Monday, April 30, 2007

Latest Agency update on the Vietnam program

When I opened my email box this morning, there was an update from our regional representative on the Vietnam adoption program. According to the email, they have not received any new referrals, but expect to have some soon. The closing line of the email reads:

"We know the wait times are getting longer for families and understand how hard this is for you. We are here for you during this difficult time and want to support you. "

I know this was written in an honest expression of concern, but I cant help but feel a bit "handled" by such a statement. However, I decided to take advantage of this expression of concern and sent an email to our regional rep, asking for clarification on where R and I stand in the wait list and what our wait time might be.

I ask this primarily because a recent post on our agencies Yahoo group by a PAP indicated that the wait time for a boy referral might be as long as 17 months. Another email posted by a PAP reported that their regional rep sent out an email asking those waiting for a girl referral to consider changing their gender preferrence or perhaps considering another program- the underlying message being that the wait time for a girl referral is growing even longer.

Now, we requested an infant boy, twins, or a sibling group (with the oldest child being up to 36 months of age), so I am not as concerned about the growing wait for a girl referral. But I am concerned that the growing wait for a boy referral might eventually result in a similar email being sent to those of us waiting for a boy: that we might wish to consider another program.

So, in my email to our agency rep I asked, very nicely, for clarification on the wait time we should expect, a clarification on how the wait list works and an inquiry as to where we stand in that wait list, and our concerns that we might, in the future, be asked to consider another program.

We shall see what happens. I really hope that I get a substantial response from my inquiry, and not a vague, "its hard to tell as we can't predict how many referrals we get" and a "hang in there, we know this wait is hard and we are there for you during this difficult time." It is maddening to try to make important decisions when you receive answers like that.

There is also a tiny part of me that is terrified that I am being too pushy in sending this email. When, I wonder, did I start harboring these kind of fears?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

They like me, they really like me! seriously, I am blown away that I have been given the "Thinking Blogger Award" by E at "Looking for George" and by Gretchen at "Lawmommy." Not only are they both women that I admire, they are the writers of two of my "must reads" on my list of blogs. Trouble is, they have been nominated by someone else, so I can't turn around and give them the award back. Same true for Mrs. Brocoli Guy, Life of Elle, The Open Window, The Cracked Pot, and Worth the Wait- all blogs that I love written by women that I respect and would love to meet in RL.

Before I nominate my 5, I am required by the rules to point those who I nominate towards the guidelines for this award, so check out this site before you nominate your 5 (sorry folks, I have no idea how to do this so that it just has a "magic highlighted word" that you click on)

Without Further Ado, here are my 5 nominees:

1. Big Momma's World ( Cindy is a 52 year old mom to 39 kids- yes, that is right, 39 kids. She adopted from Central America and from the foster care system. An Evangelical Christian who is far more conservative in her beliefs than I am, she has made a life for herself as a mom to kids who others would not adopt: older kids, and large sibling groups. I am constantly amazed at her faith, determination, and commitment to kids with some very tough behavior problems. I suffer under no illusions that I could live her life, but I respect her for what she has done and read her blog daily to see how she and her kids are doing. She is honest about the difficulties her kids face, but at the same time her love for the kids shines through. A tough lady, for sure. And a good mother.

2. Whittier on Autism ( A British woman living in the United States who writes candidly and with great humor about her life as a mother to two young boys with Autism. Everyone should read this blog, wether or not they have an interest in autism or not- she is simply one of the best writers out there in bloggerland.

3. Jenn and BJ's blog Long Adventures ( Jenn and BJ were, up until recently, with the same agency Robert and I are with, in the process of adopting an infant from Vietnam. They are now the parents to a beautiful little peanut, Amos, that they adopted domestically. If you have not read their story, head over there right now and read it! They wrestled with the issues that plague most of us on waiting lists for a Vietnam adoption - the long wait, the concern over the icky "supply and demand" situation that seems to be occuring in Vietnam adoption -and made what was surely a difficult decision to switch to a domestic adoption. Amos truly is their miracle baby!

