Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just In Time...To Leave

I sent in the last of our paperwork today. This included our 51 page personal profiles that Chris and I had to fill out. They asked all sorts of questions on everything from your childhood to your parenting style to the intimacy level in your marriage.

Yeah, that.

We had to fill them out separately, but we were allowed to compare our answers once we were through. It was AMAZING the similarities in our answers on many of the questions. And that's a good thing.

Saturday we leave for NJ to visit family and friends and to attend my 20-ish High School Reunion. I say 20-ish because I went to a REALLY small Christian High School. I graduated with 5 other people. No, that's NOT a typo. So we're having an all-school reunion of sorts. People are coming that went to the school up through 8th grade but may have gone on to public high school. And of the members of our graduating class, there are two confirmed. Me and one other.

It should be a good time. It's sunny and warm and I'm actually pretty excited to get out of town for a bit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reasons I Am Grateful Today

Wow. That's what I have to say after this weekend's very intense Foundations Training.

I am grateful that we were able to take the training with two wonderful social workers from Christian Family Adoptions. It may seem to some that it was a 'coincidence' that the training fell into place perfectly for our timing, but we know it was His plan.

I am grateful for the Foster/Adoptive mom and her 16 year old for coming to our training and talking to us from real life perspective.

I am grateful for the teen panel we had - one foster child and one foster-adopted child - who came to speak to us regarding the difficulties of being a foster child. And what NOT to do.

I am grateful that the heartbreaking stories that we had to hear this weekend did not break me. I am grateful that EACH of those stories has a happy ending, and that we will eventually be one of those happy endings.

I am grateful that I have a loving, supportive, fantastic husband. I am grateful that he makes me laugh, and that I know in my heart he will be a wonderful father. I am grateful that he wants to provide a loving home to the child or children that God has picked out for us.

I am grateful for being able to share this journey with you. And WE are especially grateful that we have the love and support of family and friends. Thank you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Foundations Training and Real Life Collide

We have been going through state mandated training this weekend. When adopting through the State of Oregon, it's required that you attend the training that they gear towards foster parents. Our status once we are accepted and have our placement will be foster-to-adopt.

Today we had a foster/adoptive mom come in with her 16 year old to talk to us about her experience. She adopted EIGHT children, fostered over 40, and is an intake specialist for the state for babies. She has evaluated 132 babies for the state to determine what type of fostering they need - to what level. She also grew up in foster care since the age of 13 months.

Her 16 year old daughter was with her, who was placed with her when she was 2. The mom already had the girl's older brother and sister, and when the birth mom had come to them with the 2 year old and her younger sister and asked them to take them, she eventually said she would.

There were many questions we all had for her. One of which was the 'open adoption' concept. When you adopt, you mediate with the birth family that may want to maintain some semblance of contact (when safe and approved by the state) with the birth family. This could be grandparents, siblings, aunts, even the birth mom or dad. This woman is a firm advocate for open adoption, and has helped most of her kids maintain some sort of contact with members of their birth families.

This is an issue that Chris and I have struggled with understanding, until today. Today it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I have had the mindset of a parent of a child with whom I share custody with his father. In this arrangement, I am guaranteed time with my child, unsupervised. We co-parent, and my decisions when he is with me are up to me, and his father's decisions when he is with his father, are up to him. I had this idea in my head that if I allowed any type of contact with the birth family, that THIS was the type of arrangement we would have.

Then the mom said something that completely made it click for me. She said, "I am not a parent who got divorced and now I share custody. *I* am the parent. I do NOT co-parent. I decide when and where the visitation takes place. These people are not my best buds, they do not come to my house for visits. These are MY children. And if I feel that things are getting out of hand, I have no issue with getting up and leaving, and letting the family know that when they can get it together, they can have another visit." It made sense. It CLICKED in my head. It's like visitation with a distant relative that you only see every three or four years.

This mom is a liberal mom. She has a liberal visitation policy. And yet, she only schedules visits once or twice a year. MOST parents only agree to sending pictures and letters through a third party once a year.

One of our fears is that our kids will want to go live with their birth parents. But sitting in that room, and listening to this mom who was raised in foster care tell us that she KNEW her foster parents were her mom and dad, some of our fears were assuaged. She made the comment that family is memories, it's chicken pox, and vacations, and camping, and mission trips. It's soccer games, and dentist appointments, and bike rides. And the birth family doesn't get those memories.

