Tuesday, November 24, 2009

OMG More?

We were done. We were sure of it. Everything was in. The home study report will be finalized this week or next. All the paperwork was submitted. We sent a CD of photos of everything imaginable in to the placement agency.

What do I discover when I get my e-mail today?

A request for 16 more photos!

Good lord!

We already sent in 60!

This is getting ridiculous.

It doesn't help that the samples of the additional types of photos they need are exactly the kind of photos we typically mock because they're so cheesy and so posed. I keep expecting to see one where someone actually went in and used Photoshop to add a silvery, sparkly starburst that just shouts gleam! to these people's teeth. I'm feeling like we should just go to the local Target, distract the employees, and abscond with all the fake photo inserts of picture-perfect couples that they stick in picture frames..

It looks like all family members will be dragooned into serving as photographers over the Thanksgiving holidays. Gee...that will be fun.


I think I'm just tired and cranky. Good practice for when Plus One keeps me awake all night, I guess.

Say cheese!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thumb Twiddling 101

I feel like there's something I should be doing right now.

After months of effort to collect everything for our home study and then placement agency profiles along with lengthy discussions and musings, we're now simply waiting. Everything's submitted. It's in the hands of other people right now who are finishing the home study report, preparing our profile, etc., and we have nothing to do but wait -- wait to get the final report, wait to see what our online profiles look like, and then wait to see who chooses us and when.

I'm not very good at waiting.

My wife can attest to this. She has to restrain me when I get her a really cool birthday present and want to give it to her early because I'm so excited. I'm definitely (and unfortunately) an impulse purchase kind of person.

Having to sit quietly and wait while other people do their work around me? Nope, not so good at that. I'm also now faced with an entire week off as I take some vacation prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

I wonder if I should start repainting our dark blue guest room something light and baby room-ish?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Loss and Gain

Dear Plus One,

I know you're out there and sometime in the hopefully not too distant future, you'll be coming home with us to our little family. We have a house filled with color and art and books and music and cats. Especially cats. We've always had cats and I expect we always will. We'll definitely be adding a dog or two in the future but might wait on that until you're old enough to help pick him or her out.

On our placement agency application, we made sure to indicate that we hoped you wouldn't be allergic to cats and dogs because we want you to experience the joy of having pets to cuddle with, play with, curl up and take a nap with. Our cats are a little on the older side now but they love us and we love them. I think you'll like them. I'm just so sorry you won't have a chance to meet one of them.

Annabel was the best cat -- warm, loving, gentle, occasionally crazed. She talked a lot, often with a chirr-upp! sound that I've never heard another cat make. And as she got older, she started sounding a bit like my crotchety great-aunt who barked out "I can't hear you!" in the silent hall during my grandfather's memorial service. But for Annabel, it was more like "Get up! I'm hungry and awake and you're not but you should be and by the way you need to be paying attention to me because I love you!" She did, of course, say these things at 4:37 AM in the kitty version of French because that's what your Mom always said she spoke.

Other times, it might have been a mournful howl when, as she got older, she'd forget where we were until we called her. Then she'd come trotting down the stairs with a happy look on her face and promptly curl up into someone's lap. OK, maybe the mournful howl might have freaked you out a bit but believe me, Plus One, there was nothing better than to have Annabel curled up next to you at night purring through her nose and helping you doze off.

I can only imagine the giggles that would have erupted from you as you watched her shift into psycho kitty mode, dashing around the house, using the back of the couch like a NASCAR driver uses the banked curve to make sharper turns, or pursuing, without successful, the dreaded laser pointer (activities that earned her the sobriquet "The Grey Bullet"). Then of course, she would have taught you to tumble and dance, her gymnastic gyrations on your mom's drafting chair serving as an excellent example of the values of flexibility and a regular stretching regimen.

Personally, I was hoping she'd help with the whole "OK baby, it's time to eat your dinner" process as she would calmly sit next to your chair, like she used to sit next to mine, in the hopes of snagging a piece of chicken, a bit of spare rib, or a few licks of sour cream (her absolute favorite). I figured she'd keep you distracted enough, using her Jedi mind tricks, to let us get some food into you without much of it decorating the walls or my shirt.

But best of all would have been the quiet times, when she'd curl up in her bowl on the kitchen table and doze off. We could have sat at the table with crayons or finger paints or bits of colored paper and worked while she watched us through slitted eyes to make sure we were occasionally paying attention to her (because it was all about Annabel) or that we hadn't wandered off, allowing her to snooze secure in the comfort that her people were nearby.

Sadly, Annabel was 19 and a half, which you will learn, dear Plus One, was very old for a cat. And sometimes when kitties are very old (and sometimes when they aren't), the time comes when they need to leave us to go chase mice and little red laser dots and lap up sour cream and curl up in someone's lap to keep them happy and warm and loved until the end of days. And when they're gone, we miss them because they are family, as much as me and your mom and you, Plus One, and all of your grandparents and cousins and dear friends.

It's OK to miss them. It's OK to look at the extra food dish and start to put dinner in it only to realize that there's no one to eat it, to sit at the kitchen table and realize with a start that the pair of grey ears and eyes that always peeked over the table top aren't there anymore, or to lie in bed and feel like it's empty because there's no grey cat curled up next to your head purring away in her sleep. It's OK to feel like there's a hole in your family and your life because there is.

But the wonderful thing is that we'll always remember her and love her and be able to laugh about her antics. We'll bring new pets into our family and we'll love them and they'll love us. You'll be able to crawl around after them or fall asleep next to them or shriek in glee as one of them licks red raspberry preserves off your face.

