Monday, June 28, 2010

Crime and Punishment

The other night, Brad and I were lying in bed chatting before sleeping (coz bedtime is a great time to be in bed). This used to be a nightly thing, chatting in bed before going to sleep, until Brad started working all the freaking time, staying up until midnight or later and not snuggling with me until I'm ready to go to sleep, the bastard!

Where was I? Oh yeah, so we were chatting and talking about our daughter, Moon Unit. Moon Unit is, for lack of a better word, a slug. Okay, so that's not entirely true. She is, in fact, a person, not some slimy, creepy, insecty-type garden creature that's pretty much a snail without a shell. But she reminds me of one sometimes most of the time all the time. Because she is so seriously unmotivated, we were supposed to be all structured with her and stuff, making charts and what-not, to encourage her to do... something. Anything. Only, you know, I've only tried to do that her entire life to absolutely no avail. This was something I was informed by Brad that we need to do, which I can only assume came as a directive of some sort from Moon Unit's therapist.

Anyway, since Brad works from home and since Moon Unit seems to ignore almost everything I say to her, he's been the one who's been implementing some of these things. He's the one who's been trying to get her on some sort of schedule, getting her to do some work for him, etc. Except that Brad is really not a hard-ass. He just can't be. It's not in his nature.

So while we're chatting the other night, he goes, "Oh, I need to take Moon Unit's chair away from her", referring to her desk chair, as she spends like pretty much all day on her laptop. So I go, "Why do you need to take her chair away from her?" And he's like, "Because she didn't get up on time this morning."

Silence for a minute.

"So you're taking her chair away from her because she didn't get up on time?"

"Yes." Silence again.

"You do realize that she doesn't actually need her chair. She can sit on her bed with her laptop. Or at the kitchen table. Or on the sofa," I say, thinking this is completely obvious.

"I know but if I take her chair away, she'll remember to go to bed on time and get up on time. And next step is turning out her lights."

Crickets chirp.

"So," I say, "you're going to take away her chair, turn out her lights, and let her sit on her bed in the dark with her laptop. Or she can go into another room and play on her laptop with lights on."

"Okay, so I'm not very good at punishment," he says defensively.

"Ya think?!?"

This is why I love Brad.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Continuing the continuation.

Anyway, moving on, coz I could seriously rant about the lack of communication forever, we were chosen for a cute little 6 year old boy back in April, along with a couple other families, to go to committee where they select the adoptive family. This little boy seemed so right for us. He was already techno-geek child, just like my husband, Brad, and he even looked like Brad! I was totally, "He's your Mini-Me, dude!" Except, of course, we weren't selected for him. And we don't know why. We weren't told. Ugh. Crap. This sucks! Really sucks. Coz while we hadn't been to committee for other kids before that, we know we weren't selected for other kids and we never hear why. Why? And this little guy was friggin' cute! *sigh*

I talked to a caseworker in Texas about a girl there and she was saying we seemed like a good fit for the girl. She said they would go to committee in a month and would let us know. A month and a half later, I contact the caseworker, asking, "What's going on?" She says, "Oh, we haven't gone to committee yet." Umm... okay. "When do you expect to?" She's all, "We don't have a date set yet. You are still under consideration for her, though. Sorry for the inconvenience." That was 2 months ago, ya'll! And guess what? She's still on the website, waiting for a permanent home. Wtf?!?

This process has just been killing me. I had decided when we started this whole process that I wasn't going to take time off work until we were connected with a kid coz I have a limited amount of time off from work and I wanted to be able to take some time off when we were finally chosen. I did book some time off around the holidays at the end of the year coz I like to do it then. Kind of a nice way to unwind after the holidays. And then we came up for a 10 year old girl here in Utah. I had just been getting ready to make vacation plans coz work has been so frantic lately and it's been way stressful. I mean really stressful. Like, "Put down that uzi and back away with your hands in the air and no one gets hurt," sort of stressful. So I put off plans while we waited for the committee to convene on this girl. Then we get told that another family was chosen for her.

And I'm like, I can't do this anymore. I can't. This stress of trying to find a kid, the lack of communication. The waiting, the wondering. Knowing you're being considered and then told that another family was chosen. And I know it's all about trying to find the right family and all. But how do they know we aren't the right family? It's a judgment call based off a generic home study. They don't know the families they are considering. My bet is that they haven't even met most of the families. How can anyone, in good conscience, make that kind of call?

And then there's the fact that you're actually encouraged to use, as Brad so efficiently puts it, the "shotgun approach", where you're firing out inquiries and home studies on any kid that you might even be remotely interested in just hoping to hit something. I don't think that's a great way to select a family for a kid.

