baby development

Monday, August 29, 2005

Our Weekend With Bumble Bee

Unfortunately, I'm too busy to blog much today, or to make this thoughtful, humorous, or even interesting. Work stinks. I want to be home in bed listening to the rain. I think I have a bad attitude today. I am tired. But I feel like I should get down a few thoughts before I forget them and before I push them aside for other more "important" details of life.

We had a long weekend with S. who turns 3 in October. I know why her foster mom needed respite. Although very sweet, she was scared to death of my husband (probably as he is...well... - big and male). We nicknamed her "Bumble Bee". She liked that, and then decided that we all should be called "Bumble Bee". She couldn't pronounce K's, so "Michael" came out as "Mytoll".

Friday night we ate macaroni and cheese (though she did not allow Mytoll to eat at the table with us or come near her), watched some TV, and then it was bath time. She enjoyed her bath, putting on her pajamas, and I climed into the full-size bed with her in the 2nd bedroom which is also Mytoll's office. She seemed to enjoy the feel of the down comforter, and played with a few of her things. Mytoll asked her nicely if he could sit on the bed too. She agreed, and we all laid on the bed and sang "Twinkle, Twinkle" (which of course sounded like "tintle, tintle") and Jesus Loves Me. She snuggled up beside me and fell fast asleep. I stayed there a good long time, afraid to move and wake her up lest she become upset that she was alone in a very strange house with even stranger people. By the time I got back to our bedroom, Mytoll was fast asleep

I had her by myself on Saturday as Mytoll had left early to drive to Atlanta to audition for "Stump the Schwab" - a sports trivia game show on ESPN - good blog fodder, but I am not in the mood. And no, it's not PMS.

Saturday, I made scrambled eggs and toast. Bumble Bee refused to eat any. I got her to drink some apple juice and eat a Nutrigrain bar later in the morning. We got dressed and went to Joseph Beth bookstore. There is an enormous kid's area with a wood train set and castles. Even though there were other kids playing, Bumble Bee didn't want to go near them. She stayed on the outskirts next to me. When she got crabby, she wanted McDonald's. The chicken nuggets seemed to make her happy for a time. After that, we came home and took a nap. I couldn't call it a nap, because she would start to scream and cry. But I laid down in my bed and she came in too and crawled in next to me. I tried to keep my eyes closed, but every time I'd open them to check on her she had hers wide open and was staring at me. After a while, I finally checked and she was asleep. I guess I fell asleep too because an hour later I rolled over and looked at the clock and it was - um, an hour later.

For dinner she wanted her leftover chicken nuggets and cold French fries. I let her have them. Then, she ate a cup of sugar free chocolate pudding.

Mytoll called on his way back from Atlanta and told me to go ahead and give Bumble Bee her bath. Everything went as planned until I brought in a large plastic cup. Apparently, she knew this was a sign of hair-washing to come because she snatched it away and started screaming and crying in an instant. I tried to comfort her, but it was useless. The process had begun. I wet her hair which caused more crying. I started to shampoo it with tearless shampoo and she stopped crying while I massaged it in and made her hair all sudsy. When I poured the water on the back of her head, she stood up and screamed and hit me and cried and yelled blood-curdling cries. It was so loud, it actually hurt my head. I just held on and finished rinsing. She refused to sit back down, so I had to wash this naked little child who was standing straight up in the tub screaming at the top of her lungs. After I pulled her out of the tub, she stopped screaming, and began whimpering instead that she was cold. I told her if she would have stayed in the tub like I asked her, she would have stayed warm. I dried her quickly and put on her pajamas. Suddenly, she was happy as a lark. No tears, no screaming. And I was soaked, covered with soap and shampoo and sweaty.

Mytoll came home to find a clean and happy Bumble Bee lying on the sofa with her head on my lap and a blanker over her watching TV. No trauma - just a soft and sweet and clean little girl. I spared him the details. I liked her, and really just wanted her to be happy. All she wanted to do was watch football with Mytoll.

When bedtime came, Bumble Bee announced that she was going to sleep in our bed with us. Before we could react, she had climbed into our bed on my side of the bed and tucked herself in. We decided to let it go and make the best of it. Mytoll got in on his side of the bed, and I slept in the middle. She put an arm over me, and fell fast asleep.

On Sunday morning, she didn't want to get dressed, or pee, or eat breakfast, or have her hair done. So, she sported a baby 'fro to church - I was glad I at least got to put some of Mytoll's oil sheen hair spray on it and pick it out nicely. She looked rather stylish, I thought. But whenever she laid her head down, it made an indentation in her little 'fro. Of course, she couldn't have cared less.

Bumble Bee didn't eat a lot, but did enjoy the doughnut holes in the church visitor's area before service started. She clung to Michael like he was her lifeline. When he had to go up front to play the drums, she watched him intently. About halfway through the sermon she decided she was cold, and started to whine about it while hurling herself about on the seats. She had screamed like a banshee when we tried to take her to the preschool class or the nursery. I was forced to take her out of the service, where she proceeded to hurl herself onto the ground in the parking lot and cry and scream and kick. There was nothing I could do except wait it out. When she stopped, I asked her if she was ready to go back in and be quiet. She said yes. Once back in the service, she sat on my lap and fell fast asleep. I couldn't even stand up for the praise songs at the end of the service.

No matter what we were doing, approximately every hour Bumble Bee would bust out with "I want my mommy!" very loudly. Of course she did. I am 34 and I live in Lexington, and often my mommy who lives in Florida still manages to ticks me off. But sometimes I still want my mommy so badly that if it were socially appropriate to exclaim it in the middle of McDonald's, I would probably have done so myself.

Bumble Bee had issues with Michael from the start. She did not allow him to touch her, come near her, or even sit at the table with us to eat dinner. We did not expect such a reaction. Her foster mom is single with a teenage daughter, so there have been no men around her for her 3 months in foster care. Come Sunday, she started to warm up to Michael and began to want him to hold her, carry her, and even play with her after we got home from church. When he laid down on the bed to read the paper, she laid down beside him on her belly just like he had done. She even went through the sale fliers pointing out various things she recognized. Then she decided to climb on Mytoll's back and ride him like a horse. Mytoll learned what 35 pounds of toddler feels like jumping on you.

We attempted to go to the Greek festival on Sunday, but Bumble Bee was so grouchy that it made it intolerable. We bought the food we came for, and headed back home. Bumble Bee played with my costume jewelry and played "Bye Bye" where she would pretend to pack a bag, say goodbye and walk down the hallway proclaiming she was leaving. I'd say goodbye to her. A few seconds later, she would turn around and walk into the room like she's just arrived. I'd act surprised and exclaim how good it was to see her and ask her how her trip was. She'd say "good" and grin, and then start the whole pretend game over again. This was repeated no less than 30 times.

By the time her foster mom came to get her on Sunday, Mytoll and I were tired. And Bumble Bee was cranky. We wondered if she felt a little warm and might have developed a fever. Stress will do that to you. We packed up her little purple backpack she had brought with her pull-ups and clothes, and "The Cat in the Hat" book, and sent her on her way.

Back in the house, Michael stood in the livingroom and said, "Listen. You hear that? Silence." It was nice. I take silence for granted. I imagine once we have our own placement, silence will disappear almost completely from our lives.

