Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Interesting Information from a New Contact

I was given contact information for a woman who used to work with the Special Adoption coalition here in Oregon as a resource for information about adoption from foster care and to address my concerns over feeling like we've been waiting a long time. She called me on Monday and we had an interesting conversation.

She answered several of my questions with honesty. I asked her if homeschooling was a strike against us. She said that, yes, about half of the case workers out there will turn us aside just because we homeschool. We'd suspected that was true, but hadn't had it confirmed.

She told me that 2 years from when the homestudy is complete is the average wait to be matched with a child unless you're willing to take on the more serious issues of the children who are harder to place.

She said that it was just criminal that we told that we can't adopt from out of state. This is sad to me, as there was a boy who was available in Washington when we first completed our homestudy who seemed like a great match for us. He waited for quite a while.

She told me that we should watch the Northwest Adoption Exchange website, as those kids are really being recruited for. I told her that we do and have put in for many kids from the site, but haven't been selected for them. That's actually when I brought up the homeschooling issue.

After finding out what parameters of children we were interested in, she told us about this great 12 year old who'd just become available. I said, "It sounds like Savanna who had an overwhelming response and we weren't chosen for her." It was. She was surprised about the response.

She suggested that we call up the Boys and Girls Aid Society, as they have a really good feel for which children are having a hard time being placed and will share who's really in need of a home with us. So, that was a good tip.

She also told me that Barbara is an excellent case worker. Thus letting me know that we should stick with who we have, even though thoughts of asking for another case worker has occurred to us from time to time.

It was sort of both encouraging and discouraging. It was good to have the honest response.

I also spoke briefly with Barbara today. It's good that I called her, as she seemed to have missed the questions we had about Tanner that I left on her voice mail on Friday. She said she'd look into if she'd passed on our questions or not and call me back, but when she hadn't called back in over an hour, I got online for a while and then left home and haven't heard back. No new information from her.

By the way, one of the children we put in for and were told that we weren't a good match for, is Shyloe. We were bummed because we'd felt particularly drawn to him. I just looked at his picture and felt a connection. Plus, his issues seemed like ones we could deal with.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Excellent Weekend

We had a week with not a ton of progress, adoption wise, last week. Apparently, we're on for going to committee with Chance, but we don't have a date yet.

We found out that 2 kids we put in for are "not good matches" with us according to their case workers. Now that I know, from Chance's foster mom, what some of the other prospective adopters "look" like, I wonder what prejudices the case workers have that make us "not a good match". I felt like we were good matches for both of them, but perhaps there are things about them that I don't know which make the difference.

One child, one of the aforementioned babies, has already been adopted and his bulletin just hasn't been pulled yet.

We're an alternate for two sisters who have a scheduled committee, but with one family slated for another committee before it happens.

We got an adoption child summary on Tanner, who is 6. We felt his summary was a little shy on details, so we asked some questions and we'll see.

We had a great three day weekend this weekend. Anthony is supposed to get every other Friday off, but hasn't in a little over a month. He got his Friday (after going in to work on Sunday and working late on Wednesday this week), so we finally got in our three day bike camping trip.

We went up Mt Hood a ways to camp at Lost Creek Campground. It was 40 miles away. Actually, we camped there the first night and then back-country (free) camped the second night. Both nights were nice, but the second was much quieter and more scenic.

We only got in about 4 miles on Saturday during the camp switch plus a very short ride. We did some mild hiking on Saturday, but were limited by our shoes - bike shoes and sandals - neither great for hiking.

We rode 41 miles home today, with three pit stops - one for lunch, one for water and bathroom usage and one to say hi to Anthony's mom, sister and sister's family, who's house was on the way home. We rode home over a section of what used to be the Oregon Trail called The Devil's Backbone. Lots of hills! It was a fun ride, though. I was pleased with my performance up the hills (slow, but I got up every one without fuss) and loved the down hills.

Davan says we should do some sort of camping every weekend.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday's Conversation with Barbara

I called Barbara Friday to let her know that we'd spoken with Chance's foster mother and to relay the conversation to her, as she'd asked me to. She let me know that Chance's case worker was out of the office this week. I was really glad to hear this, as I'd been bummed by how much time everything was taking and worried about being passed over because of it. So, we should hear from Chance's case worker this coming week and find out about committee, maybe.

