Colin & Noelle

Colin & Noelle


CURRENT TIME IN ETHIOPIA.



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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet Rachelle:



Rachelle is a fellow military wife and friend of mine, who also happens to know what it's like being on the birth mother end of a domestic adoption. Early in this process, I asked her if she would mind guest-blogging for us at some point. I asked her to share a little from her perspective, because even early on (before we chose Ethiopia, when we were still considering domestic adoption), I had already heard a lot of the "warnings" about what to expect from birth mothers -- and I realized there are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about birth mothers (and adoption in general). But they didn't match up with what I've heard Rachelle say about her first pregnancy and the daughter she chose to place for adoption -- and to some extent, that frustrates me. Not all birth mothers fit the same mold. So this is a little bit of Rachelle's story, as she tells it... 


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My friend, Rachelle!

My name is Rachelle. I am 25 years old.

When I was 18, I became pregnant and chose to place my child for
adoption. Noelle and I met through an online forum for military
significant others a few years ago, and since we both clearly share a
love for adoption, she asked me to share some thoughts on her blog.

As a birthmother, I went through approximately (my daughter was born
premature) eight months of pregnancy. Numerous doctors appointments,
blood draws, tests, ultrasounds, days spent with my head in the
toilet...and, yes, let's not forget the excruciating physical pain of
childbirth itself.

It's interesting to watch an adoption happen from the earliest stages,
to gain even a minute understanding of what an adoptive parent goes
through for their child. It is humbling to begin to realize what asacrifice it is for the "other side", as well. The money, the worry,
the red tape, the amount of paperwork and background checks,
interviews, etc. How must it be to invite someone into your home, to
peer into every crack and crevice of your life with a magnifying
glass? I imagine it is like being presented with the longest of
obstacle courses, you have to want it bad enough to jump through hoops
of fire and take whatever else is thrown at you. That kind of love
amazes me.
In addition to those meandering thoughts, Noelle has asked me to
dispel any rumors or negative ideas about birthmothers.

Some stereotypes of birthmothers that I have personally encountered
portray all of us as uneducated, unhealthy, ignorant, irresponsible,
and/or drug addicted women who don't know who the father of our
children are.

I took prenatal vitamins from the time I knew I was pregnant, and
never missed a doctor's appointment. I ate from all appropriate food
groups and completely gave up caffeine. I played music for the baby
every night through headphones I placed on my stomach. I journaledabout the first time I felt her kick. I have never been a smoker. I
was an honors student in high school and won many awards for speech
and drama. I am still on friendly terms with the child's birthfather.

I am now a multi-published author and a college student. I love to
read, write, travel, and spend time with my two year old daughter.

Though the adoptive parents and I were strangers when the adoption
happened, we are now family. I visit them  (and my daughter and her
adoptive brother) across the country once or twice a year. Last year,
I even took the children trick-or-treating. They are the godparents to
my (second) daughter, and even hosted her baby shower. My (second)

Rachelle's Daughters [2011]

daughter has a framed photo of herself and her sister on the bookshelf
in her bedroom. They love each other simply because they love each
other, and it's more precious than words can convey.


I am not saying every birthmother is like me, but I am saying that not

every birthmother is like the ones so often negatively portrayed on
television and in books.

Adoption is beautiful. Your attitude and perspective determine the
outcome. I have no doubt that Noelle and Colin will have their own
wonderful story to tell one day, and I'm glad I get to witness it.


----------------------------------------------------------------------


Thank you, Rachelle, for sharing some of your insights! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Update on Education

So, I believe I mentioned before that our home study write up is "complete", but not finalized. Our social worker has to wait until we meet all the educational requirements for their agency in order to officially finalize it. We are hoping for the beginning of August (it can't go much quicker since our final scheduled class is August 1st!). So far we are learning so much (give me time to sort it all out in my brain and get around to typing some of it up -- I can't wait to share what we're learning).