This was a tough weekend. I feared I was making a mistake in wanting a child of my own. I worried I would not be able to handle the stress. But Bumble Bee was a stranger to us, and we to her. I wondered what it would be like were we to adopt a child like her. Would she ever get over not having her "mommy"? Would she ever be able to love Mytoll and trust men? By the end of the weekend, she was hugging us both, and giving Mytoll and I kisses, and saying "I love you." I wondered if in her little world "I love you" meant she was glad we did not yell and scream and hurt each other, and that we were loving to her. I wondered what she thought in her little 3 year old mind.

I told my mother that I thought we stunk at this. I said I thought we would get better at this. She replied that speaking from experience, she could tell us we would NOT get better at this - we would only get worse. Great. Well, so much for living in a fairy tale. Where is my Prince Charming, darn it? Well, I guess I'm no Snow White either.

At least work now feels like a cakewalk.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Last Night's Nursery Progress

Once again, Macy Gray has to inspect the crib!

Our Paperwork is Complete!!

Got this note in my e-mail from our social worker:

I received your fax. I will get everything entered today and send it over for approval. I received both references back too.

Now, to outsiders that might not be much, but every little shred of hope gives us foster-to-adoptive families to be great joy! Melanie has been so fast with everything, and we are really blessed to have her.

This weekend we are doing respite care for a little 3 yr. old girl. We are told S. is very sweet, and I even got to talk to her for a minute on the phone the other day. I think we will probably go down to the pool for a while, and to the Greek festival this weekend. I'm excited to have her for the weekend, and glad that her foster mommy will get some rest. I'm nervous that our place doesn't have lots of things a 3 year old would enjoy, but perhaps she and I can go out together to buy things that I don't have yet - and she can "break them in" for me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Some People

The following was posted in response to my heart-felt blog regarding our difficult second home study:

"That post made me really uncomfortable. I'm not sure either of you are truly ready to start a family. Infertility issues aside, I think the idea of adoption and foster care is great. But I think those children need a stable home to go into and your anger and resentment, along with your husbands inability to communicate with you or anyone else, seems like the kind of eggshell emotional environment that damages children as much as a fist does."

I am not ashamed to reveal that when I came in to work on this beautiful Thursday and sat down to read my email - I cried when I read this. It hurt very bad to read that anyone would believe that my husband and I would "damage a child as much as a fist does". For as much as we would love a child, how could someone say that - someone who has no idea who I am or who my husband is? What happened to supporting each other and building each other up?

What's even more frightening is that the comment likely came from someone who is a member of my on-line support group for women with PCOS and infertility problems. I post on Yahoo's group PCOS Pals on occasion and read the post daily. We were asked by the leader to do a roll call and tell about ourselves. I wrote out a short version of my story with PCOS, and said we were adopting soon, and linked to my blog so folks could read about my journey. If that is where that anonymous poster came from, then I am even more saddened. It is clear to me this person is not out to support or encourage anyone. It is also clear this person has never gone through the foster care classes and training, nor undergone the difficult home studies that are probative, invasive, embarrassing, and unnerving, and even traumatic.

Folks, if you're not going to support and encourage someone, stay off their blogs and out of their personal trials and tribulations. Why would you pour salt in an otherwise painful wound? What is your goal in life? At the end of the day, whose lives are better because you got out of bed and onto your computer?

Yes, my husband and I are imperfect - but you know what we have that this anonymous poster might not? We have Jesus Christ. We are imperfect, fatally flawed, yet forgiven. The love we have comes not from us, but from Jesus our Lord and Savior. What we give a child will not come from us, but from Him THROUGH us. Jesus doesn't give fists, he gives love and compassion and forgiveness. If we relied solely on our selves to be parents, we would make horrible mistakes. We will still make mistakes because we are human and imperfect, but God has promised us that with Him, we cannot fail!

If you posted this comment and happen to re-visit my blog, please know that I am praying for you. I pray that God reveals to you ways to be an encourager and supporter. I pray that He prevents you from hurting anyone else today, or from causing someone who is already hurting from the pain of infertility and the invasive, searing questions of a social worker even more hurt and frustration.

Until you have experienced anything close to what my husband and I have, please don't judge my reactions and innermost thoughts and feelings that I was brave enough to honestly reveal here. And even if you have been though the arduous process, please understand that our experiences may be very different from yours, and respect that.

Please pray for us, and all the other dear families, women, and men going through this process.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


It feels awesome to get correspondence from our PERMANENT social worker, and to have her be kind and on top of her game. Apparently she noticed we were missing 2 pages of our paperwork (our mistake - we just overlooked it in the mound). She FAXed it to me, and all I have to do is answer the questions tonight and FAX it back.

I also sent her a list of on-line resources for parents, which she sent out to her e-mail distribution list. I felt I had contributed! Here's the note I got got from her this morning:

This is wonderful....I will forward this on to my other foster parents. I will fax you the two pages right now and hopefully you can send them back ASAP. These are the only two sections left that I have to enter. If I can get the other reference back then you all be will ready for approval. This will make you all available for placement within the next week or so. Thanks for the quick response and the information.

Wow! "available for placement in a week or so" - holy cow!! Oh heart, be still.

She also asked if we would like to do respite care for a 3 yr. old African-American little girl. I said sure since it might only be a weekend night every now and then, and we could us the practice - and I think she would really dig my husband.

I'm overjoyed - off to teach my night class of Interpersonal Communication soon, then collapse - it has been a long day. Why are "retreat" days at work utterly exhausting? Ahhhhh - Calgon, take me away.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Cat Approves Baby MIA's Toys

At a yardsale on Saturday, a lovely woman said I could have this toy for free. When I brought it home, Macy Gray was delighted. This is a picture of her lounging underneath her new toy. Again, she is in for a rude awakening once Baby MIA arrives.

(Please ignore the fact that I have a bad habit of putting my dirty clothes on top of the hamper instead of IN the hamper. At least the cat never seems to mind.)

A Car Seat In My Office - And No Baby Yet

A colleague brought me a carseat that her little boy has outgrown. Now, Michael and I will each have a carseat in our cars so that we can swap off "baby duty". Now, the only problem will be if we get a child who weighs more than 20 or so pounds. Guess at that point, it will be off to Wal-Mart!

Man, it feels so weird to have all of this baby stuff and no baby yet.

Aah, who am I kidding? It feels flippin' awesome!!

Warm Fuzzies From My Husband

So Baby MIA will know someday - Yesterday I got a text message on my cell phone from Michael, which read:

"I like the thought of being a parent with you more each day. I am blessed to have you in my life and a child will be blessed to have us."

Wow - he is usually a man of few words, but yesterday I don't think there were any words I needed to hear more. We've come a long way, baby.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Getting Back on Track

Satan truly wants us to be miserable. He works hard to see to it we doubt ourselves, each other, and God. After Friday's home visit, I tried to pull myself together. Then Sunday came and of the 6 women in my Sunday School class (including me), 3 of them - HALF - are pregnant. If another couple would have been there who come on occasion, pregnant women would have outnumbered those of us who are not. But instead of crawling into an emotional hole, I talked it out. As we went around the room and went through our weekly "highs and lows", I talked a bit about how difficult the home visit was, and it felt better to just articulate it. You cannot have my soul, Satan - and you can't have my family.

