Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On its way

OK, now it's getting serious. We sent our application to the placement agency today.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

75 Steps

When I started this blog, it was inspired by a conversation that I had with a neighbor early this summer, in which I remarked that "if the adoption process has 150 steps, we're on step 6."

We just completed step 75.

We're halfway there, if the completion of the home study can be considered the midway mark.

We turned over the completed binder of paperwork and then plunged into a discussion about next steps with the placement agency as well as how they will coordinate with M, our adoption counselor. Toward the end as we began to wrap things up, I asked M if she saw any reasons to think that she might not recommend us.

"I never would have let us go this far if I had any concerns. We would have known by the second meeting," she said.

And so we reach the 75th step. There's a nice, comfy landing here where we can catch our breath.

Step 1 seems so far away now, coming just days after my grandmother died as Jenn and I began to discuss in all seriousness the potential for adoption.

Way down on the 39th step, we can see Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll looking up at us (can't wait to introduce Plus One to the joys of Alfred Hitchcock sometime in the future!).

Looking up at the remaining 75 steps, we see more paperwork, more writing, and more heartfelt conversations. And the end? Well, the end isn't quite in sight yet. Sure, we know that we're making good progress and know logically what needs to happen but the actual end of these 150 steps? I have no idea what it will look like or what our family will look like when we reach #150, nor do I have any sense of what the many many steps that will follow will bring us.

But it doesn't matter at the moment.

75 is my new favorite number.

And even though it's comfortable to relax for a minute and look back at how far we've come in this journey, there's no time to waste. Step #76, the application for the placement agency, is waiting for us and we're on a deadline.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

6 more hours of teachable moments

We've completed four hours of our online classes for prospective adoptive parents. Interesting stuff so far though I feel like I didn't actually see the sun on this lovely Saturday. Only six more hours to go and we'll be pros at this!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The voices that matter

Steadily, we're closing in on the milestone of completing our paperwork for the home study (3 letters remain plus 10 hours of online adoptive parenting classes). There's a massive purple binder sitting on my desk containing the paperwork to hand off to M as well as copies for ourselves so that we'll have a "holy crap, look at what we went through to get you" scrapbook to show Plus One sometime in the future.

Clearly, the hoops we go through now seem, at least from my perspective, to be so much more involved than if we'd had the option to go the natural route at some point in the past. But one man's complicated and involved is another person's laughably simple.

I just finished Doree Shafrir's article on The Daily Beast called "10 Ways to Have a Baby" and after reading what some couples have gone through, our efforts to adopt don't seem to be quite so onerous. Of course, the author also picked out the most sensational ones that she can find, whether due to the sci-fi aspect, the legal aspects, the social issues, etc., but still, a straightforward domestic adoption looks like a piece of cake compared to these (an expensive piece of cake, mind you, but still relatively uncomplicated...so far).

I also found myself scrolling through the comments at the end and was amazed as the spectrum of comments and, quite frankly, how horribly cruel, vicious, and unfeeling some of them were.

"There is absolute no reason to reproduce beyond the selfish notion of continuing the family seed. And the world only suffers from increasing the number of people on it, no matter how fabulous or special one's spawn could be."

"Some people are not meant to reproduce. Sorry, but that's biology."

"I do not believe in buying children."

Would the people who write these things also say them in public to people who ache for a child or are they simply willing to make declarations like this because they are shielded by their anonymous nicknames?

I guess comments like this shouldn't come as a surprise anymore. Jenn has spent far more time than I reading blogs by adoptive parents, birth parents, adopted children, etc. (Perhaps, like our life insurance agent observed, it's a guy thing to not necessarily have that level of curiosity in this situation.) What are distressing are the sites she's found with comments, especially from birth mothers, that paint us -- prospective adoptive parents -- as evil, misguided, selfish, manipulating pawns of an exploitative adoption industry who should simply pass on the idea of adoption and get on with our childless lives.

While those words hurt and are no doubt heartfelt by people whose situations I don't know, I'm not going to feel guilty. They can have their opinions but I don't have to agree with them. As a matter of fact, I don't. I'm not going to give up, and I'm not going to pass on this opportunity. And neither is Jenn.

We are blessed to have supportive families and friends who know us, who know what we would offer as parents, and who are cheering us on.

These are the people who know us best.

These are the comments that I pay attention to.

These are the opinions that matter to me.

And of course, these are the folks we'll be calling at 2AM when we can't get Plus One to stop crying. I hope they know how much we appreciate their support!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home stretch on the home study

FBI background checks are in and I haven't been arrested yet so I guess they didn't find anything. Doctors' reports are in. At least one of our personal recommendations has been sent it. We're down to single digits on stuff that needs to get done before we can hand in our completed home study binder!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


This evening, as we gathered in downtown Providence for a United Way event to kick off tonight's Waterfire performance and raise awareness, we meet a couple who will be walking in the United Way procession with their 1-month old daughter. The dad has the baby strapped to the front in a Baby Bjorn. The mom comments how she prefers the sling that she wears. He replies, "She can have the sling. This way is more masculine, I think."

Dude, you've got a baby strapped to your chest in a green Baby Bjorn. Parental? Yes. Comfortable? I guess so. Masculine? That might be a stretch.

I wonder if they come in purple.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

By the bedside

Since earlier this year, my mother has been fighting the good fight against breast cancer. With the apparent success of her chemo treatments, she underwent surgery today to remove the platinum marker pins, previously affected lymph nodes, and the tissue around the now vanished tumors. I went and visited her in the hospital today, a few hours after she came out of surgery and was moved from the recovery room to the room where she'll probably spend the next 48 hours sleeping and recuperating before heading home for several days of quiet time.

It feels like the last two years have involved a lot of sitting by bedsides, most often with my grandmother as she weakened, then faded, and finally passed away on my 40th birthday in April. There was also time spent with my father following his stroke. And most recently, my mother's fight has loomed in the background since February even as she was there at every step for my grandmother and enthusiastically for us as we've moved along our adoption journey. At the same time, we've all been there for dad and for mom, their family and friends. In every case though, the passage of time steadily etches its way deeper on our faces and in each of our lives.

It's struck me that our journey toward adoption...my desire for a daughter or son...has been in some small part with an eye toward that future in my own life, a desire to answer the question "who will be by the bedside when my wife and I grow older?" There's a certain amount of selfishness inherent in such a thought, a sense that it is all about me but in truth, that's not why I'm doing this, not why I'm so giddy about the thought of adoption, about being a parent, about teaching and learning and sharing so very very much.

Nevertheless, I'll admit to a certain amount of fear of being alone when I'm older or of leaving my wife alone. I saw my parents and their siblings caring for their parents. I see me and my siblings there for my parents now (though thankfully I'm a child of the freelovin' 60s so my parents are still on the youngish side compared to my friends' parents). And in the face of the march of time, the thought of a child or grandchildren to visit us and brighten our days 40 or 50 years down the road is a comforting one, a reassuring benefit to what I expect will be an amazing adventure. Do other parents feel like this or am I just tired and a bit maudlin right at the moment?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The trickle continues

We're in this weird limbo at the moment, terribly close to completing our home study but waiting for the arrival of final documents over which we have no control. They are slowly trickling in -- a financial report from the bank here, an attorney general letter there -- but they seem to be taking a long time. It's September 1 and we've set September 18 as our target deadline to have every piece of paper necessary to hand off to M for her to complete the home study. I know they'll go by fast but 18 days still seems like a long time.