Archive for September, 2008

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updates

September 30, 2008

We had what we thought would be our last homestudy visit yesterday, but it turned out it will be part two of three. No big deal; we’ll spend a few months waiting for it to be written either way. At least now we’ve got all our paperwork in, which is a good step. The first meeting got us through physical inspection of the house, discussion of sensitive issues (her adoption and my rape and subsequent abusive relationship), and paperwork. In the second meeting, we talked about our families of origin, sexual identity issues, major relationships, and then discussed the short duration of our current relationship and why/how we decided we were ready to go down this path. I should probably post about that sometime, really. Next time we’ll cover discipline and parenting strategies or something like that. And next time will definitely be the last pre-homestudy meeting with our worker Kate, who’s been fun and supportive throughout all this. She has a lot of experience and I’m sure she’ll do well in writing us up. And she even liked my “dear (birth)mother” letter, which I titled Dear Mother because it was the only way I could manage it.

The other news, though, is that there’s a family selected for Lee’s beloved Gabe, the sweet 12-year-old with no apparent major issues in his photolisting synopsis. I’m not terribly surprised, both because I never had the faith Lee did in him and because in our state if people are willing to adopt someone who’s going to be a black male teen soon they probably would be interested in one who’s a high achiever in school, well-behaved and polite. She thinks I’ve been cynical and calculating about this when she asks whether I think he’ll be ours and I talk about what the odds are, but I don’t feel like I can go with my gut in this. Yes, absolutely, I could construct a future in my head where he’d be wonderful and he’d be ours, but I didn’t believe it even if I could make it feel true. I’m just not that kind of person, I don’t think.

And that’s left me thinking again about the boy Kate loves and keeps suggesting for us, The Littlest Guy in the Photolistings, whom I haven’t given a pseudonym even though he’s been in my thoughts longer than Gabe had. He’s probably kindergarten-aged and he’s from our area and so the state would like him to be able to come back here. He’s got some aggression issues and some attention problems, but that’s a pretty normal and healthy response for a little boy who’s gone through some bad things in life. The only red flag in his description is a hint that he’s mistreated an animal before, but again since Kate knows him we were able to learn that he was a toddler at the time and his current foster home has a dog. So he’s certainly on the radar screen. Lee doesn’t like that he has a name that marks him as black, though we both agreed the nickname he goes by is cute. While he’s a boy in the age range she’d wanted, she worries that he seems “bad,” which I interpret as meaning she recognizes he needs more supervision than she’s yearning to give.

I’m not falling in love with this little guy. I don’t want to fall in love, either. I want us to get through the homestudy, clean up the basement and the spare bedroom, and then concern ourselves with what might be right for our family. We need to talk so much more about all this and I want to be careful I’m not pushing Lee into anything that isn’t right for her. I was worried she’d be upset by the news that Gabe isn’t available and his worker had (it seems) given her information that’s no longer accurate, but instead like me she’s happy that he’s going to have the family he needs. I believe someday we’ll have a child or children who need our family, too. And I sent my letter to him/her/them into the ether of homestudy paperwork yesterday. I’m fine with that.

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“Dear Birthmother”

September 26, 2008

We’re finishing up the last few items for our homestudy, and the one that’s giving me the most trouble is the “Dear Birthmother” letter. Even though we’re doing an adoption from foster care, even though any child who comes to us will already have parental rights terminated, we have to write something about ourselves that can be shown to our child’s first mother, though I have no way of knowing whether anyone actually would make sure she sees it.

It was hard enough to have to write a “Dear Child” letter that isn’t patronizing but isn’t specific to any one child and can work for anyone ages 3-13. Now I have to worry about writing to that child or children’s mother(s) without using gendered pronouns, making assumptions about anything, knowing whether it will actually be read. I’m overthinking this, of course, but I don’t like the idea of “Dear Birthmother” letters in infant adoption and while it’s too late in our case to coerce someone into relinquishment I know our state is requiring this as a carryover from other adoption practices. And I can’t just not do it, because it needs to be in our file to get to the next stage of the process.

