Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Hills Are Alive

Today I showered for the first time in our new bathroom (which I have dubbed "the locker room"). While this may not seem blog-worthy on the surface, you have to dig deeper to really appreciate this milestone.

For the past 3 months, we have been showering in a tub-shower combo. The aforementioned tub-shower is in Lillian's bathroom so on the wall there is a frog pod which is a brilliant toy storage device despite the fact it takes up much of the limited standing room.

Combine that with the shower curtain which blows in and sticks to your legs and it makes for a pretty tight squeeze. So today as I stood in the middle of our new 6'x5'6" shower (hence the name "the locker room"), I was tempted to spin around, arms extended like Maria in the Sound of Music.

I didn't. And even if I did, I wouldn't tell you. Okay...I would tell you...but I didn't. But boy do I LOVE my new shower!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Pool

First, the results of the last poll!!! Drum roll please...

How long will we wait before being matched with a birthfamily?

65% - 1-3 months, about the same as last time
17% - 3-6 months, you'll have time to finish all the projects at home
13% - Less than a month, stock up on diapers today!
1% - 6-12 months, average is good
0% - A year or more, plenty of time to catch up on sleep

Generally an optimistic crowd! I like the way you think.

We received the "dear birthparent" packet last week along with the official letter welcoming us to the pool. This is the same packet of letters that is given to any birthparent that contacts the agency. It is sorted in chronological order with those who have been in the pool the longest at the beginning. And lemme tell ya, I devour this packet like some sort of starving animal. This is my process. First, I flip through and look at the photos to get a feel for the competition.

(I know it's terrible that I think of it as a competition. Take comfort in the knowledge that all of these deserving parents will have a baby to love eventually. So it's really not a competition in that we all have our own finish line and prize awaiting us. Now that I've justified my poor sportsmanship, I'll get back to the point.)

Next, I dissect the pool statistically. What can I say? I'm the daughter of a math teacher. We like numbers.

  • There are 53 waiting families in the pool right now.
  • 26 are gay or lesbian couples (49%)
  • 17 are male/female couples with a child (32%)
  • 7 are male/female couples with no children (13%)
  • 3 are single (6%)

Finally I read each of their letters. And I don't mind telling you that I want to be adopted by some of these families. (No offense Mom & Dad. You were still my first choice.) They are each amazing and different and yet joined by this collective desire to be parents. Also interestingly, at least 3 of the families with a child were in the pool with us last time.

Well, that is my summation of the pool. I imagine that a birthparent goes through a similar process. Checking out the photos. Choosing the family make-up that they like best (gay, straight, single, have children, etc). Then reading the letters with awe, sadness and hope. What a sense of responsibility to know that they hold someone else's happiness in the palm of their hand (or the womb of their body in this case). I am constantly humbled by their courage and generosity.

The other interesting part of the pool is discovering that a few families have specified a specific gender. We were cautioned in our first adoption that specifying a gender dramatically reduces your odds for a match. About 1/3 of the birthparents haven't found out what they are having. And another 1/3 are having the opposite gender. So you've effectively narrowed your available choices by 2/3. We still picture ourselves with a girl because that's what we're used to. But we will be thrilled with any child (or children) that God blesses us with. What gender do you think we'll have? Mark your answer on this week's poll.

Monday, October 29, 2007

You're Rrrrrr....rrrrrr...rrright.

Phew, that's tough to say. What's even harder is "I was wrrrrrr..." Oh, you get the picture. In this case, I wasn't entirely wrong. I mean, how can fiscal responsibility be wrong?

When my hubby suggested that I buy a new car several months ago, I did the fiscally responsible thing and said no. After all, my car is only 5 years old and has logged 60k miles. In my family, that car would be considered practically new. Or at least only half way through it's lifespan. So even though I could already catch a whiff of that new car smell, I resisted.

That was 3 months and about five grand ago. The car has been in the shop no less than four separate occasions most of which were for several days. Lemme tell ya, I have definitely milked that power train warranty for all it's worth. But between the deductible and other non-covered expenses, keeping this car has not turned out to be a fiscally responsible as I thought it would be.

Now to be fair, I did try to buy a new car. The hybrid I want is extinct. How can a brand new car be extinct? Don't ask me. Ask the rocket scientists at Toyota. If I produced a high-demand product and ran out of supply half way through the year, I would be fired. (Well maybe not fired but I would at least receive some sort of written disciplinary action.) In this case, Toyota "re-designed" this vehicle and was trying to sell down the old model to make way for the new which was promised to be released in the fall. Okay, I get it, that makes sense. But the new model has now been delayed several times leaving them out of stock in the hybrid model for months. At this rate, I'm will have spent so much money trying to keep my old car running that I could have just splurged for the luxury hybrid instead. Maybe I should as it appears that my car is not yet done sucking my bank account dry.

