Here we go again……

August 24th, 2014

We have kept busy in the last year and a half!  In March 2013, Faith came into our lives.  In July  2013, she became “officially” ours.  We celebrated her first Halloween, her first Christmas & New Years, first Easter, and finally, her first Birthday!  Then, in May 2014, we sold our first home where we celebrated all of those firsts and moved to a larger home in a new town.  (A bittersweet stepping stone.)  We said goodbye to our sweet cat, Murphy.  We left Faith’s first daycare which we loved and started in-home daycare with a nanny whom Faith absolutely adores.

We are totally in love with Faith.  She has brought so much joy to our lives.  She is the funniest, sassiest, cutest, and stubbornest, little person I know.  Faith entering our lives has tested our marriage, brought us closer, tested our patience, and brought out characteristics in both Tony and I that we never knew existed.  Through all of the challenges, ups, downs, twists, and turns, hearing that little voice say, “Mommy” and “Daddy” will light up a dark day and give you that extra boost of energy when you don’t think you have any more.

We are excited to announce that we are starting the adoption process all over again!  Our home study is underway and we are excited to welcome another child into our family.  I will be trying to keep the blog updated (thought that has proven a bit more challenging with Faith…) and I hope to have a few guest blogs from Tony… (hint.. hint…) We will keep family updated and post pictures here as well.

So, if you know of anyone who is thinking about creating an adoption plan for their unborn (or already born) child, please contact us.  We have created a phone number and email address specifically for adoption.  If they would like more information and would prefer to contact an agency first, we will be working with Adoptions of Wisconsin as well. I will include the contact information below.

We’re excited to start the journey again!  Please join us again :)

Geri And Tony Walla

608-352-3360

adopt@buildingafamily.net

 

Adoptions of Wisconsin

866-ADOPTWI

 

Family

 

 

 

 

 

Home

May 11th, 2013

I remember an essay question from a test in High School English.  “Can you ever really go home?”  For the life of me, I cannot remember the book that this essay question related to, but the question has always stuck in my head for all of these years.

The first week of Faith’s life was spent in a hotel room.  The next three weeks, were spent at my parent’s house.  In the words of Meranda Lambert, it was “The House That Built Me.”

I am forever grateful for my parents for welcoming us warmly without knowing when we would leave.  Just as precious as those first days when we got to spend time with Faith’s birthmother in the hospital, were those first weeks that I spent raising my daughter in the room I hadn’t spent any time in since I was a teenager.  Rocking my baby to sleep in the room that I spent my high school years was a little surreal.  I still have random pictures stuck up around the room, my shelves are still semi-filled with memorabilia.  My curio cabinet filled with mementos of all of my years dancing still stands against one wall.  It all waits for me to come and claim it one day… but that’s what we really have parents for isn’t it?  Storage?  ;)

It didn’t take long for me to realize that when you are home, old habits die hard.  I remember where the creaks were in the floor walking from my bedroom to the bathroom, dodging them was a skill I had honed well growing up.  However, my dad has redone most of the floor, so those creaks aren’t there… that didn’t stop me from trying to dodge them.  With the floors recently redone, I almost tripped down the first step downstairs almost daily.  You see, there used to be a ridge that you could feel with your foot.  You’d feel it and know that a couple inches further was the first step down.  Not feeling that ridge, the first step comes really fast!

Then there was the bathroom.  And this may sound really weird, but I noticed that I would face a certain way when I was in the bathroom.  It was totally inconvenient to doing anything.  But I had always done it and never thought twice.  Well, as I was thinking about it I remembered why I had always done it since I was little.

The bathroom has two entrances.  One into my parents room and the other out into the hallway by two bedrooms.  My brothers once told me that I should always face the door to the hallway.  Mom and Dad’s room was the other way, so no monsters or killers would try to enter that way.  If someone was going to “get me” it would be from the other door.  So…. I always face the hall door.

