would just trust in Him!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sam's Science Project

I for one am so glad last week is over. Can I just say I hate huge school projects!!! I think they are more work for the parents than the students and I KNOW I was a lot more stressed about getting it done than Sam. I thought I was done with school when I graduated from college. They didn't tell me that I would be repeating grades K-12 four more times.

At back to school night we learned that Sam would have two major projects. The first one was for science. We knew that Sam would be responsible to build a 3-D model of the solar system. I guess we could have gotten a jump start on the project and started that very night on the project. However, when you are doing a huge project like that, seriously, where would you store it??? Especially in our house where none of Sam's three siblings would leave it alone. We also found out that Science is not one of the major subjects that are taught. In fourth grade, Sam would get Science the first semester whenever they could fit it in between the regular curriculum. We also learned that he science grade would only consist of three things. One was a booklet, one was this 3-D model, and the last was a test.

Let me tell you a little bit about this booklet. It was about 25 pages. It had a page for one of each of the plants. (Yes, they were counting Pluto.) Then there were a few additional pages for other "space" things. Then with each page they had to write, there was a page they had to correspond that went with the page they had just written. The writing was pretty easy. The teacher would put on an overhead what they were to write (basic facts about the plants, the climate, how big it is, what color it is, etc.). All the students had to do was to copy it in their best handwriting. This was supposed to be a project that they should have been able to complete in class. I had volunteered and subbed in Sam's class enough to know all about this booklet and had actually seen Sam's progress on this booklet. So at this point the booklet is the very least of my worries.

About the first of October, we decided to talk with Sam in more depth about what he would like to do for his 3-D project. Sam decided to do his project out of Styrofoam balls. We went and bought the stuff he needed for his project and started gradually working on this project. We knew we were going to be out of town for Halloween and so he wouldn't have the weekend before the project was due to work on it. I was still feeling pretty good about his progress on this project. I felt like we had planned really good and should only have to spend a few hours the week after Halloween, assembling it and adding the finishing touches.

Little did I know my world was about to come crashing down on Tuesday afternoon. Keep in mind that I teach piano lessons every afternoon until about 5:00. It is all I can do to get dinner on the table, manage four children, and do the basic homework and reading that needs done every night. Bryon usually gets home between 6:30 and 7:00. Bryon usually works on cleaning up the kitchen while I finish up homework and get kids ready for bed. Anyway, on Tuesday after school Sam happened to call and find out where Bryon was because Bryon wasn't in his office. Sam said in passing something about his big science booklet got ripped up by two boys in the class. I was LIVID! I told Sam to have Bryon call me before they left school. I was going to have Bryon go in and talk to Sam's teacher. There was no way I was going to make my child do more work all because two boys decided to rip up his paper. Luckily Bryon ended up calling me about something totally different. He never did get the message from Sam. Strike one for Sam! So Bryon and Sam went to talk to the teacher. Bryon went in with his guns blazing. It didn't take him long for the teacher to shoot him down. The story wasn't exactly what Sam had told us.

I am going to do a little side note here for my parents. This story is seeming an awful lot like one I think my parents will remember quite well. It seems to me that there was an experience they had with me in high school where they too went to a teacher to defend me, only to find out what they had been told was NOT AT ALL WHAT HAPPENED! I think the only thing that would have made this experience sweeter for my parents would have been me being the one to go in to the teacher in this situation instead of Bryon. Then I would have known exactly how they felt!

Anyway, the teacher informed Bryon that she was quite surprised that she didn't hear from us on Monday instead of Tuesday. What??? Oh yes, she had the kids that weren't very far on their packet call their parents. Did I ever get a phone call??? Oh, no. Sam conveniently called my cell phone! The only problem is Sam knew all too well that my cell phone went through my parents washing machine and wasn't working. He later informed me he left a message. I doubt that. I dialed in to listen to my messages and there wasn't any message from him. STRIKE TWO!! The teacher was very doubtful that these boys had actually torn up Sam's packet. She said she could see them doing it to a few other kids in the class but not to Sam. She said she had been questioning him for about three weeks about his packet. He kept telling her that he had left it at home, lost it at home, etc. As we were working on painting the planets, we asked him to bring this booklet home so we could get some information to help on the 3-D project. He told us, he wasn't allowed to bring it home or he kept forgetting to bring it home. The excuses went on and on. So Bryon and the teacher ended up working on an agreement. The packet was due not on Friday but actually on Wednesday, THE VERY NEXT DAY. What we had less than 24 hours to complete this massive packet they had been working all semester!!! She would accept Sam's packet up until Friday but every day he didn't turn it in, she would be deducting points. They were also taking a test on Wednesday. They could use their booklet for the test. She would give Sam until Monday for the test but she would still deduct points for not taking it on time.

