Sunday, May 17, 2015

So Loved

We finally received Maya's printed birth announcements this week, so we spent the weekend addressing envelopes and (finally) writing thank you's...  It was incredibly heartwarming to think back on all of the support we received from friends, family, and acquaintances during our adoption journey!  Looking back and remembering everyone who supported our fundraiser last fall, the people who donated to our MICAH fund matching grant, the people who gave us words/prayers of encouragement and support, and those of you who have sent cards & gifts since Maya's arrival.  They say that it takes a village to raise child - for us, it took a village to help us bring our child home!  Maya may not realize it yet, but she is already so loved by the many people who supported us during the last year!

I promise to update the blog a bit more frequently (how many times can I say that before it actually starts happening?!?!).  Maya has been keeping us busy with middle of the night "meetings", practicing her lung exercises numerous times per day, and frequent outfit changes...and we wouldn't trade a moment of this precious time with her!

So thank you again, to all of you.  Without you, we wouldn't be where we are today with a family of four!

If you are friends with either of us on Facebook, I'm sure you've seen our picture updates....but for those of you who aren't on social media, here are a couple of recent pictures:

Just chillin' in Daddy's hat

The perpetual look of disdain for having her picture taken!

Seriously?  More pictures?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Welcome Home, Maya!

Who wins the award for worst blogger in the universe?  Me!  We completely forgot to update the blog with our big news!!  For those of you who are on Facebook, this is old news, but for the rest of you, here she is:




Maya Elizabeth Bonfig was born April 1st at 3:39pm.  Placement paperwork was signed 2 days later and by April 9th we were FINALLY home with our baby girl!  We'll post more information about our little bundle of joy soon!  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Here We Come, Baby!

We are in the final days of our wait to meet baby Bonfig!  

We are starting our journey down to Houston tomorrow, "A" has a doctors appointment on Monday morning that we plan to attend with her.  We'll be staying in Houston and spending time with our birth parents until baby is born (hopefully sooner rather than later!)...  After the baby is born, we have to wait 48 hours before "A" can sign the relinquishment paperwork and we sign placement paperwork.  After that occurs, we have another wait ahead of us - ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children, basically where the state of Texas communicates with the state of Iowa to ensure the adoption has been done legally) - which could take anywhere from 2-10 business days. 

We are so close!

Again, we would truly appreciate your prayers and positive vibes over the next week or so.  Prayers for a safe trip to and from Houston.  Prayers for the smooth delivery of a healthy baby.  Prayers for our birth parents, "A" & "B"...that they continue to have confidence in their adoption decision and that they have peace in their hearts throughout the remainder of the process. Prayers for Finnley, who will be staying in Iowa, but is VERY excited to get the phone call from us with the news of her baby sisters birth.  Prayers for our families who, like us, have been waiting years for this day!  Prayers for all of the hospital staff, social workers, and adoption personnel who will be working with us and our birth parents during the hospital stay.  

Also, a big THANK YOU to all of YOU, our friends and family, who have supported us throughout this journey....it's been a rough road at times, but we have faith that this is where God has lead us and that He will be with us as we enter this new stage of our adoption journey:  meeting our baby!!

Stay tuned for updates and pictures, hopefully soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nursery Tour

We've waited so long for this, it's hard to comprehend that we are only days away from the BIG day!  Okay, "days" is stretching it a bit...but technically the remaining time-frame can be measured in days at this point, so I'm going to stick with it!   An induction date has been set, so we know the longest possible time before we'll meet Baby Bonfig.  However, "A" could go into labor anytime now, so we are hopeful that we might get a phone call that puts us in motion before then!  I think there is only one person in the world who is more anxious to have Baby Bonfig enter the world than I am, and that is "A."  For those of you who have given birth, I'm sure you understand the level of discomfort that comes with being 37/38 weeks pregnant!  

