azriona: (cat in a box)
bad news:  i have lost the use of one arm

good news: here's why:


the first of what will probably be many pictures )


.... so.  there goes my ability to write anything for a while.

(kidding.  mostly.)
azriona: (cat in a box)
Today is the first day back at school for Andrew in ten days because of snow days or delayed starts.... and it is fucking snowing again.  With one inch accumulation expected, which is enough to shut down the school district here for another day.

I AM SO LIVID I COULD SCREAM.

The bonus is that I'm not the only one I spent most of this afternoon running around trying to do all the things I've been putting off for the last week and a half, and so I was out when it started snowing.  And every person I talked to was right there with me on the OMG THIS IS RIDICULOUS THE SCHOOL BOARD IS FULL OF IDIOTS AND THE KIDS WILL NEVER GO TO SCHOOL AGAIN AT THIS RATE.  So at least I'm not alone.

(It's not sticking - yet.  It is a matter of time, though.)

I thought I was done with adoptions firsts. Shows what I know. )

Finishing up later because Andrew is now home and grumpy from having fallen asleep on the bus and so bedtime tonight is shot to hell and the cat is pissed because it's snowing again and the school districts are already cancelling evening activities which means tomorrow can't be far behind.

ARGH.  I love my son, but OMG I want the house to myself again.

Edited at 8:45pm to add:  They called it.  Schools are closed tomorrow.  Both cells and the house line all rang at the same time, waking up Andrew (who was just dropping off in one of the best bedtimes he's had in a MONTH), so add that to the list of why I really, really fucking hate our school district right now.

Actually, it's not so much the school district as it is city hall, because they're the ones who made the decision not to plow the neighborhood streets, which leaves them icy and slushy and way too dangerous for a school bus full of kids without seat belts.  So yeah, I totally get the school board's decision, but.... I STILL REALLY FUCKING HATE IT.

LIVID.  I AM LIVID.  WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS HOW LIVID I AM RIGHT NOW.  I AM UNBELIEVABLE AMOUNTS OF LIVID.  I'M WILLING TO BET THE SCHOOL DISTRICT CAN FEEL THE FORCE OF MY WRATH NO MATTER HOW FAR THEY ACTUALLY LIVE FROM ME, AND THEY BETTER BE THANKING THEIR LUCKY DAMN STARS THAT I DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE RIGHT NOW.

THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TOILET PAPER IN THE WORLD.
azriona: (cat in a box)
Bill found an interesting blog entry on what not to say to adopting parents.  We both had a good laugh over it - not because it's wrong, because it's really not, but because between us, we've heard forms of everything on the list at least once (and some of them quite a lot).

The thing is: before we went down the adoption road, I'd have thought some of these were perfectly okay to say.  And to an extent, most of them aren't terrible.  (One in particular is so rude you have to wonder if the person was raised in a barn, but whatever.)

But in case any of you want to hear my thoughts on the subject: here's the list, and my reaction (and experience) to them:

Read more... )
azriona: (cat in a box)
This morning I went for a haircut.  I moved here about nine months ago, and it took a while to find a new hairdresser – this is only the second time I’ve been to this woman, and I like her so far.  She’s very easy to talk to, which is good in a hairdresser, and today, we started talking about adoption, because she asked if my son’s big feet were genetic, and I had to explain how he’s adopted.

I’m used to getting a fair amount of curiosity from people about his adoption – and I don’t mind answering general questions, because I figure education is a good thing.  But something she said struck me as odd.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to know anything about the birth family,” she said.  “It’d make me too nervous.”

I didn’t quite know how to answer that.  I can’t say if it’s a rational fear or not – I suppose in one way, all fears are rational to the person who has them.  But the fear of knowing about my son’s birth family never really occurred to me.  Most of the time, I wish I knew more.

I keep thinking about this conversation.  Because one of the tiny tidbits I know about my son’s birthmother is that her favorite book is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

This morning, Maya Angelou died.