I just got the car out of the shop yet again. A few days later, a friend who knew I had been looking asked when I was getting a new car. With a deep sigh, I responded "soon." Then I got in my car, turned the key and boom, on came the "check engine" light. Like a little yellow neon sign flashing "I'm not done with you yet Harris." This has happened so many times that the dealer just tells me to drive it for a few days to see if it will turn off on it's own. What is the point of this light if it turns on and off for no reason? I HATE THIS CAR. Now, on top of everything else, I can't get rid of it until that silly light turns off. I think it's on to my plan...

So as you can plainly see, I wasn't wrong per se. My hubby just had uncanny timing. Which makes him a little more right than I was. Or something. I dunno know.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oblivious Babies R Us Lady

Jeff and I were in Babies R Us on Wednesday buying a cartload of bottles, diapers and onesies. Neither of us could remember how many bottles we needed so I did the quick math. Let's see, they eat every 3 hours so that's 8 bottles per day. HOLY COW! How quickly we forget! But I digress, that's not the story I wanted to share.

While browsing in the health care aisle, I said to Jeff "I think we need another pair of nail clippers."

"You're kidding," he replied.

"Well, they get dull pretty quickly."

A young woman with a petite baby bump holding 2 pair of nail clippers and looking a little lost said, "do you already have a child?"

"Yes, we did." I reply cautiously.


"She actually passed away last April," I add.

"Oh, well did you get to clip her nails?" she asks. [Ed note: Clearly she has a one-track mind.]

"Yes, of course."

"Well, do you really need these clippers or can you just use what you've got at home?" she asked.

"Well, you can certainly use what you've got at home as long as they're small enough to cut tiny fingernails and big enough to get a good grip. It's kind of hard to hold on to squirming little hands and nail clippers at the same time."

"Oh." She still looks perplexed.

"When are you due?" I asked, trying to be polite.

"I'm 36 weeks along." she replies beaming.

Stunned that this adorable little bump could house a 36 week old baby I regroup and reply, "Wow, not much longer then huh? You'll have a great Christmas present."

"Yep, we're actually hoping for Thanksgiving even though my doctor is going to be on vacation."

"Good luck!" I say encouragingly.

"Thanks. When are you due?" she asks.


"Uh, we're adopting so it could be anytime."

"Oh great! Congratulations! Good luck!!!" she responds with enthusiasm and rounds the corner out of view.

Clearly I need work out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


We're in!!! (And we've never looked better if you believe that this picture is us...) It will probably take a week or two before our letter is on the website but the hardcopy is being presented to birthfamilies right now! It's hard to believe we're so close to having another baby in our home.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let me remind you that the average wait in the pool is 10 1/2 months. We waited about a month before being selected by Lillian's birthmom who was 6 months pregnant at the time. The wait is the hardest part so let's keep busy with some good old fashioned guessing games. First one, how long will we wait? Check out the poll to enter your guess.

Prayer requests:
  • Patience, patience and more patience for us as we wait
  • Wisdom and courage for the birthfamily

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making the Drop

Shhhhh...I'm making the drop. Okay, it's not a covert operation but I am handing off a non-descript manila envelope today. AT THE ADOPTION AGENCY! Yipee!!! 200 glorious copies of our "dear birthparent" letter and 15 copies of our photo collage. I'll mail another 100 copies of the letter and 5 copies of the photo collage to the Seattle office. I decided to hand deliver the copies to the Portland office because it's seems a waste to mail them such a short distance...and it's just more fun to drop them off in person. With this delivery, our work prior to entering the pool will be complete. Once our counselor completes her portion of the profile, we'll be in the pool. SPLASH! She works Mon, Tues and every other Wednesday so I would guess we will be in the pool sometime next week.

Since I'm sure you're just dying to know what they look like, here is our letter and collage. Do you think it accurately represents us? Sometimes I feel like I'm talking about somebody else. It's just strange to try to market yourself. How do you describe your life and your beliefs in 1 page? And how do you sum up your life in 5 pages of photos? Well, this is our attempt. What do you think?

Transcript of the letter so you can actually read it:
Dear birthparents,

We are Jeff and Lori, high school sweethearts who have been together for 18 years and have been married for 13 of those years. We are thankful that we have had so much time together already to build a stable and loving relationship. And we look forward to many happy years together with our growing family.

We struggled with infertility for some time before we decided that what we really want is to be parents rather than pregnant. We were thrilled to welcome a beautiful baby girl into our lives in 2004, through open adoption. After two wonderful years, our hearts were broken when she passed away from a rare brain tumor. Lillian was a delight in every sense and we miss her terribly. But she taught us not to waste a minute of this precious life, so we are looking forward to welcoming another child into our family.

