Friday, May 30, 2008

Grateful for So Many Gifts

Nothing earth-shatteringly new here. Just wanted to check in and say hi.

So, what have I been doing to pass the time while our caseworker continues to work on our home study and I continue to avoid the temptation to pick up the phone or send a curious e-mail?

Let's see: I've been diligently reading about all things adoption, in between pausing for some fun reading ("Run" by Ann Patchett, at the moment). Even the fun reading has an adoption twist. Get this: It happens to be about a mixed-race family (two Caucasian parents with a son by birth and two African American brothers who they adopted)! I didn't know this when I started reading it. How weird is THAT, that it happened to be on my book club's reading list for this summer? Eegads, I'm getting goosebumps. It's a really good read so far, and it addresses some of the racial discrimination/stereotypes that mixed-race families (such as we will be) typically face. These were some of the very issues we discussed in our adoption class! Interesting to read how this family, however fictional they may be, handles and responds to callous comments/looks from strangers and friends alike (e.g., in the book, extended family members routinely refer to the adopted children as the "little boys" rather than just lumping everyone together into the category of "your sons"). Interesting.

I've been teaching a LOT of yoga these past few weeks. My regular Monday night class, as well as classes twice a week at work (for a one-month trial period only). Plus my regular weekly class where I, myself, am a student. All of this yoga is really helping me with this beginning of our "waiting game" to get our kid.

I had dinner with an old friend last night who I hadn't seen in about 10 years--we had lost touch and just recently reconnected! It was so meaningful to get together with her and reminisce, laugh, and catch up.

I spent a fun Memorial Day Weekend at my brother Steve's house in NJ with my entire family. I had such fun with my nieces, siblings, and parents. My brother and I were the last ones awake and got pretty darn toasted, let me tell ya.

All of these things that I just mentioned (among many others that I don't have space for!) have made me feel so wonderfully grateful for all of the gifts in my life. Those gifts show up as people (like you who may be reading this), physical and psychological growth (like yoga), and just plain old good times (like laughing with friends and getting drunk with my brother).

Life is pretty good. And when we get this kid, it'll be that much better!

Rock on. And have a great weekend.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Show Me the Money

Just a quick note to let you all know that today, we officially secured all of the funds we will need for the adoption of our baby. Quite a heavy burden has been lifted off our shoulders, and we are so thankful that this worked out!

No news yet on the progress of our home study paperwork. As you may or may not recall, we turned it in 2 weeks ago today. Our caseworker is in the process of reading through it and writing her report, and it will probably be several more weeks before there are any new developments.

I'll keep you posted, no worries! Thanks for your continued thoughts/prayers/good wishes.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adoption Class #2 Complete!

Happy Hump Day!

Yesterday was our second of the two-part, all-day adoption education classes we had to take. It went very well. They are preparing us very effectively. I think I liked it better than last week's class! We learned so much!

One of the most valuable parts, for me, was when we talked a lot about coming up with strategies to respond to the often inappropriate/insensitive/overly intrusive questions/comments that the agency said we WILL get (e.g., how much did you pay for your child, is she yours, where did she come from, etc.). People don't mean to say the wrong things, but the fact of the matter is, they do, and they will. Mostly they do this unknowingly, but can be very hurtful to your child (often, these things are said in front of your child--can you imagine how important, then, your response, as a parent, would be? how your split-second decision to respond--and what you choose to say--will impact your child's sense of identity, who she is, how she thinks she's valued and seen in the world, for years to come?). No small responsibility there!

Here's one story that was told to us. A mom was in a grocery store with her children (two girls from India, four boys from Korea). The checkout clerk gave her the "triangle stare" (look at mom, look at dad, look down at kid, start again) and then said, "Oh, look--exchange students!" The mom, in her infinite wisdom and dry sense of humor, looked over the clerk's head and around the store and yelled, excitedly, "WHERE?"

The woman got the point: These were Margie's kids, and just b/c they don't look like her doesn't mean they aren't her kids and she isn't their mother. Identity is so important for children, and especially for adoptive children, who are no doubt having to navigate life with already-confusing (at times) identity issues.

I can go on and on, so I won't. Suffice to say that we had an excellent class and met a great group of parents who we hope to stay in touch with over the months/years of this journey. Many live in our area!

We are now just waiting for our caseworker to contact us and schedule the home visit (this is the part of the home study where she physically comes to our house and meets with us in person, in our home environment, to assess our living situation and do a kind of psychosocial/behavioral study of us). The home visit is what gets every adoptive parent perhaps the most nervous. I don't know, though. I like our caseworker, and she certainly doesn't make me nervous. She's a person just like everyone else! Jeff and I are both good with people, so I don't think this will be much of a source for anxiety--at least not for us. Who knows? Things could change as time goes on. Remind me I said this later, if I post any nervous feelings about the home visit in the upcoming weeks!

