Monday, March 25, 2013

We are a Police Family

Matt and I got married when we were 21 years old. He started his career as a police officer a couple months before our wedding so I have essentially been a police officer's wife my whole adult life. Because this is all I have ever known as an adult married woman, I tend to forget that our life and schedules can be a little unusual. While it has just been the two of us all these years, it hasn't been such a big deal- I try to be flexible and have generally adapted to it. I am used to the crazy schedules, eating alone, police gear everywhere, lonely nights, dirty work boots, phone calls in the middle of the night, the disturbing, heartbreaking, and frightening stories and a stressed out overworked husband. However, we will eventually be adding a baby to the mix. Thinking about how all that will work out has made me reflect on the last seven years of our marriage.

For the vast majority of the past seven years, Matt has worked night shift. He goes to work at 5 pm and works until at least 3 am, sometimes until 6 am. I have always been a night owl myself and since I have lived with Matt's schedule for so long, I have (unintentionally) adjusted myself to a more moderate night shift schedule as well. I suppose that will have to change somewhat when we get our baby.

During most of our marriage, Matt has worked every Saturday. I can't remember ever going to an event, party, or festival with my husband on a Saturday. On most Sunday mornings he is asleep or on call. For the past couple of years I have gone to church by myself 90% of the time. I really hope Matt will be able to go church more often in the future since I think it is important for children to see their fathers go to church (even if they are spiritual leaders in other areas).

Matt has been on call most years for Christmas and Thanksgiving. This means we have to turn down invitations to other people's homes, don't want to invite people over, and we spend our holiday meal hoping the phone won't ring. For just the two of us, it is not usually a huge deal, but I truly hope not many future holidays will be ruined for our children because of a call-out. Matt has worked and will always work on New Years Eve, July 4th and Labor Day weekend. I have always missed celebrating those holidays with Matt and I wish in the future he could spend them making memories with his children.

Matt works for a very small police department so whenever another officer is sick or out of town, he has to be on call, sometimes for a week or longer. You have to experience being on call 24 hours a day for days on end to truly appreciate how stressful this is. Even on Matt's weekends (and he is not on call) when we are watching t.v. at night, sometimes we receive a call from dispatch- sometimes by mistake and sometimes because there is no other available officer in the area.

When we first moved to this town, people used to come to our house looking for various police services: to report crimes, complain about tickets, etc. We had to put a sign on our door telling people how inappropriate this was. The sign has helped, surprisingly. We always have to use a little extra caution because there is a chance a disgruntled person will come to our home looking to do us harm. This has happened to other officers and Matt has received threats.

Being married to a police officer isn't all gloom and hardships, though. It is a fairly stable job, compared to some. It is a job that will demonstrate the importance of serving others to our children. Plus, we have a family plan for when the zombies attack (you can never be too prepared).

Some things will have to be adjusted for our future children and some things our children will just have to adjust to. Matt is not just a police officer, we are a Police Family-  the job affects all of us and we are all in it together.

Friday, March 22, 2013

First Care Package

Our agency allows us to send a care package once a month to our son. The first care package is sent in a plastic container that will be used to hold his belongings while he resides in the transition house. We bought him a bunch of onesies (in a couple of different sizes because we don't really know how big he is right now), some socks (I discovered that baby socks are just about the cutest things ever), a very soft and cute giraffe lovey blanket, a teething toy and a couple of other small toys, and all the other necessities: baby wash, powder, lotion, oil, diaper rash cream, and liquid vitamins. It was so much fun preparing this care package for our son. We realize that most of this stuff will end up being donations to the transition house and we will never see it again. The most we can hope for is to be sent a picture of him wearing an outfit or holding a toy we sent him. But, even more than that, we hope that these small items make his life more comfortable while he waits for us.

Our son's first care much fun to buy the sad we can't be there when he uses it

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Good News & Bad News

I'll start with the good news. Our dossier has been translated into French and has been sent over to the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is very exciting and also a little weird to think that all our personal information will be looked over by people in such a foreign country. We are venturing into the international part of the adoption. Things will now progress according to Congo's customs and typical speed of work (which is to say- slow).

