Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Warning (Completely Off Topic..)

If you ever meet up with your best girl friend at, say Sam's Club, and are shoving food down your gullet because you're so starved you can hardly see straight, be very wary if she is "fiddling with her new phone". No, she isn't inputting numbers or learning how to use it... she is taking horrid shots with her newly discovered camera option. Unsuspecting, innocent little moi had no idea until the tears rolling down cheeks gave her away (yes, we're easily amused.. especially at each other's expense).

She threatened to somehow get it on the web so I beat her to the punch. Neener neener.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

:o) !!

I'm pleased as punch to announce that all went well today for our home check! We've got a couple bits of paperwork to finish up and 4 hours of training (out of the required 32) to complete before July 9th. She'll go before the Board that day and they'll vote on our certification. Yay! Then, it's just waiting for that phone call...

The county is swamped and trying to get homes certified as quickly as possible. Just today two newborn, preemie twin girls were being discharged from the hospital and they were in scramble mode trying to find a home for them. Because of health issues, they need to be placed with a stay at home mommy or daddy. Keep those wee ones in your prayers...

We sat together on the patio, quietly eating a late lunch as the magnitude of the day set in. The last 6 months came down to this appointment.. holy moly. DH hit it right on the head..
"The easy part is over.. "

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me..

I spoke too soon...

DH asked me to go into the basement and look in the window wells.. bad sign. Our custom made well covers are a weeee bit small and fell in. Nice. Thank the Good Lord I'm married to MacGyver and I am confident he can rig them in time for the inspection. That being said, looks like I get to take on his cleaning list.. including the bathroom scrub (BLAH!) and patio.

T-Minus 5 Hours..

THE PLAN: Get up an hour early to allow time to sip coffee and clear my little head in the quiet of the morning. I wanted to go over my notes and checklists to make sure nothing has gone undone (and if it has, there's time to rectify the situation).

THE REALITY: Apparently, Cassie (our dobe) didn't receive my memo and decided it's time for their morning to start, as well. The min pins agreed and the chorus began. Ahh.. I swear it's times like this (and at 2am when they wake me to go potty outside--which happens more often than not) our dear pooches are training me for Mommy Hood. Oh well.. no time to relax, anyway..

DH was thrilled to hear his laundry list of things to do this morning .. He is such a good bathroom scrubber that he got the job once again. Lucky duck! I have to run over to the in laws and use their copier (they live all of 30 seconds from us.. it's no biggie) and get on with the big house clean. Why I drank so much coffee is beyond me (the nerves have kicked in) but I think I'll get it all done in record time.

You know that nervous, butterfly-in-the-tummy feeling? They're morphing into birds. There's less calm before the storm now (the positive side is at least I'm not in Sheer Panic Mode yet!).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Glass of Wine and Tivo'd JoJo

My husband is out of town for a few nights on business and it's just me, myself and I (oh yeah, and the herd of 6 dogs). With our big home check just barely 2 days away, I should be running around frantic trying to get my checklist of all the other checklists done but hello? That would be far too organized and grown up of me. Instead, I'm going to relax, get caught up on all my Super Nanny episodes and enjoy an nice glass of wine. Ahhh.. a perfect night.

We've been watching Nanny Jo since the first episode and I was hooked from the get go. My thought at the time was, "Why not learn her amazing techniques now so when we have kiddos of our own we get it right the first time!" Good in theory.. not so good when you realize your husband is seeing beyond the great accomplishments that are made and totally focusing on the screaming, hitting, cursing, throwing, biting little imps and the misery and hell they created. He winced, guffawed, gawked and would say things under his breath like, "Are you kidding me? No $%@& way!" It suddenly hit me.. me the girl with the clock ticking so loudly everyone in the room could hear.. my favorite show that was going to make us the best parents ever had the potential to turn into BIRTH CONTROL and could potentially sabotage my baby makin' plans!! Noooo! I started to Tivo it and watch it on my time.

