24 September 2009

Homestudy homestretch...

Chris sits swearing at his computer last evening...or rather swearing at the login section of the e-Trade website. His username and password aren't working.

"This IS my password," I can hear him muttering furiously as he tries yet again to login, "AND this IS my username. Why isn't this working???"

More furious muttering and tapping at the keyboard.

Meanwhile at my desk I am transferring the originals of various documents and letters from our homestudy binder into the binder that we are preparing to give social worker M.

A few more expletives and a phone call to e-Trade later and Chris is logged in to retrieve the financial information that we must include in our homestudy paperwork.

He completes the financial form shortly after that without any further ado.

The binder is completed just a few minutes shy of midnight.

The hand-off to social worker M is this evening.

We're in the homestretch of this part of the adoption!

23 September 2009

Support systems...

Old fear: Being isolated with a small child and slipping into post-adoption depression.

Other women I know have mentioned feeling very isolated being at home with an infant or a toddler. My own mom shared with me tales of her struggles with feeling lonely and isolated when my sister and I were small. I think she worries about that for me.

This is something about which I worry a bit (and used to worry about A LOT), but thankfully am no longer letting stand in the way of becoming a parent.

For one thing, I finally realized that there are SO many more resources for parents today than there when my mom was taking care of me as a small child. There are more resources than there were even five or ten years ago. There are play groups and online support groups. My gym even has a lovely little sweetly decorated day care for infants and toddlers so that I can exercise without having to worry about getting a babysitter.

One of the things that I am starting to do for myself and for Chris is to research what's out there in terms of parental support. Over the next few months before Schmoopie's arrival, I'm going to make every effort to have in place those support systems (beyond friends and family) that will help us move forward successfully as parents. I believe that having support systems in place will be one of the key factors in our success and happiness as a family.

Last night was my first foray into doing some online research.

I must say I was just a little disheartened that it wasn't a very auspicious start.


Locating some kind of domestic adoption support group in RI proved to be fruitless...All of my searches turned up "0 matches found."


But I'm not giving up just yet.

It was only 30 minutes of research done rather haphazardly and half-heartedly while Chris and I enjoyed the last 30 minutes of Eva-Marie Saint and Cary Grant duking it out and falling in love in "North By Northwest." There's certainly a lot more out there in the online world to explore and I am confident that eventually we'll find what we need.

This weekend I plan on doing more intensive and focused research minus the distractions of the television.

Wish me luck.

21 September 2009

Humor, race, color-awareness...and adoption

Chris and I have now taken 4 parenting classes with 2 left to complete the required series. For the most part they are all interesting and informative, although the "Creating Your Profile" course did provoke some yawns.


Well, the course is geared to people who don't really write much or who are not confident in their writing skills. Being that Chris and I are both writers I can't say that we found the course as useful as someone would who doesn't write or feels very nervous about putting together a profile. I imagine that this course is a very helpful tool in the adoption process for non-writers.

The course that makes us break out into laughter from time to time is "Conspicuous Families: Race, Culture, and Adoption."

Please don't get me wrong - transracial adoption is no laughing matter.

However, part of the course involves providing strategies for parents of multicultural families to deal with intrusive comments and questions. One of the suggested strategies to use is - in the appropriate setting and time - humor. Apparently this strategy can be quite effective at deflecting unwanted questions. This strategy is also apparently to be used very sparingly - and not when your child is at an age where he/she will not understand sarcasm and may take the comments to heart.

But some of the sample answers were pretty funny:

In the grocery store...

Intrusive comment/question: What a pretty little girl. She has such beautiful dark skin and curly hair. So different from you! Is she your real daughter?

Adoptive parent response: No, she's my fake daughter.

In addition to some of these sample humorous responses, in this course we get to read stories from adoptees and their parents about how they handle issues and intrusive or insensitive questions/comments in transracial adoptions/multi-cultural families. Here is a story from Judy Stigger, a white mother raising her bi-racial African American daughter:

I was driving my daughter and four new teammates on the seventh grade basketball team to a game. A girl in the backseat, to whom I'd just been introduced, asked Kathy, "Is your Dad black?"

