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Adoption is hard.

I have no doubt it will get harder. I feel the need to write out some of my emotions, as we have been on edge for about 2 weeks. I share this not to place blame or as a call for action or a need for change or as a request for advice. There are extremely complicated emotions involved in domestic infant adoption, and my intent on this post is to shed some light on how hard and how emotional a process it is, and why we may seem a little aloof, on edge, or out of sorts.

Why it is hard for our birth mom:

Our expectant mom is amazing. In all that we know of her throughout our four-month developing friendship, she is courageous, giving, patient, and faithful. She has time and again impressed us with her focus on what is best for her daughter and with her service to her family in their times of need. She cares a great deal for her family. There are difficult circumstances that she has been dealing with for over a year, and she helps and serves and loves and cares. On top of how much she gives to her family, she has a chronic pain disorder called trigeminal neuralgia. When she is not pregnant, she is able to have a procedure done that holds the pain off for a few months. The procedure is too risky for baby, so she has suffered the entirety of her pregnancy with this very difficult pain. She has been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count. She has been careful not to take any medications that are dangerous for the baby, and she has throughout the last nine months put her body through not only the difficulties of pregnancy, but the complications of suffering with intense facial pain that often leaves her bedridden. She decided to place her baby for adoption because she is unable to provide a stable home, she has no support from her family, and she does not want her daughter to grow up with no support and with no father.

She found us through Facebook, and we instantly clicked. She told us that before she met us, she was lost and confused, scared and worried. After getting to know us, she was excited for her daughter, grateful to have a plan in place, and happy knowing that she was doing what is best for her little girl. We have grown to love her so much over the past four months. She is so precious to us, not only because of the child she is carrying that may end up in our home, but because we have watched her selflessly care for her family even in her hardest times, and we admire her courage and her trust in God.  We have messaged each other every day for four months…

Until the last two weeks.

You see, as the time for the birth gets closer, our expectant mama has become more distant. Her texts are few and far between, and I can’t help but feel that as the time draws closer, this decision is becoming a lot harder for her than it initially was. And rightfully so. As much as we have prayed and hoped for a child to come to our home, I cannot begin to imagine the agony she faces of saying goodbye to her baby.

Along with all of these complicated emotions, her pain has increased. She has been in the hospital (again), and is wanting this whole thing to be over. So her texts have become less frequent, and we do not know how to help her.

Why it is hard for us:

We have gone through what feels like an eternity of trying to have children. Granted, we have not gone to the lengths that some have gone, and we have not waited as long as others, but for us, in our 40s and facing the prospect of being childless, this year has been the most difficult year. We have suffered two miscarriages and two failed fertility treatments, and months upon months of negative pregnancy tests. We have prayed and fasted, and pleaded with Heavenly Father to send children into our home.

When we met our expectant mom, we felt like it was all coming together. We know that she can change her mind, and we know that we could pour all of our emotional reserves into this and be left empty. We know that this is her decision, and we know that our world could shatter again any minute.

Many people have asked, “Well, how sure are you that she will go through with this?” I’ve shared, “We are as sure as we can be that this will go through. But once she holds that baby, all bets are off.” We know the reality of what she is giving and the monumental decision that will affect her and her baby for an eternity. I don’t know that I could make that decision lightly. There is a plan in place, but nothing in this world can force a woman to place her baby into someone else’s arms for the rest of her life. We value that agency tremendously, and we would never do anything that would be coercive or would remove her agency from her.

According to Illinois state law (she lives in Chicago), she cannot sign a termination of parental rights (TPR) until 72 hours after the baby is born. Once she signs it, the TPR is irrevocable. Some states allow for a 30-days to 6-months to 2-years “cooling off” period, where the birth parents can revoke the TPR and take the child home. Thankfully for us, Illinois is irrevocable. So it may take her three days, a week, a month to sign it, but once she does, there’s no going back.

There is also the financial component. I hate to bring this part up, but adoption is expensive. And we have put everything we have and even had help from generous friends and family to make this work. And if this falls through, we not only lose our hoped for and planned for baby, but we lose a great deal of money. Thankfully, much of that will be recuperated in the Adoption Tax Credit, but there is a good chunk of it we will never see again.

We have invested time and energy into creating a baby room and on getting things stocked and ready. We have been excited and have worked hard to plan for our lives to change. We have prayed for this baby, loved this baby, waited and planned for this baby. We have spent four months hoping and planning. If she changes her mind, we will be as devastated as if I miscarried again. We are facing either the greatest joy or the greatest heartbreak of our lives to this point.


