Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Selfishness - its not just for breakfast anymore

I have been thinking a lot about selfishness lately.

People always say that adoption is so selfless. That it is helping a child and wow, isn't that so nice of us?

Well, no. What's nice is that we get to be parents, something that we couldn't do on our own. We want a kid, we are trying to get a kid, and when we do get a kid, we will be happy. So really, adoption is about making US happy. Is that selfish? Sure! Do we hope the kid benefits too? Of course!

I have made reference to everyone being pregnant. Seriously, 3 of my best friends are pregnant right now. As I have said I am so happy for them, enjoy hearing their stories and like being close to people who are gestating. Having said that, I have found lately that the sharp edge of jealousy or dull edge of sadness tends to show up after a lot of time with bunches of pregnant people, so I have started to be more introverted, spend more time alone or with J, and sort of hide when I need to. Selfish? Definitely. But I am hoping in doing this I take better care of my pregnant friends and do not make them feel bad or take out my infertility on them. That would be unfair.

I am starting to regain my balance, meaning taking time for myself when I need to. This summer was a whirlwind of activity, with literally every night bringing a show, dinner, rehearsal, drinks or a movie with J or a friend. I had no time to myself and it started to show. Now I am turning down more and more offers, not because I don't like the people, but because I want to spend time at home. This week I cooked TWICE. That doubles the amount I have cooked, ever. And it wasn't mac and cheese. Once it was SCALLOPS. Seriously. Really. And J ate it! Sucker.

J gave me three months of yoga classes at a cool studio in NYC and I have been saying no left and right to make time to go to yoga 4-5 times a week. One, because I am cheap and want to make the most of the free pass. Two, because being centered in myself again, healthy, fit and calm are all good ways to weather the slings and arrows of the adoption wait. It is all about me.

Selfish? You bet.

But I don't think selfishness is an altogether bad thing. People I know with no boundaries tend to get taken advantage of, get mad, and then get passive aggressive. This causes hurt feelings, bad blood and a lack of communication.

I have recognized these things in myself and want to stamp them out.

So I plan to be healthily selfish. I plan to make time for myself, take care of myself so I can take care of others, and be honest about what I can and can't do, and will and won't do, so that I don't take it out on others if I feel like i am about to break. I have felt that way for almost a year and am so, so sick of it.

What have you done selfishly lately? Try it. You'll like it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My list

The NYT had an article on list making today and how it is the new hot thing: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/fashion/26list.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Here's my list:

Things to do while waiting for our fucking background check to clear:
1. Learn to cook
2. Take yoga 12 times a week to keep my tension level down
3. Not let our cleaning man be our once a month solution - that's nasty
4. Read Ayn Rand's 3 most famous books and that includes all the long diatribes on capitalism (shit she is boring)
5. Watch Burn Notice (it is SO GOOD and that Jeffery Donovan is hot hot hot)
6. Get a kitten
7. Convince J that it was a good idea to get a kitten
8. Return emails in a timely fashion
9. Populate my Facebook page with all kinds of super cool you know like stuff
10. Work really hard and make myself indispensable at work so that when I ask for 3 months off after less than a year they give it to me
11. Start searching home listings for real estate we can buy in 10 months
12. Sleep more

Gotta go get started. Lots of time to kill. Lots.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A mixed bag of triplets

So i started up with the support chat rooms again. And it is great. I already have a new group of supportive folks waiting for their newborn domestic baby with me. One woman private messaged me with the name of some adoption faciltiators - who are women (usually) who have been touched by adoption somehow and who help match birthparents up with adoptive parents. They are not licensed and when a match happens you have to then involve your home agency to take care of the legal fees. You usually pay the faciliators around $1500 for placement fee, and the rest of the fees go back to your agency. They work across the US and have a good network that provides them constant leads.

Yes. It sounds sketchy. And there are some sketchy adoption facilitators. But 70% of all the US's adoptions take place through private adoption (an attorney finds you a birthmother) or facilitators. The key is, like contractors, to take steps to ensure the process is legit.

