Saturday, November 30, 2013

I can't stand the tension.

Although we contacted our SW to ask her to speak to the medical advisor about our issue, and we are seeing her on Monday, she has only confirmed the appointment, not that she has seen the medical advisor, or that she can't see the medical advisor, nor of course that there is anything the medical advisor said.

I'm also having a lot of work issues (of course), my boss being unsympathetic (which is not new) but also a load of previous cr*p coming back to haunt me. Mr Spouse is getting worried that I'm sinking. I'm actually getting worried that I'm sinking. I'm trying to think of a lifeline - I'm sure there is one out there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So, we still have no idea really

Mr Spouse had his medical appointment on Saturday and the specialist said that his test results so far are nothing to worry about, so if he wanted, they can just continue to monitor. He has a small chance of having something bad, but even if he has something bad, it's not something that they would necessarily even treat because it tends not to even affect people for years and years and years (we gather that most people who have it die of old age).  So their recommended course of action is to do another blood test in a month, then another one every 3-4 months.  Sorry for being cryptic about this.

He feels comfortable with this and although he didn't think it was very likely, happy that the specialist didn't say "well, we'd better do an invasive test and then we can see if you need to have horrible treatment".  He also feels comfortable now, I think, saying that we'll try and go ahead with the adoption.

The issue now is that we are not sure if the adoption agency would agree with us that we can apply, or if we apply, would approve us.  As Mr Spouse says, adoption agencies tend to want to be sure that you will be hale and hearty for the next 30 years.

I am really really pleased that he feels able to consider going ahead, slightly frustrated that we've had to wait so long to get to this point, but also very worried that they wouldn't even consider letting us apply.

We had already set up an appointment with our old social worker for next Monday, but we emailed her after the appointment and asked if she could discuss this with the agency medical advisor before we meet.

On the one hand yes, I see their point, it is not good to have a child who has lost their birth family placed with parents who have a limited life expectancy and who they then lose prematurely. On the other hand, the information we have does not reduce Mr Spouse's life expectancy, we won't have better information in one, three, or necessarily 6 months, and we cannot wait to be approved because that would mean an unhealthy wait for the new baby before we can parent them. 

Also, if we do not adopt this baby, both Baby Spouse and the new baby will lose their biological sibling.  They will lose them in exactly the same sense that they have lost their birth parents - they will, we hope, see them but they will not grow up with them.

I am slightly considering contacting BAAF and the Adoption Czar (who were both very helpful about the issue of applying to adopt again at our ages), before we hear back from the agency.

Something to pass the time

This little Q&A passed more time than I thought, as I can't edit it properly on the iPad.

But anyway missohkay asked me some questions. The idea is that I tag her, and put this image on my blog.  

So if you want to participate, 1) include this icon in your post; 2) link to the blogger who nominated you; 3) answer 10 questions about yourself; 4) nominate 10 other bloggers to answer 10 new questions; 5) tell the people that they’ve won.

1. What’s the last thing you read?
"The Report", by Jessica Frances Kane. It was a book group book, and is quite harrowing. It's based on a true story, set in an area I know intimately, and has a child loss and adoption theme.

2. Do you believe in soulmates?
No. I could have had a happy, but different, life with another partner, and the "one that got away", I later found out would have been horrendous and probably would have sucked me in to a really awful situation. I'm really happy with Mr Spouse, who would not at all have been the person I would have chosen on paper.

3. What’s your favorite 80s movie?
Something by Bill Forsyth. Probably Local Hero.

4. Cats or dogs (or both or neither)?
Cats. I'd love to have one, Mr Spouse doesn't want one. I plan to get Baby Spouse on my side when he's older.

5. If you could go back in time to warn yourself that something was going to happen, would you?
Yes - I'd avoid being robbed at machete-point. And getting my friends robbed too. But I did manage to give evidence against the muggers and they did go to prison. And it meant that I found out that my neighbours were quite happy to tell the police who it was, they'd relied on all the locals not ratting them out to help foreigners, but obviously my neighbours' loyalties were more with me.

6. Do you have any recurring dreams, and if so, what are they?
Sadly variations on the theme that I'm pregnant and that I've lost the baby, or that our baby has died.

7. Aside from Twitter and Facebook, what website do you visit the most?
According to Chrome, it's the volunteer registration site for GirlGuiding (I've been signed up as volunteer coordinator for our area, and it's "Help I'm a final year student with a thin CV, I think I'll try volunteering" season. I'm at the stage where I'm having to say no, sorry, we can't take on someone who can come to Rainbows once a week for 10 weeks and then leave us in the lurch. This does not help us at all).

