We survived Thanksgiving (barely)

Well, Thanksgiving sucked this year. D’s parents went to his grandparents’ house, and we didn’t really want to drive in traffic with the babies, so we stayed home. We invited his parents and siblings to come for brunch the next morning, so we just spent all Thanksgiving Day cleaning and ate dinner out of the freezer. Friday morning went well, but I was soooooo tired, and we went out to run a few errands Friday afternoon and R vomited all over me at the pharmacy. He also vomited all over the floor, which was awesome! We had walked there and we hadn’t brought any supplies with us, since it’s only a block and a half from our house, so I left D to clean things up with the baby blankets that were in the stroller while I walked home with R.

He’s not normally as happy a baby as N, but when he’s sick he’s the grumpiest baby ever. Every time he needed to throw up, he screeched. After he threw up, he was usually hungry, so he screeched. Poops caused him to screech. So much screeching! So much vomit! So little sleep! He continued vomiting and having a fever on Saturday, while I started having awful cramps (my period started five days early on Thanksgiving! Also awesome!). I could barely hold myself together. Then the diarrhea started. It kept getting more and more watery, and it was awful. Sunday morning, N started vomiting, but at least R’s fever broke. He was still a bit grumpy due to the diarrhea, and N was a sad, lethargic little baby who barely made a peep and kept falling asleep halfway into doing something. N never got a fever, and he recovered more quickly than R, but D and I both stayed home yesterday to take care of the boys and make sure they were doing ok before sending them off today. Both still have diarrhea, and I’m not looking forward to this evening.

In the meantime, we’re having a horrible time coordinating visits. N’s visit supervisors have pretty much said they don’t care at all about our schedule. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with this, as we now have visits 4 days a week, and it’s incredibly inconvenient, especially since R is currently in daycare much closer to home, so it’s an awful lot of driving. I’m guessing I’m going to have to leave work really early, in addition to all the days I have to take off because we don’t have care for R. Of course, D doesn’t think he should have to take any time off at all. He even called his mom and asked her to take the day off yesterday so he didn’t have to, and she told him what was what.

And I just found out N may be leaving sooner than anticipated, possibly this week or in the next few weeks, because they’re transferring jurisdiction over his case. I’m heartbroken. I just want to cry.

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And then there were two

And then there were two… Babies, that is!  We got another baby Wednesday morning, so I’ve been pretty preoccupied .  He’s 6 months old and while he’s not special needs or anything, he’s a little behind in some ways. But catching up quickly!

Little R looks like he could be related to D’s family, although not D so much, since D is a bit darker than the rest of his family for some reason.  I have no idea if he’ll be a forever baby, but I’m already falling in love with him.

N just turned 10 months yesterday so it’s been lively around here! N is going to daycare during the day while I stay home with R for a few days.  He’s light years ahead of R right now but the progress R has made in the last few days is amazing.

We have a crisis nursery that is supposed to provide 30 days of free daycare to new foster placements, to see them time to settle in and find permanent daycare, but now they’ll only let us sign up for a few days at a time, which is incredibly unhelpful, and the program that helps pay for regular daycare (once we’ve found it) is not enrolling any new children right now. I’m incredibly disappointed by the lack of support right now, but these two babies make me so so so happy.

Holidays. Blergh.

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! To be perfectly honest, I’m really not looking forward to it. Yes, there’s a baby in the house, which of course makes things more fun, even if he’s not likely our forever baby. And I’m actually looking forward to decorating this year, for some reason. I do really like Christmas lights, especially white lights that make me think of stars and snow, and I like Christmas trees a lot. And this year we have two, since I inherited my mom’s tree, plus I inherited a set of small, pre-lit trees to line our front walk (as soon as I figure out how to get power out there to plug them in).

But I digress. Before Christmas comes Thanksgiving, and I am SO not looking forward to that. My sister is married to a guy from another country, so they don’t do Thanksgiving, and they have decided to all go to Mexico for the week, leaving me to deal with D’s family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them! But I’m a vegetarian environmentalist, and they… well, they don’t get it at all. With them everything is disposable, food comes out of a can, and the TV is always on, and it really wears on me after a while. At his parents, they either go out of their way to make something vegetarian for me, or they completely forget and put meat in EVERYTHING (including the vegetable dishes!) and then feel sooooooo bad, which makes me feel bad, but then they suggest I just pick it all out, which I don’t really want to do, and then I just want to go home and cry because I don’t even have a family to spend the holidays with. At his brother’s, his sister-in-law puts meat in everything and then tells him not to tell me (I overheard her telling him that last year). And everything is SO unhealthy and full of fat and sugar, and if it was decent food it might not be so bad, but it’s all just awful. I dread it.

Dealing with the loss of my family this year is going to be difficult too. My mom loved the holidays, and now she’s gone and we barely spent any time with her last year because I felt bad about never spending enough time with D’s family for the preceding years, plus we had A, who had to go to certain celebrations with her mom that we needed to provide transportation to. I always assumed my mom had years left, and it didn’t matter if one year we didn’t spend a lot of time with her. It makes me feel guilty a lot, lately.