Jeff has been busy completing a major remodel of our home. Through that process, he uncovered skills he didn’t know he had! Whether scooting up and down the river in his jet boat or walking through a forest, he is happiest when he is among nature. And he is looking forward to sharing his love of the outdoors with our child. Since we believe that a child’s early development is best served by parental care and attention, Jeff will be a stay at home dad again.

Lori is a strategic planning director for a large sport and fitness company in Oregon. She enjoys the responsibilities of leadership and believes that many of the same skills apply to being a parent as well. Her greatest joy was being a mommy and she is looking forward to sharing giggles and stories with another child. When she is not working, she likes to explore her creative side. Lori is a member of our church’s drama group where she writes and performs plays and sketches.

As a couple, we enjoy camping, entertaining and playing all types of games. We both enjoy cooking and will offer our children diverse and healthy food choices including meat and vegetarian dishes. From large holiday gatherings to impromptu activities, we also spend a lot of time with our families. Most of our extended family is local and they all look forward to welcoming the new members of our family, including you.

Our home is in a family friendly suburb. It is on a large lot complete with a new play structure. Our children will also enjoy a large playroom which is filled with toys and books. We want to offer our children opportunities and experiences that allow them to explore their talents and find what makes them truly happy. As committed Christians, we look forward to raising our children with the strong values and loving beliefs of our faith.

Once again, we are choosing open adoption because it is focused on what is healthiest for the child. We still enjoy a close relationship with Lillian’s birthmom and birth grandparents. Similarly, we will honor and respect your relationship with your child. We are inspired by your courage in making a plan for your child and want to thank you for considering open adoption.

Best wishes,
Jeff & Lori

Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Birthday

My dear Lilybean,

Happy birthday!!! I can't believe it's been 3 years since we raced to the hospital to meet you. We were expecting a little bald bundle and out you came with thick brown hair. You surprised us right from the start, didn't you? You didn't spend a single second out of someone's arms for your first three days on earth. You were just passed between all of the people who love you so much. No one wanted to put you down! If you wanna know the truth, you really weren't set down for the first three months of your life. Daddy and I took turns holding you instead of putting you in a crib. I guess God knew we wouldn't have much time with you so He told us to snuggle with you lots and lots.

Remember your birthday party last year? Nana, Papa, Grandpa and Auntie M all came to the hospital to celebrate. You loved that yummy ice cream cake. You just gobbled it up! (I suppose the steroids might have had something to do with that too.) Even though we were all in the hospital, it was a special birthday. Everyday with you was special. I really wanted to throw you a super-duper birthday party this year. Even though I can plan pretty big parties, I think you're gonna have an even better party in heaven. I'll bet there's nothing like hearing the angels sing "happy birthday."

Lilybean, I am so sorry for all you had to go through last year. I know you felt yucky and I would have done anything to make it all better. But through it all, you were so brave little one. I am very proud of you. And I am so happy that you are healthy once again. This battle you fought on earth was just a blink in time compared with a blissful eternity in heaven. I can't wait to see you when I get there. To give you a big hug and smother you with kisses. To tell you stories about the animals at the zoo. To read books with you and have tea parties. And tell you again what a special treat it is to be your mommy. I love you forever!!!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Individual Appointment

On an interview or first date, you try to put your best foot forward and in doing so, you show a tenth of the person you truly are. You reveal just the parts that you think the other person will be attracted to. But sooner or later, things "stop being polite and start getting real." (You like that MTV Real World reference?) We don't want that reality to hit with a birthfamily after a baby is born. We want to find a mutual attraction right off the bat that builds into an organic relationship. We don't want to find ourselves forcing visits to meet our contractual agreement. We want to truly enjoy each other's company. So we looked forward to each meeting with our counselor as an opportunity to reveal more of ourselves.

Last time we were anticipating these adoption meetings, it was with a great deal of apprehension and uncertainty. I think we expected that we were being judged. Like our counselor was taking some sort of uber-complete inventory of our parenting abilities that would culminate in the delivery of her verdict.

With a slight nod of her head, she proclaimed "Yes, you have been deemed to be fit parents. Here is your baby now go forth and parent well."

Fortunately that couldn't be further from the truth. Our individual meetings were as painless and invasive as all the prior meetings. Our counselor used the historical information from the last adoption and just asked us questions where she felt there might be updates. She asked us about our parenting experience and our grieving process.

