Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unexpected Bumps

So there has been some silence since the home visit.

Let me begin by saying that our home passed all inspection.  Frankie, miraculously, was on excellent behavior and spent most of the visit chewing happily on her treat ball.  All the things that I could have thought to worry about turned out to be not a worry at all.  Our adoption counselor loved our home and all the fire safety items that we have put into place seem to have done their jobs.

That was the good stuff.

What I didn't know to worry about was what turned out to be the most stressful part of our process thus far.  Several months ago, we sent our adoption counselor a draft of our profile/dear birthparent letter.  We never heard back from her about it and we assumed that all was good.  So we began putting the profile into a book on Shutterfly.  We spent hours arranging the text and pictures until they were exactly where we wanted them.  We shared our profile with friends and family and felt incredibly proud of what we had done.  We felt that it so very accurately reflected who we are as a couple and we happy with it.  We even ordered one copy of the book to make sure that it looked good.  In our minds, we were done.  One more thing to cross off the list.

Well, apparently we are not quite done.  When our adoption counselor arrived at our home, we all sat together at the dining room table and we went through some of our paperwork.  After going through a few forms, she took out our profile draft that we had sent her and told us that she wanted to go through it with us.  For the next thirty minutes (or so) she proceeded to tell us all of the many things that were wrong with the letter.  Seriously, she said not one positive thing about our profile, but instead went paragraph by paragraph explaining what we had done wrong.  Her overall message seemed to be that we sounded too happy.  Truly.  She actually said that our letter was too upbeat.  She suggested that we want to focus on some of the struggles we have been through and also talk about our parenting ideals.  To be honest, there were things that she said that made a lot of sense.  However, there was just too much criticism to really be that effective.  It is not that she was criticizing our writing, it was almost as if she was telling us that we should portray ourselves as something that we are not.  She wanted us to focus on our struggles and we want to focus on all the good that is in our lives.  That is who we are.

As I sat there listening and taking notes and trying not to cry, I reassured myself that it couldn't possibly be as bad as I thought.  I am notorious for not taking criticism well, even in its most constructive state.  I figured that when all of this was over, Carla would tell me it wasn't as bad as I thought. Nope.  Turns out that Carla was just as annoyed as I was.  We both couldn't believe that this woman had our draft for three months and was only now saying anything to us.

Our adoption counselor finally stopped.  We finished the home visit.  She left and Carla and I went off to drown our sorrows in milkshakes and margaritas.  I got some wonderful advice from my mother (thanks mom) and we both decided we needed to just put the letter away for a while.

I now have a few days of distance from the whole thing.  I can now think more clearly and rationally about the whole thing.  Carla and I have both decided that THE most important thing for us is that our letter accurately portrays who we are.  We hope that our adoption counselor likes our letter and we will make some changes to ensure that happens, but more than anything we need to be who we are.  We need our letter to show the real us and we have to know that a birthmother will choose us because of that.

So, we will keep working on the letter.  Our deadline to be on the wait list is no longer the start of May.  Hopefully we will be there by the start of June.  Though we are ready to be done with this phase, we are somewhat at the mercy of our adoption counselor.  She now has to finish our homestudy report (which she has 30 days to complete) and only then can we move onto the waitlist.  So until then, we will continue to work on our profile and fill out the last few remaining pieces of paperwork.  I will try my best to be patient and know that someday we will be done with this and it will be worth it in the end.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Marathon of Cleaning

Carla and I just had an intense marathon cleaning session to prepare for tomorrow's home visit.  For those of you who don't know, Carla is THE most efficient person I know.  She has the ability to accomplish what would take me hours, in just a few minutes.  So basically, Carla cleaned the entire top floor and vacuumed and mopped all the floors on the bottom floor while I cleaned the basement floors and the kitchen.  I know it sounds really unfair, but for every ounce of efficiency that Carla has, I have an equal ounce of inefficiency.  But now the house is clean and I suppose that is all that matters.

Tomorrow will be the first time that we will have anyone from the adoption agency in our home.  I am nervous.  Mostly about the pup, but having someone in your home like this is just kind of a nerve racking experience.  I know things will go well, but until it is over, I will just be a bit on edge.

So think of us tomorrow at 4:00.  I will let you know how it goes!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gay Penguins and the First Hints of Anxiety

What a week! It truly feels as if this is the first chance that I have had to sit down and write about the many adoption-related thoughts and emotions that have been whirling around my head and heart this week.

