Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Wine? Yes, Thank You.

Hi all! Remember when I told you about how our adoption classes said we should be enjoying our time as a couple while we wait for our little bundle of joy? Let me tell you about the fun wine tasting we went to recently.

First, a little back story... I work in the same building as the Sud de France showroom. Sud de France has these fabulous wine events every few weeks. The showroom is all glass and as I am leaving to go home at night (and sometimes at lunch) I see these people enjoying wine and appetizers and looking like they are having the best time. Jealous!

The hot topic of conversation around the office is how do we get in to these tastings? I am in charge of planning our office holiday party and one of my ideas was to have our very own wine tasting there. How awesome would that be? So I contacted Sud de France to see if this was something they could do for us. Unfortunately for us, their wine tastings are for media, restaurants, wine stores and charity events. Well shoot! I didn't talk it up to anyone so no one at my office ever knew what they could have had. The holiday party was perfectly fun minus wine. I thanked the woman that contacted me and I told her that I would continue to enviously peek in the windows at their events. She did mention to friend Sud de France on Facebook, they occasionally do have events open to the public.

Then out of the blue in January, she emailed me to invite me and a guest to a wine tasting the next week. I was so excited, you'd thought I'd won the lottery. Score! I immediately called Marlon to see if he wanted to go. Of course he did, who would turn down free wine? Our date night was set.

We arrived and checked in, they handed us a glass of wine. I was thrilled to be on the inside of the showroom looking out. I stood by the window so I could wave to my work peeps as they headed home. They all gave me a look like how did you get in there. Hehehe.

The speaker was Keith Beavers, owner of Alphabet City Wine Co. shop and In Vino Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar. He talked to us about his favorite AFFORDABLE wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Affordable wine that's good, now you have my attention! This guy was great - funny, knowledgeable and approachable. He told us about each wine, where it came from, the soil, type of grapes, what notes we are tasting, food pairings and the average cost of a bottle. We could take notes on our handout as we tasted each wine. Some I like better than others. After the presentation, they put out all the wines so we could get a full glass of our favorites (or of all of them) and mingle.

We tasted four wines plus the one that we had when we arrived.  Here's the run-down:

Arrival wine:
Domaine Paul Mas - Arrogant Frog Chardonnay under $10
I always say I hate Chardonnay, I avoid it like the plague. I was given a glass of wine when we arrived and I didn't ask what it was; I just drank it. I asked after the tasting and guess what, it was Chardonnay and it was good!

1st wine:
2010 Domaine Felines Jourdan, Picpoul De Pinet, $11-$15
Tasting notes: A refreshing, light and lively wine redolent of white flowers and verdant fruits, apples and pears, with hints of white pepper on a fresh structure that ends with lip-smacking acidity, keeping you coming back for more.
My remarks: Tart, crisp, good for seafood

2nd wine:
2009 Les Vignes De Bila-Haut Red, Cote Du Roussillon Village, $17
Tasting notes:  This wine is fleshy, well-structured with the warm and savage of soils of the Roussillon area.  To drink within 2 years.
My remarks:  Earthy. Not my favorite.

3rd wine:
2010 Clos Bagatelle Cuvee Tradition, Saint Chinian, $15
Tasting notes:  The nose offers dark fruits and berries with hints of guarrigue, which follow through on the palate on a lovely frame that is well-structured and refreshing.
My remarks:  Spicy, good. Lamb.

4th wine:
2007 Chateau Chenaie Conviction, Faugeres, $18
Tasting Notes: A rich full-bodied wine with great structure and a long finish with sweet red fruit and pepper flavors.
My remarks: Smooth and spicy.

It was a great night. I had lots of calls the next day asking me how I got in and what was it like.  I'll be a little less envious when I peek in the window at their next event.

♦ Help us adopt! Check out our puzzle fundraiser!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ta-da! We have a LOGO!

I am happy to announce that Two Cats and a Cradle now has its very own logo!  The logo was designed by my super talented hubby, Marlon!

I think it's absolutely purrfect.  So without further ado ~

Isn't that the cutest? 

I am thinking business cards, t-shirts, greeting cards.  The options are endless!  Thank you honey bunny. xo

♦ Help us adopt! Check out our puzzle fundraiser!
logo design by Marlon Deason ©2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Waiting Room

Everyone is so excited for us and always asking if we've heard anything.  The short answer is no, we are just waiting. We are preparing to have a child in our lives, just like any other expectant parents would. Instead of Lamaze and doctor's visits, we are taking adoption classes, infant CPR classes and child care classes. We have started to spend a little time in Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby just to take a look at all the stuff that's available for a baby.  All that I have to say is good grief there's a lot of baby stuff available. But we are taking notes of things we like just in case we have to buy things in a hurry. We are also cleaning out our second bedroom to make room for our new addition. You know, fun stuff to keep your mind off the wait without a due date.

