Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Adoption Journey, Part 2

“Adoption” is a very broad term in today’s world.  The two types we are looking into are domestic infant adoption and international adoption. 
Domestic infant adoption is *probably* cheaper, but I am wary of how the outcome depends entirely on a birth mother to select you to parent her unborn child.  I guess I’m a little afraid that our conservativeness could come off as weird or freakish.  We also are not comfortable with any kind of open adoption, and closed adoptions seem to be getting more and more rare.  Of course, if you are never selected by a birthmother, all the money and time you’re invested in the home study and the agency is gone.  That’s a big risk in my book. Finally, I take issue with the ‘waiting period’ that the birth mother has to change her mind between the birth and finalization. In our state it is 96 hours (four days), which isn’t the worst, but my heart would break if we took a baby home for four days and then baby’s birthmother wanted him or her back. 
International adoption is pricey, mostly because of all the paperwork that must be done in both the U.S. and your adoptive country.  Everything needs to be translated, and in the vast majority of cases, travel is required.  This is tough for us as we cannot be gone on long trips due to my husband’s work (and he HATES to fly!). However, in most countries, a couple is matched with a child that is already free for adoption – no ‘waiting period’, no waiting to be selected by a birthmom, no requirements to maintain contact with a birth family.  I have family members that were adopted internationally and it was a great experience for me to see.  They are not without their struggles, but it was a powerful lesson in love for me that has impacted me, and I would like to make a difference that way, too.
What country?  Well, this complicate things even further, my husband and I are too young (26) for many countries (China, for example, requires parents to be 30; the Philippines requires age 27).  Furthermore, our mental health histories also eliminate a LOT of the most common countries that Americans adopt from.  It was really kind of heart-breaking to see so many possibilities slip away just because we’ve both endured major depressive episodes at times in our lives. (Who goes through infertility without depression, anyways?)  The trend in international adoptions has also shifted from healthy, older babies and young toddlers to older children or children with special needs.  Now I’m not afraid to welcome a special needs child as my own, but I need to be honest about our situation.  We will be on one small income after we are parents.  Our current insurance is good – does not deny coverage for pre-existing conditions – but it’s pricey and may very well have to go in favor of something with lower premiums.  We’re afraid to take an older child as our first – we feel like we need some parenting experience “growing up” with a younger child first.  Also (could this get any harder?) some countries require a ‘ent worth’ or have income requirements that we don’t meet, being a ministry couple with old cars and living in a parsonage.  So, what country lets you adopt from them if you don’t make a ton of money, have depression in your medical history, has young kids available, and doesn’t require multiple trips or one long trip?  South Korea.  Vietnam is also a possibility if they re-open for international adoptions in 2012 as indicated.
As you can probably tell, my heart is leaning toward international, but my husband is unsure as this point.  If you would, please pray that God’s will is made known to us, and that we follow it. 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Our Adoption Journey...

…hasn’t really started yet, though I am very anxious to begin.  Let me feel like things are moving by telling you a bit about it.
We’ve been married for very nearly five years (our anniversary is around Christmas).  Birth control was not something we wanted to do or can do with clear consciences.  God commands His people to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28) and proclaims that children are a blessing and a reward (Psalm 127). 
I will admit that we did very loosely practice the calendar method for the first year or so of our marriage.  We didn’t want to, but we didn’t have health insurance through my job, my husband was a full-time student, we couldn’t afford to buy our own insurance and didn’t qualify for state benefits due to residency requirements.  The tough decision was made, and let me tell you, I regret it completely.  I wonder almost every day if our one chance to conceive was during that year and we threw it away for the sake of what we perceived to be social responsibility.
After that year I got a job with benefits and we quit watching the calendar.  This was in January 2008.  I tried to relax and we prayed.  We were pretty patient for a year, then I started getting a little concerned.  At this point my insomnia had been going strong for seven months and I saw a doctor.  She ordered bloodwork to check a myriad of things.  The results showed nothing abnormal and cost us $800.  I bought and read “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler.   We implemented the BBT method for the entire calendar year of 2009.  I also bought and used Dr. Lee’s progesterone cream that year.  It helped neither my insomnia, nor my painful periods, nor our infertility.
In January 2010 I quit my high-stress job I’d held for two years.  I wondered if that would make a difference (but that wasn’t the reason I quit).  It didn’t.  In spring that year, my husband finished the classroom portion of his seminary studies and was assigned his internship in a tropical climate.  We moved from the Midwest to the subtropics.  I wondered if the sun, the gentler climate, and working part-time would open my womb – nope.  In summer 2011 my husband was assigned his first church as a pastor, back in the Midwest, and this is where we are at.
I think that when we got the $800 doctor bill for the bloodwork I got done in January 2009, we decided that we weren’t going to pour any more money into tests or treatment for this.  I don’t feel right putting money into testing that may or may not give answers.  Even if answers were found, there’s no guarantee that the medical field can fix them.  And we have moral issues with many of the ‘treatments’ for infertility, including IVF, IUI, and AI.  Rather than even start down that road, we want to dedicate our time and our finances to being parents to a child that needs us.  I have cousins who were adopted when I was a teenager, and that has always been on my heart.  Adoption was the natural next step to parenthood for us.
To be continued in next post: “Adoption” is a very broad term in today’s world.  The two types we are looking into are domestic infant adoption and international adoption. 

