Monday, November 28, 2011

A Slight Change in Plans

Today was my first day back to work after a lovely five day break filled with a bit of work, but mostly just good times filled with family and friends (and shopping!).  Carla and I got a large portion of our holiday shopping done because I am determined to make this the year that we DON'T have to stop at Walmart or Target on Christmas Eve to pick up "just a few more things."  I must say that I am rather impressed with the shopping we did on Sunday.  We even went into a skateboard shop and custom built a skateboard for Carla's nephew.  We fully admitted to the lovely 12-year old helping us that we knew nothing about skateboards, but he was incredibly helpful anyway.  We now have a rather gruesome looking skateboard sitting in our hallway.  I am pretty sure this makes us the coolest aunt's ever.

Anyway,  I was sitting at my desk this morning while my students were in foreign language and I saw a text from Carla telling me to call her when I have a chance.  Now, this is a pretty rare thing.  Being a teacher is not one of those jobs that allows us to pick up the phone and make a call when you need to.  There are a lot of great perks about being a teacher, this just doesn't happen to be one of them.  So it is rare for Carla to ask me to call her during the work day and usually it doesn't mean good news.

So of course I began to panic, but had to wait until the kids were leaving the room for P.E. to be able to make the phone call.  So I instead decided to stealthily text Carla to find out what was going on.  Now this is no easy task as I hate for my students to see me texting during the work day and since they have the attention span of fleas with ADHD, it's hard to do much without distracting them.

So anyway, I texted Carla and I come to find out that our original adoption counselor, who we have yet to meet, just left on family leave.  So, our new counselor called Carla and was able to see us THIS FRIDAY instead of next Friday in order to do our initial consultation.  Yep, that's right.  That is only four days from today.  It works out well for both of us, since Carla's birthday is on Friday and I was planning to take the whole day off anyway. Now, we will be able to take this big and exciting step as a part of her birthday celebration.  I am thrilled.

I am sure as the day gets closer, I will become more nervous and think of many more things to worry about, but for today I am just excited.  Excited to really get this process started.  Excited to meet face-to-face with someone who is actually going to be able to help us to adopt a baby.  And excited to know that we get to have this meeting a whole week sooner than we thought we would.  Now I recognize that in the long run, one week does not make much of a difference.  But I just cannot explain how excited we are to have this meeting to look forward to.

So all in all, I must say that this news certainly helped to make the day a little bit easier and better.  Now, I just have to get through the next three and I can only imagine how painfully long those are going to feel.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving/We are Officially More Official

I was stuck between two titles for this post.  So I went with both.

In this week of Thanksgiving, I felt that I had to take a moment and be thankful.  I haven't had much time to sit and reflect on all the things in my life I have to be thankful, so I suppose this is as good as a place as any to begin.

There is much to be thankful for this year.  I am thankful for the incredible people in my life, the family that has supported me through my entire life, and the new family of my own that is beginning.  I am thankful that we were able to travel to a state that allowed Carla and me to get legally married and I am thankful that I live in a state that at least recognizes our relationship with many (though not all) of the legal rights that other married couples get.

I am thankful for family that loves and supports me. I am thankful for a mother who only sees the very best in me and would do anything in this world just to make me happy.  I am thankful for a father who consistently surprises me with the amount of love and pride that he has for me and who is stronger than he realizes and continues to fight to get himself well again.  I am thankful for a sister who doubles as my best friend and who is able to give of herself in incredible amounts to those of us lucky enough to be in her presence.  I am thankful for friends who understand my laziness about the telephone and who surround me with love and support and make my life so full.  And I am thankful for Carla.  I am thankful that I have found someone who makes life feel complete.  I am thankful for the ways that she fills my life with such love, would do anything to make a day a little easier and better, and makes me laugh no matter how crabby I might be.

I am thankful for a beautiful home, filled with quirky and entertaining animals, and filled with love and warmth to come home to every day.  And I am thankful that we live in a world that, though it is far from perfect, it makes room for a family with two moms. We live in a state that allows Carla and me to adopt a child, to put both of our names on a birth certificate, and to both be legally recognized as the child's parents.  I am filled with such excitement and anticipation at the journey that we are on and I recognize that just a few years ago, this journey would not have been possible and that in many places around the world, this journey still isn't possible for gay and lesbian couples.  So with each step along this path that we take, I am thankful for the opportunity to take it.

Well, that's enough of the being thankful for now.  Now on to the next step we have taken.  On the morning of Friday, December 9th, Carla and I will meet with our counselor from The Cradle for our initial consultation.  We will meet with Dana at the Evanston office and she told us to expect the meeting to last for 2 hours.  I cannot even imagine what we will talk about for 2 hours, but Carla and I are both extremely excited about the meeting.  We found out about the meeting as we were on a walk with the dog.  I took my phone out to check to see if I had any money left on my Starbucks card since we were walking past a Starbucks and I thought a coffee would be a delightful treat.  Well, I didn't have any money left on the card, but I did notice that I had a new email.  I opened it. Read it out loud to Carla and enormous smiles spread across both of our faces.  I think that each time we get to take another step that brings us closer to our goal, we just become giddy with excitement.

