A while ago, after being cheered on by some of you wonderful people, I started a baby registry at amazon.com. Yesterday I logged in and changed the due date from 12/31/2010 (yes, they'll let you pick practically any due date ever) to 11/1/09. That was fun. I also altered the permissions so that Andrew could log in and add stuff, although I didn't expect him to.
Imagine my surprise when I peeked at it this morning and found that several items had been added! Such essentials as:
As of latest Doctor's visit baby J's due date is a firm (they promise me it is firm) November 1. My learning here is this: if you don't know when a pregnancy begins, exactly, it is very hard to tell when it might end! I suspect that Y would like it to be over, and perhaps her own estimates were skewed in the "get this over with" direction. This is okay, we definitely want baby J to have all the time she needs with her first mommy growing and getting ready for her big debut. There are a million reasons why more time on this end is a good thing - time to talk more with Y, time to get established in school for both of us, time to have a really strong idea of how finances are going to work out, time to get absolutely ready, time to refine and complete our baby registry, etc. So I am telling myself to be patient, with great hope that now there actually is an end date to all the waiting.
As we talk more with V and with Y, and get to know them both and to understand their relationship with each other Andrew and I lean more and more towards going sooner rather than later. Those who know us well will not be shocked by this.
"What is the harm in waiting a few days?" My best friend from childhood said to me the other day on the phone. I hadn't told her which way I was leaning but she knows me very very well. "I'm not a mom, I'm your best friend, and I am looking out for you," she stated firmly. "I know you've been waiting forever, and that all your focus is on that baby, but what is a couple days in the interest of protecting your heart?"
It makes sense. But, as I told Nat, neither Andrew or myself are ones to let logic trump our gut instincts. (Myers-Briggs Feeling types, for those of you who speak MBTI.) Natalie hasn't been the only one with an opinion - as we weigh our options many of my beloveds have also weighed in, something I treasure about my intimate friendships. I've noticed that those who are parents (including my own sweet mother), or plan to be parents tend to fall on the "of course you'll go, whether it's the smartest choice or not" side of the spectrum, while those who don't plan to parent ever, or anytime soon, are determined to help me look out for myself.
All of it makes me feel treasured and loved. As does the comments and support we receive here.
So here's where I am right now. (Subject, as everything in this process seems to be, to change.) I want to trust Y. I know that is risky, I know that she is going through something that I cannot imagine or truly understand. But, to me, waiting and having her baby placed into a transitional care home instead of our arms doesn't communicate the trust that I want to exist at the foundation of our relationship. She chose us and she clearly wants us to be the people who are with baby J from the moment she is born.
Yes, she may change her mind. (It is, even, her right to do so.) But as I learn more about Y I am struck with how she is persevering through a time in her life when she must feel deprived of a lot of control, in a world with limited choices available to her. What she did with one of the few real choices she had was choose us. So, at the moment, my desire to honor that choice is greater than my desire to protect myself against a change of plans.
As my dear friend Cassie noted on yesterday's entry, no news is good news.
V called last night while I was in class, and while Google Voice transcription isn't perfect it did manage to correctly transcribe "Everything is on track." So I immediately felt better.
We chatted this morning, and V continues to be just wonderful. I know she has a lot on her plate, but she was careful to emphasize that whenever there is any news she will contact me, so I shouldn't worry if I don't hear from her. At the same time, I can call her as often as I would like. She shared with me that she is an adoptive parent, and so she really does get what I'm going through. Intellectually I knew that probably everything was fine and she would tell me if it wasn't, but it was good to hear it said aloud. V also mentioned that Y will want to talk to us more over the next few weeks, to maintain a connection to us and that makes me feel good. I wish I could talk to her every day, to be honest.
It's looking like baby's due date might get pushed back by another week, but we'll know more about that after Monday when Y has another ultrasound.
Tomorrow we are headed up to my brother's to go "shopping" for baby clothes and necessities in his' kids stuff, which will be fun. They have been saving all of our niece's (who is now three years old) baby clothes for us in case we ended up with a girl. And since their baby boy is now almost eight months old (how that happened I will never know!) we'll probably walk away with some of his gender neutral items as well.
