Sunday, December 28, 2008

Other Family Events

So yesterday was our fifth anniversary. The oddity known as time skews many things. In some ways, I feel like the wedding was just yesterday, in others, I feel like I have been married to John my entire life (In a good way, I swear!)
I will admit that part of me was a little afraid that I would be more depressed than joyful this anniversary. After all, never in my life did I ever think I would get to five years of marriage and not have celebrated a Mother's Day or two as well.
I underestimated myself and my husband. We had the most perfect anniversary, and never once was I gloomy. Any talk of a baby of hopeful and optimistic and brief. We really made the day all about us.
The big event of the day was dinner at Morimoto's in Philly. For the uninitiated, Morimoto is one of the Iron Chefs. The dinner was perfect. We chose to do the chef's sampler of six courses, mostly sushi, along with a paired adult beverage. If you would like to see pics, I have them up on my facebook, and will try and get them somewhere else soon for the three of you who are not on facebook.
I hope everyone has a great New Year, and that it brings all of us everything we need.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Truth of the Matter

Just because we have settled on transracial adoption does not mean I do not worry that we will be able to handle the racial issues that will come up in our and our child's lives. Often the true conversations about race we should be having in this country are pushed under the rug because they are uncomfortable. Often they should be about class and poverty because like it or not the racial divide is deeply integrated into the economic structure our country has built.
I can go from panic to bravery as part of the Waiting for a Black Child. I found that this article/blog entry states a lot of the concerns I have while also making me feel that is a challenge I want to face. It highlights the new transracial culture that we as a country are trying so hard to ignore and can no longer if we want to move forward. I also disagree with things in it. I think that using the blanket statement "black culture" is in itself racist. It makes all blacks other by lumping them into one great big group. Obama's election is not the end of racism, but I hope it is the opening to conversations we have not been willing to have before.

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=787542

I choose to be the uncomfortable one. I remember when I lived in Maryland and rode the metro on a daily basis that I could often look around a crowded car and realize that I was in the minority. That is one of the things that I miss about DC. I miss the cultural diversity. I miss the fact that in my apartment building black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Asian, Hispanic, were all represented. I worry that I will be bringing a black child to a white neighborhood. I am glad I am bringing a black child to a diverse school. I am glad I am bringing a black child to a city with a large black community. I wish that community were more integrated with the city as a whole. I hope to be part of making that happen. I worry that in that hope I will be setting my child up for a larger social role that a small one should shoulder. I must make myself the uncomfortable one to make my child the strong independent and open-minded person who will not be afraid of all of his or her heritages and will stand and will want to stand among those who can have the necessary conversations to make us the most self aware and proud diverse nation in the world.
I worry that this blog entry makes me sound like a blow-hard white privileged woman. I am still glad I had the courage to put it out there.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deversify

So we have reached a small anniversary. We have to renew our criminal background checks along with our we-don't-touch-children-inappropriately checks. Criminal checks are easy. Type in your SSN and credit card number and you are proved conviction free in less than 60 seconds. Cut, paste, attach and the agency is all updated. The Childline clearance is more of a pain. First they want to know every address you have lived at since 1975 and with whom you have lived. Keep in mind this will be at least the fourth time I have done this and at least the second for John meaning, they have all of the old stuff on file somewhere. Why can't they just ask for updates? Then to pay the $10 fee, you need a money order. A money order! It's the dark ages, people. I will go crank up the car to go to the bank.
The last thing the agency needs is updated medical forms. Yay, time to go be told to lose weight. Really? I am shocked, doc. Thanks for the heads up.
Anyway, to the subject matter of the title of this post. I mailed off our registration for ZOE for Life yesterday. If you are too lazy to click the link (I kid! Don't flame me.), this is an Orthodox organization that helps pregnant women in crisis. They keep a registry of Orthodox couples looking to adopted in case any of the women choose that path. They are not an agency, but more like a dating service. They would match us, then we are responsible along with the birthparent(s) for making the legal arrangements. This can still be done through AFTH.
For some reason I have a good feeling about this. Somehow it seems the right thing to do. It's probably nothing more feeling like I am at least doing something, but it gives me a little more hope.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Patience


I felt it appropriate to blog about what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. It's something that this whole adoption process has brought me -- patience. I am somebody who sets out to do something and hopes to do it right then. It's a reason why long projects in the house don't always get done - I have a very hard time saying "ok, let me do a little bit now, and I'll do more later". No, it's always "now, now, now".


Well, there is no "now, now, now" in this adoption process. There isn't even a "then, then, then". There's a "maybe sometime, when the stars align". It is quite difficult for me to accept - but accept it I must. So, this Thanksgiving, in addition to support from friends and family, support from anonymous good wishers, prayers being sent our way, having the most wonderful wife in the whole wide world -- I am thankful for the patience that the adoption process has brought me.


But, I still have trouble starting projects about the house -- just because I won't be able to finish them that day :-)


Things Duffy Is Thankful For

Being 32 but looking like I am still in my 20s
Splenda
Clark's shoes
100 calories packs of anything
Pasta
Anne Taylor
LL Bean
Block scheduling
My new laptop
Audiobooks
Online shopping
Sleeping in
The National Dog Show
The Macy's Day Parade
It's a Wonderful Life
Princess Bride
Star Wars
Sense and Sensibility
Jeans with Lyrca
Warm socks that are now in pairs thanks to the Great Batzer Sock Hunt of '08
Being Greek
My pets for teaching me patience and that unconditional love means sloppy kisses
My amazing friends who make me laugh and hold me up by the perfectly timed phone calls
My family who shows support through faith, guidance, and loud talking
My sister-in-law & brother-in-law, for sharing
My mother-in-law, for knowing exactly the right ways to spoil us
My brother, Wyatt, who constantly makes me laugh with surprise after surprise. Except the chain letters.
My brother, Will, who listens like no one else
My father, for making me self-sufficient
My sister, I can't even explain in words
My mother, for everything that is good in me
My husband, for being my friend and my heart
My baby who I hope to share all of this with very soon

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the absense of Human Baby News


Since we don't have any new news on the adoption front, I figured I'd share a cute story about our fuzzy children. Last night, I was playing ball with Snickelfritz (whose idea of "playing ball" is to yell at you when you're ignoring him, but as soon as you show any interest, at all, of actually playing with him, he takes the ball and runs away -- he thinks this is hilarious) when we realized that the other two dogs were nowhere to be found.


I hopped upstairs to find Cosmo hanging out in the bedroom doorway. I explained to him that it wasn't bedtime yet, but he had no intentions of coming downstairs, and was acting quite guilty (I'd soon find out that this was "concerned", but Cosmo nuances are typically only known to Cosmo). I checked the bedroom to ensure that nothing was peed or chewed upon (all was clear) and went back downstairs, figuring that Hobbes was outside.


After 15 minutes of chasing Snickelfritz around, attempting to convince him that it's more fun for both of us if he lets the ball go and then chases it when I throw it, I became more concerned. Hobbes is a world class smeller . . . but 15 minutes of concentrated smelling, without gathering the attention of the other two puppies, that just doesn't happen. I called outside to get him to come in, but there was no response. So, I figured he must have been under the bed in the bedroom -- but he wasn't. At this point, I started opening doors, and he had managed to get himself locked in the nursery -- at our house, getting a dog locked behind closed doors isn't really Earth-shattering news (heck, Snickelfritz manages to lock himself in a bathroom every other week), but what happened next really is.


As soon as the door opened, Cosmo started acting happier than I have ever seen a dog act. I could have offered to make him a steak, and I think his joy over Hobbes's liberation would have superseded that emotion. This is on par with Dudley saying "I don't think he's a waste of space". Cosmo is usually all about Cosmo -- but this was true concern and elation about another dog. I gave him a big puppy hug for that (he's a very, very good puppy hugger).


Friday, November 7, 2008

Just so you know we haven't forgotten about you!

