Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

Sometime last week we sent the following email to our friends and family, and this, more than anything, explains my long silence on this blog.  When there’s almost nothing good to say, it’s hard to say anything at all.

We have sad news that many of you already know since you have been supporting us through the past several weeks, which have been extremely difficult.  We were not able to consumate our adoption in January as we had been planning since last July when Natasha first came home.  Several issues came to light late in her placement that we were not capable of handling for her, and as a result Natasha has had to move back into a foster placement.  The hopeful things we can pull from this situation are that her case has been relocated to the Brazos valley where we live, and she will not move back Corpus Christi–this is a much better region both socially and for CPS–and she has been placed with what seems to be a very capable and experienced family.  A disruption in an adoption placement is not good for her, however, so please add Natasha to your prayer lists. 

Since sending this email we have learned a little more about her current situation, all of which sounds hopeful and good to us: there are other kids her age; there are animals; there is a lot of outdoor space; and this placement, although it’s currently a foster placement, could turn into an adoptive placement.  My hopes soared for Natasha when I heard this, and I’ve been praying for her new family since.

I doubt I’ll go into more detail about the why’s and wherefore’s of our situation.  All I can ask those of you who know us is to trust our judgement and know the decision didn’t come lightly or without strong conviction that it was the best decision we could make.  It has been a blessing to have received so much support from so many already saying as much or more in support of this decision.  For now, I’ll it at that.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

Dare I share my sentimental side?  I prefer to be wrapped in my sarcasm and dry witt and like to think I am not at all sentimental, but I guess I’ll expose myself here and show you something I wrote thinking about our three-year-long search for children that was shorter than many but longer than most.  So, this is for all the parents who spent longer than expected finding their children either through adoption or infertility treatment.


We looked high and low for you,

inside and out for you;

We looked the world over for you,

until you were found.


And if we had it to do over for you,

we’d look the whole world all over for you.

We’d climb high and low for you

all over again.


We’d move mountains and peaks for you;

We’d cross valleys and seas for you;

We’d cry oceans of deeps for you

and find you again.


And some day, we pray for you,

you’ll cross oceans and seas too;

you’ll climb mountains and peaks as you

find you again.


You’ll see this whole world all over as you

climb high and live deep too;

front the trueness of life, and you’ll

find you again.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

We’ve been checking our emotional capacity for change for the past two weeks (thus the silence) and discovered that we can in fact keep up with a nine year old, but it wears us out.  Let me ‘splain.’ No, there’s no time to ‘splain,’ let me sum up: Natasha is coming home in a little less than three days, we have appointments, but no actual medical insurance, and we have a room, but no actual toys.

The long version of the story goes like this.  Two weekends ago we drove to Corpus Christi and met her for the first time while clinging for dear life to her case worker because we discovered that very morning that, in fact, we were both deathly afraid of nine year olds.  The door opened and there she stood calm and smiling and there we stood transfixed while her entire life passed before our eyes, and no doubt the vast potential it contained for our failure as parents.  Cliff managed to mumble a formal “hello” and shook her hand, which seemed like a good idea until I was doing it too, at which point I thought, “stupid, stupid, stupid, she’s not interviewing for a job,” but I guess we sort of were.  She started eyeing us more shrewdly after that and posed several probing questions about our cats and whether my mom was in fact famous for her pies (apparently not prone to exageration like her mother–she’s a literalist, this one, much to her father’s delight).  We fielded these questions well, I suppose, because she stayed with us and let us take her to breakfast, and to the aquarium, and to the beach for a snow cone, and to the park, and to Whataburger–all before 4:00.  We dropped her off after the first day, promptly had panic attacks, shook each other because we each realized we couldn’t both fall apart, fell into our hotel bed for a solid 9 hours of sleep and awoke to a new dawn and a new day: we had a daughter!

While Dad Cliff spent the next week bringing home the bacon, I spent it wrangling together the army of medical professionals required by the state.  If you want to know the current state of the nation’s medical insurance options give me a call–I will resist the urge to “soap box” here, but we have direct experience with just about every situation you hear about on the news (The un-insured, the under-insured, and Medicaid) and it is just as bad as they say if it takes someone with a useless graduate education to navigate the red tape.  But, I am nothing if not persistent and I managed to shock all of CPS and Superior Health (the insurance company for foster kids who said we’d have to go to Houston for health care) by convincing local medical professionals to accept insurance they otherwise don’t all so we won’t have to drive 4 hours round trip for regular doctor’s appointments.  I think they just wanted me to stop calling.

