baby development

Monday, July 31, 2006

Open for Advice/Discussion: Getting Your Sex Life Back

I'll be brief.

Let's just assume that someone you know can't seem to get their sex life back after having a baby placed with them for foster care. Let's assume the baby is now 7 months old. Let's assume the baby will NOT sleep in the crib, or sleep through the night. Let's assume baby is now teething and cranky.

How do you manage to have a healthy sex life with a baby?

Please help!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

July Meeting w/ Cookie's SW

This morning R. came by and we chatted briefly. Unfortunatley, there is little to report. But, here's the update:

Biomom is still AWOL. When/if she is ever found, she will be arrested for violating her probation.

Biodad is still sitting pretty enjoying the next nine years behind bars courtesy of the taxpayers of the state of KY. He has not asked for a lawyer to appeal the upcoming TPR.

No court date - because the courts can't assign a date for a TPR hearing when they are unable to serve Biomom. Great. So, because she is still AWOL, the next step is that a special investigator is appointed by the court to document that attempts were made to try to find her. The wait once that happens: another 60 days. At that point, special investigator can file a motion with the court to go ahead with the TPR. There is nothing R. can do except wait for the courts and "the system" to run its course. Which means, there is nothing we can do except wait as well...and pray.

So, this is our new prayer:

Please pray with us that Biomom is found and arrested and sent back to jail.

That sounds harsh, but the longer it takes for her to be found, the more cocaine she can use. The more she uses, the more likely she is to overdose - and possibly die. If you read about cocaine, you learn that overdoses happen because the body gets "used" to the drug, and more and more is needed. But on occasion, the body can shift and suddenly become "resensitized" - and if that happens, the results can be fatal.

We don't want Biomom to die a junkie. I don't want to ever have to tell my daugher that her birth mom killed hersef shooting up. I want her life to be saved. I want a miracle for her. I want healing.

If Biomom is found and taken back to jail, the courts can move forward with TPR. This is the best case all around. If she is never found, not only will it take as much as 6 months to a year longer for us to adopt Cookie, Biomom is more at risk of dying, or getting pregnant again.

I almost got upset this morning when R. left. I felt let down. It felt like everything had come to a stand-still. I hate not making progress - moving forward. Ugh.

Mh husband said it best: "She's not going anywhere, Tam. She's ours. This doesn't change that."

I know, I have to keep my faith. So much of this is a "done deal". We are very fortunate. We have a lovely daughter who is healthy and happy (when her new emerging teeth aren't making her mad), who learns so fast, and is loved by so many.

In other news, Cookie is now crawling over to the sofa and climbing up to a standing position all by herself now. It is fabulous and scary.

On the teething front, I tried the teething tablets, and nothing changed. She sounded so congested and was coughing, so Michael went ahead and took her to the pediatrician. We figured it was best - and it's not like it costs us anything anyway - better to be proactive we figure. I'll report tomorrow if there's anything other than teething to report. I imagine the doctor will tell us we're worrying too much - but you never know. Ear infections have picked up at daycare - that's one we don't want to re-visit again - been there, done that - not fun either.

On the mental health front, I'm hanging in there. You all - I gotta tell ya, it was absolutely wonderful to get all of you r encouraging notes and comments - it truly does make a difference to know you're not alone, not going crazy - and that what you are feeling is perfectly normal. So often, we try to be all things to all people, and drive ourselves crazy. We can't. There's no way.

So, I spent the best $80 I have ever spent in my life and hired someone to do housecleaning for me. When I got home from work on Tuesday, it was near spotless. We still have stacks of things to put away, but the cleanliness was a powerful lifesaver. I highly recommend it. It was like I was somehow cleansed too - and I was so inspired that I cleaned off the island in the kitchen as well as the baker's rack, and I have now taken pictures of about 50 pieces of baby clothes to either ebay or cheapcycle. In 2 more weeks, my angel of a housekeeper will return and do it all again. I hope she never leaves. I am in love already. I wish I hadn't waited so long. On a funny note, hubby's bathroom was so clean, it did not smell like funky-guy. She had even cleaned the soap dishes and ceramic liquid hand-soap dispensers so they sparkled. Wowzers. Worth every penny.

