Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What to do now?

Currently, there is a gaping, BeBe sized hole in our life. I have to admit a few days of rest and relaxation sound really nice right now. But I also have to admit that I'm proud of what we did for BeBe. We gave her a place to rest when her mom couldn't take care of her and we gave her stability and tons of love. As did both of our families.

Of course, we learned a lot from her too. We learned about patience and consistency and how to do hair :-) I also learned that even when you're really happy for the kid and the mom, it's still hard to actually drop them off. I surprised myself by crying last night, but not until we were walking away from the apartment. Part of it was because I hate that people have to live in the kinds of "neighborhoods" where BeBe is growing up. Leaving her there = the suck.

PB has, surprisingly, swung into action mode. He wants to pick out colors for the living room. And shop for a new (to us) car. And knock a hole in our dining room to build a bar. I say surprisingly only because I'm usually the one to make big plans and I badger him to actually carry them out. It's refreshing.

Right now, we're thinking we will stick more firmly to our original intention - to foster only infants until we get to adopt at least one child and to branch out to different ages from there. As for private adoption, I think we might register with a few agencies and specify no birthmother expenses so that if the perfect situation comes along we can jump on it. Not that I've actually done that yet. As silly as it sounds I'm wary of all the evaluation again, all those hoops.

So here's hoping we find something through the public system, and that if we don't we at least have some interesting adventures along the way. And as always, all of this is subject to change at any minute, without notice.

BeBe Summary

Again, for my own purposes, mostly

Internet "name": BeBe
Placement Dates: 12/20/06 - 1/30/07
Case Resolution: Return to biomom

BeBe was our second placement, and she was an emergency placement. She was initially a big challenge for us, but we learned a lot from BeBe, including the importance of consistency and rules :-) We really enjoyed working with BeBe's mom and we hope that we will stay in touch with her.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

BeBe is going home!

As we expected, judge said BeBe could go home today! Mom is ecstatic and PB and I are really happy for her. Off to pack and drop her off right now.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Downtime

I wrote this post while I was at a conference with my two best friends from grad school, L. and M. I didn't really attend said conference, though I did make an effort to look through the program to find anything related to what I do now. Decided there just wasn’t enough there to justify the registration fee. So, I had a lot of free time. Time to read (Yay!). Time to knit (Yay again). Time to think. (Ummm…. Boo)

Downtime is, I’ve discovered, an interesting thing. As I’ve mentioned before my MO is to pretty much try to trudge onward and upward. Or, if there’s not action to be taken, to research it to death until there’s nothing left to know about it. These strategies are pretty effortful and generally take up a lot of my cognitive resources. In fact, this preoccupation, focus, and intense effort may be precisely why I choose the strategies I do – these things distract me from other things. Things I can’t “fix”. Things I can’t change. Things that really piss me off but are beyond my control.

Dealing with things like that is messy. It’s uncomfortable. It’s no fun. And frankly, I’m not good at it. I *hate* doing things I’m not good at.

The other thing is, with things you can’t change, can’t make progress on, can’t effect in any meaningful way, talking (or writing) about them is, essentially, a waste of time. I know it can be cathartic. I know that I need to get this stuff out. I know that I will feel better afterward. But knowing it’s good for me is not generally enough to make me do it (witness my blatant disregard for the food pyramid and my reckless habit of wearing my seatbelt only 50% of the time).

So here I am, having lunch with L. and crying when she asks me how I am. Thinking a lot about Baby Bear. Thinking a lot about adoption and what I can and can’t tolerate when trying to navigate it. Thinking a lot about whether to throw any semblance of financial responsibility straight out the window and call an agency tomorrow or to wait and do something responsible like pay off a credit card or buy a desperately needed new car. Thinking a lot about how I miss being fun. And funny. How I miss just being me.

And once again, I have to admit that PB knows me better than just about anyone on the planet. It was at his encouragement that I took this trip. He said he wanted me to go, and leave him alone with our three-year old foster daughter for four days. He said I needed it. He said it would be good for me.

And I think it was only partially because HE needed a break from me :-)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We saw him

On Saturday, we saw Baby Bear. This was a bittersweet experience, just like the entire two months he was with us. It was amazing to see him again and to see how he has grown and changed. It was mildly surprising to see that he *might* actually remember us. He certainly seemed to recognize PB’s voice, and he smiled the first time he heard mine again, in his sleep, which made it that much more endearing. It was heartwrenching to drive him back to meet his grandma.

