Monday, March 29, 2010

Inching along

I had big plans for lots of blogging during my two week Staycation spring break. Unfortunately that all fell apart when I got super sick with bronchitis and some other stomach ailment situation. That has also meant that many baby readying tasks have also not gotten accomplished. I have barely mustered the energy to do a few loads of laundry, the dishes and clean the bathrooms, much less organize the baby room and move furniture. I think the other reason I haven't posted for awhile is that I imagined my next post would be entitled "Paper Pregnant" This is a term used in adoption for when all paper work is in and filed, profiles are in the hands of those that should have them and literally all you are doing is sitting around waiting. Sadly we are not quite 100% there yet. This weekend we did make some progress in that we FINALLY got all 25 copies of our portfolio printed out and bound and ready to be sent off. This took 4 trips to Staples over the weekend and one ill fated trip to try to FedEX them on Sunday-which of course we couldn't do because they were closed. I'm very annoyed at myself for not getting them in the mail today, but for most of the day I felt so sick that it was easy to talk myself into believing that tomorrow would be a fine time to send them off. Once those are in the mail we just need to send an electronic copy of our "Hello" letter and a picture of us to our agency for them to put up on their website.

Another thing that was going on was about two weeks our social worker called us to say she was rushing to finish up our home study and that we needed to get three profiles to her ASAP because she had some expectant mothers who might be interested in us as potential adoptive parents. Of course this came with lots and lots of "don't get excited" 'This is unlikely to be the one" etc. etc. warnings. But of course I was excited and now of course it turns out that this was not the one. Bummer. I think that might also have to do with why sorting and arranging things in the baby room has lost a little of it's shine for me. In the future it will be much better because we won't know when or if our profile is being shown. In this case we only knew because of the need for us to rush through the final stages of being ready. I know we are very very close to having everything done and I can already tell that the waiting is going to be tough.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

As some of you know I was first inspired to start my own blog after following many other blogs for awhile. One particularly cool spot I landed on was the Open Adoption Bloggers site. If you are at all interested in this topic I would highly recommend checking it out. You can click on the orange Open Adoption Bloggers icon on the left hand side of my blog to do this. Anyhow
one of the things that came out of this was the chance to pair up with another open adoption blogger and interview them. I of course jumped at the chance! Below is a transcript of my interview with Robyn C over at you can see the answers to my questions if you click over to her blog as well!

Here are my questions and Robyn's answers:

1.) Can you explain a little about how your blogging for adoption blogs works? How did you come to write for them?

This is a long story. I was active on the forums, and "met" Jenna (of Munchkinland fame), who found me on LiveJournal and we "friended" one another. In 2007, she posted that was looking for writers, so I sent in some samples. I never heard back. In 2008, there was another post, and I sent in samples. I heard back that they were probably going to hire me, but then never heard anything again. Finally, last year, Jenna posted that was launching new forums and wanted people to help get them up to snuff. So, I applied for that. At that point, Brandy, the editor, emailed me and asked if I was still interested in blogs. I was. By the end of the week, I was up and writing.

Brandy and Jenna are, as far as I'm concerned, the brains of the operation. They coordinate all of the bloggers and answer our questions. We agree to do 15 posts per month, and we're paid a small fee for every post. Almost everyone writes for multiple blogs. I write for Transracial Adoption, Hoping to Adopt, and, my favorite, US Infant Adoption.

I love writing and I'm passionate about adoption, so I was incredibly happy to have a "real" writing gig about something so important.

2.) In your blog you mention that you were unhappy with certain aspects of your first adoption experience. If you knew then, what you know now, what would you do differently?

That's tough, because if we had done too much differently, we wouldn't have Jack. Most of what we could have done differently, yet still had Jack to show for it, centers on the hospital experience. I had it on my to-do list to call the hospital's social worker. I even had her name and number. But my grandfather died unexpectedly and I ended up helping a great deal with some of the funeral elements. This was 11 days before we were scheduled to go to Missouri. Our adoption case worker said she would call and make sure everything was OK. She didn't, so it wasn't.

