Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Bit of Kismet

My next guest blogger is Stephanie, who is mom to handsome Grey and adorable Ally.  Stephanie and I went to high school together and then went our separate ways after we graduated.  We reconnected through Facebook a few years ago and she was one of the first people that I reached out to when we started thinking about adoption. I hadn't really talked to her in years and she was so open and happy to share her adoption experience with me.  She has guided me along the way, given me support and we've built a new friendship after all these years. Life is always full of surprises.  Here's Stephanie's story...

When I was in my mid-twenties, I had a liver and kidney transplant. When I found out how sick I was and that I would need these transplants, my first and topmost concern was whether or not I would ever be a mother.  Fast forward six years later, and I was holding our sweet baby boy in my arms after an amazingly easy (i.e. no morning sickness, great energy….) high risk pregnancy. About ten months later as I emerged from the sleep deprived newborn state, I started thinking how nice it would be for Grey to have a brother or sister. Brad and I talked about another pregnancy, and neither of us was completely enthralled with the idea. There just seemed too much at stake this time with the pregnancy. Before it was just Brad to worry about if something happened, but now we had this sweet little boy to think about and the risk just seemed too high if something were to happen. We had discussed adoption on and off since we were married but never very seriously.
Then came a serendipitous visit to Chick-fil-A. Grey and I were enjoying a lunch when Grey noticed a cute little guy at the next table. As they babbled back and forth, his mom and I struck up a conversation. He had just come home from Guatemala. She told me his story and the story of how they became a family. It was like a lightning bolt had struck. I really believe it was a bit of Chick-fil-A kismet.  I called Brad immediately and told him we should try to adopt from Guatemala. Being the easing going guy Brad is (the yin to my yang), and I am simplifying a bit, but in effect he said, “Let’s do it.” I went straight home and found an adoption seminar on Guatemala offered by a local agency that same week. And we were off. A year and a half later, and we were in Guatemala holding our sweet baby girl in our arms. Okay, so that makes the process sound really smooth and simple. In reality, the pregnancy and pitocin-induced with no pain meds labor and delivery with Greyson was a walk in the park in comparison.  In retrospect, the process from start to finish was not long relatively speaking, but it was the longest year and a half of our lives but oh so worth it.

Now, since I have an audience, let me step onto my soapbox for a moment. Please, please, I beg you to refrain from telling me how lucky Ally is to have been adopted into the United States. Ally being in the United States does not bring a guarantee of happiness. Saying so denigrates her birth country. I have personally witnessed an abundance of happiness and joy in developing countries, including Guatemala. It is a true joy that comes straight from the heart and not from their circumstances. It is not tied to material acquisitions and possessions. I would hope, and I think that such statements do not come from a bad place in someone’s heart, but it is very paternalistic and condescending to her and to Guatemala. If anything, the happiness I have seen in Guatemala and other developing countries is more widespread and authentic than happiness here in the United States. I would be lying if I did not say that there are times when I wonder if we have done right by her, if international adoption is the right thing. There are many, including organizations such as UNICEF, who oppose international adoption and taking children away from their birth country. All I know for certain is that when I look at Ally, especially at night when I am tucking her in, I feel overwhelmed with love and in awe that she is my daughter and how lucky I am. I promise to do my best by her including never forgetting Guatemala and trying to instill a strong connection to Guatemala in our family. 
Being a parent, whether by biology or adoption, is both worry-filled and wonder-full.  Jenn, thanks for letting me share.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beth's Story

For adoption awareness month, I asked two of my friends to be guest bloggers and share their adoption story. Up first is Beth, who was adopted as an infant.  Beth has been a mentor to Marlon and I from the beginning.  Over cocktails a long time ago, she said "have you considered adoption, because I was adopted."  She has answered countless questions for us.  I know not every adoption story is the same, but talking to Beth really changed things for me. Thank you, Beth.  Here's her story...

I have always known that I was adopted.  It was important to my parents that they be honest with us from a young age, so we would know our history.  My brother is 3 years older than me and does not have the same birth parents, although that distinction never enters my mind until people find out that we are adopted and usually ask if we are blood siblings.  I never mind answering questions about being adopted because it is a part of who I am and I view myself as very fortunate, so I am happy to share my story with others.