So I talked to one facilitator yesterday. She was great. Nice, asked me the same questions the agency did, etc.

And then she called me back at 7:30 last night and said that because we had said we would take multiples she had a birthmom with TRIPLETS in Oregon and were we interested?

Holy. Shit.

After we picked ourselves off the floor, had a few minutes of funny musings around the tri-stroller and tri-crib we would have to buy, we politely declined. But we felt full of hope - if this woman could match us before we were even done (we would be done by the time the bm gave birth of course) we won't have to wait long at all!

But wait.

First, adoption facilitators may not even be legal in NJ. We may have to forgo any of that and focus on only licensed agencies, which is more expensive and may mean a longer wait time. I emailed AM AD today to ask.

Oh, and as our social worker R left us today she mentioned that the background check would take up to two months. We have had our stuff in for only 3 weeks.

We got a long wait till we go live. Really long now.

So triplets, we say goodbye. Going live in the next 60 days or so, forget it.

I am officially stashing my "What to Expect in the First Year" away for the next few months as we wont be needing it.

And I think I have to take up a hobby to pass the time.

I am so dissapointed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No, really, I'm happy for you

Everyone is pregnant.

Everyone. If you are reading this, please run to the bathroom and take an HPT and I promise you it will be positive. Even if you are a man. Hell, even if you are a houseplant. I believe my cat, Jezebel, is currently pregnant and she doesn't even have a uterus anymore.

Here's the thing - I am happy for people. Really. Everyone has a journey and some people have the infertility (until now) one and others have this part easy and other parts hard. If the universe is abundant, there is no reason to begrudge anyone for what they have gestating in their uterus. This is not really about other people.

However, I am tired. Tired of being constantly reminded about my infertility by walking around this fertile and gestating city. Tired of being happy for others and not myself. Tired of having to tell myself it will be our turn soon (which we have no fucking clue about, one way or another - our birthmother is probably out there but we have NO CONTROL as to when she finds us). And mostly tired of the unending dull pain that is our infertility.

And you know what, adoption isn't the same. It isn't. I have wonderful people in my life who count me among the expecting and that makes me feel so, soo good and so accepted. I love it. And i lull myself into thinking I am. Sometimes my fingers lazily drift to my (semi) flat belly. I have moments of feeling normal again.

But at the end of our journey to become parents will be lawyers and social workers and potentially a badly upset, scared birthmother and a potentially fought-over and genetically unknown child. It is not the same. It is not bad, it is just not the same.

Our social worker tells us this often, that adoption is not the same, and we nod because we will say anything to get her to give us a baby, but you know what, she is right. That doesn't make it worse, it just makes it different. And we already feel different.

I compare it to a cut you get. And then while you are reaching for the car door or opening a can of soda it opens again, only this time worse. I feel like not being fertile is the deepest, grossest, nastiest cut I have ever gotten and I can't seem to get that band aid to stay on. I will be walking down the street, happy as can be, sun is shining, and someone walks by me with a giant belly, their fingers lazily stroking it, and I am thrust back into the pain a bit. But after all day of reopening the cut the pain is a bit worse and I want to go home and hide.

And you know what, I am not mad at "her" anymore. Others' fertility has no impact on my own. It just seems that we are the only people in the world who just couldn't make it work. The IVF never worked. The pregnancies never stuck. The rabbit never really died, but my two children did.

I know, rationally, that we are not alone. But it sure as shit feels that way sometimes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Surf camp and parenthood

As a hopeful parent to be I am lately fascinated by this thing called parenthood. I watch moms and dads with their kids and am amazed at the amount of sacrifice involved. As someone with no (living) children, to believe that one day soon I, too, will be using my bare hands to wipe snot off my kid or get up 10 times in one night to feed him/her or save enough money to keep me in spa treatments, in Manhattan, for the rest of my life, but instead use it to send Baby G to college, seems outrageous.