After all the SN episodes I've absorbed come to find out, many of the techniques for disciplining foster children are somewhat different. For example, instead of sending a child off to time out, their punishment for bad behaviour is helping you do dishes or another task that assists you. Instead of sending them away by themselves they are forced to interact with you and that helps with bonding.

Funny side note.. I was walking past the family room last week where DH was watching TV. I heard a distinct voice talking about what to do when the child, "Kicks Off".. I stopped in my tracks turned around and said, "You're watching Jo!!" He immediately fumbled with the remote and said, "No No.. I was flipping through my recorded UFC shows and this came on."

Uh huh.

All that being said, I still love my SN and am off to pour my glass and catch up on my shows. This is my calm before the storm..

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh How Times Have Changed


I used to think these pictures were snort out loud funny.. now, not so much..

My Take on The Definition of Fost-Adopt

I've had a lot of people ask me about what-all is involved in the fost-adopt program. Is it fostering or adopting? Well, it's actually both. The county is the first to say that they are not an adoption agency.. their primary goal is the reunification of the child with his/her birth family. If a child needs to stay in foster care while mom and/or dad gets their act together and said child matches the criteria we are looking for, we get the phone call. We meet with all the little one's social workers and therapists and go through the file. We're given their whole history.. the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes there is a picture, sometimes not. We go home and have 24 hours to decide if we feel we are a good match. There's no trial period.. the child needs as little movement within the system as possible. It's a decision we won't have much time to make and will effect our family for the rest of our lives.

If we decide yes, the transfer process from the receiving home to ours begins. It's a transition that is taken with great care and ease to cause as little trauma to the child as possible.. poor little things have been through so much already!

It could be months before the parent's rights are relinquished or terminated and the child is available for adoption .. or the flip side and the child goes back home. This is the time period that scares me the most. I about come unglued when one of our foster min pins gets placed (I'm such a wuss, it's not even funny). The kicker is that I have almost 100% say in that case.. after the application is approved, I typically take the dog for the home check and, if I'm not comfortable with the situation, out we go. In this case, it's a little human being we're giving our hearts to and will have absolutely no say whatsoever. We're totally at the bottom of the totem pole.

The following is an excerpt from a county web site that explains it all in much better detail:
Fost-Adopt Families
When it is determined that a child cannot return to their birth-family home, Department of Social Services is responsible for finding a permanent, adoptive home. When a child is living in out-of-home care and the birth family is working to learn to parent their child, we ask the caregivers to become a Fost-Adopt Family for the child. That means that our Fost-Adopt Families agree to love and protect the child for as long as the child needs care. In cases where the birth parents are able to make changes to protect and care for their child, the care needed is temporary (Foster) and the child and parents are reunited. In cases where the birth parents are unable to make changes and cannot protect and care for their child, parental rights may be relinquished or terminated. The child then needs a permanent family (Adoption). Our families who are interested in adopting are called Fost-Adopt or Resource Families. That means they give their hearts to a child, not knowing if the child will be returning to their birth family or if they will become legally-free for adoption.
Resource Parents provide the safety net of a possible permanent home to a child when his or her birth family's ability to become adequate parents is not possible. By asking you, the adults, to take this risk, we reduce the losses that the child would have to endure if you were not available. While some of our Fost-Adopt placements result in finalized adoptions, it is important to understand that we cannot guarantee that outcome.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mama!!

Maria del Carmen Zapata Casanova was born in Tabasco, Mexico on June 24th, 1925 and raised in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. Her father was the town pharmacist and their drug store was located next door to their home. He always made sure his customers got their medications.. whether they could afford them or not. He was loved by all. Her home was so large they converted it into "Hotel Casanova" and it still stands to this day, run by my dear cousin (whom I fondly refer to as Aunt Maggie). She and her younger brother (Uncle Pablo) attended private school (French, of all things!) and both loved soccer.

