(PS: If you want to listen to what we’ve been doing and the conversations we’ve been having lately, check out our podcast)
Things are going quick so be sure to check out the latest episode of the podcast on anchor! It should be in your itunes and other feeds soon.
Ashley and I started a podcast that is about the adoption but also our marriage and lives in general. We had so much to talk about in this first episode that we recorded right after our Adoption Education Seminar. Hope you enjoy! Subscribe on itunes and anywhere podcasts are found, or on Anchor.fm/DBLA
I feel like every blog post I begin starts with an excuse about why I haven’t updated in a while.
I actually wrote and sent Aaron a post to put up last week, but between the time of me finishing the post and him uploading the post, things were already changing. Therefore, we decided to wait until after this weekend to update.
I feel like the long periods of waiting have come to an end. Not to say that things are going to move perfectly and we won’t have to wait and be patient again during this process, but I do think things are going to progress at a much faster pace than they have been for the past couple of years.
I honestly don’t know where to start so I’ll make a list (type A personality right here…)
1.) We sold our house! It’s funny the plans we make for ourselves, no? Our first idea was to sell our house and get a 3 bedroom apartment/townhome. We even went to a townhome and viewed it, we were so serious! (Based on how everything turned out, I shudder to think about this.) We were nearing the end of saving for adoption and just needed a chunk of money to be fully funded. We thought if we just sell our house and make a profit and get a townhome, we could then start saving up for a new house. We invited our wonderful realtor over to discuss our plans and he of course was very supportive but did give us things to think about. We learned we could still sell our house, make a big profit to finish funding the adoption, but still get a house sooo….
2.) We bought a house. It’s the perfect house in the entire world. It’s in the exact location we wanted, it was under budget, and it looks like the house from Miracle on 34th Street. Okay, it probably doesn’t look like that house, but it was built in 1961, has a ton of character, ton of trees, tons of room, and it’s just beautiful. We moved in there July 5th and have been painting fools. We are so very happy with it and, yes, we have a room picked out for baby!
3.) We filled out a bunch (A. BUNCH.) of adoption paperwork. – This included going to the doctor (twice), getting blood drawn, waiting for those results, asking 4 families to be a reference for us, gathering paperwork from work, the bank, insurance companies, etc. So much paperwork, but again, Type A, so I think we did a good job of remaining organized. (If you know me, you would not be surprised we bought out all of the Post It Notes, tabs, binders, page dividers, hole punch sticker thingys, etc.)
4.) We turned in said paperwork and paid the application fee and the AES (Adoption Education Seminar) fee.
5.) We went and got fingerprinted! This was… an interesting experience to say the least. Quite a few people there that weren’t in the best of moods, but IT’S OKAY! We got done what we needed to get done and we went on our merry way.
6.) We attended AES! It. Was. Amazing. Friday we learned about the different levels of Closed, Semi-Open, and Open adoptions. We learned about the birth mothers, what their backgrounds could be, we learned about the statistics, we learned about successful adoption stories, just so much. We were so confident after Friday about our decision to go through this agency. Our caseworker is wonderful, we learned she’ll be the one doing our home study and we both just feel so comfortable with her. We met who our case worker will be once we get placed. We just had a really good time. We went back for part 2 Monday and that was a little harder. We talked about grief and loss, we talked about transracial adoptions (which we are completely 100% open to), and we talked about potential birth defects and statistics on that. That was the hardest part, just hearing about what our baby could potentially go through. We also talked about our placement books. I am so excited about this part. We make a book about us, our family, our home, our favorite things, and we write a letter to the birth mom. Once our home study is done (30-45 days), we are officially licensed. At this point, we can begin to have our books given out to birth moms. She’ll get 5-7 at a time and will choose a family from those books. This makes me so weepy. I just think it’s so beautiful that the woman giving life to our baby chooses us. It hits my heart and makes me so incredibly sad and so incredibly happy. It’s just the strangest feeling.
7.) We turned in our AES questionnaire and paid our Pre-Placement Evaluation fee! The AES questionnaire was just 10 pages or so asking questions about what child we would accept. We accidently filled this out before AES, but since going through AES, most of our answers have changed just because we’ve learned about different things we were unsure about, we’re more open to some things, and we are confident with our agency.