I don’t know if there is a “right” answer to the question of “Can you ever really go home?”  But my answer right now is, Yes.  You can go home.  You will change, home will change, but the meaning of home and the feeling of home will never change.

The Moment

May 7th, 2013

Ya know, you get into this thing.  This parent thing.  You have this new little thing to take care of.  You don’t know what to expect.  They don’t know what to expect.

Not only does she completely trust you to care of her every need.  Her birth-mom trusted you to care for her child.  To love her unconditionally.

I never thought this would be hard for me.  I always thought this would be easy.  Mothering seemed like it was instinctual to me since I was a little girl imagining 7 children (Cabbage Patches at the time, Sandy, Bethany, Katie, Shane, Headah, Lara & Brenda if you must know…).  It didn’t come that easy for me.

From the moment of Faith’s birth when we were in the air flying from Minneapolis to Tampa and we heard that her birth mom decided to see her (not the plan), we knew things were going to be ok… but different.  Then when we got there and got to spend an incredible night into early morning and full day with Faith’s birth-mom, I couldn’t let my guard down.   I couldn’t fully attach to her knowing that she was not “mine” yet.

Unbeknownst to her, A* gave me (us) some of the most precious days of our daughter’s life.  She gave us tips and insight.  She assured us from the first moment we saw Faith and her, “She’s yours”.  But I could tell in her eyes that it was killing her on the inside.  And it was SO hard for me knowing that I was taking something from her.  It was like we were kids again and I was stealing a toy.  Before TPR was to happen, I went to speak with her for the last time and I came back and collapsed into Tony’s arms.  I felt like I was the one causing her pain.  And that killed me.

Until tonight, I had read books, I understood the loss and pain.  I understood that attachment took time.  But it took until I could not console Faith for the life of me.  I tried everything.  I’m telling you everything.  I was afraid to reach out to anyone.  I was her mom.  I should know what’s wrong.  I should be able to console her.  But I couldn’t.  She was screaming, I was crying, the phone was ringing and I shut down.  It seemed like too much.  I was angry for Tony being out of town.  I was upset that I didn’t have my mom there to show me that it was going to be ok.  (And she did end up being there… on the phone.  Thank God!)  I felt like I couldn’t call my closest friends.  I’m telling you… I shut.  Down.  And that is scary to me.

 

In the end, it was my mom’s advice of a bath to calm her down.  The colors she turned (her nervous system at work… thank you, Dr. Rob & Dr. Dawn!) were the scariest things I’d ever seen.  The sweat on her onesie when I undressed her to the look in her eyes.  She was fully trusting me.  And I had no clue what I was doing.

I realized in this hectic, scary, frustrating, full of frustration moment… that I loved her.  That I truly loved her.   I would move mountains for her.  I would never let anyone hurt her.  I would do ANYTHING for this little girl to make her life as beautiful as possible.

It was tonight that I finally feel……… like a mom.

Meet Faith Ashlynn

March 8th, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered, you can pack two adults and stuff for a baby in about 1.5 hours, book a flight and jump on a plane.

Last Sunday, March 3, at about  3:30pm we got a call that A* may be going into labor.  We called the airline and found out that the last flight out of Madison was at 5:15.  We dropped everything (Tony was pulling out carpet, we were getting all packed up to start our last remodeling project before baby) and started packing.  Just in case.  We still didn’t have confirmation, so we started driving to the airport.  Just in case.  We got to the airport and still didn’t have a firm, yes, they are going to do the c-section tonight, we decided we were hopping on a plane now or possibly missing the birth of our baby.  Just before we boarded our second flight to Tampa, we heard they were going to do the c-section.  That was reason enough for Tony to buy the in-flight wi-fi.  On our 3 hour flight to Tampa, we got the first pictures of our baby girl.  She was born 3-3-13 at 7:59pm; 6 lbs 3 oz; 18 1/4 inches.