Because of all the unknowns and "what if's" that come with the adoption process, it took me a long time to reach a point where I was comfortable decorating the nursery and "nesting."  A couple weeks ago, my Mom and Dad came down to help us get everything organized and set-up in the nursery.  We don't have everything that we'll eventually need, but we have enough to get started, and that's perfect for us right now!

Before we get into the pictures and nursery tour, I'd like to ask for your continued prayers as we head into the home-stretch of our adoption process.  Please pray that the Lord would prepare our family of three to become a family of four.  Pray that the Lord would keep our baby safe and healthy.  Pray the Lord would bless "A" and "B" (the birth parents) and continue to give them confidence and reassurance in their adoption plan.  Pray that the Lord would provide the finances necessary to carry us through these final weeks.  Pray for Finnley as a big sister and for us as new parents.  We've witnessed God's power in answered prayers and truly believe that His plan is always for our good!

Now, on to the pictures!  
 



The crib is filled with all of the items we will be taking with us to Texas when Baby Bonfig is born

Finnley laid out a "homecoming" outfit for the baby.  She is especially proud of the hat that her aunt made for her to share with her sister!

We decided to go with a starter pack of Tommee Tippee brand bottles...  Once baby gets here, I'm sure she'll let us know what her preferences are!

This is the same rocking chair Chris used when Finnley was a baby!

Finnley going through the baskets of clothes/sleepers in the closet...  Actually, most of those baskets are empty right now...  We don't have a ton of clothes yet, mostly newborn and 0-3 month items - but I'm sure that'll change soon!

Finnley thinks baby "bloomers" are hilarious.  She wanted to use this pair as a mask!

We are ready for baby to join us at the pool this summer!

Finnley practicing with the car seat....

Finnley and Daddy attempting to put a diaper on a stuffed animal...

She's so proud of herself!

We are very excited about this baby book - it's made for adoptive families and has pages for information regarding the birth family, finalization, etc.
 
We'll let you all in on a little surprise for our birth mother - we had a friend make two matching blankets, one adult-size and one baby-size. After the paperwork has been signed, we plan to give "A" her hand-made blanket and we'll keep the baby blanket with us.  That way, "A" and baby will always share their matching blankets!  There are many ideas out there for birth mother gifts (jewelry, gift baskets, etc), but we felt this was the best fit for our situation and relationship with "A."

And of course - the outtakes!  It's impossible to get this girl in front of a camera and not have her making faces and doing silly stuff!

 
Finnley and Daddy have been trying to perfect their fake fight pictures - I've got about 100 different pictures of various angles/expressions/positions.  Seriously.


Friday, February 27, 2015

What’s in a Name?

We are in the final weeks of waiting… 


It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 weeks since we received THE call from our adoption agency.  On that day, 15 weeks ago, we were nervously anxious and (obviously) excited to find out that we had been chosen by a birth mother!  Now, 15 weeks later, we are still nervously anxious (like any soon-to-be parents), and probably even more excited, but now our focus has shifted from being grateful that we were chosen by a birth mother to being grateful that we were chosen by OUR birth mother.  We are blessed with a situation where we feel comfortable with our birth parents and we are very hopeful that we will have a successful placement and open adoption in the month of March!  That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been drama (oh, there’s been drama!) and our birth mother can still change her mind before signing the adoption paperwork, but we have faith that God will be with all of us in these final weeks as we wait for the arrival of our baby girl! After our failed match in the fall, it was hard to contemplate putting ourselves out there again for birth mothers to look at and risk having it happen again. But now, in hindsight, it’s clear that everything happens for a reason.  We are strong believers in the power of prayer and we ask for your continued support as we near the due date!

One thing we get asked about a lot is whether we have picked a name for our baby girl.  The answer is yes. When we started our adoption journey, one of the first things Finnley wanted to do was make lists of potential baby names.  She wrote the girl names in pink highlighter and the boy names in green highlighter.  Once we found out that we were expecting a baby girl, we started going through our favorite names together.  All 3 of us had a different favorite, and they were all VERY different (Finnley likes Elizabeth and Maisie, Chris likes June, and I like Adeline and Evie) – but there was one name that we all agreed that we loved.  I’m not going to spoil it by telling all of you the name before she is born (although some of you may already know what it is), but it’s a name that our birth mother liked as well, which was important to all of us.

