Saturday, October 28, 2006

We're Not Supposed To Get Attached Yet...

Ok People, I have news....we MAY have found our baby! We still have a long way to go before bringing him home, but he could be the one (and we hope and pray that he is)!
Here's how it went down...
We are adopting through a new program our adoption agency is offering in the country of Kyrgyzstan, part of the former Soviet Republic). The program is different than most international adoption programs in that you, as the adopting parent, need to be very proactive in finding the child you wish to adopt (as opposed to sitting at home and waiting for the agency to find your child and offer you a referral). The agency had an original list of about 30 children of all different ages (3 mos. to 7 yrs) from different orphanages. The list included limited medical information, pictures, and video of each individual child. Once you found a kid you "liked" you could request whatever medical reports the orphanage had on the child along with additional pictures or video. (This is all great info. when going through international adoption). You would then take the information received from the orphanage and send it to a US doctor specializing in adoption medicine from the region you are considering. We chose a doctor from Detroit who has been wonderful, kind, honest, tough, sincere, and even downright harsh, which I totally appreciate. It's too much detail to go into now, but she has been doing this for years and probably saved us from taking on way more than we could handle.
Anyway...back to the story... we viewed the list and saw some adorable children, but decided not to act at the time while we waded through all the decision making (how many, how old, boy/girl, medical conditions, etc).

After a few days of studing pictures and video, we found the boy we wanted to adopt, only to later find that someone else had already begun the adoption process for that particular child. Subsequently, this happened three more times. Frustrations began to mount and we felt like giving up. As some children were being referred, the agency slowly began adding additional children to the list. I spent countless hours on the agency webboard, waiting for a child to be posted. I probably checked the site 12 times a day.

The day I saw our baby's picture I knew we had to have him. I immediately sent a picture to my husband (at work) with no additional information - just the picture. He called me a minute later and said "So...can we have him?"

Fast forward to today and we are now going through the steps necessary to bring him home. We have been told not to get attached yet as things could go wrong. It will be months before we are able to travel to get him and a million things could happen between now and then, but it is downright impossible not to get attached. We need to prepare to bring him home and everything we do, we do with him in mind. His name is mentioned a hundred times a day in this house and Jerret has pictures of the kid posted everywhere! He is currently 5 months old so we will soon begin working on a nursery, buying his clothes, deciding his name, and learning everything we can about Kyrgyzstan.

It is all very scary, but we are already attached.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Mega-Shower is Dead!

When I first received the invitation to my husband’s cousin’s baby shower, I was a little leery. She lives 1 ½ hours away, which means three hours in the car, a good three hours spent at the shower itself, and a standard an 1 ½ of getting ready with hair and make-up. As you might guess, I was planning on this event taking up a considerable portion of my day, which did not make me happy. I’ve probably been to fifteen showers in the past three years, either for a wedding or baby, and they all have one thing in common…they were huge. In fact, they were what I have deemed “Mega-Showers.”

By my own definition, a Mega-Shower is one that is attended by over 40 guests, lasts over 3 hours, and is filled with three or more of the typical I-found-this-on-the-Internet-type shower games such as the blind baby food taste/sniff test, guess which melted candy bar is lying in the bottom of this diaper, and the always popular baby shower standard - baby bingo, where attendees must pay close attention to the guest of honor as she opens her gifts in order to mark down what she receives on our individual bingo cards in nervous anticipation of being able to yell those five letters – BINGO!

But don’t think for a minute that the baby shower guests have all the fun. No, no, no…wedding showers are filled with their own spirited competition with such classics as wedding day word scramble, and my own personal favorite, pass the tray of useless objects before the bride steps in the other room and – oh! we tricked you! – remember each piece of her personal attire (the tray has nothing to do with it).

Such silliness has played out at showers for years, but what I am most concerned with is the trend-of-late…the Mega-Shower. For those of you planning a shower for someone special, please keep in mind a few simple rules…
1) A shower does not need to be attended by every person you’ve ever met, chatted with in line at the grocery store, or your daughter’s/sister’s/friend’s first babysitter’s neighbor’s kid.

