Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en Eve

Happy very nearly Halloween. And just under the wire we bought and carved our pumpkins today. We started the day driving out to our second of three visits with our homestudy caseworker. This time it was for interviews. This seemed like it could be scary, but in the end, her motivations are simple and she's really very nice, so it was fine. We were allotted an hour each for our interviews, and she asked for more information regarding questions she had after reading our questionnaires. I took more than my fair share of time, since I have had a slightly more complicated life that requires complicated answers to complicated questions. 

So now that's done - the caseworker got to meet our darling Adeline, and see that we've managed to raise an awesome person thus far, so I'm certain that was many points in our favor. On our way back we went to the same farm we've gone to every year to pick our pumpkins. But, for the first time I did not have my camera, which felt weird weird weird. I'll just have to store the memories in my head. The weather was beautiful, the pumpkins were chosen, there was running between the rows, all of the necessary components.

We bought four pumpkins this year. Do you like number four? Our little mystery baby, you are such an exciting question, I can't wait to begin to learn the answers.

Next weekend is the home visit, so this week is serious crunch time to get all the loose ends tied up. This is also a very special week, because my Mom is coming from NY to visit, she should be arriving on Tuesday, and we can't wait. I am hoping to harness her Martha Stewart-esque skills and natural proclivity to bustle for the forces of good - namely my house. I suppose I should apologize to her in advance that her visit falls during an insanely busy little blip in our lives, but it's pretty neat that she can help me nest for this baby, the way she did when we were preparing for Adeline's arrival.

So yes - wish us luck as we buckle down. We'll need it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

So my sister pointed out...

that we'd fallen off the blogging wagon already. Shame, shame on us. But it wasn't because we were snuggled up watching Netflix, no, we're hard at work around here!

More things are done:

Financial statements filled out and sent
Physicals for all 3 of us, just waiting on the return of lab reports
Painting with the help of my awesome in-laws
More trips to Goodwill
General life-upkeep
And lots and lots of photography work

There are only a few minor documents that are outstanding and then our end of this homestudy is done. Can't believe how quickly it's gone, but I'm also unsure how anyone complete sone with a full time job.

So wowzer, it's all looking like we'll have our Homestudy report  in about 3 1/2 weeks, at which point we'll just be finishing up the profile building with our agency, and then ready to activate! That part is harder, because I don't exist in photographic form actually DOING anything, since I am the photographer. So we are going to employ the help of some talented friends (I have so many talented friends), to document some of our lives, so that an expectant Mom and Dad can see what we look like as a family and couple, and not just my handsome husband and beautiful daughter. 

I've been so touched by the outpouring of love from friends - the excitement - about this new adventure. Baby gear is trickling in as people are putting aside the things they no longer need, there have been donations to the adoption fund, and friends are helping with childcare for meetings, house renovations, and offering listening ears when I want to vent or ask advice. I do feel like I'm "paper pregnant", even though I don't know how long we'll be waiting for this little one to arrive, or how he or she will come. Such a happy mystery.

I'll poke dear husband to write soon, if I can spare him.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hard telling not knowing.

It's been a very busy weekend, like all weekends these days. And although Ben and I are both feeling pretty burned out (and Adeline is most likely wishing both her parents were in the same space at the same time), great progress is being made.

Ben spent his birthday doing a whole lot of work - on the house! He and our good friend Greg finished a bunch of small but wonderful tasks, that add up to the house looking so much more finished. The trim around our recently widened walk through is in place; the baseboards are back and the foot moulding is down; the thresholds are where they should be - just in time for the more serious cold that's been rolling in; and the back door now has tile in front of it, which just needs to be grouted and sealed. Hurray for wonderful friends that are willing to help on their own precious weekends, and hurray for progress!

There is just a little bit of painting and organizing left to be done, and then the house is ready for our home visit. And amazingly, we are starting to really have most of our paperwork in the bag. Not all of it, but enough that I can see the end of it in sight. All of this seems to be moving at lightspeed, and yet I can't hurry it fast enough. I don't want to burn time, just the lead-up to being activated, where some Mama and Papa out there might see our profile and decide we are JUST the kind of family they would want. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Put your own house in order

You know how when people are coming over - say, the inlaws - you have to scramble to get the house clean enough that your guests won't suspect how much you like to wallow in your own filth?  Not you of course, but YOU.  Every YOU except for you.  You keep an immaculate house, and can always find a pair of socks in the morning before work, and never have to stumble around in the dark while shining your phone's screen into the sock drawer and trying not to wake up your dear insomniacial spouse in the process.  Who does that kind of thing?  Probably the same kind of person who has to scramble to get the house clean enough to receive visitors while retaining dignity.  Me, in other words.

I think I've lost the plot here.  I was working a metaphor..

Ah yeah - getting the house clean.  Preparing for adoption is like that, except for your entire life.  You have to scramble to get everything in order, and provide documents proving that it is in order.  It's like scrambling to clean the house when the inlaws are coming over, and the inlaws are health inspectors and they're going to run bacterial cultures on the kitchen counters and toilet handle.  For the purposes of this metaphor, the toilet handle is your financial records.

The worst part of this metaphor is that it refuses to remain entirely metaphorical - while we do in deed have to clean the financial toilet handle, we must also clean the real one.  And so too, the real not metaphorical garage and office.

I have concluded in working to put these into an inlaw-worthy state that we have far too much crap.  Who bought this stuff?  I want somebody to blame who isn't me.

