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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some wonderful friends invited us over for dinner last week because, you know, we were husbandless and daddy-less for all of four days. They have three boys (ages 2, 4, 6), and our boys totally adore their boys. Dinnertime in that house (and with the addition of the two Martin boys) is like a spectator sport. After a while, Jan and I just looked at each other, picked up our glasses of wine, sighed and nonverbally agreed that attempting to enforce manners or appropriate dinner table-behavior was just a little bit out of the question for the night. (The kids’ manners, that is, we’d still try to act in a socially acceptable way).

Ben, the six-year-old, and Matthew are great buds and are two peas in a pod. Both the oldest, both now in kindergarten, and both boys are a little bit more cautious and emotional about things. They’re just quite similar and get along smashingly well.

Well, Ben, all of a sudden noticed something about Matthew and just couldn’t contain his observation. He leaned over and said, “Matthew! Your ears are gigantic!!” Poor guy – the curse of the Martin ears strikes again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I’m husbandless…just for a few days. Mike is attending the Microsoft Professional Developer’s Conference in California. The last time he went to this Matthew was two and life was pre-Zach; so it’s been a while since we’ve been apart (besides the whole 7 week bed rest hospital-stay, but then we could still see each other). Anyway, on Sunday, before we took Mike to the airport, Matthew was heartbroken that daddy was leaving for a few days. We were talking about it while he colored (Mike, not Matthew) and he (Matthew) said, “But I’ll miss daddy so much. He’s so cool. He’s too cool to leave.” I suggested that maybe daddy should share his coolness with some other people for a few days since we get to experience his coolness all the time. Matthew didn’t go for this and finally just stated, “This just makes me so sad, and I’m going to cry now.” I like that there’s an announcement made pre-breakdown.

After we took Mike took the airport, I explained to Matthew in the car that he would have to be the “man of the house” for the next few days. I told him that maybe he could earn some extra allowance (because anything would be extra since he basically doesn’t earn any right now). If he could do some other jobs to help me and just be an exceptionally good listener this week that would be SO great.

That night at dinner, Matthew insisted on sitting at Mike’s place at the table. He also scolded Zachary and said, “Don’t make me use my angry daddy voice.” He insisted that I call him “Mikey” or “Honey.” I tried to explain to him that by being the “man of the house” he wasn’t ACTUALLY turning INTO the man of the house. I really knew that this had to stop when he leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head and casually said, “So, then, I’ll be sleeping with you tonight, huh, Mom?” Um…Yeah. I shot that one down, but just as soon as I finished explaining that we would all be sleeping in our normal beds and that Matthew had not, in fact, morphed into a mini-Michael (though, yes, he does look like one), Matthew had one more idea.


“Yes, Matthew?”

“Maybe I should have a glass of wine with dinner too.”

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

‘Twas Halloween this past weekend (as you must well know). We had a good time with all the Halloweeny-festivities but also managed to be quite productive. Mike bought the paint for Girly’s room. Baby’s room. Sister’s room…I’m still not sure yet how we should refer to “her” until we have a name…and a child that accompanies that name. He also got the boys’ box springs wrapped in plastic and put up in the garage. (We don’t need them for their new loft beds). Mike cut a new wall/wood brace (in which we must reinstall the gate at the top of the stairs). He also put together the crib!!! The man was on a roll.

Huge news: our FBI clearance came in (phew!), and that’s SUPER fast (guess we’re just SUPER clean), so this means that the clock is now clicking for Joy to finish our home study (you have to have everything done within 60 days, I believe). But because Joy ROCKS she wants to get this thing done so we can get ready to wait, so to speak. It’s looking like my optimistic goal of January 1st for being licensed and ready to roll might actually be mid-Decemberish. Woohoo!

