Sunday, September 28

Adoption Update: Meet Alia Mercedes

If you follow me on instagram then you have been seeing some photos of Alia and also some boring stuff like my toilet. Hot right? I am not painting right now, or going to the studio much, so I don't have sexy painting photos to post. Time is flying and I will be back to work soon, but right now this is just fun as getout.

In the hospital room moments after she was born.

Alia Mercedes was born on Sunday September 7th at 8:30am. We got a call that Saturday night at midnight from our birthmother who was in labor. We took her to the hospital and after several hours they put her in a room and we got to hang with her and sleep there with her. She was so strong and brave. They admitted other women in front of her because they were being so vocal about their pain while our sweet birthmother was grimacing in silence and by the time they got her into a room and checked her she was four centimeters. She only pushed twice to get Alia out and I was right there and watched it happen. It was amazing to see her born, to cut her umbilical cord and to hold her and feed her within a few minutes of her being born! I was sort of in shock. At one moment O puts his hand on her tummy and leaned in an whispered "welcome to our team sweet Alia." It totally made me cry. She stayed in the NICU for 48 hours until she was cleared to come home with us. It has been a whirlwind of visits since then, everyone I have ever known (it feels like) has come over to see her, hold her, give us sweet gifts and share our joy. My mom has been staying with us a few days a week and that has been so nice because she is an expert with babies and she is fun to have around because we laugh a lot. 

When I was an adolescent my mom took care of infants at home, and I babysat a lot for them on the weekends. I had completely forgotten about that part of my life but it all came back to me as soon as I looked down at her and put her first onsie on. I am comfortable with babies! I totally forgot about that. I have fed, burped, changed, bathed, soothed, played with and everything in between babies of many ages before. Oh yeah! I remember how to do this! Suweet. Doing all of these things with Alia is more fun because even her cry is sweet to me. 

Our ten day waiting period for birth mother revocation has passed and we are so happy that we are running smoothly along to our court date (sometime in the next couple of months). The court date will be the final step, and Alia will be totally ours, with O's last name and everything. 

Baby feet! So expressive and adorable. 

Alia is so adorable, and we are bonding so well. She makes sweet cooing and squealing noises all the time. Loves her passy, loves to be swaddled, loves to eat and really loves to snuggle up in a solly wrap and take a little stroll. She isn't sure about bath time but she loves the drying off part of the bath. I read Moms on Call in two seconds and I am following the process. So far she eats at 9pm, 3am and 7am. If you aren't a mom then you really don't care, but I have learned that other moms really want to talk about this kind of stuff. Hilarious. We have a pack and play while we wait for a friend to give us their crib, we have one of those rock and something things that she loves (but I don't love because it is made from a flammable, not breathable fabric. What? Babies sleep in that thing guys!)

So when Alia was at the hospital they fed her Similac. I wanted to feed her a more natural, organic formula but when I did research on them I was really worried by what I found. There are so many scary, very not good things in even the best quality organic formulas. Now, I don't judge any mom who feeds her baby a regular formula or anything really. You gotta get that baby fed man, I get it. But Alia smelled so bad when she was drinking Similac. I changed diaper brands, wipe brands, shampoo, detergent. Nothing made her smell better. She didn't have that sweet baby smell, she had a "I am sweating out a bunch of toxins" smell. I can't afford to buy donor breast milk (800usd a week, on average for this age).

I know its blurry, but I love her face so much!
So I ordered some Hipp formula from the UK because they have much stricter regulations on food there and I read that it would be a good choice but it took so long to arrive (even though I spent 50usd to expedite shipping) that we were sort of stuck so I did some googling and I found a homemade recipe using cow's milk here. I spoke with our pediatrician and she says we can go for it, since we are modifying the milk to make it more digestible but I am telling you guys all of this to see if any of you have made your own formula? Note: I am not using raw milk, only organic, grass fed, batch pasteurized. I know this might seem so ridiculously overly ambitious for a new mom to try, but it is actually pretty easy to make and prepare. Keep in mind that due to my gut issues I have become very adept at making special concoctions, being hyper vigilant about ingredients, I am used to not being able to eat or drink convenient, "normal" foods and making her formula seems very easy to me compared to all of the very involved diets I have tried on myself over the years. 

She is covered in hair, even her ears are hairy! Its cute and it will fall off eventually. I hope "hairy forehead" is not here to stay. She takes the unibrow to a whole new level right?

So moms. What formulas do you use? Have you ever made your own formula? I really wish I could give her breast milk, but I just don't have access to it. I wish that it were more socially acceptable to share milk but whateves. I can only do my best. Thank you so much for all of your sweet comments and emails. I appreciate you all, even if I didn't personally reply to you, I smiled when I read them. 