This weekend J and I went to the Hamptons with my sis's and bro's in laws to help my cool SIL run a surf camp for autistic children. It was, in a word, breathtaking. To see these kids face their fear of water, the life jacket, strangers, noise, whatever, and still go out and sit (and in many cases stand) on a surfboard was so, so beautiful. To watch little Isaac, who was maybe 4, go from screaming bloody murder about his mom letting go of his hand on the stairs to being dropped by a 5 foot wave (approximately 3 feet taller than he is) and come up laughing his cute little ass off was really moving.

What was also moving was the dedication these parents showed to their kids. We were literally there all day, and at 1 pm or so my niece and nephew (and husband, I may add) decided to bury me in the sand. A few of the surf camp children came up as well and joined in. There were maybe 5 kids there, and the level of affectedness and ability to interact was quite varied. But the one constant thing was their nearby mom or dad or both, guiding them, helping them interact, involving them in the process, or, in some cases, working alongside them in silence as a constant presence. None of the parents looked tired, or stressed, as I am sure they are. They just looked so happy to be there, on a sunny day, watching their children have fun.

I have a dear friend with a son who has autism and I read his blog faithfully. I would say religiously but I don't do anything with religion anymore. But I digress. Anyway, he and his wife have a 5 (?) year old who is autistic and they recently moved to a bigger city due to R's job, and the good news is they have a great program for his son. The amount of time and work these parents put in to provide T a great life is amazing, it is beautiful, and it is totally 100% normal for them. Meaning, this is their life. When T hugs his mom or sings, it is their favorite moment of the day.

People say having a child with any developmental disability is really hard, and I have to say I agree. However, every parent, regardless of where their child is on the growth, IQ or social skills chart, seems to get so much out of that child. I love that. I can't wait for that. And if we are blessed with a healthy child, great. And if over time something develops, we will do what my friend R, and millions of other parents with children that need help, do - we will make it happen for our child.

What a cool group to be a part of.

As I type this with my nicely manicured fingers which i have time to go and get, drinking a cup of tea I can sip at my leisure, about to go to bed for a solid 8 hours of sleep uninterrupted by the 2 am feeding, making plans with friends for dinners and shows, I say, bring it on. I am ready. I am ready to make it not all about me.

Do me a favor, readers? Print this and send it to me when our baby is about 3 months old. I have a feeling I may forget I wrote this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

All the news that's fit to piss me off

Lately I have felt trendy. When I was a 30-something singleton in NYC, Sex and the City was all the rage and felt like everywhere I read was a reflection of my life.

When I was getting married, everyone was getting married! I read magazines that talked about me, lots of shows like Bridezilla and Celebrity Weddings and such were on the tube, and I was basically the center of the universe. Again.

Narcissa, thy name is R.

I feel the same way right now, only it feels less good.

There is a glut of recent articles in many local rags like the NY Times and NY Magazine about infertility, adoption and "non-traditional" parenting. Peggy Orenstein is an infertile who got fertile, and Rebecca Walker is a f-cking idiot whose mother's fame got her a book. They represent both sides of the debate around adoption and parenting and infertility. Peggy, regardless of her miracle baby at 43 or something (which is a false hope story if I have ever heard one, tho good for her), is a huge fan of infertiles and writes with care and concern. Rebecca Walker writes with her head up her arse.

In the middle is this chick: http://nymag.com/news/features/35817/. My supercool friend L sent me this and I read it a few times, swinging from the dizzying heights of self-satisfaction to the deepest depths of sadness and then over to my familiar hometown of defensiveness.

On the one hand, she shows the multiple ways people build their families and also talks semi-positively about transracial adoption and people who choose to adopt based on altruism rather than infertility. On the other she definitely makes snarky side comments about Madonna and Angelina Jolie and other celeb adoptive moms, while also seeming to show an utter lack of understanding as to why people adopt. Incredulousness seemed to be the major emotion in this article.

