Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dear Sweet Marguerite

The following poem was written by eleven-year-old Kathleen, Marguerite's big sister:

By Kathleen Leone

I have a baby sister,
Her name is Marguerite,
Her middle name is Jane,
And she’s very, very sweet.

I love her when she’s happy,
I love her when she’s sad,
I even love her when
She’s very, very, very mad.

I love her when she eats,
I love her when she sleeps,
I love her when she spits up,
In great, big heaps.

All together she is wonderful,
She’s very, very sweet,
I love her greatly day and night,
Dear, sweet Marguerite.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Baptize You in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...

Marguerite Jane was baptized today...

-- on her sixteenth day of life
-- on her fourteenth day with the Leones
-- on her seventh day in Wisconsin
-- and after already having made one long journey from Georgia to Wisconsin

Marguerite's Godparents are our wonderful friends—the couple who inspired us to adopt domestically.

Marguerite and her Godparents' son also have a special connection: They both came to their forever families through An Open Door adoption agency in Georgia.

Marguerite couldn't have done better in the Godparent department.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Milestone, Just in Time for Christmas

Last night, Joe and I were up late watching the hours and minutes move us ever closer to midnight, Georgia time. The reason? Last night at midnight marked the end of the adoption revocation period. Translation: Marguerite is now a little Leone!

Okay, so the "Leone" part is not quite legal yet. We have two more post-placement visits by our social worker, and the finalization paperwork still has to be completed. But we are assured there is nothing now that is going to prevent Marguerite from growing up a little Leone.

Now that's what I call one great Christmas! A little happy dance at the Leone house on Christmas Eve...

Marguerite herself looks pretty happy to boot! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home

As of about 5:00 pm last night, Baby Marguerite and her tired, but adoring Leone fan club arrived home in good ol' Wisconsin. Marguerite slept well last night, and so did we. Okay, let me rephrase: We collapsed. So much uncertainty initially, then so much joy, and then a long trek with a newborn took it's toll. We were quite emotional as we drove down the driveway last night to start a new life with Marguerite here at home, and sleep was a very, very good thing.

I think Marguerite is going to like being a Wisconsin girl. And we are very pleased to have our peanut home on time for Christmas.

And now we gear up for the birthday of Baby Jesus. We have so many reasons to celebrate during this joyous season...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Going Home!

I am thrilled to report that the Leones received ICPC clearance today and are headed home to Wisconsin. Say it with me: WOO-HOO!

We are on the interstate somewhere between Savannah and Macon, heading north. It's time to introduce our Georgia peach, Marguerite, to the land of cows and cheese. We are excited to return to a normal rhythm back home. And, amazingly, we are going to celebrate Marguerite's first Christmas in Wisconsin. Somehow, we weren't so sure it was going to all work out that way. What a bonus!

Since this blog was created as something of a baby book, chronicling the adoption journey and the many ups, downs, and important dates on the way to adopting Marguerite, I will keep it active until finalization of the adoption (about six months from now). But as we return home, most of our regular non-adoption-specific blog updates will take place on our Munchkin Family blog (where there will eventually be a few cross-posts regarding Marguerite's birth and adoption). With any luck, I'll have our regular family blog back up-to-date within a week or so.

Homeward-bound is a very good orientation for this tired, happy family of eight.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where We Are (Paperwork-Wise) and When We Can Go Home

Many have asked why we are still in Georgia and not already Wisconsin-bound. I thought it would be a good idea to answer that question and document the ICPC process for this blog-style baby book.

Marguerite was born on Friday, December 11th. Her birthmother signed surrenders, and we received placement on Sunday, December 13th. ICPC paperwork generally begins on the first business day after the adoptive parents take placement. So that means our ICPC paperwork started on Monday, December 14th.

Here is a description of the ICPC process from adoption.com:
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): An interstate compact, or agreement, that has been enacted into law by all 50 states in the United States, and the District of Columbia, which controls the lawful movement of children from one state to another for the purposes of adoption. Both the originating state, where the child is born, and the receiving state, where the adoptive parents live and where the adoption of the child will take place, must approve the child's movement in writing before the child can legally leave the originating state. This Compact regulates the interstate movement of both foster children and adoptive children.

Until we are cleared by both the originating state (Georgia) and the receiving state (Wisconsin), we cannot leave the state of Marguerite's birth. Thus, we can travel anywhere within Georgia, but we cannot cross the state line. (To do so, could result in felony and kidnapping charges.)

This afteroon, we received a call from the adoption agency, stating that our Georgia paperwork had cleared, and it was overnighted today to the Wisconsin ICPC office. That means that Wisconsin will be in receipt of our paperwork tomorrow (Friday) morning. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Wisconsin could start and finish their end of the paperwork in one day, and we could get the green light to start heading home tomorrow night. In that event, the earliest we'd likely be home would be Sunday, as we are driving the big ol' van with SIX kids.

If we have to wait until Monday for clearance (fairly likely, I think), we'll be driving Tuesday and maybe Wednesday, but we still should make it home before Christmas, barring any bad weather.

If we get clearance tomorrow (Friday, the 18th), the ICPC process will have taken just five days which would be amazing. If it takes until Monday or Tuesday, I think that would be more typical. I commonly hear people say that you should expect to be in the state for 7-14 days after an adoption. But we're fortunate in that Georgia and Wisconsin have reputations for being fast ICPC states.

I can't tell you how antsy we all are to get home, lovely as Georgia is.