4. KellyO's blog Bunny's Mom ( KellyO started the Vietnam adoption process expecting to adopt a baby girl from Vietnam. Learning about a young boy on a Vietnam adoption agency waiting list who needed a family, she and her husband stepped up and said "We want to parent him." Will, the boy they are adopting, is a twin- his birthmother decided to place him for adoption, but not his brother. KellyO candidly shares in her blog the questions and concerns she wrestles with in their adoption of Will- the challenge of an older child adoption, her concerns over Will's feelings about being adopted, leaving his brother and his mother, and coming to America to be her son, and her wish to adopt both boys, if possible. She has a heart of gold, and the compassion she has for Will, his brother, and his birthmom is humbling to those of us who read her blog. I am amazed and in awe of the way in which KellyO and her husband have expanded their adoption dream to include not only the infant girl they first dreamed of, but an adorable little boy in a heartbreaking situation.

5. LaLa's blog Ladybugs and Dragonflies ( LaLa is the mom of the most beautiful little girl, Annslee, adopted from China. She and her husband are now in the process of adopting a little girl from Vietnam. her website is filled with photos and stories of Annslee, and includes a link to her page about their soon to be daugther from Vietnam. In addition, she is one of my best friends in bloggerland, and is allways quick to send me a friendly email when I am feeling down. I treasure her friendship greatly, and have photos of her little peanut on my fridge. Lala reminds me that there is light at the end of the "tunnel of endless waiting" and offers a vision of motherhood and family life that gives me hope that my own dreams of motherhood and family life can be, and will be, actualized. An intelligent, compassionate woman, she presents a postive, upbeat attitude that gives me courage and strength to keep hanging on. At my lowest point, she gave me the greatest gift- the opportunity to send to little Annslee a gift in the mail. LaLa, you probably have no idea how much it meant to me to be able to send a gift to a little one that, for me, has become the symbol of all that is good and right and joyous about building a family through adoption. I encourage everyone to drop by Ladybugs and Dragonflies, if for no other reason than to see the divine miss Annslee!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Inertia and our Vietnam Adoption

I have a million and one things to accomplish this week, and really have no business dorking around on the internet or posting on this blog. I have a sermon to prepare, a presentation for a workshop on Friday that I haven't even begun to put together, a fundraiser for the family center this thursday, two boyscout troops that have signed up to help with our community "Yooper Quilts for U.P. Troops" project that are scheduled for Thursday evening, and a get together for our congregation at our house on Sunday afternoon that requires a top to bottom cleaning of the house as well as a menu that needs to be planned.

But, Inertia has struck. hard.

I cannot muster up one lick of motivation to do any of the above mentioned things. Instead I sit here reading blogs, googling Vietnam Adoption updates, checking the Waiting Child list on our agency, and re-reading the latest update from our agency: "33 families with referrals waiting to travel, 154 families on the dossier list waiting for a referral and 203 families that have applied and are working on their home study and waiting for CIS approval [April 20, 2007 email]."

I have no idea what the other agencies are quoting to their clients, but the numbers we are seeing alarm me. R and I are part of the 154. Some bloggerland friends of mine are among the 203. Who knows how many others are signing up as I type this, upping the numbers even more.

I also have no idea what number we are on the list: all I know is we are part of the 154 people. I tried to go back and find the updates from January (when we officially joined the waiting for referal list) so that I could work out the math, but I can't find any updates from that time. I know we are not 154 of 154, but we sure as heck aren't anywhere near the #1 spot either.

Nor do I have any earthly idea how many of the 154 are on the "girl only" wait list, how many are on the "boy only" wait list, and how many are in the "either/or" category of the wait list.

I would write and ask where we stand, but I have this irrational (or is it?) fear that if I ask I might be making a pest of myself, and I am terrified of pissing someone at the agency off- as that can't be a good thing. Somehow our agency has evolved in my mind from " the agency who we waited a year to work with, we are so impressed with them and trust them with our lives" to "the agency that has all the power and we best make ourselves unobtrusive and passive as possible cuz just maybe there is a slim chance that doing so will curry their favor and we will get a referral sooner."

