Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween

I sat here this morning enjoying my freshly roasted pumpkin seeds, blueberry pancakes, hash browns and country ham while looking at the photos we took yesterday and realized...

What a great day! We started the day with breakfast at IHOP (That is International House of Pancakes, for my readers not in the know). Tyler wore his Superman costume from the moment he woke up. He was a big hit at the restaurant. He loved it when everyone called him Superman. What an ego this kid has! ;-) We had lots of leftovers (that's what we had this morning along with some fresh apple cider). We came back home to finally do the pumpkins. Tyler painted his and I carved mine. I had just put the seeds into the oven to roast when the doorbell rang. "Trick or Treat!!" I love seeing all the kids dressed up in their costumes.

The big favorite this year appeared to be anything martial arts related. I had lots of little ninjas, tae kwon do practitioners and karate experts. There were lots of vampires too. Quite a few fairy princesses, a couple witches, many sports figures (but I was unimpressed with the kids wearing their soccer uniforms and whatnot), and a few cartoon characters. I saw one Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch), one Clifford the big red dog, many Star Wars figures, and a couple creatures from well know horror films. I saw a surprising lack of hobos and zombie cheerleaders. Those were always big favorites when I was a teen. All in all, a great turnout. I almost ran out of candy! I have only two items left.

Here is a little slideshow of our day:

Friday, October 29, 2004

"B"

Since a few folks have been wondering about B and if we keep in touch, I thought I would give you a little update.
  • For the first year or so after Ty was born, we heard from her (or her mother) a couple times a week. Once folks find out you know how to trouble-shoot computers, everyone becomes your friend. ;-)
  • The social worker who conducted our home study told us that contact with the birth mother would probably dwindle over time as she moved on with her life and started to distance herself, emotionally. That has been the case with B. Now we hear from her every couple months or so. (Her mother actually calls us more than B does. Her mom likes to talk to John and complain about how "difficult" her daughter is. Plus she asks for help with her computer.)
  • I send B photos of Ty, on average, about once a month. She loves to share photos with her friends and Ty's birth father.
  • B has a stormy past with Ty's birth father. Initially he denied paternity and that just about destroyed their relationship. He changed his tune when he saw photos of Tyler. They made up and last I heard, B and he plan to move in together.
  • They are BOTH living with B's Mom in her one bedroom apartment. Now you know why they fight so much. I give B's mom a lot of credit for taking him in. His mother threw him out when she found out about Tyler.
  • Tyler's adoption has been finalized. He is our forever child and there is NO chance that will ever change.
  • I find the possibilities of B and her boyfriend staying together very interesting. Ty could have full-blood related siblings one day.

B has become a member of our extended family. She is like an aunt who lives too far away to come visit. We have no agreement in place for face-to-face visits. I think we will wait until Tyler is old enough to decide for himself if he wants to meet her. That's the plan, anyway. We shall see.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Big Arrival

Once again continuing my thoughts from my 9/11 adoption posts...


Just after leaving the restaurant and parting company with B and her mom, John gave me a quick update call on the cell phone. He mentioned that B was going to be going in for one of her regular checkups soon. I told him wouldn't it be great if she had an ultrasound so we could know what we were having? At that moment, B and her mom pulled up next to John's car at a red light. He yelled over to them to roll down their window and asked if B was going to be getting an ultrasound at her next appointment. She wasn't sure but would ask for one. Shortly after John got back from California, we called B just to chat. She mentioned that her insurance didn't cover ultrasounds. I was shocked! I thought every expecting woman had at least one sonogram. We agreed to pay the extra cost for the test.


John also told B that we would come back soon to spend some time with her to get to know her better. We quickly made plans for both of us to go visit with her at the beginning of November (at the time, we didn't think she was due until January). We wanted to go to one of her doctor's appointments with her and also get to know her better. In the mean time, we chatted with her frequently on the telephone. She knew nothing about being pregnant. It was actually a little frightening. Lucky for her, I was the world's foremost pregnancy expert (as much as you can be, having never carried a child to term and only having read about a TON of books on the experience). She relied on me heavily for knowledge and advice. I was feeling very motherly toward her. I often wondered if she ever spoke to her own mother about what she was going through. My guess is no.