So I book some time off after the 4th of July. Because, you know, I've wiped out all the Ben & Jerry's at the local Walmart from all the stress of not being chosen for a kid and from work and neeeeding some time off, oh my GOD! I need time off! And I book some more time off around the Labor Day weekend, trying to combine my vacation time with a paid holiday to get the most bang for my buck. And I have 2 vacation days left that I haven't booked. And then I get an email from my dad, I'm not even kidding, less than a week after I've booked my flight out to Orlando to visit my sis over the Labor Day weekend (my non-refundable tickets, mind you), telling me that he and my step-mom are coming out to visit in September. Aarrrgh! Okay. Well, it's probably a good thing coz my kids haven't seen him in such a long time and the guy is getting old. Like 80 years old. So okay, I'm contemplating the best way to work out how to take some time off to see him. Then out of the blue, the caseworker for the girl we just missed out on calls us and says, "The family we chose for her backed out. You're next up."

*bonk bonk bonk* goes my head against the wall.

So we get to meet with the caseworker tomorrow night to go over... I dunno what we're going over. Stuff. Information about the girl, K. We know a lot about her already but I guess there's more to know. Then sometime after that? We go to committee again to have our petition for K approved. We don't even know when it goes to committee. We don't know when, or even if, we'll get approved and get to meet K. We don't know when we'll be bringing her home with us. More uncertainty. I feel my heart growing weaker as I type. I need more ice cream.

The Saga Continues....

So last we met, I mentioned that we decided to go forward with trying to adopt a child from foster care. This is the reason I should have started the blog back in January. It only took me three posts to get around to explaining myself. I think that might be a record!

Anyway, having had a turbulent adulthood, I was very worried about the home study process. I was worried that I was going to be told that I wasn't good enough. You have tons of hoops to jump through just to prepare for the home study: criminal background check, child abuse background check, proof of insurance, references, medical check-up, basic income and debt information, guardianship agreement, and an anal probe. That last part might not be true. Next, you get grilled about your upbringing, your life, your kids (if you have any), family, significant relationships, employment, religious affiliation, etc, etc. By the time you get done, you think maybe an anal probe might have been easier and less painful!

In the end, though, we were approved for adoption. Huzzah, we thought! Here we go. Next stop: Kid World, where we get to shop for a new kid. Hey, this is better than trying to have your own. They've already been potty-trained, feed themselves, and sleep through the night! You already know what their personalities are going to be like, you know what their hang-ups are, and you have a whole team of experts to help you, unlike having your own newborn baby. I tell my boss, "We're going to be adopting," to prepare him for the time I'm going to need to take off. Coz I'm responsible like that, yo! He says, "When?" I say, "I don't actually know. Probably no sooner than a month." A month! Hah!

Of course it's not that easy. No one tells you that adopting from foster care isn't that easy. You always hear that adoption can be a long process but you think of that in terms of newborn adoption because everyone wants a newborn. But adopting an older child from the foster care system? You get it pounded in your head over and over how badly these kids need permanent homes. And you open your heart and you say, "Hey! We got approved for adoption. We're willing to open our home to these kids." What they don't tell you is that there a plenty of other families trying to adopt these same kids, too. I am not even kidding, there are kids we submitted our home study for that had literally a hundred or more families submitting home studies for them, too! A hundred? Or more? Why didn't anyone tell us this???

On top of that, each state has its own rules/regulations/laws/what-have-you regarding adopting from foster care. Some states will allow prospective families to work directly with caseworkers. Others want you to go through an adoption agency and the caseworkers won't talk directly to the families. Which really makes it hard if you are looking outside your own state for a child to adopt. Particularly, if you live in a state, like we do, that does NOT require families to use an adoption agency. And guess what? *snort* Guess what??? Our state does not have any adoption agencies that work within the foster care system. Ahhahahahhahah awww crap! The difficulty of finding a child just increased exponentially.

So, we just start checking websites with photolistings of kids. We send out inquiries. Sometimes we'd hear back with more info on the kids. Sometimes we heard nothing at all. There are some states that are really horrible about getting back to you but I won't mention any names. *coughcoloradocough* Or we'd hear back and they'd say, "Send your home study!" Which we would do. Only to not hear anything back. So we'd email or call after a month. Sometimes we'd get a response, sometimes we didn't. And I'm thinking, "Why is it so freaking hard?!?" Okay, I get the caseworkers are probably super-duper ultra busy-like. But dude! How hard is it to take an hour or two each day, or an entire day once a week, and freakin' UPDATE people! I dunno. I'm sure that if there were any caseworkers reading this, they'd probably ream me a new one but honestly, I'd really like to know.

