Friday, March 31, 2006

Well, now I feel bad

I just got a response from Dung's mother. She hadn't responded to my response to her. (See post below, "Conversation with Dung's mother".)

Evidently, she interpreted the fact that I had contacted Holt for an explanation as to why we had been misled about not being chosen as Dung's family, as evidence that I would try to interfere with their process if I had more information about them.

Good grief, what kind of person would DO SOMETHING like that?????

Anyway, I am not going to post what her message to me said, because I think it gives too much personal information about them. But, this is what I said in reply:

I am sorry - I would not want you think that I would have tried to interfere with your process - that was the last thing on my mind. What I was angry about was that I felt like H~[agency] misled us - when I asked why we were not chosen for H~ Dung, we were told, "timing" - i.e. the family chosen for H~ Dung was much closer to having a finished homestudy and that was the reason for the decision. (So when you posted that you hadn't yet sent in your paperwork for the homestudy, I felt like H~ had blatantly lied to me.) My anger was with H~, not with your family, not with you for posting about it. (Yes, it was painful to read, but, I wasn't angry with you, it was just incredible sadness.) But, I really felt it was wrong of H~ to make me believe that the deciding factor was "timing" when clearly it wasn't. When I called A~[social worker] after reading your post, I wanted her, basically, to give me a truthful reason, to explain why we had been misled in the first place, and give us a reason not to leave and go to another agency. And A~ apologized, and truthfully I don't think she intended to mislead me, so much as she didn't want to hurt my feelings - I imagine that this "timing" is a canned answer they give to the family who isn't chosen. I can accept that. It's unfortunate that families are put in positions to "compete" over children, and I am sure it is the worst part of A~'s job to have to tell people their hearts are broken. I did not contact L~ [other social worker] - she contacted me, I suspect after talking to A~. She started the conversation with, "I understand that you've had a loss" - and I appreciated that she started the conversation understanding that I was grieving and upset. That conversation was the number 1 reason I decided to stay with H~ - my husband was dead set on going to another agency after he read your post - again, nothing to do with you, only to do with the fact that he felt like he had been lied to. I did wonder, at the time, what A~ meant by "life experiences" - and it is clear that [your work/ specific life experience] makes you an ideal mother for an adopted toddler. I respect the decision of the committee in finding the best family for H~ Dung - what I did not respect or appreciate was being misled about it. You had no part in that, but, I needed H~ to give me a reason to trust them not to mislead me again. At this point I feel like I have established that trust. We have agreed that we will not go through "committee" again - that was just too horribly painful and, frankly, I don't think I can do that again. But, I do trust that they will eventually find us the right child, and that is what is truly important. I am very sincere when I say that I hope H~ Dung comes home to you soon, and that I hope he brings you joy and happiness, and that you bring joy and happiness to him. I am sorry if I made you worry that I would interfere - that would not be in Hung Dung's best interest, and it would be ugly and small and petty and horrible, and I cannot imagine anyone (well, anyone who really cares about children, anyway) doing something like that. I am glad to know that [he will be loved and cherished by an extended family]. I told you the truth about what happened after you posted, truly, because I felt a need to make peace with a place in my heart that was still bruised - not to make you feel unsettled or threatened. Best wishes and hopes for quick travel for you and your husband, G~

I've got to go somewhere warm...

Current weather in Toledo, Ohio: 61 with strong storms

Current weather in Westmoreland, Jamaica: 84 with a chance of afternoon showers, low of 74.

Music on the way to school and work this morning: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Buffet's Songs You Know By Heart...

Length of memo to S. the wonder secretary regarding items to take care of while I am gone: 2.5 pages

Length of memo to Father regarding the care and feeding of Gabriel: 2.5 pages

Length of memo to Uncle and Aunt regarding care and feeding of Nolan and Bahtsu (big orange Tom cat and small auxiliary cat): half a page

Number of hours until my flight leaves: 21

Things to get done before I leave work today: 3,486,731...


My son told his kindergarten teachers yesterday that his mama and daddy were leaving him next week to go to Vietnam to get his little brother!

Oy vey!