I think the garage had become an ecosystem.  Life of a sort was emerging from the primordial clutter.  What we thought of as only junk and cardboard boxes, magazines and milk jug tops, scrap wood, clothes hangers, random shoes, broken lamps - these simple things had become part of something much greater, a complex system in which the first inklings of new forms of life had begun to emerge, before I swept in like the death of dinosaurs, and sundered the world of the protoclutteroids.

I'm already seeing the good come from all this effort though.  It is hard to deny the cleaned out garage and office isn't marvelous.  Getting rid of stuff is bringing me more pleasure than accumulating it.  And I well recognize that we're a happier and saner and more creative family when our space is freed from clutter and creatively arranged.  

In a way, Baby to Be is already making our lives better.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fear is in the air, or wait, is it fall?

Last night and today were kind of rough. Adoption is full-to-bursting with the unknown. Ben had an epiphany last night as I was reading over some literature with him - about how we would have to stay in the state where our baby is born until the Interstate Compact is cleared and we can come back to Georgia, potentially for as long as 2 weeks. This involves leaving our daughter at home with her grandparents, potentially for longer than she's ever been away from us. And then that discussion led to revocation of consent periods - the time in which the expectant Mom can sign the papers to place her baby with us, and then decide instead to parent. This time period varies dramatically from state to state, and favors different parts of the adoption triad. It's a really complex and emotionally fraught issue, and it's a large piece of the need for adoption reform.

At any rate, all of this journey requires an enormous leap of faith. There is a not insignificant chance that we will arrive at the hospital to meet the expectant mother we've matched with, and then hold her baby, love on him or her, take care of him or her for a little while, and then hand that baby back to be raised by his or her Mother and or Father, and go home with hearts a little more broken than they were before. But we have to trust in the idea that somewhere out there, eventually, there will be a child that is, through the joyful and tragic dance that is adoption, meant to join our family. And when that child arrives in our home, we will be grateful for all of the other chances passing us by. And all of those other children, we will need to be happy for them, that they will continue down their own paths with their first families, and hope for the best for them.

This is such a scary scary thought for a family that has experienced loss already, too many times. But we're a resilient little trio, and I have to believe that if we go into this with our hearts and heads in the right place, we can make it through.

So at any rate, Ben called our coordinator at the agency we're using to discuss risk, and statistics, and get his head around how likely each scenario is. He came away from the conversation at peace, and ready to continue down this road.

No paperwork at all done today, alas - but I did get a load of books taken to the library for the Friends of the Library sale, a load of clothes taken to Habitat's ReStore, and a few items of mine found new homes with friends. Purging is so freeing!

Tomorrow's agenda: more fingerprinting. Hope our prints are crystal clear.

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Up...

We got a few more things checked off the list today, which feels excellent. Ben went for his physical and blood and drug testing with his Doctor. His Doctor shared that he had recently been through through the same Homestudy process, and they are now on the wait list to adopt a child from China. Ben passed the physical with flying colors, and now is just waiting on his labs to return, and then we can file that away for the Homestudy. I went to have my GBI fingerprints run again, the first time wasn't clear enough. And played phone tag with various Georgia law enforcement agencies about where and how I could get my fingerprinting done to send off for our FBI clearance, and finally spoke to someone who knew all about it. Also requested our 911 Screen (a report of any 911 calls made from our home in the last 5 years), and that is apparently ready and waiting for us now. Adeline was my companion through all of our errands and phone calls today, and she is being so very patient. Just to reassure you - we actually spent the whole morning at home. Homeschooling, and waiting on some plumbing repair people so that we could finish our laundry. Phew, all fixed.

I realize as I write this that some people may not know what a Homestudy is - I certainly didn't until it came time to have one. It's a process that is required by the state you live in and your agency (if you have one) to make certain that you, your spouse (if you have one), family, and home are safe to raise a child. It feels very invasive to have to prove your fitness when traditional reproduction requires no proof at all, but we understand the logic behind it. So, at the end of the Homestudy the state and agency (with the help of a social worker) will feel confident that we are mentally, physically, and financially prepared to bring a child into our lives. That our home is safe, that we do not have scary criminal records, and that our friends and family feel that we are up to the task. It involves many many pieces of paper and questions, and it's overwhelming, but I keep reminding myself that at least during this part of the adoption process we have control over something. Most of the process will involve us sitting back and hoping, praying, willing everything to go well. Kind of like with labor and birth - often it feels good to push, because at least then you can actively participate, rather than letting the contractions crash against you and wash over.

So, still left is my physical, Addie's physical, an exhaustive questionnaire, a million pictures, a profile, financial statements, a home visit, interviews with our caseworker, and some giant checks. And some other stuff that I don't have on the tip of my tongue. We can do it.

I feel like our family is bundled up in warmth with the outpouring of supportive thoughts through Facebook - and a few donations that have come into our donation fund. But that is a topic for another day.

I'm now off to work on my OTHER job (not that of a Mama, or a paperchaser) as a photographer, and work on finishing up sessions for clients. There will be much coffee consumed. Blessedly, I love that job - and feel very grateful for the chance to do it.

Welcome, share our excitement!

We are spectacularly happy right now. And filled with anxiety, truth be told. After almost 4 years of trying to grow our family through a variety of biological means, we are happily beginning our journey on the path of adoption. We hope to share how the process is proceeding, exciting (or not so exciting) news, and our headspace in all of this. It won't be simple, or painless, or entirely shiny, but it will be worth it.

Want to follow along?

Here we go!