*

It’s been a busy day today.  I saw the news about Maya Angelou’s death on Tumblr; it’s how I initially get my news now.  (Once I find out something’s going on, I go looking in other places, but it’s Tumblr that lets me know I need to go look at all.)  I didn’t really have time to troll the news feeds, or talk to anyone else.  But as my son napped in the car on the way to his therapy appointment, I found myself crying.  And I’ve been crying on and off all afternoon.

I’m not sure if I’m crying for Angelou, who I’ve always loved as a writer, who I’ve always wanted to meet (but knew I probably never would).  I loved her voice: the way she spoke, drew her words out like poetry, even when she spoke in prose.  I loved her presence: quiet and calm but with great power nonetheless.  She seemed to live her life with such great hope, and joy, and love.  Everything she did was an act of love.

Or if I’m crying for my son’s birthmother, who I’ve never met.  I know more about Maya Angelou than I do the woman who gave birth to my son, but I think more about her than I ever did Maya Angelou.  I think about her nearly every day, when my son smiles and asks for another book, or randomly comes up to me and squeezes me tight, and says “I love you too, Momma,” even when I’ve said nothing at all.  I suppose to him, everything I do is an act of love for him specifically.  He’s probably right.  I like to think that the first thing his birthmother did, in signing him to me, was an act of love.  I don’t know how true that is; I hope so.  It’s how I’ll paint the picture for him, when he’s old enough to understand.

I keep thinking about that conversation this morning, the coincidence of it.  It’s silly, that the death of a woman unconnected to either myself or my son’s birthmother would seem so much like the severing of a tie that didn’t exist.  I cannot imagine not knowing something about her.  Anything about her – the one small gem that her favorite book was one by Maya Angelou is something I’ve held onto for the last four years, a treasured bit of knowledge to be handed like a gift to my son.

For now, it’s enough for him.  But the day may come when it won’t be, and the fact that I have nothing else to give him, except a medical history, hurts in a way that I don’t think people who haven’t adopted can quite understand.  “Your birthmother’s favorite book was written by Maya Angelou,” I tell him.  Maybe I’m crying for the day when that is no longer enough.

Mostly, though, I’m thinking about a woman who I’ve never met.  Most days, I think of her the way I hope she is: strong, and secure, and safe, and happy.  And loved.  Only today is different from 363 other days in the year, because today, she may have been strong and secure and safe and loved…but I’m sure she was sad, too.  And I wonder if she, like me, doesn’t quite know who the tears running down her cheeks are for.
 
azriona: (cat in a box)
A couple of people wanted to know what we're telling Andrew about adopting again.

It's both complicated...and very easy.

Read more.... )
azriona: (cat in a box)
I thought I’d share something we’ve had on our fridge for the last couple of years with all of you.



Why, yes, that is a list of baby names.  Excellent deductions, ten points to your various houses.

Last week, Bill and I learned that our home study had been approved and we’re now officially part of the Waiting Parent Pool.  In short, we’re adopting again.

In long, there’s a FAQ under the cut.

Adoption FAQ )
azriona: (Mr Morton)
I decided to take a break from writing the Nano novel this morning. I have 39K, I can afford a bit of a break, I think, though it's awfully tempting to just sit and push through the last 11K and end the damn thing "Rocks fall, everyone dies", or at least "and then Sherlock and John lived happily ever after and had lots of sex and babies".

Instead of either of those endings - which I somehow don't think would please much of anyone, I concentrated on something I've been putting off for the last few weeks, but is possibly more important - Andrew's yearly birthparent letter.

(And I realized this morning that I needed a bit of distance from the story, as if those possible endings are proof enough - I'm beginning to psych myself out on it, because while I knew I wanted to take my time with it, I'm beginning to think I'm taking too much time. I mean, has anyone else written something and immediately thought, "OMG, my beta is going to KILL me?" Because I've been thinking that for the last few days. And EGT is a lawyer; presumably she knows where to hide the bodies.)

So I've got the birthparent letter written now, and I've gone through the last year's worth of photographs and picked out 32, which is way more than I've provided the last few years, but frankly, I don't want to cut any of them out, and if the agency is going to throw a fit about how many I'm providing, then whatever. (They've said around a dozen or so in the past, but it's been a very noncommittal recommendation.) There's a pretty good mix of Andrew in awesome places, and Andrew with other kids, and Andrew with assorted family members, and Andrew climbing various things, so I like the mix.

