Sunday, November 9, 2014

World Adoption Day

It's World Adoption Day! The first worldwide day to celebrate adoption! So posts your hands up smiley faces to celebrate and hashtag #WorldAdoptionDay Here's ours!

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Unveiling Our New Website

Three years have passed since we were first approved to adopt, so we thought it would be a good idea to freshen up our website and book with new photos and stories. I think expectant parents want to see what we look like now and for us to share our new adventures. My fear is meeting someone in person and they think, "you look nothing like your photos." Our website and book are mostly likely our first impression.

I have been working on our new adoption website and wanted it to look clean without a lot of distractions and to be easy to navigate. I found a great template on Weebly and scratched our Wordpress site. Honestly, Wordpress gave me a headache. Sorry to the Wordpress lovers. Weebly was really easy to use and I was able to achieve the look that we wanted. After I signed-up for the Weebly Starter plan, I was able to direct our domain name to the Weebly site. Directing the domain name took a few chats with tech support and waiting for the new site to load on the network. I know, I sound like a Weebly commercial. 

It was worth it, we are live!  Unveiling our new website...

Our Blogspot website has longer versions of our life for those that want to know more. Our new website links to those stories. We also updated the look of the Blogspot site to coordinate with the Weebly site. Sometimes, I amaze myself.

While I am on a roll, I updated this blog's look too. It's a little more modern and streamlined. You'll still be able to read all your favorite posts.

Our next project is updating our book that is shared with expectant parents thinking about adoption. It basically needs to be a combination of the two websites. Not too long, not too short and it should be personal. Guess what I did over Labor Day weekend?

We hope you love our new look! Please feel free to contact us or share our story.  Thank you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Say Cheese!

So, I told you all about the family reunion that we attended recently. While we were there, one of our cousins, Lisa is a photographer and had voluteered to photograph all the events at the reunion. Lisa had also offered family portrait sessions for a small fee. I jumped on that. We have been thinking about getting new photos done for our various adoption materials. The grounds of our hotel were beautiful, we brought nice clothes, so why not? Sign us up.

Lisa is based out of Iowa and her company is Lis Sto Photography. So if you live in the Greater Dubuque and Davenport areas of Iowa and need some gorgeous photos taken, please contact her. She does it all! Her photos are fun, fresh, full of energy and tell your story.

Here's the funny thing, we've never really had a professional photo session before. We were married when we were 20 and our awesome friend, Scott captured every moment beautifully. He was probably 18 at the time. Since then, friends have taken pictures of us, but we have never hired a photographer.

photo credit: Scott Nash

I admit that I was a bit nervous and hoping I wouldn't look too stiff.  So we went had a beer before our shoot. What?!! We needed to loosen up a little.  I tend to worry about the stupidest things. Lisa and her trusty "assistant", Mike were super cool, professional and put us a ease. Marlon had already geeked out with Mike about Star Wars and comics the day before, so we just had to stop them from talking long enough for us to take some photos. We told them they were for our adoption and how we would be using them, the only thing left was for us to smile!

The photos are awesome! We can't thank Lisa enough for our lovely photos and for sharing our story on her Facebook page. Who knows, maybe at the next reunion she can take our photos of a family of three.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Exploring My Roots

Marlon and I recently attended a national family reunion in Richmond, VA and I was elected president of the organization. I am truly honored.

My grandma and I started going to these reunions together in 2008. Grandma used to go with granddaddy before he passed away. I told her I'd go with her. It's a national reunion so you meet cousins from all over the United States. The first one that we attended was in Savannah, GA. Grandma and I flew to Savannah, shared a room and signed up for all the events. We got dressed up and I curled her hair in the bathroom before we went out. We came back to the hotel room in the evening with her cousins that she hadn't seen in 50 years and I would listen to them laugh and tell stories about when they were growing up. It's a memory that I will treasure the rest of my life. When we came back from the reunion and told the rest of the family that we had such a grand time, they all wanted to go to the next one in Nashville, TN. Fast forward to this year's reunion in Richmond, VA.

Bus Tour in Savannah, GA July 2008

Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN July 2011
The current president of the association called me earlier this year asking me if I wanted to be nominated as president for the next term. I was surprised. I've enjoyed attending the reunions and I am interested in history, but me? I asked what it involved and told her I would have to think about it. One of my hesitations was our adoption. Would I have time to be involved in the organization if we were to become matched and parents.  Would adoption seem weird to the members because the organization is based on preserving genealogy? I thought about it and really wanted to do it for my grandma. The association is very important to her and I want to honor her heritage and mine. I accepted the nomination and was voted in as president at the reunion in July. Grandma wasn't able to make the trip, she's 90 now, but I know she is very proud of me.

