Friday, December 29, 2006

Part 2b: the fosterening continues

when we left our intrepid gang, they were stuck in Shelbyville for Christmas and New Year's, living in the basement of a foster home, and missing their ancient cat....


One night, we went to the son's school Christmas play. It was a public school but they did a full-on Santa and Elves deal with no attempt to pretend they were down with non-Jesus December. I thought that was a little weird. Isn't it? Don't most schools stay away from the red and the green, because of all the kids that will feel left out? Or is everyone in Shelbyville a Jesus Christian? Weird.
Another time we went to the mall. This was the site of our very first (by no means last) super dumbass parenting trick. We totally forgot the diaper bag. I was so ashamed of this I didn't mention it to the foster mom or the other adopting family because, hello, I didn't want to be reported. We were still under surveillance! Now that I think about it, the other mom would totally have shared her kid's diapers and milk with us. As it was...we were standing in an enormous Shelbyville Mall (which had no bookstore, by the way.) with a starving hungry baby who was screaming. Luckily, we have other ways to feed the baby a little bit. So I stood in a bathroom stall, not touching anything, feeding the baby to calm him down. He didn't get a full meal but I was very pleased. Always prepared! like a boy scout!

Another time we went to the zoo! Shelbyville has a big zoo with all kinds of animals. The foster mom's sister in law works at the zoo and not only got us in free but brought out a snake for the kids to pet! Sadly, the kid is a bit young for snake petting. But the older kids enjoyed it. They had a whole "Herpaquarium" which comes from "Herp" which means "Disgusting" and "Aquarium" which means "Revolting". I am hoping to not pass on my crippling fear of creeping, crawling, swimming, sliming creatures, but I absolutely could not open my eyes walking through there. Shiver.

We went to walmart (did you know I had never been in one before this trip? Well, I hadn't. But it was not that interesting.) and bought Connect Four, Don't Break the Ice!, Barrel of Monkeys, and Set. We later realized that perhaps the young children of the house might also enjoy the games. That is how we ended up spending entire days playing Barrel of Monkeys. At which I kicked the asses of everyone under 10. HA!

I was desperate to eat something that had not originated in any type of pouch, and the foster mom told me she hated to cook, so I made pizza with the kids. It was hilarious but not as crispy as I like really. We also made cookies which was the messiest mess that ever messed. I wish we could have done it twice. It was fun.

In Shelbyville, the parents have to go to a judge in order to relinquish. This is where the judge asks if they are OK with this etc. I don't really know exactly how it goes down. All I know is that the day was the 20th, at ten AM. We talked with Suzanne the night before. We didn't talk about the adoption at all...just about her other kids, and Christmas, and stuff.
The morning of the 20th I watched the clock creep closer and closer to ten. I kissed the baby one million times and whispered that I would miss him if this didn't happen. The four year old made me sit still while she did my hair (six bows! I looked hot, I tell you what). I was sitting still when the phone rang. It was the social worker calling to tell us that it was complete. Suzanne and Richard were still certain that they wanted to do this and had declared such to the judge.

The big part was over. I cried. The four year old asked me why I was crying. "Like your mom was talking about, grownups sometimes cry when they're happy. I'm happy because Godot gets to come home with us," I said. "You mean the birthmom and birthdad decided?" "Yes, they decided."

A couple hours later, we got a call that the Shelbyville agency needed one more piece of paper from Massachusetts. HOwever, the Massachusetts social worker was in an all day meeting and could not be reached before 1:30, when they needed this magical paper. A pissed-off Octuplet Dazzle set out for a long walk, since this would mean we were definitely here for New Year's. Our one percent had evaporated just like that.

About thirty minutes after Octuplet Dazzle left, I heard the phone ring upstairs. Foster mom answered. "OK, I'll tell them," I heard her say. Then she came down the stairs. I thought she'd update me on this magical piece of paper (never did hear what that was), but she said "It's done. You can go home."

I was stunned. After all that angst? We could go where? I looked around then remembered that OD was gone. "She went out for a walk," I said lamely. (Octuplet Dazzle Loses Her Cell Phone Days Before This Trip is a different story)

I invited the family out to dinner but they had plans, so I ordered in CHinese for them. I waited and waited desperately by the door for OD to return but she was out walking around, probably still pissed off. Finally I left the baby with the foster mom and drove out to find her, which I did not.

Two hours after she'd left, she came back. "We can go home," I said, "it's done!"
She did a total cartoon double take "Whaaa?" thing. I had to explain a couple of times.

"We have a flight at ten AM. We're going home."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Part 2: The Fosterening

I have to start by explaining that I have never, ever, ever been a good journaler. My past is littered with lovely blank books that have the first six pages written on. Every overseas trip I've ever taken began with long and loving journal entries and ended with "Soup for dinner. Aiport noisy. Ran out of kleenex." So this next bit is a bit jumbled.

