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Archive for November, 2010

Setting limits

We kind of came to a temporary halt with the adoption business. But I know it’ll be a long slow process, so this isn’t a big deal. We didn’t get to attend the domestic adoption info meeting we planned on last week because I came down with some weird stomach bug. We’ve looked into two other agencies — one doesn’t have any info meetings in our area before next year, and the other hasn’t responded to my inquiry. Already I’m frustrated!

I’ve also contacted a couple people that friends on facebook knew with adoption experience. I got some really good insights that have my mind flying with all kinds of thoughts. Basically I’m hearing first hand the agony and heartache associated with adoption, but always in the end, I’m told it’s worth every bit of it. I hope so because I’m really trying to figure out how much we’re willing to go through to fulfill this idea we have for our future family.

Adoption is something I want to do. But at what cost? Not just financially, but at what cost emotionally? At what point do we say “screw it, let’s just screw”? (Haha, get it?) Once we get lost in the process, we may be too close to the situation to make logical decisions about when to call it quits. So maybe it’s a good idea to determine our limits early on. Only I’m not sure how to go about doing that. Do we set a cost limit? Do we quit when we’re on the verge of divorce? Is there a time limit we stick to?

I just don’t know.

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The Transporter

It’s no secret, to those who know me, that I sincerely believe that a certain style of vehicle is superior to all others. While it’s true that every vehicle has it’s purpose, one rises above the rest. That vehicle:

Oh yeah…the mini-van!

This is me in the amazing 2010 Chrysler Town and Country. My car is in the shop, and due to a scheduling mishap the fine folks at Enterprise upgraded me for free. The manager was apologetic, and a little embarrassed, when he informed me that they could upgrade me to a mini-van. My response? Sweet.

I know what you’re thinking. LAME. But hear me out.

First of all, the mini-van is large. For a six-foot-eighter like me, that’s key. I’m out of the compact and mid-sized car markets simply based on leg/head room. To be able to sit up straight in a vehicle, stretch my legs a little, and not have my legs around my ears is a blessing.

Also, it seats seven. I hate trying to take several cars anywhere. Let’s go out to dinner! Oh wait, there’s six of us, so we have to take two cars. Oh no! Mike didn’t make it through the light. Now we have to wait for him. I’m parked out front, but you’re parked on the other side of the restaurant. I know…these are minor inconveniences. But they are inconvenient. When you have kids, seating is essential. But when you just want to go out with friends, it’s also kind of nice.

Cargo space is such a perk. With a car, you can’t even buy a dresser at target without having to figure out how to get it home. Much less a couch. And moving! What a pain. But with a mini-van–especially one of the new fancy stow-and-go models, you have all the room you need for anything short of an all-out move.

Allow me to put to rest some misconceptions. It’s not like driving a tank. The new models are as easy to drive, park, and maneuver as my Chrysler LHS sedan. They’re not gas guzzlers. They do have a v-6, so they’re not going to get Honda Civic mileage. But most new models get between 19 and 23 in the city, and upwards of 28 on the highway. And you can’t fit a couch in a Honda Civic.

One final misconception to disprove. They’re not lame. I’ll refer you to the Toyota Sienna adds for all the proof you’ll ever need. You Tube it mother-fathers.

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Kitty update

It’s been about a week and a half since we brought our foster cat home. The first thing we did was change his name. He came as Bennie, but the name Ben and all its variations have special meaning to me because of a dog we had growing up. We simply changed the B to an L, and we’ve got Lennie! Which really fits him better anyway. He’s very reminiscent of the Of Mice and Men character in many ways.

At first things didn’t look good between Oberon and Lennie. Oberon was very hostile and unwelcoming. He hissed whenever Lennie was anywhere near him, and most of the time he hid.

The first few days and nights were heartbreaking. Oberon ALWAYS sleeps with us, and for several nights he either hid in my shower or my closet while Lennie took over the bed. It sounds pathetic, but I almost couldn’t stand it. I told Mike it wasn’t worth it, and I was about to give up, when this happened around the sixth day.