Since the plan was that A wasn’t going to see the baby, K, our social worker was at the hospital to take her after she was born.  We got a text that A changed her mind and wanted to see the baby.  That worried us at first, but I didn’t have a lot of anxiety as I thought I would.    Sunday night and Monday, we stayed with A in her hospital room.   The three of us took care of Faith together.  Those are some of the most precious memories I will ever have.  Faith got to meet and spend some wonderful quality time with her birthmother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, sister and friends.  We got to meet all of these people as well and it touched our hearts to see how loved this little girl is.  They even brought gifts for her, which was totally unexpected, and not necessary, but such a beautiful gesture.

The second day and night were the longest in this entire two-year process.  Waiting for TPR to be signed, seeing A and the pain that she had to endure to give this sweet, precious baby to people who she had to trust having only met a few times, was hard.  After taking Faith in to see A one last time, I hugged her and told her I loved her.  I went back to the room that Tony and I were given by the hospital to camp out in for the day, and fell into his arms sobbing.  As much as I loved this little girl, I was taking something away from one of the bravest women I know, and that hurt.  It was the first time I crumbled.

We got the news that she was ours, were discharged from the hospital that evening, and came back “home” to our hotel.  It’s been more comfortable than I had anticipated.  It’s been hard on some of those who are close to us that they have not been able to see her yet, but I would not change or give up this past week for anything in the world.  Tony and I are figuring out how we work as a family.  We only have each other to rely on. I am so grateful for this time.  Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for our families to meet her, but this alone time has been so precious to me, and as an adoptive mother, I needed it.  (more on that later)

Thanks to everyone for the thoughts and prayers during this time.  We love you all and can’t wait for you to meet her!

My Crazy Life

February 28th, 2013

I’m not going to lie.  I think the wait after the match is worse than the initial wait.  Now we have an end time.  But it could change.  But maybe it won’t.  I’ve mentioned before, I’m a planner.  This is really hard for me.  It’s made me a complete nut.

I’ve washed clothes, sterilized nipples and nuks, washed bottles, booked all travel, and now her bag is officially packed.  Since the due date has changed three times so far (March 22, March 18, March 15…) and seems to keep moving sooner and sooner, I want to be as prepared as I can be to pick up and go.  All we are hearing is that birth mom is going to go into labor early.

The mix of being excited, anxious, and nervous has proven exhausting.  I have learned quickly that being anxious and taking a trip to Babies R Us is not a good idea… I came home with things I never anticipated needing, but in the moment, I could justify each and every I was throwing in the cart.  (Confession: I didn’t have a cart, I was the crazy lady with  three large items in my arms turning down the cart when it was offered to me while dropping the fourth thing I was trying to look at on the floor)

As if it wasn’t enough to have a match and bring a baby home, I decided that I would LOVE to have a distraction.  Choreographing “Fiddler on The Roof” would be great!  Of course I would do it!  HA!  Luckily, I work with a bunch of WONDERFUL cast members and production staff and when I had to step down after choreographing a little less than the opening number, they understood.

Baby and choreography was enough, right?  Nope, my crazy husband and I want to finish the house.  So, the POD just got delivered.  The dumpster comes tomorrow and we’re ripping out our living room and extra bedroom starting next week.  Because  it’s totally logical.

It may be crazy, but when I take a look at our lives right now, it’s a pretty cool crazy.

It’s A…… BABY!

February 3rd, 2013

Ok.  We’ve been keeping it quiet for what seems like forever.  And people are starting to ask questions about why we’re taking crazy day trips to Florida…

It all started 2 weeks ago with an email.  A birthmother in Florida.  I know, I know, we’ve said over and over after “almost” matches that we would not even look at possible matches in Florida again.  Well, we decided to tempt fate one last time.  In a matter of hours, our profile was sent to her, we were on the phone with the lawyers in Florida and the next thing we knew, we were matched!

We didn’t have a lot of details, we only knew that she loved our profile and wanted to meet us.  So we began the second part of our journey and booked flights for a quick weekend trip.  We just got back.  Life as we know it has changed.

