November 30, 2007

Updated

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 9:36 pm by Erin

I’m just too tired to think of a whole lot right now, but I had to update you on the current situation.  I was on the phone with J tonight as we were driving home (separately, P was with him) and saying that I didn’t know what to do, that I was completely at a loss.  I’d spent all day composing e-mails in my head to Ms. IU, saying things like "Thank you so much for your concern, and your apology about sending us a referral and forcing us to make this heart-wrenching decision.  We really appreciate knowing that you were there for us…oh, wait.  You DIDN’T do that.  You never even bothered to write back," and there were various invectives and cleverly insulting sarcastic phrases that were built in to what probably would have been an enormous e-mail berating them for their treatment of M and of us.

Rachel, I was going to ask you to go to Ms. IU’s desk to just tell her "I’m just going to stand here until you call Erin.  Just stand until you pick up the phone and call."

Then my call waiting beeped and I recognized Ms IU’s area code.  So I told J that I would see him at home and took her call.  She started out with an apology, saying how sorry she was and how she knew that it was immensely painful for all of us, that she just feels terrible for not waiting for the report.  She said that normally the pediatricians catch anything major, and the initial report did say there were no neurological or musculoskeletal problems, so she assumed that the further neurological testing was just to be on the safe side.  She figured that if there were such a problem, the initial tests would have revealed it.  She said she was absolutely blindsided by it as well, and immediately knew that it was the worst possible news that we could have gotten.

She apologized for not having called sooner, but apparently our social worker (who was sent all of our information about our referral and also this new information) assured her that she would call us and offer us her support and anything we need.  You might remember our social worker.  That was just one of many issues that we had with her.  Needless to say, we never heard anything from her.  We also never heard from the homestudy agency for whom she contracts, who also assured Ms IU that they would be sure we had the support that we needed.  I know for sure that they got the information, because Ms. IU sent it to all of us in one e-mail.  We heard nothing from them.  We’ve been getting through it because we were blessed with such wonderful family and friends.  The people who truly care about us.  Those that we’ve paid thousands of dollars?  Nada.

Then she felt terribly sorry for having not called sooner.  She said that she didn’t want to just e-mail us, because this was something that needed to come in a phone call so she could talk to us.  Her daughter was ill today and she was with her all day, and had to wait until she could get some time alone so that she could talk to us.  She felt bad for doing it but thought that we had other support from the homestudy agency and would be OK until she could call.

I told her everything that was in the e-mail again.  Normally, I’m terrible about confrontation but all I had to do was picture the look in P’s eyes to keep my resolve to get this straightened out.  I explained how we had gone through a lot of guilt back then to get the special-needs page filled out, and it was so hard then.  She apologized again, explained again that she had never dreamed that this would happen–they’ve only ever had something like this happen once before, when a baby girl was discovered to be blind after the family had already accepted the referral and were about to travel.  I told her that I wanted so much for us to be M’s family, and it was killing me that I knew we couldn’t be.  She said she admired that we were able to make this decision, because she’d been partly afraid (after she heard the diagnosis) that we’d try to take on something we’d said we couldn’t handle and not realize that we were right about not being able to handle it until after M was home.  She assured me that there is another family with a dossier already accepted who will be given his referral and who has indicated that they can handle his type of cerebral palsy–he will not sit in the care center without a family for a long time, which was another huge worry and fear of mine.  I was so afraid that a little boy with CP wouldn’t find a family, and I’m so relieved to know that someone out there is the kind of angel that we just couldn’t be, and will love and care for this beautiful little boy the way he deserves to be loved and cared for.

She said all the things I needed her to say.  She truly made me feel like it was a terrible mistake, a completely unexpected situation, and one that she never, ever would have made if she’d known.  It was just want I needed to hear her say to help me feel like we can still work with them through this.  And then she said something else.

She told us that it’s up to us to decide when we’re ready.  She didn’t want to color our thoughts, but there’s another option.  I asked "Another referral?" and she said "Yes." 