Anyway, I need to work on the Sherlock60s - I'm behind again, and next week's story is a new one (Dying Detective) and I have to read it online, and I don't like reading the original Sherlocks online, for some reason. (Fanfic, I can handle. But my mind starts wandering when I read Doyle online; I have no idea why.) I wrote first drafts for both stories for Identity and Red-Headed League. I like the Identity one, but the RHL ended up being 60 words on the first go, which of course means something must be wrong with it, because I haven't hit 60 on the first go yet; I usually have to cut about 25 words out.

*

In other news, I made the happy discovery that the Sherlock Casebook is finally available from Amazon.com, which means I got to use my gift card balance to buy it. YAY. It shipped today, but for some reason Amazon is saying it could take up to 6 weeks to get to me - the APO usually runs faster than that, so I'm going to be hopeful that I get it before Christmas at least.

And I need to make the buttercream frosting for Andrew's cupcakes today, but I stupidly forgot to take the butter and eggs out of the fridge to get to room temp until about 2 hours ago, and the butter actually started out frozen, so it's taking forever. And I think I need more eggs, anyway. The real challenge is convincing Andrew that he wants to walk over to Metro Mart with me. He's getting really good at holding my hand and walking, and mostly behaving himself, but it's always convincing him to forgo the stroller that is the trick.
azriona: (DW - Five Minutes)
Bill and I watched "Assylum of the Daleks" on Sunday night. For the most part, I haven't been paying a bit of attention to the spoilers or casting notices and despite having looked at Tumblr before watching (mistake, don't do that again), I didn't really know what was going to happen. So that was nice.

But the oddest thing about the episode was that it seemed...well...done. As in done before, and frequently.

More under the cut )

And...of course...there's the Amy-Rory subplot. Which is...well. You know, I probably should have All The Feels about this, but I just don't know. )
azriona: (Family)
So Bill linked me to an advice column on Slate.com today. You know, because Bill is the sort of guy who reads and enjoys advice columns. Anyway, the first question happened to be about adoption, so Bill wanted me to read it.

The letter in question:

Anne and I have daughters enrolled in the same dance classes. We both often stay at the lessons and chat with other moms. But I've always gotten the impression that Anne doesn't like me. She never returns my greetings and often turns away from the conversation when I'm talking. Last week we were both walking to our cars, so I asked, "Anne, have I done something to offend you? I hope not, because I'd really enjoy getting to know you better." Anne turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, but I am against adoption. I believe buying children is ethically deplorable."

(Here is where my mouth dropped open. I had to stop reading for a moment.)

...I don't know how to respond, or if I should even bother engaging such a narrow-minded person.

Frankly, I'm not sure I know how to respond, either. I mean, that's got to be one of the best "how-to-silence-a-room" statements I've ever heard, because I'm still sort of rendered speechless.

(Bill, being Bill, has come up with some excellent responses, however, which include but are not limited to: "But there was a sale!" "I had a coupon!" "He was a blue-light special!" All of which, of course, are equally awful and sure as anything wouldn't do much to promote adoption, but then again, faced with this sort of belief, I don't think anything would. And they made me laugh.)

Some blathering about Adoption and such )

But back to the letter. How on earth do you respond to that statement? The woman who said it turned and walked away after making her startling announcement, so the mother didn't really have to respond immediately. I don't know what I'd do, if said to me and I was expected to reply. I'd like to think I'd either say nothing, and wait for her to continue digging that hole and thus drown herself in the resulting well, or I'd just turn and walk away without another word. Those are possibly the only responses you can make, unless you actually want to engage her in a theoretical argument about how adoption isn't people trafficking and that current laws don't allow adoption without an exchange of exorbitant amounts of money, little to none of which actually go to the birthmother. I was never very good at debate, so I think I'll leave that for someone else to argue. (Bill, perhaps.)