Thanks for continuing to be there, supporting us on this often overwhelming, but terribly exciting, roller coaster ride!

I know this post was kinda long...sorry about that! I guess my love of talking translates directly to the computer keyboard, as well!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Korean Food, Culture

So, as part of our "homework" for tomorrow's Part 2 All-Day Adoption Class (assignment: learn about the food and/or culture of Korea by eating out at a Korean restaurant, visiting a Korean grocery story, talking with members of a Korean church, or simply doing good old Internet research), we went out to eat last night at a Korean restaurant in Rockville called Sam Woo. There were a couple of others nearby, so we figure in the upcoming months, we'll hop around when we get a hankerin' for Korean food. We were pleased that (a) we liked it and (b) it's actually quite healthy...very heavily vegetable based (along with beef-based, but I'm not a huge meat fan so although I enjoyed the meat aspect, I liked the veggie part better). You can make it not healthy by eating some of the fried stuff, but it didn't look all that appealing and so it was pretty easy to pass up (my Weight Watchers leader would be so proud of me!).

The reviews of this restaurant looked pretty good, and it seemed pretty authentic. They did warn us that non-Koreans are only given so-so service (and they were right-that's my only complaint). Nice atmosphere, mostly Asian folks eating there (always a good sign), and I tried kimshi for the first time! Turns out there are many, many different kinds of kimshi. We tried one with cabbage, garlic, and red pepper paste (which is apparently what most Westerners picture when they picture kimshi), another one that had cucumbers (kind of pickled), again with red pepper paste (nice and SPI-CEE!). We also had this vegetable broth-based soup that also had beef and potatoes in it. Again, red pepper paste made it hot to the tongue, but very tasty! We also tried various cold dishes that involved clear noodles that had a sauce that tasted kind of pickled/sour. They had these meatballs that looked and tasted exactly like Swedish meatballs (who knows? Maybe they were. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar). They were so good!

Also, we had bulgogi, which is this tender beef cooked in some sort of sweet something-or-other (y'all know I don't cook--at all, not ever, so describing this food to you is kind of challenging!). It was a buffet, so at times we weren't sure what we were eating, but we do know that it was all authentic Korean food! Then we went to Barnes and Noble and bought ourselves some Lonely Planet guides to Korea and Seoul. I spent the evening reading about Korean culture and learning a lot!

Tomorrow is our second class. I'll let ya know how it shakes out.

Take care,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First Adoption Education Class

Our class yesterday went very well...we learned so much about adoptive parenting and how it is both different and yet similar to birth parenting. Too much to really go into on a blog site, but suffice to say, we emerged much more enlightened about our future role as parents!

We met three other couples (two of whom are adopting from Korea, one of whom is adopting from India), as well as a very nice single woman who is adopting from Russia. Catholic Charities is compiling all of our contact information and will share it with all of us at next week's class, so that we may keep in touch with one another even after these two classes come to an end.

Turns out that the one guy, Bryon, grew up in Cunningham, PA, which is only about an hour from my hometown of Dunmore--in addition, we lived in the Cunningham/Hazleton area when I was very small, so we were talking about our shared small-town PA was very cool. What a small world.

I am very tired today, though. It was a LOT of mental stimulation and "work," absorbing all of this. This is not small stuff that they are teaching will indeed be life-changing, and although we're certainly ready for it, it still takes a lot out of ya! I am drinking coffee right now, which tells you something (I am not a coffee drinker and only resort to it in times of desperation).

Talk to you all soon! Thanks, as always, for caring enough to check in and find out our latest scoop.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog

It all comes back to the dogs. Funny how that is.

This weekend, we finished up the missing pieces of our home study packet, made a photocopy for us to keep, and will be submitting it to Margie tomorrow at our adoption education class (all day). YAY! What a huge relief it is to finish this up! And I'm so excited about our class tomorrow. We'll be meeting families that we will very likely be traveling with to Korea, when the time comes. We'll be part of the "May 2008 Home Study Group." I'm sure we're on our way to meeting some very close future friends (or so my friends who have adopted tell me). There's nothing like shared experiences to bring strangers together as friends.

The only thing that is missing from the home study packet (but won't prevent me from submitting it anyway!) is the darn dog licenses for Montgomery County. Once we get the metal tags in the mail, we have to photocopy each one and submit them as part of the home study, to prove that our dogs are properly licensed and "legal" in our county. I called Animal Control today to check on the status...they said they will be mailed this week. So these tags are only days away from coming in the mail. I think Margie will be satisfied, for now, with this answer (knowing that I'll be able to send her something next week).

Go figure...who would've ever thought that the very last piece of the puzzle would be two shiny metal tags to be affixed to the collars of our beloved beagles? Today, Elvis Presley's famous song rings truer than ever before...

Thursday, May 8, 2008


[insert visual: Kathleen doing her happy dance, which is downright scary and you don't want to see it b/c I'm a horrible dancer]

The fire department and health inspectors came yesterday, and we passed both. Of course there's a story that goes along with that.

