Thursday, August 19, 2010

Addendum to my previous post

Things I omitted from Lucas's adoption story, cause I was trying to stay on target.

1. One of the main difficulties that I had when writing up all the paperwork for our adoption dossier was the question: Why do you want to be a parent?

How do you answer that?
Because I have a hole in my heart that I believe a child will fill?
Because it's a basic biological urge?
Because I'd really like someone I can pass all my neurosis on to?

But honestly, how do you answer that? I would rant and rave about how unfair it was that I had to be judged worthy to be a parent, to justify my ability and my right to raise children when people around the world and throughout history just had sex and then figured it out as they went, without being fingerprinted by a cop first.

Looking back, I think mostly it was a lot of left over resentment and feelings of inadequacy from not being able to get knocked up successfully. But I'd get so steamed up about it every time I sat down to write my answers that I couldn't write what I thought they wanted to hear. Which was another thing. OF COURSE everyone is going to write what they think the adoption powers that be want to hear. No one's going to admit that they want a kid so they have someone who they can make scratch their back for an hour and half everyday.

2. A little over a year after Lucas came home, during the last gasping breaths of our marriage, I got pregnant and had a daughter. Surprise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The story of Lucas

For Amanda (Because she's the only one who voted.)

I married young. We had dreams of living that old fashioned life of being young parents.  As unpopular as this notion was, I had always thought that my destiny was to be a wife and a mom. A mom like my mom was: at home, crafty, domestic, creative, patient... I would stay home, he would make art. Once the kids were in school, I'd get a part time job, but I'd always be there for them.

Things didn't work out that way. After eight years of marriage and two miscarriages, we still weren't parents. I had had a series of aimless jobs, switching from one to the next haphazardly, always expecting that we would start a family soon and I wouldn't want a real career. He had risen in his career to a successful advertising executive. But we didn't have kids.

After the second miscarriage, we decided to seek medical help. Several months of fertility treatments ended with the doctor telling me that the next step would be for him to stick a long wire up my hoo-haw and waggle it around to see what they could figure out. I declined. We decided to look into adoption.

The funny thing about us was that we always made impulsive decisions. Always. (getting married at 23) And then we would always procrastinate like crazy if there was any effort involved in the follow through. And so we went right from the doctors office that day and started researching adoption agencies. Within days we were sitting through orientation at the Children's Home Society, going over the logistics of domestic vs. international adoption, and the ins and outs of all the different countries that the agency had relationships with. We decided right there that we were going to go get ourselves a kid from Russia.

And then....

We went home with a giant packet of paperwork with instructions for writing our life stories, our motivation for wanting to adopt, our parenting philosophies, what resources we had to offer a child. Not to mention all the background clearances and legal hoops that needed to be jumped through. The paperwork seemed insurmountable.

And remember how we were procrastinators? Two years.

During those two years the adoption laws in Russia changed. And after all the research I had done into the orphanages there, the bribes required to get anything accomplished in Russia and the amount of traveling we would need to do, I was almost relieved.

Luckily, the adoption laws had also changed in Guatemala during that time. It wasn't an option two years ago. Now it was. Guatemala was an almost ideal choice for us. Children were available from a very young age. They were in foster care, not orphanages. Fetal alcohol syndrome was almost unheard of there. The one drawback? Guatemalan adoptions were all managed by private lawyers in the country. The result being that it was the most expensive route we could choose. We took out a second mortgage on our house.

We finally turned in all our paper work on Friday, February 11, 2005, and prepared ourselves for months of waiting for a referral (a kid). I got a call at work on Tuesday the 15th. There was a little boy who had been born on Christmas day that could be ours. Just say the word. We rushed to the agency after work and peered over a social worker's shoulder to look at pictures on her computer screen of the little boy that would be our son.

um... yeah. We'll take him.

So once again. Another round of background clearances, fingerprinting, waiting for the Guatemalan government to approve the adoption. More paperwork, more waiting. But also: shopping, preparing, naming.

Often, when I would tell someone about what we were doing, what we were going through, I would get the weird reaction of "I think it's so great that you guys are doing that." As if we were doing it for some altruistic humanitarian reason. My reply usually went along the lines of, "I want a kid and I can't seem to get one the old fashioned way, so this seems to be the next best (legal) option. I mean, I'd steal one off the street if I thought I could get away with it." At which point I would get the stink eye and alienate yet another one of my husbands co-workers.

And then after four months of hurry up and wait, we got the call that everything was approved. We could buy our plane tickets. I gave my two week notice at my job, did some last minute shopping, celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and hopped on a plane to Guatemala.

