January 30, 2008

A mama again!

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 7:34 am by Erin

We made it through court–K is ours officially!  Here is his picture from when he was a year old (which will soon come down); he’s now 14 months old:

Melkamu Isn’t he beautiful?  We have an updated picture from earlier this month in which he’s clearly putting on some weight and his cheeks are kissably chubby.  We tell P that he had the same kind of fuzzy hair when he was that age!  We’re hoping to get an update on him again at some point–I wonder if he’s walking yet?  I know he’s talking–he was already putting two words together at a year.  Clearly my children are brilliant 🙂

Now we will be waiting for his birth certificate and then they will officially have a travel date for us.  There’s still a chance it will be at the end of February but apparently birth certificates are taking a little longer and now they’re thinking more early March.  I’m hoping desperately that I can work something out with my department so that we don’t have to wait until May.  I told my department chair last week that we were adopting and hoping to travel over spring break and he was very excited for us, but I don’t know what he’ll think if I want to take 2 weeks off work (and yes, I abhor the fact that I will have to go right back to work but I hate the idea of leaving him in the care center for another 2 months even more).

Anyway, I’ll dwell on that later.  For now, I have another beautiful son! 

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January 29, 2008

Court today

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 5:34 am by Erin

Am a nervous wreck.  Will keep you posted.

Updated: Being told that Ms. IU didn’t hear back from her contact person in Ethiopia today and she should know tomorrow.  Am glad that I am very busy for the rest of the day, as I am on pins and needles.

January 27, 2008

The long week

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:05 pm by Erin

It has just been relentless this week, one thing after another.  First, I was still sick from last week–not badly, just an annoying cough that has finally subsided today.  Second, we learned about the policy change at our agency, and that has been weighing heavily on both J and I.  Third, one of P’s teachers was fired for a reason that has all of us parents up in arms that she was fired at all, let alone for the reason that she was fired.  We had a meeting this morning to discuss it and a meeting scheduled with the school administration on Tuesday night.  The parents of 14 out of 15 of the kids in the class will be at the meeting, as well as the assistant director of the entire facility and the school’s director.  I don’t know that the administration knows what they’re in for.  Fourth, there was a conference that I attended from Friday to Saturday which, while not stressful and actually quite enjoyable, still required a drive and overnight stay on the night that I was most worried about P’s reaction to his teacher’s firing.  Fifth, J and I have been sniping at each other for a week now and it culminated in a major fight on Friday morning before I left–we’re OK now that we’ve had a chance to talk, but it was miserable until then.  Sixth, I had another Bradley childbirth class start tonight and was incredibly unenthusiastic about teaching again.  But the 6 couples will essentially pay for one of our tickets to Ethiopia, and we need the money.  Earlier this evening, I made the comment to J that it would probably be the last class I teach for a long time.  The money is wonderful but I need to be excited to teach it well.  I wasn’t particularly excited for my last class, and I think it showed.

As it turns out, this may be the best Bradley class I’ve taught in almost two years.  They are enthusiastic and personable, and they all already really like each other.  They stood around talking for 20 minutes after class ended, just getting to know one another and sharing stories.  It was wonderful to see, and really nice to know that I have a part in facilitating it.  I had a similar type of class in summer 2006 and it renewed my enthusiasm for teaching.  I’m hoping this one will do the same–I have a good feeling about it.

It was a nice way to end the weekend of an incredibly stressful week.

January 24, 2008

Moot

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 5:47 am by Erin

Thank you all for your words about my concern with meeting K’s mother.  I didn’t mean to imply that our words would be meaningless to her, simply that they seem so inadequate in light of the choices she’s had to make.  But I know that they would give her comfort and, while I was nervous, it was something that I knew I needed to do.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter anymore.

As of yesterday, our agency has suspended meetings with birth families.  Not only meeting, but future contact as well.  They say it’s something to do with the legal definition of an orphan and that they were getting pressure from the U.S. Embassy.  The agency says that they feel it is in direct contrast with the best interests of the adopted children and that they are going to try to work things out so that contact can be continued.  I would imagine that chances are slim that they’ll be worked out before we travel.

