Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now It's Official!

Last week, I stood in line at a credit union to get a bank check for $15.00.

I needed this bank check to attach to a single sheet of paper I had already filled in.

This check and this sheet will soon be mailed to the state of California, where I served a mission for the LDS church... thirteen years ago.

On this sheet of paper, there is a tiny box.

Someone at the California Department of Justice will place a checkmark in this tiny box and send it back.

The entire purpose of that tiny little box is only to certify that I was never registered as a child abuser in the state of California.

This is my life now.

- Kevin

P.S. I related this whole bizarre incident to a friend at work while headed out the door to get the bank check... he has kids and shouted "It's worth it!" as the front door shut behind me. I believe you, man. I can't wait to experience it for myself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things no adoptive parent ever wants to hear

Things continue to move forward with the adoption, which means we are still filling out paperwork. Not as much fun as peeing on a stick, I grant you, but slightly less messy.

I figured now would be a good time to talk about unintentional insults. You see, many people say stupid, callous, sometimes downright hurtful things simply because they don't know any better. Allow me to give you a list of things to never say to adoptive parents (this is by no means complete, and anyone else who wants to throw in may feel welcome to). The following have all been said to us.

1) "At least you don't have to go through pregnancy/breastfeeding/etc!"

Yes, I get it. Pregnancy and all it's accoutrements are not so fun. You know what is less fun? Being poked, prodded, and examined by dozens of nurses, og/gyns, endocrinologists, interns, and heaven knows who else over the course of a few months or years (and paying for the privilege!) only to have a large bill and nothing else to show for it. Then, to continue trying to scrape together money so that you can have every minutea of your life examined and re-examined to determine if you are a fit parent while those around you who are pregnant whine about heartburn and swollen feet. Forgive me if I don't start sobbing for you having to pop some extra tums, I'm busy contacting Minnesota so that they can confirm that I was never charged with child abuse while on my mission.

Sorry for the bitterness. I am actually perfectly fine not subjecting my body to any more trauma than is absolutely necessary and feel no longing for a genetic connection to my child. What sets me off is when people tell me that my situation is somehow easier or that I am taking the "easy" route to parenthood. Do I think breastfeeding would somehow enlighten me or make me a more amazing mother? No. Is it hard sometimes to realize that I don't even get the option? Yes.
For the sake of everyone's sanity, please don't liken adoption to pregnancy. They are different paths entirely and can't really be compared.

2) "Someday you'll want your own kids."

Excuse me, but our daughter will be our own. I am in no ways genetically linked to my husband, but I love him more than any other person on this globe. Talking about an adopted child as if they are somehow inferior, less wanted, or less "real" is a good way of getting a very "real" kick to the teeth.
Here's your language lesson for the day:
Birthparents/birth mom/biological parents= A Ok. Real mom/real child= Flames on the sides of my face
Abandoned/gave up= not a positive thing to say and typically something an adoptive parent never wants said around their child. Made an adoption plan= win*
*I realize that in the case of China adoptions, the birth mom is actually abandoning their child, not consulting agencies, etc. Even so, that is a topic will will address with our girl when the time is right and in a positive manner. Lets agree to not talk about the nitty gritty of where our respective children came from in front of them, hmm?

3) "She is so lucky/you are rescuing a baby/you are so selfless"

I realize and appreciate the good intentions of those who say this and appreciate the sentiment. The thing is, I am no saint. I'm not setting out to save the world. I am not doing this in an attempt to rescue a helpless child and raise her as an example of my own goodness. I want a child, I can't have one biologically, therefore I am using what legal methods I can. We are the lucky ones. What would make her lucky would be a repeal of the one child act in china and being able to stay in her country and culture.
What is more appreciated is saying, "You will be good parents," or "we're so excited for you!" See the difference?

4) Any discussion of how much the baby "costs" or using the term "buying a baby"

Even in jest, it's still uncouth. We are not dealing in human trafficking, so please don't talk about our child as if she were a bag of oranges at the store. Adoption is expensive, that is all you need to know. If you are truly curious it's pretty easy to find out on teh internets how much adoption costs.

5) Anything negative about the birth mom

Here's the deal. China enacted the one child law in 1981 that makes it illegal to have more than one child. They have eased up only slightly and are allowing couples in some areas to have a second child, but heavily taxing them, making it impossible for most people. Because of the need for boys, many girls are abandoned. I'll get into the whys in a later post. Our daughter's birth mom took a great risk in leaving her child someplace she knew someone would find and care for her. If she had been caught she would have been arrested. She will never know what became of her child and will always mourn the loss. We owe her a great deal and will be forever connected to her through our shared grief and joy. Do I need to explain further why I don't like hearing negative things about birth moms?

6) "Now that your doing paperwork, you're going to get pregnant."

I know, everyone knows someone who knows someone who had this happen to them. I'm afraid that it doesn't work that way. Adoption paperwork is not the magical fertility drug that some people seem to think it is. Medical experts couldn't change it, I doubt a few hundred signatures will. Moreover, we are not hoping for that. We closed that door and threw away the key and have been much happier for it. Implying that getting pregnant would be possible, or more greatly desired, diminishes the importance of the adoption. I can't say it enough, I guess: our daughter will be no less loved and wanted and no less "ours" by being adopted than if I had given birth to her myself.

