Thursday, February 19, 2015

Adoption

Bailey just turned 4 and Christian and I are feeling that heat.  That pressure that it is time to add another child to our family...
Believe me, we want more.  LOTS more.  If you followed my blog from the beginning, you know our story.  The miscarriages, the treatments, the ultimate infertility, and finally the miracle of adoption.

I was the youngest of five children and Christian was the oldest of four.  We LOVE big families.  We are both in agreement that we are addicted to chaos - meaning that if our life starts getting monotonous, we shake it up with something crazy.  Whether it be a renovation of the house, getting a new pet, or taking a trip we think that desire for chaos comes from being in a big family.  There was ALWAYS something going on.  Someone going somewhere or doing something.  We NEED it in our lives.

Before we knew we could not have biological children, we wanted a HUGE family!  I wanted like 4 or 5 kids... seriously.  So does Christian.  But, the reality is - adoption is hard and it is very expensive.
I would LOVE to be able to just pop out some kids anytime I want under our 100% covered healthcare plan!  But for us, it will be hard.

The question that everyone wants to know when we talk about adoption is "How much did it cost?"
I think there are so many myths out there and people just want to know the truth.
You can take many avenues to adopt but we chose to work with a Christian Agency, Bethany Christian Services.  They were great!  I really liked working with an agency, especially for our first time.  They are super informative and they really do care.  I really liked Bethany because they genuinely have the birthmother's interest at heart.  What does that mean?  Well, they will never pressure anyone to choose or follow through with adoption.  They realize that ultimately if a birthmother chooses to keep her child, then that is what is best.
It is a hard pill to swallow as adoptive parents... you secretly want them working for you!  But you have to be honest with yourself - and trust.

So to answer everyone's question... How much?  I must first say that there is a taboo to talking about the cost of adoption.  I have no idea why... adoption websites never list the cost and many won't even talk about it until you sign up.  To me, it's not like asking someone how much they make... I just think people are curious!  And for us, it explains a lot.  People want to know why we haven't done it a second time, and the answer is the money!  Like I said, we used an agency so it was a little more expensive - about $35,000 to be exact.

Why so much!?!?  Is the obvious second question.  And to that, I am not sure.  Many think that birthmothers get that money and that is 100% wrong.  If a birthmother chooses you and needs financial assistance - that is extra... AND there is no guarantee that she will follow through and no legal avenue to recoup that money.  You obviously have the choice on whether or not to help as well.
The biggest of the expense is the agency fee.  Ours was about $23,000.  This seems like a lot but you have several people working for you during the long process.  You have social workers, counselors, filers, etc... This cost is also subsidized by the agency who depends on donations from others because it is obviously more costly than that on their end.
The other expenses are the Home Study which is around $6000, attorney fees - $4000, applications and paperwork - $2000 and about $1000 more on your adoption profile, background checks and other various expenses that come along.
The government does offer the Federal Adoption Tax Credit which is between $12-13,000 which helps... but ours came at the cost of an intense tax audit :(  Good thing I keep everything!

Now, without a doubt it is worth it.  I don't think that it is "too expensive" - but I do think that more could be done to make it more affordable.
A lot of people ask why I don't just adopt myself or network.  I guess that is an option, but there are so many risks and so many scams out there.  An agency prevents all of that, plus you have someone working full time on your case!  It is a toss up of course.

This year, our goal is to set aside enough money to go for it again next year.  I am not sure how we are going to do that (now that we pay an arm and a leg for Catholic School) but I do know that a LOT of prayer will be involved!  Some of my friends tell me to fundraise or to start a GoFundMe page - still chewing on that.  I lean towards thinking that it is kind of tacky - but everyone tells me that they would totally donate!  LOL!

In the end, we are there.  That point... that point where you want more... you want a bigger family.  Oh, and no pressure that Bailey asks EVERYDAY for a sister ;-)

If you read this blog, keep your ears open!  Miracles happen everyday and you never know when someone's unexpected can become someone else's miracle :)

xoxo

Katie





Monday, February 2, 2015

I forgot to mention...

I have been so busy that I have totally forgotten to mention that I started my own little side business working as a consultant for Beautycounter!
I honestly NEVER saw myself doing any MLM... I mean, I love people who do... and I am pretty sure that they love me!  (I LOVE to shop!)  I just never thought I could do it and have never found anything that I am passionate enough about to sell it.  Until... Beautycounter.

I discovered Beautycounter through a friend and I immediately became obsessed.  I attended a regional meeting here in Atlanta during the summer to mainly hear what those at the top of this company were doing and just to smell it out ;)
That night seriously changed my life!  I left feeling motivated, inspired, and determined.

