Archive for May, 2009

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quasi-updated

May 28, 2009

I talked to Lee, who’d had the same idea I had about writing to Elizabeth about Gabe as a pretext of sorts for finding out about when we’d learn more. Except when I opened our emails, we learned more.

The local special needs adoption specialist has told Elizabeth she’s not allowed to give out any information on any kid unless she has a confidentiality waiver on file. We don’t have one since we’ve been putting off that step before we get our basic information on these kids. And this is what Elizabeth has been doing for the decade or so she’s been doing this job because it works and is more efficient than following the full protocol at first.

Anyway, she’s tossed some confidentiality forms in the mail for us. The only problem I saw was that Lee will be out of town by the time they arrive, and so if we had to wait another week to get them to her and then sign them and get them back to Elizabeth we’d have spent basically a month between asking about these kids and being able to learn about them. However, she said it’s fine with her and she’ll go to bad for us if I just sign the forms for both of us. And that’s even though as far as the state is concerned I’m just a supportive adult who happens to live in the house, no one who will have any connection to Lee or our — I mean legally her — eventual adopted child. I think she’s partly doing this to be subversive on purpose, but I’m down with that!

So now I’m waiting again, until forms come in the mail and I probably just drive or walk them over to Elizabeth’s office so I know they’re going to the right place. Sigh. But I know where we are and that we’re going somewhere.

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choose your own adventure

May 28, 2009

A comment from Tiruba got at what I’ve been thinking too. What if Elizabeth hasn’t written because she’s forgotten about our request? We’ve never had her forget anything before, but we also haven’t had to ask a ton of her. So I’m looking for advice from those who’ve been there done that (or haven’t and just have recommendations or are generally nosy/bossy/whatever works) about what I could do.

A. I could certainly wait while Lee’s on her trip and think about other things (and not at all obsess about what school might be best for what child under what system, especially since I’ll be having dinner tomorrow with a friend who works for our local public high school) and then get in touch with Elizabeth next Wednesday.

B. I could send a little “Hey, hope you didn’t forget about us, but I understand you’re probably busy!” email, which is what I did last Wednesday and how I got the promise that she’d try to do it for yesterday.

C. I could send a little “Hey, hope you didn’t forget…” email but include something about Gabe, saying we’d just noticed he was back on the photolistings and that we’d definitely like to know more about him and why his placement didn’t work out.

D. We could just choose a child and have our homestudy sent to his worker and let things go from there, assuming Elizabeth can still give us information on the other kids when she gets a chance and the upside is that this kid might be The One.

E. I could do something I haven’t thought of to list here and/or force Lee to do one or more of these options. (I’m the one who emails. She’s the one who makes phone calls. It works out pretty well that way.)

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non-update

May 28, 2009

Elizabeth hasn’t written yet. I don’t want to be the whiny pushy person who asks for more NOW. I do want to push, but I think I’m not going to do it yet. I’ll give her time and see how things work out without my interference first.

What makes that a little easier is that tomorrow morning early early I drive Lee to the airport so she can fly back to her hometown. Well, she’ll fly to a city several hours away, rent a car and then drive to her hometown, but that’s the gist. She’s going to visit her sister (bio aunt) Grace, who had been having a rough time adjusting to life in the nursing home where she’d initially said she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

For a while it sounded like she’d changed her mind and was pressuring Lee to get her out of there, but Grace’s social worker had already closed her case and couldn’t reopen it. Meanwhile it wasn’t clear whether Grace was being properly medicated, and getting her off one new drug definitely made her able to carry on sensible conversations, which had briefly been a problem before. At the worst of Grace’s confusion two or three weeks ago, I finally pushed Lee into booking a trip even though she’d sworn to herself that she’d never go back to her hometown and later amended that to only going back with her child to explain where she’d come from.

In any event, Grace is doing better, stable and in a good mood most of the time. The two of them should have a lot of fun together, though I know it’s going to be hard on Lee to see Grace looking so much older. Lee hasn’t decided yet what other family members she’ll see while she’s there, but she’ll have plenty to keep her occupied without worrying about children’s profiles.

And by next Wednesday Lee will be back home. So if I haven’t heard from Elizabeth by then, two weeks after we first expected the information, then I’ll feel totally justified in finding some different or better way to deal with this.

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this is what waiting is like

May 26, 2009

Lee was on the computer looking at photolistings when she got home from work before me. She was very taken by one of the boys we’ve asked about, though I’m a little skeptical because there’s so little information in the writeup but obviously I was willing to ask for more information. She also informed me there was a new boy who looked really promising. It’s not a new boy but a new picture and new writeup of an old boy, Gabe, who made her want to adopt an older child in the first place.