Throughout each of these steps, we’ve seen God moving. He’s not “behind the scenes” working, He’s absolutely in the front of all of this. None of this would be even remotely possible for us if it wasn’t for Him. It reminds me of the song “Whom Shall I Fear” by Chris Tomlin. The chorus says, “I know who goes before me. I know who stands behind.” This is such a powerful way of thinking of it for me. He’s gone before us and he’s walking this with us. From people who donated, to people who help us sell our home and buy a new home. People whose job it is to be wonderful caseworkers. People who have gone on this journey and have been a source of encouragement to us. It’s just beautiful how God has brought all of these people into our life at the exact moment we needed them. And now that I’m on the verge of tears we will move on!
Next steps: we begin our Pre Placement! This is basically home studies. We go and have individual interviews with our case worker. I think she said we’d do this twice, then she’d come to the house twice and we’d do a joint interview during one of those visits. During this time, we’ll work on our Placement Book! (SO EXCITED!)
As you can see, there are lots of things happening. It’s go time!!
by Ashley Bronander
I know, I know. I’ll start this the way I start every entry: I know it’s been a while. Sorry for not posting lately. There. That’s out of the way.
The main reason I wanted to start this blog/website, was to document our adoption journey. Make notes and updates about the processes we go through. What new things we’re waiting on. The latest updates. Etc.
We haven’t begun the actual processes yet, but that doesn’t mean our journey hasn’t begun. I feel like we’ve already learned so much and we haven’t even technically started. For example, I’ve learned how much we’re loved. How much we’re prayed for. How much people care about us. It’s been such a fun lesson to learn, too.
Our current journey (saving money) is well on it’s way. We’re up to $18,050 in our adoption fund. The amount we need is around $28,000. This means, we only need $9,950 in order to begin the home study and adoption process. Now, I never in my 32 years of living ever thought I’d utter the words, “We only need $9,950.” However, when we’ve got the amount we do in our adoption fund account, the remaining amount doesn’t seem so steep. We’re well above the halfway mark and hope to have the rest saved up by June.
I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever thank everyone who’s donated. Whether it be a lot or just dollars, every little bit helps and I’m so overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. We’ve gotten several donations from people we don’t even know! That seriously just blows my mind. “Thank you” seems so inadequate, but we really are so, so thankful. We definitely wouldn’t be able to do this without all of the support.
Let’s see… what else is new? Aaron and I have been working on getting healthier! This was one of the goals/tasks to work on while saving money. Every year at work, we get a biometrics screening done. They take our blood and run tests on all of our cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. Aaron and I both printed out last year’s results versus this years, and we are definitely improving on all categories and we’ve only been doing Keto for a few months. I’m excited to see how much better it’ll be next year. I’m proud of us! We’re excited for the weather to get nicer so we can find hiking trails around our area. If you know of any good trails in the Fort Worth area, let us know!
Our Smokey is still as cute and adorable as ever. I know some people won’t get this, but he’ll always be our first “child.” He’s a sweet little guy, even if his favorite past times include stealing socks and coming to a dead stop right in front of me when I’m not paying attention causing me to almost trip over him. Maybe he has a 6th sense about the adoption and he’s simply preparing me a little bit for motherhood. (Disclaimer: I know “raising” a dog is not as simple as raising a human!!)
I think this is all of the updates I have for now. Please continue to pray for us for the next several months (and longer, if you’d like!). We’re excited to see what’s next in our journey!
by Ashley Bronander
Before we begin, I just want it noted that I know I am a horrible updater. I apologize! Okay. That’s out of the way, now I need to figure out where to start. Also, warning: this is going to be very random and probably seem out of order. I’m just letting myself type all that’s on my mind and my mind doesn’t work in order sometimes.
