Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ride

If my memory serves me correct, there's a song called The Ride by Hank Williams, Jr. And no, that's not what I'm referring to in the title of this particular blog post! This ride I"m referring to is the emotional roller coaster ride that comes with adoption and family in general. I've never been a big fan of roller coasters and the last four months in particular have reminded me why.

To recap: In the last four months, my best friend's son died, we put Bo down the next day, we've had six potential matches with six clear rejections, and my father had a heart attack and then had triple bypass surgery. The last two just occurred over the last three weeks.

Dad is doing well, and we hope he'll be released from the hospital in about another week. Thank God for that news! Hopefully he won't have any more set backs as he did just a few days after his surgery (which landed him back in CVICU).

I was on the road by myself on Monday, February 1 for what would normally be a 10 or 10.5 hour drive. I knew the drive would be expanded by at least two hours, if not more, because of a rock slide on I-40 in Asheville which meant a massive detour. The region had also just been dumped with nearly a foot of snow, which could potentially increase drive-time. On my drive down to SC to be there for my parents and my brother, Chris, I got a call from our adoption law team. Amber informed me that she had gotten a call from a birth mother who was scheduled to have a C-section in two days. The delivery of her child would take place on the day my dad was to have his surgery. The birth mother was in Georgia - convenient, right? The birth mother was also anxious to make a decision - NOW. She had already had counseling and had spoken to an attorney in Atlanta, where she was due to give birth. Amber arranged for the birth mother to call me. Our first conversations were quite amusing, and we made arrangements for her to call me later in the evening when she got off work.

Since Kurt wasn't with me due to his work situation, we tried to make sure the birth mother knew we'd be available to arrange a conference call. But birth mother started asking some bizarre questions; we came to find out from Amber that she was insisting Kurt and I be at the hospital in the delivery room when she gave birth. But birth mother was concerned that I had "divided interests" with the situation with my father. Ya think?

Between conversations with me and with Kurt, we spoke to birth mother no less than six times. She reached out to Amber an additional six times. It seemed like a done deal. Before we finally turned in for the night, birth mother promised us she would call us the next morning for our big conference call (at 6 am, no less). Kurt and I were already thinking about how he would immediately get on a plane to Georgia and I'd meet him there for the delivery.

In the meantime, my heart was indeed conflicted and divided. My purpose was to be there for my family. My fear was that my dad wouldn't live long enough to see his first grandchild. How could I leave my family in the midst of such a challenging time? Both of my parents gave me their blessing to go and be with "our child" (if birth mother chose us) and that this would be something for all of us to look forward to. I tried to buy into their enthusiasm but I still felt torn. If we had been chosen, we would have been required, by Georgia law, to remain in the state for seven days before we could leave with the baby. What if my father didn't make it? My mother would have been forced to either have the funeral without me and my husband there, or prolong her own suffering by waiting until we could leave the state to bury him. I certainly couldn't leave Kurt in a hotel room with a newborn baby if I had to leave urgently!

They were all "what if's" but they were questions I had to ask of myself. I was literally sick to my stomach at being faced with what I felt was this captivity the birth mother had placed me under. I realized I was making a decision to do what she wanted without giving consideration to anyone else; I was making a decision to please the birth mother just so she would give us her child.

A sleepless night crept into morning but the phone never rang. We waited and waited but the birth mother never called. Our legal team never heard from her again either. We have no idea what happened. As I said goodbye to my father before he was wheeled into surgery the morning of February 3rd (the day after my birthday), my thoughts immediately went to the child that was coming into this world, somewhere in Georgia; the child that could have been ours. I wondered if it was a boy or a girl; blond hair or brown. What would we have named him or her? We hadn't even decided on names yet!

Only when we were able to visit my dad a few hours after his successful operation did I finally realize that I felt as if I had lost my baby and almost lost my father on the same exact day. I've never experienced a miscarriage but the pain in my heart was no less than what I suspect is the real deal for someone who has lost a baby.

The feeling of being punched in the gut hasn't gone away, and I'm (sadly) to the point where I don't even care if we ever have a baby now. I'm certain my heart won't survive another similar scenario.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Update on the Update

A dreary Saturday outside makes me thankful for the warmth we have inside. It's a good day to work on adoption stuff. And it seems our work is never finished.

Three of the four options I spoke of earlier are no longer available to us. The only possibility that remains is with a birth mother who is due tomorrow. But, considering we haven't heard a single thing from our adoption representatives about it, our guess is that it's a very slim-to-none possibility.