We have to protect our sanity - we parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and parents-to-be. If we don't, we aren't doing anyone any good - we may THINK we are, but we aren't.

Oh, and I got a call for an interview for another job. It made me feel fabulous. One day I am going to hand in my 1-month notice here. It will feel great. Until then, I am fantasizing about it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On The Edge

Before you read further, please know I love this little girl - I do. I don't wish her gone for anything in the world. But sometimes it is hard. This is one of those times. It's worth noting that this is not all sunshine and roses, fireworks, and pink flamingos.

Last night I came home from another day of "torrential rains and wind" at the office. My brother-in-law is in town, and has been here since Saturday. His presence is actually very nice - he's a calm person who doens't get bent out of shape easily, and he seems to like me (who wouldn't like that?).

Cookie had a pretty bad day at day care. They can't give her Tylenol Cold for babies without a doctor's letter, so they had to call Michael to come give it to her. By the time I got home, her eyes were puffy and she looked pasty white. Her linbs were cold, and she had some remnants of a green vegetable crusted in one eyebrow. Her nose was red and runny, and she looked sad and tired. She was whining and crying, and not her usual self. I tried to hold her, but the fussiness was overwhelming by 6:30.

I decided to do the evening meal and bathtime 1 hour earlier. I put her in her highchair and tried to feed her some sweet potatoes and turkey (one of her favorites). It was a struggle to get 1/2 of the jar into her before the crying started back up again. Then, I undressed a crying child and with her in one arm, I got the baby tub into the sink, filled it, and stuck her into it. By this time, the hubby had gotten up off the sofa from watching TV in the next room to come over and kiss my cheek and say "I love you." This would normally be nice, but it pissed me off. I need some help, not sentiment. Sorry, it sounds demanding, but honestly, that was not the time to be touchy-feely. Pitch in and get some work done, then I'll feel loved. But he and his brother were doing what they do best - sitting and watching Sports Center on ESPN and alternating flipping between other odd things that guys watch.

Cookie's contentment with the bath didn't last long, and I asked hubby to go get me a full-fized towel from upstairs as the baby-towels just aren't cutting it these days. He got her wrapped up and tried to sit on the sofa with naked baby in a towel, but she protested and he took her upstairs to dress her.

I sat in the rocking chair in the livingroom and he brought her back downstairs to me all clean. I fed her a bottle, and she seemed okay, but as soon as she was done eating, the crying resumed. We gave her more medicine - still no relief. Her nose was running so much and she would sneeze and vast amounts of snot would fly everywhere - yet she refused to let me wipe her nose, thrashing about like I was trying to strangle her. My BIL tried to hold her, hubby tried to hold her, but nothing really worked.

All this time, I have gotten out frames and pictures and her lifebook to try to get some work done on it in time for our monthly visit with the social worker at the end of the month. I wasn't feeling it, but it needed to get done, and when the heck was I suposed to do it? Working in the cramped and messy livingroom with 2 other people and a fussy baby was more than I could take, so I gave the baby to hubby and went into the kitchen to make a late dinner.

I cooked up lots of spagetti and meat sauce with fresh mushrooms and onion, and it smelled great. But by the time I finished cooking, my feet hurt so bad and I was exhausted. I took crying baby upstairs to lie down in the bed with her so maybe she would sleep. It did not work. I sang to her, I petted her head and back - but all she did was cry and try to climb over top of me to get out of bed. She flailed her arms and legs, smacking me for all she was worth. Tears and saliva and mucus were flying everywhere along with whatever formula I tried to get her to drink. It was an awful fight.