The following weekend we arrived armed with games, books, movies and puzzles–afterall, the best defense is a good offense.  You cannot imagine the research and debate necessitated by these purchases.  We were just short of consulting Consumer Reports when we discovered that there are ages posted on these things.  I assume you all already knew that they tell you right on the box for which age toys are most appropriate.  Thank goodness we live in the modern era!  This discovery resolved most of our debtes and expedited the rest of the shopping trip, which was spent in important discussion over the relative value of Hello Kitty versus Tinker Bell and whether I could convince her to listen to the first chapter of Super Fudge while there was an indoor/outdoor pool just outside our hotel room (by the way, the answer was a respounding “no”).  We swam, we played, we puzzled–the weekend was a success.  In fact, it was very hard to leave her behind with just two stuffed animals and enough clothes for three days while we drove off with every other one of her earthly posessions.

So, now we are simply waiting for her arrival on Wednesday afternoon.  The plan is for Cliff to meet her with her case worker at the airport to bring them back here, while meanwhile, I will be doing my best Donna Read impression, baking oatmeal raison cookies for her arrival.  The cookies will say “warm,” “loving,” “inviting,” “homey,” home assuming I don’t burn them, in which case we can at least not be accused of false advertising–our home is homey and loving, but the baking isn’t always…shall we say…reliable.

So, wish us all the best.  We’re clueless and it still requires both of us to make simple decisions such us “should she have the pink or purple electric toothbrush,” so I foresee a steep learning curve in the next six months.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

It’s been about three weeks since we learned we were selected for Natasha, and still no news on her file, which is apparently making its way through the system, which apparently works something like bad road construction where they funnel several lanes down to one so that you end up slowing down to a snail’s pace until it opens back up again.  The funnel is the “de-identifying process.”  It sounds so ominous–like they have those little MIB contraptions that wipe your memory out.  They have to remove the names and numbers of people who must remain anonymous–protect the innocent and all that.  And apparently there’s only one person who can do this.  I picture a man (who looks just like Will Ferrell) in a white room at a desk with huge stacks of paper on both the left and the right, one labeled “In Box” and the other “Out Box.” He has a black marker that he’s squeaking over the paper in a slow rhythmic motion–something like a scene from Stranger than Fiction.  Eventually, our paperwork will make it from one side of his desk to the other and then we’ll get to begin pre-placement visits.

In the mean time…we’re getting Natasha’s room ready!  The room already looked very girly and has green walls, which is apparently her favorite color–although I don’t know about this shade.  It’s filled with my childhood furniture, which my grandpa made, and furniture that belonged to my other grandparents that they’d bought in the ’40’s when they got married–so, Natasha will be surrounded by family heirlooms.  That’s very meaningful to me if not to a nine year old, I don’t know.

So, here is the current chaos!  Obviously, her room also full of our (my) junk–I pulled everything out of the closet and from under the bed, and thus it has become apparent to me that keeping every card and letter I’ve ever received is not a sustainable habit.  Besides, some day Natasha will be cursing me as she sorts through all our (my) stuff, so everything must go!  Cliff is enjoying this because when we got married I declared him a certifiable pack rat of the third degree and set about curing him of this nasty habit.  We had a series of garage sales that earned us quite a pretty penny and slowly but surely I rid the house of his collected stuff and furniture and, well, pretty much everything he’d owned ante-me.  It was for his own good–he’s much better off now, trust me.  So, as he watches me mournfully sort the wheat from the chaff he’s a little too triumphant.  He doesn’t say much, but I see the self satisfied grin, the hands on hips, feet apart stance that says “I’m vindicated.”  I see it, and I ignore it

We’ve installed a closet system rather than get a dresser–I hope this will work because the room is full of furniture as is.   I painted the inside of the closet and Cliff was very happy with his first fatherly task of constructing and installing the closet system.  I gave him an A+ for fatherliness–a dad should be handy with an electric drill.  So, so far so good–we’ve made no parenting mistakes thus far.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Cliff on 25-04-2007

So on Monday I couldn’t stand it anymore and called our social worker to ask (again) about the time line, knowing full well she’d have nothing new to tell me, but, well, I guess I had to hear it for myself.  The first thing she told me was that Natasha had asked the exact same question–she’s nine years old but wants to know the time line!  My heart expanded about three sizes–she’s going to fit right into our little type-A family. 

We can’t have any contact with her until we receive her complete file and can yet again give our consent — have I already mentioned this ten times before?  feels like it — and there is only one person in our region who can get this paperwork to us, so we are waiting……

But as soon as we get our hands on this paperwork, we can arrange a visit and we have already bought the camera with which to record it!  So, stay tuned for our first family photo with Natasha.  Can’t say when it will happen, unfortunately, but it will be some time this summer.