It was a long day. Chris and I were exhausted and decided to go out to eat at a little Italian restaurant in downtown Beaverton. We talked about the things we have learned that have formed some of the decisions we have made about the kinds of children we will pursue. It was a great conversation, plied by wonderful Italian food and a bottle of chianti.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paper Paper Paper Paper Paper WORK!

There is an inordinate amount of PAPER-WORK that needs to be completed before we even start our Home Study. I'm not being dramatic. I'm not exaggerating, I'm not even telling a little white lie.

It's challenging. It's daunting. It's a bit overwhelming at times. Today, I saw a flash, a glimmer, a slight blur of light at the end of that tunnel. Most of our paperWORK is done. Our family coordinator has been in Thailand on a missions trip. She came back yesterday. She had planned a follow-up call with us, even though we gave her a hard time about adjusting to the jet lag and time change.

I received an email from our social worker, Emily, telling us that Becky was unable to do the call due to, SURPRISE! The jet lag. I'm DY-ING to know what other paperwork has come in while she was gone. I've received my Oregon criminal check back, Chris has not. I want to know if all of our DCFS checks have come back from each of the states we've lived in since we were 18 (yeah - it was a long list. Shut it!)

This week is a busy week. We start our Foundations Training tomorrow night. 6-8. Then Friday 6-9, Saturday and Sunday 8-5. Foundations Training prepares you to be a foster parent, and the state requires those adopting from the foster care system to attend as well.

I also have a follow up appointment for my cats on Friday to get their booster set of immunizations. That should be a good time.

Next week is a pretty chill week. And then we leave for vacation!

Friday, May 14, 2010


A debate popped up on a message board I frequent recently about whether or not it is appropriate to inquire about an adopted child's heritage. As is custom on this particular message board, the thread reached two pages overnight. It's still going.

However, with my response on the topic and the responses of others, I figured I would blog about what may or may not be appropriate to ask. I don't seriously believe that most people ask out of maliciousness, or to be hurtful or mean. I also believe that there are those who do ask, mostly to be nosy, under the guise of 'idle curiousity'.

The level of inquiry appropriateness also belies in what your relationship with the family is. If you are close enough to say, have dinner at their house, then I would say (in MY opinion) that I would be willing to answer most questions. Notice I said 'most'. If you are family, I'll pretty much answer anything.

However, if you only see me in the pickup line at school everyday, please don't purport to think that you can sidle up to me and ask me what happened to our (future) child(ren)'s 'real' parents. For all intents and purposes, once the child(ren) are placed in our home, WE are their 'real' parents. We are parenting them. We are providing for them. We are loving them. That's what REAL parents do.

I've done a lot of reading on the subject of attachment and bonding. It's very important to understand that when you adopt children from foster care or even internationally from an orphanage, that the attachment issues will be there. They need to learn to look to you as more than just their 'caregiver', and it can sometimes be a long and arduous road. With these issues come identity issues. Even the simplest and most innocent of questions can hurt or upset a child. They grapple with trying to belong and fit in. And they worry that if they don't look like mommy and daddy, that someone is going to notice and make a big deal out of it. And as we know, most children do not like to be labeled as different or strange.

But back to the question at hand. Questions.

What's appropriate, what's not?

Q: How much did you pay/How much does it cost?
**We've actually gotten this question a lot. A lot, a LOT. I don't know when it became appropriate in our society to ask people how much they paid for ANYTHING, let alone a child. And for the record, we aren't buying our child, we're paying a fee to an agency to perform a service. A service that in my mind, is priceless. We pay them to help us navigate through the inordinate amount of paperwork that we have to fill out/notarize/obtain. We pay them to perform our Home Study, which is a requirement of any adoptive parent. How much we are paying, unless you are asking to help donate towards the cause, isn't really your business. On the flip side, most of the people that HAVE asked us, we are okay with sharing. Mostly family and VERY close friends.

Q: So you weren't able to have any of your own?
**To be fair, I haven't gotten this question. But I feel sorry for the person with the stones to ask me this. Really? I'm pretty sure that the birth certificate we receive when our adoption is final will show that we 'had' one of our own. Of course, the snarky girl in me would like to answer with this: "Yeah, the eight rounds of failed fertility treatment were so much fun, we’ll probably be heading back to the clinic as soon as this child, who isn’t our own, hits preschool."

But I don't think Chris would let me.

Q: Aren't you afraid her mother will want her back?
**I would answer that question with this: "Newsflash. Lifetime TV movies are NOT documentaries, coach." To answer YOUR question (cause you know you're wondering), in the State of Oregon, once the parent signs on the dotted line, or the judge brings down his gavel, it's a done deal. There's no cooling off period, nada.

