To move or not to move

That is the question. We’ve been debating about whether we should move and, if so, what the priorities in a new house should be.

Here’s our current housing situation. We live on a busy street on the border of a highly desirable neighborhood. We live in an urban neighborhood and love it, so no street is really all that quiet. But our street serves as a major cut-through road as cars try to take a shortcut around a nearby traffic light. As we are on the border of the neighborhood, we are a bit far from the park and other amenities that we want to be close to. We are still clearly within walking distance and, indeed, love to walk to the park and shops in this neighborhood. One advantage of being a bit on the outskirts of this neighborhood is that it does put us closer to my work, which I also walk to most days. The house itself has a good amount of square feet, but it is not ideally arranged. Our bedroom is practically the size of a football field while the living room is barely wider than our couch, for example. But our backyard is just ideal–a nice patio, lots of shade, and enough grass for kids to run around but not too much to mow.

So why do we want to move? Location is one–getting to a quieter street where traffic doesn’t speed by quite so fast. And more families with young kids–the main part of this neighborhood has tons of families but on our street it is more young adult renters and elderly women. They are nice enough people, but we would love to have little playmates. Another main reason is to improve the flow of the house and give more floor space to the public areas of the house rather than the master bedroom. And then thinking ahead to when the second child arrives, wanting a separate space for an office.

If we move, we definitely want to stay in our current neighborhood, but just a quieter street and ideally more in the heart of the neighborhood rather than the border. Last year–or maybe even 6 months ago–this definitely would have been possible. But a crazy thing has happened to the real estate market here and prices have skyrocketed. I’m getting a little sad that we may be priced out of what we want. Most houses get multiple offers the first day they are on the market. Realizing the craziness of the market has got me thinking about whether we are better off staying put. There are ways we could renovate our current home to make it more of what we want. But of course we can’t change the street. I’m kinda wondering if we are better off doing a $100K reno on this house than to buy a house for $250K more than this house.

Complicating all of this is our second adoption. I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the adoption. Financially we have enough to cover a downpayment while maintaining our adoption savings. But if we end up doing a major reno project on either our current house or a “new to us” house, then figuring out how we get our home study squared away is a challenge. Not to mention not wanting to bring home a baby to a construction project!

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Forever Family Day

One year ago today, we officially became a forever family. Our son was already in our hearts from the day he was born but on this day, it was made official. We love you!

When Matt and I were planning our wedding, we were trying hard to stay on budget. While looking at the catering menus, I noticed that lunch was significantly cheaper than dinner–even for the same food. So we had a wedding lunch rather than dinner. The lunch didn’t really start until 2pm, but it counted according to the caterer. This did mean that our reception ended in early evening rather than go all night. Some people might not want that, but it allowed us to actually spend some time alone together on our wedding day. After the ceremony and the reception and the whirlwind of activity, we enjoyed a quiet evening of just the two of us doing something we love to do. We went out for ice cream. It was like our own secret date on our wedding night.

I am telling this story now because when we got the call that the adoption was finalized, we knew there was only one thing we could do–go out for ice cream. I think we’ll have some more tonight.

Navigating our open adoption

I am having a really hard time writing our “dear birthparent letter” this time around. It was hard the first time, but is even more difficult now. You would think having a first draft would help, but I don’t think the letter that was on our first profile really applies anymore. For one, we need to talk about our life with our son and who we are as parents. Thinking about our life now, that first letter seemed pretty abstract about what we “thought” we would be like as parents. I don’t think we have completely changed who we are as people, it’s just much different to think theoretically what life with a child would be like and what in practice you actually do. I mean, you know your life will change but can’t really fathom what that means until it is here.

The other reason I’m having a really hard time writing this letter is that we need to address (at least in broad terms) the type of openness we are looking for. And here’s where it gets even harder.  Right now we have a semi-open, fully disclosed adoption. That means we know the full names of our son’s first parents and they know ours. But, our only real contact with them is by email about once a month. This is pretty consistent with what his first mom wanted, even as we were open to more contact. The problem is that I don’t know how to think about the type of openness we will have in a second adoption given where we are with the first one.