In the mean time, we are keeping very busy with other educational requirements (for both agencies). We are doing a little for our main agency, but since those don't need to be completed until we're ready to send our Dossier (which is a little ways away), we are primarily focusing on requirements for our home study agency so we can get that home study back as soon as possible! :)

Currently, we've completed 4 online assignments, 1 of 6 home study classes, and are working on our Ethiopia cultural essay, as well as about 2/3 completed on our online Hague training. With all that we're trying to accomplish in such a short amount of time, we have a very busy schedule over the next few weeks. So if you're not hearing much from us, you know what we're probably up to! :)

For updates on where we are on our education, you can keep up with us as we cross each item off our list at the bottom of THIS page.

-Noelle


Friday, July 13, 2012

The Gollasch Family

I want to introduce you to a couple that I just adore...


Ashley and Patrick Gollasch. 



   Like Colin, Pat is in the Army. Like myself, Ashley is an Army wife. And we both married our soldiers at very young ages. Ashley and Pat were married just days before us, and the guys (not stationed together or even knowing each other), were both deployed around the same time, shortly after getting married. They returned roughly around the same time as well. They are roughly the same rank, and we are all roughly around the same age. After the guys returned home from their deployments, both Ashley & Pat, and Colin & myself started trying to conceive. So in many ways, I "get" Ashley -- we've been through a lot "together" over the last few years.

   But in a lot of ways, our story differs from theirs. We haven't been told that one day, pregnancy may not happen -- it still very well could happen for us. Ashley and Pat however, have a hurdle in their family planning that a lot of people won't ever experience -- a history of cancer. In high school, Ashley was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as Rhabdomyosarcoma, and underwent 18 rounds of chemo and 35 rounds of radiation. As a result of those treatments, she is now being told that pregnancy may never be an option. Talk about a family that has been through it all -- cancer, infertility, deployments, multiple moves and the every day stressors of Army life. And through it all, Ashley has stood faithfully by Pat's side, and Pat has remained lovingly by Ashley's. They have so much dedication and love for each other, I can't imagine the love they will have for their future children.



    The reason I'm writing this post to tell you about Ashley and Pat, is that they recently started their next great adventure -- Adoption! They are signed with an agency in southern California, near where they are currently stationed, and are on the path to adopting domestically. As I write this, the Gollaschs are working on their "Dear Birth Mother" letter, which will be presented to potential birth mothers, who may in turn choose them as the family she would like to have adopt her child. This is called a "match" (whereas internationally, a "match" is called a "referral"). 

   But here's the thing -- they need a home study to be done, and they have already spent a lot on agency fees and are just short of the fees they need in order to begin their home study process. Due to their location (which is far from home/family, and literally in the middle of no where, with nothing but a small Army community), they are having a harder time with fundraising. They have been saving what they can, taking out a small loan, and have even received very generous donations online, in part due to an awesome puzzle fundraiser they have going on (check it out here!). But despite fundraising however they can and significantly cutting back on spending, they're still short several hundred dollars for their home study fee, that they need in order to get started.



   If there is any way that you can offer support to this couple in their adoption, it would mean the world to them, and to us as well. If you would like to donate or participate in one of their fundraisers to help them reach their goal, I will post links at the bottom for you to do so. If you cannot financially give, please pray for them, offer them some encouraging words, or share their story via word-of-mouth, email, Facebook, Pinterest, or your blog.

   I know most of you reading this are family or friends of us personally, and are here to support our adoption, but Colin and I are not just pro-"our"-adoption. We are pro-adoption. Pro-taking-care-of-children-in-need . And if you're pro-adoption and pro-orphan-care as well, then we urge you to consider how you can help this well-deserving family, who has already fought cancer, war, and now the financial battle of adoption. Whether you can give $5 or $500. Your donation will make an immediate impact in their process, their lives, and in giving a child a loving home to two wonderful parents! 

Let's make this happen for them!! :]

Their Adoption Blog:  [Click Here]
Make a Financial Donation Online: [Click Here]

*If you are in the Boulder, CO. area, check out this Cold Stone fundraiser coming up!*




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Books for Baby (#1): The Kissing Hand


Last week I wrote about our home study interview. In a way, I guess you could consider today's post as "part two"...

Later in the day, after our home study interview wrapped up on the 5th, we decided to start a tradition for baby. We went out to a book store and picked out a book for our future little one. Every big event (home study, maybe when Dossier is sent, or referral is received), we will go out and buy a special children's book that we loved as children and that holds some meaning to us in this adoption. We're thinking about writing a note on the inside for them to always look back on.

