Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Patience is a virtue...

Just not one of mine. Heading down to the agency this afternoon to talk over the questionnaire and get oriented. It's 10:54 now...


Update - not going to see her today, going on Jan 16th. And the info on Annie and Oliver - are they already in process with somebody else - they aren't going to have time to look into until the 5th.

Which is pretty reasonable, all things considered, because it's not like we could really start to do anything about it yet anyway, but we are curious.

Also, we have this piano that was given to us by my mother when she was purging her house, and which has been sitting in the living room unplayed for quite some time, and as part of our general purging in preparation of a move, B wants it gone. So we thought maybe we'd donate it to the "residential setting" Annie is living in. Need to mention that to the agent on the 16th - we're starting the classes, we can take it down there maybe, I don't know, meet some of the kids... I don't know - fly casual.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crazee Lady iz Crazee

I can't stop thinking about this, about how much I want these kids in my life. I feel about these kids in much the same way I expect Joan of Arc felt about God, minus the expectation that our kids could deliver military victories for France. Two minutes, five at the most, I can go without thinking about them. It's been two months now since we decided to start looking into it, and the feeling hasn't faded - if anything, it's more intense. I look at their adoptuskids profiles about half a dozen times a day; it calms me, like I'm with them.

I know that it's terrible to go shopping for the kids - but maybe part of the reason that these kids are commoditized isn't because they're actually commodities, it's because commercial language has overtaken English. At work, we don't seek agreement or consensus, we look for "buy-in," we don't discuss, we "allow philosophies to compete in the marketplace of ideas," our Department of State doesn't conduct diplomacy, it "protects the America brand," and so on. The language is poisoning our ability to describe the search for a compatible juvenile family member by calling it "shopping." I suppose the small mercy in the term is that it at least implies that the kid has value.

But I do still feel like it's shopping, and now more than ever because the agency we went to yesterday let us take this binder home that's full of glossy printoffs of all the kids in Virginia, with notes on whether they're already on hold for some other family (no confidential info, no worries), and now it's not just browsing on the net, like facebook or surfing for interesting blogs. No, now I've got a catalog.

And of course I set right out to look for Annie & Oliver. We do have an Annie and an Oliver in mind (not their real names, of course), 13 and 14 years old, respectively. I knew from her current adoptuskids listing that Annie has a sister who has already been adopted, but it wasn't until I had thumbed way back in the book that I found a pair of sibs, one named Annie, who was the same age as my Annie, who had some of the same description as my Annie, who had the same ID as my Annie. There's a paper clip marking the page, and a note to put both the girls "on hold" almost exactly two years ago. And there's her sister, let's call her Molly, three years older than Annie, and the star of the description.

Molly is all foreground in the picture, Annie is behind her, peeking around over a shoulder. Molly is "focused on her schoolwork," wants to go to Europe one day, and is adamant that her family support her "desire to get a good education." Annie keeps up her grades, likes to roller skate and go to the movies and would like a dog. And whoever started the process with them two years ago kept Molly and sent my Annie back.

It could be that I've developed a crush on somebody who would be very, very bad for me - it's not like that hasn't happened before. I'm hoping that Annie had just spent her life overshadowed by Molly and when it came to a new set of parents, being second was just too much for her to bear. It could be that being an only child, the important child, chosen for herself and not as part of a package deal with the exceptional Molly would make a difference in Annie's ability to really feel special and safe and wanted.

Won't know until I talk to the agent on Monday, and probably not even then.

Merry Christmas, Annie.

Merry Christmas, Oliver.

Christmas doesn't mean much when the manger's empty. I don't suppose it's much fun without Mary and Joseph either.

Even if you don't know it kiddos, there's a couple of somebodies out there who will spend all day tomorrow going through the motions, and thinking about next Christmas, when Christmas will be set right again, because you'll be with them.

Old Religion Time-Out

A commenter asked on my last post how we're planning to deal with religion, guessing that we're Jewish. We are actually not Jewish - I spent my Uni years as the token shiksa in my group of friends, and it's had a semi-permanent effect on my vocabulary. I was raised Catholic, the husband was raised with no religion at all, and he's pretty uncomfortable with spirituality as an adult. A lot of that discomfort is because the most sensational - and therefore most accessable to an outsider - image of religious people in America today is that of Jesus camp bible thumpers who are emphatically anti-science. B is emphatically for science, and so him the battle lines are drawn. I did finally get him, this month, to commit to going with me to the Unitarian Universalist church near us once a month for the next three months - this was a Big Win for religion. Usually when somebody asks, he says that he got his religious faith off a bumper sticker.

But that doesn't mean that we don't anticipate a problem with the meshing of religions. As the crow flies, we live about halfway between Regent University and Liberty University, and it's not terribly uncommon to find "takes her bible with her everywhere" in the listings for kids in our state. A kid who wants to go on field trips to creationist museums and who prays loudly for our salvation, I just don't see how we'd bond. And "writes apologias for Fred Phelps" would definitely fit in the "Unacceptable" category for kids we're considering.