8. What artist, band, show, movie, or book do you think is under-appreciated and want the rest of the world to know about?
I'm just re-reading The Dark is Rising, a set of children's fantasy books I loved as a child. Unlike the books below, it has stood the test of time and of my age, and I don't actually like fantasy much any more.

9. What movie or show from your childhood did you love… until you re-watched it as an adult and discovered it was horrible?
Not a show, but I loved Enid Blyton books as a child - I couldn't read them now, and I'm just hoping Baby Spouse doesn't love them - but the adventure ones are more girly I think.

10. How did you find the online adoption, loss, or infertility community?
A friend suggested writing a diary after our first miscarriage. I started it as a blog, and an online friend (from a general message board) suggested reading A Little Pregnant and also Thalia.

My questions:
1. What do you do that you think makes you look stupid, but you do it anyway?
2. What would be your dream job?
3. And your dream holiday?
4. What did you think you'd do for a living when you were a child?
5. Which relative are you closest to, and why?
6. What's the strangest haircut or most regrettable fashion victim outfit you've ever had?
7. Coffee or tea?
8. What's your favourite "childish" thing to do?
9. Do you believe in God?
10. What about Father Christmas?

So I'm tagging 10 people, who are all Twitter friends, and bloggers relating in some way to adoption, loss and/or infertility and who, cheesily, have spread a little sunshine. Feel free to ignore if this is not your sort of thing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Open Adoption Interview Project

I was very excited to be participating in this year's Open Adoption Interview Project. So excited, in fact, that I have no idea if I am posting this on the right day (blame time zones).
Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013

I was paired with ArtSweet at Artificially Sweetened. She has two children, one through international adoption and one through domestic adoption and some of the questions she talks about in her blog are ones that are burning in my mind at the moment. So it was a really great pairing - thanks to whoever did that!

Anyway, here are my questions for her, and her answers.

1) You have one child adopted from Guatemala and one through domestic
infant adoption.  Can you share some of the differences and
similarities in how you handle each of their situations (and
questions, though some of that is going to be speculative of course as
Posy won't be asking anything yet!)

P'ito's birthfamily is not present in our lives nearly as much as Posy's is.  We are facebook friends with her birthmom and birthgrandma, we talk or text every couple of weeks - we skype occasionally, although not as often as we should... It feels very much like an extended family kind of relationship. And as much as I single out the class differences between us that I'm very conscious of, we share a baseline culture. P'ito's birthfamily lives in a teeny-tiny village in Guatemala, accessible only by a dirt road. His birthmom and brother don't speak much Spanish, let alone English, so communication is very indirect and mediated. When P'ito's birthmom saw a picture of him playing in the snow, she asked what that was. We send pictures and letters through an intermediary twice a year, and have visited them twice for a few hours, not in their home village. 

For better or worse, P'ito is not an introspective talk-about-my-feelings kind of kid. We're very upfront with him about his story (what we know of it), we have pictures of his birthfamily around the house, and we've had a few talks about why his birthmom wasn't able to take care of him himself, but in general, he rarely brings up the subject or expresses much of an interest in our attempts at starting conversations about it. I suspect that may be different with Posy, but I don't know yet. 

(He's also really been embraced by Posy's birthfamily, and I'm sure that he probably prefers visiting them (and the endless stream of video games and junk food that happens there) to visiting with his own birthfamily.)

In some ways, I think those talks will be harder with Posy, because the reasons that K. wasn't able to parent her are more complex, whereas we can say to P'ito - she knew she didn't have enough food for a baby. But with both of the kids, we've made sure that they know, to the best of our ability (I know P'ito wishes he knew something about his birthfather, and we don't have any contact with Posy's birthfather either), from whence they come. It still blows me away to see P'ito's smile on his birthmom's face. 

I'm not sure I really answered your question, but if I didn't, that's an awfully long non-answer! Follow up questions? 

2) You seem to have a very close relationship with Posy's birth
family, yet you do say that their lives are pretty chaotic.  How have
you managed to keep in touch despite this? Do you have a formal
schedule for keeping in touch, with added extras, or do you just take
things as they come?

Posy's birthmom's life was pretty chaotic after she relinquished Posy - she didn't have a secure place to live for a while or a phone that she could reliably keep minutes on. Fortunately, it's settled down somewhat since then, although she's had to make some very difficult sacrifices to live where she's living now. We stay in most frequent contact with her birth grandma, who is one of the most awesome, big hearted people I've ever been lucky enough to know and who, fortunately, has a much more stable life. We don't have a formal schedule for sending updates or pictures - whenever I've got some especially cute ones, I send her a few through shutterfly or just post them on facebook. Because they are not legal in the state where we adopted Posy, we don't have a formal PACA (post adoption contact agreement) although we were certainly open to doing that. 