I’ll probably do something like what I did for the “Dear Child” letter, explain that we prioritize love, laughter and family time; enumerate a few of our preferred leisure activities; say something about how we both work outside the home but have good schools a few blocks away; mention our pets. I want to say how much we value openness without making any promises, because if it turns out that our child’s “dear birthmother” is also his or her abuser, openness between parent and child might not be appropriate. Because the full openness situation won’t be clear until we know the facts and the child’s needs and preferences, we don’t want to be too clear about where exactly we live. So instead I’ll say something more wishy-washy about how we think it’s important for children to remain connected to their ethnic and regional heritages and that we’ll do everything in our power to make our children educated about and proud of who they are and who we as a blended family are. Ugh, I don’t know. We have to just sit down and do this but I don’t want to, don’t understand the need, don’t want to play along.

We’ve been having a lot of talks with friends lately about the way we’re adopting because a recent court ruling has made it clear that a second-parent adoption won’t be something we can do here unless the legislature makes some clarifications, so we’ll have no chance to take advantage of the gray areas there and Lee will be the only legal mother. Maybe in part because of that, I get vaguely nervous about every little thing that could derail us. I checked with our certification worker to be sure that we couldn’t get any more information about Gabe or express interest in him until we have our homestudy, which is true. But Lee is impatient, so she called his worker anyway and talked to her and didn’t learn anything new about him except that his info will be waiting with our certification worker for when we’re allowed to have it. Will that make us look shifty or impatient or like we’re not following protocol? Lee doesn’t care; but I’m a little uneasy. I want to talk about my worried with this letter I’m supposed to be writing, but while I’m comfortable talking to our worker, Kate, about openness and ethics and my strong feelings and positions, I’m not comfortable saying that I think something that’s departmental policy — like the generic letter to a mother or our eco-map — is something I question. I’m sure I’ll learn something about myself by creating both those things this weekend (and we’ve already learned that these are the sort of things I should do with input from Lee, though she’ll probably do clean copies of them since she has nicer handwriting) but I’m afraid I’ll be more glib and subtly manipulative than I really want to be during this process.

I never know if things are hard for me because I make them difficult or because I’m seeing them as they are. I hope it’s somewhere in between.

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Where should I be?

September 23, 2008

Now that I know there are a few adoptive parents reading this, I’m curious about non-blog communities. Right now I belong to one non-adoption message board (under my own name) and I’d like to start participating in special needs adoption conversations. I’m comfortable with my blog reading although I’m still not much of a commenter — probably because I’m still inexperiences? — but I’d like to connect more online while we also start attending support groups in our area. Any suggestions?

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fell in love….

September 22, 2008

Our next (and probably final) homestudy visit is in a week. This Sunday, we were able to visit two of our character references not because they’re character references but because they were both free and in the next town over from ours, so we got to spend a leisurely day talking to our friends and hanging out with their children.

At our first stop, Lee pulled up our state’s listing of waiting children to show our friend how it worked. She’s started window shopping lately and wanted to show our friend a little boy who’d been recommended to us by our caseworker and two absolutely adorable girls on the national listing. We got into a long conversation about the ethical problems created by listings like these and we changed our search criteria to show how many more older kids there are than in the 6-10 age group we’d been looking at. That’s when Lee saw Gabe.

Gabe is 12 and lives in our state. He’s very cute, which caught her eye, and is coded as African-American but has light brown skin and could well be multiracial — exactly the look Lee’s “dream baby” has always had. Gabe’s favorite activities are the sporty one that was her favorite at age 12 and the more reflective one that was mine at age 12. He’s apparently comfortable in many types of family environments and unlike many of the boys his age in the listing doesn’t request a family with a mother and a father. Perhaps related to that, there’s no information on how much of a factor (if any) church plays in his life, though that’s a common thread in most of the little descriptions. It’s clear he’s had some rough patches and of course plenty of traumatic loss, but there were no huge red flags at all.

Lee, who’s been the one insisting she needs a young son, suddenly changed her tune. We spent the day talking about all the things we could do with an older child, old enough to sit quietly in a car and listen to music while we travel to see relatives, old enough to be responsible with the animals, old enough to walk around the corner to school alone, old enough to already have a strong personality, old enough that if he’s not adopted in the next year he’s going to be a black boy in the Southern Midwest looking for a home. Although we can’t do anything until our homestudy is finalized and we realize that the bureau is short-handed and that will take a while, our first step when we’re certified will be to ask that our file be sent to Gabe’s caseworker if Gabe’s still looking for a home.

