Saturday, March 28, 2009

Can't buy you love, or can it?

I was having coffee (well, chai latte, if you must know) today with the very delightful Sam, and the topic of money came up. I have not spoken at all about our new plans to my mother (regular readers will have an inkling why), but I know she was on the verge of offering to pay for IVF at various points in the past, and I have a feeling she will be more pleased about our new plans. In some ways that is why I am not mentioning them - especially not until they become more concrete. But her mention of David Miliband gives me a clue (and incidentally, at the time he adopted, there was nothing to stop non-US citizens going down the same route), and I think she realises it costs a fair bit and she often says "well, you'll have it anyway some day".

When I left home my parents paid my maintenance until I graduated from my undergraduate degree (there were no fees in those days) and my grandparents gave me a credit card while I was volunteering as a high school teacher in Zambia (I used it to buy dollar-priced sugar, at times the only kind we could get, as well as chocolate, cheese, and biscuits. Oddly I lost about a stone that year). I then fell on the mercies of the Medical Research Council, who funded my PhD, and after that have been gainfully employed, or for a couple of brief periods have had savings to draw on. I have not lived at home since I was 18; Mr. Spouse lived at home till he was, I think, nearly 30, but paid his parents rent and after about 5 years working was earning more than them.

My brother on the other hand seems to have been on a rubber band until about 6 or 7 years ago; he still keeps some books at our mother's house, and alternated between the two parental houses for the first 5 or so years after undergraduate. I don't know about his financial affairs after that and before getting married but I do know he has my mother's credit card (he is 39), has been known to use it without asking (the understanding is that it's for locally bought presents for the nieces, almost exclusively), and she often pays for his flights to see her.

Now, my father has also offered to pay school fees for the nieces to attend a bilingual school in their area. I could not work out why I thought this was a good thing - perhaps just because I approve of the school - but not of the smaller amounts for the credit card in particular, and for the odd other payment he "can't quite make". But a wise friend in the computer has suggested perhaps it is because it is a big, group-type thing - the ultimate education of my nieces being important to the family as a whole, and not something any one section of the family may be able to accomplish. So perhaps if it is offered, help with adoption costs would not be such a bad thing to refuse.

I'm very curious, though, about my readers (hello, I do have some, don't I? Or is Google Reader/Bloglines failing to update my feed? I know Reader takes hours if not a day sometimes). Do you receive financial help from your family, or do you give it? What are your parameters? What do you see yourself doing for your own children?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

After the equivalent of very many two-week waits...

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, we got the news we'd been waiting for - that it is likely to be possible for us, from the UK point of view, to do a non-Hague adoption from the US. The solicitor's advice was pretty clear and indications are she knows what she's talking about but the firm took weeks to acknowledge our question, weeks to acknowledge they'd received our payment, and weeks after they'd said they would give us information to actually provide it.

That was why I was being a bit cryptic in this post. I was not yet sure at that point what this would mean for us - especially as we had already started trying to restart the fostering process.

However, and I see no point in keeping you in suspenders for any longer, it looks like that won't happen. After posting about that last week, we found out that our application had indeed been closed, not due to lack of contact from us but due to reorganisation on their part. They are not now taking applications for respite carers - which was our initial plan. I assumed they wouldn't accept us as short term carers, since we'd both be working full time, but on speaking to them again they back pedalled a bit and I think realised they probably have wasted a course on us, and said that might still be possible. But with this new news we don't feel inclined. Even if it ends up meaning UK adoption from foster care, we just want to get on with it.

As Mr. Spouse said, "it's a sign".

(You know he meant that tongue in cheek, don't you? Like Irish people are allowed to call themselves Micks, and the rest of us aren't, people brought up in a scary evangelical church are allowed to wave their hands and say "it's a sign" in an ironic manner, without offending anyone.)

So the last few days I've been trying to concentrate on work and wrapping up here, while actually searching for agencies that may take us on (one in Texas has done quite a bit of expat work, but not Hague work, but then we wouldn't be Hague; others have done Hague but not expats; and we are not sure whether we wouldn't prefer a California agency as it's got a big population and our family is here).