The reunion was a lot of fun. I was a nervous wreck for about half of it knowing I had to do the invocation and a speech.  After full days of tours, dinners and mingling, I was up half night the tweaking my speeches.  I am an open book and happily write my blog, but to actually have to talk in front of a group of people, cousins or not, is not my strong suit. If I commit to something, I commit 100%. So, I made my speeches.

Boarding for the Colonials and Cannonballs tour!
Richmond, VA July 2014
An interesting little note, our ancestor that first came to America had lost both of his parents by the age of 10. Before she passed away, his mother had asked a group of Quakers to take care of him. Sounds kind of like an adoption. We don't have a lot of details of what happened after his mother passed and when he came to America at around the age of 20, but someone was looking out for him.

Hanging out with Richard Henry Lee
and Thomas Jefferson. "Tom" and I are
both third presidents.
All the cousins were so welcoming and enthusiastic about me becoming president. Everyone was also very supportive of our adoption and asking how they could help us. I am truly fortunate.  I want to do a good job for them and the association. The past president has done an excellent job for 12 years, so I am filling big shoes.  It's exciting! I am planning the next reunion in three years in Charleston, SC. The board has great ideas on how to increase membership and bring the organization to the next generation.  I hope I can lead them all the way! I've made so many new, wonderful friends in the last month. I am truly honored to be a part of this family.

Frances/Emma "Belmead" and
originally the land of our ancestor.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Great Outdoors

To celebrate 4th of July weekend, we went camping! Honestly, I can't remember the last time we headed out into the great outdoors for a camping weekend. It's been at least a year, maybe two. We're "car campers" and I have a few requirements - 2 night maximum in a tent, a bathroom (port-a-potty is fine), an air mattress and of course, s'mores. A few months back, Marlon had found online an Icelandic Horse farm in Vermont, so I thought camping near the horse farm would be the perfect weekend! I booked a reservation at Allis State Park and we packed up the car and headed out early.

We made it to Vermont early enough to set up camp and make our 2 pm trail ride. I was so excited and nervous about riding a horse. I haven't rode a horse since I was about 12 at Triple R Ranch. Icelandic horses are a smaller breed and are known to be friendly and docile. On my release form, I marked novice as my experience and tried to act confident. It only took two tries to hop on the horse.  My horse was calm and patient with me. Marlon was a natural, of course. It was so much fun!

After the ride, we stopped at the grocery store for our campsite food. It was kind of late, so we ate dinner out instead of going back to camp to cook on the fire. We were pooped from the ride. Don't judge.

Before we left I posted on Facebook, "We're going camping, what I am forgetting?" I got a ton of great responses and brought everything that was suggested. You know what no one suggested? A jacket or sweatshirt. It was freezing that first night in the tent. Mountains in Vermont = chilly.  I had to resort to adding beach towels on top of my blanket to keep warm. The next morning, I said we have to go shopping. I'm too cold. We cooked breakfast over the fire, I sat with my blanket around me. We jumped in the car and went to TJ Maxx and Big Lots to buy a sweatshirt and a comforter. I know.... After our purchases, we went straight back to the campground to do camping things. We took a hike, climbed a fire tower, sat around our fire and ate everything.  It was nice to get away from the city and distractions and spend time together. I can't wait to go again! I think we have everything now.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Patience, rabbit

Waiting... it's a part of adoption that tests you. We've been waiting almost 3 years to adopt and much longer to have a family. When you are in constant state of waiting, life passes you by. All of the adoption professionals that we have spoken with along the way have encouraged us go out and have fun while we wait. "It's only going to be the two of you for a little while longer." That's easier said than done. Marlon and I have been together 23 years, so we feel like we've done it all as couple. I'm sure we haven't, but we're ready for the next chapter. The longer we wait, our thoughts or (excuses) for not doing things are we don't want to spend extra money to go out, don't want to be away in case someone calls or just felt like avoiding some outings. If you are not careful, the waiting can consume you.

Recently, we've made a conscious effort to start living life again. Personally, I was letting the wait get to me. This year, we went on a real vacation, went camping, rode horses, attended a family reunion, and started hanging out with friends again. I even accepted a position to be the president of our national family association. It has made a big difference. Staring at the phone all day or checking email a 100 times a day hoping to hear from someone, anyone is not healthy. I know I was beginning to drive myself crazy. If someone calls while we're out, we'll answer it. Marlon said, I feel like we're our normal selves again.