We haven’t settled on a middle name yet, so we thought maybe all of you would like to give us some input! We brought a list of potential middle names to Texas on our last trip and ask our birth mother what her favorite was. “A” told us which names she liked, but made it clear that the decision was ours to make, as the baby will be ours to name.  We’ve listed the middle names (and respective meanings) that we are considering below.  Please feel free to vote for your favorite!  We are going to make the final decision ourselves, this isn’t a competition where the most popular name wins, but we’d love to hear your thoughts! 

The first name we have chosen ends with an “-ah” sound….think Sara or Ella.

….a Stella Bernice (Christy & Chris's maternal grandmothers first names, respectively)

….a June  (Chris likes the name June, "A's" puppy is named June)

….a Marie (Christy and her Mom’s middle name)

.…a Elizabeth  (Finnley loves the name Elizabeth, Elizabeth means “gift from God”)

And, while you are clicking around on the blog voting for your favorite middle name - consider checking out our Pure Charity matching grant fundraiser.  We are in the final days and getting closer to our goal (only 10 days to donate!) - remember, every dollar that is donated will be DOUBLED by the MICAH fund!  And thank you to everyone that has already made a donation.  We can't thank you enough!



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Good For Everyone

Here on the blog we will continue to refer to our birth mother and birth father as “A” and “B,” respectively, for their privacy.

One of the benefits of being matched with our birth parents for approximately 18 weeks before our baby girl is born is that we have plenty of time to develop a strong relationship with both “A” and “B.”  We felt a strong connection with “A” after our very first phone call back in November, and over the many weeks since then we have continued to communicate with her on a regular basis via text and telephone.  We receive weekly updates via email from our adoption agency regarding “A,” but talking to her directly is what has really helped us to connect as individuals. 

Our visit to Houston in December was encouraging and further deepened our understanding and respect for the difficult decisions that “A” & “B” have made to share their daughter’s life with us.   After our visit in December, “A” expressed that she hoped we could visit again before the baby was born and she was hopeful that Finnley might join us on a visit so she could meet her.  Cost was a major concern for us, but as always, God provides for us in ways we can’t imagine!  Chris and I had had some travel delays with our first trip to Houston, which at the time was very frustrating, but after filing a complaint with American Airlines asking for reimbursement for our lost hotel and rental car expenses, they gave us free vouchers toward future air fare with them! 

This past weekend, we were able to make a quick flight to Houston with Finnley, and it was so good for everyone that we did.  We’ve always wanted to make sure that Finnley felt like she was really a part of the adoption process, and letting her meet “A” was great for her.  Meeting the woman carrying her future sister made everything much more “real” for her.  She had so much fun meeting “A” and “B” and playing with their dog, June.  It was hard not to get a little choked up when we went with “A” to the public beach in Galveston, and “A” took Finnley’s hand and stepped out into the waves with her.  In a way, it was like Finnley and her little sister were already sharing a moment by stepping into the ocean together, and, like this adoption as whole, “A” was the one bringing them together.  We got a picture of it, and it is one of our favorites from the trip.
We really enjoyed our day in Galveston, admiring the interesting architecture of the older homes and getting lunch at a charming cafĂ© overlooking the ocean.  In addition to dipping our toes in the ocean and collecting shells, we also enjoyed a $10.00 boat tour of the harbor where we saw a few dolphins and some of the larger ships that regularly pass through. Unexpectedly, it was also the very beginning of the local Mardi Gras celebrations, and although we didn't participate in the festivities, there were plenty of parade floats and crazy costumes to make things interesting!