I’m actually in some ways relieved by this turn of events. Although 12 just breaks the age barriers I’d set up (that I be 18 years older than my child, which I wouldn’t be, and closer in age to Lee than my child, which again is no go) I don’t feel bad about that. I think with both of us working and with Lee’s lack of background in child-rearing, we might actually do better with a tween-into-teenager than a toddler-to-youngster-etc. Every time I imagine Lee romping with her imagined young kids, I can’t help also imagining her complaining at night that she’s too exhausted to help out with chores, that she’s frustrated by not having any time or space for herself. I know she’d love it, but I know it would take a lot out of her, that she’s not used to giving the time and attention that kiddies need. I’m out of practice, too, but I’m also scared I’d be picking up the slack for both of us. I’ve tried to tell her this before, but yesterday with Gabe out there as a viable alternative it started to make sense to her.

So Lee’s immediate suggestion was that it wouldn’t be hard to turn our one spare bedroom with its built-in bookshelves and great windows into a lovely space for Gabe. Then when he settles into our family and we’re settled, we’ll move to the next town over where there’s more diversity and a better school system so he can start high school there. By then the housing market will be better — right? — and we’ll easily be able to sell the house we have now and buy a bigger one in that town where we’ll have more than one bathroom and enough bedrooms that we can begin our Little Siblings Search again if that’s what seems right for our family.

I know not to give my heart away to a child before we know what his issues are, whether he’d really be a good fit, whether he’ll even be waiting on the list in another 8-10 weeks when our homestudy is ready. But my heart still jumps, because this just looks so ideal for us. I can’t help imagining him (or someone like him) at my family reunion next summer, helping us re-landscape the back yard next spring, playing basketball and watching the team at Lee’s school play basketball, doing homework at the desk I built to extend the built-ins perfectly. We have a lot of waiting to do before we move forward, but this could really, really, really happen. I think our family is ready.

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Graduation

September 18, 2008

We’ve got our pre-certification diplomas, word on what was holding up my FBI check (the state where I went to college needed me to sign a waiver before they’d release my record), some major and inspiring praise from our teachers, and lots of information to carry us into the future.

After we got our diplomas, each of us in the class was invited to make a little statement about what we’d learned, what the class had meant to us, etc. I wanted to paraphrase ours.

Thorn: “When we came in here, we knew we’d probably be the oddball couple, but I appreciate so much how we’ve been fully supported by everyone in the class even though our relationship may not have the same legal and social acceptance yours do. Adoption and foster care have been something I’ve dreamed of for the last five years, something I’ve researched obsessively for hours a day. But now suddenly everything’s becoming real and it’s such a strange, scary, exciting feeling. I didn’t know it would feel like this, but I’m grateful to all of you who’ve helped us get here and given us a great foundation for moving into the future that’s coming at us fast. Thank so much to all of you.”

Lee: “This state gets a bad rap for a lot of things, but I’ve been so impressed with how well this class was run and how much content there is. I love that support and help are always just a phone call away, that there are so many resources for us even after adoption in this state. I’ve told all my friends about how much it’s surpassed my expectations and how much I’m learning here. I feel very lucky that we’ve had this opportunity and we’re really much more prepared to be parents. Thanks for helping that happen! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

So that’s that, I guess. Now we’ll have one free night a week. I think we’ll make it date night, since we’re under strict orders to work on strengthening our bond — not because we need it but because everyone needs it before taking on children — and it seems like a good time to keep up with relationship and adoption-related check ins. We’ll also start going to the monthly support group next month and see what supplemental trainings are available to us. I guess we need to work on turning the room where I write this into a child’s bedroom pretty soon too. This is happening and it does feel real and I’m thrilled.

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Middle Class in the Midwest

September 17, 2008

I’d written that I thought people in poorer communities might be more community-minded than those in wealthier ones, but like much of the Midwest our middle-class town was pummeled by winds going faster than highway speeds this weekend courtesy of Hurricane Ike. We’re lucky that we only briefly lost electricity and didn’t have any serious home damage, but several of my coworkers are still without power. The house across the street from us had its roof peeled off like a can of cat food. The lumberyard down the street was totally destroyed. There are trees down everywhere, great beautiful trees, and lots of property damage. But I’ve never seen so many of my neighbors talking to each other. We were all out on the streets talking to each other, checking in, making sure people had what they needed to get by.