One other thing that bears mentioning: The birth mother has a ten-day revocation window. Those ten days begin to run from the day that she signed surrenders (Sunday). Counting it out, that means that next Wednesday, December 23, we are free and clear, knowing she cannot change her mind. We have received reassuring phone calls from the social worker over the last couple days, stating that all is well and that she feels comfortable advising us to start for home, even before the ten day revocation period is up. Even so, it'll be a little nerve-wracking for the next few days until Wednesday comes and goes. I can't begin to tell you how attached we already are to Sweet Marguerite.

And now, for some cutie-patootie photos of Marguerite on her sixth day of life...

Thanks to Marguerite...

We're vacationing in a big way, and it's all thanks to our little Georgia peach, Marguerite.

Marguerite helped William celebrate his 9th birthday in Savannah, complete with magic kit:

Marguerite is responsible for the Leones' magical tour of Savannah yesterday:

Marguerite is the reason that William ended up at Leopold's (ice cream shop) of Savannah for birthday treats:

Marguerite's presence gave Joe the excuse he needed to learn how to wear a moby wrap. That's one cool dad with the cozy baby:

Marguerite led us across the causeway for a visit to Fort Pulaski today:

Marguerite accompanied us to Tybee Island today where we visited the ocean (and where Elizabeth broke out her winter coat - brrr!):

And Sweet Marguerite is the reason that tonight's dinner consisted of a mound of shellfish at the Tybee Island Crab Shack:

Thanks, Marguerite! You can escort us down to the state of your birth any time!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vacationing in Savannah

The arrival of Marguerite brings the opportunity for the Leones to enjoy a balmy winter vacation in Savannah, Georgia.

It's All About Marguerite

The last forty-eight hours have been all about our bundle of joy, Marguerite.

The sibling arguing and the poking and the jockeying for position, all in the quest to see who gets to hold Marguerite next, has begun. I've been busy trying to learn how to prepare baby bottles—something totally new for me. And we've run to find the camera with every squirm and thumb suck and cute gesture from our little Marguerite. The baby watching, baby smooching, and baby adoring has now taken firm hold, and we just can't get enough of Miss Marguerite.

Thanks to the arrival of our Georgia daughter, we are now here in Savannah, basking in 66 degree Christmas-time weather. We are staying at this great little home, near Savannah's historic district. Tomorrow, we explore Savannah, and the following day we head out to Tybee Island and the ocean. Counting Marguerite, we have four little Leones who have never seen the ocean. You can bet we'll be dipping toes in the water, no matter the weather.

Today we celebrated William's 9th birthday, Savannah style, eating at a local restaurant, exploring Forsythe park, having palm leaves woven for us, and even opening gifts right here in our quaint abode nestled in the historic district. Marguerite has given William a birthday to remember!

The following two photos were snapped in the hotel lobby this morning before we left the town of Marguerite's birth and headed toward Savannah.

Joe snapped this photo of Marguerite and me at the Savannah restaurant where we ate William's birthday dinner tonight. She is so smoochable.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Introducing Marguerite Jane

Our bundle of joy, Marguerite Jane!

Two days old:

Joe and Elizabeth (with blotchy faces from crying with Marguerite's birthmother) hold Marguerite at the hospital:

The Leone munchkins meet their little sister, Marguerite, for the first time, at the home of our new friends, the Cavanaughs:

Anna Marie provides tender loving care:

Kathleen can't contain her excitement:

William is Big Brother Extraordinaire. He accompanied Marguerite to her doctor appointment today and was a huge help.

Therese and Andrew are like Mini-Mom and Mini-Dad, doting over Marguerite. Therese is already asking if she's old enough to babysit. [Let's talk about eight years from now, Sweetie.]

A few more photos to round out it all out. Is she adorable, or what?

Visiting the (Georgia) Pediatrician

Our sweet pea had her first pediatric visit today at the local Wellness Clinic. She is doing great. Her jaundice has diminished, and all her vitals are just perfect. If all goes well, the next appointment for our newest munchkin (okay, heads up: she's not going to be a munchkin like the rest of us) will be in two weeks, back in Madison with Dr. Meier.

Lil' Peanut and I are sitting here at the hotel swimming pool, watching the kids swim. Joe is out to grab some lunch at the grocery store across the road.

We are staying here in town for at least one more night. There is still the possibility that our kids will get to meet the birthmother tonight, but only if she is up for it. She had originally requested to meet our children. However, we did not know then that we would not be able to take the kids with us into the hospital to meet her, due to H1N1 restrictions. Now that it's a day removed from placement of the baby, we don't know what Temple's thoughts are. The agency social worker will be calling her this afternoon to see if she wants to meet.

After that (tomorrow morning, most likely), we'll head for the ocean. If we are to be "stuck" in Georgia until ICPC paperwork clears, we might as well do a little vacationing. Several of our kids have never seen the ocean. So, it looks like we are Savannah-bound.

Most importantly, however, we have photos coming tonight. After the kids are done swimming, we are off to retrieve the missing cable that will allow us to post pictures. And, oh, do we have photos! Zillions. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our Baby Girl!

As I type this post from our hotel room, our beautiful baby daughter is sleeping on my lap. She has been kissed and caressed and loved already by all seven of the Leones who have been long awaiting her arrival.

She is absolutely perfect. We are blessed. Her loss, however, is being felt deeply tonight by her birth mother who placed her for adoption in order to give her a better life. We know this first-hand. Joe and I spent a good part of today with her birth mother, and together the three of us cried and cried and cried some more. I plan to journal the details of that meeting for our daughter to read some day. She has a beautiful birth story and a birth mother who loves her deeply.

Okay, here are the updated statistics. The info we had received orally yesterday was slightly off.

Weight: 7 lb, 0 oz
Date & Time of Birth: 5:54 pm, December 11th
Black, curly hair, dark, deep-set eyes.

