We met with an agent today - actually she's the co-founder of the small agency we found that we kind of liked, and we like it progressively more now that we've met her. Nice woman, she is herself the adoptive mother of 10, bio-mom of 1, and at least some of those 10 were waiting children. B (the husband) liked her, and that's a good sign. We got a checklist of behaviors, openness, etc. that we consider Preferred/Acceptable/Will Consider/Unacceptable and we filled that out together.
Some of these questions, we thought there was a real element of absurdity to them, at least in our circumstance (we want an early teen). For instance, one criteria is "Masturbates frequently and/or openly." Now, I understand that this is a symptom of sexual abuse and that whipping it out and working it at dinner parties is rude (not to mention trafe). But a fourteen year old boy, the bottle of lotion and box of kleenex he keeps in his room aren't because his nose is runny and his hands are dry. I don't mean to be crude here, but there are some things that are just... natural.
Going completely the other way, another criteria was "Tends to abuse animals." Now yes, there are kids who do this, and I like it that this agency has the philosophy that all children, even the ever so slightly sociopathic ones, are adoptable. What struck me as odd on this question is that there's that "Preferred" box just sitting there. Now, I can understand how someone could "prefer" to deal with kids who have been physically or sexually abused, or who would prefer a blind or deaf kid, or most of the other things on this list. We all have our special knacks and special missions. But who prefers to have a kid of whom all the neighborhood pets are scared?
Or maybe I'm just overly sensitive about the treatment of the small furry ones because every morning I wake up spooning my dog.
There's also the question of all the things that are missing. There wasn't, for instance, anything that touched on all the things we've found when looking through profiles that really attract our interest. Things like "likes to take things apart" and "enjoys reading" and "builds his own computer" and "has seen every episode of Firefly." It might make for a ridiculously long questionnaire, but the fact of the matter is, if we're going to a picnic to meet kids, we're probably going to want to hang out with the one wearing the "Han shot first" t-shirt, and that probably matters more, in the long run, than whether the kiddo has a history of bedwetting.
We don't want to start with a kiddo with severe RAD. We're buying a house to wrap around our Annie/Oliver and we'd prefer if A/O didn't include burning it down in his special brand of baggage. And, although I don't expect to enjoy it particularly, I'm prepared to absorb a certain outrageous amount of lashing out and vindictiveness from A/O, but that is because I am big and strong and bear a passing resemblance to the people who have let A/O down in the past; my dog is a sweet and trusting and playful lovebug who never hurt anyone since she lost her razor-sharp set of puppy teeth except for that one time when she tried to see if a cat would let her use its head as a chew toy (turns out, not so much), and I am not ok with A/O torturing my sweet little doggie girl.
That's my minimum: don't hurt my dog, don't burn down the house.
And we'll work on the Firefly thing.