Saturday, March 27, 2010


With the passage of the health care reform act earlier this week comes additional welcome news for adoptive families:
  • The maximum credit was increased from $12,150 to $13,170
  • The credit is extended through December 2011.
Apparently, it's also rather complicated so I guess I'll be reading up on the details and hoping that Turbo Tax can help out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Real life intruding in the online realm

I can't help but be appalled by the news of the South Korean mother and father who allowed their 3-month old child to starve as they obsessed over an online game and their virtual child. Yes, both parents had lost their jobs and their daughter was premature but to never have named the child? To have only stopped by sporadically to give her powdered milk? To have lost themselves so completely within an online world that they allowed their child to die here in the real world?

Tragic isn't the right word here. Sure, we use tragedy to describe events that cause suffering, death or destruction. The loss of life in Haiti and Chile were tragic situations.

But these parents and the thoughtless death of their child in favor of a virtual child named Anima?

Horrifying is the word I would use.

I think of how long and hard my wife and I have worked in the hopes of bringing a child into our family. I think of friends and family and those we've met through their stories on their blogs and their efforts, the tears, the heartache, and the joy that comes from trying to get pregnant or adopting and eventually succeeding. I think of how much I will treasure every moment when Plus One enters our lives. Hell. I even treasure those right now as we wait hopefully day after day, knowing that eventually our family will be blessed by a new arrival.

The idea that you could bring a child into your life and then be so careless, so disconnected, to permit your child to die is beyond my comprehension.

Our friends joke about the hoops we've had to jump through, the seemingly endless process, the legal maze that we must navigate to prove that we are suitable and prepared to be parents and how it's more involved than getting a mortgage and certainly not as much fun as the whole "having sex and getting pregnant" way of having a child.

But on the flip side, I see the stories about kids have babies, children who grow up in neglect, children who are abused, and I wonder if we might be better off if the act of becoming a parent actually was harder than getting a driver's license or a puppy from the pound or buying a gun.

No, I'm not really advocating that all prospective parents should be required to pass through the same legal path that my wife and I are following but I'm baffled by people who can bring children into this world and then go out of their way to ignore them, to hurt them, to allow them to pass almost unnoticed.

Sadly, accidents happen. We all know that. Horrifying mistakes can be made. I remember sitting at my desk, shaking, with tears in my eyes after reading Gene Weingarten's Washington Post story, "Fatal Distraction," a heart-wrenching look at the tragic, accidental deaths of infants who were forgotten in a hot car by busy, distracted parents and how the legal system responds.

This article was published six weeks before my wife and I decided to make the adoption journey. At that time, I didn't think that I would ever have the opportunity to be a father. I couldn't imagine what those parents were going through -- the sense of loss, the sense of responsibility, the sense of guilt, the sense of failure. All I know is that simply the thought of such a loss almost makes me physically ill. Part of me also couldn't imagine how a parent could have been so careless, so forgetful, as to have allowed that to happen. But then I see my everyday life with phone calls and e-mails and deadlines and I realize I've got no right to take on a "holier than thou" attitude and just have to reflect on how lucky we all are that horrible events like this don't happen more often.

It's because as parents and as prospective parents, most of us bring children into this world or into our families because of an abiding and profound sense of love and responsibility. We enter into an unspoken pact with our spouse, our family, our friends, and with that tiny child: we are here to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide, and to love. And that's why the stories Gene Weingarten told are so devastating (as is his own admission) -- because those parents entered that pact and were doing everything they could to live up to it and something went catastrophically wrong.

And that's why the death of that 3-month old little girl in South Korea is so horrifying -- because the parents couldn't bring themselves to care and instead sought an escape within an online world with fake monsters and shiny awards that can never measure up to the real world and the real monsters who sit at the keyboard for 12 hours a day engrossed in the game.

And with that, I'm going to shut down my computer, ignore the TV, and go give my wife a hug and look forward to a time when I can spend time with Plus One in the here and now. I hope you'll all take some time to do the same.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

82, 146, 22

Wow, has it really been a month since my last post here?

February was busy and Olympic fever settled in around our home for two solid weeks (still kicking myself for missing the gold medal match in Men's think I jest but you are oh so wrong). Work maintained its typical insane pace with occasional spikes of deadline-induced craziness just for a touch of variety. We saw friends and family, played cards, got caught up on various shows gathering dust in the DVR, and enjoyed a quick getaway to Boston.

And didn't do anything adoption-wise.

After months of effort, we finally got everything completed -- paperwork, profile information, photos, the whole shebang -- and then we were left with nothing to do. Sure, there's stuff we need to do around the house to prepare but with everything else going on, repainting the guest room just didn't make it too high on the priority list.

In truth, it's been pretty nice to just let the adoption initiative slide into the background for a little while after the intense adoption-related efforts that went on so long. That doesn't mean we haven't been thinking about it. On an almost daily basis, one of us gets asked by a friend, colleague, or family member "so what's new on the adoption?"

So far, the answer has remained the same -- we're just waiting right now. Our profiles are up but there's nothing really for us to do until we're a) picked by an expectant mother or b) three months passes and we then re-evaluate our profile in collaboration with the placement agency.

So far, zero expectant mothers have picked us and we've got 6 weeks to go before we revisit our profile information.

That doesn't mean, of course, that we aren't visiting our online profiles on a regular basis, well one of them at least. While our placement agency has posted our profile on three different sites, we have access to the visitor information for just one of them at this point. There's really nothing special about that access...the site and our profile look exactly as they would to a visitor to the site, we can't make changes, and we can't add new photos.

But we can see how many people have visited and in a lull like this, with little news and nothing to do, watching those numbers creep up is the only sign of progress, the only sense that something is happening in the adoption.

82 in January
146 in February
22 so far in March

As the numbers rise, I'll be honest that my feelings are mixed.

"Yay, someone is taking a look at us and the more people who do, the better the chance that we'll be picked!"

"A lot of people have viewed our come no one has picked us yet? Is there something wrong with us?"

Of course, we might have already been picked but just weren't told. The way things work is that when an expectant mother picks us, the agency reviews our profile and hers and if something doesn't match, we'd never know. "Oops, sorry, miss but you're horribly allergic to dogs and cats and your baby might be as well? Might not be a good fit because this couple loves to have pets as part of the family. Please pick again."

But people are coming to at least this one profile, which is a good thing. Who they are, we have no idea. Expectant mothers? I hope so. Other couples considering adoption or working on their profiles? Almost certainly (that's what we know, just to scope out the friendly competition). Friends and family trying to find our profile to see what we wrote and what pictures we posted? Maybe but hopefully not many because we don't want to skew the numbers.

They're all we've got right now to measure the progress being made.