Adoption

Meet Our New Family Member!

WilloughbyInTreeWe adopted a new cat. Well, I should say she adopted us. She showed up in October as a kitten, just hanging around our house. We started feeding her because she never seemed to go anywhere else. No collar, very very scared and seemed feral. But she started warming up to us and in the last month or so has spent a lot of time with me and Kurt in the office, sitting in our laps, playing, napping, just being a cat. So this week we took her to the vet and she has now spent two nights in the house, officially ours. Her name is Willoughby and she's really sweet. Though the claws are a drag from time to time as she hasn't quite learned to retract them when playing!

Harper has helped us feed her while Willoughby was outside. Harper says her name but it comes out "Ee-bee" or "Wee-Bee". The CUTEST thing was one night we were going to feed the cat who had not appeared and Harper stood on the porch yelling, really yelling, "EE-BEE! EE-BEE!" OMG I about died. Cute Overload.

Mouse, our 17 year-old odd-ball cat is not too pleased, but she's also curious. I hope they become good friends soon because Mouse needs a snuggle buddy. She's not a lap cat but used to snuggle with Bunny.

Mouse has not slept on our bed since Bunny died two years ago. Very sad. We want her too, but she just doesn't. So having Willoughby in the house and sleeping on the bed is so sweet. Her purring is LOUD and that makes me laugh. I really have missed a cat on the bed at night. Bunny used to sleep under the covers in the winter. She had cold toes. I miss Bunny a lot.

Welcome Willoughby!


Speaking Of Adoption

Well, we haven't actually spoken of it in a while because no news is no news in the baby adoption department. I promise, if there were news, you'll hear it here first!

However, April is the anniversary month for when I adopted Bunny from the West LA Animal Shelter in 1995. I would have bought her a cake, but I know she's too picky. She likes ice cream better.

Bunny is perfect cat and I am so glad I found her all small and squooshy faced in the shelter. She's also a mighty good sleeper.

Bunnysleeping1

Bunnysleeping2


Bunnysleeping3

And she loves Kurt best of all. As do I!

Yay for Bunny!


The New Year Starts Next Week

Oh it's been a tough week. I thought I would get myself together and leap full on into 2011. Instead it's been a week of comfort eating, visiting with friends and feeling a lot of things. I spent a morning with a friend who was literally a day away from having her second baby. She needed help and how could I say no? And it was hard to be around that much intense gestation. (Baby boy was born yesterday and all are well.) She was big and full of life and I felt big and empty. Then I had dinner with friends who have adopted and had non-pregnancy issues of their own and it was really healing to talk with them. I had my post miscarriage appointment with my doctor yesterday. All is fine, but it was really emotional to be in that office again. I have still been eating for comfort and fully conscious of the fact that I'm eating for comfort. I'm being gentle with myself, though, and not getting all up in my own grill about it. Since I'm not working I am lucky to have time and space to wallow, but next week I have to get back to forward motion, finding paying work, getting my writing projects revved up again and diving into the future.

But that's next week.


Why It's Been So Quiet Around Here

You've noticed it's been quiet around this blog. There have been a few miscellaneous posts here and there through December but not much. I wasn't that busy, really, I was just distracted and in a new place because I was pregnant. 

Was.

Nobody knew except my mom. I was about 2 1/2 months along and had a miscarriage the week before Christmas. So if we saw you or talked to you in these last two weeks and you are now wondering why we didn't say anything, speaking for myself, it was kinda awkward. "Merry Christmas! I had a miscarriage!" Yeah. Not so much.

Needless to say Christmas was not very merry this year for me. Physically I came through just fine. I didn't have to go to the emergency room or have any emergency procedures, thank goodness. My body took care of it all in a straightforward manner. As I said to my doctor in a moment of gallows humor, "I'm an overachiever like that." 

We saw the heartbeat in an ultrasound, but it barely felt real as I hardly felt different. I was occasionally queasy, but very mildly. The only big difference were that my boobs got bigger. Just what I need. Oh and I was much more emotional about everything. Kurt was wondering how I could tell the difference. Ha! 

My body is recovered, my heart, however, is still mending. It was a huge surprise that we got pregnant to begin with. I mean, we have been going at it the old fashioned way for the last year and a half and the biology finally kicked in I guess.

And let me just stop you right here if you are thinking "See, you make plans to adopt and then you'll get pregnant." No. The biology just happened to work briefly this time, though not for long. Just want to clear that up. 

It took months last year to overcome feeling "barren." I got thrown right back into that emotional pool again these last two weeks. Feeling like a failure. It will take time to climb out of that place, but climb I will.