Look, I'm busy, too. I'm a mom, a wife, I have a full-time job that has been mega-busy lately. I got tons going on, too. Yet if I can manage to take a few minutes out of my day to shoot off an email and say, "What's up with the kid? Are you finding him/her a home or not", then they should be able to shoot a quick email and say, "We're working on it, Ms. Impatient!" Or, "We don't like you for this kid so just bugger off," or, "We like you for this kid but there's a bunch of other stuff we gotta deal with so just cool your jets." Something like that. Anything. Honestly, I think that's been the hardest part. It's not like we've been at it all that long. It's just the lack of info, the lack of communication, sending out information, talking to people (if you get that lucky), and never hearing back yet still seeing the kids listed on websites as needing a home. All I wanted was someone to tell me what's going on.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Beginning. Sort of.

So because I'm absolutely brilliant, I made a comment in my last post about how I should have started this blog back in January but then I never said why. Which I will do in a moment. First, a little bit about me. Coz this is my blog and it makes sense to mention a little bit about me.

My name is Diana. I am a 42 year old mother of 3, with a 4th on the way. No, I'm not pregnant but we are adopting, which I will talk about momentarily. I am happily married to Brad for 2 years and we've been together going on 6 years. We have 19 year old Moon Unit, (almost) 14 year old Dweezil, and 10 year old Frank (names changed to protect the innocent). They are the bi-products of my previous marriage. Brad was not married previously and has no children of his own.

About 3 years ago, we unexpectedly found ourselves pregnant. Well, I was pregnant, not Brad, but you know what I mean. We had some mixed emotions on this. Brad had convinced himself that he did not want children, since he'd had some bad relationships and didn't think he would ever have any. I guess you could call it a defense mechanism. It's easier to accept not having children if you tell yourself you don't want any. And after having 3 children of my own, I had become quite convinced that I didn't want any more. Suddenly, here we were with the prospect of having a baby! It was overwhelming but after a while, the idea sunk in and we started to get excited about it. But when the 4th month rolled around, we miscarried. I won't burden you with the details because we have come to terms with this finally. Suffice it to say that it was a pretty horrible experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

We have tried unsuccessfully since then to get pregnant again. In the last 20 years, I have gotten pregnant 3 times accidentally but when I have tried (since the miscarriage and with my youngest son) to get pregnant, it just doesn't seem to happen, without a whole lot of help. Is this the definition of irony? I think it is.

For reasons that I can't explain, I have wanted to adopt a child for as long as I can remember, since I was very young for sure. I was unable to convince my ex to adopt and at first, I was unable to get Brad to agree to adoption either. But as time passed and we continued to be unable to get pregnant, he started to change his mind. We looked at first at infant adoption but that is an extremely costly process. I know it's totally un-PC to say this but I have come to feel that infant adoption is essentially legalized baby selling. I understand that there are a lot of legal things that need to happen in passing a child from one family to another and that good families need to be found to care for the infants but to me, that doesn't explain a lot of the costs associated with adopting an infant. I digress; this is one of my
many soapbox issues.

So we started looking into adopting a child from the foster care system. I mean, here are hundreds, possibly thousands?, of children who have had a rough start in life who need permanent homes, who need to know that someone out there loves them. They need loving families to care for them, too. They are just as worthy of a permanent home and family as are the newborn children.

We (read: I) started looking at the photolistings of children in foster care, waiting to be adopted, across the country. I found a couple of adorable children in Oregon and they are what started the ball rolling for us. We made the decision when we saw them to start moving forward on this process, getting our home study done in January and making our inquiries. Little did we know what we were in for.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Starting Over

So I feel in a lot of ways that I should have started this blog way back in January. Actually, I did try blogging before, I think it was a year ago? I don't know. But it didn't work because I really didn't feel like I had anything to say that I felt was worth trying to get people to read. And really, I didn't.

But I've been reading other blogs lately and realized that I could probably do one, too. I have occasional strokes of brilliance in the humor department (and by stroke, I don't mean my brain malfunctioned, although it sure seems like my brain malfunctions on a daily basis) and I have life experience (I am not old! Really! I mean it!) and I have new and exciting things getting ready to take place in my life over the coming weeks, with many challenges ahead. I want to share those with people. I'm hoping that people will find my blog, that they will read it when they find it (coz what good would it be if they see it and just pass on?) and I hope that they find something worthwhile in it to keep them coming back. I hope this to be a resource for some people, a place to share stories for other people, and I'm hoping that people will find a chuckle here once in a while. As our adventures pick up over the coming months, I want to be able to use this blog as a way to retain my humor as much as possible. Thus the name of this blog, which I hope will help me keep that in mind.

Welcome aboard.