About a year ago, we hired a social worker in Guatemala to search for P’ito’s first family. We had so many reasons – we wanted them to know that he was healthy and loved, we wanted him to know more about where he came from and to have a tangible connection to his own past, we wanted to know – one way or the other – whether the adoption was ‘clean’ and the truth of the history in the social work report from family court.
After an arduous search in a remote region of the country, the social worker, C., located P’ito’s birthmother and shared the photos and letters we had sent. We learned more about her, got pictures of the small village where she lives, learned that she was so glad to hear that her child was well and thriving.
When we decided to go back to Guatemala for a visit this summer, we contacted C. and asked if we might be able to meet with P’ito’s birthfamily. They took an 11 hour journey to meet him and us. Vast gulfs of language, culture, and class were crossed in our mutual delight over P’ito’s mischevious smile – a smile that begins in the corner of his mouth and reaches his eyes – just like his mother’s.
I know that for many families, the thought of searching is terrifying. They believe the lawyers and the foster families who said, oh she said she doesn’t want contact. They are afraid of the truths that may be exposed. I can’t make promises about anyone’s experience beyond my own. But I can say – look – this is what it can look like.
Before I start blathering on: Merry Christmas to all my friends who celebrate Christmas and happy mandatory day off to the rest of us!
I am at my parents’ apt. and every time I get on the computer and start looking at blogs or even thinking about blogging one of them pops up behind me. It’s crazy.
I feel like I’m trying to look at pictures of nekkid ladies when really all I want to do is check in with my bloggy friends without letting my family in on my on-line existence. Not that I have anything big to hide, I just like having some illusion of privacy as I spill my guts to the internet. Yes, I see the irony. But then I got even more freaked out when I went to comment on a blog and discovered that my mother has a blogger login. I almost left a comment as my mom. Eek.
(yes, I am a 31 year old woman, not a squealing teenager, despite the tone of the above)
I am hoping to get some new Guatebaby pictures any day now… hopefully they will not add to my frustration that Nothing. Is. Happening. on our case. Our agency has not yet been able to make it through the line at the U.S. Embassy to get authorization for the DNA test. Apparently, the line is supposed to start at 6am, but since they only take 40 people a day, it actually starts the night before. But if the embassy staff sees that the agency reps have been in line overnight, they won’t let them file the paperwork. Yes, these are our tax dollars at work, my friends.
My parents are so excited about GB, which is fantastic, but also puts more pressure on me to have answers or timelines that I just don’t have. My mother says things like, well I hope he’s home before he’s six months old. As if he will turn into a pumpkin if that’s not the case, which it likely won’t be. She apologized, repeatedly, but her words bring up this old and barely banked anger that deserves a post of its own and that I can’t quite seem to put down again.
It’s anger from when I was a child. Anger that I had diabetes. Anger that I always had to be okay and couldn’t be angry. Anger that I supressed unconsciously, feeling the weight of her need for me to be okay. Feeling like my own emotions had to be smothered in order to protect her fragile equilibrium. Anger at being told – when I said that it scared me when she got depressed, that it reminded me of the very scary times when she was depressed before – that she was fine now and I had no right to be afraid based on those times. Anger, that until a few years and a few million therapy sessions ago, I would have told you I didn’t feel.
And then she says something like this, asks for something I know I am powerless to do, and I feel all that unfelt rage surface like a deep sea diver, gasping for air.
I will post this and then delete the browser history posthaste.
But I need to post this.
p.s. Thank you so so so much for all the kind wishes on finishing! I haven’t heard anything from them saying that they are going to reject it for being three days late… so perhaps all is well?
For me thanksgiving is all about the Food and the Family (F is for… ) We go to my cousin’s house, have a delicious meal (eat way too much – I wish I could do a 48 hour square bolus for thanksgiving) and enjoy seeing relatives I don’t get to see often enough. When I was younger, I found the whole family thing overwhelming and stifling, but I think I’ve mellowed and my family has mellowed as well.
I made a baked brie (world’s simplest appetizer: take frozen puff pastry sheets, defrost. I was supposed to roll them out but I forgot and it turned out fine. Place wheel of brie in center of frozen puff pastry sheet. Top with canned organic whole berry cranberry sauce or the preserves of your choice. Fold puff pastry sheet around brie. Top with second puff pastry sheet. Brush with egg yolk and milk. Bake on cookie sheet at 400 for 10 minutes and 350 for 30-40 minutes until brown. Listen to your family admire you.)