3) Your post about Christmas gifts really resonates on a number of
levels.  We also mainly have communication with Nella's parents and we
have thought about giving them or Baby Spouse's big sister Montana
gifts, but decided not to.  Nella gave us boxes and boxes of newborn
clothes that she'd been given, but we couldn't physically take them
all. What did you decide to do and how has the issue of gifts played

C. did send us gifts for Posy and P'ito and a $100 Walmart gift card for us (!), and we wound up purchasing the laptop for her with the explanation that it was so we could keep in touch. She was so excited that she was going to be able to Skype with us that it wound up feeling really good. I didn't get the sense that it felt like a quid pro quo to either of us. I know $ has been very tight for her lately, and she hasn't made any noises about birthday or Xmas gifts this year, which is fine with us too. We will probably send her something small for Xmas - I'm thinking about getting a mug made for her with a picture of Posy on it. We have sent other gifts to the family - wedding and baby presents for her son and his wife, and occasional "do something nice for yourself" checks for K., who has less than no money right now. And that feels right and good too.   

4) Our son came to us through domestic (which, for us, is
international, though for me it's kind of domestic as I'm both a US
and  UK citizen) adoption, but we had considered adopting from UK
foster care if we adopt again (though you can see we had some
interesting news recently!). What motivated your decision to switch
program(me)s for your second adoption?

The main reason is that Guatemala is no longer open for international adoption! If it had been, honestly, we probably would have held our noses and pretended to be "roommates" again and gone that route. But it wasn't, so we jumped on board with domestic adoption, and I couldn't be more pleased about how things turned out. I'm glad to be able to have a more accessible connection to Posy's birthfamily, and we wouldn't have had that had we adopted from Guatemala again. 

We did really want a child who would share some heritage with P'ito and put a lot of effort into looking for expectant moms who had that background (our adoption website was bilingual, we created a Spanish version of our profile, etc. etc.). As it turns out, Posy is part Mexican, although that's not the culture of the part of her birthfamily we have contact with. 

5) Not an adoption question: Mr Spouse also has type 1 diabetes and we
try to limit Baby Spouse's sugar (and overly sweetened
fruit/artificial sweetened foods) consumption as he also has a genetic
history of diabetes. In the world of toddler nutrition and sweet,
sweet foods everywhere (even in the babyfood aisles) do you try to do
this too and if so, can you give me some tips?!

I wish I had tips. P'ito is a fairly picky eater and has the world's biggest sweet tooth, and as much as I never thought I would do this, I find myself bribing him with dessert to eat his dinner. We didn't give him a lot of sweets as a little kid, but it doesn't seem to have made a whit of difference. He had his first taste of ice cream at 9 months - I was wearing him in a front carrier and eating an ice cream cone and he nipped a bite of it. And it's been downhill since then. Fortunately, he's very athletic and active, or I'd be more worried about his sweets consumption. So far Posy is a Good Eater, but P'ito was a much more adventurous eater when he was younger too, so I'm not counting my chickens yet. I am resisting with all my might cooking separate meals for P'ito, but it's hard when not doing that means either he doesn't eat or you limit yourself to what he eats. Sorry, that's not really what you asked about, But no, no tips. 

And a bonus 6) I'm glad to see some of your ideas on not pushing
stereotyped gender roles on your son. I thought it would be SO much
easier to avoid stereotyped roles with a boy. Ha! What else have you
done that you feel isn't going along with the mainstream (for example,
we don't put Baby Spouse in clothes with noisy/car/vehicle/dinosaur
pictures on, for the most part, though he does love steam trains, he
mainly loves animal pictures; and we have bought him a doll, though it
was hard to find a boy doll)

Did I post about avoiding gender stereotypes with P'ito? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. 

I was full of great intentions when he came home, but I am afraid that my good intentions (and my belief that gender is totally socialized) have pretty much gone out the window. P'ito has always been the stereotypical boy, despite my efforts to the contrary. I woke up early the other day, and heard the garbage truck and had a moment of nostalgia for how INCREDIBLY EXCITED he used to get when he heard the garbage truck coming (and how that excitement almost made up for the fact that he woke up at 5am). His first word was ball, second word was car. I did try to avoid some of the super-butch clothes when he was younger and let me dress him (sigh) and it has been fun seeing some of the cute overalls and onesies that he wore on Posy. I do have to confess that it is SO much fun dressing a girl. There are all kinds of cute dresses available, although again I stay away from the nauseating pink and the blatant sexist crap (little cheerleader, etc. etc.). I wish you better luck than I had in bucking the gender stereotypes! 

