March 31, 2009

Thank goodness you guys are smart

I really appreciate your comments, everyone - you guys are smart, that's for sure.

Mama D emailed me with some thoughts that are particularly helpful, and I'm passing them on because they're really wise and "common sensical." I'm quoting, because she said it far more clearly than I could paraphrase:
There is a fine line between speaking for someone and speaking in support of someone. And, who gets to draw that line? You? The person? Maybe it's like racism: If a person of color says something you say that involves that color is racist, it is. Which takes it to the personal level (not all green people think green jokes are insulting). Which brings it back to you speaking your truth.
Think, too, about how the the situation, the people involved, and their interpretations-reactions-
perspectives on whatever is being discussed will influence where that boundary between speaking in support of and speaking for another will fall. APs must learn to read the cues and figure out when it's appropriate for us to offer our support and when it's not. We have to be very careful to let the owners of the issue lead the response.

Now I know why I have trouble with boundaries, and why all of this has been so hard for me to wrap my head around: I love to ride in and save the day. I need to learn that the day isn't mine to save - or at least not the "days" we talk about here.

As I think about this, it seems that it would be acceptable for APs to offer support in the form of references back to writings and references by and for the population we may be trying to support. For example, if we're in an AP forum where people are making false generalizations about adoptees, we can reference adoptee websites, and books and films by adoptees, but should go lightly with our own two cents. If the issue is race, same thing - we should point to references by and for people of color, but leave out our own spin. I think, though, that it would be OK in any case to state our support for those fighting the issues. That can be helpful in and of itself.

LOL, you heard all this already, Mama D, but I'm so exhausted today that I'm cutting corners. Thanks again everyone, this was very helpful to me, and hopefully to you.

The boundary thing

I guess at the end of the day, I'm no warrior. My sword has been removed and is sitting quietly in a corner. For awhile, anyway, I'm going to draw the boundaries of my discussion very close to my personal experience, which means since I don't write about my kids, it'll be slim pickings here for a bit. But I really need to withdraw and figure this thing out.

Here's the net of what's been eating at me, and those of you who read Harlow's Monkey will understand where I'm headed. There's a post there about a-parents as adoptee allies - do read it if you haven't. To the best of my ability, I'm trying to take the guidance in that post to heart. But recently I've been wondering if, in my zeal to be that ally and step into the fray, I haven't overstepped my boundaries and spoken for adoptees in a way that takes their voices away, rather than supporting them.

Consider this example from the dreaded forums: Imagine that you are reading a thread in which someone says negative things about "angry adoptees." Numerous a-parents jump in to offer their opinions, which unanimously dismiss and discredit these adoptee experiences.

Should you jump in and offer your support?
What if an adopted person does respond, and is attacked? Do you jump to his or her defense?
Or do you stay out of it and let the adoptee community fight their own battle?

This same analogy applies to situations in which first parents are similarly dismissed, although in their case the dismissing seems to happen at the hands of a-parents and adoptees both.

Now, to some people I know this may appear to be a stupid question. But I think a-parents have held the power in adoption for so long that if we overplay our role of ally, we actually silence adoptee and first parent voices more than we support them. At least I think that's a possibility, and I'm trying to figure out where the boundary between the two lies.

And by the way, this is the net of the question I asked the individual on the list that resulted in yesterday's post. Please let me know if you see anything in this issue that would be offensive to an adopted person or first parent, because I seriously don't and am worried that I'm missing the 800 pound gorilla.

Believe me, I've twisted this thing in my mind for so long I'm not sure I fully understand what I've said here myself. But it's a start, and I really welcome your thoughts.

March 30, 2009

Ouch

The hurt continues, but I'm taking this post down.

Reiterating: If I say anything here that is offensive or overbearing or dismisses anyone's experience, I want to know it. When criticism is in order, I need to hear it. But I'm not too bright, so please be specific.

March 26, 2009

Open Mike: Define "adoption reform"

I normally draw a firm line between my adoption and work lives, but it occurred to me on one of my freakingly-boring delightful commutes recently that what I do for a living provides some new ways of looking at the challenge of adoption reform.