I also baked two really kick ass pies, which I forgot to photograph before my family demolished them. The pecan pie recipe in particular is mind-blowing. I upped the pecans a bit (two cups) and toasted them lightly. Oh, and I used the Pâte brisée recipe from Joy of Cooking for the crust. Make sure to freeze the butter beforehand, and use ice water and crust-making is Not That Hard.
The F is for Family pictures are friends-only on flickr. Make me a flickr-friend and I will surely reciprocate, unless you’re George Bush.
I hope everyone who celebrates it had a lovely thanksgiving. I enjoy the idea of a holiday for giving thanks. I try to avoid thinking about its nasty imperialist origins and stay away from the pilgrim hats and cartoon native americans. I’m thankful for Pili and for the family we are making together. I’m thankful for my family of origin, who love and support us, and for my family of choice, who sustain us. And, I’m thankful for the internet and for the virtual communities I’ve found on it. Which brings me to my virtual navel gazing (widening thanks to those thanksgiving pies)…
When I first started my blogroll, I thought a fair bit about how I was going to set it up. I deliberately didn’t want to differentiate between people who were coming to parenting through adoption and people who were trying to get pregnant, or who were pregnant.
I didn’t want to differentiate between queer families trying to conceive and non-queer folks who were also trying to get themselves knocked up. I didn’t want to draw a line between new moms (plural) getting frustrated that their kid wasn’t interested in the boob and new moms (singular) getting similarly frustrated. I wanted you to click on a link and maybe have it take you somewhere you wouldn’t go intentionally – but where you might discover an ally you wouldn’t have expected to have. Along the same lines, I haven’t separated out people with type 1 vs. people with type 2 vs. parents of kids with diabetes. By not putting people in boxes, I hoped, as grandiose as it sounds, and it sounds plenty grandiose to me, to help break down the edges of some of those boxes a bit. I’m not sure if that’s worked.
On the other hand, sharing categories has helped me to see what I share with people whom I might otherwise, honestly, have a) never gotten to know, and b) never given a chance, without the shared fact of diabetes or adoption or both to bring us together. And I am (once again) thankful for that.
Oh, and by the way, Andrea has had a bunch of really interesting posts about breaking down boundaries in the blogworld. Read them and realize that she is a far more thoughtful human being and a better writer than I am. Also, I’m linking to every single post because, there doesn’t seem to be a category for these posts. And there should be!
Right now I have blogs on my blogroll that are marked private. This is not because I am deliberately keeping things from you, but mostly because listing them as public would make my blogroll very long and unwieldy – whenever I find a blog that looks interesting, that I might someday want to come back to, I try to subscribe to it. And I also have a number of blogs that I don’t know how to categorize – firstmoms writing about their experiences, friends in real life, cooking blogs, etc. etc. There are um, over 500 blogs on my bloglines account. And no, I don’t read them all every day. I just collect blogs the way some people collect pets or precious moments figurines or shot glasses… Yes, I feel a little sheepish about this.
And by the way, if your blog gives you the option to publish an rss feed – please, please do it. I am just too damn lazy to go in and update my html every time I find a new blog. Much easier to let bloglines do it for me. This is why the wonderful ladies at babycakes are not on my blogroll, damnit.
So the question: should I reorganize? do you want more categories? fewer categories? what do I do with people who fall into multiple categories?
Just got an email from Guatemala Agency Lady (GAL). She has (finally) reviewed our dossier and found several documents that we have to redo, including: the medical letter, the employment letter, the police clearance letter, one of the witness statements, and the name affidavit.
Pili and I react so differently to this kind of news. She gets pissed and frustrated – why didn’t GAL catch these errors earlier? – why is this process so stupid anyway? and I feel intensely uncomfortable in the presence of her anger. All I want to do is run around and Make It All Better And Please Stop Having These Feelings I Cannot Do Anything About Please Please Please Please because I feel helpless and small and impotent in the face of These Feelings.
Various therapists have pointed out that I also feel helpless and small and impotent in the face of This Disease. And that my mother is prone to falling apart and I am prone to feeling like I have to fix things for her. Including the fact that I have This Disease, which obviously I cannot fix. And so we smile pleasantly and do not talk about This Disease, ever, unless I bring it up, or unless my father sends me yet another “the cure is only five years away” article. They do not ask about my blood sugars. Despite being total gadget-philes, they have not asked me anything about the pump. I tell them every time a test comes back clear and they say oh that’s wonderful. I don’t know how I will ever tell them if/when the opthamologist does not smile as he is putting away his high tech helmet, if/when I do not leave one of these exams blinking with woozy dilated desperate relief.