I am still in shock.  One of the reasons we chose the Ethiopian program, and especially our agency, was that they are very good about facilitating contact with the birth family–if your child’s family is known, you are expected to meet them.  We really wanted that, both for ourselves and for our child.  I was really happy that we knew K’s birth family–mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles–and was really hoping to meet as many of them as possible.  Knowing the circumstances behind his relinquishment, I would have been surprised if they didn’t want that as well.  I wanted to be able to show K pictures of them and talk about meeting them, to find out information about him when he was a baby and share that with him, and to have his birth family always know that he’s loved and happy and healthy.  And I can’t seem to process that we won’t be able to do that.  Even if they do allow us to contact his birth family in the future, we won’t be able to meet them when we go to get K.

One concern here is that our agency is not the only one that facilitates contact between adoptive and birth families, yet they seem to be the only one with this policy all of a sudden.  And it was sudden…families who are traveling later this week will not be allowed to meet the birth families, even if they’d already planned to do so.  Why would the US Embassy pressure one agency but not the others?  A bigger concern is whether they will be telling the birth families that the adoptive families are not ALLOWED to keep in touch.  I can’t imagine being a birth mother who had met her child’s adoptive family, expected to receive at least occasional pictures/letters, and then never heard from them again–and had no idea why.  It would be a complete betrayal.

My agency runs a forum for adoptive families and, needless to say, there is a lot of shock and sadness and anger over this policy change.  I’m going to be writing to my representatives, as was suggested on there.  Hopefully it will be altered quickly, because there is just no way to see this change in a positive light.  It hurts everyone and helps no one.

January 22, 2008

Fighting within

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 10:34 am by Erin

January 29th looms closer and closer.  It’s a week from today.  It’s our court date.

I am torn up about it.  I desperately hope that we make it through court on the first try.  I want K to come home, to be a part of our family and for us to love and raise.  But there is a war within me about the whole thing.  K’s mother will have to show up in court to relinquish her rights.  How can I want that to happen?  What kind of mother am I to want another woman to have to go through that pain?  I feel guilty and selfish, and horribly sad.

I think about her all the time.  I think about her as often as I think about K, because I can’t think about K without thinking about her.  I wonder how she is doing, and if she cries often at having no other choice but to let her firstborn child go.  I wonder what she thinks about when she thinks of K.  I wonder if her family is supportive of the plan or if they encourage her to forget about K, or if they didn’t want to let him go in the first place.  I wonder what she thinks about when she thinks about us–since there’s a court date, she knows that they’ve found a family for him but we are faceless to her.  She doesn’t know us.  She doesn’t know where her child will be going or living, or if we’re the kind of people who will want to forget about her existence.  She doesn’t know if her child will ever be brought back to see her again, or what he’ll be told about her.  She doesn’t know.  I would think that not knowing your child’s future would be the very worst.

I can’t imagine being a mother in such a position.  If she were to show up in court and say that she wanted him back, I could never blame her.  How could I blame a mother for wanting her child to come home?  It would devastate me but she has no responsibilities to me.  But I also know that if she shows up in court and affirms her decision to make the adoption plan, I know it will devastate her.  That she will go through hell all over again.  She already had to make the decision once–now she has to do it again.  I can’t imagine it.

I wanted to know our child’s mother and am extremely glad that we do so.  I hope she will want to meet us when we travel to Ethiopia, because I hope that maybe we can reassure her about some of her fears.  That sounds like the highest form of arrogance: "You’ve relinquished your child to a family and country thousands of miles away–let us make you feel better about it."  But I can’t help it.  I want to ask her what she hoped for K when she made the plan.  I want to tell her that we will send letters and pictures, that we will bring him back in the future.  I want to tell her that she will not be forgotten or ignored, that she holds an honored place in our family.  I want her to know that she will always be K’s mother.  But I know that little words like that will be mere sops, insignificant to the pain she will be feeling.

I’ve always known that adoption has its roots in pain–there’s no way around it, nor should there be.  But in the last few weeks, it has been hitting me more and more.  I have a hard time reconciling my desire for K to join our family with the fact that wanting that means I want another mother to relinquish her child.  For a long time before our referral, I worried about our child’s pain–the pain he would feel about adoption and being brought to a new place where everyone looks different and speaks differently, and nothing is the same.  I thought about a mother in an abstract way, but more in the idea that I hoped we would know her for our child’s sake.  But now it’s real.  There’s a real child.  He has a real mother.  And I can’t stop thinking about her pain. 