We've worked out which UK agency would do that side of the approval and boy, it's another world - they have one preparation course timetabled every month this year, even if they don't all run or aren't suitable for us.

So - I am feeling a bit giddy. I was supposed to have an appointment with the RE and I cancelled (which meant we didn't have to pay our premium for March, so, er, more money towards adoption travel I suppose!). I will be away for about 5 days mid-month this month and I thought "oh well, no need to use the supplements in the 2ww this month". This feels absolutely huge to me - that I can have a break and not feel panicky - even if it is just a temporary break. Huge.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


April is a good time to move from the US to the UK if you are infertile. I'm missing the consumer circus of both Mother's Days.

Bizarrely my slacker brother reminded me of the UK one by sending me a link to a Mr T video on how to treat your mother (I am not clever and cannot work out how to embed but it is here), and then didn't call her himself. I, however, am daughter of the year and did call, and Mr. Spouse called his (who wouldn't understand the country differences). So halos all round.

Except for my mother who said right at the end of our phone call "oh, I do hope you get to celebrate Mother's Day yourself one day".


Existential questions

Who am I? Where do I live? Where am I resident? Where am I domiciled??

These and other tricky questions were puzzling us while we tried to work out the answer to our first question, in the previous post. Even if we are physically in the US, Mr. Spouse is not a resident (he goes by the lovely phrase "non-resident alien", and I have to remind him to keep the antennae hidden). I think we are actually domiciled in the US at the moment, but normally in the UK, and these things will be important as you'll see in the moment.

In April 2008 the US ratified the Hague Convention and this means that for non-US persons adoption of a US child (and vice versa) should not take place if there's no available parent in country. However, the US considers some citizens who aren't physically present in the US (e.g. military) to be still domiciled and - crucially for us - if you are intending to come back to the US and establish a domicile before any child is 18, you are also a "non-Hague case". This means you can go through the regular US domestic adoption procedures.

However, because we can't stay here long enough to get by without going through UK procedures, and since the UK is also a Hague signatory (I feel so clever bandying these phrases around!), it also matters what the UK thinks: will they accept a family adopting from a Hague country, but through a non-Hague process. At this point we stalled. We found a referral to a UK adoption lawyer in about November and they just kept being Very Very Slow and not answering our questions and then asking us for a lot of money and then not acknowledging that we'd sent the money and we had no idea what was happening. I think this is probably why I had not owned up to all this complicated legal research and the faint hope we had, because it was taking so long and was so tenuous. In fact, at this point I was really thinking "well, the fostering will work, we'll get our home study done PDQ when we get home, how fabulous". And then we got last week's fostering news...

More to follow...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


That's my head, what with not knowing whether we are coming or going.

This is going to be a long story, so forgive me if I start it and leave you hanging.

Question 1, which we asked way back in about September when we first got to the US (and which I'd been musing over since probably last summer). I feel oddly guilty about this and I'm not sure if it's because I haven't shared it with my lovely readers, or if it's because the whole idea seems, in some senses, like a cop-out. Too easy. Think of the children in foster care.

Suppose we decided to stay in the US (after all, we were about to get, and indeed did get, an exciting new government). Suppose I applied for a job here and Mr Spouse got a green card (or even citizenship!). Or suppose we (or at least I) didn't get jobs but we applied for domestic adoption here and had a miraculously quick placement - are we eligible since we haven't been resident here long? could we legally take the baby back to the UK? would we be likely to be picked by a birth mother anyway if we're maybe going to take the baby away?

So, we went to an adoption panel locally and pestered Nice Attorney with questions - the answer to the last one, he feels at least, is Yes because we have Good Accents and people like the UK. So at least that's payback for all the "oh, you're South African" or "Oh, how come you have such a nice accent, you must practice all the time".

And the answer to the first and second suppositions turned out to be the economy, stupid. Mr. Spouse is not going to get a job here, I'm not going to get a job at my level here (or maybe I would, but there's no way it would be as family friendly - 12 months maternity leave) as in the UK, and even if I did, and he decided to study instead of working, we wouldn't be able to afford any of it.