Now here’s an interesting thing that I must bring to your attention: while the identity of our daughter remains a mystery to us for now, once we have her some aspects of “her” will have to remain a mystery to you, my readers/family/friends. Let me explain: so there are two ways this adoption could go: A.) We’re picked by a birth mom and receive the relinquished infant or B.) We are shown foster babies/children that are legally free for adoption and we find one that is the right fit. If A. happens it works a little more like a traditional adoption…we most likely get to name her and have her from a much younger age. (It is also the most expensive route). If B. happens, we are legally required to call her by her birth name until we legally adopt her (at which point we can choose to change her name if it seems appropriate). Also, because she is technically a foster child until the adoption is finalized (usually after six months at the earliest), the state mandates that no photos can be placed on-line. This means that if B. happens, I can’t put pictures of our daughter on my blog or facebook or our family website until she is legally ours. That’ll be hard, I know.

Also, depending on the birth mom’s situation (for possibility A. or possibility B.) and out of respect for our daughter and ‘her story/ identity,’ we may choose to not share much of her past history/life before she came to live with us. This just all depends on the specific, different details that we can’t begin to imagine, but it’s a good possibility. There is so much about adoption that forces you to change the way you perceive and view things, and some of this could – to a certain extent – change a little bit how I even write my blog. Obviously I must stay true to myself (and to you!); however, there will be some things that I’ll need to state carefully or not at all.

Another thing with adoption is the fact that you’re judged on your likability – by potential birth moms and your ability to parent – by the agency and state. The agency obviously thinks that we’re good enough parents to adopt (phew!) and with their home study document (40 pages about us!), they try to paint a clear picture of who we are to the state social workers who are trying to find the best fit for their foster kids. The other thing that we have/get to do is to create two versions of a Family Profile. One is for the state with some pictures of us and our home and a basic introductory letter. The other one (the one I find a little more creative and fun) is a Family Profile for the birth moms to see. Basically it’s like a job application – pick us! Pick us! And I feel a lot of pressure to make it pretty, and creative, and potentially even crafty (something that I am so not a fan of or skilled at doing). As Joy – our adoption specialist – put it, “I don’t want you to think of it as a competition or a popularity contest or beauty pageant, BUT birth moms are shown about fifty of these and you should try to do your best to stand out from the crowd.” Um, no pressure.

Part of the Profile is the “Dear Birth Parent” letter. Adoptive parents know all about this – how, on one page, do you help someone make the most difficult choice in their lives? How do you convince them that you, are in fact, the most perfect, wonderful people and they should place their child’s life entirely in your hands and in your care? How does a birth mom even begin to make this choice?! Can you imagine? Looking through fifty books, narrowing it down and then finally just picking – based on paper – the people that you want to parent YOUR child, a person that’s currently living inside of YOU. Do you think there are some that just go eeny-meeny-miney-mo? I bet there are.

So, the question is: how to stand out? First of all, Joy did make me feel pretty good when she said, “But you guys shouldn’t have a problem ‘cuz you’re young and cute. My young and cute families almost always get picked.” OK, so we’re young and cute, that helps, BUT…here’s what I was thinking: it’s a given that it would be REALLY good to avoid the standard “Dear Birth Parent, We thank you so much for considering us. We’re honored and flattered and can’t begin to imagine the difficulty of this decision…Your sacrifice means the world to us, blahblahblah.” Obviously expressing gratitude and compassion is important, but by the 34th profile, you know that that Birth Mom (who may even, potentially, be in the hospital IN labor) is just skimming anything that looks like that.

I’m open to suggestions. Here are the two ideas I’m currently working with:

1.) “Once upon a time, there was a boy named Mike and a girl named Jenny. They met in college and fell in love...” It would be a story version of us, who we are, what’s important to us, important details (religious preference, family hobbies, values, general overview of our home/neighborhood, life, etc.) Everybody likes a story especially one with a “and they lived happily ever after” ending, though we’d need the birth mom’s help for writing the ending. Ahhh, touching. HOWEVER, I worry that this one would even seem too wordy to the poor tired Birth Mom who’s already read 17 profiles. So…
2.) “The Top Five Reasons…Why We Could Be Your Dream Family.” With a more bullet-point/countdown approach, just five doable paragraphs, we could present a theme-based, organized view of US. I don’t know, but I think this one may have the most potential. I’ve actually already written it though I’m sure I’ll edit it a thousand times. Joy thought it was a good idea, basically less is more, but you still want all the details to be there.