He is huge! PB always affectionately said he would be a bruiser, and he is definitely right. He still wheezed a lot; I think he has serious respiratory issues, which I hope they will be able to correct for him soon. He is really trying to talk and he is more active, physically. It was v. cool to see how much difference one month can make in such a little person.

I continue to be thankful for Baby Bear’s paternal grandma. I called her just to see if we could stop by to see him – at that point, I wasn’t even sure PB was going with me, but I knew I needed to do this for myself – and she offered to let us keep him for the evening. PB was OK with it, so we had him for about 6 hours or so. I can’t even tell you how good it was to see him again.

Despite this, I’m not sure that we will keep visiting. I feel like a selfish bastard for just writing that, but it’s SO. DAMN. HARD. I love Baby Bear with everything I have. To be honest, even though I shouldn’t, and even though I don’t want to, deep down inside, some part of me still thinks of him as my baby. So I’m afraid that every time I return him, I’ll be grieving again. For what we had with him, for what he might have had with us…

Just for him.

I don’t know what to do. As with everything in the slightly messy thing that is my life right now, I suspect I will just wait. Wait to see what PB thinks (we actually haven’t talked much about the visit – I was too upset immediately after and then we were really busy the last couple of days.) Wait to see if his birthfamily remains open to seeing us. Wait to see if I can get to the place where I’m just happy to see him without feeling like I’ve been sucker-punched when he leaves.

Just wait.

As PB wisely pointed out, he’s only been gone a little over a month now. Honestly, it feels like years and I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that he was with us for nearly twice as long as he’s been gone. It feels like our time with him was so short, and it feels like an eternity since we had to drop him off. So I’m sure with time, my perspective on this will change. Or maybe, I mean I’ll actually get some perspective. LOL.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I got nothing.

Nothing interesting to say. One of those weeks that is just blah, you know? I do have more good news on the BeBe front. Her social worker finally made her first "weekly" visit (yeah, 3 weeks after her placement) and PB tells me she was *very* impressed with how well BeBe is doing. Yay! Outside confirmation that we aren't actively messing up. Whoo-hoo! Also, she is pretty certain that BeBe will be reunited with mom at the end of January, and it feels nice to be glad for both of them that that will happen.

Thanks much for all the adoption reccs! I should have a flurry of paperwork coming to me in the mail shortly. It kind of feels good to be *doing* something. You know an illusion of control and all that jazz.

I have to admit that even though the homestudy and training process was tedious and full of tree killing paperwork, at least there were concrete tasks to accomplish. Although anyone who knows me know that my house is normally a mess, as is my car and my desk at work, I love me some to-do lists. And, if our foster parent preparation wasn't actually good at preparing us for fostering, it did give me many gratifying moments of crossing things off.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This is why we do it.

And why we have to keep on doing it. A link to perhaps the most powerful blog entry about a foster child that I've read to date:

Process: Used to it

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ick!

Sorry for the lack of posts. In a manner true to my blog title I accurately predicted that I would contract the stomach flu that my mom had and I've been sick with it for the last couple of days.

No other real news - BeBe hasn't contracted said flu yet which is awesome... keep your fingers crossed on that front. Also, we have really been doing well with her lately. I feel like we're in the fun part now - between the rough transition to our house and her returning home, which will likely happen at the end of the month. I have to say that I really like BeBe's mom and I'm actually enjoying working with her.

We are definitely going to keep pursuing foster-to-adopt, but I keep having nightmare visions of Baby Bear being our only infant placement and I definitely want to adopt a baby. Being the control freak that I am, I needed to start making progress somewhere, with something that was a little more certain.

So, as I mentioned a couple posts ago, we're also researching agencies... So far I like Pact (thanks, Renee!), Independent Adoption Consultants (in Indy) and Gladney (TX). Anyone have experience with these? Good advice about other agencies?

Email me if that's more comfortable than leaving comments.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I think it *might* be working.

At the risk of totally jinxing us, I think that our approach with BeBe might be working! As you may recall, we initially were *very, very* nice to BeBe and chalked a lot of her behavior up to "what she had been through". At least if I've blogged about that before you may recall it. And if not... well that's what we did.

Anyway, this really led to nothing but BeBe running all over (and around and on top of) us. We realized relatively quickly that BeBe needed way more structure and firm guidance. So we set limits and focused on the basics. We started going over the "rules" every morning as we were getting BeBe dressed. Said rules included:

1. We don't hit people.
2. We don't hit animals.
3. We eat at the table.
4. We don't run away from people.
5. We listen to big people when they ask us to do something.
6. Who's the boss? PB is the boss and Amanda is the boss. BeBe's not the boss.

