Sunday, January 29, 2012

Home alone

Or not home, as the case may be. Mr Spouse went home yesterday, and two night time feedings are more than twice as tiring when you don't have anyone to share them with. I am aware that we are very lucky it's only two.

Everyone is taking care of me though, I'm at the foster carer's house for dinner, and tomorrow I'm meeting the adoptive parents my friend introduced me to, again.

I have a few bits and pieces of paperwork to get done - I just picked out the ten photos the agency gets us to print for the first month, and written a draft of a letter for N to put in her scrap book. We have another well baby appointment on Thurs, and I'm thinking about going to a Mommy Matinee.

The visa agents have a status check facility on their website, and we were pleased to see the paperwork not only arrived at their offices but was sent to the embassy. We were very surprised to see an estimated back-in-office time of next Weds later in the day. We'll believe it when we see it, but perhaps Mr Spouse's obsessive form-filling side has helped. We actually have one supposedly essential piece of paper missing, which we cannot get, though we got a court order to circumvent this. So we are crossing our fingers they noticed this already and don't mind, rather than that didn't notice and are going to object when they do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


In my Google Reader feed I have categories of Adoption, Parents, Infertility/Loss and also UK (which is where I look first in case you are interested) as well as other categories for non-IAL blogs (though non IAL parents go in Parents too).

I just added the category Parents to my feed.

This is going to get confusing

I may need some new pseudonyms.

We met N today (let's call her Nella, nothing like her real name but also not close to any of the other Ns involved in the situation!) and had a social afternoon, then met her parents and her daughter that lives with them. I'll think up some pseudonyms for them later if I need them I think.

Nella shed a few tears, but I think appreciated the visit, and we have heard from several other adoptive families that this is an unusual time to have a visit, and that many birth parents want a break but come back for visits later, so I do think she was brave to do it now since she knows she can't see him for another year at least, now.

The daughter (let's call her Montana) is in her teens, and had a nice time holding the baby, and trying to feed and burp him (it was lovely actually that all the adults present could tell her it was OK to bang his back a bit harder! Nella and I also bonded over telling a random man in a diner that no, he could NOT hold the baby. Sheesh.)

All in all it was good, we got some great photos, and we gave them the written (but legally unenforceable) open adoption agreement that Nella had asked for. I am coming round to the idea that she has some fairly major educational difficulties as she got her dad to read it for her, plus another comment she made about looking for work; he suggested some helpful ideas on visits which I think he would not have suggested had we not met, and he also (I think it's OK to give more details now) asked if we'd like to get photos of her older son, who was removed through Child Protective Services and has been adopted, to which we said, yes please.

One issue which we think she did not notice, or she would have objected to, was the means and timing of contact which we'd suggested in our agreement. Because of the crisis she was having, Nella called us almost every day in the two-three weeks leading up to his birth, and almost every day since then too.  We aren't really sure we want to carry on having calls that often, and we have a number that can be diverted to voicemail which she uses, and we think we will turn it off apart from times when we are expecting a call. 

Nella's dad suggested we email them photos, but again because we are wary of not living up to expectations about returning emails, we may do that through a photo sharing site rather than from our own email. One worry was that Nella would return to her previous precarious (very very precarious, believe me) living situation and lose her phone number, though she'd have ours, but we got her dad's number so if we need to call we can contact her through him.

I hope this does not make us sound like bad people. We know some families have a lot more contact than this, but this level of contact is unusual for families working with our agency, we have been told. We have set up for monthly photos, letters, and calls for the next six months, and I know Nella is happy for that to happen, and we are happy too.  After that, I'm hoping for a repeat of my childhood, to be honest, with visits to a sunny US destination annually, both to bolster my American identity and to have family visits. We do want normality, but parenting an adopted child will never be entirely the same as parenting a birth child, and I hope we manage to bear that in mind. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Road trip

We've just had a three hour drive with a baby (translation - a 4 1/2 hour drive) to go and get Baby Spouse's passport and are being introduced to the joys of not-very-baby-friendly hotels. We got the crib (= UK cot, enormous, but he's such a wriggler he'll enjoy exploring the far reaches, it looks like something out of a 1950s movie, all white metal curved bars), but although the hotel said it had kitchenettes with microwaves, it only has a fridge and a coffee maker. And neither of those are any good for sterilising bottles.

