Wednesday, September 30, 2009


When you have an adoption on hold and a broken shoulder and can do very little, what should you do to keep yourself occupied?

Why, open a Brownie pack of course!

I have been wanting to do this for quite some time - I came back to Guiding on a slight whim about 7 years ago, and have been helping established groups (a couple that are fabulous, one that is small but cute, and one that frankly was a waste of space) since then. Our part of town is badly served, as is one particular ethnic community (largely due to religious classes directly after school every day, and lack of awareness of Brownies even by UK-born mothers).

There is a stack of paperwork to fill in, mostly by hand, and many of my contacts were surprised to get multiple phone calls from me organising this, that, and the other at the point when I couldn't type. The church that owns the hall we are now meeting in unfortunately would not know an act if it came up and slapped it in the face, let alone how to get one together, and I say that as a member of that particular church. Despite that, I have had many fabulous (though I say them myself) ideas over the summer, having had lots of thinking and surfing time, and we had our first meeting last week.

Thankfully it was a beautiful day, and equally thankfully even though there was no wind, kites fly when a seven-year-old is running very fast and pulling them along. And little girls get very excited when you tell them they can take their kite home.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pieces of paper

Adoption paperwork so far (this attempt):
1. Official application to agency (sent in August? early Sept? - the agency has 8 months to complete the process from that date).
2. Feedback on whole preparation course (sum: first two days repeat of fostering course; middle day by guest speaker interesting for the first hour, then too detailed on stuff we don't need, not enough on stuff we do; final two days mainly relevant, and helpful especially if we go down the UK route).
3. Letter saying that we intend to go down the US route but would like to keep UK route (ages 2-5) open for the moment because of agency uncertainties in the US.
4. Six fingerprint record cards (two for Mr. Spouse, four for me).
5. Application for FBI records for both of us.
6. Application for CA state criminal records for both of us.

7. and 8. Application for criminal records from the two African countries in which I have lived. This would be fairly straightforward (information on how to do this is published in multiple places on the web, including the High Commission Website in London of one of the countries. However the other country has neglected to inform anyone publishing this information - e.g. the USCIS, who need such records also - what their fee for doing this is).

Next up:
UK CRB (criminal records check).

And then (probably concurrently):
Very very large UK homestudy report.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am at work, using my new speech recognition software. It's a bit of a pain, especially around navigation and spaces, it's not too bad at working out what I want to say, or at least at giving what I want to stay as one of its alternatives.

It's just hitting me, exactly how long it's going to be before I am a parent, and how old I am going to be. Either way, we're relying on someone to pick us, be it birth parent or social worker, ironically if it's a newborn and it's a birth parent doing the picking they may not know our actual ages, which may be in our favour (I'm not 100% clear on this).

But all those days, weeks, months, not just the process -- but the waiting, and the boring work, (sure, I like some of my work), and just stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So, really, what do I want?

Because it is really me - Mr Spouse is happy with whatever I decide.

The adoption course was good - about half of it was, anyway. Some of it was the same as the fostering course, some rather basic and pointless (and at points, wrong) stuff on child development, but some I felt gave us the confidence (if not all the skills, mainly because you can only learn so much without doing) to deal with children with difficult backgrounds. We also, happily, talked about contact quite a bit - we are, of course, on the extreme end of the spectrum, for the UK at least - our end being "family holidays if we can manage it", the other end being "over my dead body". We are not quite at "together for every significant moment plus sleepovers", which I know some US open adopters are. But that would be unlikely given geographics, anyway.

In the last couple of weeks we found out a career-related piece of information about Mr Spouse, which is good, helpful, and makes adopting now a good idea - but makes going to the US for a protracted period less possible. He feels more geared up about what he is doing, and I'm really pleased about that. It is all good - it just means that we will probably have to do the UK process first whatever we decide.

Mr Spouse would be happy to be the parent of preschooler(s) first (or verging on, at least UK, school age). We have spoken, and will speak again, however about how likely it is that we'd be chosen for a younger child or a sibling group with a younger child. I do not feel that I have to have each of my children from birth, or even from babyhood. I just feel that I want the experience of parenting a baby. Not even necessarily a newborn (I do like my sleep and, though I know older children don't sleep either, it shortens the sleep deprivation period if they are a year older). A newborn would be lovely, but a 1-year-old from the UK would be, er, well, free.