Stunningly stupid thinking on my part, I realize. Clearly I am reading far too many adoption horror stories on the internet. The agency we are working with has never given me any reason to question their ethics or to make the preposterous assumption that they would react negatively to any inquiry on our part concerning the adoption.

Yet the irrational fears keep their stronghold on me.

Frankly, the long list of folks on the list pisses me off. The "I want to scream at the top of my lungs to the whole world that I did not sign up for this" kind of pissed off. I find myself thinking of the different paths we could have chosen had we not signed with this agency and for this program. If we had known the wait was going to be this long, we could have pursued having a child the biological way (more fun, less expensive, to be sure) and then adopted. Guess what? With the agency we are with, if we become pregnant during the process, we cannot complete our Vietnam adoption. We could have also pursued a domestic adoption during this wait time [hey we might have gotten lucky (blessed really) like Jenn and BJ, who are the proud parents of adorable little Amos], but, again, our agency contract stipulates that we cannot do that either, and if we do so, we will have to drop out of the Vietnam adoption program.

I am kicking myself for not paying more attention to these rules when we started. Its the familiar "If I knew then what I know now" situation that we all encouter at one point or another in our lives. We didn't know, of course, that our wait would grow from a few months until a referral to 10-15 months for a referral.

In the end, it all comes down to money. Counting the homestudy costs, the INS costs, and the Agency fees we have shelled out around 7 grand so far. If we made any changes at this point (i.e. switching agencies) we will forfeit a little over 4 thousand of that money.

There is something particularly distatesful in the fact that we are staying put in this long wait line primarily because of money. Yuck. But the reality is we cannot toss aside that much money. Nor can we come up with that same amount to sink into another agency or program.

So, there we are. Stuck in the ever growing line of foks waiting for a referral. Wondering how in the world we are going to handle the possibility that this adoption has disintegrated from a "we want to be parents, there is a child in Vietnam who needs a parent, let's do this" to "There are apparently an unlimited number of people out there who want to be parents and apparently a limited number of children in Vietnam who need parents and are eligible for IA, which has created a rather icky situation of demand exceeding supply."

It all rather feels like I have drawn the "Cherry Pit" card on Candyland and the red square cards have disappeared from the deck, thus leaving me stuck for the remainder of the game. No advancing towards the Candy Castle or even moving backwards to the Peppermint Stick Forest.

R just came in the door, so I am going to post this uber depressing blog and see if he wants a late lunch.

Ta, everyone. I'll try to be more positive next time I post. I really hate being the Eyore of the blogging universe.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Random Events and Bogey's Bad Day

Good news! Ben's liver enzyme levels are down! The vet hopes that one more month of the Zentonil will bring him back to normal. Ben seems to have more energy these days, and is playing more with Bogey and with us. He is also obsessed with the squirrels and chipmunks in our new back yard. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to find out the results of his blood test!

In birthday events, I have finally decided to forgive my husband for buying me the worst birthday present a man could ever buy a woman: an anti-aging kit from bath and body works. He swears he just bought it cuz the sales person told him it was great stuff, and to ignore the anti- aging title. Of course, the sales person was probably all of 18 years old, so I am pretty sure she thought at 33 I needed an anti aging kit. I taught him a new rule for life: NEVER EVER BUY A WOMAN ANYTHING THAT SAYS ANTI- AGING!!! EVER!! IF A WOMAN WANTS AN ANTI AGING PRODUCT SHE WILL BUY IT HERSELF!!!

Now, finally, I will tell the story of Bogey's Bad Day. Picture it, upper michigan, 2007....early in the morning. R goes to work quite early, so he lets Ben and Bogey outside for potty duty before he leaves for work (after all, an aging woman needs her beauty sleep!). on this particular morning, R was running late, so he was in a rush to get the dogs out and back in again. Ben and Bogey come barreling back in the house, R leaves for work. Both dogs race upstairs to the bedroom- Ben crawling back under the bed for an early morning snooze, Bogey jumps up into the bed to say hello to me and snuggle back down for some cuddle time. As usual, he snuggles up right next to me and puts his head on the pillow, with his back end resting in the crook of my arm. Now, isnt' that a hallmark moment?