I learned this weekend that I had never truly forgiven my husband for trying to kill himself. It happened after a weekend visit I had with Michael in May of last year. We had gotten married in March, and I had driven to Ohio to spend some time with him before my summer teaching started. I would be moving in June to Lexington. We fought a lot on that visit. He wasn't interested in physical intimacy, and I had found a story he wrote after we got married about how he didn't want to marry me, and was still in love with an old ex-girlfriend named Maggie. On his way down for the wedding, he stopped at a gas station and saw a woman he thought was her. I left for Georgia that Sunday morning, and I had a 12 hour drive ahead of me. I left angry, and Michael just wanted me to shut up and leave. He said he would call when I was about halfway home to check on me. I tried to call him at the halfway point and several times after that, and got no answer on his home phone, cell phone, or office. I figured he'd gone for a drive.

When I was in Tennessee and stopped for gas, I saw I had a voice mail message on my cell phone. It was Michael. He said he was just calling to tell me he loved me and he hoped the trip was going well - but the number on the caller ID was not his, nor was it a number I recognized. I hit the road, and pressed "call return". A woman answered - the emergency room at the hospital in Athens, Ohio. I froze. I told her that I was Michael's wife, and was he there. Yes, she said he had admitted himself, and he was okay. But she could not tell me what had happened. I started to cry, and begged her to tell me. She couldn't. I begged her, and pleaded. She said to hold on. Somehow, she had taken a cordless phone to my husband, who said he had "done something really stupid" but that he was okay. He had taken an entire box of sleeping pills and laid down to die. (Now, whether that would have been enough to do it is up for debate, but nonetheless, in that moment he wanted to die). He does not know how much time passed, but apparently he woke up and panicked and realized he did not want to die, and drove himself to the emergency room. They hooked him up to an IV and monitored him and sent a social worker to talk to him. After making sure he was okay, they sent him home. Meanwhile, there I was in the middle of Tennessee in the dark driving home and I couldn't get back to Ohio to be with him. I had to teach the next morning in Georgia. I cried the entire drive home. After that, Michael wanted to dismiss the incident as a "stupid mistake". I suppose now I understand that, but I never got a chance to grieve or understand or heal. I had no one I could talk to about it. So I tried to let it go and focus on the positives of starting a new life together in Kentucky.

This weekend, I admitted to him that I had never truly forgiven him. I felt awful when I realized that I had carried this in my heart so long. I asked God to take the anger and resentment from me, and I feel like so much weight is gone from my heart. Michael is sorry about what he did, and he has apologized over and over again. But my resentment and selfishness prevented me from healing and prevented us from growing together more as a couple. Here, Satan, you can have your anger and your resentment back - I no longer need it.

We were honest when we filled out our paperwork. We held nothing back. We could have lied or covered up things that are less-than-stellar in our pasts, but we chose to do the right thing. We will not lie to get the child we want. We also knew that if we lied, we would not have been following God, or being faithful. We knew if we did not keep up our end of the bargain, God wouldn't either.

On Sunday, we bought a crib. We stepped out in faith. We know that we have done everything right in this process, and we know our hearts are in the right place. $150 might seem low-risk, but for us at the end of summer when Michael isn't on regular pay, money is tight. But buying that crib was a commitment. We said to ourselves and God that we are ready. I have a carseat in my car, a crib in our house, a stroller, a bouncy seat, a walker, a tub seat, various baby toiletries, and various clothes from infant to 3T filling drawers and some closet space. We are ready, God. I'm sorry we have done things along the way to prevent your will for our lives from being fulfilled.

My little smile this morning: Michael walked into the front room which is now the nursery - and the cat (Macy Gray) was in the crib. When I went in, I saw that the cat was particularly content and looked up at me as if to say "thanks for the awesome bed". She has a rude awakening in store.

Friday, August 19, 2005

2nd Home Visit Done

[The following is a rant of the Emergency Tamara System. It is only a rant. Should this have been an actual blog, you would have been told where to tune for more substantive and less self-absorbed information. This is only a rant. Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.]

My heart feels very heavy. I've returned to work after crying so much my head hurt. Everything about the home visit went well, except a couple of things that were very uncomfortable - and then when I busted out in tears and couldn't get myself under control and had to get up and go into the bathroom while I left Michael talking with the social worker.

I came home from work and the apartment looked as good as it was going to get for a place in transition with 2 biblioholics (book addicts) living in it. Michael had done a nice job finishing up the cleaning while I was at work this morning. I was glad I was not embarrassed.

12:30 on the dot, M. is at the door. She's nice - professional and friendly. She sits on the sofa and asks us about things in our paperwork she notices. She asks us about whether we were still seeing counselors. We had been to marriage counseling - M. asks why and I talked about the major transitions we'd gone through with each of us moving from different states and being newlyweds, and dealing with infertility issues. She asks me about my medication for depression, and if I still take it. Yes. I'm doing great. I'm not seeing a counselor, because the depression stems from the PCOS and marital stress over things I will just have to learn to put up with better, not things I can't deal with. She asks about the infertility, and how we've handled it. I suppress the urge to bust out with a sarcastic remark like, "Oh, it's been great. We held a party to celebrate." It's sucked. Of course it has. And no, I didn't handle it well. (I've yet to meet someone who has besides my husband who was completely unaffected by the news because he never pictured his life with children in the first place.) But I come up with a more sensitive and appropriate response.

She asks me about my mom's recent diagnosis with breast cancer, and how I've been handling that. Again, the sarcastic demon inside me wants to cock my head to the side, grin, and say, "Oh, just peachy. I was so thrilled to learn that not only had my gradmother had cancer and a mastectomy at the age of 71, my mother now had breast cancer at 57, and I was probably going to get it too. I am just so excited, and can hardly wait." But I am a good girl. I explain that she had finished radiation and was now on long-term care taking Tamoxifen and recovering as well as could be expected. I explain that I have had my first mamogram, and while that wasn't pleasant, that all was well with me in that department...for now.

She moves on to Michael. She asks him about his seeing a counselor. He says he still is. She asks what for. He responds as vaguely as humanly possible (which is how he would respond to anyone including me, not just her) with something like "Mainly about handling stress and anxiety." Umm hmm. She doesn't push very much, and then (I saw it coming like a freight train) she asks, "It says here that you've attempted suicide. Can you tell me about that?"
I feel my heart in my chest just pounding. I feel the heat rising from my toes up through my gut and into my neck. I feel the choking sensation like I'm being softly strangled, yet not truly suffocated. The whole conversation becomes surreal. The words M. speaks become muffled. I try to tune out. Michael answers, "Yes, May 2004...I think, yeah. Um, it was a reaction to stress...a stupid reaction and a mistake. But I was okay. I drove myself to the hospital and I was okay." He stopped suddenly with his answer. Michael does not offer details to anyone. That's just how he is. I've learned to keep asking questions until I either a) get the information I'm seeking, or b) irritate him so much that the conversation turns sour and one of us abandons the conversation altogether. Most things make Michael uncomfortable. It's something he's dealt with his entire life. Everything from trying new foods, meeting new people, kissing, sex, and mere conversation make him uneasy. I used to treat him with kid gloves, then I learned I was just playing into his helplessness routine and not helping him grow. So, I started to treat him just like I treat others. I figured he would either grow or die like any other living thing. He has not fared well with how I've changed as a result of being around his mopey attitude and how disappointed I've been with our lack of friends (the going out as well as the meeting new people thing - more discomfort) and social network.

I begin to think we've made a huge mistake. Thoughts come into my head like, "See. You should never have done this. Michael can't handle it, and you can't handle him. How in the world is someone who attempted suicide 2 months after he married you supposed to care for a child and survive to tell about it?" "We're never going to get approved. We've wasted our time. Michael's ultimate selfishness has killed your only chance of ever having children. We could never do private adoption because they'd never approve us as parents. How could he have done this to me?"