We followed the social worker's tiny car about 15 miles across town (I know! why are towns so big out there!), desperate to not get separated from the car that held our kid. The area was very suburban, very residential, very new. The houses were enormous by our standards, and modest by other people's.

This woman turned out to be the nicest woman on the face of the earth. Seriously. I had been very worried since finding out that the family was very religious. First of all, we are not religious in the least. You have to go back three generations in my family to find churchgoers of any sort. Octuplet Dazzle's mother is more religious but only in a way that an Evangelical Christian would describe as "heathen". Then, obviously, we're hugely gay. So.
But forget all that. She was super, super nice. She welcomed us, and her 17th baby of the year, into her home.

we stayed in their basement, which was a nice big room with a fridge and a microwave and a rocking chair and a TV. And a bed, duh. We unpacked all our delicious microwavable foods that we'd had at the motel. Here are foods you can make in a microwave:
rice a roni (the san francisco treat)
indian food in a pouch (tasty bite and similar)
frozen peas
baked potatoes

We put the baby in his bassinet. So cute!

Later that night the kids were home from school and came down to see the baby. The five year old daughter of the house, I'll call her Sharky because her real name is a lot like my real name, is crazy for babies. She gave him a little kiss. We gave the family the chocolates that I had lovingly made and brought all the way from Boston. We chatted with the family a little. The dad is big into movies. I secretly had known that already, having googled him. heh. The seven year old boy was a total grinning ball of motion. We watched Sharky perform her Cinderella Ballet DVD dance steps, and I felt lucky to have a boy. Not that there's anything wrong with Cinderella Ballet DVDs.

Nights: awake often, at every sniff and sneeze and snore. The days: kinda dull. It was super warm in Shelbyville, and we went for walks. I felt nervous that we'd never find our way back because I am not used to winding cul de sacs and identical architecture. But we did. One night we went to the library. They were very sweet and checked out books for us to stave off the boredom. We weren't allowed to take the baby anywhere by ourselves really. SOmetimes I would drive to walmart for diapers and rice a roni and canned pineapple. Mostly we hung around in the house or outside in the sun.

two days after we arrived, another baby came on the scene. She was a little bigger and a little younger than Godot. She didn't have a family yet. THen they found her a family in Minnesota (yah). I could only imagine that family's excitement. Imagine! one minute no baby, the next minute, a baby!

They arrived in a huge pack. Mom, Dad, two small children, and Dad's parents. Holy crap! We found them friendly and interesting. Their other two children had been adopted from another country and were 4.5 and 2.5 years old. we ordered in chinese food with them. Their 4.5 year old daughter was really fun. She loved the baby too. We let her hold him and feed him. She was also absolutely mystified by our status. Are you his mom? Is he your brother? Is she your sister? Friend? Cousin? Mom? (ouch, that) Do you have a husband? She eventually decided that I was merely a large and awkward kid. "Pretend you're a grownup," she'd say. I'm trying, I would think. Have been for years. Her dad laughed when he heard her call Godot my baby brother. "You can explain it to her," he said, "we don't mind." Which I know he meant nicely and it was nice, he was very nice, but still, really, you don't mind my existing, that's big of you, really....ouch.

We had to have a post placement visit there in the foster home. It was fine, but that was the point when we were informed that Kentucky ICPC was all run by one woman. One woman who was taking vacation between the 22nd and the 2nd. THe court hearing was for the 20th. "THere's a one percent chance it could happen on the 21st," she said. "But you should make plans for Christmas and new year's here." So we did. We also did our best to ensure that that one percent was at least doubled. But what could we do? YOu can't fight City Hall, as they say. We tried to put a good spin on it. After all, Christmas is not a big deal for us (see above re: religiosity). THe big deal was that we wanted to be in our home! with our food! and our cat!

Here's where the lazy blogger takes a break.

Next: The Fosterening Continued; The Homecomening

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Part One: The Hospitalening

Not like I'm all organized and shit with the parts. I am going to forget all kinds of stuff here and do a bad job. but read on! some things might be funny!

November 29, 2006

We battled late takeoffs with short connections to arrive in Shelbyville, USA in the early afternoon. It was warm, not Novemberlike to me at all. We jumped in our rental car (smelled strongly of cigarettes) and drove to Babies R Dumb to buy a carseat (subsidized by Great-Grandma McLazy: "get the safest most expensive one"). Unable to decipher the instructions, we left it lying crazily in the backseat, hoping no one would notice and call CPS on us. No baby, no foul, right?

We checked into the motel and rang up Suzanne, the expectant mom we'd met three weeks before. We got a disconnect message. Which, of course, made us plenty nervous. But we called the social worker and learned that she was doing well and would check into the hospital at 5 AM the next day. We were to accompany her and DON'T BE LATE. A sleepless night.

November 30, 2006
The nauseating hour of 4:30 AM arrived and we walked the three blocks to the hospital, where we found an unstaffed registration desk and no Suzanne. We wandered the halls of the place for a while until we found her waiting by the desk, wondering where the hell the registration clerk was at this hour. A call to the ER (always staffed) and someone appeared to check her in for her surgery. We walked up to the L&D unit and were shown to the waiting room, which smelled strongly of pee.