January 17, 2008

In which my immune system gives up the fight

Posted in The musings of Erin at 5:44 am by Erin

I didn’t go home on Tuesday.  I wished I could, but they would have pushed my labs back a week–and the only free week we had was the week before spring break.  If we travel that week, as our agency hopes, I need to switch my Thursday afternoon lecture to the Tuesday lab time spot.  So I can’t take it up, unfortunately.  No, the world wouldn’t have ended had I cancelled it, and yes, I am one of those people who absolutely hates it when everyone around me comes in sick.  You should hear my classes sneezing and coughing lately.  It’s not too pleasant.  But given that I have probably 30% of my 100+ students who are sick, I shouldn’t be surprised about this progression.

P and I got home just before 6 on Tuesday.  I sat him down with a video and instructions to wake me up when it was over.  Then I slept for over an hour.  I made him dinner, he had a bath, we read stories, and he went to bed happy that he’d gotten a video on a school night.  Then I went back to bed.  My fever was up over 103, so I spent Tuesday night in a sweaty mess.  Finally, the fever broke.  I took P to school on Wednesday (after putting the sheets in the laundry–ick!) and went back home to sit like a lump for the rest of the day.  Seriously.  All I did was laundry so that we could have fun things like clean underwear.  I didn’t even fold it.

Then I started coughing.  And the cough started getting worse.  And the sinuses started filling.  And it started to hurt my teeth to blow my nose.  And I coughed hard enough to gag.  Repeatedly.  Of course, it was almost 5 p.m. when I realized that I really should probably call the doctor and their answering service picked up.  Today I have a full day of work and just for more fun, now it hurts to breathe because I’ve been coughing so hard.  I’m breathing very shallowly to a) try not to expand my lungs so that they won’t hurt, and b) so I won’t trigger the coughing reflex.  It’s going to be tough to lecture like this all day because I’m not sure breath support is something I have right now, and I would need that to project my voice.

I promise I will go to the doctor tomorrow.  I am cancelling my dental appointment (sorry Brea, but I promise I’ll reschedule) and going to the doctor.  And that’s all I’m going to do tomorrow.  I never get sick like this.  It’s driving me crazy as much as it’s killing me.

January 15, 2008

30 started not with a bang, but with a whimper

Posted in The musings of Erin at 5:46 am by Erin

Because I have the fluuuuuuuuuuuu.  *moan, whimper*

P got sent home from school on Friday and we thought it was just a cold with a fever, though he did complain of a headache.  He slept a lot all weekend and didn’t eat much, and though his fever finally went away on Sunday, we kept him home yesterday to be sure he was fever-free for 24 hours before going back to school.  J got it the same day as P.  At that point, we still thought it was a cold with a fever.  Not me, though.  I stayed healthy all weekend until yesterday, right at the beginning of the work week and on my 30th birthday.  I woke up feeling meh and by 10 a.m., it was all I could do to sit on the couch with P and watch Super Why.  I took him with me to office hours and then J picked him up while I taught my lab in the afternoon.  By the time I got home, I seriously felt like dying might be a better alternative to living and feeling like this.  Even the black spray-painted roses that my sister and her fiance sent didn’t make me feel better.

I was in bed by 6 p.m. and stayed there with my 102.3 degree fever (it went up to 103 at one point).  I had a horrible night’s sleep–up every couple of hours, thirsty, coughing so much that I was gagging, feverish and either sweating or freezing.  It was miserable.  When I woke up, my fever was down to 101–then again, temps are always lower in the mornings.  I have a lecture to give today and a lab, in which I will infect many more people.  I hate having to be in like this but since it’s college, either I’m here or we cancel class and they don’t get a chance to make it up.  Since they have to learn to use the microscopes today, it’s kind of an important lab.

Blurgh.  I’m at my desk sweating and shivering, even though I’ve already taken Ty.lenol.  One of the nursing people took one look at me and said "Go home.  Go home now."  Would that I could.