Not really. In fact, not even close. As Bogey snuggles down, I detect an odor. a very strong odor. Let's call it "Eu De Poo" Instantly I am wide awake. And horrified. Bogey apparently did not finish what he was doing outside this morning, and the results were beyond disgusting, and all over his butt, the bedding, and my arm.

I spring into action, jump up and out of bed, grab Bogey off the bed, and dash to the bathroom. I drop Bogey into the bathtub, nudge the door shut with my foot, and turn the water on (not too hot, not too cold, but just right), frantically looking around for a plastic cup to rinse the back end of bogey off.

The water hits the clumps of Eu De Poo and I quickly realize I am going to have to grab some toilet paper and pick the cumps out of his hair and out of the tub- no way were they going to simply rinse down the drain.

Turning to grab some toilet paper was my first big mistake. I turn, Bogey jumps out of the tub, just that moment, Ben (who previously was on the outside of the door barking and whining to get in, cuz he is not about to be left out of anything) somehow manages to push the door open.

Ben trotts in, Bogey bolts out.

I uttered some not so very nice words, and leapt over Ben (who was blocking the door, wagging his tail so PROUD of having opened the door all by himself) and go on a "Bogey hunt."

I found him in the OTHER bedroom, "making a nest" out of the bed covers...his back end dripping wet, (and oooh this is so gross) with "brown wet stuff" getting smeared and flung all over the bed.

Holding my breath and trying not to gag, I grab him again, fly back to the bathroom and slam the door shut (this time with Ben on the inside, proving I have a pretty darn good learning curve when it comes to this type of emergency situation) and put Bogey back in the tub.

It took THREE baths to get him clean and half a bottle of baby shampoo!!!

Once I set him free and he did his tear around the house at mach speed and rubbing his face on all the carpets and attacking the towel I so foolishly was trying to dry him off with...Ben in hot pursuit barking his head off.... I inspected the damage.

Doggy Poo was everywhere....on the two bedspreads, on my pillow case (I dont even want to KNOW how that happened), on the sleeve of my pajama top, on the carpet in the hallway, the carpet in both bedrooms, and (as if things were not allready beyond awful) all over the carpet in the basement by the backdoor that leads to our fenced in back yard.

I called R on the phone and asked him how in the world he managed to NOT notice that Bogey had POO all over himself, still coming OUT (EEWW GROSS) when he called the dogs back into the house before he went to work. HOW CAN SOMEONE NOT NOTICE AND NOT SMELL THIS??????

I spent the entire day washing all the bedding, my pajamas, (myself too, actually, cuz I so needed a shower after that....for sheer OH MY GOD I HAD DOG POO ON ME reality of the situation) and scrubbing carpets.

Bogey, of course, now all sweet smelling and squeeky clean, curled up on the couch with Ben and resumed his early morning snooze.

Please tell me that kids do not do things like this!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Random Thoughts and Recent Events

Thank you, everyone for your get well wishes for Ben. He seems to be feeling a little better: he is playing more with Bogey and has a little more energy than he has had recently. This may mean the medicine is working, or it may mean that I am engaging in wishful thinking- we will find out in about a week when he finishes the medicine and we take him in for a blood test. I will let you all know the outcome.

Not a whole lot going on here- we are slowly but surely getting our new house in order. R and I are in love with the new place: a lot more room and all one level (save for the basement). The bizarre snowstorm we suffered through together was a real downer (32 inches of snow!), but we are grateful that we were able to get the fence up for the backyard before the snow fell- otherwise I would be spending the majority of my day going in and out with the dogs on leashes! Our backyard is enormous and is filled with chipmunks, a fact that Ben and Bogey enjoy immensely. Let's hope that the chippies are faster than the boys, or else we will be having a lot of chippie funerals this summer!