Of course, we were told when we first inquired that he had a psychotic breakdown when moved into the adoptive placement he was in at the time and that he was hallucinating, although there’s not much in the writeup to confirm that. At best, he’s coming out of a disruption and that’s going to bring a lot of baggage. But he’s still handsome with a charming smile, and the information about his schoolwork sounds like it has some promise.

So now maybe tomorrow we’ll hear from Elizabeth about one, two, five boys. Maybe we’ll ask about Gabe’s information instead. Maybe we’ll know that someone is right for us. Maybe Elizabeth will be swamped and we won’t know any more than we do right now. I have no idea!

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what’s going on

May 25, 2009

We’re supposed to hear from Elizabeth this Wednesday about profiles of these boys. There were some kids taken into care who have required above-and-beyond attention (or maybe they didn’t require it and she’s choosing to do it out of pure awesomeness; beats me) and of course we think it’s important for these things to come first in her priorities. And after my over-excited nervousness last Wednesday, I’ve been pretty cool about the wait.

And speaking of Elizabeth’s awesomeness, the reason no one else can help us is that we’re not really following protocol in getting information from her. What we’re supposed to do is read the write-ups on the state photolisting website and then have when we’re interested in someone, we have Elizabeth send our homestudy down to that child’s worker. If were approved as an appropriate family (I have no idea how many people get turned down at this stage) then we’d get to read a summary of this kid’s issues and diagnoses and decide whether we wanted to go further. At that point I think we’d go through the workers again and then get to look at his full file. That puts us back where we were with Ezra, except that with Ezra we were actually talking to his worker directly and getting lots of information that made it easier (somewhat!) to evaluate his file.

Anyway, we know that the photolisting writeups aren’t accurate. I absolutely appreciate that our state won’t publicly release kids’ private medical information. It really makes me wince to read in the national listings things like “13-year-old Kayla tends to act out sexually but is learning to control her impulses” in a place where all of Kayla’s 13-year-old classmates are able to read this information too. I know photolistings are problematic, but they’re also useful. Lee is one who falls for the images (I don’t as much, too busy reading between the lines) and I know it would have been more difficult for her to get herself excited about adoption if she hadn’t had these smiling faces as a way for her to imagine our future.

Anyway, Elizabeth has information on these kids. She’s not allowed to show it to us, but she can read it herself and then give us her impressions. So that’s what she does and why it takes time for her to get this information back to us. She’ll tell us what the major diagnoses are, why a kid went into care, what his current situation is. That’s what we need to feel comfortable sending our homestudy in to get more information. We’re only allowed to have our homestudy out on one child and I imagine we’ll find out pretty soon how long that process takes. It’s been hard to imagine sending our homestudy based on a few sentences of bio that may or may not have much basis in the child’s current reality and then being unable to ask about any child for days, weeks, a month or more until we get information and make a decision there. Again, I understand why the state doesn’t want to be sending people 100 case files and waiting until they’ve worked through them to make a decision. Still, I think the way Elizabeth works this makes a lot more sense. We get enough information to make a decision and then we make a decision.

This is probably a boring post, but as I just told Lee when she wanted to know why I was typing so much, I just want to explain what we’re doing at this point in the process and what Elizabeth’s doing for us. I’m hoping there will be more exciting things to talk about later in the week. I’m already hoping to avoid how I got a ton of work done in the back yard yesterday but managed to smash open a good inch-plus of my forehead with an errant tree branch and then break or otherwise damage my baby toe, which is currently sitting here in an icepack. But hey, at least some of our irises are separated and we have plants! I guess that’s how this adoption process is working right now, though not quite as dramatically; we wait and do little things while we wait so there will be payoff down the line. I’m looking forward to that payoff, but trying to enjoy the work, too. And avoid tree branches.

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why I’m antsy

May 20, 2009

On Monday, Elizabeth said she would start emailing us basic profiles (slightly more information than the photolisting gives) on the five boys we’d asked about by Wednesday. So all day, every time there’s a new email for me I jump. There’s no email from Elizabeth, who may be working on it or may be too busy or may have forgotten (though I’m not going to assume that or ask until at least tomorrow, I’ve decided, though I haven’t passed that decision along to Lee because that way if she asks I’m not responsible for it) and finally as the day winds down I’m starting to expect it less. Elizabeth’s a great worker who works into the night, though, so there’s still plenty of Wednesday left for her to meet that deadline.