People have asked us if we hear from the social worker when our profile is shown. The social worker asked us in the beginning how much contact we wanted from her. We know that our profile is being shown, but we really don't want to know every time an expectant mother looks at it. Personally, it would be too stressful and disappointing to hear about every time our profile is shown and we aren't selected. I would rather only hear if there is interest, that way I can go about being my blissful self. We were contacted a couple of months ago and asked if we wanted our profile shown to a particular mother. The circumstance was outside our preferences and our social worker wanted to see if we were interested. There were a lot of medical issues with the mother and two out of the three children she had already had disabilities. It was a tough decision, one that Marlon and I discussed at length. In the end, we decided not to have our profile shown to this mother. It just wasn't the right situation for us.

If the wait starts to get us antsy, we can always change our "look book" or our online profile. We have lots of options for those antsy times. You never know how long the wait will be, but I know that the child that is meant to be a part of our family will come at exactly the right time. In the meantime, keep your questions coming!

♦ Help us adopt! Check out our puzzle fundraiser!
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Isn't Your Mother's Era Adoption

Adopting a child has changed so much in the last 30, 20 or even 10 years.  Every adoption is different, but the process has been updated to meet modern day needs.  In a domestic adoption, you'll most likely meet your child's birth mother. Studies after studies have been done to find out what's best for the child and for the families.  The general consensus is that some contact with the birth parents is good for everyone.  You would have access to your child's family medical history, you would be able to help your child better understand why they were placed for adoption and answer any questions they might have and the birth parent would feel more confident that their child was well-loved and cared for and they made the right decision by choosing not to parent.  A closed adoption is so yesterday.

In a semi-open adoption, you would generally meet the expectant mother (and maybe the father) before adopting.  You would receive her (and the father's, if available) medical background.  You would agree to sending letters and pictures to the agency or third party, but would not exchange identifying information like last name, home address or personal email.  In some cases, you may have visits with the birth parents hosted by an adoption professional.  Every relationship is different and it is important set boundaries in the beginning.

In an open adoption,  you would meet the expectant mother (and maybe the father) before adopting.  You would have a personal relationship with the birth parent(s).  Identities of all parties would be shared and you would agree upon how often you would like to directly exchange letters, photos, emails, phone calls and visits and what role you want the birth parents to have in the child's life.  Let me make this clear though, an open adoption is not co-parenting.  As the parent you will need to make decisions about what is the best birth parent scenario for your child. A lot of websites describe the relationship with the birth parents as one like you might have with your in-laws.  Some people go on Disney cruises with their in-laws and others rarely speak. There is a lot of wiggle room in developing this relationship.

Both options have there pros and cons, but it all comes down to what is best for your family.  You will discuss your preferences with your social worker during the home study and they will match you with an expectant parent(s) that best fits what you are comfortable with.

We would prefer a semi-open adoption and see how the relationship naturally progresses.  We will consider an open adoption with the right birth parent(s). I have heard a number of times from people that the birth mother "gave up" their baby, so cut the cord already. Why do you need remain in contact with them? No matter how much you want to ignore that fact that your child has birth parents, they are there and they will always be there.  Without these people, you would not have your child.  It has taken me a long time to get to the conclusion that a relationship with the birth parents might be a good thing. I wrestle with  thoughts of will my child think of me as their real mom? What if the birth parent(s) overstep the boundaries that we agreed upon.  I am not going to lie, I have my insecurities about having birth parents in my life.  But I feel confident that if I always address my child's adoption in a positive way and be prepared for when questions come up, it will all work out.  Adoption is a special kind of family and we will sometimes have parenting issues that differ from biological families.  In the end, all parents want what is best for their child.

Me and my adorable nephew!  Maybe he'll have a cousin one day soon!
Help us adopt! Check out our puzzle fundraiser!

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year, New Fundraiser!

We want to thank each and every one of you that donated to us in 2011.  I am continually amazed and overwhelmed by your love and support.  Whether is was donating to receive a Christmas ornament, buying coffee, giving us a donation for our Christmas present, sending  us a check just because or clicking on the blog ads, we were able to raise about $1,000 from your generosity.  Words cannot express our gratitude.  Thank you.