"Oh no," I thought, "racial category question yet again."

Kathy responded casually, "I don't know, my mom can't remember."

Every face in the car turned towards me.

I both blushed with embarrassment and beamed with pride. Kathy had found a way to move the spotlight from herself onto someone else. She had used humor to sidestep he race categories question.

Chris and I both get a good chuckle out of this one.

Laughter aside...working through the course about multi-cultural families definitely made me pause for a moment (actually many moments...) to reflect upon what it might be like if we were to bring a child of another race/ethnicity into our family. I realize that there is so much more to consider when creating a multi-racial family...

We live in a very white community.

As far as I know, there is just one African American family in our neighborhood.

The schools in our community are not terribly diverse.

Would we be doing this child a disservice by raising her in a community where she wouldn't see many faces that look like hers?

If we did adopt a child of another race/ethnicity, should we consider moving from our very lovely, but very non-diverse neighborhood to a neighborhood that reflects the diversity of our state?

Will we be able to handle with grace the intrusive and/or insensitive comments and questions thrown at us?

It's a lot to consider.

When we first started the adoption process my usual comment to people about the baby's race, "We don't really care about race. Ten fingers, ten toes and healthy...that's what's important."

But is it?

Is that what's most important?

As much as I think that I don't need to care about race...I should care about it.

And as much as I might like to think that race doesn't matter...it does.

So, after taking this course, do I only want to consider bringing a white baby into our family?

While I'm still open to the idea of welcoming a baby of any race into our family, I now know much better than before we took this course that we will certainly encounter challenges as a "conspicuous" family that we likely would not encounter if we adopt a child that looks like us.

It's definitely something to take into very serious consideration.

18 September 2009

Back to School...

We have to go to school to learn to be parents.


It's true.

Well, we actually just have to sit in our own home office to participate in online parenting classes.

This weekend we'll be engaging in a marathon of educational activity...10 hours of parenting classes as one of the final steps in our home study process. So here's what we'll be taking...
  • Ain't Misbehavin': Discipline and the Adoptive Child
  • Creating an Adoption Profile that Works
  • Conspicuous Families: Race, Culture and Adoption
  • Let's Talk Adoption: A Lifetime of Family Conversations
  • The Journey of Attachment
  • Finding the Missing Pieces: Helping Adopted Children Cope with Loss and Grief
I have the feeling that our brains are going to be VERY full by the end of this weekend. And that these classes will inspire quite a few future blog posts.

Perhaps on my way home from work I'll stop at Staples to purchase Chris and I some new school supplies...and then on to the grocery store to pick up an apple for the teacher.

Do you think my Macbook would like an apple?

15 September 2009


I'm a workaholic.

Well, kind of.

OK...yeah, I am.

Here's the thing...I have perfectionist tendencies and, as such, I often work late to accommodate my need for things to be done "right." This isn't necessarily a bad characteristic in someone who is responsible for fundraising.

Yesterday I worked a 12-hour day. No one forced me to do this. I did it of my own volition. And if my supervisor knew that I had put in those kinds of hours yesterday she would have been royally peeved. "Don't stay too late!" is daily her mantra to me.

She doesn't want me to burn out.

"How late did you stay last night?" she'll ask me on days when I'm looking a little droopy.

"Not too late..." I'll say with a bit of a sheepish face on.

"Uh-huh," she'll reply with a look that says that she clearly does not believe me.

And she shouldn't. She knows me too well.

She'll come to me today with a stern look on her face to comment about the e-mail that I sent her at 8:00 last evening. "Go home at a reasonable hour tonight," will be her orders for the day. "It will all still be here tomorrow."

Sigh. I know.

And that's why I work late because there is SO MUCH that will still be there tomorrow. A colleague of mine describes this phenomenon as "building the boat in the water while you're trying to sail it."

