Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Hello there, blogland!  February is dreary, awful, depressing, and cold in these parts.  We get one hopeful day of 50 degree weather, and then all thoughts of moving into spring are dashed with sub-zero temps.  I would be very happy to just wipe this month off the calendar.

Totally random item - I realized signing my blogs as "CAM" (my initials) is confusing as my stepdaughter is actually named Cam.  So here on and henceforth, I'll be signing as Sweet C, which husband and said stepdaughter call me regularly.  I know that was a big announcement.  I'll give you a moment to adjust.  Are you still here?  Good.

We are 8 weeks away from H's due date.  It will be an eternity and the blink of an eye all at once.  We consider ourselves very ready, but I know, in reality, we will be woefully unprepared come that day.  How do you prepare for the birth of a child that you have not been able to know over the course of nine months?  Will our connection be instantaneous?  Magic, even?  Or will I be uncertain and apprehensive?  I'm kind of guessing the latter, so ideally I'm not going in with unreasonable expectations.  I know it may take some time to bond.  To recognize this girl as our daughter.  I just hope it doesn't take long.

Some minor gasps of anxiety over the last few weeks:

My car got an ouchy.  A really major one really.  The initial estimate was about $11k worth of damage to a car we think is worth about $18k.  So I'm driving a craptastic rental in the middle of winter with no climate control or heated seats.  Yes, I'm spoiled.  But I worked hard for my climate control and heated seats, and I miss them VERY MUCH during this awful Iowa February.  If anyone has gone through this, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  My insurance company wants to fix the car, because they say damages are less than 80% of value.  They are also pegging value at $22.5k in that case, which is not supported by anything I see (goodness knows they wouldn't use that value if they totaled the car and paid me cash).  But Iowa says it issues a salvage title if you have more than 50% of damage to the car.  And apparently that title would essentially mean you should deduct about 20-30% off the blue book prices when going to resell.  Does that seem right?  I asked my claims adjuster and she said she didn't know (um - isn't that your job to know these things??).  I'm really perturbed that I pay for comprehensive insurance to get a car back worth 70% of it's pre-accident value.  Any thoughts would be welcome!

We went through a stage where H took over a week to email us back (twice in a row).  This normally would be fine, but we had been emailing much more regularly before that.  I had a complete nervous breakdown during this time, and would go into the bathroom stall at work and cry.  It, of course, was all for naught, as she has this thing called a life.  Who knew?  She had some minor oral surgery, crazy things happening with the kids she is parenting, etc etc.  All is well - or as well as it can be - and I had to come to terms with the fact that I can't worry about such things.  After all, nothing is in my control.

In an email this morning, she even told us to watch our mail, as she is sending Cam something.  Her words "I know that bringing in and preparing for a new baby can be overwhelming for everyone, and once the baby is there it's easy to feel like you've lost some of the attention.  So this is just a little something to let her know we are thinking of her."  I mean, seriously?  I had so much happiness reading that, it made my heart hurt. This woman who is going through a painful period on her own is taking time to think of our child? How incredibly lovely is that?  I really hope that Cam, in her teenage glory, can appreciate what an awesome gesture this is. 

Right now, I am completely filled with hope.  I do have to detach a little - hold back something in case of disappointment in a couple months.  But every day of knowing H brings me more hope for all of us - that this placement is indeed the best decision for all those involved, even though grief and loss compete with happiness for the strongest emotion.  But, I just feel so lucky.  I never thought I'd say that after all we've been through.  This match period has been by far the most stressful, insecure, and difficult period I've experienced (and we've had a lot of those!).  But take away all the emotions that would be felt by anyone going through this, and we are beyond blessed.  Our relationship with H is incredible, we have met P (the father) as well, we have time to prepare, and ways to cope.  It's a pretty splendid place to be, all things considered.

T and I are going to go to an awesome happy hour after work today ($1 oysters and $5 champagne, you know that's right).  And then a cooking class afterwards - to learn how to make some different pasta sauces.  I cherish our random date nights now, knowing they won't happen as much in the future.  Only 7 more Tuesdays at the most until we aren't in Iowa anymore...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Watch your mouth: adoption edition

I think every infertility blogger at some point has a post on what to say/not say to people struggling with infertility.  The "just relax and it will happen" is one comment that is ridiculously common and likely makes the recipient want to punch something. 

Less often, I see blog posts on what to not say to people going through the adoption process or those that have already adopted.  Yet, I feel this area is just ripe for insensitive, malicious, or simply uneducated comments.  I'm probably more open right now to talking about our adoption plans with strangers than friends...more than likely because I won't have to backtrack if there is ultimately a disruption.  I can have more unadulterated excitement.  So when my dental hygienist yesterday was asking if we had kids, she received a whole mouthful (in awesome mumbling fashion, given my state) of our plans.  She was the nicest person ever, but said so many stupid things that it made me want to write this post as soon as possible.

Many of these don't apply to close friends.  One, we know how to shut you down or correct your language if necessary.  Two, we've discussed our whole journey in such lengths to you that we know exactly why you may ask something.  But realize your openness with us may not apply to someone else you know less well, so these are still very valid concerns.