But we move on. M. asks us about changing a child's name. She says that our teacher told her that we were particularly vocal in class about changing a child's name (Fantasy, Precious, and Heaven, and Prince were some examples she gave of children she's placed in foster care recently). I turn to Michael to answer that question since he is the one who had so many problems with that section of the class. His answer is curt (in my opinion), but then again, my perception is probably way off base at this point. I attempt to answer that we feel a child has a right to have a name that will not negatively impact his/her chances of success in life. "Precious" is not likely to hold political office, be a professor or Dean, or be seriously considered for college admissions - all because of her name. It will be assumed she comes from an uneducated family, and perhaps that she is a racial minority. I hope I answered correctly. M. asks if we would refuse a child on the basis of their name being odd. We try to say "no", while remaining honest that we would change the name after adoption and try to keep as much of their original name as possible. The discussion seemed very uncomfortable.

M. asks about religion, and that she read in our paperwork that we had written it would be hard to care for a child of a different religion. She reminds us that after adoption that would be our right to teach our child any religion we wanted. We remain steadfast in our position that any child in foster care would go to church with us. She says that she has never has a birth parent say a child could not attend religions services, but that it is always a possibility. We say that if that were a problem, we could attend separate services at church and pass the child off between the two of us so the child did not have to attend services. Honestly, I do not know how long I could tolerate that. I'm shaken. I'm thinking "Strike 3".

About finished with the questions, something wells up within me. I ask if I can clarify something about Michael's suicide attempt. She says "sure" and Michael looks at me like he's scared out of his wits (which is pretty common). I want to assure her he's okay. I start to speak, but the tears just start to stream down my face - hot tears that feel much hotter than your body temperature, and they sting my eyes. I can feel my chest is red hot. I'm shaking. Michael tries to put his arm around me to comfort me, but in that moment I hate him and don't want him to touch me (but I wasn't going to say that in front of the nice social worker). M. says its okay, that she knows it's hard and that it happened so recently. I hear "recently" and I think to myself "that's it, we're screwed". I almost say this: "You know M., I appreciate your time, but it's clear that we are not emotionally stable enough as a couple to parent any child. Thank you for your time. I'm sorry you had to come out here to learn this. I don't think being foster parents is right for us." But I didn't. I couldn't speak. I had to get up and go into the bathroom. I was so embarrassed, and I'm sure Michael was as well.

I got myself together and apologized to M. I felt it was over at that point. There goes your one chance to have a family, you stupid psycho. I explained to M. that what I really wanted to say was that I didn't want her to think that Michael was going to kill himself at any moment. I assured her that he sees a counselor, and that he has been to a psychiatrist, and they agree that he is okay and doesn't need medication (okay - that part wasn't entirely true. The psychiatrist prescribed him Wellbutrin, which he refused to take after coming home and telling me he didn't think he needed it. I guess now he's a psychiatrist, too.) In his defense, he did not think the psychiatrist was very professional, and that she asked him no less than 5 times in the 50 minute introductory meeting if he drank. He said he kept thinking, "I just told you 5 minutes ago that I don't drink - why are you asking me again?" So, I allowed Michael to decide on his own that he did not need medication for depression/anxiety. He tries to handle things on his own, and for the most part I try to give him his space. Regrettably, 15 months later, I still have nightmare about once a month about coming home and finding him dead. When he works late at night and doesn't come to bed, I often wake up to find he's still not in bed at 1 am - and I get up to see if he's still alive. In fits of anger, he's taken off to "go for a drive". Each time, I was convinced he would not come back alive, yet I went to sleep. I remember one of the most hurtful things he said to me when I confronted him about how selfish suicide was - I had told him he would have left me with nothing - the life insurance would not pay anything for suicide. I'd have had nothing - and I'd already quit my job in GA and had no job in KY where I was supposed to move to in a month. He looked right at me, and angrily retorted that I'd have gotten his retirement account money. Again, in that moment, I hated him.

After we finished the questions from M., I took her on a "tour" of our apartment. I made note that we had locked boxes for our medication, first aid kits, and child safety kits to install on the cabinets. I showed her the room that is becoming the nursery, and she seemed glad that we had already acquired things like a stroller and car seat. I even opened the closet and showed her some of the cute clothes I had bought. She seemed pleased with the room for the baby. We told her that a crib and mattress is being delivered tomorrow (yes - more good news - we found someone local who was selling a set and we decided to go ahead and buy one - for $150, not bad I figured).

She told us that once she writes up our report, which may take her a week or so (I was impressed that she said she can get it written up so quickly) - we could have our first placement in.....are you ready?? TWO to FOUR WEEKS. Gulp. Um, okay. Great. I wanted to ask: Does that mean the whole suicide and medication and crying thing won't be the coup de grace for us? She said we still might need to get letters from counselors we've seen stating that we are emotionally healthy enough to parent a child. (You know, they should require that before everyone is allowed to have a biological child). It feels unfair. I feel invaded, naked, and small.

It's 1:45 when she leaves. Michael wants to hug me. I back away, and tell him I can't do that right now. I sit on the bed, and cry. I want to crawl into bed and sleep the rest of the night. I want to play helpless and defeated. I want to feel sorry for myself. I want to yell at Michael. I want him to hurt like I do because of what he did to me 15 months ago. I want to stop being reminded about it, and never speak of it again. He sits on the bed next to me. I get up and tell him that he has screwed up my life in so many ways. I tell him that I'm tired of all these things that he has done coming back to haunt me and remind me of how selfish he has been (like the friend who wants to come over and see wedding pictures - and i keep putting her off because we didn't have a photographer because Michael didn't want one, and I couldn't afford to get one myself). I feel like I'm reminded daily of how insensitive he is, how he only thinks about himself, and how he acts like a child despite the fact that he's 34, has had a PhD for 3 years now, and is a professor at a major research institution.

I run our of the bedroom, our the door, and down the stairs into my car. I drive to work, and am unable to think. My head hurts. My toes hurt. My colleagues call me for a 3:00 meeting. I had sat at my desk too long and forgotten about it. I went, and people looked at me knowingly, but were kind enough not to ask what was wrong. Several knew that I has just had the second home visit and were probably expecting me to return to work as thrilled as I had left work at noon. I'm glad they didn't ask.

I'm glad it's over. I'm glad M. was nice and seemed to be understanding. I hope if we are approved that she will remain our permanent worker for good. I don't want to go through this again with someone else. I hope she does not think we are both psycho. I really wanted a family - and I saw that flash before my eyes and crash down around me. I lean toward the dramatic, so I need to monitor myself - but it really did feel like a wreck today.

God, please give M. an understanding heart as she writes our report. Help her see us as we are, and what we can be. And please help those last 2 friends who have not returned our references/recommendation paperwork return it! Thank-you God for not letting Michael die 15 months ago. Help me to forgive him, for I feel like I have not done that yet. God, please be with the birth families of the children that we will be caring for and keep them safe. Help us prepare in the weeks ahead to meet them face-to-face in those initial case planning meetings. Help us be vessels of you. Allow us to minister to them. And God, please be with the children who are about to come into our lives. Keep them safe, and lead those who need us into our home. Father, we are so imperfect and so flawed. Yet, we are trying Father. We know we were so rigid that you had to break us in order to re-mold us into what you wanted us to be. Blessed be your name! We "consider it pure joy when [we] face trials of many kinds" because we know that you are developing the perseverance we will need in order to walk the path you have laid out before us. Thank you, God. Amen.