This book was one that I picked out and remember reading as a little girl. It's called "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn. Although often chosen for children heading off to Kindergarten, we loved the idea of the message enough that we chose it to mark the memory of our home study. 

The description on the inside says, "School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called The Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary." 

And a piece of the forward, by Jean Kennedy Smith, reads, "A child entering a new school or going away to camp, a child entering foster care or residential care, a child facing a temporary separation from loved ones or the death of a parent, grandparent, or other special person, even a fearful adult, will find reassurance in these pages. Parents and others who care for children will find an unforgettable way of communicating the message that all of us most need to hear -- "You are loved." "

Why We Chose It:

This adoption marks a new beginning for both us and our future child. It's beautiful and exciting, but sometimes the unknown can be a little scary at first. We have to remember, however, that as scary as it is to embark on parenthood (no matter how you come about it), it's much scarier for adoptive children, perhaps especially for those adopted internationally. No matter the age, gender, or nationality of a child, adoption always comes as the result of some type of loss, and brings with it new surroundings and situations that the child may not like, be comfortable with, or even fear. Often times children have lost parents to death, addiction, or abandonment. In our case, we don't yet know what will be the circumstances they come from, but we do know they will be surrounded by new faces, a new language, a new home, new foods, new weather, etc. There is always loss at some level, and although our child may come home so young they can't vocalize their feelings, they will undoubtedly express some sort of grief, in some sort of way. And although they may also be too young to understand the message of this book right away, we don't doubt that with time, they'll have questions about their birth family or about why their skin is a different shade than their parents'. They may wonder where they "fit" or how to make it through the scary things that life will bring as they grow up.

Despite any questions or grief they may have in life, we want to make sure to build a solid foundation for them that they can trust -- that even when life gets a little scary, we are their parents, and we will always be there to love them. 



CLICK HERE to purchase "The Kissing Hand".


Friday, July 6, 2012

Home Study Interview: Complete!


You know those times in life where the anticipation of something is much worse than the actual event?

For example, the months leading up to Colin's deployment were waaaay harder on me emotionally than him actually being gone. That may sound crazy, but I think as we try to prepare ourselves for what's to come (especially when we have no idea what to expect) we often think of the worst case scenario -- but then it happens, and you think, "Wow, I was worrying for nothing!"

Perhaps on a smaller scale, I think I'd classify home studies in that category -- at least for myself, as I can be a worrier. I think the build-up to the interview was more nerve-wracking on me than the actual interview. Once our social worker arrived, we sat down, and my fears were pretty quickly put to rest. I still had some nerves -- don't get me wrong. You worry that you'll say something that won't come out just right, and maybe it'll be taken in a way you don't mean... You know? The inevitable jitters.

But she was great. She asked us questions, allowed us to clarify and explain what we meant, and was very down-to-earth. She was insightful and wise. She asked us questions about our marriage, hopes in parenting, about our community and neighborhood, and then took a quick tour of our house. And in the end, the biggest impression she left us with was that she was on our side. We have things to learn, even still, but she is working with us to make this happen, and for that, we are so grateful to her.

We are being told that the final write up should be finished within a few weeks, and in the mean time we will be working on our research paper and learning as much about Ethiopia as possible! We are officially registered for all 3 of our required classes and towards the end of this month and early August, we will be attending those.

On kind of a side note, I just want to take the time to really thank each of you who has been faithfully praying for us in this journey, and especially as we were anticipating this home study visit. The amount of support we have been given by our friends in the past few days, who have talked with us, offering encouraging words and prayer -- it means the world to us. We don't take your prayers lightly. In fact, we believe prayer is the best support you can give, because we know and trust that God hears our prayers, and that He will be faithful to see this adoption through to the end.

"...the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."   -- James 5:16-18

So again, thank you for your prayerful support (in addition to any financial or gift support you may have given). And if you think it's "just" a prayer, or doubt that those prayers make any difference, or that God can't hear them -- ask me how I prayed for rain and received an answer! It's a crazy story that I love to tell, and it may just blow your mind and reassure you that through this process, He really does hear us. And, oh, how blessed we are by that! :)