ArtSweet's questions and my answers are on her blog, and the full list of bloggers is up at the Open Adoption Interview Project.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

We interrupt your nail biting to say...

If you were a local parent friend of mine.
And you knew that we had adopted Baby Spouse.
And I posted on FB that I was feeling really unfit after being driven everywhere while away from home.
Would you a) laugh b) say that Baby Spouse would soon have me running after him or c) say "that's just like pregnancy"

If you guessed c), and you were me would you a) ignore it b) remove the comment, c) move said "friend" the restricted group or d) both b) and c)?

Let's see if she notices.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

My head is about to explode

So, trip went well, it was odd to not be a parent, essentially, for two weeks, and also slightly odd to come back, Baby Spouse has spent most of the few hours since I came back wanting to sit on my lap for a story. Oh, and headbutting me in the (still slightly painful) nose owing to his excitement at playing peek-a-boo under the blanket on the couch. And I'm jet-lagged. But apart from that. Mr Spouse seems to have coped admirably.

Big news. We found out that Nella is pregnant again. It is very very early but it is already massively complicated of course. We are not sure what we want to do. In particular, Mr Spouse is not sure though I am wary about many of his issues too.  He doesn't feel ready for what would be a very rushed process. 

He's worried about all the post-birth issues and paperwork and hassle in-country (this time with added toddler) and in particular about birth father issues as she is not sure who that is this time (and it was hard enough with the same issues with just one candidate last time).  Those, plus Nella's personal issues, could mean that we go through a whole (difficult but rushed, but also quite long compared to most other matching periods) process only to fail and not bring home a baby.

He's also worried about himself personally (as he has some health issues, and says "I just feel old!", and this has come at a rather uncertain time for the health issues) and his ability to deal with all this stress again. It is also a bad time for my work but they have messed me around so much that I no longer care about that at this stage.

Nella's personal issues mean that she needs a lot of support, and she has already been calling us with various dramas. We just don't feel qualified to give her all the emotional support she needs, and we know this is a long match, and we also know that we are not really allowed to just sign up with an agency that will support her practically through the pregnancy, before we have our UK home study.  She has said that she is thinking of placing the baby, and she is thinking of placing it with us if she does, and we don't want to either expend all our energies trying to explain to her what we aren't allowed to do for her - or have her think we're uncaring because we aren't allowed to do things she'd like us to.

And there is the issue of the UK home study. Last time it took about 18 months before our paperwork was ready. It should be a lot less this time, but even so the time it should take on paper is far, far too long - technically we could just be ready before the due date, but unless there is something that can be speeded up it will be very tight and very stressful. I have suggested we try and find out whether there is any possibility of speeding it up.

I, personally, would be ready to go ahead with this despite all of this. We did say that we would not adopt from the US again but part of that was the waiting and the uncertainty - we still have some of the latter - and part of it was that it would not be an advantage to have a birth family in yet another location that we were in contact with - and this wouldn't suffer from those problems, plus the new baby would be Baby Spouse's birth sibling which is really the main point here.

So I have no idea what is going to happen here. I would go ahead with it, if it were just my decision, and do our darndest to get the home study ready and the paperwork sent to the US and if it started to appear completely impractical - we'd have a home study ready for a future adoption (probably not a brand new adoption from the US).  

It's really hard to talk to anyone about this, too, even other adopters. If it was just a UK case, then we would be pushed through home study, but it wouldn't matter if it wasn't quite ready in time, it would just be a case of a few days/weeks of foster care after the birth, and we wouldn't have any responsibility to the birth parents beyond perhaps a few meetings.  If it was just a US case, we could find an agency and sign up with them and they could look after her while we got our home study together (which would be a lot quicker), and we could probably just have a private arrangement (though we wouldn't want to do that owing to our inability to support her properly).  We would, still, have birth father issues and in-state travel and paperwork issues (I've heard of families being stuck for paperwork longer than we were, just for a domestic adoption).

But as I say, it is not just my decision.  Mr Spouse is, he confesses, very attracted by the idea of another littler Baby Spouse, who would be we assume in some ways like the current Baby Spouse. But he doesn't sound very attracted by any of the rest of this.