Her apgar scores were great, and she is very healthy.

And for those awaiting her name and photos...

...You'll have to wait one more night. (Sorry!) We managed to leave our camera-to-computer cable at the home of our new friends —— the family who babysat our children today while we went to the hospital.

Big day tomorrow... Pediatrician appointment, followed by the possibility of the birth mother joining us to meet all our children.

We are deliriously happy. And very, very sleepy. (We drove until 2:00 am last night.) So I'm signing off to head to bed, and I'll provide a more detailed update tomorrow night.

Photos and her name tomorrow, I promise!

The Adventure Continues

As I type this, we are in northern Georgia, north of Atlanta, heading south. Our ultimate destination will be a mid-sized town, just south of Macon. We hope to arrive by about 1:30 Georgia time, and we hope to be at the hospital meeting Temple and the baby by 2:00.

Last night, while driving south, we finalized our baby daughter's name. We had no trouble with the first name, but we were stuck on three possible middle names. So we decided to contact Temple to see if she'd like to select the middle name from the three "finalists." We thought that would be special for her. After all, she give this child the greatest gift of all: life. It seems only fitting that she play a part in her naming. On that note, I'll hold off on revealing the name until we have a photo to go along with the name. Hopefully, her introduction will occur in our next blog post.

And in other, related news have a wonderful childcare situation that has befallen us. Via connections in the extensive but tightly-knit Catholic homeschooling world, we have found a fellow homeschooling family right in Temple's hometown. They have six kids who range in age from 13 to 2, pretty closely paralleling our kids' own ages. When I asked if they might have an older girl to help with a little hotel babysitting while we are meeting Temple and the baby, this family instead opened their hearts and homes to us. They have offered to take our family in, babysit the children there at their own home, feed us meals, and even let us spend nights in their mother-in-law-suite. Talk about southern hospitality!

So the plan is to drive directly to this wonderful family's home and drop off the kids. From there Joe and I will head to the hospital to meet Temple and the baby, both of whom will be released today. All of this will happen within the next couple hours.

This evening, we will head to a nearby town that has a 5:00 pm Mass with our new-found friends who will also be attending Mass at the same time and at the same church. If all goes well, we believe we will have our baby daughter in our arms for Mass this evening.

Stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Somewhere in Central Illinois

We're somewhere in Central Illinois, talking about baby names as we cruise down the highway. We're so excited!

As I type, we're hitting some freezing rain, so hopefully the roads will remain good, which they seem to be for the moment.

The plan is to drive as far as we can tonight, stopping maybe around midnight. We very much hope that we'll have no more than 3-4 hours of driving in the morning.

That's all for now. Please pray for Temple and the baby, as we edge ever closer.


We're off to meet a baby girl in Georgia!

So excited... We'll be in touch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baby Girl!

Temple gave birth to a healthy baby girl sometime around 6:00 pm Georgia time tonight. Both mother and baby are doing well. The case worker believed the baby to be 7 lb, 5 oz but will get confirmation in the morning.

Temple wanted some time alone after the birth, so the case worker was not able to see her this evening. However, they did speak by telephone just a little bit ago. From what the case worker can gather, it seems that all is well and Temple is still planning to place. Temple has not, however, told her mother yet about the adoption (and possibly not about the pregnancy - some mixed info on this). When the case worker asked Temple how that would all work out, Temple just said, "It will work out." She is very quiet, but the case worker said she sounds fairly confidant about this, at least over the telephone. However, there is still that red flag out there.

Since the case worker could not actually see Temple tonight and have a face-to-face conversation, she has advised us to wait until at least tomorrow morning to travel. Tomorrow morning Sandra will talk with Temple in person. If that meeting goes well and Temple seems confident in her adoption plan, then the case worker will call us and advise us to start our trip. I don't expect that to happen until at least 9:00 am or 10:00 am our time.

If she is still feeling certain about the adoption plan, Temple will sign surrenders sometime after 6:00 pm Georgia time tomorrow night. I believe the ten-day revocation period begins at that time. But revocation becomes statistically less likely at that point.

Temple will likely be released from the hospital tomorrow sometime. It's disappointing because we so much wanted to be there for her. We do not know yet whether the baby will go into a "Caring Home" at that point, or whether she'll stay at the hospital an extra night so that we can get there and avoid having her transferred to an interim care situation. That will remain to be seen and may depend somewhat on our expected arrival time. I've heard nothing but wonderful things about the Open Door Caring Homes, but we'd certainly prefer that she comes straight from the hospital into our arms if we can make that happen.

So much to think about. We're off to say our night prayers... for Temple and the new baby.

All's Quiet

All quiet here...

Still waiting for word from the case worker. I imagine Temple has given birth by now, and I assume she and the case worker are talking about her intentions.

We're pretty much on pins and needles over here.

Joe ended up going out to the event we were supposed to attend together tonight. He was to emcee the event, but we ended up nixing that when so much uncertainty sprung up this morning. Even though he's no longer the emcee, he wanted to attend since all we're doing here is twiddling our thumbs and biting our nails, awaiting news. I was supposed to attend with him, but I'm using this time to clean out the van and get a few last-minute (or maybe not so last-minute) things done.

As the hours tick by, it's looking more and more likely that tomorrow morning will be our earliest departure time. But you never know.

Praying that this next call brings positive news... Praying for Temple and her sweet baby...

What a Roller Coaster!

If this wee one makes it into the Leone family, she's going to have quite the birth story...

As I type (4:57 pm, Wisconsin time), Temple is "pushing." We are expecting a baby any minute.