Matching times might be similar (our agency would not let us go through with it if there was NO chance of matching, but we might wait a lot longer fora 1-year-old in the UK, even in a sibling group, than for a newborn in the US), but there's an additional admin step before sorting out the US end. So on time, we have little to choose between them. We're looking at parenthood within 2 years, definitely not within 1, if we're lucky between those two.

So the question is really, if the agency doesn't think there is much chance of matching us with a baby in the UK, how important is that period to me? And, despite my feeling more confident about parenting an older child who's been through a lot (which, obviously, we'd need to do if we took on siblings), I'm not sure I want to give that up.

(Can I just add: feel free to comment, would love you to, but PLEASE for my sanity do not gush about how lovely it is to parent your genetic child as a baby? thx).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Same old same old

Have had the first two days of our adoption preparation course. Not surprisingly it is almost exactly the same as our fostering course, except longer. At least we don't feel quite so much like we've been repeatedly whacked after the session on abuse/safety which we had today.

It's just such a long way from home and not really new to us (even the social work stuff that was new to both of us last time).

It is pretty much exclusively geared to UK domestic adopters from foster care, which isn't too surprising, though at least one other couple wants to adopt from overseas (they are of an ethnicity which is difficult to match in the UK but one of the fairly common sending countries). Much of the foster care agenda is useful for adoption from an institution overseas, though, and we'll get individual sessions which are country-specific anyway. If we'd never done the foster care course this WOULD be a helpful course, but we did, and it isn't really.

We're still keeping a slightly open mind about our 3rd option - the UK foster care one - but really moving away from it, I think. If we wanted to have an under-2 placed with us, it might just be possible in the UK, but probably not with this agency, and possibly not with some other agencies/local authorities, partly because of Mr Spouse's age. I think we will ask one last time whether there are any circumstances in which this might happen (e.g. if we took siblings) but not really that confident about it.

There have been a few interesting or fun moments - e.g. discussing adoption in the media - "Everyone knows about adoption!" as one of the social workers put it. Yes, they do - they know what's in the media - everyone knows that social workers snatch babies, and that no white British couples are ever approved to adopt in the UK...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Joy of joys

We are going to a Dedication this weekend for the baby of the Now We're Fertile couple. These are the ones who, although they sympathised with us during the three years and unexplained infertility diagnosis it took them to get pregnant, conveniently forgot that it's NOT nice to be broadsided with pregnancy announcements, and told us while we were on holiday, with just them.

Dedications, for the uninitiated, are the Baptist/"We're So Special We Don't Fit In a Denomination" version of christenings/infant baptisms. One is not supposed to be baptised until one is old enough and savvy enough to stand up and speak for oneself, but strangely, parents still want Tradition and Ceremony for their baby. Hence the Dedication.

Now, unfortunately I have known a lot of Special church people in my life so I know all about these, but the general population doesn't. Especially not card shops.

So, having bitten my tongue, agreed to go, started steeling myself for the Shouty Church, the Over The Top Reception (in the same venue as their Over The Top Wedding - at least there isn't a river boat to take us between the two this time), and come over all Good Wife and gone to the card shop, what did I find?

Lots of Christening cards (no Baptism cards for either babies or adults - I'd actually call it a Baptism whatever the age, but no matter.) A selection of It's a Boy cards and of Naming Ceremony cards. Nothing whatsoever for infant dedication.

See, when you try and behave, where does it get you? I've a good mind to buy them a Civil Ceremony card, well, it's a ceremony, and I'm hoping I'll manage to be civil.

[Theological aside: you may switch off now, but my take on this is: baptism welcomes infants, children, or adults into the church, and anyone can be a member of the church, it does not take knowledge or maturity. Refusing to baptise infants because they cannot answer for themselves begs the question, what of those who are adults or adolescents and cannot answer for themselves? It seems to me rather insulting to children (and parents of such children) who have severe learning disabilities such that they will never be verbal. They should not be refused membership of the church either. Likewise, my godmother's sister-in-law, brought up Baptist but with Asperger's Syndrome, refused to answer "yes" to the questions put to her in her adolescent baptism preparation, because having Asperger's Syndrome she would not answer anything that she was not 100% sure about. No-one is 100% sure about belief, and if they are I'd be mighty suspicious, and I think the sister-in-law wasn't intending to be refused baptism. It is, to my mind, a dangerously gnostic model of belief - if you know certain facts and answer correctly to certain questions, you are a member of the church - if not, not.]