I'm just sorry it won't be the Grey Bullet. Because you would have liked her and she would have loved you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So how many of the 150 steps are done now?

Finally, the last bit of writing for our placement agency profiles is complete. The photos are collected and there's even an Excel spreadsheet with captions and details for each one. Everything is printed and the CD is burned. Tomorrow the whole packet gets dropped off in the mail and shipped off to our chosen placement agency for their staff to put together and post...
  • our online profile
  • our "Adoption Spacebook" profile
  • our printed adoptive parent "resume"
  • our birthmother letter for the Adoption.com website, and
  • our birthmother letter for the Courageous Choices website
The only thing left is the final copy of the home study report which, according to M, is just about done and will be ready to send off to the placement agency as well.

So we're sort of done for the moment and it's out of our hands. We now wait for the profile information to be posted. Then we shift into waiting mode and hope that in time, an expectant mother comes to the conclusion that we're the right people to be trusted to raise her child in our family.

No nerves or celebration yet, really. I think the serious bout of nerves will come when the agency lets us know that our profiles are live and that expecting mothers are starting to consider us. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's when the butterflies in the stomach will start.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Argh...so close but not quite done

We thought we were done. The birthmother letters were written, the "Adoption Spacebook" questionnaire was complete, 60 photos were selected, captioned, and ready to go. The CD was burned and everything was getting ready to be mailed in the morning so our profiles can be created and birthmothers can begin considering us.

And then we discovered yet another questionnaire that needs to be completed, this one for the "Adoptive Parents Resume" that is printed and given to birthmothers. Argh!

I enjoy writing but this is getting ridiculous.

Maybe we'll be able to finally finish the paperwork (or at least this round of it) tomorrow night.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Staying on an even keel

I received word today that family members and friends were initiating some conversations to plan a baby shower for Jennifer and me. It's tremendously thoughtful of them and while we definitely plan to celebrate at some point, we've also decided that we can't allow ourselves to do that until our child is in our arms and at home with us.

In adoption parlance, there's an event known as "a disruption", when a placement falls apart at the last minute, most often as a result of the expectant mother changing her mind after the baby is born. This is absolutely her right and until she hands us the baby and tells us that the little girl is ours to raise, we have no claim on her. Nevertheless, knowing it and going through it after getting our hopes up are two entirely different things.

Close friends went through a disruption. They arrived at the hospital after the baby was born and as they walked down the hallway, someone standing in the doorway of the birth mother's room said to the folks in the room "Oh, they're here." Our friend turned to his wife and said "She's changed her mind", knowing instantly from the tone of voice. He was right. Thankfully, another opportunity arose for them within a week or two to fill the void.

The agency we're working with takes great pains to minimize the instances of disruption by offering the expectant mothers counseling and support throughout the process, enabling them to identify instances where the expectant mother really might not be completely sure of her decision. Still, after all the steps we've gone through and still have ahead of us, nothing is definite until the birth mother makes that final decision and we are given the opportunity to take our baby home and start our lives as a family.

Until that happens, I think we'll be asking family and friends to hold off on the showers and the celebrations. There are enough things left to be done that there's no sense jinxing it, there's no need to get everyone ramped up about it, and the disappointment from a disruption would be bad enough without coming home to an empty nursery and stacks of baby gifts for a baby we don't have yet.

There will be plenty of time to celebrate -- years of birthdays and graduations and potty training and visits by the tooth fairy. There's no need to rush right now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Emerge into daylight

October is finally over, thank God -- 31 days long and it felt at least double that.

The weather was bizarre (cold, warm, rainy, sunny, monsoon), the Red Sox lost in the playoffs, and work was absolutely overwhelming in terms of the number of projects divided by the time available. I think I saw my parents at some point during the past month but in all honesty, it's a bit blurry. There were days when my wife and I only managed a mumbled "goodmorninghaveagoodday" as we passed each other on the way out the door followed by a shambling "hi, I'm really beat and am going to bed" when we arrived home at night. Most frustratingly was the dramatic slowdown in our adoption efforts (previously mused upon here). Generally, October was brutal.

What felt especially odd was that I couldn't summon the energy to do much writing at all -- only 10 entries on "Walks in the Marsh", 3 entries on "150 Steps", and absolutely no progress on my maybe-novel, which is stalled following a promising start. After a long series of months filled with writing, everything came screeching to a halt and it felt so weird. It's not that there weren't things to write about -- baseball, football, politics, adoption, movies, TV ("Castle" is our absolute favorite TV show by the way) -- but the idea of sitting down and writing simply lost its appeal after 12 hour days crammed with meetings, writing, and editing at my office or during a weekend otherwise full of work.

Believe me, I'm not complaining. Jennifer and I both have jobs, work with people we like and respect, and get paid for it, which is a damn sight more than other folks. October simply was one of those perfect storm situations where so many things came together that you just needed to focus on getting through the next task or project in the hope that when you emerge on the other side, you would be able to slow down and get your breath (aka "downshifting to impulse speed" as described by my delightfully geeky wife).

And now, at last, October is in the rear view mirror. The major projects that were underway are now done, and there's some breathing room to finish our adoption materials, to hopefully leave work in time for dinner at home with my wife, to relax just a bit, to start taking some of that accrued vacation time that is in danger of being lost come January 1, and hopefully to let some creativity flow and enjoy the feeling of tapping away on the keyboard or scribbling in my Moleskine notebook.

Welcome to November.

(cross-posted on "Walks in the Marsh")