Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Mr. Spouse is not working at the moment. For different reasons, he hasn't been working since August last year. He is sort of looking for a job at the moment, but he's likely to be going back to university in October* and there isn't much temporary around at the moment - particularly not that would allow him to take random days off for adoption courses etc. So he may do some volunteering instead, which is what he was doing in the US; we are actually OK for money for the moment, though I don't feel like we are. He also has some Open University courses to finish before the full-time study starts.

Right now, though, he's feeling a bit sorry for himself - his arm is not back to normal, and he's not able to do any of the DIY stuff we need to get done, but he's also not really done much of the lighter stuff around the house, partly because tidying up also involves lifting. And I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself too - I've had a virus the past few days (I am worried it is the pleuritic thing I had last year, unfortunately), have loads of marking to do and a grant deadline.

But in general he has been enjoying working less (I say less because he's been very committed to his volunteer work and has spent quite a bit of time at it) and I have only slightly felt that I'm benefiting from having a stay-at-home husband (he does, to be fair, do a reasonable amount of cleaning, but he is not one for elaborate or particularly imaginative cooking). And I know it's because I'm jealous. I would really quite like to be at home, at least part-time, preferably with kid(s). I am worried we won't be able to afford this.

This is a slightly irrational fear - we can definitely afford for me to take a good chunk of adoption leave, and if it's appropriate for me to go part-time after that, but money is an issue, he has a good pension from his old job that he can take early. I think it's partly triggered by various discussions that are ongoing on a website I frequent which main centre round how much, or little, women make after paying for nursery fees. In fact, I suspect that even if the answer was "nothing" for me, I'd still work. I enjoy my job, and if I stopped until a child was school age, that would really be it for my career. I do also slightly worry that what a colleague with older children says is true - that working part time also means curtains. In either case I don't want that. Work is not just about money for me. But life is not just about work, either.

*I say back, but in fact he never went when he was 18 so it will be to university, but to retrain in a subject he really enjoys and which is pretty marketable, but in which he has no formal qualifications.

Friday, May 22, 2009


That's my public profile, not the Clearblue-marketed contraceptive monitor, in case you were wondering.

I have just started another blog, which is very embryonic, and is intended to be a "communicating science to the public" type thing. I'm not hiding it, but it's not something I'm desperately promoting yet, either.
However, if I link to that from a non-IF site or blog that I read, I wouldn't mind people knowing it's there. I don't necessarily, though, want people to find this place - it's possible I may ultimately go public at work with the new one.
So, I reset my Blogger profile for Dr. Spouse to only show the new blog, not this one. Now, if I comment via Wordpress or Typepad I just put in the drspouse url and you can get here via that link. But if I comment on someone's IF-related Blogger blog then you get to the new blog, no longer here.

I'm assuming people can google Dr Spouse and find this blog, anyway*, but really they could find me that way if they were desperate - I tend to use Dr Spouse as my alias on some work-related sites too.

What with keeping friends and (more particularly) family away from this blog, I'm getting confused. Any suggestions? The one I've just come up with is, when commenting on non-IF blogs, just enter "name" (Dr Spouse) and the new blog address. I have a couple of friends' blogs where I just put in my first name, no address or login, though I caught myself out once by accidentally commenting as Dr Spouse while I was logged in, and had to go back and delete and recomment.

It's so confusing having multiple personalities!

*Actually, I just checked, and although there is an unfortunate British academic who is really called Dr. Spouse, this blog doesn't come up anywhere near the top.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And a bath bun

With, er, lemon curd?

Anyway, we went over to the latest adoption agency today as I said and had what was a pretty productive, but lengthy and tiring, chat. It was almost all focussed on the adoption process and our story to date, and very little on what we do and enjoy and are like, but that will no doubt come later.

The social worker we spoke to seemed relatively knowledgeable about both inter-country adoption in general (as she should be, but this part is going to be very helpful as the arcane windings of the DCSF are no doubt going to become part of our own personal family swear-words) and US domestic adoption ("please don't say in your profile you are hoping to 'complete your family circle' as I will have to strangle you". "No, that's OK, and we also promise not to say 'we think God has brought you into our lives'".). There were a couple of things that might be slightly concerning - because the law is different in the two countries about things like TPR, we'll have to tread carefully on our opinion of the two, and also since we won't be doing a Hague adoption, but everyone here has Hague firmly planted in their heads, we may have to keep reminding them, for example, that we are allowed to be pleased about birth parents, rather than agencies, choosing us - this is a Hague no-no.

Anyway, they don't do the CRB check now because, as I hoped, they sensibly do it later in parallel with other things; we may (fingers and toes very firmly crossed!) not have to do all of the preparation course, having done our fostering course; and even if we do have to do it, then dates in July are perfectly possible given the time frame (there's also an August one that would clash with a trip we're planning).

So, we are supposed to go away and "think", and I know we've been "thinking" for about 3 years, but I suspect we're not supposed to ring back this afternoon, perhaps next week will be soon enough, and while we're doing that, and she did say it would be today, she'll ring DCSF and say "this is an unusual case, is it OK with you", which is not a question you want after you've shelled out for a home study. But she was very impressed with the name of our UK lawyer, and said if we need people at DCSF to quake in their boots, it's the right name (many thanks, 3rdculturemum - old blog link, I'm afraid).

And yes, we will need criminal records checks from the US (easy to do as per instructions from US Embassy website) and from the two African countries where I've lived for longer periods of time (er... will they accept dodgy PI website court report summaries, do you think? There are lots of those about!), and our referees will need re-poking, and convincing that indeed, this time, we are serious, yes, honest. As she said, it makes you feel like you are doing something. Here begins death by paperwork.