My husband had to spend the whole ride home from school (25 minutes) explaining that we were NOT going to Vietnam and that we didn't even know who his little brother was, yet, and that there was still a small possibility that his younger brother *might* be a younger sister.

We think he is now clear on this, and he is TICKED OFF that we are going to a "meeting" with "Uncle" R~ and "Aunt" M~ (our friends who was always travel with) without him. Happily, he seems to be looking forward to going to grandpa's house anyway, even if we won't come home with his little brother.

Law Mommy

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I need a vacation!

I am stressed. Monumentally, unbelievably, incredibly, edge of my seat, giving myself an ulcer, stressed.

Mostly, the cause of my stress is a case I am involved in that is about to blow up in a really really ugly mess, in which I think my client is going to be wholly, completely, and utterly screwed.

And there really isn't much of anything I can do about it, because the law is kinda sorta maybe more on the side of the "bad guys." Even though I don't really think my client did anything wrong, and even though I think the other side is looney tunes and malicious driven to destroy my poor client.

These are the days when I wonder why I went to law school. Because that whole, 'fighting for truth and justice and righting the wrongs of society' - doesn't get to happen all that often.

Sometimes the bad guys win, and the good guy puts her pro bono lawyer in front of her and the two of them get squashed.

These are also the times that I need to remind myself that my client and I are not the same person, and we are not standing in the same shoes. (I have trouble separating myself, and I tend to be more empathetic than is truly healthy. I need to establish a wall of separation, because if I allow my emotions to get involved, I will not be able to defend my client to the extent that I can. Even though I don't have a lot of ammunition on my side, I need to be calm, cool and collected so that I can utilize my limited ammunition most effectively. For what it's worth.)

On the bright side, I am getting on a plane at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning, for a week of lounging on the beach, and hopefully I will be able to forget about this mess for a while.

Gabriel knows we are leaving him with his grandfather and his step-grandma, and while he is exciting about staying with them, he has been very clingy and a little freaked out. To be honest, I am a little freaked out, too. Each time I have left him has been a little bit harder than the last. You would have thought I would have found it harder to leave him as a 2 year old, but, in fact, last year, when he was 5, was the hardest to be away from him for a week. Which is not to say that I am not glad I went on vacation - we had a fabulous time, I just missed him. And I suspect I will miss him even more this time.

I wonder if this means by the time he is ready for college I won't be able to stand being apart from him and attempt to move into his dorm with him, a la Lorelei on the Gilmore Girls when Rory first goes off to Yale??

Um, probably not. Probably he will be a snotty teenager and I will want to throw him out...

Well, I'm off to fight a armored tank, with my tiny little sling shot. I don't think it's going to turn out so very well...

Law Mommy

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kindergarten Homework

Last night I was sitting at our kitchen table helping Gabe do his homework.

It is unusual for him to have "homework" per se. Every Monday night he has "letter person" homework, where he has to think of something that starts with the "letter of the week" and then he takes that item to school the next day. But actual, sit-at-the-table-write-on-the-paper homework is rare.

Anyway, this homework was called, "On the Day I was Born".

The sheet said:

My full name is ___________________________________.

I was born on ______________________.

On the day I was born the weather was _______________.

My parents named me for ___________________________.

My name means_________________________.

My parents said I looked like _______________.

So, I was helping him with this, and finding a baby picture to tape to the page (per instructions) and I suddenly got REALLY SAD.

And the weird reason I was sad was, I know "Samuel" is out there, already born. AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE WEATHER WAS LIKE ON THE DAY HE WAS BORN (okay, realistically, considering its Vietnam, we can probably go with 'warm and humid'). AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT HIS NAME IS RIGHT NOW. AND IT IS POSSIBLE THAT I WON'T EVER KNOW THE EXACT DATE OF HIS BIRTH, OR WHO HIS BIRTH MOTHER THOUGHT HE LOOKED LIKE.

And it made me sad, because I will want to know those things, for this child of mine who I haven't found yet. And I will feel sad, when he brings home this assignment, and I don't have the answers.

Is that crazy? I just want to find him and bring him home RIGHT NOW.

Patience. Patience is a virtue.