She also asks really broad questions like "Is adoptive parent love the same as biological parent love?", and then never answers it. And that is because it is a stupid question. Every parent's love is different. Every kid is different. And by the way, knock it off about biological children - that is a misnomer - every kid is biological. No one is adopting robots, tho of course that was the theme of last Sunday's NY Times Magazine. But this is not a robot blog. I digress.

The whole article seems to be more provocative than educational; more controversial by design than interesting. She said nothing, took 5 pages to do it, and left us with what I felt (next stop, Defensivenessland!!) was sort of a "I am writing about this but am WAYYYY too fertile to be a part of this" when she mentions offhandedly "when my child was born".

Some, most or none of you may agree with my take on this article. The point is I want someone to write something different. Let's hear some science. Someone do a study. I have been told that stats show that adopted kids score higher and lower on test scores. That adoptive kids are more and less well adjusted. Which is it, people?

Basically, writers, leave my life alone. Stop looking at my choices as being anything but the selfish need and want to parent a child. Stop making me feel bad for my choice to parent a trans-racial child. Stop looking down your nose at people who make different choices than you, either because they want to, or because they have to.

I will now get off my defensive high horse and resume reading entertainment mags that purport that "Stars Are Just Like Us!" Ah, sweet hypocrisy. I know you well.

Editor's Note: A quick wannabere shout out to Mrs Jones - Love you and am sending big happy thoughts your way...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I get by with a little help...

I was thinking today about my friends. I talk a lot about my family here and how supportive they are - and I am so happy and blessed that that is the case. My parents talk about our future baby in the same tones as they do about my niece, which makes me so grateful.

But I also have some pretty rocking friends. First, my parents' dear friends, K and G, are our sage advisors, having adopted a Korean baby 20-something years ago. They send little emails or funny comments at the best times and make sure that we know we have them pulling for us in a way that someone who has not adopted cannot do.

I also have the lovely ladies of Oregon/California who email and call and let me know that they may be far away but they are thinking of us daily.

I was thinking about this because I spent Sunday with my friend Y, who took a day out of her 8th month of pregnancy to meet me for lunch and then to walk me around Buy Buy Baby, which is like a Home Depot of baby shit. Also, my friend R, who is 7 1/2 months pregnant, walked me around Babies R Us a few weeks ago. What these amazing ladies did is give me the straight skinny on what we might need, decisions we need to make, and what is available in the land of baby stuff.

This has been great for me as I have read everything and reviewed things and made lists and then totally freaked out because there is so much to know. I mean it is SO overwhelming out there. And unlike other things I have had to shop for, this is serious as making the wrong choice could hurt our baby. My god, what if I get the wrong car seat, with no head support,and my baby gets whiplash? What if I get the folding-side crib and baby G gets his or her fingers caught? Every decision is fraught with this idea that if you fuck it up you are basically Britney Spears.

So Y and R taking me by the hand, almost literally, and sharing with me their decisions and what to look for and which brands offer the best quality for the best value was, in fact, invaluable. J and I are ready to at least start thinking about maybe registering. Or at least he is willing to go to BBB with me and start to fgure out what we want and then find them online for cheaper.

I also have a great friend, L, who is preggers AND adopting who gives me books and articles about adoption and parenting that help me learn and grow. She turned me onto Peggy Orenstein and turned me off Rebecca Walker. All while gestating and doing a big job. Her interest in me and support of me has really, truly, made a difference.

I wonder how people without a giant network of support, which I feel blessed to have, ever get through this.

I also found out that if I am not at my job for 12 months I do not qualify for FMLA when Baby G shows up. So if he or she shows up before June 2008, which I hope s/he does, I may be having some very difficult conversations with my manager. But, I keep telling myself, a job is for now. A child is forever. Hopefully. I plan to go all Scarlett O'Hara on my own ass and say "Fiddledeedee, I won't think about this today, tomorrow is another day" and just move forward quickly on the materials and still hope that the process moves quickly. Even if it does cost me my job.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Pittsburgh is cool

I am up at 4 am as I am traveling to Pittsburgh for work today. Not sure why I got up so early as my car pickup is not til 5 am, but whatever.