It's easy for me to say that we shouldn't have been at the hospital at all, but Jack's birth mother wanted us there, and I have a need to know everything, even if I can't control it. I think we should have discussed more about the hospital experience. We should have had some support there for us. There are a lot of things I wish I had known about labor and delivery. It's an incredibly stressful time, but no one ever talks about it. The adoption books are like "you've been matched" and then it's "when you bring the baby home" with nothing in between. I hated the whole hospital experience, and I really feel like I failed Jack during his first few days.

That said, we're starting the process again soon, and I know what we'll do differently now:
- Get an itemized list of what "legal services" are provided.
- Make sure that we have someone to support us during the hospital experience.
- Check references! (and not just the ones the agency gives us)
- Only travel to states in which we have friends and/or family.
- Make sure that the final amount of money doesn't change hands until placement and parents' rights are terminated. (In short, don't pay the whole fee at the match.)

3.) What has been the most surprising thing about becoming a family through adoption?

I think it's how much I feel the outsider sometimes. I've never been a big fan of pregnancy, labor, and delivery stories, but it seems that many moms just can't help telling them. Our MOMS Club meetings were the same stories over and over again. I would just sit there and be grossed out.

It's harder to put what I've felt lately into words. It's just that there are some little things that are different. There's the expectation of others that, when they meet my husband, he'll be black. Jack and I were in Chuck E. Cheese on a busy afternoon, and I asked a server to help me find my husband. I just told him that he was tall and wearing a baseball cap. She dragged over this tall black man in a baseball cap, and I was like... OH... right... I should have specified.

Sometimes I'm expected to be a font of information about adoption, which I don't usually mind. Sometimes it's annoying though, and I'm never sure if I'm boring people.

4.) What was the most helpful book your read to prepare for becoming a transracial family?

Honestly, I've only read two books about transracial parenting. I own a third. I checked one out of the library just around the time Jack was born, but I never read it. The two I read are, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla, and Black Baby, White Hands. I really liked I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla, though apparently some "experts" don't. I found it very informative and accessible. So far, I've found it to be correct in terms of how children process race and color.

5.) What baby item did you find most valuable as a new mom that was not a "necessity".

I'm going to cheat and put two things here.

The first is the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. Best sleep book ever! I read ALL of them. Jack would not nap. Within 3 days of using the techniques in that book, Jack napped.

But, that's really a Mom thing, not so much a baby thing, so...

The Boppy Pillow. Easily the best "non-essential" baby item ever invented. Even better than the ring sling, the Baby Bjorn, the sound-activated baby monitor, the baby gym, the pacifier... you get the point. I love the Boppy Pillow. And I have to hope that I get it back from the mom I leant it to.

6.) Is there anything that you wish you had been better prepared for when you adopted your son. ( Could be a feeling or a task or a baby item)

The loneliness. My husband and I moved here, and aside from my parents and grandmother, we really didn't know anyone nearby. The first year of Jack's life was mostly Jack and me going places by ourselves. I finally joined the MOMS Club, and we found a few friends through that, but even that was a little tough because we couldn't always make the scheduled events. Also, the only thing I had in common with most of those people was a kid, and my kid was adopted, so a few people sort of treated me differently. It wasn't until Jack started at his preschool (2008) that we really started making friends who shared our interests. We now have a great group of friends, but it was tough for the first two years.

7.) What kinds of things did you do to facilitate bonding and attachment with your son? How long did you wait before having visitors?

OK, so I'm going to get some flack for this, but I don't believe in the "no visitors" rule. We had to be in a hotel room for Jack's first 11 days of life, and we had Jack's birth mother's family over a couple of times. (I actually wish we had arranged to see them more.) The day after we got home, we had my mom, my dad, my grandmother, and my good friend and her daughter all visit. We were all about showing off the baby to anyone who would look. The photos from first month of his life are a who's who of people in our lives.