I had to pee, so I put her in her crib and raised the bar. I sat in the bathroom and heard her scream at the top of her lungs. I finished my business and continued to sit on the commode while she screamed. Hubby apparently didn't think to come upstairs to see if maybe something was wrong. I finally came out and scooped her up and held her, and she fell asleep in my arms - or so I thought. Upon placing her in bed, she resumed crying and thrashing. I wrapped her in a soft blanket, and waited and waited and waited and finally she cried herself out and put her head down and fell asleep. I didn't want to risk disturbing her by putting her in the crib, so I placed pillows all around her and on the floor beside the bed just in case she rolled off.

By the time I staggered downstairs, the food I had cooked was cold, but at least hubby and BIL had gotten a chance to eat. My patience was gone, but I pasted on a smile, got a plate, and ate amicably in the livingroom while the two guys watched TV. When I was finished, I reminded hubby that the new cleaning lady was coming tomorrow and he needed to pick up in order for her to be able to clean. He said he would to it "later on tonight". Fine. I went upstairs and crawled into bed with the now-sleeping baby. The time was - 11:30. At 1:30 or so, hubby finally comes upstairs to bed. By 2:30, baby woke up screaming and crying again. He attempts to feed her, but tries to do so while still lying down, and it only makes the baby more mad - so I take over. She screams and screams.

Finally, at 3am, I grab the Ora-Gel swabs. She hates them - loathes them. But I was desperate. Hubby snored through all of this. I struggled to even get her mouth open, and I feared I was hurting her. My head was pounding and I longed for peace. She kicked and flailed and arched her back so hard she was hurting me. Finally I was able to pry her mouth open and swab her mouth and she screamed harder than she does when she gets her shots. It was awful. Hubby, who had been sleeping 1 ft. away finally woke up and asked if I wanted him to take her downstairs. My reply, "I'm awake NOW!". That was the truth. I wake up every morning at 6:15. I leave every morning at 7:45. 9 times out of ten he is fast asleep in bed with the baby when I leave. Most often he never even acknowledges me in the mornings. That's just how it is. Sometimes I even feed and change her while he sleeps in, and I lay her back down in bed next to him. Must be nice.

So, I have swabbed the baby's mouth, hubby has rolled back over to go to sleep. I sat in the bed, stairing straight ahead and cradling a screaming baby in my arms. The screaming would subside, then return, subside, then return. She refuses a bottle. It is awful. I stared straight ahead into the darkness outside. I thought about getting in the car and going for a drive in the dark - alone. I wanted to be alone so badly. I wanted the crying to stop.

I thought about birth parents there in the dark - and how I understood how easy it would be for someone with less control, less education, and fewer resources - to...well, go over the edge. How quickly a birth parent must react and hit a baby, or shake a baby in frustration. How quickly it must happen. For a moment, a voice in my head told me to get away. I didn't fear hurting her, but I feared in general. I feared what this was doing to me. So, I stood up, scooped her up, and set her in her crib - still screaming. I placed her on her back and walked away. I ran into the bathroom, turned in a little light and the fan, and sat on the commode with my pants down - as if to use said commode. But I didn't have to go. I just sat there. And I cried. I sobbed and sobbed there in the dimlly-lit bathroom with only the shower light and the moonlight beaming through the window over the toilet. The fan could not drown out the screaming, but it helped blurr it into a fuzzy shrill screeching.

I said in a frantic whisper to God, "This child isn't even mine! Why must I have to endure this for someone else's child?"

Injustice is my weakness. When I am tired and weak, I smell injustices like a Bloodhound tracking a criminal.

I do not know how long I sat on the commode sobbing. I do know that everything hurt. I did not worry about the baby. I did not worry about the hubby. I worried about me. I felt myself cross over the edge a bit too much, and I was worried.

Finally, I heard only the hum of the bathroom fan. I got up and washed my hands and turned out the light and ventured back into the bedroom. Hubby was asleep on his back with a sleeping baby on top of him. I sat on the edge of the bed and tried to stop crying. Hubby asked if I was okay, and I refused to answer.

