Since I have so much time before my children get here, I decided to pick this up from the library.
What on earth was I thinking? This is one difficult language and I certainly don't have the coveted "ear for languages" like some people do. Nonetheless, I will give it a go. At the very least maybe I will be able to order a beer in Ethiopia,( not very helpful since I don't like beer). I remember in French class one of the first things they taught us was,"Où est la bibliothèque ?" Where is the library? I lived in France and never got to say that once.
Steven and I went to the central LA library a couple of weeks ago. Check it out..
Gorgeous. It might be worth a white-knuckled freeway drive to take my future kids down there for storytelling.
They also have a rare books section, but we couldn't get in without an advance reservation.
I commented to Steven that they probably have a bunch of first editions there. He said ,"Yeah, they probably have a Bukowski puked on by Hank himself." That Steven, he's a keeper.
I think Buk should have used this photo as his Christmas card. If we don't at least have a referral by this time next year, I'm going to send it out as ours.
Oh, I almost forgot. During the homestudy process my social worker asked me why I thought I'd be a good mom.
"I like to go to the library."
Nice answer. No wonder I don't have any children. I am a complete moron.
Our homestudy is very close to being approved. Yippee!
These are some of the things it entailed: Getting or creating the following; Medical reports-(Physicals including tests for HIV, Hep A, B and C, TB tests, hearing,vision) Autobiographies Finger Prints Employment verification forms First two pages of the past three years of Federal income tax returns Copy of bank statements Copy of marriage certificate Letter from therapist if in therapy or counseling in the last five years (that would be me) Health Insurance info List of all debts/assets Description of Home Three letters of recommendation (Thanks Guys!!!!)
Meetings with the social worker; Three times at her office, once at our house.
This info was sent to our placing agency. They reviewed it and requested more info (specifically on the current equity of our home and a more detailed prognosis on my PAST Thyroid Cancer- reminded me of the Seinfeld episode,"Prognosis Negative.")
Soooooo, after just a few more steps we will move on to the Dossier process. The Dossier is composed of , for lack of a better term, "A shit-load of documents." Luckily some of them repeat, so we already have a good head start on that. The impending holidays may slow things down since everything needs to be notarized or certified or rectified or fossilized or testified to (Can I get a witness!) but I am hopeful we can get it together and get on the official waiting list soon. Currently the wait for siblings is OVER 6-9 months and then an additional 3-4 months before traveling, once we are finally placed on the list. Big Sigh. I guess we will just do what we can and try to wait patiently for our children. I just don't want to look like this at their weddings.
As I sit here in my cozy house with a big cookie and a cup of coffee, I feel that it would be wrong for me to feel sorry for myself about how long this is going to take. I will try to avoid doing this. When I think about my potential children's present circumstances in Ethiopia, how can I feel anything but grateful for a what I have in my life? I do, however, feel sad that if it takes too long, my kids will never get to meet this guy... That would be a shame. I already feel sad that they will definitely not meet Lummi. The holidays definitely have a dull pallor this year because of her absence. I really miss her. She was always getting into her stocking.
I was thinking about is how cool it would be to be an adoption social worker. You'd really get to see how people live ( if freshly vacuumed dog hair free rugs is how you really live). I was thinking about how we were looking to buy this... and how we were considering building one of these...
Would you get approved if you lived in a yurt or an earthship? I guess the yurt and the single unit earthship both kind of look like a traditional Ethiopian hut.
Maybe the kids would like it?
I didn't like the yurt. I think it was because when I opened the wood-burning stove there were almost three dozen dead birds who had flown in seeking warmth. I also didn't like living in the earthship as much as I thought I would. The bathroom smelled like, well, poop. It is great to use your water over and over and over again, but isn't there something you can do to make it smell less like an overused head on a boat? One of the benefits though, is you can grow bananas year round in the middle of the desert.
I bet the most rewarding thing for a social worker would be the post-placement visits. If everything is going well, they get the satisfaction of seeing that they have helped build a family. That must be a sweet feeling.
How do I say all there is to say about Kate? Impossible.