I'm a project manager, have had my PMP ("Project Management Professional") certification since 2002, and have spent most of my professional career managing projects and programs of various sizes. I work in the telecommunications industry, which has a mindset about 180 degrees from the one we have here in adoptionland. But the principles I've been trained to follow to solve complex challenges offers some techniques that might give new insights into why reforming adoption as we know it is so darned difficult.

Project Management 101: Define the challenge and objective(s) clearly. Identify all stakeholders. Establish a team. Define all the steps necessary to reach the objective(s). Identify risks to reaching the objective(s). Create a plan to get there, and contingency plans to mitigate the risks. Develop a timeline. Assign each workstep to a team member. Establish a communications plan, including dispute management plan. Establish a mechanism for handling inevitable change. Celebrate success. Determine if and how the team will continue to work together after the defined goal has been reached.

This is a highly simplified view of project management, but you get the point. And it works; my company is so used to project management methodology now that we do things this way as a matter of course. 25+ years of managing projects have also taught me that the projects themselves develop an identity. Even today, people I've lost touch with at work and then encounter years later will identify the way we know each other through our project. I remember you from the such-and-such project or We worked together on Project XYZ, didn't we? It's hard not to feel good about accomplishing something, and when people remember all those years later, it's better still.

The result is that stuff gets done, which is probably why slow progress in adoption reform frustrates me so much. I see a lot of talk, and a lot of dedicated work by individuals and focus groups, but I don't see the kind of cross-organizational communication that I think is needed to distill our various goals and messages into the one that will grab our country's attention and set the stage for change. I also don't see the sense that we're marching toward a common goal, even in small ways. Obviously, if "adoption reform" only means "stopping adoption" to you, it's going to be hard to get onto a team with a group that doesn't share that point of view. But it seems to me if we could do that for some specific goals - open records strikes me as one of those (and there are certainly more) - we could push the issue forward a little more quickly.

So let's see see what applying these principles to the adoption reform challenge can do. If nothing else, it should give us some insight into why we seem unable to break out of our stovepipes and find enough common ground to get lawmakers to listen seriously.

As with all Open Mikes, the only rule to be respectful. Be creative, say what's on your mind. Anonymous comments are welcome. And with these simple rules in place, here's today's question:

Define "adoption reform." If possible, include specifics in your answer: laws you believe should be passed or changed, policies you believe should be followed.

March 24, 2009

Strapping on my sword

You must read this post by Paula (I'm posting the ARP link so you can join the dialog there; it's also here on Paula's blog.)

I've been whining in a couple of comment at one of the blogs I read about just how far APs have to go to try to raise awareness about race in the adoptive parent community. I was looking for affirmation that it's OK to contain your work to your immediate environment - responding when opportunities arise, but not seeking them out. I asked the question because in the online community, I don't really want to be where the greatest opportunity to speak out exists. I got a swift kick in the pants for the asking, and appropriately so.

I knew the answer all along, but seriously hoped someone would say that it was OK to keep preaching to the choir. It's not. If we truly believe that racism is an issue that adoptive parents should care about, we have to talk to the very ones who refuse to listen. That's hard work, particularly when you have a day job and little time to give. But we have to do it.

With that in mind, I took my first shot the other day, by starting a dialog about the Lori Phanachone issue in a forum I typically avoid like the plague I sometimes visit. I was pleasantly surprised that several APs jumped right in and voiced agreement with Lori's efforts to fight the racism in the school's demand for her to take a clearly-unnecessary English proficiency exam. A couple, however, dismissed that racism was present out of hand; it was clear that neither had even read the article I linked to, because they missed some pretty important facts about the situation. I think I kept my cool pretty well, and am VERY happy to see that the last word is an eloquent post acknowledging the racism in Lori's experience.

And so, into the fray. And because no one can be a one-person solution, I hope you all grab your swords and join me.

March 22, 2009

Saturday with Alison and John

The Barker Foundation's annual adoption conference was yesterday in Rockville, Maryland. I'm decompressing today; there was a lot to take in.

