And Now for Something Completely Different
Happy Monday, ABOG Fam!! I hope y'all had a lovely weekend full of whatever makes your heart full. I spent mine celebrating my 41st trip around the sun, and it was incredible.
Now, while this little company of mine (and this Blog in particular) generally focus on food and travel and all things good and tasty, I sometimes find myself needing to write about other topics because, well, they're just really important to me, and I want to share them with you, the people who help sustain both my business and my soul. So no, this Blog entry won't be about food. Or travel. Or wine. Or my dog. It's going to be about some hard stuff.
You might be asking yourself at this point why I would want to write or talk about the hard stuff in life when I started a company called "A Bite of Good." The answer is simple. I believe that people don't talk about the hard stuff enough, which means that when we go through the hard stuff (which we ALL do) we feel alone and afraid to talk about it, which means that the vicious cycle of shame and fear and secrecy and pain just continues. On the other hand, when we choose to talk about the hard stuff, we quickly learn that we are not, in fact, alone, and our openness ends up helping both ourselves and others. So buckle up, buttercups. I'm about to hit you with some hard stuff. But I also promise that if you decide to stick with me here, there's a whole lot of good stuff at the end too. And if you're not in a mental space to read further, that's ok too. I'll be back in a couple of days with some more food for ya.
So here goes...
If you've been around here for a while, you probably already know about our struggle with infertility, as I have been fairly open about all of it. If not, here's the high level recap. Michael and I were married just over 5 years ago and started trying to build our family shortly thereafter. We spent the next 4 years and thousands of dollars on all manner of fertility treatments, including, but not limited to, acupuncture, various medical interventions, IUIs, and, most recently, IVF. After a failed embryo transfer and two miscarriages, we decided that IVF was simply too hard on me physically and on both of us emotionally (not to mention financially). Surrogacy wasn't going to alleviate the financial burden, and I would still have to go through the egg retrieval portion of IVF anyway. Plus, even if we found ourselves a "Fertile Myrtle" surrogate with a magical womb, it's not like there was a guarantee that it would be successful, so we passed on that as well. We are simply not going to have biological children.
We took the next year to grieve our losses - the loss of our embryos, yes, but also the loss of the hope for the version of our family we thought we would have. We spent hours and hours holding each other tight and talking. We talked about other options for building a family and also whether we wanted to choose to not expand our family at all. I mean, we do have the best pup in the world, and we live an incredible life full of amazing friends and family. We both have our own thriving businesses, and we get to travel to amazing places and eat amazing food and sleep whenever we want. We could absolutely be happy this way forever.
But despite all of that, we decided that we do still want to be parents. We want to have the opportunity to love and nurture tiny humans and help them become the best possible versions of themselves. We get little tastes of this with our nieces and our friends' kids, but it's not the same. Enter adoption - not as a consolation prize, mind you. But as its own incredible path, our path.
So we started researching how to adopt, and YIKES is it a complicated beast!! I won't go into the labyrinth of details here because that would mean I'd be writing a book rather than a blog post. Suffice it to say that the best fit for us right now is Private Domestic Infant Adoption, which means we are working with a couple of organizations to help us get licensed to adopt and to then to hopefully get matched with an expectant mother who wants to make an adoption plan for her baby and wants us to be her baby's parents.
First up, the "licensing" part. Yes, you have to essentially get licensed to legally adopt a child.
This involves criminal and financial background checks, medical exams, letters from your therapist if you're in therapy, home inspections, extensive interviews with licensed social workers, reference letters from people you know, first aid and CPR training, and more. It is intrusive, yes, and we were frustrated by it initially. But then, during one of our required training sessions, a guest speaker who is an adoptive parent himself said to us, "Imagine if you were a woman experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. Regardless of why, if you've decided to make an adoption plan instead of terminating your pregnancy (assuming you have the choice to do so), wouldn't you want to know as much as possible about the people you are choosing to be your baby's parents?" I was shook. I had been so focused on myself and my needs and wants that it had hardly occurred to me to think about her perspective. Thinking about the process in this way changed everything for us, and I am so thankful for that guest speaker (and even for the Home Study process in general). Oh, and we made it through the process, by the way, and have been approved to adopt. The folks at Vista del Mar Child & Family Services, our Home Study agency, are incredibly professional and compassionate, and we greatly appreciate all the resources they provide to help not just adoptive parents and birth mothers but especially the most important part of the adoption triad - the child.
Once your Home Study is approved, you have to figure out how to connect with expectant mothers and manage the rest of the legal maze. We opted to work with AdoptHelp, a law firm here in California that specializes in adoption services. Their staff of caseworkers and lawyers will help us with our outreach and will walk us (and the expectant mother) through all the legal stuff.
One of the most important parts of adoption outreach as hopeful adoptive parents is our Adoption Profile. We worked with Our Chosen Child, an incredible graphic design firm recommended by AdoptHelp to put together our profile, and we couldn't be happier. As a couple who met via the internet, Michael and I understand how important a good profile is, and we hope that an expectant mother out there sees it and just KNOWS in her bones that we are meant to be her baby's parents. This is our two-page Quick Look Profile. If you scan the QR Code at the bottom with your smartphone the link will take you to our Full Profile.
In the meantime, we will do what is perhaps the hardest part of all - we will wait. We could get "the call" tomorrow, or it could take months or years. We simply don't know. We have laid the groundwork, we are reading all the books, and we are putting all our positive energy (and this Blog post) out into the universe.
Now, if I've learned anything in my 41 years it's that most people are fundamentally kind and want to help others, which means there are at least some of you who have read this far and want to know how you can help. Here's what I've come up with.
Send positive vibes, prayers, or whatever is your jam into the universe for us. We'll take it all and feel the love every day.
Share this post and/or our Quick Look Profile, which I am also attaching as a PDF in case that makes sharing easier. Maybe you know someone who is pregnant and looking to make an adoption plan. Or maybe you know someone who knows someone. You never know.
Learn more. There are a lot of biases and misconceptions out there about adoption, and sometimes even when we mean to be helpful or supportive our words or actions can be hurtful (or at the very least exhausting). Our Home Study agency recommended an incredible book for friends and family of adoptive parents, and I have been recommending it to everyone in our circle. It's called "In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends." Even if you are not in my and Michael's circle, chances are you know someone who has adopted or is thinking about adoption or is adopted. This is a great and easy read and provides a lot of useful information about the process and why adoptive parents might make certain choices about what they share or don't share.
And just like that, here we are. At the (current) end of my "hard stuff" story with all kinds of hope for the good stuff to come. Whether I know you in person or not I appreciate you and thank you for taking the time to read this far. If you are dealing with infertility or trying to adopt or see yourself in any part of my story I hope these few paragraphs have made you feel less alone today. And if you don't have someone in your circle to talk to about what you're going through I'm happy to be that person for you.
In the meantime, I'm going to drink some more water, get outside for a walk, hug my dog, and kiss my husband because those are all things that I know will help me feel better. May you find your own little bites of good in your day today and every day.
Cheers and love,