As you might have heard, one of our fundraisers was a puzzle. Aaron and I decided on how we’d like the puzzle to look, ordered the puzzle, and started putting it together. I like doing puzzles but realized after putting the edges together that the puzzle was two colors. Brown and black. Not a smart choice when it’s a 1,000 piece puzzle! Anyway, we set it up on our dining room table and worked on it here and there. When Easter rolled around, we had lunch at our place. I had bought a puzzle wrap where you can put what you’ve worked on on the fabric part and roll it up. Let me just save ya’ll $10.00 and tell you: it does NOT WORK. Do not waste your money. So I moved the puzzle into our office/workout room for the day and forgot to move it back to the table afterwards. A few days later, we realized that Smokey (our adorable, cute, and curious dog) ate some puzzle pieces. Our dog. Ate. The Puzzle pieces. Back to square one. We designed a NEW puzzle that looks similar but will hopefully be easier to put together. And by the way, I didn’t put Smokey up to eating parts of the puzzle but I really wasn’t too disappointed when it happened – I honestly like the new puzzle better!
At church (or anywhere), when someone would hand us a donation in person, I’d enter it on my phone to keep track of what names go on the puzzle. Well, we had a phone upgrade and I completely forgot out the list of names until my phone was wiped. Of course. I think I remember everyone that gave us money and I’ve created a new list, but if you’d like to just mention it to me that you should be on the puzzle, I will confirm it. (I promise, we ARE responsible adults!!)
Can I please talk about our church for a minute? I honestly don’t know where we would be without the people there. Our church is such an important part of our lives. We went there while we were dating. Aaron proposed to me at church, and that church is where we were married. That church is also where we will raise our child(ren). Every single person, even if I don’t know them, is playing such a huge role in our life right now.
Every year on Mother’s Day, all the mothers stand up and the kids pass out a Carnation flower. I had mentioned to Aaron that morning that it seems I always end up with a flower, even when I don’t stand up. That Sunday, I sat in the back with Aaron since he runs the sound system. Up comes a child with a flower and hands it to me. After whispering to her that I’m not a mom and I’m not standing up, she hands the the flower and a card. The card was from our Children’s Minister. It had the absolute sweetest note in it and it made me ugly cry. I carry the card with me everywhere. When I get overwhelmed and frustrated with this whole process, I read it (and cry, but not ugly cry) and it is such an encouragement.There are a lot of reasons why I’m excited to have a baby. One big reason is I’m excited for our child to be active in our church. I look at Caitlin (the Children’s Minister) and all of the wonderful children’s teachers there and I just can’t wait for my child to be a part of that.
I feel like everything we’re doing right now is done with intention. Looking around the house and thinking about baby proofing. Decluttering rooms. Exercising and eating healthy. Purchases. Waiting. Saving money. Things that we just did before and didn’t think anything of it, we’re now thinking about how things we do affect us now and in the future. It is really exciting! I feel like things are happening even when nothing is happening. God is moving and we can’t see it, but we sure can feel it. I don’t know if I’m making sense. I feel like this is the quiet before a good storm. We are not sure what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. I know the process will be grueling and potentially heartbreaking but God is directing our path and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Another blessing is Aaron just received a promotion at work. This will help us a lot in saving for a baby! We will be able to dump quite a bit in our Adoption Fund every payday, so we’re very excited for that. I’m so thankful for Aaron and what a hard worker he is. He’s going to be amazing at his new role. We’re thinking of new and exciting fundraisers. If you have any ideas, please share them. I’ve scoured Pinterest for ideas such as t-shirts, jewelry, and spaghetti dinners, but I’d love to hear feedback from you! We’ll definitely keep upcoming fundraisers updated on Facebook and the blog. As always, you can click our YouCaring link to donate if you feel led!
If you’ve made it to the end of this update, THANK YOU! I will try to be better about updating, but I think I said that last time I updated. I’m very excited about being able to update when we’re able to go through the adoption process instead of just saving for it. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and encouragement. You are such a huge blessing to us, and we are so thankful for you!
Hey, everyone! Sorry it’s been awhile since we have posted here. I promise we haven;t forgotten about you or stopped this whole process. For a bit, there just wasn’t much going on and not much to report. However, now we have two garage sales under our belt and things are moving along.
Our first garage sale that we had at our mother in laws house was amazing and bought in around $600 and on top of other generous donations we made an $1100 deposit into the adoption fund after that weekend! The second garage sale we had a few weekends ago at our own home was…not as successful. We had about 6 people total all weekend and ended up spending more money than we made. I think our area is just not great for garage sales.
