Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?

Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it

Randomness October 27, 2008

Filed under: Adoption,Critters,Faith,Fire,Other Stuff — Steph @ 8:55 am

If you make a ham and give your dogs a small plate full they will wake you up 5 times in the night to go outside.  Wow I miss my dog door! Elizabeth is in to Thomas the Train all the sudden.  I am relieved to watch something besides Cars.  She likes Lilo & Stitch but given the choice she picks Cars every time.  I bought her a Handy Manny DVD and a couple of Thomas DVD’s including the Thomas movie with Alec Baldwin.  She’d rather watch the Thomas episodes with the narrator and the fake people.  I like Handy Manny it’s cute, but secretly I wonder why she would rather watch tools, trains, and trucks than Strawberry Shortcake?!  She’s gonna be Abby Cadaby (sp?) for Halloween.  My one saving grace, she loves shoes and dresses!  🙂 We took my mom to the neuro surgeon last week and we went to the mall in Cheyenne (I didn’t know they had a mall!?!?!).  We were in Dillards and Elizabeth sees the Croclings and FLIPS.  She HAS to have the Cinderella Croclings?!  So I am like OK, they’re pink, they have a princess on them, RIGHT ON!  Then we get to the check out and guess what they have?!  Jibbitz with Mater and Lightning McQueen.  <sigh>  So she now has Cinderella Croclings with Mater on one and Lightning McQueen on the other.  <double sigh> Oh and did I mention she doesn’t sleep in the car?  She talks, the whole way (I know she gets that from me).  Guess what she talks about on the interstate?!  You guessed it, trucks and trains.  So she makes up this little diddy where she goes “trucks and trains and trucks and trains”.  And it’s SO flipping cute cuz she like sings it!  But…  it gets old after the 100th mile or so! Joey is just busy trying to keep up with his schedule for hockey and scouts.  He’s tired on the weekend.  For some reason he can’t sleep in on Sundays.  Silly internal clocks.  Niether kid does, but I sure wish he would because 6 PM practice on Friday and then 7 AM on Saturday makes for a tired kiddo.  He won’t nap, it’s against his 8 year old boy code, so I bought him some new books (Captain Underpants anyone?) and he spent a good part of Saturday afternoon just reading quietly.  Then we went and saw HSM3 which he’s been waiting a year to see.  I gotta say I thought of the 3 it had the best story line.  Not fond of the music so much.  The first had such great music and the 2nd had catchy music.  This one I just didn’t think the music was so great.  Of course Joey disagrees…  Definitely for kids, but I can stomach them because Joey loves them and they’re good wholesome fun for him.  I was disgusted with the woman behind us though.  She had about a 3 year old boy and a 4 or 5 year old girl.  She talked through the WHOLE movie!  Not the kids, the mom!!  I was so livid!  The 5 year old was asking questions and rather than whisper the answers to her she was really loud!  I’m not one of those people who gets irritated with kids in kid movies but this was a bit different, the little boy was totally dis-interested and spent the whole time messing around bumping in to Joe and Joey’s chairs.  The woman spent the whole time explaining the movie to the young girl.  At one point she goes “Stanford is one of the best schools in the country”.  <sigh>  Like her 4 year old cares?!  Explain it to her at home!  Then at one point they are dancing and the girl’s skirts flip up and she goes “oh my goodness!”  really loud!  I’m like “lady, it’s a musical and they dance, they have on bloomers for crying out loud!”  Then there was the kiss (one kiss in 2 and 3 btw) and she goes “oh, did you see that on the previews?” to her 4 year old?!  WTH?!  It’s not like they were getting down and dirty, it was a kiss!  Crimeny!  Can you tell I was annoyed?!  She literally didn’t shut up the WHOLE 2 hours!! Anyway, Joey is being tested for the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program and we’ll find out in a couple of weeks if he’s accepted.  He scored in the 91st percentile on the standardized test they did a few weeks ago.  It’s funny because Joey doesn’t test well, he has trouble sitting through tests and focusing on getting the test done in time.  During these tests I was worried, they were right after the fire and I was sure he would not do well on them.  So I asked them to let him do them later and they said they were just a “practice run” to see what they need to work on for the real Spring tests.  Turns out I was worried for nothing and he did well obviously.  I assume he’ll be admitted to GATE which I’ve been waiting for since kindergarten so that’s exciting!  He gets so bored in a regular classroom all day long, I have literally just been waiting for 3rd grade and the GATE program! I think I have PTSD.  Probably not a surprise.  I want to see a counselor but I don’t know of any good ones in town and I don’t want to spend the money right now.  The fire wiped us out, replacing a minimal amount of clothes, toys, books, shoes, coats, etc… adds up.  Not to mention having to stock a kitchen from scratch when you are used to a FULL freezer and pantry you’ve been filling for years!  So I am holding off even though I know I need to see someone at some point.  Hopefully soon as I think I probably need some therapy.  For now I am just trying to deal and my regular physician is helping me as is my family. I still have nightmares about my dogs and animals dying.  They don’t always die in a fire though, it’s always something different.  The other night I dreamt Sugar (my oldest dog) was locked in a room with rabid coyotes?!  WTH?!  The Clonopin keeps the nightmares at bay, and other than exhaustion when I don’t take the Clonopin and have the nightmares, I am holding up OK. The stupid insurance company is launching some investigation in to the fire of course.  They want ALL kinds of personal information I’m not giving them access to.  Like employment records, bank statements, etc…  I didn’t have to supply those things to BUY my house, I’m not giving them up now with all the identity theft.  Plus Joe just got a new job, how would it look if some insurance investigator was calling them to check on his character?! Apparently this is common practice in total loss fires.  I am just disgusted by it.  It’s like saying “this family lost EVERYTHING so in order to stall having to pay out we’ll just put them through even more Hell”.  I thought it might have something to do with our complaint to the insurance commissioner and I’m still not 100% sure it didn’t/doesn’t.  But I called them and she said they do this a majority of times in a fire and it really sucks.  It’s an electrical fire, ruled as such by the fire department so they have NO basis to put us through an “investigation” but of course whatever it takes to not have to pay out.  I told the one rep the other day it’s just insane.  People don’t set their homes on fire to go backward!  We lost a lot of un-insured animals (not insurable), cages, feed, etc…  plus we’re under insured on our home by quite a bit, so we don’t have enough in the policy max to re-build our home and are probably short a bit on a down payment on a new home.  Who in their right mind sets their home on fire to end up on the street?!  Not to mention the money we sunk in to the house to replace the plumbing, re-do the bathrooms, flooring, etc…  it’s just insane, we are SO not going to even come close to recouping those costs.  Needless to say I was not happy with the investigation and I said as much to the investigator.  You’d think while they’re shelling out a huge amount of rent a month on furniture, this house, etc… they would want to get us paid out and out of their hair?! Well I think that’s about it.  I didn’t blog much last week because I took my mom to Cheyenne for her appointment and that was an exhausting day with Elizabeth in tow, and I am trying to fight off a sinus infection so I really just didn’t feel up to it after wrangling Elizabeth all day.  😉 I promise to try to do better!  Thank you all for your comments and concerns, they made me feel better, somehow assured me I am not going crazy!


