Earth Day!

With Earth Day coming up we’ve been researching brands + companies that give back to this very special planet. Sweden’s #1 clothing brand for kids and babies Polarn O. Pyret offers a ton of eco-friendly clothing for little ones, but even better for Earth Day, they are helping moms recycle clothing through their continued partnership with ThredUp, the largest online consignment store.

Here’s how it works: Anyone who wants to recycle their kids’ clothing can contact PO.P at thredup@polarnopyretusa.com to receive free ThredUp bags in the mail.  Stuff the bags full of gently used clothes (up to 10 pounds prepaid) and send them in.  ThredUp sells the gently used clothing online and gives a percentage back to the customer to spend on new clothes at Polarn O. Pyret, either in store or online.  It’s a win-win: clean out your kids’ closets and get money to spend on new clothes for the season, like these great spring basics.polarncollage polarncollage2To order your back click here. It’s seriously so easy. Now get Spring Cleaning!

 

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Adoption Story: Rasmussen Family

It is always so incredible to us to read and see how much a woman will endure on the road to starting a family. To some it comes easy, to others it is a fight from start to finish. Read this eye-opening post with one happy ending to see what we mean!
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John and I got married in September of 2006 and got pregnant for the first time in January of 2008. I will admit, this pregnancy was not planned but we were excited. Needless to say, I never made it to my first prenatal appointment. I lost the baby around 5 weeks. My OB/GYN would go on to call this a “chemical pregnancy” which basically means that your body says it’s pregnant but nothing really ever started to develop.
We got pregnant for the second time in July of 2008. This one was planned, but as I look back on it now I wonder what we were thinking 🙂 We were young, in love, and eager to start growing our family. After a handful of positive pregnancy tests, we were ecstatic. However, I would go on to miscarry on Labor Day weekend. I met with my doctor the week following and she very kindly and gently explained that there was nothing I did or didn’t do but just something that happens sometimes. Although that was comforting to hear, it still didn’t ease the pain. My mind raced going over every last detail of what I ate, my activities, etc. I couldn’t come up with an answer, we had done everything right and I knew that I would drive myself crazy if I didn’t just accept the fact that sometimes it just happens and we can’t explain it.Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 11.13.56 PM

So fast forward 4 years…..
I don’t want to confuse anyone, we weren’t trying to get pregnant. Life has an interesting way of working itself out. John and I would go through job losses, moving in with his parents, finding new jobs, finding a more permanent place to live, and so on. The timing just never seemed right to try starting a family again. To be honest though, when is the time ever right? We decided though that we would start trying again in the fall of 2012. Just a little disclosure, we have only ever tried for 1 month. The getting pregnant part has never been a problem. This time was no different. We got a positive pregnancy test at the end of September. Tears flowed down our faces but we were both cautiously optimistic. My first appointment was set for the middle of October. It didn’t dawn on me to have John come. In my experience, the first appointment always involved a lot of handouts and brochures and most likely no ultrasound. However, because of our experience last time, I got an ultrasound. The baby (but really just the sac) was measuring right on track at almost 6 weeks. It didn’t look like much but according to the experts it looked right. They wanted me to come back in a week for another ultrasound to make sure that things were progressing.

We went in on October 18th and already the baby was measuring behind which isn’t necessarily an immediate concern but they also couldn’t find the heartbeat they should be able to see at this point in a pregnancy. This obviously wasn’t good news but the ultrasound tech assured us that we could just be a little early, our dates could be a little off. They weren’t optimistic but still had a glimmer of hope. We went back in on October 25th for just one more ultrasound to see if anything had changed. Unfortunately, the baby was measuring way behind at this point and still no heartbeat. We were devastated. We thought that this time would be different. We were in a different place in our lives. I was healthier after losing almost 50 pounds. We had done everything right. I had been taking my prenatal vitamins, getting lots of sleep, eating lots of healthy food, and had cut out alcohol a month before even trying. All I kept coming back to was ” what did we do wrong?”

