Discerning the Path Toward Adoption

November 9, 2010 at 8:38 am | Posted in Adoption, Megan's Blogs, The Nitty-Gritty | Leave a comment
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Barton fishing with the boys- someday, he'll be a great dad.

Barton fishing with the boys- someday, he'll be a great dad.

When we first learned that we would not be having children biologically, Barton and I were both devastated- we had always pictured having two children, we named them even. We grieved in different ways, with slightly different issues coming up for each of us.

When we first approached adoption, we started off by making calls to different agencies, and we learned an independent adoption agency was within walking distance to our house. We attended an information session where we learned the benefits to open adoption, the costs and process associated with adoption. Adoption is not for the faint of heart- it could be a long process and could take many years with many variables. For a long time, independent open adoption was the only path we considered.

Yet there were still unanswered questions. Potentially, I could go through sperm donation, but as we explored that path, I quickly realized there were just as many issues that would come up with sperm donation than with adoption. The process can be grueling on a woman’s body, and there are still issues surrounding the rights of a biological father. Yet, it was important that each of us explore the different issues that were coming up at different times, and for us to respect where the other one was at in the process.

Most people don’t mention the questions infertility can bring up- does is matter how a baby is created, is the woman’s body considered holy, when & how does a soul come into the body? It’s not only the physical questions that came up, but spiritual, social and relationship questions as well.

There was a point several years ago where I wanted to have a baby “right now,” but Barton wasn’t quite sure. He even questioned whether we should have children or not. As hard as it was to hear, but it was an option we needed to explore. Yet, as our relationship shifted and grew, Barton couldn’t deny that smile and spark that arose when being around children, and wanting to raise a child in our family. He mentioned that if we were going to have children, it was important to him to take care of a child who wouldn’t otherwise have a home, and we talked about the deeper and underlying foundation for his need.

In our case, I also had to look at how there were friends who weren’t supportive of our having children, similar to the concerns of us when we got married. I learned I would need to find support in different places.

Closed adoption, semi-closed adoption, open adoption, international, domestic, independent- how do you decide which path is right for you? We listened to other people’s adoption journeys and researched as much as we could about each path. For example, international adoption would be less feasible because many countries require that you travel to that country, many for week or months at a time, and we wouldn’t be able to do that.

Independent adoption appealed to us as well because in most cases, the birth mother chooses the adoptive family, and it was very important for us not only to respect the birthmother, but to make sure that the birth mother has the ability of choice. Yet, it would be difficult for us to screen any high-risk situations. We have heard that flexibility is key, as the path may change mid-course.

Agencies have different policies as well. Can you believe how shocked I was when I called an agency and they asked what nationality we preferred since the fees were different for different nationalities! (I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough).

I also realized that right away we would need to get life insurance- it was the one issue that came up over and over when I mentioned Barton’s disability. We spent two years working on getting life insurance for Barton (being qualified wasn’t the issue, but it was the research that took so long).

And now, we’re working on the financial end- our least favorite part because if it was up to us, we would have already started the process. The reality is adoption is incredibly expensive, and we have been in a recession with multiple contract changes. And of course if we wait, I am worried that age will at some point be a factor for me.

It was important that each of us be respectful about where the other one was in the process. Now we have come to the place where we both would love to have children and begin the process immediately, but we are working on the list to make sure we go through the home-study without major hurdles to Barton’s disability.

The truth is- we don’t know what will happen, but we are being open to all of the possibilities.

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A Dream Delayed, Not Denied

November 1, 2010 at 1:51 am | Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment
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November is National Adoption month, and this month, we’ll be writing about different aspects about adoption. Why is this important? It’s one of our long-term dreams and visions, yet we’re in the process of assessing and overcoming different challenges to move forward, which include a more stable economy, creating a solid support network and the ability to obtain accessibility equipment Barton will need to parent a child.

We all have long-term dreams in our lives, and there are times when we have more challenges or obstacles to climb over to succeed. Barton and I use writing and coaching to work towards our long-term goals. Creative expression or writing allows the space to dream, imagine and play. Using a coach as a resource, we are also given ways to break through our own limiting beliefs preventing us from getting to where we need. How can you work on your long-term dreams and goals?
Here are some simple steps:
• Allow yourself to dream.
• Reminders are important. Whether it’s a vision board or quote notes, surround yourself with reminders of your goals and dreams.
• The “P” word- perseverance.
• Create a support system or find a mentor to cheer you on, create accountability systems and help you overcome obstacles.
• This week, challenge yourself to take one action item toward a long-term dream.