Just for Terra… February 27, 2008

Filed under: Adoption,Kids,Life — Steph @ 1:55 pm

Just cuz Terra asked…

 I haven’t written just because I have nothing good to say to be honest. 

I am having a difficult time and I would hate for everyone to know my life’s not perfect (ha ha).  I don’t have anything witty to say and I really don’t have anything positive to say so I just figured it was better to not say anything at all.  You know the old “if you can’t say anything nice…” thing.

I am sick of the weather, UGH!  I like Winter a lot usually but this Winter is kicking my butt.  It snows and is freezing cold all of the time and then bam, it’s 40 degrees, melting off and we have ice everywhere and then a stupid skiff of snow.  Anyone know what happens when you add a layer of snow to melted snow?  You get ice.  ICK!  I am really just ready for it to decide what it’s going to do.

I spent Valentine’s Day in tears over something most would consider ridiculous.  Without going in to all of the gory details, when I was in Colorado with my dying grandpa Joe pulled a shi**y which he rarely does, but he did.  It’s not the end of the world by a long shot but I was already at my lowest and got kicked by the person who’s supposed to be there for me.  That sucked, and I thought I was OK and could blow it off because it’s really not such a huge deal, apparently I was lying to myself as it just all hit me at once and I literally just couldn’t stop crying.

To be really honest I think I have just been really knocked down and I am having trouble getting back up.  Losing two grandparents and a really good friend in two months was a lot to handle.  Having a sick mother and mother-in-law over Christmas and trying to do everything for everyone was a lot to handle, and I think it’s just catching up with me now.

The worst part of it all is that as I write this I KNOW a good friend is going through something MUCH, MUCH, worse although I don’t know what and I am realizing I’ve been a crappy friend while dealing with my life.  I didn’t ask what was going on in hers and I’m feeling horrible for that and really hoping she’s OK and knows I am here even if I was too selfish to let her know that when she needed it.

So…  you asked!  🙂  I’m really going to be OK.  I am lucky, there are people out there who have it much worse, I’m just taking a wallow in my self pity I guess! 

Oh, and did you know when you adopt a baby you get screwed by the IRS and the state?  UGH!  I am irritated so I have to rant.  There is a measly adoption credit which don’t get me wrong is nice to have but even with them raising the credit it still barely scratches the surface.  Our adoption was CHEAP compared to most and it still didn’t touch it.  I don’t know how all of you do it who have to spend SO much more.  So, the state of California is a disaster and getting any kind of legal document out of them is next to impossible.  You get a form letter saying “we appreciate your application and it’s currently sitting on a desk in the mail room under the other million applications, and you MAY get your document sometime before you die”.  Not really, but it feels like that.  Long story short, we have no birth certificate for Elizabeth still.  We were supposed to get it in January but it’s not here.  We applied last March, that’s truly how long it takes, a minimum of 10 months.  We didn’t know that last year so we extended our taxes waiting on it so we could get a SS card for her.  Once we got this letter we went ahead and did them without her SS# which means you can’t claim her as a dependant.  We figured we’d have it by now so we waited and waited and still nothing.  Even if it came today it would still do no good as taxes are due by April and a SS card takes a while.  So once again we filed without her SS#.  That means no electronic filing, no dependant credit for her, etc…  So I now have 2 years worth of tax returns I have to have amended when she is finally recognized by the government as a US born citizen.  UGH!  We could have applied for a TIN# for her in her birth name but we’d have had to change it all anyway so it’s a lesser of two evils thing.  It just annoys me because it will cost more money to amend them when/if we finally get it and it makes more paperwork for me. 