Law Mommy

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rant against meth addicts

My head is one big ball of snot. I'm not kidding. A big ol' ball of goopy snot and I feel like a steaming pile of poodle poo.

Attempts to purchase Sudaphed at the grocery store were made difficult by the fact that one must ASK THE PHARMACIST for a box of this now precious commodity. And the pharmacist then encourages me to use Sudafed PE, which, instead of pseudophedrine, contains phenylephrine. Now, they may both be long names that start with the letter "P" but, in my experience, that is where the similarity ends. Because Sudafed PE? Yeah, it SUCKS. I might as well swallow sugar pills for all it does.

Okay, so, in my quest to get actual pseudophedrine, I look at the pharmacist and I say, "really, who are you kidding? That stuff doesn't actually work on actual stuffy noses." The pharmacist shrugged and handed me a box of real Sudaphed from behind the counter, which cost $4.64. I said, "don't you have a store brand?" And he says, "No, we don't make the store brand anymore. We have store brand of the PE." I frown at the pharmacist and ask for another precious box. He says, you can buy two boxes, but, I have to see your I.D.

My I.D. !!! I had to hand over my driver's license to lay my hands on two boxes of SUDAFED.

Why? Why torment a woman with a massive head cold in this fashion?

Evidently one can manufacture SPEED with pseudophedrine if one "cooks" it with fertilizer and some other ingrediant. So, in order to prevent meth addicts from doing this, states are making it VERY ANNOYING and DIFFICULT to lay hands on pseudophedrine.

So, basically, the meth freaks have given me a big headache. To which I say a big "up yours" to meth freaks everywhere. You are making it hard for me to treat my cold. I hate it when a couple jerks rain on everybody else's head colds...

That's all for now,
Law Mommy

Monday, March 27, 2006

Conversation with Dung's Mother

I was posting on my adoption agency's web forums, about a question I had regarding referrals.

One of the people who answered my question was the woman whose family had been matched to Dung (the waiting child my husband and I applied for, and were not matched to.)

Troubled by the fact that she was responding to me, and talking about her referral, without having a clue how incredibly painful that was for me, I sent her a private message.

This is what it said,

Thank you for your response to my question on the boards. I have been thinking about sending you a private message for quite some time now, but, I haven't been emotionally up to the task. We were the other family who applied for C~ H~ Dung, and I cried for weeks after we learned we were not matched. I think it is odd for a family to discover exactly who they "lost out to" - but, I cried again when I saw your messages about being matched to him. But, I finally feel like I have grieved enough, and I want to say, that I hope that your new child brings you a lifetime of happiness, and that he will bring joy and love to your family, and your family to him. He is a special child, I don't know why I know this, but, I know it. Your son's small face spoke volumes to me. We were starting in the China program when we saw his face on the boards, and, even though we were not matched, I feel strongly that we saw him for a reason, and that he led us to the Vietnam program to find the child who IS destined to be ours, and for that, I feel strangely grateful to him - but for him we would be waiting for a girl from China, and now were waiting for a boy or girl from Vietnam - and this feels so much more "right". I think that God led us in this direction - he works in mysterious ways. I hope that you are able to quickly go and bring your son home. Peace and best wishes, Gretchen

And she responded thusly:

Thank you for contacting us. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been for you to see our message that we were matched with H~ Dung. After I typed that, I found myself hoping the "other family" wanting to be matched with him did not read these boards. I am guessing it is hard to see our name come up on different postings. I know what you mean about him being a special boy - even though we have not met him yet. There is something inside of him that touches our soul. In a way, it is so nice to know he also touched another family deeply. Your comment about God leading you to the Vietnam program is a strong one. We fully believe that God has a plan for each of our families and maybe H~ Dung was the catalyst to move you toward your child. Everything I say sounds so condescending. Please know that is not my intention. Mainly, I just want to say Thank You for messaging us. I know that took courage. And I want to send you our heartfelt prayers that your child is matched to you soon. When we found out we were matched with H~ Dung, we prayed for the "other family" and the sadness they must have felt. We would like to add you to our prayers once again. L~ [husband] and I had talked that if we were not matched to H~ Dung, we would want to know about the other family so we knew he was going to a good home. If you ever have questions to help put your mind at ease, feel free to ask. But we also will understand if you just want to move on. I will watch for your message that you were matched. May it be soon. God Bless your family. S~

And so, then I sent this message. I am still waiting to see if she will answer. I feel suddenly sad about this all over again...