After meeting with our OB/GYN, I decided that I was going to wait and let my body miscarry on its own. It would be exactly 1 month before that would happen. I can honestly say I have never experienced so much pain in my life. Although I knew it was coming, it was horrible. At the same time, I was relieved it was over. After my recovery, we met with my OB/GYN who felt like it was just a fluke. Most miscarriages that happen that early are a result of a chromosomal error. Even then, it’s hard to know for sure. We did some pretty basic tests and everything came back normal. The funny thing about insurance companies is that they won’t cover any of the “in depth” testing until you have had 3 miscarriages. Since my first pregnancy was considered a “chemical pregnancy”, our tally was only at 2. My OB said to wait until I had a normal cycle and gave us the go ahead to try again. One thing we were going to try though was putting me on some extra Progesterone. Progesterone helps to sustain the pregnancy until the placenta takes over at about 10 weeks. Let me tell you, Progesterone suppositories are not fun. We will just leave it at that…
Come January, we were ready. Once again, I got pregnant right away. This time, we waited until I was almost 8 weeks pregnant for my first appointment. We went in on February 20th for our first prenatal appointment and ultrasound. We were SHOCKED when we saw a heartbeat and a baby that was measuring right on track. You see, we had come to expect the worst. We were more prepared for bad news than we were for good news. However, that bubble burst really quickly because the ultrasound tech was concerned about the heartbeat. It was measuring a little on the low side. We were instructed by the nurse practitioner to come back in about a week just to make sure the heartbeat had picked up. We went back in on February 25th and got the bad news, no heartbeat and a baby that was measuring behind. Seriously!? There was part of us that knew it was too good to be true but we had never gotten to this point before. We saw a heartbeat and a baby! What was going on!?Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 11.13.48 PM
Instead of waiting this time, we decided that I would have a D & C.  So now what?
Well, we were referred to the Center for Reproductive Medicine by my OB/GYN to meet with an infertility specialist. She explained that it wasn’t for infertility reasons because clearly we have no problem getting pregnant but for “recurrent pregnancy loss”. That makes it sound so nice, doesn’t it? She felt like it was time for us to go through some more invasive testing before we tried getting pregnant again. Luckily, our tally was now at 3 which meant that our insurance company would cover the appointments, tests, etc.

We met with the infertility specialist on April 23rd. She came up with a list of about 5 tests that she thought we should start with. A couple of them were simple blood tests, a genetic test, and a saline infused ultrasound to make sure that everything anatomically was fine. Everything came back normal, with the exception of the genetic test. We found out that I am a carrier for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA for short). I won’t go into detail explaining what it is, you can look it up if you want to, but it is a horrible, horrible genetic disorder and one of the most common causes of infant death. Children born with SMA normally don’t live past the age of 2. Now with most genetic disorders, in order for the child to be born with it, both parents have to be carriers. So, our next step was getting John tested. You see, they don’t test both of you at the same time because unless one of you comes back as a carrier of something, it doesn’t matter if the other one is or not. John went in for his test on June 4th and we got the news we were dreading on June 11th. John is also a carrier of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. What are the odds, you ask, of both parents being a carrier of SMA? I think they are about 1 in 4,800. As one of my dear friends put it, “we are a special breed”. Basically it means that we have a 1 in 4 chance every time we get pregnant of having a baby with SMA. We can also produce a carrier of SMA which means down the road they will have to go through the same genetic testing that we did with their future spouse.

The interesting thing about this though is that it doesn’t necessarily explain our miscarriages. All of the doctors I have talked to have said that there is no correlation between SMA and miscarriages. So that’s great, we get this answer but it’s not really an answer at all.
So all that being said and without writing another novel, we decided to pursue domestic infant adoption. It’s funny how life works out sometimes because adoption is something that John and I have always talked about and always hoped to do someday. To be honest, part of us had always felt God pushing us in this direction. I think part of me was just too scared to listen. We officially started the process in October of 2014, were home study approved in January of 2015 and were officially matched with our birth mom on March 11th. Our baby girl is due July 19th and we could not be more ecstatic. The journey to her has been long and full of many tears and doubts but it will have been worth EVERY single second.