Me, I'm much better at accidentally spilling the bowl of punch on someone. Yup, you need someone publicly drenched in red liquid, I am totally your gal.
azriona: (Family)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I realize there's probably more important things, but this is what I'd want to fix. Every child, in every country, regardless of situation, would have parents who loved them and took care of them, from the moment they took first breath. Whether it's by adoption or by birth, no child would ever have to spend more time than absolutely necessary in an orphanage or foster home. I'd end the stupid endless delays that force children to wait in orphanages for months (more often years) while their countries bicker over rules and bribery for parents of other nationalities to take them home. I'd streamline the adoption system to make it easier for birth and adoptive parents to have exactly the adoption they want, whether it's open, closed, or somewhere in between the two. And I'd make adoption far less an expensive option, so no one has to empty their bank accounts to create the family they really want.

That's what I'd do, if I could change anything. In many cases the adoption system in place isn't broken. Sometimes it even works well. But it's the most maddening, ridiculous process, and that's just the adoption side of things: it's far, far worse on the fostering side, when you've got kids who are shuffled from one home to the next, becoming increasingly more troubled every year, while the "system" waits (often in vain) for incompetent parents to prove their worth. (A generalization, I know. But a thousand frightening stories coming out of the DC foster system can't all be wrong.)

I realize it's not something touches most people's lives, unlike hunger or war or disease. It's not something most people would think about. Isn't that all the more reason why I should try to do something, though?
azriona: (Default)
1. I signed Andrew up for SoccerTots, starting at the end of the month. I'm pretty sure he'll like it - he already loves throwing his ball and then running after it, kicking it half the time. I'm just not sure if I'm heading down the deep dark path of over-scheduling. He's not yet two, and this will make TWO classes a week. EGAD.

2. In the grocery store this morning, one of the celebrity magazines had the headline: Teen Moms Give Up Their Babies So They Can Party Instead. Um, yes? Am I supposed to be horrified? (OMG, it's not possible to raise a baby and party like it's 1999 and go to high school at the same time?) Maybe I'm missing some of the story. Or not. I can't decide which is worse.

On a side note, I'm loving that no matter how desperately the adoption community wants to promote the phrases "place for adoption" or "make an adoption plan", the general public still goes with "gives up for adoption". I'm fairly certain there's a fantastic commentary on how this persistence displays deep-down perceptions of adoption and the various roles within, but I'm not going there this morning, thanks.

3. Andrew can make sounds like a cow and a dog. ("Moo" and "woof".) He still cannot actually say cow or dog. But I'm absolutely convinced he said "shoulder" last week, and this morning, he blew a kiss to the garbage men, who are clearly the most awesome men on the planet, in that they own a garbage truck.
azriona: (DW - Five Minutes)
Not a good day in Andrew-land, so Cute Baby Monday is postponed until tomorrow.

Torchwood )

*

DW - The Girl Who Created Parallel Universes by Blinking, Apparently )

*

DW - Night Terrors )

*

Cute Baby Monday will return tomorrow. Tired, see. Toddler who believes naps are for other babies, see.

Also, the cat still hates me.
azriona: (Default)
Well, "recently" being "in the last few months". I keep forgetting to post these.


For Which I Am Going to Hell:

Pregnant Friend: I want to get some baby books.
Mom #1: I like the Girlfriend's Guides.
Me: I like Happiest Baby on the Block.
Pregnant Friend: What about the Baby Whisperer?
Me: HATED that book. I stopped reading three chapters in and threw the book across the room.
Mom #1: Didn't you hear? She died!
Me: What? Really?
Mom #1: Yeah!
Me:......Did the babies rise up and kill her?


*

Geography Lesson:

Random Mom: Oh, he's so cute!
Me: Thank you.
Random Mom: Is he yours?
Me: Yes.
Random Mom: Is he adopted?
Me: Yes.
Random Mom: Oh, that's lovely. What's his nationality?
Me: ....American.
Random Mom: I mean, where's he from?
Me: D.C.
Random Mom: I mean, where's he come from?
Me: D.C.
Random Mom: But before that?
Me: I.....have no idea.
Random Mom: Well, did you adopt him from Ethiopia or Ghana?
Me: .....Um. No. We adopted him domestically. From D.C.
Random Mom: But where are his people from?
Me: *headsdesk*
azriona: (Andrew - grumpy face)
Good News: Social Security admits that Andrew was born.