In my individual meeting, we reached the end and I was silently patting myself on the back for holding it together despite these emotional questions. But just as quickly as she said "I think that's it," she changed her mind and said "oh, just one more thing." Darn it, so close! Then she dropped the bomb. "The answer to this question might be different than last time. What are you most proud of? Or what is your greatest accomplishment?" And with that, the floodgates were opened. LILLIAN!!!! I'm most proud of my beautiful, strong, brave little girl!!! Nothing else in my life compares to the joy of being her mommy. Now I can sit through entire meetings and carry on productive conversations with tears streaming down my cheeks so I'm completely used to this by now. Sympathetically, our dear counselor told me to take a minute. Oh boy, a minute is never quite long enough. So I told her that we were gonna have to power through. And with that, the individual meeting came to an unceremonious end. Oh well, that's the way this roller coaster goes!

The good news is she thinks we will be in the pool in just a couple of weeks!!! We can't believe how quickly things are moving this time around. And as I told Jeff, I have been holding back on the baby shopping but once we're in the pool, we will need to re-stock the necessities. Just diapers, formula, bottles, etc. but even those simple supplies will be such fun to buy again.

Monday, October 8, 2007


It's amazing how some dates just stick in your mind. I will always remember Lillian's birthday, the day she was diagnosed and the day she died. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Lillian's diagnosis. When life changed in an instant. We knew something was seriously wrong and I even suspected a brain tumor since an internet search revealed a perfect match of symptoms. But nothing could have prepared us for the words "we've found something." Just look at this picture taken the day before her diagnosis. Does this look like a kid with cancer?

From here out, it will just be milestone after milestone. I hope to honor Lillian's battle by reading her blog as each entry was posted a year prior. At this moment last year, Lillian was in surgery to remove the tumor. Jeff and I ran home to pack having arrived at the hospital the day before with nothing but the clothes on our back. We wouldn't return home for 9 days, the day after her 2nd birthday. And that was after convincing the rehabilitation staff at Emmanuel and the insurance staff that Lillian would be better off sleeping in her own bed and commuting for 4 hours of daily rehab.

What pains us most is the memories of all she had to endure. The shots, surgeries and stem cell transplants not to mention chemo. It's so contrary to your every instinct as a parent to allow your child to be tortured. And yet, we were willing participants. We let her suffer for the hope that she might live.

As one cancer mom said, "you see so much suffering. I always knew it was out there but now I see it firsthand." I may have the privilege of knowing firsthand a dozen or so kids battling cancer. God has uniquely equipped me to stand alongside them during their fight and for that I am grateful. But there are thousands more suffering in the name of hope. Over 40,000 kids are battling cancer right now. And the incidence of childhood cancer is growing with no explanation. It is the number one killer of children by disease, more than asthma, cystic fibrosis and pediatric AIDS combined. Yet the funding for childhood cancer research is nominal and has been cut! I gotta tell ya, I'm not okay with that. So I joined an online advocacy network on They notify me of any cancer related bills so I can send a pre-written e-mail to my elected officials. Couldn't be easier.

Right now there is an effort for $150 million federal investment to find a cure for childhood cancer called The Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. Visit curesearch to send a letter to your congressman encouraging them to support this vital piece of legislation.

The bright spot in my day yesterday was watching one of the kids in my cancer community, Boey, get a brand new house courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. What a blessing to see another deserving cancer kid receive such a generous gift on this memorial day! Maddie, Alley, Lexie and Maddy also had cameo appearances. Check out this video of Boey talking about The Childhood Cancer Act.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Will this ever end?

The remodel has slowed to a snail's pace. I've been busy at work so I have not been able to hound the contractors in my usual polite way. So, they just haven't shown up. WHO DOES THAT?! Should I just not come to work unless my boss calls me everyday? I wouldn't get paid and I certainly wouldn't keep my job for long. So how do contractors get away with it? And more importantly, why am I paying them? I guess it's one of those life mysteries that we'll never really understand. ::sigh::

  • The plumbers (yes, we're still having plumbing woes) showed up for the final install on Thursday but left after only a few hours. They haven't been back since.
  • The cabinet maker, who is usually very prompt, has not returned our calls since Saturday.
  • And tile guy is supposed to do the back splash this week. He went to Disneyland over the weekend and we haven't been able to reach him since.
  • Finally, the icing on the cake, our cork flooring is officially a bust. Jeff tried to install the "easy click" floor planks with no success. We then decided to hire a professional who declared it impossible after just a few hours. Vindication for Jeff but frustrating for everyone.

The next time I consider buying a fixer-upper, would somebody smack me? It seems that this will never end. I'm sure after time has passed, I'll feel differently but until then, I JUST WANT THIS DONE.

On the upside, the granite is in and it is gorgeous. We debated whether to spend the dough for granite and I think we made the right choice. And the company returned the cork flooring, cut pieces and all. We know have a strand bamboo floor acclimating before installation the end of the week.
Once we get some contractors back on the job, this thing should really get moving. If I squint really hard and sort of tilt my head to the side, I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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