It is interesting how people react to such a tiny baby (he's probably topped 8lb now), especially in the sling - I don't think they are that common here, but I'm anxious not to schlep him into shops and restaurants in the car seat, given his history, he needs a break. We've had people do double takes because they didn't realise he was there, and so many people ask how old he is.

We also had a service person in a store enquire about the paperwork we were copying, for the passport, ask "did you plan for him to be born here?" which is a fair question, as it's not too unlikely he could have been born either before the last date for flying, or after getting stuck here for some reason. We explained, as we have to quite a lot of people, that he is being adopted. "Awesome" was the reply (which is nice, as though most people are very positive, some are caught short for an answer) followed by a tale of his sister and her adopted daughter and, erm, the daughter's dreadful birth parents. As I said to Mr Spouse, I hope we bring up Baby Spouse to have more respect for his birth family.

Friday, January 20, 2012

You'll be relieved to hear

we finally got custody today.

We are sitting here playing on our computers with Baby Spouse gurgling away in the background (or possibly trying to work out how to escape from his swaddler. Probably the latter.)

Lots more paperwork starts now, though after talking to the completely useless passport expiditing service, we found out we can make an appointment for Monday morning and get the passport that afternoon, about 3 hours away. We spend quite a while this afternoon trying to get a suitable photo. We'll just have to see if it is OK.

If you are on the Book of Face, and you are in a suitable group of my friends, you can now see some photos for yourself. If you think you should be, and you are a regular commenter, you can always email me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

12 days old

We went out to a local touristy place today with the foster carer, her daughter, our son (obviously!) and a very old friend of mine who has been living in Agency-ville for 7 years (and is from here originally).  It has been so good to see her - she's the kind of friend you can see after however-many years and then see again 2 days later and still have loads of (even non-baby-related) stuff to talk about, plus she has two little boys and is lending us her bassinet etc. etc. - I am not sure if I said this already, sorry if so.

There was a teeny awkward moment when FC's husband, who had joined us, asked something about Baby Spouse that we aren't making public (but FC needs to know), and I fudged, and had to tell FC the full story later.  If it had been really crucial, I'd have told FC the minute I saw her (or the agency would have given her the full medical records, or we would). But it's hard, having some people know some things and some not.

N has called every day so far, but didn't call today. Though I'm happy to have a little break, I do want her to feel we are not neglecting her, especially if we are trying to set up initial visits with other birth family members (which we are), even if it ends up just being a one-off for his photo book, it will be worth it. So I'll probably call tomorrow to tell her how MUCH he is eating and how his cheeks are getting chubby!  He's still a bit of a skinny minny but we are taking bets on whether he'll have gained a full pound or not by his next doctor's appointment.

The odd thing today was, walking around the touristy place with Baby Spouse in a wrap (that's Mr Spouse carrying him, it was his turn today), everyone says "ooh how tiny, how old is he" (and thankfully the wrap stops them from poking him) and then is amazed at how young he is, oh, only 12 days! It seems so old to me!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another thought

A brief thought, I hope.
I was emailing someone I know who isn't really a friend but who I know likes older kids, and who asked how it was all going, so I was about to write "you must come round and have a cuddle". She's younger, in a relationship, unlikely to be weepy over the thougt of someone else, not her, having a baby. But I had second thoughts and added "if you like babies that is". I must remember, I must tell myself to remember, it is not easy for everyone to love small babies. And how quickly I forgot that. I am not about to thrust my own ex-preemie with query breathing difficulties into everyone's arms during flu and cold season (after the NICU, Mr Spouse suggests we have a washing notice as people enter our house*). But I need to think.