Within the last half hour, we've received a call from the director of the agency encouraging us to wait until Monday to travel, due to a red flag that is concerning. (The red flag is Temple's mother who apparently doesn't know about the adoption plan.)

However, within the last five minutes, I received a call from the case worker who is with Temple at the hospital. She has indicated that she will call us just as soon as Temple gives birth. At some point, not long after the birth, she will inquire whether Temple's mother has been told and whether Temple still seems firm in her decision to place. That conversation will help us gauge whether to take the risk and travel tonight/tomorrow or whether to hold off until Monday. The social worker feels pretty strongly that if Temple is feeling firm in her decision a couple hours after the birth, we should start out for Georgia.

So, we've been up, we've been down. One minute we're going; one minute we're not going. I guess we'll know more within the next couple hours.

One thing's for sure: This is all very exciting. I think I forgot to eat today.

No News Quite Yet...

It's 4:20 pm here in Wisconsin, and we're still waiting to hear news of the birth. It sounds like they expect her to be born within the next hour or two, if not sooner...

We're praying that all is going well for both Temple and the baby and that we get the green light to travel soon.

Baby Coming...

Temple is dilating, and all expectations are that this baby will be born within the next few hours.

Our agency, Open Door, just had a fall-through yesterday where a birth mother changed her mind just hours after giving birth. Apparently, that's usually when it happens if there is a change of heart. So Open Door is worried about us making this trip without any certainty.

Thus, the plan for the moment is to wait for a couple hours after birth and have our caseworker reassess with Temple how she's feeling and whether she still wants to place the baby for adoption. If she says yes, then we'll go.


"Nesting," adoption-style (aka: packing).

Still waiting for that confirmation call saying that we should leave today.

Exciting Update!

I just received a call from Sandra, Temple's case worker. She just received a text message from Temple. Temple had her doctor's appointment this morning, and she is on her way to the hospital now. They are inducing her this afternoon!!!

Meanwhile, Sandra asked me to call the director of Open Door to ask about the flexibility in their policy about adoptive parents coming early. I told her I just got off the phone with the director who is trying to reach Sandra to discuss the situation and to decide, together, whether we should come down early.

I expect to hear from either Sandra or the director shortly to let us know if we have the green light to come down. If so, we're leaving this afternoon.

How quickly things can change! And how excited we are!!!

A Little Setback?

Well, we may have hit a little setback, depending on how one views these things...

We received an email this morning from Temple's case worker, stating that the agency is reverting to an older policy that would not allow us to travel to Georgia to meet and take placement of the baby until Georgia's ten-day revocation period has passed (the period within which a birth mother can change her mind).

It's frustrating that we just learned of this policy change now, after we are fully packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice. (It's no easy feat getting a family of seven packed and ready to head out the door at the drop of a hat.) It's more importantly, frustrating because Temple has requested our presence at the hospital, and it would therefore be good for her. And it goes without saying that it would be good for the baby and for us to have that bond from the outset.

While I fully understand the concerns and precautions at play in the agency's newly-resurrected policy (hey, we've experienced two fall-throughs; we know gun-shy), I can't help but be somewhat frustrated.

Putting that frustration to good use, I decided to call the director of the agency this morning. Upon speaking with her this morning, I learned that the newly-resurrected ten day policy is a "flexible policy" — one which has resulted from a string of recent revocations occurring after adoptive parents were already in Georgia taking placement of the baby. Given the flexibility of the policy, however, Open Door's director is busy considering today whether to permit us to come down earlier. The social worker and the director will talk, and if there are no "red flags" in this situation (indicating a likelihood of revocation), then they may call back yet today and encourage us to be present as soon as possible after the birth.

So essentially, we are now awaiting a return phone call which tells us we should wait the ten days after birth — or a phone call which says we have the green light to travel as soon as we know Temple is in labor.

Meanwhile, we also await word regarding the outcome of Temple's appointment today and whether an induction has been initiated. If not, we're pressing onward toward that Tuesday due date with hope that we can go down sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We'd Prefer Not to Drive Through a Blizzard

Dear God, please don't let Temple go into labor until at least Thursday!



Hoping Travel Doesn't Coincide with the Blizzard

We are under a winter storm warning with the potential for blizzard conditions tonight and tomorrow.

So, dear God, I pray that Temple's labor holds off until at least Thursday... :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lighting a Candle

Just had to share this lovely message from my pal, Kim... She called to say that around noon yesterday, just an hour before our conference call with Temple, she and her sweet son were in church, lighting a candle and saying a prayer for our adoption. As the good Fr. Rick would say, there are no coincidences, only Godcidences. God bless friends like Kim!

Meanwhile, our phone has been ringing with additional situations that are currently available (through a couple agencies in Utah). A week ago my heart would have been all aflutter with all the situations and the prospects and the possibilities. But today, my heart is in Georgia, with Temple and her wee one.

Meanwhile, together with Kim and many other friends, we pray for Temple, her baby, and our family as we begin this grand, important, and humbling adventure.

Conference Call Follow-Up

I left a voice message with Temple's case worker this morning, inquiring as to how the conference call went from Temple's perspective.

I had a great conversation with her, and we learned something interesting...

The case worker told me that after receiving my voice message this morning, she called Temple to get her feedback on the conference call. The case worker said Temple felt it went very well. Sandra then asked if Temple still wished to place with us, after hearing our voices and speaking to us, and Temple said yes.

Sandra and I got to chatting, and I mentioned that I thought it was interesting that Temple asked the ages of our children over the phone and then proceeded to say, "Wow, that's a big family," when she heard me rattle off their ages. I wondered how she could be that surprised about our family size after viewing our life book (aka: profile) which is chock-full of photos of the kids. Sandra proceeded to tell me this interesting story...