Last year's conference focused on surrendering mothers, a topic I haven't seen too many adoption agencies use as a conference theme before. This year the conference was titled In Our Own Voices: Adoptees and Foster Youth Speak Out. In the majority of the sessions (there were one or two on more generic topics), adopted people, teens and adults, shared their experiences with a majority adoptive parent audience.

It was powerful. And it was exactly the kind of unapologetic one-way communication that we adoptive parents need sometimes. There was dialog, certainly, but I was glad that most of the communication put adoptive parents in the listener's seat for a change. We need to shut up and listen a lot more.

The day began with a performance by Alison Larkin, the author of The English American, a novel based on her story. Alison was born in the U.S. and adopted by a British couple. She grew up in England, and in an interesting twist of the typical transnational adoption story, returned to the U.S. to get to know her culture and find her first family. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and travels around the country with her one-woman show. Her performance on Saturday drew from her personal experience and from the book, and was hysterically funny. Alison really is a hoot. But she something else, too: a tireless fighter for open records. She made it very clear that open records isn't just an adoptee, issue; it's an issue for everyone involved in adoption, particularly adoptive parents. It was interesting to watch the wheels turn in so many heads, and gratifying to witness so many APs shake their heads in agreement when, at the end of the show, Alison sang the refrain to her ode to adoption: Every child born today deserves to know their DNA.

Alison's book will be coming out in paperback in November, and even better, ABC has picked up the options for a TV series. If the show comes to be, I sincerely hope it retains the story line, and doesn't sanitize the issues.

I also had the opportunity to hear Dr. John Raible speak. Dr. Raible is bi-racial, and was adopted by a white family who made little, if any, effort to provide him with opportunities to be with people who shared his race and ethnicity. You know, I like to pat myself on the back and say that I get what transracial and transnational adoptees experience in "whitesville," as Dr. Raible calls the overwhelmingly white environments in which many are forced to grow up. But there was a moment in the presentation in which he let the pain of his experience reinforce his words, and I am not being melodramatic when I say it brought me to tears. What shot through my head like a bullet was the question How many such experiences have MY children had, but hide for any number of reasons?

This presentation was incredibly moving, but also offered adoptive parents guidance to help their children avoid as much of this pain as possible. He described the concept of transracialization:
Transracialization implies transcending the limits imposed by the process of racialization. If racialization teaches us to fear the racial Other, transracialization draws the Other closer. Whereas racialization exerts strong pressure to keep the races separate, transracialization intentionally crosses color lines. While racialization is based on historic notions of racial superiority, transracialization transforms such notions through its explicit anti-racist orientation.
To transracialize, we adoptive parents must make decisions that may disrupt the plans we previously envisioned for our families: homes in comfortable suburbs, homogenous private schools, etc. Instead, we must put ourselves into the environments that are most likely to welcome our children and give them the cultural, racial and ethnic support we can't provide.

Dr. Raible said something else that really hit home with me. He talked about identity, but as a verb rather than a noun. Many of us consider identity something we possess, a static condition inherited or passed on from person to person. But when you think of it as a verb - something we do - the connection between our actions and their effect on our children's sense of self becomes much clearer.

I also heard a moving presentation by three young woman who had searched and met their first mothers and, in some cases, first fathers. What struck me about all three was their tenacity in the face of the legal and administrative obstacles to reaching the information you and I probably have in a drawer somewhere, or could call someone in our family for right now. It was discomforting, too, to hear how all three of their searches were influenced by fear of hurting their adoptive parents, even when their parents were supportive. I hate it when people feel the need to apologize for who they are, or need to beg for basic human rights.

I'm still absorbing the day, but can say one thing for sure: What I learned yesterday has inspired me to do all I can to spread the word that closed records are unjust and inhuman. Every adoptive parent must stand with adopted people and work to change these ridiculous, outdated laws.

Many thanks to the Barker Foundation for your hard work in bringing this conference to our community, and to all the speakers and participants for sharing your stories and expertise.

March 20, 2009

Do you speak English?