On Friday, October 26th, she will be 38 weeks, and I am planning to go to Chicago to be on baby watch. It has been our plan for some time, and our birth mom has been on board with this, that I will drive up on Friday and be on baby watch, and Dennis will join us either the night before an induction, or when she goes into labor. That way he gets a few more days of work in before being on unpaid paternity leave for a couple of weeks, but I can still be there when she goes into labor. She has said a number of times that she wants me with her in the delivery room, and nothing would make me happier.

The last two weeks, every time I mention these plans, she goes dark. We have heard very little from her the last couple of weeks, and Dennis and I are in a state of constant worry. I have tried to paint a picture for you of how that actually feels, but I fall short. We have felt tremendous anxiety. So much that I have retreated into my “holding pattern”. I try to stay busy, but I avoid things that could possibly make me confront the feelings I am having. I ache for my dear expectant mom, whom I love so much. I ache to hold my baby. I ache for my husband who has emotions that are hard to express. I am raw, on edge, and trying to stay hopeful.

If you wonder where I’ve gone, or why I don’t respond to texts, or why I have not posted on social media, or why I leave church early… This is why. I am holding my breath. I am hoping for some certainty in my life. I am feeling scared, tired, worn.

Adoption is hard.

Three years ago….

This… Little did we know three years ago where this little conversation would lead… #hopingtoadopt #hopefuladoptiveparents #adoption

We met online in the summer of 2015. Dennis said that he messaged me because he liked my photo with the pink cake (our friend Allie takes credit, and rightly so, for our introduction because she made that cake for my birthday). I messaged back because he was an English teacher, and I found that fascinating.

We messaged about 5 or 6 times that day, and then again the day after, and again the day after. Our messages became deep and emotionally intimate quite quickly, and we knew that we had made a connection that we had to explore further. We graduated to phone calls on Day 5, when the messages got way too long and had to be split into 3 parts b/c too many characters!

Our phone calls lasted for hours and hours, and we could not wait for work to be over so we could talk. The same emotional intimacy we had in our messages continued in our phone calls. We talked about everything! And we found that we had very similar philosophies on life, and very similar emotional styles. We met in-person three weeks later, and knew immediately we loved each other. He proposed about 45 days after we met in person.

We waited so long and experienced so much heartache before we found each other, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. Our past experiences are what make us the people we are today, and they are what we have used as a springboard to create a phenomenal marriage. We feel so grateful to have found each other. It feels wonderful to be married to a best friend. We approach our marriage as the most precious thing we have. We cherish each other, we uplift each other, and we make decisions every day to put the other first. We are so blessed to have had this wonderful beginning. <3

LAGOON!

I  (Valerie) love roller coasters. So as part of our Summer Tour 2018, Dennis took me to Lagoon in Salt Lake City. We had so much fun! We went on all the big rides: Cannibal, Wicked, Colossus, and all the other stuff. Dennis got to hear my blood curdling screams followed by delirious laughter. I am sure that Dennis had claw marks in his hands on the really scary ones. Dennis isn’t much of a screamer on these rides. He was pretty calm until the last couple of rides. I heard one or two little bursts of sound from him, but other than that, I was the noisy one of the pair. It was really fun to see that different side of our personalities.

 

 

If You’re Going to San Francisco…

Be sure to take a walking tour with TakeWalks.com (also, if you use the code MorrisSF10 you’ll get 10% off)!

But really, we loved San Francisco. It is a beautiful city with amazing history. Our first night in SF we took in a Giants game at AT&T Park. We haven’t been to too many MLB parks, but this is definitely a favorite. This park felt like there was something new around every corner, and being right on the water was so beautiful. The weather was perfect, and we just loved it.

Alcatraz was an amazing experience. Its such a solemn place, even with hundreds of people there. It was a self-guided audio tour, and the guides on the audio were former inmates and former guards. We had flashes of Shawshank Redemption, except that this place was very real.

After Alcatraz, we had lunch at Boudin Bread Company in Fisherman’s Wharf…. Man, that sourdough bread was the best ever. <3 The Haight-Ashbury Tour was incredible. It’s amazing how musical genres merged in the late 60s. We saw the house where the Grateful Dead lived, the house where Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix got stoned out of their minds, and of course, we visited Amoeba Music. Later that evening, we went on a Taco Tour with TakeWalks.com. We got to sample some fantastic empanadas, pork tacos, and pan dulce. That was arguably my favorite part of the trip. The tacos were from Cafe Vallarta. We loved them so much, we went back the next night for dinner.

Our last day in SF started out in Chinatown. We both loved that tour. We loved getting samples from the Original Fortune Cookie Company, and watching how fortune cookies are made. Our last official tour was North Shore. That was a highlight for Dennis, as it covered a lot of the poetry and film history of SF, including the Zoetrope Building owned by Francis Ford Coppola and the Caffe Trieste where he wrote most of The Godfather. We stopped at City Lights Bookstore where Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and other beatniks shared their works.  We even got to see an original Banksy! Oh, and of course, brownie ice cream sandwiches.

