Thursday, April 13, 2017

We Have a Middle Name!

...and it is on this list! Any guesses? 
It's gonna be an awesome story for later on!
But for now, we're keeping it hush hush.


How Our Adoption Was Fully Funded Without Debt, Fundraising, or Grants

I have been getting lots of questions from friends and family (and strangers on the internet, hi internet friends!) like, "soooooo..... what's going on in the adoption?" I get it. We announced it a while ago now. I keep saying "our daughter" and everyone is waiting for us to make some sort of big announcement. Well... we have all our t's crossed and i's dotted and have been homestudy approved (the state basically deciding you are good enough to parent) and have our course picked out. But Nate and I made the decision as a family to not move forward until we knew we had the funds on hand for the entire adoption. Domestic, private adoptions like ours can cost anywhere from $20,000-40,000+ so it's no small feat. And even though we are more than blessed with the income coaching brings into our family, we were hit with an unexpected expense during our home-buying process that depleted our entire adoption savings. It was one of those moments of "if we don't do this, we lose our dream house" and we made the decision to do it and trust that the adoption money would come again.

I had no idea when that would be and to be 100% honest, I was ready to move forward without that savings and just hustle to make it all happen. But Nate didn't feel the same and after a lot of soul-searching and hard conversations about our family and our future we decided to hold off on moving forward in our adoption process until we replenished that savings. We didn't want to fundraise for our adoption (there's nothing wrong with it, we just didn't want to go that route) and we didn't want to have to take out any loans or borrow any money for it. We didn't want to put our family finances in any sort of stress over it either since adoption is not a guarantee and we have another child already to consider through this whole process financially.

As the age gap continued to widen and the pull of adoption was pulling on my soul more strongly than ever, looking at that empty adoption savings was crushing me. And it seemed that every time I was able to make headway something would come up in life that forced us to empty it back out.

In March I saw an opportunity for a huge goal in my coaching business. I knew my team was capable and more than motivated enough to accomplish it. And I knew that I would do whatever it took... late nights, early mornings, overtime... whatever it took to make it happen. I had a motivation like no other. I wanted to be able to bring our daughter home as soon as possible. Talk about WHY power!

In March I decided to go for it. And this week I found out that everything that I needed to happen to hit this giant milestone and qualify for this bonus were there and our family was going to officially qualify as one of 22 who earned it in the company.

What I did not know was that the amount of the bonus would almost exactly pay back our adoption fund (plus a little extra for good measure) in one lump sum. If that isn't the most beautiful non-coincidence then I don't know what is. The Universe had our backs!

I made a video the day I saw the numbers come in and saw that we had officially qualified. It's embarassing because I messy cry during it and I'm all puffy from having been crying before recording it. This is actually the third take because I kept sniffing too much in the first two! But I wanted it recorded so I could share from my heart about how incredibly blessed I am to be a coach, to have this coaching opportunity, for the transformation that it has brough to me as a person, to my health and my life, and now to my family. Thanks for reading along so far! If you want to watch my reactions from the moment I realized that our adoption was paid for, click play on the video below.

I know people are inherently skeptical about network marketing. I was too! But this business, when done correctly, with passion and heart, with love and with authenticity... it is an incredible thing!
I'd love to chat with you about it if you are curious what I do and if you can do it too. 
I need to make something extremely clear. Beachbody does not guarantee any level of success or income from the Team Beachbody Coach Opportunity. Each Coach’s income depends on his or her own efforts, diligence, and skill. For more information see the Beachbody Statement of Independent Coach Earnings. This amazing achievement came from 3 1/2 years of diligence, consistency, hard work, and community. I feel so very blessed by the incredible things coaching has allowed in our life but it is all because of the hard work, heart, and efforts invested in our business that have made it all possible. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

We picked our attorney!!!

It's official! We know who we want to work with! I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders! Adoption is so overwhelming because once you make the giant decision to adopt you then have to decide which path to adoption you want to take and there are sooooo many... 

