October 29, 2008

Attempts at voting: 2. Successful attempts at voting: 1

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:54 pm by Erin

But there was success this morning!

Our state is one of the ones that allows early voting, which started a while ago.  There are only a few polling places open.  You can go to any of them. 

P has been wanting to go vote for Barack Obama with me since I indoctrinated educated him about why we think he will be a better president for the country.  I had these lovely, sweet images of taking him on Election Day to our local polling place, with several girlfriends and their children.  We would sit chatting for a little while, having fun while the children played their games.  In a short while, maybe 30 minutes, it would be our turn to vote.  This was all based on my presidential election voting experience of 4 years ago.

Fast forward to this year.  Headlines on the news every night: "Voters across the metro Atlanta area are waiting in line for hours to vote early!" "Lines are predicted to be 6 hours or more on Election Day!" "By the time the polls open on Election Day, the lines will be too long to get through in 12 hours!" (OK, that might be a little hyperbole…)

So I gave up my idealistic notion and figured that I would make it a fun trip for early voting for P and I.  We left yesterday morning and got doughnuts to eat on the way there, dressed reasonably but not particularly warmly for the weather.  After all, it was early voting and surely it wouldn't be a long wait.  The polls opened at 9 a.m. and we arrived at about 9:30 to find at least 500 people in line.  In 40 degree weather.  As soon as I got my jaw off the floor of my car, I turned to P and said that we'd try again the next day.

This morning, we planned ruthlessly.  We chose a different polling place, one that I thought might be less crowded.  We dressed extremely warmly.  We awoke early and planned to get there at 7:30 a.m., though they didn't open until 9.  We brought food and books and a blanket in which to wrap ourselves.  By the time we got there (actual time about 7:50 a.m.), there must have been 150 people in line in front of us. 


Regardless, we got into the line and made ourselves comfortable while wrapped in a bright orange-and-pumpkin-covered Halloween-themed blanket and eating NutriGrain bars.  We were surrounded by wonderful and expressive people who have similar political views as my own, so during times that I wasn't reading Curious George or Disney stories, I was engaged in discussions of why we think that we need to vote the way we do.  P was a very good kid, cold and sniffly but a trooper.

At 10:00, we were given forms to fill out for early voting.  At 10:15 we were about to go into the building, and I thought that all I had left to do was turn in my form and vote.  I was getting a little concerned since I only had 15 minutes before I absolutely had to leave to get to my class on time.  At 10:20, we made it into the building.  It was there that I discovered that there were several more lines inside.

Well, P proudly voted for Barack Obama eventually and I voted for all the other candidates for which I needed to vote.  We made it back to our car at 10:50.  I had an 11:00 class.  I was 20-25 minutes from school and still needed to drop off P at his school.

Thankfully, I was showing a movie today (GATTACA, a fabulous movie to show in a genetics class).  I called my department chair and asked if she would grab the movie from my desk and pop it in, and promise my students that I would be back.  And believe it or not, when I raced into class* at 11:25, my students were still there and still watching the movie!  They chided me for being late in the same way that I chide them, and then we were all engrossed in the movie again.

As of today, something like a million and a half Georgians have cast early ballots.  Very impressive.  While I strongly, vehemently disagree with the way a lot of the people here will vote, I am very happy to see so many people out there to do so.


The Blue Dot in a Red State

*At the time I raced into class, I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt that is 14 years old.  My students have never seen me looking so slovenly.  Thankfully, I brought clothes to change into for my afternoon class.  They just weren't warm enough to wear while sitting outside in 40-degree weather for almost 3 hours.

October 27, 2008

Ethics in Ethiopia

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:48 pm by Erin

I don't think I've ever said this to anyone other than J: I worry that K's adoption was unethical.

Not to the level of horror stories that people hear.  I do believe that T really is K's firstmom–they look too much alike for me to believe otherwise.  I don't think K was stolen from T.  I don't think she was paid to relinquish him.  I don't think she was threatened if she did not bring him to the orphanage.  But I worry that she also didn't make a completely free choice. 

We have a "lifebook" DVD for K that our agency makes.  It is a precious, wonderful gift.  It contains video of T and a lot else that I will not share here since it is for K to see when he is older.  It also contains video of T nursing K.  At least part of the video was taken before he was relinquished–I know this for a fact, because I asked about it while we were in Ethiopia, when the video was first taken.  I was horrified to think that they might have brought a traumatized child back to his grieving firstmom solely for the purposes of videotaping them together.  I couldn't imagine what that would have done to either of them. 

But if she was still nursing K and he hadn't been relinquished yet…did she feel like she still had a choice about whether to bring him to the orphanage after an adoption agency had already videotaped them?  Was she told that there were people who were rich and would do everything for him?  That he would have a "better life"?  Was she told that he would come back someday?  Was she promised that we would send her money?  These are things I've heard from some other Ethiopian adoptive families.  Not a lot, but I have heard them and they make me worry.