Bad News: Social Security isn't all that sure he's still alive.

This morning, at 8.15am, the phone rings:

Social Security Administration: Hello, this is the Social Security Administration. My name is [redacted. For now, anyway]. I'm calling about your son's application for a social security number.
Me: Yes, hello!
Social Security Administration: We're going to need more information before we can continue processing his application.
Me: Um. Okay, but I gave you pretty much everything we had.
Social Security Administration: Yes, but when we went back to check the records, it appears that your son may be deceased.
Me: *is in state of shock. Is also watching Andrew eat breakfast.*
Social Security Administration: *is patient. Perhaps she does this a lot?*
Me: What?!?!
Social Security Administration: When was the last time he went to the pediatrician?
Me: Monday, as a matter of fact.
Social Security Administration: Can you get a letter from your pediatrician stating that your son is in good health?
Me: .....Yes.
Social Security Administration: Great. You can bring it by the office with your son and ask for me. This is how you spell my name.
Me: O-kay.
Social Security Administration: Have a great day.

THERE ARE NO WORDS. THERE JUST AREN'T.

This would be funny, if Andrew hadn't just spent two days in the FRICKIN' PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE UNIT.
azriona: (Andrew - grumpy face)
So when I applied for Andrew's SSN, I was told it could take four to six weeks to actually receive said number in the mail. Six weeks was up last Friday, which was understandably somewhat busy, so I didn't get a chance to call the office until today to find out where his number is.

Me: Hi, I'm calling to find out about my son's social security number. We applied for one six weeks ago but haven't received it yet.
Social Security Employee: Okay, what's name and birthdate, please?
Me: *gives it*
Social Security Employee: *types furiously*
Me: *waits patiently*
Social Security Employee: Hmm. That's weird.
Me: ...Um, what's weird?
Social Security Employee: I can't find him in the system.
Me: That's not good.
Social Security Employee: *double-checks spelling*
Me: *confirms spelling is correct*
Social Security Employee: You applied at a specific office?
Me: Yes.
Social Security Employee: I suggest calling that office.
Me: Okay, thanks!

*a few minutes later*

Me: Hi, I'm calling to find out about my son's social security number. We applied for one six weeks ago but haven't received it yet.
Social Security Employee: Okay, what's the case reference number?
Me: *gives it*
Social Security Employee: *types furiously*
Me: *waits patiently*
Social Security Employee: It's showing as still pending.
Me: Ah. What's that mean?
Social Security Employee: We're still waiting on confirmation. It can be as quick as four, but sometimes it can take eight.
Me: That's longer.
Social Security Employee: Yes. I recommend calling back in two weeks.
Me: Okay then.


Dear Social Security Administration,

I promise you, my son is an American citizen, has never had a social security number, and was born. Please give him a number, because I have a whole bunch of grandparents who are getting really itchy about college savings. Thank you.

No love,

Me
azriona: (Family)
Dear Windows 7,

Thank you for inventing that split-screen thing. It's the only way I can make entries and still distract the baby with Muppets on YouTube. Current selection: Beaker's Ode to Joy.

Of course, I'm still disturbed that Andrew laughs every time Beaker electrocutes himself, but that's not entirely your fault.

Love,
Me


Dear Social Security Administration,

Thank you for not entirely sucking.

Appreciation (we're holding off on love for the next 4-6 weeks),
Me

Cut for a rather lengthy but theoretically funny transcript of what transpired today over several trips to the Social Security Office. Well, funny in retrospect, anyway. And if you're not me. )
azriona: (Default)
First and foremost, Living Social is offering a matching-funds-deal for donations to the American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund. Basically, you give $5 through their website, and they'll chuck in $5 as well. Pretty much a no-brainer, if you ask me.

Second, Andrew is officially official. We finally received his birth certificate in today's mail - although only one copy and not the promised two - so we can verify that he did not, in fact, appear via spontaneous combustion. (Frankly, I have my doubts some days. Forget oil, we should run the country on energy provided by toddlers.)