Thursday, September 11

Studio Sample Sale This Saturday 9-13-14

Featuring the amazing Jessica Durrant, Erin McIntosh and Michelle Armas!!


Michelle Armas Studio
Icehouse Lofts
105 Sycamore Place.
Decatur, GA 30030


Saturday, September 13th, 11am-3pm.

Above: Erin's beautifully layered abstract paintings. I am also famously fond of her cut paper pieces.
Below: Jessica's sexy and playful fashion illustrations. I love her work so much!

 Below: All paintings and prints will be discounted. I can't speak for the prices for Erin or Jessica's work, but my paintings will be 25% off, and pre-stretched canvas prints will be 100usd, we don't have many of those fyi, and there is a box of stuff too, everything in there will be 50bucks and there are huge posters of all sorts.


Discounts on everything in the studio from all three artists including works on paper or canvas, any medium, prints and originals. Mimosas will be served.

Special instructions:

DOOR CODE IS 1050. Studio is on the first floor, 103B. Building number is 105, we are in the IceHouse Lofts, right across the street from Felinis Pizza!!

Friday, September 5

Adoption Update: Operation The Stork is Landing

I have been so torn as to weather to spill the beans, or keep them nice and tidy in my bean jar or what. I have decided, obviously that I like messy beans, so here is our adoption update. Strap in dear friends.

These images were captured by Paige French who I knew I wanted to come and take pictures of us as soon as I met her.

So on August 15 there I am, minding my own business, basking in the glory of three commissions coming in a sweet innocence. I get an email from AIS the company we have been using to guide us in our adoption process and it states: Birth mother is due in four weeks, and wants to place her baby for adoption, and she is Spanish speaking and only couples who have at least one Spanish speaking member can apply. So naturally (y'all know that I speak Spanish right? It was my first language, my family is from Argentina, and Cuba?) Ok. Anyway, I called right away and was all like, hey, I don't have any paperwork done, don't have our book ready, nothing. But, like can we still apply? She said yes, but she was skeptical that we were as committed as we needed to be, seeing as how we had pushed out our appointments with them for months...lallygagging around. You see, I wanted to make theperfect adoption book. It was going to be designed just right....hahahhaha.

So August 15th was a Friday, and the book needed to be to our lawyer by Monday (for a Tuesday visit with the mother). So I scrambled and spent like 16 hours (we counted them up, that is not an exaggeration!) hours on the computer that weekend making and finishing this book). Not to mention translating it all into Spanish, that my wonderful cousin in Argentina, who was working in Spain at the time helped me with at a moment's notice. I totally am still trying to get my right wrist back to normal after all that computing! Next we print it out at Fedex (the graphic designer in me is sighing dramatically) and I use my trusty courier service to send it to the lawyer's office for her meeting with the birthmother.

Page of our Adoption Book: This is our "Enjoy Life" page. Its so hard for me to look at that type. I didn't have time to typeset this, so the graphic designer in me is like, fainted dead away. 

We wait. The meeting is happing that day, and I know it in the back of my mind, but I am distracted and not really thinking about it and then my phone rings. Leigh from AIS says to me "You are going to have a little girl in four weeks!"

I say "Holy Fucking Shit." I think I just kept saying that again and again while Leigh chuckles uncomfortably. O comes home from work like one minute after I hang up the phone and we jump up and down and scare the dogs and cry a little bit. Then it hits us that we have to complete our home study before our girl is born! WHAT? This process of meetings, paperwork and tedious bull honkey usually takes 12 weeks, that is what we are told anyway. Well, since I made the book, it was O's responsibility to do the home study. He rocked it, and it was finished in a week, less actually. You basically have to hand your entire life over, I am honestly surprised they didn't want DNA samples, I bet soon it will be a requirement. We worked on it every day, all day, I think we proved our dedication to this process!

Meeting the Birth Mother. Wow. Let me just say that I haven't slept well since we got chosen. I just wake up at like five am every day, and can't fall asleep until very late, bc/ there is so much to do and I am adrenalized. So I had butterflies, we arrived an hour early for our meeting, I still get a tingly chin when I think about it. (does your chin tingle when you are nervous?). We met, she is an adorable 25 year old woman from Guatemala. I love her. I really do love her. About two minutes into the meeting I start crying. Just listening to her story, listening to her talk about her choice. I couldn't help but empathize with her and all I could think of was "how do I help this woman!" Legally I can't do much, because its very tightly controlled so that you don't get into a situation where you bribe someone for their baby. Makes total sense, of course, but I fell in love with her right then and O and I just wanted to help her. Our wonderful lawyer helped me calm down, and she reminded me that we are giving her the gift of taking, and loving her child, while she is giving us the gift of her child. Its such a powerful relationship you have with this complete stranger. I was just so moved meeting her and looking into her eyes. She is a thoughtful person, quiet and introverted. But she smiles through her eyes and is so sweet and gentle. We have spent more time with her since that first meeting, yesterday we spent the entire day with her because at her routine pre-natal appointment they told us we had to go to the hospital and so we did, but everything was just fine. I like to make sure not to leave her alone because she doesn't speak English. I remember being my grandmother's translator when I was a child and I know how helpless you can feel when you need something but you can't communicate.

