Then They Made T-Shirts You Can Buy: Why We Stopped Saying ‘Fundraising’ (so much)

The holidays were a very busy time for us as normal people. We had lots of time together and with family. They went by in a bit of a blur as we balanced all the to-dos with the why-we-do it all. We ate a lot of good food, we thanked God, and we celebrated all we have. It was a good season. It was also very busy for Team Dream Baby! Our awesome Babycakes event in November raised just over $2,000 in total for our future little Dream Bean. To feel so blessed, supported, and loved on our journey was refreshing and much needed after a very challenging year of planning and re-planning. It was unbelievable, as people we didn’t even know poured out so much love and support for us on that day.GS-hands

Winter Bake-a-Thon was a big success as well. Smaller scale than our Babycakes event, it brought in roughly $150. My kitchen was quite the buzz for weeks and I’ve not fully finished cleaning up from the crazy even yet! It was such a fun experience to do this adventure a little differently than I have in the past. I have been doing this thing I call Bake-a-Thon since 2008, but it formerly existed only as a way to make cheap gifts for family, friends and (mainly) SL’s co-workers. This year felt really different, weird almost at first, doing this on an paid order basis. At my friend’s requests I’ve done a total of three paid orders (for the same 2 people) in the past and while the money from them went to the baby fund, they were smaller projects and only one at a time. I was both surprised and impressed by the response I received; one person actually told me I should be charging more because my cookies are that good.

THAT good , indeed!
THAT good, indeed!

A friend from out of town donated and specified that I could bless someone local with an order, as I didn’t offer shipping this go. (I sent her a box of goodies because I was so touched by her sweet gesture.) I am thinking about making shipping an option in the future as it wasn’t all that hard to do. While my schedule post Christmas was pretty insane and I am still working on getting my kitchen back in order, I love baking so; I’d do it all again in the lick of a buttery spatula covered with chocolate!Bake-a-Thon4Bake-a-Thon6

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A Great Big THANK YOU to all who ordered and helped make the 2015/16Winter Bake-a-Thon a big hit! There will be more Bake-a-Thon opportunities coming up in 2016. Keep an eye out for those announcements, especially if you are a lover of all things buttery-ly amazing!!

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As the years go by and the funds build slowly, it has been pointed out to me several times that Team Dream Baby doesn’t fit everyone’s definition of fundraising. The point that people have made clear to me in a myriad of ways (sometimes politely, other times, not so much) is that we are not benefiting any collective effort/cause so calling it fundraising is misleading. While I could argue that our baby will be/is a collective effort of the greatest proportion and probably win that debate by a landslide, I won’t for now. Because, no – the money we are collecting is not going to benefit anyone else. No global purpose is being served and traditionally, I can agree that fundraising has a benevolent, charitable intent behind it. So, if you need/want to strip what we are doing down to its core, I guess we are merely beggars. We are just standing on a street corner with a giant cardboard sign advertising our inability to conceive a child traditionally. We are not fundraising, they argue, only collecting and saving money for our future use. Yep. I guess that’s true. We are doing so to offset the cost of our phenomenally expensive choice on the path to parenthood. We aren’t trying to end global infertility or address any other need anywhere. The only “need” that TDB really addresses is mine. It is driven by my desire to be a mother. It is fueled by my longing to see my little one’s face someday and to hear her call me Mama. It is sustained by my vision of seeing him riding on his Daddy’s shoulders at Disney World.

Sometimes, when I think about it, I feel really really really selfish. I don’t need a baby. There are starving, misplaced, abused, and orphaned children everywhere. There are homeless refugees and veterans (along with countless other mothers and fathers) who can’t shelter their babies in the winter or the wind. There are babies being killed and sold and stolen all over the world. There are medical crises, war-torn nations, school shootings, clean water shortages, and educational funding nightmares in news broadcasts every day. I hear and see them. My heart breaks for all of the above; for the measureless tragic circumstances that plague our broken world. I could (some would argue should) be giving all this money we’re collecting to aid in some of the overwhelming streams of real, tangible societal needs. But I’m not. Instead, I’m asking you to give it to me – to us – because I want to be a mom.

This struggle over how to term our efforts isn’t new; I’ve been as clear as I’ve known how to be as we’ve developed the vision and plan to pursue our goal. This year as we begin our plans for 2016, I’m hoping to be increasingly clear about what we are and are not doing. The reality is that this issue  – calling it fundraising or not – probably only matters to me (and maybe the handful of people who voiced their opinions kindly or otherwise).