Lots moving forward here - we have finished gathering photos and feedback on our profile and will be sending it to the profile gods tomorrow night. It takes about 14 business days to get it formatted and made, and then we will up and ready to be selected!!! Our last home study is a week from Saturday - she takes about a week to write it up and then that will be done. All of our paperwork is ready to go except Jez's shots, which will be done a week from Saturday. After that, we are live!

Saw a new doctor to get my adoption physical. She was nuts. She is an Eastern/Western doc whichI thought I would love as I thought hell, maybe she can fix me up with a homeopathic remedy as well as modern treatment, but instead she spent most of my appointment asking me about my infertilty, telling me I was "weird" and "unusual" for having the genetic mutation AND PCOS, then telling me to pray to God for help with my infertility. Huh? She also had pamphlets in all kinds of languages all over her office about how god can cure you. Double huh? I of course being me informed her I was an atheist and she then redoubled her efforts to get me to be in touch with God and pray to refind him. I was tempted to search for "atheist" on dictionary.com on my blackberry to show her that in fact being one meant you don't actually BELIEVE in god, but instead finally said "can you please finish the exam as I have to get back to work?". I was there an hour but 45 minutes was religious haranging. Jesus. Literally.

We also had a 2 hour call with A, our Adoption Counselor. She went over our Planning Questionaire in great detail, telling us how our answers measured up in terms of what they usually find. The fact that we are willing to do transracial, specifically Latino, bears out well for us as that is vast majority of the birthmothers they see. J is thrilled as he loves Latino culture and would love the chance to parent a Latino baby. I was just thrilled as I thought she was going tell us we were 3948609380965 years out from getting a baby as we were too stringent. In fact just the opposite happened, she really was positive and supportive and told us we looked great.

I want to find out how I can check on wait times - AA says it is 3-9 months in our particular type of adoption - but I wonder if that is BS and really it is 3 years but they don't want to scare us off.

There was a question in our weekly newsletter about stay at home moms versus working moms and attractiveness to birthmothers. The adoption counselor gave the "well lots of different birthmothers want lots of different things" answer but I wonder if the fact that I work will hurt us.

In fact we sent our profile to a few friends who gave GREAT feedback on small areas we could clarify and tweak and a few mentioned that our jobs sounded very "busy" and that we may want to focus less on our seniority and more on the fact that both of us have a lot of flexibility in our work. We talked at length about this, totally agree with the feedback, and are doing just that, but it feels shitty that we have to play DOWN our careers rather than celebrating the fact that we both have been lucky and successful. Society sucks. But, they are 100% right - we don't plan on having our child care raise our baby and want to show that we are able to be flexible and be home more often. Sigh. I never thought the only glass ceiling I would hit would be in my ability to be seen as a good mom.

Lately there has been some epidemic of people in my life getting pregnant. I have felt sad, happy, jealous, mad and thrilled for these folks but wonder if at any time I will ever truly get over the pain and if it will stop hurting. I hope so.

Must take shower and go fly to beautiful downtown Pittsburgh. Remember when Sienna Miller called it Shitsburgh? Huh. Will keep that in mind.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Fingerprints and cop cars

So this fingerprinting thing, needed to start the adoption background check, has been a clusterfuck.

As you well remember last time we tried to go J didn't have all of our paperwork and I maturely melted down.

This time it got much more interesting.

A bit of background - we flew in on the red eye this morning from Miraval, an amazing spa in Arizona. We earmarked this half day off (I had to be in at 1, and J had to be in as soon as he could) to get our fingerprints, thus starting our lengthy background check. J also planned to get some car stuff done as our registrations had lapsed. Also, due to an unpaid parking ticket he never got in the mail as they sent it to his long ago address, his NJ license was suspended. Which was fine, as he had a perfectly good NY one and had no idea that his NJ one was an issue. Since he TURNED IT IN over 2 years ago.