Dear S~, I've been trying all weekend to decide how to answer this. Please understand that I really felt like I loved that child. And losing his referral was among the most painful experiences of my life. I also had a long discussion with A~[social worker at agency], after I saw your message, because it had basically been implied to us, that the other family was further ahead in the process than we were, so, when I saw your message, and knew that was not true, I was very very upset, and I almost left H~ to go with another agency. Anyway, after long discussions with A~ and L~[other social worker at agency], who encouraged me to grieve this loss, I decided to stay with H~[agency], because I really do think that they have the best interest of the children at heart, and that is extremely important to me. (I am a family law attorney in Ohio, and so often, I feel like I get involved in divorce cases, where no one is really concerned about what is in the best interest of the child, and that bothers me greatly. So, it is not flippantly that I throw around the words "best interest of the child" - because I find myself fighting for "the best interest of the child" on a regular basis.) When I was talking to A~, after I saw your message, I asked for an explanation, and I asked if the decision was made because we were not a "qualified family." A~ indicated that she could not tell me why we had not been chosen, but, in fact the reasoning had "nothing to do with the qualifications of your family." She indicated that we were a qualified family, that she would not have presented us to committee if we weren't, and that she knew the right child for our family was out there and that he or she would come home to us, and that the right family for H~ Dung was another family. She said, "some families have different life experiences, and sometimes those life experiences make them right for particular children, and that was this case, but, I'm afraid I can't tell you anything beyond that." Then A~ went on to say, "I really believe, and I don't think this is too strong a word, that you loved that child. And that is not the first time I have had to tell a family, who I really felt loved the asked for child, that they were not the right match for the child. But, in every single one of those other cases, in hindsight, those families have told me that they understood the reason for the loss, because ultimately the right child came home to them, who would not have come home to them, if they had been matched to the previous child." And so this is what I have come to accept, even to embrace. That your family is meant to be H~ Dung's family, and that our child is still out there, waiting for us to find him/her, and I am extremely anxious to find that child and bring him or her home. That said, in truth, I DO want to know that H~ Dung will be loved and cherished. I do want to know, I don't know, something about the parents of the child who, for a short 2.5 weeks, I believed was meant to be my child. And I hope that you will post or PM me, when you bring him home, so that I know that he is home and with his forever family and no longer in the limbo that this shutdown left him in (I have no doubt he would have been adopted as a tiny baby, if Vietnam had not shut down adoptions.) I will share with you these three things - things that I asked about that were not in the referral file. 1. H~ Dung was named "H~ Dung" by his birth mother, he was not named by the orphanage officials. (I asked for specific information on who had named him.) 2. The name H~ Dung means "strong brave warrior" (you may have already discovered this, I don't know.) (My husband and I had a long discussion about his name, and ultimately decided that we would give him an English name, because we thought that H~ Dung would be a difficult name for a child in our suburban school to live with. I am curious to know if you will rename him, but, of course I understand if you don't feel comfortable sharing that.) 3. The date listed for his first vaccination is incorrect on one of the pages in the file - the date listed actually predates his birthdate. However, it is correctly listed on one of the earlier reports. I really hope he comes home to you soon. G~

Thursday, March 23, 2006

NY TImes Article and My Cousin R~

Here is a link to an article in the NY Times, regarding children adopted from Asia who are trying to form a racial identity. http://

One of the commentators says, about the adopted children, "the children need real contact with Asian-Americans, not just waiters in restaurants on Chinese New Year."

Now, I can tell you I fully intend to integrate" Samuel's" Vietnamese culture into our lives and I think it will be important for him to have contact with other Vietnamese people, especially children adopted from Vietnam.

But, I want to play devil's advocate, and the reason I want to do so has to do with my cousin, R~, and her husband, L~.