We had a busy day today, all planned by Davan. She's been planning this day for over a month and had allowance from much longer than that saved up. She had me take her out yesterday to buy some berries and organic chocolate bars. We also picked blackberries to have.

This morning, we got up to find the living room set up with a bunch of different games for us to play. We played several, packed up the chocolate, berries and a few pb&js then went out to breakfast (this is the one thing that Anthony and I paid for - Davan had originally planned breakfast at home).

After breakfast, we drove to Safari Sam's, which is an indoor jungle gym and mini golf place about an hour from our house. Davan paid for her admission (adults are free with a child) and mini golf for all three of us. We played there for about 4 hours with one break for some berries, a chocolate bar and water. We ended up not eating the pb&js because we had breakfast so late.

Then we drove back to our part of town where Davan treated us out to dinner at a local semi-fast food Chinese restaurant. After dinner, we came home to play another game, then take turns getting massages from Davan while the other person read out of our family book. When our massages were done, we strolled over to TCBY and Davan treated us each to a small dish. Then home and to bed.

It was a lovely day and it felt like a mini-vacation, as it so different from our usual day. Once a week is about the most frequent that we eat out (often not even that much), so twice in one day and out for TCBY, as well was something. Today was also only Davan's second ever Safari Sam's trip, as they are not close to us. We all enjoyed playing there, though, and got a good work out.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Conversation with Chance's Foster Mom

Anthony and I spoke with Chance's foster mom this evening. She seemed like a very nice lady. She had a lot of information for us about Chance. Most of it was not new, but it was good to hear it from her rather than through Barbara, who, while she had the gist of things, was off in some detail.

I think the conversation went well. She seemed fairly pleased by the sorts of things we said. She related that she'd had several strange calls regarding Chance. One couple was in their 50's and she couldn't believe they were being considered for Chance, as he's only 3. The husband in this couple travels for days at a time for work, as well. She felt this was a bad match for Chance, as he's really attached to his foster father (and she believes will attach to his adoptive father strongly, as well).

The other strange phone call was from a lady who wanted to know if Chance could be a lawyer when he grew up as her husband is a lawyer. Are you kidding me?!?!?! What kind of bizarre person would as that. I think it was this same lady who asked if Chance could be trained. His foster mother said, "He's not a dog."

Weird. If this is the sort of thing that's out there, why aren't we the cream of the crop adoptively speaking? Of course, people might think we're bizarre for homeschooling, even though I think that's a positive thing.

Chance sounds like a funny and interesting child. He sounds like he has his ups and downs like all kids and I'm excited about the possibility of committee.

Chance's Update

Barbara called this morning and I, obligingly, moved appointments so that I could speak with her when she called. Then she tells me that she did actually talk to Chance's foster mom on Tuesday and just hadn't gotten around to calling me back. Grr!!!! That just really ticks me off.

Anyway, the good part is that, after hearing what Chance's foster mother said, I feel like Chance would be a good match here. I don't feel overwhelmed with his issues. So, we told Barbara we wanted to move forward with committee. Hopefully, we'll hear back soon that that is what's happening and have a date.

Barbara did also give us Chance's foster mother's phone number, so I'll call her and speak with her about Chance. I don't feel like I have a lot of questions for her because I already passed my questions on, but it's helpful to talk to people who live with the child to get a more first hand feel for them. Plus, if you have the opportunity to call and don't, that can count against you with committee.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Racing Mind

So, I'm lying in bed last night, unable to sleep. My mind is racing. What's the pressing issue? How we'll transition Chance. For crying out loud. We don't even know if we're going to committee for sure yet, but I just couldn't stop thinking about it.

He's about 3 and a half hours away from us with his foster family. He's pretty attached, so there should be a decent transition. I'm thinking, will we have to go there two weekends in a row? What if that's not enough? How would we be able to work out going there for a week? Maybe if we take along another person who can be with Davan when we need to see Chance one on one. Who can come with us for a week? Around and around and around.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

After a Weekend of Waiting...