We knew her doctor's appointment was on October 8th. I couldn't wait to hear the results of her checkup and ultrasound. When she called that night, we talked about her latest fight with her mother (they did that a LOT), her plans to return to school after the baby was born (she was on leave from school because of nasty comments from her classmates about her decision to give the baby up), and then out of the blue; "So, do you guys want to know what you are having?" What?! Yep. The little sneak knew the sex of the baby through the whole conversation and was playing with us! "It's a boy!" We were speechless. I started to cry. It was becoming more and more real. Mentally, I was sequestering a small part of my brain; protecting it from potential crushing disappointment. What if she changed her mind? What if she decided at the last minute to keep the baby? I had to keep a small amount of callous skepticism on tap, just in case. But it was getting harder and harder to keep that icy segment of brain from thawing out with the pure joy warming my soul.


I may be biased, but he looked so adorable even then!Then she said, "I have a photo they gave me. Do you want it?" Oh my God, yes! She promptly mailed it to us. I opened that envelop so eagerly. It was so amazing to see that little face. I treasure that grainy photo printout. My baby's first picture.


The time came to leave for our planned visit. I was very nervous to meet her that first time. We drove from our hotel to the apartment she shared with her mother to pick them up. After the grand tour of all two rooms, we took them out to eat so that I could have a chance to get to know both of them (my husband had a major leg up on me there). I was determined that B would get to eat what ever and where ever she wanted to that week (as long as it was mostly healthy, of course). During the meal, the conversation was dominated by B's mother. She is one seriously domineering woman! She talked about B like B wasn't even there. Complained about her friends (particularly the baby's father), complained about her level of irresponsibility, how lucky she was to find us to "bail her out". I watched B during the meal. She grew more and more despondent and withdrawn. That is when I decided that we would spend as little time with B's mother in the mix as possible.


During that week we drove around B's "turf" and saw some of the places she hung out, where she went to school, and we took her shopping. She had outgrown almost all of her pants and her mother refused to buy her any new clothes. She was a very slim and athletic girl and was into all things Addidas. She looked so cute in her new Addidas sportswear!We took her to Build-a-Bear among other fun things. I planned to make a special friend for the baby. She made a special friend for herself and as I watched her picking out outfits for her bear, I was reminded just how young she really was. This petite teenager was carrying a child for us and she was really still a child herself.


I was a little jealous too. If you saw her from the back or straight on from the front, she didn't even look pregnant. You had to turn her sideways to see. She was ALL baby. Not an ounce of fat on her. She walked everywhere she went. She ran and planned to continue running until it became too uncomfortable. She was a little worried that exercise would be bad for the baby, but I reassured her that exercise would make her labor and delivery much easier and was good for her (and hence, good for the baby). We reminded her to eat well and regularly but I didn't want to come across as too "preachy". She confided in us that her mother had been complaining about how much she ate and how much the groceries were costing them. We told her not to worry. She would have funds to buy what ever foods she wanted. She also worried what her body would look like after she gave birth. I told her that with how fit she was, she would surely bounce back to normal very quickly. Such a simple statement seemed to reassure her immensely.


As each day passed, I grew more and more attached to B. She was interesting, artistic, smart and sassy. She had a good head on her shoulders, but the constant criticism from her mother had taken a serious toll on her self-confidence. She thought she was ugly, stupid, and a burden. In reality, she was none of those things! I wanted to strangle her mom for breaking her spirit so badly. John and I did our best to reassure her that we liked her and that she was an exceptional person. I think we succeeded a little by the time we parted company with her.