So off we go:

Did you try to have your own children?  
Alternative versions:
"Did you try to have a real child?"
"Are you sad you're not having your own child/a real child?"     
"Aren't you excited to finally have your own child/real child?" (to someone pregnant after adopting their first)

No.  No, no, no.  Our adopted child WILL be our own child.  We will love her unconditionally, nurture her, fight for her, kiss her boo boos, discipline her, become frustrated with her, and bond with her so much our insides will ache when she is hurting in any way.  She will be our child, our parents' grandchild, our siblings' niece.   While she will always know her adoption story, her relationship to us will not be defined by that. 

If for some crazy reason we ever have a biological child, there will be no difference between them besides how they scientifically are connected to us. We would never differentiate them to anyone.  Yes, our adopted child will have a birth family that is very important to us, but that birth family will also be very important to a biological child in that case.  They will be extended family to our ENTIRE family.

I understand the intent behind the question, and if I'm open to talking about our infertility struggles, I will certainly acknowledge that.  But "own" is not the appropriate modifier to use ever.  And I can't even comment the use of a "real child" without throwing up.  Yes, this adopted child is not real.  Her poops will be rainbows, and she'll fly away to her home in the clouds every night.

You know you'll get pregnant now that you've adopted.
Probably not.  If we do, it was going to happen whether or not we've adopted.  But we love kids and want kids and, as stated above, they would all be our kids.  Many people active in the adoption process have worked through painful infertility issues, so please be cognizant that this comment belittles that struggle.  We have worked very hard to grieve for our loss of the pregnancy experience and move on.  Let us.

How much did she cost?
Ouch.  Icky.  What do I say to that?  "She was $5 - they gave us a 10% discount because she didn't have blue eyes."  Yes, the adoption process costs a bundle.  Our child won't cost us anything (beyond diapers, formula, clothes, extracurricular activities, ER co-pays for broken arms, college education, and our sanity.)

If you are genuinely looking into adoption, I'll happily walk you through the costs and what drives them.  If you are just grotesquely interested, I'll certainly note the process can be costly, but it is worth it.  If your response is that the birth mother must be happy because she is getting so much money (from said dental hygienist above), I will try to squelch the desire to stop talking to you and remember that you just simply don't know.

For education, the majority of our expenses (like 90% worth) never see the birth mother at all.  They are agency fees, legal fees, travel expenses, state paperwork, etc.  The birth mother receives some money related to specifically identifiable expenses related to the carrying of the child.  It is not that much, and she sure as hell isn't able to change her lifestyle because of them.

Is the birth mother young/a deadbeat/a drug addict/mentally unstable/a one-armed albino?
I get curiosity, especially if one has or desires children in his or her own family.  But this question is none of your business, especially if you are a stranger to me.  Granted, somehow the fact that I am adopting/have adopted has come up to elicit this question, so I get it is a normal one.  But a birth mother is a person with emotions, struggles and triumphs like the rest of us.  She is not just a piece of paper with checkboxes, and her motives are complex.  Her life decisions are her own, and not for you nor I to judge.  My answer will be that she does not have the stability in her life right now that she needs. 

That's so cool.  I totally think I'm going to adopt my third child.  Especially if I have another boy - I can get a girl that way!
Great for you!  Please just go down to the adoption superstore and pick one out!  They are having a blowout sale on girls!  Adoption is a difficult, stressful, expensive, mind-numbing journey.  It involves multiple people and their struggles.  The baby doesn't just pop up from nowhere.

I'll just smile and nod to this one.

Any sort of adoption advice from someone who hasn't gone through it.  
This one is tricky because it does include my lovely friends.  But I just sat through someone explaining to me that FMLA exists and I can use it for taking adoption leave.  And another at work who literally just today forwarded me the adoption policies from our employer intranet, and was excited to tell me she found information for me.  (Bless her heart).  You can trust that I have done every ounce of research there is, and if you found something by searching "adoption" and clicking on the first or second link, you have not discovered anything I don't know.

I'm sure I'll have a bunch more down the line, but these are the ones that stirred me up recently.  Also, I haven't remotely delved into those that are related to transracial or international adoption families (the expectant couple we are matched with are both Caucasian), but I implore you to especially think before you speak in those cases*

But to offset, here are some of the totally fine (and some lovely!) comments I've received (again using "strangers" as the measuring stick.  I expect nothing less of my good friends and family, wink, wink).

Are you able to meet the birth parents?  How does that work?  (or after placement- asking how communication is going is perfectly okay)

How long does the process take? 

Are you planning to be open with the child about the adoption?  Will she be able to meet her birth family?

I am so happy for you and your family.  I will keep you and the birth family in my prayers.

I think you guys will be such awesome parents.   

I can't wait to meet my granddaughter. (thanks mom!)

You are going to be so blessed.  Yeah, I know :)  

* This post was getting too long, but I wanted to post some examples that I saw online that are such pure ridiculousness.  I can't imagine anyone with an iota of intelligence saying these, so hopefully this is more for an incredulous laugh than anything educational:

Adopting from Asia:  "Will she eat rice when she gets older?"  "What will she do when she wants to get married?  Go back to China?"  "Oh, great, obviously she will be smart."

Adopting a Hispanic infant (domestically in US):  "Will he be able to learn English?" 

Adopting from Africa (although this applies to anywhere):  "Will you give him back if there is something wrong with him?"


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