The fire department came and went in about 10 min.

The health inspector, on the other hand, wouldn't actually pass us yesterday b/c of one issue: Our other two "doors of egress" (door to the garage and door leading out of the mud room onto the side of our house) did not have a deadbolt lock that can be turned from the inside with a twist of one's hand. The front door had it, so we thought we were good (that was one of the criteria they stipulated in the list we received). Nope. So we called a local locksmith, who came right out that day and installed the two required locks. Then the inspector came back this morning and passed us. Yay!

Both inspections took less than 10 min. So much for our diligent cleaning. Well, at least we have a nice, clean house now! With new trash cans...and smoke detectors...and ceiling paint. (sigh) We should invest in Home Depot stock or something!

We went to an adoption seminar on Korean culture/education on Tuesday evening. We also attended the monthly "Parents in Progress" support group meeting that same night. It was great to connect with other couples who are at similar stages of the process, one of whom live in Olney! So we exchanged information and are going to get together for dinner sometime.

Next week, we have our first of two all-day Tuesday adoption education classes. I'm excited, b/c it's also the day we are going to turn in our entire home study packet to our caseworker (while we're there, might as well kill two birds with one stone, ya know?). Turning in this packet is one of those "adoption milestones," so this is a big, big deal for us!

Sorry for the long post. There is so much going on this week!

Talk soon, and hugs to all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Home Inspections TODAY!

The county health inspector and the fire department both are coming at 2:00 today for their respective inspections. I can't write much now because (a) I'm on deadline at work and (b) I'm nervous as anything about this inspection and am trying not to think too much about it (was up till midnight last night doing last-minute cleanup). Jeff will be meeting the inspectors at the house. Think good thoughts, keep your fingers crossed, pray for us, send us positive energy--do whatever it is you do that will help us to soar through these inspections with flying colors! Thanks, as always, for checking in on our blog--and for being such good friends/family. You are keeping us sane!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Taking Time Out in NYC

What a wonderful weekend I had with my awesome friend Serena, her husband Dan, and their two adorable sons, Declan (2.5) and Griffin (11 mos). They live in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn...very nice part of town, walkable to pretty much everything. We walked around Prospect Park (what an amazing park--you feel like you are in the middle of the country!), went to the local market, Serena and I went to a live show at the Bowery Ballroom (trying to get my live music fixes in while I still can!), and of course, I had such fun playing with the boys all weekend long! The weather was AMAZING and it was just the respite that I needed. I did absolutely nothing adoption related...meanwhile, Jeff was dealing with carpet cleaners and getting the house in tiptop shape for our health inspection, God bless him (I think the inspection will be this Wed, with the fire inspection).

It was nice hanging out with little our family it's mostly girls. They sure love their books, which made me soooo happy and more than willing to read them story after story after story. Declan played his guitar and sang to me about chicken nuggets and dinosaurs and "you are my sunshine." He's gonna be a rock star when he grows up!

The Amtrak ride from DC to Penn Station went w/o a hitch, but my subway adventure getting to Brooklyn was, um, interesting to say the least. But I got there, and from then on, we had SUCH A BLAST that I forgot all about my confusion on the subway earlier in the weekend. Suffice to say that I am relaxed, renewed, refreshed, and ready to plow ahead on a lot of home study-related stuff we have going on this week!

Talk soon, and more updates as things happen.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Bloodwork and Bureaucracy

So, this morning I went to get my blood drawn for all the various tests that Catholic Charities require we undergo (AIDS, Syphylis, drug testing, etc.). Getting blood drawn (regardless of what it's for) is so bureaucratic and reminds me of everything that's basically wrong with our health care system. They take the person completely out of the process; granted, I understand that they do the same blood draws how many hundreds of times, probably, each day, but still, some courtesy or a smile would be nice.

My solution, lately? Kill everyone with kindness.

The ruder the receptionist, the sweeter and more smiling I am. My goal with people at places like LabCorp is to get a laugh out of them. And I usually do!

Today a pregnant woman was sitting in the waiting room across from me, rubbing her belly. That was kind of hard to see; it brought back a lot of memories about the mountains of bloodwork I myself went through during the fertility treatments and then later, once I was pregnant. But I did OK. I kept telling myself, "You're going to be a parent, too, Kathleen, and that's AWESOME!"

So that's one more thing to check off the list. I think I'll have a glass of wine tonight (it's our "date night") and raise a toast to the cotton taped on the inside of my arm.

Cheers, everyone, and have a wonderful weekend! Tomorrow morning, I am taking the Amtrak to NYC to visit my dear friend Serena, see a show, and get to know her two adorable little boys! I'm so excited for my adventure! I need a break from all of this adoption stuff.

Wish me luck in navigating the NYC subway system. I'm a little nervous about that part.