I know I fell asleep sometime because at 6:15 the alarm went off. I laid there for an hour before finally getting up to get dressed for work. I was half an hour late. I look pretty wiped out. I don't want to do anything. I just want some silence.

Some woman is supposed to come to the house today to clean. The problem is, I have no idea how she can clean well with so much crap all over the floors and counters - its just everywhere - our crap, baby crap. Its endless. I am hoping that hiring someone to clean will take away some of my stress. I wish there was some way I could do the same with work.

15 minutes 'til lunch break. I leave early to go to the dentist today (after a 2 hour meeting). Good Lord, all this and the dentist too. Maybe I could just have a root canal.

Monday, July 24, 2006

So THAT'S What "Cutting a Tooth" Means

You know how you think you've experienced something, and yet once you experience the real thing you decide you had actually NEVER experienced it at all?

For example, I thought I had seen snow when I lived in Memphis, TN. THEN I moved to Denver, CO. Nope, I had never actually seen snow.

I had thought I had made love before. THEN I met my husband. Nope, I had never actually made love before.

Well, there have been times when I thought Cookie was teething. THEN the weekend came. Nope, I had never actually seen teething.

Sweet mercy, we have a tooth poking through. Two teeny sharp points are sticking up through her bottom gum-line, and it looks like it is cut.

Oh, did I mention she is MAD? Did I mention the tears? Did I mention the irritability? Did I mention I have not really slept in two nights?

Did I mention she is MAD? :)

I am learning, Dear Lord, I am learning. Give me the strength to survive Cookie's teeth coming in. THIS is a challenge. THIS is what being a parent is. NOBODY can prepare you for this.

I did find something that worked a bit:

On the way home from an arena football game we stopped at Dairy Queen and I got a vanilla ice cream cone - plain old vanilla. Cookie was crying, as the game no longer served to distract her AND she was in her car seat AND she hurt - the hat trick of baby pain. So I offered her my ice cream cone. Rosebud lips surrounded as much ice cream as possible and my baby girl had white ice cream moustache and goatee, but she was happy. The cool sweet creamy goodness was too much - she begged for more and more. Dairy Queen is the best medicine. I knew it all along, I really did. I've known it for years, really.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Happy Cookie

Ok, ya'll - this is the face of joy. Cookie loves to stand up (with a little help) so much - check out the "shout of joy" to the right. This is the look we now get all the time.

Oh, and check out an exhausted daddy racked out behind her in the picture above. This job is hard work!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Happy 7 Month Birthday, Sugar Cookie!

Well, my Cookie, you are 7 months old today!

Your current nicknames are: Boo (that's what your daddy calls you), Cookie (mommy's nickname for you), and S'muffin (what your Gramma on daddy's side calls you). The "new" name we chose for you (and do call you) is Mia Elizabeth. Most of the time I call you "Mia Cookie". You seem to like that.

You are wearing clothes for a 9 month old now, and some outfits for a 12 month old. You don't miss meals, and you love sitting in your high chair and making "artwork" on the tray with your fingers and little splatters of sweet potato or carrot.

As for food, you haven't yet figured out the pincer grasp, but you do like playing with tiny bits of food, and sometimes you do manage to get things into your mouth using your fist. You really enjoyed making a soggy mess out of a Biter Biscuit cookie the other day. It was fun to watch you suck and gnaw on it until it was soggy and sticky. I had to give you a bath afterwards because the brown pasty cookie goo had hardened all over your face and arms like plaster.

You still don't sleep through the night, but your mommy and daddy might be to blame for that. When you wake up wet or stinky, we change you. And when you're hungry or thirsty, we give you a warm bottle. You still get to sleep between us in the bed. Sometimes I wonder if you like us, or the high thread-count sheets and Ralph Lauren comforter. We pray for the day you will sleep in your own bed and sleep through the night.

You are crawling so fast now, and are learning how to use your hands to pull yourself up onto things. Your favorite thing to crawl on and climb is your daddy. If he is sitting on the floor or lying on the bed, you have to go over to him and pull yourself up so you are "standing" next to him and supporting yourself by holding on to his tummy or shoulders. You do it to me sometimes, but I think daddy makes a better mountain.

