Friday, December 01, 2006

The Situation: A Mega Post

Wednesday, November 29, afternoon

We have a "Situation" happening. That's what social workers call possible matches, I've learned. And the strangest part is that it's not a DSS Situation at all, but a private one.

A baby girl will be born in our state in February with some health concerns. They're things we were prepared for, though we'll be speaking with doctors to be sure we could meet her medical needs. The family's agency has had a tough time finding a family for this baby, but when our social worker heard about her, she thought we'd be a great match. So far, we agree.

Now money is a factor, and we didn't think it would be. So we didn't plan for it. This is causing me great anxiety, but Petunia and I will do our best to rise to the occasion if necessary. I'm looking into adoption grants and loans, and both of us feel strongly that if this child is meant to be our daughter, we will figure out the finances part of the equation. That's the least of it.

What will happen next: We'll read all of the information Ms. Stork sent to us from the baby's mother--health stuff, family stuff, etc. We'll talk with as many medical professionals as necessary to answer the questions we have about the baby's medical conditions. We'll decide whether we can potentially meet this baby's needs, if that's what her parents decide. If we choose to move forward, then we'll meet the baby's parents at their request.

I haven't written about Hester's parents before now, mainly because it's been hard to imagine what their situation would be. With DSS Situations, adoption isn't a plan most folks have for their babies--it's a plan that's made by the state, usually without their consent. I figured that all of the placement decisions in our Situation would be made by social workers, with just a little of our input. But now, we have an about-face.

Now we have real life parents before us who are scared and anxious and who love their daughter like crazy, but who are in some very dire straits themselves. And they have decided (or maybe others have decided for them--I don't know) that they can't parent their baby, and they have been trying like mad to find a family for her for the past several months. Their commitment to her is deep and real, and it hurts to think how they must be suffering now, waiting on our decision. We're trying to be quick, but thorough.

More later.

Thursday, November 30, afternoon

I've been on the phone all day. All. Day. The kids haven't been getting their usual amount of Clementine attention so they're nuttier than usual, which complicates things. However, their families know that there's a Situation on the horizon, so I'm not worrying about work today. The kids are safe and happy and if they play with playdough or Lego while I'm on the phone, so be it. A few more structured activities these days won't hurt them.

We went through all of the paperwork Ms. Stork sent us last night. It's all sorts of stuff, much of it written in the baby's mom's hand, and it's a blessing. I can't help but think of the Situation we thought we'd be facing right now, the kind of Situation where there's little to no information about the baby's mother, let alone notes she hand wrote about her hobbies and favorite subjects in grade school.

There's everything in that report, including data from the baby's most recent ultrasound. Who has an expected due date of February 5, by the way. She'll be an Aquarius. Petunia and I are both air signs, too. I'm trying hard not to take that as a sign. Um, so to speak. Heh!

We've talked about the money piece. We have 2 applications in for adoption grants, but we won't hear until ~2 months from now. We have agreed to make this work financially if this child is meant to be our daughter.

I've heard back from several medical professionals, all of whom confirm the info I found online, which is the same info Ms. Stork told us about the baby's medical conditions. So far, so good. It looks like we will be able to meet this child's medical needs, god willing.

And now we're just waiting to hear back from the baby's parents' adoption agency. (Why haven't they called yet?) I'm trying not to spiral into self-doubt, but to remain cautiously optimistic: This family is just one family in their busy caseload; It's only been 24 hours since we learned about this baby; They might not have been able to contact the baby's parents in such a short amount of time. But we need written permission from the baby's mom to speak with her doctor and her son's doctor; once we talk with them, we'll be ready to make our decision.

It's looking good so far. "Cautious optimism" is the phrase of the day.

And PS--Things on the family front might be improving. Thank you all for your kind words.

Thursday, November 30, evening

Now I have a call in to the baby's mother's agency myself. I'm starting to vacillate between utter calm and jittery low-level panic. It was all well and good to wait patiently when this was abstract, but now all bets are off.

They'd better call back soon.

Friday, December 1, afternoon

I just spoke with the head of the parents' agency--let's call her Ms. Scary. Why? Because she scared the crap out of me, frankly.

But things are still looking okay, though not out-and-out good. Ms. Scary says that the baby's mother--let's call her Ariana--is down with The Gay, but that the baby's father--let's call him Bobby--isn't okay, at least in theory. But she also said that he might reconsider after seeing our materials and realizing that we're two women rather than two men. (Let's put sexism to work for us, shall we? My stomach positively lurches at the thought.) Bobby will decide whether he can stomach the thought of his daughter being raised by two moms; if he can, we'll move forward, and if not, they'll move forward. We will, too, just not with them.

So. Petunia's and my next step is to create all those things you create when you do a private adoption that the birth families in DSS never get the luxury of seeing, like a photo album, a letter to Bobby and Ariana, and a mini-autobiography of the two of us. We'll be doing all of this over the weekend. All I can say about that is: 1. It's a good thing we're organized; 2. It's a good thing we're crafty; and 3. It's a good thing we'd planned to be around this weekend. We have a party to attend on Sunday, but we might have to skip that in order to fret about which pictures to include. If you have any suggestions or tips for us, please don't hesitate to share.