On a more personal (and admittedly, less exciting) note, I recently did some online shopping through amazon. I made a couple of small purchases (one for Matt and one for me), but needed to spend more money to get free shipping. So, I bought my very first thing for our baby (a giraffe stuffed animal/ blanket that we will send to him in his first care package). This may not seem like a big deal, but I have purposefully refrained from buying anything for him throughout our whole adoption process. It has not always been easy, but my plan was to wait until we received a referral. Finally buying something just for him was very fun and exciting and it made it feel like he is a part of our family.

Now onto the bad news. We heard back from Lifesong (one of the organizations we applied to for an adoption grant) and they decided not to give us any funds. This is disappointing news, but we still have three other applications out and I will look for more to apply to. I am not too worried about it right now because no matter how the finances work out, we will complete the adoption and bring our son home. The worst case scenario is we will have to take out a large loan, which will delay our plans for many years to: buy a new car (I don't know how well our two large dogs, the baby and baby gear will fit into our Jeep Liberty), buy a house (the house we are currently renting is not set up that well for more than one kid), and start our second international adoption (which will be funded almost entirely by loans). So, yes, we will bring this one child home, but how it is accomplished will greatly influence our future adoption(s). Please pray for us!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

To Love or Not to Love

That is a question that many adoptive families struggle with when they receive their referral. It's easy to get swept away by emotions when you first look at the child's picture. This is natural since love is the reason and motivating force behind adopting in the first place. But the truth of the matter is, he's not really yours yet. You still have another 6-12 months left of things to do before he is legally adopted. In that time, some referrals fall through: maybe a distant relative decides to  take him in, or, sadly, he could die during the wait, or the country could shut its doors to international adoption. There are many variables and uncertainties in adoption. Some families try to guard their hearts in case their referral doesn't pan out. They even try to refrain from looking at his picture too often to keep themselves from becoming too emotionally attached. They want to protect themselves from any potential emotional devastation they may feel.

Other families become wholeheartedly invested in this specific child that they are matched with, for better or for worse. I have heard a story of a family who "fell in love" with their child through pictures and the adoption did go through, but it made the transition harder. They realized their "love" was for a fantasy child that they made up in their heads, based on the pictures they gazed at for months. When they brought the real child home, they found out that the real love  was not there yet, but it would have to grow over time. They felt guilty for a while because their real love did not come automatically, like many people assume it will. They are now adopting again and have chosen not to fool themselves with "fantasy love" this time.

I understand the pros and cons of opening your heart to a child who may or may not really be yours sometime in the future. One way we have decided to "hold back" is to refrain from using the name we have chosen for our child. We want to use this name regardless of who it is we end up adopting. If we refer to this baby by that name and it doesn't work out, the name may feel "used" and we may feel funny about calling the next referral by that name.

Besides that, I have chosen to open myself to the risky business of caring about him. I have waited for years to have a child and I really don't want to block myself off from caring about this one. I want to be happy and enjoy the experience. I look at his picture throughout the day, I pray for him, I think about what life will be like if he will be my son, and I have tender loving feelings toward him. I know my feelings for him are nothing compared to what they will be like when I am actually, physically a mother to a child, but they are important feelings nonetheless. Every child deserves to be loved by somebody and if my emotions have to pay the price, so be it. I will choose to love him, even if it is just for a short while.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Our Big, Exciting Referral Announcement

We're getting a baby boy!!!

We received  a referral for a beautiful, precious 4- month old boy. We are so HAPPY and EXCITED! He has been transferred to the transition house in Kinshasa, where he will remain until we can go and bring him home. In the transition house he will receive much better care than in  traditional orphanage setting (he better be- we're paying for it!). We should be receiving monthly updates on him. This is a great thing, but it is also a little sad to think we will be watching our son grow during his first year through pictures. We still have a long wait before we can bring him home, especially with all the recent delays in the process. It's so wonderful to finally know who our son is and we are very excited to meet him, hold him, kiss him and show him he has a family who loves him.


Signing our referral acceptance papers