There are a lot of worse things out there I know, but it annoys me they don’t have a better system in place for adoptive parents.  When you spend as much money as people do on adoption that $1000 credit is a big deal.  KWIM?  Once again I just keep reminding myself it could have been SO much worse.  Instead of two years worth of tax returns to amend we could have had a snag in the adoption and not been able to keep our daughter God forbid, so in the grand scheme of things it’s a petty, stupid gripe I know.

Joey’s really sick again, this has been a bad year for him which is a bummer.  We had such a good year last year, we even stopped his asthma meds completely, and this year, UGH.  Even with the meds he’s been sick A LOT.  So much so the school keeps bugging me.  I have to get a note from a doctor for him to miss a day of school.  Thankfully his doctor is awesome and has just written a blanket note, but it’s a hassle when the school social worker calls to see if he’s OK and if life is OK.  It makes me feel like a bad parent.  He didn’t have a flu shot because for him it’s a catch 22.  He’s high risk because his immunity is low, but the shot is iffy for him as well since it can actually cause flu like symptoms which could land him in the hospital in an O2 tent.  Now I feel better about not doing the shot knowing it was worthless this year anyway. Half the town is sick so it’s not a stretch to think he’d be sick but I was really hoping he was outgrowing it all and then reality slapped us in the face.  So, we’re back to 4 puffs of Albuterol every 4 hours and him just being miserable and cranky and home from school.  He’s a good student so he can make up the work in absolutely no time, but it sucks to see him so sick and miserable and realize he’s probably not outgrowing it all and it will be a lifelong problem for him.

At least Elizabeth is an extremely healthy child.  Even when Joey is at his sickest she never catches anything (knock on wood).  I honestly believe it’s because she’s not been exposed to it all.  Joey was in daycare as a baby and had RSV 3 times and that’s why he’s so sick all of the time and has asthma.  Elizabeth wasn’t in daycare, was home with me and she’s never sick.  There’s a big something to be said for being able to stay home with her.

So that’s it, I am simply wallowing and haven’t had anything good to say so I’ve refrained!  I promise to get back to my regularly scheduled non-whiny, poor me posting ASAP!


What to do?? April 9, 2007

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Life — Steph @ 9:07 pm

I don’t blog much about my adoption and the ups and downs of it, but I am at a bit of a loss right now and have no clue what to do. I warn you this will be fairly long but if you can read it and offer some advice I would greatly appreciate it!!

Elizabeth’s birth mother [we’ll call her Jane for the purpose of this post to protect her identity] is very young, very naive, and very alone. She’s in foster care with no family support. We didn’t go through an adoption agency because of time constraints and I really wish we had. I believe she needs some counseling and I’m not sure what to do about it. Also, to be perfectly honest I’m not sure we couldn’t have used to some counseling to prepare us for what we would be facing. There was just no way to do that with the time constraints. If we’d known a little earlier we could have avoided a lot of this I think, but we had so little time to get through the legal side of it, the emotional side just wasn’t a priority.

Before anyone says it, I know it’s not my problem. She’s not my concern and I can’t “fix” her problems and I know that. This is purely selfish, I am sorry for her, but more so I am concerned about what I think is an unhealthy understanding she has of this situation and the possible implications for my daughter.

She seems to have a skewed idea of what “adoption” means. A couple of times now she’s made the comment “I’m so glad you’re taking care of my baby”. The first time she said it was prior to Elizabeth’s birth. I was highly uncomfortable with the comment and had a very firm discussion with her about it. I nicely but firmly tried to make sure she understood she was giving her baby up to us. We aren’t just borrowing her. We won’t be giving her back at some point. She said she understood but I wasn’t convinced. So I called an adoption social worker for the state of California that I’d become friendly with and spoke with her about it. It was well beyond her scope. Her job was simply to speak to Jane for the state of CA and make sure she knew her options and didn’t need to sign Elizabeth over to the state. Once she spoke to her and discovered we intended to adopt Elizabeth she called me to be sure we were actual people who were actually interested and that we had attorneys, etc… She basically wanted to be sure she wasn’t needed. She was super nice to speak with, very excited at the prospect of not having to make Elizabeth a ward of the state (Elizabeth wasn’t born yet just to be clear here), and offered any further assistance she could provide even though officially her job was done. So, when this came up I called her and spoke to her. She decided to go out and have a talk with Jane. She did so the next day. She spoke with her and then called me to let me know she felt Jane had some level of understanding but was young and naive. She felt reality would set in and she’d be fine. She again stressed the permanence of the situation to Jane.

I think a large part of this can be blamed on Jane’s state appointed social worker. Early on she had a social worker who opposed adoption based on her personal religious beliefs. She was a real pain in the butt. She bullied Jane relentlessly. She kept attorneys for the state and the adoption social worker from being able to speak with Jane. She even tried to block Jane’s own family from speaking to her. Being as she’s a ward of the state her family has to have permission to contact her. Many of them do but she threatened to revoke their privileges. I called upon the above mentioned adoption social worker at that point as well. She sprung in to action immediately and removed the court appointed social worker from the case. Everyone from Jane’s court appointed attorney to her foster parents to her birth family to Jane herself knew she shouldn’t raise Elizabeth, but this social worker really, really, pushed her. Once the social worker was removed from the case things went a lot more smoothly but I believe she’d done some damage and given Jane some false information.

