Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Funnies

7 posts in 7 days link up - Day 5 (more than half way!)

Earlier this week, I spent one afternoon sitting on the driveway planning my preschool lesson while the kids pretended to put out fires.  They wore their monkey and owl backpacks filled with fire fighting accouterments, protected their heads with fire hats, and rushed from emergency to emergency on their trusty fire scooters.  No lives were lost, no injuries sustained thanks to the efforts of the Trusty Firefighting Duo.

For the last twenty-four hours, Mac has been calling Bryan and I "Dude".  He's seen Finding Nemo before, but not recently.  And he's never seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  So we're at a loss where he learned this term and why it's worked its way into his vocabulary.  Example:  I say, "Mac, go find your socks."  He replies, "Okay, Dude!"

Parenting gone awry.  The kids do a great job of saying "excuse me" after they burp.  Unfortunately, I've also taught them to say "Now you have room for more food!" to the burper.  Oops.

While the kids don't always nap, they do go down for "quiet time" for about an hour and fifteen minutes each afternoon.  They're allowed to take one quiet toy with them in addition to an assortment of stuffed animals and books.  Cora's choice the last two days?  A scientific calculator.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How God Communicates

7 posts in 7 days link up - Day 4

God is known in the Bible for communicating with/to His followers in a variety of ways.  Gentle breeze, flaming bush, through the prophets, loud rebukes and gentle words from His Son - just to name a few. 

But God isn't all hail and brimstone or serious, solemn words.  Sometimes He has a sense of humor.

I go to Adoration every Thursday evening from 9:00 to 10:00.  Maintaining a mental focus can be challenging for me, so I often will write in my prayer journal. Here's an excerpt from a few months ago.

"Of all the places to be late, construction traffic made me 15 minutes late to Adoration.  I'm not really mentally prepped to be prayerful now after the rise in impatience and "stuckness" I felt.  I had no one to contact, to alert to the fact that I was indeed coming, I was just sitting in a parking lot on the highway.

"Oh, Lord, You rascal You.  I finally arrive, say hello to You and sit down.  And smell farts coming from my chair.  I'm really not sure what message You're sending me.  I do laugh and my mood lightens.  My cloud of gloom and doom disperses somewhat.

"This has been a week of frustrations.  Tonight's traffic.  Imagined and exaggerated feelings of judgment from a family member.  Communication difficulties with our adoption agency.  Inadequacies on being a mother, a wife, a teacher, a cook, a housekeeper, the list goes on.

"Perhaps it's the hormones talking.  I've been increasingly high strung; tonight's 45 minute stroll through traffic did not help.

"Perhaps this is why I got the fragrant burst of "fart chair"?  Didn't know Your sense of humor was so, well, juvenile!"

Have you ever heard the story of St. Teresa of Avila?  I often think of her whenever I have a run in with God's "humor".

Fr. James Martin describes one well-known incident here"And while Teresa’s spirituality was a deeply reverential one, her humor also evinces a kind of playfulness in her relationship with God. Once, when she was travelling to one of her convents, St. Teresa of Ávila was knocked off her donkey and fell into the mud, injuring her leg. “Lord,” she said, “you couldn’t have picked a worse time for this to happen. Why would you let this happen?”

And the response in prayer that she heard was, “That is how I treat my friends.”
Teresa answered, “And that is why you have so few of them!”
This story, one of the most well known about St. Teresa, is often told as a way of demonstrating the abundant humor of the saint. But it shows something else: her playful way of addressing God. Moreover, it shows her assumption of God’s playfulness with her."

Thank you, God, for sending levity into my day. You who made the stars and the moon and the oceans also made the smile and laugh.  Help me to smile and laugh a little more.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NEDC Program Facts (Part 2 of 3)

7 Posts in 7 Days Link-Up - Day 3

NOTE:  NEDC stands for the National Embryo Donation Center.  My thanks to an internet friend for proofing this fact sheet for me. 

You are eligible for their program if you meet these criteria:

·         Heterosexual married couple

·         Married at least three years

·         Undergo and pass a home study

·         Preference given to those without biological children

·         Adoptive mother is 45 or younger

·         Combined age of the couple must not exceed 100 years

·         The adoptive mother must not smoke during the application process, embryo transfer preparation and procedure process, or during pregnancy.