All that being said we can’t thank everyone enough for all the donations of money, time, and items to sell. We will be looking into other fundraising opportunities soon.
I can be really easy to fall into a depression after that bad weekend of the sale, because it feels like we have such a long way to go. We are trying to keep our spirits up but also becoming anxious to get this part of the process behind us. Right now, we don’t mind saying it looks like we are in for a long period of saving and fundraising. Everything in God’s timing.
In the grand scheme though, in the short 3 months we have been in the process, we have a total of $6500 in our adoption fund by saving and your generous donations. Only another $21,500 to go!
We love you all and thanks for everything you do 🙂
-Aaron and Ashley
by Aaron Bronander
During this time that we have to save and raise money, there are a few other things that Ashley and I really want to work on.
- Organizing and De-cluttering
Normally, Ashley and I are pretty organized people. We don’t have a ton of clutter but we both realize that there are things we have that no longer serve us. Now that we’ve started this process we both can look around at things and realize that in the grand scheme they don’t mean as much as they used to. In the lens of building a family, they serve little purpose. We are planning on having a few garage sales to raise money. We are using this time we have to de-clutter, get rid of things we no longer need, and generally make space for a new addition to the family.
- Baby Proofing
While we know that we are a little ways off from our goal, we know that baby proofing is going to be a big deal down the road. We are going to try to tackle some of that right now to avoid the rush once we get further in the process. We’ve started thinking about things we need like gates for the stairs, outlet plugs, etc. I have shelves in my office that I need to secure to the wall. Just generally making sure that the house is safe not only for the baby but for us as well.
Ashley and I have always had this drive to try to be healthier people. We’ve done many diets and tried a lot of different workout routines. Some of the diets we did seemed to work (like low-carb) but contain longer-lasting health effects. We are both realizing now that if we want to be parents, we need to stop trying to “lose weight” and start trying to be healthier people.
A few weeks ago I decided to try P90X again. I had done it in the past and back then, it was hard but I was able to get through most of it. When I tried it a few weeks ago…. wow. I was miserable, in pain, and just not able to complete it. This is of course partly my fault for being so out of shape but it also got me to thinking “I am going to hurt myself”.
I hurt my foot back in college when I decided I was going to be a runner. I started out great but pushed myself a bit too hard and tore a muscle in my foot. It’s never been the same since. In fact, I stopped altogether. Stopped working out, doing anything. I think I put on the most weight at that point. So, when we decided that we needed to get healthy, this weighed heavy on my mind. I don’t want to hurt myself and end up stopping and being in worse shape.
There’s also something about this mentality that I don’t like. A TON of workouts are trying to push you to the limit, trying to force you to be something you aren’t: in shape. It felt like we needed a foundation, a place to go to ground ourselves and get stronger the right way.
So, we started doing Yoga. I know, it seems awkward at first but when Ashley and I do it, we have a lot of fun and I think we get closer because of it. It’s just her and I in the living room, no distractions, no judgments.
To anyone who thinks that yoga is not a workout, you should really try it. It had my blood pumping and my muscles aching, but in a way that was gradual, not forced. A lot of the concepts of yoga were the things I had already started to realize. Don’t force this thing, ease into it and its more sustainable.
Sustainability is key for us right now. If the workout sucks we WILL quit or worse injure ourselves. We want to work on a really strong foundation and go from there. It also helps us to reduce any stress we have and you just feel awesome afterwards. We may not do Yoga the rest of our lives, but it serves a really unique purpose for us right now.
In addition to that we are just trying to eat less and better foods. We try to cook at home as much as possible and eat fruits and veggies. We are trying to keep things really simple so that we can stay with it this time. We want to continue to be healthy and to help our child be healthy in their life as well. You can only do that by leading by example.
So, that’s what has been going on with us lately. We’d love to hear from you though! Feel free to comment below and let us know if you have baby proofing tips, or de-cluttering ideas!
Aaron and Ashley
by Ashley Bronander
My vision for this website is to document all of the steps from start to finish (and beyond) in this adoption process. It’s not something either one of us have ever done before (obviously) and I want a record for us and for our future child to look back on and see where we were and where God brought us.