So, while in California to gain custody of Elizabeth, we worked well as a team, Jane and I. But I again was sure to point out to her that this situation was very permanent. I also was quick to correct her when she’d say “I wish I could keep my baby but I can’t”. Of course she could have kept her. It would have been difficult and it was probably not the best option for Elizabeth or Jane, but it could have been done. I made sure she understood it “could” be done, and tried to give her as much thinking time as possible to be sure she was very sure of what she was doing. On top of that, in California we had to hire a state approved social worker to be an advocate for Jane. She was responsible for getting the consents signed and making sure Jane was comfortable signing them and understood what she was signing. She’s a state social worker but she is approved by the state to do this job as well. We were required to hire her and pay her fees, but she was there to advocate for Jane. When she brought the consents to us at our hotel along with the paperwork granting us our temporary custody, she told me Jane was all about “me, me, me” she said she only mentioned Elizabeth once and was very in to the self centered attitude that seems to accompany teenage girls. I was comforted by that and was sure she’d be OK once she settled back in to her routine, her schoolwork, her church, her life, etc…

I must point out here, the decision to place Elizabeth was never a question. From the second Jane found herself pregnant she knew she would not keep her. She briefly considered abortion before deciding adoption was the best route. So, I’m not questioning her choice to place Elizabeth or her choice to place her with us, but rather her understanding of the permanency of adoption and the circumstances surrounding adoption itself. She was a 15 year old with a tumultuous family situation who herself was born addicted to cocaine and has suffered greatly in her life. She wants a better life for herself than her parents chose for themselves. It’s important to her that she be the first to graduate highschool and then college and not become an addict, so the choice to place was an easy one for her (if it’s ever easy).

Fast forward almost 8 months (wow, has it been that long??!!)… We agreed Jane could phone us occasionally for updates and we’d send photographs. We also agreed should she ever find herself in our area we could arrange a visit in a public setting. This is an agreement everyone was comfortable with. The phone calls are few and far between at this point and that’s fine with me. I expected her to get on with her life and find it un-necessary to continually check in. I didn’t expect her to forget by any means, but I did expect her to move on and not let this forever be in the forefront of her mind and she seems to be doing exactly that.

However, her aunt has been an issue. A few months ago her aunt popped in to town and called us to tell us she was leaving town in an hour and she wanted to see Elizabeth. I was annoyed with the lack of prior notice and really wanted to refuse the visit.

I am not fond of this aunt. I was originally going to delve in to the subject of this aunt but I changed my mind. I will simply say, she’s apparently quite self centered and decided a married man was more important than Jane so she packed up and moved to Illinois leaving Jane a ward of the state of California.

Her aunt seems to feel like we owe her something. Because my mother-in-law befriended them when they lived here, thus giving us the connection we shared that allowed us to adopt Elizabeth, she seems to feel like we are one big family. We’re not. I don’t owe her anything. Jane doesn’t owe her anything. She continually lets Jane down and hurts her and she’s not someone I want actively participating in my daughter’s life. I feel I can make that choice for Elizabeth to protect her. I can’t choose to delete Jane from her life past or future, but I can choose to delete this aunt.

So… last week we get a call from Jane. She’s just checking on Elizabeth and mentions two things that seriously concerned me and one that angered me greatly. First of all, the afore mentioned aunt was supposed to send me Jane’s e-mail address so I could send Jane pictures. She didn’t follow through, so I sent pictures to the aunt and specifically asked that she forward them to Jane. Apparently she didn’t. Jane hasn’t gotten any of them!! I was quite upset about this. I got Jane’s e-mail address and told her I would be sending pictures ONLY to her from now on.

Now comes the very uncomfortable part. She mentioned several times, “I’m so glad you are caring for MY baby”. Then she goes on to say how she’ll be visiting the afore mentioned aunt this Summer and she’ll be out of the foster care system herself in August, and could she possibly “stop by for a visit”. First of all, the aunt doesn’t live here, she’s in Illinois a good 16 hours away. So I quickly said “your aunt isn’t here is she?” She said “oh no, she’s still in Illinois!” I said “then how are you going to ‘stop by’?” She said “well it’s only 16 hours!” Ummm… OK The aunt hates Gillette, she complained about having to come here to finalize her own divorce. Needless to say I doubt they’ll be “stopping by” but her apparent naivety has me uncomfortable & concerned for her and for Elizabeth. I let it all slide with her, I didn’t mention any of it to her, but I think I am going to have to do something different here.

On top of all of this, she keeps asking me when we’ll be having professional pictures done of Elizabeth so we can send them to her. I had pictures done at Christmas but they’re of Elizabeth and Joey so I didn’t send them to her and frankly I don’t feel it’s right for her to ask me to have portraits done just for her. First of all, she has NO concept of what the adoption cost in the first place, when we were in California and she made reference to the costs, I outlined what we’d spent that far. At that point we weren’t even close to half done. Her comment at the time? “Wow, you must be rich”. Ummm… OK Joe and I’s simultaneous response to her? “Not anymore!” Again this just outlines her immaturity and naivety. As my blog has surely shown, my husband takes very good photographs so I really think they’re more than adequate and I have sent her copies, so for her to seek more than what she’s been sent seems wrong to me.