But before we left, we got to go to one of her regularly scheduled checkups. I was so excited to hear the baby, I felt faint! When I heard the heartbeat, it was like a massive weight lifted off my body. There was really a baby in there! Not that I had any doubt...but you know. I just had to hear it for myself. It was nice to meet her doctor (he was going to be bringing our son into the world,a very important job!) The doctor had also revised the baby's due date. It was now December 21st. My husband's birthday. That little coincidence just tickled John to no end.


After the doctor's appointment, we took a ride over to the hospital where B would be giving birth. I knew that most hospitals gave tours to expectant mothers of the labor and delivery areas. B had no idea they did stuff like that. She was really grateful that we set the tour up for her. She had been feeling really nervous, having never been in a hospital before. It helped her to know what the procedure was. Where she would check in, what would happen, what the rooms looked like...she seemed really interested in the process. It was at this point that she suddenly said "You guys are going to be there WITH me, right?"

The Rainbow Fish room...my fav room in the house.

We had all our travel arrangements done. We planned to be in California two weeks prior to the due date. We figured that gave us a nice buffer. We were so excited that B wanted us with her in the delivery room (heck, now she was counting on us for a ride to the hospital since she didn't trust her mom to drive at a time like that). I was really looking forward to seeing our baby born. We also had the baby's room just about done. Except for the wallpapering (pain!), I loved doing that room. My friend Deb planned a nice baby shower for us on December 1st. What a great time! My face hurt from smiling so much at all the adorable things we got as gifts. That night, after the shower, John said to me, "You better start packing soon...we may have to leave at any time now." I laughed. We had plenty of time!


No we didn't. B called us the evening of the 3rd.


"I'm leaking."


"What, hun? What do you mean, leaking?"


"Well...I was walking around Savon and I thought I pee'd myself. But I don't think it's pee..."


I could feel my pulse racing and panic starting to set in. It's too soon! "OK, B. I think your water is breaking. Probably a slow leak."


"Is that bad?" She sounded so nervous.


"No, no! Not at all. But I think you should call your doctor and let him know. Be prepared. He will probably want you to come to the hospital to be checked."


"My back has really been hurting today too."


"Ok. Call your doctor and then call us back."


"Can you guys call him? I don't know what to say..."


John suggested we conference him in, but all we got was his service. "OK B. He will call you back in a few minutes. Let us know what happens. And don't worry. Everything is fine."


We paced the floor and I finally came to the realization that I better pack. NOW. Luckily I had done one load of wash and had some of the new baby things cleaned. But only a few. I scrambled like a lunatic to get everything together. The phone rang.


"I am on my way to the hospital to be checked. Our neighbor is driving us."


"OK, hun. Keep us posted. And good luck!"


As you have probably guessed by now, she was indeed in labor. FAR into labor. She barely made it to the hospital on time. I was still holding out hope that her labor would be long and we could still make it there before the baby came. It was not to be. The baby came in 3 pushes. There was no time for medications. She really didn't need them. She'd been having contractions all day and had written them off as her over-doing it by walking to the drug store. Can you believe that? She was IGNORING labor pains. Her neighbor got to be there for the birth instead of us. I was really disappointed. B's mother called a few hours later to tell us yes, it's still a boy and that he and B were just fine. We weren't able to fly out that night, but we got the earliest possible flight out at the crack of dawn the next morning. (It was on the plane thatwe finally decided to name him Tyler John. Funny story there.) We were at the hospital by lunch time.