It makes me think even further back.  Our agency, until recently, worked very closely with only one orphanage in Hosanna (at least, that's my understanding).  Almost all of the children that they've referred were from this one area and came through the orphanage.  How did they find out that T was considering relinquishing K?  I have no idea how that works and the more I think about it, the more I realize that none of the possibilities are particularly palatable.

As I see it, the possible ways it happened are:

1. She brought K to the orphanage and they had her bring him back home so that they could be videotaped together.

2. She went to the orphanage to get information about relinquishment, and they came to videotape the two of them before a decision had even been made for certain.

3. She decided to relinquish him but was not allowed to until they'd been videotaped together.

4. She decided to relinquish him and had signed paperwork about it, but had the option of being videotaped with him before she had to let him go.  (This is the only one I can really stomach–if it was her choice.  And if it was, let me say that I am supremely grateful that she made such a choice so that we have that precious footage of the two of them together.)

I suspected that we were not being told everything as early as our meeting with T, though I should have started wondering the day before when we saw this video.  The meetings are done in Hosanna, with a translator provided by the agency.  At the meeting, she most definitely said things that were not translated–both J and I agree that we believe this to be true.  Perhaps she was asking for money, and the translator decided that shouldn't be passed on (because of rules against giving money to first families for fear that it looks like you're buying a child).  Maybe she was asking when he would come home.  Maybe there was something else in there that we needed to know but weren't told, because our translator was being paid by the agency and had instructions on what to translate and what not to translate.

Adoptions should be completely transparent.  Completely.  There should be nothing hidden, even if it was a request for money that we would have been bound to say no to.  We should have been allowed to record the meeting, with T's permission, so that we would always have a record of what was said.  So that we could have it independently translated if we'd wanted to do so.  Honestly, I see no reason NOT to allow audio recording if they're being fully transparent and honest at these meetings.  We should be allowed ongoing contact.  The laws say that first families cannot expect contact after relinquishment.  They say nothing about the adoptive families not being allowed to offer contact to the first families. 

I genuinely feel like T made the best choice she could for K, to keep her child healthy and safe.  I felt her hug, I saw her tears.  When she met P (after the individual meeting with us), P ran over to hug her and then she kissed me on the mouth…this was in contrast to the traditional cheek-kissing we'd done before, which is familiar-but-not-too-familiar.  A kiss on the mouth was different and more serious.  I got the impression that she was very grateful that we'd brought P with us, to see that we have already been raising a son who is loving and accepting.  That maybe it brought her some happiness at such a sad time in her life.  And I'm probably reading too much into it (maybe I want to read too much into it?), but I didn't leave feeling like she felt duped.

J and I have talked off and on about hiring a searcher, to open communication with T if she would also like that.  We have all the information about T that we could possibly have in terms of locating her–I can't imagine that a search would be too difficult.  We haven't had the money up until now.  But we've suddenly got a bit that's not already spoken for.  And I think that tonight I'll ask J what he thinks about using some of it for this purpose.

The more I learn about international adoption, the more I feel like I was completely naive when we brought K home.  I think back to how much I felt like I'd learned by then, but it was a drop in the bucket.  International adoption has a sharp learning curve.

October 25, 2008

Guess what I got to do today???

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:45 pm by Erin

I took a nap.  Not just any nap, a THREE HOUR NAP.  Oh, it was blissful.  It was lovely.  I felt awake again afterwards, which was a marvelous change from the last few weeks.  We came home from synagogue, I put K down for a nap, P went to quiet time, and I cuddled J for a little while and then fell asleep.  They tried to wake me up two hours later, when K woke up, but I growled at them to leave me alone.  So they all went downstairs and played for another hour while I zonked back out.

I can't remember the last time I took a real, honest-to-goodness nap that didn't leave me more tired when I woke up.  I'm not a good napper.  If I don't have unlimited napping time available, or if I'm the only one home with the kids, I can't nap (yes, I've tried to nap while K was napping and P was in quiet time).  And honestly, when does it ever happen that I don't have something that I have to get up and do?  I usually lay there, maybe dozing if I'm lucky, and get up more exhausted than I was when I laid down.  But today I didn't.  I fell completely asleep.  I was out.  I woke up and felt great.  Then we went to dinner, to a store to buy some birthday prsents for other children, and to a pet store–where P and I tried desperately to convince J that we should adopt a 3-month old kitten.  J pulled out ridiculous arguments, like the fact that I'm allergic to cats and that our dogs would be extremely put out if we brought home a little energetic kitten to the family they've ruled for 9+ years.  Ridiculous, I tell you.  So we returned home, still a feline-free family.  Alas. 


You all had such wonderful advice about the books, so now I'm asking for new advice: cameras.  We used to have a Kodak EasyShare camera.  It was OK, but we decided to upgrade to more pixels and last year bought an HP Photosmart.  We've liked it pretty well.  The delay annoys me, since my children do not hold cute poses for long enough to capture it, but that's not my major concern.  My major concern is it's starting to eat batteries.  It uses a lithium battery (I think)–not just normal AA batteries.  We had an extra one because we needed it for Ethiopia, so when our old battery stopped holding a charge, we figured it was just old and replaced it with this one.  This week, the new battery stopped working in it.  It still had a pretty decent charge when I put it on the camera dock to download pictures, then I tried to turn it on when it was off the dock and it won't work.  It will turn on while it's on the camera dock but immediately dies if you take it off.