Friday, December 9, 2011


There was a mini-movement on Facebook this year to post an item you were thankful for in your status from November 1 to November 24 (Thanksgiving).  I put down 25 since I like my numbers to be multiples of five.  :)
1.  Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
2. Martin Luther
3. Being a member of a church body that believes, teaches, and confesses Scriptural truth.
4. My baptism
5. the Lord’s Supper
6. My husband and my pastor (they’re one and the same)
7. Living in the Midwest
8. Christian parents
9. Christian teachers and mentors throughout all my school years
10. Godly in-laws
11. Music
12. Musical ability
13. Living close to family
14. A lovely house to call ‘home’
15. My job
16. God-fearing co-workers
17.Having the resources to consider an international adoption
18.Being able to access, read, and study God’s word
19. My practical, faithful car
20. Fourteen years of sweet companionship with our (my parents, sisters, and my) family dog who had to be put down in September
21. Facebook – sounds shallow I know, but it really helps us feel like we can stay in touch and be social with our closest friends and family in other states
22. Books
23. The Green Bay Packers
24. Gymnastics
25. Great,understanding doctors

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Insomnia Journey, Part Two

So now you know what was causing my sleep problems….what helped?
If the problem is a stressor outside of your control, unfortunately there isn’t much to be done.  Doctors and health websites will tell you to practice good sleep hygiene, which means having consistent bedtimes and waking times, only allowing yourself a certain amount of time (I want to say they recommend 10 minutes?) to fall asleep, and to not be in bed or even in your bedroom if you aren’t sleeping.  It is also generally advised to keep the room as dark as possible, the room temperature on the cooler side, and to run a fan or some sort of white noise.  We did that – now I can’t even sleep with a digital alarm clock in the room because it’s too bright J and my husband and I are both officially addicted to sleeping with a fan running.  Consuming no caffiene is also advised – I cut it out completely for several months.  It didn’t help me, but it might help you.  Some recommend a sleepy-time tea (containing lavender and chamomile) or warm milk close to bedtime.  This didn’t help me much either.
Medications were a last resort for me and I reached that last resort.  I was desparate.  Unfortunately, diphenhydramine +NSAIDS is a migraine trigger for me, so most OTC meds like Tylenol PM and Advil PM weren't options.  Melatonin helped for a little while, but it eventually lost its effect.  I also tried Hyland’s sleeping pills, which like the Melatonin, worked for a week or so and then ceased to be effective.  After about seven months of this I saw a doctor.  We discussed both the infertility and the insomnia.  She sent me home with Ambien and did a ton of bloodwork.  The Ambien didn’t seem to help much.  I’d sleep, but it still took me quite awhile to relax and I didn’t feel like it was restful sleep.  The bloodwork showed nothing abnormal, of course.  I felt as though we had paid $800 for nothing.  I pressed on.  Ten months later I saw a different practitioner – a physician’s assistant (P.A.) that had come highly recommended.  The first thing she did was a depression assessment and lo and behold, I tested the in the ‘borderline severe depression’ range.  Had I been a few points higher they would have hospitalized me.  She prescribed Trazodone and Prozac. 
(Disclaimer, I am not a doctor or medical practitioner in any way, just a young woman sharing her experiences.)
The Trazodone was a God-send.  I slept twelve hours that night and wasn’t drowsy in the morning.  The next day I took a three-hour nap and still got twelve hours of sleep the next night.  I continued with that pattern for many weeks.  It was absolute bliss, not only to finally get some good rest, but to escape from the world for over half the day and just let my mind reset.  Now I had been on Prozac before (major depressive episode during my college years) and it had worked beautifully then, but I started having anxiety symptoms during the day.  A few follow-up visits later, my PA switched me to Zoloft and that solved the problem.  I wasn’t jittery or panicky anymore and I continued to sleep well.  I also made the necessary change and quit my job.  It was hard to leave my kids, but the administration had very unrealistic expectations of me that weren’t changing.    I switched to being a special ed. para in our local school district.  The hours were less, the pay was significantly less, but I do not regret this decision at all. It was a desperate and necessary move to stabilize my mental health.  It certainly wasn’t stress-free, but having consistent work days, hours, and a consistent daily schedule was very helpful for my psyche. 
I stayed on the Zoloft for about a year total.  I still have a prescription for the Trazodone (it’s been two years now) but  have been using it only intermittently/as needed for that last fourteen months or so and haven't taken any of it for the last four months.
That concludes the story of my struggles with insomnia.  Do you have any sleep issues? I’d love to hear what helped you and how you are doing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Insomnia Journey, Part One