I spoke to my lawyer the other day about the finalization of our adoption and while I was on the phone with him we discussed the situation and my concerns. He and his wife are adoptive parents themselves. Two of their children come from Vietnam and one was adopted privately from California. Their adoption is also open but the birth mother doesn’t call or write them. He told me his wife sends photos and a letter quarterly but they send them through his office. He thinks this is a good option for us as well. I am just not sure what to do here. What I do know is I don’t want to parent Jane as well. I don’t want to have to be the one to counsel her and I don’t want to have to worry about her emotional well being and right now I am very concerned about it. I am concerned about it because it’s not good for her, but more so because I don’t want to have feelings of unrest surrounding Elizabeth.

What I do know is, I made it clear twice during the recent conversation, if anyone wants to come visit we HAVE to have advance notice and an hour or even a day doesn’t cut it, and we will meet in a public place. I feel very strongly that our home should be free of the feelings and emotion that accompany these meetings. I just don’t know how to make it clear to Jane and her family that we aren’t “borrowing” Elizabeth and we aren’t all going to be one big happy family one day, that Elizabeth won’t be some day returning to them.

I don’t want to have to get “formal” about this, but it’s concerning and I am afraid the situation is going to explode if we don’t do something. I really, really, will welcome any and all ideas here.


BIG, BIG, BIG, NEWS!!! April 4, 2007

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Life — Steph @ 7:37 pm

We got word today…..

Our adoption is final!!! We have a final decree signed by a judge who “felt VERY good about this placement” and was very happy to sign off on it!!

I can’t add much more than that so I’ll leave you with a couple of other photos of OUR angel although her “hero worship” picture with her brother is the best I have in my collection!


Just an Update February 25, 2007

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Life — Steph @ 12:07 pm

Wow, I haven’t blogged in quite a while! So, just an update on what’s been going on here…

We’re all sick! UGH!! We have all had some kind of upper respiratory virus that has just knocked me down big time. It has lingered for a while so tomorrow I am going to see the doctor to see if I need an antibiotic. It comes and goes, one day you’ll feel good and the next you feel crummy again. On Thursday night Lizzie got sick. She hasn’t been sick yet, not even a sniffle and I was really hoping she’d stay that way. A couple of times I think she tried to come down with a cold but she’d just sleep it off and be fine the next day. After what we went through with Joey I had a little break down on Friday night, the thought of another baby in and out of the hospital, poked, prodded, on breathing meds, etc… was just too much for me to handle, especially considering I am sick and Joe’s still in India.

Lizzie has Croup, I knew it was Croup on Thursday night, you just can’t mistake that cough. On Friday night she got worse and worse so we finally took her to the ER at midnight. Of course it’s Croup so by the time we got there she was fine. Cold air + Croup = mommy looks silly at the doctor’s!

Thankfully they know us there. Having a mom who works across the hall from the ER is a big bonus! They didn’t laugh us out of there (and I swear she went from being miserable to playing and talking) but instead said it’s almost definitely Croup since the cold air helped and they went ahead and gave her some Decadron (sp?) to keep her airways open. That really helped. Oddly enough she’d been spiking temps all day on Friday, 101, 102, etc… we get to the ER and not even a temp. By the time we got home it was back up to 100.9 though.

All of that aside, my daughter is such an angel. Up until yesterday she never even fussed. You could tell she felt miserable, she had that glassy eyed, red eyed, look of a baby that feels like crud and yet she still smiled, laughed, talked, and just never fussed. Yesterday she acted a bit more like a “normal” sick baby and was a bit fussy. Today she’s been a little better and her cough is much better.

My SIL was sick last week. Try having this crud and being 7.5 months pregnant! YICK!!! She finally had to take something for it so they gave her an antibiotic and she’s much better now.

Amazingly the only person in my family (and by family I mean, mom, dad, brother, SIL, nephew, you name it) who hasn’t been sick is Joey!!! Can you believe that?? It blows my mind! He has done SO well. A year ago this virus would have landed him in the hospital on breathing treatments and in a mist tent. He has just done amazingly well this year!!! I pray he stays this way. The flu hadn’t hit here until last week. Just last week the pediatrician was suggesting a flu shot for Lizzie and Joey and I swear the next day it hit and 3 people were hospitalized.

I think Lizzie actually caught the croup at the doctor’s office. We went in a little over a week ago for her vaccinations and there were 3 kids in the waiting room sounding very croupy. I even mentioned them to my mom. Their mom was nice enough to say “why don’t you guys sit over here away from that baby” but of course an airborne virus doesn’t care where they sit! I don’t think she has what I have because her symptoms are different. Mine started out as a nasty head cold and I think has blossomed in to a fun sinus infection. Hers was all in her chest.

So, that’s it in a nutshell, I’ve been fighting this crud off and on for almost 3 full weeks, one day I feel good the next I feel icky. The worst has been the headache and the fatigue. My house looks like a train ran through it. Today I am going to get up and get a few things done, I can’t just ignore it anymore. I have been keeping up on my cages, but other than that it’s a wreck. We are literally living out of laundry baskets because I don’t have the energy to fold the laundry!