Your favorite toys are books, and your little piano table that makes noises and tells stories. You love things that make noise, and you love slapping the big piano keys that light up and make sounds. You also love your rubber duckies and plastic fishies, though you still like chewing on them more than floating them. You have now learned how to pull yourself up to a standing/squating position in your bathtub, so soon we will have to retire the baby bathtub.

You still don't have any teeth, and no signs of them either - I wonder when they will come in? Hopefully, it won't be too painful for you (or traumatic for us).

It's been 5 months now since you've seen your Birthmom. I wonder sometimes if she looks like you, or looked like you when she was a baby. I will try to get you pictures, but it will be very, very difficult. I may never be able to get anything for you related to your birth parents. I'm sorry they have so many problems. I'm glad your mom chose to give birth to you, and I'm glad you were healthy.

Your daddy and I love you so much, and we love singing to you, and playing, and talking with you. We can't imagine life without you, and its hard to remember what our life was like without you in it.

On this day, your 7 month birthday, we are still waiting for a court date where the judge will decide if your birth parents will get any more chances. We think that date will probably be in September. If that happens, we will move forward on plans to adopt you. In a way, I'm glad you won't remember any of this - visits with social workers, your daddy and I talking about "what ifs", and the times I stress about how long it all takes. We pray the court date comes soon, because you deserve a permanent family and a life that doesn't have to be inspected by social workers every month.

We love you, Mia Elizabeth. We are so blessed to have you as our daughter.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Little UK Fan

I have to post this - otherwise, I might explode. You understand.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lifebook Entry: Cookie's Favorite Things

This Little Piggy:
I play this game with her most every day, and from the first time, she loved it. As I start with "This little piggie went to market", I take her pinky toe between my thumb and forefinger, and she looks at it, and then up at me and smiles. With the second piggie staying home, she does the same. Then magic happens. For some reason, when I get to "This little piggie had roast beef", I put lots of happy empahsis on the words roast beef, like that is the most marvelous thing ever. I mean, who isn't excited about roast beef? Well, it is on the words "roast beef" that she looks up at me and starts grinning and then laughing. Maybe it's my inflection, or maybe roast beef is just plain funny. Either way, it's fascinating to watch her anticipate what's about to happen with the piggies.

You Are My Sunshine:
Apparently this song is aural Nytol for Cookie. If she's slightly fussy, or trying desperately to find her "sweet spot" in the bed, one or two rounds of the song "You Are My Sunshine" and her head hits the bed or my shoulder and she is out like a light. Plus, the end of the song has always been bitter-sweet for me: "please don't take my sunshine away".

Bathtub Duckies:
I had a set of rubber duckies that my mom had bought for me (yes, as an adult). It is a big momma/daddy duck (I cannot tell duck-gender) and 3 little baby duckies. Cookie loves having these in the tub and I take them and make them slide down the incline on her baby tub now that she sits in the "big kid" side sitting up and the incline is in front of her. The other night, she was able to get one baby duck head into her mouth and one in each fist while splashing the water. What a sight she was. I think she was just thrilled that she was able to hold all three at once.

Puffy is either a stuffed dinosaur or a dragon - we can't really tell. But he is cute and very soft and cuddly - a Baby Gund I think. He is also multi-colored, and apparently rather tasty. I named him Puffy because of Puff the Magic Dragon - then it was Puff Diddy, and then just Puffy. Cookie loves Puffy - it was her first stuffed animal - given to us by Julie at church one Sunday. To this day, Puffy is quite comforting. Cookie likes to chew on his snout.

Daddy's Laptop:
Nope, this isn't the name of a new kids's toy, but I swear if I had the know-how, I'd design and market one and make a killing. See, whenever Michael has his laptop on in bed, Cookie has to be right there. She will crawl over anything in order to get right under Michael's arm so she can "rake" at the keys on the keyboard and put her hands on the screen. If he tries to stop her, she whines - loudly. I had tried to distract her with toys, books, or anything else I can think of - but all she wants is to play with the laptop. She has good taste - it is a large screen Dell, after all.