Program entails:

·         Travel to Knoxville, TN two or more times for your first transfer

o   Initial consultation and mock transfer

o   Actual FET

o   All monitoring may be done at the patient’s local clinic

·         FET’s are performed one week a month, in odd numbered months

·         Average of six to eight month wait from scheduling initial consult to actual FET.  Longest wait is from first contact to initial consult.  Home study delays could delay whole process.  If doing open adoption, the process may take a little longer to work out open agreements.

·         You may be able to start and proceed with the application process if your home study is not yet completed.  However, an approved home study is required before they will match you, or allow you to have a transfer.


Fee Schedule:

·         In short, the NEDC estimated cost is $5022 for your first FET.  This price does not include your home study or medicine, nor does it include any open adoption fees (optional).

·         If your first transfer is not successful, you may return for up to two more tries per pregnancy.  Each additional transfer currently costs appx $3000.

·         If you return for transfer of a sibling, your program fee will be reduced.

·         There is also a donor fee that can vary greatly depending on the cost the donors would like reimbursed (such as shipping fees, lab testing, storage fees, etc.).  The cost is usually not known until the match is complete.


Matching Facts:

·         There is a large pool of embryos available and ready to be matched at NEDC.  All embryos have already been shipped to NEDC so you do not need to find your own match.

·         They have a moderate amount of multi-ethnic embryos (there is limited availability of these nationwide – NEDC seems to have more than average).  Ethnic/multi-ethnic embryos are usually reserved for families of the same ethnicity or family make-up (such as in families with multi-ethnic adoptions).

·         Anonymous donation – NEDC will send you basic info on all sets meeting your criteria.  You narrow the list down to a smaller number.  Then NEDC sends you more information on the embryo sets.  You make your choice.  Genetic family does not participate in matching process.

·         Open donation – NEDC will send you appx ten detailed profiles for perusal.  You choose your top match.  Genetic family is notified and must give approval.


Additional Facts:

·         The majority of the waiting embryo sets are from anonymous donors.  All prices listed are for their anonymous program.  Because NEDC is a clinic, they outsource for open adoption agreements and mediation between parties.  These are available for additional fees.  An Open Donation Agreement (ODA) is required for families pursuing open adoptions at NEDC.  NEDC works with The National Fertility Support Center to provide open adoption and ODA services.  Currently the fee for up to two ODA’s for the first transfer is $2700.  Additional ODA for a subsequent transfer is $1600 and $900 after that.  Currently, post-birth mediation is available for $299 a year.  See for details.

·         No selective reduction is allowed.

·         No surrogates.

·         Potential adoptive families are allowed three FET attempts to achieve a full term pregnancy.  If no pregnancy is achieved after three FET’s, they need to seek elsewhere.

·         If there are already adopted children in the household who have a semi-open or open relationship with their first parents, then all matches through NEDC must also be semi-open or open.

·         At each transfer, you must have at least five or six embryos adopted/reserved.  If your primary set does not consist of enough embryos, you must choose a back-up set.  If two sets are chosen, they must be complimentary openness, either both anonymous or both open. 

·         As mentioned previously, you are allowed three FET attempts per pregnancy.  If you have not achieved a live birth after three transfers but you still have embryos adopted/reserved, they will be returned to the program.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Learning how hard to push

Oh look, it's a two for one sort of day!

I've really been struggling with waiting patiently during this matching process.  I trust the matching coordinator has our best interests in mind as she coordinates matches.  But I also know she's busy.  And sometimes busy people lose track of details accidentally.

In order to avoid driving the social worker crazy, I'm only allowing myself one email per week questioning the status of our match.

I'm trying to find the balance between pushing for information and being pesty.

We turned down the first match two weeks ago.  Last week, I was told our profile was out for review.

This week I was more impatient and I asked if we were dealing with just one slow family or had been turned down and were off for consideration by a different family.  (With embryo adoption it seems  both genetic parents and potential adoptive parents typically say yes or no to a profile within a few days.)

Just one slow family.  So my pushing prompted the social worker to push the genetic parents.

And it turns out our matching profile was eaten by their spam folder and they never saw it.



7 posts in 7 days link up - Day 2

The twins are three and a half now, old enough that they could be enrolled in normal preschool programs around here.  That is, if I wanted to shell out the money (private options) or commit to an early wake up time (public options).  But, I'm kind of stingy and lazy and neither option seemed appealing. 

I started a Moms Group at our church in fall of 2012 and most of us have children in the three to four year old range.  I got a crazy hair-brained idea last summer and started up a preschool co-op for those interested parties. 