I said I would talk it over with J and we would get back to her.  I didn’t ask anything about the little boy, not even his age (though I wanted to), because I want us to make the decision about if we’re ready without another "real" little boy in my mind.  I know there are people behind us in line at our agency who can be given that referral if we’re not ready, and so I’m not worried about that.

It just seemed like everything was so right with M’s referral.  Even part of his last name was a typically American name that happens to be a family name on both J’s and my sides of the family.  He and P were the perfect ages apart to share a room and still be only one grade apart in school.  And by damn, but he is such a perfect little boy.  I told a friend that part of me had wondered what our son would look like, but when I opened M’s picture, there was a sense of knowing.  My first thought was "Of course that’s what he looks like."  Not surprise, just knowing that was him.  As if I’d known him forever.  I had almost the identical response when P was born and they told me he was a boy (we hadn’t found out ahead of time)–my first thought was "Of course he is!"

I’m doing better than I was.  I cried a lot yesterday.  I spent the day on the verge of tears, cried a lot at home after P went to bed, and cried a lot more when I went to bed.  I think it was cleansing.  Today, I didn’t cry.  I almost cried once, but didn’t really need to.  I actually felt hunger, and I even ate two meals (and Christy, you are an angel for bringing us dinner…thank you so much, you have no idea how much that helped us).  I hadn’t really eaten since we got the news–I had a milkshake last night and that was the sum total of my calories for yesterday.  The day before, I had part of a Sprite.

I’m still really sad, but knowing that M will have a family soon is helping.  Having cried enough to let it out helps.  The fact that I’m insanely busy with a major conference in town (I’m just attending), a choir concert tomorrow night, P’s birthday party on Sunday, P’s birthday Monday, Hanukkah starting Tuesday, the last week of classes is this coming week–all of that helps me keep it off my mind.  I find myself tuning out of things to think of M, but it doesn’t make me so sad that I have to excuse myself from a seminar to cry in the bathroom (that was yesterday).  I look at his picture a lot, and I talk to him often as if he could hear me.  I’m going to write him a letter that I’ll never send, that he’ll never read, just to say the things that I would tell him if I could.  But it doesn’t make me feel so awful now, because I do know that it’s the right decision.

I don’t know if we’ll ask to see this referral.  J feels ready, but he admits that he had only started letting himself feel excitement about M’s referral the night that we signed the acceptance paperwork, which was the night before we found out about his CP.  He says it’s up to me to figure out when I’m ready.  He did ask "What if this is meant to be our son?"  I don’t know.  I thought M was meant to be our son.  Now I feel like I can’t trust myself.  And truthfully, it’s not fair to the other little boy to compare him to M.  Now there is a picture in my mind, and I need to figure out if I’m OK with something different yet. 

If we do decide to see it and end up accepting it, or even if we wait a while and accept another referral another time, we won’t tell P until we’re through courts–probably not until we have a travel date.  He needs the time to grieve and recover, and I never want to be responsible for putting that look on his face ever again.  If we’re through courts and have a travel date, it’ll give him about a month or so to get excited–which, for a 4-year-old, is probably plenty of time.  We probably won’t tell our families until then either.  I don’t know if I’ll write about it here.  I just feel this need to protect us and not open up my heart to congratulations or even good wishes, when I’m not sure if I can handle them yet.  Gee, sounds a lot like infertility.  At least we’re back on familiar ground.

I just don’t know what we’ll do.  I’m going to do a lot of heart-searching this weekend and see what I come up with.  And then if I’m not done, I’ll keep one searching until I find an answer.

Thank you all again.  Your anger on my behalf really, really helped me.  Feel free to put it aside and know that I really do believe Ms IU didn’t just try to pawn M off on us because she thought we could take care of him (especially because there is another family already who can accept his referral with that diagnosis).  Maybe I’m being naive, maybe I just want to believe it, but I really do need to believe it or I don’t know that we could keep going.  And I do believe her.