Adoption itself is a long process; it may be several years before we’re able to bring a child in our home. But believing and working toward our dream gives us something to look forward to!

Family For Us Celebrating National Adoption Month and Supporting Barton and Megan Cutter on their adoption journey
The Chris Hendricks Band Benefit Concert
Friday, November 5, 2010
7:00-9:00pm
Amazingtones Falls River Music
1141 Falls River Avenue, 110
Raleigh, NC 27614 (Durant Road and Falls River Avenue)
$10 at the door. More info call 919-389-6423. 
The Chris Hendricks Band, which will be headlining the event has gained growing acclaim as they have opened for Amy Grant tour dates over the summer, are finalists for Deep South’s Battle of the Bands and whose songs are being played during Raleigh Hurricane Hockey Games for the 2011-2012 season. To check out their music, visit www.chrishendricksmusic.com.

Please note that this is a personal fundraising event and for that reason, contributions cannot be deducted for tax purposes. 

Breaking Through the Shame of Infertility

February 11, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Adoption, Megan's Blogs, The Nitty-Gritty | Leave a comment
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Lover's Bliss in AZ.

 

Even before Barton and I were married, we had dreams of having children. We talked about it often, even named them. When we found out that we would not be able to have children naturally, the way we had envisioned, we both took it really hard and grieved in different ways.

Once we began to talk about different options that we were or were not considering, we were met with the long list of questions and opinions from others, family, friends. In each one, there was a sense of concern, shame and failure.

Compounding this sense of failure was that we were faced with questions of how we would manage with time, energy, financially, and support. Nearly every one of my friends were pregnant, but we were being told that we should not have a family because we would not be able to manage with Barton’s disability. Instead of looking at the missing pieces to find strategies on where & how fill in the holes, I did the worst thing I could have done- I believed them.

I completely shut down, and so did Barton. I threw myself into trying to be it all in everything else – in my work, getting Barton up in the morning, getting home very late at night, housework. Once Barton even told me he never wanted to be a father, completely denying the dreams we shared together when we first met.

Recently, I have found a small contingent of women who have been through similar experiences or conceived using other techniques. Whether it was through medical technology or adoption, many stories began to seep out. It wasn’t until I began meeting other women who shared these experiences that I stopped believing in the illusions that surrounded the beliefs about our own family.

Yesterday,  I had lunch with a mother of two, and we talked about our paths. Afterwards, I realized how deep the sense of shame and failure had been, how detrimental it had been to cut myself off. How different and free I felt to even speak about our dreams, our visions, our challenges. I could ask the questions I was afraid to ask others because I knew the response I would get. I found myself believing again, and dreaming again.

Barton & I don’t know when or how it will work out. Whether we are successful at creating a family through medical advances, adoption, foster care or even in volunteering at a school or daycare. Slowly, we are shedding the shame and failure to find the vision and love we once had, and how important expanding our family is, to both of us.

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It Takes a Village

January 19, 2010 at 4:43 am | Posted in Adoption, Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story | Leave a comment
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Yesterday after church, I had a coffee with our neighbors from when we were living in an apartment, just after we moved to Raleigh, NC. We just recently began attending this church because it is within walking distance from our house, has great accessibility, and has been so open and welcoming.

Barton and I have always known that having a family was an important part of our vision together. While we don’t know the exact timeline or method (medical, adoption, foster care), in the end, it doesn’t matter. It has been a long journey coming to an understanding of not being able to have children naturally, right away. We each processed the loss of the natural process and looked at what we felt comfortable/uncomfortable with as we moved forward. In a sense, it was very much like after my mother’s death. It put us in this place that was different and unspeakable to others. How do you even explain all of the spiritual, biological, relationship questions that we began to wade through. How difficult when we heard comments such as why would you want to take care of another woman’s child or you know you can’t give a child back. It has taken a long time to block all of the voices out and trust the path we are on.

Fishing with the Zaytowns

Barton fishing with our neighbors.

 

My neighbor talked about the need for community support, no matter what the situation. That we all need to rely on those around us for support whether it’s carpool, driving kids to school or a night off to themselves.

While many of our friends had concerns over how we would handle expanding our family, no one talked about the solutions. This last year, we’ve taken a good look at the missing pieces, what we can do ourselves to actively fill in the holes and where we need help. This last year, we’ve made drastic changes that hopefully will help us in sustaining a family later on down the road. These changes haven’t been easy, as it has meant that I spend time away from close friends outside of Raleigh to concentrate on building relationships closer to where we are.