So I guess the answer is that we don't know how we're going to make this work. We just know that we're going to make it work and we'll have to figure out the how as we go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good Vibrations

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.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Finding an Agency

How to pick an agency?

When I called Virginia's Department of Social Services to "start the process" they gave me the number of an agency, but so far, I'm not feeling great about the agency they sent us to. There are apparently two people at that agency who handle waiting children adoptions; one of them is on maternity leave for the next three months. The other one's new and doesn't return phone calls worth a damn.

So far the only online recommendation I can find anywhere is a listing for GLBTQ Friendly Adoption Agencies, which lists only one gay-friendly adoption agency in all of Virginia. I'm not gay, but I like people who are friendly to the sisters, the agency is actually within walking distance of my apartment (weather permitting) and that agency's website is my favorite so far (the design is horrible, but the content is good). Plus, when I called them at 4:55 in the afternoon, four days before Christmas, I got a real person on the phone. Not the person I needed to talk to, but still, it was nice.

Still, it feels like I'm picking an adoption agency with about the same shot-in-the-dark deliberation I use to choose a real estate agent. I want someone who will return phone calls and who knows the ropes, but isn't jaded by the system, someone who knows these kids and is going to match us with somebody we'd be good for. I want somebody who I'm going to go back to for kid #2. I want somebody I'll add to my Christmas card list, and not the generic list, the special cool people list I keep for the anne taintor cards.

Where are you, adoption professional of my dreams?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I've read that some people's reaction to the idea of adopting an older child is the disappointment not to be there for the kiddo's "firsts." First word, first step - and they're all great things and we celebrate them, but the truth is, kids need parents who are in it for the long haul and the celebrations, both. The firsts are important, but the real importance of them is that, when we have a "first," whatever age we are, that there be people around us to note the importance of it. It's a round about way of saying, there's always more to celebrate in a person's life.

So when we found the adoptuskids listing for Aya, Tala and Sarah, three sisters between the ages of 9 and 14, we weren't worried about what we'd missed. We wondered what had happened to deprive these beautiful girls of a permanent home. We knew that if they hadn't found their "forever family" by the time we have a real home (and not a teeny apartment in the city) to offer them, that we wanted them to be part of that real home. We tried to hope that they wouldn't have to wait another six months for us. And when Sarah's age suddenly turned 10, we marked it on a calendar (first birthday!)

Turns out, it's a whole different kind of first for us. Sometime in the last couple of days, the girls' listing was removed from adoptuskids. They're no longer waiting for a forever family, and we're happy for them. We're trying to just be happy for them.

It's about as hard as you might imagine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It Begins

This really all started over 11 years ago, when B and I were taking pre-wedding classes. We had this exercise where we had to go to our own separate corners with a notepad and pen and write our answers to some fairly difficult questions, then team back up and compare notes. I forget the rest of the questions - we both had the exact same answer to all of them, and they were all kind of no-brainer questions for us. But one stood out, and that was: "how would you deal with infertility?"

B's answer ran along these lines:

Get treatments. There are lots of medical treatments and we start by exploring them. All of them. Leave no procedure untried. And if they don't work, we adopt. Whatever it takes, but we will have children.

My answer was more like this:

I do not want to be one of those people whose lives are defined by their lack of fertility. Once you go down the road of trying to figure out what's wrong with you because you can't make a baby... it just doesn't stop until it consumes you. If we can't make a baby, that isn't the end of the world. And I don't want to go through infant adoption - there's so much competition for healthy babies... it's not for me. There are a lot of other things we can do with our lives, a lot of other ways we can go about leaving our mark, besides becoming biological parents. I want to be a parent, but I don't want my life to be about becoming one.

We met back up, compared notes, and laughed like 25 and 26 year old idiots at the thought that we would ever have any trouble popping out youngsters to befuddle to our hearts' content.

Fast forward eleven years, and the joke's on us, I suppose. We've had one round of IUI, and I've experienced the joy that is Clomid injections, and we've experienced the year of paying off the bills from that one go-round. Two months ago, I had just accepted a new job after three months of looking, and we were debating whether our now-recovering savings should go to another round of treatment or the down payment on our first house.

The new job was working on an aspect of a state's social services network (don't want to get more specific than that...) and I was browsing around that state's social services website when I noticed a link to that state's "waiting children." Clicky-clicky.

I have never wanted to adopt a baby. But these weren't babies, these were kids, and they need a home.

And it turns out, B had been thinking along the same lines. He was on board immediately, and B is never on board immediately. B takes most of a year to get used to big ideas, so this had been kicking around in his head, unspoken, for a long damn time.

We're buying a house this summer (when the lease on our apartment is up) and we'll be moving forward with beginning our orientation with our local adoption agency in January, so that we'll be as close to ready to get kids home as possible when we close on the house.

This blog is intended to record the process from the start. I'm pretty sure I have no idea what I'm getting myself into.