We're discouraging any gifts or showers until baby J is home and settled and ours, but I am letting my mom buy me a diaper bag. I'll be getting one of these, a local company owned by a good friend whose bags I have seen in action. They rock, and I am stoked to getting one! Now if Andrew and I could just agree on a fabric choice....
Other than that - I have two papers to write and a couple hundred pages of theology to read this weekend, some website design projects to complete, and of course some serious television to catch up on. I have yet to watch the series' premieres of House, FlashForward, or Grey's!
The toughest thing about this, right now, is the (wait for it...) waiting.
Oh, wait, that has always been the toughest part about this. Realizing this makes me feel a little better.
I talked to V briefly yesterday and she was going to call me back. She didn't, and when I called today I got voicemail.
I am sure there are a million good reasons for this. Ours is not the only adoption on her plate right now, Atlanta is chaotic at the moment, Y is also experiencing some chaos that V is doing her best to work with/around and despite the fact that V has insisted that she is always available, I'm sure she must have a personal life. So I'm not upset.
But I'm anxious. I want someone to call me everyday and tell me that things are going forward and looking good. Or tell me something, at least. It's hard not to start off on a string of what-ifs that end up nowhere good.
So this is my challenge for the next few weeks. To breathe deep, remember my center, and start practicing the openness and flexibility that I will need as a parent. It's not about me, it's about that baby - whatever the outcome of today, tomorrow, three weeks from now, or the rest of this entire process might be.
But if she doesn't call by the time I get off work I am calling again, time difference be darned. That's right, darned! ♥
I talked to V this morning, and everyone there is okay and relatively unaffected by the flooding in Atlanta. V said that the closest majorly flooded area to Y is about ten miles away, which is too close for my comfort but at least everyone is safe.
Prayers are requested for Y, however, as there are some difficult things happening in her family just now, in addition to the adoption plan.
That's the update for today! Y has another doctor's appointment soon, and this time V will be going along to ask questions and hopefully we'll have a more definite plan very soon.
In other news, today is my first day of grad school! I'm glad the next couple of weeks will be busy, hopefully time will go by quickly. ♥
We called V this morning to hear how the Doctor's visit went, and as we were saying hello Y called her and said she wanted to talk to us. I was thrilled to get to talk to her again so soon! She had news that she wanted to tell us herself, which was awesome.
So here's the news:
1. Baby isn't ready yet, it looks like we still have about three weeks to go. This is a little disappointing, I think all of us parents were hoping things would happen quickly. But it's not a bad thing at all. We don't want to rush the baby, and this will give us some time to prepare. And start school, and so forth.
2. Looks like we've got a baby girl in there. We are thrilled, of course. Y used the name we'd picked out to tell us: "Looks like you're having a J" is what she said. I asked her if it would be okay with her if we used her first name for the baby's middle name and she was so surprised and pleased and then we all cried.
After we said goodbye V called us back and talked about the issues that were causing her to recommend we wait to go. She is hoping that together her and Y can address some of those in these coming weeks, and if so she will fully support us coming for the birth, as that is obviously what Y wants and it is what we want, too. Nothing is decided, but I am hopeful.
Please do keep us all in your prayers as we go forward: A+A, Y, V and especially little baby J. I am going to do my best to put my nose to the grindstone and use these next three weeks to get everything settled at work, arrange to miss classes at school and take care of other loose ends to really be ready.
We talked to Y, the baby's mother, on the phone this morning. It went really well. I am determined not to make any decisions yet, but after talking with her and clicking with her and just hearing in her voice the love she has for this child we feel humbled and torn. She wants us to come right away, I think. Much of me also wants this, however the agency very much wants us to wait. So we're not going to make the call yet. One step at a time.
