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Archive for February, 2006

Thank You

Thank you, readers, for your words of support and really keen insight.

Ten minutes ago I finished my second and final written exam. Next week is the oral exam and then I am DONE! Um…until the Prospectus. And then I am DONE….until I write the dissertation…and defend it…and turn it into a book…and get a job…and get tenure. Oh, who am I kidding? Good thing I love most of it. But golly, this is the first exam I’ve taken in SEVEN YEARS.

Since some of you asked, my email address is jlpannell two at juno dot com. Can’t wait to hear from you!

I’ll put the next post to a vote: how many here want a review of the Diva Cup?

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The Change

Alright.  NOW I can write about our decision.  I was just waiting to hear back from our social worker.  As it turns out, she merely said, “yep, OK” to herself when receiving my email and didn’t see any need to respond.  I contacted her by phone and she knows so now you can know.

There are two problems with the situation we find ourselves in right now regarding the adoption process.  One, we are becoming increasingly uncomfortable working with our agency.  For some reason all of our situations, and all of the ones we’ve heard about from other people, are going through a social worker in another part of the state.  This other social worker is incompetent at best, unethical at worst.  Unfortunately our social worker persists in working with her despite how she’s bungled several situations from both birthparent and adoptive parent perspectives.  We don’t anticipate her working with any local situations in the near future, so the likelihood that we’d have to work with this other social worker is quite high.  We’re to the point where we can’t be sure whether or not our next situation will be handled capably and ethically.  So we’ve decided that we’re not willing to compromise on our standards for an ethical adoption just so we can be parents sooner.

Second, we’re tired.  The failed placement has taken a lot out of us and has affected other parts of our lives that need some serious attention at the moment.  It would do us a world of good to take a few months’ break before plunging back into the hell of waiting.

What we’ve decided to do, then, is to leave our agency and look for a new one in Iowa.  By the time we arrive we’d like to have everything transferred and be working directly with an Iowa agency.  Towards the end of our time in PA (we’re moving at the end of July) we’ll release our profile for anyone due after our arrival in Iowa.

I’m not happy that we’re back to square one with agencies, but this year we are MUCH more informed and have a better idea of what we want.  I don’t think our agency has a contract with the devil or anything, but now I’m looking for different things.  Specifically, I want an agency that has some built-in barriers to agency coercion and a bonafide plan to inform potential birthparents as well as possible about their parenting options.

Right now we’re considering Luthern Family Services.  They can do an update of our PA homestudy so we won’t have to pay for a whole new one.  Here’s what I like best though: when a woman comes in with an interest in adoption, their first move is to set her up with counseling.  They work with her to come up with both parenting and adoption plans.  That means that even if she says she is serious about adoption, they stress that the decision is not truly made until she meets her baby at birth.  If she decides to parent even after planning to place, she won’t have to scramble for parenting resources; she’ll have a plan in place for her and her baby.  Once the woman has talked through her options and is “serious” (I don’t know how they determine this), they show her profiles.  She’s encouraged to pick and meet as many families as possible.  They also strongly encourage mothers to spend time with their babies after birth before making the final decision.  They sound very mother-centered.

We’re of course looking at other agencies but this is the one we like so far.  If anyone has experience with them please let me know!  I don’t want to just take their word.

I feel simultaneously sad and relieved about our decision.  On the one hand, it is consistent with how we feel about adoption and will also free us up to concentrate on some other things for a while.  On the other hand, we’ve already been waiting a year and it is absolutely breaking my heart that we will now probably wait another year or longer.  One adoption professional from Iowa said that people are waiting a long time right now.  We’ll see.  But that the room we set aside here for our baby is going to stay empty is so hard.  I can’t bring myself to dismantle the crib yet or put the clothes in boxes.
We won’t have a baby the same age as my sisters-in-law’s babies, and we won’t get to baptize our baby at St. Benedict’s.  We will be far away from grandparents when he or she arrives.  Our narrative has been shattered and it is heartbreaking.

But I still think we’ll be parents someday.  Just not in the way we had envisioned.  And isn’t that always the way?

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Patience

I’m going to write about our change soon.  I am just waiting for Important Parties to respond so that I know they hear first before I publish anything here.  I am fairly certain that I.P. do not read this blog, but my policy is to write here as if everyone I know and his or her cousin-in-law reads the blog.

Things are too harried here for me to write in the interim.  I’m sorry about that.  Written exams are in a few short days and orals follow next week.  I am out of my mind.

Hope you are well.  Back in full force in the next few weeks.

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Changes Coming

This weekend Attic Man and I are “trying on” a decision we’re thinking of making regarding the adoption (don’t worry–it’s not bad).  We like to take a few days to live with a decision before we actually act on it.  I’ll let you know when we’re going public.

In the meantime, I am preparing for my written exams at the end of next week, and orals the week after that.

Life is good, and rich, and also hard.

