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

Bake-a-Thon5

Bake-a-Thon3

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!!

Bake-a-Thon7

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

700 Days

Bit by bit our gestational surrogacy journey is taking shape. I’m constantly living in new states of awe-maze-met with the blessings we are experiencing on this bizarre and beautiful path to parenthood. There have been bumps in the road as well. The bumps have provided opportunity for us to reevaluate, reeducate, and renew our decision along the way. I’m learning the balance of it, finding a rhythm to how it will continue this path of tiny little trails or big daunting roads that we must to walk to the end so we can see the next step. It takes a lot of energy emotionally. I wish there was a “skip” button so we could move it along to the end. At the same moment though, I want to cherish every step because once walked, they are paths we may never travel again. The waiting it so difficult as there are still so many unknowns. We are learning so much about this world of Assisted Reproductive Technology and Third Party Reproduction and when I think about how much I knew when we were launched into this world, I’m amazed at my ability to take it all in and be where I am with it today. Merely stating that I’ve learned a lot doesn’t do justice to the knowledge I’ve gained roughly in 700 days.

Seven hundred days!! My estimate is rough but  at this point two years (730 days) ago we were still in the beginning of finding out our unique fertility challenges and hoping beyond hope that I would be able to carry our baby myself or at least that I would have DNA to contribute to it’s being. It simultaneously feels like that was a lifetime ago and yesterday. We know so much more now than we did 700 days ago, yet in some ways we have some much left to learn. I stop. I wonder. Where will we find ourselves 700 days from now?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot on the fact that this journey may not go as quickly as we’d initially hoped. We have a very sizable financial goal to meet and while we are doing well with the fund-gathering efforts we’ve put forth thus far, the money bit is simply slow going. I often find myself wishing that an extraordinarily wealthy benefactor would drop down out of the sky and give us exactly what we need so we could get started tomorrow. Truthfully, in a deep down hoping place which has developed on this journey and has learned and works hard not to place any expectations or limitations on the dream, I believe that could eventually happen. We have come across such brilliant generosity financially to date. When I sit with that generosity, it overcomes me and sometimes I get giddy, sometimes weepy, and sometimes even completely mushy. Reality check: an extraordinarily wealthy benefactor will probably not be the way we will reach our goal. Our fund-gathering efforts have been so purpose-FULL and wonder-FULL that my heart can hardly contain the excitement I have for our next phase of fund-gathering plans!!!

Seven hundred days ago, I didn’t even have a vision in place for Team Dream Baby. I didn’t even know I’d need that vision yet. Here we are though, and today, as that vision changes and develops with each step of our journey, I must admit my heart gets so overfilled when I think about all the Brave Souls who have joined our journey thus far. My gratefulness is already unending and I cannot begin to imagine how much space I will need in my heart for all of it as we go forward. Reality check: my heart cannot actually burst from an overflow of gratefulness.

To all the Brave Souls who are already here: To all the Brave Souls who will join us soon:

Please know, each of you who plays a part on Team Dream Baby is uniquely cherished as the realization of our dream takes shape. We very literally could not be here without you and we are both endlessly grateful for your support and love!!!!

I want to take a brief moment before we officially launch our next planned event to welcome my wonderful new friend Brooke to Team Dream Baby in the most official way I’ve got. Here on the blog! (That makes it super official, right? RIGHT!) So, without further ado, Brave Souls, will you welcome Brooke with me? She’s our new Fabulous Fund Finding Coordinator (f3c) and based on our first few meetings and plans so far, I’m beyond excited about the energy and passion she brings to the Team.

Brooke and her husband Joe (whom I haven’t actually even met yet) were merely friends of friends a few months ago. They have an energetic four year old son, who was miraculously conceived after their own struggle with infertility. Brooke learned about our Team Dream Baby story slowly over the summer as I was often around the group of people who hung out in our mutual friend’s neighborhood.  She started reading the blog and instantly knew she wanted to be a part of our team. It’s amazing all of the ways she’s encouraged and changed our story in such a short time. She’s now working along side me to put a bunch of our plans into action. Her generosity seems to know no limits. Thanks Brooke, for all you’ve done so far. You’re pretty awe-mazing to me!! Here’s to the next 700 days!!