Monday, August 30, 2010

The money trail

We know that NLA has received our full application... because they've cashed our check/que! (it wasn't a very big one...)

We also got an email from the notary here to say he is ready to send the paperwork round the endless trail of government bodies that need to see it before it arrives in the US with OHP. After it arrives, I think we'll be legally clear to look for a family in OHP's state but not in NLA's, until they are sure our home study is as full as they'd like. We have been having a mini-Kafka moment with NLA and our UK social worker where NLA wanted our addresses for the last 10 years, the UK crowd had verified the last 5 years, NLA wouldn't take our word for the intervening 5, so we emailed the addresses to our UK SW who emailed them to NLA...

Anyone got a handy brick wall?

Friday, August 27, 2010

This week's favourite

Just lovely - from A Nickel's Worth of Common Sense.

Down the rabbit hole

I am unashamedly addicted to blogs, at least to reading (and also to procrastinating boring work jobs while writing - I should currently be making up some titles for some people who are giving talks at a one-day event, who haven't given me titles, and I should also be reformatting a variable list. ZZZZZZZ). I don't comment as much as I could, but I'm also slightly handicapped by still not having found a good blog feed reader that works on my phone (no, it is not an iPhone thank you).

I found when I was doing my last bit of journo stuff however that I read loads and loads of sciencey blogs (hooray!) but no regular blogs. So, if you were hoping for me to read your blog in the next couple of weeks - sorry. We just arrived in London and I'm doing another two weeks of pretending to be a journalist, starting on Tuesday.

I have however found a few new blogs recently. There are a lot of adoption blogs out there but a very large majority of them seem to be written by US married mothers who adopted domestic infants, many of them in semi-open adoptions. I've been looking around for some different ones, and have found:

LindyLoodles - UK, waiting for a match
Looking for Moonpiglet - UK, pre-approval
From Husband to Father - UK, pre-approval
The Johnsons - also UK, also pre-approval
(some or all of these are people who I found through Adoption UK)

A Nickel's Worth of Common Sense
- Canada (I am pretty sure), open adoption from foster care/birth children/what is called "permanent guardianship" in the UK (I am in awe of this woman, she has six kids at home and still finds time to write!)
Think Bubbles - when I say this is a real life friend of mine, well, erm yes she is but we both met her through t'internet! Anyway she has two teenage sons adopted from foster care, sadly things did not turn out well for no 1 son.
Two Guys Adopting - another blogger I am in total awe of - these guys have a son adopted from foster care, and one of them writes extremely detailed posts about every single day with their son!

Lia, Not Juno - expecting a boy and talking about placing him - has recently moved to Wordpress - I am toying with the idea of doing the same*
Statistically Impossible - a birth father in an open adoption

Anyway I may or may not be "around", though I do have a meet lined up with another London blogger, unless she stands me up... no I'll understand really (sobs into hanky...)

*I did have a spell of weird comments a while back but went over to no-anon-posting and now it's mainly spam - but Blogger have sorted out their spam comments. So as I seem to be under the radar for people who want to sound off, I may just stick here for the moment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In which we become slightly less poor

I have to fill in a US tax return - it doesn't do me any good or bad as I neither pay US taxes nor am entitled to a rebate, but it's a legal requirement, and they get snippy when I want to go back to the US, if I'm not up to date on them. Occasionally they have a Federal cash handout. I get these too, even if I haven't paid any taxes. This year, Mr Spouse got one as well, as he did his taxes last year!

The US government, unlike some others I might mention (*cough* the UK *cough*) actually encourages people to adopt - to the tune of $13K tax rebate.

They've just changed the rules so you don't actually have to pay the $13k before you claim it back. It's really to encourage people who wouldn't have paid that much in tax because they don't earn much - I'm not quite sure if our US taxes per year would reach that but over the five years you can spread it, if we did pay them, we'd easily pay that. But now we can claim it anyway!

I suspect there are 2 1/2 people to whom this applies, so it's not like we're going to bankrupt Obama. But it will be jolly nice to have a small amount back. Actually, it will be "back" since I paid them in the distant past.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Living space: choice, privilege, right?

This post was inspired by a post of A+A's, about living small. I like what they are doing, it is great to be in a neighbourhood where you can see a lot of people, and which is diverse. I feel lucky that we live about 2 streets away from our area's main Muslim community and that I can be part of a mixed women's group and that I know some of the members well enough to have a lengthy chat when I see them in the street and even to pop round and say hello. But we live in a large Victorian house that you can see in my previous post.