So, we were left with "apply, rush it through, and hope they'll let us take the baby home". Which led us to a lot of legal questions, a lot of internet research from Mr. "Amateur legal expert" Spouse, and a bit of a dead end. UK law only allows a child adopted overseas while you are living overseas to come back to the UK 12 months after the adoption is finalised (which in our state is 6 months after the birth, and I think that's standard).

OK, sorry to leave you hanging there, and there is more to this story, but I have to say that my complicated multi-collaborator application I'm writing is simpler and will make my brain hurt less.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Well, I thought that was too good to be true!

We just got a letter from Contract Social Worker to say "are you still intending to apply to foster, I'm still intending to do your home study"
("I don't get paid till I do...")
So, we rang her and told her when we were coming back, she explained she'd been doing a full weekend and polishing it off with everyone else, we suggested a Thurs night through Sat timetable and said we'd ring her back when we get home.
I then realised that if I wait to do that, work will suck away any Fridays that might be free, so Mr. Spouse rang her today. Apparently we "need to re-apply" (or, she has suggested, we can apply to "private fostering agencies").
Er, no, I don't think so. We passed our course, the county team knew we were going away, and they knew for how long. Other people on the course had done half the course over a year earlier and completed with us.
I interpret this as the county saying "Hello, you say you're Contract Social Worker? Who? What were you doing for us again? (oh, her, we'd forgotten she was still under contract... we have our own social workers free now) erm... don't bother".
I'm not panicking, don't worry. Though I did for a minute think, what if we didn't bother with the fostering and just went ahead to adoption, would the adoption agency even know?

Monday, March 16, 2009


There isn't going to be an update just at the moment on that particular bit of news, possibly in the next month, possibly not till we get home to the UK (in exactly a month's time, in fact).

In other news, I know I am a very sad, obsessed, person because I am very happy when I feel cramping when I use my pessary thingys - not because I particularly think "cramping = implanting", it's much too immediate on a daily basis for it to be anything other than direct drug action - but because I think, gosh, they must be doing something.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I have just had some weird news - which may be good, or may be just frustrating or tantalising. I've been waiting for information on this for a while, but I'm afraid I can't share it with you just yet, nor may I ever be able to. Sorry about that - but I have only just got this, it's the middle of the working day, and I just feel like sitting here and shaking for a bit, definitely not like working.

So I just thought I'd leave you all even more frustrated than me.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

(Non-)parental advisory

One of our favourite Channel 4 programmes, Shameless, is not officially available over here, but there are ways. The episode synopsis for the last episode we watched kind of gave the game away, and the same theme also seems to be coming up in Big Love (if you aren't up to date on either show, please look away now).

Both shows are featuring miscarriage - what's more, of an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy. Now, for a long time, I have noticed that books and movies have been using what I like to call "Pregnancy As Dramatic Device" and possibly more recently (or possibly I have been noticing more) they have started working out that not everyone who gets pregnant actually has a baby, so have been slipping in little miscarriages here and there (in fact, in Shameless, the character hadn't announced a pregnancy on the show yet). Sometimes they warn viewers in the synopsis - but not everyone reads the synopsis.

I think it's time to create a whole new set of advisory/rating labels for films, TV, and books. Perhaps you'd like to borrow them for your blog? I apologise for my lack of artistic ability - if I was any good, I'd have made new labels to fit in with one consistent theme - these are from a variety of countries. But anyway, here's my attempt:

Pregnancy mentioned.

Teenage pregnancy mentioned.

Unwanted pregnancy mentioned.

Unwanted or abused child or children mentioned.

Adoption mentioned, usually with not very much factual background (see: Juno).

After adoption, couple magically become pregnant.

Couple relax, stop trying to get pregnant, and magically become parents.

Couple have been trying to get pregnant for 12 years and magically become pregnant.

Miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss mentioned.

Couple or (more usually) individual with no children is bequeathed children by a friend in their will or becomes responsible for a neighbour's children. Despite having no experience with children and said children having been violently bereaved or neglected the children bond to their new parent immediately and are charming and lovely.

Any more you'd like to add? Do chip in - I have mainly stopped here because I have run out of ideas for the letters I have, but there are several more out there (I can't think what to do with G, for example). You can make up new letters, too, if you like (there is no M in the current UK or US classification, that one is from Australia, and the A and AA are old UK letters).