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November 29, 2007

More of the story

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 6:53 pm by Erin

We thought we had all the information.  We had a report saying that M had been evaluated by a pediatrician and the tests didn’t reveal any neurological or musculoskeletal problems.  We got the diagnosis of CP yesterday and the full report came in this morning with a message from Ms. IU saying that she knew this was difficult and that they would support us either way we decided.  I sent back the following e-mail:

"Ms. IU,

I actually left you a message late yesterday afternoon to say that we can’t accept this referral.  It took us a month to fill out the special-needs page of the initial application because we wanted to do full research and make truly informed decisions, and cerebral palsy was one that we just didn’t feel would be one that we could handle.  We were hoping that filling out that page in February would have helped us avoid the position that you’ve put us in, where we received a picture and fell in love with a little boy.  We had told everyone about M and how excited we were.  I cried all day yesterday, hoping there was something we could do and knowing that we couldn’t.  We don’t have the physical living space or financial means available for a little boy with spastic diplegia.  Today we had to break P’s heart by telling him that M wasn’t going to be his little brother, that M would have a different family.  When I tried to tell him that you’d help us find him a little brother who will come home, he immediately said he didn’t want that and burst into tears.  I’ve never seen my son so devastated. 

We thought you had given us all the information.  We didn’t realize that there were ongoing tests or even that they suspected that he might have CP.  We thought the evaluation saying that there were no musculoskeletal problems was the only one there was, so we’d been proceeding with the assumption that we could deal with whatever the issue was.  We signed all the acceptance paperwork on Tuesday night, and J had it at his office to fax to you when your e-mail came in.  Did you know that they were doing these tests?  We really feel like we should never have been given a referral for a little boy who was suspected of having a condition that we indicated we couldn’t handle.  We wouldn’t have lost our hearts to this beautiful little boy, and we wouldn’t all be grieving right now.  I know you can’t predict everything and that certain things are unknown.  That is something we were willing to risk.  But apparently there was a pretty strong suspicion about what was happening and the referral should have waited a week until the tests were done so that we could have proceeded with all of the information.  Actually, we wouldn’t have been sent the referral because that’s a condition we decided we couldn’t handle.  We thought it was difficult to make that decision when it was just theoretical–we went through a lot of guilt feeling like we aren’t good enough people to be able to handle a condition like that.  Now we are heartbroken and grieving for ourselves and M.

I don’t know where we go from this point on, but we’re nowhere near ready for anything.  Please do let us know when M’s referral is accepted by another family, as we will always love him and hope for the best for him."

While going through this whole process, Ms. Ignores Us was Ms. Communicative.  Strangely, after I sent that e-mail, she reverted to true Ms. IU form.  I haven’t heard a single word from her.  Some fucking support.

***********************************************

Having just checked back to the original e-mail that we got from Ms. IU, there was a note from the pediatrician saying "Since I wanted M to be checked by neurologist for further evaluation, please wait till I send you the result."  Apparently, they decided not to, and we thought that the report we had was the one they’d been waiting on.  But they knew.  They KNEW they didn’t fucking send us everything.  J said they probably just got excited and sent it to us anyway, but we paid them a fucking boatload of money to look out for our best interests.  We were willing to pay them more than some other agencies because they are such an old and well-established and ethical agency.  Bullshit. 

I am so fucking furious with them.  I’ve been trying hard not to be cynical about it, but M was surrendered directly to the agency and they have total responsibility for him.  J thinks that they saw our financial statement of assets and decided that we could afford the care that M would need.  On paper, our assets are a hell of a lot more impressive than our bank accounts because of J’s interest in his different companies…it’s not money we can access.  Given the original e-mail, that maybe I should have read more carefully (but the pediatrician ASKED THEM NOT TO SEND IT OUT), it’s hard not to believe that’s what they did–look for someone who could take over the costs of his care as quickly as possible.  We don’t have that money but even if we did, we deliberately made the decision that CP wasn’t something we could handle.  We went through hell filling out that page of the application–guilt, grief, feeling like we’re not good enough people to be able to accept anything that’s handed to us–and they should have fucking respected that.

I am so damned angry right now.  Ms. IU didn’t have to look an almost-4-year-old in the eyes and tell him that the people who’d told him that M would be coming to our family told us that instead, M will have another family.  She didn’t have to listen to him sob and insist that he didn’t want another little brother.