More of the Rasmussen Family.

Hoping to Adopt: Cahoon Family

Our story like everyone’s story is unique and has come with challenges but most of all lots of joy. The short version of our story is my husband James was married before for 8 years to an amazing woman named Paige. Paige fought cancer for 6 of those years and due to her cancer was not able to bear children. So James and Paige adopted an amazing little girl that they named Esme. When Esme was 8 months old Paige’s cancer came back and she died 3 months later. After some time had passed James felt ready to begin the next chapter of his life. That’s when he met me and we got married. Wedding268I was so blessed to not only to marry an amazing guy like James but to get to be a mom to the best little girl ever. We were all blessed in this situation. Since we have been married we have been trying to have children on our own and between the 6 medical procedures we have had and all the money we have spent we were left empty handed. We want to add to our family more then words can say. But even more so Esme asks us daily when she gets to be a big sister. We have plenty of love to give to a child and hope that day comes soon.Hoping to Adopt: Cahoon Family

We loved this story and Stacey’s big heart, you can reach Stacey and the Cahoon family via email! jeppy11 @ yahoo.com

Adoption Support : @fullcircleblessing

We love to be able to share companies that support adoption and the families that are working toward starting or adding to their family! Full Circle Blessing is an Instagram account that features Esty type shops with products for women and kids that are using their profits to go toward adoption fundraising efforts. Full Circle Blessing works with one family each month and is starting their first sale this month! We love this idea and want it to soar! Check out their Instagram here! If you want to work with Full Circle Blessing you can contact them by email fullcircleblessing@gmail.com.

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Hoping to Adopt: Cypert Family

After having been married for a few years, we decided to stop taking birth control and get down to business. Steve was getting closer to 40, and I was getting closer to my mid 30’s. We wanted kids, so we agreed that we had better start working on it. And work on it we did.3000684_206
The work was good, but when there were no fruits of our labors, we started looking into our options. We met with an adoption agency and we also got some doctors involved with our baby-making business. About two years later, we were blessed to have a child with the help of IVF. After our son turned 2 we decided we wanted another baby. Once again we had to get doctors involved. But after a few blood tests we decided to move forward with adoption instead. We knew, and had felt prior to our infertility diagnosis, that adoption would be a part of our lives. We are so excited to move on with our next adventure of expanding our family and could not feel more blessed to have adoption be a part of it!

More of the Cypert Family.

Adoption Update: Ebersole Family

Do you all remember this story from last year? Brandi was adopted and then was also blessed with the chance to adopt into her own little family!

adoptionweek A year later and our tribe has grown. Last year we were at the starting gate of our open-adoption, when we wrote this: An adoption story: Ebersole Tribe. Now we have a singing and dancing one year-old and two amazing birth parents who have both come to visit. As an adoptee this makes my heart sing.Open Adoption Tips

Being a Korean adoptee, I haven’t had much connection to race or culture. I always wondered and dreamt of my own birth mother. I have tried to connect with her, but have been unsuccessful. Nonetheless, having an open adoption has given me a stronger identity and my hope is that it will redefine what it means to be an adoptee for my daughter.Open Adoption Tips

Vera-lou’s birthmother, Mama T, as we call her, is a huge gift. She has given me a view into a part of my adoption story I wouldn’t ever have had. The birthmother’s perspective. She has allowed me to see first hand the pain of labor and the loss of leaving the hospital empty-handed. This whole year she’s allowed me in on some of her grief. She’s given me a deeper respect and admiration for my own birth mother. Sometimes it’s hard, to watch her. Like when she came to visit, knowing the courage and love it took to come see us. Then the pain, she experienced during her visit. As it was really the only space she had to truly process and celebrate her choice, since a large portion of her family still does not know about Vera-lou. It was beautiful to see Mama T, rejoice in the things she wouldn’t have been able to give Vera-lou and watching her soak in all the love people have for our little lady. Mama T is extraordinary and is also one of my favorite fellow adoptees. We love to share stories of growing up adopted and use our experiences to navigate our boundaries with each other for our sweet little lady.Open Adoption Tips