Just checking in, and thoughts on adoption vs. surrogacy

It looks like little N will be going home, likely in the spring, unless a family member is able to be approved to take him sooner. I’m pretty heartbroken, and spent a lot of the day ready to cry, until I picked him up from his visit and he was so happy to see me and wanted to snuggle and it filled me with happiness and love. I don’t know how I’m going to say goodbye to him, but it does make me realize just how badly I want to be a mother.

Now that I’ve met his mother and grandmother a few times, I realize that all adoptions really do involve a HUGE loss to the birth family. For the longest time, I thought I wanted to adopt because there are so many children who supposedly need homes. And yes, a lot of children need homes, but they mostly already have families.

And so I contemplate surrogacy with donor eggs or embryos again. We are still forging ahead with private agency adoption (after all, we’ve already paid a lot of money!), but I can’t stop thinking about surrogacy. Any child that results from surrogacy would be our child, and only our child, and there wouldn’t really be any grey area. I know how everyone says that when you adopt, you’re not taking a child away from their real family, you’re just expanding their family, and you don’t have to be scared of the child growing up and leaving you to find their really family. But after several failed attempts at adoption through foster care, I feel like I understand why people choose surrogacy more than ever now.

I don’t think my husband is really on board, not least because of the cost, which we can’t really afford. And he doesn’t want to fundraise, which I understand. But this hole in my heart feels like it’s growing larger by the day.

On giving up

I sometimes wonder if maybe the universe is trying to tell us we’re not supposed to have children. Pretty much everyone I know who has tried to get pregnant managed to have a baby. Everyone I know who has tried to adopt managed to adopt. Every foster family I’ve met seems to be on track to adopting a baby, or has adopted one recently. Even the families I’ve met who are on their first placement are adopting. Even a friend who gave up on getting pregnant and eventually adopted (after two failed adoptions) just gave birth. It’s painful and frustrating and I’m getting to the point where I want to give up, not only on foster care, but on having a baby at all.

And I’m not sure how much longer I can handle being a foster parent. It’s bad enough that I get attached and then have to give the kids back, but what’s worse is the way I’m often treated at visits. I prefer visits at county offices, because the family uses one door, and I use another, and I don’t have to see them. At non-county visits (and most visits are handled by a contractor, not the county), we all wait together in a waiting room for the supervising social worker to come get the family and the child. It’s really uncomfortable, especially since I often get the vibe from the family that I’m an imposter. I HATE IT. And I really hate at the end of visits when the family often points out everything I’ve done wrong, and then the social worker encourages them to take the child out to my car and buckle them in.

For one thing, I’m not super happy about the family knowing who I am, at least at first. Often times, these people are involved in gangs, and/or they have criminal charges against them. For another thing, I REALLY don’t want them to know what my car looks like. I’m sure they’re not all bad people, but it’s a chance I don’t want to take, at least not at the beginning. So right now I’m thinking this will probably be our last placement. I don’t think I can do this again.

We recently found a new home for Marley, out littlest dog. I loved that dog, but he wasn’t getting along with Apollo and so he spent a lot of time by himself at home, and it really sucked for him. I found him a very nice new family, and so far they seem to love him a lot. I miss him more than I thought I would, but the two other dogs are behaving SO much better now, and the house is so much more peaceful, which is what I really need right now.

More adoption questions

First, I’m going to talk about private adoption, then I’ll get into some N updates. I’m finding our adoption agency isn’t nearly as communicative as I’d like. But they have our money now, so I guess we don’t have a choice. At least I like them overall, I just wish they were more responsive. I’m hoping we’ll find out soon what we need to do about a homestudy. I’m hoping we can reuse the one we have, not only to save money and time overall, but also because we’re quickly running out of cash right now. I was expecting my mom’s house to sell much faster, since it’s the type of model that people are really looking for, but I think we missed the sweet spot in market timing for the year. The longer we wait for it to sell, the longer it will take to get the money we need to pay for this adoption.

While we wait to figure all that out, I’m trying to figure out what to do about an adoption profile book and/or website. In terms of a book, since I have a master’s degree in a design field, I think I’m more than capable of putting something really nice together. And I know enough about websites to probably be able to handle that as well. But since this is my first time adopting, I literally have NO IDEA what to do about the content. I can look at samples to get some concepts, but I’m really not sure about anything. I’m also not sure about what pictures to use, especially when it comes to including kids in the pictures.

We’re looking into possibly hiring a company to help us with the books. The daughter of the owners of our adoption agency has her own company that creates these books. The samples on her website are some of the nicest ones I’ve seen in all of my searching so far, and her prices are incredible. They are lower than any other place I’ve looked at, and they include design, printing of a reasonable number of books, AND shipping, while most of the other places only include design. As far as I can tell, a website is not included, but if she can help us with what to write and what pictures to use, I can probably create a simple website myself.