Just in case you're thinking that electing a Black president means racism is dead, this post at Angry Asian Man should bring you back to reality. The original article is here: Student rejects 'demeaning' test, is suspended. It says this about Lori Phanachone, the young woman at the center of the controversy:

Lori Phanachone is a member of the National Honor Society, has a 3.9 grade point average and ranks seventh in the senior class of about 119 at Storm Lake High School.

Lori has been suspended. Her scholarships are threatened. She has been counseled to just lie about her first language, which she rightfully has refused to do. In spite of this glaring injustice, one of the first commenters to the original article had the audacity to write this:

If you are going to fight for injustice in this world then at least make it a fight for a worthwhile cause.
How someone could miss such an obvious wrong is mind-boggling. I take from this comment to mean that this person either believes believes racism no longer exists, or that fighting it isn't a worthy cause. Makes no difference: whether they stem from deeply-engrained beliefs or post-election nonsense, they're both dangerous. Lori's situation provides a frightening example why.

I can look within my own family for proof. My husband's first language isn't English. In college, where we met, he was required on college forms to identify his first language, and he answered honestly. No one ever required him to prove his English proficiency.

He is white, however, and his first language is German, a European language. With the same language proficiency but a different face, I have no doubt that he could have experienced what Lori Phanachone is experiencing now.

Shame on Storm Lake High School and the Storm Lake Board of Education.

Edited to add Storm Lake contacts posted by Angry Asian Man, with a call to support Lori and my thanks. Contact these folks to share your outrage and show your support for Lori.

Paul Tedesco - Storm Lake School District Superintendent
ptedesco@slcsd.org

Mike Hanna - Principal
mhanna@storm-lake.k12.ia.us

Beau Ruleaux - Assistant Principal
bruleaux@slcsd.org

Storm Lake High School phone number : (712) 732-8065


Here's the letter I just sent:
Gentlemen:

As the parent of two children from Korea, the husband of a man who
learned English as his second language, and a former teacher of German and
English as a Second Language, I am writing to express my dismay over your
school's actions regarding Ms. Lori Phanachone's refusal to take an English
proficiency exam.

Because my personal experience touches on both of the areas that are
driving this controversy - language acquisition and race - I feel compelled to
speak out on behalf of Ms. Phanachone's decision to reject your school's demand
that she take this clearly unnecessary test.

What appears to have happened is that Ms. Phanachone's laudable decision to
recognize her heritage by accurately stating that her first language was other
than English has triggered an arcane policy that flies in the face of
reality. This young woman was born in the U.S. and educated in American
schools. To question that reality, regardless of the fact that she first
spoke another language in her home, is racism, pure and simple.

Do the right thing. Reinstate Ms. Phanachone, expunge this incident
from her record, and work to change your policies to prevent similar events in
the future.

March 18, 2009

The grand plan of adoption

The Girl wandered in my room last night wrapped in her comforter and climbed into bed, where I was channel surfing for some evening entertainment. She took the remote and found America’s Funniest Videos, one of our favorites (in spite of the fact that we've seen them all before), and settled in.

I don’t know how I’m going to stand it when she’s gone.

The Girl’s habit of joining us in our bedroom started when she was very small. Where The Boy reset his bio-clock easily and fell into a comfortable schedule, The Girl fought it every step of the way. It took creativity and ingenuity to stay a step ahead of her, because every time we thought she had finally gotten her sleeplessness under control, something new would disrupt it again. She’s also one of those folks who functions at a high level with less sleep than others. The net of it is that The Girl’s nighttime escapades became a part of our everyday life, including her crawling into our bed or dragging me into hers.

Now that she’s older and her sleep patterns are under control, she still loves to spend time in our bedroom, watching TV, talking, doing her nails, and such. For a mother and daughter, moments like these are incredibly intimate, perhaps made more so by how ordinary they are. They are the times I know I’ll miss the most when she takes her next life-step and leaves for college. I told her that last night, and she smiled and said she knew. I took that to mean she understands how important these evenings have been for me. I think they have been for her, too.