We also had a great experience with Vera-lou’s birth-father, Padre J. This kind and sensitive young man, flew to visit us even though he had never met us. And when he met his birth daughter for the first time, she took his breath away and his eyes filled with tears. Padre J, played tirelessly on the floor with his Lou-lou girl and made her laugh like no other. He did his own processing while he was here and thanked us for giving Vera-lou such a lovely life. We dreamt together of what him being apart of our tribe will look like in the coming years and promised each other to always be honest and honor the boundaries established. It is encouraging to see how he desires to be involved in our baby’s life for this is often not the case. Padre J wants to know everything and loves to share her pictures with his family.

Open Adoption Tips

If you are considering adoption or in the waiting, it is easy to fear the unknowns. But from an adult adoptee, having an open adoption is a lot of work but the answers and identity you will give your child will be such a gift. It’s not always attainable but if it is be brave for your baby. Allow your heart to be open to help heal the loss your child will one day face. I cannot really predict what our open adoption will look like in twenty years. But we will let Vera-lou lead this open-adoption journey, for its about her. Both birth-parents know this and understand, we will continue to grow and live out this crazy adventure of the Ebersole Tribe.Open Adoption Tips

For more of our journey please visit ebersoletribe.wordpress.org

Photography: www.ebersolephotography.com

Hoping to Adopt: Evan and Jen

We have been married for almost 5 years and wanted to start our family shortly after we were married. Over some years of trying we were told we struggle with infertility. Though different procedures with numerous doctors we were able to become pregnant! When someone tells you you have fertility issues, it’s really discouraging and you automatically think it’ll never happen, so you can imagine the excitement when it did! However, at 24 weeks, I started having problems, and a week later our sweet little boy was born. He was perfect and absolutely beautiful, weighing only 1 pound and measuring 11 inches long. He lived for 40 hours. It was devastating, but we helped each other through the toughest days and we believe our marriage is stronger because of it. About a year later, and after visiting specialists, we decided it was the right thing for us to adopt! DSC_0352eAfter we made that decision we felt so good and it felt we were on the right path again for starting our family. We can’t wait to be “matched”. We are hoping for an open adoption and are so excited to meet the different people this adoption journey is going to bring into our lives. Our home study is complete and we are just trying to keep our selves busy day to day and do everything in our power to spread the word! Feel free to check out and also share our Facebook page on your own profiles and timelines. The more exposure we get, the closer we are to having a family! Thank you!

Find more of Evan and Jen on Facebook and their Blog.

Adoption Story: Gainer Family

Today’s story just might break your heart. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned throughout doing this series it is that even before we choose these sweet babies it seems they have already chosen us. So proud to know people like the Gainers who make the hard decisions for all the right reasons. We can’t wait until you get to hold little Daphne in your arms again!adoptionweekMy name is Rachel, and I’m an adoptive mother of five–four on earth and one in heaven. I have three girls (ages 7 and 4 + my angel) and two boys (age 2). My boys are two months apart; they are my twins through adoption. All of my children have special stories, but today, I’ll just focus on our second child, Daphne.Gainer Family

Daphne was born on January 20, 2011, in Birmingham, Alabama, and immediately placed for adoption with an agency in Utah. Shortly after birth, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that prevented blood from returning to her lungs to receive oxygen and resulted in a severely underdeveloped right ventricle—essentially leaving her with half a heart.

On Monday, January 24, our adoption agency contacted us about two situations. The first was a healthy baby girl in Virginia, and the second was Daphne. Will and I hadn’t planned on adopting a baby with special needs; in fact, when we learned about Daphne and her life-threatening heart defect, we felt terrified and inadequate. At first, we convinced ourselves that the healthy baby in Virginia was a safer, more logical choice, but we couldn’t forget about Daphne, and we knew she was meant for our family. We were afraid, but we were also confident we were making the right decision.Gainer Family

Two days later, I flew to Alabama so that I could be with Daphne for her first heart surgery. The first moment I saw her, she was sleeping peacefully in a clear, enclosed incubator. She weighed just 4 lb. 9 oz. and was 17 in. long. She was so tiny and beautiful. She captured my heart from the very first moment.

