Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jan
07
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

Before the holidays I limited myself to one phone call and one email to our agency about the homestudy.  I told myself I would not annoy them and press them to schedule the homestudy in the midst of the holidays, I would wait until after the holidays like a normal, rational person who is also busy and has things to do herself.  So, like all of you undoubtedly do when you have resolved not to appear overly desperate when a) applying for jobs, b) dating someone new, or c) adopting children, I pulled out my calendar, counted precisely four weeks out from our health inspection and pencilled in “call regarding homestudy.”  Then, at precisely 9:45 on the designated day, considerately allowing for morning coffee, message checking, and a one-hour I’m-not-a-crazy-woman buffer, I called to check on our homestudy.  They were polite and evasive like all good administrators, and told me they’d call me back, per usual.  But, within hours the social worker was on the phone.  It was like magic!  He was on the phone and could come as soon as this Friday, so I took the first available date.

We took the first available date because it was exciting and because the spring semester begins on Monday so it would be logical to do this before I start hassling with lesson plans and grading, but I mostly took the date because we were anxious to have the undevided attention of an adoption professional–a captive audience if you will–in our home for hours!  Although the whole idea of the homestudy is that he is supposed to ask us all manner of personal questions, I have a well-rehersed list of questions I want to ask him.  Cliff has told me he is not the magic eight-ball of our future adoption.  I cannot flip him upside down and shake tid-bits of significant information about our future from him; nevertheless, I persist.  I persist in this fantasy knowing full well I will be disapointed when he leaves and I still don’t know our children’s names or ages or conditions.  Yes, yes, I know; my husband has already told me–I will practice looking non-predatory and avoid using phrases such as “I’m you’re biggest fan” when he arrives.  I will be on my best behavior because, afterall, we are being judged.

When adopting, you read about the all-important homestudy, how everyone is so anxious beforehand and then finds it’s nothing to worry about afterall, how you don’t have to bake cookies or clean behind the fridge, and about how kind and gentle all social workers are, blah, blah, blah.  Yes, yes, of course.  But do you also know that they separate you and then ask you questions presumably looking for chinks in your amour like some sort of demented newly-wed game.  I feel like Gerard Depardieu in Green Card–we’ve been practicing our talking points, getting our story straight all week.  “Now remember, if they ask us “a” our answer is “b.”  A discerning look from me, then “it should be more non-challant than that.  We don’t want to look too critical, use a non-challant hand gesture.”  We practice this sort of thing with each other in the bathroom mirror.  How to look non-critical, how to execute an artfully convincing non-challant hand gesture.  All because this is going on our permanent record.  It really will.  I’ve read examples of homestudies.  They say things like, “The Smiths are a warm and inviting couple.  They obviously love each other and have an inviting home.”  Reading that sort of thing only makes me look at my husband and say, “make sure you act like you love me when the social worker is here.”  “I do love you.”  “Yes, but make sure you act like it so he can write that we’re a loving couple.”  “We are a loving couple.”  “Don’t you understand!?!  This is going on our permanent record!!!”  At which point, my husband gets this look I can’t define–he pauses for emphasis, then asks me when I ate last.  This is when I know the conversation is over for the time being and then usually find a toasted cheese sandwich thrust into my hands.

So, we are waiting for what has been promised to be five hours of the undivided attention of an adoption professional.  We have vacuumed and dusted and steam cleaned the stains from the living room carpet and all traces, we hope, of any stain from the rest of our lives as well.  We’ll let you know how it goes…