I let those barriers I’d built up around my heart fall down.  I hadn’t allowed myself to dream and hope like that since the end of my pregnancy with P, when I truly believed that there was a baby coming home with us.  I went through hell during infertility, but I’d still kept a part of my heart separate and protected.  I didn’t do that when we got M’s referral.  I let myself love that little boy with all the love in my heart.  I opened his picture on every computer I was on and my phone dozens of times a day, just to whisper "Hello, my beautiful boy.  My sweet boy."  Now I can barely look at his picture because I feel like a terrible person to look at that perfect little boy and know that his physical condition is just one we can’t handle.

There’s more…oh, there’s more…there is so much anger and grief and pain in my body that I can hardly move for the anguish.  But I think I’ll end there for now.  My tears are going to short out the keyboard.

November 28, 2007

Grief and devastation

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 5:20 pm by Erin

M has cerebral palsy.  Pretty severe cerebral palsy.  Cerebral palsy was something that, months ago when J and I were filling out the list of special needs that we could accept and not accept, we decided that we weren’t prepared to handle.

We’re still not prepared to handle it.

We’ve declined the referral.

I am heartbroken.

November 25, 2007

Hopes and dreams abound

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 12:57 pm by Erin

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your warm congratulations and wishes–the smile hasn’t left my face in days, and your comments have made it even bigger.  Yesterday, a friend at synagogue (who has a biological daughter and adopted a special-needs daughter from China) told me that I have a definite "new mom glow," and I can feel it.  It’s as though I can’t smile big enough or explain thoroughly the sheer joy that is coursing through me.

I can’t go an hour without looking at his picture, though it’s imprinted on my heart forever.  It’s so wonderful to have a name, though I’ve been saying "our son" for so long that it’s a hard habit to break.  And I’m not entirely sure how to pronounce his name (it’s spelled two different ways on his paperwork and I’m not sure which one is right), but I’m going to ask which is the correct spelling tomorrow so that I can find out how it’s properly pronounced.

Everyone has been wonderful.  I told my family while they were up at my uncle’s house for Thanksgiving, so that they could celebrate together.  I took a picture with my phone of the photo we have and sent it to them so that they could see his beautiful face.  We told J’s family the same day and e-mailed them the photo–they are thrilled and can’t wait to have him home.  Another friend said that I’m going to have to watch out for the girls someday because I have two beautiful sons with the most gorgeous brown eyes.  I told friends at synagogue by having P tell them "I have a little brother!"  Their reactions were uniformly thrilled, and one is planning a shower for us in February–she’s going to ask people to bring things that we can donate in Ethiopia (band-aids, diaper rash ointment, etc), since we really don’t need anything otherwise.

I can’t stop making plans either–P and M will be sharing a room since they’re 18 months apart in age, so we’ll be buying a loft bunk-bed (which P has been wanting anyway).  I’m already thinking about buying matching sheets and comforters, another dresser, rearranging the furniture, painting the room.  I’m thinking about buying M new clothes, though I want to wait and see how big he’s going to be when he comes home (he put on almost a kilo in the first two weeks he was at the care center–he’s quite malnourished).  I’m planning day care and carseats and thinking about how, if we can go to Ethiopia during spring break, I’ll only have another 7 weeks of work (2 1/2 days a week) and then get 3 full months home with both of my boys.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.  Having you all here through this process has gotten me through a lot of rough days and I am so happy to be sharing this news with you.

November 21, 2007

“Who has dreamt about you”

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 11:52 am by Erin

It was the call.

It was every bit as amazing as I could have dreamed about.  The phone buzzed in my pocket and I looked at the number.  It wasn’t even the area code of our agency but somehow I knew as soon as I saw it.  It was Ms. IU, who said "I have a little boy I’d like to tell you about," and I immediately started shaking and crying.  I managed to talk through the conversation, though I probably only took in about half of the information that she gave me.  And then I got off the phone and sobbed.  My friend Courtney was there since we took our boys to the zoo this morning–we had just finished lunch–and she sobbed with me.  I drove home very carefully to get the e-mail and see his picture and read all there was.