If we do wait a few days then the baby will go to a special "care home." Because this is the law in Georgia, this ten day waiting period, the agency has several families available and ready to take care of babies during that time. There is always only one baby in the home, and there is a 24/7 caretaker there, usually a grandmotherly type person I believe. V is going to schedule a care home for this baby tomorrow, and have the woman whose home it will be connected to me and to Y. So we will be able to talk to her, and if she ends up being the person to take the baby home from the hospital she will be available to talk to us every day, send pictures, and even set up video chat if we want. I want to see if this makes Y feel better. Again, we haven't made the decision yet.
But the most important thing, today, is that I feel we have a good connection with Y. It's heartbreaking and encouraging all at once. We were able to say important things to her, laugh a little with her, and listen to her talk about herself, her family and her life. I got the distinct impression that her connection to our profile has a lot to do with Andrew - his creativity and musicality. We talked about names, and she doesn't want to have input. She seemed to like the ones we have been thinking about - when we explained our girl-name to her (it is an important word from the Bible AND a character from X-men) she laughed out loud. And loved it. When the conversation started she was open with her feelings, that she doesn't know if she can handle meeting us in person. When we said goodbye she said she was looking forward to meeting us. We were clear that she's driving that bus, it is up to her, but we will be ready when she is for contact and openness.
So from here on out it is one step at a time.
The past two nights I have lain awake in the dark, mind racing, unable to sleep except in fits and starts. Tonight I am going to watch the Emmy's, laugh at my beloved Neil Patrick Harris, eat good food with friends and do my best to relax so that I can sleep tonight. I'm hoping that I won't have too many more opportunities to sleep all night uninterrupted.
The main thing I have learned in the past 24 hours or so is that the fact that we are matched is just about the only thing we can know for sure for a while. Here is what we know: - This baby's mother is in Georgia and baby will be born in Atlanta - There are two things to know about adoption laws in Georgia. First, the earliest the mother may sign relinquishment papers is 48 hours after the baby is born. Second, there is a 10 day revocation period afterward in which she may change her mind. So, twelve days after the birth, ten days after papers are signed by the first mother the baby will be legally free. - We can take custody of the baby before this ten days is up, however if we do so it will be under legal risk.
So: we have some decisions to make. But we don't have to make any of them right now. The first steps are to be available to V, our social worker in Georgia who is working with Y, the baby's mother. Y has a big week ahead and not a lot of support aside from V, so first and foremost it is important that her needs are met as best possible and this baby is born healthy.
Right now, Y doesn't think she wants to meet us in person. However, we may talk to her on the phone tomorrow and really at this point all bets are off. It is up to her, of course.
Our big decision, which we will probably make after the baby is born, is when to go to Georgia, should Y decide to stick to the adoption plan. There is a risk, of course, in traveling before the ten days is up. But I have a hard time seeing myself waiting until the baby is almost two weeks old. Hopefully V will have a good enough read on the situation to see how the wind is blowing, so to speak.
One thing I'm getting mixed messages about is when we can actually start the Interstate paperwork that will allow us to leave Georgia and travel back to Washington state. Liz says we can do that as soon as relinquishment is signed. V seems to think that there is no way we can travel before the ten days is up. Right now I'm leaning towards traveling and taking custody 4-5 days after baby arrives and starting the paperwork so that we can come back home as soon as the ten day revocation period is up.
That's the update! Y will have another doctor appointment Monday, and we might get a better idea of who is in there then. Of course, we'll know soon enough regardless.
Thanks to everyone for your outpouring of love and support for us! We are so blessed, and I feel just absolutely held by your care right now. ♥
The mother is scheduled to be induced next Wednesday.
Baby is demure(modest, keeps to babyself special details during ultrasound), so we don't know the gender.
Two main trains of thought right now:
1. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG - take inventory, call people, scream aloud, cry, pray, make to-do lists, buy ice cream, run in circles.
2. This is a match, and matches don't always end up in adoptions. This baby is not our baby, not yet. Expectations need to be controlled. But this might be our little one. (revert back to train of thought #1.)
We're so excited, obviously. I'll write more as I figure out more, and my heart beat slows a bit.
(WE HAVE A MATCH!!!!!!!!!!)