So, we came home on the train, it is raining VERY hard, and I had to go and run a couple of errands, though I was supposed to be getting on with some hard writing this afternoon - but I feel like someone hit me with a big stick. So I bought a bun and had a cup of tea. But I've never had a Bath bun that had lemon curd in it. Strange.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Me too

I'm reminded by the Stirrup Queens pair of posts about an internet sympathy scam that I was the subject of a few years ago. It turned out that the scammer had perpretrated a previous scam on the same group of people, an extremely friendly, non-IF bulletin board. It's very much a community and includes some dear friends; it's where I met Mr. Spouse.

Although the scammer was not primarily IF-related, it is clear they sought, and obtained, sympathy for similar reasons to IF-related internet scammers. This person had several sock puppets on the message board and those personalities "suffered" from brain tumours, long-term illnesses, and finally two of them "died", one in a motorway pile-up. Along the way one of the characters caught my attention as they claimed to be going through the adoption process. Together with another friend (who, yes, I have met in real life) who has two young children with special needs (I think this was after the first was born but it was definitely before the second was born), and who lived near where this person claimed to live, I got very very caught up in this person's tale, including exchanging emails and promising to chat on the phone (but never quite going through with it, not surprisingly). This deception was very lengthy and complex and drew people in much, much more than the single claim made by someone scamming the blogger Niobe - it was on the scale of some blog scams, though probably more short-lived

This person was caught out by repeated use of the same IP address, or something similar, I believe; this is easier to spot on bulletin boards I think, where the owners have some degree of control. I know that other scammers have eventually confessed or been found out in some way; but although ultimately I do retain my faith in human nature, I guess I find myself thinking "but what if?" when I'm drawn into some stories. As I usually only think this after becoming emotionally invested, I then beat myself up for again becoming potentially emotionally scammed.

And a minor technical question

Although my ratio of commenter:visitor is tiny, I have reached the log size limit with the free Statcounter.com accounts. It's not like we have spare cash to spend on a paid-for account - is there a free alternative with more generous limits that anyone knows of, by any chance??

Could this actually be...

... a sensible adoption agency?

We were told by the social worker we are meeting on Friday not to bring our identity documents to complete our criminal checks as "we don't do those at this stage". I was a bit puzzled, to be honest, as the previous agency had done them at precisely this stage, and normally agencies and local authorities love to introduce waits into the process, and seem to particularly like it if absolutely nothing is happening, especially when you have no real way to check that the thing that is supposed to be not happening, is in fact not happening. Hence the obsession with not moving a muscle, making any appointments, or being able to see you until they have completed the CRB. I am worried there will also be a "thinking stage" at this point.

However, on enquiry, I find that some agencies - shock horror - do these in parallel with the other parts of the process; so that the wait for the checks to come back can be filled with actual activity.

Although for some overseas adoptions, any criminal convictions are a total no-no, for a UK adoption you can be approved with anything short of assault or child abuse. You'd hope most people have some kind of handle on their criminal record, and in fact it's common for people with minor drug convictions e.g. possession age 18, to assume they can't adopt when in fact they can. So frankly, you'd have to be a bit deluded or forgetful to say "OK, go ahead and check my criminal record" and hope nothing showed up, when there was likely to be something there. I don't know what situation that would leave the agency in, whether they would be entitled to ask for their costs back from someone who'd failed their CRB.

I haven't watched them yet, but there's a series on Channel 4 this week about adoption. I registered some hollow laughs on a message board I read at the adopters saying "it takes MONTHS". Try YEARS.

Friday, May 01, 2009

What a waste

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary. It's horrible weather, but we're headed out for dinner in a country pub with gorgeous food - our default Lovely Food location. It's about CD13 and my body is saying "go for it now". However there will be almost no drinking and no nookie, because a) I haven't sorted anything out about seeing the GP and b) much more importantly, Mr. Spouse has cracked a bone in his elbow.

He was riding my bike (yes, he is taller than me, and not very good on a bike, why do you ask?) and fell off onto his arm. In mitigation, he was riding it back from the bike shop where it had been serviced. This was on Monday but nothing looked better by yesterday so we had a record quick trip to A&E (makes a change for me to be driving him there) and a rapid X-ray, and an appointment at the fracture clinic today. It will probably take 4-6 weeks to heal and no driving (so I'll be driving), not much typing, no leaning on ones arms during sex, and sadly (given the state of the house) not much cleaning or tidying too. And painkillers (so not much drinking for him, either) Gah. I'm trying to throw myself back into work so feel extremely disinclined to run round evenings and weekends like a mad thing putting away stuff from our travels or getting out stuff from the loft.

I don't feel as disappointed as I might, especially having looked back at my three previous wedding anniversary posts (ignored, just had miscarriage, and 5w pregnant but miscarried obviously, respectively) and thinking that now I feel much calmer and more on track, and that perhaps being pregnant is not very good for me. Or at least, knowing I cannot possibly be pregnant is better for me than wondering if I could be and if there is any way to keep me that way.

In other news, after a bit of phone tag and a broken phone line (theirs) we are seeing the adoption agency on the 15th. I am not quite sure what they think the next step would be as when I asked if I should bring our documents for the CRB they said "ooh, not just yet" and finally admitted that it might be easier if we brought them in and they then verified they'd seen them and photocopied them. Apart from "go away and think about it for a while" I'm not sure what can come between "initial chat" and "check you aren't a criminal" in this process.

With that, I will leave you with something I'm sure you're dying for, but which I've somehow managed to omit thus far.

The church (also where we had the reception - the tables are behind the white drapes. A mile of fabric is a lot cheaper, and less allergenic, than flowers when you are decorating what has been called the Cathedral of Non-Conformism, which seats 1000):

And that's me just got out of the taxi outside the church (plus my best woman, and fellow infertile/miscarrier's left leg). That is a pawn shop in the background, in case you are curious.