With that in mind, Kurt and I are faced with more work. We are updating our profile with new photos and a few more details about our lives in the hopes that a birth mother will be even more interested in us. We've had birth mom's look at our profile but haven't been able to close the deal yet. And it's kind of hard not to take it personal although we don't dwell on it. We will also update our web site ( with the new information. I continue to try to write blogs that will point potential birth mother's to our web site. (And on that note, would you please take a moment to forward the URL to our site to everyone you know? As is true in many situations, it is here as well: It's not always what you know; it's who you know.)

We are also in the process of applying for grants, which is a time consuming and lengthy process. Hopefully it doesn't take as long to process the grant! The good thing (aside of the money we'll eventually get) is that it's helping us with a budget! And we're still hoping that people will make their way over to to lend a hand in fund raising by purchasing a bag of coffee.

We never know what's going to happen at any given time so we are simply doing our best to be as prepared as we possibly can. And we wait...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Home Study - Check!

We are officially finished with our home study! The awesome adoption preparation director at MLJ Adoptions, Brooke Randolph, dropped off the notarized copies yesterday. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to have her drive all the way over to our home to drop it off. Brooke has been simply wonderful through this entire process, and we're so thankful to her for all of her help.

Even though the home study is complete, our work is not yet done. In fact, we're gearing up for another round of filling out paperwork. This time, we're trying to find the funds to pay for the adoption! Part of that means applying for grants.

And we're still feverishly trying to find other ways to raise money for the adoption. As a reminder, please visit to order some coffee and support us in our efforts. We will receive a portion (albeit a small one) of all the coffees sold through our personal web page. If you're not a coffee drinker, consider buying some and giving it to a co-worker, a friend, a family member, your pastor, your mailman. You get the idea! And we welcome any and all other ideas for fund-raising!

We do know that our profile has been presented to four birth-mothers, most of whom are out of state. Out-of-state adoptions are a good bit more expensive so that means we might need even more money than we initially anticipated. We will be creating an account through LifeSong for Orphans where people can make tax deductible contributions to support our efforts. So, look for that announcement soon.

Back to the birth-mothers reviewing our profiles: As I said, there are four possible matches and five possible children! One mom is expecting twins. The earliest arrival in any of these scenarios could be as soon as January 17th and the latest not until May. Of course, there is always the very real possibility that none of these will come to fruition. So, in every case, we wait.

I must confess that the wait has become much harder than I thought it would be. There are times I'm fine with it but knowing there are four possible matches and then not hearing an update makes the wait almost unbearable. But we are both trying to remain positive and focus on preparation. While we're trying not to get too engrossed in details, we are starting to think about things like strollers, car seats, formula and other newborn necessities.

So, while things continue to move, it feels like we're stagnant! Please continue to pray for us through this journey and pray for the birth mother and child as they also face challenging times.

Happy New Year! All good things...

Monday, December 28, 2009

For the love of coffee...

Now that our home study is complete - we are waiting for the final document(s) to be approved - we are gearing up for a full-fledged assault on the cost of the adoption!

Please take a minute to check out our online "store" at Just Love Coffee, an organization which provides fair trade (and delicious) coffees from a variety of places. A portion of the company's proceeds go to support an orphanage in Ethiopia, where the founder adopted two of his children. Just Love Coffee also provides an opportunity for fund raising for those who are in the adoption process. We have our own secure, online store where you can order the coffee of your choice, and from each order, we will receive a portion of the proceeds. Please consider ordering from our site and help us in our efforts. And, if possible, please tell others about it!

Here's the link:

Thank you so much for your continued love and support!

Monday, December 14, 2009

And then there were three...

I haven't written much lately. And to be honest, I'm really not in the mood to write much now, but I need to get back into blogging.

The reason for my lack of excitement is because the Whitfield family is now down to three members. We finally had to put Bojangles down. The medicine he was taking to treat his inflammatory bowel disease caused him to develop diabetes. He was a sick little kitty, and it just wasn't right to make him suffer any more. One month ago today, Bo passed away peacefully. Part of me can't forgive myself for ending his life but I also wrestle with the knowledge that he wasn't feeling good for the last couple years of his life. Oh, I so selfishly wanted to keep him around forever. And I still ache to hold him.

Bo and I went through so much together. I got him when I hadn't quite gotten over the loss of my other cat, Lyric. It was too soon so our relationship started off a bit rocky. He sensed that I was still grieving. And he was a stray cat so he had a bit of a wild streak in him. Boy did he ever! He was often like the kid (or celebrity) who thinks all attention is good attention, even if it's because you've gotten attention for doing bad things. He wouldn't sit on my lap for the longest time, and I honestly prayed he would come around. When he did start sitting on my lap, he always wanted to sit on my lap. And I mean always - on the couch, at the dinner table, when I was standing up, on the commode! If I left a room, it was rare that he didn't follow me. Naps together were non-negotiable. And he was a talker. Or, maybe I should say a grunter. He often grunted instead of meow. And his grunts had meaning; each sound designated for a specific need. Get up - now! Feed me - now! Take a nap - now! Pet me - now!