Sadly, my mother miscarried at nine months with twins, which resulted in her being unable to conceive again.  Both she and my father have told me that they had lengthy discussions about what to do after this tragedy.  They wondered if it was a sign from God that they should live a life without children.  That wasn’t what they truly desired in their hearts, so they contacted Catholic Social Services to inquire about adoption.  They adopted my brother in 1972 and I followed in 1975.  They have always said it was the best decision they have ever made.

I don’t know a lot about my birth parents.  Adoptions were closed in the year I was born, so it would take a court order and/or a private detective to obtain any significant information.  This is one thing that has bothered me about my adoption process.  For example, if you know there is a history of breast cancer in your family, it will assist you in making certain heath decisions.  I did explore this to a certain extent when I was having some health issues my freshman year of college.  After making a request to the State of Michigan, I did receive some very general information about my birth family, but not very much.  I should note that my parents were 100% supportive during this process and they had always told me they would help me explore anything about my birth parents if I so desired.  Naturally, I was concerned about their feelings if I took them up on this offer, as I didn’t want to hurt them in any way.  That very offer and the complete support I received when I decided to delve into my background exemplifies the compassionate character of my parents. 

From the paperwork I received, I know that my birth mother was 16 years old when she had me and it didn’t sound as if she and my birth father were seriously dating, although he was notified of the birth.  The biggest question that I am asked by people is whether or not I have any interest in finding my birth parents.  I have gone through phases in my life where I have contemplated this and must admit that I have a stronger interest in my birth mother than my birth father, mainly because she carried me, delivered me, and then had to give me away.  It must have been an incredibly difficult decision for her.  In addition to inquiring about my health history, the main reason I would want to meet her is simply to thank her and tell her that I believe she made the right decision.  There is something to be said about the nature versus nurture theory.  There are definitely traits that I believe I was born with and those that came with my family upbringing and the values that I was taught.  I have to imagine my birth mother is an emotional person like me and that she often wonders if I ended up in the right family.  I am sure she would be grateful to know that she fulfilled the hearts and dreams of my parents and blessed my life by placing me with my family. 

I have also heard some people that are contemplating adoption express their fear in whether their adopted children will love them in the same way a child loves their biological parents and vice-versa.  I truly don’t believe there is any difference.  For me, my parents are those people that gave me nourishment as an infant, wiped my tomboy scraped knees when I was constantly falling as I tried to keep up with my brother, taking me on memorable vacations to Cedar Point, Canada and Mackinaw Island, counseling me at all hours of the night when I would call crying because I had my heart broken by a boy, and more instances that I can even begin to list in this blog.  They are the ones who have always provided me with unconditional love…even when I know I severely tested their patienceJ  They gave me financial and emotional support to pursue all of my dreams and shaped me into the person that I am today.  I was brought up in a loving home where there were constant hugs, laughs, endless support and the words “I love you” were frequently spoken.  My birth parents gave me life, but my Mom and Dad are my parents.

Personally, I have never had challenges as an adopted child in terms of feeling abandoned or unwanted.  I believe that my birth mother couldn’t handle being a mother at such a young age and she gave me up praying that my family would love and nurture me into healthy and happy person.  Her prayers were answered.  My advice for parents of adopted children is to be honest with them.  There is absolutely no shame in being adopted.  When parents hide it from kids and they find out about it later on in life, they are led to feel that there must be some type of shame, otherwise it wouldn’t have been kept as a secret.  Kids should know where they come from and how adopted parents endure months and sometimes years of waiting for their child/children, while never giving up hope that their family will come to them when the time was right.  If your child is curious and wants to know more, support them with that effort.  I promise it is not a negative reflection upon you as parents. 

Apparently, I was often eager to point to my Mom and tell people, “I didn’t come from my Mommy’s belly.”  As a child, I loved attention and telling people this fact was just another way for me to get it.  My brother, on the other hand was shy and my Mom said he hated it when I would randomly make these announcements.  On the topic of a mommy’s belly, I want to share a quote about adoption that exemplifies what my Mom experienced and Jenn is surely feeling as she waits for her little one.

“Adoption is when a child grew in its Mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.” 

When I met Jenn and Marlon many years ago and we began talking about adoption, I was happy to give them my perspective and offer my support.  I also knew they would be wonderful parents.  They have been a solid couple from the moment they met at a young age and have a very strong and happy marriage.  I have no doubt that they will be incredibly responsible, loving, and fun parents.  This child will certainly be lucky in the same way I have been blessed. 