I wouldn’t say they’re BFFs, but they are definitely tolerating each other. I should say Oberon is tolerating Lennie. Lennie is pretty oblivious to any feelings Oberon has toward him, good or bad. Too bad nothing seems to have changed with the original problem – the peeing. We’ve still got the same problem, only now we have two cats. Um. So we have to see if anything changes. Because we really don’t need two cats. But how sad to send Lennie back to the shelter after giving him a home for awhile.

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You gotta have faith

In a word, I’d describe¬†the adoption information meeting we attended Thursday as discouraging. On the way home, I even said to Mike, out of exasperation, “Let’s just go have sex and get pregnant. That sounds so much easier!”*

First of all, it turns out it was only a meeting about international adoption, which is very appealing to us, but we had hoped to get all of our options laid out in one place. There’s a separate meeting we’ll have to attend for domestic adoption. But that was actually quite minor as far as this experience went.

To start off the night, we were the ONLY people there. It felt much more like a consultation than a general info meeting. To some people that personal attention might have been beneficial, but we’re just not there yet. We wanted to remain somewhat anonymous as we researched and considered everything at such an initial stage. So that set the tone for a strange experience.

Then there’s the money issue. I knew it was expensive, but everything else I’ve read has managed to portray the costs in a positive light. The materials in front of us last night laid it out quite frankly — this will cost you A LOT of money! But Mike already covered that issue.

It’s not just the money though, we expected that to be a hurdle. What surprised us and probably discouraged us the most is the emphasis on Christianity in the world of adoption. Granted, this was one organization of many, but where we live, of all the options for adoption, there is only ONE agency that is not religiously affiliated. And when I did a search last night for “non christian adoption agencies” all that came up were hits for christian non-profit adoption agencies. It’s just not easy to find an organization that isn’t doing this with a religious founding, religious funding and religious expectations.

Here’s the thing, we’re not anti-Christian or anti-religion, not at all. I’ll let Mike speak for himself, but as for me, I’m a spiritual person. I believe in a higher power, I believe God is working in my life, and I have very strong values. I can’t, however, philosophically agree with many of the teachings of Christianity, the religion in which I was raised. I don’t think it should matter, but there it is.

However, it does matter and that’s the point.

We don’t have a problem with a Christian (or other faith-based) organization facilitating our adoption, but we don’t believe religious affiliation should be a requirement of adoption — not for us, not for anybody. The organization whose meeting we attended puts religion very much in your face. That’s ok – if they do their work because of a calling from God, that’s great. But there was an automatic presumption about us and our beliefs that made us uncomfortable. We were never asked and we never told, but there were repeated references from the woman running the meeting about our calling from God, our prayers, and our relationship with the church.

At one point she even looked at us and said, “What does the Bible say about that?” And then waited for an answer. It was not rhetorical. I was like a deer in the headlights because even though I have read the whole Bible straight through, I rarely quote scripture. Mike, bless him, made an attempt with some generic answer, but she was clearly disappointed when he was wrong. “No. Matthew says you should…” It was definitely the climax of the awkwardness.

We have by no means ruled this agency out — they are a large organization with lots of resources. And we have absolutely not ruled out adoption. But we need to spend some time figuring out what our priorities are and exploring ALL of our options. This is the beginning of a very long road.

*Of course I realize getting pregnant is not always that easy for couples, and it wouldn’t necessarily be so for us.

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Last night Shan and I went to an international adoption information meeting. As Shan explained, we need to know what we’re in for with the process.

As it turns out, part of what we’re in for is crushing financial hardship. Our international adoption specialist explained that, while all cases vary with country of adoption, age of child, etc, the average cost of the adoption is around $30,000. And that’s just the adoption. We also have to fly to a foreign country, spend several days (or 8 weeks in some cases) in said foreign country, and probably take at least some unpaid time off work to accomplish the adoption.