Last weekend we went to Billings to watch my cousin play basketball. She’s the one of the stars of the MSU Billings girls basketball team and as a Senior it was her last home game. She holds a lot of MSU’s records and is truly a gifted basketball player. She’s been playing since she could walk and she has a true love of the game. Unfortunately she has a stress fracture in her foot and the doctor wouldn’t clear her to play Senior night. They have a big tournament coming up in Texas so if she had played and caused the foot to fracture any further she would have had to have surgery and not been able to play the tournament in Texas. She was crushed and afraid no one would come! We of course went! It stunk that she had to sit out the game, but they make a big deal of Senior Night and had a ceremony, cake, after party, etc… We skipped the after party as the kids were wiped out, but the game and ceremony were a blast and we had breakfast with her the next morning. All 3 kids (Joey, Logan, and Lizzie) had fun. Lizzie HATED the game! She did fine until the buzzer sounded, she hates the buzzer and she cried when the crowd cheered or booed loudly. The other sound she hated? The announcer! Something about his voice over the speaker really bothered her! By about half time she’d settled down quite a bit and by the end she was OK. She really liked watching them play as long as it was quiet! What didn’t bother her at all? The band! Go figure! My mom took her out for the first half but the 2nd half I took her back in so she would see it wasn’t as awful as she thought. :o)

What else?

Joey is a genius. I know I am biased, but the child is just supremely smart! They gave him a “reading fluency” test. 34 WPM is above average, he did 71 WPM. Apparently the test is not just on the words but the actual ability to read them correctly with proper inflection, etc… He struggles in school. He’s not a good student. He gets bored. He and his teacher have had a personality conflict all year. Unfortunately I think she just doesn’t know how to deal with him and she has no desire to try. She’s a bit lazy about it. She feels he could behave better and has the ability to be an extremely good student but his behavior gets in the way so she’s made it her personal mission to make him in to what she feels he should be. In case you’re wondering, that to her is a child who sits all day long and never moves, never speaks out of turn, never shows any excitement or enthusiasm. Of course he forgets to raise his hand occasionally, he’s 7 and in first grade!!

We think he literally is just too advanced for the class work. He finishes before the rest of the class and then gets bored. Last year his teacher gave him double work for that reason. If he was busy he was fine. So she’d give him two assignments to do so he wouldn’t be done first and get bored and in to trouble. She was awesome, instead of complaining, she actually did something to help him thrive.

Unfortunately the best school in the district for accelerated kids is short staffed and at capacity. We will keep trying to switch him. I did finally have it out with the principal over Joey’s teacher and things have improved. For the first half of the year I swear not one single positive report came out of that classroom. She marks papers like a highschool teacher would. -1 or -2 or -3. No stickers, no smilies, no stars, no nothing. If it was a good paper she’d write “100” on it. That was it. I allowed as how kids at this age need positive reinforcement and she’s not teaching highschool students or college students but 1st graders!!! Do you know she’s the ONLY teacher in the district who gives spelling tests the way she does? She gives them in sentences. They have to write the sentence. She marks down for punctuation and capatilization! Now I know those things are important, but in 1st grade it’s a bit much I think. He has done well with it, but a lot of parents have complained about her “curriculum” being just way too advanced. And homework? They are supposed to have about 10 minutes a night of homework. Instead? They have a good 30-45 minutes most nights and some nights it’s a full hour. Early in the year they had 30 words a week to learn. Word Wall words x 10… Spelling words x 10… Sight words x 10… It was a lot. Joey didn’t struggle with it but I know others in his class really had a tough time. She keeps telling us Joey should be scoring “above average” on everything and yet his report cards don’t reflect it. She gives him “average” marks on things. Their report cards are set up on a numerical scale. 1-4. 1 being needs help, 2 being improving, 3 being at expected level, 4 being meets or exceeds expectations. She told us at parent teacher conferences in the middle of the 2nd quarter that he should be at 4 on most everything by the 3rd quarter. He’s at 3 on most everything. 3 is great, I am happy with 3, but they’re not fair marks. Just for instance, one of the things he had a 3 on last quarter was “Able to write stories with a beginning, middle, and end”. Now this is something Joey does for FUN! I swear he spends about 80% of his out of school time making books. He loves it. That’s all he’s done this entire weekend is make books and beg me to let him type them up on the computer. These books all have beginning, middle, and endings. Also, reading fluency, she marked him at a 3. Obviously according to her test he’s exceeding expectations, so where does the 3 come in? When it all came to a head a little over a month ago I almost pulled him from her class. There are 2 first grade classrooms and we considered moving him. After talking with him he seems to be doing OK. I think he actually thrives a bit under her dictatorship, and aside from that he would have had to learn another teacher’s style well in to the 3rd quarter. It just wasn’t beneficial. So, I spoke to the principal, the teacher, and the school social worker and things have vastly improved. He’s actually brought home about 10 papers with positive marks on them. I’m sure it’s tough for her to take the 10 seconds to draw a smiley face or attach a sticker, but she’s doing it. My sincere hope is that they BOTH learn something from this school year.