Being with the kids like this always bring my children’s separations from their first mothers into clear focus. I don’t think I’m different from any other mother in sensing the poignancy of such moments. They are precious, the kind of deep-down-in-you-heart precious that you take forward through your life to sustain you through the hard times. The Boy’s mother, The Girl’s mother may have shared such moments with children they’ve had since they gave birth to them, but they’ve never spent them with The Boy and The Girl.

I wish they could have. I wish The Boy’s mother and The Girl’s mothers could have some quiet evenings filled with TV shows and chatter with them. Every time The Girl drags her covers into my room, I am reminded of the tremendous responsibility I have to honor these women who gave my children life, and to encourage The Boy and The Girl to bring them into their lives.

It's also why, when I see things like this:

We believe that God is in control of our agency and your adoption
or this, paraphrased from the original from a prospective adoptive parent blog I stumbled upon recently:

We are thrilled for this new mission God decided for us

I cringe.

Please understand: I’m not saying here that God’s presence can’t be found in the experience of adoption. It can, but not in the typical place, the love we adoptive parents feel for our children. I think God’s presence in adoption is in the question Why? and all those that follow when you ask it.

Why did this adoption happen?
Was it the only possibility for my children’s mothers?
Could I have done anything to prevent their separation?
Can I do anything to prevent other separations in the future?
???

Of course, when you start asking these questions, you end up at that point of hypocrisy at which you have to question your own happiness, which is why I think many adoptive parents won’t go there. It's easier to believe that adoption is a part of the celestial plan, particularly when you can find a few passages in scripture that use the very word. Those of us who suggest otherwise are often perceived as attackers, which causes the "attacked" to close ranks. The result is what we often see in the adoption community: we all talk to others who share our beliefs, and nothing changes.

If you believe, deep in your heart, that the adoption of your children was God's plan, consider this:

Imagine the women and men who gave your children life waking each and every day of their lives with the image of their newborn baby in their minds, along with the grief and numbness that must surely accompany it. Don't just let the thought flit through your mind: sit with it awhile, imagine an entire day in the life of a woman or man who lives with this loss. Then imagine a lifetime of such days.

If you're having a hard time with this, hold your child in your arms and think of what it would be like for him or her to suddenly be gone, just like that. Think of what it would be like to wonder where he or she is, day after week after month after year. You remember the little body in your arms, maybe you have a photo or two, but you have absolutely no idea where he or she might be.

Now imagine that you weren’t born to the parents who raised you. Imagine that you want to know who gave you life: their names, their background, and their talents. But someone who apparently knows you and them better than you know yourselves has decided that, by the sheer accident of your birth, being told that you don’t have the right. Everyone else gets to know who they are, but you don’t. Imagine waking up every day wanting this simple information, and being told that you don’t have the right. Imagine a life consumed by the search for the simple facts that everyone else takes for granted, and by guilt for even wanting to know.

I don’t believe that God ordains any human being to experience this kind of pain.

I do believe that God is watching our response to it.

Edited to add, with thanks to Dawn, this. It is a must-read, an incredible example of how we turn adoption into anything we want it to be (in this case the convenient alternative to abortion), all the while ignoring the reality of what it is.

March 15, 2009

Time Wasted: Part 2

Amazing how memory can play tricks on you.

I went back through the many files I’ve saved over the years, and found that my memories of 1988, the year that followed our November 1987 adoption application, was a little different than I initially remembered.

I found a file with a number of copies of mid-Atlantic Resolve newsletters that reminded me that I had volunteered as a chapter newsletter editor from mid-1988 through mid-1989, and served as president from mid-1989 through the following June. I guess when I said I forgot about infertility after we adopted, I wasn’t kidding.

With my memory refreshed by these newsletters, I now understand why my memory of 1988, the year we began the adoption process, is so devoid of adoption. I was involved with Resolve before I took on the newsletter, so I spent much of the year working on infertility-related issues. I’ve sometimes wondered why I have few memories of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which took place between September 17 and October 2 of that year. I know I watched, because I’m an Olympics junkie, but I remember little of them.

