Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Mr Spouse got his annual Christmas cold and kindly passed it on to me when he was finished with it. Hence I cannot breathe properly and didn't sleep well last night. Although I didn't actually strangle my mother, when this morning she asked what was happening with a rubbish bin and I was in the middle of my shoulder exercises and said "it would be helpful to empty it into the other one" and she told me not to treat her like a servant, and then when Mr Spouse asked her to do the same and she did it, you may understand why I am repeating my usual Christmas mantra:

"Extended family is God's reward for having to be related to your immediate family".

And my extended family are mainly jolly nice. One of my aunts wins Olympic prizes for weirdness and stinginess and another uncle and his wife for having the most dangerous house in the world to eat/sleep/live in (mainly due to salmonella risk), and another aunt still thinks we are all 9 and refusing to eat sprouts, and if we don't, reminds us of when we did. But when you have 12 cousins and 5 blood uncles/aunts and almost as many by marriage, you have to hit lucky with a few of them - and I have. My youngest uncle is writing our family adoption reference; his middle child (just a teenager) thinks Mr Spouse is highly hilarious so perhaps we should get him to write it.

Both my mother (gratefully, in fact) and my brother did eventually acknowledge our desire to tick a childcare experience box and we were In Charge on Sunday from (more or less) child-up to child-down (I let my mum get them up). We only had one tantrum (niece 2) and 3 whining sessions (niece 1). No screaming whatsoever at bedtime and both of them managed to sleep in a bed without either parent, and to go to bed when told by an adult, not waiting to decide for themselves when they wanted to go to bed. They are 6 and 3 by the way. I am not sure how long my brother has before the older one notices it is weird to share a bed with your parents.

(Top "aww" moment - we were sleeping at my dad's and the family were basically convening at or just after breakfast and then parting after dinner/at bedtime each day - on our last day niece 2 charged in the door and saw me in the living room, not good enough apparently, she demanded to know where Mr Spouse was and charged off to see him instead. He has a slightly difficult name to pronounce - many children ask what he's called several times - and before this visit she hadn't seen him for about 18 months - so, when she was very tiny - but he had become a firm favourite very quickly).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh dear

We are off to my dad's tomorrow for Christmas (he lives the other side of the town I grew up in to my mum, they are divorced but get on OK if dad's new woman is not around, which she isn't at the moment) tomorrow and I was looking forward to it but now I am starting to become very apprehensive.

I spoke to my nieces on the phone last night and the older one was very sweet ("oh, you are staying at Grandpa's? Oh. Will you maybe come to Granny's to see us?") and I'm looking forward to seeing them but as usual my mother has rather overplanned (this is of course where I get it from) and Mr Spouse will get very stressed with all the together time (having no siblings and only 1 cousin his age, he is not used to The Hordes). And everyone else (brother, sister-in-law, other relatives) is very relaxed about timekeeping and this sends my mother round the bend. And my dad has supposedly upgraded his spare beds but we are not convinced they will be sleepable on.

And... we have been saying for months to both my mum and my brother that we'd REALLY like my older niece to come and stay when we come back home after Christmas, and my mum initially said "good idea" and my brother said absolutely nothing (which is precisely what he and niece said when I asked whether she'd got her birthday present, too), and I didn't ask my niece yet because she can be a bit shy and I haven't seen her for over a year.

But now my mum is acting as if it will all be TOO inconvenient for her, she does not want to look after the younger one if brother and sister-in-law want to go away on their own (they are borrowing our holiday flat), I don't think it would be a good idea for us to take both (the younger one doesn't really know us, as I say we haven't seen them for over a year and she is only 3 so that's a long time), and my mum doesn't want to come and pick my niece up (and since we'll have done the whole journey twice already we don't really want to do a quick-turnaround drop-off, so we offered an overnight for my mum but she's already booked something on the best day for that, which she didn't tell us was that day).

This is all very complicated and moany, but we were kind of hoping to have niece to stay mainly because we really like her and get so see so little of her, but also as adoption-related experience - we can't really ask friends to lend us their children overnight despite what social workers would like to believe. Our SW is very positive and doesn't seem to think we need to bolster our experience, but I would like to get the experience myself and I think niece would have a good time. And if we say this to the family they will either say "social workers are mad, how can they make you jump through these hoops, you should refuse" (yeah, you just try that with social workers) or, probably, just get all negative about the whole idea of adoption.

And in other adoption-related business, we have to find a nice, natural photo of the two of us for the agency (I don't know if this will actually serve any purpose as we'll do a whole set of photos and a letter for our proper profile with the agency later) and we have been instructed No Alcohol in the photo, but if we could get some decent photos of us with the girls that would be fabulous. The main decent photographer though is Mr Spouse and again, having to explain that we need loads and loads of photos from which we may be able to use one or two, and get people to keep taking them in casual situations (most of my family think photos should involve standing still, staring into the camera, wearing special clothes, grinning madly and preferably having redeye), and again not give up and say "why on EARTH do you need so many photos? surely that one of you in front of the Christmas tree in the nice red jumper I made you will do?" will be, er, challenging.

Now before my sentences get any longer, I will go and do something else. Lament the icing sliding down the sides of my Christmas cake, I suspect.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The four members of the triad...