[This has been a rant of the Emergency Tamara System. We now return you to your normal blogging program.]

Afterward to Baby MIA - I want you so much. I will do whatever it takes to make sure you have a great life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Yippie! I just got a call from our new PERMANENT social worker - Melanie. We scheduled our second (and final) home visit for this Friday at 12:30 (yes, 48 hours from now). My heart is about to go through my chest. I never guessed this could happen so quickly after our classes finished - especially since our teacher said it could take a couple of weeks to be assigned a worker, and then time to schedule and get the worker to come out when they have time to fit us in. Wow! Oh my gosh, I can't type fast enough here.

This seems so real, yet so blurry all at the same time.

We really are going to be parents soon - foster parents, but parents nonetheless.

Thank you God!

The Cat Helps Prepare the Nursery

"Daddy To Be" Helps Clean Out For A Nursery

Here's pictures I took of Michael going through things in the closet in the front bedroom to make room for Baby MIA.

Making Room for Baby

These are pictures of just some of the baby accoutrements that I have acquired. Last night I cleaned everything and sanitized it. I also discovered how wonderful Mr. Clean Magic Erasers can be on scuff marks on strollers, high chairs, and walkers - they look brand new now!

It's a tiny room - only 10' by 12', so it will be a challenge. I just can't wait until we can buy our own home and paint and decorate as I would like.

Yesterday, all the carpets got cleaned in the apartment so baby should have no allergy issues (and our should get better as well).

I figured these pictures could serve as good "before" pictures and document the process of making this room into a child's room.

Yes, God is in Control

My blogger-buddy Cindy was reminding herself yesterday that "God is in control". Whether it was her intention or not, she was reminding me (and other readers) as well. I am thankful for that reminder.

In church last Sunday, Pastor Chris made the statement that "God is big enough to take our anger." I hadn't thought about it that way before - He can handle it, hear it, and take it from us. Wow - that's a big God. I have plenty of anger and frustration.

The difference between Cindy and the many deitists out there is that Cindy understands seeking God's will and working for the Lord, and praying to Him about her needs. She doesn't sit back and throw up her hands and sigh "Well, *sigh* God is in control, so there's nothing I can do." Now, she also understands the balance we have in a relationship with God. Relationships are two-way as opposed to the deitist view that God just controls our every move and we have no free will. God allows us to screw up - He anticipates we will screw up. He allows us to experience the consequences of our screw-ups - just like the perfect Dad. He anticipates that our human nature will drive us to want to control everything ourselves and "force" certain outcomes. Sometimes, He lets us have those things we force and allows us to experience the fallout (I think that was my first marriage to a man who was far from being a Christian).

As His children, we should be running to Him daily, shouting "Daddy, daddy, daddy!" I'm sure I don't do that enough.

I love the work that Cindy and Brien have done to allow God's will to be done. I watch the progress on a nursery and playroom - and showed their site to a colleague this morning who has a 4-year old daughter. He was so excited and commented on how much his little girl would adore it. He loved the chalk board and the magnet wall. He loved seeing how much work they had done with NO GUARANTEES. They stepped out in faith. They didn't just stick their toe in the Jordan - they stepped full into the rushing water. Remember, God only promised to still the waters AFTER they had taken the "step of faith" into that rushing water? He didn't calm it first so they could leisurely stroll across. No, they had to jump in and trust that God was in control. And He kept his promise (of course!) because they did as He instructed them to do.

I see Cindy and Brien have a lot of qualities that Noah must have had building the ark. People must have looked at Noah and laughed, or at least talked about him behind his back. They probably talked about his wife too, and snickered about what a fool she was to stay with that crazy ark-building man. Noah built and built and built - and not a storm cloud in sight. Yet he kept right on building. He hammered in the morning and in the evening! And Noah was 600 years old - far too old to be building an ark - what was he thinking? And Noah and his family had to float in that ark for a long, long time with a whole lot of stinky animals. This was much worse than packing up the family dog for a long car trip (and we think that's bad).

But God kept his promise, and Noah was faithful. Noah had to WORK HARD in order for the covenant to be established. Noah couldn't just sit back and watch God do His thing. He hammered! And then - the part I love - God shut them in - He closed the door. God and Noah working together allowed God to be in control, but only through a partnership and relationship with Noah.

The Bible doesn't tell us what Noah thought or felt or experienced - but it does say that "Noah was just a man (Genesis 6:9)". He didn't have any super-powers. I imagine he was exhausted, and got frustrated. He was probably sore and I'll bet he hammered his thumb several times and got splinters and blisters, and sunburned. I imagine he got frustrated with the amount of work he had to do, and how slow the process seemed at times - applying the pitch to the gopher wood and letting to dry so he could move on to the next step. I imagine he wondered why God was asking him to do this. I imagine he was frustrated, and maybe he even got angry. But God fulfilled his promise - He always does.

So, we will keep working and keep praying, and keep reminding ourselves not to do God's job - but to do our part. We'll keep running to our Daddy in heaven. We'll allow ourselves to be his daughter. We'll allow him to meet our needs in His perfect way.

YES! God is in control!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Baby Names

I figured that Baby MIA might like to know what his/her mommy and daddy went through in picking out a name.

Last night, Michael and I sat out on our balcony and relaxed a while. We watched the sun set over the lake, and the hummingbirds come to the feeder. He was reading a book and I had the laptop and was surfing sites with baby names. It very well may have been the perfect evening.

So far, we have agreed on a small number of names we both like. We want Baby MIA to have a name that would be suitable no matter what he/she chooses to do in life.

Here's what we've come up with so far from what I can remember (in no particular order):
Boys: Andrew, Steven, Christian, Jacob, Joshua (for middle names: David, Daniel, Evan)
Girls: Michele, Carolyn, Charlotte, Catherine, Christine, Deborah, Rebekah (for middle names: Ruth, Sarah, Ileana - especially if Baby MIA is of Hispanic ancestry).

Of course, there is always the possibility that Baby MIA will have a beautiful name we both like. But those chances are low considering we went through lists of the "most popular" baby names of 2003, 2004, and of 2005 - and we rejected most of them. The conversation was fun, and it was interesting to hear some of the things Michael liked and didn't like, and why. I learned a lot last night - especially how hard it is to come up with a good name. I guess I should thanks my parents, because "Tamara Sue" really isn't that bad. *grin*

Oh, and the funniest moment was where I was reading to him from a list of the most popular African-American baby name - and Laquinta was on the list. He laughed, and said "Tell me someone did not name their kid LaQuinta". We then decided the other kids would have to be named Sheraton, Ramada, Clarion, Mariott, and Hyatt.

You Can't Hurry Love...

...No, you'll just have to wait. You know, love don't come easy. It's a game of give and take.

How long must I wait? How much more can I take? Before loneliness will cause my heat to break...

Okay, enough Phil Collins.

How long must we wait? Well, now that we've graduated from our classes and been fingerprinted, we are waiting for a call from whomever is assigned to be our permanent social worker. He or she will then come out and do our second home study. Then, they will have a month in which to write it up and we will be fully certified.

We have been told not to expect a placement before then, but to anticipate a child before then just-in-case. It's like a dinner party. You put extra plates out for "unexpected" guests, but if you don't anticipate them, you can't put them out. Okay, that might have been even more confusing.

