Sunday, December 22, 2013

Adoption update

We have completed the Homestudy & Licencing Approval process! Now we wait to be selected as a good fit for a child in need of a family. That could happen in a week or in a year, there's no way to predict it. It seems like it's been a long wait already, but we have had many, many things to do to get to this point. We decided to pursue adoption in February of 2013, then researched agencies and programs for several months before choosing WACAP's US Kids program and officially applying in May. From June to November we kept busy with our home safety upgrades, home visits, training classes, references, medical and legal clearances, and of course filling out loads of forms. Now all of that is done and the real WAITING begins.

Saturday, November 02, 2013


For Halloween this year Conan wanted to be a ninja.  Not just ANY ninja, but specifically the character Zane from the Ninjago cartoon (Yes, the Lego ninja toy line has an animated show.  It's really pretty good.) 

 Zane is the white-and-gold-costumed ninja with Ice Power and the ability to talk to birds.  Actually, later in the show it turns out he's actually a robot, programmed to think he's a human, but I digress...  On to the costume!  

I modified a basic kid's halloween ninja costume pattern to incorporate the key elements of Zane's attire: gold trim "kimono" style wrap front, triple golden shoulder armor wings, golden hood ornament, and of course, a golden three-pronged circular shuriken.  (You have to add the accompanying ice blast with your imagination.) It turned out great.  Conan has been loving wearing it since I finished it, including on Halloween.

Cousin Chloe was a purple fairy princess this year.  We met up over at Grandma & Grandpa's house for early trick-or-treating and pictures.  Then we headed over to the Ericson's for dinner and trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.  Kiah was a princess and Moira was a witch.  The three of them made a pretty classic trio as they roamed the streets looking for candy.

The loot was plentiful and everyone had a great time.  Conan was completely exhausted, the girls are enough older than he is that the endurance gap was noticeable.   There was no way he was going to get left behind and miss out on candy though!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Homestudy Complete!

It's done!  We passed with flying colors, I think.  It'll take a couple of weeks for the report to be written up, then we'll get a chance to proofread it, and then it'll be submitted.  We have appointments to be fingerprinted next Tuesday, November 5th.  And then everything gets sent off to the state for review and licencing.  We could have our licence by the first of December, if all goes well!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Home Study Delayed

Well, today was supposed to be our final homestudy, but our Social Worker is sick and had to cancel.  Bummer!  We've rescheduled for next Wednesday afternoon, so it's not like we have to wait months and months, although it is still disappointing.  The house is super clean, and most of the projects are done: we're ready.  The fire extinguishers are hung, the fire-escape ladder is mounted, and the non-skid bathmats are in place. The bedroom is all set up, the closet and dresser cleared of clutter and ready for a new little person's belongings.

Even if the homestudy had been completed today, we'd still have a bit of waiting time left.  Once the visit happens, the SW has to write up the report, which takes a couple weeks.  When she's finished, we get to take a look at the draft report and have a chance to correct anything that's inaccurate, then it gets submitted to the licensing people.  We also still have to get fingerprinted, which is scheduled for Nov. 5th.  They are pretty cagey about how long it will take to process the prints and return the clearance, but it seems a week to 10 days is about average.

If all goes well, we could have our foster/adopt license approved by the end of November!

And then... then we will officially join the Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) pool, and the real waiting begins.  Our file will be sent to social workers around the northwest who are trying to find homes for children whose cases are headed for adoption, rather than reunification with their birth families.  These caseworkers will look over our files (and all the other PAPs) and if they think we're a good fit for the child, we'll get a call.  It could take a week or it could take months... there's no way to predict it.

In light of that, waiting one more week for our homestudy to happen is probably just good practice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I just called to tell you...

Last night while I was making dinner, Conan asked me if he could call his Grandma Anita and Grandpa Dave. I readily agreed (it was definitely preferable to his continuing to be underfoot in the kitchen, begging for snacks and/or whining that he wanted to watch a show), so I told him their number and he dialed the phone.

I'm not sure which of them picked up the phone, but listening to Conan's side of the conversation had me alternating between suppressed laughter and blushing in embarrassment.    It went like this...

Hi, it's Conan!
Well, I just called to tell you about this morning, when we were driving to preschool, and we got pulled over by a police car!  With flashing lights and everything!
Mama was driving too fast.
Yeah.  We were only s'posed to be going 50, but we were actually going 66!
We got a ticket.  It's like a consequence.
It was 144! That's a lot.
Mama didn't like it but I did.  The police car was cool.
Yeah, Mama's making dinner now.  It's going to be macaroni and cheese.
Yeah, it's my favorite.  I'm going to eat it all up.
Ok, Goodbye.