We hope it was equally good for “A” to see the excitement Finnley has for being a big sister in the future.  She let her put her hand on her stomach when the baby was pushing on it, and Finnley’s face really lit up.  We’ve always known that Finnley will be a great big sister and we’re glad “A” had a chance to see that, too, and that it will hopefully reinforce her already strong commitment to continue with her adoption plan. 

Chris and Finnley made the journey home safely on Sunday, while I stayed behind an extra day to get a tour of the hospital where the baby will be delivered and spend some one-on-one time with “A.”  I’ll share my own crazy, nerve-racking journey home with you in our next post…

An astronaut cow?? We couldn't resist taking a picture for Bev!

Finnley was fascinated with the palm trees and brought home a piece of bark that had fallen off the tree to show her classmates.

Finnley's first steps in the ocean!

On the harbor cruise, looking intently at the water for dolphins...

Returning to the hotel after spending the day in Galveston (and snagging some beads from the Mardi Gras parade floats!)

Finnley was so excited to see green grass and flowers - our camera is filled with pictures she took of the ground!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Point A to Point B

When you’re looking to start a long journey from Point A to Point B, one of the first questions is how you’re going to get there.  Do you drive or do you fly? 
Driving is the more familiar option.  It's likely you already drive almost everyday.  You get to be in your own vehicle with your favorite cds in the changer.  You are familiar with the people in the car with you.  You are behind the wheel and can take a small detour here or drive a little out of your way there to eat at a restaurant you like.  It might take a longer, but you’ll save money if you don’t fly.
Driving is like expanding your family in the “traditional" sense.   The drive will take 9 months, but you’re behind the wheel, for the most part.
Flying is great, too, but it’s a different way to travel.  Like adoption, it may take you less time to get there (we know people who finished the whole process in less than 6 months).  And, like adoption, it will probably cost a bit more.  
When you fly, you need to get to the airport in time to go through security.  Show your ID, take off your shoes, walk through the metal detector, and no liquids over 3 oz.  This is like your home study.  You face the scrutiny of a background check on your criminal record, financial history, assets, debts, etc.  A social worker comes to your house to make sure it is safe.  Do you have fire extinguishers and CO2 detectors?  You go through fingerprinting and a mountain of paperwork.  That isn’t a complaint.  Safety in air travel and adoption are important.
Then you make it to your seat.  You might be sitting next to someone you never met.  And you might be shoulder to shoulder with this stranger.  The bond you share is that you’re trying to get to the same place. This is like the adoption network you build when you’re adopting.  We’ve become friends with so many people who are going through the same process we are, and it has been such a comfort to share our successes and setbacks with a group who knows what you're going through.  Our friends who aren’t familiar with adoption were happy for us when we completed our home study.  But the people in our adoption network were really excited for us, because they were going through it, too, or had just finished it themselves.  So they had that extra understanding of what a large milestone it was.
You made it through security and onto the plane, so you buckle your seatbelt and sit through the safety instructions.  Then you start moving.  But it isn’t you behind the wheel.  You hope the pilot is good.  That they are prepared for bad weather or whatever may come along.  You’re reassured when the captain comes on the overhead speakers to tell you you’ll be landing soon, and you hope they land you smoothly.  This is like being matched with a birth mother.  You hope she is taking care of herself and making good choices, but you aren’t there with her every day.  We feel good about things when we communicate via text or phone, but we know she’s hundreds of miles away.  And we know that she can change her mind any time before her signature lands on the page.
And sometimes you can't get a direct flight.  You land somewhere you don't hope to stay.  You sit in a crowd and wait for the flight that's going to land at your destination.  This is like our failed match.  It wasn't where we hoped to be, and we couldn't wait to move on.  Unfortunately, as we've come to find out in our adoption network, failed matches are about as common as layovers.  But it is just a matter of waiting for your correct plane to land.  In the end, you may have just needed that "connecting flight" to get you to the right place.
Flying and driving are both good ways to go from Point A to Point B.  Either way can get you there and everyone makes their own choices about the best way to make that journey.  Fortunately, arriving at the destination is equally enjoyable no matter how you get there, and will give you a lifetime of memories.  Just remember to take lots of pictures!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Signs

Today's post is a "guest post" from Chris!  Enjoy...