We spent every day in Alabama snuggling in a rocker, our mobility limited by various tubes and cords. Daphne was a calm, content baby, who cried only when she was hungry or angry about being poked and prodded by the nurses. She loved to be swaddled and wailed when she was unwrapped. She was a greedy and speedy eater, a rare blessing in a heart baby.

For the first two weeks of her life, Daphne’s cheeks and eyelids were so puffy that she couldn’t open her eyes all the way. When the swelling finally disappeared and she fully opened her eyes for the first time, she looked completely shocked by her surroundings. After a while, her eyes took on a more curious and questioning appearance. She seemed to be appraising and studying her world and the people in it. I loved those amazing eyes!Gainer Family

Daphne underwent her first heart surgery when she was two weeks old. When I saw her after surgery, she was swollen, sedated, and surrounded by cords and monitors. But she had made it, and I was filled with joy and peace.

After almost a month in Alabama, we took a commercial flight home. A few days after we arrived in Utah, Daphne began showing signs that her heart wasn’t circulating enough oxygen. She was admitted to Primary Children’s Medical Center for observation and tests. After a week, it was clear she wasn’t doing well, so the medical team decided to take her back into the operating room to redo her first surgery. But when the doctor arrived to deliver this news, he discovered that Daphne had made a miraculous recovery, and he decided to send her home without surgery.

We enjoyed two incredible weeks at home as a family. Our oldest daughter, Shelby, loved helping me take care of Daphne. She insisted on holding Daphne’s bottle during feedings and pushed my hand away if I tried to help. When Daphne fussed, she offered her a pacifier and whispered comforting words. Despite Daphne’s 50-foot oxygen cord and bulky pulse-ox monitor, Shelby loved her sister and did everything she could to make her feel comfortable in this world.Gainer Family

After two weeks, Daphne began to decline again, and she was readmitted to Primary Children’s. This was her last trip to the hospital. She passed away on March 18, 2011, just hours after her second heart surgery. Daphne’s life on earth lasted just 58 days, but she left an everlasting mark on our hearts.

After losing Daphne, I was afraid my heart would be closed for a very long time, that having more children might not be in my future. But just one month after Daphne passed away, my husband and I had the opportunity to adopt our third daughter, Phoebe. And less than two years later, I got the wonderfully crazy idea to adopt two babies back-to-back, and we welcomed two boys, Noah and Jaimen, into our home. Adoption has been a wonderful blessing in my life. But we have also faced our share of disappointment and heartache. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned and for the joy we have discovered in the journey.
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Foster to Adoption: Popenberg Family

Today we are happy to feature a side to adoption we haven’t shared yet, and that is Adoption through Foster Care! Thank you to the Popenbergs for sharing so much great information with us on this!

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“Foster care and adoption were always something in the back of my mind from a very early age. My family was like that, we took in kids and family members all the time. In 2007, newly married and recently transplanted to Columbus, OH, I happened upon a presentation at the State House put on by Franklin County Children Services. Grabbing some pamphlets I took them home to my husband, Nick, so that I could convince him that this could be something to look into. We didn’t have any kids of our own yet and we had time and energy to give to a child in need. Popenberg Family on Foster CareThat next January we started the process to become foster parents. I always tell my friends that show interest in foster care that it’s really no walk in the park. There is a lot of paperwork and classes to take before you can become licensed and although Nick and I, being Navy Vets, were used to paperwork I could see where the process could seem daunting. There is a background check, fingerprinting, home study, letters of recommendation and all the classes which took us around 7 months to get through. In the beginning of August we received our license for Foster to Adopt care, about two weeks later we were picking up little Jaren from the hospital. Getting an infant is not typical, and getting a child as quickly as us isn’t either, and that is the first thing they say when classes start. We were very lucky and blessed to have gotten the call for Jaren!