Hey everyone, there is nothing new, but I thought I would post so the blog keeps some of its momentum.
Do you remember what it felt like to exist on a daily basis before September 11, 2001? Since that date, I have always felt like I lost something, an arrogance about my own safety, I suppose, is the more cynical way to say it. Some more sunnier people might call it an innocence. Either way, life in the U.S. changed that day, and it can be hard to remember how existence felt before such an epic crack in the foundation appeared.
We have been waiting for a baby since March of 2005 in one way, shape, or form. Life before Waiting is getting fuzzy. It is a life constant by now. Sometimes I wonder if it will take a while to stop expecting even after a baby has arrived.
Does pregnancy feel the same way? Like you can't remember how it felt to not be pregnant, and then when it's over, you sometimes forget you aren't pregnant anymore?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

One Evening

So when these things come up, I give myself one evening/day to be miserable and self indulgent. The best thing is to get on with things. After John told me about his phone call with M, the other SW in our office (Who called at 9 PM which I was impressed with, thanks, M!), I laid on the couch and sulked. I called my mom and sulked and whined. I called my sister and sulked and whined some more. Then I made my lazy, grumpy butt get up and fold laundry. Then I decided I should at least pretend to do the reading for my class this weekend. There is a quiz after all. Then life takes over. Routine can be theraputic.
So today, while I am still sighing over being just Waiting again as opposed to WAITING, I am back to being more positive and knowing that each day is closer to an adoption even if that is two years away. They do happen. I know that. On the list serves there is a match at least once a week or two. But self indulgance in gloom can be healthy for short stints.
So we thought that the plane was finally going to take off. Turns out it just taxied to another runway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to Just Waiting

The twins.... an aunt stepped in and has taken the twins.
At this point I was ready for a negative for us, but really hoping that an adoption would take place. Of the four situations we have been notified about, not one has ended with an adoption.
So while I am not vastly disappointed because of this specific situation, I am really frustrated in the fact that it doesn't seem that adoptions are real. This is especially hard to deal with as both John and I have had this weird feeling that something is just around the corner. Maybe it was just the situation with the twins. I don't know.
I do know that I hate my stupid uterus at moments like these.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the twins story continues


I believe the line is "and the story continues..."


Turns out that Saturday was false labor. Right now, the birthmother is still considering adoption and still looking through profiles. We are not discounted yet - but that's all I know.


News will be posted as warranted.


The Story of the Twins


So, our apologies for not posting this earlier -- the phone call came at a very odd time (a time when there was absolutely no way for me to get onto the internet), and the following events have had my mind running a million miles a minute, meaning that slowing things down enough to blog about it wasn't a possibility.


On Saturday, my phone rang it's special ring (Who Needs Sleep? by the Barenaked Ladies) and I rushed to answer. S, the social worker, was on the line and had a situation to talk over.


Now, I need to mention that there are limited cases where S would actually call us -- most of the time, should our profile match the mother's, we'll just be shown, and should our profile NOT match the mother's, our profile will not be shown. It is only in instances where our profiles MOSTLY match and the difference between the match/non-match is a minute detail that we'd get a phone call. For instance, we'd get a phone call if a mother mentioned that she had a drink or two during the entire course of the pregnancy, but not if she mentioned that she drank more than that.


So, S is on the phone and mentions that a mother was soon to be going into labor in Philadelphia, expecting twin girls (twins were not something that we had as a "maybe" -- we said multiples were fine). She happened, however, to be in jail -- a cop had witnessed her throwing a bleach solution at an ex-boyfriend (jail or violent offenses do no preclude us from wanting a child . . . in fact, if somebody is in jail, you know where they are, what they're eating, and it's a lot harder to get drugs). Well, we had agreed to help with housing and medical costs for the birthmother -- to the tune of $500, should such costs be incurred. This situation looked like it might require $1,000 of extra assistance. I immediately said that I would increase that for this situation.


However, there were even more situations. Typically, our agency operates alone with an adoption . . . not so here. S was aware of at least three couples from our agency - but possibly as many as 13 from other social worker agencies.


I just got off the phone with Adoption from the Heart -- S is in court today, but it sounds like the children were placed elsewhere. When it's our time, it'll be our time.



Monday, October 6, 2008

Adding to John's last observation

John's is a good analogue. I just wanted to add that having a person to travel with can make all the difference. There is that moment when just the last thing has gone wrong, and it seems like it doesn't matter what is at the end. There is no end in sight. You will be sitting in this airport until The End Times. And you look at the person you are travelling with, and one of two things is going to happen. You are either going to start taking it out on each other, or explode in laughter that will eventually settle you down to reality.
Happily, and I am sure this is no surprise to anyone, John and I always seem to be able to do the latter.
So after every crisis moment, we settle back to watch a poorly edited movie and wait for our non-nut related snack which now costs $10.50.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All Quiet on the Adoption Front


No news to report in our travels . . . which is why things have been so quiet around here. There has been an interesting shift in attitude lately. I can only explain it in a truly odd metaphor. You know how, at the beginning of a vacation, you're really, really excited. You can't wait for everything to happen - it's going to be awesome! And then you're on the plane . . . and you're on the plane . . . and you're on the plane. Suddenly it's not so great -- you hunker down, you do what it takes to keep on going. Yeah, that end point is going to be just as great as you imagined it -- but the getting there . . . well, you never thought it would be fun, but the excitement wears off and you just need to get through it. That's where we are -- still really, really looking forward to that end point -- but we're in the "hunkered" mode . . . the journey is just that, a journey - and it's boring and uncomfortable sometimes -- but it'll be worth it in the end.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Community Dynamics

OK, so blog. (I find it funny that the spell checker doesn't know blog.) We are in the Waiting doldrums, so it is kinda hard to think of a whole lot to write about. I know readers like regularish (Really, spell check, regularish is OK?) updates, so here goes.
We are trying to look at Waiting in the most positive of lights. OK, it didn't happen today, but each day we are closer to having a baby.
We will see how long that lasts.
Waiting has been a recent topic on one of the adoption list serves. Those of us Waiting are an interesting community. We have so much in common, yet we are all rather selfish. Let's face it, we are in competition with each other. And I think every person or couple who is Waiting, feels their desperation and need is the greatest. Most have already been through so much in their quest for a child. Some seem to become obsessed with comparing who is getting shown to whom, who are the families that are getting picked, how long have these or those people been Waiting? There is so little control (read no control), people need something. It can be a dark place to go to. The place where you start to ask why them and not us? I will admit to going there when someone gets pregnant, but I am doing my best to avoid it with adoptions. This is why I don't call the social worker. This is why I don't want to know how many babies have been placed or to whom. It makes no difference. It doesn't make our chances greater or lesser. When it's our turn, it will be our turn.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Waiting for the ring


I really need to get the social worker's cell phone number from my wife. I remember this each time my phone rings - but I always forget when we're together.


See, much like she did, I have a ringtone specifically for Adoption from the Heart -- "Who Needs Sleep" by the Barenaked Ladies. The problem is, it is very likely that I won't get called from the office number, but from S's cell phone . . . and I don't have that programmed in. So, each time I hear the first (and last) movement of the Carmina Burana, O Fortuna, coming from my iPhone -- I jump a little more than necessary.


This was especially problematic last week, as my truck was in the shop (biking into work certainly makes dealing without a vehicle a little easier), and the shop had questions about a variety of things. While my phone really doesn't ring all that often, I jump for every one of them. This makes things even more frustrating when it's a stupid technical recruiter calling to see if I'm available on the job market.


Anyway -- still haven't heard "Who Needs Sleep" play from my phone's speaker . . . you'll know as soon as it does.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Role Reversal

It is very difficult to adjust to life Waiting. Every time we make plans, I think, We might not be able to keep these plans. I made a tuition payment thinking, this could be a big waste of money. What if we have to cancel the Halloween Party?
You are Waiting, Life is not.
This almost took me out this summer. There were times in which I would find myself starring at my phone willing it to ring the special ringtone I had set for AFTH. (It's changed. It was The Facts of Life theme song, then Ms. Jackson. Finally I have settled on Magic Dance.) Deep down I was really hoping it would happen before school started as that would be much less disruptive. There was a good bit of disappointment when it didn't especially with the close call only a week before.
Now that school's started, Waiting has become easier. I have 75 kids to worry about. I was thinking about adoption 547 times a day this summer, and now it's 283.
We made John the primary contact once school became my reality as he has more flexibility to answer the phone during the day. If it is Major, he will text me Adoption 911, so I can call him as soon as possible. If it is minor, he will just text me to say call AFTH when I get a chance.
Apparently, emotions were also switched. We were at dinner with some acquiantances on Thursday, and I mentioned how the waiting was easier now that school had started. John, deer in headlights look and everything, turned to me and said, "Easier for you! I'm primary contact now!" I looked back at him. I could hug him in empathy. I could kiss him in support.
I laughed in amusement and a little surprise.
John has really been a philosophical rock through all of this. He turned Waiting into a Zen state.
It tickled me to see him a little ruffled.
I love him so much.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Look at Me, Look at Me!

I am not sure how many of you ever check in at my other blog, but I went out a scenic bike ride today with my iPhone and took at few pictures. If you're not a regular reader, check out: My Cycling Blog for the details, and check in every now and then to see what I'm up to, as I decide on important things like:

  1. Whether or not I should get a tattoo
  2. If my 20 mile commute, and the possibility of future long-term rides, really warrants a dedicated "commuter bicycle"
  3. How I plan on dealing with the cold mornings.