Anyone had this problem?  What do I do?  These batteries are not cheap, and this one should be fine.  I think it's some sort of electrical problem in the camera.  I'm at the point where I'd like to just upgrade.  I know the one I'd like to get (Laura, if I haven't mentioned it before, I love your camera) but I'm not sure it's in our financial plan.  So if you have recommendations, I could certainly use them.  What is so great about your camera or, if you don't like yours, what's wrong with it?

October 21, 2008

Happiness is…

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 8:10 pm by Erin

Going up to your bedroom, only to find your husband and adorable baby boy cuddled up on the bed, sound asleep.  Something tells me that once K is in a big-boy bed, he'll be joining P's almost nightly jaunts to our bedroom.  We may have to get a bigger bed.  But there's nothing better than waking up in the morning to find big brown eyes staring into yours, a warm little arm thrown over your neck, and a sweet voice saying "Good morning, Mama!"

October 20, 2008

Day 6 of antibiotics

Posted in The musings of Erin at 10:04 am by Erin

And I think my cough is mostly gone.  Finally.  As late as midnight last night, I was telling J that if I didn't feel considerably better by this afternoon, I was going back to the doctor on Tuesday morning.  The doctor did say it would take 4 or 5 days to really start feeling better and yesterday was day 5.  But today I made it through my entire lecture without coughing!  It's been weeks since that's happened.  It was lovely.  I'm sure my students appreciated it also.

We had family photos done yesterday by a friend of ours.  They are a family through birth and adoption from Ethiopia also, so it was really nice to have them come over for a while.  She's a great photographer and I can't wait to see the photos.  K was not happy about taking pictures.  He's teething hard and would cry ANYTIME we tried to get him to take a picture when he wasn't on my lap or in my arms.  P, however, was his normal hammy self.  It was hard to take pictures where he was smiling normally.

Then we had a lovely lunch with them and another family who has a son from Ethiopia and is newly pregnant.  Three families with a total of 11 people, and we went to a sushi place that we'd never tried before.  It was a lot of fun.  We may have been the only Caucasian/African families in there.  The kids were pretty good (their kids were great, mine were whiny) and the food was absolutely fabulous!

I must remember to post a photo or two of my kids at the pumpkin patch on Saturday.  We had a great time–fall has definitely hit around here!


OK, I have a question: what are your favorite children's books?  Either from when you were a kid or when you were older.  Maybe split into toddler, preschooler, and grade-school aged books.  We've got 5 million birthday parties and holiday parties coming up this year and I love to buy books, but I feel like the ones I choose are most often the ones that people already have.  I'd love some fresh ideas!

October 15, 2008

A genius I ain’t

Posted in The musings of Erin at 10:16 am by Erin

As I said, I went to the doctor yesterday morning.  By 9 a.m. I had a shiny new prescription for Aug.mentin and brought it to the pharmacy.  I elected to pick it up later since they had a lot of people waiting.  But later, I was in a big hurry to get out of the door to work and completely forgot about it. 

I thought about it all afternoon, every time I coughed.

I thought about it while at a talk last night, as I tried desperately not to continually cough through the presentation.

When did I not think about it?  On the drive home.  When I could have gone to the pharmacy.

When did I remember?  At about 9:30.  The pharmacy closed at 9.

I am clearly brilliant, I tell you.

Thankfully, I picked it up this morning and have a single dose swimming through my system now.  I am picturing the bacteria being mowed down by the millions.

I hate being sick.

October 13, 2008

Aside from coughing up my lungs

Posted in The musings of Erin at 8:37 pm by Erin

Things here are going somewhat OK.

Ringing endorsement of the state of the M household, wasn't it?

I've been coughing for 2 weeks.  It's one of those hard, horrible, phlegmy coughs that makes your chest hurt.  It's not easy to lecture with this kind of cough.  I am a rather reluctant patient in all things not-reproductively-related, but I've finally gotten to the point where I have admitted that it's probably not a random cold or virus and have a doctor's appointment for 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.  I expect to to come home with a generous supply of antibiotics and hope that it doesn't accompany a diagnosis of walking pneumonia.

In an odd coincidence, the attendance in my classes has been down.  People have been "sick".  The timing is just weird, isn't it?

And in a possibly related note of forewarning, my enviro.nmental sc.ience students had to write letters to their congressional representatives as an assignment, which I then collected, critiqued (on separate papers), and mailed.  If all of Congress (or at least any representatives from Georgia) calls in sick next week, you will know why.  Actually, you don't know why.  Disavow any knowledge of why they might all be sick.  And of this blog.  In fact, you don't even know anyone named Erin.

More later on this not-a-blog-by-someone-who's-not-named-Erin.