When the storm began, Lee and I were at a lecture about the history of African Americans in our region, followed by a performance by an a cappella quartet — four very diverse and talented black men — and a local restaurant’s fried chicken and corn bread. We talked afterwards about how even though the lecture left plenty to be desired, we’d have wanted to have a child of ours, particularly a son of ours, hearing the religious music Lee grew up with and seeing black men who can make faith and serious singing seem cool and fun. We’ve gotten lazy about going to cultural activities lately, but it was a good reminder of just why that will be extra important. I’m glad we went out, but also glad we were able to be home with our animals and our neighbors while a downspout was blown off the back of our house.

Work has been crazy this week. I’m managing the office while my boss is on vacation, which means doing her job as well as mine in the time I usually spend just on my own obligations. But tonight I’m not letting myself feel exhausted because we’re going to graduate from our pre-certification training tonight. One more step of the many we’re taking toward becoming moms will be officially marked! Can you tell I’m excited?

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We Are the Champions!

September 12, 2008

Maybe not quite champions yet, but we clearly made a good impression on Kate, our certifying worker. She won’t be able to see us for another two weeks, but we had great conversations about the potentially triggering issues in our histories (sexual assault and an abusive relationship for me, Lee’s adoption by her grandparents and thus complicated family dynamic for her) and turned in all the paperwork we had. It turns out we don’t actually need TB tests, but we’d both gotten them done anyway and will have them read in the next few days, so that too should show our dedication.

The house was plenty clean, though she barely inspected it, and she loved our animals, all of whom were well-behaved. Mostly we just sat and talked so she’ll have plenty of grist for her homestudy. There’s a huge backlog and, as ever, the department is understaffed, so we probably won’t be approved and certified until December. Of course there’s no telling how long we’d wait after that, but I’ve been surprised how excited every social worker we’ve talked to has been about us. Even when they don’t know our backgrounds or specifics, they’ve all had at least one child to recommend as a potential good fit. Kate’s suggestion was a child we’d seen on the state photolisting, all spidery limbs and a huge grin with plenty of naughtiness in his eyes. Neither of us is going to get too excited about that or any of the recommendations until we’re certified and ready to go, but it’s still an amazing feeling to look at his face and think that a social worker has actually said she thinks we could parent him, if that makes sense. It’s a huge affirmation that dreams are coming true. We may be parents by spring.

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after the accident

September 10, 2008

After this weekend’s accident, yesterday evening was my first time driving. Tomorrow our caseworker comes for her first visit. I was terrified I was going to have to tell her that being in an accident, particularly an accident with children, had triggered my PTSD and for the first time in 5 years I was having panic attacks.

Now, instead, I can tell her that but that with Lee’s support and with techniques I’ve learned in therapy through the years, I spent two sleepless nights and had plenty of racing heartbeats but was able to overcome that and calm myself even to the point where I can drive. I still get nervous and overcautious at stop signs — and I’m a hyperconscientious driver to begin with — and when Lee’s driving I no longer hold my breath and feel my heart race at all; I just ride.

I didn’t expect it to be this fast. I thought I’d do what I usually do, beat myself up about being so stupid as to get into an accident in the first place, worry about what lasting psychic trauma I may have caused Bethany. Instead, I dealt with things on the ground as needed and then managed to forgive myself. I did something stupid, but I did it with good intentions (believing the oncoming driver had a stop sign and thus would stop) and no one was hurt. Everything worked out as well as it could in a bad situation, and I believe that.

So what changed? I’m sure part of the help is having a stable, level-headed, supportive partner. Lee doesn’t like it when I work myself up and she’ll move away rather than engage me if I’m being unreasonable. While I sometimes complain about that and our different communication styles, I appreciate that she does what’s best for her own stability. When I asked her to comfort me, she did just that. She listened, reassured me, checked in on how my sore back was doing and my uneasiness when we were on the road. She took care of me, but more importantly gave me space and time to take care of myself.

I’m not the scared person I used to be either. I’m still not a decade beyond my abusive relationship, but mentally I’m far away from who I was then. I don’t have to focus on hating myself to calm myself. If I don’t sleep at night, I can tell my boss that in the morning and leave work a little early after finishing what I need to do. This doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I’m broken. I can wake up from terrible dreams with my heart pounding out of my chest and finally know that real life doesn’t have to be painful, that happiness is more than just possible.