Before I could jump in, I did a little... well, actually a LOT of research.  I wanted to make sure that this was a reputable, honest company.  I did not want to get caught up in some pyramid scheme and I wanted to be a representative to something that had importance and filled me with passion.  I am not into those fake, fast remedies or scams - I wanted to be involved in something chic, fresh, and current.

Beautycounter is more than a company that sells beauty products, it is a mission.  This company is dedicated to bringing awareness to everyone on the risks of toxic ingredients in personal care products that we use everyday.

Some powerful facts that I have come to learn upon joining this movement are:

- There has not been a federal law passed in over 75 years regulating the ingredients in our beauty products

- The average woman puts 12-20 products on her body EVERYDAY

- 60% of what we put on our bodies is absorbed by our skin

- 80% of the ingredients in our products have NEVER been tested for safety

- Many of these ingredients have been linked to cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption, learning disabilities,

- The European Union has banned over 1300 ingredients from their products, the US has only banned 11.


I was shocked when I began reading these statistics and it only motivated me more to be a part of the change.  As I began researching Beautycounter, I was even MORE blown away by those leading this company.  The Board of Directors is made up of some unbelievably recognizable and impressive names...
 - Candice Kislack - the woman behind the TOMS movements and One for One campaign
 - Margot Fooshee, the president of marketing for J. Crew
 - Court Coursey, managing partner for the investment capital firm TomorrowVentures and
 - Bryan Wolf, Senior Partner at Ziffren Brittenham LLP who is a powerful Hollywood Entertainment Attorney.

With people like this on the board, I knew that it was legit.  I also can't help but be a little obsessed with our Founder, Gregg Renfrew and our head of creative design, celebrity makeup artist Christy Coleman.

So, here I am!  I am a Beautycounter Consultant!

People often ask me how they can get involved and I tell them that there are really three ways...
1 - you can be involved as a client
2 - you can be involved as a consultant spreading the mission and educating people
3 - you can join our Band of Beauty which benefits one of three of our trusted non-profits

I would LOVE to chat with you about our line as well as opportunities to get involved!
Give me shout!
beautycounterbykatie@gmail.com, via Facebook or my website katiecooper.beautycounter.com


xoxo

Katie























Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I've Been Lost.

People tell me everyday that I should "blog" professionally or that I should write a book - and while those sound like GREAT ideas, I could never do it.  Reason #486...  I haven't blogged since SEPTEMBER!  Who would follow that?  LOL.

Honestly, I haven't done a LOT of things since September... like, run, practice my yoga, cleanse, or have a girls night.  Going to mass weekly has also fallen off and just structured prayer in general.

I feel like my internal compass is stuck going in the wrong direction.  Am I depressed?  Am I bored?  Am I heartbroken?  Am I overwhelmed?
These are all possibilities.

Before anyone calls in reinforcements, don't worry... I am not going to do anything crazy.
I simply feel like 2014 was so nuts for me!   I started the year with our second dog dying Christmas Eve (2013) and getting a new puppy three weeks later.

Then, I left Bailey for 2 weeks to go to Shanghai with Christian.

When we returned, Christian took his new job and we spent all of March working on getting the house ready for the market.

Once that was done, Christian was off to Atlanta in April and I stayed in Iowa with Bailey until May.

Over the summer, we lived in a loft which was MISERABLE - and followed that with the move from HELL and closed on our new home in August.  All the while the stress of 2 mortgages hung over my head but praise Jesus!! (in my best Melissa Gorga voice) we closed on our Iowa home in September.

In the midst of all this moving, packing, traveling, and transferring - I also had some personal struggles.  Falling outs with old friends, a run in with the cops (I will never tell ;0), and Bailey starting school.  As all of this is unfolding, I am still striving to be the best mom that I can be and also the best wife.

It is all hard.  I think that one thing that I have found is that those who are still standing with me today even after all that craziness, are the ones who will be there forever.
Stress doesn't bring out the best in people and it certainly didn't for me.  I have not been the best friend or even the best person, but some chose to take this moment of weakness in me and attack me while others unconditionally have loved me.  I also have learned that at the end of the day, your spouse will be your redeemer.  Through all of this, Christian has just stayed strong and been my biggest advocate and most understanding ear.  He has let me know when I should have acted differently but loved me all the same.
I felt like many times over the year last year, people were a little thrown off at my half-insane attitude and instead of just supporting me, they tried to FIX me.  I don't need fixing.  I don't need an intervention.  And I don't need criticism and judgement.

I guess, like I said in the beginning, I may have been overly stressed, which definitely left me overwhelmed, which made me vulnerable - and people took advantage, which in the end left me heartbroken.

but I am wiser all the more...

As for my internal compass, I will reference the old adage, "All those who wander are not lost."
I am not lost, just off the beaten path, but I am making my way back!