One of our favorite stops was at Grace Cathedral. One of our favorite songs is The Decemberists’ “Grace Cathedral Hill,” so we made the hike up the very steep Nob Hill and spent some time in that gorgeous edifice.

We saved the most iconic for last and visited the famous Golden Gate Bridge. It is a marvel of engineering. It was cold and windy and beautiful and clear and perfect.

Seriously though. Walking tours are the way to go. We really felt like we got a great view of the city, lots of info about the history and cultures, and we logged in about 27,000 steps each day 🙂 San Francisco is absolutely wonderful. One of our favorite vacations so far.

Los Angeles, I’m Yours*

Dennis had never been to actual Los Angeles. He wanted to go to a game a Dodger’s Stadium, see the Hollywood sign, visit Amoeba Music, and pay homage to a favorite musician Elliott Smith at the famous wall he stood in front of on the Figure 8 album cover. So we did all those things on a quick overnight on our way to San Francisco.

First item of business when we arrived was to eat lunch. We opted for the famous Pink’s Hot Dogs on La Brea near Paramount Studios. We’ve had better dogs, but you go there because it’s an icon.

Next stop was Amoeba Music. It’s a beautiful store. I’d love to see a show there sometime. And yes, we went to Amoeba Music and all we got were two awesome Tees.

More sites around LA:

The Dodgers game was super fun, other than our obstructed view. We got Kiké Hernandez bobble heads, nachos in a Dodgers helmet, and enjoyed being in that beautiful stadium.

Before we went to the game, we had a moment at the Elliott Smith wall. To explain what it meant to Dennis is really difficult to do. Elliott is an artist that Dennis connects with. It would be like Valerie at Abbey Road.

LA, it’s been real. Thanks for the moments and the traffic. Peace out.

*We don’t actually want to belong to LA. But we love The Decemberists, so that song lyric comes to mind.

Dennis & Valerie Summer Tour 2018!

We LOVE road trips. Trips in general, yes, but road trips are so fun. We get to have great conversation in the car, play games, laugh, and have a good time. Also, blog 😂.

This summer, we decided to visit LA briefly so that Dennis could visit some places he’s wanted to see for some time, and San Francisco so that Valerie can visit some places she’s wanted to see for some time. Then, of course, over to Salt Lake to visit some family.

On the road, we do fun things like…

Puzzles

 

listen to songs we don’t actually love but fit well on a road trip to California…

Point to fun things along the way…

And of course… Silly Putty.

Which brings us to our first #PublicServiceAnnouncement:

He’s gonna be a great dad!

It is so fun for me to watch Dennis with kids. Last Saturday, we went to the baptism of our good friend’s niece. She had received a nice framed photo with some ribbon around it, and she wanted to take the ribbon off so she could take a photo with it. She was struggling for a few minutes, and without a word, Dennis just went over to help. Later that day, our 3-year old niece experienced some mild trauma with her cousin of the same age pouring water on her. I picked her up and brought her in the house and Dennis was coming around the corner with a towel in hand. I absolutely love that he steps in to help in such practical ways. <3

Social Media Fast?

img_6462So, Valerie is writing this post. Shocker, I know 🙂

On Sunday, a man that we consider to be a prophet, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, invited all the youth, their parents, and their leaders to make some changes in their lives. The first, and the only one I will talk about here, is the “7-day social media fast.” Basically, sign off of social media for one week, and use that time to connect with others IRL (in real life, for those who do not speak teenager), and to connect with Heavenly Father.

As a leader of the 16-18 year old girls in my congregation, I decided to participate. It was a hard decision for me, as we have some facebook ads running for our adoption search. I worried that not posting for a week would hinder our chances of connecting with a birth family. As I lay awake Sunday night mulling all of this over, I came to the realization that if I really believe that President Nelson is a prophet of God, and if I really believe that God has power to bless my life for being obedient to his prophet’s counsel, I need to choose to trust and be obedient. So I deleted the social media apps from my phone and started my 7-day social media fast.

Now, there are some who would claim that writing this blog is social media… I look at it more as journaling 🙂 Maybe it’s a stretch, but in order to make this a non-social media post, I turned off commenting and my automatic feed to facebook and twitter, at least for these seven days.

What I really wanted to share is that just in one 24 hour period, I have vacuumed my house, done three loads of laundry, had two meaningful scripture studies, and read some magazine articles at night before going to sleep. I slept better and I feel better and I have been more connected and sensitive to spiritual things.

I noticed throughout the day that I would pick up my phone and try to check facebook, instagram, and twitter, only to realize they weren’t there. It was eye opening to me how often throughout the day I do that out of habit.

One day down, six to go. I’m so far really grateful for this opportunity.