I wish I’d kept a detailed record of our treatment, because I wish I could remember exactly what procedures we had that year. I’d had surgery in June of 1987 and needed to wait several months after that before we could start again, so I know we were in full swing at the end of the year. The failure of whatever we did that fall undoubtedly contributed to our decision to actively begin the adoption process, but it didn’t stop our efforts to try to get pregnant.

Going back through our children’s adoption files, I find absolutely nothing from our adoption agency until October, when we were at last assigned a social worker and given the green light to begin our homestudy, save the letter from the end of 1987 that scheduled our intake meeting for January 4. Our neighbors, who are now close friends, were adopting from the same agency at that time, and I remember their son arrived early that year, perhaps late in January or in February. I have a vivid memory of sitting in their living room, holding their son and chatting. Beyond that, there was absolutely no communication from the agency until October, when we were at last assigned a social worker so we could begin our homestudy.

I do remember beginning to get involved with Resolve’s adoption support committee that year. There were adoption-related programs from time to time, and R and I would attend. Most of these were “how to” types of seminars that talked about the different types of adoption, and on reaching the decision to adopt.

So 1988, the year adoption entered our lives, really wasn’t about adoption at all. It was more of a long good-bye to the possibility of pregnancy. Putting these pieces together helps me understand why I didn’t embrace adoption right from the beginning: it simply wasn’t real to me. And it also explains why I don’t remember a lot of frustration at the wait to begin the process in earnest: I was still busy with infertility and treatment.

I wonder if I would have been able to leave infertility behind as easily as I have if we had begun our homestudy right after intake, at the beginning of the year. Knowing how long it took me to fully accept adoption, I kind of doubt it. So although it was a hard year, filled with unsuccessful treatment and no movement toward adoption, I clearly needed that year to be exactly what it was.

Unfortunately, I left that year as clueless about adoption as I entered it, save for a few generic facts. This may explain why, when we began our homestudy, I saw that milestone only as the beginning of a process that had, as its first objective, to resolve my childlessness. I didn’t understand then, but do now, that this mindset is the wrong one to have when entering into a relationship as complex for all involved as adoption.

Part 1
Part 3 to follow

March 11, 2009

Ethica Webinar Series

Ethica is now conducting webinars - what a terrific idea! I missed the one in February, but more are on the way. Space is limited, so register early!

From Good Samaritans to Convicts - How to Choose an Ethical International Adoption Agency
March 18, 7-8:30PM EST

The most common request Ethica receives is, "how can families choose an ethical adoption agency?" Families are increasingly aware of adoptions being in limbo, stretching out for years, or not being completed at all due to unethical agency practices. This workshop will cover the basics on what to look for in an agency, what best practices are used and recognized within the adoption service provider community, as well as where the most common concerns are regarding establishing a child's status as an orphan (according to international and U.S. laws). Case studies of agency practices will be covered with first person accounts, as well as insight from agency personnel and government representatives. Attendees will have a greater understanding of what resources are available to them and ways to evaluate agency promises and performance. Register Here

The Hague Convention 1 Year Later: Successes and Drawbacks
April 8, 7-8:30PM EST

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was ratified by the U.S. in April 2007, after nearly 15 years after signing the agreement. Since then, the U.S.has gone down the path of accrediting adoptionagencies and encouraging sending countries to "become Hague." This workshop will give an overview of the Convention's history, incentives for families to adopt from Hague countries, and case studies of the Hague's successes and drawbacks with insight from adoption policy experts and adoption agency personnel. Attendees will gain a greater understanding of how the Hague impacts their adoptions (China, Guatemala, El Salvador, strong potential for Ethiopia and Vietnam). Register Here

March 10, 2009

Time Wasted: Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts reflecting on the months leading up to the adoptions of my children. Suz and I will revisit this period of time, from our perspective and very different points of view, in the session we are doing together at the American Adoption Congress conference in April. It’s an intensely emotional time of life-changing decisions for surrendering mothers and prospective adoptive parents, yet for many, we know about on another only in the abstract. The misunderstanding we carry through our lives has often negative repercussions for our children and for ourselves, and has contributed to the skewed attitudes toward adoption that prevail in the mainstream.