But on our first home visit, we were told to go ahead and get a car seat and a crib just-in-case the placement happens sooner than we expect. So, we have the carseat now, and have a crib waiting to be picked up from our pastor's house. For the unexpected, but anticipated Baby MIA.

They absolutely cannot do a placement until our fingerprints come back processed. We were told that can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. It seems odd to read about print processing taking months in some states, but I suppose that is the case. We are hoping that while our home study is being written up, the prints will come back processed. If it all happens smoothly (which it may not, as the system is known for), we should be waiting for "The Call" in about a month. If they have a baby that really needs to be placed, and they have our prints back and have done our second home study, but just not finished writing it up, we could have a placement.

So, I know it won't happen until after we finish that second home study. When might that be? Well, we hope to get a call by the end of this week, and then schedule it for next week sometime. Hopefully, by September 2nd it will be completed.

So far, in terms of how long we will have to wait for a placement, we have been told "no clue". It is all a waiting game - for a infant or toddler who might be a good match, and whom they anticipate parental rights being terminated. We will only take children who the social workers at least think have a good chance of coming available for adoption. We know we may have to foster several children before one does. But we also know that foster-to-adopt is much faster than just being on the adoption wait list. We've heard stories of couples on the wait list for 3 or 4 years who finally decided to switch to foster-to-adopt, and had to go through several placements, but who were able to adopt within a year.

My girlfriend Megan is throwing us a baby shower on October 7th down in Columbus, GA where I used to live until a year ago. Some of my old students and colleagues from Columbus State want to help out and celebrate our decision. It feels odd because there is no guarantee, and we know so little. Yet, it feels right to have a baby shower. We are, after all, becoming new parents for the first time - this is a momentous event!

It would be great to have a placement by then, and we could ask permission to take the baby with us for the weekend. But we don't expect that to be the case.

In Tamara's Perfect World, we would get a call after we get home from the shower, or even better - while we are in Georgia and could celebrate with our friends. But that would be assuming the system would suddenly work very quickly - and I'm reluctant to assume anything about the system! Yet, I am also reluctant to limit God. He has just blessed us and blessed us so far in this journey - everywhere I turn around He's providing something else to inform us, or show us answers, or provide for the new child. And he's done it in record time. So far, we have waited for nothing. So far, there haven't been any roadblocks and God's timing has been (as it always is) perfect.

I will, of course, keep folks updated as I hear more about when the Home Study #2 will be. Until then, may God watch over all of us anticipating children - and those children who are anticipating us. It is so humbling to see God's hand in all of this.

God Keeps Providing - in Odd Places

God never promises he will supply for our every whim, but he does tell us he will supply for all our needs. And just like last weekend, God sent me out again on Saturday in order to meet my needs (nad Baby MIA's needs) yet again.

My girlfriend Megan and her sister Erin were in town, and I checked the newspaper for yardsales. Again, I found one yardsale - but I managed to get a bagfull of baby outfits for $17. These weren't just any outfits - many were brand new, and I also managed to pick up 3 more little University of Kentucky baby outfits, and 2 cute hats - one for a boy and one for a girl. This was the first time that I'd bought something gender-specific, but I figured at that price I could give it to a friend who happened to be fostering a child of a different gender. Fifteen minutes was all it took for us to find our bargains, and from there we went on to one of our favorite places - Salvation Army.

Now, Megan and Erin and I have started a kind of tradition of going to thrift stores. But we don't just go to any re-sale store. We only go to really, really cheap ones. Erin is a neat young woman - 21 years old with hair about in just about as many colors - eyebrow piercing, tattoo, and a wardrobe that defies description. Upon arrival at my house, she was wearing old jeans and an "I'm a Pepper" t-shirt. She gets most of her t-shirts from Goodwill - for around $1. I dig that about her.

At Salvation Army, we are mainly looking for ourselves, though I can't help looking at baby items. I notice nice, neat racks of cute outfits marked at $1.99 each. This was more than I had spent per outfit at the yard sale, so I was content with my purchases.

We were inspired (by God) to go to lunch at a restaurant that is even further out of our way. On the way there, we passed a brand-new Goodwill store. I commented that I needed to go there sometime and check it out, but we had lunch on the brain. On the way back, I asked Megan and Erin if it would be OK to "just check it out for a minute". Well, I'm so glad God led us there. In the back of the store were 5 enormous bins. Each bin was approximately 3.5 feet deep (high), by 4 feet wide/long. These bins were the size of bin you find at Wal-Mart full of cheap DVDs in the middle of the isle. But these 5 bins all held infant and toddler clothes - and each bin was literally overflowing. And all items from infant to 4T were 50 cents. 50 cents!!!

All three of us began excitedly digging through the various bins trying to find "gender neutral" baby outfits. We found a baby pumpkin onezie for Halloween, and Megan pulled out a NY Yankees jersey sized 24 months. I found a little baby Green Bay Packers jacket sized 24 months. So cute! On that first trip, I bought 15 items - $7.50. We would have dug more, but Megan and Erin had to get on the road back to Indiana.

Of course, after we got home and Megan and Erin were about to leave, I still had those bins on the brain, and all the clothes we didn't have a chance to go through. So, I threw the loot I'd already picked up in the washer, and I took off back to the Goodwill after they left. I plowed through more bins, and found brand new Osh Kosh rompers and overalls, and brand new little dresses for girls. I found more pajamas - even Dinosaur pajamas with feet. But the "jackpot" came when I found a little 3T denim jacket - it looked like it had a fur collar, but on closer inspection, I discovered it was reversible so it could be worn as a fur coat with a denim lining, or a denim jacket with a fur lining. Wooo hoooo! I took my loot up front - 21 items - $10.50. Once home, I inspected the fur coat. Inside was a tag indicating it was a genuine fur from Hong Kong - it was a real skin - you could tell by the lining. Oh my goodness - Baby MIA will have a fur coat. How cool is that? I hope the PETA people don't get too upset. It is so soft and cuddly!

I stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home to buy little baby hangers - (aaaawwww). I carefully hung up each little item as it came out of the dryer - everything looked so great - like I'd just bought them brand new.

When Michael came home late Saturday night from Promise Keepers, I proudly showed him the UK gear, and the NY Yankees jersey, and the Green Bay Packers jacket - he especially liked the Packers jacket. He high-fived me in the kitchen - then again when I told him each item was 50 cents. We carefully hung the bounty of clothes in the closet in the front room - I had to grin to see those itty-bitty clothes next to Michael's 2Xs.

Thank-you God for providing for Baby MIA so soon! You are an awesome God.

Oh, How God Provides

Here's the latest "jackpot" story:
We had been praying about how we were going to do everything we were setting out to do (and afford many things). Well, last Saturday I saw an ad for a yard sale around the corner from us. It was the first one I went to at 7 am - and here's what I got:

A like-new Even-flo stroller - a really big "Cadillac" of strollers with double wheels and a basket underneath that you could even use for a small shopping trip

A walker with a tray on it with little things to entertain baby - perfect for putting Cherios on at snack time

A bouncy seat that you can lay baby in - it also has a detatchable activity center that can be used to amuse baby while you need your hands free

A tub seat a toddler can sit in to get a bath - it has a belt to secure baby in the seat for safety, and suction cups on the bottom to keep it secured to the tub.

A high chair in great condition

A baby monitor set with a cordless (portable) receiver you can even take out in the yard with you or carry around the house.