I am running again, I signed up with a new yoga studio, and am looking forward to an exciting girls weekend next weekend as I go with my best friend Ashleigh wedding dress shopping!!!
I am getting back into my prayer cycle and Christian and I are planning our 10 Year Anniversary trip to St. Maarten!  But best of all, I am BLOGGING!!!

xoxo

Katie


My friend Michelle (middle) visited me from Iowa!


Bailey was a pirate for Halloween!

Arrrggghhhh!

Pure excitement!

Thanksgiving Party at Bailey's school

Thanksgiving in Charlotte

Going to see Santa!

nailed it.

Bailey's teacher, Ms. Laney

Bailey turned 4 this past Christmas!

but first, let us take a selfie at the party...

Christmas morning at our house

Otto - 12 months, 100 pounds

Bike ride :)


On the sky view Ferris Wheel in Atlanta... where I discovered that I HATE heights...








Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our EPIC Beach Trip - Part Deax

After our moving fiasco, we began preparing for our annual beach trip to NC.  We started the tradition last year, and intend to make it an annual thing :)

We rented a house with our good friends from college and each of us brought some others along - we ended up having 7 couples!  It was a BLAST.  I do not use the word "epic" much,  but this trip truly was a first in MANY ways!

First off, the house was AMAZEBALLS.  I don't even think I got a picture... (mainly because I am not a real estate agent) but I wish I would have.
The coolest part was that upon checking in, these "Turtle Patrol" people came to our door to let us know that there was a nest literally at the bottom of our stairs to the beach.  They expected them to hatch that week, and because there was a full moon, they were positive it would be in the next day or two.  I thought it was SO cool!
There were some annoying parts... we had to keep our light off at night on the back of the house so the turtles didn't mistake it for the moon - which is their guide of which was to run!
The "turtle patrol" came out every night and sat at the nest until about 10pm... waiting and watching. Now, these were some interesting people.  I tried talking to them a few times, but I think we may have been representing two different worlds... meaning, they didn't get ANY of my jokes and were SUPER serious.   If you know me, I am rarely serious.  It almost made me more silly to see how stoic they were!  Some people...

Anyhow, to our disappointment, two days had passed and they had not hatched.  It had been really cloudy too, so they think they may have missed the moon signal.  On Wednesday, we were all on the beach preparing for a wiffle ball game (yes, we played wiffle ball) and one of our friends yells... "Turtles are hatching!"
We look over and there they were!  All popping out of the nest!  We panicked!  They are not supposed to hatch during the day - their chances of survival drop to like zero.  We called the "turtle patrol" and they tell us to start collecting them and put them in a bucket.  The seagulls were in full swarm around us the entire time... trying to get to them!  It was so crazy!  We got a big bin and started putting them in there.  The plan was that later that night, the patrol would release them when it got dark.

It was such an awesome experience to see this!  I mean, I am pretty sure that will never happen again in my life :)

Bailey quite enjoyed it as well... I challenge her biology teacher to top that!  I literally learned more about sea turtles than any person should know.  Try me.  
They let the turtles go that night and let them finish hatching until Friday.  Then they came out and dug up the nest.  The are looking for info about how many hatched, how many eggs went unfertilized, etc.  There were a few "dead" ones... but when she opened the egg, she showed us how they simply did not develop properly.  Nature is so fascinating!  They take DNA samples and that is how they estimate how many sea turtles are left.  Apparently they are endangered.  This mother was believed to be 35 years old!  She was huge!

Some other highlights from out trip included a kitchen spoon rest that was so phallic that we could not get over WHY someone would invent something that looked like this!  I know, I am immature... but being silly keeps me young!

The boys caught some HUGE fish that we ate for dinner... that was fun!

I learned that I love paddle boarding and am a natural surfer :)  I tried it for the first time... got up, and rode a wave all the way in and stepped off the board!  We all cracked up!  The joke was how easy I made it look - I credit yoga for my impeccable balance!
But seriously, I am waiting for my endorsement from Roxy.

Lastly, we hired a photographer to do our family photos.  He did an awesome job!  A huge storm was rolling in and that made for some awesome lighting and dimension.

Here are some highlights!

xoxo

We laughed a LOT about this sign... Molest?

They are hatching!




Friday they returned to remove all of the eggs  

Jeromy caught this right out front of the house!

Bailey and my best friends Heather's daughter Hannah

These guys...

Me and my love :)

Our view ahhhhhh

Bailey's serious model face...

her sweet modeling face... 

Loved the beach!


My best friends Ashleigh and Kyle joined us this year... twas fun!

Vacation Selfie

Phallic Spoon... I mean, really!?!?  Who invented this!?!?

Holly photobombed my selfie... LOL!

We ate a LOT of bacon


a little Can Jam action













Last Braves game of the season


First day of Pre-K!
First day of ballet.. we have BIG expectations since
Bailey's biological grandmother was a professional
ballroom dancer!  LOL!