The thing is, even though we initially wanted more contact, if I am honest, I am pretty happy with where we are.  I have started some things to make adoption and his birthfamily part of our conversations–such as reading children books with an adoption theme and including pictures of his birthfamily in a little flip photo album that we use to show him pictures of other out of town photo albums. But even with those things, it doesn’t feel like his birthfamily is a daily part of our lives. Of course, that is easy for me to say since my son isn’t vocal enough yet to give his opinion on that! And that’s really the hard part for me. I wonder all the time if we are doing the right thing by him in terms of how we interact with his birthfamily.

And then I wonder if we need to have a similar level of openness with our second child’s birthfamily. Would it create problems if there were big differences in how we interact with their families?

Why I Blog

Why do I blog? I think this past week shows why. Even though it’s been several days since my last blog post, blogging is about so much more than writing posts. It’s about being part of a community. Connecting with people.  Realizing that there is a commonality among people of all different stripes.So even though I only had a few posts last week, it is the new blogs that I found and the connections I made that keep me blogging.

Last week was my first time participating in ICLW in a long time–probably since adopting my son over 18 months ago. And it seems like there is a whole new crop of people that I had the chance to get to know through their blogs. I first began blogging back in 2009. At that time, we were just at the beginning of our infertility journey–still hoping to get pregnant on our own. Like most people, I turned to “Dr Google” thinking I would get strictly medical advice, but my searches turned up an entire community of people going through the same thing. And I as read your stories, I not only saw myself and felt a connection, but read the comments and saw the thriving community that was there. These were not random trolling comments that you might see at the end of an online news article, but a real community that continued the conversation in the comments, on their own blogs, and even in person. So, truth be told, I started blogging because I wanted to get those comments and be part of that supportive community. The writing of the posts was secondary (I’ve never been one to keep a journal or feel the need to write for writing’s sake). Blogging, to me, has been about the connection to others.

And you guys did not disappoint! I feel like I’ve made some real friends through the blogs and online forums–even if I haven’t met you in person. Some of  you have been on this journey with me almost from the start. Others have come and gone as our journeys have converged or diverged. For example, I think moving towards adoption has led to losing some connections who weren’t ready to follow me there, even as I’ve made new connections with other adoptive mamas.

I stopped blogging a few months after my son joined our family. This was right around the time he started “waking up” and it coincided with my return to work, both of which drastically reduced my time to blog. But even more I think was that it was also right around when I got a smartphone. When I transitioned from reading online to reading on my phone, it became much harder to comment. I was still reading all of your blogs, but was feeling more distant from the community since it was less convenient to participate in the community through commenting and continuing the conversation on my own blog.

Now that my son is a full-blown toddler, I am finding it easier to go back to somewhat of a “normal” life–even if that normal is completely different. Last fall, for example, finding time to take care of the fall gardening tasks and the baby was a real struggle. But we had a quite pleasant morning raking up leaves while the kid played in the backyard.  In the same way, I’m finding more time for blogging again. And I wanted to re-connect with friends and make new ones. Rather than re-start at my old blog, I wanted a fresh start. There were several reasons for that, one of which is that (and I realize I may be risking losing part of my audience) is that I don’t think of infertility much these days. I do think about adoption and we are still trying to grow our family right now. But in terms of working through our infertility, I am in a very different place now and my old blog didn’t quite feel right anymore.

So, that’s why I blog. I look forward to hearing from others participating in the PAIL monthly theme about why they blog. I would also love to hear from others how they keep up with commenting and blogging with phones. Or do you still rely on your computer?

Making new friends

One of the things I love about ICLW (besides all the comments!) is finding new blogs to read. Even though the new blogs I stumble upon may be a different stage than me, it is amazing how just reading one or two posts from someone you’ve never met can get your brain moving and wanting to respond. That’s how I felt when I read Megs’ post on being a friend.