At the tender age of 19, she married a dashing American man in a lavish wedding. He was a fighter pilot in the war and an accomplished chef. They moved to his home in Hollywood, CA and it didn't take long for things to go sour. Come to find out, he was in the war but not the decorated hero he claimed to be and he wasn't exactly a chef, either.. it was more like a cook. Must have been mixed up in the translation.. ya, right.

He was an absolute cad and it wasn't long before she caught him cheating with another woman. She got rid of the lying rat but stayed in the country she had grown to love. Arriving in the states not knowing a bit of English, undaunted she jumped in with both feet. She learned her new language on the job (and watching the Tonight Show .. with Jack Parr, I believe). She worked as a waitress in coffee shop next to Paramount Studios and loved all the writers, lot hands and various other employees she met during her time there. They all offered to give her tours but she always declined, never wanting to put anyone out.

Several years later, she met my dad and the rest is history.

It has been 10 years since she passed and I still miss her every day. She taught me to fear the Lord, to pull my own weight in this little life, to love but not be chumped and really tried to teach me compassion. I'm still working on that one..

Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Count Down To Home Check Day

This coming Saturday "D", our Home Study Worker, comes for the final house inspection. We have a check sheet (several pages long) of requirements .. everything from safety locks on cabinet doors to window well covers and everything in between. You name it, it's in there. The outdoor fountain can have only 3" of water (it has been moved to a safer location) and we had to fence part of the backyard. They do supply a few things (such as baby gates, fire extinguishers and so forth) and we are taking advantage of all their freebies. We have been interviewed together and separately, attended a 2 day training course, had our fingerprints run by CBI with full back round checks done and are certified in infant/child cpr and first aid. All this has taken about six (loonng) months to complete and it all comes to a head on Saturday. Of course, I still have a few things here and there to complete (Mama would have called me a "Last Minute Joe") and I guarantee something will have slipped through the cracks and I'll be freaking out on Friday night. Our separate one-on-one interviews with her took 3 hours a piece and each spouse had to be gone.. no hovering and listening. For this Curious George, that was no easy task. She wanted to know everything about our lives from our earliest memories to current times. What our families were like, what we were like growing up, past relationships, etc. Being the huge wuss that I am, I had Kleenex lying in wait and boy howdy, did I use it. The reason for the in depth interview is to make sure that any major issues in your life are not only resolved but how you coped and got through it. You can't bring a hurting child into your home if you yourself are hurt. It's a recipe for disaster. If they find that there are areas that still need to be dealt with the county actually sends you to therapy to get them resolved. How cool is that? One of the things that really impressed us about the county is all the training and help provided before, during and after placement. You're not alone. We still have loads of classes to attend for the bazillion hours we need for certification (they just need to be done in a years time) and part of being confident (foster) parents is arming ourselves with information. SO, if "D" doesn't give us an "F" on Saturday and the house is up to par, we will sit down and read her final report, looking for any errors she may have made. It's a compilation of all the interviews and the Dentons as she sees us. Oy. From there, she takes it to the Board with all our other paperwork (financial info, proof of dog vaccinations, emergency exit plan in case the house burns..on and on) and we're in their hands. They vote and we're either in like Flynn or down the road. If we get the thumbs up, we are certified and it could be hours, days or weeks for the phone call that they have a match for us. Of course, we all know what thumbs down means. Keep us in your prayers, please!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Going Back in Time ~ My Own Adoption Story

It was May, 1999 and I remember the evening like it was yesterday. Mama had passed away a year prior from ovarian cancer and the following month I was turning 30. Her finances had all been settled, her home in CA sold but I had one loose end I was still dealing with.. her car. When she and dad divorced in 1988 she received it in the settlement but had never taken him off the title (weird because she was on top of everything). I had been corresponding with an old family friend about not being able to get the tags because the DMV considered it Dad's and records showed he was alive and well somewhere in CA. I already had it transported via a flatbed truck here to Colorado and it sat in the garage, unable to be driven.