We flew out early Saturday morning and got to Florida a little after noon.  We enjoyed a lunch outside in the sun, (It was negative crazy temperatures and snowing when we left Chicago…) and headed back to our hotel to relax for a little bit.  HA!  Relax!  More like quietly-freak-out-and-try-to-control-our-excitement-and-fear.  Then we hopped in the rental car to meet A* and the social worker, K*.

We got to the restaurant and walked in to meet A for the first time.  I cannot tell you how many somersaults my stomach did in those few seconds.  At first it was awkward, I mean, how could it not be, “Hi, please like us and trust us to raise your unborn child!”  When we all settled in and started chatting, it was so much easier than I ever imagined.  Not only is A beautiful outside, the sentiments she shared with us, her story and why she chose adoption, showed her inner beauty.  I don’t want to share details of that journey, as those are hers to share, and I want to respect her privacy. However, she knows that she, and her story, will always be a part of her daughter’s story.

We connected as mothers, we laughed, we cried, we made fun of Tony. It was the most powerful thing I had ever experienced thus far.

Tony and I feel so honored and blessed that she has chosen us.

So, as with any adoption, there are always things that can happen, but, if all goes as planned, we will be welcoming home a baby girl in about six weeks.

We want to thank all of you who have supported us on this journey.  There are so many that I want to thank in person, but not enough hours in the day to do it appropriately. There are just too many to name and I hope that we get to thank all of you in person to express to you just how much your thoughts, prayers, good vibes, etc. have brought us to this point on our journey.  We have quite a stretch to go, and we will keep you as posted as we possibly can.  Thank you again…

FULL SPEED AHEAD!

*We’ll just use initials for the sake of privacy :)

Tis’ The Season!

December 5th, 2012

To be completely honest, the last thing I thought I would be doing for the holidays this year was praying to get through them.  After last year’s struggle, I thought for sure that it was the last year that Tony and I would spend the holidays as just the two of us.   I thought we would have a little family this year.

Secretly throughout the year, I planned the family photo for the Christmas card and the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament, stocking and outfit.

But, here we are, three weeks away from Christmas, and I’m sad to report that we have no news.

We’ve had a year filled with ups and downs.  We’ve cried over the what-ifs, almost’s and one situation we thought was a sure thing.  We have come to learn that in the world of adoption, there really are not almost’s and there are certainly no sure things.  It is filled with what-ifs and unknowns that Tony and I never thought we would have to face 10 years ago when we met, or 5 years ago when we got married.  No one plans for infertility.

We have gutted and remodeled what used to be a spare bedroom in our home.  It is now a nursery complete with furniture and themed bedding.  We’ve stocked up on baby books, diapers, and our car seat is ready to go!  This year has brought a lot of preparation for baby.

But, right now, the crib is a slightly large cat bed that Murphy loves spending time in and the diapers are tucked away in a drawer so I don’t have to see them every time I walk through the room.

In a season where we remind ourselves what we are thankful for and count our blessings, it has been easier for me to think of what I don’t have.  But when I stop and correct my thoughts, I think of all we have been blessed with and I get overwhelmed with emotion.

We want to thank our family and friends.  Without your prayers, thoughts, and love, we would not be where we are today.  We love you all so much, thank you!  We wish all of you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season!

 

Peaks and Valleys

October 10th, 2012

I want to start by saying thank you to all who follow our blog.  When I first started it over a year and a half ago, I thought it would be so easy to keep up and share all of our news.  The emotional journey to adoption has proven extremely hard.  The choices of what to share when and with whom have been harder.  Despite that, I hope people will continue to share my posts to spread the word about adoption.  I hope to help other adoptive parents understand that there are others out there in the same situation as you… you are not alone.