We meet most Tuesdays and swap out who teaches.  The host plans and teaches the lesson for that week but then gets to recuperate a few weeks before her turn comes up again.  The other parents all stick around and assist as needed or wrangle any younger siblings.  We have six children representing four families.  Class runs for about an hour to an hour and half, which is about as long as any of us can hold an attention span.  (The biggest downside to meeting in our own houses is the lure of toys.  The magnetic pull gets stronger and stronger until I look up and suddenly, all the children are wearing hats from our dress up section.  Or Mac has stripped down and is struggling into a too-small super hero costume...)

I seem to be the bossy pants of the bunch, and since this co-op was my brain-child, I guess I'll wear that hat.  We're primarily using Catholic ABC'S by Lacy Rabideau and I adapted one of her proposed schedules to fit our time table and range of abilities (kids' ages range from two to four).  We'll meet about 32 times this school year, one class for each letter of the alphabet, and then the extra classes are devoted to the current liturgical season (for example, next week's class will focus on Lent).

I.  Gathering Time  - coloring sheets, letter practice, etc.
II.  Circle Time - opening prayer, hello song, introduce letter, introduce Saint, sing ABC's, etc.
III.  Craft Time - explain religious topic, show craft sample, kids get crafty, etc.
IV.  Music - nursery rhymes or children's songs
V.  Snacks - kids bring their own snacks
VI.  Closing Prayer

Optional components - Read books that address either our saint/religious topic or our letter

Today was my turn to teach and the craft Catholic ABC's proposed was just not happening - painted foot prints to turn into Mary, Queen of Heaven.  With regular paint, you need all hands on deck.  With painted footprints?!  Yikes!  So I steered clear and made up my own craft.  Sometimes that happens.  The biggest limitation we've had with our book is no alternate activities - there is only one proposed craft per letter.  So if we rule it out for any reason, then we have to search for an appropriate alternate lesson.

We made quilts honoring Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth.  My example is on the top.  Cora and Mac's are on the bottom.  Yes, Cora's says "Queen" twice rather than "Queen" and "Mary".  One of my Mary's disappeared and I made an extra on the fly.  And I wasn't paying full attention as I dotted out the word for her to trace.  Perhaps I was distracted by the moment when a child's head needed to be extracted from a chair.  Or by a few children arguing about what color "jewels" they wanted or decrying the fact that their glue sticks were used up.  As you may have guessed, my multi-tasking skills are only so-so.

I just bought a supplemental book and I'm so excited about adding it in to both our program and to whatever I decide to do next school year.  Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven by Sarah Park looks to be a great supplement and has already given me some ideas.  My only complaint about her book so far is I wish it were spiral bound.  The author has graciously provided Saint printables in the back of the book but they're hard to print due to the book's binding.

I've really enjoyed our little co-op.  I'm not sure how much Cora and Mac are learning academically, but they are learning a lot of interpersonal skills.  Among other things, Cora's learning how to interact with other adults and Mac is learning (or attempting to learn) to respect personal space.  And while there is chaos, this has been a most worthwhile venture so far. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Snowflakes Program Facts (Part 1 of 3)


Pretty flexible program criteria:

·         Married couples or singles may apply (much smaller pool for singles)

·         Undergo and pass a home study

·         If adoptive mother is older than 45, a doctor’s “permission note,” for lack of a better term, must be provided


Program entails:

·         Mutual matching services (more on that later)

·         Embryo adoption services patterned off of their infant adoption program, as relevant

·         Mandatory post-birth record keeping (adoptive family sends updates to agency)

·         Mediation services between both genetic and adoptive parties (optional post birth)

·         Average of one to four month wait for matching.  The more open one’s preferences, the faster the match.


Fee Schedule:

·         In short, the Snowflakes fee is $8000.  This fee covers matching, counseling, communication mediation, and records keeping.

·         The fee does not cover the required home study, the embryo transfer, or the necessary medications.

·         There is an additional $2000 fee if you need to be rematched (in the event the first set of embryos and subsequent  transfer(s) did not result in live birth).

·         You do not owe Snowflakes anything if there are embryos remaining from your match after a successful pregnancy.  All embryos in a set are considered yours and you may transfer them at a convenient time.  You do need to notify Snowflakes of the outcome of subsequent transfers though.


Matching Facts:

·         They have a limited amount of multi-ethnic embryos (there is limited availability of these nationwide – Snowflakes seems to be about average)

·         Mutual matching – the majority of Snowflakes’ matches are considered “mutual matching”.  The Snowflakes’ staff presents genetic parents with a potential adoptive family’s profile.  Snowflakes has already screened both parties ensuring all basic preferences are met.  Genetic parents (GP) say yes or no to match.  If yes, the adoptive family will be sent the GP’s profile for review.  If no, the Snowflakes’ staff chose another set of GP to consider the adoptive family’s profile. The match is only complete when both parties are in agreement and the contracts are signed.