So there's a little piece of what's not appropriate. What IS appropriate? Well, let's just play it safe and assume that if we've had you over for dinner, you can ask just about anything, and I'll most likely answer. With what amount of snark attached, well, let's just spin the wheel, shall we?

And if you've birthed me, or are related to me, or if I've married your relative - I'll probably answer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Not much to report today. We got confirmation from most of our references that they are sent back in! Yay for our awesome friends - they rock! Chris and I have all of the background and criminal checks in play. We have our physicals on Thursday. And our adoption training starts next week! Whoo hoo! We're rockin it!

And my husband keeps asking me where the pics are of the children. He wants to be a daddy so bad. I love him for that.

Also - went home at lunch today and got the mail and I received a copy of my State background check. With a huge APPROVED written all over it. LOVES it!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Chris and I showed up to our class last night, only to learn that it will take us 8 weeks of one night a week classes to accomplish what we can in three days during the weekend of May 21.

In other news, I'm watching the news and there are two 'parents' that had been arrested for child abuse. One where the father was abusing the child and the mother stood by and let it happen. I want so badly to go through the TV and SHAKE that woman and ask her what the hell she was thinking.


Monday, May 03, 2010

A Little More About the Oregon Foster Adoption Program

Chris and I had our orientation call with our Social Worker about the Oregon Foster Adoption program today. I have been making it a habit to take notes during each call, and this was no exception. As a matter of fact, I took THREE pages of notes.

She went through the entire process, soup to nuts, about the in's and out's, up's and down's of the program.

We're both excited to start our adoption classes through the state tomorrow. Well, we were, until she told us that they will most likely scare the living crap out of us. Of course, it's up to them to prepare us for worst case scenario, and she warned us that they will.

Many of you have asked me about the timeline. Here it is, in rough outline:

1. Home Study completion (we're looking at around the end of June), and approval.

2. Start receiving bulletins of available children in the foster care system.

3. Choose a child or sibling group that we would like to present ourselves to committee for. (Did you get that?)

4. If chosen to be presented to committee, our Social Worker will be notified. If not, return to 3.

5. If chosen as the primary family, present family picture book to Case Worker (child's case worker).

6. Seven DAY BLACKOUT PERIOD. This one caught me off guard. The seven day blackout period is a week of whirlwind paperwork, processes, and procedures. Oh, and no contact with the child.

7. Once the blackout period is over, we can begin visitation with the child(ren). YAY!

8. Plan Transition into our home. This can go fast or slow, depending on the comfort level of the child(ren) we have chosen, and how fast their bond and trust of us forms.

9. Transition the child into our home! (YAY!)

10. Continue monthly visits with the Social Worker. Every three months, she writes a report to send to the State to confirm that things are progressing with bonding, adjustment, etc.

11. As early as 6 months, the social worker will then recommend finalization of the adoption.

12. Finalize Adoption! We can do this one of two ways - we can either have it all done by mail, or have a court ceremony whereby we travel to the county where the child originally resided, have a small ceremony in family court. Which one do you think THIS photog mom will choose? OH! And we can invite family and friends! I see a big party in our future!

13. Go home and be parentals. <-- best part!

We asked her how we could ensure that our Home Study went quickly. She gave us some tips and pointers on what she likes to see when she comes out. Basically making the home safe for a child. We have to print out an evacuation plan and post it on the fridge. How many of YOU have one of those? I didn't think so. And smoke detectors in each bedroom. Locked or put away medicines and firearms. I'm going to buy a gate for the stairs. And a fire extinguisher. On each floor.

She asked me about our arrangement with the Boy. I told her and she seemed pleased. She's going to probably interview him when she comes out in June.

Busy busy busy, but plugging along!

Saturday, May 01, 2010


So we took the cats to the vet today to get their updated vaccines, and to get a letter of good health and confirmation of vaccines. We also asked the vet to make a comment on their temperament for the agency.

My boy was NOT happy. He shed enough hair to make three new cats. My girl calmed down after a while, but once the vet grabbed her, she was not having it. The vet pulled her mouth open and she HISSED at her! Sapphire has NEVER hissed at ANYONE!! So that was helpful. While we tried to convince the vet that she isn't like that, I wanted to just knock her out! HA!

So we got our bill of health, and confirmation that they would be suitable to be around children. Sheesh. Damn cat.