Pizza Crust:
I'm not going to win "Mommy of the Year" with this admission. I'm bound to get emails warning me about nutrition as well as choking hazzards. But I promise, I'm in control here people. See, we like pizza from a place in town called "Brooklyn Pizza. It is darn good thin crust. The first time we had it since having Cookie here, she grabbed it out of my hand and crammed it into her mouth. Despite having marinara in her mouth, she thought it was rather tasty. Now, when we have it, she looks forward to getting the crust to chew on like a biter (teething) biscuit. Cookie has no teeth, but the girl sure can make short work of a pizza crust. The other night I gave her a pretty long piece of crust, and she chewed and chewed and sucked on it until it was good and soggy, and while she was sitting on my lap she managed to polish off half of that piece of crust. Apparently, we have a young Brooklyn Pizza fan on our hands.

More to come...


James 2:1 says,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

This is one of the best descriptions of that passage I've seen:

If you are going through a trial right now, I invite you to take a look. It helped me today.

And please stop by Dad's Highway, and say a prayer for Jeremy and Nicole, and Anna who are going through hell right now after the lies of others took their foster son away - after he had been with them since birth - for the first year of his life.

Our prayers are with you, friends. How you will find joy in this, I do not know. Fall upon Him. Trust that joy WILL come in the morning. I am so sorry.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Best Weekend Ever

This weekend we used respite care for the first time, and took off for a romantic weekend in Atlanta.

Since I am a pimp-ette, I managed to get us a suite on Priceline for $55 a night. The suite was remodeled, with a king bed with all down bedding and a big TV in the wall (bedroom sectioned off with pretty double french doors), a stand-up marble shower separate from the tub area, and a big livingroom with a flat screen TV, sofa, desk, hs internet, and ergonomic office chair, bar area with sink, fridge, microwave - just lovely all around. We put the room to good use, and discovered that we are still quite fond of each other. Blushy

We had Chinese takeout in the room on the first night, and lunch at the Cheesecake factory the next day.

Sunday night was a Jamie Cullum concert in beautiful Chastain Park Ampitheatre. If you like jazz/funk and great piano, or Harry Conick, Jr. - check out Jamie Cullum. Start with Twentysomething before you buy the latest Catching Tales. He's absolutely phenomenal. Sexy - voice, instrumentals, and all.

Post-concert we watched TV in our sumptuous hotel room and snacked on popcorn and other assorted junk food before crashing for the night.

Before bed, Michael told me that he had been trying not to say something all weekend, but that he missed his Boo (his nickname for Cookie). I said I had missed her too. We loved getting re-acquainted with each other on a grown-up and intimate level, but we really did want to get back home and cuddle in bed with our baby girl.

It was a fabulous weekend. I am ever so glad we took it. I had several moments during this past weekend that confirmed to me that Michael and I would be together for a very long time. You might ask, "Didn't you know that when you got married?" Sadly, I wasn't so sure. He wasn't either. His fear and my insecurities were enough to destroy even the best intentions. It's funny - we've both gained a lot of weight in these past 2 years, and we are more tired and look more than two years older, but we find each other incredibly sexy - alluring even. And we enjoyed conversation about everything under the sun - except the baby and foster care and adoption. We talked about politics, the illegal immigration problem, jobs and careers, what we wanted to do with parts of the house, future trips we might take, and things we'd like to do in the future. We did not argue or fight, and neither of us sulked. It was wonderful.

Cookie did well without us - and her respite care foster-mom said she even slept through the night (WT...??). Cookie was thrilled to see us yesterday when we walked into her daycare room to pick her up. We got big huge grins and baby-hugs, and gave her lots of kisses.