I was so proud of B. Our boneheaded NJ-based attorney hadn't sent the custody paperwork to the hospital yet, so we had NO legal standing as far as the baby was concerned. We couldn't even be in the room unless B gave permission. She hadn't seen the baby yet and through a miscommunication, the hospital was unaware that this was an adoption case and had been trying to get her to hold the baby, asked if she wanted the baby to spend the night in the room with her, and asked if she wanted a lactation consultant. Yikes! She should not have had to go through that. Turns out Tyler was the only baby in the hospital not spending his first night on earth with his mommy (I wasn't there yet). Maternity had turned their old nursery into a supply closet because it was never used anymore. So Ty spent the night being wheeled from room to room as the nurses made their rounds and hanging out at the nurses station. All the night nurses had fallen in love with him. He was such a good baby. We arrived just in time to see B put in yet another awkward position when some hospital paper pusher showed up with a form to fill out for Tyler's birth certificate and handed it to B. She waited until the woman left and just handed the form to us. In that moment, Tyler's official legal name became Tyler John Yanagi. That stroke of luck really came in handy later when we were able to get an original copy of his birth certificate and it helped in court too.


Brand new baby Ty TyThe hospital staff was being really anal and now that they knew this was an adoption scenario, they wouldn't let anyone hold the baby until they had that custody paperwork in hand. It was really tense for a while there. We had a nurse or other hospital staff in the room with us constantly watching like hawks. Then B's attorney finally arrived with the documents we needed. At long last, I got to hold Tyler. I sat in one of the visitor's chairs in B's spacious private birthing suite (what a NICE hospital, let me tell ya!) and didn't let him go for the next 6 hours! I stared at that sweet baby face and my heart hurt, I was so much in love. I got to feed him a couple times, change him a couple times, I finally realized I was hogging the baby and handed him over to his daddy.


I really didn't want to leave him there at the hospital again for another night...but he wasn't going to be released to us until the next day. When visiting hours ended, I hugged B and cried happy tears as I thanked her and told her she was the most special person on the planet. I knew she was feeling a little left out. Then we went baby shopping! Thank goodness we found a Babies R Us near by! We needed so many things! We were going to be spending several weeks in a long term living hotel while all the legal junk was sorted out. We couldn't leave the state of California until we had all the proper paperwork done.


Time to bring our baby home from the hospital!The days and nights in the hotel are all a sweet blur. We were on deck 24/7. We took turns sleeping. Ty was never alone for a moment. We couldn't bear to be away from him for long. I remember eating a lot of chili cheese fries from Jack in the Box. Good stuff. I also remember changing Ty on the sofa and him turning into a little wiz fountain the moment cool air hit his naked little boy parts. The sofa was soaked in an instant. Yikes! We blotted it good. You couldn't tell, once it was dry. *wink* I just wish I had taken more pictures. I had forgotten the digital camera at home, so all we had was one of those el cheapo disposable cameras. We were just too busy and distracted to think about it. Now remember, we had to change our plans at the last moment. The hotel was no problem. The flights were another story. John was making phone calls on and off for days trying to find us available flights home. It didn't help that we just weren't sure when the paperwork would be completed. It also didn't help that we were now looking at flights close to Christmas. Are you kidding me? It seemed like half the state of California was looking to fly to the east coast for the holidays.


When we finally got the call that we could now come home, the first return flight we could get was January 26th. No WAY was I spending Tyler's first Christmas in a hotel room. John started getting creative. He started checking all the airports anywhere within reasonable drive of where we were. We finally found a flight out of Las Vegas that got us home on John's birthday (Tyler's actual due date). We rented a car and headed for Vegas! We stayed over one night in a non-casino hotel to recover from the long drive (interesting driving with an infant...we had to make LOTS of stops) and then finally flew home. I got to play a couple of the airport slot machines and won around $60. I love Las Vegas. ;-)


It was COLD back at home with snow on the ground. The wind felt like it was cutting right through you. Tyler didn't like it one bit! He was a California boy, after all. I was so so so happy to be home. We had a few hurdles left in the legal process, but I had reached a state of Mommy Nirvana. I just knew everything would work out ok in the end. John was not so confident. He sweated the small stuff (and the big stuff). He did all the worrying for both of us. A process that should have taken 6-8 months to complete, took almost 2 years to finalize. No, we had no problems with B. It was our idiot NJ-based attorney. He didn't have all the i's dotted and t's crossed so the judge threw our petition for adoption OUT of court. Good think John was there at that initial court hearing and he really listened to what the judge wanted from us. Our lawyer got busy filing some crap appeal to save his own ego and John got busy making friends with our lawyer's legal aide and getting what the Judge ASKED for from California. We'd still be fighting in court over stupid paperwork, if it weren't for John taking the initiative himself.