Maybe I’m making a mountain of a mole hill. Maybe it’s a little because I care what other people think. Maybe it’s because I want to be transparent. Maybe it’s because sometimes I feel like we are judged for the choice that is right for us. Maybe it is because I want our campaign to appeal to the masses and be successful. Likely, the answer to all of those maybes is “yes.” Honestly, when they are raw and unrehearsed, my motives for motherhood sometimes feel a little selfish. But the one thing I know is that I don’t ever want to follow selfish motives on this journey. If you know me well, sometimes you know I ‘joke’ about being a baby-whore. Truthfully though, there are days when infertility feels like it has reduced me to that place of desperation. I will do anything to get this baby into my arms someday! Then, when I feel the most selfish, I remember mom is seldom near selfish in definition. (In the case it is, I cry. Pretty.damn.hard.) I know my desire to become a mom is not a NEED. However, as I already identify as a mom to our future child, I know that all of you who are already or long to be moms, know this truth deep inside of you: I will do anything for my child.

So while I technically think what we are doing fits within the dictionary definition of fundraising, I do find valid the point that our efforts are not charitable or global in any way…and so, I’m going to begin using the term “fundraising” less. When I started researching how to do this gestational surrogacy thing without debt, I gleaned a lot of my information from following ideas and topics around the google search “adoption fundraising.” Fundraising is what guided my learning process because we needed to raise funds! It became the term I used.

Team Dream Baby is not a charity. We are simply a couple standing in the face of infertility making a choice that is right for us. We are blessed and privileged to be where we are today, making these decisions that will be best for our future family.  [Read: We aren’t needy. (We buy the latest iPhone (because we want it) and drive an EV (to reduce our ecological footprint and because it is pretty)…well, one of us does both those things anyway.) So give to established charitable organizations before you consider giving to us.] We know our path is expensive, complicated, and controversial. We want to be transparent – ultimately, while we’d love to adopt, we cannot. We enjoy giving charitably from our incomes on a regular basis and as we are blessed on this journey, our heart to bless others through our charitable giving only grows bigger. As we begin our funding campaigns in 2016, I also want to be clear that we are actively saving independantly and making our own contributions to this plan along the way. Also, we plan to apply for grant offerings when we are closer to our goal.

We are really excited about our plans for 2016! We are still a long way from our goal, but it’s ok. It will take some time to reach and as we go we are driven forward by the success of our previous efforts and the growing community of generous Brave Souls that join our journey. We have lots of ideas in the planning stages for this year. There will of course be garage sale season to capitalize on once the snow and cold remove themselves from our midwestern lifestyle. (Groundhog did not see his shadow!! Early Spring! Yay!) As we create new ideas to bolster our funds and make a decent “bang for our buck” it is always important to us to have fund-giving experiences that bless our blessers as much as they bless us. We are constantly getting information about new fun ways to raise money – if you have any ideas or help to offer, feel free to comment with suggestions or opportunities!! You can always email us (at) teamdreambaby@gmail.com. We also have a FaceBook page, and a twitter account so if you’re on those social media platforms add us and follow our journey!

Our newest fund-gathering plan is in the final drum-roll worthy stage. So can I get a drum roll please???  We just launched our t-shirt campaign at bonfirefunds.com. We want everyone to get SUPER excited about our Team Dream Baby t-shirts. We want you all to buy one! Or three. Or one in every style! (No, but seriously, get one and wear it!) Because. We made a t-shirt. It’s quippy and cute and gender neutral. It has a hashtag. #teamdreambaby. We want your to wear it and advertise our dream.TDBShirtFrontTDBShirtBack

Hashtag Power

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Can you please all post this hashtag everywhere and then some other places? Understanding the power of hashtags in social media has changed my life a little bit. I’m hoping to leverage that into “a lot a bit” in 2016!

I feel so old – I used to think hashtags were just an odd little thing people did to be funny. But now I understand them better and it makes me feel powerful. Even better, I feel cool again. That’s right, I’m pretty fly for a white-gal…it’s embarrassing how much my cool phrases are beginning to date me. Because no joke! – that’s the last one I remember, and that’s back when saying “no joke!” all.the.time was really really in.

Seriously, we’re going to put this hashtag on business cards and t-shirts (this may or may not be a teaser for a launch of one of those two things next week. Get a clue: you’re not buying business cards.) I want to leave our hashtag in public restrooms and every restaurant from Northern to Southern, IL (at least!) …like a trail of breadcrumb to our tiny little heartbeat. I’m shameless. I’m a baby-wore. But it’s ok. Because YOLO is a thing now. So since I do really OLO (see, that’s so dope for Only Live Once. Seriously on fleek.). Pretty sure this isn’t even English anymore. Peace Out.peace out

It Takes a Village, Monica.

