Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oh the possibilities...

In a bizarre turn of events, if we spent a lot of money and the planets aligned just right PB and I could potentially have three babies by August.

Now that got your attention, didn't it?

No, really, we won't have three kids and no, I didn't try some crazy ART and get pregnant with triplets. So how might this happen?

Well, first, our house is officially open again starting on Thursday. Our first placement took 5 days. Our second placement took 6. The first placement we turned down was 3 days and, they actually called us for another placement last Friday while we were on hold. I felt really badly about it, but there was no way I could find daycare for a 2 and a 3 year old. Not to mention, I'm not sure I could remain sane with 2 toddlers, but that's an entirely different story. Anyway, the point is that I doubt we will wait long for a placement, so I'm guessing (or is it hoping?) that we'll have a baby in early March sometime.

Second, thanks to fostermommy, we've found an agency that we are comfortable (and even excited) to potentially work with. In fact, I faxed them my copy of the homestudy today, to find out what would need to be added to adopt. When I spoke with someone there last week, they said they had some AA babies that needed placed in the next couple of months. Not holding my breath for that, but August certainly seems reasonable doesn't it?

Finally, and completely out of the blue, I received a call from my MIL last week, telling us that my ex-sister-in-law (T) had called. Herr sister is 5 months pregant and wants to place the baby for adoption. So we called T and told her that of course we would be interested. Apparently T's sister (S) is very nervous about us being judgmental about her and her situation and wants to meet in person, rather than over the phone. Right now, we're just trying to roll with the punches and not get too excited. Although, I must admit, this situation would be v. cool because our child would actually be biologically related to his cousin (our nephew)... that would be awesome.

So, anyway, I'm feeling more optimistic about this whole situation than I have in a while. Of course, that's probably a really bad idea, but for now, I'm just going with it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ethical Adoptions

Lately, there have been a lot of blog posts, and emails on listservs referencing coercion and ethics in adoption. One woman commented that she didn’t understand what first moms meant when they said they “lost” their children to adoption. She had miscarried, and that’s what loss meant to her. And other adoptive parents said they thought open adoptions were a reaction against this, essentially, a more ethical alternative. Process described an open adoption that was closed. Yondalla talked about reading some first mom blogs. So it’s just been bouncing all over the place.

I think about ethics in adoption a lot. I’ve posted before about my objection to the “market value” placed on babies of different races – to me this is explicit racism, we state (in writing) that costs to adopt are based on the baby’s (and the mom’s and dad’s) race. And explicit racism is unethical.

But there are less glaringly obvious ethical issues, too – or at least they are less glaringly obvious to many adoptive parents. I believe there is a lot of coercion in the adoptive industry. In the most horrific cases coercion occurs when a first mom’s rights are terminated while she is still under the influence of pain medication, or moms are told they can’t legally change their mind, when in reality they can. But more subtly, many first moms are (I think) convinced that placing is admirable, or noble, or the better choice, simply because adoptive parents have more money or time or resources for their children. Persuading a mom that adoption is better than parenting is also unethical IMHO, if it’s done largely to serve the interests of the adoptive family. And then, I'm not sure about legal coercion when parents "lose" their children in the public system. My thoughts on that are very mixed.

And sometimes, I think, a lot of the people involved in the process haven’t really even considered the ethical implications. Maybe it just doesn’t occur to them. Maybe it is easier not to. I’m not sure.

For instance, just last night I was on the phone with a facilitator. I hadn’t really even considered facilitators before because it seems like they are the most clearly for profit options around. However, this one came highly recommended, and I just received word from PACT that they aren’t taking white couples right now, so I thought I would give it a try. I told her the area of first mom expenses was really touchy for us, because we wanted to be sure that mom didn't place because she felt she had to.

Her response? "Well, I've had a lot of good luck lately by telling birthmoms that if they get the money in advance, it has to go through a lawyer who will pay their rent, utilities, etc, directly. But, if they wait until after termination, they can get cash to do with as they please."

So, when I raised the question of ethical adoption, she actually shared a totally unethical practice with me... I don't think she knew the difference. Scary. Either that or she assumes what I think most people assume, that the real reason we don’t want to pay huge amounts to first moms is because we don’t want to spend the money or we are afraid she won’t place and the money will be wasted.