Anyway - you don't have to go there . . . but I figured you all might like to know that the info is out there, should you be bored and want to read something else.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Proof That Evolution Sucks

A friend and I have been commiserating over our infertility for several years now though we were on different paths. We went adoption, she and her husband have been going though fertility treatments. Earlier in her life she had some health problems that were causing some problems. She managed to get pregnant earlier this year. I don't think I have ever seen anyone happier than her when expecting a baby. So needless to say, this was just an amazing time for her. We held our breath a little through the first trimester, but she and the baby were healthy.
She lost the baby today.
It's almost more than I can bear, I can't imagine what she and her husband are going through. I don't get it, and I never will. As much as I can hurt for myself sometimes, this is worse. This is unfair. Suck it, Darwin or God or whoever's fault this is. OK, that's stupid, I know. But I don't care. I'm going to be immature for a little bit.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Why those statistics on the left are not "for reals"


I think we all know that John is a bit of a jerk. This time, however, he doesn't mean to be. See, Blogger blogs are blocked at work, and, well, he likes to check things out while he is at work. This presents a problem. He can

  1. Wait until he gets home, like a good boy
  2. Bounce the request off of a series of untraceable requests until it randomly leaves a cycle of requests and hits the blog
. I think we all know which one he chose.


So, when you see a really exotic place of origin, there are two possibilities. Either somebody from a distant land stumbled upon our blog . . . heck, said person might be pregnant, had been thinking about adoption, and after reading our blog decided to visit America just so that we can parent her child. Or, it is me, just checking things -- I have no way to control where my visits are routed through. I'll continue hoping that we're getting visits from mysterious places - it makes me feel a little more exotic.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Expiring Pregnancy Test

I have a pregnancy test that expires at the end of the month. This means I bought this thing between a year and two years ago. Ah those carefree days of "I know it will happen this month!" I remember thinking when I bought it that 8/08 was a long time away, and I was sure to have used it for a positive result before then. Lord, what fools these mortals be.
So if anyone in the driving radius of my house (less than a hour) or someone wanting to pay shipping is welcome to it. Otherwise, I may just use the thing on August 31st before it spontaneously combusts or whatever. I may even post a picture of it like all my pregnant blogger friends do. What's a baby blog without a random preggers test picture, I ask you? Or do you think the birthmom would take a test and let me take a picture of it? Is that asking too much? Am I currently delirious from wallpaper glue fumes?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dealing with Disappointment


So, I figured it had been awhile since I've chimed in here. I check in every day, just to see if anybody had commented (and, of course, to see if my wife has graced us with her writing once more . . . one of the things that is going to suck with the beginning of the school year is that she won't be home during the day anymore). We try to keep things honest here - which means, lately, that the bad news posts have outnumbered the good . . . although we're still leading toward one great big good news post, so it is best to take it all in stride.


And that's the thing - keeping it all in stride. There have been three distinct moments in the past month and a half that I thought that parenthood was, literally, right around the corner. That is three times when we know that somebody took a look through a book, saw our profile, and had to give (at least some) consideration to whether or not we would make good parents for her biological child. In each of those cases, the biological mother took on the role of mother. Yeah, it's a letdown when this has happened . . . but it's not all that bad to take. I mean, I cannot even fathom what it must take in order to put a child that you've been carrying around for nine months into somebody else's hands. I just can't.


One of the tremendous fears that I have about adopting is that the biological mother would doubt this decision. We know that there is always, always, always going to be a "what if" - but I fear being resented. If a birthmother can honestly tell herself that she thinks the best situation for the baby is if she parents it, well, I don't think I want to be daddy to that baby, and I wish that birthmother the best.


Part of what is frustrating is that we don't know how often our profile is being seen. Have these three situations been it? Or, are we getting looked at every other day, but something says "no" to those looking? The only way I can take this is that all of this frustration (and, while I try to keep a calm demeanor through all of this, it's not always easy) is going to be worth it in the end. That is certain.


So, I guess just keep on checking in . . . we will post when we can - and, of course, we always appreciate the good wishes - and I'm sure you'll all hear the whoop of joy when our phoenix baby is turned from a mythical creature to reality.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

As promised

Here is the tour of the nursery. It's long and boring, but we love the room.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Mojo is a YoYo

The mother took the baby home. There were eight prospective families she did look at before leaving the hospital. She hasn't ruled out adoption, but we are assuming she has ruled it out.
There are the facts.
This is why this blog is a double edged sword. I want to share, I think it is a good thing for me, I hope there might be others out there reading who are in the same situation or considering adoption, but it also means I have to place our disappointment on everyone who cares for us. Then again it can make the disappointment easier to deal with. So sorry to disappoint our faithful followers, but thank you for being there. It does help.
So there have been three situation so far that have ended with the biological family raising the baby. I can't decide if that makes me feel better or worse. On one hand, it means we haven't been overlooked (that we know of) for an actual adoption, on the other hand, it makes it feel rather fruitless. I know adoptions do happen. It doesn't feel like it right now.
Sorry for the disappointment. The next entry will be a video of the nursery which should make all of us feel better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bra Strap Mojo A GoGo

Round 3, I believe.

There was a little girl born yesterday, two weeks premature. Our SW had to call to see if we wanted to be considered, because the mother had two winecoolers before she knew she was pregnant, and a couple glasses of wine on the 4th of July. The mother was due at the end of the month but went to the hospital with a fever where they induced. We should have a decision one way or the other by tomorrow. Baby is healthy though they have her under observation because of the mom's fever and being a little premature. Only other info we have is that, sadly, the father is deceased. He lived in north Philly and was shot.

The nursery was finished yesterday. We are on day 6 of the Blessed Bra. I was supposed to be in school today getting my classroom set up. They waxed the floors. I couldn't get to my room. I ended up helping out a couple of other teachers.

I can't decide if the timing is too right or just right.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Virgin Mary and My Bra Strap

OK, anyone who knows me knows I am not the world's most religious person. I have struggled a lot with what I believe faith-wise. Basically, I do believe there is a spiritual side of existence. I do think there is a high consciousness to the universe, but I do not think it/he/she can influence the world outside of human consciousness. People have to listen inside themselves and be observant of those and the world around them to really listen to God (for lack of another name). And once you get past love yourself and love your neighbor, I think a lot of organized religion is just human vanity. I do not believe in a God, for instance, who has made any decision about my fertility. This is not God's will. This is just one of the more unfortunate side effects of a pretty ingenious biological system that I give any creator a lot of credit for. However, I do admire people who do live a good life and treat other people well. A lot of them are religious people. They have their own truths, just like I do, and if that truth leads to good in the world, all the better. One of the people I would put in this category is one of the priests at my church. We shall call him Father Y. He is truly a person of faith and goodness. Somehow he only recently found out about our adoption plan, and he has been incredibly supportive and excited for us.
One of the ways he has shown this gets me to the title of this entry. Mt. Athos is an independent monastic community in Greece. One of the relics there is a sash of the Virgin Mary. They place strips of material on the sash, so the holiness can permeate them. Then they go out into the world as blessings. They are often given to women who want to start a family, and these women apparently wear them in their bras for 40 days. Who knows how these things get started. Anyway, Father Y had a couple of these ribbons, and offered one to me. Let me tell you, talking to your priest about your bra strap is an interesting experience. Anyway, I am very touched. It is a gift given in love and hope, and I believe that energy can only help. The power of prayer is the power of the human mind which can defy even logic. Therefore I believe in the power of a gift given in faith, especially in the name of a woman I believe was brave in the face of epic events and loved her son in the face of great danger.
So starting tomorrow, my bra has a friend.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

For Our Clamouring Fans

So it has been a while, and I have people asking. Apparently, our next blog entry is an anticipated event, up there with the next Harry Potter book, I am sure.
We had a great time at the beach. It was nice to have everyone who was there together for a week. It was especially nice to see John get to relax and not work ANY job for a whole seven days. Well maybe six. I think he might have sneaked in some email on a borrowed iPhone. Soon we won't have to borrow. We ordered two new iPhone 3Gs today. They should arrive in two to three weeks. I think the accessories we ordered online will get here before the phones do.
Let's see.... we had a busy and eventful weekend due to the fact that GUESSICA GOT MARRIED. The wedding was a lot of fun. I don't look half bad in yellow, and John starts my heart aflutter in a tux. Except when he dances. The flutter is somewhere else. Like in my funny bone. But he does it with gusto (and usually some liquid courage), so more power to him. Dancing like YouTube doesn't exist, people!
Obviously there has been nothing on the baby front, otherwise, well, this entry would have started differently. My pipe dream of being matched before school starts is slowly fading. It was a long LONG shot anyway. So now I am frantically trying to finish painting before the education of future generations starts to take priority. When I finish the bathrooms, I promise a guided tour of the improvements.
In the meantime, enjoy this picture of the adorable sweater our friend, Cat, made, yes, made for the pending Batzer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thoughts I Ponder When I Can Not Sleep