I could go on and on about our struggles with her this year. In the end I really think it just all boils down to a personality conflict and her being just so very rigid. They come from kindergarten which is basically just a free for all, to her classroom where she treats them like high school students and it’s just a HUGE culture shock. My aunt is a principal at two schools in the district (both rural because she lives 60 miles north of town before you ask why I don’t move him) and she told me early on that other teachers in the district dislike this teacher’s methods. She urged me to complain, push her, speak to the principal, and stay on top of it. I have talked to her at length about the things coming home, the phone calls, the conferences, etc… and she has said over and over again to just keep pushing for reform with this teacher. She’s not one to ever side against any teacher, it’s that professional code we all have when it comes to our peers, but she’s been different with this one. She said at this age they should be learning in a fun way, they are supposed to be encouraging them to enjoy school, explore school, embrace the opportunities, etc… not treating them like prisoners in a juvenile detention center which is really what this all boils down to. I think this teacher would be exceptional at a high school level. At elementary? Not so much.

Anywho, enough on that, you get the point!

What else…

This is getting long so I’ll wrap it up. Lizzie was 17 lb. 8 oz. at her last appointment, she’s in the 75th percentile for weight. Height she was I believe 29 inches (I have to look on the card LOL) but also in the 75th. She is very healthy, happy, and bright. She’s sitting up if I sit her up, she can’t pull herself up yet but mostly I think because she won’t try. She HATES to be on her belly, and I mean hates it. I’ve never seen anything like it. She used to scream until we flipped her to her back, now she just rolls herself over. We’ll see if she crawls since you kind of have to be on your belly to learn to crawl! She really wants to be mobile so we’ll see. Her doctor thinks she’ll be mobile by her next check up and she thinks she may skip crawling. Right now if she wants to get something, she’ll lay on her back and use her legs to scoot herself to it. It’s really quite something and as a result she has a patch of hair in the back of her head that’s shorter than the rest and I’m not sure will ever grow in! LOL She talks all the time, babble, babble, babble, and she’s in to reaching for everything. She especially likes cups, she thinks she’s big enough to just grab one so we have to be careful with those. I bought her a sippy cup, she won’t hold it like she will my cups. Little bugger! She could hold her bottle and her cup if she tried but she prefers I hold them. If she wants it bad enough she’ll do it, but otherwise let mom do it! I think in another month she’ll have her abs strengthened to the point she’ll sit up that way. She does a lot of crunches trying to sit herself up! LOL

Joe will be home the 6th of March. Joey has a hockey tournament next weekend that will be fun.

That’s really all there is to report! I’ll do my meme’s this week since I’ve slacked off on them for the last 3 full weeks!! :o)


What Am I (continued) February 1, 2007

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Life — Steph @ 12:33 am

To continue I just want to say first I am not so much worried what others think of me but I am sad at how some bloggers choose to discredit those of us who do our adoptions differently or approach them differently. I don’t care what they think of me but I care how what they said makes me feel about myself and it really made me sad to think that in some people’s eyes and hearts any reason for choosing adoption would be discredited. Hopefully that makes sense.

To wrap this up, I just want to say, I am feeling like it’s unfair to discredit anyone’s decision to adopt. It’s not fair to analyze why we made the choice, how we made the choice, how we went about it, etc… We all make the choice for different and very personal reasons and just because we make the choice for the reasons we do doesn’t make us any less of a parent, adopted or otherwise.

I think adoption is a very personal thing, it’s a choice hopefully always made for a good reason and as long as the children involved are entering loving homes with loving families (and I realize that’s not always the case) then why analyze a person’s reasonings? Does it really matter that I didn’t know Elizabeth was meant for me until she was put in my path? How can any of us know what the future holds for us? We can hope that our future will be what we want it to be, but when we’re given the opportunity to take a different path, why should that be discredited?

God has a plan for me. His plan and mine might not seem to mesh at this point, but I know his plan is the right one for me. His plan for me included Elizabeth and Joey and I am so amazed by that each and every single day. If his plan includes more children, biological or adopted, I will welcome it and embrace it. If it doesn’t, I will be thankful for what I’ve been given, the children He’s entrusted me with, and I will make every single second count, isn’t that really all that matters?


What Am I? January 31, 2007

Filed under: Adoption,Blogging,Family,Life — Steph @ 12:57 am

OK, so I don’t mind telling you I am having a bit of an identity crisis. I’ve been reading some adoption blogs and I have to say they have really bothered me at times.

What I have discovered is that many adoptive parents don’t like when people turn to adoption as a “second choice”. I find that hard to figure out myself. We tried to have a 2nd baby for 5 full years, does that make me less worthy of my daughter now? I never, ever, considered Elizabeth our “2nd choice”. Does it make me less of a parent because I didn’t know adoption was something I was capable of? Does it make me less of an adoptive parent because I have one biological child and one adopted? I can tell you without a doubt, I love my children equally, when I think of my children I never think of them as “my bio child” and “my adopted child”. I think of them as MY CHILDREN, my heart, my soul, my life, my joys, God’s gifts to me. It never comes in to my mind to think “my adopted daughter needs fed” or “my biological son needs help with his homework”. Why must there be labels? Why does it have to be a 1st or 2nd choice? I didn’t make the choice to have a 2nd child in any particular way. Did I try to have one naturally? Yes. Did it occur to me to turn away from the opportunity to adopt Elizabeth knowing there was a better than good chance I could have In-Vetro and get pregnant? No. So what am I? Am I one of those people not worthy of adoption because I tried to get pregnant?