Foster to Adopt
Domestic Private with an Agency
Domestic Private with a consultant
Domestic Private with an Attorney
International (then which country, then which agency)

Then once you choose a path you have to figure out what people you want to be working with in that tract. It can definitely seem like unending options. It's like choice paralysis. And I don't know why but I felt very much like I HAD to choose the right option like it was a test and I'd fail if I didn't.

We heard about Cheryl, our attorney from a friend.
We spoke with her months and months ago and really liked her. 
We looked at a lot of other options and talked to a lot of other people. 
But no one put us instantly at ease like Cheryl. 
I haven't spoken to any other agencies or attorneys who I just felt so "right" with. 
And I think intuition is important.
So this morning we spoke to her one last time and decided. 

And now we have an advocate who will be helping us find our daughter!
And we have a timeline that fits our family and that we feel comfortable with.
I know there are no guarantees but I feel really good about this. 
Now excuse me while I go fill out more paperwork. ;)


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Where We Are At...

Our son drew our new family tonight and my heart shattered into a billion pieces

I've had a good amount of questions and I wanted to just post a quick update. We are approved but waiting. We don't know where our baby will be born or when. We are currently deciding on which and how many laywers we want to work with. We decided to go this route rather than choosing an agency for a few reasons, one of which being that we aren't limited to only working with 1 this way and we just liked being able to deal one on one. As you're reading, please remember... there are soooo many different paths in adoption. There is no one "right" way. And ours is just but a drop in a huge ocean of experiences when it comes to adoption. But for those curious, here's our road so far...

For those curious... here's how it worked/works going this route...

1. We chose an independent home study agency (not linked to an adoption agency)
2. We filled out a novel's worth of info about us personally, our families, our upbrining, our beliefs, our parenting philosophies, our health, our finances, our careers, etc.
3. We got background checks, fingerprinted, references, and copies of pretty much every official document proving all the various details of our life.
4. We had our home study interview. It lasted about 4 hours at our home with our social worker. She interviewed our son and then the two of us. We sat at our dining table. It was completely painless and actually pretty enjoyable. Don't believe everything the internet tells you about how scary home studies are. ;)
5. We choose our attorney and being to work one on one with them. Usually, this means putting down a retainer to begin the process of working together. We can choose as many as we can afford or are comfortable working with. Once we begin working with our attorney they will have us fill out more paperwork and they will get to know us and the situations we feel comfortable and equipped to take on. (As awkward as this part sounds, this means the health of the children, their heritage, their age, their ethnicities, etc.) She will begin to pair us up with potential birth mothers who she thinks are a good fit for us and visa versa. The birth moms will look at our info and at our adoption profile album and choose us or not choose us.
6. If we are matched there are a ton of variables. Everything really depends on how far along the birth mother is, where she lives, how much contact she wants with us, etc. So we'll just have to wait and play all that by ear. At any given time there is also the chance that she will change her mind and choose to parent at which our match would end and we'd have to go back to step 5 again. (To answer your inevitable questions, yes that is scary but we have to move forward believing that what is for us will not pass us.)
7. There is always the chance that our social worker might hear of a situation or someone else that knows us might put us in contact with someone that ends up being a good match. We've already seen two situations via our caseworker and via a friend putting us in touch with someone they knew. So if you know people who know people who are looking for a family, feel free to put us in touch!
8. After our baby is born, their birth parents will sign papers terminating their parental rights and we will be able to take our baby home from the hospital! There are a lot of variables here too. How long this window of time is and our hospital stay all vary based on which state we end up adopting in and also the health of the baby.
9. Once we are home we get to settle into life with our new little one! At that point, the birth parents have relinquished their rights and we have signed all the papers from the attorney's making this baby ours. We have a follow up visit from our social worker just to pop in and meet our newest addition and also give the final sign off that is sent to a Florida judge. About 4-6 months after we bring our baby home we will go in front of a judge who will legally put the final government seal on our adoption.