Wow.

I’m not a particularly material person. I don’t feel the need to buy more than I own right now, and I’m happy with my level of wealth and luxury. We can pay our bills every month, go out on a date occasionally, and even put a little money away every month for big purchases, vacations, and other splurges. We are not, however, in a position to save potentially 50 grand in time to adopt a child. So, now what?

There are ways to make it happen. There are tax credits, private loans, creative financing. We could do it. But it would be tough. The easiest solution is to find higher paying jobs. That’s easier said than done though. I work in a non-profit food service program. I feed old people, and I love it. I have a great sense of joy in the knowledge that my work helps people that truly need it. But it doesn’t pay that well. I could try to find a high-paying restaurant management job. I’m qualified and I’d be ok at it. But it would mean a lot more hours, a lot fewer evenings and weekends at home, and a lot less job satisfaction. So, what do you do? Can you give up your quality of life for the good of your family? How happy would I be as a Dad if I never got to see my child?

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is…who wants to give us 50 grand? C’mon…anyone?

Well, I had to ask, right?

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Things are ok with the new cat so far. Oberon is pissed and hissing a lot, but we’re giving it time. More on that later. We have other family expansion news.

On Thursday, Mike and I are going to an adoption information meeting! It’s just a very initial step in a very long process, but we’re excited. We identified a large adoption agency in Michigan and figured they’d be a good place to give us some good comprehensive information about adoption in general. The idea is that we do this now, and we’ll get an idea of how to plan from here. As of today, we don’t think we’ll actually start the real process for at least a year, but we need to figure out how to get the rest of our lives situated before then – how much money do we need to save, what do we need to do to be good candidates for adoption, where do we need/want to be living and working when we have kids, etc?

The other reason for starting this now is that we’re realizing more and more that this whole thing could fail. It’s a real possibility, and as much as I want to be positive, I have to be realistic. If adoption fails, what’s Plan B? Probably getting pregnant. And I don’t want to start the adoption process when I’m 35, spend 5 years fighting for it only to fail, then not be able to get pregnant because I’m of “advanced maternal age.” Who knows if I can even get pregnant – I’ve never tried – but if it comes to that, I want to give us a good chance.

But for all those of you cheering right now (PREGNANT! SHE WANTS TO HAVE A BABY SOMEDAY! THAT IS SO EXCITING!), and I know there are some, pregnancy is Plan B. Our first priority is to make adoption work for us. And the first step in that direction is this information meeting on Thursday.

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Oh no! More pet blogging!

We decided to go for it – we’re going to foster a cat and see how it goes. After much contemplation, we finally decided not to overthink and to just say yes. We pick him up on Monday. His name is Bennie and you can read about him here (you have to click on his name). We didn’t pick him out – I think that would have been an impossible task, so I’m glad he came recommended by the vet. We’ll be fostering him for up to six weeks before we make a decision.

It’s strange the range of emotions I’m having over this. I’ve heard parents, when preparing for their second child, say that they’re worried they won’t love the second one as much as the first. That’s how I feel. I’m so loyal to Oberon, and I don’t want to disrupt his life in a negative way. I don’t want to disturb his routine or in any way neglect him. Not only that, I don’t want to lose our routines for MY sake. It would make me sad if he stopped sitting with me during breakfast, waiting patiently to lap up my milk. Or if he no longer ran into the bathroom every time I took a shower so he could stick his head in and drink the water. Or if he stopped sleeping at the foot of our bed.

I want him to have a friend, and I’d be happy to give another kitty a home, but I hope we can strike a good balance of the old and new. We’re excited though. Yesterday we bought the cats (cats! plural!) a “cat condo.” I actually kind of hate those things, but we wanted to have some sort of neutral territory for them, something without Oberon’s scent all over it already. It’s in my car until we introduce the kitties tomorrow. Tomorrow when we become a two kitty home!

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