We have more waiting. I called Barbara this morning to let her know that the cell phone was the best way to reach me this morning. Davan and I were out and about all day at the library, Powell's Bookstore (huge new and used bookstore for those who aren't Portlanders), lunch with Anthony and then to the Children's Museum with the library pass.

Barbara called back an hour or so later, saying that, in a short while, she had an appointment to try to speak with Chance's foster mother in order to ask her the questions we had after reading his paperwork. Apparently, Chance's foster mother is traveling, though, and was unable to make the appointment. Barbara says that the phone meeting should take place tomorrow.

All of this leaves me thinking, "Why didn't you just call her on Friday?" I suppose I have to give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she was overwhelmed with work on Friday. Perhaps she called Chance's case worker first and his case worker didn't get back to her until after close of business on Friday. Who knows?

Again, though, I have to hope that the fact that it's taking such a long time won't hurt our chances with Chance.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why We Decided to Homeschool - The Politically Correct Version

As regular readers know, we were given information this week about Chance - a 3 and a half year old little boy whom we're interested in adopting. We've been working on this adopting process for a little over a year and a half now.

Chance's case worker came up with a new question for us. As relayed through our case worker, Barbara, Chance's case worker wants to know, "What was our thinking when we decided to homeschool?"

Now, we get this "Why homeschool" question all the time, of course, but this was the first time it came from someone associated with the adoption process. Adoption case workers are, generally speaking, very much pro-school. Education, intervention, special services and so on.

We have many, many reasons for homeschooling. Even with a "special needs child", which every child adopted from foster care over the age of three is considered to be, there are many good reasons for homeschooling. Simple avoiding the stigma of being in a special needs class room is a good start. Of course, there is also the fact that learning can be tailored to the child's particular interests and learning style. You homeschoolers know the benefits - this is just preaching to the choir.

What I needed, however, was a politically correct version of why we chose to homeschool. Something that wouldn't put off a person who wears school colored eye glasses. And I needed to come up with this statement quickly, as I was on my way to speak to Barbara when I got her message with this question from my cell phone.

I drafted out a basic plan in my head in the few minutes I had before arriving at her office. I'd already made the decision to not try to explain unschooling to social services in general. When I got there, I was ready. Luckily, Davan, my 8 year old, was home with friends, so I was able to use these few minutes without interruption.

"When Davan was 2 or 3 years old, I started noticing a lot of talk about homeschooling in various early childhood support groups in which I was a member. While I hadn't every thought of homeschoooling before, I started to see why one might choose to do it.

"I started researching homeschooling and different learning styles - reading a ton of books on the subjects. The more I learned, the more I felt the homeschooling was the best way for me to help Davan learn. I could address her particular style of learning much more than it would be addressed in a large classroom of 30 or so kids."

Here Barbara kind of nodded her head and repeated some of this back to me, as she was trying to remember in order to pass my answers on to Chance's case worker. Emboldened, I went on, "Once we started homeschooling, we discovered many other great things about it. Davan is able to run and play when she's in the mood to do so. Being able to be active when in the mood (and not just at recess) means that she's better able to sit and concentrate on bookwork type activities.

"We also like the fact that our family rhythms tend to stay more even keeled than if she were going to school most of the year, but with a long summer break. The consistency is good for Davan."

Barbara, remembering other conversations, helpfully added, "And you can pick up and travel with Anthony (my husband) when he travels for work without having to remove Davan from school. Same with skiing and such."

"Exactly! We just work out school work around these activities." No need to mention the distinct lack of school work that our very articulate daughter does.

Even though I'd already addressed the socialization question with Barbara, I felt this was a good time to mention it again, as this is always such a concern for non-homeschoolers. I continued, "Once I'd decided that we were going to go the homeschooling route, I started reaching out to the homeschooling community to find a social circle for Davan and myself. I wanted her to have a group that she'd see regularly and be involved with those kids.

"In fact, knowing that we'll probably adopt a child younger than Davan, I've just joined a homeschooling group with mostly younger children. The homeschooling families that we currently spend most of our time with all have kids older than Davan. I wanted to have a group in place from which our new child could find age mates and friends."