*Three minutes washing here - I can't remember the Countdown song well enough so have the Jeopardy tune on internal repeat. 


We don't think we'll get custody tomorrow (boooo) but we will definitely be having a crucial phone call with our social worker tomorrow, at an early time here (hooray!). Then it's waiting for a UK letter that could be issued on Monday and if it is issued on Monday and if the OHP is in the office (or picking up email) on Monday (which is MLK Day but not all offices take that day off) then we could get custody that day. Otherwise we are rooting for Tuesday.

We have all the paperwork we then need for Baby Spouse's passport on the starting line (one court order - in this state they will grant a court order to change the baby's name legally before the new birth certificate is issued, so the passport will be in our names - he's having both our surnames, but not hyphenated). So there should be fewer suspicious immigration officials.

Then the next two hurdles are birth father issues (the word here is, just hope no one says anything) and Baby Spouse's UK visa, for which we are supposed to produce a long list of documents almost all of which we already produced in order to be approved to adopt by the UK. Gah.  One of them Mr Spouse, bad boy, has had to send for (at not too great cost). One further document is rarely available here (we're guessing the list was drawn up for international adoption in general) so we have to find out what we can get instead of this.

OK, you're bored now, I can tell. You want to know:

How cute is the baby? answer: very very very cute.  We went over today between the FC's school drop-off and pick-up times, we are thinking of doing the same tomorrow as it worked well, but seeing if we can go out somewhere (less boring, good practice, etc. etc.). We are in a fairly major touristy town but it is only about 10C and overcast and most of the attractions are outdoors, so maybe the mall.  Mr Spouse wants to go to the Gap. Sounds thrilling, no? But at least the new Moby will get an outing.

How well is Dr Spouse? answer: much better. Urgent care diagnosed not strep, but severe enough inflammation to warrant some steroids. So I'm now sporting an Eastern European style moustache actually able to swallow water, solids, and tablets. And codeine for the night-time cough. Bet you're thrilled at that. But you do feel proper ill when they give you something that you can't get on prescription. We're chilling out after a somewhat home-cooked meal (as home-cooked as the slightly sub-standard kitchen will allow - no corkscrew, I ask you!), and might watch some trash on TV shortly. My vote, as always, is for Law and Order.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Impressed Of The Day

We bought a Moby wrap (after trying a couple of other ones at the foster carer's - they are just too big for our weeny baby, though did I say, I think I forgot, that either he regained his birth weight or (more likely I think) he had a very very wet nappy when weighed yesterday. But he put on some weight, anyway). Took it over the foster carer's and tried it out on Mr Spouse, when the FC's daughter said "I smell something funny". No, we all said, nothing funny, but then we realised - the wrap had been used. By someone who smoked. And it did indeed stink.  

Not only that, but the big box store claimed they "never resell things" when I took it back.

In other news, Baby Spouse may possibly have learned to cry, we gave him a bath tonight and his grizzling could be heard downstairs.  This will reassure my mother who was panicking on the phone that there must be something wrong with him if he isn't crying (the doctors aren't worried so we aren't!).  My mother also wanted to Skype with him which, frankly, is  not going to happen any time until he can set it up himself. I hate Skype - she loves it and uses it all the time with my nieces - once we used it when she was with us, and I could not tell which of my nieces (then aged 3 and 6, I think) I was talking to, the picture was so bad. I told her there was no point as he does not look different in a still picture than in live action as he is so placid.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

State of play

Baby Spouse: still at foster carer's (it's a Hague thing), but FC is lovely and very lovely as well and in addition extremely lovely, and lets us hang out with him and annoy her all the time, and also lets us ask stupid questions. He had a heelstick today and did not make more than a teeny squeak (though he was off his milk for the next two feeds, and we don't know past that).

Us: we moved into a rental apartment today, which is a bit of a relief.  My throat and cough are still hellish, so I dined on ice cream, and had to get Mr Spouse to do all the phone calls today. If it's no better by Weds I'll be off to Urgent Care.