Adoption is not easy. Waiting is not easy. But I am 100% sure it will be worth it. My mom would always tell me when I was a kid, "patience, rabbit." I am trying.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Adoption Blues

I haven't written in awhile. Mostly because I don't want to share when I feel down about our adoption journey and a little because my character and ethics were questioned from previous posts. Thank you to those that quickly rose to my defense. Private adoption is very different to navigate versus one with an agency. I am doing my best to share our personal experience and learning along the way.

It's a hard time of year for those longing for a child. Mother's Day and Father's Day are especially hard to lump. Marlon was a dad last year and now he's not. It's been a year since we first thought we were going to be parents. I keep comparing last summer to this summer. We would be celebrating Ian and Ada's first birthday. I try to push those thoughts down, but it's hard to do. We bonded with them. They'll never remember us, but we'll never forget them.

I keep telling myself that we were there when they needed us and to move forward. We have, but I still think about them and what happened.  What have I learned from going through this loss? Sometimes I feel embarrassed for being so naive, for wanting something so badly that I didn't question why it wasn't right from the beginning. I relied on what we were told versus finding out for myself.  I didn't know and now I do. I get down in the dumps because it's been three years of waiting and we still don't have a child. I think, what's wrong with us? Last year we weren't really waiting, we were matched twice and then we had to take some time off.  My logical self understands this, but emotional self is weary. It's like holding your breath for years. Waiting for something to happen. The few times we've talked to expectant mothers recently, it hasn't resulted in anything. We've heard of situations, but it's out of our budget and we can't be considered. We're still paying off the disruption. I am trying to find a balance between hope and disappointment.

In meantime, we fill our time with keeping busy visiting family, camping and summer activities. If you are busy, your mind doesn't have a chance to drift to that negative space. My normal optimistic self pushes hard to overcome the adoption blues. Each day we put ourselves out there, letting anyone who will listen that we are hoping to adopt. Every adoption story is different.  Ours has had a few more twists and turns. I keep reminding myself that the last experience won't be the next experience and not to compare. We're still hanging in there waiting for our kid.

Comments or Questions? Email me -

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Iggy and Sid

For my birthday (in February), my boss gave me this really cool AquaFarm. How did she know I had been thinking about getting a fish?  Anyway, we had a busy few months, but I kept telling Marlon we needed to go and get our fish.

Well, we finally did it! We now have a male halfmoon betta named Iggy and a zebra snail named Sid. They are so happy in their AquaFarm tank! Edie and Twiggy are fascinated and jealous at the same time of the fish and snail. Every time we go to feed Iggy, Edie and Twiggy have to be right there twitching their tails. I feel bad, so I give them a treat after I finish feeding the fish. Like those girls don't get plenty of love.

Iggy the Male Halfmoon Betta

Can you find Sid the Snail?

Now, do I change the blog name to Two Cats, a Fish, a Snail and a Cradle????

Twiggy is curious.

Edie just wants to be in the picture.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Haters Gonna Hate

We've had an amazing outpouring of love and support since we started this adoption journey (again). Putting yourself out there can be challenging and humbling. With an agency, they are doing a lot of the behind the scenes work for you and they are in contact with organizations that work with expectant parents thinking about adoption. When you pursue private adoption, you're trying to connect with someone yourself. Which in turn, puts you in contact with those that are anti-adoption or have strong opinions about what you are doing. I am not even going to mention scammers at this point because we haven't encountered that yet. We were warned by adoption professionals that these people will seek you out. Even though we received more well wishes than I can count, those handful of hateful messages really hurt.

The Internet allows people to make comments to anyone without any repercussion. I can see why cyber-bullying is out of control. It removes the filter of social etiquette and allows people to say things that they would never say face-to-face. Cowards can leave ugly comments from the safety of their locked down accounts. You can't respond or even see what this person looks like. In about a week, we received comments like 'disrespectful', 'disgusting', 'whores', that we want to 'buy' a baby, that we are trying to 'steal' someone's baby, we can't afford to give a baby a good life since we have fundraising on our site and on and on. After the first couple of days, I broke down and cried. It's not in my character to want to publicly shame and defame anyone. Who are these hateful people? Their comments rattle me. I am not sure if their point is to convince us not to adopt or if they just enjoy making us feel bad. I think if they wanted to make a difference, they could channel that energy by doing something more productive.