I will start with the good ones.  On Tuesday, I read one of my favorite picture books to my class of fifth graders.  The book is called, And Tango Makes Three and it tells the true story of two male penguins who lived at the Central Park Zoo in New York.  While all the other penguins mated in pairs of one male and one female, these two male penguins wanted to spend their lives with each other.  Upon seeing these two male penguins attempt to sit on and incubate a rock, a kind-hearted zookeeper decided to give these two their own penguin egg.  He took an egg from a pair of penguins who continued to lay two eggs, but was only able to care for one of them and he gave the second egg to the pair of male penguins.  The egg hatches, the baby penguin is born.  They name him Tango and he is raised by the two male penguins.

It is an incredible book and each year, before I read it, I let the kids know that there are a lot of schools in our country who won't allow teachers to read the book.  I then read the story and sit in awe of the children's reaction.  In past years, my heart has been warmed by hearing the comments that the kids make.  Each year, several students talk about how silly they think it is that anyone would have a problem with this book.  And then, they go on to talk about how anyone who loves their child can be a family.

I am always inspired by this interaction with my students, but this year it just meant more.  Amidst our decision to adopt a child, I have often wondered what our child will encounter.  Will people question our family? Will people make comments to our child?  What kinds of hate will we face?  And then here was this group of twenty-one fifth grade students, telling me that it was okay to be any kind of family.  My class doesn't know that Carla and I are beginning the adoption process.  They know that I am gay and they know that Carla and I are married, but I am not sure that even crossed their minds much during this discussion.  Now I realize that not every child feels this way and I also realize that as these children grow up, their kind hearts might be swayed towards harsher sentiments.  But as I sat with my class on Tuesday and heard their comments, I was so hopeful that our child wouldn't grow up in a world as filled with hate as it is today.  My students make me so hopeful for the future.  The fact that picture books like this one even exist makes me hopeful for the future.  The fact that I feel safe to have this conversation with my students without fear of the repercussions it might bring  makes me feel hopeful for the future.  And knowing that there are children whose hearts are so full of love makes me incredibly hopeful for the future.

So that was a good day.

On Wednesday, Carla and I went to another adoption class.  This is our second to last class and it was called "Making Connections."  While all of our other classes have focused on the philosophies of open adoption and building empathy for the birthmothers, this was the first class that dealt with what happens  in the process of matching a birthmother with prospective adoptive parents and what happens once that match has been made.  I sat through much of that class with true pains of anxiety in my chest.  I have to say that these are the first real anxiety pains that I have felt in this process.  I am still not completely sure what led to the anxiety.

I think a piece of it was how real it all started to feel.  So much of our process has been consumed by paperwork and crossing items off of a checklist.  I don't think I have thought all that much about what happens when all the items have been crossed off.  It all of a sudden felt really real.  And while that feeling of realness is incredibly exciting, it is also somewhat terrifying.

Another piece of it has to be my terrible fear of rejection and failure.  Ever since I was young, I hated the thought of being rejected or of failing at something.  I used to convince myself that I had failed tests that I had taken, just to prepare myself for what the results would be.  Even when I knew I had done well, I still prepared myself for the worst because that way I never had to feel disappointed.  I can feel myself doing the same thing now.  I find myself saying things like, "It will be okay if it takes five years to be chosen."  I know that I am just trying to prepare myself so that I don't have to feel those dreaded feelings of disappointment.

And I guess the last piece of it is just the unknown.  Thus far, our adoption counselor has been able to tell us exactly what will happen each step of the process.  Once we are placed on that waiting list however, that all changes.  The control is completely out of our hands and it is hard to be prepared when the possibilities of what could happen are endless.

So all of that was swirling around in my head as we sat there for the two hour class.  As we left, I tried to explain what I was feeling to Carla, but couldn't quite get the words right.  I think I have a better understanding of it now.  But as we left that night, the one thing I knew for certain was how lucky I was to have Carla as my wife.  She is the opposite of me in many ways.  She is so optimistic and I am so incredibly thankful for that.  I can't even imagine what it would be like if we were both the way that I am.  I am thankful to have found someone as strong as she is and someone who is able to balance me so well.  She makes me feel like there is some possible way that we are going to make it through all of this and that at the end we are going to be family of more than just her and me. And for that I am incredibly thankful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's Conceivable...again

Hello all!  I actually have multiple things to write about, but not much time to write about them.  But, what I do have, is a new post on It's Conceivable.  So, if you are wondering what has been going on in our world of adoption, head over there and take a look at my latest post.  You can find it here:

Thanks for reading and stay tuned to find about what happened when I read about gay penguins to my fifth grade class and how our second to last adoption class goes (we are going tonight).