Paperwork: we got our side of the Hague paperwork sent in-country, next it has to be completed by OHP, sent to the UK, sent to our UK SW, and she has a phone conversation with us (have you seen the baby? do you like him? do you want to keep him?) and then we all the info goes back down the chain and we get custody. Astonishingly this seems to be taking about a week.

Birth family: N still calling frequently, but in a good way.  I don't mind at all being a listening ear but both she and I have very poor cell reception so it can be a bit frustrating.  We're trying to reassure her re. contact but it's hard to get us, NLA, and her on the same page. We're going to be making some notes about what we might suggest, and talking to the SW here.
Birth father issues still not solved, but probably closer to being solved - though the steps to solve them are a bit nerve-wracking. It's that document we have to sign that says "At Risk Placement" that's a bit scary. 

Annoying things: the fact that the only person at work who's asked the department secretary to email me is someone with some perfectly solveable paperwork issues that I didn't have time to do, rather than anyone with questions that they can't solve themselves. My throat. My cough. Did I mention my throat?

Sunday, January 08, 2012


I had a rotten cold the day we flew and was left with very painful sinuses and I still have a horrendous cough.  The NICU has a large sign saying DON'T visit with a cough and I was initially worried they would make me wear a mask but I have been scrubbing as instructed for three minutes on entering the unit and trying to cough away from the baby.  

But this cough is getting very very old.  We had a very long day yesterday - decent sleep between feeds and only up for 8am feed but then driving about 5 hours plus multiple stops, with my nerves a bit frazzled because Baby Spouse is so quiet, and then on to the foster carer's, arriving very late and starting with a feed, then chatting to the foster carer and her family.  By the time I was able to get to bed, I was gasping for breath and suffering other unfortunate side effects.  

I'm feeling a bit better this  morning - I could do with a little more sleep, but we do have a few nights without Baby Spouse (not that he is really much bother!).  I am wondering about going to the urgent care but, although Baby Spouse has 30 days Medicaid, and we do have travel insurance, it could be expensive. I can't work out how much of this is because of lack of sleep and a punishing schedule, and stress, and how much is something I should be worried about.
In other news, today we will probably go and have a look at a condo we might stay in for a couple of weeks (or longer - basically till we go home, apart from visits to Hospital City), and meet up with my very very old friend who lives in SLA-ville. Oh, and visit Baby Spouse at his new temporary home.  By the time he gets home, he'll be the best travelled newborn around.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Baby Spouse is incredibly quiet, and we have to keep checking he is breathing - he doesn't cry when he's hungry, which does mean we have to make sure we stick to a schedule, and check how much/long he feeds for. He does squeak occasionally and he sounds like one of those toys you give dogs.

I'm happy to say he passed his car seat test with flying colours (he seemed to be healthier in the car seat, than in the higher dependency room he went into first in the NICU... it is very weird as he was 36+6 so only just preemie, and he's a respectable weight (over 6lb still, put on an ounce yesterday), so he's huge compared to even some of the older/healthier babies in the low dependency room, but he's swimming in all the newborn stuff. It helps though that we can put his tops on from the bottom up as they are so big. As I say he doesn't cry but he wriggles madly if he's unhappy, which is a bit awkward when trying to change him.

We're just waiting to see if we're being discharged, but as everything went well I think that's fairly likely. We'll head for the foster carer's then, and find a motel for ourselves nearby. More shopping is on the horizon too... there are quite a few odd things we forgot in our haste, and poor Baby Spouse has almost no clothes. I think they are going to send us away with quite a few supplies though. 

Yesterday N asked us to pick us up early-ish, then she was going to get a ride, then she wanted a ride at 11, then she wanted one at 2, and eventually she decided not to come at all. She knows we are moving on to SLA-town later today, and says she'll just see us when we come back to Hospital-town.  I think her dad does want to see us, possibly her mother too, and I'm not sure if she's just having Drama type issues, or if she is taking a break for her own sanity (and if so, how long that will last).  I am hoping we'll see her again when we come back to Hospital-town, but even if we don't, we got some cute photos for Baby Spouse's life story book, with her, us, and him.