After going on two weeks of this, she seems to have gotten the idea, at least partially. Her nursery school teachers don't seem to cringe quite as badly when we enter the building and it has become much more pleasant to be around her. She actually listens when we ask her to do (and not do) things and she responds well to praise and rewards. She is, in short, a much different kid.

Additionally, and I'm not sure if it's attributable to the structure or to the change in environment, BeBe seems much more relaxed. She is not hypervigilant, constantly looking for someone or something, she isn't physically tense when she cuddles with us. She can play by herself for several minutes without freaking out.

It was interesting to watch all this change during the visit tonight. I like BeBe's mom (V), I really do. She loves her kids like nobody's business and she is working her butt off to get BeBe back. But she has no backbone. She never makes BeBe do anything she doesn't want to do. And BeBe, being the smartypants that she is, picks up on that. Her demeanor changes the instant we pull into the parking lot of V's apartment building. She gets wild again and stops listening and can't sit still.

I'd like to talk to V. about this, because I really think BeBe is better off with some structure - it must be pretty hard for a 3-year-old to be in charge all the time. PB and I are trying to figure out if, and how, to broach this with her. I think we may bounce the idea off our caseworker when she visits on Thursday... try to get some good advice.

You win some....

You lose some.

VERY BADLY.

Gators looked better than I expected and we looked WAY worse than I expected. Life will go on... eventually :-)

Monday, January 08, 2007

And now for something completely different


Not to reveal to much of my obsession but I just have two words:

GO BUCKS!!!!!

I didn't go.

So I didn't go see Baby Bear this weekend. For whatever reason, I just could not bring myself to make the call. I feel like a horrible person, but it's not that I don't want to see him, I'm just afraid that it's all too fresh. I don't want to make a fool out of myself for losing it when I see him again. And I don't want to be judgemental about his family - I know they love him and want to take good care of him.

I'm afraid I'm still too attached and I don't know if I have the heart to see him and then leave him. But I want to see him. If that makes any sense.

In any event, if the time was right, it would have felt right, huh?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Warning: Unformed thoughts ahead

So as I mentioned previously, I've been obsessing about the next stop on our baby train. I have been researching some new adoption agencies, thinking that domestic private adoption is the way to go. But I find myself bumping up against some pretty serious ethical issues that I am struggling with. As the title suggests I'm not sure that I'm expressing myself the way I want, but I really need to process this so here goes.

PB and I are *very* open to transracial adoption. We honestly do not care what ethnicity the child we adopt is, and we really don't have a preference for a caucasian child. We really just want a healthy infant. Period.

Turns out we are (apparently) in the minority. There are lots and lots of people who don't want to adopt outside of their race. That's fine and I think it's great that people know what they do and do not want. But it leaves me with two questions:

1) Is there some reason we're missing about why we shouldn't adopt transracially?

This really gets at my biggest fear about adopting a child of color, which is that we will somehow rob them of their culture or heritage. I think we would make efforts to respect their ethnicity and to help them learn about it but the fact is that living where we do, we are mostly surrounded by white people. At the root of it, I think I'm afraid that I don't know how to prepare my children to become biracial or African American adults.

The thing is I'm a social psychologist. I know a lot about how stereotyping and prejudice work, cognitively. I understand how and why people form judgements of other people. And that means I also know how hard those stereotypes and prejudices are to change. And I know that discrimination, while more subtle than it used to be, is still *very* much with us. What I don't know is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of discrimination, well aside from some jerks who treat women differently than men. I worry that I won't be able to give my kids the tools to deal with what they will undoubtedly face in life.

I don't want to fail them.

2) Is it OK to participate in a system where children are literally valued by how white they are?

I am troubled by the "sliding" scales in private adoption. The holy grail (a healthy white infant) is apparently most in demand and is therefore the most expensive to adopt. Nearly every agency I've checked into offers a cheaper program for biracial and African American infants. Now, I'm torn because this really appeals to my self interest, to be honest PB and I don't have 25 - 35 thousand dollars just waiting to be spent on an adoption. And, I swear that we aren't saying that we're open to biracial and African American infants because of the money. We were open to them before I started researching adoption and realized the differential adoption fees. But now I know and I feel like a schmuck for condoning this by participating. It's one of the reasons I was turned off by international adoption - it seemed like such a marketplace that I felt weird considering it. But honestly, I'm not sure that domestic adoption is that much different.