We presented her with the gifts we bought her at the ESPN zone - two outfits - one says "I watch ESPN with my daddy" and the other one is pink and says "You can't spell Princess without ESPN". I love them! This morning she wore the first one to daycare, and looked so cute - though it i sized at 12 months, it was only a tiny bit loose on her.

As for accomplishments - Cookie crawled for the first time yesterday on all hands and knees. She is so excited to be so mobile, but it frustrates her that we take away so many objects that she grabs and tries to put in her mouth. I swear, her first word is probably going to be "Nasty" because that's what I say when I pull something away or out of her mouth - "No, no sweetie, that's nasty. Eeeeew, nasty. We don't eat shoes...nasty."

So, I'm back at work today, looking at mounds of paperwork, and blogging. What else do you expect me to do?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Privacy and Blogging

Pyjama Mama writes...

When you make the decision to author a public blog, are you giving up your right to privacy? Does the act of blogging make it the public’s right to know every intricate detail about what you do? Does the fact that you have a public blog give anyone the right to dive into your personal past or history, simply because you own a public means of expression?
Where is the line drawn?

OK, sweetie, I'm game.

When I started this blog over a year ago, it was for reasons that are less than happy. I was a newlywed in my first ever interracial relationship with a man who was extremely different from me, and (to get down to brass tacks) my marriage was failing. I was also diagnosed with PCOS and faced infertility head-on. I knew about blogging, and had seen a fair share of them, but hadn't made the commitment. That all changed when I put up my first few posts and realized that the catharsis I felt and the realization that I had a public voice that was different than any voice I previously had was enough to motivate me to continue.

In short, it is my position that I only give up my right to privacy to the extent that I choose to. For example, on this blog I began by using my first name only - my real first name, and my husband's real first name. I also used our real city. Had I been blogging about more unscrupulous, illegal, or immoral things I might have considered pseudonyms.

I only recently put up a picture of myself (and my baby) in my profile. That was my choice - a going more public, if you will. Some folks have advised me that putting up pictures of your foster children in your blog is something you should not do. I agree - to an extent. Children have to be protected because they cannot defend themselves. In the line of work that I do, we refer to children as a "vulnerable population". So, I have never used my child's real name. I haev disclosed the name we plan to give to her once the adoption is final - but her birth name is something that only our close friends and family know. I do not reveal the identity of her birth parents, though by the actions they have chosen, and their continued behavior, the law sees to it that they are registered and quite public. Again, a matter of choice. I've talked to social workers about it, and they know about my blog. They also know I will protect my child.

But this all seems to beg the question of wether we really have privacy to begin with, and wether the protection of privacy is inherently a right (and wether our country truly protects that right as much as the rhetoric reflects). I would answer "no" to all of the above, for reasons that I'd just rather not go into here (again, choice - if I don't want to tell something, I don't have to. Folks can ask, and I can also choose to remain silent - ah ha - another basic"right" - to remain silent.)

Interpersonally, I would much rather people ask me something than to speculate, or talk about me behind my back. For example, I have much more respect for individuals who ask me about my interracial marriage and discrimination and the impact it has had on my family of origin, than those who whisper with hands cupped over their mouths while staring at my husband and I and our lilly-white child. I am happy to talk about tough issues - even those that are personal. I am not at all uncomfortable in telling someone that I prefer not to talk about something - their asking does not offend me.

Case in point, when we tell people that we are adopting, many times they will ask, "Oh, are you two unable to have biological chidren?" It's a logical question, I think. There are lots of reasons folks adopt, and frankly this one is the biggie. It also opens up the discussion. See, I never know why folks ask the questions they do - but many times I find that if I worry less about my privacy and think more about the possibilities for forming a community, I am less offended. I never know if that person might also be infertile and trying to consider his/her options. Maybe that person doesn't know about adoption from foster care, and our story could inspire them to do the same. Maybe that person is looking for meaning in their life, and that very probing and personal question could be the one that allows me to tell them what God has done in my life, and how without my salvation, I would be nothing. I have been rescued. I am a miracle. But unless they ask, I can't know.