Next step: Social Security Number. And this ought to be interesting: to apply for a SSN, you need two forms of identification, one of which preferably would be photographic ID. (Not required. Just preferable.) Which is a bit....weird, if you're talking about a toddler. And somewhat ridiculous, because how am I supposed to get him a photo ID if he doesn't have a SSN already? Heck, he flew to Hawaii and back without photo ID - and I realize we're comparing airplanes to government institutions, but still. (And anyway, I fully expect TSA to start requiring IDs for toddlers any day now.)

Apparently the final adoption decree is enough, so I'm bringing that - which, if you've ever read a final adoption decree, is also ridiculous, because it doesn't have a lot of identifying information on it anyway. I'm also bringing the birth certificate (which, now that I look at it, is possibly not correct, but only in the most minor of issues: Andrew's birth weight is listed as 5 pounds, 14 ounces and not 13 ounces. More worrying: my last name is correct, but they've tacked Bill's last name onto it.)

Next, on a far more individualistic note, it's much nicer being sick in a two-parent household than in a one-parent household. )

So basically, I spent the day in bed sleeping, and Bill spent the day in Toddler 101. I'm not sure exactly how they busied themselves, but I think it involved some Muppets, Kung Fu Panda, a trip to the park to run around in circles, and I know Bill was threatening to take him to Hooters and possibly the hardware store. ("Because that seems like the kind of thing a boy should do with his father," said Bill when I asked why the hardware store, although I suppose the same applies to Hooters.)

And I'm feeling much better now, so I fully plan to trot off to the local Social Security office tomorrow to get Andrew's SSN. Theoretically, anyway. Hurrah!
azriona: (Family)
Anyone who thinks that adoption is easier than pregnancy can go jump off a frickin' cliff.

Andrew was born in DC.

The adoption was finalized in Virginia.

Virginia, upon completion of the adoption, was supposed to send DC a notice saying to change the birth certificate. DC would then send us the new amended birth certificate.

We were supposed to wait two months to let all this happen.

Two months was up yesterday.

After a week of leaving messages with DC's Vital Records, I finally talked to a human, who told me that they had no record of Andrew's adoption.

After much gnashing of teeth and screaming at trees (because I'm not going to scream at the woman who can't find the record - I have no doubt she really honestly can't), I called the lawyer who did all this.

Happy Ending, sort of: The lawyer thinks the adoption order is sitting in a pile somewhere in Virginia's Vital Records. He's going to skip them, get another copy of some sort of legal form from the country clerk, and take that down to DC's Vital Records, where he will request two copies of Andrew's new, amended birth certificate.

Which will arrive.

Eventually.

At which point we can do the things most parents did a year ago - you know, Social Security Number, passport, frickin' 529s for college savings?????

You know, I know Murphy's Law does not exactly apply to Andrew's adoption - after all, we still have him; this has not turned into a Lifetime movie of the week - but man, it feels like it some days.

Also, I love the adoption lawyer. Anyone needs an adoption lawyer in Maryland, Virginia, or DC, I totally have a recommendation for you.
azriona: (Andrew)
So I just got a call from the adoption lawyer.

Andrew's Adoption Has Been Finalized.


The funny part? It was all approved, stamped, sealed and completed on December 10 - exactly one year to the day after he was placed with us.

I know it's not quite serendipity, but it should be. :)
azriona: (Default)
As you all know, Andrew was adopted. As most of you probably don't know, according to the adoption contract, we have to provide a letter and photos once a year to be given to his birthparents.

Letter - check.

Photos - um. Well. We're really not supposed to give them more than ten.

I've taken a lot. I'm estimating around two thousand, with about two hundred of those having been shared online already.

And I'm supposed to further narrow that down to ten?

Yeah. So. Help.

Here are the twenty-three top contenders for sharing with Andrew's birthparents. You don't have to pick ten, but if you could tell me which ones you think should definitely go in, I'd appreciate it. Thank you!



(You can also see them on the Fotki page directly, if that's easier.)

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