I’m not sure I’ve expressed this well at all. Right now, I’m still puzzling over what an ethical adoption really looks like… Maybe once I know that, I will be able to find agencies or lawyers who offer them. But really, I wonder if it’s even possible as long as money is in the equation.

Monday, February 19, 2007

????

We saw BeBe tonight... very briefly. It was strange - I talked to her mom last night because I still had the boots we bought with her voucher. As an aside, wouldn't you know the one thing I forgot was the most essential item ever given the weather around here?

Anyway, I told her that I could come by with the boots around 5:30 or 5:45 after work and that I was looking forward to seeing her and BeBe again. We got there at about 5:40 and the visit went something like this:

Knock, knock.

No answer.

Knock, knock.

Mom: Who is it?

Us: It's Amanda and PB.

Mom: Oh. I'll be there in a minute.

Several minutes later.

Mom: Hi.

Us: Hey, how are you doing.

Mom: Good.

Then she goes back upstairs and gets the baby who is completely bundled up, and clearly ready to go out. We stand there awkwardly. BeBe comes downstairs and doesn't say anything. Just looks at us. We all stand there awkwardly. Mom tells BeBe to put on her coat. I ask BeBe how she's doing, I told her I heard that she was being a big help to her mom. She looks at me and nods. Then she says, "I love my mommy." I told her I knew that and I was excited for her to be home. I gave her a big hug and then Mom said again, "Get your coat on."

Apparently they were going to the laundromat. As we left, BeBe kept looking back at us, like she wanted to say something, but shew didn't. I don't think I'm doing justice to how weird and awkward this situation was. We left shaking our heads, wondering what's going on. I mean, I thought we had a good relationship with Mom and I was really looking forward to seeing both of them again. I don't usually misjudge people and situations so totally.

In the end, I told P.B. I guess we just have to learn to move on to the next one. He just shook his head and looked out the car window.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I want a baby!

Most of you probably said, "Well, duh." to that. But I don't mean in the general sense. I mean in the specific, I want to call our agency and tell them we're ready at any time sense. I miss having a a kid around, I'm well-rested and we've both recovered from our constant sniffles courtesy of BeBe's preschool.

I found a new daycare arrangement since J. is really busy at her place. A foster dad who stays at home with the kids, not too far from PB's work.

So I think it's time. Alas, PB is still determined to at least get our bar in. That's the scheduled project for next weekend so hopefully we'll be OK for the beginning of March timeline.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No words.

Sadness all around my blog "friends" today.

DreamMommy lost her baby. Unexpected and sad. I can't think of anything else to do except post this.

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Food for thought

I recently discovered some new blogs that focus more on transracial adoption and on ethics in adoption. Through one of these blogs (which I can't find right now, aacck!) I found this editorial:

http://tinyurl.com/2d3vl2

It is a great piece questioning why more whites don't adopt tranracially. As a social psychologist, I was particularly drawn to the very first sentence:
Whenever I see a white couple with an Asian or Hispanic child, I can't help wondering whether adoption -- like the personal ads -- is one of the last areas of American life where naked expressions of racial preference are acceptable.
This idea of implicit racism is I think, one of my biggest objections to how the private adoption world works. I think there are probably plenty of high minded, liberal, "anti-racist" whites who exclude African Americans from the potential pool of adoptable babies, and that really, really bothers me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for these people to take African American babies - perhaps the only thing worse than not being adopted by a subtley racist white person is *being* adopted by one - but I'm not sure they should be allowed to enter the adoption arena at all. Really, I'm not sure what the answer is I just know that it makes me quesy to think about it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Calling for backup

I don't think there are too many of you who read this blog but not Renee's. Just in case though, I wanted to ask you to stop by and leave her a nice message. She is having one of those "being a foster parent is so damned hard moments" and needs all the good vibes we can send her.

I'll let her tell the story. Go here, if you want to read more:

http://2moms4olivia.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Now that that's out of my system...

we return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Specifically, back to listening to me whine.