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/outofhome/foster-care/
Now every agency is different and had different guidelines concerning the process to terminate parental rights. In the case of our sons, both of the biological parents had multiple other children who had been or were currently in foster care. Although reunification with the family is always the initial goal, the time frame for them to make progress on their case plan went from one year to 6 months. When Jaren was 6 months old, Children’s Services started the very long process of asking the court to terminate the parental rights so that we could adopt. During this time, we were again blessed as we added Asher to our family. Jaren and Asher are full biological brothers and have lived with us since birth. They had very minimal family contact with the exception of an older half sister who they love and adore to this day and an older half brother with medical issues, but a wonderful family who loves to keep up with the boys. A couple weeks over three years after Jaren was born parental rights were terminated and the boys were officially put up for adoption. We worked as hard and as fast as we could to get all of our stuff in order and two months later we were sitting in a room with a judge and social workers changing names and becoming legal! A few months after this, I was pregnant with our third boy, Beau and this January we welcomed our fourth boy, Gage.Popenberg Family on Foster Care
We are now a happy family full of boys who love each other more than anything. There is always some concern about issues that could come up later due to the circumstances of their birth, but we are taking that one step at a time. Foster care was tough on us, but it made the end result all the more wonderful and if I can convince Nick again, I hope we can become foster parents once more!”

If you want more details on Fostering a child head here!

Photography – Angie Arthur and Stephanie’s Creations Photography

Adoption Story: Lynch Family

Welcome to our 3rd Annual Adoption Week! You can read all about how this week came to be with Jenna’s very personal connection to adoption right here, and we’re so excited and touched to be able to share more stories. To kick it off a sweet story from the Lynch Family!

adoptionweek“I will always remember where I was the moment I got the call—in the Panera Bread parking lot. I heard our adoption counselor on the other end saying she was going to call my husband, Josh, and we would be on a three-way conversation. I knew what was about to happen, but that did not stop the tears from flowing when she told us a birth mother had chosen us. As car after car passed to get in the drive-through line, my husband and I laughed and cried and laughed again. I could practically hear his smile through the phone line. The most joyous words I had heard up until that point in my life: “You have been matched.”

Adoption Story: Lynch FamilyRewind to two years earlier when my husband and I became engaged. We knew then that having our own biological children was not going to happen, but we were still undecided about adoption. I had so many questions: Will I love this child as if I had given birth to him or her? What if a birth mother never chooses us? What if we are chosen and then she changes her mind? What if our child grows up and wants to find his/her biological family? The fears seemed endless, but not nearly as frightening as never having anyone call me, “Mama.”Adoption Story: Lynch FamilyI cannot believe I ever questioned the love I would have for this angel sent to us from Heaven above. There is no way I could love my Ryan Michelle any more if I had given birth to her. She melts my heart when she wakes in the morning and wants me to bend down so we can give kisses through the slats in her crib. She runs to the safety gate at the top of the stairs when her dad comes home and shouts, “Dada!” at the top of her lungs. She dances to every single song she hears, even in her highchair, if a particularly awesome tune comes on. She loves bubbles and swinging and reading books. She is our beautiful, perfect, funny, curious girl. OUR girl.Adoption Story: Lynch Family

I will not say the journey was easy. It was filled with tears, worries, sleepless nights, time spent on our knees in prayer, and many questions and doubts. But the second we got that phone call, it made every single tear and anxiety-filled moment worth it. We were there the moment she came into this world and I find that experience difficult to put into words. The first time I held her, I realized what unconditional love was. I was a mother—she was mine and I was hers. It was that simple and pure. And perfect.Adoption Story: Lynch Family

I still have worries: How will we explain things to her? Will she understand or will she be hurt? Will we ever be able to truly get her to understand how loved and wanted she is? Will she ever want to meet her biological mother? I know there are things and events in our future that many families will never have to face. There will be obstacles in the way and maybe difficult bridges to cross. But when we get to those bridges, we will cross them together as a family. Because that is exactly what we are: A FAMILY.Adoption Story: Lynch Family