This is the part where O talks about me, about what kind of person I am. Pretty much fluffing me up :)

It could still totally fall apart. This is the reason that so many people don't talk publicly about going through the adoption process, at any moment it could all fall apart. In Georgia there is a 10 day revocation period, meaning the birth mother could change her mind and we have to give the baby back. About 20% of adoptions fail, and yes you loose most of your money. How have we dealt with this reality? I will be honest there: I believe that if this is our baby, then it will work itself out. So I haven't thought about it at all. mostly. This whole process has really forced me to be present, and to focus my energy on goals and not let my mind wander too much. I am doing ok, I never think about the baby part of it actually, I just am taking it one day at a time. Sometimes I see a picture of a baby and my stomach flips, but then I just move on and even little baby clothes don't really make me think of babies. I will be so pleasantly surprised by having a little baby I think, because I am not projecting expectations about it at all. That is one thing that I think is a plus from having this thing go down so fast.

Expense: Adoptions are crazy expensive, about double what it costs to have a pregnancy and delivery without insurance.** Which is hilarious to me because I was so worried about not having maternity insurance before I knew I wouldn't have an easy time conceiving. I was like, I can't pay for a delivery in a hospital with out insurance!! Oh sweet silly younger Michelle. This particular adoption is coming in much under budget due to many factors but it seems rude to spell them out here. I am happy to answer personal questions about this kind of thing if you email me, and I know you will :)

What is happening next: Our baby is due next week. But thats really just an estimate. We could get a call at any moment, or she could come as many as three weeks later than her due date. We will be in the delivery room, actually I will, only one person is allowed in there from what I understand. She will be born, and placed directly into my arms. That is surreal to even write, but thats how it works. Then 24 to 48 hours later she comes home with us. Then 10 days later we have a party b/c we get to keep her, or I update you that it didn't work out and O and I go to Acapulco and party for a week simply because we can. Either way, there will be lots of late nights involved.

I will update you when she is born, if we get to take her home, and I will let you know when our 10 day period is up, and what happened! I figure that if I have a new baby then I want your support dear friends, and if I am giving her back, then of course I will still need your support.

The Our Home page. There are lots of pages in this book that have many family photos, but for my and O's families sake, I wont post them, I am pretty sure they wouldn't mind, but just in case. 

 *The way it works is that you find out about a birth mother, and you decide if you want her to see your book. If you decide that you want her to have you as a choice for her child, and she chooses you then thats it. You have been chosen. You can't see pictures of her, or know that much, really, about her. You just have to follow your gut, and understand as much as possible the situation and circumstances of her situation. So, you don't get to choose anything really, only who gets to choose you. 

**Of course that is assuming you adopt a white baby, different race babies cost different sums. Its gross, but true. We had already decided to take the child that was the best fit for us, no matter the race or gender. So most likely it would have been a non-white child, because not many adoptive parents are willing to take a child that is a different race from them. Note, O and I are in a great position to take any child, and I certainly don't judge anyone who chooses not to do the same. I also don't share this so that you just gasp at how amazing a person I am, because you should know that I never donate to NPR, so basically I steal. 

Thats "Thank You" in Spanish. 


Adoption book: A book full of photos of your life and descriptions of your life together with your partner, your families, hobbies and parental aspirations.
Home Study: A compilation of legal documents confirming your identity and criminal background. Personal statements about your childhood, family, life, goals and everything in between. Three sessions with a councilor, a "home study" where they make sure you have fire extinguishers and stuff like that.
Adoption Lawyer: A person who does all the legal work, way to complex to relate here, but there are many things to consider. And if you are adopting and need a good lawyer, then you can't go wrong with ours. Email me.
AIS: We were referred to them by the lawyer. We went to a seminar. I liked them. Yes it is a business.
Revocation Period: State mandated period of time that a birth mother has to revoke the placement of her baby with an adoptive family. Some states its 48 hours, some its 30 days.
Birth Mother: Biological mother of the child. "real mother" is not the correct term.
Adoptive Mother: Mother of the child. "real mother" is not the correct term.

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