I’m getting my hair cut at 3 and I might just chop it.  We’ll see.

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Here and OK

I have to run and give someone a make-up exam (he’s just terrible with lip shades, so I’m a tad worried) but I wanted y’all to know that things are fine and I’m still here.  I’ve been avoiding an update because I’m tired of doing updates and was waiting for an appropriate frame for recent events to write. But maybe when I get home I’ll write a little bit.

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It’s been a week since we found out about not-Boomer’s birth.  For the first three days or so it was all bad, all the time.  Then things started looking up more over the weekend.  Now it’s this bizarre roller coaster in which I get a surge of energy and happiness (thinking of our upcoming move, dreaming of the baby we will get to parent after all, accomplishing tasks that had piled up while I was moping around) followed by nosedive into exhaustion and irritability.  Since I have been on the almost no-sugar and almost completely whole-grain diet, my moods have been relatively stable (for the first time in my life), so I contribute the latest rather steep peaks and valleys to the mourning process.

This afternoon when I got home from teaching I had the impulse to do some neatening and re-organizing and it felt great.  Around here a flat, empty surface only stays that way for a few days or weeks—it’s hard to tell when the transition takes place—and then suddenly one day it is infested with bills, magazines, tax forms, calendars.  So I got rid of one infestation and in the process hung up the four 2006 calendars that had been lying around since Christmas.  I’d been putting it off because I thought it would be time-consuming.  15 minutes, a hammer, and four brads later they were up.

In addition, I made a tax appointment, figured out the budget through the end of the month, did three loads of laundry, transferred the 2005 receipts into an envelope, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, wrote a task-list for tomorrow (the place is getting shown again), and a bunch of other little jobs.

I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal but for me it’s exciting to finally be getting back on track.

Right now I’ve bottomed out and just want to sleep to make it go away.

***

So…whatyouall think of Cedar Rapids?  Attic Man has plans to go to law school in Iowa City, which we’ve heard wonderful things about, but the rents are high.  Cedar Rapids has much lower rents and in general seems like a nice place to live.  The AA population is about the same percentage-wise as I.C.

And if you are familiar with Cedar Rapids, where might we find a diverse-ish type of neighborhood?  We’re OK with being the minority as a couple as long as our kid gets to see people who look like him/her when out in the yard or going about his/her daily business.  This is a question we won’t be asking the real estate agent.

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I had another crash last night and I think I figured something out. On some level I feel like I’m not authorized to feel that I lost a child when in reality that child was never mine. We were merely waiting in the wings to parent him should his mother decide that was best for him. Part of it is my own framing of our relationship with Daisy: since we don’t believe in ‘matches,’ as a mother is not a birthmother until she signs the papers, and that too much matching business can lead to coercion, we set ourselves up to be nothing until those papers were signed. Now all of the sudden it’s everything to us, and I just can’t seem to reconcile those two sets of feelings.

What we want is an explanation from Daisy for why she changed her mind. Was it meeting her son? Did she decide herself to see him or did a nurse unaware of the adoption plan bring him in? Did she talk to her baby’s father? Did an orderly cluck and say, “I could never give up my baby!” Did she think about how hurt her other children would be, or how they might never understand why she placed?

And we want to know how he’s doing. Is he getting what he needs? Is he happy? Is he safe?

But we have no official right to these things. It is as if we never happened. It was a phantom relationship we had with this child and his family, but it doesn’t feel that way—it feels for all the world like we were his parents for 20 hours.

I’m not trying to universalize our experience. Ethically I still believe we were right to assume no official role until Daisy decided what that role would be. I am not suggesting any reform based on our ordeal.

What helps is that our loss is being recognized by the people around us in really amazing ways. That keeps me from saying “I don’t deserve to feel this way.”

***

Another thought I’ve had is how important it is for us to deal with this loss in a way that will strengthen us. Years ago I was watching some TV special on people who had made it to 100 years old or more. They were going through the obligatory list characteristics common to people who outlive their peers. One of them was the ability to deal with recurrent loss. Because really, if you make it to 100 you’ve gone through more than a few breakups and the loss of supple skin. You’ve probably lost a spouse, friends, your home, even possibly some of your children. So how I deal with what’s happening to us now will be, if I choose to make it thus, a model for how I deal with future losses.
What’s been amazing is how our marriage has taken this particular event. We’re doing so well with each other. Attic Man and I scrap a great deal on a day-to-day basis but when we’re up against the wall we’re a mighty force. It’s incredible. I’m wondering if the daily scrapping has something to do with it—a lot of it is us standing up for ourselves and working out how we’d like to be treated. So I guess some really foundational things are already settled by the time we come to face an external threat. Want to have a partner in times of adversity? Then go pick a fight! There’s always something. I don’t know that the little fights are what do it but whatever it is we are doing well with each other. It makes a world of difference.

But fuck, it still hurts like nothing else.

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