I go into adoption knowing about trauma from my childhood depression, my rape at 17, the abusive relationship I fell into after that. I know so clearly that love isn’t enough to heal, that there’s also tenacity, therapy, time, luck involved. But it feels so good right now to know how much in at least my life love has helped.

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in the informal economy

September 10, 2008

Warning: This one’s going to be long, and involves my making a choice that people might criticize me for making. I figure if I’m going to be judgmental about others’ choices (including sometimes my partner’s, as has probably been clear here) it would be hypocritical of me not to put myself up for the same treatment. Just keep in mind that what’s done is done. I’ll have another post soon about my emotional/psychological response to this situation and how it intersects with our adoption process.

Anyway, Lee and I have been mentors for the past year to two girls from a low-income neighborhood in River City, Bethany (age 13) and Jana (age 11). I talk to the girls at least weekly and generally take them out for some activity three weekends out of a month. Our program only does same-gender matches and gets far more women than men as volunteers, so the girls’ younger brothers still haven’t found a mentor after all their waiting. While we’ve tried to include them, 5 kids don’t fit in any one of our cars and it’s hard to find activities that entertain kids across the kindergarten – grade 8 spectrum. So as this school year started, our goal has been that I’ll keep seeing Bethany and Jana as much as we did last year plus focus specifically on helping Bethany prepare for the placement test for an academically competitive high school. Lee will come with us when the outing interests her, and she’ll also try to do something with the boys at least once a month. Their parents support this plan and appreciate the time we spend with the children. While they don’t have a lot of material advantages, this is a family that is close and committed and the parents want their children to get as much as they can out of life. I have great respect for the family and honestly enjoy my time with the kids.

This weekend, Lee and I took the girls downtown for a festival. Lee was ready to leave before the girls were, so she decided to walk home across the river and leave the girls with me while she went home to feed our pets and pick up a few groceries so we could make dinner together when I got home. I let the girls keep playing another hour or so, meaning we’d been out for 5 hours, and then eventually herded them back to the car so they’d be home by dinnertime. On the way back to their house, we were in a car accident.

They live a few blocks from a major street, in a quiet, dilapidated neighborhood so much safer than the place where they lived when we started mentoring. I was driving down their street, in fact explaining to the girls why they couldn’t take their seat belts off even though we were only a block from home, when I stopped at the stop sign before their block. As I headed into the intersection, a car came right into the side of mine, hitting directly on the wheel before the front passenger seat. Bethany and I, sitting in the front, were shaken but okay, though Bethany immediately began crying hysterically. Jana, in the back seat, was absolutely fine. I managed to pull over, get the girls out, hold Bethany while I got on my cell phone to call her mother and get her to walk down to pick the girls up.

What I didn’t do is call the police. For one thing, selfishly, I was at fault. Although I assumed this was a four-way stop, that was just assuming and it turns out the other driver had the right-of-way. It was her quick thinking to turn when she saw me go into the intersection that kept us from hitting harder. Even so, I felt horribly guilty and would have been willing to take what bystanders assured me (from experience with several other accidents at that very corner: note to city planners!) would be about a $300 ticket. But while the other driver’s car was barely scratched, her toddler had been riding unsecured in the back seat. For that and perhaps other reasons, she begged me not to get the police involved, didn’t even want to take the information I gave her about how to get in touch with me if she needed any repairs. She just wanted to get out of there and get her child home, upset about what happened but feeling blessed that neither he nor her car had been hurt.

Each of us was torn between comforting a crying child and trying to assess damage, allot blame. Our cars were both about 15 years old, hers in worse condition than mine had been before the impact buckled my tire. But we were all safe, which was all that mattered to either of us. Though she’d started out yelling at me for not letting her through before leaving the stop sign, she quieted as soon as Bethany got out of the car in need of comforting. Each of us was asking about each other’s health, the states of the frightened children. While I know every insurance company says never to admit blame, I readily did, and I think that calmed her too. I wasn’t going to lie, wasn’t going to be confrontational with someone who’d had the presence of mind to minimize what could have been a very serious accident. So we agreed that she forgave me but she wanted to go, and she left.