He hung up the phone and asked me for GG's phone number.  I stifled my laughter and embarrassment long enough to give it to him.  He called her up and after a little small talk about the pumpkin she gave him to carve into a jack-o-lantern, reported the whole incident to her as well.  I have to admit, I'm impressed that he remembered the specifics of the speeds and the amount of the ticket.

Luckily, by the time he had finished reporting the exciting news of my speeding ticket to his great grandma, I had finished cooking dinner.  Otherwise, I think he would have kept calling until the whole family knew!  (I suppose I've just finished the job with this post, haven't I?  Oh well.)

Friday, October 04, 2013

Nature Facts I Was Wrong About

C: Mama! Did you know, Rhino horns are made out of fingernails?
M: Um, well, no, that's not quite right. Rhino horns are just made from the same thing AS fingernails.  They grow on the Rhino's head like your fingernails grow on your fingers.
C: No! Their horns are Made. From. Fingernails!   It's true.
M: Nooo... They just grow, their horns grow like really, really thick fingernails.
C: You're wrong!  I learned it on a SHOW!
M: But, I mean, how would Rhinos even get fingernails to make horns with?
C: They take them from dead people.  That's why nobody is afraid of having Rhinos steal their fingernails, because they only get them from dead people who don't need them anymore.  Rhinos are sneaky.  They know when people die.  They take all the dead people's fingernails off and [hand gestures] boop! boop! boop! they make their horns.
M: ....
C: It's TRUE.
M: Well, I'm glad you've got it all figured out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Adoption Update

"So, how's the adoption stuff coming along?" is a pretty frequent question these days.  We're still plugging away at it, I usually say.  Nothing to report yet.  No timeline to completion, but we are making progress, slowly but surely.  It's really hard to tell, though.

For those who are interested, I thought I'd take a moment to compile a more detailed list of what we've done, and what is left to do.   It's kind of an esoteric process so it's good (for me at least) to see everything listed out in one place, and hopefully the Done list will come out longer than the To Do list!

We have:

  • answered 176 essay/short answer questions about ourselves (88 each! I counted!)
  • answered 47 essay/short answer questions about our preparations and motivations
  • filled out half a dozen pages, each, for our formal background checks
  • gotten 4 couples to submit references on our behalf
  • each had a physical and gotten a statement from our Dr. that we're healthy
  • each been tested for TB & submitted results
  • submitted Conan's immunization records
  • submitted a copy of our marriage licence
  • submitted copies of all of our birth certificates
  • submitted copies of our 2011 and 2012 tax returns
  • submitted a financial statement
  • submitted copies of pay stubs
  • submitted proof of car insurance
  • submitted details of our health & dental insurance coverage
  • submitted copies of our drivers' licences
  • submitted our resumes/work histories
  • attended a 1 day adoption orientation seminar
  • taken a 3 hour online orientation class
  • taken a 30 hour class on being a foster/adoptive parent
  • taken a 6 hour class on First Aid, CPR, and Blood Borne Pathogens
  • gotten a big fancy first aid kit
  • installed fire extinguishers in our house, both upstairs & downstairs
  • installed child safety window locks in upstairs windows
  • gotten non-skid bathmats for both tubs
  • gotten three locking boxes for medications (human internal, human external, pet)
  • gotten a baby fence to block off the wood stove completely
  • moved our liquor to an "inaccessible" cupboard
  • moved our cleaning supplies to "inaccessible" places
  • cleaned ALL the things
  • passed our first home visit (Yay!)

Remaining tasks:
  • answer 32 more essay/short answer questions (at least)
  • take another 4 hour class on adoption
  • get cats to the vet to update immunizations
  • submit our cats' immunization records 
  • submit a guardianship plan (in case we die before the kid is 18)
  • install a fire escape ladder on the second floor roof
  • get septic pumped (and provide proof of it)
  • get a kid-appropriate bed
  • set up kid's bedroom before final home visit
  • pass final home visit (Oct 24th!)
  • get fingerprinted
  • get clean background check results back
Whew! When all of that is done, we'll be licensed as Foster Parents in the state of WA.  Yay! Then we can start waiting to be selected as a potential family for a child, which will be much, much more difficult than any of this stuff was.   And even with all these preparations and questions and paperwork, the whole process is still MUCH preferable to being pregnant.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sticker Chart

 Guess who has earned himself a trip to the toy store!

This was our first time using a sticker chart to reward good behavior.  We decided together on five different things that Conan could improve at, and we put them on the chart.  He earns a star for completing them. I drew pictures of each activity so he knows which spot to put the stickers he earns.  The plan is that we'll make a new chart and carry over the things that he didn't get as many stars in plus add a few new ones to replace those items that he's mastered and are now "too easy".