I knew it would all work out in the end. Never doubted it for a moment. There are no more icy reserves of cold detachment left in this brain. Just the calm confidence of a happy Mommy.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Finger Printing

How cool was that! We went and got fingerprinted yesterday. The first time around, we called the local police station and went over to their processing/prisoner intake area and got the genuine "criminal" treatment. That ink is a B*TCH to get off! I had no clue what to expect this time.

Our agency is now using a company called Sagem-Morpho to do the printing. They are one of these security/background check outfits that companies use to screen applicants. We walked in the door and I knew right away this time would be different. No ink! Check this baby out: Cool, eh? All we did was place our hands on that large red panel and our fingers (one by one) on the smaller red panel and viola! Our prints appeared on the screen! I love technology! Oh, and the panels were nice and warm to the touch. It felt great, since my hands were so chilled. It's Fall for sure around here.

Now we are fingerprinted, we have all our medical certification forms (Doc says we are healthy enough to adopt and Ty is healthy enough to be a brother), our personal data form, our portfolio, almost all of our recommendation forms (KIM!!! Get to writing!)...once we have that last recommendation, we can go active in the system! We just need to send the agency an initial deposit with all our paperwork.

Ahhhhhh! I'm so excited I feel like barfing! It's like I spent 6 hours on a tilt-a-whirl! Oh wait...that's just my labrynthitis acting up. Ugh. Hate middle ear infections. Whoa. Room is spinning...I better go lie down.

One last note. Ty actually sat and watched an ENTIRE movie tonight. Which one? The Cat and the Hat with Mike Meyers (the live action one). Bleech. No accounting for taste. LOL

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Confucius


Thought I would share a little Chinese wisdom with you all today.

Confucius say...

...Virginity like bubble, one prick, all gone.

...Man who run in front of car get tired...Man who run behind car get exhausted.

...Man who fart in church sit in own pew.

...Man with hand in pocket feel cocky all day.

...Foolish man give wife grand piano, wise man give wife upright organ.

...Man who walk through airport turnstile sideways going to Bangkok.

...Man who scratch ass should not bite fingernails.

...Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.

...Baseball wrong: man with four balls cannot walk.

...Panties not best thing on earth; but next to best thing on earth.

...War does not determine who is right, war determine who is left.

...Wife who put husband in doghouse soon find him in cat house.

...Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.

...It take many nails to build crib, but one screw to fill it.

...Man who drive like hell, bound to get there.

...Man who stand on toilet is high on pot.

...Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.

...Man who fish in other man's well often catch crabs.

...Crowded elevator smell different to midget.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sue

My friend Sue was of that rare type I talked about in my previous post. I was with her when she gave birth, but she didn't even want to see the baby. She wanted it taken away, given away and never wanted to give it a second thought again for the rest of her life. Unusual, I know. But she was a very cynical, bitter and hard woman.

I wore her down. I had a habit of doing that. She finally came with me to the nursery to look at him (she found out then that it was a boy). She still refused to hold him, no matter how hard I tried to convince her. So I held him for her. I know what she was thinking. She didn't want to form any attachments. No bonds.

She was afraid she wouldn't be able to go through with it if she was exposed to him too much.

I could understand that. She also didn't want to know where he was going or to whom.

That was harder to understand. She didn't want anyone to know she had a baby. She hid it from her family (easy to do since she wasn't living at home and wasn't very close to them).

I could understand that. (My own family would have disowned me if I ever got pregnant outside of marriage.)

She never told the baby's father that he got her pregnant (he was married and someone we worked with).

I almost understood that. (But a small part of me thought he deserved to know.)