But school is finishing up around here. The ideal setup was for us to be looking at placement of a child around this time. Then I’d use my parental leave for the month of June until Lee’s home full-time July through September. We’d have plenty of time for bonding and attachment before school starts again in the fall.

Now, instead, we’re hoping that we’ll find The Child and be able to do a transition by the time school starts. Especially with an older child, it seems to add so many layers of complication to try to change schools during the year, especially since the goal is supposed to be stability and permanency. I don’t know how the social workers deal with this, whether it matters. But mentally we have just this little window until August/September when the schools start up again and then after that we’d have to aim for maybe January. And the longer we wait, the more we have to worry (oh, who am I kidding? I worry; Lee just assumes everything will work out fine in its own fine time, which is why I’m the one with the blog) about the planned reintroduction of a proposed legislative ban on adoptions by cohabiting adults.

So I want this to happen. I want it to happen now. I don’t mind on the selfish side getting less parental leave since Lee will be home (I’m eligible for more if I’m the only adult in the household during work hours) if we can just get this going now, while things are good and safe and promising.

Really I just want more information, though. Even if none of these boys seems right for us, I’ll feel better knowing that we looked and made that decision. I’m not going to just grab the first body that comes our way, but this feels more like standing and waiting for bodies I know will be coming, which is the difficult and frustrating part!

But since we don’t have a child now, we’ve gone ahead and gotten a new roof for the house, some painting done on the outside of the house where the painter thinks there may never have been a repaint in 100+ years, and now we’re planning to get our porch fixed and our side yard sitting area tidied. Maybe it’s nesting, maybe it’s a way to pass the time. Certainly these are things that need to be done if we’re ever going to sell the house, though not all are necessary for habitation.

But I think we both come home every day and see the work our fantastic painter has done and think how nice it’s going to be to have a bigger family in this lovely house. Soon, soon, someday at least. I know I got a lot of credit earlier for being calm about the waiting, but there are parts of it I don’t manage very well. Clearly this is one. I am calm on the outside but my heart is flipping and eager all the time. I guess both parts are the real me.

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still waiting

May 20, 2009

Tomorrow we should hear about one to five boys. I really do feel that one of them will be The One, for whatever that‘s worth. Okay, I think the one who shares both our interests is The One, but there were others I liked before him…. So I don’t really feel focused enough to do much except play out five different potential scenarios, or however many scenarios that becomes when I take each decision in different directions.

I keep wanting to write a post about why I think it is that Lee is most comfortable with the idea of a biracial or light-skinned son, because I don’t think it has to do with colorism. She knows she’s on the darker side of black skin and doesn’t have a problem with it, but I think there’s a gender thing where she doesn’t want to look unambiguously like The Bio Mom when we’re out in public. We’re not at all a butch/femme-type couple, but Lee has never considered pregnancy as an option for herself. All her long-term relationships have been with white women, and I think that’s one factor. The relatives and friends she’s closest to who are raising children now are mostly in white/black or white/white couples. So part of it is that biracial kids have become her default for black parents and I think the bigger part of it is that she has a sort of identity-related reason to want people when we walk down the street to see this child as potentially mine. But I’m not sure how to talk about this in a sensitive way that doesn’t leave her sounding colorist and biased, and that’s why I’m throwing it in the middle of a little post here.

And I’ll end by saying that we also got our first request to do respite today. A five-year-old with major Reactive Attachment Disorder who sometimes attacks adults needs to stay somewhere for the weekend, and we would have said yes to that. But Lee is heading out to see her sister (bio aunt) Grace in the nursing home that weekend and I really don’t want to miss my brother’s graduation party…. So we told Elizabeth to get back to us if they’re unable to find someone else to do it and I’ll try managing on my own the weekend if it comes to that.

And we want her to get back to us with brief bios on these boys. Tomorrow. So we can know and maybe move. Can you tell I’m excited?

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a lot of things I want to say

May 17, 2009

I’ve been hovering on the edge of a migraine most of the day, so it hasn’t ended up being the feast of blogging and chores I’d had in mind for my Saturday.

First is that today marks one year for this blog, a year and a day since I first called our local office to inquire about becoming adoptive parents. To that end, we sent in for more information on five boys ages 10-15 today. There’s one, 11 and a half, whose favorite extracurricular activities are Lee’s college sport and my more nerdy academic competition stuff. He’s new to the listing and I have a good feeling about him.

We went to our foster/adoptive parent appreciation dinner a few nights ago. We got to talk to our caseworker Elizabeth and meet someone from the permanency staff (albeit not someone I liked, and I get the sense Elizabeth isn’t so keen on him either) and talk to a couple from our training class, though I’d like to say more about their fostering experience later.