And despite the fact that every logical bone in my body is telling me that $2.87 at Tarzghey does not have the power to influence our dossier – or my chances at a job that I want – or anything else, I cannot help that little voice from creeping into my skull. That little voice that says: Why are you surprised, Art-Sweet? Don’t you know that Disappointment is your Destiny? Oh, did you really think you could dodge the bullet this time? In an interior voice rich with contempt and derision: realllly now, how presumptuous of you to imagine things would be different?
The Photo Friday topic this week is “A is for…”
I was all prepared, earlier in the week, to come up with something clever. I have been a Photo Friday loser the past couple of weeks, and I wanted to make a big splash to make it up to Cali, because I’m that kind of over-compensating neurotic twit.
But honestly, all I can come up with right now is A is for AWFUL. A is for ANXIETY. A is for ABSOLUTELY FUCKING UNBEARABLE.
Because, that’s what the past two days have been.
I can’t really blog about the shit that’s going on because it’s not my shit to blog about. Suffice it to say that a family member of Pili’s is going through a very tough time. And as a result is living with us. The resultant stress has both Pili and I bursting into tears at random moments, always carefully when said family member is not around.
The thing that has me up here at my computer blogging about this when I swore that I would respect Pili’s privacy and not blog about it, is that the stress of all this has driven Pili to smoke again. When I first met her she smoked. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke more than anything else in the whole wide world. Cat boxes that have not been cleaned for weeks are more appealing to me than the smell of a smoker.
I nagged Pili for years until she finally managed to quit and stay quit. Until then I would not let her get into bed without showering if she had been smoking. I can smell it on her three days after she’s had one cigarette, even if she has showered. The thought of Pili smoking again, of having to go through this awful nagging nagging nagging routine again, has me reduced to a puddle of weepy mush for about the sixth time today. I hate what this is doing to my girl. I hate that I can’t make it better for her. And I hate that she smells like a goddamn ashtray.
There we go. A is for ASHTRAY.
I am beyond tears.
If you don’t know my family, it will give you some insight into my childhood. And into Guatebaby’s probable gender.
My father has decided that until Guatebaby moves from being an indefinite to a definite article, his codename for Guatebaby will be Che.
Rock on, Dad.
ETA: Does this mean we should start our registry with this?
A little the worse for wear, but back nonetheless. A warning to the squeamish and to my phobic friends, bodily fluids mentioned below.
We had a lovely time out in suprisingly sunny northern CA. I think Bri and I may have breathed the same air molecules as we were stunningly near each other without knowing it. My cousin, wife, and adorable twin niecies live around the corner from the cafe in which she apparently spent most of high school. Weird.
I guess Pili and I really are married, fucking assholes on the NY State court of appeals be damned*, because I LOST it at her mother. Lost it. I believe the words selfish and inappreciative flew out there a few times. It’s just really hard for me to see how her parents treat her. Their priorities are, IMHO, weird. I know they love her – and me. And they’re always happy to see us – and very jealous of our time when we’re there. But they don’t make much of an effort to get out here, or to encourage us to come there by subsidizing things… And it’s hard for me to believe the “oh we’re so poor line” when they’re in the middle of remodeling their entire house.
Aside from that outburst, it was a beautiful trip. And Pili’s mom is coming to visit us, g-d help me, in a month. So I should really stop bitching about her. Dad and step-mom, on the other hand… And my niecies are the cutest, smartest things ever. I will put some pix up on flickr, friends and fam only, so let me know if you want to be among the elect.
After a miserable trip back which included getting sick at O’Hare, convincing myself that I had Toxic Shock Syndrome (did not, but still cannot bring myself to leave the world of
girly diapers MAXIpads and return to more convenient modes of dealing with things), a two hour delay, and not being able to find my car in the airport parking garage (Stop. Laughing. At Me. Now.), I am finally back in the Lovely City of Eternal Sleepage.
And, as of three am last night, the autobiography is done. It’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, a piece of writing of which I’m proud. But it’s done, and I don’t think Mrs. Vaseline Teeth cares that much about my writing. In fact, I’m not sure what she cares about, which is unfortunate.