But dammit, we're desperate to have a baby! n. We originally turned to foster-to-adopt because fostering was something we'd wanted to do anyway and it was a free way to build our family. But now I'm even beginning to wonder about that - is it better to adopt a child that was forcibly removed from its first parents? At least in domestic adoption, first moms are (or at least are supposed to be) in charge of the decision.

In all reality we will probably go with one of the biracial private adoption programs because they are faster and cheaper and race simply isn't an issue for us.

I just have to figure out how to rationalize that decision.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Baby Bear Update

This week I've spoken with Baby Bear's mom and paternal grandma and by all accounts he is doing really well. Apparently he has grown a ton since he went home and he's really babbling now. It sounds like he is v. happy.

I *may* be going to see him this weekend. I say may because I'm still not sure I'm up to it. PB says he is not ready, and it seems weird to be going on my own. Plus I am a little nervous about how judgmental I'm likely to be... paternal grandma mentioned that they are giving him juice and baby food now which I know isn't appropriate for a 3 month old. But I don't have any say anymore and I really don't want to feel all disapproving.

Plus, I still miss him. A lot. More than I was really acknowledging, in fact. And I can't decide whether seeing him again will make that better or worse.

Even better than we thought

At this risk of jinxing it, I have good news to share... I spoke with Miss T., BeBe's preschool teacher this morning and she was quite positive about her behavior yesterday. She said she didn't notice too much aggression, although she did see a tendency to rather "spastically" move from one activity to another. She suggested this was because everything is new to BeBe.

Yay age appropriate behavior. I am so happy for BeBe (and for us!!)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Oh, what a night...

In the good way!! BeBe did not get kicked out of preschool - Yay!!! That's not to say I think she had a good day there. I highly doubt it and I will know more when I see her teacher tomorrow. But at least she can go back tomorrow, right?

But more than that she was actually really fun to have around tonight. In the delightful, dance around and make silly faces three-year-old kind of way. She asked PB to "sing the guitar" and she really seemed to enjoy it. We genuiunely had a good time with very little need to correct behavior. Whoo-hoo!

Tomorrow morning I'll need to talk to her teacher, she already told me she "hit her friends" and when I picked her up she yanked a toy away from another kid. On the other hand, the aide that was watching all the kids when I got there said she is really independent and good about taking care of herself, so that's a plus.

And no, my mood tonight is in no way impacted by the red wine I had with dinner... and after... see PB didn't like it and I can't let good wine go to waste right?

Wink.

Resolutions?

I don’t normally make resolutions. I’m not really good at managing multiple things in my life. OK, that makes me sound like an incompetent idiot. Although I am a wicked multi-tasker when it comes to simultaneous work activities, PB and I tend to have serious issues managing more than one area of the big picture. So we’ll get our finances together for a while but our relationship will suffer. Or we’ll see a lot of old friends but our house will become a pit. Or we’ll focus on foster to adopt and forget the whole infertility thing. Or we’ll focus on infertility and ignore everything else. You get the picture.

But this year, I’m going to try again. I realize that I simply have to learn how to lose my tunnel vision, and think about all the big areas of my life simultaneously. Borrowing from my good friend R., I’m going to have three New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. Get in better shape. Note that I’m not focusing on weight here. This has simply not worked for me in the past. But I’m at the point (and the age) where my weight is going to mean serious consequences for my health. In fact, I suspect it may already be affecting my fertility. I am smart enough to know that I need to take control of this area of my life. So my resolution is to try to eat more healthily and to exercise at least 2X per week.*
  2. Reevaluate how a family best fits into our lives. By this I mean, consider the range of options, including domestic infant adoption, adopting older children, trying a few cycles of injectibles (our next stop on the infertility train) and not having children at all, either because we foster in the long term, or because we give up and take up some really absorbing hobby, like travel**
  3. Take some kind of vacation with PB. We didn’t vacation at all last year. Our last big trip was in March, 2003 with R and Dr. Mark to Hawaii. Last year we had one weekend in a cabin, here in Ohio. We need a getaway and at least this resolution will be fun!


So there are my resolutions. Anyone want to share theirs?


*Note: this will begin next week along with my complementary gym membership… I need to get Dae-Dae settled into a daycare routine before I can go to the gym before work.

**Yeah, I really doubt that PB will go for the whole child-free lifestyle. Not that I can blame him – he is a great dad. And who knows, maybe the reason I am so willing to put it on the table is that it will likely be rejected?