My impressions of the country are a blur. Little kids begging at the airport at ten o'clock at night. Guards, armed with machine guns at the McDonalds. Staying at the hotel, where almost all the guests were other parents adopting children. We got there on a Saturday night and wouldn't meet him until Sunday night, so we took a taxi and spent Sunday wandering around Antigua. And I mean wandering around. Both of us in such a daze that we just sort of walked in circles around this ancient, beautiful city like zombies.

I had wanted to buy souvenirs. Gifts that we could give our son when he was older, things from his birthplace. (I have a random collection of stuff I bought stuffed in a closet somewhere, that I pull out once in a while and shake my head, mystified. I'm a bad shopper at the best of times. That day? Wow.)

So we took our taxi back to Guatemala City in the afternoon and waited for a call from the lawyer. She was supposed to call us at 7:00, but we had been warned that Guatemalans have a very loose interpretation of time. So we settled down in our hotel room to wait. They have American TV there, but no commercials, during the commercial breaks there's just dead air. 60 Minutes was on, and that ticking stop watch that they have before and after the breaks in that program still bring me back to those crazy anxious moments. 7:00 came and went. And we watched an entire cop show that was on next.

The phone rang. We went down to the lobby. The lawyer met us at the elevator and ushered us to a table to sign more paperwork before we could meet him, but I saw him out of the corner of my eye as we were sitting down and couldn't concentrate on what the lawyer was saying as I craned my neck around to try to get a look at him.

He was there, with his foster mother, Rita and her teenage daughter. They had taken care of him for his whole six months of life, and they were crying. They didn't want to let him go. They told us through the interpretation of the lawyer that he was a sweet, happy baby. His likes, dislikes, how to comfort him, his feeding schedule... And then they left, sobbing. And after confirming our appointment for the next day at the consulate, the lawyer left us there, standing in the lobby of the Radisson with our son.

We went to the elevator, got in, pushed the button. And I lost it. I was holding this strange little person with porcupine black hair. And I was his mother. I cried and cried. A man got in the elevator with us, my husband shrugged apologetically.

It was way past his bedtime. So once we were back in our room, I undressed him, changed his diaper, put pajamas on him and tucked him into bed. And then I proceeded to not eat or sleep for the next three days. All the anxiety and stress just hit me and I couldn't.

The next day we went to the consulate and got his visa, hung around at the pool, tried to find the right formula to feed him at the drug store. And the day after that we went home. As a family.

He starts kindergarten next week.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stinky Love

While we were camping this weekend, Merry and I made a stop at the pit toilets.
As I was holding on to her, helping her balance her skinny butt over the seat, she looked up at me and asked, "You love me, right?"
"Of course", I answered.
"Then don't drop me."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Babies or Boobies?

The comments on my last post were a little confusing. Amanda went ahead and requested one of my suggested options - she'd like to hear my son's adoption story. But the overwhelming response was from by biggest fans, the Chinese porn spammers. They always have such nice things to say (once I run their comments through google translate - and then reject them). It's not clear, however, which option they prefer. It seems like they're telling me I need more naked Asian ladies in my blog. And who knows? They might be right.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So please, give me something to blog about.

I've been at a bit of a blogging loss lately. I can't seem to put two thoughts together, much less a whole paragraph. But the thing is, I feel that there's something I need to get off my chest.  I'm just not sure what it is yet. It's like a giant gas bubble that you just can't get out, so you try to make yourself burp, but all you get out are those small semi-polite sounding burps. My recent posts are the burps of ten-year-olds, timidly testing a newly learned skill. I'm waiting to be inspired to rip out the ground-shaking beer and pot sticker belch of the winner in a frat house drinking game. I keep opening up this web page and staring blankly at it, waiting for the verbal gas to bubble up. And it just. Doesn't.

And so, to fill space, we'll turn this into a choose your own adventure blog. I will offer a list of subjects I could attempt to write about, and anyone who reads this thing can comment with their blogging adventure choice. That includes you, Chinese porn spammers.

1. the time Kim tried to convince me to let her stick a steak knife up my nose.

2. the time I adopted my son.

3. the time I met my boyfriend on an internet dating site.

4. the time my brother chased me through the woods with a knife, like in a horror movie.

5. the time I sewed through my finger with a sewing machine while making super lame dance costumes.

6. the time I became a Christian and then an atheist and then a Pagan and then a Wiccan and then an atheist and then a Catholic and then an atheist.

7. the time I went to college on a dare.

8. the time I realized that I still hold on to a lot of misconceptions from my childhood.

9. the time I went out to dinner with my boyfriend's ex-in-laws and they all called me Liz and I stared at them blankly.

10. the time I decided to never again use the burp as writing inspiration analogy.