Bo was my only source of comfort after 9/11. I remember going home after leaving the Pentagon area and holding him close to my face. He rubbed his face against mine as if to say he was there for me. He was the only one who seemed to understand my fear, my pain, my grief. He was my constant companion in the healing process.

When Kurt and Fletcher came into the picture, he fought hard to maintain his status as tops in my life! And if he ever felt that Fletcher overstayed his welcome, he stalked him like an undiagnosed schizophrenic certain the world was after him. And then Kurt and I had to go and get married. That meant the dog was never leaving! I had high hopes that they would become the best of buddies; that one day we'd find them curled up together snoring away the hours. That never happened, although I do think they befriended each other in a non-assuming way. Today Fletcher seems lonely. Now he is the one who follows me around the house every time I move. Thankfully he hasn't tried to sit on my lap while I'm on the toilet or jump on my dresser to knock things down (in an effort to get my attention in the middle of the night) yet.

Fletcher is the best dog anyone could ever ask for, and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. But my home and my heart is empty without Bo, without hearing his purr at the slightest touch. Sleep isn't the same without feeling his little body snuggled next to mine, fitting perfectly into the curve of my frame. I can't believe I hurt so much over what so many would say was "just a cat". But he was so much more than that to me, and I miss him terribly.

I'm one of those people who believes that all God's creatures go to heaven. And I believe that Bo is in heaven playing... and he's playing with Hunter.

Hunter is the son of my dearest friend, Trinette. Hunter went to be with the Lord the day before Bo died. Our Little Man suffered so much in his short eight-and-a-half years but we know that he's whole and complete now. For Hunter, there is no more pain and for those he left behind, that knowledge brings us peace, even amidst the tears. Trinette is the strongest woman I have ever known, and I constantly marvel at her faith and tenacity. She's an inspiration to me, and I hope to be the loving, devoted mother she was with Hunter, her only child.

As for the adoption, we continue to wait. We completed our home study interview this past week, and we're thankful to have that behind us. We will need to complete 10 hours of adoption preparation but that should be a fairly simple task. Beyond that, we wait. It's been five months since we started this process, and the wait is becoming more difficult day-by-day. We will soon assess what we need to do to let expectant mother's who are considering adoption know we're out there and available. If anyone has any good ideas, please share them with us! In the meantime, please continue to pray for us as well as the birth mother and child God has chosen for us.

Until next time...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Home Study Documents

The home study is in full swing! We have been gathering documents and making copies! It's been a rather interesting process, and as I shuffle all the pieces of paper around, I am very thankful that we don't have as much document gathering to do as our friends who have done or are in the middle of an international adoption. Probably the most fun I am having is completing the autobiographical statement. Of course, being a writer makes it exciting because in some way, I get to tell a story! And I get to go down memory lane to do it. It's also made me thankful for all the hurts and healing that's happened in my life.

I visited with my doctor's office today to get a physical, another part of the home study process. My Nurse Practitioner, Kelley, said she's filled out a number of these types of forms for folks interested in adopting. And she noted that it seems so incredibly difficult to get through the adoption process while so many others are popping kids out left and right and probably shouldn't even be allowed to procreate much less try to raise a family. Unfortunately, for those of us who want desperately to have a child, we are the ones struggling to prove that we are worthy of parenthood while others should be ashamed to call themselves parents.

Hopefully we can complete everything by the end of this week. And then we get to have our interview with Brooke, the Director of Adoption Preparation for MLJ Adoptions.

In the meantime, nothing new on the baby front... still waiting.

And I ask for specific prayers for our good friends, Mark and Diane Goins, who are in a battle to win a favorable decision by a judge in Ukraine to bring home Katarina and Nathaniel. It's been an emotionally and spiritually challenging journey for them, but they are such an inspiration. In the face of it all, they continue to lean on our Lord, and they continue in obedience. This battle is about so much more than the children, but it is the children who need a wonderful family like the Goins's. Please pray fervently for them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Web Site

As the wait continues, we continue to do what we can to get the word out. We have created a new web site which we hope will reach a wide audience of potential birth mothers. Please take a look and let us know what you think.

This web site is birth-mom directed and will maintain a bit of autonomy for us. But we appreciate your willingness to share it with your friends and family. I will be updating the blog on that site often, so feel free to check back regularly or sign up for RSS feeds.

We're also still in the fund raising process. We still have a couch for sale, and we've reduced the price - again! It is now $75, but we'll take whatever we can get at this point!

We will soon begin exploring other ways to raise funds but we can assure you it will NOT be another garage sale! :-)

We continue to thank you for your constant prayers and support. We couldn't do this without you!