When it came time to show Temple various families' life books, Sandra apparently couldn't find the copy of ours! So she asked Temple if she would be interested in a family who had "several children." Temple said yes, that would be fine. Then Sandra asked her if she would be okay with a Caucasian family, and Temple said yes, that would be fine too, "just as long as they take good care of my baby." So then Sandra asked Temple if it would be okay with her to go with the family who had been waiting with Open Door the longest! (Why am I not surprised at this point that that was us? ;) To that, Temple said yes! Bless her heart.

So, she has not even seen photos of us!!!! We went into the conference call, thinking she knew who we were from the photos and the story we had so carefully put together in our life book. But that's not the case! If we would have known all this when we were on the phone with her, we would have gone over in a little more detail who we are and what our family "looks" like in terms of ages and personalities, etc. It's somehow a little unnerving to consider that she's never even seen a photo of us. I hope she doesn't change her mind when she sees a couple 40-something parents!

Meanwhile, Sandra is working on getting a copy of our life book sent down from the Open Door offices. And I told her I'd email Sandra a few updated photos of our family as well. So she'll see us soon enough. Hope she likes us... This feels a little backwards.

But I'm getting very good vibes from Sandra that Temple is very certain. And Sandra did also say that her request to have us there at the hospital probably "seals the deal" (her words) for Temple emotionally a little more too. Sandra also said that Temple's mother is very supportive of the adoption plan as well, so that's also good.

So, it looks like it may be time to start getting out the baby girl clothes!!! :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Temple's due date, as it turns out is December 15th (not December 13th, as we previously thought) —— William's birthday! William is very much hoping to be able to share a birthday with his new baby sister.

However, it is looking like there is a very good chance that she will be induced on December 11th. That's Friday——just five days from now.

It's time to get our ducks in a row...

A Truly Momentous Day

Today was a day which we shall never forget. It was the day on which we spoke to Temple, the mother who has chosen us to parent her baby.

A conference call was arranged for 1:00 pm today. Since we had already planned to take the kids to ride the 2:00 Santa Express Train (about an hour-and-a-half away from our house), we had to leave an hour earlier than expected in order to be available for the important call. We wanted to be sitting in the parking lot of the train depot by the time 1:00 rolled around. This was simply too important a phone call to take while driving down the road.

We arrived around 12:30, did a loop through the gift shop and purchased all-day suckers for the kids. Just before 1:00, we all went back to the van and let the kids overdose on sugar while Joe and I talked to Temple, the birth mother.

It was an amazing conversation. Temple was very quiet, something I wasn't quite expecting. But she indicated quite firmly that she had two questions that were on her mind.

The first question: How would an African American child be accepted into our white family?

And the second question: Are the kids excited about a new sibling?

I was struck by the intense love in those two questions. They were not questions about where we live or what we do or even how we parent. They were questions so much more basic and so much more important. They were questions, quite simply, about love and acceptance. And, of course, they were easy questions to answer, because skin color has never mattered to us, and the kids have been jumping up and down with excitement ever since they heard that we were matched.

We talked a bit about the very welcome climate here in Wisconsin when it comes to trans-racial adoptions. The case worker (who was also on the line) interjected that it can be hard for southern families to fathom a place where African American children are accepted so readily into white communities and white families. We expressed to her that we are all children of God and the skin color is a non-issue to us.

Joe and I chatted a bit about our kids and our families of origin. We talked about our individual personalities and how they impact our parenting.

Temple asked if we would send photos and letters, and we, of course, assured her that we would do so.

Temple seemed really to be looking for reassurance that this child will be loved unconditionally, and I hope we did a good job relaying our love already for this child and our firm commitment to cherishing this child in the same way that we love all our children.

Temple also asked us if we could be at the hospital at the time of the birth. We told her that we would very much like to do that and would talk to the agency about how to work all that out. There are some unknowns about the hospital and whether they will welcome adoptive parents, and also some calendar-based legal questions that we have to work out. But our great hope is to be there for the birth! We also offered Temple the prospect of meeting our other children, and she said that's something she'd very much like.

I was wiping away tears during most of the phone call, as Joe can well attest. It was very emotional, almost surreal. To hear the voice of the woman who will make the greatest sacrifice and give us the greatest gift is both awesome and humbling all at once. And just very emotionally intense. I certainly have never experienced anything like it.

I told Temple that I wished I was there to give her a big hug. I told her how in awe of her we are that she is giving her child life. And we told her how honored we are to have been chosen to parent her precious little one.

Life is good, and hard, and wondrous, and challenging — sometimes all at once. That was certainly reflected in a most momentous conference call today.

Praying for Temple and her baby tonight...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Have a Match!

A birthmother in central Georgia has selected us to parent her baby girl, due on December 13th! We are over the moon with excitement.

Yes, we've had two fall-throughs, so we are pacing ourselves and trying not to get too crazy just yet. But it's all very exciting!

We are supposed to have a conference call with the birth mother either this afternoon or tomorrow. That will all be firmed up shortly.

Such an exciting time! A Leone Christmas in Georgia is looking like a very distinct possibility!


And now we have another generous mother to remember in our daily prayers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Plenty of Activity to Keep Our Hopes Up

The mother with the due date on Thursday has apparently decided to parent her baby. So it looks unlikely that we'll be hopping in the van for Utah today or tomorrow.

However, a birth mother with a due date on Monday, also in Utah, will be presented with our profile (as well as those of four to five other families) tomorrow or Thursday. She'll make a decision on Thursday.