My first instinct is to defend myself. To say in no way shape or form, do we want to buy or steal anyone's baby. In fact, I am in total agreement that adoption procedures need a major overhaul. There are some dishonest tactics being used and money is being made off of people's desperate desire to have a family. There are good eggs out there as well and we try to align ourselves with those professionals.  Yes, we have placed ads and set-up social media accounts. If we aren't with an agency, you have to put yourself out there. If you don't, there are hundreds of other families out there that will. If we meet someone that is thinking about adoption, I want to get to know them. I want them to get to know us. I want them to feel confident placing their child with us. We need to be a good fit with each other because we will share a bond and a relationship for the rest of our lives.  It's about making a connection. I can't really respond to these unkind comments though. Either these people have their accounts locked down or I'll expend a lot of negative energy having a Twitter war with a faceless stranger. So, I just absorb the negativity,  delete the comment, and block the person.

I reached out to my adoption support community for help on how to deal with this. They had some good advice and I felt better. There are so many raw emotions associated with adoption, you could easily unintentionally offend someone by simply not knowing. They reassured me that what we are doing isn't wrong. They helped me look at this with compassion. Maybe these people were hurt by adoption, had a bad experience or have some unresolved feelings. This is the only way they can express those feelings. I am sending out a big hug to those that are hurting. My perspective on adoption has evolved since we began this journey. I am still learning everyday. One thing that hasn't changed is that we are a nice couple who want to have a child to love.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Phase One

We rolled out phase one of our networking efforts this week. Since we are forgoing working with an agency this time, we have to actively look for an adoption situation ourselves. That means getting the word out by any means necessary.

We created a Facebook page for our adoption. Go LIKE and SHARE it. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. If you share it with your friends and they share it with their friends, we could potentially reach 1,000s or even 10,000s people in a short amount of time. You never know who will know someone thinking about adoption and then think of us.

Please Like and Share our Facebook page:

We also placed targeted ads on Facebook. You can set a budget and perimeters for the ads. You can use up to six different photos for the ad and we directed the click through to our personal website, It's interesting to see that one photo of us is more popular than another. That's really useful information.

Next, we went old-school and placed newspaper ads. One ad ran in our hometown newspaper in Virginia and the other two ads ran in small local papers in New York, but outside the NYC area. We'll run them for a week or two and see if we get any response.

We can't leave out Twitter! Introducing our new Twitter account, @MarlonJennAdopt. You know the deal, go follow us. I am not sure how I am going to keep up with three Facebook and Twitter accounts. I need to get a social media system or an intern.

We've been listed on the Adoptimist website for awhile. We switched to a Featured account (which you pay for) to see if we get more looks this way. We need to freshen this page up with some new pictures. Soon...

I feel like we are starting over, yet we've been doing this for almost three years. Waiting and (not)adopting has been such an emotional roller coaster. We want to be a regular family, gushing about first steps, snapping photos on the first day of school, going to dance recitals, soccer games or whatever they are into. You know, sharing laughs at the dinner table or tucking them in at night. As each day passes, I start to doubt if it will ever happen for us. Maybe expectant parents won't like us because we live in NYC or that we aren't super rich. I see other people's ads "promising" that the child will have a happy life and will go to the best schools. I don't think anyone can really make those kinds of promises. We can promise that we'll always parent the best we can, love them with all of our hearts and honor their adoption story. The rest is the surprise of life.

I am excited about the possibility of another match, but really nervous too. The disappointment and heartbreak of losing the twins was almost too much for us to bear. I keep thinking about the advice we got from an adoption conference that we attended - the next situation isn't the last situation, so keep an open mind and open heart. So with that, we move forward.

Look out for phase two!

If you or someone that you know is considering adoption, please don't hesitate to share our information or contact us. Click here for more information about building our family through adoption. Thank you for thinking of us.

Monday, March 31, 2014

We Are Ready!

It's been a busy year and so far I haven't had a lot of time to blog. I thought I would catch you up on our adoption plans. After a rough year, we took some time off from the adoption roller coaster to heal our hearts and figure out what we want in life. We still want to have a family, we still want to adopt. So we are gearing up for the next ride. 

This time, we pursuing an adoption with an attorney versus with an agency. What this basically means is that we will look for a match on our own and do a lot of the leg work ourselves. If you hear of a situation, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. After this past year, we think the best advocate for us is us. We have a great attorney and she'll hold our hand throughout this process.