Oh! She picked us because she loved the music in our lives, and she is thrilled that I am studying to be a priest. ♥
I like this idea, and so in the vein of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery I am going to copy her.
**But first, a note from the editor: I've added a new widget to the blog ----> over on the side there. In it are links to items from my Google Reader that I think are interesting enough to share with people. (Google Reader has a social networking aspect to it, where you can connect with people and "share" interesting stuff that will then show up on their readers and vice versa.) I just want to note that when I *share* an article it can mean it is about something really awesome that I love. Technology/sci-fi/pop culture/humor/cat videos/Wil Wheaton, all these are categories that such shared posts may fall into. Or, it might have content that I find thought-provoking on a topic about which I am interested in, learning about, or passionate about. Adoption/feminism/politics/theology/human rights are the usual broad categories there. I don't necessarily agree with every word of everything I share - I like to read blogs whose views resonate with my own as well as those that challenge my worldview. So. The views expressed in the posts represented in the new widget on the sidebar there do not necessarily reflect the views of this writer. But she does find them, at the minimum, thought provoking and/or entertaining.**
Now, for the fun. It's fall, which means school is starting, leaves will begin to turn, crochet hooks must come out and it is time for fall television. I love television. I am not ashamed of this. However, I am beginning to suspect that my ambitious plans for life might interfere with my t.v. schedule for fall. So I'm going to write down the shows I want to watch, grouped into new shows for fall and returning shows that I am already invested in. I'll check back in December and see who's been kicked off the island.
New shows I want to check out: Flash Forward V. It's not a very long list. But realistically, once you see my shows I am already invested in list you'll understand why two is, possibly, too many. V attracts me mostly because of the actors involved - the miniseries scared me as a kid. Plus it seems like something Andrew might like and it is hard to find shows he will try to watch. He's more of a movie guy. Flash Forward I actually find interesting because of its premise - every person in the world simultaneously experiences a glimpse of their personal life 6 months in the future. Interesting, right? There's a lot of really cool ethical and philosophical stuff that could be done with that.
I ranked these in order of how excited I am. Which is to say, I am pretty sure that Scrubs and Grey's are in danger of getting kicked of the island unless they are really mind-blowingly smart and funny this year. HIMYM, on the other hand, has the distinct one-two-punch advantage of Neil Patrick Harris (♥♥♥)and being only 20 minutes long not counting commercials.
Also, I have this lingering feeling that I should be watching Fringe, but I just haven't gotten into it.
What are you watching this fall? (I know, those of you who are actively parenting are laughing at me. If we get our baby all the shows are going to be off the island! Except HIMYM. Babies nap for at least 25 minutes right?)
I went to a Christian liberal arts college located right smack dab in the middle of the city for my undergraduate degree. There are a lot of interesting dynamics that happen when you take a largely white and affluent student population from mostly quite conservative, even sheltered, backgrounds and plop them down in the center of a major metropolitan city. There are some students who simply never leave campus, and others who choose to experiment in ways that they could never have done elsewhere. Add to this mix a few scattered minority students, some of whom come from equally privileged economic backgrounds and some who do not. It makes for a rather unique sort of place.
I thought a lot about this stuff while I was studying for my bachelor's degree. I had spent a semester studying in Russia during my final year of high school, and within a year of starting college was volunteering with the student-run mission program, coordinating trips of various lengths to other countries as well as other places in this country where college students might find an opportunity to lend a hand and - most importantly - be exposed to something completely different, to perhaps shake up their worldviews a bit.
I thought I was pretty open minded, comparing myself smugly to many of my classmates who had never lived abroad, been exposed to poverty, or given much thought to issues of race, class and privilege.
Then one day there was a special guest to one of my classes, Urban Ministry I think it was called. His name was Sherman Alexie and up until then I'd never heard of him. Our professor introduced him - many of the English majors in the room seemed to know who he was - as an author and Native American. The first thing I noticed about him was that he was pretty angry. Worse, he seemed to be angry at me. Or, rather, us - the all white group of mostly young women seated in our semi-circle of desks ready to learn about his culture and viewpoint from him.