I may be a bit paranoid, but I was kind of hoping to avoid revealing my last name (Mr Spouse's last name is dead common but mine is not) but the hospital told her (or the SW did, not sure which). I am 100% Googleable and anyone can find my work address/email but I am ex-directory and have stepped up the privacy on FB too. Part of the recent Drama involved a nasty ex and though I really don't think anyone will be chasing us down across an ocean, it's just one of those things.

Friday, January 06, 2012

I hate to stereotype but...

The new car seat we bought, and its manual, has been a source of endless excitement to Mr Spouse. Typical bloke and his gadgets. 

Baby Spouse ate loads in the last 12h and we got a reasonable amount of sleep though my cough and cold are still incredibly disgusting and he will be lucky not to catch them (though I am following all the instructions on the walls about what to do if you have a cough).  He's a very placid baby and seems to sleep, eat, and wriggle if you are doing something he doesn't like - he managed a cry when he had a blood test. Hopefully he will continue to be a good ad for babies. 

He's just about to do his car seat test again in the new seat and then we'll know if he's in the NICU for another week. He's in the lower dependency room now and he's supposed to sleep in our room tonight and if both of those go OK we can take him away.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Poor mite

It's been a day of ups and downs.

Baby Spouse does not look at all like Winston Churchill, and is in fact incredibly gorgeous, though I could be biassed.

N is, understandably, very emotional, and a bit all over the place. I think we can get to know her pretty well and the SW from NLA has been helpful in giving us tips about what's appropriate and not.

Now for the worrying news. Despite being a good weight for his reasonably high gestational age, he just failed his car seat test (a breathing test for preemies). He was just taken down to the NICU. Those are not words you want to hear. It's possible he has a little reflux but he needs to be monitored for 24h for apnea. We may get to stay in the unit, we do need to stay one night at least, and if he fails the test again he'll be in for a week.


We have now been up for about, erm, 20 hours? maybe? Not quite sure. All I know is I need to take out my contact lenses and decongest my ears (starting a long flight with a cold is not a good idea).  But we did manage to call our destination and find out that N has already signed her relinquishment, so most of the paperwork from now on is boring and complicated but more certain (there are still a couple of father issues).

The social worker from NLA has her own ideas and nearly managed to give OHP lawyer a heart attack but we think we have sorted that out. We get to meet Baby Spouse, and N, tomorrow morning (I have been told I am not allowed to refer to him as that, and especially I am not allowed to suggest that he might grow up to be Sporty Spouse or Scary Spouse, but I don't care.). We may need to do a little expectation management (N thinks we are going to spend the whole time hanging out with her, but Baby Spouse needs to be in NLA town which is about four hours away, and we want to be with him, naturally) but I think some retail therapy, and a plan to meet in a week or so for a longer spell of quality time, may cure that.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Guess what?

I'm just waiting to board a flight. The baby was born on Monday afternoon - 3 weeks early, a couple of "issues" but nothing major. We arrive very late tonight.

My mother is over the moon - as my brother said, the baby knows which side his bread is buttered on, arriving on his potential grandmother's 70th birthday.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #33

This Roundtable asks

"What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?"

A couple of things immediately spring to mind:

1: It is possible to be too open - I had a very early lesson in how even seemingly innocuous information can be misinterpreted.

2: as a follow on to 1: it's never wrong to be cautious. I have been practising, and using, the phrase "that's not really our information to share".

However the last couple of weeks, with my new role of "listening ear" to N, has taught me also that Mr Spouse is even more on the same page as me regarding openness. We are both comfortable drawing parallels between this new family relationship, and existing relationships, and they are the same parallels - and having those parallels also makes the relationship less scary.