Dad and I had been out of touch for well over a decade in part due to their nasty divorce. The line had been drawn in the sand and no one budged. I was at a point where time had healed old wounds and I was contemplating tracking him down to let him know that no matter what, he was my Daddy and I loved him. I had told the neighbor friend via snail mail my thoughts of reuniting with Dad (and having him sign over the title to me). That is when the Adoption Bomb dropped that beautiful spring evening in '99. I was preparing dinner and reading her response. It went something like this, "... I am also surprised your Mom had not gotten the title work taken care of on the Cadillac. As far as tracking down your dad goes, I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you. Since you were adopted and all, he may have cut ties with you emotionally. George and I leave for Mexico tomorrow..."

Just like that.. I found out in a random comment in a hastily scribbled note. I put the letter down and continued to cook. As soon as my (now ex) husband came home, I grabbed it and held it up to his nose, "Read This Read This.. tell me what you think it means!" I obviously thought I was going nutso and over thinking her statement (even though it was pretty cut and dry). He sat down, read it, looked at me and said, "Well, it appears you were adopted.."

Alrighty then..

I don't remember much right after that. I think I curled up in his arms and cried... for such a small statement, it was A LOT to process. I demanded he call my Uncle and Auntie in California and find out what in the world she was talking about. Like the true adult I am, I locked myself in the bathroom and held my breath. Minutes later, a knock on the door and the phone was handed to me. Yep, I was adopted. Holy cow..

Most people are aghast when they hear I found out so late about my adoption. Honestly, about an hour after I found out and the shock had settled a bit, I was given a Heaven Sent revelation that instantly brought me peace about it all and has since that moment. Not only was I loved so much by my birth mom that she chose to unselfishly give me up for a shot at a better life, I was loved that much more by my parents.. so overly-loved I never in a gazillion years ever thought I was adopted. I had had 2 mommies that adored me. How cool is that?

From the start Mom and Dad fully intended on telling me I was adopted. They planned to have "A Days" (like birthdays but "Adoption Days" to celebrate the day I came home). About a month after I was placed with them that plan changed.. they suddenly swore everyone to secrecy.. neighbors, friends and relatives. The had fallen so in love with me I was theirs and that was it. No ifs ands or buts about it. How in the world everyone (and there were loads of people) kept that to themselves is BEYOND me. You had to know my parents to fully understand their reasons. You can agree or disagree.. it is what it is. I carry no anger or regrets for not knowing.. they chose me and I was theirs.

I did go through all the oodles of red tape that's involved in getting my "non identifying information" from the state of California. It's ridiculous and just makes you want to cry with frustration over what you have to go through to get your own birth information. It took well over a year of mailing various notarized letters, phone calls, a few hoops jumped through but by golly, I got it. My case worker pulled my dusty little file out of the archives and gave me what little information she could without revealing my birth parents' identity. There's a form you fill out and send to the state that gets put into that file that authorizes contact. My birth mom did not fill it out but I did, in case she ever decides to find me.

The case worker noted my file was quite slim as I was only a month old when I was placed. She gave me a physical description of my birth mom: round face, blue eyes, brown hair, 5' 4 3/4"-that pretty much describes me - go figure. She was from back east, all her family was there and had moved to CA on her own. She had no relatives on the west coast. She was working as a waitress, met a customer and they dated for about 6 months. She was attracted to his sense of humor and really liked him. When she found out she was pregnant and told him he took off and she never heard from him again (bottom line.. the birth father = complete jerk). She was only 25 years old.

She knew she could not afford to give me the life I deserved and decided to put me up for adoption. She refused to see me at birth (couldn't bear it) but still waffled back and forth about keeping me. Finally, she came to the realization she could not afford to properly care for me and the day she signed the relinquishment papers at the Los Angeles County office, she could hardly keep herself together. At one point my reports states it took her "some time to compose herself enough to even leave the office". I've read that part over and over again and it always brings me to tears. It's a snapshot in time of a girl, alone and her heart is breaking over me. I cannot even begin to imagine her pain.