PJ Mama asks about the public's right to know every intricate detail about what we do. "Oh, hell naw", as we would say here in Kentucky. But I do understand folks' desire to know. The more I learn about my friend Lisa, in LA, the more I want to know about her foster son and his circumstances and birth family. I think of her often. I pray for her and her family and foster son. And...I want to know more. It's natural. Aristotle wrote about how the mind works, and essentially he postulated that we all have a strong desire to fill-in-the categorize, and to make meaning out of our world by doing that. Our minds are like a mailroom with little cubbie holes and we like order in the mailroom. We get frustrated when things just don't add up, and we attempt to resolve the frustration by filling in the blanks - either with more information (i.e. intricate details), or by making guesses ("oh, she must just be more attracted to black me in general - she must be disillusioned with white men in general"). And, as the example illustrates, we are very often dead wrong.

People have a right to delve wherever they want to go, and I have the right to respond to that however I see fit. This is simplistic, I know, but it really can be a beautiful interpersonal dance. I see it a lot like dating. I mean, if you are dating - and actively so, you are "putting yourself out there" in a sense. Perhaps you go to bars or clubs, or single's meetings at church, or events that are geared toward singles. People will try to get to know you, and there are sets of unspoken rules of interaction. You wouldn't expect someone you have recently met to ask about your income, your favorite selections from the Kama Sutra, the causes of your divorce, or the like. But eventually, we do ask these things. Sometimes we ask them or someone asks them of us too quickly, and we get uncomfortable. But we expect that we will be asked because that's the nature of the situation. Blogging is like that too. I have a blog - and it's public. I blog about things that people are sometimes interested in, and I put out topics that lend themselves to questions and probing - things like PCOS, infertility, faith, marital relationships, foster parenting, adoption, and parenting. I expect to be asked all kinds of things. I hope I am asked all kinds of things. In fact, I'd like to be asked more questions than I am. I prefer questions to comments sometimes, as these give me more of a pluralistic perspective on my life as a whole.

I guess this can be summed up by saying that everyone has the right to ask me anything, and I have the greatest of all rights.

That is, I have the right to remain silent.

But notice what follows next: "Anything you say may be used against you..." Well now, that's pretty severe. But that's life, isn't it. How many times do I wish I would have just kept my big mouth shut (or my computer off)?

How much we would all learn about each other if we would just put that right into practice more often.

Agency. Free will. Choice.

It's because of these things that I can't always blame my fellow wo/man.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Deciding to Get Respite Care

It has been a while since Michael and I have spent quality time (and a quantity of time) together - alone.

As foster parents, we can take 1 day of "respite care" a month for Cookie - that is, have another foster parent/family take her for a day/night for us so we can get some rest.

This is a lovely thought, and probably even more lovely if you are a foster parent to older children, or multiple children.

But this is not a lovely thought to a foster parent of a 6-month old they have every intention of adopting.

It scares the bejesus outta me. A stranger... taking care of my baby...overnight.

If it were a friend, or someone we had a good relationship with, it might be different. But I am scared. This is why we have not used respite care to date.

But we have finally managed to decide to:
1) go out of state
2) go to a concert
3) get a hotel room for 2 nights (bom chicka bom bom)
4) and oh yeah, leave Cookie


We've managed to make it a little less painful. The woman who is going to do this respite care for us is one of Cookie's former day care workers - she just moved to a different location. She knew Cookie from the time she came in to care almost 4 months ago. She is also the foster mom to a 3-yr. old little boy she is trying to adopt. She seems like a nice woman - but for all intents and purposes we know nothing about her.

I pray Cookie sleeps, eats, and doesn't feel abandoned. I hope she plays and is happy. I hope when she turns 14, she doesn't turn to me in anger and shout, "Its all your fault because of that time you left me in respite care when I was 6 months old!" (I know she will shout all kinds of horrible things as a teenager - I just hope she shouts about something different.)