If we are not chosen for that situation, I'm told there are more situations coming up quickly.

Still hoping for that Christmas baby... :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Action?

It looks like we will be presented with some situations either today or tomorrow. At that point, we may very well be authorizing our lifebook (profile) be sent off to birth mothers for their perusal. One of these potential situations is in Utah with a due date of THURSDAY!

This could all fall through again, but it's hard not to be on pins and needles awaiting a call...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Excitement Mounts

We're hoping to have some new situations presented to us this week. At that point, we'll be able to decide whether to have our profile presented.

Meanwhile, there is a baby with a December 4th due date who does not, as of this time, have any adoptive parents lined up. Due to some business practice concerns about the particular agency handing this case, we have not put forward any money. But if this baby is born without any adoptive parents (which seems somewhat probable at this point), we'd move forward immediately.

More reasons to stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Updates & a Flurry of Activity

Regarding the three situations mentioned in my earlier post... We ended up holding off on having our profile shown, due to some financial and legal risk considerations.

Having said that, however, the last two weeks have been an absolute flurry of excitement since signing with our wonderful new referral service. Courtney, the owner of the referral service, has helped us improve our "life book," and we have added many new photos. Meanwhile, we've filled out paperwork for one agency that has some situations coming up. And Courtney plans to discuss some other situations with us by the end of the week.

While this might sound like "nothing happening yet" to the casual observer, I assure you, this feels like a great deal of promising activity on the road toward bringing home our newest wee one.

I can also assuredly state that there is a level of adoption-related excitement in the Leone household that did not exist a mere two weeks ago.

This adoption snowball seems to be picking up speed as we head toward the holiday season. Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Getting More Interesting

We just said "yes" to having our profile shown to three different birth mothers. That doesn't mean much quite yet, but if one of those birth mothers picks us, things will start getting very exciting very quickly.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Widening Our Horizons

Today we faxed our application to an adoption referral service, Faithful Adoption Consultants. We are "branching out" a little, since all is so quiet on the Open Door front.

The referral service has her finger in many adoption "pies" so to speak. When an agency has more babies than adoptive parents, they reach out to referral services who have a pool of clients. (We are now in one of those pools.) The referral service basically puts its clients in touch with more agencies, without the clients having to pay an application fee and do all the paperwork for each of those agencies. The additional fee, paperwork, and affiliation with the agency only comes into play at such time as a match occurs (birthmother chooses a couple, couple says yes).

Courtney at Faithful Adoption Consultants has a very strong track record for fast placements. She was recommended to us by an acquaintance who was recently matched with a baby due in early November.

We are still in the queue with Open Door as well. However, if we are matched with another agency through Faithful Adoption Consultants, we will have to notify Open Door immediately, per our agreement with them and out of fairness to birth mothers. We would want to avoid any situation where two birth mothers might choose us, and we'd end up having to disappoint one.

For the moment, this "branching out" has only the effect of making our pocketbooks a little lighter. But we hope it means a sweet little one will be added to our family sooner rather than later. We're just not getting any younger, and Therese would sure love a little brother or sister. All the kids would!

And if this little one comes to us via a referral from Faithful Adoption Consultants, he or she will almost certainly not be a Georgia baby. So much for descriptive blog titles.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


All is very quiet on the adoption front.

After our two disappointing fall-throughs this summer, the silence from Georgia feels deafening at times. I called our agency in Georgia last week, just to check in, just to feel like I had some contact... Always lovely, the coordinator of their minority program told me that it's just "a little slower than usual," but that our life book is being shown. I certainly didn't get any it-could-be-any-day (or even any-month) vibes. But they are a very reputable agency, and if they say they are showing our life books, they are showing our life books. And that means that something could happen any day, even if it might not feel like it at the moment.

After that phone call, I started contemplating the possibility of signing on with an additional agency or two, just to increase our odds. (Let's face it; we're not getting any younger.) I looked into some options, even sent away for some information. And then I called our local social worker Julie for a gut check.

Julie is a font of adoption wisdom, and although she was not strongly opposed to looking into other agencies, she did sort of leave me with a "you just have to be patient" sort of feeling. Signing on with more agencies means more paperwork and more fees. And we're with a great place that has a wonderful track record. Talking it out with Julie and hearing my own words about needing to just be more patient helped me conclude that we're in the right place for now.

So we wait, no less anxious or impatient if you want the unvarnished truth. But as I'm growing to understand, uncertainty is very much a part of the adoption process.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We're Learning How to Roll with these Fall-Throughs

We have had another adoption fall-through.

On Thursday, as Joe was home recuperating from knee surgery, we received a call from our adoption agency. They said a woman named Jamie had chosen us to be adoptive parents of her baby boy, due on Saturday. We were thrilled.

Since then, however, Jamie has cut off all contact with the agency and has disappeared. When her cousin told the caseworker that she didn't know where Jamie was and couldn't get a hold of her either, we were told that we were officially being placed back in the queue.

So here we are... After five days of thinking a new baby might be in our very near future, we find ourselves waiting once again.

Patience is a virtue; I keep telling myself that. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back in the Groove

After walking around in something of a stupor for the last day or two after our big let-down, things are starting to feel "normal" again.

The words my old law school classmate sent on Monday morning brought us great comfort. She wrote,

"Knowing she did not have to raise the baby and that there was a family willing to take the baby and love her, let this Mom DECIDE she could do it rather than feeling forced into it and bitter. What a gift you have given both Mom and daughter."

I cried when I read those words from my pal, Katie. There is much to contemplate in those words, and they provide a reason to keep praying and have great hope for this little girl, her mother, and their future together.