Barbara seemed impressed with all of this, but still asked if Davan had ever spent time in a class room situation or was that a complete unknown? I explained that Davan has taken many classes, mostly art, gymnastics and dance, so she's been in group learning situations. However, she never has had a sittting at desks sort of experience, so that is somewhat of an unknown. I explained that I felt like Davan would have had a hard time with sitting as desks when she was younger, but I felt she could do it now, if she needed to. Even though I have to wonder what's the point of sitting as desks with a room of age mates while an adult lectures you unless you're truly interested in the material being presented?

So, there it is - the politically correct, but still positive, reason for homeschooling. I just hope Barbara remembers what I said enough to pass it on without muddling it.

Back and Forth with Barbara

I called Barbara this morning, first thing, to let her know that we were interested in Chance, but had a few questions. She just called back at 1pm and I suspect that's when she got into the office today, as I called her a few times only to hear yesterday's phone message. She says she'll pass on our questions and let me know as soon as she has a reply.

I always wonder, though, does it hurt our cause when there are delays like this? Barbara actually had Chance's information on Wednesday. Did her delay in getting it to us (not until Thursday afternoon) and then the delay in the delivery of the questions (not until this afternoon) cause Chance's case worker to pick other families for committee? Usually there are more than three families that the case worker is dealing with when trying to schedule committee. And, in this case, Barbara told us that Chance's case worker is anxious to schedule committee. If we don't end up going to committee for Chance, I'll have to wonder if this was part of the reason.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Heard From Barbara....

Actually, it turns out that she'd called yesterday and left a message on my cell phone, of all places. There are days when I never turn the thing on. Anyway, she called again today and said that she had an adoption child summary for us to muse upon.

The little guy's name is Chance. He's 3.5. He's quite cute and a fun child in a lot of ways (apparently), but he's also got some challenges. We read through a mountain of paperwork on him this morning and are still interested. I've narrowed things down to three points of interest to further inquire about.

Chance's case worker is anxious to schedule committee, so I'll be speaking with Barbara in the early am tomorrow to ask our questions. We'll see...

Random Musings, Mostly Food Related

I haven't spoken with Barbara yet this morning. I'm sort of trying to give her a chance to call before I call her. If I haven't heard from her by 11am, though, I'll call.

I was realizing that in the beginning on the blog, I talked a lot about food, but I've said nothing about food lately. The focus does seem to be pretty much on the whole adoption issue, which is fine. However, I thought I'd mention that Davan and I are still plugging away at the vegetarian thing with vegan leanings. Davan, though, has been expressing some thoughts about wanting to eat some meat again. She really misses bacon. Myself, I think it'd be a lot easier to eat chicken when eating out, but am willing to keep going without. I don't know if I'll go back to eating meat if Davan does.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I called Barbara yesterday and left a message on her voice mail, but haven't heard back yet. This probably means that she'll be calling during game day again tomorrow, so I'm going to try a preemptive strike and call her again in the morning.

Meanwhile....life does go on and mostly in good ways. I actually had most of a day to myself on Saturday. Anthony was volunteering with REACH to paint a house with a crew from his office. Davan wanted to help, so I took her over there after breakfast. Anthony had to be there earlier than we wanted to wake her up. Davan got to help paint for a couple of hours before they were done and went off to the post painting BBQ. REACH does several houses all in the same neighborhood and then all the crews join up for the BBQ.

After that, Anthony took Davan over to my parent's house because she was invited to spend the night there Saturday. After dropping Davan off, Anthony spent some time moaning over new bikes at Performance before coming home for a quiet evening of just the two of us.

When my parents brought Davan back from the sleepover, we all went out to eat for lunch. It was Anthony's birthday meal and he choose to go to the Olive Garden, as he was "carbing up" for his big birthday bike ride the next day.

Anthony took Monday (his birthday - 444 weeks old!) off of work to do a birthday bike ride. He rode 49.5 miles from our house up to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. This ride is a huge climb and, thus, very difficult. Davan and I drove up a couple of hours after he left and met him along the way. We did support stuff - new water bottles, chalk messages on the side of the road, fig newtons - until he got to the top. Then we all had lunch together.

Anthony rode back down part way - pretty much as far as he could coast - to enjoy the fruits of his labor, for a total of 70 miles. Not too shabby for a 444 weeker.

Davan had her last gymnastics class for the summer in the afternoon. Anthony got to go and watch, which was fun for all of us. Then it was out to eat again, as I hadn't had time to do anything special for dinner that day.