In the mean time, we’re working on her bedroom.  It looks like a tornadoe hit it at the moment.  Cliff is happily constructing a closet organization system that we’re hoping will replace a dresser nicely since there’s already plenty of furniture in that room.  And if she’s at all type-A in other areas of her life, she’s going to love how organized it all is!  I do.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

I guess just to prove the adage that it’s always darkest before the dawn, just a few short hours after posting my firey limbo dancer on Wednesday, we got a call from our social worker saying we were selected for Natasha! I was in the car with my sister-in-law heading toward the movies to zone out and find a little mental escape when Cliff called and said, “Babe, we got her!” I guess my gasp was a good gasp because Tiff’s gasp was a good one, and I could tell she knew right away that it was good news. I’m going to keep you all in suspense about what’s coming next because it’s all speculation on our part at this point. But, here we are Wednesday night making the phone calls–

So, on Wednesday I implied we’d be furnishing a bedroom rather than going to the movies this weekend if we got Natasha, but ironically, we’re actually going to be at the movies because truth be told, we don’t know what she likes so won’t be buying too much until we get to know her a little better. Today marks the beginning of our summer “vacation” anyway–it’s an IVF vacation for us in Houston this year: 6 full days and 5 nights of hormonal injections and 7:00am appointments. So, we’ll probably be taking in “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” tonight and asking ourselves constantly, is this how parents behave–are we being properly parental here?

Is it time to cast a critical eye on our lifestyle and language and put the filter back up–the one that slowly slipped away in the years after leaving home and then was lost alltogether by the time we got married and I left Baylor–the one that used to prevent all those little “damns” and “hells” that pepper my language so liberally now. I blame the anthropologists, actually–they got a hold of me after college, filled my head with post-modern theory and now, well, I could make a pretty convincing argument about the appropriate use of crass language to express cultural values, but deep, deep inside is my mom’s voice and my dad’s deep frown and my grandmothers (all the grandmothers!) shaking their heads and tutting–and it’s all happening with Jeannie C. Riley singing “Harper Valley PTA” in the background.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

limbo-wedding.jpgI found this picture of a newly married couple.  See them smile as they “limbo.”  It’s all fun and games for them–the future is bright–a little back bending is to be expected in life of course, but see how they’re still smiling?   So young, so niave…..

I haven’t been blogging about our adoption, letting you all think we were still waiting on inactive status, but it’s just because I don’t have words to express what’s been happening the past week, so let me just show you–limbo.jpg

Unlike the happily tittering couple above, this is what our limbo has looked like the past week–but we’re not in that kind of shape, so it’s done a number on my knees.

Last week while making my way into the Bermuda Triangle (i.e. Houston), my husband called me to tell me that we had made the short list for a little girl for whom we’d sent in our homestudy a few months before.  We were one of three families chosen for her, and they would be picking the family in a few short days.  We were elated!  I was so elated, in fact, that the Bermuda Triangle was able to get the best of me for almost an hour of total confusion before I found myself in Galveston and was able to work my way back to my doctor’s appointment 30 minutes late, but I didn’t care.  To hell with IVF, we were thinking, give us a fully formed child!  So, we dutifully informed our family of the potential–they showed various degrees of excitement, mild interest, and total disregard.  We didn’t care.

 The deadline came and went, emails and phone calls were exchanged, there were mix-ups and problems and delays, new deadlines were set, they came and went, more emails and phone calls, a new deadline, promises, appologies, and now total silence.  We’re stuck in seemingly interminable limbo at the moment, waiting, waiting…will we be parents by the end of the week, or not?  Are we going to be furnishing a nine year old’s bedroom this weekend, or going to the movies? 

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

As our long silence has probably clearly suggested to you already, we were not selected for Amber.  We can’t be too bitter about it because whatever attachment we felt for her, it was imagined on our part, or at the most mearly representative of our longing for a daughter in general since didn’t really know her.  We learned, however, that most regions within Texas simply do not contact you if you are not selected for a child; no news is not good news.  Now we know.  The good news for Amber, however, is that (we hope) this means she does now have a family to love and raise her, and this is, afterall, the whole point of all this. 

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

Well, I’ve been going back and forth about whether I should post about this or not, but am throwing caution to the wind–at least as I compose within the editor page; we’ll see if I actually publish this to the web.  Early last month, just about the time our license showed up in the mail, I went to my annual exam.  It was like a little reunion after having spent so much time at the doctor’s office last year.  I even got to have a nice reunion with the trans-vaginal ultrasound or as my on-line girlfriends like to call it, “the dildo cam.”  I’ve just shocked some of my family, but I trust they’ll never mention it to me.  Anyone who has ever done multiple IUIs (you can Google it if you don’t know what that is) like we did a year ago, will have become intimately familiar with this bit of modern technology, and could probably even use one themselves if necessary.  I’m a 15x veteran myself, so I can actually just interpret these things myself these days.  Anyway, last month at my annual exam, my doctor decided we needed to reacquaint ourselves with my ovaries and uterus and so we did and found I have a fibroid.  Have you had these?  I’d welcome any stories unless they end with phrases like “and she died.”  Not to alarm you, they are benign tumors and mine isn’t causing me any problems.  But, as I mentioned how many ultrasounds I’ve had in the previous year, we’re all thoroughly versed in what my uterus was doing 9 months ago, and this is new, so it’s not unlikely that the fibroid is growing.  And should it grow too much larger, it would have to be removed were we to get pregnant.  The chances of that (getting pregnant) happening are about 3% we’re told, but we had planned to someday do IVF and up our chances to about 45%.  Now, however, the prospect of having surgery to remove the fibroid if it gets too big to maintain a pregnancy has pushed “someday” up to “May.”  Or so we were thinking two weeks ago……