I've never been able to figure out why she decided to confide in me all those months earlier. I had noticed that she was putting on weight. I noticed that she had cut back on her drinking - only one beer a night now. I noticed she seemed to be smoking less - but she never quit entirely. I noticed that she wasn't sneaking off with JB at lunch and after work anymore. She didn't think I noticed. But I did.

We sat in our favorite booth in our dingy neighborhood bar. She was smoking. I saw her hand trembling. She seemed deep in thought. I felt a sudden urge to remind her that she wasn't alone. She was a fairly cold person, but I saw a streak of warmth under her icy facade. I moved into the seat beside her and flung my arm over her shoulder and gave her a quick squeeze. She was startled. "Why did you do that?" She asked. "You looked like you could use one." I smiled.

The blank expression on her face caved into pain and she began to swipe tears from her eyes. I was stunned. "Tell me what's wrong." I said, simply. She read something on my face...probably my genuine sincerity. If I am nothing else, I am a great friend.

She told me.

When she came to the part about going to have an abortion the next day I grabbed her hand and asked her if she had ever considered giving the baby up for adoption. "No. I've almost waited too long already. I had an abortion in high school. It wasn't so bad. I just kept hoping this would go away. I don't want to be pregnant! I can't go through this again." The pain on her face was raw and conflicted.

"Sue, you know this isn't just going to go away. You've come this far. Why not just hang on for a few more months? Give this baby a chance at life." I wanted to convince her so desperately.

"I can't. Everything I do turns to shit. I'll just end up messing up this kid's life too. It's better off not being born." She pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes and I watched the smoke from her cigarette drift upward.

There had to be something I could say to convince her. "You know...I was adopted." I watched as the rubbing motion of her hands stopped. I kept talking. I told her how happy I was to be alive. How glad I was that my birth mother didn't abort me. Yeah, my home life wasn't perfect, but that didn't mean I felt I was better off never being born. I don't think I've ever been more convincing in my life. I talked until I could feel my voice getting raspy. I took a sip of flat warm beer.

She finally looked up at me and said "OK."

"OK?"

"Yeah. You win. I'll give the baby up. Now will you shut up and drink your beer?"

I grinned and socked her on the arm. "You better start being happy about this decision or I may have to hug you again..." She looked at me in mock horror but I could see her struggling not to smile.

I did my best to help her through those last few months of pregnancy. For some reason, people came to ME and asked if she was pregnant. They didn't approach her. I was happy about that. It gave me the opportunity to tell them yes, but not to talk to her about it. Everyone at work respected that boundary and no one spoke to her about her growing belly. No, she did NOT want to have a surprise baby shower. Duh.

I often wonder if JB noticed. Did he wonder if the baby was his? He was doing a great job of pretending not to see. He went on. Business as usual. Jerk.

Sue grew fond of my friend Steve during her pregnancy. He was one of the guys who hung out with us at the bar. He was at least 15 years older than us, but we didn't care. He didn't care that she was pregnant, either. He was one of the people she called after she called me to say she was in labor. I rushed to see her at the hospital. When I got there, she had already received some pain medication. "You are SO friggin lucky I am feeling no pain 'cause you know I would kill you otherwise..." she mumble with a grin.

I just smiled. I was tempted to remind her that I didn't have the equipment to GET her pregnant...but I resisted. She didn't need to be reminded about the sperm donor who got her into this predicament. Not now.

I had changed jobs within the company by then. Not long after, she changed jobs too. She followed Steve up to a facility in New Hampshire. Last I heard, they had moved in together. Neither one ever wanted to get married. They really were perfect for each other. I lost touch with her after that. I know I represented some pretty painful memories for her. I hope she and Steve are still together living happily in that little cabin he found in the woods of northern New Hampshire. I hope she finally found happiness and peace.

And to "Baby Boy G"? I got your back, sweetie. I hope you are having a fantastic life.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let's Talk Adoption

The annual "Let's Talk Adoption" conference will be at Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ this year. If you live within reasonable drive of NJ and are interested in adoption - this is THE conference to attend. They cover all the bases.