Work ethics suck.  And 30’s not exactly starting out well, either.

January 8, 2008

6 days ’til I turn 30–6 values I want my kids to have

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:36 am by Erin

I decided to do this one before I do the famous people one, because I’m completely drawing a blank on famous people right now!

Six values I want my kids to have

1.  Family: I think the love and support of family is one of the absolute most important things that a child can have.  I want my kids to grow up feeling as secure as possible that we love them and will be there for them when they need us, or even if they just want us.  I wish we all sat down to dinner together more often and hope that we’ll start doing that soon because, though I probably didn’t appreciate it enough as a child, I realize now how important that is for family communication and keeping in touch with one another.

2.  Honesty: it can be so difficult to instill a sense of right and wrong in a child, but it’s so necessary to help them grow up as a good person.  I am a horrible liar but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try when I was a child!  The problem, or good thing, was that I usually got caught.  And believe it or not, J is a worse liar than I am–which somehow seems incongruous for an attorney!  We’ve always instituted a policy of honesty with P, age-appropriate to be sure, but we never lie to him.  If we don’t want to tell him something, we tell him "I can’t/won’t tell you that"; if we don’t know, we tell him that.  I’m hoping our kids will grow up knowing that it’s OK to not answer a question (J says we’re going to teach them the Fifth Amendment as soon as they can say "amendment") and it’s OK to not know the answer, but it’s NOT OK to just make things up.

3.  Kindness: I want our children to grow up being kind to those they encounter, and to reach out to those who they might not otherwise know.  This is not to say that they should let themselves get walked over, but that they are kind and compassionate to people. 

4.  Strength: I’ve gained a lot of emotional strength in the last 6 years, more so than I ever thought I could have.  It’s helped me find out who I am and what I hold as values, and how to communicate that to other people even when they don’t want to hear it.  I want our children to be strong emotionally so that they are secure in who they are and feel confident in standing up for themselves and their values.

5.  Giving of themselves/social responsibility: I grew up doing a lot of volunteer work, and I want our children to do the same.  I’ve worked at hospitals, soup kitchens, libraries, nursing homes, etc.  I was in Alpha Phi Omega, the national community service fraternity (co-ed) in college.  It’s really important to me.  We’re going to start doing some volunteer work with P soon.  It’s been hard to figure out what we can do with a child, but we’re going to be going to a Jewish nursing home that’s associated with our synagogue.  We’ll read stories or just talk.  P and K can color pictures for people or improve spirits just by being there and listening to stories (we’ve been told that a lot of the nursing home residents really like to read stories to kids).  When they get older, we’ll add in other things.  I want them to know that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they have a responsibility to help others who don’t have as much as we do.

6.  Personal responsibility: one of my very biggest pet peeves is when my students bring me excuses that basically scream "It’s not my fault" when clearly, it was their responsibility and they blew it.  But the sense of entitlement that a lot of them possess means they’re absolutely shocked and horrified when I don’t give them an extension or a better grade simply because "it wasn’t their fault".  I want my kids to realize that they need to take responsibility for their own actions.  I want them to learn to judge actions and their consequences and make decisions, and for them to understand that they made the decision to accept the consequences when they did the action.  If P throws Playdoh across the room, he’s getting time out.  He knows that.  If he made the decision to throw it, then he accepted the consequences of getting time out.  He also knows that if he clears his plate from the table without being asked, he’s likely to get a hug and a "Thank you for being so responsible and helpful!"  He doesn’t know the term "consequence" yet, but he sure knows that there’s a reaction for every action.

That was actually really tough!  There are so many things that I want my kids to get from us, but it’s sometimes hard to put them into words!

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I still need things for 4 and 3…

January 7, 2008

7 days ’til I turn 30–7 weird things about me

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:45 am by Erin

I’ve decided that in honor of my 30th birthday next Monday, I will do a week of posts related to the number of the day’s countdown.  Unfortunately, I’m decidedly uncreative and can’t think of what to do for most of them!  I’m going to do the 7 weird things meme because I know someone tagged me for it forever ago, and it seems like the right time to do it.  If you’ve got suggestions for 6, 5, 4, 3, or 1 (I’ve got 2 covered) let me know!