Yes, we could still get pregnant again. And yes, I could miscarry again and I'll think about that a lot. I'm going to be 44 this month, after all. If we do get pregnant again and all goes well, you probably won't hear about it until I'm in labor. There are no certainties in life.

We are doing okay and looking very much forward to 2011. We know there is a baby coming for us somehow and we are really looking forward to it.


Selling Yourself As A Parent

You've heard about the paperwork: applications, proof of birth certificates and marriage licenses, criminal background checks, reference letters, medical reports, financial statements, etc etc etc. A book full. Whether you are doing domestic or international, you have to go through it all. For domestic adoption, you must also write a "Dear Birthparent" letter. This is where you sell yourselves as potential parents to a birthmom/parent's unborn child, waiting to be born and adopted.  Julia&Kurt

No pressure.

This is the hardest writing assignment there is. Some of it is really easy -- write about what kind of dad I think Kurt will be. My shortened version: Gentle, kind, a great role model for working hard, fun, encouraging, brave, unflappable in the worst moments, hugely supportive and a great partner in all the moments. And about three more paragraphs of that.

But how do you convince a perfect stranger that you will be the best parents to their unborn baby? What do you say that tips the scale in your favor? It's hard to know, really. So the best advice is to be yourself, give fun and telling details about ourselves and our lives. Know what to leave out. In one draft I wrote that Kurt's favorite football team is the Dallas Cowboys. He informed it would be best to take that out as they are also the most hated football team in the country. They are? Yes they are, I was informed by a former DC native and Redskins fan. Hmmm. Okay, out it comes. (But not before a giggle of a moment imagining when some anxious birth parent reads our letter and announces "NO CHILD OF MINE WILL BE ADOPTED BY A COWBOYS FAN!" and moves on to the next possible candidates.)

And while chances are awfully good we'll become parents via domestic adoption in the not too distant future, I have my moments of "What if we never get picked?" when reviewing our letter. It's brutal.

So we'll just be ourselves and the stork will come when the stork finds us a match. Hurry along now, Mr. Stork.


Getting Itchy

My niece and nephew recently moved out of the house they grew up in, both moving on to life in their 20's. My nephew (20) moved into a friend's house and my niece (22) is living with two girlfriends in a three bedroom apartment. When my niece moved she was so excited about setting up her new spot. I was excited too! 

I love moving. I love going to a new place, a blank slate, and organizing where things go. Buying stuff at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond -- bath towels, dish-racks, drawer organizers, small shelves, throw rugs, accent pillows, etc etc. FUN! I haven't moved in 12 years and it got me itching. Not to move (that's not in the cards at this moment) but at least to refresh what we have, spruce the place up. 

The latest Ikea catalogue came in the mail the other day and I'm treating it like a magazine I've been dying to read. We don't need a thing. But I want want want want new stuff! So American. So consumer. YES! That's me and I freely admit it.  Ikea  

The other reason I'm feeling itchy is because we are in wait mode for little Billie Joe Padma Frey to come along. This does give me good reason to at least keep clearing out what is here to make room for the wee one to come. And once there is a wee one, going to Ikea and Target and BB&B will be warranted, but not until then. Can't put the crib before the birthmother. I'm already visualizing where the baby furniture will go in this room ("this room" being my office). I just can't visualize where my office will go. That's going to be a tough one.

Maybe just to sate my appetite in a small way I can head down to Ikea, give myself a $40 budget, go nuts in the marketplace area (candles, kitchen utensils, lamps) and then just look at the more pricey stuff for when we have more income/space/wherewithal. That might help. Might not...For now I'll try not to drool too much on the catalog in between clearing.


Observations About Expecting A Baby But Not Being Pregnant

Stork-baby  In case you are new here: We are adopting. So we are technically, emotionally, practically excepting a baby in the not too distant future. I'm not pregnant and we aren't matched with a birthmom yet.

During the past six to twelve months of this process I have been on the receiving end of a number of statements about just how hard parenthood is. That it's hard. Really hard. HARD. I've heard it from both moms and dads and the "it's really hard" comments were not followed up with anything positive from those specific parents. I was surprised. (I have also heard many positive happy comments about parenthood, just to be balanced. Special shout out to NoirBettie for this fabulous post about it!)

What I realized this morning is this: If I were pregnant, seven months along, say, full-bellied, slight waddle, sore back, I don't believe I would get those very direct comments said to me. Can you imagine saying to someone in their full ripeness of fertility -- "Having a baby, huh? It's going to be tough, really tough." ? 

Even in the adoption conversations I've had more than two people tell me worst case scenarios about adoptions. ("We had friends in the process and the birthmom changed her mind at the last minute, they are devastated.") Again, I realized, if I were seven months pregnant (or any months pregnant) would I get told the horror stories of births or pregnancies that ended up badly? I doubt it.