We are doing respite this weekend for J. - we have the two girls (10 months and 2). While I really love these two girls and I think they're adorable, I am amazed at how different it is to care for them compared to our past experience.

My experience with these girls and with BeBe may be attempting to teach me something. I may not be cut out to deal with toddlers and pre-toddlers. I don't have the patience to repeat things many, many times. I don't particularly enjoy following a little person around all day, attempting to keep them from eating everything in sight. I don't like having to fight to get them to sleep...

In short, my experience with toddlers has been 180 degrees different from my experience with infants. I like babies. I like that they can't move when you put them somewhere. I like that when they're crying you can pretty reliably figure out what's up (they're hungry, they need changed or they're tired). I like that they can't say no and why.

I wonder what this means for our plans for adoption. I wonder if it will be any different if it's a toddler I've raised from a baby. I wonder if maybe, for me, the toddler years are something to be survived, something sandwiched between baby and reasonably logical older child.

Not quite sure.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More on family (chosen and otherwise)

Publishing my last post really made me think about how absolutely lucky I am. Lately, I have been really caught up in the negative emotion and depression that came with our "loss" of Baby Bear. But, there are a lot of wonderful people in my life, and I am surrounded by support. In that spirit, and despite the fact that Thanksgiving was like 4 months ago, may I present:


People I am Thankful For

M & L - See yesterday's post

My mom and dad - My parents have been incredibly supportive of... well... everything I've ever done. Seriously, you can't ask for a more nauseatingly normal or functional upbringing than the one I had. I always felt like I could do or be whatever I wanted to, and I always, always knew my sister and I were their number one priority. They were amazingly open to Baby Bear, so much so that they hurt as much as we did when he left. They were overwhelmingly generous with Bebe. They are the kind of parents I hope that PB and I can be. Someday.

R. - Through all of this infertility and foster to adopt stuff, R. has been the most supportive of all of my chosen family. I don't think she realizes how much I appreciate her understanding, acceptance and frank discussions of all the messed up sitations PB and I have found ourselves in lately. She and M. are always there when we need to just be normal and not think about all of this crap for a while. But they're also always there when we do need to think, and talk... and talk... and talk... about it. R. is especially meaningful to me because she doesn't judge me for the decisions I've made (and remade and revisited) in this domain, and she doesn't try to draw parallels between this situation and anything else. She just wants to be there, for whatever. Plus, she and M. do put up with my family and their (good natured, but sometimes harsh) ribbing of them. And again, I'm not just saying this because she reads my blog, or because of a post she recently made about friends on her blog. *

A. - A has been my friend (we realized with horror this weekend) for nearly 12 years now. Even though she is incredibly busy with her own family and her two beautiful little girls, she still takes time out to check on me. And she has even offered to be a surrogate mom for us. I find this offer incredibly touching because I'm pretty sure that I would have a hard time offering to be pregnant and have a surgery for anyone (both of A.'s babies were delivered by c-section).

My sister - I am shocked that I am talking about my sister like this because if you had asked me about it five years ago, I would have told you that we would never be close. But we are now. Like my parents, she has been amazing through all of this, making the hour-long drive to our place countless times, being as excited about Baby Bear as we were, fully embracing her role as aunt. Even though I would never have chosen my sister has a friend, I'm actually pretty glad that we were assigned to one another as family. LOL.

And, of course, PB - What can I say? Well, anything I want since he doesn't read my blog, but you know what I mean. I literally do not know how I would have survived the last few years without my husband, which makes me more than a little nervous to admit. I am more the independent type, and I like to think I can stand on my own two feet. PB is a sweet, sweet man. He is wickedly funny, and ridiculously patient with me. And even though I knew all of this before, being married to PB has made me keenly aware of the extent of his character - of just how much of all of these things he is. And he still surprises me. I always knew he would be a good dad - it was myself I was worried about. What I didn't know was that when he became a dad, I would see a whole new side of him, one that was self-sacrificing and fiercely protective, gentle and vulnerable... even if we never get another placement and we never end up with children, the experience has been worth it just to discover this about him.

Whew! Glad that is out of my system. As most of the people who know me irl will tell you, I'm really not as sappy as I appear here... I needed to post this to remind myself how good I've got it.