I've always worked and I've always worked hard, long hours. But as we're moving towards becoming Plus One I'm realizing that I won't be able to do this anymore. Particularly because I'm married to someone just like me who also puts in crazy hours.

You can't have two parents who work crazy hours.

And so I'm starting to plot and plan for the future and am working on a scheme to work part-time after maternity leave. The non-profit where I currently work is pretty family friendly, but in general isn't keen on part-timers. Still, I like it enough there to want to stay and I think that they like me enough as well to consider a part-time option to keep me on board.

At least...I hope they do.

We'll see.

I still have some time to work with my supervisor to try to get something in place. If not, I'm not sure what will happen because I don't think that I could do my current job while trying to care for an infant. Three months of my work year are just NOT 9-to-5 and require me to be out and about at all hours and often find me at my office evenings and on the weekends.

My busy time also coincides with Chris' busy time. We are often ships passing in the night in the fall/early winter.

This just won't work when we're Plus One.

Someone has to be at home at least most of the time to care for the Little One.

Can't have two full-time workaholics trying to raise a Kid.

So, I'm trying to work something out.

Wish me luck.

13 September 2009


The adoption industry markets adoption as a way to fulfill the desires of adults.

Why is it that my husband and I as prospective adoptive parents are "fulfilling our own desires," while a couple who can have their own biological children are simply "starting a family"?

Are those folks who can have biological children NOT fulfilling their own desires as well? So those folks are totally unselfish? They're having a child not to satisfy their own desires to be parents and have a family, but specifically for the best interests of that child?

Isn't the very act of procreating something of a selfish act? Wanting to have children to fulfill that desire to have a family? To have the experience of being parents? That desire to pass on our genes and/or our ideals and/or our knowledge and/or our love? To watch a child grow and change and become a grown person? To feel the joy that comes along with parenting?

To love and to be loved? To give and to be given to in return? To care for and to be cared for in return?

Another blogger wrote recently:

Finally, I urge women to NOT adopt, no matter how much you want a 
baby of your own.

So, basically for those of us who have issues around fertility what this blogger and so many who hold anti-adoption views are saying to people like me and my husband...tough luck.

Is that it?

Suck it up.

Remain childless.

Don't even think about parenthood because it just isn't for you.

Some days I am so excited about moving forward with our adoption. Then there are other days where I run across negativity on the web that just deflates me. Guess today is one of those days.

Truly - I don't want to write posts like this one. I'd rather reflect in the joy and excitement of staring our family. However, I also believe that it's my responsibility to continue to educate myself about adoption and its implications for our future and that of our child. Consequently, I'm sure (and sad) that I will continue to run into information out there and people out there who will assure me in every way that I am wrong for wanting to adopt.

03 September 2009

I am not a criminal...

Well, our local police department apparently has no record of my criminal activities...

Kidding! I'm not a criminal and now I even have official police letters to prove it!

Being at the police station this morning was weird. It occurred to me as I was standing there waiting for the detective that I had never actually been inside of a police station until today.

It's an experience that I don't think I'd care to repeat.

The detective who ushers me through several hallways to an area full of tiny cubicles is young - maybe 30-ish. He's a little shorter than I am, very fit, carries himself ramrod straight and seems not terribly thrilled at having to deal with a lady needing letters for an adoption. As we're walking, I'm strangely aware of and disturbed by the gun in the holster at his side. He says absolutely nothing to me during our trip to the computer.

As we sit he asks for my license and once it is in his possession he starts tapping away into the computer.

He still says nothing.

Tap tap tap tap tap.

Then he prints out two letters: one for the State of Rhode Island confirming that I have no mysterious criminal past and the other for the Feds.

"This one is a request to the FBI for their records. You still need to submit this one," he says with a grim expression. "OK, let's go do your prints."

He gets up and then seems to remember that he has something to do, which turns out to be taking the gun out of his holster and putting it in a lock-box. My heart speeds up a bit and I feel a little nauseated seeing the gun in his hand. It certainly looks dreadful - much more so than the fake guns you see on TV.