For a variety of reasons, I haven't been sleeping all that well this summer. It's OK. I'm working on it. But anyone who has had this trouble, presumably everyone, knows that sometimes your brain will just not shut up. Your internal voice will annoy you for hours with infinite combinations of information from the inane to the profound, from the funny to the panic inducing.
Not surprising to anyone I am sure, my internal voice is rather obsessed with adoption. And oddly, the stories it likes to make up are more about the birthmother than the baby. I guess because she will be the first solid breathing person who will be involved in this process. My brain (I say this, because I truly do not seem to have control over it.) makes up backgrounds for the birthparents, mostly mom, and their situations and what about them would make them choose us. Here's my favorite. Please remember, I have no control.
The mom is a Greek exchange student who hooks up with another black student and gets pregnant. Of course she can't go home to her really strict Greek Orthodox parents with the baby, so her very understanding and somewhat guilty host family helps her find Adoptions From the Heart. And of course, here is the perfect couple! They want a black baby, and they are Greek. They will raise the baby Orthodox. She has to look no further!
See, no control over my own mind.
Seriously though, I do think there is more to the obsession with the birthmoms. For us to have the family we want and experience the joyous and insane phenomenon of parenthood, someone else or several someone elses have to be sad. Sad is a more profound word that it is given credit for. Ultimately, our happiness has to come from someone else making a major sacrifice. It doesn't mean that they are making the wrong decision, but no matter what it is not an easy decision. "Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right." -Albus Dumbledore. No matter what else they have done in their lives to this point or what they will do after, at this moment they love that baby enough to know that they are not what is best for their own child. That has got to be a very hard thing to face. They say that birthparents go through the grieving process, and I can understand why.
I guess this is why I am so in favor of open adoption because love like that deserves acknowledgment. I believe that a child who grows up with an understanding of his or her birthparents will be better adjusted and feel more accepted especially if the birth family members involved share a race with the child that we will not.
It might not work out that way, but remember, I have no control over my own brain.
And I promise more light heart posts as soon as the nursery is done. The puppies are too cute for words.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

House Updates


While those last two situations didn't pan out for us, we're not all that upset. The ups & downs are certainly there -- but we've reached a Zen-like phase -- when having a baby is right for us, it will happen. We are certain about this, so it's just difficult being patient sometimes.


On the house front, we have exciting news:

  1. In the nursery, Kim has started putting colors into the puppies -- as soon as that is all done, we'll have pictures of the end product up here
  2. The fence has been installed. For those of you who haven't been to the house, we have a pond in walking/tumbling distance from the back porch. This isn't a good thing with a toddler -- so, we have had a fence put in (as an added bonus, the dogs now can be let outside without having to put them on leashes)
  3. Duffy has removed all of the carpet from the stairs and painted the wood underneath (it looks much, much better).
  4. Jake has started sizing up how we're going to get the banister put up.


Other than that -- sill a waiting game.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Known For Sure

In both cases in Round #1 the mother's families decided to parent the baby. It's a good thing. We wish them all the best.
So we are back to waiting with the complete unknown, and we are OK with that. The level of disappointment was rather minimal. I am not one to believe in fate or predestination, but we will get our baby when it is the right time, place, and situation.
Keep checking for more updates!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nothing Yet

Hello everyone, I just wanted to let you know that we haven't heard anything one way or the other about either situation, so at this point I think neither is going to be the baby for us. Our SW did promise to call either way, but at this point I think no news is exactly that... no news. This time. We are starting to get use to this unforeseen potential life altering event following us around like a pet tornado.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Post Coordination


So, today, Duffy & I stepped on each other's posts . . . I truly recommend that you read through EVERYTHING, just in case something was missed, as today was a somewhat busy day.


Still, though, we're figuring out how best to post to this damn thing -- our apologies that things go between lots & lots of posts to weeks of barely any posts.


The Profile Video


So, here it is -- try not to laugh:


Round #2 - Or is it all round one when there are many things goind on at once?

Again in the interest of full disclosure.....

There is something in the water in Delaware. Here is another situation in which we may be considered. A mother had a little girl yesterday. There are two potential fathers. One has washed his hands of the situation and gone back to his wife in California. The other man would like the parent the little girl if he is the father. They did a DNA swab, and the results will be available about the same time the baby would go home from the hospital.
OK, never in my life did I ever think I would be cheering for the deadbeat adulterer. I really admire the guy who will take responsibility for his actions. And I really kind of hate him too. And all any of this means is that another mother will be looking at us among the many.
I have to say this is a development I did not anticipate. I don't know if John did. I imagine he will chime in. I was ready for the waiting. And some more waiting. Followed, for a change of pace, by waiting. I was not ready for this knowing exactly what I was waiting on. This is almost torture. I won't go as far as to say exactly torture as eventually things will go my way. I just hope I am sane, and my spirit isn't broken by then.
Also, no word on round #1 yet. They haven't come into the office to view the profiles yet.

Popping Out Babies in Delaware


Just got a call from the Mrs. Apparently there is another "situation" in Delaware. A mother just gave birth to a healthy baby girl. However, there are two possible fathers. One potential birthfather is already married and moving to California and wants absolutely nothing to do with this child. One potential birthfatheris a local boy who would like to be the actual father to this child.


A DNA test has been ordered.


Should birthfather #1 be the actual birthfather, the child will NOT be raised by the birthmother and/or birthfather #2 (and will hence have an adoption plan created for her). Should birthfather #2 prove to be the actual birthfather, the child will NOT have an adoption plan created for her.


The DNA test will take a few days to tell us. At this point, we have a 50/50 shot of being considered (at which point we have a one in (unknown) shot of actually getting picked).


I know a lot of you read this blog regularly and are hoping for news - so we're going to try to get better about posting each & every little thing. But it's nerve wracking to have this level of uncertainty.


Thanks, always, for the continued good wishes.


Non Sequitur

This just made me laugh.

Baby Blues for July 8, 2008


If you are checking this after the 8th, you will have to choose July 8 from the pull down menu.

To Watch Tonight


So that silly little DVD we made is complete. Duffy's seen it, but I have yet to watch. In any case, after a little gig at YTI tonight, I'm going to get home, rip it to DIVX, and then post it to this here blog. Be prepared to watch two of the most nervous people in the world try to sell themselves to an unknown audience.


On the topic of watching things, though -- the night that Duffy called me in the UK about the situation that we were looking to possibly present ourselves for (and, as of this writing, we have not heard anything -- in this case, "no news" is simply "no news". It may be that the birthparents have picked another couple to parent their child, or it may mean that the birthparents have not yet decided. The only way we'd know something definitive is if we were chosen, and you'd hear Duffy's yell of excitement before anybody got a chance to put in a blog entry), I got back from the Old Bear, turned on the TV, changed the station to the BBC, and proceeded to watch a documentary on Treacher Collins Syndrome. This specific show followed a girl who has lived with the syndrome all of her life, and now that she's in her 20's (and fully grown), they were placing synthetic bones in her face. Then, last night, on the Discovery Channel, there was a story about a family with a 2 year old with a quite severe case of Treacher Collins, and what they're going through currently. Not sure if this is a sign or anything, but I've learned something new, and that's never a bad thing.


On a completely unrelated "watch" topic, though -- everybody should see Wall-E. We went last night, and it was very, very cute.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Round #1 - How not to get excited while being excited

This may be very premature, but I promised when I started this blog, that I would chronical everything and be honest.
Our profile will be shown, among others, on Monday to a couple wishing to make an adoption plan for their baby. It is our first shot in the adoption lottery.
There are some issues of concern. The mother has a condition called Treacher Collins Syndrome, a craniofacial deformity, and the father is deaf. TCS is a genetic condition, so the baby has a 50/50 shot of having it as well. The couple has a one-year-old that does not have it nor is deaf. I do not know the situation with the one-year-old, but a myth of adoption is that babies are only given up by young, single women. A lot more birthparents, even as a couple, are already raising other children than most people think.
There is never going to be a perfect situation, and John and I agreed at the outset that we would have any child with naturally occurring conditions. I could give birth to a deaf child or one with TCS. Granted our baby's chances would be much less, but it is still a possibility. And this baby, if it does end up having the condition, will need a good home with lots of attention, and people who can get it the proper medical care if that is necessary. That's us.
Everyone pray, send positive thoughts, but no one get too excited. This couple will be shown several to many different profiles. We are just faces in a crowd.
Either way, we will know something next week, and I will keep everyone posted.
Oh, and the baby is due next Friday. Mavel Tov!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good Thoughts

I got this email from our friend, Anne, today, and I had to share. I hope you don't mind, Anne. Love ya'!