·         The vast majority of adoptions are open, semi-open, or closed.  Genetic parents participate in the matching in these scenarios.

·         A very limited number of donated embryo sets are considered “anonymous”.  In this scenario, the GP’s waive all involvement.

·         Adoptive parents receive the following in a genetic parents’ profile:

o   Basic info on embryos – number, developmental stage, date frozen

o   Biography of donating parents

o   Pictures of donating parents and their children, if applicable

o   Three generations of medical history

o   All the embryos in the set


Additional Facts:

·         Most genetic parents prefer an open contract.  This could range from minimal involvement (the GP’s just want active participation in the matching process and notification of any resulting pregnancies) to full openness (GP’s correspond regularly with adoptive family through facebook or email or phone). 

·         Snowflakes offers anonymous, closed, semi-open, and open adoptions.

·         The Snowflakes Program will provide post-birth mediation, as desired, between the GP’s and adoptive parents.  For example, any written correspondence that takes place between my twins’ genetic parents and me is sent through the agency.

·         Post birth records are required to be sent to Snowflakes through the resulting child(ren)’s fifth birthday.  Records are to be sent at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, two years, three years, four years, and at five years.  These records are for Snowflakes, not the genetic parents.

·         No selective reduction is allowed.

·         Surrogates are allowed.

·         While there are no limits to the amount of times you can try to achieve live birth, Snowflakes does encourage you to visit with your doctor if you have not achieved a successful pregnancy after three FET’s.

·         Adoptive parents are strongly advised to transfer no more embryos than one is willing to carry.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nothing new to report

I'm antsy.  I've been antsy for a while now, just waiting for news, for things to happen. 

Bryan will be transitioning to a different unit.  Soon.  Don't know when.

A handful of local friends may be moving.  Soon.  Maybe.  Don't know when.

We will be matched.  Soon.  Maybe.  Don't know when.

Our tax refund will be in.  Soon.  Don't know when. 

Actually, I do have an idea when we'll receive the tax refund.  I was just continuing with my literary device.  ;-)

I know we're a little harder to match than way back when we started this whole embryo adoption business (2008/2009).  We already have two children and some donating families prefer their embryos to go to families with fewer children. 

We're Catholic and for some placing families that prompts them to run away screaming.  At least, that's how it plays out in my head.  It's probably far less dramatic in real life.

We're military and lead a somewhat transient lifestyle.  Perhaps that scares genetic parents too?

We're seeking a semi-open relationship with the donating family.  I want any resulting children to be able to know their "first parents" (the terminology we've been using) if the child(ren) so desire.  And maybe that frightens off some potential matches also?

It's a real shame my antsy feelings don't translate into spring cleaning.  My house could sure use it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Matching and discernment

I had to send this email to our agency today:

I think we'd like to turn down the match with X and Y.

I used to advise people that if they weren't 100% comfortable with an adoptive match, then it's not the right one.  We've spent the last few days trying to put our feelings into words as to why we had hesitation with this match.  There's nothing on paper that we could pinpoint and that's why we spent a good bit of time convincing ourselves that this was the right match.

We never could figure out the cause for our hesitation but finally realized that we didn't need one.  This is likely to be our last embryo adoption match and we want to have no regrets going forward.

We finally realized that the hesitation meant we were not 100% behind this match.  And Bryan and I are both at ease requesting a different match.

Please give our regards and regrets to X and Y.


It took me a while to remember and then to follow my own advice.  We received the potential match last week and spent a lot of time discerning.  There was nothing wrong with the match. Yet it somehow didn't feel right.

When you are buying a car or making a large purchase, you can chose something that is mostly right for the situation.  You can always trade it in later if circumstances change.

Adoption isn't like that.  If something isn't 100% right for your family, think very carefully before proceeding.  A child is not a purchase.  A child is a gift from God, a being who changes you at your very core, shaping you daily in what it means to be a parent.

And so we're still waiting.  I have full confidence that God will send us the right match at the right time.  And that He will send me the necessary patience.  And the wisdom to recognize the correct match.


I realize my complaints about waiting seem petty to those in domestic or international adoption programs.  I recognize your wait times are unknown lengths and are excruciating.  I pray every day for waiting families.  And waiting children.