It’s a very humbling experience to admit that we can’t do everything ourselves. Between Barton’s fire of independence and my stubbornness (in Alabama I was nicknamed Rhino at training), it’s hard for us to say we can’t do it all on our own.

Adaptive equipment

A wheelchair stroller.

We’ve identified three areas that we need assistance with when we expand our family: an accessible vehicle, adaptable devices for taking care of a child (for example an attachment for a baby carriage to a wheelchair), and additional assistance for Barton and myself.

For 2010, we’ve organized Family For Us Fundraisers, community fundraisers that we hope will strengthen our relationship to our community, and let’s face it, are fun! On February 9, 2010, we are having a Pizza Party at Zpizza at their Raleigh location. We’ll be there from 5-8pm. Mention Family for US and 20% of your total bill will be donated.

In addition, the first NCWN open Mic on February 26th will support Family For Us as well. Join us from 7:30-9:30pm at Calm & Sense in Raleigh.

As Barton and I think about expanding our family, we are also looking at ways to strengthen our relationship to the community. If Barton and I rely on the community for support, than it is our commitment to support events, activities and businesses within our local community as well.

Visit our website for more information & updates!

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When is it Time to Ask for Backup

December 7, 2009 at 3:24 am | Posted in Adoption, Barton's Blogs, Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story | Leave a comment
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Barton and Megan on their 2nd Anniversary.

 

I don’t know about you, but as small business owners, we are both determined, adventurous and persistent. We tend to take it all on, and do it ourselves. But at what point does doing it ourselves limit us from reaching our goals? It’s taken us a while, and we’re still learning how to ask for help.

It’s no secret that we want to have a child, and in order to provide the best care that we can, we will need some additional support. It took time for us to process and decide which avenues we should pursue in having a child. In addition, we wanted to make sure that as an inter-ability couple, we would have the tools necessary for us to be able to raise a child to the best of our ability. We spent almost a year trying to figure out how to find the support in a way that reflected both of our values.

We thought about taking all of it on ourselves, but realized this would not give us results. When a few fundraising opportunities didn’t work out, we started to look at our values, and how we could best include them in meeting our goals. Community is the focus of our vision. It is very important to us to support our community, and more than once we have needed our neighbors’help.

The type of resources we are raising funds for include an accessible vehicle, additional assistance for both Megan and Barton, assistive technology devices for Barton such as a baby carrier that attaches to a wheelchair.

It’s really important for us to provide an exchange, so over the next year, we’ll be doing a couple of community fundraisers. The first one is for the holidays. We are selling Christmas cards (Megan’s photography and Barton’s haiku) and selling key lime pies (for the Triangle Area). Check out how you can become involved at http://cuttersword.com/holiday-cards-and-more.html.

Check back for more community events throughout the year!


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Life Insurance is Hazardous to Your Health, Megan’s Version

June 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Adoption, Ramblings, Wild Stories You Just Wouldn't Believe | Leave a comment
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I told this story the other day, and it’s just too funny to keep to ourselves. So a couple of years ago when we first started to call different adoption agencies, just to even inquire about their adoption process and requirements, one of the first questions we were asked was if we both had life insurance. We knew we needed to get all of our paperwork in order since adoption is a legalized process, so we began researching life insurance for both Barton and I. Our agent spent a long time researching the best options for us at the most economical fees.

Not only do you fill out the application, but a nurse also comes to your house to get a medical history, accurate height/weight, blood sample, etc. While the volunteers that do this are not nurse practitioners, they have been trained- for the standard family anyway. Barton and I are anything but standard.

So when the woman came over, she was overly concerned about Barton standing on the scale. “Is he okay?” she asked about four times in a row in a trilly patronizing voice. You know me- I just threw Barton up on the scale, so she could read the numbers off.

Now you have to realize that Barton’s old chair had three speeds- walking, running and blast through the house protect the family from bad guys speed. (His new one has two speeds of which he named Peace & Combat).

The nurse kneeled down to read the scale and rested her hand on Barton’s wheelchair. As she stood up, the volunteer, not only flipped the switch to turn on the chair, but changed the speed to torpedo and pushed the joystick forward, blasting the chair into the refrigerator.
Now Barton did let out a yell, of which she thought he was hurt, but it was actually to stop her because he was concerned she would move it again, over us, and we’d all be in trouble. Only the refrigerator received a slight bruise, and believe it or not, nothing even fell off the top.