That said, we did hold him constantly. He didn't like the mei tai, and I was afraid of the sling, so he was always in our arms. I couldn't put pants on if my husband wasn't home to hold Jack. We fed him close to us, we let him sleep on us (which may have caused some of the napping problems he had later on), we very rarely put him down, except for bed time. We also tried to "play" with him, as much as any new baby can play. He really liked rattles and singing and dancing.

I realized much later, that, what I truly hated about the hospital, was that Jack was alone. Again, it's a long story, but he spent huge stretches of time in the nursery by himself. I think I wanted to make up for all that time by not letting him go.

8.) What do you find is the most challenging aspect of being a transracial family. What do you find the most rewarding?

Another really good question!

I'm not sure we've gotten to the really challenging parts yet. From my reading and through online friends, it seems like the tween years are going to be the hardest. So far, I think it's just a feeling that we should be doing more. Most of our close friends are white, two are Indian, four are Hispanic, and one is Asian. Jack's school has kids of all colors, but we're not friends with the black families. I realize that the people we are friends with are the ones who are involved the most in the school activities. I don't know why we're more active than others. It just kind of happened that way.

The most rewarding, right now, is that I'm finding all of these books and toys that I think a lot of white parents of white children would overlook. I'm also learning a lot about Black history and culture, which, again, I might not have paid attention to otherwise. I always try to add some color to my friends' children's lives, through the books, dolls, or other items that we get them for birthdays. I feel like I'm learning a lot, and getting a chance to expand my horizons.

Thank you so much Robyn! I feel like I learned so much!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A birthday and a milestone

Tuesday marked the completion of a huge step in our journey. Our social worker came for her last visit and we are officially approved! Just awaiting her to write up the paperwork. That means that all that is left is for us to make some edits on our profile, get an actual bound hard copy made up to submit for edits, and then once it is approved make up our 25 copies and then we will finally be ready to do some serious WAITING! It was a very low key visit with our social worker, as they all have been. FYI- Homestudy--no big deal! We talked a little about what I will be doing next fall once my school closes. She seems to think that although the average wait for a couple is around a year, she seems quite confident that our wait will be shorter because we are open to a child of any race. This is at once both incredibly exciting and a bit anxiety inducing since a short wait will certainly make a new job somewhat complicated. This dilemma has been keeping me up for the last couple of nights but i think my plan for now is to actively pursue a job but be completely open about our situation. Since nothing says "hire me" like telling someone you may be taking three months off at any time with no notice--I'm thinking that the unemployment plan B may quickly become plan A, but I am still hopeful. After all isn't it totally worth it to wait 12 weeks to be able to hire such an awesome kindergarten teacher? Yeah. Right. Anyhow for now I am taking things one day at a time and hoping that somehow things will work themselves out. I have found that this does generally happen. One way or another.

One thing I know is that we are not getting any younger. This was solidified for us on Monday when DH celebrated another year on our planet. It was a pretty low key celebration, we went out for dinner and saw a movie. I think for both of us it was an occasion of subdued hopefulness. I know I remember last year thinking that surely we would have a baby by DH's next birthday. That's the problem with with milestones and holidays when your infertile. You start to feel like life is passing you by, another birthday, another Christmas, another school year. Where you can clearly remember thinking "next year at this time...." I am cautiously optimistic that this will be our year to create our family but one thing I know is that you just don't know.

In other baby news I've become addicted to looking for baby bargains on craigslist. After scoring our fancy stroller and car seat, it calls me like a siren. Tomorrow we are going to pick up a pack 'n play for $50 that supposedly has only been used on one vacation one time. We shall see--but I admit I'm kind of psyched... After scrimping and saving for IVF and then adoption for the past few years I've had to pretty much give up shopping as a hobby. It's nice to have an excuse to at least be looking for things to buy with the justification that we really will NEED them at some point.