Of course as the meeting date moves closer, our excitement mixes with nervousness.  Neither Carla and I are totally comfortable talking to new people.  And we can't help but wonder what kind of an impression we will make on this woman.  Now, logically, we understand that this woman is not meeting with us to judge us and determine if she thinks we will make good parents or not, but it is hard to really believe that emotionally.  So of course there will be nerves.  I would imagine that as we prepare to walk into the meeting, there may even be feelings of extreme nausea.  But these nerves also excite me.  I only get this nervous when something really big is happening and this is certainly something big.  This step makes us feel so much more official.  Someone has been assigned to us! That is a big deal in my mind.

After the initial consultation we will be required to attend what they call, "Adoption 101."  This is a panel presentation with a birth mother, adoptive parents, and other experts on oped adoption.  And I believe once we attend that program, we will be able to actually begin the lengthy home study process.  I am still a bit fuzzy on all of the steps, but I am sure we will understand it all soon enough.

So as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I will be thankful for what I have been through, thankful for where I currently am, and extremely thankful for where I will be going.

Friday, November 11, 2011

First Dollars Spent

Up until a few days ago, all of the work we had done in terms of looking into adoption has been free and completely non-commital.  Well, with our first $500 check, that has all changed.  This past week, Carla and I filled out the first paperwork for The Cradle.  There is an initial application that is little more than filling out our names.  We filled that out and filled out the worksheet that went along with it.  The worksheet was an interesting activity.  We had to write down our reasons for wanting to adopt and also write down misconceptions about adoption that we have heard or have been told by other people.

As we worked on both the application and worksheet, we couldn't help but feel as if every answer that we wrote down was a kind of test.  Will someone think we are unfit to adopt because of an answer we write down?  Are they trying to trick us?  Now I know that none of these forms were any kind of test and that there are no judgements on our answers, but I still can't help but feel this way. It was probably a good think to think about because it helped me to resist my natural inclination to make bad jokes that I find funny but that often get me into trouble.  Those of you who know me, know that these jokes pop up at all the wrong times and I am going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn't happen around these fine adoption folks.

So on Wednesday morning, I took our paperwork and check into work to mail.  They are currently on their way to The Cradle and once they are received we will be assigned our counselor and have an initial meeting with him or her.  It's funny, but paying money has made this all seem much more real and much more official.  There is LOTS more money to be spent as the costs of adoption add up quickly.  But this first, small payment, has brought so much excitement and anticipation.  I am ready to get this process going and I am thankful that we chose an agency that is going to really be with us every single step of the way.  I like knowing that our application, worksheet, and check are currently on their way to the adoption agency.  I like knowing that soon we will be meeting the man or woman who is going to take us through this process.  I like knowing that it is all really beginning.

On a funny side note, the checks that Carla and I have, benefit the humane society and Carla pointed out that the check we were sending to The Cradle had written across the top, "Adopt your new best friend."  Again, hopefully they don't mistake this as some sort of bad joke.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Confession

Well, the weddings are over.  The gifts have been put away.  The thank you notes have been...well, they have been purchased.  This past week has passed in a blur fueled by the residual wedding high that has only now started to go away.  And now, we are back to the real world and I could not be happier.  Yes, I loved the excitement of the past two weekends, but I also love the comfort of sitting on the couch last night with Carla, with a bowl of popcorn, candles lit, watching a movie by ourselves (well, with the dog and cats curled closely by).  I love thinking about what is to come.  I love being able to turn our attention back to our next adventure of adoption.  I am so ready to get things started.  And so, I have turned back to the internet.

The internet and I have a love/hate relationship.  I love the information that is right at my fingertips and I hate the anxiety that all that information can bring.  This morning I went on the website of the adoption agency that we will be using and I started to scroll through the many families listed as potential adoptive families.  With each new page of pictures, my mind starts to turn.  I start to wonder how we will ever be matched with a birthmother.  Sometimes I get so ahead of myself and I start to dread the wait that we haven't even begun yet.  I know that I am supposed to stay positive and I completely recognize that if I am already feeling hopeless, then there is no hope for me to stay positive once we actually begin the process.  I wish I was the kind of person who could go into this with certainty and positivity and sometimes I am that kind of person.  But sometimes, I am not.