Yesterday I was cleaning a bit and came across 3 empty, small picture frames. I put pictures of David & Noah in two of them, and thought that I'd save the 3rd for your baby! Then last night I had a dream that you guys got picked and brought home a little girl. Hopefully my dream meant that your baby is coming soon!!!! I said a extra prayer at church this morning! I'm getting so excited!!!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

StoryCorps

StoryCorps is a national project in which sound booths are set up at various places, and anyone can come and record their stories and interviews. The recordings are archived at the National Archives as part of everyday history.
The goal of StoryCorps is to make me cry.

An Orphan's Adoption: 'And Away We Went'

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mythical Creatures

I had a unicorn baby. I would glimpse his hazel eyes giggling at me from his carseat in my rearview mirror. I would hear her cries echoing through the house at three in the morning, and the phantom me would get up and go smooth her sweaty dark ringlets as she cried for no good reason. I would feel the weight of his tall-for-his-age body on my pant leg as I went about changing laundry loads and emptying the dishwasher. He was going through the clinging to Mommy phase, you see. The petite, too-small-for-her-age length of her would fit perfectly in my arms as I sat doing nothing at all but zoning in front of the TV and she slept, refusing to be put down.
I had to let my unicorn baby go. He and she waved good-bye as they went to fulfill the promises of that twit, Jackie Paper, and have adventures in the Land of Hanalee.
Now I have a phoenix baby. He rises out of the ashes of disappointments and fear to create hope with his golden song. She does all of the same things the unicorn baby did, taunting me from around corners, but her features are blurred like a hummingbird's wings. Yet the outline is more defined. She is coming. He will fly, maybe long and far, maybe short and near, but he will come. And we will make her song powerful and strong to withstand and fight against the wind.
I may always miss my unicorn baby, but I will always love my phoenix baby.

Nursery Flooring


The nursery flooring is complete! Over the last two days (unfortunately, I was only home for one of them), they've taken out the carpet from the "pink" room and the hallway, replacing it with wondrous laminate (a very pale color in the nursery, and a mediumish color to match the downstairs hallway in the upstairs hallway). Things really look great.

We were really hoping that the stairs would be a high quality hardwood under the carpet, but that does not appear to be the case . . . they're a crappy pine. So, we're going to look at removing the Berber carpet from them, staining the pine, and then placing a runner on down -- this should really make things look a little nicer than they currently do while also keeping the advantage of carpet on a stairway (much less slippery).

Next, they're tearing out the carpet and replacing it with tile in our bathrooms (that would actually be done right now, but the tile is backordered). Also, the nursery is being painted with puppies. Pictures will be coming.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I May Regret This, But..... Calling All Parents!

OK, first I want to say thanks for all of the comments I got about the Snugride. I think that will eventually be our first car seat and stroller.
Now....
Since there is a chance that we will have minimal time to prepare for the arrival of our child, I have decided to put the skeleton of a diaper bag together, so we do not have to do it at the last minute. So I am asking for advice on bags before I trekked across Harrisburg to the Babies R Us. I was also wondering if anyone might have advice on some more unusual things I might want to have in it that I might not have thought to add. Keep in mind we will probably spend the first couple of days with the baby in a hotel room. Here are the obvious items I plan on putting in there.....

newborn diapers (I have been told that Pampers Swaddlers are good.)
baby wipes (OK, I had a long car ride with Karen. She also suggested Huggies wipes as they are bigger.)
diaper cream
lotion (My AA adoption list serves say that Aveeno is best for newborn AA children.)
onesies
some warmer weather outfits and cooler weather outfits
bottles
formula (Too be purchased later)
blankets (I saw some on Babies R Us web site that were specifically for swaddling that looked neat. Anyone know anything about them?)

Karen also liked the sleeping sacks.
Lisa is a big fan of the sling. I know that this is one of those things that it seems parents either love or don't, but it will probably be a good thing for us in forming a bond with a baby that has not been listening to my heartbeat for nine months.
So I know parents love to share with parents-to-be, and I am actually asking!
Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Random Things

Kim, our massage therapist, is also our nursery artist, and she started sketching out some of the puppies today. SO CUTE. We couldn't be happier with the direction she is going in. The puppies and floors should be done next week.

I have been looking at car seats and strollers, etc. Any recommendations would be appreciated. I think this is the car seat and stroller combo I want. Our friend, Lisa, recommended it. Car Seat
& Stroller Adapter. I am not sure about the pattern, I like the plan black better, but that is not on Target's web site.

And I want one of these t-shirts.
On the back it says,
“If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen to side with the oppressor.” It is not, as some people might think, anti- white, but just a way to understand that all of us have privileges as human beings that everyone should have even though everyone does not. It is about awareness, not guilt. This picture is from The White Privilege Conference. At first that might make many of us feel defensive and worry about reverse racism, but as their motto states, "The focus of our fight is more and more 'for' something and less and less 'against' something." It also isn't just about race, but gender, orientation, class, etc. Read this Anti-Racist Parent blog entry for a great take on the idea of privilege as awareness, not guilt.

Our Debut

There is nothing that can make you feel like a bigger doofus than being videotaped. Most of the time you just have to live with the idea that you get to be uncomfortable every time the family videos come out or worse case scenario, it ends up on You Tube. It usually doesn't have a major impact on your future unless you are an LA cop. Tonight we recorded 3 minutes and 40 seconds that will shape the rest of our lives. This, of course, was the video that the agency will show to birthparents who showed interest in our profile. We will get a copy of the video in a couple of weeks. It will be posted then.
The videographer is in Millersville which is about an hour away. In the car we made a brief list of what we wanted to say and practiced a couple of times, both nixing and approving of different wordings and topics. Then we listened to Harry Potter. You know, to relax.
We were a little apprehensive about the videographer as it sounded like he could be uptight and picky, but he turned out to be a really nice guy. He's been doing these videos for 15 years, so he had some good advice about what to do. You know, look at the lens, look at each other, help each other out if someone gets frozen, that kind of thing. We started out with a simple intro, and when in doubt, tell a joke. Ours was about getting to the showcase showdown on Price Is Right. After that we covered the basics about us, family, diversity, and openness. John did really well, but I have to say I made a couple of snafus like calling the baby it and looking down at the notes. However, the videographer said that we were very natural and funny which are things that a lot of people have trouble being in these videos. He seemed pleased, and we felt pleased as well.
Tomorrow, I will call the agency, and we will officially be in the book, waiting.
So, folks, the stick turned blue, we went through the morning sickness, and now the water just broke. We know it's coming, but you can't tell how long the labor will be.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Video


First, off-topic: I've been posting in this other font, just because it makes things a little clearer as to who is doing the posting. Should I change things up at all?


So, we have our video tomorrow night, and we really haven't done much in the way of what we want to say. The video should be between three and five minutes - I have a feeling we'll be on the shorter end of that spectrum.

  1. Introduction
    We are John & Duffy . . .
  2. Thank you for watching our video
    We feel like we've made it to the "Showcase Showdown" on The Price is Right
  3. Family the child will be living in
    We have our own petting zoo and a family army all within hailing distance . . .
  4. Racial environment that the child will be raised
    Carlisle is a very diverse town . . .
  5. How excited we are about becoming parents
  6. Website access for pictures / email exchanges / etc
    Should you want it, John would be happy to establish a password protected website that you can share with your family & friends and track the child as s/he grows up


That feels like it would be 3 minutes worth of blabbering - we'll see how things actually turn out. A note of etiquette, however. As I was writing my last point, what do we call the baby at this stage? To the birthmother, is it "your child", "the child", "our child", am I putting too much thought into this (I know it wouldn't be the first time)?


Friday, June 6, 2008

Race in America


One of the big themes we have in this blog is the issue of race, and how race issues in America are not what they once were. With the current political climate, we certainly are at an interesting time to look at the issues between races. It's nice to see a news story that basically repeats what we've been saying all along -- race is not the issue that it once was -- things are far from perfect, but as time moves forward, issues between the races are lessening. I do think there will be some time in the future where humans will just "be", and there will be no thought of distinction based on nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation . . . at least, I hope that's what the future has in store for us.


No Posts In Awhile


So, we haven't posted in awhile . . . simply because there hasn't been a lot of action. We have our videographer appointment next Tuesday. We still haven't even really started on the whole "what do we want to say about ourselves" bit. I like the start Duffy has, though -- basically, our video will only be seen if we've been chosen from the profile book. So - in a way, it's kind of like being on the "Showcase Showdown" of The Price is Right. We will definitely be playing that theme up. While any siblings are required to appear during the video, that mandate does not extend to fuzzy siblings. I don't know if having them with us would be a help or a hindrance.