So we are merrily jetting along on 1/9 today, on our way and on time. Birds are singing, the sun is shining and we are moving quickly.

Too quickly. A Newark cop pulls out and immediately pulls us over for doing, well, shall we say, above the speed limit.

I look at J and say "oh shit, we may be late" and he says "nah, we'll be fine".

Fast forward to J being hauled out of the truck, with the ignition off, the keys in the nice inner-city, murder-capital-of-the-world cop's hands, as we have a lapsed registration and a suspended license. J is frisked and summarily thrown in the back of the cop car.

At this point we had already known this may take some time as the cop told us that he couldn't let us drive off with a lapsed registration and suspended license, so we called fantastic Bro in Law S to pick us up on the side of freeway like so much road meat.

Once J was, shall I say, escorted rather brusquely to the back of a goverment issue I called S again. At this point, no one was laughing. Cop comes back to tell me i have to wait in the truck until the tow truck shows up. Then he would take J and me to Newark's Penn Station (get your own train station name, Newark!! Stop stealing New York's!) where we could catch a train back home.

Soon J comes back to our hot car with 100 pieces of paper, each representing a small down payment on a house, that we will have to pay to get our car back. Then the tow truck shows up and we have to go back into the cop car.

Ever been in the back of a cop car? The seats aren't padded! It is just hard plastic, the better to throw you off when he turns corners and I am sure clean up when you puke/bleed/whatever. At one point bad cop also got tired of waiting for red lights, probably wanting to be rid of the yuppie couple (I asked him if I could bring my latte into his car!) who were too "busy" to manage their car issues, and turned the sirens on to get through a few of the longer ones. Now that is a trick I can get behind.

He also had this giant touchscreen computer right by his steering wheel that had, on the screen, a bunch of scary looking names and crimes. It also had our names in giant print saying "HIT" (meaning our registration had pulled a hit on VICAP or whatever) and, and I swear I am not kidding, a floating icon of the Genie from Aladin in the upper right corner of the screen, assumedly to be his "guide" through the police databases of Newark. It was like the paperclip you click on when you need help in Microsoft Word. Only his was.a.genie. In a bottle.

I had, and I am not exagerrating, 8754757497594 questions for him. Had he shot anyone? Seen a murder? Booked a druggie? Was Newark as dangerous as everyone says? Why a cop in Newark and not, say, Maplewood where he would cut his own mortality rate by over 75%? Did he use his gun much? How fast had he gotten his car up to?

Instead I sipped my skim decaf latte and kept quiet.

After being dumped at Penn Station (the OTHER one) while a group of commuters and some of Newark's more colorful crew stared, S pulled up, like our hero, and picked us up.

Where he drove us to the fingerprinting place and we got it done.

Goddamn fingerprints.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I Dream of Baby

My sister in law is cool. She and her husband adopted a baby 2 years ago and have really been our guides through this, and Sunday we went over there for dinner and they told us their story, start to finish, with no details left out. We loved it. It was more detail than we had heard and their honesty, courage and joy was really beautiful.

One of the things she says is that she knew her baby was out there. She felt him, and was ready to get him when the time is right. She knew he had been conceived and was waiting for them.

Me? Not so much. I have been waiting for that "feeling" - the one that says our baby was conceived. All J and I do is sit around hoping some condom is breaking somewhere with a 4-star hotel and Diapers R Us nearby.

Last night I had my first baby dream.

The baby was, to be honest, more a mini version of our nephew J. He looked and sounded like J, and in fact was a mere newborn but was walking and talking like J (mostly saying yukky and potty). I remember thinking it was weird, like we had adopted another J - as the real life, older one was around in the dream as well.

I now wonder if that was my brain processing that we are, in fact, adopting a baby J -meaning a wanted, loved and desired baby that will come to us. Our own version of J, just for us.

It wasn't earth shaking, but it was the first time I had dreamt of our baby. I hope he or she comes back and that he or she starts to take some form that is unique to them. I cant wait to see.