Best wishes to Jenn and Marlon!  I can’t wait to meet your little baby once he/she finally enters this world and makes his/her way to your arms and hearts J  Lots of Love, Beth

Monday, November 26, 2012

Drum Roll, Please! Unveiling our NEW Profile Book

The new profile book is done! The book is D-O-N-E!  We are so excited to share with you our new profile book. Click here to take a look!

Way back in June, we decided that we wanted to re-do our profile book. Ya know, freshen it up a bit.  Copies of this book is sent to all of our area adoption agency offices. This is what they show expectant mothers considering adoption.  We sat in the park on the 4th of July brainstorming on the book. We actually ran into one of my co-workers and his wife, who looked curiously at us as we sat on a park bench with our notebooks with lists and diagrams, deep in thought.

We wrote and wrote for over a month; we searched for the best new pictures of us.  We had a few disagreements and extra hugs. The best two editors in NYC reviewed our work. We submitted the book to our adoption agency for approval.  We just knew they were going to come back and say, "WOW, this is the best book we have ever seen."  Two weeks later, we got the book back completely marked up with marker.  Our hearts sank.  The note on the back said, we were "too verbose." WTH?  Us, too wordy?  Our concept for the new book was to tell stories about our lives together instead of just a boring generic rundown.  But they know best, right?  Most of the stories - marked out. The personal anecdotes - marked out. Honestly, I had to put the project aside for a few weeks and lick my wounds.

Finally, we got back to work. Two months after missing my self-inflicted deadline, we are printing this sucker with  We really think the book turned out great. It represents who we are as a couple and who we want to be as a family.  We hope someone falls in love with us soon.

So without further ado, please click here to look at our new book!

Special thanks to Molly and Maria for their expert editing, to Alex, Diane and Rochelle for their eagle eye proofing and to Stephanie for taking about 50% of the photos in our book.  You guys rock!  Along with our gratitude, you are all getting a well-deserved puzzle piece with your name on it.  Thank you so much for taking your time to help us.
By the way, all those full-length stories are not going to waste. We will soon unveil the Marlon and Jennifer Adoption website. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I count my blessings throughout the year, but I wanted you to know I was especially thankful for you - family, friends - new and old and those who have cheered us along the way.  I cannot tell you want it means to have people near and far sending us words of encouragement.  So, thank you.

We are wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Fundraiser! NYR Organic

I hadn't even closed the Tupperware party fundraiser, when Leigh Ann, a consultant for NYR Organic, contacted me about doing another fundraiser for us.  I am continually amazed at how supportive and how much people want to help Marlon and I adopt.  At first, I was a little hesistant about doing another fundraiser so soon after the Tupperware party. I really didn't want us to seem like we always have our hand out.  Marlon and I have a pretty solid budget and savings plan that we stick too, but these fundraisers really do help a lot.  All the money we raise through the blog and fundraisers goes into a separate account not to be touched until we get "the call". We are so appreciative of everyone buying this or that to support our adoption.

So after talking with Leigh Ann and a few close friends, we decided that NYR Organic is really awesome stuff and totally different than Tupperware. Let's have another fundraiser!  Maybe you weren't so into the Tupperware and will really love this.  Plus, the holidays are here and maybe you need a special gift for someone.  

NYR Organic is an eco-friendly, organic line of skin care products from England.  They even have stuff for the guys and babies. The products smell amazing; I have samples if you want to test something before you buy.

You can order online, pay by credit card and have items shipped directly to you. Click on the "Shop" link at the top of the website. Or if you want to save on the shipping, I can place one group order. Just tell me what you want and give me a check or cash for your order. All orders placed by December 13th will be delivered in time for the holidays.  30% - 45% of the product sale is donated to our adoption fund.

If you are interested in ordering, please go to and click on the "Shop" link.  Feel free to email me with any questions.  By all means, share the link!

We cannot thank you enough for being our constant cheerleader through the wait.  This little one has no idea how much they are already loved.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Now You Know - Interesting Adoption Statistics

To continue with the National Adoption Awareness month, here are some interesting statistics about adoption.  Now you know.

Love this onesie? Click here.

  • Approximately 7 millions Americans are adopted persons

  • It is estimated that 140,000 children are adopted by American families each year
    • Half of these children are adopted by individual not related to the child and the other half are adopted by relatives such as grandparents or a stepparent.