A Snugglie baby carrier (for on your front or back)

A baby gym - the kind you lay on the floor, and has 2 arches with soft things dangling from it

An insulated bottle bag

A quilted shopping car seat pad - very cool invention to keep baby from sitting directly on a germy shopping cart

Several outfits - 2 University of KY baby outfits, a Peter Rabbit onezie, a Baby Gap onezie, a plain white onezie, and a black baby turtleneck

And I got everything for $56. Fifty-six dollars. That is God providing right there! We had to go nowhere else. Everything was in such good condition and so clean, it was incredible. I came home and washed stuff up, and we started moving things around to fit things into the front room.

I need to take pictures real soon, so I can start to document the process.

Next, I have to tell you about the things I found this weekend for Baby MIA.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Pomp and Circumstance

The Pomp...

Last night, along with only 6 other strong-willed individuals, we graduated from our MAPP foster parenting class. It feels like we have been doing this a while, even though in reality it has gone by pretty quickly (a testament to my impatience). It felt good to be done, though I will truly miss the other women that finished the class with us. I figure we will all keep in touch for a while, and probably trade off babysitting days with one another instead of paying a stranger for respite care. One woman and I have already agreed to take turns giving each other a night out away from the kids.

The Circumstance...

On this last momentous night, we finally learned how much reimbursement we will receive from the state. Until that last moment, there was very little mention on money, and no word at all on how much assistance would be provided. We were told what the daily rate was at our first home visit, but we did not disclose this just in case it was some well-guarded secret. I'll disclose it here - we will receive $19.70 per day for an infant - 11 year old. I think for ages 12 and up, the pay is a dollar or so higher per day. We will also be eligible to sign up for WIC, which will help us afford formula, cereal, and baby food. We will be able to request some money to start making the lifebook for the child - and that money will help with buying a scrapbook, film, and film developing. When the child is placed with us, we will receive a voucher to buy $100 worth of clothes for the child (that will not buy much, I'm sure any parent can testify to). If the child is with us longer than 30 days, we will receive another $50 clothing voucher which will be it for the rest of the year. We will be able to be reimbursed for mileage for taking the child to visits with birth family (in lieu of the worker). For birthdays, we will receive $25 to buy the child a gift, and $60 for Christmas gifts. This was more than I expected, and I was relieved for anything that would take some of the hardship out of providing for the children who come into our home.

This is going to be so hard. I know I have no idea how hard it will be.

My husband commented last night that he felt like we had learned all we could - and now, the only way we could possibly learn more would be to go ahead and do it.

When Michael and I were thinking about getting together for the first time to see if we could have a relationship, he would email me and tell me how scared he was about doing it. Honestly, I had doubts as to whether he would be at the airport to meet me the first time I flew to Ohio. He said he had doubts, too - as to whether he had enough in him to get to the airport in one piece mentally. Taking in a foster child, and maybe adopting one must be off the charts for him in terms of fear. In fact, I think it is so frightening to him that instead of being able to feel the fear, he is just numb to it. I've cried about it, and have had second thoughts...and third and fourth ones too. The thoughts are probably more overwhelming to me than the actual reality of a child in our home will be.

So, now we wait. Oh, but I still have to blog about the amazing way the Lord provided for baby MIAs needs already - at a yardsale of all places. More to come on that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ch Ch Ch - Changes

For the first time since starting the process to become pre-adoptive foster parents, I changed something real in my life. For the first time in a long time (maybe never), I turned down work. Not just any work - my favorite kind of work. I turned down an opportunity to teach a second class at the college this semester. Did you hear that - I turned down TEACHING! And not just any class - Interpersonal Communication - my favorite.

Long before we dove head-first into this process, I had been teaching at Lexington Community College (now Bluegrass Community and Technical College). I started there a year ago, teaching 3 sections of Interpersonal Communication as adjunct faculty while I looked for full-time work. After I started full-time here at UK, I still picked up a night class here and there for the extra cash, and some play-time with the students. It was still work, but it was exciting and rewarding work. I miss being a professor - I miss the teaching part of the job. I miss the students - even the ones missing a few cards from their decks.

So, on August 24th, I will begin working 2 jobs again once the semester starts. On Monday and Wednesday evenings, I will leave work and go teach a section of Interpersonal Communication at the community college around the corner from UK. And I will be home by 8. The offer I turned down was to also teach another section on Tuesday nights from 6:30-9:15. I said "no" and explained why. I explained that I wanted to spend time with my child. My child. Baby Missing-in-Action. Baby MIA. Baby MIA will need me more than I need the extra money from teaching the second section, and will need the stimulation of a parent more than I need the stimulation of 25 undergrads. I had already committed to teach the first class - and I believe in honoring your commitments to the best of your abilities. Besides, it is only for 16 weeks, and Michael will be able to pick Baby MIA up from daycare by 5 on those days anyway. From the way it looks, we may only need several hours of childcare each day, and that is very good news. But even though Michael will be home, we may use daycare so he will be free to actually get his writing done. We will see how that goes once we have a placement.

So, I told friends at our class last night about the momentous event. One seemed confused about the magnitude, and the other seemed to readily understand. Ironically, the person who understood the most was the woman coordinating the class schedules who had asked me if I wanted the second section. She commented that she thought I had made a "wise decision considering that a child will soon arrive".

To me, this was an important change. It is a bit of a sacrifice. The extra money would have been nice - especially leading into the holidays. But I might get to give Baby MIA a bath one more night a week, or sing a bedtime song one more night a week. I guess I figured it was worth the sacrifice.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Attack of the Sorority Babes

Subway called my name today for lunch. It was a quick drive from work, but far enough away for me to feel like I had actually left the office.

As I entered, I saw that the line was unusually long...and thin...and blonde...and looked to be about 20 years old. Several of those in line were clad in t-shirts big enough to fit a hampster, with assorted Greek letters. Many of them had on low-rise sweat pants with words across their butts - the most common work was "PINK" (Victoria's Secret, maybe?). There were enough naked bellies in line to form a good Hawaiian dance troupe. Most all of them had blonde hair worn up in a haphazard ponytail. Half of them gabbed on cell phones, and ordered sandwiches over the counter while still remaining on the phone. The other half noisily gabbed about the most popular subject of all - other girls. Several asked each other what they should order - as if seeming to have no opinions of their own. They talked in a whiney and shreechy voice - and up-talked by ending every sentence with a strong, pronounced, rising, questioning inflection:
"I want cucumber (?) and tomato (?) and a large Diet (?)".

I happily ordered my BMT while they ordered things like chicken wraps with cucumber. I grabbed a bag of Fritos and a Mountain Dew Code Red (crack for carb addicts) and happily munched away while observing the foreign sub-culture. I felt very 34, and very plus-size, and very content. I sighed a contented sigh knowing I had never been one of them. And my husband sees them every day in his classes - and wants ME. Wooo hoooo.

As I left lunch, a couple of obvious GDI's walked past my table, and one commented loudly to the other, "Let's get out of here. There's too much Greek here for me."

My thoughts exactly.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Hmm - Cindy suggested I name the baby that will be coming to live with us (as a foster child). I detest the phrase "foster child" - so many negative social stereotypes. I had referred to him/her as "Baby X" (meaning no disrespect - rather - an unknown being). Cindy - I agree - I need a name....Elvis? Hmm. Elvis did have glory days, but met a sad fate. I lived in Memphis - and went to Graceland. I just can't do "Elvis". My husband's initials are MIA. (Yes, missing in action.) And in some ways, a child is missing from our lives. So, I think I'll call him/her MIA. When I lived in Mexico, the father of the family I lived with would hug me and call me "Carina mia" (my dear in Italian). I liked that.