A shower should be intimate. People are spending their hard-earned money, and more importantly, taking time out of their day to make sure you are showered with gifts on this day. They have already gone out shopping and picked out your present, being extra careful to compare the SKU numbers on the box to the gift registry they printed after waiting in line for 10 minutes. It would be nice if when the gift were opened, the guest of honor could show a little appreciation and adoration for what she has just received. At a Mega-Shower, the guest of honor is often so rushed to hurry through the endless stack of gifts, that there is no way to possibly spend time admiring each gift. She often grabs a gift bag, opens whatever is inside, throws out a quick “thank you” and moves on.

(Shower attendees take note: You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT have to wrap each individual item inside a gift bag. While you may think you are cute by forcing the guest of honor to unwrap each individual item from a seemingly bottomless gift bag, what you are really doing is wasting time. Guests at the shower do not think you are cute. In fact, we consider this action incredibly annoying as we watch the guest of honor spend 20 minutes opening one present). Not cool.

2) Whenever possible, keep it short. This issue can also be tied to our first rule of keeping the shower small. In most cases, a smaller shower means a shorter shower. All women understand the purpose of a shower. We agree that it can be overwhelming trying to furnish a new house or outfit a nursery and a baby, and we want to help. No one has any problem buying you a present and dropping it off, playing a game, and grabbing a bite to eat. However, having a Mega-Shower is a good way to keep us from doing EVERYTHING else we had planned for the day. I’m convinced that the reason people don’t go to showers is because they don’t want to be stuck there the entire afternoon. Keeping it short makes everyone happy. The guest of honor can enjoy her new fortune, take it home and put it away, while the party guests can keep their dinner plans and still have time to bathe their children before bedtime.

3) Eating and opening gifts can be accomplished simultaneously. Joining these two tasks will save a tremendous amount of time and will keep the attention on the guest of honor and all the wonderful presents being bestowed among her. Guests will be less apt to talk to their neighbors while chowing on taco salad and chicken croissants. The focus will rightfully remain on the bride-to-be/expectant mother and their gift. Additionally, this will allow the guest of honor an opportunity to look across the room at the gift-giver and issue a heartfelt “thank you” before moving on to the next gift.

(Another side note: There should be NO downtime at a shower – no wasted time filled with idle chatter or empty socialization. Keep things flowing and fast, and you will have a successful shower).

Before yesterday’s shower I had only been to Mega-Showers in the past few years. I have been to showers that lasted almost 4 hours, showers where countless minutes were wasted as guests waited for the food to be served or games to begin, and showers where no one paid attention as guests talked loudly amongst themselves while the honoree opened her gifts. Yesterday’s shower was none of that. It was small (with only about 15 attendees), intimate, and lasted only 1 hr. and 50 min. The guest of honor wasted no time, opening presents first (which worked out well, late comers can always just add their gifts to the pile and will be around to see them being opened), and then playing games, which were short and to the point. We ate dinner last, which tasted great and was a healthy mix of sandwiches and salads.

The bottom line is this…the Mega-Shower is over. They take way too long, are very impersonal, and are only fun when the guests are enjoying themselves. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you are consumed with thoughts of errands that you need to run or other plans you have for the day. Showers do not have to be the huge spectacle that we have made them. Two hours is a perfectly sufficient length of time, and if you can’t get it done in two hours, re-prioritize.

And to all my girls who are guilty of having a Mega-Shower – I still love you...your shower was just a little long.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Aren't They All God's Children?

When we first decided to adopt we thought our best bet would be international adoption for a few reasons. The laws in the US are too lax for my taste. There have been cases of birth parents changing their minds and wanting to take the kids back or cases where the birth parents wish to have a relationship with the children they earlier gave up, known as “open adoption.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for the child finding his birthparents when the time is right. But open adoption is not something I think I could deal with.

My cousin and his wife are currently adopting through Lucas County’s ‘Foster to Adopt’ program. They take in foster kids who may potentially be adopted later in the process. The kids often have a relationship with their birth parents that includes weekly, or at the very least, monthly visitation. It is a very taxing process and really takes a toll on everyone involved – the kids, the birth parents, and the foster parents. My cousin tells stories of the kids coming back from a weekend visit with their birth parents and needing “de-programmed.” The kids come home wondering why they can’t be with their birth parents and form resentment towards the foster parents for keeping them from their “real mom and dad.” They do not realize that the foster parents are the ones who are taking care of them and doing nothing more than showing them the love they deserve. I am so glad this works for some people, but I do not think it is something I could do.