Hello, Brave Souls. I’ve been quiet for a while. But I’m back now – back to ask you to please re-join us in prayer, support, and hope for our journey to parenthood.

We have taken a terrific and terrifying step back onto the road that may lead us to parenthood. I have a dear friend who offered to be a Gestational Surrogate for us back when we were still trying to get my eggs. (I will post that story in full at a later time. Suffice it to say for now I feel so blessed and humbled by her sweet heart and her family’s sincere offer to help create a family for us. There is really nothing I can do or say to express my gratefulness to her and to our faithful Lord – who was the only one who knew we’d be on this road together today when we met back in high school.)

I sort of feel funny even writing about any of it now it because it’s so unofficial at this point. We are just getting into the details and there are so many many steps ahead. We haven’t officially accepted her offer yet, but are taking big steps in that direction. This week we are beginning to address insurance issues. I found an attorney who will review the documents for us at no charge (huge praise!!) This step is very crucial as it affects the cost in such a dramatic way that it will either propel our journey foward or pretty much end it. It is nerve racking to say the least. We are all anxious to get everything figured out because if this part goes smoothly – and it is a big IF – we will likely be taking bigger and more official steps into the world of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), Third-Party Reproduction, and Surrogacy.  It’s a crazy world in there. We will need all the prayer we can get. And then more.  I’m not gonna lie – this ART, T-PR, and Surrogacy world is a very expensive and risky world. IF we are allowed into it, we will need more than prayer. But that’s for another post and for when we know the answers to the insurance piece. 

So, this may seem like a huge jump from my last post. I admit it is! A lot has happened since my last post. A whole lot. Some good. A lot not so good. There have been really hard days and sleepless nights full of heartbreak and pain I know no words to describe. How one can be so sad and broken over losing something that never was is still a mystery to me. I was there (am still there in a sense), in the middle of all the raw emotion, watching and feeling it internally destroy me, and I still don’t understand it. Nor do I really want to ever get to a place where I do. 

There is a certain quality to that kind of pain that isn’t meant to be understood or analyzed. I’ve decided that this indescribable pain is the sort of stuff that breaks people – like really breaks them. Not the healthy humble ‘brokenness in the presence of God’ kind of brokenness. But as in it actually breaks people. They go insane. Ruin their romances. Begin destructive addictions or habits. This kind of grief is the kind of stuff that that breaks wills, hopes, and dreams. And it’s a dark and dangerous place. I need to be removed from that even while I’m in the middle of it it because otherwise it’s far too terrifying. It needs to remain a mystery to keep me safe from the depths of myself and keep me pursuing the God I know is ultimately control and in charge of even this type of deep, dark pain. It needs to be a mystery. 

I learned a lot about myself in the middle of this kind of pain. There were some really hard and ugly truths. I learned that I get kinda mean when I am sad for prolonged periods of time. But mostly, I learned that it will be really really really difficult for me to reconcile with not having kids. It’s possible that I won’t have them. I realize that. One-hundred and fifty percent; I realize it. And if we travel down every road that explores the possibilities and still arrive at the same dead-end trail, then I will have done all I can do. But until I know there are for certian dead end trails at the end of every road – I will research and investigate each one. I will pray and hope for motherhood in unconventional, non-traditional ways until I hit each and every painful dead end. 
I have never been one to give up on things I want. Some call it selfish, some call it stubborn. I call it me. Childlessness does not sit well with my soul. It just isn’t me.

 The other night we were watching “Friends” – the episode where Chandler and Monica interview Erica, the biological mother of the twins they adopt in Season10. They initially lie about who they are because their files got confused with another couple and Erica chooses them based on the wrong information. They fess up that they lied and Erica walks away. Then Chandler chases her as she leaves he room and begs her to reconsider. He says something like this: “Please please, choose us…..I’m terrified to be a father, but my, wife, she is already a mother. Without children to love.” 

I think that I am just like Monica. Already a mother in my heart of hearts.

So, all you Brave Souls, will you please join me in praying for all of us? My friend and her husband, and their two small kids, my Sweet Love & myself. The attorney. Dr. Feinberg, as well as her amazing staff. And all the people this journey will touch. Pray for yourself, as I pray for you, because reading this means you are touched by our journey. The old adage “it takes a village” has never meant more to me than it does now.