Those are my current thoughts, any ideas?! Let me know!

Along with the letter, we provide a little family photo album – us doing fun stuff and apparently looking drop-dead gorgeous (well, it wouldn’t hurt)! My dad suggested we just get some new picture frames and use the fake family photos that come with them….um, whatcha saying dad, we aren’t attractive enough for ya?! Talk about the ultimate judging a book by its cover…a book that’s going to raise your kid!! (OK, obviously a book can’t raise children, but I’m just trying to apply the expression here. Gimme a break.).

How, HOW do you convince someone to GIVE you their baby???? And HOW will she ever pick?? It’s quite the choice to have to make.
I chopped my hair last night. I figure, it's been four years since I did that, it was time. As usual, Mike's comment was: "It's short." Well, yes, honey, when have I ever come home from a haircut with longer hair? But, it's true, it's definitely The boys didn't even notice this morning, and when I finally just pointed it out, Matthew said, "It just looks like bed-head." (Which it was). Then after putting some product in (and that's literally how easy it is), Zach and I decided that at least it looks like "fancy bed-head." None of my students even noticed today. I'm pleased to say that I did get some cat-calls and whistles with the Bus Stop Crowd, so I made an impression there!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Three hours talking about myself?! Cake! And oh-so delightful. My individual adoption interview went really well last week. At least, I knew all the answers! It does blow my mind that even with 24 pages of autobiography, they still have questions to ask us. And obviously talking about myself is something that I do well, but even with my skill it was a pretty tiring process. There was one question that she asked me that I honestly haven’t ever thought about and it forced me to pause (for just a moment). When talking about my postpartum depression/therapy experience, Joy asked, “And what, do you feel, did you learn or get out of therapy?” Sheesh! That’s kind of a HUGE question. I’m pretty sure I rambled about learning to love and appreciate myself, to understand that the balance of putting myself first – so that I HAVE something to give to others – is a crucial practice (and that it will take practice). So, here I am, practicing what I preach – putting myself first with some quality latte and writing time.

Cooking is something that I’ve been doing for myself lately (well, yes, it’s for my family, too, but mostly for me). I’ve been researching new recipes, creating my own cookbook of recipes that I’ve printed out and plastic sheeted, and I’ve been planning meals for the whole week on Sunday afternoons. Monday has become Soup Night. I love the fall for it so nicely lends itself to the promotion and practice of Soup Night. I HEART my Crockpot and have blogged before on my Crockpot-head tendencies. Therefore, Monday is a happy day as it’s Crockpot Day/Soup Night.

I don’t toss around the H-word, and when I do employ the H-word it is because no other word carries the weighted emotion that it embodies, but here goes: The boys HATE my Crockpot and LOATHE Soup Night. They’ve both gone through phases of being the lead picky-eater in the house, but Soup Night provides them for a beautiful brother-bonding opportunity. They unite in their anti-Soup Night stand. It would be quite beautiful except that it’s quite annoying. The pediatricians of the world, parenting magazines, food-propagandists proclaim that you must feed a picky child the same food TEN TIMES before they like it. Does that mean I should make the same soup ten Mondays in a row? Or does a ten-times-dose of soup in general work? All I know is they are NOT fans. We at least have Matthew trained now: he knows that wrinkling his nose and announcing his disgust is unacceptable. So, while Zach is literally gagging, rolling his eyes, and proclaiming: “eeeewww, blech! Gross!” Matthew, with the fakest, most forced smile in history, voice dripping with phony-joy says, “Mmmm, this smells good.” Then he forces down a spoonful trying to hide his secret desire to spew. He follows his torture with a sarcasm-dripping, “Mmmm, I LIKE it.” Meanwhile, he’s shooting a look at Zach that says, “Dude. What have we done to deserve this? Why does she hate us so? How the heck do we get out of here alive?!”

Ahhh, I love Soup Night.