You see, I already had a post floating around in my head about making new friends. My husband and I are major introverts and find it hard to make friends. We are the type who are fiercely loyal to old friends and stay in contact with friends going all the back to middle school. In fact, I just had a recent girls weekend with my two best friends from high school. But since we’ve moved around a lot and our friends are scattered in cities other than where we now live, it’s been hard to make friends here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why it has been so hard for us to make friends in our current city and I think it comes down to the fact that we haven’t had a ready made cohort in the form of being thrown together in a dorm or going through a undergrad/grad school experience with. Now, my husband did get a graduate degree in this city, but the program was geared towards part-timers who were working full-time, so it didn’t create the fishbowl life of a typical college experience.

What drew me to Megs’ post was the focus on how intense struggles can create friends–much like how Ron and Harry became friends with Ginny after battling a troll together. I have plenty of friends from college or grad school that I would characterize in that way. Even though we are great friends, it was kinda random that we became friends and due to the need to battle the mountain troll that was grad school. And now having moved to a new city and started a new job–there hasn’t been a similar troll to battle with a designated cohort of people. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been here for 6 years now and certainly have plenty of people that we are friendly with. But few actual friends. For example, I have plenty of “work friends” and enjoy hanging out with many of my colleagues. But perhaps because we are different stages of our lives or whatever the reason, there’s really only two people from my work that have broken through the “work friend” barrier to become, simply, a friend. And one of those is someone who I have become close to because we’ve shared our infertility journey together. So, in a way, we battled a troll together.

But in the past few months, our friend circle has expanded much more rapidly. And it’s all due to our son. Just as the journey of infertility can be a mountain troll, so is the journey of parenthood. And we need to find all the help we can get! Plus it helps immensely that I can tell our son is going to be a social butterfly. He makes friends with all the other toddlers on the playground and that allows me to make friends with the parents. And now we find our social calendar filling up pretty quickly!

Welcome ICLW

Welcome to everyone visiting from ICLW!

It has been quite a while since I’ve participated in ICLW and this is my first since switching over to my new place last month. I am satisfied that I’ve been able to post at least once a week since re-starting my blog here. Major improvement in my mind!

A little about me: After several years of infertility and many different treatments, my husband and I decided to grow our family through adoption. We have the most adorable little 18 month old (hence why it had been so hard for me to blog for the last 18 months). He’s a pure bundle of energy and very social. Even now when he gets very shy and clingy around people other than his parents. It is so cute that as soon as the other person turns to leave, he finds his social energy and is “hey, bye-bye, it was great talking to you!” And then he wants to follow them to wherever they are going.

He also absolutely adores his older cousins. He is always asking about them. Or at least some of them. My older sister has four kids and he asks for three of them all the time. Then he gets this little confused look when I mention the fourth, like he has no clue who that interloper is. This morning he was asking for my younger sister’s daughter, so maybe we need to Skype with them soon.

Anyway, I’m happy to be participating in ICLW again. I want to refresh my blog reading and find some new friends. And a little distraction this week would be terrific with some craziness at work and a rainy weekend keeping us indoors.

And we’re off! Again!

I’ve been pretty slammed at work and so haven’t had much time to focus on anything else. And so I hardly even noticed when the email from our social worker slipped into my inbox today. But now here we are, home study approved again! I’ve been  waiting for this to come. I mistakenly thought get our home study updated for a second child would be less intense then the first go around, but that was not the case. We’ve been frustrated by several new steps the agency has added to the process now. And yet now that we are approved, I’m worried…hesitant…anxious.

How do I begin putting together a profile that captures who we are as a family of three? And who we might be as a family of four? It seems like our son is changing so fast…and that our life with him is changing so fast. I actually started updating our profile book several months when we were first updating the home study, thinking that the home study wouldn’t take so long. But I look at it now and it seems so out of date. Did I really put a picture of him in a high chair? He won’t go in one now! A stroller? He prefers to walk (OK, run) everywhere.

Defining our life as a family of three and putting it out there for a potential birthmother to see somehow seems way more high stakes than painting a picture of just M and I as a couple. Then my ideas of who I would be as a mother were just in the abstract. But it’s here now. It’s our reality. And I am overwhelmed by how to begin capturing it in a few pages.