He wasn't having it. Alexie's main message to us that day was this "Own your own ethnic stuff and stay the hell away from mine."
This didn't go over so well.
"Look," one student protested, "I understand that your people have suffered from what white people did to you, but I wasn't a part of that. I can't help what happened. It's not fair for you to be mad at us."
"I have to live with what happened to my ancestors, it affects me every single day" he replied, "why don't you have to face consequences for what your ancestors did?"
The debate raged on for a while, and I didn't say much. Alexie made no attempt to be nice or to cushion his views, and I observed that this was not the treatment my classmates were used to. He accused us of stealing from cultures that belong to other ethnicities instead of exploring our own. I thought about my trips to Russia, my plans to go back there to live someday. How I was considering Orthodox church, had filled my room with icons, loved to cook Russian food. I felt uncomfortable, defensive, guilty.
I remember the class sputtering to a halt when time was up and most of the students sort of stalking out. No one lingered to talk to the famous author. I decided to talk to him.
I don't remember a lot of specifics of what we said to each other, to be honest. I ended up walking with him out to his car, listening a lot, and maybe asking a few questions. He seemed nicer when it was just the two of us than he had in the class. Maybe it was because I wasn't challenging his assumptions, but instead trying to figure out how to understand him if I wasn't allowed to know his culture. "Know your own culture first." He told me, "You have ancestors, too. Figure out who they are and what they have done that you can be proud of. Also, what they have done that you cannot be proud of. You have to own that, too."
Every child is entitled to parents who know that, if they are white, they benefit from racism.
This item on the TAC bill of rights is, for me, about owning my own ancestors, and owning their history as part of my own. I do have an ethnicity, and that ethnicity comes with a history in this country that results in unjust benefit to me. There are also many positive things in the history of that ethnicity, and finding myself at home in the Episcopal/Anglican church is just one of them. It's important I know this because this will not be my own child's experience. My child will not just be given the hidden(to me) privileges that I enjoyed as a white child growing up in this country. How can I prepare her for this if I don't acknowledge that it's real?
Of course my bias is that it is equally important for the parents of white children to know this, because part of being a complete and whole human being is the ability to own both the good and the ugly about your identity. And the reality that is often not communicated to white children is this: our ethnic background is a real part of our identity. It is just as real as our family of origin, our DNA, and our own individual experience. All of these shape who we are in the world, and the more we are aware of them the more we own them, the more choice we have about who we want to be in the world. The less risk there is that these real-but-hidden parts of our identity will own us, instead of the other way around.
I think as parents it is natural to only want to pass on what we perceive as positive, affirming, and beautiful identity pieces to our children. We don't want them to be affected by the reality that alcoholism runs in the family, or that we experienced less-than-ideal childhoods, or that part of the reason our (white) children are encouraged to be stand out individuals is out of a legacy that encourages our (black) children to underestimate their own potential. But I don't think we get to choose if these things will affect them. We might have some influence over how.
I have no idea how I'm going to do it. But I know that this dynamic is real. I started really working on it that day years ago when I struggled in conversation with an angry Native American, and I continue to struggle with how to understand, respond, and own it now. So, as I get to know my child, start to understand the beautiful and the less-than-beautiful parts of who he will be I hope that I will find ways to encourage him to face all of his identity, his heritage, the good and bad about how he came to be my child, in our family.
But I can't enable or encourage that process for anyone else, especially not someone as close as my own son or daughter will be to me, unless I'm willing to model the process by facing it for myself.
We did some of this: I think he looks good in a kayak.
We biked for miles, and now I spend way too much time surfing craigslist for bikes. I want a townie.
We went to a place called Glass Mountain, which is a giant pile of obsidian glass, formed by lava a very long time ago. At one point my step-brother commented "don't you feel like we should be taking turns holding the ring of power?" It did feel like something out of a fantasy novel, Mordor or something of the like.
And we did other relaxing vacation-y things, like roasting marshmallows and reading for fun and sleeping outside as deer trolled through. It was a perfect break from everything, which is exactly what I needed.