Elizabeth gave us an update on Ezra. The potential adoptive family has seen his file and still seems interested in moving forward. She feels very positive about them, and she’s going to keep us updated because she thinks it’s important for there to be as many people who care about him as possible. I told Lee this morning that I’m finally at the point (or have been for the last month or so) where I’m glad we didn’t move forward with him. I see her with other 6-year-olds and I love watching her tease and play and cuddle with them, but it would be so much work, so physically demanding, and we need to still have some time in our life for each other. I always had worries and wanted her to just push harder, but Ezra deserves someone who won’t have to be pushing or maxed out taking care of him.

And although my post about ethics in international adoption deserves a better follow-up, I’ll just add that I don’t think it’s ethically easy or unproblematic to adopt from foster care. I finally went ahead and just bought my own copy of the Dorothy Roberts book Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare and I’m already reading about things I’ve believed to be true, that black children particularly end up separated from their families more quickly, decisively, permanently than non-black kids. And since our goal is to adopt an older black boy, I’m fully aware that we’re trying to address that problem but may also end up complicit in it. There’s a lot more to it than just this, but I don’t want to make it seem I believe adopting from foster care is an unmitigated good or that it’s the right match for every family.

For now, though, I’m going to just sneak off and take some more migraine pills and then lie down and read until I can sleep. This is what I get for saying earlier this week that I haven’t had a full-blown migraine this year, isn’t it? But I had a good and quiet day, got to have a long lunch with one of Elizabeth’s other foster/adoptive moms and talk about her 14-year-old soon-to-be-adopted son as well as her bio children and her experiences as the foster parent to other kids. It was enlightening and reminds me again how lucky we are to have Elizabeth. And migraine pills, very lucky to have migraine pills. Sigh.

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the really funny thing

May 14, 2009

The cheesy post I was complaining about in my last post never got published. So no one ever has to know what Lee said were her favorite and least favorite things about our relationship.

Well, except that her least favorite was that she knows she doesn’t do a good enough job comforting me when I’m upset. And tonight I found out a friend of mine from college has died. And I was upset and Lee couldn’t comfort me (because she didn’t realize I was still thinking about it until I was crying, which always sort of freezes her) and we both ended up apologetic and sad.

I’m not one who usually gets hung up on “only the good die young” or any of those things, but this young woman’s death was a true loss. In looking at how much she managed to accomplish in the time since we were in college and in our sexual assault survivor support group together, I’m really impressed. It’s one thing to talk about ethics and read all sorts of books, but I’m not much of an in-the-streets activist anymore. I’m not sure I do miss that as I completely burned myself out on it, but I do know I miss the incredible connections I made then. I’m trying to connect more these days. I just need to connect better with my beloved partner too.

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preliminary thoughts

May 13, 2009

I don’t like having such a cheesy post on top. I tried to write it as an experiment to see if I could be positive and sweet about our relationship without it making me itchy. That would be a big FAIL, folks.

So instead I’ll say that I’m getting my glasses in just a few minutes, and then I’ll be back to the blog for real. I’ve got things I want to say about our transracial parenting plans, and once we meet the other foster parents in our area later this week I’m sure I’ll have commentary there. I just haven’t had much incentive when staring at the screen to type makes everything blurry. (And yeah, I could touch type with my eyes closed and probably should, but that didn’t occur to me until just now so it hasn’t been an issue.

I’m really tempted to spend the next few days reading Ethiopian adoption blogs, which is a little unfair in that I’ve already begun to do so. I read some bloggers who’ve adopted older children from Ethiopia as part of my daily routine, but right now I’m interested in the type of people who came to Ethiopia because China isn’t as fast as it used to be, who want sweet and exotic little girls they’ve saved from a dreadful fate. I don’t read these blogs because they make me so angry, but right now I am angry about the entitlement I keep seeing from adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents in response to E.J. Graff’s recent writings. Margie, as usual, had a thoughtful response but I’m curious about more of this mindset.

I’m sure I sound bitter and judgmental here, which is why I don’t usually talk about these kinds of things on the blog. I’ve found a high school classmate on Facebook who adopted a baby girl from Ethiopia and I don’t friend her because we really weren’t friends just because we had a French class together, but also because I’d find it too hard not to say something about the way her black Ethiopian daughter is “otherized” in all the pictures of her little girls together and the comments she gets about them. I keep reminding myself that there are plenty of people who think Lee and I shouldn’t be allowed to be parents because we’re both women. I’m not trying to be the adoption police. I’m just sad.

More later, once I have glasses.

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