Kate is eleven years younger than I am. Being the youngest, Katie had to put up with some very over-protective behavior from her family. We used to stand right outside the bathroom door while she was showering so that in case we heard a large thud, we could race right in and rush her to the hospital. I don't think she got through an entire shower without one of us shouting from the other side of the bathroom door,"Katie, You all right in there?" until she was about eighteen years old. When she was really little she would say,"Reaaaaaady to get out," and one of us would rush right in with her fluffy pink hooded bath towel, wrap her up while still in the tub, and gently help her onto the safety of the bathroom rug. Our relief would be palpable in the steamy bathroom. She had showered and survived. She had not cracked open her precious Katie skull on the slippery tub.
Although I have shown great improvement, I am still a tiny bit over protective. There was a moment a couple of years ago when Kate and I were having lunch when I blurted out,"KATE WATCH OUT FOR THOSE TOOTHPICKS IN THAT SANDWICH!!!!!!!" I believe other members of my family reiterated to her the importance of avoiding these treacherous toothpicks. Can the girl just eat a sandwich already? Good Lord.
Kate has been there for me as a friend and a sister time and time again. Two of the worst days of my life, Kate was right there by my side. The first one was in 2004 when I was just waking up from my cancer surgery. The second was this past June when Kate helped take care of me after we put down our beloved dog Lummi. I don't want to go into the details of either one of those days as this post should be about honoring and celebrating all things Kate. Let's just say that I was really glad that she was there.
She also saved this guy:
Steven and I were out of town when Ted developed an abscess on his leg. He had been attacked at a dog park a few days earlier and although there were no signs of it, he had a bite that had become infected. She rushed him to the emergency vet and got him all fixed up.
Kate is a modern dancer, choreographer and professor. You can see her work here, although it would be better to see it in person if you have a chance. It is truly extraordinary. I know Kate has felt frustrated over the years that her family and friends didn't really "get" her work. I still don't understand a lot of it, and Kate will sometimes give a not too helpful, cryptic answer when you ask her, "What the hell was that all about?" Thanks for bearing with us as we have gained more knowledge and a rudimentary understanding of your work. I know it means so much to you, be patient with your family and your community. Your work is important and we are very proud of you. Keep educating us.
Speaking of education did I mention that Kate is a Fulbright scholar? Not too shabby. Her fellowship was to Budapest, Hungary. Brilliant and beautiful.
Boys? Let's just say that Kate is in her "frogs" stage, (apologies to anyone she may be dating that I haven't met and am just assuming they are frogs.) She hasn't yet found her prince. She is, however, finally starting to take my advice on dating: Rule #1- No actors. Rule #2- No musicians who have shoulder length hair, a fan club, and are currently "On Tour"("On Tour " is actually a red flag for any potential partner. Have you ever heard a Fulbright scholar refer to themselves as being "On Tour"? I didn't think so). Rule #3- Suits are okay. Just because a man wears a suit doesn't mean he should be instantly ruled out. He may still be creative. Look at this guy for instance...
And finally, most importantly Rule #4- Don't rule out the "nice" guy - That's where you'll find your prince. I did.
Kate has it all together right? Sure, she is confident, competent, brave, accomplished, adaptable, and resourceful. What you may not know about her, and something that I think her friends and family should know, is that Kate is human. She has needs. She gets sad, really sad. She experiences loneliness. She sometimes needs support. She has strong opinions, sometimes it seems like there is no talking to her, but sometimes she needs advice. Here's an idea... give her a shout out if you read this. I know all of her best friends are scattered across the country and the world for that matter, but shoot her an e-mail, or post a comment here. If you agree that she is as fabulous as I say she is, let her know.
Kate is coming here on Sunday. My husband used to laugh because when we were younger, whenever we would get together, we would immediately begin the clothes swap. I mean literally immediately upon entering the house from the airport. "Oh, let me try that on," "Here, take this dress it looks weird on me." We would spend the first two hours rifling through each others wardrobe looking for new additions and items to covet or exchange. No matter where she had been or how long we hadn't seen each other we always re-bonded in this way.
It is so cool to have a little sister. I hope Kate can find it in her heart to forgive me all my maternal impulses, my over-protectiveness, my been there/don't do that attitude.
How will my adoption impact Kate? Kate is already a great aunt and an inspiring teacher. I can't wait for her to meet my new kids. They will be incredibly lucky to know her. She will be an excellent role model for them. She will encourage them to dance, to read, to express themselves, to pursue art, to travel, to experience other cultures, to do the perfect downward dog, to find beauty in the mundane, to cry if they are moved, to think globally and act locally, to take care of their bodies and minds, to love with their whole hearts and souls even if it means being ultimately rejected, to listen to great music, to pursue the perfect cup of coffee or a glass of Sauvignon blanc if so inclined, to stand up for what they believe in, and to laugh so hard they cry.
