Since wanting to do in-depth posting didn’t work so well last time I tried, I’m going to try to just write some quick tidbits and then see how long they get as I string them out in this post.
Friday, after Lee and I had made our pact to give this adoption thing another year, I got a message from Claudia asking why I hadn’t asked for her help if I wanted to get matched. Besides being one of the most informed and consistent foster/adoption bloggers, she works as an adoption matching specialist for Adopt America Network and among other things recently helped Special K join Lisa’s family.
I hadn’t contacted Claudia yet because we were really focusing on children in Our State. I admit that’s easy to do because Our State’s adoption benefits are better than those in a lot of other states, but any child adopted like this is going to have a Medicaid card that could be used at the supposedly plentiful and excellent places around here that accept Medicaid. And any child is going to be uprooted from his home to move to ours, whether he’s traveling 20 minutes or two hours or halfway across the country….
I would still prefer to get an email from Elizabeth tomorrow that they’ve found the perfect child for us and he’s pretty close to us and we can start visiting soon or whatever, but that probably won’t happen. I do think we’ll get news from her and we’ll keep pursuing that as our first choice, but at the same time we’ll be mailing out a profile of ourselves to AAN tomorrow morning just so we have more bases covered. I would hate us to get to our deadline and realize that we didn’t have a child because I hadn’t worked hard enough at making that happen. I’m hoping the dream I had Friday night that we got turned down for Mychael because Lee hadn’t done enough prep work to justify being the primary parent was just my subconscious being paranoid and not a sign that I want her to be the one doing things like contacting Claudia, because too late!
Friday was great for us as a couple, we were getting along and were happy and all that good stuff. Then Saturday morning got a rocky start because the animals woke both of us earlier than we wanted to be up and it was raining too hard to go to the farmers’ market as planned. We had a painful drive to Columbus, almost-bickering for no clear reason, and I had to stop in the rain to put more air in the tires of Lee’s car, which wasn’t fun even once we did finally find a gas station with a functioning air pump. Lee did at least read the essay I’d asked her to read, one Dawn wrote about how she and her husband adopted Madison, Pennie’s daughter by birth. Lee didn’t say anything about it in the car, but at least did what I’d asked her to do to prepare to meet my friends.
And once we got to Pennie’s shower, things were great. I got to meet three fantastic bloggers plus of course Pennie and her partner Tommy, some of her friends, and some of Dawn’s family. Lee mostly left the party to mope and chat with the bartender at the restaurant, but I got to mostly sit quietly and listen, which is what I enjoy anyway. Once Pennie’s peers took off, Lee came back and talked more and really enjoyed bonding with other women who’d had largely absent biological moms and telling everyone how weird she thinks bloggers and blogging are and basically just having a good time. She’d already figured out who people were in relation to Dawn’s article and made a nice comment about that, so I felt better about sort of bullying her into doing background reading on my friend! By the time we left, Lee was saying as we walked back to the car that she’d love to hang out with Pennie more ASAP.
Then we went to Dawn’s house so Lee could meet Madison, since as far as Lee was concerned this would be the highlight of the trip. We ended up talking to Dawn’s son Noah more than his little sister, but they’re both adorable kids in their own ways, smart, well-spoken, just fantastic. Lee and I went away impressed, but I think seeing Noah thoughtful and dancing and being a fantastic big brother at age 12 made us both suddenly sadder about Mychael, that there wouldn’t be that particular smart, adorable child turning 12 in our house.
Dawn and I talked about how frustrating this has been and talked a lot about blogging, or at least a lot for the 30 minutes or so we were able to stay. She encouraged us to find a support group. Lee and Dawn’s husband Brett commiserated about not reading our blogs and not wanting to read our blogs and being a bit bemused that others do want to read about our lives. Madison changed costumes several times. Noah showed us his breakdancing skills (and who knew he got some of them from a parent?) and Madison picked a tiny bouquet for each of us, clover for me and mint for Lee. They’re in a tiny shotglass-sized measuring cup (and I love having this size measuring cup and recommend it to all cooks, for the record!) on our dining room table now.
I’m not putting into words properly how great this was. Dawn has always been a blog hero of mine, then eventually more of a friend, but now that we’ve met in the flesh she’s something extra special (as the other bloggers I’ve met have been too) and exactly what I needed after a hard week of preadoption drama and the toll it took on our relationship. Lee and I both left refreshed and happy, desperate to get back to visit as soon as we can. Or host the whole family at our house, whatever works!