Then there's all of the usual stuff - up to the farm, homeschool park day, a playdate for Davan, racquetball for me....life!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Plowing On, More or Less

Anthony and I had a long talk about the adoption last night. The main decision made was that we will soldier on more or less at least until the requirement to take classes rears it's ugly head again, and maybe even then still.

A few things we talked about:

Perhaps being more picky so that maybe Barbara can concentrate more on advocating for us with one or two children. Although, it's hard to be too picky, as well, as I don't want to put all of our eggs in one basket so to speak. Plus, how will we rule out kids that right now we would consider? So, that's all sort of fuzzy, but we'll try to lean in that direction.

As Davan gets older (even a year or two), a lot more possibilities open up for us. There are a lot of very interesting 8 and 9 year olds available and they seem to wait for a long time. This is the exact age that we are not adopting due to Davan's age, but she'll get older and new 8 and 9 year olds will come along. Not to say that we'll definitely keep plugging at it that long, but it's a thought.

We do want another child just because we want another child, even if we're not "rescuing" a child from not having a family.

Expanding to other states probably wouldn't help matters. We're looking at the most desirable age for older child adoption. These kids are desirable in other states, as well. When out of state recruitment occurs, it's because their having trouble placing the kids in state. There are kids in our state that are being recruited for out of state and these are the kids that we've felt like we can't handle.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nice Weekend, More Bad News Tuesday

Bad news first - three more of the kids we're interested in are unavailable to us. Megon (14) is off to committee with three other families. Anthony (1.5) is, likewise, off to committee without us. There was a lot of interest in both. Shawn (4.5) is just not a good match for us, according to his case worker. He has allergies (but we don't know if he's actually allergic to cats, nor, apparently, does anyone else). Also, he wants a brother. No positive news.

I'm having all sorts of conflicting thoughts on the adoption. I'm really feeling like we're just not needed. So, then I'm down to, do we want to do this for our family? Are our feelings of wanting another child important enough to continue? We're doing this for a few reasons - one is that we'd like another child. Another is that we'd like to give a home to a child who doesn't have one - actually help a child out. I think there are a lot of positive things to having a sibling for Davan, but there are a lot of positives in being an only child, as well.

Right now, I'm torn between a few courses of action.

1) Just keep plodding on. Check in with Barbara every week. Comb through the bulletins. Keep our hearts open.

2) Continue, but without the drive. Be a lot more passive. Wait for Barbara to call us.

3) Just stop.

With options 1 and 2, I'm also thinking about the possibility of a time limit. For example, I think we'd have to repeat our classes if it takes more than another 6 months or so. It might be 18 months, I'm not sure. I think the classes are only good for 2 years, but it might be 3. If it comes time to take classes again, then give it up.

Anyway, on to the nice. We had a lovely weekend. We did a bike camping trip and were joined by my mom. We rode a very hilly 27 miles to Milo McIver State Park and camped for the night. Then we rode home a not so very hilly - but with a couple of good hills and one huge, steep, hill - 24 miles.

The weather for it was perfect - highs in the 70s both days. I think it would have been much harder with 10 or more additional degrees.

Anthony and Davan rode the tandem and pulled the trailer with gear - including our big, heavy tent so that my mom could join us. My mom and I each rode our bikes with panniers. I was carrying all of the food (and kitchen gear and my clothes and the guide book and....). The food, though, was, obviously, eaten down by the second day, for which I was grateful when it was time to do the monster hill. I was the only one to peddle the whole way to the top. The others got off and walked. Anthony, though, I'm sure would have made it on a single bike.

During our return trip, the Livestrong Challange was going on - right along our chosen route for a while. We were passed by sleek road bike after sleek road bike. It was fun, though, and certainly gave us something to look at and talk about. The long ride for them was actually off limits to tandems due to the steep terrain.

Then, just because we're sadists, I guess, Davan and I hoped back on our tandem on Monday and rode about 11 miles to the community center where Davan takes gymnastics. They also have a very nice pool with a big slide, a whirlpool and a current channel. Davan and I like to swim there before her class. Then we rode the 11 miles home. I was pretty whooped, though, after all of that riding.