I feel the need to confess that I am already having doubts.  I have no doubts about this being what I want to do or how I want to do it, but doubts that I am strong enough to make it through the journey that is ahead of us.  So I thought I would put that out there into the world of the internet which and love and hate in equal parts and see what comes back.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream

Here is the blog post that I just wrote for It's Conceivable.  From now on, I promise to be a more dedicated blogger with more adoption news to share.  For now, here a wrap up of our wedding season:

As I sit here and type this blog post, my wife (that’s right, wife!) is unpacking the remainder of our wedding presents.  I could not be happier to say that our family is well on its way to being built after the past two weekends. 

Two weeks ago, we traveled to Vermont to have a legal wedding ceremony with a few of our friends and family.  The ceremony was held at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (that’s right, Ben and Jerry’s).  It was actually a beautifully perfect location. My sister and best friend preformed the ceremony in a charming little gazebo outside of the flavor graveyard.  It was an incredible ceremony and it felt so wonderful to know that we were legally married in a state that recognized our marriage as equally as anyone else’s.  Our reception was the factory tour that we went on after the ceremony.  The people at the factory were incredibly welcoming and sent us on the tour for free and gave everyone in our party two free scoops of ice cream.  It was pure perfection. 

When Carla and I became in engaged, we knew that we wanted to go somewhere where we could be legally married.  At the time, our home state of Illinois did not even grant civil unions to gay couples.  The best we could do was to register as domestic partners.  The wallet sized card that came along with this status as not much more than roommates did not satisfy our needs.  We wanted to be married.  Thinking about our options, we chose Vermont for its beauty and for the fact that it housed the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. So the decision was made. We would head to Vermont to have a legal wedding ceremony and then come back home to celebrate with all of our friends and family.   And then, this past June, civil unions became legalized in Illinois.  We were so happy that the bill passed, however, for us it was simply not enough.  There are so many people who challenge the legitimacy of our relationship and to us, a civil union still allowed people to view us as less than equal to other couples and other families.  As we prepare to bring a child into our family, we want to do everything that we can possibly do to show others that we are equal to any other family.  So while we are thrilled with the progress that the state of Illinois has made, we want more and we will not settle for less. 

So we continued with our plans to head to Vermont.  As we sat in the small town clerk’s office in Stowe, Vermont and filled out our marriage license, we both marveled at the fact that this loving act could be looked at with such hatred.  This small act of two people who love each other starting a family is the cause for such violent protest and controversy.  To us, nothing could have felt better and more right than to sit together and fill out a piece of paper that gives us the same legal rights as any other couple.  It brought tears to both of our eyes and I was so happy that we had made the decision to go to Vermont.  One day, I know that we will be able to do the same thing in our home state.  One day, I know that this country will remember that separate cannot be equal.  One day, I know that our children will be able to look at our family and know that we really are just like every other family.  Until then, we will see ourselves that way and take comfort in knowing that those who love us know that our marriage is something to be marveled at. 

After the ceremony in Vermont, we returned home to prepare for our wedding here in Chicago.  The week passed slowly until we finally arrived at this past weekend.  It was a beautiful fall weekend. The air was crisp and the sky was clear.  The festivities began on Friday evening as friends and family gathered from across the country for our rehearsal dinner.  The love in the room was obvious and the excitement began to grow.  Carla and I said goodbye to each other after dinner and spent the next 24 hours in eager anticipation.  The wedding itself was magical.  It was an incredible moment and the love that I felt for Carla the weekend before in Vermont was matched by the love that everyone felt for us as a couple. 

So many times during the night, I thought to myself about all those kids that feel like their lives will never be good or happy because they are gay.  I so badly wished that somehow all those kids who have spent every waking minute feeling bad about themselves could see the love that surrounded Carla and me at our wedding.  I wished that they could see the way people wanted to celebrate our love.  I wished they could see the joy that was exploding from both of our hearts and the support that we received from everyone in that room.  Because I know that if they could see that, they would know that it really does get better.  It isn’t just something people say to try and make them feel better and the proof of it was sitting there in that room. 

At the end of the night, Carla and I danced one final slow song together and a tight circle of our closest friends and family surrounded us.  I looked into the eyes of the woman that I know is my soul mate and the person that I am going to spend the rest of my life loving and I truly believed that anyone who saw us at that moment would find it difficult to find a reason to say that we shouldn’t be allowed to get married.  Of course I know better.  I know that there will always be people who find a reason to make that claim, but in that moment of such love and support I just couldn’t believe that it was possible. 

And now, Carla and I are ready to turn our attention back to the adoption process.  We see our wedding gifts as a start to what we have happily dubbed as, “The Expand a Family Fund.”  No matter what the world around us says, we know that we are going to offer a child an amazing home filled with love and stability and a strong sense of the power of family.  And so we will continue down the road towards adoption as a happily married couple ready to deal with all that comes along because we know the strength of our marriage and of our relationship and we know that one day others will recognize it as well.