Then Sunday morning we went to church again, and this time the church was in full force. As an atheist raised in a Catholic family, I’ve never before been in a church where the bulletin reminds us that “order of service is subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit” and sure enough, things got shifted around a bit from published order. Although I’m a non-believer, I was trying not to act like the kind of tourist described in this post I serendipitously found this morning. I wasn’t alarmed and didn’t gawk when people were shaking or speaking in tongues or running around the sanctuary. Even though it was the first time I’ve experienced that, it seemed natural enough and I know it’s how these church members want or need to express their belief. I just let myself be moved by the music of keyboard, voice, and drums and felt the emotion even as I don’t feel the spirituality.
Last time’s preacher had been their senior minister, and Lee and I both love her wisdom and sense of humor. She saw us as we were leaving (Lee didn’t want to stay for the monthly post-service meal because she doesn’t like eating in group situations, though she regretted saying no after she saw how good it looked) and asked if we’d stay for the meal, clearly recognizing us from last time. Lee volunteered that we’d bring something for next month’s meal, explaining to me later that she’d feel comfortable eating if we brought something, so I guess in a month I’ll be cooking some side dish to bring to our new church.
What I was trying to say was that the pastor wasn’t as engaging as the senior minister, but that’s probably because she and her fiancee are getting married this week and she clearly had a lot on her mind. She still managed to preach about using your own power to overcome the things that are annoying you in your life (timely!) and about putting yourself in a situation where you can meet your own true potential rather than what the world expects for you, giving the example of girls who underperform in math and science until they’re put in single-gender classrooms and find that without the burden of comparison they’re able to achieve at least as much as much as boys.
The senior minister’s message two weeks ago had been about adoption, how the Christian concept of God’s adoption of Christians is and isn’t like human adoption. She talked about her devotion to her children even though they weren’t her biological offspring and about how she has to put up with the bad behavior from the family’s newly adopted puppy because she made the choice to bring the dog into the family and so she has the responsibility of teaching the dog to learn better behaviors. But by the same token, humans have limits that she believes God doesn’t. She spoke about a friend of hers who disrupted a special-needs adoption because the child she adopted was too dangerous for other members of the family, and talked about how it’s not our job to judge this woman whatever we might think of her choice, but we need to know that God wouldn’t do that. And I’m not even bringing in the Michael Jackson references and the hilarious jokes and body language she used to get the whole message across, along with a close reading of the Bible passage she’d chosen, which was something I enjoy.
Basically it’s just really cool to have a lesbian minister talking about being a lesbian just as a general part of the church service. It really seems that we’ve found a place that will accept us as who we are — and their website says they’re open to people of any religion, though when we were one of about 15 in the congregation rather than 65 and were asked during the altar call if we’d been saved, I just lowered my eyes — and we’d even be part of a larger queer (and some straight) community. Although Lee’s preferred flavor of religion tends to be a little less charismatic, that element reminded her of relatives of hers who would have enjoyed it. And the music was what she’s been looking for. They also have the strong social justice focus I like, something that’s very clear as part of the sermons and in what they do outside of worship.
So I guess we’ve found our place. Lee asked what I thought and I told her I’d be glad to spend three hours a Sunday there, and that’s true. This is probably kind of odd for someone who’s a nonbeliever, but I don’t see a downside to being surrounded by so much joy, and it does seem to be a joyful church. We’ve said we’d want a home church especially in case we have a child in our care who wants to be attending somewhere, and this is a place where we wouldn’t have to worry about being outside the norm because everyone’s outside the norm in some ways. I’m not sure if Lee will be officially joining and becoming a member, but unofficially I think we have another element of our plan in place.
And as I was writing this, Claudia emailed me the profile of a boy who lives very far from here to ask if he’s the kind of child we’re looking for. I guess a lot of pieces of our plan are moving. And I hope what we can get from this weekend is how much it helps to have support from the magical people on the internet, how much it helps to have a supportive community face-to-face, and how much we absolutely need to remember how much we love each other even when we’re frustrated and worn down. It looks like the future might be coming faster than we expected, and I can’t imagine a better partner to share it with me. Well, I can imagine that my perfect partner would be Lee and when I get home today she’d be finishing dinner cooking and would have done laundry all day, but realistically I’m happy. Life is good. I am loved. I like that.