I am so happy to have you for a sister Kate. See you on Sunday. Got any new clothes?
Today's feature is NHMD. He isn't someone that I would necessarily classify as "Friend or Family" but for some reason this man keeps popping back into my mind. I don't know his name and I don't have his picture. He looked a little like this person...
I was J's tutor at the time. I was volunteering here. J and I had come a long way. He was a kid living at a homeless shelter with his mom. We had built up a pretty good relationship.
One day, Steven and I took him on a field trip to the museum. We were busy uncovering dinosaur bones in one of the interactive kids' areas when this man, (I will call him Natural History Museum Dad, or NHMD for short), approached me. He said, "Your son has very good manners. He has been very helpful and polite to my son." "Oh, he is not my son," I stammered, " I am his tutor."
Why is this significant? I keep remembering how this man just assumed that J was my son. It was a few years ago, and I know more about adoption now, but I think then it didn't even occur to me that some people would be so accepting of a white mom with a black son. When I think about all the challenges we will face as trans racial adopters I always reach back in my mind to this moment. NMHD made me reevaluate the meaning of being a mom. Maybe he planted a seed that would grow in my consciousness and lead me on my path to parenthood.
I think about J all the time. The last time I saw him I met him in south Los Angeles. He had moved into a permanent home with his mother and his siblings. We walked to his local library. We had an incident that was the opposite of my incident with NHMD, but I will save that for another time.
Today, I would just like to thank that museum going stranger for making me think, and opening my eyes a bit.
J, I know that you are presently a teenager in south Los Angeles. I hope that you are ok.
I had a nightmare last night. It woke me up. I had a social worker meeting scheduled at our adoption agency (In real life I had this appointment last Monday.) We were told to bring gifts. When I got there their were several other thin white women with brown hair. We were all holding various gift bags that contained presents for our social worker. I said to one of them,"Oh your gift bags are the same colors as mine." She replied,"Yes, they are the colors of the Ethiopian flag." I snapped back,"I know.I know!" A secretary came in and said that unfortunately our social worker was running behind and we would have to wait. In the meantime, she asked us if we would do her a favor. Of course we all eagerly jumped at the chance.
This was the favor. She asked me to take two children to their school. There was an older girl and a younger boy, probably about five and four years old. I quickly grabbed the two of them and started up an escalator. When we got to the top it was a huge shopping mall. I asked the kids where the school was and they pointed to the right. I opened a series of doors. One of them was like a little mudroom or cubby room. It had a small bed and a pair of boots. The kids just kind of grinned at me because they knew I didn't know how to find the school. They were in no hurry to get there. I took them both down a different escalator and ended up in the lobby of a lovely, expensive, private school. "This is it," they said. In the excitement the boy had wet his diaper. I asked him if he had others and he said no. We were already late so I quickly found his classroom and asked his teacher if she had any diapers. She waved me away and the boy took his seat with his wet diaper. The girl had made her way to her classroom by herself.
I relaxed briefly. I thought, "Well at least I got them to school." I was about to make my way back to the adoption agency when that same teacher came up to me and said," You can't leave him in my classroom with a poopy diaper." I asked her if they had any, and if they had a change of clothes because she said that the diaper was beginning to leak. "Nope," was all she said. I grabbed the boy by the hand and we started back toward the mall. We took the escalator back up. I started looking frantically for a supply room or something that maybe the school set up. I couldn't find anything. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally stumbled back onto that little room I had found before. I opened the closet and there inside were diapers, wipes, new underwear and some short pants for my little friend. I got to work on my task. (If you are eating breakfast right now you might want to skip this part). This was a dirty diaper, really dirty. I would wipe and wipe and the poop kept coming. There was poop all over both of us. It was on my hands. I kept cleaning and cleaning but there was more. I reached for another wipe with my poopy hands and in walks the secretary, "The social worker is ready to see you now. How is it going with that dirty diaper? It looks like you missed a spot." She started to write something down on a little note pad. This is when I woke up.
This is either a dream rife with anxieties or an idea for the next great reality show. It really did feel like the other women and I were contestants and we had a series of "challenges" to win if we wanted to remain in the competition.
In real life it is not that bad. The social worker we have is fine. Social workers are on your side and truthfully I have never heard of someone being turned down for a home study. You really do have to tell them everything about yourself and that is a bit disconcerting.