A word about Mrs. Vaseline Teeth. She smiles. A lot. More than I could smile without my lips sticking to my teeth. She gushes about how adorable Guatemalan children are and hasn’t asked any questions to date about our ability to support the culture of said adorable children. At our first meeting with her, we flipped through the gigantic basket of adoptive family Christmas cards. I picked up one of those adopt-the-world family pictures with sixteen or seventeen children, some bio, some clearly adopted. “Oh that’s such a sweeet family,” she crooned. “Can you tell which ones are their real kids?”
[Adoption bloggers, you are with me now in saying: no, no, no – she didn’t. The adoption social worker did not ask you that. But she did.]
A trick question, I thought, and pounced. “Why, all of them, of course,” I said, well-read adoption advocate me.
“Oh yes, of course,” she said. “But which ones are their own?”
More tentatively: “Do you mean, which ones are their biological children? Because, I mean, they adopted them, right?”
Dismissively: Yes, yes. Can you tell which ones are adopted? Well, duh. The parents are office-paper white. I’m guessing the brown ones are adopted. Why are we working with her? Because everyone says she is the best in town. And no one seems to have any suggestions for anyone else within a hundred mile radius. And she will get the job done, and not make our lives difficult. Am I crazy though, for thinking that her job is, on some level, to make our lives difficult? To ask tough questions and make us think through them? Or am I expecting too much of her?
I bought myself a present for finishing my autobiography. Actually, I bought it beforehand because I have wanted one for a long long time and it was super on sale (try, $250 off list). But I didn’t open it until I was done with the autobiography. And now I am having a wee bit of buyers remorse because, really, we can’t afford this right now. But it would probably cost $50 just to ship this puppy back, so I ought to keep it. Right?
A word about being sick: My Stomach Thing That Was Not Toxic Shock Syndrome is now a Generalized Low Energy Headachy Snotty Thing. I want to have energy. I need to have energy. I need to have energy so as:
- To take on my lengthy todo list. [MOST DECIDELY NOT DONE]
- To carry the haveahart out to the wilderness behind our house and try to capture the evil groundhog who has bitten off the tops of my phlox, my tomatoes (a short way to get on my shit list), my liatris, and my yarrow. [DONE!]
- To plant the strawberry runners I brought back from CA. [DONE!]
- To pull out the
lawnweeds that have taken over the lawn. [Ha! Surely you jest!]
- To outline the New and Revitalized, Revisited Thesis. [Err, um.]
- To vacuum the cat-hair coated carpets before Pili gets home on Sunday. [See above]
- To call NonExpressScripts and ask where the hell my prescriptions are. [Two arrived today. The test strips are now “in pharmacy.” The pump supplies? In limbo, apparently.]
- To cook up the fridge full of delicious organic veggies before more arrive from the CSA on Tuesday. (Spell check wanted to change veggies to Vegas! Perhaps next weeks delivery from the crunchy granola farm will include a few crunchy granola showgirls?)
- To change my lancet.
Okay, now I’m having an anxiety attack about all I have to do. Later, sweeties.
*Lots of other bloggers have commented about the incredible stupidity that is the appeals court decision. I will say only that these are not the great legal minds of our time. To say in the same breath that children born into same-sex relationships live in more stable family units (and therefore do not deserve legal protection for those family units) and that (contrary to the opinion of any number of respected social science organizations) it’s better for kids to grow up in opposite sex couple households… that’s just frickin idiotic. And what about non-procreative straight couples? What about… oh, it just pisses me off beyond words.
Or: Why wedding registries are a good thing.
This is a vase my cousin sent us as a wedding present.
It looks like a giant chianti bottle minus the basket. (And yes, the rug is sorely overdue for vacuuming. See: four cats)
The cats give you a sense of scale. These are not small cats, either.
What is that paper inside the vase? Why, that would be the receipt. I am sure my cousin thought that this was a very nice gift and that if we didn’t like it we could return it to the large chain store from whence it came. Except that the nearest branch of that large chain store is 200 MILES AWAY FROM WHERE WE LIVE. And it would now require some sort of special miner’s tweezers to get the receipt out.
Before you tell me what a selfish #$*@! I am, I am very grateful that my whole family has embraced Pili and I as a couple. We are so unbelievably lucky to have such family and friends in our lives. And I am grateful that they not only embraced us as a couple, but choose to give us presents to acknowledge that fact.
But geez. That. Vase.
The moral of the story: Wedding Registries = Good. Family = Good. Vacuuming = Bad & Overdue.
There is even more tackiness on the flickr stream, but I do actually have a job and I should be doing it.