  • The cost of a domestic adoption is between $20,000 to $40,000. An international adoption could cost anywhere between $20,000 to $60,000. However, adoptions through foster care or for a special needs child can cost very little or at no cost.

  • $12, 650 is the maximum tax credit the federal government now gives per adoption. This tax credit is due to expire at the end of 2012. If the credit is not renewed, the credit will be reduced to $6,000 and only open to families adopting children with special needs.

  • The average adoption is completed within two years. 

  • Although a favorite in the media, birthparents almost never return to try to reclaim the baby after they relinquish parental rights.

  • More than 90% of Americans support adoption, and 64% report a personal connection to adoption. 

The Adoption Guide has a free booklet available for download.  I found it to be an invaluable wealth of information when we began researching adoption.

Adoption Factbook V

Monday, November 12, 2012

Road to Adoption

November is Adoption Awareness month. I thought I would start the "awareness" by telling you why we decided to adopt. The short story is bad eggs combined with endometriosis.  Marlon hates when I say, "bad eggs". The long story story is...

We were married young and some people assumed we already had a bun in the oven, but no, we were just in love.  We spent most of the first 10 years of our marriage not really thinking about having kids. We just assumed we would one day. We travelled, had fun with friends and enjoyed being together.  We'd start to try to have a family when we were 30.  

Well, that didn't work out.  After two surgeries and years at the fertility clinic, it was time to make a decision.  Anyone that has endured infertility treatments knows how daunting it is.  The appointments, the shots, the anticipation and the depression for years can kill the most positive person's outlook.  We didn't really talk about it with our friends and family.  In some ways, it felt shameful and way to bring down the room.  So we'd mention things casually, while crying at night. As the years passed, friends and family had kids and it became more difficult to to keep that happy face charade.

I started thinking a lot about adoption, long before Marlon did. I talked to our doctor about other options we had to have a baby. Frankly, I was emotionally and physically drained from the infertility process. There are options - surrogacy, donated eggs, embryo adoption and adoption. I am not much of a gambler and I knew I wanted a sure thing - adoption.  Pregnancy is a delicate progress (though some people can can just pop those babies out) and for me I didn't want to take the risk of going through all that emotion and expense and a baby might not be the end result.  I was tired of the roller coaster and with adoption, I knew the end result.  Marlon and I started talking about adoption.  It took a long time from talking about it to actually signing with an agency.  It may sound weird, but it is important to take some time to grieve the biological children that you'll never have and open your heart to adopting.

After a lot of reflection and research, adoption seemed like a natural fit for us. We've never been very conventional, so why start now? Most adoption agencies have free educational seminars, we attended every one in NYC.  We went with our gut when choosing an agency.  

Marlon and I have now been waiting for a little over a year for a newborn.  Some people find the wait incredibly difficult, but I feel like the wait is giving me chance to better understand adoption. Sometimes the wait gets to me, but I truly believe when it's meant to be, it will be.  It's easy to face the tough days together.

Why did we choose adoption?  We want to have a family. We want to be mom and dad.  Adopting a child, our child, will fulfill this longing.  This kid is already loved so much. We are just waiting for our baby to get here.  For us, it is a no brainer. Through the looking glass, we go.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November is Adoption Awareness Month

November is Adoption Awareness Month.  I have some blog posts planned, but I thought I'd ask what YOU would like to know about adoption.  Comment or email me, all questions welcome.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Time to VOTE!!!

I encourage each and every one of you to vote today.  It's important and it matters.  

I hope in the next four years that we can all get along better and put all this negativity aside. This country is great; I think we can all agree on that.

If you are still undecided, try taking this quiz from

I get a great daily email from Need 2 Know. Follows is a rundown they did of both candidates. Follow Need 2 Know on Twitter @needtoknowny.

Election Day is tomorrow. Before you vote, here's what you 'Need 2 Know'... 


The Democratic incumbent has passed landmark health care reform, signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, supported the auto bailout, helped eliminate 9/11 architect Osama bin Laden, but has struggled to turn the economy around. MORE


The Republican challenger served as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007. He passed landmark Obamacare-style healthcare legislation for the state, cut spending, raised fees and modified the tax code to close the budget deficit. In 1984 Romney founded investment company Bain Capital, which helped make him a multimillionaire. In 1999 he became president of the troubled Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, helped turn the event around and make it successful. MORE 

Obama: Would repeal Bush tax cuts on individual incomes above $200,000 and raise taxes on wealthy households. Supports lower taxes on manufacturing. Favors stimulus spending and tax cuts for middle class. 