The adoption agency we are going through was not our first choice. The agency we were wanting to go through had a policy where you had to be married 4 years before adopting. When we first started looking into this, we had been married 3 years and 3 months. We decided to wait until our 4 year anniversary to go through that agency. Unfortunately, when the anniversary rolled around, they were no longer accepting applicants for the Domestic Infant Adoption. This is what led to our current agency. I used Google to find it, and looked up reviews and we liked what we read/heard so we went with it. My interaction over e-mail setting up our first appointment was great! On Wednesday, December 28, Aaron and I drove out to Dallas to meet for an informational meeting/interview. I loved every second of it. We felt at peace, we felt confident, we felt GOOD. We filled out some paperwork and our caseworker asked us some questions. She asked if we had a preference on male/female (no, we don’t). She asked if we had a preference on race (no, we don’t). She asked if we were open to drug/alcohol exposure (while we hope the baby doesn’t have to go through that for their sake, we hope he/she doesn’t have that type of exposure but we’re open to it.) She asked what our support system looks like and who all lives in our home.
She explained what the process would look like and this is where I really got excited. She specified more than once that the process she described is best case scenario. I really don’t mind though if I know what will happen at the end of the process. She said once we left the meeting, she would give the information and interview answers to her director and they would let us know if we were approved. I was thinking it would be several days before we heard anything back but on the way home, I received the e-mail that say we were accepted into the program!
- Save, save, save.
This agency is different than the first agency we were going to go through. That agency required a 2 year wait time for a baby after trainings and home studies. Our caseworker told us after our trainings and home studies, we could be placed within 2 weeks to a year at the most. This means, all money needed for the adoption needs to be readily available before we even begin the process. I kind of like it better this way. I’m not going to be worried about rocking the home study and making sure there’s $28,000 in the bank.
So this is where we’re at. We’re pinching pennies, getting a yard sale ready, and thinking of other fundraiser ideas. Please continue to pray for us as we wait and save and fundraise. Please pray when things get stressful we remember what the end goal is. We know God is faithful and will provide in His time!
by Aaron Bronander
Well, that’s a tough question. There’s always a lot of factors that go into a decision like this but I’ll try to make it as simple as possible. We don’t like to get into medical histories in public but there are reasons to be concerned about having biological children, but that wasn’t even the deciding factor for us.
As we started having issues conceiving we were faced with two choices really.
- Start treatments. They may or may not work and in a few months/years we would be right back where we were when we started, only several heartbreaks and thousands of dollars later. We have friends and acquaintances who have gone this route to experience a lot of heartbreak. Some have experienced great joy when they were able to conceive. We had to decide if the heartbreak and the toll the process can take would be worth it.
- Look into adoption as a choice and not a last resort. It’s a decision we can make to invest the money, time, and effort into this route instead of the other. I am not belittling or looking down on anyone who has taken this route as a ‘final option’, but for us, that option has always been in play and was always very appealing to us.
In the early days of our marriage we decided to not try to have kids for a least a year. During that time, we talked a lot about our future family. We said that if it turned out we couldn’t have kids we would both be glad to adopt. When the time came to try and we ran into roadblock after roadblock we both realized that adoption wasn’t just an option on the table as a last resort, It was something we both wanted.
We actually know a few people who were adopted and have very positive experiences. Adoption was always a positive thing in our eyes. So, as we started thinking about how we wanted to make our family, my wife and I both kind of realized at the same time that adoption would be something we were both ready to take on.
We spent the next year or so thinking, praying, talking to our pastor, all of that. We actually decided to adopt about a year ago at the time of this writing, but we just finally took the plunge by opening up a savings fund, finding an agency, and starting to get the word out.
We have a big process ahead of us and a lot of money to raise, save, and work hard to earn. We also need to improve our own lives in order to be the kind of parents we need to be.
It’s an expensive and messy process, but we know it’s going to be worth it. We hope that you will be a part of this process, because we can’t do it alone. It’s our support systems, families and friends who will see us through this time and have a part in building our family.
I guess the bottom line is: we want to invest in a family that gives a child a chance at a great life that they may not have access to otherwise. We want them to be able to experience love, acceptance, and family.
That’s as good a reason as any.