I admit to jumping a little faster now each time the phone rings, still conditioned from the weekend's important calls. And we wait just a bit impatiently for the arrival of the next phone call from Open Door.

We're also living vicariously through the excitement of another family who is in Georgia picking up their baby as I type. Although we don't know this family personally, it appears from their blog that they are going through the same agency and the same minority program. We are thrilled for them and can't wait to hear the update.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We're Heartbroken

We received a call this morning around 10:00 am, informing us of the wonderful news that a healthy baby girl, 6 lb, 3 oz, had been born. I asked if the birth mother was still thinking she'd place the baby for adoption. The case worker said, "absolutely yes." This is a very firm case. She has never wavered in her decision to place this baby. We were told to pack our bags immediately in order to try to be in Georgia before the baby was released from the hospital.

You can imagine the flurry of excitement around here. The kids were just beside themselves. Joe and I frantically tried to wrap up loose ends and begin packing.

And then came the phone call at 1:30 pm. The birth mother, bless her heart, changed her mind and decided she's going to parent the baby.

It's hard to express the range of emotions we've experienced in the last 18 hours. It's numbing and heartbreaking at times. But we now have two special people who will remain in our hearts and prayers for a lifetime.

Friday, May 29, 2009

We Have News!

God-willing, we may be adoptive parents very, very soon!

Here are the events as they have unfolded over the last nine days:

Wednesday, May 20th: We received a call from Open Door, informing us that our family had been chosen by a birth mother. The birth mother felt that she was eight months pregnant and likely due in mid- to late-June. That day, we received the birth mother's medical records as well as some information about the birth father. The birth mother is Caucasian, and the birth father is Jamaican.

Saturday, May 23rd: I emailed Debbie at Open Door to ask her some additional questions. We received her response and felt even more settled with information that appeared to make this adoption look very solid.

Today, May 29th: We learned that the birth mother was scheduled for an OB appointment yesterday. We waited for word, especially interested in confirmation of a due date. When they word never came, we wondered what was happening... Joe and I slipped away for a dinner date. While at dinner, we received the most unexpected news: Our little one's birth mother was in labor! Receiving a follow-up phone call, we learned of her progression, and we sent a message to her via the case worker.

The news that she is in labor (even as I type this) was so enormously unexpected. We were anticipating a late June trip to Georgia! Now we're busy thinking about leaving in the next day or two. So many emotions, so much to do, such excitement!

On our way home from dinner tonight, we drove by the house of friends where our two oldest daughters are attending a slumber party. We wanted to tell them the news in person, and we wanted them to be able to pray for the birth mother and Wee One tonight. They were so very excited.

This is one momentous night.

If all goes well, we could be leaving for Georgia, to meet our newest bambino/a in a matter of days.

Please keep birthmom, baby and all the Leones in your prayers!


There are rumblings from Georgia that indicate an adoption may be in our near future. I will update this blog with more specifics once things look a little more certain. Exciting times!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Telling the Family—Part II

Due to the rapid decline and death of my grandmother and the traveling and burial details that followed, we delayed telling my side of the family our news until just this week. We wanted to be sure that our focus was first on Grammy and her life and passing, rather than on our adoption news.

The evening of Grammy's funeral, we were all together -- my parents and all six of my brothers and me. It seemed the perfect time to share our news with everyone in person. There were many questions and great excitement.

There is a silver lining in every cloud. Grammy's death from advanced Alzheimer's not only brought our entire family together for the first time in ten years, but it gave us the gift of being able to transmit our exciting adoption announcement to my parents and brothers in person. I could never have imagined we'd have that opportunity. We'll remember that always.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Telling the Family

We began telling our family members about our adoption news (the fact that we're in the queue awaiting an infant referral) tonight. We made it through Joe's immediate family members tonight. His mom and all eight siblings. Tomorrow night, we'll call my parents and my six brothers.

So this expecting-a-baby announcement was just so very different from the others. After all, there is no due date. Uncertainties regarding the specifics (birth time and place, for example) are complete unknowns. But considering we could, at least in theory, receive a baby referral any day, we figured we'd better begin letting the family know.

We had great fun making those calls! I'm smiling ear to ear as I type this...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And We're Off!

Now it's official. We're in the Open Door system, and our life books are being shown to birth mothers, perhaps even as we speak.

Here is the word from Open Door that arrived by email today:

Your file is complete and life books are out to consultants. Now we just need a baby!

Sort of hard to remain calm and patiently wait, you know?

Formal Acceptance

Yesterday, we received our formal acceptance letter from Open Door placement agency in Georgia. How very exciting! We are praying for the birth mother and for our child who may already reside in her womb as we begin the wait.

Thank you so much for allowing your home study to be presented to our agency so that we might present your profile to An Open Door birth mothers. This letter is to let you know that your home study have been accepted into An Open Door Adoption Agency Minority Program.


Now you have reached the hardest part of all, the waiting. This time can be valuable to you if you use it to prepare for the birth of your baby. Just as you would prepare during the nine-month wait for your biological child, you can use this time to prepare for your adoptive child.

If you have any questions about the adoption process, please do not hesitate to call me. I truly look forward to talking with you and working together during this adoption process. Again, let me encourage you to be patient and remember that God's timing is perfect. When you place your birth mother in His hands, leave her there with Him knowing all will be well.

What beautiful words! I love this placement agency already.

Monday, March 2, 2009

And the Wait Begins

We just received this extremely exciting email from our Georgia placement agency today:

Your home study has arrived!!!!! I'll read it and send you an acceptance
letter. This means your books can be shown to birth mothers.