Romney: Favors making Bush tax cuts permanent and lowering corporate tax rate to 25% to encourage business. He's pushing an "across-the-board 20% cut" for everyone. Wants to eliminate the estate tax. Hasn't said how he'd make up the lost revenue.

Obama: Supports the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship for children brought into the country illegally. In June Obama said his administration would grant temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16 and who have no criminal record. Has deported a record number of illegal immigrants.

Romney: Opposes the DREAM Act. Supports building a border fence. He does, however, support conferring citizenship onto military veterans.

Obama: Set a timetable to have U.S. troops out by 2014.

Romney: Similar view as Obama but says the President should not have made public the timeline for withdrawing troops. 

Both candidates support the use of unmanned drone strikes on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Obama: Would engage in direct diplomacy and tighten economic sanctions. Is willing to consider military options.

Romney: Would tighten economic sanctions and would consider military options.

Obama: Has called for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders but has not significantly advanced the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Obama has a noticeably cool relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but both administrations say U.S.-Israel relations are strong. U.S. gave record military aid to Israel this year.

Romney: Publicly supports a two-state solution to be negotiated by the Israelis and Palestinians. In a secret videotape at a private fundraiser, Romney said "The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace... so you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability."

Obama: Achieved increases in fuel economy standards that will save money at the pump but could raise the cost of new vehicles. Achieved first-ever regulations on certain gases blamed for global warming. Spent heavily on green energy. Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions.

Romney: Pledges U.S. will become independent of energy sources outside of North America by 2020, by more aggressively exploring domestic oil sources. Would approve Keystone pipeline from Canada. Says green power isn't viable yet and the causes of climate change are unproven.

Obama: Supports same-sex marriage and the permitting of gays to serve openly in the military.
Romney: Opposes same-sex marriage, but supported legislation to ban anti-gay employer discrimination.

Obama: Supports Roe v. Wade; criticized Supreme Court decision that upheld ban on partial-birth abortions.

Romney: Opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk to a woman's life. Previously supported abortion access; now says state law should guide abortion access and Roe v. Wade should be overturned by Supreme Court. 

Obama: New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times
Romney: Daily NewsNew York PostNewsday

Need 2 Know Sources & More Information: ABC NewsDaily News

And that’s what you "Need 2 Know" before you vote...

Whoever wins, I will respect the office of the presidency. My parents taught me that. Also, I'll be happy election season OVER, though I'll miss tweeting during the debates. That was fun! Happy Election Day! Now GO VOTE!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I haven't had a chance to blog lately. This last week has been hectic.  It started with my mom becoming very ill to the point we thought she wasn't going to make it. Marlon and I rushed to Virginia to be with her and my family. Thankfully, she responded to a different treatment and recovered. She still has cancer and her time with us is limited, but she's home and doing fine.

As we headed to Virginia, Hurricane Sandy didn't even cross our minds.  The weekend approached and Virginia started hurricane preparations.  Since my mom was doing better, we decided Marlon should go home on Sunday and take care of things there. I would stay until my mom was released from the hospital and get her settled.  The storm came through Virginia on Sunday evening and other than flooding and minor damage, all was okay.  

Mom came home from the hospital on Monday and I was hoping to go home on Tuesday.  Sandy had other plans. The storm bore down on New York and New Jersey on Monday and left a path of destruction. I was stranded in Virgina and Marlon was home.  Our apartment made it through the storm without damage or loss of power, however, my friends and neighbors weren't so lucky.  It is just so terrible; I don't even know what to do.  We reached out to friends and family to check on them, we donated items, made a donation to the Red Cross and offered our home to anyone without power.  New Yorkers are resilient and I know we will be back stronger than ever, but in the meantime, if you could say a prayer for those affected and make a donation to the Red Cross, that would be wonderful.

My dad, who is the best dad ever, drove me all the way to New York on Wednesday because he knew I needed to get home.  Thanks Dad!  I returned to work on Thursday by ferry, which definitely broke up my boring commute.  Sure we have a little difficulty getting around while the city recovers, but I have nothing to complain about.  We are so fortunate.

View from the East River Ferry on my way to work.

If you'd like to make a donation to the Red Cross for disaster relief, click here.  You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 or NYCFUND to 50555 and donate $10. We appreciate your concern and prayers for us. Thank you.