Sunday, November 18, 2007

Adoption



What does adoption mean to me? That is such an interesting question - what does family mean? Isn't it really the same question? I have one sister and we were close when we were younger. We definitely grew apart when I left for college. I haven't really talked to her much since then - just occasionally.
This picture is from my wedding in August (Z had been home 2 weeks). My sister and her family came for the wedding and we had so much fun together. I really, really enjoyed the time we spend together. I am digressing.....my point at the beginning of this paragraph was that I didn't come from a big family and, in fact, probably handled the whole sibling thing not very well as a child. So I am so surprised and pleased to see how excited L and O are about their little brother and how super-excited L is about new bothers and sisters. I asked L how many brothers and sisters she wanted and she started counting all of the places kids could sleep (we have bunk beds, trundle beds, a crib and a full size bed). She volunteered to sleep with me in my bed so a new sister could have her bed! Very self-less of her! It was funny.
So what is adoption? It is a way to fill up all of our beds and our lives. I am also selfish - being around my kids is when I like myself the most. They bring out the me I always knew was somewhere in there but I struggled for a long time to find. So when someone says that Z is lucky that I saved him or something like that - it is sooooo totally the other way around.

Large families and feminism

I am a feminist. Anyone that knows me knows that I have absolutely no problem identifying myself as a feminist. To me, that means that I support the right for women to have the opportunities that men have. I don't think that is a particularly radical or controversial approach to equality. I think that women should be able to work hard at their jobs, advance at the same rate and be paid the same salary as a man who has their same experience. I think that a man can decide to take time off to stay at home with his kids if he wants.

I find it somewhat funny that women who are anti-feminist have all of these outrageous ideas about what it is. Evidently if you are a feminist it means you want to kill babies and destroy families. I have found this anti-feminist craziness while perusing large family blogs. Which is ironic because one of the staples of feminism - especially the early feminist movement is to raise awareness of the value of the stay at home mom.

When I was in college, I thought I would have one child and probably be a single mom with a nanny and a demanding career. That was just what I imagined. When I ultimately went back to medical school it was after months of researching adopting from Kazakhstan and realizing that I needed to be able to provide financially for my child. Even then, I thought one child for me and I would be done. When I had my bio daughter in medical school - I still felt a strong desire to adopt internationally. I thought I would do that once and then my family would be complete.

Then I went to Kyrgyzstan and my ideas about my family changed. I think it is safe to say that it is going to be a whole lot bigger than I thought 5 years ago.

One of the things I love about the internet is that you can google and do blog searches and find someone who has things in common with you. It helps you feel a little less alone. I will tell you though, there are no blogs I can find by women with large families that work full time and don't homeschool! (Please don't take that to mean I am against homeschooling) I am a feminist who wants a large family, who wants to work full time in a moderately time-consuming industry. I suppose if there are women out there like me they just don't have time to blog.

By the way, I don't feel there is any conflict between being a feminist and wanting a large family. Working towards equality and working towards creating a culture in the US that values motherhood is part of what feminism is. Working for fair maternity/paternity leave practices, working towards access to childcare, de-stigmatizing a woman's choice to leave work early to go on a field trip with her daughter is part of the work of feminism.

I think all working mom's can see the truth in the following story: a man leaves work early to see his son in a play and the boss says.....oh what a good dad he is sacrificing a couple of hours of work to see his son in a play. When a woman leaves work early for the same reason the boss says.....she is just not serious about her job always leaving early she needs to decide if she wants to be a mom or a worker.

So if anyone knows of a blog by a working mom with lots of internationally adopted kids give me a link!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

christmas presents


So for $70 you can buy a goat or other milk producing animal for a family. You get a nice gift card to send as a gift. Here it is mom.....my christmas list.....get someone a goat from me.
After today's posts I predict that my husband is going to teach me how to make links in my blog that are hidden istead of all https:.....blah blah blah. That is pretty annoying to look at!

Being married

I have been a very prolific writer today.....I am clearly procrastinating to avoid putting together my presentation on neuraxial hematomas for november 21st!

I was just writing an email and starting rambling on a little bit about how different my life is now and how different the adoption process is now as compared to when I was single last year.

When I first met Keith - it was always funny when one of us would start to talk about something totally obscure and the other one would immediately remember all of the details of some tv show or book. When we were driving from Arizona to Alabama there was an abandoned box car about 100 feet from the interstate...which reminded me of a book I had read in elementary school - the boxcar children http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boxcar_Children....so being little miss free association....I started to tell him and he basically finished my sentence and proceeded to tell me his favorite part of the book. Of course, lots of people have read this book. Noone has ever talked about it with me.

It is so nice to have an idea and to be able to tell him and to know that he isn't going to fight with me about it or think I am crazy. In fact, usually he likes my ideas. I feel like we feed each other's ideas and dreams in really beautiful way. I have always had a crazy idea of a project I want to complete in my life.....it has been hovering amorphously on the edge of mind for about 6 years and every time I talk with Keith about it....it becomes more and more solid. It starts to crystallize into a more defined thing. Someday, I hope it will be real.....but it is still in the being defined stage. He gets excited and caught up in my dreams too and that is something I haven't experienced before.

A lot of you may be familiar with Operation Christmas Child by Samaritan's Purse. We took our older kids to Walmart on Saturday to make shoeboxes for it and we are working in the distribution center this Wednesday. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/OCC.asp?MPGID=1
At church on Sunday they played a video about the project which showed children all over the world opening christmas shoe boxes. Here is where I totally embarass Keith.....I looked over and saw him with those 'I-am-trying-to-fight-the-tears' tears. He told me later that all he could think about was that one of those kids on the screen could be one of our kids waiting to come home.

WARNING.......CHEESE ALERT..........TO ALL THOSE THAT HAVE KNOWN ME MOST OF MY LIFE YOU MIGHT WANT TO SIT DOWN..........
I am cynical, I have been cynical most of my life. I never, ever believed in the whole soul mate thing. I do now and I am OK about telling it to the world.

who is going to play me in the movie

My philosophy in life for the first 30 years was to do things that would make good stories later. Seriously, the quest for an experience that would provide a good story spurred me on to do lots of really worthwhile things. I think that is what helped me go so far away from home for college, that is definitely what made me dye my hair purple and drive half way across the country with an unmentioned band (with whom I was eventually pictured in Rolling Stone magazine), to buy a guitar and start a punk band, to work as a craps dealer. Maybe I gave up my crazy life and went to medical school so I could find someone who wanted to listen to my stupid stories!
I seriously have a crazy story for every occasion....so I have started trying to write them down in a coherent way so that someday one of my kids might want to read them and say.....dude....mom was totally insane.
Now, Keith wants to know who will play him in the movie. I told him Admiral Chegwidden.....he had never watched JAG....I am horrified. I once called in sick to work at the casino becuase there was a JAG marathon on and I HAD to watch it. I love Chegwidden....and Keith totally reminds me of him. I have been having a lot of trouble putting pictures up on my blog....but here is a link to chegwidden http://www.jagteam.com/aj_chegwidden.htm

I should wait but oh well....

So we have decided to adopt from Ghana. We are going to use Adoption Advocates International which has a very established and respected Ethiopia program. They have a pilot program in Ghana that was just recently started. We will be their 14th family to sign on. Instead of referring from already existing orphanages, they started their own orphanage in July and have a very meticulous procedure in place to ensure that the children are absolutely, 100% relinquished by any remaining family members. There is sooo much trouble with child slavery in Ghana and with that whole crazy Zoe's Ark thing in Chad.....I feel much better about it with AAI, than with some of the other agencies I looked at who work in Africa. There is also something very DIY, grass roots about the whole AAI project. The orphanage and this pilot program were really started by some mom's adopting through other means in Ghana and they were disillusioned with the organizations and the process that was in place. They thought that it could be better. I love that.

As you may have read...the state of Alabama won't approve our homestudy until we have been married one year. So we are just waiting around for a while. I should just wait patiently, but I have been thinking about all of the timing and trying to piece together some way to so some things sooner. I don't actually need the 171H until court which is (according to the tentative timeline) about 2-3 months after referral. I do need a homestudy for a referral - but since I don't need the 171H for a referral.... So shooting for homestudy done near the end of April is my goal so that it will dated within 6 months of submission to USCIS and we can start waiting for our referral in April.

The referral - so I feel like I have mentioned this before on a post...but I am not sure where....we are now a little boy heavy in our family, so our referral request is for a little girl less than 5 years old. We are open to siblings (up to 2 other siblings) and minor medical needs or surgically correctable issues. Adding 3 kids to a family with 3 kids already is advanced parenting for sure! I have read several blogs by mom's of large families....but I have yet to see a blog or meet any working moms with that many kids! I think our nanny would need a raise and a helper after school! We are definitely going to get approved for 3 just in case....but our official referral request is still a work in progress - unfortunately, we still have 3 months to discuss it! No mom, I am not insane.

Our preliminary application went in today we were waiting on a family picture to send it in. We sent in one of our wedding pictures. We are getting an official family picture on December 8th for Christmas cards/adoption stuff. I am looking forward to watching the training dvd's. Although I am sure it is very interesting and informative - it is no battlestar galactica....but it will have to hold me over!









Alabama Sucks

I just need to take a moment to vent! We have been working on researching adoptions from Africa and have been going back and forth between Liberia and Ghana and briefly we talked about Ethiopia. Then we were trying to decide how many kids, what ages, special needs etc. So finally we start making some choices and decision and start talking to people and agencies in concrete terms. Now today, our homestudy agency tells me that while they are comfortable doing a homestudy for us - all international homestudies in the state of Alabama have to go throught DHR before they can be processed by USCIS and their minimum marriage requirement is one year. If we were adopting domestically (not through foster care) we woudn't have this requirement. Not only do we have to wait at least another 3 months to start our homestudy - it adds an extra month to the processing time to get out 171H.

I know the older I get the faster 3 months goes by.....but when you finally make the decisions to go forward with an adoption - the last thing you want to do is hurry up and wait for 3 loooooong months. We are still going to send in our application to the placing agency and start our mandatory dvd training - which will probably not be as entertaining to watch as battlestar galactica....but we just finished the ipod downloads of season 3 so we don't have anything to watch until the Razor miniseries and the next season starts!

I think that if an agency is licensed by the state to do homestudies - the state should let them do them and not stick their big fat nose in my business. My husband (a lifelong Alabama-n) says that other states look to Alabama to see what not to do! He may be right. Of course, I am very judicious and see the logic of their law....but I am opposed to a state organization that doesn't know me or hasn't seem my family making decisions based on a number. Especially when a local, licensed, accredited organization can evaluate my family based on criteria that really matter to the welfare of children!
OUCH - I just fell off my soapbox and stubbed my toe.

Friday, November 9, 2007

LOVE IT


I just saw this tshirt on one of the Ghana adoption blogs and I LOVE IT! It comes in a super cute little hoodie too. I would put a link....but it is super long and I have no idea how to do the cool hyperlink thing. It is from adoptive mommy store (http://www.cafepress.com/adoptivemommy) that link isn't so long! Must fight urge to shop!!!!!!

Halloween

I am soooo bad. I tried to upload halloween pictures of the kids and didn't work and didn't work so I just haven't posted in forever. So I thought i would write about halloween (although it really is noooo fun without the pictures) and update a little bit.

I was on call on Halloween, but the monday before halloween the kids dressed up (by kids I also mean Keith too!) for cub scouts. Z was a lion which was soooo cute. It was one of my daughter's recycled costumes when she was 3 months old so it was a little tight on him....but he kept the hat on like a champ! My daughter was a pumpkin fairy. She was very matter of fact about the whole thing. Whenever someone who ask her what her costume was she would say "can't you tell I am a pumpkin fairy?" like something was wrong with them for not immediately knowing. It was funny.
Monday nights are a total fiasco in general and getting everyone into costume made it more crazy....so Keith and the older 2 left before Z and I were ready. Evidently, my timid little girl spent the first 10 minutes of cubsouts terrifyingly screaming and burying her head in some random woman's shoulder because of the scariness of the the costumes! I didn't even think of that - I guess I should have been prepared for that.

She did bounce back though and won the costume contest. All of the kids had a turn to walk across the stage and show their costumes and my daughter walked out and did a little ballerina turn (arms in 5th position and everything) and then did a little 4 yr old arabesque - i think there was a little curtsy too before she ran off of the stage.......it was 100% irresistable.

I am pretty sure Z was her only real competition for cute costumes - but he didn't enter the contest!

O - the little cub scout (who is actually probably the same size I was my freshman year in high school!) - was one of the Fet's...ok it was Boba Fet I think.....of course, I have no idea how to spell the star wars character's names...I admit it! He loved his costume and was so confused why he didn't win the costume contest. I loved that he loved his costume so much. There were so many star wars character costumes I didn't really realize how big starwars is for kids these days. I was 2 years younger than O is now when I saw Star Wars for the first time at the drive in in Emporia, Ks!

Now my husband's costume is another story....I know you are reading this keith...sorry. He has a flight suit that he got for one of his jobs and he decided to wear it as his costume. One of the mother's turned to me and asked me if that was a costume or some eagle scout uniform thing. To which I responded "it is a costume....if it were an eagle scout thing he would have a kercheif". I really am not sure why I find the kerchief on men so funny....it just is.

On halloween night, the kids went to a fall festival celebration at church and I have some pictures that our awesome nanny took of that too. It was lots of inflatable bouncy things and I imagine running around with friends from school and that precious 4 year old screaming thing. Our neighborhood is really new and there are literally 15-20 houses and like 7 or 8 of them are occupied and there are houses still being built around the corner. Next year I am hoping for some good trick or treating!

I am going to have to figure out how to add the pictures -because everyone was sooo cute.

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power