R~ is the tri-racial child of a white mother (my aunt) and a man who was bi-racial, Cherokee and black (or African American. R~ prefers the term black, and since it's R~ I am speaking of, that's what I'll use.)

R~ is strikingly beautiful, with a cafe-au-lait complexion and the prominent cheekbones of her Cherokee grandmother, she looks like she should be on the cover of Vogue.

Her husband, L~, is also the child of a white mother and a black father, and is also striking to look at. His skin tone is almost identical to R~'s.

When they announced they were expecting a baby, everyone assumed the child would have skin the color of her parents - coffee and cream. Even R`'s mother expected this, and R`'s mother has a master degree in genetics.

So, we were all rather surprised to find a redheaded, blue eyed, white child emerge from this union.

Now, in retrospect, my aunt worked out the odds of two bi-racial (or tri-racial) people having a white baby, and it's something like 1 in 16. Or possibly 1 in 8. I can't remember exactly, but, it's not like winning the lottery or getting hit by lightening or anything.

My point is this: this child is white. Her parents are not. Do her parents have some kind of duty to expose her to white people on purpose? Will she flounder without a racial identity? (They live in a racial diverse neighborhood in a large city in the Pacific Northwest. )

I don't know the answers to these questions. I do think this child will have some issues to face - R~ already comments that she truly resents being mistaken for her nine month old daughter's "nanny" whereever they go. I imagine that when she starts school, other children may say cruel things to her - the same kind of things they said to her mother they said to her mother as a child.

But, I'm just not sure that what one LOOKS LIKE is tied into one's IDENTITY as a human being as much as this article seems to imply.

The fact that my second son will come from another culture on the other side of the world, THAT will certainly impact his idenity. The fact that he was abandoned by his biological mother and chosen by my husband and I - that will have a HUGE impact on his identity and personality. But I am not sure, or at least I don't want to believe his skin tone will be linked to his ability to form a sense of identity.

I guess only time will tell on this issue...Check back with me in 17 years...I'll tell you how it all turned out. ;-)

Pistachio Cake

My birthday is Saturday. I am going to be 34, er...29 - again.

As in tradition in our office, my secretary has brought in my favorite treat - her pistachio bundt cake with pistachio whipped cream topping.

She is awesome.

(In case you are wondering, yes, I do bake for my secretary's birthday. We each take turns, baking for the person you work most closely with, when it is their birthday. It's a friendly little office tradition. There's only eight of us here, we have to keep amused somehow.)

Oh, and the reason for the cake today, instead of tomorrow, is that I have to be at a ridiculous CLE (continuing legal ed.) seminar tomorrow, which is required by the State, regarding the perils of abusing pain killers and alcohol whilst practicing law. (I am pretty sure abusing pain killers and alcohol while doing ANYTHING is not a great idea. But, the state says I have to go sit through a seminar about it. All I can say is, at the very least, they better have good donuts and decent coffee.)

Doing "NOTHING" is not easy

I feel a little bit like I am being driven insane by the instructions from our agency to DO NOTHING.

They do seem to make these instructions very clear. We are, at the moment, waiting for our Homestudy to be submitted to the agency (should be by next Friday.) Shortly thereafter, we will receive notice that the homestudy has been "approved" by Holt. Then, and only then, are we to submit an application to the USCIS called an I600A, and this must be done IMMEDIATELY upon receipt of the news that the homestudy is approved.

Then, we wait some more.

We wait for a letter from the USCIS (formerly known as the INS) telling us to drive to Cleveland and be fingerprinted.

And we wait for a file from Holt. A file that will have the picture and history of "Samuel" in it. (Or, I suppose, very unexpectedly, a picture of "Nadia/Annika/Ariel" in it.) And when that file hits our front porch, courtesy of the FedEx man, we will immediately be required to start running around like chickens with our heads cut off to obtain documents for our dossier. (With the exception of certified copies of our birth and marriage certificates which we had to get for our homestudy, and our passports, which of course we already had.)

This goes entirely against everything else I know about adopting from Asia, but, since everything I know about adopting from Asia comes from people who adopted from China, what the hell do I know? See, when you adopt from China, you have to submit your dossier documents FIRST and then you wait for months and months and months, and then the Chinese authorities refer a child to your adoption agency to be referred to you.