I can't begin to tell you the extent of our excitement (and butterflies). Now the wait officially begins. I wonder how long it will be?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where We Are and Where We've Been

Today I am setting up a blog to chronicle the steps we've taken and the exciting path we're traveling as we head into the world of domestic infant adoption. I anticipate that this blog will serve someday as a bit of a "baby book" for the wee one who will someday call us family.

We currently have five wonderful biological children ranging in age from three to twelve. For a variety of reasons, we have decided to add to our family by adoption. We couldn't be more excited!

After considering both international and domestic adoption, we settled on a domestic infant adoption through Open Door placement agency in Georgia. We decided to apply to their African American infant adoption program. This means, as Caucasian parents, that we will be adopting trans-racially, God-willing. We do not plan to make a gender request.

The Adoption Chronology to Date
February 2008: We met for the first time with our chosen social worker, Julie Dahlen of Adoption Advocates. She walked us through the basic adoption questions and considerations and loaded us up with a plethora of information on both international and domestic adoption. At that time, we were leaning seriously toward international adoption, and we were looking into Ethiopia and India as possibilities. (We are considered too old or already parenting too many children for a number of the other countries.)

March 2008: We were surprised but overjoyed by the news of my pregnancy. We put our adoption plans on hold, and relished the thought of new little one arriving in nine months.

April 2008: We suffered our first miscarriage, and we laid our Baby Mary to rest in a beautiful ceremony. Little Mary had Trisomy 15 and only made it to Week 8 in utero. We are told that even if she would have made it to birth, she would likely not have lived long. Mary's remains rest in a beautiful hilltop cemetery on the grounds of an old Catholic church in Perry, Wisconsin.

May 2008: We enjoyed our spring and became acquainted with some new friends (I'll call them the Smiths, for the sake of privacy), a wonderful family who was well-into the process of a domestic infant adoption. Their friendship would prove transforming, and their inspiration would be the turning point in our adoption process.

Summer 2008: We became fast friends with the Smiths and shared in their joy as they adopted their infant son through Open Door's African American adoption program. With the adoption of their son, the Smiths created a blended (birth & biological) family, much like we hope to create for ourselves. What a beautiful family!

October 2008: Inspired by the Smiths, we re-initiated our meetings with Julie. During our first meeting of the fall, we were able to ask all our questions on the topic of domestic adoption. We took the paperwork home. It didn't take us long to determine that we wanted to move forward and to pursue a domestic infant adoption. We quickly found ourselves hip-deep in meetings and paperwork. We also learned that we would need to pick another agency -- a placement agency. Julie's agency, Adoption Advocates, would essentially serve as the requisite local home study agency, while the second agency would act as the placement agency. We began our placement agency search. Based on personal recommendations, we narrowed it down to two agencies: St. Joseph's Adoption Ministry in Kansas City and Open Door in Georgia.

November 2008: We completed the first wave of paperwork for our home study agency, Adoption Advocates, including the somewhat challenging "comfort level" worksheet.

December 2008: We received our second round of paperwork, met with social worker Julie numerous times, gathered necessary documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, home and health insurance documentation, kids' immunization records, blah, blah, blah)and completed the required doctor appointments, blood tests, and fingerprinting.

We had our "home visit" just before Christmas. With the Christmas rush and home-study nerves, I can't say it was a completely stress-free experience, but Julie was wonderful, and we had a lovely meeting and visit. All went well.

We resolved to finish all the paperwork before the Christmas rush, which we did successfully. A mountain of paperwork, but so very worth it. It allowed us to enjoy Christmas without the home study paperwork hanging over our heads.

During December, we also finalized our decision to work with Open Door placement agency in Georgia. We chose Open Door for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the rave reviews of the Smiths. Open Door is a Christian agency which provides exceptional comfort, care, and support to birth mothers throughout the pregnancy and the relinquishment process. This was something extremely important to us as pro-life Catholics desiring to support and encourage mothers who have made the sacrifices necessary to give life to their children. We have also been told that there are no financial surprises with Open Door. Since money is not growing on trees in our vicinity, this is important to us. Open Door refers only Georgia infants for adoption, which means there is more certainty in terms of knowing the laws that will apply to our adoption situation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the need for adoptive families of African American infants in Georgia is startlingly high; thus, the wait for a child is relatively short.

During the kids' Christmas vacation, we completed the paperwork for Open Door (a bit less intimidating than the paperwork required by our local home study agency) and also created a "life book." Our life book is a digitized scrapbook that provides a window into our family life for the birth mothers to view. By looking at photos of our family and by reading our birth mother letter and our profile, a birth mother can decide whether to choose us as adoptive parents. We used Shutterfly photo service to create our digitized life books, and we were pleased with the results. Promptly after mailing the completed paperwork and the life books (original, plus ten duplicates), we received from Open Door our "acceptance letter." Our first big milestone.

January 2009: We completed the remaining home study meetings with Julie. During these meetings, we discussed adoption in general, attachment and bonding, answering strangers' questions (or not), family dynamics, and becoming a distinctive bi-racial family. The meetings were extremely helpful and informative, allowing us to consider issues that may not have been obvious to us otherwise.

February 2009: Julie completed our home study and mailed it to Open Door in Georgia. The home study states, in no uncertain terms, that Julie at Adoption Advocates recommends us to Open Door for the adoption of an infant within their domestic program. Another milestone!

March 1, 2009: We created this blog today. We find ourselves in a holding pattern now, awaiting a call from Open Door alerting us that they have received our home study and that our file is therefore complete. I am expecting that news to come tomorrow (Monday), as the home study was mailed on Wednesday. At that point, Open Door will begin showing our life books to expectant mothers. And then we'll just wait. And pray. And talk about baby names...