So for those of you who have adopted privately, do you have any advice about the profile book? Should we use a company or try to do it ourselves? Are all the little extras (brochures, cards, etc) useful or just a way for the companies to make more money? What about a website? Is that really useful? I’ve also seen that it’s recommended to have a blog? I’m having a hard time imagining what that would even be for. Also, how many books did you end up needing? Help please!!!

Moving on to an N update:

Little N is having quite the growth spurt right now. When he came to us, he was a little underweight, but now he’s definitely not! He’s also crawling like a maniac, so we’re quickly babyproofing the whole house. Since we’ve never had a kid this young before, we didn’t do a whole lot in the way of making the house safer for crawlers. Our kitchen cabinets have child latches, but our stair railing didn’t have any sort of guard, so we’ve been working on that. I’ve also had to reorganize our play loft to get the bigger kid items out of his reach, and make the little kid items more accessible to him.

He’s also not fitting into 6-9 month clothes anymore, although 12 month clothes are WAY too big (he crawled right out of his pants the other day). It’s hard to sort through all the clothes I’ve had in storage, because he really likes to “help”, which is (not surprisingly) not actually very helpful. He loves the dogs, but he doesn’t like it a whole lot when they sniff him and he really doesn’t like being licked, and licking anything and everything is Apollo’s favorite pastime. When we watch TV, he usually picks my closest limb and spends a good 10 minutes licking every square inch of exposed skin. I came downstairs one morning and he was just sitting in the family room, slowly and deliberately licking the entire side of the ottoman. I don’t know if it’s even possible to get a dog to stop licking, and Apollo really has no other flaws, so it’s hard to get upset about it.

N also LOVES the cats. Like, really loves them. Now that he’s moving more, he tries to chase them. Max, my sweet old kitty who is the most tolerant cat I’ve ever seen, lets N pull his tail, try to pet him, and chase him around, and never complains at all. The other cats run when they see N coming, though.

I’ll know more next week about what might happen with him, but at this point he could actually go home soon, or he could stay with us forever. The social worker expects the case to drag out for quite a while before we really know what will happen, so I’m hoping to get the private adoption stuff taken care of by the end of the year and maybe getting a baby within the first 6 months of the new year (maybe I’m being WAY too optimistic, but I know sometimes private adoptions can happen much faster than that). I think it will be easier to foster when we have a forever kid at home already.

Settling in

I love this baby. He’s sweet, he’s smiley, he’s adorable, he’s cuddly. He’s just the best. The thought of him going home fills me with despair, not only for his own sake, but for mine, since I’m already attached. Up until now, having a baby has always been a goal, but a very abstract one. Having a baby in my arms makes me realize how difficult it is to be a temporary parent. I’m feeling more certain than ever that we need to adopt through an agency, even if this little guys sticks around.

I haven’t had much chance to write (or sleep, or even think) since we got him. As you may recall, I responded to an automated call for a baby, and called back right away and got through. I was told that my contact information would be forwarded to his social worker, and that someone would contact me about placement, and that he most likely would be needing a bed that night. And then nothing.

I waited all evening, and finally after dinner D and I decided that perhaps we weren’t getting him, or he wouldn’t be needing a bed immediately, so we poured ourselves a glass of wine and turned on the TV, but not even 5 minutes later the doorbell rang. It was the social worker with the baby, and she was surprised that we hadn’t received her phone calls. Apparently, the numbers she was given for both of us were wrong – mine had the wrong area code, and D’s had two numbers transposed. We had absolutely no time to prepare, although I suppose we could have just assumed he was coming and started getting ready. But we really didn’t think it would happen without anyone telling us!

D and I sprang into action (well, he did, since I was holding a scared baby), setting up the pack-n-play and trying to find pajamas and whatnot. Over a week later, and we’re almost settled. I post on a couple of local moms groups to try to get some clothes, since it turned out the majority of the baby clothes my sister had given me were 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month. Neither of us really knows where the 9 month clothes went. And when D finally found some time to reassemble the crib we got for A, it broke, but several people were kind enough to offer cribs when I posted looking for a free or inexpensive one.

We live somewhat close to the insane wildfires in northern California – not close enough to be threatened by them, but close enough to deal with the terrible air quality and also to have everyone around us obsessed with collecting donations for the victims, to the point where evacuation centers are asking people to stop donating items and more local groups are having to go without. I even saw someone offering clothes, and a local charity offering to take it for use locally, and the person said, no, they only wanted to donate to fire relief. Normally, when a foster kid is placed, lots of donations are offered, but with the fires happening, we’re pretty much on our own, so I’m grateful that so many people are offering after I asked. If only finding daycare was as easy.

So we’re settling in, I’m trying to stay hopeful, and for the moment I’m really enjoying the time I get to spend with this little bundle of joy.