It's a new year and new fundraiser.  Friends of ours who adopted last year had great success with a puzzle piece fundraiser. So we are going to borrow this idea.  Thanks to the Ks!  The concept is that you sponsor a puzzle piece by donating $5.  You may sponsor as many pieces as you'd like.  For each $5 donation, we will write your name on the back of the puzzle piece.  So if you donate $10, your name will go on two puzzle pieces.  Once all the pieces have been sponsored, we will put the puzzle together and frame it to hang in the baby's room.  Our child can look at the back of the puzzle anytime and know how much they are loved by you. 

It's a ambitious puzzle - 1,000 pieces.  To get the fundraiser going, we are going to write the names of people that have already sent us a check just because.

We chose a United States license plates map because we want to decorate the baby's room in a travel theme.  I know, a little unconventional but it will work for a girl or a boy.  We enjoy travel and I think it will be really cool.  We've already started looking at what we like and will need for when the baby arrives and asking parents what are the essentials.  Your advice or must have ideas are welcome!  You never know when we are going to get a call.  Very exciting!

If you are interested in sponsoring a puzzle piece, click on our Fundraising page. You can donate using paypal or by sending us check.  Again, thank you for your love, support and encouragement. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adoption costs HOW MUCH?

The new year is in full swing, back to work, back to eating normally, back to the routine. As much as I like the holidays, I am happy to be back to normal.  Well, the normal with those added New Year’s resolutions.  This year, I went bold.  The hubby and I are trying an all cash budget.  All the monthly bills are being paid automatically through the bank, but everything else like groceries, household stuff, personal maintenance, laundry, entertainment, meals out, gifts and all those little things that  you use your debit card for are being paid using cold, hard CASH.  We take out a budgeted amount of cash each week for these things and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  I have to say it is much harder than I thought.  This has put a sudden stop to my online shopping and I have put back a thing or two at the store because I just didn’t want it enough to use my weekly allowance.  We have big goals. If a little baby comes into our lives in 2012, it will be worth passing on a few dinners out or that extra little something that I didn't really need so we’ll be financially ready.

As I have said many times in this blog, newborn adoption is costly.  (Adoption of an older or special needs child does cost significantly less)  Our adoption will cost around $25,000 + legal fees.  You are probably wondering why does it cost so much, kids need homes and families want kids, right?  With our agency, to adopt a domestic infant the fee covers counseling and support of the expectant parents (which sometimes includes health care and basic needs like food and shelter allowable by law), adoption education classes, support groups, family assessment including the home study, national networking on our behalf, interim care, post-placement support, legal documentation, and finalization.  If you think about it, it all adds up.  We’ll pay our balance of $18,000 + our legal fees and the birth parent's legal fees at placement.  The next tax season after placement, we’ll  file our taxes and  receive an adoption tax credit to offset some of the cost.  My company also has a great $3,000 adoption benefit which will help when I take some time off for us to bond as a family. No maternity leave for adoptive parents.  I am estimating in the end, we’ll probably pay $14,000 out of pocket.  Ok, enough with the math.
So how do you come up with the money to adopt?  Some people have that kind of money saved and available. But if that is not the case, you'll need a financial plan.   First, take a look at your monthly expenses, cut the fat and come up with a budget to allow you to save as much as possible. Revisiting your budget every few months is a good idea to make sure you are staying on track and to make adjustments as needed.  That’s what we did, hence the 2012 cash budget. Second, you should research ways to get free money like adoption benefits from your company, adoption grants, or start a blog with ads.  Third, you need to decide what your borrowing options are to make up the difference of what you were not able to save.  That might mean refinancing your home if you are home owner or gasp! borrowing from your 401k or other retirement plan or looking into low interest credit cards or low interest loans for adoption. Or if you have a rich uncle, that might work too. Remember you will be getting a tax credit, so you’ll be able to pay back most of it in a short period of time.  Lastly, you need to fundraise, fundraise, fundraise! Fundraising is a common practice for adoptive parents.   People want to help.  People are excited for you.  Just Google adoption fundraising and tons of great ideas come up or ask other adoptive families what worked for them.  Also, there are companies that will help you fundraise like Just Love Coffee or Noonday Collections.  Check out our Fundraising page.  Your goal is definitely achievable.

Gigi Piggy will be fed well in 2012.
As 2012 rolls in, a new plan is in place for us.  Thanks for understanding if we sometimes decline your invitation out on the town or propose not exchanging gifts this year.  Quality time with you will be enough for us and we hope it will be enough for you too. 

If you do want to help us with our goal, stay tuned there will be new fundraisers coming soon.