Pocketing the lock-box key he motions for me to follow him stopping at a door marked "Cellblock."

As he opens the door he motions for me to stop. I do. He sticks his head around the door. I assume he is checking for any prisoners that might be in a cell, being removed from a cell or being loaded into a cell.


So we walk by the cells.

If you've never actually been in a police station before or seen real jail cells live and in person, let me tell you - it's damn intimidating. My heart speeds up a bit as we pass three very secure looking cells with serious looking bars and even more serious looking locks. As we come to another door marked "Booking and Processing", Mr. Silent Detective motions for me to wait. He sticks his head through the door and mutters, "Damn."

He motions for me to go back the way we came.

"I'm not sure how long that's going to take in there," he says.

Mr. Silent Detective looks at me and then at all of the cubicles and then at me again clearly having absolutely no idea what to do with me while whatever is happening happens in the Booking and Processing Room.

"I could wait back out in the lobby..." I suggest.

He looks relieved.

"Yeah, that'd be a good idea."

He resumes his silence as he leads me down the hallways again and back into the rather sterile lobby.

"I'll come get you when - er - when we can go back there," he says not really looking at me.

"That's fine," I say, "I have my book with me and I'm not in a hurry."

He nods briefly and leaves me to my own devices.

As I'm reading, a worried looking woman comes through the front door and approaches the reception window.

"Hi," she says, "I'm here about my son. I guess he's here?"

"What's his name?" says the police officer from behind the glass.

The woman relays the son's name to the police officer who confirms that the son is indeed there, "He's here. There was a warrant out for him. He's being processed right now."

"A warrant? Is he going to jail?" asks the mother.

"No, he's going to be taken to court."

"To Family Court?" (obviously this isn't the first time her son has been arrested.)

"Ah - no ma'am," says the officer, "he's 18 so no more family court. He's going to be charged as an adult."

"Charged? Charged with what?"

Just as she is about to launch into more questions, a door near her opens and yet another officer comes out to speak with her. To every questions he answers, "Ma'am I can't tell you anything about an ongoing investigation, but I will have your son give you a call in just a little bit when we're done."

"But he don't have his phone!" she says, anxiety making her voice climb higher.

"Yes, he has his cell phone and he will call you. You can see him in court later today, Ma'am."

The woman leaves looking a bit bewildered.

Oh my.

I read for a few more minutes when Mr. Silent Detective comes through a different door and says, "OK, we're all set."

Another trip down a maze of hallways finds us entering the "Booking and Processing" room from a different entrance.

Fingerprints are now done on the computer. It's actually kind of cool. (Well, cool for me because I'm not actually under arrest. Probably not so cool for the 18-year old guy who was just in here getting ready to go to court.)

Mr. Silent Detective has to take all of my information again to enter into yet another database. When he gets to "weight" he looks embarrassed, but asks me anyway.

"Can you just type in 'fat'?" I ask him with a smile and a chuckle.

He looks moderately horrified, "Er - uh -no - not really."

I laugh again and he finally cracks just the tiniest hint of a smile.

Once he's done putting in all of my pertinent info (including the actual number of pounds I weigh...yeesh!) he puts on purple latex gloves and asks for my right hand.

"Just let me do all of the work," he says.

He presses my right thumb onto a glass plate. I watch my thumbprint splash across the computer screen. Cool. He has to move my thumb around so that it is centered onto a red cross near the middle of the screen. The computer asks him to hold it there and then a bar across the top of the screen flashes a message when the computer is done loading my print. We repeat the process with the left thumb.

Then he takes my right hand again because we apparently have to roll my thumb across the glass plate. Same for the left. And then we have to do prints of the rest of my fingers - just once for the four on each side.

I try to ask some questions to be social, but Mr. Silent Detective isn't too interested in chatting.

After he finishes with my prints, he tells me that they'll call me when the FBI sends its report in about a week.

And that's it.

He takes me back to the lobby where I write a check for $24 and we're all done.

Certainly a very interesting, if quite disturbing, experience.

And one more step closer to being Plus One.