I have decided not to get into great detail over one of my reader's choice options: difficult people suck. There is a slim chance that someone might read this who also knows this person and I do not wish to infuse anymore drama into an already ridiculously dramatic situation. I will leave it at this: There is a local community organization that I am very involved with both as a community member and as a member of our church. My involvement has meant that I have had to work with an individual who has the best of intentions (I think) but has great difficulty working with the group in a "team" way. For some reason this person has a personal "thing" against me and that has caused a lot of grief for both of us and for the group. I honestly can say that I have tried everything I can think of to get along with this person, but there seems to be some wierd competition thing going on with this person where I am slated as the "one to compete against." I have some idea as to the reason for this competitive slant but am frankly befuddled as to why I would be a threat. There has been a lot of "trash talk" going on with other people in this group and elsewhere in groups we both are involved in where this person has repeatedly put me down, blamed me for problems in the group, and essentially "thrown me under the bus". Of course, the people who are the listening party in these trash talk sessions have all come to me and told me everything, so I am painfully aware about what is being said about me by this person. I have so far kept my mouth shut about it under the assumption that the people who matter know the truth of the situation and know me well enough to draw their own conclusions about what is true. Still, it is painful to have to deal with someone who is nice as pie to my face and tearing me apart behind my back. Unfortunately, I have contact with this individual in another major arena of my life, so the strain of this less than healthy "relationship" is a bit much to bear most days. (hmmm, even though I have tried to be careful in this post, I have given a lot of information out. oh well, consider it a passive aggresive retalitary poke-I am only human and I have really had enough of trying to be the better person in this situation)

Recent events have decreased the intensity of the situation, so I did not end up quitting the community group, something that I ranted and raved and cried about for many weeks- a marathon long temper tantrum in which I told anyone who would listen that this was not worth the aggravation (even though the fact that I was temper tantruming about the situation so much indicates that it is, indeed, worth a great deal to me personally). And so the work continues, and hopefully some of the new projects we have come up with as a group will take off and we will be able to keep open the Family Center we worked so hard to get up and running. One of our current projects is making U.P quilts for U.P Troops- quilts that will be delivered to U.P soldiers who are wounded in Iraq and are recovering at Walter Reed. We have gotten the local boy scout troop and the local elementary school on board and the kids will be making quilt squares to put into the quilts- in fact today I am scrambling around trying to scrape enough money together to buy the needed quilt pens and quilt paint necessary for over 140 kids to use to design their quilt squares! The response to the project was much greater than we expected, so now we have the problem of getting enough materials- a good problem to have!

In other news, my birthday is tomorrow and I am a bit bummed out as I had hoped that by THIS birthday I would be a mother. No such luck. We have only been on the waiting list for a referral for a little under 3 months, and with a projected wait of 12-15 months we are no where near the point where we can even expect the phone call to start a dossier. I am keeping my spirits up by repeating over and over to myself : next year, next year for sure I will be a mom on my birthday! I haven't quite gotten to the point where I believe my own propoganda, but I will keep trying........

I will post a little later about another one of the reader's choice options: Bogey's Bad Day, as we could use a little comic relief on this blog, what with the "downer" I have been on lately.

Must run, as a chippie has ventured out from under the back deck and is "sunning" himself (herself? how can one tell?) on a snow pile. The boys are going bonkers, and it is hard to type with two dogs barking and pawing at me to get me to let them outside to "defend their territory" from a "very dangerous" chipmunk.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Adoption Decision and What's Wrong with Ben?

We are about 95% moved in to our new house! I am still surrounded by boxes that need to be unpacked (where did we get all this STUFF?), but at least the boxes are in one room and the rest of the house looks more like a home and less like a storage facility.