All of this seems like a very bad introduction to our (hopefully) exciting news that we submitted our home study!  I’m not sure what we can/should say about this since it’s so early in the process.  We were sent her profile (a picture and two paragraphs); we sat and stared at it for a long time, stared at each other some, then stared at it again, then decided to throw our hat in the ring.  Ciff has interviewed eight landscapers over the past 6 months about the drainage problem in our yard and has yet to find a satisfactory solution, so when he was convinced within less than 24 hours about adopting this eight-year-old girl, I knew we were onto something.  And in his normal, concise manner he said, “yes, I think we should do it,” and so we did. 

The deadline for families to submit home studies is March 10.  So, people we don’t know, who wrote a home study for us that we haven’t read will mail this home study to people we haven’t even met.  “They” will read this home study of ours that we were assured was “good” (another uselessly vague term they bandy about during adoption) and they (the selection committee) will meet on the 25th and choose prospective families for Amber, whom we also have not met either but actually know more about from the two paragraphs we’ve read than we do about the people making this decision for all three of us. So, the 25th is the big date looming before us when we will know what lies ahead–IVF or adoption.  We’re very much hoping for Amber and an added blessing that my fibroid won’t grow so won’t require surgery so we can “just” do IVF at some point in the future, when it seems right–after I’ve completed reading the Little House on the Prairie series with Amber and Cliff has coached her first season of little league.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

And now, the exciting conclusion to our adventure!  I’m sorry to have kept you all in suspense.  We indeed had our home study just about five weeks ago.  The social worker was in fact kind and gentle and all those things everyone tells you–for the first four hours.  By the fifth hour my eyes had glazed over, and I can’t provide any accurate recollections.  Unfortunately it was at this point (about two hours after I should have eaten something…anything) that he finally started asking us questions about the sort of child or children we hope to adopt.  We’ve racked our brains trying to remember what we said, but since neither of us had eaten or drank anything at this point, and our guest kept cheerfully refusing even water, we soldiered on.  I’m fairly certain we said no to “oppositional defiant disorder” because that sounded ominous enough without a definition, but we can’t be certain about the rest.  We may have adopted blue triplets.  We really didn’t care by the time he left, we were just happy it was over.  “Yes, yes, blue triplets sound delightful–now can we have some water?” 

During the portions that I do recall more accurately I remember that he asked us various personal questions both together and alone and various practical questions; for instance, could we raise a child to be Jewish?  Muslim, perhaps?  Not with very much accuracy, I would assume, as one might suspect looking at our family tree (which we had to submit) and seeing that 75% of the males in our family are named after saints and disciples.  But, no worries.  Apparently our shortcoming, whatever they be, were not significant enough to prevent the state from licensing us.

We received our license on Friday night!  Apparently we have the skills necessary for up to two children up to 17 years with care up to the level described vaguely as “therapeutic,” a term which they left suspiciously undefined–per usual.  What’s even more exciting than that?  A three ring binder of rules and regulations.  Yes, I was salivating.  It was 7:30 on a Friday night and I had to pry myself away to force myself to watch Jane Austen movies and drink wine with girlfriends.  No–I’m not being sarcastic.  To finally have a one-inch thick stack of rules and regulations is strangely satisfying.  It’s like discovering that in fact you do have an anchor on board your ship after drifting at sea for a very long time.  Of course there is no index or table of contents–but I have a ready supply of organizational aids on had at all times and am quickly sifting through it all and bringing some order out of chaos.

 So, what now, you ask?  Of course, we have no idea; no one tells us anything.  Will we meet with our social worker before she starts looking for a match?  Excellent question.  Should we expect a phone call from someone?  Are we supposed to just sit tight–don’t call us, we’ll call you?  We have no earthly idea.  How long do these things usually take?  No idea.  Six months?  Maybe.  Three years?  Possible.  We really couldn’t say.  We will, however, keep you apprised of our progress.  Recent medical events, however, have given us reason to believe we may have plenty to keep us preoccupied in the mean time.  I’ll tell you more about this, later.  In the mean time, please keep our future children in mind since they may very well be waiting for us at this moment.  We are praying for their safety and well-being, and are hoping that they are now in a safe stable home.