Dec
14
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

We passed our health inspection.  The man from the health department arrived, and my conviction that all would be well wavered only a little when he pulled out his light-saber like gun that he used to measure the temperature of the water in ever faucet in the house.  Apparently 110 degrees is good, but 125 degrees, that’s bad.  So, we stood at every faucet waiting for it to heat while he shot red lazer beams at the water and I looked on.  I followed behind as he peaked inside our fridge and cabinets and mumbled things like “excellent” and “very good.”  Inside I was thinking, “Damn straight! Those spices are organized, savory separate from sweet–what child wouldn’t thrive in an environment like that!”  I followed him through the garage, in which, for a moment, I thought our dreams of parenthood might be dashed by the haphazard placement of the lawn mower and ladder.  I was informed that a two year old wandering alone in the garage could be hurt by these things.  “Uh, huh?  Right..?”  I didn’t tell him what I thought would be the root of the problem in that situation, but I’ll tell you it wouldn’t be the fact that that ladder was left in the middle of the floor.  And, I followed him around our backyard where he praised our well-coiled hose.  “Is that good?” I asked.  “Yes, because of the dangers of entanglement.”  I tried to imagine Cliff or I trapped in the back yard, bound up by the garden hose in some freak lawn watering accident.  It was about this point in the inspection that I started to feel defensive of our theoretical kids–certainly we haven’t met them, but I’m pretty certain they’re going to be smart enough to evade the risks associated with a garden hose.

He also informed me that the tops of our fence should eventually be sanded down because of splinters–splinters are apparently a real danger.  He ran his hands up and down the boards of the fence and along our deck, which didn’t seem like a good idea to me because of splinters.  But, not being a health inspector myself, I didn’t say anything.  I guess I figured any kid we’d have would figure this out on his own, “Gee, when I rub my hands along the grain of wood, I get splinters…”  But, who am I to say.  I nodded gravely, “yes, yes, of course, sand down the tops of the fence line–first thing tomorrow.”  I told Cliff, but oddly, he’s at work today and not sanding our fence.  hmmm….

The inspection was concluded with me hastely slapping stickers on our back door, which is mostly glass, and since our nephew has recently run through a plate glass door, I will concede the need for this.  Once informed of this danger, however, Cliff, who takes all this a little more personally, calculated angles of entry and exit through the door, formulating complex equations taking speed and possible trajectory into account based on the placement of the kitchen table and informed me confidently that it would be nearly impossible for any child to go through our back door.   So there, state-health-inspector guy, we see your over-regulated beurocratic child well-fare standards, and raise you our over-priced and otherwise unused advanced education.

So, now we wait for the homestudy to be scheduled….



Dec
07
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

We have finally submitted the last of our application paperwork.  Neither Cliff nor I have Tuberculosis (yes, we join you in breathing a collective sigh of relief), and assuming all goes well on Monday during our home health inspection, and they find that, in fact, we do have indoor plumbing and, in fact, do not have evidence of rodents in the house (these are among the minimum standards I was given), we should be able to begin our Home Study this month–maybe.  It seems difficult to get a straight answer out of anyone, and since we did drag our feet this fall while I taught and finished my thesis, I feel no need to rush anyone along–not that I harbor any delusions of actual control anymore anyway. 

I rarely feel a need to rush at all these days as my five and ten year plans out of college are entirely shot to h#*@ at this point.  First there was a sense of urgency, then there was panic, and finally there was a numbing sense of calm; they say you feel the same way just before you freeze to death.  Why do they make us write those things?  It seems their only purpose is to cause one to have mini life crises at even intervals of five and ten years when it becomes apparent that one’s goals were utterly unrealistic, or at least did not take into account two and a half years of infertility treatment, the bureaucracies associated with Child Protective Services, or the actual amount of time it takes to pay back student loans.  Somehow those details were not calculated into the grand plan–somehow those all important milestones that have literally consumed years of my 20s did not even exist ten years ago.  Maybe the purpose of the five and ten year plan is to evenly space the crises, which would otherwise come at inconveniently unexpected intervals?  Now, I can simply pencil it onto my calendar–“May 15, 2013, begin mini life crisis because you have not built enough equity in your home, you still have not decided if/when to do a PhD, you can no longer recite the first 30 lines of the Iliad in dactylic hexameter.”  The last one probably won’t bother me that much, but you never know–at least I can forgo panic related to it now for a neatly scheduled panic attack five years from now.  very civilized.