Over the last couple of days, I've been talking to a lot of people about the whole adoption process. I really don't know why people think they need to say "you know, now that you're walking down this road, you're going to get pregnant right away." I want to scream this is not like applying to a "safety school". We are in this because we want to be in this. I honestly see no difference between "parent" or "adoptive parent", when it comes to the idea of family, outside of the nine months of pregnancy. Hearing the number of parents who have started down the road to adoption only to get pregnant themselves, and then back out of adoption is actually frightening. Duffy & I are in this thing fully -- the only situation that I can envision where we would "back out" of adoption is if we discovered that Duffy was pregnant with quadruplets - and even then, we'd need to think about it.


So -- not really sure why I chose now to chime in . . . just felt that there had been enough blog silence to warrant a little something.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's the little things that raise the blood pressure

I went to drop off the profiles at the agency yesterday. As I hand them to the secretary she asks if I know about the profile fee. I am sure I did at some point, but it hadn't been mentioned recently, thus forgotten. There are a lot of fees, presented in a very long list given to you at the first meeting. This, of course, is a large one. $2,000. OK. Pay day is this week. It can wait a couple of days. No problem. However....
On top of that she also says we have to supply the plastic sleeves for the profile to go into. Wait.... What? For serious? We're shelling out 2,000 bucks to put our names in a book, and the agency can't spend the $0.25 for a plastic sleeve? That they can reuse?
Sigh.
Thus, I will be making yet another trip to the agency this week.
On the more informational side and less rant side.....
We have an appointment at 5 PM on June 10th for the videographer. Within a week or two after that we will officially be in the book and waiting.


3 hours later...
OK, I feel a little better and a tad sheepish. Here is a quote from an email I received from S today.
"There is no need to worry about the placstic sleeves."
Of course John already bought some. I will donate them to the agency or use them for school or something. Now it's just another big check. I think the only ones after this are the videographer and the BIG one for an actual baby.

Transracial Adoption News


Isn't this always the case? As soon as something comes into your life, it's all over the place? Transracial Adoption has hit the news lately. First, there was an article from the Associated Press: Major changes urged in transracial adoption. This article basically states that race and racial training should be an element of the adoption process, when said adoption crosses racial lines.

“The view that we can be colorblind is a wonderful, idealistic perspective, but we don’t live there,” said Adam Pertman, the Donaldson Institute’s executive director.

The crux of the problem may be that a disproportionately high number of black children are in foster care. U.S. laws require discounting race in placing those children, but some believe race, or at least race education, should be a major factor.
If you've been reading this blog for more than a day, I think you'd know that Duffy & I agree with that sentiment. The statement appears to be made more toward foster adoptions, though, as those are decisions made by the state.


Next is this story from National Public Radio: Transracial Adoption Insights. This is much more along the lines of what I believe Duffy & I are going to go through (perhaps I'm saying this with rose-colored glasses, but I really think I'm quite a realist). Here is the story of a well-adjusted adult African American who grew up with white parents.

"My dad was always my dad, and my mom was always my mom. The only time it became an issue was when I'd bring new friends home from school."
The story here is that we need to make the show the effort to bring cultural experiences to the child. I think it's a really well-written piece, and made me chuckle.


This brings us to the adoption books that we're reading. I remember hearing of a study while taking a psychology course about unhappy women in marriages (I have a point - stay with me). Apparently, some time before my time, a magazine found that something like 80% of all married women were involved in affairs - as this magazine sent out a questionnaire to a large number of women, and 80% of those that were returned stated that the participant was involved in an affair. Normally, this would be huge news. But, the questionnaire took several hours to fill out -- and only those people who were unhappy really had the time to write up everything. So, the "boring" responses would have been filled out by people who never would bother to fill out such paperwork. I think we're finding much the same in the books we're reading about transracial adoption. People who had bad experiences wrote books. People who had "boring" experiences either didn't bother to write a book or never thought that there was any reason to bother writing as nobody would ever want to read it.


In what we do read, there have been tons of cases where a "child of color" was raised "white". We get tons of anecdotes:

  • African American boy trying to figure out why his hair doesn't work the way daddy's does
  • Asian kid trying to get his eyes to "straighten out" so that he'll fit in with his friends
  • African American girl using makeup to make her skin look lighter
We will not be hiding the fact of adoption (hence the term "Open Adoption"), and we will most certainly not be hiding the issue of race. This child will not "look like us", but it's going to be loved like no other. I'll fully admit that I'm looking forward to this challenge, and to celebrate a few new items (Kwanzaa (which I'll have you know is an African American cultural holiday and in no way "competes" with Christmas or Hanukkah), Juneteenth, and others as we discover them).


Monday, May 26, 2008

Wardrobe

I don't know about John, but I am finding that a lot of the adoption process is finding the right balance. Especially now that everything is starting to seem very real, (To keep up the pregnancy analogue, I think now that we are so close to the possibility, it is like hearing the heartbeat for the first time. Oh, my GOD there is a BABY in there! Well, oh my GOD there is a BABY out there! Or soon will be.) I find myself looking more and more at baby stuff. So at the moment balance means deciding what is a smart step to take or purchase to make, and what might be too much, too early. For instance, the social workers suggest having a car seat and stroller picked out for quick purchase, but not to buy yet. We are painting the nursery and doing the floors, but we will not furnish it yet for our own psyches' sakes. I won't baby proof yet, but Hudson and Grayson (the children of friends) have been gracious enough to give me the opportunity to take notes on what will need to be done. I plan on hiring the guy from City Wok to build a wall in front of my fireplace. (Don't worry if you don't get it.)
That being said, little things are happening. Both our mothers have been collecting baby things, which is awesome. People have also given us small presents, especially in the way of clothes, so I thought I would share some pictures, because it is all uber cute. Let's call it the beginning of the celebration.

This is everything together.

These are a handmade sweater, booties, and cap that my sister and I wore as babies. My mother gave them to me for Christmas. I guess she is hoping for a girl. Though she swears she put these on Wil. Alex and I cry foul. Neither of us would have let Wil out of the house in these.
Apparently my sister found this onesie a couple of years ago, and finally gave it to me for Mother's Day. With our baby, it fits on levels.

These onesies and caps were a special gift from our friends, Heather and Will. Heather and Will are raising two multiracial children of their own, so we have been doing a lot of discussing lately. We were just visiting them this weekend, and they presented these to us. I think they might be the perfect homecoming outfits. Also, I can wear the caps.

Oh, and here is a video of Wills. How precious is he?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Profile

So here it is! The profile that will hopefully attract a birthparent or parents quickly. No, that's not the right attitude. It is the profile that will attract the right birthparent(s) at the right time. Not many people get to see their hopes and dreams in paper form. I have to say that I worked really hard on it for the last two days, and I am pretty proud. I think it does a good job representing who we are in a very readable way. We look forward to feedback from everyone, even if you have something you think might make it better.
This is really happening!

The Profile Key


As Duffy alluded to, our next big step is filling out the profile key. Well, I guess the profile page (which I thank all that is holy that I have a very creative wife to do, as she has turned out a tremendous page in a bare minimum of time, with a minimal amount of cursing) is actually bigger - but we're partly looking forward to that.


So, what are we willing to "accept" in a baby? While we have no questions of race, there are questions about alcohol / drug abuse, imprisonment, etc. We'll be contacting many of you directly, but if you're reading this and can offer any advice, please let us know (you have our email addresses and/or can leave a comment).


We're not entirely sure how we're going to fill out everything, but we're leaning toward excluding a child if:

  • There was a "serious" medical condition that would place the child into the "special needs" category (and, in the event that this happened, it doesn't necessarily exclude us from accepting the child - but we cannot legally back out of an adoption if we said that we would take a child in this category only to find out that the child needed care that we simply couldn't provide)
  • The birthmother engaged in alcohol abuse, cocaine, crack, herion, PCP, or LSD, or Ecstacy at any point during the pregnancy
  • The birthmother socially drank for the last two trimesters of the pregnancy
  • The child was conceived through incest
  • The birthmother was HIV-positive (see first bullet point)


This leaves on the "accept" list:

  • The birthmother socially drank during the first trimester of the pregnancy (in theory, this is the "before she knew she was pregnant" option, but there is no way to specify this on the form)
  • The birthmother smoked marijuana or received Methadone during the pregnancy
  • The child, pre-birth, is known to have a minor/correctable medical condition (e.g. cleft pallet)
  • The birthfather was HIV positive / drug user / mentally ill / violent criminal (basically, we don't care too much about the father in this -- which sucks from some point of view writing this as a male - but there are only genetic markers that he can give the child, and the birthmother's behavior during pregnancy is really the only issue)
  • The child was conceived through stranger or acquaintance rape
  • The birthmother was imprisoned for either a non-violent or violent offense


There are still tons things that we're still determining (how premature a child if the child is born prematurely, whether we want to be considered if the birthmother is being treated for mental illness, etc). These are straight-forward questions, but it's the truth of adoption. Duffy said things well in her post, in that if we got pregnant on our own, we wouldn't have to be worry about any of this (she would take care of things medically so questions of drug or alcohol abuse wouldn't come up -- then, any complications are just the work of a higher power), but we're not in that situation. We'll see how the next few days turn out as we complete our research.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Home Study

Writer: Duffy, John was the entry from earlier today.