You imagine yourself in this situation and tell me if you could sit still. I could not. We passed out truffles to the nurses, hoping to bribe them into treating us well, which turned out to be unneccessary since they were all just about the nicest people on earth.

Eventually I went to the bathroom. Which also smelt of pee. When I returned, Octuplet Dazzle told me to run and get my bracelet, because the baby was born.

While I stood swooning, they strapped my bracelet on my wrist and tried to explain to me that the baby was having trouble breathing, or, as the nurse put it, "being a pain in the butt." We followed his bassinet down the hall to the intermediate nursery...not the NICU but one step down from that. "Wait about 30 minutes," they said at the door, which then was shut and locked. We couldn't even see inside, but we stood outside shaking as we called my mother. "How big? How long? what time?" We knew nothing.

Hours later, we were finally admitted to the intermediate nursery. Nurse Dire Predictions talked about holes in the heart, apnea, oxygen at 70%, blah blah blah. Where was the doctor? Not there*.

The baby, who we barely dared to call our own Godot, had IV with antibiotics, oxygen cannula, and a feeding tube. Later we would learn that most of this was excess treatment by a kind of old fashioned hospital. But at the time...poor baby. They let us hold him if we wore gowns and gloves.

We spent the rest of the day by his bedside and with Suzanne, who was in some pain besides being ravenous and not allowed to eat yet.

*Small world tidbit: the doctor was at a conference with my grandfather, in DC, at that very moment.

December 1, 2006

In and out of the Intermediate Nursery all day (you have to wash your hands for three whole minutes every time) and out just to get food for us and for Suzanne. We watched TV and she talked about her family and music and other regular things.

They let us hold him without gowns.

In the evening we went out to find a computer to upload the first pictures. While we were at Kinko's, the social worker called us to tell us to "let Suzanne get some rest". I was terrified that we had somehow overstayed our welcome in her room and had bothered her. Five minutes later she called us asking us to please come back and bring a fish sandwich. So I guess we weren't that bad.

December 2, 2006

This would normally have been the day that Godot got out of the hospital. But they still weren't discussing discharge. We booked another night at the motel. We met Richard, Godot's father, who came to stay the night with Suzanne. He was kind of quiet but sat and watched TV with us and did a crossword puzzle and had some chicken wings.

Suzanne was discharged around noon. She came to say goodbye to us as we sat by Godot's bed. I cried a tiny bit.

I started to get a rash from the hospital soap and the three minute scrubs.

December 3, 2006

They took Godot off the oxygen. We really thought he would be able to go home, but the nurses wouldn't talk about discharge yet. With Suzanne gone, we spent most of the day with Godot, and out doing errands. We bought food to cook in the motel.

I made ramen in the motel room coffee pot.

December 4, 2006

More of same. Baby OK. Us tired and afraid to leave the hospital even for a little while. Every errand seemed to take ninety minutes, we got so lost in the city and couldn't find parking. We were tired and cried. I cried to my mom. I cried in the motel. I cried in the car.

December 5, 2006

Today they said that he would not go home until friday. When I reported this to my mother, she was furious and called my grandfather to tattle. (A little boasting, a little background: my grandfather is a neonatalogist and a big shot one too. He was running a conference in DC that week) My grandfather demanded the name of the doctor, who we still hadn't seen (he was at the conference).

The baby was eating regular style now instead of the feeding tube.

We moved to a cheaper hotel.

December 6, 2006

We finally met the doctor. I name-dropped and he promised to call my grandfather. The baby was off oxygen, eating well, and healthy. He agreed that we could leave the next day.

Driving away that night I cried, because even though the nurses were nice and kind and very good, I knew that they didn't have time to hold him every time he cried. And we weren't there.

December 7, 2006

We got up early and went to the hospital. We waited until noon, feeding, changing, and bothering the baby. Taking endless pictures. Finally the social worker arrived to take custody of the baby and drive him to the foster home--we were to follow in our own car. We were not allowed to drive the baby anywhere.

One more heel stick, one more test, one more lost paperwork and we were good to go.

Next: part 2: The Fosterening

Guy walks into a bar

I don't know how to start my story here, folks. The middle's muddled, but the ending ends with Me, Octuplet Dazzle, and Godot in our VERY OWN HOME.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

trapped in the south

very little internet these days, folks. sorry. We are trapped in a maze of bureaucratic requirements and untimely vacations of ICPC workers. Possibly we could escape on the 21st but if not...we're here until 2007.

The sad part is that we will have to leave the baby here in the foster home and go to a hotel for the holiday...because, you know, these people have lives and family of their own (WHAT NERVE!).

Trying not to think about that and cry.

Baby doing very, very well. Small and cute. Nothing we brought fits him. Eat and grow fat, baby!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Godot McLazy Dazzle

Probably not his real name. He won't say one way or another though.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006