We have NO IDEA how quickly or slowly this will go. To be completely honest, I am hoping for it to go quickly and I know Nate is hoping for things to go slow and steady but that's just our personalities bubbling over. Once I decide on something I'm 150mph. Nate is much more calculated and logical and wants to make sure that everything is in it's place and organized and low stress. We are definitely yin and yang in that personality department.

Once we are matched there could be anything from a 5 month wait to "we need you to come to the hospital right now!" so we have no idea what to expect. And getting matched could happen tomorrow or it could take a year. So right now we are in THE WAIT. Hopefully this doesn't jinx anything but we are really hoping (and feeling like) we will bring our baby home in 2017.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Approved, Facebook Official, and our Adoption Announcement

We got word early this week that our homestudy was officially approved!!!! It feels good to check off such a GIANT milestone in this journey! We also came out of the adoption closet, so to speak, on Facebook sharing with our network our exciting news. I had asked in a private adoption community online about when most people announce that they are adopting and pretty much everyone said they didn't announce till their child was home but we've always lived our lives fairly openly on social media and to keep a secret like this would have been so hard so we decided to go public.

I also felt that sharing the news would open us up to potential connections that could help us in the process. I've LOVED seeing social media unite people and get people connected in the right way at the exact right time plus when we were researching adoption I was really frustrated by the last of people like me that I could find online sharing their stories so I almost feel like it's my responsibility to put our story out there for people in the future to be able to find comfort and inspiration in.

There's a bunch of questions we've been getting so I figured I'd take this time to share some answers to the most common ones...

Q: Are you already matched with a baby?
A: No as of this entry being published

Q: Are you adopting privately and domestically?
A: Yes, that's our plan as of right now

Q: What agency are you using?
A: We are going privately through an attorney instead of with a big adoption agency

Q: How long will it take?
A: Honestly, that part is pretty up in the air. It could happen really quickly or it could take a while. There's a lot of factors at play like how many attornies we choose to work with, how quickly a birth moms choose us that fit into the parameters we have decided on, if we are a good match and decide to move forward, how far along in their pregnancy they are when they chose us, etc...

Q: Were you dealing with infertility?
A: No, we have always had a plan to adopt even though we are able to biologically have children

Q: Does your son know?
A: Yes! And he's super excited to be a big brother!

Q: Will you share when you are matched? Will you get pictures? Can you share them?
A: We haven't decided yet. We might not announce anything about being matched with a child until our daughter is legally in our care. This is not to exclude anyone but rather just to play it safe emotionally since adoptions are not a guaranteed thing and each situation can be extremely dynamic. You might just all of a sudden see a photo of us with our new daughter. How exciting!

Q: Are you super excited to get working on the nursery?!
A: I am! And I already have it sort of figured out in my head. I wrote about this in more detail in an earlier post if you want to go look for it but we will not be setting up her nursery until AFTER she is legally in our care. You can go read why in that earlier post. But yes, designing a little girl nursery is going to be so fun!

Hopefully that answers some of your burning questions! The outpouring of love and support has been amazing since we shared our announcement photo on Facebook today! Thank you all so much!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Adoption Book!

Way back in August when we spoke to Cheryl (the attorney we first spoke to) she told me that one of the projects I would work on right away was our profile book. A photo album of sorts that is presented to potential birth moms to give them a glimpse into our life and hopefully help them get to know us so they can feel confident selecting us! Cheryl told me that profile books are a big project and usually take people a long time so I should go ahead and get started on it.

And I scoffed.

Pssshhh, I thought, I was a wedding photographer for 8 years. I've made HUNDREDS of wedding albums FROM SCRATCH. I got this.

I told Cheryl, quite hautily, on the phone that the profile book was in the bag. No biggie. It would be the easiest part of the process for me! I got this.

You guys. I was HUMBLED. HAHA!