It's been a very interesting fortnight.

N. My fellow Brownie leader. She's only 7 years older than me but claims to be "feeling her age". While I do feel my age a little (frankly, I was never a clubber, I only pretended), I really hate it when people say that who are under, say, 70. Anyway, she's a lovely lady, very good with the girls and a good person to do this with. Turns out she is a grandmother and the grandson is the child of the daughter she relinquished when she was 19. I only found this out about 10 days ago and have not let on about our plans. She has met her daughter as an adult - she has two other children who have also met her - she met "my daughter's Mum" before she sadly died of cancer but the Dad does not want to know, and recent efforts to contact birth dad to get a medical history have proved fruitless. Anyway, interesting, and seems definitely open enough that I can talk about stuff later when I have news.

J. Lovely lovely friend from my favourite forum (except when I'm being slagged off for saying Absolutely Anything About Parents, even jokingly, as You Can't Possibly Know Anything). Adopted herself and has two older siblings who were adopted, one of whom was not voluntarily relinquished and over whom there was a bit of a court battle. One younger "mistake" birth child of her parents as they call him in the family. She has met her "natural mother" as she refers to her, and her half-siblings - one of whom died of liver failure. Very pleased to be out of that family, she says, and a total argument for nurture I'd say.

Although I do know quite a few adoptive parents, I've not had any unexpected or unusual encounters recently but I did meet both J and E for lunch the other day. E is also a lovely lovely friend (well, as she comments here, I can't say much else, can I?) but she is sister to an adopted brother who, again, now as an adult (I think - can't quite remember his age) has contact with a birth sibling who lives round the corner. Obviously there are loads of other people affected by adoption, but we've been thinking about relatives who are not the adoptive parents (in our case grandparents - in her case siblings) and how they are affected by it. Short book review to follow, also (short review but also short book).

Although I'm not 100% sure about N., talking to E. and J. gave me a really positive feeling. As with our last SW chat, it actually feels like we might be able to plan for parenthood this time.

On that note, I have just put in my promotion paperwork. All of the senior women I have talked to seem to be the "work part time through maternity leave and then come back at 4 months" variety. I think that is probably a group that will never really "get" adoption and how it might be different (for a start, I've waited so bloomin' long I want to enjoy it!) but one encouraging very senior colleague who normally seems very anti-having-a-life said that she went back to work full time and worked 9-5 and then stopped. It is very tempting in my profession to put things off, work in the evenings etc. but it's nice to see even dragons think you should have evenings off. This is actually in contrast to a couple of colleagues who are mothers who say it is essential to work after the children are in bed so was a very helpful observation.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Another SW session - again quite relaxing though lengthy - you'll have to get your fix of posts now as there won't be much after we finish the home study.

This time it was about Us. I think we are used to talking about Us - mainly when I read a tale of someone's thoughtless/cheating/scumbag other half on my favourite forum, and don't bother posting a smug reply, but thank my lucky stars and mention to Mr. Spouse how lucky I am that he doesn't do X, Y or Z (whereupon he usually says "Oops, didn't I tell you?". The wag). Apparently a couple of times she has had people separate after, having ignored the problem, talking about their relationship made them realise it was going nowhere.

We have a break now till January before which we have to produce:
A family tree each (me: 11 cousins. Him: 2)
A chronology of our life so far (places lived, jobs, schools. Me: average stay in one place about 4 years. Him: hadn't moved over 5 miles from his place of birth till I whisked him to the other end of, er, the county. Me: 3 schools, 2 universities, 6? 8? jobs. Him: 2 schools, one job.)
Brief account of each of our childhoods (he'll have to think back a bit further)
Financial statement (just a month's worth - that's Mr Spouse's job though!)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Miss Manners

I just love Miss Manners (probably because I am etiquette-challenged). She has a letter about adoption this week. I do think that she has an extremely good point - removing your child from a potentially damaging situation is probably the way to go. I expect when their child is older, though, they (like parents of children who are conspicuously different in race) will have to reassure or educate their child about the ignorant and rude people. Or do people stop making rude and ignorant comments when they think the child can understand? I somehow doubt it.

Anyway, I had my "solo" SW interview yesterday. As with Mr. Spouse's, I get the impression some of the questions the SW thinks are helpful and some are "just there because they have to be". She's also quite good about saying "you don't have to give me any details if you don't want to" and seems to understand that my family are, indeed, mad; it's not normal to go to family events that your ex-husband is at but only if his new partner is not there, nor to go to elaborate lengths in trying to find out if she is there. Nor is it normal to enrol your children in music lessons, and greet an offer from your mother to buy a suitably-sized instrument with "I hope you don't think buying an instrument means she's going to play this for ever". And neither is it normal to take the huff when you ask to arrive for a visit on Thursday afternoon and are told that your host/daughter has quite a bit of work to do on Friday and was hoping to work from home, so please could you arrive on Friday afternoon instead.

But she's absolutely right, I do resent the fact that getting pregnant and having children seems to be really easy for everyone else and particularly that my brother was disappointed when he found out their second child was also a girl.

I didn't spot any tissues in her bag and I think I will lay some in for future sessions.