Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More pieces of paper

9. Reference form with two friends (one each) and one relative (not my mother, you won't be surprised to hear!)
10. Second reference/personal details form with employer (current - knows about plans) and employer (past - will probably be a bit non-plussed), and volunteer "employer", well, which one? Out of three Guiding District Commissioners and about 8 Guiders I've run Brownies or Rainbows with? If asked to pick, it will be the one that knows about the last miscarriage, and is very motherly, but not too much older than me.
Just about to fill in:
11. CRB form

(still haven't got money sorted for 7. and 8. CA and FBI have taken money for 5. and 6. but have not sent us anything. Where's the eye-roll smiley when you need it?)


We are going to need to face the fact that we have to tell our families about the adoption process. Very much not looking forward to it - not just the negative attitudes I expect from some quarters, but frankly the indifference I expect from others (e.g. my brother who has mentioned once in 5 years the miscarriages - even my dad has engaged more). Mr Spouse's mother is a bit less problematic as she'll forget what we told her anyway...

So, we were talking today about a large heirloom piece of jewellery we have in the bank. We pay a fair bit to keep it in there, plus insurance (which would be so much higher if it was in our house so it's worth keeping it there). The value of this piece of jewellery is more as a "replacement" than we could get for it by selling it, but we could still get a fair bit. In fact, we could get an amount approaching what we are paying the UK agency. I never wear it and never will.

So I feel I may have an opening with my mother (whose family it came from)... Can we sell your grandma's jewellery to pay for our adoption?

(Incidentally, if anyone on the US open adoption side ever stops by this blog, I'd really appreciate ideas of grandparent books to introduce her to the concept... thanks)

Monday, November 23, 2009


Although I know my visitor rate is not exactly massive, some of you may have spotted a very weird comment over the last day or so. Sadly I can't moderate only anonymous comments so I've removed the option for anonymous comments. I believe that this means Typepad/Wordpress people can still comment without registering for an evil Blogger account.

In other news, after Mr Spouse's session last week we had A Bit of a Misunderstanding but we are all sorted out now, and in consequence, quite a lot poorer having paid a large chunk of money to the agency. Coal and satsumas for Christmas for us, I think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Mr Spouse had his individual session with the social worker today - he reports that it took an hour and a half, and he missed out a couple of sections (on siblings - as he has none - and on close friends, which is fairly typically male, I think, as close male friends do have a tendency to meet up for a drink every two years and grunt "yeh, got married, yeh, trying to have kids, yeh, no luck yet".

So that suggests my individual session (thankfully all the rest will be joint) will be even longer. Will make coffee beforehand. Our social worker though very lovely and friendly is missing one crucial social worker characteristic, at least as I understand them - she refuses all offers of tea and biscuits.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My flabber... well and truly ghasted.

I was due to have a phone meeting with a PhD student yesterday morning; she is in her home country (in the tropics) doing fieldwork, and I have a week-long supervision visit with her in 4 weeks' time. I rang the switchboard at the unit where she works only to be told she had delivered a baby girl in the night.

Now initially I was very worried the baby was very premature because a) she had not told me anything about it, b) she had not appeared at all pregnant when I saw her in June (nope, sorry, it was early July), c) she was clearly planning to be fully functioning next month and d) SHE HAD NOT TOLD ME ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

Today I found out that no, the baby was 2 days early, but clearly not outside the realm of possibility. So she was planning, apparently, according to her boss (her work supervisor - she is a research assistant at the unit) to work part-time for a month and for that to be her maternity leave, and to come back full time in time for my visit.

I find myself in an incredibly awkward situation - completely leaving aside the personal feelings which this brings up.

The travel (very expensive travel) is paid for and the ticket is I think non-refundable. I paid for it but the unit is supposed to be refunding me. I am extremely uncomfortable about going. This student has a history of over-reaching, of saying she'll do something and circumstances getting in her way. This is her third child, and she did only take 6 weeks maternity leave with the previous two (common in her country), but at this point things could still go wrong, I know she will be breastfeeding, and I don't want to go for a week's visit and find myself unable to do any work, nor do I want to be left with the bill for the ticket, or no other time to go and supervise her fieldwork (which needs doing at some point).

Students have a limited period of time in which to complete their theses. A student with a very similar project, but much better writing skills, and no new baby, just finished hers - only a couple of months short of the maximum. If students take longer than this, there are sanctions - for the student, yes, but for the department and the supervisor. As I said, this student has a history of not being realistic. It leaves me open to potentially being removed from the list of possible supervisors. Which would be A Very Bad Thing. It would take a couple of students in this situation to have this happen, but one is more than zero.

But I'm not her employer (this is a relatively common situation, where a student is employed to do research, the employer allows them to do a PhD and pays their fees). One of the things that boggles my mind is that her boss allowed her to just carry on and not tell me about the pregnancy. And it worries me too - as if I say she has to take a break in her PhD, her sponsor has to agree, and they seem to be saying "whatever floats your boat, we're happy to make you work hard if you want to".

I am feeling very taken advantage of. I know I am going to have to put my foot down about something. I have already given some supervision time to this project before the student was enrolled with us - normally this wouldn't happen - and I've been asked by a similar student in the same area to be an "adviser" even though again she won't enrol with us. This is all very difficult as - although of course this should make no difference, and financially it does not, I am not "rewarded" for such supervision by my employer in terms of it being an official part of my workload. I can, of course, and do, collaborate informally with other senior colleagues - but this is somewhat different. But it makes me look unfriendly, and being friendly is the way to get productive collaborations, and students who actually enrol, and people to write grants with you. And I cannot really afford to appear unfriendly to colleagues, but I cannot afford to appear to be a pushover to my students.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And so it goes

It is looking even more likely that I'll need the manipulation under anaesthetic. But can I be very wicked and say how I was actually pleased I'd need 2 weeks off work to spend every minute doing my exercises? Work does not please me at the moment.

(Although I had quite a good lecture today, a newly constructed lecture which is always a bit nerve-wracking, on Down Syndrome which is also something relatively new to my research, and I managed to shock the class with the 90% termination rate for pregnancies with DS which I quite like doing, sick I know but it is a fact that I feel is brushed under the carpet, and I also used my Brown Owl Powers for good in spotting the two know-it-alls in one group and talking over them for a bit and resolving to split them up next time.)