It's really easy to make a wedding album for other people. It's really difficult to try to accurately and fully (but also concisely) represent everything you are as a person and as a family in a photo book that will be given to a complete stranger. It took me about 2 weeks and all I got done was the cover. Then I changed that again. HA! I googled other profile books and looked on pinterest and asked my friends who had made them to show me theirs and then I looked at samples of books from our social worker and then I stressed even more about what size, what shape, what photos, etc. And FINALLY I just decided to just go with my gut.

So I stopped looking at everyone else's books. I closed all my pinned ideas and I went to my favorite photo-book making site and started designing on a completely clean slate. I went through our facebook accounts and found photos and snapshots. I let go of the idea that the book needed to look as professional as the wedding albums I used to design and I used iphone snapshots and I just designed as I went going with my gut.

It's really really hard not to second guess EVERY DETAIL. Is this too many photos? Is this not enough? Am I being too wordy? Am I not giving enough story? Will she interpret this as funny or lame? Will she love that we travel or will she want a family that is more rooted? OHMYGOSH you guys I second guessed EVERYTHING.

It took me two days and nights of working on it all day and staying up till 4:40am working on it but I finished our book. And I just had to hit print and not over-analyze it because even now I look and wonder if that photo was the best one or if I should have included less or more or whatever... but I am really happy with it as a representation of us!

I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite spreads from it in case you are looking for inspiration for your own book! My number 1 tip would be to look at some online for inspiration but then to just go from your own heart and try not to copy other people's because you are YOU and you should let that shine!

Here are three of my FAVORITE spreads from our book...

Our ABOUT US Spread: 
Our social worker told us that books with a scrapbook style element went over well. Instead of just listing info about my husband and I in paragraph form we used this post it note layout idea to break up the little stories about us and add some visual interest and add a bit of a scrapbook feel.

Our JUST FOR FUN spread: 

I was told that snapshots are really good for these books. Which was a great nugget of info because I had put a lot of pressure on myself to have professionally taken portraits of us but we threw that out the door and just pulled a bunch of our favorite selfies and random photos from our phones. I wasn't sure where to put them in the book so we decided to dedicate two pages to just random fun photos that we felt share about who we are as a family. I love how it turned out!

Our TRAVEL spread: 

Travel is a big part of our life and the experiences we want to give to our children so we had to include it in our book! I used the map we have on our RV that we fill as we visit a state to show the paces we've been as a family. I love how this turned out and I hope it shows the birth family our love of adventure! 

Waiting For Approval...

Still waiting for our Home Study to be officially approved. And it's no one's fault but our own because we just did not have all our documents ready as quickly as we thought we would because of random schedule conflicts. This is where someone who is a highly organized Type A type person would probably be way better at than we are because we are just too chill sometimes. The fact that I have an adoption binder with all our papers in it is, like, winning for us you guys. This is as organized as I get over here! Our home study was about two weeks ago and if we had all of our paperwork to our social worker on that day our home study would have probably been finalized a week ago but we didn't have our form from our primary care doctor yet because well, we are never sick and do not have a primary care doctor for my husband and I. So we had to find a doctor to check us over and sign off that we are healthy. And then our doctor was sick so we had to push back our time to see her then we saw her and sent that in then we realized we had sent in the wrong page of another document and we were still missing a copy of our marriage license and so today we finally were able to send in (I hope) the correct and final versions of all the missing pieces! So... it should be any day now that we have our finalized Home Study!

Also... slight digression for a minute... if I start getting really high and mighty with my parenting advice to all of you it's because after our home study is approved I basically will have been given a license from the state to parent. So you know, I'm licensed now. Get ready for all the unsolicited parenting advice! ;) Just kidding. But I do think it's funny that now Nate and I are basically licensed parents. HAHA!

So... this post is really just to update anyone reading who's reading along our timeline. It's been two weeks but we weren't on top of things so it's our own fault but I'm hopeful that everything will be finalized soon and that everything works out for a reason, even our own disorganization! HAHA.

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