The whole adoption process is very scary. We want to find a child who is as healthy as possible. This is not to say that if our child were sick or became sick we would love them any less. It is just every parent’s wish to have healthy children.

Most parents in the US who are giving up their children for adoption aren’t doing it because their kids are healthy. Instead, the kids are often given up because they have some type of disease, genetic disorder, or were born addicted to alcohol or drugs. On the contrary, in many foreign countries children are given up for adoption because the parents have no means to provide for or take care of them. In China, for example, families are held to a strict one-child policy. Each family having more than one child must make a choice over which “one” they will keep and the other(s) go up for adoption. These are cases where perfectly healthy, beautiful children are abandoned on a daily basis for no other reason than the government said it is the law.

I never thought our decision to adopt internationally would become an issue. I never thought anyone would dare question why two loving people would take in a child and love it as their own. My own grandma questioned me on this the other day and it really through me for a loop.

We want to be parents. We want to have kids and a family and live the sort of life we have always dreamed about. I don’t want to have to worry that the birth parents are going to hunt me down and try and take their kids back. We want children who will call us mom and dad and we will be the only mom and dad they know. I don’t want to be mom and dad during the week and then have the kids go to visit the “other” mom and dad on the weekends.

I have dealt with infertility issues for the past three and a half years. My body has been through hell with nearly 20 cycles of fertility treatments including shots, pills, in-vitro, and insemination. The results of which were 18 cycles of disappointment, 2 pregnancies, 2 miscarriages, 2 surgeries and 1 lost fallopian tube. For those who question our reasons for wanting to adopt internationally (especially those who HAVE healthy, biological children) I say this….we have earned the right to make the best decision for ourselves.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Life Sentence

My mom is dying. She is 51 and young and she is going to die..Soon.

In January she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. Specifically, cancer of the bile ducts. It is a very rare type of cancer and there are less than 500 cases diagnosed each year in the US. Her Dr. told her that this is only the third case he has ever seen in his 18 years of medicine. Not only is the disease rare, but there is no known treatment which makes the disease terminal as well. Most people die within a year of diagnosis. Some people have been known to live two years with the affliction. No one is known to have made it to three.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be told you are going to die. Not just that you are going to die (because we all will eventually), but that you are in the process of dying at this very moment. Each breath you take, each song you sing, each letter you write, each kiss you give - could be your last.

In one sense, I think we are lucky - my brothers and I. We know when her end is coming. We know that we need to say all the things we want her to hear before she goes. We have the opportunity to tell her what a wonderful mother she is and has always been. We have a chance to reminisce about years gone by and all the crazy, wonderful, significant happenings in our lives. We have a chance to say goodbye. There are so many people out there who have loved ones taken from them in an instant. A car accident, a heart attack, a murder - all claiming millions of lives each year - and the loved ones of those taken would give anything for that one opportunity, that one more minute to say "I love you" and "goodbye."

My mom is dying. She is 51 and young and she is dying. The doctors have found a tumor that can't be removed or operated on or zapped away by some advanced method of radiation and she will die from it.
She is my mom.
She is a grandma.
She is too young.
And she will die.

My mom is a simple person, always enjoying the smaller pleasures in life.
Going out for breakfast.
Reading a good book.
Talking with an old friend.
Playing with her grandchildren.

In one sense I think we are lucky. In a hundred others, I know we are not.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Here I Am...Again

So this is now officially my second blog. I created my first yesterday (actually late last night), and cannot figure out for the life of me how to get back into the site. So my second blog will be my true blog and the one created last night will forever reside in cyberspace never to be updated again. If you care, here is the text from my first post:

Who would have thought? Me...a person who gets paid to write for a living...would be posting a blog for free. I tried to fight it. I tried to ignore the hundreds of thousands of bloggers already sharing their infinite wisdom with cyber geeks everywhere. But after several years of writing a book that may never be finished, I figured a blog might just be the way to share my stories with the world. Do they care? Probably not. But this blog is easy(and cheaper than therapy). And besides, one not necessarily be a cyber geek to host their own webpage in this day and age.

I seem to have a lot going on in my life right now. So stay tuned's going to be a bumpy ride...