But if adoption is to be, there has to be a better way to prepare us all for it, and to make sure that we all understand the lifelong implications of every decision we make. We owe it to our children.

I don’t have any answers. In fact, I pretty much have only questions. I also can’t promise that this will be interesting reading. It’s hard to look back at that time, for several reasons. At the top of the list is the fact that many of the details are hazy; after all, with The Boy turning 20 and The Girl 18 in a few weeks, I don’t remember it all clearly. Some of it was pretty painful, too, and once the kids arrived I allowed myself to just let it go. But I’m going to try to give as accurate an account of what I was feeling, and hopefully I and others can learn from it.

From my kids’ ages you can tell that my first steps toward adoption took place in the mid and late 1980s. My husband and I were about five or six years into infertility treatment; Third Dad had been ready to throw in the towel pretty early in the game, but I believed that if we just hung in there, we’d be successful. With each failed cycle, we upped the ante and tried the next-best treatment. But by 1987, following surgery to remove a large fibroid that lessened our chances even more, even I had to concede that it was unlikely I’d ever get pregnant. And so, based on no more than the little information we’d gathered at Resolve adoption education meetings and from a neighbor and now close friend who had begun the adoption process the year before, we applied in November 1987 to a local agency to adopt a child from Korea.

When I think back to those first steps, I remember two feelings above all: reluctance and relief. I didn’t really want to stop treatment, and believed, even after we submitted the application, that I’d succeed. Superstitiously, I worried that I’d jinx my chances of success by even starting the adoption process. But what little common sense I'd hung onto through those years of treatment (and believe me, common sense is hard to keep when you’re in the care of a reproductive endocrinologist) told me to send in the application, and so I did.

I also felt relief. In the very beginning, it was just a glimmer, the realization that the treatment that had controlled out lives for so long might soon be over, and yet we might still have a family with children. It was good to imagine life without the emotional rollercoaster of those many cycles of IUI, GIFT and IVF.

Reluctance and relief are a strange combination of emotions, though. I was alternately excited about this new possibility that we might have children, and depressed that our treatments had failed. Although our agency cautioned against pursuing an adoption and treatment at the same time, we did just that, and planned one more.

That last cycle of IVF was my turning point. From the medical point of view, it was picture perfect - hormonally, if ever a cycle had a chance of succeeding, this was it. But interestingly, it was during the most hopeful time, after our embryos had been transplanted and we could consider ourselves pregnant (if only for a few days and even though it wasn’t technically so) that life at the other end of the infertility tunnel began to come into view. When it became clear that I wasn’t going to stay pregnant, the glimmer of relief with which we’d mailed our adoption application and attended the required introductory meeting bloomed. Third Dad and I were sad that the cycle had failed, and we certainly grieved. But we had finally reached the point at which we could separate our desire for to be pregnant from our desire to parent. Perhaps this is why I can say with honesty that once we turned the page on infertility, it never caused us sorrow again.

So there we were: spring of 1988, infertility treatment behind us, adoption application accepted. Our reluctance had been replaced with relief, and although we knew virtually nothing about adoption, we were ready to embrace it. After all, it would bring us the children we would some day call our own. With success all but assured (as we knew of nothing that would prevent us from being approved), we were ready to move forward as quickly as the process would allow.

But this was 1988, the year of the Olympics in Seoul. We didn't know it that spring, but it was the beginning of another long and painful wait.

Part 2 coming soon.

March 2, 2009

Snow day

We're blanketed with a lovely layer of snow here in DC, and I'm taking a personal day. The Girl's school was closed, The Boy's home for spring break, and Third Dad is reading the paper in the kitchen. I'm going to use the day to relax and catch up on odds and end, and to enjoy just being with my family for no particular reason.

Now, those of you who have been shoveling this stuff in buckets are unlikely to agree, but I think it's lovely. And for whatever reason, weather like this makes me more productive, so here's to a day of crossing things off my ridiculously long to-do list (which by the way I'm going to bring under control this year through the use of two proven tools: the word no, and a new Franklin planner; am I the only one who things electronic calendars are more trouble than they're worth?)