I have so many thoughts and feelings about all of this "marketing," by the way, which I never thought I'd encounter personally. Like that it feels disingenuous, and coercive, and just plain old weird. Like we're supposed to put together this photo album that's all, "See our wonderful life! Aren't we just the nicest people!" and write a letter that's all, "We can give your child a life you never dreamed of!" It feels bad to me. Ugly, and slightly dishonest too. But I better get over it, because that's what Ariana and Bobby's agency wants from us. And I comfort myself with the thought that however pressured they might feel, at least Ariana and Bobby can always say no to us. The DSS family we thought we'd be facing wouldn't have that option.

If Bobby is down with The Gay, then Ariana will give us consent to talk with her doctor and her son's doctor, which is the last piece of information we need before we can move forward. We learned today that our insurance will cover the baby's hospitalization in full, which was another concern of ours. The obstacles are steadily falling on our end, so all we can do is wait for Bobby's decision. Which should happen sometime next week, by the way.

If Bobby and Ariana want to proceed and we want to proceed, then we'll meet up, probably over dinner, according to Ms. Stork. I have mixed feelings about this meeting, but since this is what Ariana and Bobby want, this is what we'll do (if it comes to that). I feel faint even thinking about that meeting, so let's move on.

We got more info about the money stuff. The costs keep ballooning. That shit is terrifying. And it's the main reason I'm so scared of Ms. Scary, because she told us a higher amount than she told our social worker. (Believe me, we're going to check that shit out fully.) It's also the biggest obstacle (from our end) to this adoption, which is Fucked. Up. Money shouldn't play a role in these kinds of decisions, but unfortunately, it does. As long as things stay in the same ballpark, we think we'll be okay. We don't know how high it'll have to go before we can't afford it. Hopefully, it won't come to that. Hopefully, we can get Ms. Scary to nail down a number. Should they choose us, the last thing we want to do is to leave Ariana and Bobby high and dry because we can't afford the fees associated with the adoption of their daughter.

And so I vacillate some more. I make lists of baby names one minute and convince myself that we'll be back in the DSS waiting pool the next. I'm sure that Bobby will say no to 2 moms, but the next minute I'm sure he'll give us a chance. I dream of touching this baby girl, of seeing her hooked up to all those monitors in the hospital, of loving her, but then I imagine her parents deciding to parent her and that I never get to meet her. I am patient and calm one minute, and frantic and frenzied the next.

My comforts right now: Information, as much as I can find on financing adoption as well as the baby's medical conditions. Kind, supportive emails and calls from friends. Talking it out to death, which is kind of a shame because that's certainly not one of Petunia's comforts, and she's the only one who knows all of the details. Reminding myself that this is all NORMAL. Reminding myself that this will work out the way it's supposed to work out, whether Ariana and Bobby decide to parent, whether they choose another family for their daughter, or whether they choose us.

I'll post more about this when I know more.



Anonymous Round is Funny said...

Holy crap, girl.

I think you are right to think that the money will work itself out if it's supposed to. That said, if this agency has been looking for a long time to place this baby and can't find a family, YOU have some influence here too. Our agency gave us an initial number that made us hit the floor, but eventually came down EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS because there was no way we could swing it.

Don't sweat the profile too much. It doesn't have to be disingenuous perfection. The baby's parents are in a hard place right now and - though there's no knowing what will make them feel like it's a perfect fit - probably want to know first and foremost that their daughter will be loved and safe. Don't forget to include fun and goofy pictures of yourselves too, not just the dressed up smiley pictures.


Email me or call me anytime if you want to talk.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

RiF, thanks for your encouragement. I can honestly tell you that I don't know what the hell I'd be doing if you hadn't just done this yourself and posted all about it. So thank you again for sharing with your readers--esp. me!--how Roo came to be part of yur family.

And thanks too for that info about the fees. Ater reading that, I'm hopeful that there's room for negotiation, should it come to that. Ms. Scary knows our situation--that we were planning a DSS adoption, not a private one--and she has had 3 1/2 months to find another family for this baby. So far, we're the first family willing to assume the medical risk. And so far, we think we'd be a great match for this little girl.

I just started sorting photos, and I did pull out some funny ones. I pulled out some of the cats and dog, too, though Ms. Scary didn't mention anything about pets. I figured I'd want to see those if I were Ariana and Bobby, you know? And I also pulled out some of family, close friends, and some landscape shots of our favorite places. Also action shots of us doing different things--Petunia at Tanglewood, me kissing Clary at PetRock. It still feels really weird, though. Maybe if I look at it like we're just sharing photos with friends and not like "See how great we are" it'll be a little easier.

Thanks again, RiF.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Jenny PP said...

It's so crazy lady - thanks for the giant post! By the way, my phone is pissing me off. I didn't know you called Friday, and it didn't tell me I had a new message either. I just happened to look at the voicemail screen and was like, what? I have a message? Oh, well I guess I can't complain since it's for work anyway.

So yes, I'll give you a call over the weekend and you can catch me up. Good luck, I'm hoping Bobby is Ok with The Gay. :)

3:46 PM  
Blogger Poor_Statue said...

Wow! What a roller coaster. I'll keep you in my thoughts. And I agree with RiF.

9:54 PM  

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