I'm lucky enough that I was able to buy somewhere when I lived in London and Mr Spouse had a house when he moved here as well. We joked that we had to look around a while before we found somewhere cheap enough. But actually it is fairly cheap to live here and on two salaries, we'd have been able to afford this place even without much of a deposit. We had to buy extra furniture (we didn't have a dining table or crockery storage, and we have an upstairs study/sitting area that needed a sofa) and we had the kitchen redone plus lots of cosmetic decoration.

I come from a privileged background, there is no denying it. My grandfather in the UK had a huge house - it had a spare flat that, if it wasn't rented out or lived in by the cleaner and her family, was a play space for us grandchildren (mind you, my grandfather had 5 children separated by 30 years). My grandparents in the US had a smaller one-storey building but set in gorgeous California land. We grew up in a Regency house on four floors. My parents had to put in heating, a floor in the basement, I suspect an inside toilet, but it was also somewhat spacious. We did learn to be frugal in what posessions we needed when we lived abroad for a couple of periods when I was a child but that was by choice and also a result of privelege - my dad was also an academic and was on sabbatical. My brother and I thought of these as an adventure and both I and my mother have always prided ourselves on packing light (yes, really!).

I love living in older houses, but before we moved here, the last time Mr Spouse lived in an older house was when he was 7 and their back-to-back (think East is East, bath in kitchen, no I am not joking) was condemned. They had had a bit of space there, and moving into their two-bedroom high rise he had to give away his train set. This was his pride and joy - he had his picture in a local paper with this train set. Small living was probably not high on his list of things that made him happy. I got to go back to my toys and my own bedroom after our years away.

They lived in the flats (think opening credits of Shameless, I think I have already said that!) until they got fed up of having the upstairs neighbours' baths overflow into their living room. Then they moved to the 26th floor in another block, but that was condemned (think famous flats in London that collapsed). They did move back to a two-up, two-down rented place but then Mr Spouse bought a one bedroom flat - the first person in his family to own property - and his parents were moved by their social housing landlord into a different one-bed as they didn't need the space.

So... do you aim to live small, do you feel this is a positive thing, or a luxury? Do you like living near, and knowing, your neighbours? How close is too close? Or are you happily indulgent and will take any space you can get, and would a mile away not be too far for your neighbours?

I think we are just about right where we are - I have always lived in a town and as a real inner city dweller Mr Spouse would not be happy anywhere isolated - one of his stipulations is being able to walk to at least a basic shop and to services so you don't have to drive to the doctor's when you are too sick to drive. But unless you are very lucky, even in those halcyon days (note tongue firmly in cheek) of Victorian terraces and all the kids playing in the street, neighbours can turn into noisy neighbours, irritating neighbours, and nuisance neighbours.

And you even get that in rambling middle class neighbourhoods - I'm reminded of the bad beginning piano playing of our neighbours when I was growing up. Still, my brother learned the trumpet. We got our own back!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yes I know this is a bit lazy...

But life is like that. Anyway, this is a great post, and Martin, you'll be sorely missed (especially for the dreadful jokes).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sorry but I have to share this...

This picture was taken by a professional photographer at the children's Christmas party run by the factory Mr Spouse's dad worked in, circa 1961. If you squint at my previous post, or if you are a FB friend, you'll be able to work out he's the kid with dark hair and his head in his hand. We think they are watching a magician. Note Vimto bottles. Very Hulton Picture Library, don't you think?

I'm not sure if this is lazy or what...

But I'd like to try and start doing a "someone else's post of the week". Kind of like Creme de la Creme, only smaller.
I've just read this post of Bernardeena's and it was so well written, I just had to share.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Colour me confused

We are in a bit of a go-between situation between Official Hague Person and Nice Little Agency. Here's crossing our fingers that Nice Little Agency decides it's not too complicated to get accredited should we ever want to adopt again.

Anyway, we've got lots and lots and lots of cheesy pictures, we've sent them off to both sets of people, and we are resisting both OHP and NLA's efforts to start all our profile/letter statements with "dear birth parents" as, erm, they aren't yet (in fact likely they haven't given birth yet as well as not having relinquished any children). Though I think OHP were right to tell us not to write "our" child as obviously he/she is not our child.

NLA have earned various gold stars for trying to avoid extra expenditure and being very flexible, they are very happy for documentation going to them to be sent with (and therefore notarised with and therefore not charged extra for) documentation going to OHP. I panicked for a bit today thinking we'd have to have (and therefore pay for) another social worker visit but they say a letter from our regular social worker will do nicely.

Anyway I just thought I'd regale you with exciting tales of paperwork, and show you page 1 of our profile. Excuse flab in my picture at the bottom, and sorry it's a bit blurry - converting from Publisher to PDF to JPG obviously loses something: