Monday, April 25, 2011

The Drugs We Don't Use

Recently, Susan and I have taken to watching “Weeds” on Netflix. The tale of Nancy Botwin, a widowed mother who decides the best way to raise her two sons and maintain her upper-middle class lifestyle is to become a marijuana dealer to her upper-middle class neighbors, “Weeds” is dark, hilarious, and chock full of parental techniques not to try at home. But it does bring up a point that is present in many adoptions – the quiet acceptance of drug use.

When you begin the adoption process, a million questions are thrown your way. Domestic or international? Infant or toddler or foster care? Race? Religion? Then, one day, you find yourself taking one of the prerequisite parent training courses and faced with the question, “just how much heroin are you okay with?”

The problem is, if you've already gotten this far in the adoption process, it's probably because, at least in part, you've never had to ask yourself “just how much heroin am I okay with?” But it's a question you must be able to answer because the likelihood of your birth mother being drug-free is not to be expected (thankfully, I write this as someone who's birth mother is drug-free). So there you find yourself, debating with your partner or yourself, where you stand on marijuana use in the second trimester, cocaine use before knowledge of the pregnancy, alcohol - when and how much, opiates - deal-breaker or not. (Notice the absence of tobacco, a drug whose use you simply have to accept unless you're willing to wait a very long time.) You learn the oddest facts, like the dreaded “crack baby” epidemic of the '80s never played out as feared. While it's true that most babies born addicted to cocaine are born prematurely, the drugs actually accelerated their development so they are better off than other premies. Time has proven that “crack babies” are no more likely to be drug addicts than anyone else. So maybe, you find yourself thinking, you're fine with a little bit of crack. It's not like it's meth.

Of course, at this point, the debate is all academic, a series of hypotheticals to ponder as you wait and wait and wait. Then you get word. There's a child, either recently born or soon to be, that could be yours. You could be a parent next week if.... If you're willing to accept admitted cocaine use in the first trimester. Now the debate is real.

Your first reaction is “yes, a million times yes! This could be our child, damn the drug use!” But this can be an irresponsible reaction as well. If you're not willing to accept all that comes with a baby born addicted – the withdrawal, the developmental issues – saying “yes” for its own sake is a mistake that cannot be rectified.

Which leaves you in the worst position an adoptive hopeful can be in, saying “no.” Knowing there is a child out there that needs a home and declaring that it's not meant to be your home is one of the most self-loathing things you can do. You feel arrogant, superior, and selfish, not to mention the fact that you just extended your own excruciating waiting period. I can assure you, as someone who can generally find the silver lining, having to say “no” can only be rationalized so far because, deep down, you know you're saying “not good enough.” It's not because the baby isn't good enough; the baby is perfect. It's because you're not sure if you are.

But it's what you must do if you're not certain. Being a parent means making tough decisions. And being an adoptive parents means you're going to have to make some of those decisions before you've even come up with a theme for the nursery. Might as well get used to it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Date That Shall Be

Here’s something they do not tell you when you order furniture for your nursery – it’s huge. We ordered a pretty standard six-drawer dresser and a crib. On Saturday, we took our Ford Ranger Bought for Two Bottles of Wine to pick them up confident in the fact that they would easily fit and the truck would earn its keep. We pull up to the loading dock and out comes this box that could have saved another 12 people off of the Titanic and a gentlemen who kindly says “Oh, that ain’t gonna work.” Given our other transportation options “comfortably” seat five adults, the truck is the only option we have. (Side note: the truck also lacks for power steering, air conditioning, and power windows – truly a vehicle after my father-in-law’s heart - and required Susan to drive separately just in case it needed yet another jump to start. And that rhyme was accidental.)

In the end, this required separate trips for each item, with the crib only fitting because we did not get a “lifetime” bed – a crib that turns into a toddler bed that turns into a full bed which they market as “the crib your child can take to college.” Those things are massively large. These are the things the baby books don’t tell you about.

As for now, the dresser and crib are in the garage “outgassing,” which, I am assured, is a concept with which I’m going to have to get very comfortable. Basically, new future has pesky little odors that come with their construction. Given Junior’s limited immune system, the furniture must be allowed time to emit all of the chemicals related to its creation before it actually gets used. These are the things the baby books tell you about.

The biggest news is that the Date of Delivery has once again moved up. Originally set for June 6, then June 1, the show will officially start May 24 for that is when the c-section is scheduled. This has required us to alter other parts of our schedule; specifically, the date to begin commencing panic has been moved up to April 1.

Having already established an internal deadline of the end of April to have everything in place, this still works for us, though it does require us to now figure out what everything is and where its place might be. Anyone who has seen our kitchen over the past year knows that color selection and room design are not well-developed skills within the denizens of this home.

One of the great things about this new date is that it greatly reduces the concern about our clearances expiring before we could leave Florida. As mentioned before, there was a slim chance that, given the 7-to-10 days typically required to process the interstate compact agreement, our clearances would expire before the paperwork was processed, leaving us in some unknown baby limbo. A May 24 birthday reduces this concern significantly. Of course, it also means that we just wasted money to get recleared, but, at this point, I care not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trouble On The Tube

Next week CBS News will be running an expose on an adoption scam that, according to their ad (here, if you're so inclined:;lst;1), is taking advantage of "couples desperate for a child." This ad goes beyond your typical over-sensationalizing news hype for pieces that don't blow the lid off of anything; it's insulting.

Adoption is not an act of desperation. It is not a means of last resort. With the glut of fertility options available today, the ability to have a biological child is more a factor of how far you're willing to go to have one than on your ability to. Adoption is a choice, a decision just like any other. Certainly, other factors can play a part in that decision, but that choice should never be considered the last desperate gasp of the pathetic and childless. And those who choose to adopt should not be classified that way in order to sell ad space during the nightly news.

Mild rant now over.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Go Right Ahead and Call It a Comeback

So, where were we?

Last I wrote, we had met with Sam and Diane in a restaurant in Florida and decided we were all willing to do this. The big news is that we now know the gender of the child. Personally, neither Susan or I felt a strong need to know this information. Had Diane not wanted to find out herself, we wouldn't have asked it of her. We thought about just keeping the information to ourselves but came to the realization that it was only a matter of time before we slipped with a gender-specific pronoun. So, a boy it is.

Having nothing but nieces this does throw some of my limited parenting experience out of the window. But I was allegedly a boy at some point, and I survived that, so I must know something about them. The name, as I've said before, will not be revealed until he is, but our internal deliberations had a much longer list of girl names than one for boys. Let's face it, boy names stink. Of course, my strategy of "we'll know the right name when we hear it" isn't the most efficient tactic and leads to the random blurting out of random names to see if they'll stick.

As for the adoption itself, everything is progressing nicely. We (by which I mean Susan, as I'm a horrible phone conversationalist) speak with Diane about ever other week, just to keep touch. That really is a rare treat in the adoption world. Typically, you never interact with the birth mother; it's much more of a business transaction. Everything is happening as it should.

Our only speedbump to date has been our clearances. When you adopt, you have to jump through many administrative and bureaucratic hoops to be qualified to adopt. But those qualifications are only valid for one year. Ours expire June 9. Our son is due to be born June 1. Once he is born, we cannot leave the state with him until our paperwork (the interstate compact agreement) has been processed. That typically takes between seven and ten days. Doing the math, the worst case scenario leads us to having a child that we cannot legally take home because our clearances expired before the paperwork is processed.

Yes, this is a highly unlikely scenario, and I am typically the last person to play the "worst case scenario" card. But that's because I'm willing to play the odds and accept the consequences if I'm wrong. I'm not willing to be wrong this time. As such, we've rejumped through the bureaucratic hoops to get recleared. The only problem now is that it takes two to four months to process the clearances. And that's a worst case scenario I'd rather not ponder.

Take Me Back, Blog

Dear Blog,

No, I did not forget about you. I know for a time there, you and I were pretty close. Things were happening with the adoption, and you were my means of spreading the word without having to repeat myself twenty times. I'd have something to report, and there you would be, patiently waiting to be voice, no matter what time of night or how random the thought. You never judged me. Then I just up and left you.

I know what you're thinking. This new report came into my life, and I dedicated all of my writing time to it. And you're right. I spent a month writing a 26-page report that 26 people might ever read. But I had no choice, ol' blog-o-mine. The boss said "write" and I said "how much?"

But I never forgot about you, bloggy dearest. I knew you would wait for me, for you have proven yourself loyal by the fact that you're free of charge and with minimum features. So, what do you say we get back into this? There's thoughts to share!

Your Loving Author