7 weird things about Erin

1. I am not bothered at all by turning 30.  It seems like that’s very strange to most people, but I really like where I am with my life right now.  I have a beautiful family that’s about to grow even better, two loving dogs who are incredibly sweet, a beautiful home, family and friends who we love and who care about us, a job I enjoy with colleagues who have become friends…what’s not to make me happy?  I think many of my loving relatives are bothered by the fact that I’m not bothered by turning 30–they were really looking forward to torturing me!

2. I was also not remotely nervous on my wedding day, except when I thought we were going to be late.  I had no doubts at all that marrying J was the right thing to do.  I was so not nervous that when my mom came to wake me up, I groaned and asked for another 15 minutes of sleep.  When she said "You’re getting married today," I replied that it was even more important that I get my beauty sleep!  And then I slept for another 15 minutes, ate a normal breakfast, and got ready to get married. 

3. I didn’t want to get married or have kids when I was younger.  A lot of people envision themselves getting married, having kids, blah, blah, blah.  I saw myself living single in a cool apartment with a dog, going out with friends for drinks after work, and having a good time.

4. I have a birthmark on the side of my knee that is arrow-shaped.  I always say it’s so that I won’t forget where the back of my knee is.

5. I would love to get another tattoo but feel like I shouldn’t be doing that at age 30.  The tattoo I have is a butterfly, which is cute but meaningless.  I would love to get one on the small of my back that has some meaning for all the struggles we’ve had in building a family, but is brightly colored and hopeful.  No idea what it would be and I don’t think about it too often, since J’s not big on the idea.  But I’d like to anyway.

6. J and I always make jokes about bad ideas/actions with P that will go into "the custody report", which we then "write" on our hands and pretend to store it.  For example, P and I were in the grocery store and P loudly proclaimed "I love red wine!"  (He meant the grape juice at synagogue, but it’s on the same table as the red wine.)  When I told J that P said he loves red wine, J flipped open his hand, mumbled Erin gives P red wine while "writing" and flipped it closed with a "That’s going in the custody report!"  When we do something really egregious, the one doing the "writing" will change it to "the supervised visitation report."

7. I didn’t like Wedding Crashers.  At all.  Neither did J.  People are horrified when I tell them.

January 6, 2008

Nesting yet again

Posted in The musings of Erin at 2:33 pm by Erin

We’ve been doing minor renovations to our house for months now.  We tiled the guest bathroom, installed a new toilet, and will be re-wallpapering it soon.  We’ve almost completely redone our bathroom: tiled the floor; installed a new toilet; painted the walls–and since we hated the first two colors we tried, it took a while; sealed around the windows; got a new shower curtain; installed new cabinet door pulls, outlet covers, and switchplate; and I’m installing the new light fixture today.  I still have to make the upholstered valance and curtain, but then it will be finished.  (Yes, I’ll post pictures.)  We’re going to tile the kitchen floor, paint the kitchen and possibly cabinets,   There are some other things but all of it makes me very glad that we’re handy and can do the work ourselves, even if it does always take three times as long as we expect it will.

Suddenly, though, there are other things to do.  First, I got an e-mail yesterday with K’s new measurements–he’s up to almost 19 lbs and grew another cm, as did his head circumference.  There was even a new picture attached, and he looks almost like a different boy!  Then, I got a call from Ms. IU–I know, on a Saturday!–who said that they’d changed a policy.  Before my heart could stop for more than a second, she explained that they’ve decided to start giving out court dates to families who’ve accepted a referral.  I don’t know why they didn’t in the past, but I’m extremely happy to know that now they’re giving families more information.

Ours is January 29th.  They’re hoping we can travel the last week of February.  Do you know that’s only 7 weeks from now?  I need to wash clothes.  I need to buy diapers.  I have to change the nursery into a playroom, move the fold-out couch into the new playroom, move the baby dresser into P’s room, get P a loft bed, and reassemble K’s crib in P’s room.  I need to make packing lists and start collecting items from friends who are buying things for us to donate.  I have to re-read a million books about parenting and adoption.

Gulp.  I’m going to have a 15 1/2 month old running around my house soon.  Must get everything done immediately…

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