I have never seen anyone get so red in the face, apologize so many times and run out of our house so fast- it was definitely a Shrek moment.

Bless her little heart, she called two or three times just to make sure we were okay, and also to tell us we could go to a general practitioner for the rest of Barton’s exam. Now I did feel little bad because we had a good laugh over it, many times over.

If this is the beginning of our journey, the rest will definitely be an adventure.

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Life Insurance is Hazardous to Your Health, Barton’s Version

June 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Adoption, Ramblings, Wild Stories You Just Wouldn't Believe | Leave a comment
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Pardon me, for having what some might consider high expectations, however, when we were told that we were going to receive from a nurse to do our medical history and some basic health tests to apply for life insurance, I assumed that this “nurse” would be a well-qualified medical professional. After all, all of the nursing programs I had ever heard of gave people a minimum of Masters or an equivalent there of. How was I to know that the nurse that we were to receive a visit from was the medical equivalent of a rental cop.

I assumed for most of her visit that she had much more experience, and therefore understanding then in fact was the case. When we sat down to the medical history, everything seemed quite normal. She even understood me without Megan’s interpretation for most of the conversation. This only fermented my belief in her professionalism. The first time, however, that something was amiss was when, after pulling out the scale and asking the best way to take my height and weight. She gave Megan a questioning look, almost as though there was some disbelief that I could safely get out of my chair.

As I stood up on the scale, I thought I had said to be careful of the controls or perhaps I didn’t, making an assumption that a nurse would have been around wheelchairs before and thus would know that the joystick makes the contraption move. Was this too bold of an assumption? I regret to say that it was, and no sooner than she bent down to read the scale, did my wheelchair go careening full speed ahead into the refrigerator as she attempted to use the joystick to stabilize herself. As Megan said, unsure that she was aware of the potential to severely hurt herself, I let out a full body yell trying to stop her in her tracks, which only rattled her more.

Once we were recollected, and I was back in my chair, I knew that she had yet to draw my blood. As she began to pack the files of records, I assumed that she was getting ready to take the blood samples, so I suggested the best way for her to do this. But this only got a blank stare.

A couple seconds later, and she registered what I had said and looked at me like I was nuts. And when her shock wore off, she was getting frantic and said, “I have to go” about five times in twenty seconds. She threw her bag over her shoulders and tore frantically through the front door never to be seen by us again.

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Adoption Talk

June 14, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment
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Megan Playing in Cambridge.

Megan Playing in Cambridge.

When we were in Alabama, we started talking with a relative about our wishes to adopt, and this was the first conversation I had had where I wasn’t either embarrassed or felt like we had to justify ourselves. Adopting a baby is miraculous as having a baby biologically. Since then, we have been more open about adoption and bringing our community into the excitement of the adoption process, which can be quite a long process.

 

When my friends and co-workers first met Barton, they naturally assumed we couldn’t have children or be intimate (we’ll write a blog about those questions later). When we first started talking about adoption, many people questioned how we would manage and were very discouraging. For a long time, I believed them; shutting out the visions and dreams we had as a growing family. I see Barton just as excited as I am, and that makes me know that we must trust and follow our dreams no matter what others say.

We had to take a look at the support systems we were missing and figure out how to become connected with our local community, as we will need to use more local businesses and organizations to help us raise a child into an adult.

We are brainstorming about some local community fundraising events over the next year, so stay tuned as we invite our community into our adoption process!

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Adopting and Loving It

June 14, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment
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Barton Playing with Family at Adam's Wedding.

Barton Playing with Family at Adam's Wedding.

When Megan and I first talked about having children, I never really expected a pregnancy that would last anywhere between one and five years, but increasingly, this is how I am beginning to look at decision to adopt. By looking at it as though we are in the early stages of a pregnancy, there is a greater sense that the process has already begun and that we are not simply waiting for the right time to adopt. It also creates a sense of inevitability, which greatly increases my excitement level. I can’t wait to be a dad, and while I know that this adventure will get much more exciting it’s important to me to enjoy the simple beginnings of the journey and no overlook where we are now because of my excitement about what the future will hold.

As Megan said, our community needs to be an integral component, not only during the adoption process but as we raise our child into their adulthood. The possibilities that I see before us for getting involved in our community and involving the community in the adoption and our child’s life are innumerable and I would like to invite you to join us as we discuss many of these possibilities over the coming months.

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