On a more serious note, we talked in our Foster Parenting 101 class about some foster parents calling a child by a name other than it's birth name, or of adoptive parents changing a child's first and/or middle name as well as the child's last name at the time of legal adoption. The assumption was that this practice was mostly wrong. My husband, always the voice of dissent, if for no better reason that a good discussion, raised the question of whether there were times that changing a child's name was in the best interest of the child (and the child's future success). He argued well that your name is the first thing people see on a job application or resume, and the first thing you hear when someone introduces someone. Names carry a lot of meaning. And, like it or not, some heavy social assumptions and stereotypes. I imagine for similar reasons that referring to our child-to-be as "Baby X" doesn't sit well, nether do some other real-life baby names.

Take for example, two real-life children most unfortunately named "Orangejello" (pronounded oar-AHNG-elo) and "Lemonjello" (pronounced (lem-AHNG-elo). If you adopted these two boys, would you change their names? At what age is "too old" to change a child's name? What are the implications of a child carrying that name their entire life? My husband had read a book that recounted a story of a woman who had named her daughter "Temptress" - in an in-fated attempt to name her daughter after "that actress on the Cosby show"....hmm, that would be Tempest - as in storm. Oh boy. One of the leaders of our class said that she re-named the little baby she adopted, because the name was ...get this..."Amanda" - and, in her words, "She didn't look like an Amanda". On the other hand, another little girl she adopted had the birth name "Odyssey" (no, she didn't have a brother named Illiad - though that would have made the story much more interesting). And the woman LOVED that name - thought it was just beautiful. Now, it is unique, no doubt. But trashing "Amanda" (I can't recall what Amanda was re-named, but it was something akin to "Shaquita") and keeping "Odyssey" was an interesting choice. I guess it really is up to each family.

This leads my darling husband to take it one step further. In some ways, he's referring to a tendency in many African-American families to give the children Afro-centric names (that, most of the time, have no African origins whatsoever). He gets to go through life as "Michael", not Leroy, or Te Quan. He gets to send in a resume or apply for a job, or give his name over the phone without assumptions regaring race (and/or social class, intellect, capabilities, etc.) He brought up the recent trend in naming children "Espn" - yes, after the network ESPN. Oh dear. It seems that Mia will likely be getting a new name barring some surprising outcome that a loving mom or social worker saw fit to name the child something that could pass as professional, but zesty enough to carry him/her through a career in professional sports.

The book my husband has been reading is Freakonomics. I saw a blog about the book and the baby naming study here. Fascinating stuff, really. So, it's not the name as much as the parenting. No big shocker there, but it seems the two go hand in hand - you are named "Temptress", and your mother was the kind of woman who would name her child that. See where this goes?

Oh carina Mia, I hope you will not be named Temptress. But if you are, your father and I will love you even so. (He would add: And we will see to it you have a name unfit for an exotic dancer.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

So This Might Take A While

Well, once again in Foster Parenting 101 (or whatever the name of our class is) we have been waiting to be fingerprinted for about 2 weeks. But they are out of "cards" to put our prints on. I'm thinking, "Huh?" **Sigh**

So, maybe next week. A week from tonight is our last class. Then whoever is assigned to be our permanent case worker will call us to schedule our second home study (who knows how long that will take). After the visit, said social worker will have 1 month to write up our report. We are told the social workers are so swamped that everyone has been asking for extensions to get their reports written.

So, at a minimum it looks like it will be 6 weeks before we have final approval. I'm thinking October is a good month to shoot for. Maybe we will have a child placed with us before the holidays anyway. I guess I got carried away with the planning. Michael can tell you that I do things too quickly sometimes. I get excited and I'm off like a shot making plans and dreaming about how things might be. I guess I need to come down to earth a bit.

The foster kittens have been returned to the Humane Society. It's sad to know they won't be there to crawl all over me tonight when I get home. But this does mean I can start to think about setting up a crib in there. The crib bedding has shipped, and I think I've bought all I can buy until I know more. The guest room will probably remain pretty empty until we feel we are closer to placement time. I think I need to take my mind off of baby for a while - which is hard considering we still have 3 classes and a home visit remaining. But I think I might be getting my hopes up a little too early.

I guess we have to keep the apartment clean a while longer - at least until after the second home visit.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Crib Bedding Bought!

Weary from searching for the "perfect" crib bedding for Baby X, Michael and I settled on the set pictured here. I am thrilled with the choice, and can rest knowing it was the best of what I had seen over the last few weeks and trips to Wal Mart, Target, and Babies R Us. I ended up getting this set on ebay for $81 with shipping, and am pretty excited about getting all 9 pieces that coordinate. If Baby X ends up being a girl, she will undoubtedly learn to either love sports, or hate them.

Our pastor and his wife have a crib we can borrow, and we will buy a new crib mattress for it so that the next woman who needs to use it will have a good mattress. It's nice to have folks around who are so willing to help you out.

The foster kittens will be returned to the Humane Society tomorrow and then I can start getting the front bedroom ready for a child. I just wish we weren't renting and then I could really do what I wanted with that space. Oh well, I know it won't be long until we are in a house of our own.

I'll probably hold off on buying much else for now because my little sister, Megan, is throwing us a baby shower down in Columbus, GA. Hurray! I really never expected folks to get this excited over us getting a child who isn't even ours - just a child in our temporary care. But I am glad. Everyone knows we are hoping to adopt a child, and the most important being who knows that is God. Baby X will be our child someday - we don't know where the child is, or if the child has even been born yet. But God had a child for us...someday, somewhere.

I hope Baby X likes baseball!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Observations on Baby Accoutrements

1) Most diaper bags are apparently hideously cutesy and obnoxious. I will not be carrying one of these bags. I will put baby x's diapers and formula in a plastic grocery sac before I carry one of these unsightly baby blue quilted bags with giggling teddy bears. Ugh.

2) There are people on ebay selling USED baby accoutrements - including used baby bottles and used changing pads. And there are people buying these things for darn near what you could pay for a new one. Get a grip people - get thee to a Wal Mart for a new bottle or changing pad. What's next - used disposable diapers? I also saw a bunch of used Diaper Genie's - many claimed to be "like new" or "gently used". Call me crazy, but anything that has once held soiled diapers is neither "like new" or "gently used".

3) Nothing exists anymore that is gender-neural. Bedding is not - it is either blue or pink. You cannot buy anything with a sports theme for a girl because that is in blue. Blankets, bibs, outfits, and even bottles are either pretty pink and frilly or blue with trucks on them. We have decided to buy crib bedding with a sports theme - in blue and white. A girl can play sports too, and the younger she learns that, the better anyway. Women's liberation has clearly not yet hit the nursery.

4) You can drive yourself crazy finding the perfect baby product - no matter what you are looking for. There exists no perfect diaper bag, stroller, or car seat. I also figure you are just as well off to enter Babies R Us wearing a blindfold, point to a stoller, and say to the salesperson, "Ill take that one", and be done with it. I think I have aged 5 years just shopping for a crib. In the end, we will probably end up borrowing one. But the shopping for a mattress has yet to begin.

More random rants later - Tamara