I have to be honest in that adoption literally just fell in our lap. I mentioned it to Joe a couple of times and that was really the extent of any consideration. I never took any classes, attended any workshops, spoke to any agencies, or did any research. Literally we talked about the possibility a couple of times and that’s as far as we got.

Then one day the phone rang. I had decided to stop fertility treatments until I could decide whether or not to go to Denver for a 3rd opinion and had resolved to look in to adoption a little further before I made that decision, but I had done so quietly, not knowing how Joe felt about the prospect. So the phone rings and it’s my mother-in-law. She says “I have something to tell you, something for you to consider, and I don’t even know if I should mention it to you because I don’t know if it’s something you’d be open to.” So I said… “Ummm… OK” So she went on to tell me about Elizabeth’s birth mother. She said “[Insert birth mother’s name here] is pregnant and in foster care in California and is going to place the baby, I didn’t know if it would be something you guys would consider but thought I’d mention it.” I have to admit. I made my decision right then and there. I never had to think about it. I never rationalized it, I didn’t care what it took. I loved Elizabeth from that second on. When Joe got home I spoke to him about it. He was of course more sensible than I was “can we afford another baby after all the money we’ve sunk in to the house, can we afford a lawyer, what will we have to do, who do we call, how will Joey feel, etc… ” In the end he decided we could do this, would do this. So we started making calls. We had about 3.5 months to put everything together because Elizabeth’s birth mother was already 6 months along when she called us, so it was all very crazy and hectic.

The next part of my identity crisis comes in when I think about how little I knew of the process I didn’t have time to research, attend workshops, have adoptive parent counseling, etc…

At the time trying to get a home study done, paperwork done, locate an attorney in California, navigate around the laws in two states, and convince an adoption worker for the state of California that we were serious about this and we were a good choice. WOW. I thought I was bogged down, I thought we had bumps in the road, there were definite moments of heartbreak, loads of stress, sleepless nights, tears, and fears. BUT, I have now realized we went through NOTHING compared to what others have gone through. I am actually a bit ashamed of myself because at the time I was crying on the shoulder of anyone who would listen. The home study was coming along slowly, my attorney here was dragging his feet, etc… One of the people I leaned on was my friend Nicole. Bless her, she was going through the process (although they are adopting from another country) at the same time as me and I realize now I did a lot more talking than listening!! I would ask how things were going with her adoption but hers was a slower process and frankly I was very self centered! Looking back now I feel horrible about it!! Especially now that we’ve realized her process would be agonizingly slow. I can’t thank her enough for letting me be so self centered and giving me her shoulder despite what she was going through!! Hers is her story to tell so I’ll let you read her blog on your own to read her story.

Anyway, it seems we went through so little compared to other adoptive parents. Parents waiting for years and years for a child once they’ve submitted their paperwork. Parents being matched with a child only to be told their case study is going to a committee with 3 other families so the state can determine the best match and then discovering the other family was the better match because they’ve been married longer, weigh less, are healthier, have a larger house, bigger income, etc… parents hosting a child from another country thinking it’s OK to love them because being allowed to host them means they will be allowed to adopt them and then finding out that’s not the case, parents submitting paperwork to a country only to find out the wait for a child from that country is actually 2-5 years, etc… Knowing how I would feel if that had been the case with Elizabeth, I can’t imagine it. I loved Elizabeth from the second I received that first phone call. Had someone come along the next day and said “I don’t think you’re the best choice for this child” I would have been devastated.

I actually found it to be a lot like infertility. You tell yourself not to hope, not to let yourself get hurt, to keep in mind something bad could happen, you could be told you’re not the right parents for this child. In our case our birth mother could have changed her mind at any time, right up until the day Elizabeth was released from the hospital, we could have had a bad home study report (not likely, but always possible), the state of California could have said “you know what you’re not leaving our state with this child”, etc… Had that happened I would have been shattered. I don’t think I could have picked myself back up from that one. I am truly in awe of people who go through that each and every day over and over again. The second you are told there’s a child that might be a good match for you and you make the decision to proceed with trying to adopt that child, you love them. If not the child them self, then the idea of what your family could be with that child. The idea of that child as your child, your heart, your soul, your future. I think (and this is not a sexist comment so please don’t take it this way) that women invest themselves more fully in the early stages of the process. Our caseworker told us women always jump in with both feet immediately. It’s often the men who are hesitant, who have questions, doubts, fears, etc… They are often even more rational about it, more level headed, more able to see an actual concern when it’s raised, where a woman only sees the end result and knows it’s worth it no matter what. She said in a lot of adoptions the man isn’t even fully behind the choice to adopt until the later stages. That’s something they cover in that adoptive parent counseling and those workshops I didn’t get to attend. I am not sure why this is, I think it probably has something to do with women being more empathetic, or maybe it’s simply the biology of it, who knows?! What I do know is, I am a woman, and I dove in to a shallow pond, head first without a seconds hesitation.

There is more to this, but I am tired and a little sad now. So I will wrap this up and add more to it tomorrow when I am thinking a little more clearly.