For instance, my social worker said to me," So you have five years right?" "What?" I said. I didn't know what she was talking about. She was asking me if I have had five healthy years following my cancer diagnosis. I guess for most cancers when you reach five years you are doing pretty well- you are a survivor. Well, I have three years almost four. Is that enough? Will I be approved? Will having had cancer preclude me from being a mom? I starting getting a bit defensive,"Thyroid cancer is an easy cancer," I said (and it is comparatively), "I get checked all the time." It is hard enough having cancer. I was getting a bit angry that I had to prove that I am healthy. I understand why they want to know. They don't want to approve me to receive two toddlers and then have me promptly drop dead. But really, what guarantee do any of us have? We could be hit by a bus, shot at a shopping mall, killed in a crash, you get the idea.
Here are some other questions she asked me; Why do you think you will be a good mom? What values do you want to give your kids? Why did you see a therapist in 2004? What happens when you and Steven disagree on something? How did you know Steven was the one? If you get a boy and a girl will they have to share the same room? What kind of dogs do you have?
I guess in retrospect, it would be easier to have a stinky toddler placed on a mat in front of you... Survivors ready? And CHANGE THAT POOPY DIAPER!
Steven has his "individual challenge today," I'd better go prepare the gift bags.
How do you say all there is to say about your mom in a blog entry? It is impossible. I have known her, as my sister would say, my whole life. Instead of trying to describe her to you, I think I will just give you some tidbits and show you some pictures.
This one, is currently my favorite picture of my mom...Click on it for the full effect...
Don't you want to be a student at her Montessori school? Look at that unbridled enthusiasm. I spent a couple of hours with her at her camp the summer before last, and let me tell you, it was exhausting. I had to go back to the house and IMMEDIATELY lie down. She is amazing. It is a constant chorus of,"Mrs. C ! Mrs.C !" Those little crumb grabbers don't leave her alone for one second. She is there ALL DAY LONG!
She knows so much about kids and I am looking forward to utilizing her expertise. I just wish that we lived closer. I am going to have to increase my cell phone minutes, because I know that I am going to need a lot of advice. From potty-training to behavior modification I know that I can go to her for suggestions. She has so much training and experience. She is an amazing educator.
She brought Montessori to a region of the country that was sorely lacking in resources. Not only does she educate these children in the beautiful school that my dad built for her, but she goes out of her way to help these kids, their families and their community. She shows them this for instance:
She also provides scholarships for kids who can't afford tuition. She drives a couple of her students to and from school everyday because it is inconvenient for their parents to do so. She is devoted to each and every student. She stays late, goes in early and works on her days off. I frankly don't know how she does it. I am tired just writing about it.
In addition to being a great educator, here is a fun fact that you may not know about Marie-Therese, T.C., Tina, Mom...
Now the details on this are sketchy, and there are two equally impressive versions, but apparently my mom was either thrown out of a high school dance for "LEWD DANCING," or was given an award at said dance for "BEST TEENY-BOPPER." Either way, I'm impressed. Occasionally she'll bust a move, but it generally takes some large amount of libations beforehand.
My mom used to tell me that her early years with my father were like that movie Everybody's All- American. She was Jessica Lange and my father was Dennis Quaid. My father was a football star in high school and at Purdue University. He played in the Rose Bowl. My mother was in the stands watching , and I was there too, in utero. I can't really fathom what it must have been like to be nineteen, a college student, married AND pregnant. My mom was a French major and had dreams of working in the Foreign Service. I am sure my impending birth put the kibosh on those plans. My mom says that we "grew up together." I really like it when she says that.
How will our adoption impact my mom? I'm not sure. She already has two beautiful granddaughters and is a doting Nana. Maybe she will finally be able to be Nana to a grandson? That would be nice. I will tell you who will benefit the most, my brand new kids. They lucked out in the adoptive-grandparents department.
I want to reiterate that I feel it is impossible for me to express my gratitude and my love for my mom in one measly blog entry. As my eloquent husband put it, "Your mom is the one who taught you how to be a woman," No small feat.
Boy meets Girl. Girl moves in. Boy marries Girl. Boy and Girl try to start a family. Girl is pregnant. Girl is not pregnant. Repeat. Girl gets cancer. Boy and Girl keep trying. Nine Years later, they may be getting close. Only Time will Tell...