Since we moved, left the agency and another year has passed, we had to do another homestudy. Ay yi yi. Please enter homestudy #3. We were able to use the information from the previous ones and just have this one updated. It was definitely less paperwork and hoops. Third time's a charm, right? We got this. The social worker came and visited our new apartment four days after we moved. Nothing was unpacked, boxes were under sheets because the painters were coming and it was my 40th birthday. Those of you sweating about the home visit, please don't. I cleaned up, bought some pastries and that was it. We chatted around the kitchen table for an hour, gave her a quick tour pointing out the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the fire extinguisher and briefly told her about our decorating plans. The painters rang the bell and she was gone. We spent the rest of the afternoon in City Island celebrating my birthday with renewed hope for the future.

Our homestudy was submitted to family court by our attorney to be approved by a judge. We had to be fingerprinted again for another background check. I've been fingerprinted quite a few times now to have never been in trouble with the law. I thought I was going to get into some trouble when I got a little huffy with an officer after waiting 1 1/2 hours to get through courthouse security only to be told he was the only one who could fingerprint us and didn't have someone to cover his post until all of the people got in the building. Really? I waited just like everyone else, everyone else who got through were off to take care of their business and we had to wait. I asked him if he thought he could call and get someone to cover his post for the 5 minutes it took to fingerprint us. It didn't seem hardly fair. He said, no and told us to wait against the wall. I was really trying to be patient. After about 15 minutes, someone did come to cover his post and the officer fingerprinted us. I thanked him for calling someone. We now have to wait for a judge to review our file and approve us. Again. At this point, we can start "advertising".

The other important piece to us being able to adopt again was filing for the adoption tax credit on our taxes this year. We spent ALL of our adoption savings on the attorney fees for the disrupted adoption. We didn't have the babies and we lost all of our money. Talk about a sock in the gut. I spoke to a tax attorney for advice and then decided to file our taxes claiming the credit using TurboTax. TurboTax was fairly easy to use. For a failed adoption, you skip the part where you enter the child's name and social security number. That part wasn't really clear, but we figured it out. I didn't need to submit any receipts, but I have them. I also have a letter from the adoption agency stating that it was a disrupted adoption. I also splurged for the audit protection just in case. We received a large refund within a month. We didn't get everything that we spent back, but our monetary loss is significantly less.

We're refreshed, armed with life experience and we are ready to be parents. WE ARE SO READY!

If you know someone interested in making an adoption plan, please share our website,

BREAKING NEWS! We were certified by family court and are officially approved to adopt!

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm Back!

Hello friends! I'm back from my blogging break. It has been a hectic six weeks.

We moved. 

I turned 40. 

We had our homestudy updated. 

We filed our taxes with the adoption tax credit and I did them myself!

We are leaving soon on our dream vacation to Scotland and Iceland to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

So I have lots to share with you. I'll resume my regular posting schedule next week, so stay tuned! I've missed you all!

Monday, January 27, 2014

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

I am taking a little break from blogging, I just don't have the time right now.

We are moving to Brooklyn in less than a week, so that involves packing, cleaning, tossing, scheduling and every moment of my spare time. 

Well, not every moment, we are also getting our homestudy updated. I just scheduled the social worker to come 4 DAYS after we move. I'll be serving her coffee out of a cardboard box. Good thing this is our third home visit,  I am not even worried about it.

Homestudy day also happens to be the day that I turn 4-0. I am starting this decade with big plans.

Sing it with me, "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"...

The Beastie Boys are so awesome.

I'll talk to you guys again when I am on the other side. My hubby refers to this move everyday as "the other side." The other side of what? I don't know. I'll let you know when I find out.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Full Speed Ahead

We never do anything easy the way, it's only the 9th day of January and I have so many things going on that my head is spinning.

First, we are in full packing mode. We are hoping to move next weekend, but we haven't found an apartment yet. We thought we found one, but the lease was questionable so we passed. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, but that's how you do things in NYC. Apartments go so fast that you really can't start looking until you are ready to move. Hopefully we will find something in Brooklyn on Sunday. We have until the end of the month to move. No pressure here.

We're packing, looking for an apartment AND my family will be in town visiting this weekend. I can't wait to see everyone and get some cuddle time with my niece and nephew. I warned them, they will be surrounded by boxes. Good thing I work well under time constraints because we are losing two prime packing days. We love you!

I also thought this is a good time to start the renewal process of our adoption homestudy. It's the new year, fresh start, why not? Ummm, because of things mentioned above. But I figured before we packed it, I could make copies of all of our documents, ask for our reference letters and get this moving. The way I see it, the social worker can start on the paperwork while we move, we'll unpack really fast and have her over for a visit. The hubby thinks I have lost my mind. This will be our third homestudy, so no sweat. I guess I want to enter my 40s (in three weeks) with the groundwork laid for a good start to a new decade. Or I have completely lost it.

Full speed ahead...