The 5 items from this time were:

  • Getting dressed in the morning (all by himself)
  • Eating dinner without complaining
  • Getting ready for bed without dawdling (putting on pjs, brushing teeth, going potty)
  • Helping pick up toys and games
  • Putting on shoes & getting ready to go when asked (by himself, with no stalling)

 On the next chart, I think we'll be replacing Getting Dressed and Putting On Shoes - he's really gotten good at both of those.  Possible additions are Washing Hands When Asked (no arguing about how long it's been since the last time he did it) and Following Instructions The First Time They're Given.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guemes Beach Day

We got to spend a day with Grandma Debbie, Poppi, and Chloe at Guemes Island.  It was a beautiful day and the kids had a great time turning over rocks to find crabs, picking up shells and pretty rocks, and playing together all day.  

Lunch break - it felt good to rest on a log for a while after a long walk down the beach.

 Chloe even found a pet slug!  This kid will pick up and make a pet of ANY critter she can catch.

Science!  We brought Conan's little microscope and bug viewer/magnifier and the kids had a great time finding stuff from the beach to examine up close, and to show off to Poppi.

Whoa, another crab!  Every rock has something neat under it.  They didn't quite turn over EVERY rock on the beach, but they did a pretty thorough job of it - right up until the (predictable) smashed finger incident.

It was a great day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lake Sylvia Camping Trip

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Oregon Country Fair 2013

Seven under seven!  That's a lot of little ones to have camping behind the button booth.  As always, the Fair was a lot of fun for all of us, young and old.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Climbing Fun

We went to the Highland Games on Saturday and had a lot of fun. The highlight was a climbing wall "ride" that Conan just loved. The guy running the ride was really nice and let Conan play on the wall for far longer than I expected each time. He's a great little climber, no doubt about it!

It was fun for grown-ups too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Prepare to be documented!

On Friday we received a 'welcome' packet from the adoption agency.  Inside, along with some pretty pictures of smiling kids and letters congratulating us on deciding to adopt, were two CDs.  On the CDs are lots and lots of forms, questionnaires, and checklists which we will need to complete as part of the homestudy process.

Now, I love a well documented administrative process as much (ok, probably more) than the next person.  I am truly at home in bureaucracy. Compiling documents and data, marshaling affidavits, and navigating intricate, hierarchical processes  is something I do very well. I actually enjoy filling out forms, checking boxes, attaching appendices and validating affidavits.    But... wow. This is a daunting pile of paperwork to contemplate, even for me.

I know it's all important.  Obviously, they need to know if we have criminal backgrounds, or are financially unstable, or religiously opposed to medical care.  It makes sense to ask about our education, our relationships with our extended families, and our medical health.  And naturally, there's going to be some regulations regarding the condition of our home and various safety protocols.  We knew going into the process that there would be a lot of questions to answer.  But seeing it all laid out in one place, one set of documents, well, it's just shy of overwhelming.

Of course, the agency'll help.  Just having compiled all the documents and forms and questionnaires for us is a big help.   I can already tell I'm going to love the checklists.  Marriage licence? check.  Birth certificates? check.  Two years of tax info? check.  Immunization records for the cats? check.  Lock box for cat medicine, separate from lock box for human medicine? check.  Fire escape ladders for each upstairs bedroom? check...

Sunday, May 05, 2013


Conan loves to play games.  He frequently beats adults at Uno, Connect 4, and Memory.  He loves Sorry, War and Chutes & Ladders.  He learns rules quickly, understands taking turns and scoring points, and he can plan and pull off simple two turn strategies to set himself up for a win.

Recently we got a game called Blood Bowl, which, simply put, is a card game where monsters* play football.  According to the box, it's for ages 14+.  It's quite complicated, with several decks and a gazillion little chits and tokens.  Naturally, Conan really really wanted to play it.  So they set it up and played.

Conan loved it.  It took nearly an hour to play, which is an eternity in 4 year old time.  He keeps asking when we can play again.

*Yes, I know that Warhammer is a lot more than monsters, but I had to sum it up in one word from a 4-year-olds vocabulary, Ok?

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Adoption: why?

One of the questions on the adoption application we are filling out (because we have finally chosen an agency, woo hoo! but more on that later) is simply, why have you chosen to adopt?   It makes perfect sense to me that the adoption agency wants to know  (I suspect "need more orphans to build the death ray" is the kind of answer that probably gets you disqualified) but I've been a little surprised at the interest in that same question in real life interactions.   Since I had to write it out anyhow, I figured I'd put the answer here, as well.  And expand on it a bit further than I did on the application, because I think will be important, later in the process, to remember exactly why we got started.