First we would like to say thank you to everyone who sent their thoughts and prayers. We love you guys.
The home study went very well. S, the social worker, was right when she said there was nothing to be really nervous about. Of course, no matter what, we were nervous. She said all parents are. You can't help it. It's like a review at work; even when you know it is a good one, it is the judgment of another person. However, S is so incredibly easy to talk to. We did a lot of laughing and chatting, some off topic. It really put us at our ease. I can see why she is so good at working will birthparents.
First we went over the profile key. This is a set of criteria that will be used to match our profile with prospective birthparents. It asks us under what conditions would we be willing to accept a child, such as mother's and father's medical histories, like chronic depression or bipolar, and drug use. This is the tough part. Here is where I still mourn our potential biological child as none of this would be an issue if I were giving birth. It also asks if we would be willing to take sibling groups or twins, Downs Syndrome or other conditions, etc.
Needless to say, it will take a lot of thought and discussion, some of which we already have done. And some calls to people who know more about medical things than us.
Next, we looked at other family profiles, and S went through what was good and bad about each of them. I showed her what I have currently written, and she approved. Once we have that finalized, I promise to post it.
That lead to the video. While we wanted to use the production services of our friend, Will, who has graciously offered, it seems that we will probably have to use the service the agency works with. And the guy sounds kinda like a jerk. But we will call and make an appointment. She also brought a video for us to watch. The couple was very nervous and rather stiff, but they were also very sincere and cute.
Finally, we went on a quick tour of the house. It's hard not to be defensive about the stained carpet and pile of chew toys, despite the fact that S is so not caring about that stuff at all.
All in all it was a good experience. We are officially approved. It felt like a very concrete step towards the completion of our family that we long for.
I would estimate that we will officially be waiting sometime in June.
Now we are going to celebrate with Chinese food.

The Day of the Home Inspection Is Upon Us!


Ok - with that out of the way, we're at "the day". Yet, I haven't a clue what today will bring. My plans are:

  • Drop bike off at shop over lunch (did not Bike In today, but hope to tomorrow)
  • Leave the office at 3:30 and pick up bike
  • Go home and run around with puppies for awhile
  • Lock up said puppies
  • Ensure that I haven't done anything to disrupt the pristine condition that my sister-in-law has left our house in
  • Worry about what the heck is going to occur at 5


See - I'm STILL not really sure what to expect. From The Child Welfare Information Gateway:

Home visits primarily serve to ensure your home meets State licensing standards (e.g., working smoke alarms, safe storage of firearms, safe water, adequate space for each child, etc.). Some States require an inspection from the local health and fire departments in addition to the visit by the social worker. The agency will generally require the worker to see all areas of the house or apartment, including where the children will sleep, the basement, and the back yard. He or she will be looking for how you plan to accommodate a new family member (or members, if you are planning to adopt a sibling group). Social workers are not typically inspecting your housekeeping standards. A certain level of order is necessary, but some family clutter is expected. Some agencies would worry that people living in a "picture perfect" home would have a difficult time adjusting to the clutter a child brings to a household.


I read that as "we're ok" -- well, I think I pulled the battery from one of our smoke detectors over the weekend because of smokey cooking conditions, but I can just plug that back in. I think I'm going to quickly mop the basement floor because, well, if it's going to be looked at, stickiness may be frowned upon. We'll see, though - this whole ordeal has actually given me anxiety dreams.


Will write post-inspection.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Profile

Apparently, I haven't been sharing somethings with my husbands. Before I started our profile that will be given to potential birthmoms, I did some reading. The general idea is to be yourselves and not try to appeal to the masses. You don't want to appeal to the masses, you want to appeal to one specific person. We want the person who will laugh at our dorky Dr. Evil and Mini Me costumes. We want the person who thinks going camping and hiking with friends a couple of times a year is cool. Our birthparent(s) would not be shied off by a big Greek family or New Jersey Wasps (I kid! Don't yell at me!)
Namely, it is the same thing as filling out a good personal ad. Be yourself. It worked for me last time.
I am off to do the preliminary cleaning, so I won't take as much crap from my beloved, talented sister. Seriously, people, when Alex cleans your house, it's like a new place. It makes my house feel bigger. She should have a show on TLC or HGTV.

On the road to the inspection


So David finally started the yard work we hired him to start a few weeks ago -- but he's done tremendous work thus far (for only working a day). What this means is that we're not going to have to worry about the state of our flowerbeds when the nice lady from Adoption from the Heart shows up. Yes, these are the types of things that we're presently worrying about.


I've gone so far as to clean up my half of the room -- mostly. I'm sure I could do a better job, but it no longer looks like an intergalactic dumping ground. The basement - well, that's another story. Actually, it's not too too bad down there (well, goldfish keep dying), and I'll be able to churn that out in an hour. I guess I should mop the floor or something like that. The only problem is that I really don't know what to expect.


This weekend will be a busy one for us - we need to complete our first draft of our "eye-catching journal page" for the adoption book. Duffy's done a lot of work on it, but whenever I start writing something, I feel like I'm a greater dork than I already am. Part of my fear is that I do not know my target audience, though -- do we write something that would appeal to the masses (and, therefore, appear saccharine), or write something that details exactly who we are, but therefore knocks us "out of contention" with a not-small-percentage of expectant birth mothers? I know I'm putting way too much thought into this -- but I want something to stick out that clearly identifies who we are and will make everybody love us. Easy right? On top of that writing, the Greek Festival is this weekend. Duffy & I are taking our "Littles" to said fair, and then she's working the festival Saturday & Sunday. Me, I'm going to a bachelor party. Woo Hoo! My marvelous sister-in-law will be performing her cleaning magic on our house on Sunday.


Don't worry, there will be plenty of frantic posting between now & the inspection -- and we'll have a full recap afterward!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Of Flooring and Baby Gifts


So we picked out flooring last Thursday evening. There were a few needs here (all of these were features of the house as we bought it . . . none of them were our idea):

  • All of our bathrooms are carpeted and carpet doesn't make for the best flooring material anywhere that water is involved
  • The nursery was known as the "pink room", where the floor was an electric pink shag carpet
  • We have three dogs and a large person who don't always wipe their feet when coming in from the mud, and the upstairs hallway is Berber carpet, which likes to keep dirt hidden within its little folds


While we would really like to remove all of the wall-to-wall carpet in the house, finances don't really allow that at this time - so we are re-doing the floors mentioned above. In the nursery, we're having a pale maple-looking laminate floor installed, which should compliment the yellow walls & ceiling nicely. In the hallway, we're installing a laminate that closely resembles the downstairs hallway. In the master bathroom, a blue tile floor. In the guest bathroom, a green tile floor. And, in the downstairs half-bath, Duffy gets a purple tile floor. Work should begin in a month or so (after the materials arrive), and should be done a week or two later. We are quite excited.




So, after dual Mother's Day dinners (Outback Steakhouse with my mom, and then Amy's Thai Cuisine with Viki), Alex came over to show off her gift for us - a little onesie (is that how they're spelled?) with "Mom needs chocolate" on it. The funny thing is that Alex didn't really realize any racial connection to that until she actually was showing us. Hee. Speaking of Alex, though, she's coming over to do her magic on our house sometime this week, meaning that I need to get my butt in gear and clean up some stuff. I'm realizing right now that we didn't take any before & after photos of any of the remodeling . . . maybe it might make sense to do so for my messes. :-)


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Take on Racial Issues


After Duffy's post on racial issues, I feel like I should chime in. Part of me takes the hippie approach: "All you need is love", but I'm saying that having grown up white in a neighborhood that can best be described as 99% white. I don't know what it's like to be a minority. While I've certainly been party to being judged based on my looks, it's usually been, in my earlier days, by girls choosing to dismiss me before I even worked up the courage to talk to them at a pick-up bar -- and that is NOT discrimination, just good sense on their part.


What I'm trying to say is that, while I can claim that being raised in a loving family is "enough" for a black, white, or polka-dotted child, I have absolutely no experience in such matters. I can only say what I hope is the case, and then try to do my damnedest to make that the case.