I also read a really interesting article in a recent Wall Street Journal about domestic private adoption. (Here is a blurb from the article and some heated comments associated with it too...always the heated comments from the peanut gallery, eeesh.) Apparently at some agencies in certain states, they have TOO MANY babies and not enough couples waiting to adopt (believe me, I am checking which states)! This hasn't happened in decades! The article credits this up-tick in available healthy infants to the growing interest in open adoption.

Apparently open adoption is being embraced by pregnant women who may have otherwise been reluctant to consider giving up a baby if it meant no chance of contact later in life. That is good news, considering what a nose dive the number of adoptable infants took with the advent of the birth control pill and legalized abortions.

This makes total sense to me. Really, what IS appealing about giving a child up for adoption to nameless/faceless individuals with almost no hope of ever finding out about that child for the rest of your life? And yet many women were put in that hopeless position in the past.

I feel great sadness for women who gave up a child and never knew what became of the child thereafter.

I know there are still women who don't believe in abortion, who end up pregnant and don't want to or can't raise a child, AND would rather not know where that child ends up, and don't want to ever be contacted by that child. But I think that case is rare. I'm willing to bet most women who gave a child up for adoption back in the days before the open adoption option, still think about that child, wonder where they are and how they turned out. Perhaps they even wish to find that child. Is it any wonder that the wait to adopt a child used to be SO very long? It takes a very special person to make that ultimate sacrifice for the good of their child.

I hope my own birth mother finds me one day. I do want to find her, but I don't want to ruin her life (just in case she is one of those rare types who just wanted to move on with life and forget they ever had a child). I am very cautious in my feelings about my search. I know her last name (at the time of my birth). I know where to send for my original birth certificate. I just haven't done it yet. I know I shouldn't wait too long. Every year that passes increases the likelyhood that she won't be there when I finally go looking. But my fear of rejection, fear of confrontation, fear in general stops me from taking the process as far as I can.

Someday...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Adopting

I was avidly reading journals and getting caught up a couple weeks ago. Tyler was watching his favorite TV show, Caillou. I wasn't paying much attention to the story.

"Mommy?"
"Yes, sweetie?"
"Mommy...I want a baby sidder too."
"A baby sitter? You want a baby sitter, hun?"
"No Mommy! A baby SIDDER! Like Caillou..."

I watched the show in puzzlement for a few minutes. Then I finally gathered that the plot of this episode had to do with the joys of being a big brother.

"Oh! A baby SISTER! You want a baby sister, sweetie?"
"Yes, Mommy! Can we go get one?"
"Um. Honey, they don't have baby stores. We can't just go out and get a baby, unfortunately. It's going to take a little while."
"But I want a baby sidder NOW! Can we please go get one now?? I want to play with her..."

What could I say to that? We really DO want another baby. I've had the paperwork needed to get the ball rolling for adoption #2 sitting on my desk for months now. What have I been waiting for? Partly, I've been procrastinating. It's a pain to fill out pages and pages of personal data. I just wish they could re-use all our old paperwork. Nothing has changed except we are a couple years older and John changed jobs. Which brings me to the second reason we haven't done the paperwork. We had just requested the update package from the agency and were all set to proceed when John was laid off work last year. Knowing we would never pass a home study if neither one of us had a steady income, we just let the paperwork sit.

No reason to let it sit now. John has been working since July. So here we go! Since the package we had was a year old at this point, we called our agency to get a new set (just in case there were changes in the forms). Yep. There were changes. They are using this new company for their finger-printing/criminal background checks. Apparently it is all done electronically now. Neat! No more sitting at the police station and waiting to be processed like a criminal. (Yes, we actually had to do that a few years ago.) I'll have to post about this new process after our appointment at the end of October...I can't wait to see how this is done.