Yes, I did search for her. If anything else to say, "Thank You" for such an excruciating sacrifice she made for me and to let her know I could not have asked for a better life. Also, it sure would be cool to find out her medical history. Unfortunately, my birth name is quite common and the "search angels" that are out there on the Internet that help for free were unable to come up with anything. I checked with an investigator and was quoted $3500. In my book that is a bit steep for a search with no guarantees.

So, now DH and I are in the same boat Mama and Daddy were almost 40 years ago when they brought me into their lives. Home Study, first aid classes, older than most couples trying to start a family.. the whole ball of wax. Me, a Los Angeles County Baby, awaiting and praying for her County Baby. Full Circle, indeed..

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A "Quickie" Introduction

My dear cousin Kadi, Blogger Extraordinaire - Womb At The Inn(Sane), Supernanny, (just to name a couple) made a passing comment to me once about creating my own blog, writing about us and our adoption experience as it unfolds. I didn't give it much thought.. she is so dang funny and creative (I am not) and the thought of putting our lives "out there" really kind of makes me shiver. Who really wants to read about us anyway, right? Time passed and the idea obviously stuck because here I am. Like so many others, I love to write and it's darn good (and affordable) therapy. It occurred to me this is something that our future daughter will have to read as a piece of her own little puzzle, as well.. so hang on and here we go.. (Thank you, Kadi).

My name is Melissa, I am 39 years young and am married to a wonderful man, I'll call DH-Darling Husband- (he's 45). I was raised by "older parents" (I came along when they were in their early 40's-that story to follow) and I vowed I would never be that ancient when I started my family. Ah ha. DH and I met in 2001 and were married in 2005. My clock has been ticking since oh, 2002, so as soon as that ring hit my finger I was all about basal thermometers, Ovulex and Clearblue Easy Digital EVERYTHING. In a million years I never thought I would be "that girl".. obsessed with doing everything right, trying to get pregnant.

The deal was we would give ourselves a year to get pregnant.. we're not spring chickens, you know. I didn't want to wake up 5 years down the road sans kids and just throw in the towel. If in that year we did not conceive we were on to Plan B.. adoption. I was not interested in doing the whole fertility thing.. I have friends that had great success (and multiple kiddos) by in vitro and I'm thrilled for them. However, it's just not for me. As crazy as this sounds and as much as I would love to bring a little one into this world with his/her Daddy's beautiful eyes mixed with Mommy's kooky personality, I am okay with not getting pregnant and it not happening won't ruin our world. The plan He has for us is different and you just have to learn to roll with it. Don't get me wrong, every month when I found out I was definitely not pregnant the tears would come and that whole feeling like a failure thing would set in. It's just something that you have to get through but not get bogged down in.. what really helped me was to look at the bigger picture and to count all the blessings we already had.

A year passed with no conception and Plan B was set into motion. I had done the homework and checked into Private Adoption, International Adoption and Fost/Adopt County Programs. I knew people that had done all 3 and quizzed them. The one that spoke to my heart was working with the county (of course, the most trying and heart wrenching one of all, in my book). There are 800 children in the county alone in the foster care system. Their ages range from birth to teenagers and they are right in our backyard. I was sold.

Last December the county held an informational dinner that DH and I attended (along with my in laws.. it's a family affair, for sure). They likened it to "speed dating" and had that same type of format. Our table had about 12 people (including our crew) and a person would come and sit, tell their story and answer questions. Every 15 mintues, the speaker would change tables. People from foster only families, fost/adopt families, county workers, people that adopted special needs children, people that adopted teens and a family that adopted children of another race all spoke to us. Can I just say, it was awesome. We got all kinds of perspectives and so many questions were answered. Fostering to adopt is no small task and not for the faint of heart. I held my breath that whole evening as I was unsure if DH was on board or not. He was, bless his heart and that is when our little adventure truly began..

Blog Design By Sour Apple Studio © All Rights Reserved.