I get the impression that since I'm not pregnant, it's easy to not attach motherhood/parenthood to me. It's easy to say "wow, parenthood is hard, might want to really think about it." As though we just decided on the spur of the moment to adopt a baby or that since all we've done so far is fill out paperwork, we could easily reconsider and back out of it. Never mind the years we've spent talking and thinking and deciding to have kids in the first place, then to find out we can't make our own.

I know that generally when people say negative things they are projecting their own fears or worries on me. I do know that. Then there are times when I think I'll buy a fake pregnant belly and wear it around to avoid it all to begin with. Oh well. There is a lot to learn about this particular path we are taking to parenthood and am enjoying it all because it is our path.

We are really excited about having kids. We talk about it a lot, laugh about names we might choose (and all the hilarious fake names we threaten each other with). We stand around our tiny house wondering how we are going to rearrange the place to make room for the wee one(s) to come. I keep trying to convince Kurt that twins would be great!

Storkpostcard8  Do I imagine that parenthood is going to be a snap, that I'll get all the sleep I need, have all the free time I want, that my life won't change? Uh no. I'm not blind. But this is something we've decided to do and we are excited and nervous and anxious and stoked beyond belief about it. Yeah, at times it will be hard. But isn't that life? Sometimes life is hard, it sucks, it blows, it is shitty and painful and brutal. And more often, I've found, life is beautiful and amazing and surprising and joyous. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Come on Mr. Stork! We are ready!


Boxes Ticked, Stork Alerted

PreemptiveStork The Stork made a preemptive strike the other day.

Luckily it wasn't the actual baby yet as we still haven't finished cleaning out the house nor have we decided where the wee Billie Joe Schleck Frey is going to live. For now we have finished all the required paperwork (just sent the last three items in this week) and today we have our final meeting with the social worker. Then we are officially ready to get matched with a birthmom.

Though we have had two false alarms already. Once in early May and once earlier this month. Our adoption agency calls with these magic words: "There's a birthmother..." and you take a small step toward maybe being matched. That first phone call is simply to say, we would like to put your info into the small group of potential adoptive parents for the birthmom to pick from. The agency will have a small bit of information for you, the due date, the location of the birthmom, the ethnicity and maybe the sex of the baby. You can say yes or no at that point. We said yes both times, and both times we were not chosen, but it was really good practice to see how that feels. I think the heart pounding will be reduced every time we get that call as it is less exciting the more times we go through it. The heart rate will shoot through the roof when we get that next call "The birthmom picked you..." I'll let you know how that goes.

So for now, more cleaning out of the house and offices, perhaps a bit of research into pediatricians, carseats, strollers, etc. Also? Fantasizing about getting a dishwasher and where to put it.

(Thanks for the books, Debra!)
 


Where Do The Weeks Go?

Time is flying and we don't even have kids yet!

Speaking of kids - the adoption process is coming along. We are finishing up our last bits of paperwork and having our last meeting with the social worker on Saturday. Tidying up the details. Then we'll be waiting to find a match. Nothing terribly exciting to report other than "most of the boxes have been ticked."

In the mean time, we've been writing and writing! You saw my Script Frenzy progress in April -- I wrote 120 pages. Then May (and part of June) was Rewrite Frenzy. Kudos to me, I finished a first draft of a screenplay last Thursday. Key word there being "first". The script is now out to a few readers while I take a week off. I'll get feedback then keep working on it. There is the other project Kurt and friends and I are working on, that's going well and moving forward. More about that when I have something specific to report. I'm also going to start some research into a third project...

I'm slowly looking for work, but I know work won't be nearly as exciting and fun as the writing has been, so it's tough to leap out there.

My weight loss plan is working great and I'm really pleased with myself on that. I've also learned to drink coffee without anything in it so that I wean myself away from extra sweeteners (real or fake). I'm amazed how quickly and easily I adjusted. 

Volunteering went well in May -- I doubled up to make up for not volunteering in April. I need to find something in June, but haven't organized it yet. I had a nice conversation with Kim Tracy Prince about helping her more with Help A Mother Out. I feel very inspired to keep helping with that cause, now that I'm soon to be a mom. We'll see what comes up. I did sign up for multiple shifts at KCRW for their summer fund drive, so I'll be taking your calls in August!

Yesterday was the Donut Summit (an LA Metblogs event) and we had a great time! Here we are, sporting our favorite pastry shirts. 

MeandKurtatDonutSummit 

Not much more to report other than housecleaning continues and we will be having a fun visit this week by Grace and her friend Audrey. They are coming down to learn about 3d animation and the film biz, going on tours, meeting people, seeing Toy Story 3. Fun!