Superstition -  a belief or way of behaving that is based on fear of the unknown and faith in magic or luck

Adoption is full of unknowns.  That must be why I find myself feeling superstitious so often.  Where there is uncertainty, humans often have a tendency towards superstition, and a belief that the things we see are good luck.

When you’re deciding which route is best for you to expand your family, you look for signs that you’re picking the right path.

Our church is named after one of the patron saints of adoption.

When you’re looking to match with a birth mother, you look for anything in the limited information you get about that person to take as a “sign”.  This continues when you’re matched.

We were both born in the same year as the birth mother.

Even after you meet the birth mother, you keep looking for signs that the mother will not change her mind and decide to parent the baby herself.

Her dog’s name is the same as one of my top 3 picks for the baby’s name.

Her dad has the same name (first and last) as a former U.S. Senator I’ve always admired.

The birth father told me I look just like an old friend of his, so much that he did a double take when he first saw me.

It’s easy to get sucked into superstition and believe that these things mean more than they do.  But I’m sure many adopting families felt good about their match and saw many positive “signs” before that match fell through, for whatever reason.
 
In truth, looking for these signs probably says more about the constant fear you live with before the adoption is finalized than anything else.  Because the fear is constant.  A few nights ago, Christy told me she thought the hardest part in adoption would be waiting to get matched.  But for us, it wasn’t.  I think she was right. The hardest part is hoping you’ll hold on after you’re matched.  Before you’re matched, you have less to lose.  After you’re matched, you’re eggs are pretty much in one basket.  Until that mother gives birth and signs the placement paperwork, all that time and money you’ve invested could be in vain.

The signs you see along the way can make you feel good, but we’ve decided that the best way to predict the future (and ease our fears) is to create the future.  So we’re in constant talks with the agency to find out how things are going.  We’re there to speak to our birth mother whenever she’d like and address whatever concerns she’s had.   We’ve visited her and tried to learn more about her life and to make her feel confident that we’ll give that baby the right home.  We’ve done our best to make sure she knows we care about her health, safety, and comfort as much as we do about our future little one.

Ask anyone who has gone through the adoption process and you’ll find out that most people’s paths had several unexpected twists and turns.  Everything can change in a heartbeat.  But I’m confident that with the hard work and united effort Christy and I have put forth, all signs point to a successful addition to our family.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Much Needed Pick-Me-Up

I read a lot of other adoption blogs.  It is a great comfort to see that others are on the same path as you, and to share in the milestones, happiness, and heartbreaks that every adoption seems to bring.  We’ve shared the joy of completing our home study, the pain of a failed match, and the anxiousness of waiting with other couples that make up our network.

So we had seen the ugliness people can show when they publicly or anonymously comment about adoption fundraising in a negative way.   Things along the lines of “I wish someone else would pay me for my kids” or “If you can’t afford to adopt a kid, you shouldn’t have one.”  These types of comments have stung many of the people we have met in our adoption journey, but we had been lucky.  Until just recently.

I am writing to let you know that we are really happy for your family and the baby you will be adopting… But I want you to be aware how you asking for money is offending some of us…  We are struggling to keep our bills paid and are asked to donate to you…

These are a few lines from a very hurtful email, sent from an anonymous/unknown email address, presumably by a family member. 

It seems there are two main things to address here.  The first is how hard it is for us to fundraise.  It is extremely hard for us to ask others for assistance.  If we could’ve written a check for $30,000.00, you never would’ve heard a word about fundraisers from us. 