Well, I went to bed about 45 minutes ago and felt rather awake, so I’m up for a bit more.  While it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a half-hour or so of time to kill with the TV or the computer, this bums me out a bit. 
I struggled with severe, chronic insomnia from roughly May 2008 through August 2011.  It vanished after we moved here, so I’m a bit disappointed to be getting another taste of it now.I am pretty certain the fact that I ‘slept in’ until 7:30 this morning (I’m usually up just before six) and having a Coke at dinner (I usually have one after lunch) are contributors to my awake-ness tonight and I won’t have this problem on a consistent basis from now on. 
I figured out a few months ago that it was the enormous stress I was under that kept me from sleeping well all those years.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the knowing we would be moving somewhere for a year for my husband’s vicarage (pastoral internship) for a year, to be followed by moving somewhere for his first Call as a pastor, not knowing where we’d be going until weeks before the move, was an enormous weight on me.  I never knew that burden was there, until it was gone.
Another stressor during all this time has been our infertility.  I have to say, I don’t think I really agonized about where the problem was medically, but more the, “Why us?” questions.  This was made worse by the fact that all my close friends became moms during this time, whether they were trying to or not.  It was, and still is sometimes, incredibly hurtful.  I would lie awake for hours and literally fight God on why we had to be enduring this.  I’ve told people since, “I know what it’s like to wrestle in prayer now.”  If you have been here, I’m sympathize.  It’s the hardest thing I have ever walked through.  It is pain and sorrow that must be dealt with on a 28-day cycle.  In a nutshell, it sucks.
During my husband’s Seminary years, my work was our only source of income.  Being the main breadwinner is a role that I’m convinced many women, including myself, are not meant to carry.  I felt very pressure to work as many hours as possible, particularly when we had big extra expenses like major car repair bills, since I knew I was the only one bringing in the money.  I made it, but I don’t think I can do it again.  Unfortunately, my job as an ABA therapist for children with autism was also highly stressful.  Imagine trying to function in that line of work on 20 hours of sleep a week.  It was not pretty, and to this day I feel a little guilty about not being able to put forth my best effort for ‘my’ kids because I felt so awful. be continued.....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Here is my menu plan for the second half of November, or "November B".  We grocery shop twice a month since we live about 20 miles from the nearest major grocery store.

Tues. 11/15: Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts
Wed. 11/16: Pancakes with syrup, jam, or yogurt
Thu. 11/17: Spaghetti
Fri. 11/18: Buffalo Chicken sandwiches
Sat. 11/19: From-scratch Chicken Nuggets
Sun. 11/20: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Mon. 11/21: Venison Steak & Cheese Quesadillas
Tues. 11/22: Turkey Hot Dogs
Wed. 11/23: My parents are arriving for Thanksgiving and picking up Culver's for us :)
Thu. 11/24:  Thanksgiving Dinner!  Turkey, Gravy, Double-baked potatoes, sweet corn and carrots, rolls, cranberry-orange bread, apple pie, pumpkin pie, ice cream, sparkling grape juice, and eggnog.
Fri. 11/25: Leftovers/Out with my parents
Sat. 11/26: Leftovers/Out with my parents
Sun. 11/27: Cheese Pizza
Mon. 11/28: Honey Chicken
Tues. 11/29: Turkey Hot Dogs
Wed. 11/30: Pancakes/Eggs

These are our dinners, by the way....breakfast is usually yogurt, a granola bar, toast, or eggs for us and lunches are pretty much salads, sandwiches, or leftovers.

I can't believe we'll be into December after this cycle!  Time is flying!


The purpose of this blog is to encourage, to learn, to grow, and to share.  Yes, that’s broad J but I think you get the idea.
I am a 27-year-old female.  I have a BA in psychology and a work background that consists mainly of working with special needs children; currently I’m a preschool aide in our local school district.  I have been married to my wonderful husband for nearly five years.  He is a new pastor – just ordained in August.  We are very Lutheran and our faith is an integral part of our lives. 
We’ve lived at six different addresses, in four different states, in our five years of marriage.
I’m a bit of a paradox – I love to do homemaking activites such as sew, bake, clean, organize.  I’m a big fan of homeschooling and stay-at-home-motherhood, yet I work full-time and have no children.   I love to sing, play piano, and listen to music.  I’m currently learning to fake-play the organ (no foot pedals).
Infertility is very much my cross.  We hope to grow our family through adoption and I plan to document our (prospective) adoption journey here as well.