7) Anything about Communism

Again, I get that people are joking and for the most part it doesn't bug me too much now. Once she is here, I will care a lot more. Lets make a deal. I won't call your kid a nazi for being of german heritage and you don't call my girl a commie.

8) "You're too pretty to adopt!"

Yes, a family member said this to me. No, I don't need to explain to anyone why it's messed up.

I think that's about it. I guess it just boils down to taking a few extra seconds to think about if something you are about to say or ask might end in your butt and my boot having a rendezvous.

**Just a note. This is not meant as a passive-aggressive calling out of anyone in particular. It's more of a PSA to help people not unintentionally cause hurt to anyone they know who is adopting.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Legends and Beginnings

First off, I'd like to stave off one very important question about the "red thread" concept, as a number of people have given us some very strange looks when we hand out post-its with the blog address:

An ancient Chinese legend says that "when a child is born, an invisible red thread connects that child's soul to all those people, present and future, who will play a part in that child's life." Another telling is that "an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance." (Love's Journey 2, published by Love Without Boundaries.)

There. Make sense?

As Jen mentioned, I'm officially making my GLOBAL BLOG DEBUT by filling in some blanks.

So, why adoption?

The (very) short version of our prologue is that Jen and I were happily married in 2006 and at the end of 2007, we decided it was the right time to start a family. Toward the end of 2008 we started to investigate why no family was forthcoming, and by the beginning of 2009 we started to come to terms with the fact that a traditional family wasn't in the cards for us. As much as we love our dogs, they are a poor replacement for actual, human children.

above: worthless dogs, not human children
(alternate caption: left - Tikka, pretending she wasn't just cuddling up to Curry's butt and right - Curry, doing his hilarious comedy bit where he pretends he has no legs)

Determined to have a family, we next went through a couple of horrifying rounds of infertility treatments before deciding that we'd rather start our family with our sanity intact (I should point out here that I'm well aware of the hardship that many people go through during infertility treatment, and we have total respect for the many that continue it through many sessions... we just decided that it really wasn't for us).

Our next option was to look to adoption. This surprisingly was not a difficult decision to come to. We both have zero sense of biological imperative to propagate our own genetics, which might in part be owed to the fact that we both have crap genetics and any biological kid of ours would be doomed from the get-go. This is no slight against any of our parents, grandparents et al, who are all perfectly intact human beings. We just want kids, we don't care so much that they're not of our own making. They will be our kids in every way that matters.

Jen already talked about why China, and the truth is that this decision was made over a year and a half ago. Different countries have different requirements about age, income level, fitness, etc., and one of China's requirements was that we both be 30 years old at the time they receive our dossier. Jen being 28 at the time meant waiting until now to get started.

So here we go.

-- Kevin

P.S. Have questions in particular (all two of you followers?) Leave a comment and we'll answer what we can.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Journey Begins

Well, at least it begins openly. We've spent the better part of the last year and a half waiting to begin the waiting process that is adopting from China.

I suppose we should start at the beginning. Why China? Well, the short answer to that is that China is where our daughter is. The (slightly) longer version is this: We looked into many different adoption programs, both international and domestic and both felt really strongly about China. Unfortunately, amongst it's many requirements, there is an age requirement that both potential parents be 30. We decided adoption was the right choice for us in March 2009, but I was only 28. We felt strongly enough that China was where our daughter would be born that we waited not so patiently and pursued no other programs or options. To say that it sucked would be a bit kind. We tried to keep busy by studying Mandarin, learning more about the culture and people, and generally distracting ourselves from the wait.

Now we have finally reached a milestone. December 2010, the month we can finally begin paperwork. It's amazing to be able to move forward after all this time.

This blog will mostly be for friends and family to help explain the process and keep everyone updated on where we are at. Since that is the case, here is a very condensed version of what the process looks like and what we have to do.

1) Find and get accepted by an agency. Done! Our application was approved on Tuesday!
2) Put together our dossier. This is a whole buttload of paperwork that goes to China for them to approve. It includes a home study*, background checks, fingerprints, police records, references, medical exams, tax and income info, blah, blah, blah. It takes about 6 months to complete and so long as I am 30 when it arrives in China, we are good to go.
*a home study is done by a local agency and consists of 4 interviews with the couple, and in -home inspection and some parenting classes, I think.
3) Wait some more.
4) Get a referral! We are going through the waiting child program, so our agency will match us from a big shared list that China puts out each month. Essentially, you get a phone call and email with picture and medical records as well as a description of the child. You can have the records reviewed by a doctor and talk it over, but you have to decide on whether to accept the referral within 48 hours I think.
5) Stare at the one picture of your child you have for the next 3-5 months while paperwork continues going back and forth and China approves travel. Ah red tape.
6) Go to China. Adoptive parents are typically in China as a group for 2 weeks. We may go for a bit longer, if possible. You get handed your child in the first week and after the initial 24 hours, the adoption is considered finalized. You take oaths to care for the child, get their passport and whatnot and go home.

It's as simple as that! (Obviously, it's not simple or quick. That was sarcasm. Be prepared, there will be plenty more of that).

Anyway, I'll let Kevin fill in any details I missed. In the meantime, leave comments, ask questions, have some punch and pie! We're happy to be here and happy to have others on the journey with us.