I've asked a couple new people to be references for us (we need at least 4). I am going to pause my typing right here so I can email the form to two of them. Be right back...

OK! Sent! Now I am feeling that warm sense of accomplishment. Ha! One less thing on my To Do list.

So this is how the process will go:

  1. We fill out a ton of forms with our personal data (name, health history, income...all the details) plus a questionnaire that helps them determine our mental state (a psychological profile).
  2. We go get fingerprinted (and fill out all THOSE associated forms).
  3. We ALL (Tyler included) get a check-up so our doctors can fill out a form certifying that we are all generally healthy.
  4. Send the agency a ton of money and all the forms.
  5. Get scheduled for a social worker to visit our home for the first of 4 (I think) visits to determine we are equipped mentally, physically and emotionally to raise a child.
  6. Once approved to go ahead, we submit some copies of a portfolio to the agency for birth mothers to look over. The portfolio is kind of like our own personal biography in words and pictures. I put it together. It tells the birth mothers who we are, what we are like, what our family is like, things we like to do...stuff like that.
  7. Hopefully, someone will see our portfolio, like us, and select us. This can take a long time. When we get picked, we will get a phone call from the agency to arrange a meeting.
  8. Since we are going for a completely open adoption, we will get to meet and spend time with the birth mother. We will keep in contact, maybe go to doctor's appointments, potentially help with living expenses and medical bills, and if she is open to it, we will be there for the birth. After the baby is placed with us, we will honor any agreement we have with our birth mother (regular photos, phone calls, letters, even visits; depending on the situation and her requests.)
  9. If the baby is born in NJ, the parental rights of the birth parents can be terminated as soon as 72 hours after the birth. Then, depending on the courts, it can take up to a year for the adoption to be finalized. During this wait, we will complete the remainder of our home visits with our social worker.

For the curious, there are several types of adoption. You have private (through an attorney or your own source) and agency (that includes adoptions through the foster care system too). Within those two realms, you have open, partial open, and closed adoptions. Open is just like you would think - you know your birth mother's full name and address and she knows yours. Partial open means all those shades of grey between full open and closed adoptions - meeting the birth mother but only exchanging first names and all correspondence goes through the agency, for instance. And closed means you only get a general description of the birth mother, maybe her health history, and that's it. She never meets or sees you and you never meet or see her. Each form has pros and cons. If you are considering adoption, do some research to determine which form is right for you. Which you chose will depend on your finances, level of desire to maintain contact with the birth family, etc.

So we are on our way! I'll be posting periodic updates on our progress. It's a potentially long process, so don't expect any baby news any time soon. But if you are interested in adoption and don't know where to start, feel free to drop me an email. I have tons of useful info, links, books, etc. to share. With any luck, our family will be 4 instead of 3 within the next two years. Wish us luck!


P.S. Editorial comment here...all the adoption types I mention above are DOMESTIC adoption options (that means USA only). International adoption is a whole other ball of wax. I know a fair amount about International too, if you are interested.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Costumes

It's almost that time of year again! I LOVE Halloween!!! I dress up every year, play spooky music, and decorate with glow in the dark decorations and cool jack-o-lanterns. I also give out glow bracelets or necklaces every year. Kids love them and they add an extra measure of safety by making the kids more visible to cars. (I am known in the neighborhood as "The Glow Lady".)

I've passed on my love of Halloween to Tyler. It took only one house giving him candy to teach him the fun of trick or treating. He was off and running (with Daddy hot on his heels). The first year, he was a frog. I took him around to just a few houses. Last year he was a skunk and he did every house in the neighborhood with his dad. This year...he has a mind of his own. No more cutsy animal costumes. He wants to be a superhero or a firefighter.

The problem is, his opinion on what he wants to be changes from moment to moment. I've narrowed the choices down to four. This week I will make him choose. Time is running out and I have to get this costume ordered! Personally, I am favoring Spiderman. What do you all think? He WOULD make an adorable Superman...and at least you could see his face with that one....