He may be 2 1/2 or may be younger–he’s not any older than that.  He is 22 lbs and 32" tall.  He has some medical issues that we can likely accept, though we will have a pediatrician check out the information that we have.  We know a ton of information about his family.

And his name means "Who has dreamt about you".  It was given to him by his mother, with whom he lived until three weeks ago.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.  All this time, I’ve prayed that he would be with his family as long as possible, because I wanted him to be with the people who most loved him.  We will almost definitely get to meet them when we go to Ethiopia to get him.

J is at work and so I forwarded him everything after calling to tell him he was going to be a daddy again.  I showed his picture to P and told him that was his little brother (in retrospect, it might have been better to wait, but I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly).  His immediate response was "Why is he that color?"  I told him that that was the color of people in Ethiopia, just like some of his friends who are from Ethiopia (which we’d talked about before, but it clearly hadn’t stuck).  He said "Oh.  He’s so cute!  Look at his cute smile–it’s just like this" and imitated the expression on his face.  And then I started crying again and hugged him so tightly.

I have another son.  Another adorable, perfect son.  I am the luckiest of women to have been so blessed.

November 20, 2007

Cruel and unusual punishment is…

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 3:41 pm by Erin

…a call from my agency contact person (Ms. IU), simply asking us to call her back.  A call received on my cell phone during work, when my office does not have cell phone reception.  But a call that, for some reason, caused the voice mail notification to chime…even though there is no reception there.  And deciding, even though I’ve had this funny tingle at the back of my brain about the adoption all day, to wait until later to go outside and check my messages.

Forgetting about the voice mail notification and, for possibly the first time ever, getting out to the car without checking to see if there was any voice mail (seriously, that’s the first thing I do when I get outside is to check my phone).  Forgetting about it for so long that I not only got into the car, but I got P from school, went swimming with him for a whole freaking hour, and got back into the car.

Remembering that there was a voice mail.  Hearing "Hi, this is Ms. IU from Your Adoption Agency.  I’m just trying to reach Erin or J–can you give me a call back at your earliest convenience?  Thanks," and immediately starting to shake.  Pulling the car back over in the parking lot, shaking hard the whole while.  Calling back at 2 p.m. their time, only to get her voice mail immediately picking up and informing me that their office closes at 2:30 p.m.  Thinking "that’s only 30 minutes from now."  Leaving a message but still calling back twice more in those 30 minutes, only to have voice mail pick up immediately each time.

Realizing that a lot of people leave early for Thanksgiving.  Not knowing if our agency is open tomorrow.  Realizing that we may have to wait until Monday to find out what’s going on.

And all the while thinking that if she was calling about a problem with our dossier, she would have mentioned it in her message.  Because she has to know what a waiting family would think when receiving a simple message like that.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, will you?  I’m on the verge of tears here.

More “tingly” news

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 6:47 am by Erin

With the referrals issued yesterday, we’re pretty much the only ones on our agency’s unofficial list who is waiting for a boy older than 12-18 months.

Another family who was waiting for their child of the same age waited 3 months and 1 day for a referral from the time that their dossier was accepted.

We’re at 2 months and 2 weeks.

Maybe we’ll be planning a spring break trip to Ethiopia?

November 19, 2007

Isn’t this a little weird?

Posted in The musings of Erin at 6:42 am by Erin

P is going to be 4 in a couple of weeks (and that’s another whole post in itself), and his party is the day before his birthday.  We’re holding it with two other boys from his class whose birthdays are right around the same time because his class has the rule that if you want to hand out invitations at school, the entire class has to be invited.  None of us felt like we could handle the expense or sheer hair-pulling madness of a party for 18+ children, so we’re doing it together.  The boys are great friends and can’t wait.  This will be the first time P’s party hasn’t been at home.  It will be at a playgym-type of place, which the kids will all love.

Each family invited a couple of kids from outside of the class, and one of the children that we invited is a friend of P’s who lives down the street.  We’ll call his friend George (George’s mom will be Faith and dad will be Tim–I’m in a country-music mood tonight). 