Well before we started fundraising, we made significant changes to our family budget.  Steak hasn’t been on the menu for a long time.  Spaghetti is often on the menu.  I cut Chris’s hair.  All of the clothes we have for the baby have been donations/gifts or purchased at Goodwill or a consignment store.  All of them.  Her crib, changing table, and carseat were all bought used.  Many of Finnley’s Christmas presents came from Goodwill or a clearance aisle.  I didn’t go on a vacation this summer, in part to save money, and partly because adoptive mothers only get a small fraction of the maternity leave other mothers do (if we get any at all).  Chris and Finnley went to his parents’ cabin for a few days this summer as an inexpensive getaway.  We’ve been selling personal possessions on Craigslist for months, and others we put up as raffle prizes for our soup supper.   By far, our most common source of entertainment (movies, books, and music) is the public library.

I don’t mention these things to suggest we live some sort of miserable existence and that everyone should pity us.  I mention these things because we only felt comfortable asking others for help after trimming all of the excess we could from our own budget. We’re a happy family looking to add to our happiness through adoption and the high costs of adoption have led us to not only trim our budget, but ask for help.

There is no shame in asking for help when you need it.  There is shame, apparently, in throwing darts at those who are seeking help.  Otherwise, the emailer would’ve had the courage to include their name.

We’ve been stunned by the support we’ve received so far.  It has come in the form of words of encouragement, prayers, inquiries about our progress, and sometimes financial help.  We’ve been grateful for the support in every one of these forms.

The second part of the email to address is as follows. To the anonymous emailer, and anyone else who has felt this way:  If you can’t afford to help us financially, or simply don’t want to, we support your personal decision to not donate.  There is no shame in saying “I wish I could help, but I can’t at this time”.  This year, we’ve had to say that to some of the charitable organizations we’ve donated to in the past.  If you don’t want to donate, don’t.  If you don’t want to read our blog because we sometimes talk about our fundraising activities or if our posts make you uncomfortable, don’t read it.

We started this blog to share our adoption with those who are interested in following our journey.  Fundraising is a part of that journey for us.  As much as we wish we could afford to adopt without fundraising, like most couples, we simply can’t.  In addition to trimming our budget and fundraising, we have taken out loans to help us afford our adoption.  We have chosen to focus on the positive aspects of our adoption journey on this blog, but if you have questions about the less exciting and/or disheartening details related to the adoption process, please feel free to ask us (directly, not anonymously).  You might be surprised to learn that something you think we’ve done by choice is actually something we are required to do for our home study, our adoption agency, or our matching grant.  

And finally, to our anonymous emailer: if your family is struggling, we encourage you to ask for help.  If we knew you needed help, maybe we could assist you in some way.  Maybe you could use some of the furniture we’re moving out of the guest room to make it into a nursery.   Maybe you have a little girl who could use some of the clothes Finnley has grown out of.  But you’ll need the courage to put yourself out there and ask.  We know how hard that can be.

But, if you need help and you’re willing to ask, you’d be amazed at the aid your friends and family are willing to give.  We know that first hand.

The happy epilogue is that this weekend in our hometown, we went to church, and so many people came up to us and asked how the adoption was going.  Many told us they were praying for us and thinking of us.  When we got home Sunday, there was a card in the mail from a friend who is raising a family of her own and a donation.   

I’m so excited for you.  Hope this helps a little.  It won’t be long now…

After stewing over the anonymous, ill-conceived, and hurtful email for a few days, the note was a breath of fresh air.  It was the reminder we needed that for any one person who has attempted to trip us up on our adoption mission, there have been 100 others who have picked us up.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy 2015!

We're starting off the new year with a couple pictures from the 4D ultrasound we were able to schedule during our visit with our birth mother a couple weeks ago in Texas.  Baby Bonfig was camera shy!  Thankfully, we were able to hear her heartbeat and see her wiggling around.  We were also told that she has a lot of hair already!  This experience was an incredible blessing!

 Baby Girl is destined to be a gymnast! In this picture you can see her legs and feet above her head!