That left me with a weeping 13-year-old and a car I wouldn’t be able to drive out of there. Bethany and Jana’s parents were very understanding, didn’t seem to blame me at all for endangering their children. Since I’d left Lee at home, she was on the scene with her car and a phone book to look for tow trucks within 10 minutes. Unfortunately, everywhere we called had no trucks available and was going to charge us huge amounts of money since getting this car the 10 miles home would require crossing state lines. As she took care of this for me while I stood, shaken and not particularly able to respond, people from the neighborhood began to come over to talk to me.

There during the accident and through my whole wait was Pops, who’s lived in the area and raised his kids there for 30+ years. In between giving me his opinion on what had broken on my car (all accurate, as were all similar comments from other passers-by) he gave us a little history of what the street had been like, how it had gone through better and worse times in his years there. He told me more about the woman who’d hit my car, herself a lifelong resident. And after we found out his friends’ towing service was closed in the evenings, he sent a message to his son who contacted a friend who contacted a friend who showed up on his motorcycle to make sure the car could get drive onto a lift to be carried on a tow truck. His truck arrived a few minutes later, driven by a guy who was new on the job. The towing company owner, whom I’d never met before and who didn’t even know Pops, told the driver to take me across the river and just charge $50 for the whole trip, about what other companies would have charged to

As I was getting into the cab and leaving, with Lee driving her own car to pick me up again at the garage where we’d leave my car, several of the neighborhood guys reminded me what the parts should cost to get my car fixed so that I wouldn’t get ripped off and I assured them that my mechanic is a friend of my family and would do a good, fair job. Lee said, as she always does, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” I generally disagree with that because while she’s someone who knows a lot of people, I’m someone who’s more comfortable knowing things. There’s really no way, though, to avoid admitting that she’s right in this and many other cases, though she doesn’t have to be so smug about it when she is.

This is going to sound like stereotyping, but if the same accident had happened in front of a group of witnesses in a ritzier part of River City, I don’t think I would have gotten the same sort of support. I’m a white woman driving two white girls and that would have helped, but I really think part of this was that I was in a community where everyone has to help out a bit or no one can get by. The assumption is that when there’s trouble you kick in and when you’re having trouble others will do the same. While people were helpful initially, it wasn’t until after Bethany’s mom came to get her and they understood that I was a mentor to girls on the street that they really started giving suggestions.

While I’d been mentoring to help Bethany and Jana get enrichment their school and family can’t give them, I hadn’t thought about how I’ve given back to the community in some sense as well. I mean, I know they bring home stories and leftovers to their brothers, but I hadn’t thought of myself as belonging to their community at all until then. But it’s true; I do more than duck in and out to pick them up. I talk to teachers, advocate for the children, see what parks are good places for supervised play. I’ve taken their brothers with me when we’ve gone to a splash park and Lee’s taken them to play basketball. We’re getting to know their cousins and uncles and grandmothers. I guess it trickles down.

In our home community, we have plenty of friends and far more acquaintances. Whenever we’re out walking, people who know us honk as they drive by, though Lee suspects it’s because she’s the sole black lesbian and thus easy to identify. We’ve had neighbors come over when they were locked out of their houses. We have children on blocks in several directions who know our dog Pocky by name and come out to pet her when we’re out with her or ask about her when we’re alone. And when we have children, maybe those children will originally be from lower/middle-middle-class communities like ours, but the truth is that children from neighborhoods like the one where Bethany and Jana live are overrepresented in out-of-home care. I hadn’t thought about it as explicitly before the events of this weekend, but I want them to live in a community of some sort that will accept and support them in a way that McMansion neighborhoods wouldn’t. I want them to get to be part of a network of kindness and mutual reliance, though not in the web of poverty. We’ve decided that we’ll aim to be in our house another year, but we’re already house-hunting in the next town over, more diverse in racial and class respects than ours and with more educational opportunities.

I’m waiting to hear today whether my car will need one very expensive part after the alignment is tested. If not, repairs will stay well below my deductible anyway. Lee drove me to work until today, when I was able to borrow the car my out-of-town brother isn’t driving. My network is there, I know, but not explicitly so. I do believe it would catch me if I needed it to.

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uncertain update

September 4, 2008

When Lee got home, we went down to the nearby cheapo Mexican restaurant for tortilla chips and conversation. With no prompting from me, she said, “I know that what I want is to have kids with you.” Honestly, it wasn’t what I’d expected, but it felt good. We have tons of time to work on the details.

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