Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dear Birth Mother...

I've mentioned (here, here) that we've been working on listing with more adoption agencies.  After things not moving much for months (years) all of a sudden, in less than a week, we're filling out applications for two more agencies, agencies we had contacted over a month ago and then were in a waiting period.

One of them required a copy of our profile book with our application.  We had more of a brochure type with our current agency and asked if that would be fine for applying, we'd do the full book if we got accepted.  They said no, they need the book with the application.  We made sure our pastor would sign off on the statement of faith, which he did on a Friday.  Three weeks before the application was due (and just 24 hours after we asked, it was a short window to begin with).  We knew we'd have a wait with getting a book printed and shipped to our house which meant we had about a weekend to put together a 20 page profile book.

You might imagine that that was a slightly stressful weekend around here.  But we knocked it out with about 10 hours of work between the two of us.  We now have a 20 page, hardcover photobook sent in to Snapfish and it should be delivered to our house 9 days before it has to be at the agency.  It should work out just fine.  (I mean, literally just send in, right before I started writing this post.)

It's a really strange thing to make these profiles.  I think it went fairly quick for us because we had guidelines from this new agency (2 pages about extended family, 1 page per child you have, 2-4 pages for your neighborhood and home, etc.) but also, we had done this before.  More than once.  I kept a copy of our last profile right in front of me the whole time I was working on the new one, copying full paragraphs from it.  It's not cheating, we wrote it all in the first place.

I would have thought the words would be the toughest parts but somehow that came fairly easily (see: the above mentioned copying at least 50% of it).  The hardest part was choosing pictures.

What best represents our family?

What makes us look the best?

Is anyone making a funny face?

Are they going to like or hate that we like Star Wars, the Colts, don't have pets, have a jet ski, etc.

Our social worker told us five years ago that most birth mothers chose a family based on the pictures.  They have the same type of dog.  They like the same sports team.  But the same things could be a turnoff for another birth mother.

We were told to include pictures of the front of our house, the inside of our house, our neighborhood, our extended families, and a lot of us.  But nothing that includes local landmarks or local colleges or anything that gives any clue as to what city we live in.  Nothing with our last names.

So is Matt wearing a hat for our minor league baseball team count as showing where we live?  How about Luke sitting on the turtle statue at our (nationally ranked, by the way) zoo?  What about my sister wearing a t-shirt for the school where her husband used to coach football but doesn't any more and isn't even where we live anyways?  What about that shirt Matt is wearing that is for a local company that lists our city, if you look close enough?  What about the family picture taken at the downtown baseball stadium?  What about my brother-in-law wearing a t-shirt for a school where he student taught and is in our town but where neither of us went to school?  What about the random family reunion t-shirt Matt got at Goodwill, over a decade ago, that has some last name on it that belongs to people we don't even know?  Would they think that's us?

How picky are we being?

It was a little exhausting nitpicking over every single picture, every face.  Would they hold it against us that a niece is picking her nose in a family shot? (She was 3 at the time, I would hope not.)  Don't include any pictures where Luke has obvious scrapes on his head, even though he's a little boy, that stuff happens.

(Side note, anyone care to guess how many times Lemur made the book?  He's definitely in it the most after the three of us.)

We ended up using a lot of pictures from recent(ish) trips to Gulf Shores and New York (no clues there as to where in Indiana we are!).  I left in most of the pictures I worried about above.  It'd be near impossible to hide every tiny, possible reference to where we are.  Besides, we're supposed to be telling these people something about us.

We're supposed to talk about infertility, which remains the hardest thing we've ever been through.  (But not too much talking about it, because you can't make adoption sound like your second choice.)  But can't tell them something as basic as to where we went to college.  It's all about reveling huge parts of yourself but leaving so much hidden, putting the best foot forward but also being honest.  Showing them you'll be a perfect parent, even though that doesn't exist.

And we didn't actually use the words "Birth Mother" anywhere in our book.  Because to them, they aren't a "birth mother" or "birth parents".  At the time, they are still just "parents".  They haven't signed over any baby or given up their rights.  They are considering options and parenting their baby is a very viable one.  We know how emotional adoption can be from our side; we can only imagine how emotional it is from theirs (and we saw Luke's birth mother moments after she signed Luke over to us...we kinda know.).

As I wrote in the book, we know adoption is how God meant for us to grow our family, even if it took us awhile to figure it out.  I look at the (almost) 4 year old evidence right in front of me every single day.  The idea of him being in the world but not being ours still crushes me. 

As tough and as stressful as making a book over a weekend was, we're also pretty happy with how it turned out.  I make annual photobooks but this is something different, highlighting the things we like best about our little family, putting together our favorite pictures.  Not everybody gets to do that.  It's a wonderful little snapshot of our family at this point in our lives.

I know, I have to believe, that we will be lead to the child we are meant to have.  Meant to parent.  Meant to join our family.  We are doing our work so our book can be in the right agency, the right hands, to get in front of that woman who is carrying our future child.  Besides prayer, it's all we can do.  It's not the path we had expected to make our family.  Ten years ago I most definitely never considered that spending 10 hours staring at my computer over a weekend is how we'd make our family.  But here we are.  And right now we're feeling pretty at peace about it all.

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