In the current political landscape, one of the current criticisms against Barack Obama is that he isn't "black enough". What if my child goes through the exact same identity crisis? I mean, this child is going to be raised in the suburbs by white parents. Yes, we will do everything in our power to ensure that the child accepts who he/she is, and feels proud to be the person that he/she is - but, really, what if that child feels that they deserved to grow up "black"? Heck, I don't even know what that means.


I think Duffy touched beautifully on the facts of adoption - anybody who finds out that their birth parents could not / chose not to parent them is destined to have some level of abandonment issues. On top of that, we have the potential of being asked "if my birth-parents couldn't parent me, why couldn't a same-race family take me in?". Honestly, I can't say, for certain, how I would respond. I do think that race issues in this country are continually progressing to the point where "race issues" will not be a term in some future generation's vocabulary. We are not close to being there.

All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep f**n' everybody 'til they're all the same color.
- Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth, Bulworth (1998)


I guess, my last words on this are: I really, really want to be a father. I hope that's apparent to anybody who reads this and/or knows me. I firmly believe that a child raised in a two-parent household is better off than a child raised in foster care. I know that there are proportionally more black children placed into foster care in this country than any other race. I believe I can be a good father to any child. I believe that I will be a good father. I'm already doing research into what may be different in caring for a "child of color" than typical care of a white child (heck, if Duffy said that she wasn't eagerly anticipating learning how to care for a black child's hair, she'd be lying). I'm looking forward to showing my child role-models that they should follow from their own race (and yes, everybody John Coltrane will be involved in discussions of such role models). I'm looking forward to showing my child role-models that they should follow from his/her parent's ancestry (the gold spoon history of the Batzer name is actually a pretty cool story). I'm looking forward to teaching a child how to throw a curveball, and play the piano - how to read, how to drive. Yes, we're not in a race-blind country, but I like to think that being a good parent is a race-blind activity.


(sorry if this was a bit preachy)


New Poster


So, I figured it was about time that I chimed in here. While I'm in regular communication with many of you regarding the status of our baby-gettin' process, I've never made it around to actually publishing anything here. Mainly because, well, I figure this is too nice an arena for smartaleck posts - and you know me, can't lay off the snark sometimes.


We have scheduled our home inspection -- May 20th. While we're constantly told that the home inspection isn't a "big deal", I'm afraid that it is a little stressful. As I understand the need, this event is basically a check to ensure that our home is a "fit" home for a child. The social worker will want to see the house itself, see where the child's room would be, and ensure that we don't have a meth lab in our basement (we do, but it's hidden, and they'll never-ever find it . . . actually, lately, the basement has been a kind of goldfish hospice, where good goldfish go do die -- yucky fish tank, but need more fish now -- but I'm digressing in an already long parathentical aside). From my end, it means that I need to clean my s**t up. Those of you who know me know that I'm messy, although I tend to confine my messes to relatively small portions of my living area. So, sometime between now and the 20th (probably late night on the 19th), I'll clean up "my half" of the bedroom and try to make the basement presentable. In addition, we'll see about getting rid of the bulk of the junk from the basement - it's just a matter of taking apart the stupid waterbed frame that won't fit up a flight of stairs.


As far as what to expect during the inspection, I don't think it's going to be too much - the agency (Adoption from the Heart) simply needs to make sure that we're prepared to take in a child and will be able to care for it - it really shouldn't be more than that.




With other things house-worthy, we finally have a master shower again. The leaky old drain has been replaced, the cracked shower floor couldn't be repaired again, so a whole new shell has been installed, and that damn hole in our kitchen ceiling has been patched. As I type this, the plumber is sanding drywall -- we tried to put sheets around to cover our stuff, but I have a feeling that we'll be cleaning drywall dust for awhile.


This Thursday, hopefully, we'll be picking out the flooring that will go into our newly-painted nursery (yeah, yeah, it's premature to call the "yellow" room the nursery, but that's what it is). We're looking for laminate flooring that will look like very pale wood - but we've got to go to the showroom to pick it all out - we'll see if we can post some pictures after we know what we're doing.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Racial Considerations

I have had some, a few, complaints that I do not update the blog enough. I guess I try and wait for big news. I still feel like I am bugging people somehow. It's me. You know me. Are you really surprised?
So all of the paperwork is turned in. We are waiting on a call from our social worker to set up a home study. She is currently getting over pneumonia, so it will probably be a couple of days. As I have spent this week trying to keep my lungs in place despite my body's attempts to cough them up, I feel her pain.
OK, what else...
I have been reading. I read a very good book, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla that deals with how children perceive skin color, race, and social ideas about skin color and race through their developmental stages. I found it very straightforward and full of common sense. Children are not born with any prejudice, they are learned, something I think we all know. Dr. Wright, the author, discusses way to preserve that lack of prejudice for as long as possible without shielding children, especially children of color, from the truth of American culture. The other book, Inside Transracial Adoption, is not as good. It is not well written or edited, and while it has some good ideas, the authors take 300 pages to get a 50 page point across.
John and I have been talking about raising a child of another race. We can't pretend that the fact that our child will look different than us will not be a challenge to overcome. We can't pretend to understand the discrimination our child will face in his or her life. His or her life will be more challenging for no other reason than the amount of melanin found in the skin, and other people's ancient, backwards ideas about the importance of that compound. Without having ever experienced what that is like, we have to give our child the tools to overcome obstacles without truly understanding what those obstacles are. It is daunting yet exhilarating too. I feel like accepting this challenge will make me a more aware and stronger person. I hope it will make us an extremely close family with ideals that can help improve the world.
There is a grieving process that all adopted kids go through. Transracially adopted kids have another layer to that grief. They are also grieving a culture or society in which they might have fit better.
Adopted kids can resent being adopted. No matter how supportive the adoptive family is, adopted kids have to come to terms with a certain amount of abandonment, and for each kid, the level of grief is different. Some don't dwell on it at all, Others never completely accept it. Transracially adopted kids can resent being raised by people they don't look like, especially if their parents don't acknowledge that difference.
So while I am really excited about taking on this challenge, and I feel that we are strong enough to succeed as transracial parents, I am also scared of my child someday resenting us. I guess that is really a fear a lot of parents, biological or not, have. We just have to face it sooner and more openly than most do.
However, it can't all be about race. First and foremost is being a loving and supportive family that has lots of fun together.
Last weekend was Greaster, and true to form, Barbara showed up with several fabrics to choose from for the curtains. I love giving my mother-in-law a new project. It is enthusiasm in it's raw form. Anyway we went with a striped fabric that matches the yellow on the walls and the blue and green rugs. It has the word doggie across the stripes. Very cute. We are going to pick out flooring hopefully this week, and I hope to find someone to do the mural before the flooring is laid. That will probably be the end of baby prep until there is an actual fetus/infant to prepare for.
Was this post too long? Too deep? Did I waste your time? Why would anyone want to read this?
See, I knew you knew me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Steps (See it's funny 'cause....baby. Heh)

Well we finally slogged our way through the paperwork. Just like a regular pregnancy, the first three months were full of inconveniences, say morning sickness, with nothing to necessarily show for it. But it is done. I turned in everything at the agency Friday afternoon. The only thing we are still waiting for is John's FBI clearance to come through. (Thank you to all who sent in the reference letters.) I am sure we will end up with a call in a week telling us 12 things we neglected to complete and must do. If not, once John's FBI clearance goes through, we can set up the home study aka Alex cleans our house in only the way she can, and John must pick up his side of the bedroom and hope like heck that the big hole in the kitchen ceiling is already fixed. The social worker tries to play down the stringency of the home study, but no matter how laid back she tries to be, it is still a critique of our life. So expect the next update when that has been scheduled.
The other baby step we have made involved "the nursery". We are planning on redoing the floors in the room we plan on making into a nursery, the upstairs hall, the bathrooms, and the steps.
Of course this meant that I wanted to get the walls painted while we didn't have to care about drips. So while John was in route from England last Friday, I made a trip to Home Depot. While he sat in Dulles as his flight was delayed two hours, I painted what was know as the pink room a cheery yellow. I have to say there was something therapeutic about getting paint all over that pepto inspired Muppet pelt of a carpet. Poor John has to spend his first morning back painting the ceiling. Though John being John, it only took him half an hour.
I also found some rugs at Target that were fuzzy and fun, so I got them while I could. There are three: blue, purple, and green, in shades that I think going along well with the yellow. The next step is to find someone to paint some puppies and a tree on the wall. My massage therapist is a painter, so she will be the first person I go to. Oh and to get some puppy curtains (Cough, cough, Barbara ;-). The rest like a crib, changing table, etc, will wait until we have a more definite idea of when a live poop maker will be arriving. Other than the dogs that is.