I've kind of always been intrigued by the idea of adoption.  From an environmental sustainability point of view, having children is not great; overpopulation is a big issue.  From a societal benefit point of view, it makes a lot of sense to me to adopt an already born child, rather than produce a new one, when there are already perfectly good kids out there in need of a home and family.  And from a purely selfish point of view, I really didn't enjoy pregnancy and don't want to do it again, although there's no medical reason not to (we're not dealing with infertility or any kind of medical danger if I were to become pregnant again).

But these are not really why we're doing it.  These are rational, intellectual reasons why adoption is a good fit for us, but to really kindle the kind of enthusiasm that is necessary to go into this process, you need emotion.

For me, the emotional kick came while I was driving home from work, one day in February, listening to the radio.  Some kind of international official (I wasn't really paying attention, at least at first) had been sent to Syria to check on the situation there, and was being interviewed about what he had seen.  The interviewer asked something like "what was the thing that really stood out to you, as you visited the refugee camps?"  The reply was that the impact on the children had been especially hard to witness.  He described a very young child, 3 or 4 years old, who had been scooped up by a neighbor or relative and saved from the bombing of their village, and was now in the camp.  No one really knew if the rest of the child's family had been killed, or maybe were in a different camp, or what.  There was very little organizational capacity available for reuniting families divided in this way, and of course food and shelter and general safety were much higher priorities overall.

It makes me cry, still, to think of how scary that would be for a child.  I thought about Conan in that situation.  Not knowing where he was, where mama and papa were, who would take care of him, or who would comfort him would be so overwhelming.  I wanted to find that child, hug him or her, and make everything better.  And then, I realized, I could.  I could make things better for one kid, not that same kid in a Syrian refugee camp, obviously, but one kid somewhere that just wanted to be hugged and loved and told that everything would be alright.  I can't solve all the problems in the world, but that one, right there, that's one I can manage.

I went home and told Cary the whole story, and that I thought we should adopt a kid.  I pretty much expected him to talk me out of it.  After all, we were happily settled into our life as a family of three, and had rebuffed all the friends and family who had asked us when we were going to have another kid firmly enough that the question had stopped coming.

But instead of talking me out of it, he just said yes.  Yes we should.  Let's do it.

We had more discussion after that, of course.  We talked about the age range (2-3), gender (either), nationality & race (no preference), and of course we talked to Conan, gently, about how he would feel about having a little brother or sister (he's all for it).  We did a bunch of research online, inquired with friends who have adopted about their experiences, corresponded with adoption agencies, got info packets in the mail and joined discussion groups.

This is a big process, and it will take a while to complete.  We are just now at the point where we're formally applying to the agency we've selected.  Soon we will start the homestudy process, which will take 3-6 months to complete, and then we will be waiting to be selected as a prospective family for a kid in need of one, which could take a year or more.  It will probably be hard, not only to complete all the paperwork and background checks and whatnot, but also to keep our intent strong enough to make it through the waiting period.

So why adopt?  Because someday, I will hug that little person tight, and tell him or her that it will be alright.  And it will be.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tree Climbing

I got Conan a couple of pairs of "real" gardening gloves, the kind with a rubber grip coating on the fingers and palms.  He immediately declared them super duper tree climbing gloves and has been monkeying around in our big fir tree like an expert tree climber.  Which he clearly is.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oh, blog. We need to talk.

You see, well, lately, I'm just not that into you. It's spring and there's so much to do outside. And there's just not that much free time in general, between work and parenting and housekeeping and all the other things that take up my time. Certainly not enough time to sit down and write a thoughful essay post, complete with pictures all displayed in the correct order and alignment.

Not that there's really been anything worth writing about going on in my life, to be frank. Even I get bored of nothing but pictures of Conan being his usual cute self.

But if I'm going to be really, truly, deeply honest, the real culprit is Facebook.

Yep. There. I've said it.

It's just so much easier, so much quicker, and (this is big) I actually get comments and likes and feedback on stuff I post there. A couple of sentences and I'm done. Or a picture or two. No context needed, which is a real blessing when there's no real story to tell, just 'hey, my kid is cute!' or 'this place we went was pretty'. 

Hell, I can even post pictures directly from my phone, no finding the cord, no downloading and sorting, nothing. (Ok, to be fair, there's probably a way to post pictures to the blog from my phone too. But I don't know how, and I'm not real inclined to go figure it out. Sorry.)

But! There's still hope for you, blog! Because... [drum roll please] ... we've decided to adopt another child!

The process is daunting and there are many, many things to learn, to evaluate, and surprises to discover. My best blogging has historically been about some kind of journey. First, it was building a house. Then, it was about getting married, and establishing a home. After that, pregnancy and parenthood. And now, the next adventure is adoption. It's going to be great, I promise.

Saturday, March 23, 2013