And now I'm back. We are seven months, five days today, according to my ticker. In a couple weeks we'll both be too busy to completely mind the wait, though. Andrew is back in school on the 29th and I'm starting my master's program on the 23rd. I know, it's a lot. Don't worry, though little one. We're ready to stop everything when you get here. There's still plenty of room for you. ♥
Today we woke up in the shadow of a different mountain, went to a country fair in a teensy town over a hundred miles from anywhere you've ever heard of and rode bikes down the mountain while the sun set and the stars - so many stars! - came out.
Andrew's grandparents, Mom and Pop, came over for dinner last night, and it was quite a treat for us. Between the two of us A+A has but three living grandparents these days, and we feel so very lucky that Mom and Pop are so vibrant and healthy and close enough that we get to see them relatively often. We make it over to visit them on the peninsula every couple of months, but this is the first time they've come to our place since we moved in a couple years ago. Andrew was nervous and spent the whole day cleaning. His energy was contagious, so by the time they pulled up I was also feeling anxious about what they would think of our home. Was it clean enough? Did things match? Should we eat outside or inside? Did Andrew scrub the tub? Would Mom think my wifely abilities were up to snuff?
I shouldn't have worried. They brought us peaches and Pop was gamely determined to eat everything we put in front of him. (We had goat burgers and fresh corn from the farmer's market, garden salad, and homemade friendship bread and red tea for dessert.) They loved our place, exclaimed over how it is so much bigger than they were imagining, how nice it must be to have a little community within the building, how great it is that we're going to cloth diaper, etc.
Of course they did. They love us, they support us. We're family.
We do have a lifestyle that is a little different than most of our immediate and extended family. Many of our dear relatives struggle to understand how Andrew and I can love living in the city, without a yard and with so many people everywhere. But when we bought our condo my parents helped in any way they could. They were proud of us for becoming homeowners and they came up to visit and and beam with approval at our new digs. They may not understand why we'd invest our money in an little urban condo when we could have bought a three bedroom house in the suburbs or on the peninsula with it but they supported our choice.
I can't imagine how different life would be for us if they didn't. One of the greatest gifts I've been given through my family is support and acceptance, even when I make choices that are not the choices my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins might make. This is part of what it means to be family with people, in fact this quality is key to how I define family, and is part of why there are several beloved people in my life who are family to us without sharing a biological relationship to me or Andrew.
Every child is entitled to be accepted by extended family members.
On some levels this item on the TAC Bill of Rights might seem unfair. A lot of non-adopted people have contentious and complicated relationships with extended family. Heck, a lot of non-adopted people have contentious and complicated relationships with immediate family, i.e. parents and siblings. Why is it necessary that extended family be on board?
I think it's important because, for me, part of what adoption is about is expanding the definition of what makes human beings family to each other. Precisely because of what I noted above about my experience with biological family and with those few and dear friends who have become family to me over the years: they are the people who continue to accept, support, love and invest in me even if and when I make choices that differentiate me from them. This definition of family is not one that relies on biology and even more importantly it is not one that relies on power or dependence. A transracially adopted child whose extended adopted family cannot offer them this support and acceptance will received mixed messages about what makes family belong to each other, and mixed messages about whether or not she belongs to her adoptive family.
You see, to survive and develop a healthy and independent identity every child needs to differentiate from their family of origin. For an adopted child this process is a little more complex, as "family of origin" is a more complicated and diverse thing. I imagine this process can be even more confusing for a transracially adopted child, who needs to be able to develop a racial identity that is completely separate from his adoptive parents and extended family.
I'm going to need the support of all my "family," spiritual family, biological family, my family born of simple long life experience, in order to be the best parent possible for my little one. My child will also need their support, their unconditional love, and their willingness to go off the map, to support and trust us as sometimes we make decisions that differentiate us from them, try things that they wouldn't try, and define our family - our family including extended family - as an entity that is bound together by something more than biology, convenience, or fate. A family that is constantly being formed and re-made through choice, trust, support, and love.