*Though I must admit her post was the inspiration for me to revisit yesterday's post and draft this one.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Family We Choose

I wrote this post while I was in Memphis. I titled it “the ghosts of conferences past”. But then I realized this entry was about so much more than that.

M., L. and I were reminiscing about other conferences we’ve been to last night. I was one year ahead of them in the program, they are both just finishing up grad school and are on the job market this year.

As an aside, they both rock and I am SO proud of them and what they’ve done. I am terribly impressed with their grace in handling such a crappy time in their careers – there is (not counting tenure review) just about nothing as scary for an academic as their first entry into the job market. I feel badly that I haven’t been as supportive as I would like to be, but I hope they know that I am *always* thinking of them, even when I’m too wrapped up in my own drama to say that as often as I should. And I’m not just saying that because I think they read my blog.

Anyway, this is the first conference I’ve attended just for fun. But that doesn’t mean previous conferences weren’t totally fun, they were and as we talked yesterday I remembered things I hadn’t thought about in years. Like how L. and P.B. tried to retrieve beads from a tree in New Orleans. Or on that same trip how P.B. and I were accidentally drunk before L. and M. even got to the hotel from the airport (who knew daquiris meant something totally different, and more alcoholic, in N.O.?). Or how I crashed in their room when I was out late and didn’t want to wake up my stodgy roommates before we started rooming together. How we saw Nicole Brown Simpson’s house in L.A. and freaked out because it was so creepy. How we saw Chris Rock and I kept telling everyone to “be cool” and not look at him. How we danced at a nightclub in Savannah and how two guys in our program rescued us from creepy boys by pretending to be our husbands. How we saw The Practice guy and tried to take surreptitious pictures of him. How L. and I totally got our fill of the King at Graceland this year.

And all of our Chicago experiences, where the other annual conference we attend is held every eyery year. M.’s unfortunate, but totally hysterical, experience with a rum keg (which she thought was a rum cake – big difference) at Trader Vic’s. Getting hit on by skeezy old men that are famous in our field. Dim sum at China Town, shopping on the mile, the world’s biggest bar tab at Sky Bar, and deep dish pizza three nights in a row. L. falling off a stool at Dunkin’ Donuts and swearing someone pushed her. Another friend, B. sliding across the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton, which is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

And other things, things that kind of sucked, like Leslie’s uncle passing away right before our LA trip and me getting pickpocketed in Chicago. And PB having his first seizure in Chicago. And me realizing I wanted to have kids and keeping L up half the night before her talk. Again in Chicago… maybe that’s just not our town.

And it’s not just conferences, L., M. and I have had *so* many good times, both here in Ohio and on our other trips and visits. And so many crappy times (surgeries, break ups, career crises, , generals). The thing is, it doesn’t matter. Good times or bad, close to me or far away, I know they will always be there when I need them. I’m really not the type to have close female friends and I never expected to find women I think of more as my sisters… I guess, overall, what I’m trying to say, really, is how thankful I am that they’re in my life. And how bummed I will be when they both go off to start their incredible new careers. I love you, girls.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

We actually turned down a placement!

Yes, you read that correctly. We turned down a placement. They called us yesterday for a newborn baby girl. Her mom has committed to adoption, there was an adoptive couple in town for the birth from Massachusetts, but at the 11th hour, biodad showed up and said no.

Biomom still didn't want to take the baby home, the adoption agency basically bowed out and so the hospital called Children's Services. It was hard to say no, but for us, the best case scenario here would be adopting a baby that another family already had their hearts set on adopting... and we *can't* do that. So we passed.

PB actually put a hold on our house for two weeks. We both are still pretty sick - it's amazing what having a three-year-old in daycare will do to your system - so we need some time to rest and recover. Plus we're doing respite care for J. next weekend, and she's got her two little ones, plus a teen mom and her baby right now, so we'll have our hands full. I'm guessing we'll probably have another placement near the end of Feb / beginning of March, and it's kind of nice to know that we won't get any calls for the next couple of weeks.

And, PB is actually serious about all this house stuff. He had me looking at paint colors and bar stools today... so maybe it won't be all R & R after all...