We have had a lot happen in the past few years.  I find myself receiving information about possible situations and not even reacting.  It’s almost a post-trauma-like response.  I have put a high guard up in regards to what I let into my innermost feelings.  The “feeling something” doesn’t set in until we’re a few days into a situation.  One has to understand that there are days when we receive information about possible situations via email, and to get excited for an instant when you see who it’s from only to open it and find out that it’s nothing even remotely close to something that would work for your family, whether it’s financial or otherwise, can get exhausting.  But to be completely honest… you do see a glimmer of hope with each of those emails… but the expectation, for me, has become less and less.  As I said, I guard.

We’ve had two situations come to our attention in the past two weeks.  One that I feel we got particularly involved in before discovering that the finances were just not going to work (an inexplicably long story), and another that the birthmother decided to try parenting.

While I know and continue to have faith that everything happens for a reason, I am exhausted by the highs and lows; the excitement and the tears; the wanting to shout from the rooftops that you may have found your child, and holding back the tears when you realize that, yet again, you have not been chosen or the situation was just not the right one.

One thing remains, I have faith.  Faith and fear cannot coexist.

Could I have a magic crystal ball please?  Seems like that might get me through a little easier…  ;)

 

Maybe?

August 18th, 2012

I got a text.  I met her.  It all seemed to be falling into place.  I heard about a possible birthmother.  She was a friend of a friend.  We met for coffee because she had some questions about adoption.  My intent going into the meeting was to give her the information for our agency and answer any questions she may have.  I was mentally prepared to be a sounding board and that was it.  When she started asking questions about me and Tony, it got real.  She wanted to know about us, our relationship and why we wanted to adopt.  She said, “I really like you.  I hope my mom likes you too.”

I left the meeting on top of the world.  I thought we finally had something!  She liked me and wanted to meet Tony.  I agreed to meet with her and her mother as soon as they wanted to, I would make my schedule work.

Then… we waited.  A week later I contacted her to see if there was a good time and she told me that they wanted to meet with an agency before meeting with us.  We haven’t heard anything since.  We don’t know if she went to our agency or if she decided to go with another agency that they had talked about.

To say the least, I was devastated.  Of course, I know that she has to do what is best for her and her baby.  Of course, if she’s happy, I’m happy for her.  Of course, this situation may not be over.  But it doesn’t make the pain any less.  Depression quickly followed hearing the news and I could not bring myself out of it.  I carried it like a sack of rocks over my shoulder for at least two weeks.  The pain started manifesting itself physically.  I hurt all the time and shut down socially.

When I think about it now, I have good days and bad days.  There are days that I tear up and think all of this would be easier if we just gave up and then we would just KNOW.  There are other days that I know it is making me and Tony stronger.  But that does not make it any easier.  I know that there is time and this birthmother situation may not be over.  In my own head, I need to be at peace with the fact that it may be over and return to waiting, try to live in the now and enjoy life.

 

If you build it….

July 22nd, 2012

After 3 weeks of construction and one year (at least) of shopping to pick out the “perfect _______” (Insert anything baby here… cloth diapers, detergent, theme, color)…  The nursery is done!

There is not much going on with the actual adoption.  We’ve had at least one more situation come and go since my last post.  I wish I could keep the blog up, but between work, family, events and emotions, blog posts just haven’t happened.

From the beginning of construction, to tonight when I applied the vinyl quote to the wall that reads, “Promise me you’ll always remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. -Christopher Robin to Pooh” (don’t know if that was an affirmation for myself or for my baby…), washed the sheets and blanket for the first time, it has been an incredible time of nesting for me.  My husband thinks I’m nuts.  At times even I’ve thought I was crazy.  But seeing everything come together in the past few days has made me feel like this is right.  Everything is happening in the right time.  I’m more ready now than I was when we started the adoption process.  I’m more ready now than 1 year ago.  I’m more ready now than I was a week ago.  The feelings of “Mommy” and more importantly, “Family” keep getting stronger.

My actions have not been congruent with my thoughts.  And now everything is coming together perfectly.

Here it is, Universe.  We’re ready!  Bring on baby!