 Well, all that being said, we hope to soon announce that the state deems us fit to parent.  My two-year-old nephew will be relieved to know it.  Last night he informed me and his mother that “mamma works, but Catcoo doesn’t work.”  “Catcoo” is my deliciously adorable nickname that I hope will survive my nephew’s toddler years.  Now, why he has concluded that I don’t work is not clear; it certainly feels like work whenever I’m running around after him, and by the time I’ve graded 40 Greek exams in one afternoon, I’m convinced that I work.  But, because he’s two, and primarily because he calls me Catcoo and cheers when he sees me, his conclusions about my professional shortcomings seem not only adorable but also somehow insightful.  Maybe I shouldn’t work!  Maybe all I want is to spend my days with two year olds who claim every object within reach is their’s and demand to eat fig newtons like appetizers before every meal?  I’m certainly considering it.

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.”  Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. (James 4.12-16)

 



Jun
20
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

Yes, it’s true.  We’ve completed the requisite 9 hours of PRIDE training and are now completely trained parents ready for any and all parenting challenges.  I had the chance to practice my newly honed parenting skills with my nephew yesterday during a nuclear lunch/nap time melt down–we were both in one piece at the end of it, so I consider myself a success.  We’ll humbly offer our sage parenting advice to any of you who need it ;).  We’ve also completed the Adoption: Fantasy, Fallacy and Fact course, as well as CPR and First Aid, so we’re well on our way toward completing the application process.  Now we just need to prove that we graduated from high school : ) and don’t have TB.  Should be easy enough.

This weekend we will fire-proof our home; I plan to include some photos of our safety overhaul.  We need to install three new fire/smoke detectors, plug covers, safety latches, and secure all our chemicals and combustables in a storage cabinet.  We’re also working on our disaster plan and emergency readiness.  Check out this family disaster plan by the Red Cross.  In light of the impending hurricane season, here near the gulf coast, it would be wise for us to be prepared as little likelihood as there is in our town for a hurricane–you never know.

Friends and family are starting to receive their recommendation forms, which is exciting.  Over the next several weeks we will decide which type of adoption we’ll do: foster-to-adopt, legal risk placement, or straight adoption.  There are pros and cons to each that basically have to do with the level of emotional risk we’re willing to take (because they could be reunited with their parents or adopted by family members) and the age and special needs of the children we think will be the best fit in our family.  Of course, the two are inversely proportional: the younger the children, the greater the risk, and vice versa.  So, we’re praying with confidence that the Lord knows what He has in store for us and that it will be good.  It’s a very exciting time, and also a little stressful and overwhelming, but such is life.



Jun
06
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

We have begun the training process. The first orientation was uneventful, as we expected, but it does feel good to be doing something. I’m chomping at the bit to check off every box of every requirement, and Cliff is trying to hold me back to keep a sustainable pace. We have submitted as much of our application as we can; check out our to-do list. We are now in a bit of a holding pattern as we take classes and wait for our home health inspection, home fire inspection, and the CPR and First Aid courses to begin. Needless to say, I have contacted all parties involved so we know what will be required, and have a long list of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and safety latches to purchase.



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

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has launched a new campaign called “Why not me?”

“Some 4,000 abused and neglected children in Texas are awaiting adoption, almost half of them are older than 9. The older the child, the longer they wait for adoption, and each day they ask themselves, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I have a family?’

“Now DFPS is asking Texans, ‘Why not you? Why not adopt an older child?'”

You can check out more information about this campaign here, and more information about children in Foster Care around our country here, and here.



May
31
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Cliff on 25-04-2007

If you eat at Applebees in College Station on June 10th after 5pm and bring this flyer with you, Homes4Good, our adoption agency, will receive 15% of the total bill. Homes4Good is a non-profit organization, so of course, that means they have restricted funds. They use the revenue from this source to provide Christmas gifts to the children in their care.