P and I ran into Tim and George at the grocery store the other day.  George climbed into our car-cart with P, with both Tim’s and my permission, and the two boys "drove" around the store while I did some shopping.  When we were done, we met up with Tim at the front of the store.  Tim promptly asks me if there will be any other men at P’s birthday party.  I reply that J will be there, the fathers of the other two boys will be there, and I suspect that there will be some other fathers there.  Tim replies with "Because I hate birthday parties.  I think they’re the most boring thing in the world.  I mean, I take George to the park and I’m ready to shoot myself after 10 minutes."  I stammered out something about how it was up to him and hoping that George will still come, and Tim says that Faith will be bringing him and he (Tim) just doesn’t know if he’ll come also.

OK, first of all, who says that kind of thing in front of their child???  That watching him play is the most boring thing in the world?  I was upset for George, and upset for P that Tim was saying that birthday parties are boring when P is so excited for his party. 

Second, if you think they’re that terrible, then don’t come.  The party is for the kids–the parents are welcome to come, but they don’t have to.  This place allows kids 3 and over (which is most of them) to be dropped off so the parents don’t have to stay unless they want to.  Most of them are looking forward to it–this is a new place and no one has had their party there yet, and it should be lots of fun.  He really doesn’t need to come with a bad attitude and make me feel apologetic because it’s not his "idea of a good time". 

Third, because I’m a very small person, I don’t want him embarrassing me in front of my other friends at P’s party.  Some of them are people I’ve become very close to, and I worry that he’ll offend them.  Tim’s a tactless guy (in case you couldn’t guess from his basically telling me that my son’s birthday party would be really boring), though he probably thinks he’s just telling it like it is.

I don’t particularly like Tim.  He’s come over to our house to offer "tips" on landscaping that would cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars (unsurprisingly, he’s a landscaper).  When we mentioned a few of our own thoughts that would cost a mere couple of hundred, he was dismissive.  When we explained that we were hoping to move to another area of town in the next year and really didn’t want to spend the kind of money he was suggesting, he said that we’ll turn into "(area of town) brats".  Well gee, Tim, many of our friends live over there.  Both J and I work there.  My synagogue is there.  P goes to school there.  Thanks so much for telling us that we’re becoming "brats".  Really nice.  We’ve made efforts to socialize with them, but neither J nor I really want to spend a whole lot of time with Tim.  It’s a shame, too, because I really like Faith and George.

I really hope he doesn’t come.    

November 15, 2007

Our dossier is in Ethiopia

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 7:35 pm by Erin

I keep checking the waiting child lists and so far, nothing that works for us.  But I check the unofficial list compiled by people who’ve adopted with our agency and, while we are #62 (not everyone who has applied is on there, only those who request it), there’s only one other family requesting a boy in the same ages as we would like.  Plenty of people who would like infants, plenty of people who want siblings, some who want girls in the same age range, but we’re one of only two who requested a toddler boy.

Our agency has an online section where you can go to check the status of your adoption.  I hadn’t done it in a while, because the last things that had been checked off were for our USCIS approval.  I wasn’t sure if they sent the dossier to Ethiopia ahead of time, or around the same time as the referral came.  Quite frankly, that didn’t really matter a whole lot to me.  It was in, it was complete, and our agency knows what they’re doing.

Our dossier went to Ethiopia on 10/29/07.  The next item on our list is "CHILD REFERRAL RECEIVED".

I sobbed when I read that.  I keep crying as I’m writing this.

November 12, 2007

Hubris is a bitch

Posted in The musings of Erin at 10:50 am by Erin

Last night, I made a comment to J that I was in pretty good shape for this week, because my lecture for my Tuesday class was done.  I’d spent close to 8 hours on it over the course of the weekend, but it was done and I only had to write up my lecture notes.

Guess whose flash drive decided to become corrupted sometime between taking it out of my laptop at home and putting it into my computer at work?  Guess who just lost all of that work and now has until 10 a.m. tomorrow to duplicate it plus write the lecture notes?  And guess who has choir rehearsal tonight and won’t be home until nearly 10 p.m.?

Suddenly, the week seems much bleaker.

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