When Sam got home from school, I was livid! I happened to only have piano until 3:30 p.m. I called and told them I would be coming to mutual and then Sam and I buckled down to get this massive booklet complete. I was a stickler. I made him use his best writing and if it wasn't his best I would erase it and make him write it over. We pretty much worked on it nonstop from 3:30 until 9:00 that night. I think Sam's hand hurt by the time we were done from writing and coloring so much. Sam kept talking about this "choke collar" that Bryon and I placed around his neck. He told us we were pulling it so tight he could hardly breath. Of course this is all figurative, I would never put a choke collar around my child. . . Wait, now that I think about it, it does sound very tempting! I felt like saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet!" I tried to use this as a teaching example to teach that by not making good choices, it wasn't us that put that "choke collar" around his neck but his decisions. I am actually pretty hopeful that a lesson was learned this night!

Sam was so proud of his packet as he took it in and turned it in first thing the next morning. Sam got 100% on his packet. I was so proud of him. He even scored a 100% on the test that he took that afternoon with the rest of his class.

So on Wednesday and Thursday after school, I bet you can guess what we did. Yep, we worked on the 3-D project. A big thanks to Bryon who missed his Elder's Quorum meeting and working at the temple to prevent his wife from having a HUGE meltdown! Friday morning Sam took his 3-D project to school. Friday afternoon parents were invited to the school to look at all the fourth graders projects of the solar system. Sam told me Friday morning that the teacher told the kids that if their moms could, she would appreciate them bringing cookies for refreshments. So Friday in between my running, I hurried and baked some cookies to take. At 1:00, I picked Bryon up at the school and we went to see Sam's project. He did such a great job. Here of Sam in his class with his project.

While I was stressed out all last week about this 3-D project and ended up stressing about a booklet that I shouldn't have had to worry about, I am so proud of Sam. He did a wonderful job.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month

PhotobucketNovember is National Adoption Awareness Month. This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. I wouldn't be able to have a family without it. Throughout the month, I will be sharing our journey through adoption, sharing my feelings (the good and the sad), paying tribute to our wonderful birthparents, and sharing some of my favorite thoughts, quotes and songs on the subject.

Halloween Costumes

Here are some pictures of my cute little spooks. Sam has wanted to go as Phantom of the Opera for the past couple of years. I finally broke down this year and hired someone to sew the cape. I think he looked awesome. Poor Conner and Logan always have to use the hand-me-down costumes. Conner went as Scooby-Doo and Logan went as Buzz Lightyear. Thank heaven for girl cousins. Natalie went to the school carnival as a cheerleader but went Trick-or-Treating as Belle.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween Party With the Cousins

We had a GREAT Halloween! Since Halloween fell on a Friday this year, we decided at the first of the month, to go to my parent's house in Burley for Trick-or-Treating. Our decision was cemented when my sister Lori, decided to bring her kids up and join us.

We left Friday about 11:30. Upon getting to my parent's house, my sister Alyson had planned this cute Halloween party for all the cousins. I was in charge of a couple of rounds of Halloween Bingo. My sister, Lori, was in charge of a bean bag toss through a wooden Jack-O-Lantern. Alyson had a game of Pin-The-Nose on the Jack-O-Lantern. Alyson had also filled a plastic pumpkin with all sorts of prizes for the winners of the various games. My kids loved picking out a prize after winning. Afterwards, we went outside for a doughnut on a string relay. It was so funny!

Here are some pictures of the party.

Thanks you Alyson for putting it all together. It was so much fun!

Halloween Party With the Cousins