I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful comments and well wishes on my last post. LaLa, you are right, our agency is very conservative and, according to our contract with them we cannot pursue another adoption or become pregnant while in the process of our Vietnam adoption. So, as they say, "there goes the ball game" as far as pursuing a domestic AA (yes KellyO you are right, it stands for African American) adoption at this time. We have invested far too much emotionally and financially into our Vietnam adoption to pull out of it at this point. I also suspect that a large part of the attraction of the domestic AA adoption "offer" was the lure of a (perhaps) faster adoption. It would not be right to let my impatience with the Vietnam adoption time line to be the deciding factor in pursuing the domestic adoption option. I try to be very conscientious about the effects of the long wait upon my decision making process, yet it is difficult to put the brakes on and look at the larger picture when the possibility of bringing home a baby SOONER is dangled in front of me. Luckily, R and I did not have a lot of time to talk about it, as we were dealing with the "big move" and Ben's health issues. Not to mention a zillion other things (one of which has to do with my suggested title in the Reader's Choice post: Difficult People Suck). At this point, we are not going to consider seriously the AA domestic adoption "option" - we have agreed to revisit the subject after our Vietnam adoption is completed.

A few of you asked for all the proposed topics on the Reader's Choice post, so let's move on to one of them:

1. What's Wrong with Ben? - My best buddy in the world, our almost ten year old black Pomeranian, has had two knee surgeries in his lifetime. Following his first knee surgery about five years ago, he was put on Rimadyl (an anti-inflamitory medication) to help with the pain and stiffness. I tried a few times to wean Ben off of the Rimadyl (any medication puts a strain on the liver, and I didn't want to keep him on a possibly un-necessary medication anyway), but it was obvious that without the medication he was quite "stiff" and uncomfortable when walking. Shortly after R and I moved in together in Alabama, Ben began to have trouble with his other knee (it would go out on him and he would sqauwk like the world was ending) and we took him to the vet to check it out. Sure enough, he needed a surgery on that knee also. After that surgery we switched from Rimadyl to Metacam- a liquid anti inflamitory that was easier to give to Ben as we could put a few drops on his food rather than try to get a pill in him. About two months ago, we switched back to the chewable Rimadyl, as the Metacam was difficult to get at our current vet and was quite expensive. After a month's supply, I called the vet to ask for a refill. I was told to bring Ben in for a quick blood test to check his liver enzymes out, as Rimadyl can affect liver functioning. I didn't give it too much thought, as Ben seemed to be fine- although I did find it curious that this was the first vet to express concern about the medication and ask for a blood test- none of the other vets ever checked that out.

To make a long story short (or at least shorter), Ben's blood test came back showing abnormal enzyme levels. I can't recall the details (I was in total shock over this) but one level should be around 100 and Ben's is around 1400. He is on a new, very expensive medication (Zentonil) that hopefully will help his liver regenerate and regulate his enzyme levels.

I am embarrassed to admit how much, and how often, I have cried over this. Ben has been in my life longer than my husband! He is truly my best buddy- a real cuddler and very entertaining (He sings to the radio when dixie chicks come on and to some tv commercials). When my father was ill Ben was the official "therapy dog" for our family- he comforted my mom and myself through a lot of "crying sessions" in those days. He was also my dad's buddy - when I was away at college, my dad took Ben with him everywhere- to the bank, to the store, to visit friends, sometimes he or my mom would just put Ben in the car and drive around the block because "Ben likes to go for car rides." When my dad was very sick, Ben literally stuck by his side for hours on end. When my dad died, Ben was the one who curled up with me and licked the tears off of my face.

The thought of losing Ben terrifies me. I know he is old and the life of a dog isn't nearly as long as we wish it to be- but I am not ready, damn it. This medication better work! I dont want Ben to feel ill or to suffer in anyway, but we need that goofy black fur ball around here. Bogey has never been without Ben, he adores him. R has bonded with Ben in a big way also- it is R who Ben runs to when it starts storming outside. R has spent hours in the middle of the night comforting Ben during big thunderstorms. My mom, my sister, my niece, my nephew- they all love Ben fiercely as well.

And please, do not tell me that he is "just a dog" and we can allways get another one. And do not tell me that once we have children, we will not love our dogs nearly as much. That may be true, but right now I do not have children (and am beginning to despair that I ever will). What I do have is two wonderful dogs, once of which is quite sick right now. So if you can find it in your heart to say a prayer for "just a dog" please do so. I can't bear to lose my buddy.