But, evidently, adopting from Vietnam, at least through Holt, you get a referral FIRST, and THEN do your dossier and wait for approval from the Vietnamese.

I have actually just sent an email to my agency asking for reassurance that I should be doing NOTHING right now.

I am pretty sure they are going to write back and ask if I am illiterate, because it is all spelled out in black and white in the Vietnam program guide, which is roughly the size of one of my law school textbooks. (And which I must admit, I have read with much more thoroughness than I read some of my law textbooks.)

This is not easy. Do NOTHING. Wait wait wait...okay, NOW. DO [insert particular instruction here] RIGHT THIS BLOODY SECOND...Wait, wait, wait...okay, NOW, do A BUNCH OF INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING PAPERCHASING RIGHT NOW. Wait some more.

Law Mommy

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Am I "Waiting for Samuel"?

I have been reading alot of adoption blogs lately.

The vast, vast majority of them are people adopting from China or the former Soviet Union.

I cannot find anyone else in my shoes - adopting from Vietnam. It could be because there are only nine agencies licensed to do adoptions in Vietnam, and they have only been able to start them up again since January, due to the moratorium from 2003 until January 2006.

But, anyway, I've been doing a lot of reading from these blogs, and many of them have titles like, 'Waiting for Emma" or "Waiting for Gwen" or "Searching for Samantha." (I'm making these particular titles up, but, they are typical.)

I also found a statistic yesterday, through a link on the webpage, that indicated that 80% of people adopting from overseas are looking to adopt girls, and that slightly more than 50% of the children available from Vietnam are boys, but that the preference for girls runs to those adopting from Vietnam anyway.

So, this statistic just drove it home to me that the child who will be mine will be a son.

And I realized, with one of those lightening bolt kind of moments, that I am WAITING FOR SAMUEL. Actually, no. I am SEARCHING for SAMUEL. Because searching is active and waiting is passive, I prefer to think that I am playing an active role in this process.

Is this to say that when I actually receive the referral, I will insist on the naming the little guy Samuel?

No. I don't even know how Husband feels about the name Samuel, and does not want to discuss it without a picture and a given name in front of him.

When I was pregnant with Gabe, I usually thought of him as Sebastian, and referred to him publicly as "Fred". (No, we never had any intention of naming him Fred, although Sebastian was a very real possibility.) When he was born, and we saw his face, we knew his name was Gabriel, not Sebastian. (We had made a pact to decide between those two names after we had a chance to meet him.)

So, maybe when this child is made known to me, his name will not be Samuel. But, for right now, I sign off as

Law Mommy, Searching for Samuel

Monday, March 20, 2006

And the Eleventh Commandment Is...

Thou Shalt Not Covet Asian Children in Grocery Stores

My Husband and Gabe and I stopped in Ann Arbor yesterday on the way home from visiting my in-laws in suburban Detroit, in order to go grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's being an awesome grocery store which we do not have in Northwest Ohio because, um, sometimes NW Ohio sucks.

Anyway, it was Sunday at Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor, so, of course if was busy, and of course there were several Asian children there, one with an actual Asian family and the others with their adopted parents.

Really, it is too sad that I am desperate to talk to these other adoptive parents and I want to throw myself at them and ask things, like, 'What agency did you use?' and "What country is he/she from?" and "How long did you wait for him/her?" and "Can I take him home with me? Just for a few days?" - Okay, granted the first several questions would probably NOT cause the adoptive parents to want to have me committed or arrested, but, surely the last one would!!

We spent the weekend with my husband's parents and brother and sister-in-law and their children.

As we were driving away yesterday, I turned to my husband and said, "I think that there are enough crazy people in your family and my family to fill more than one book." And he said, "No doubt about it. But At least none of them are crazy in ways that we have to check any boxes on any family history forms."

Okay, so, they've never been committed or diagnosed with schizophrenia, but, some of them are crazier than shithouse rats and there is no way around it.

In-laws are still not terribly excited about the adoption.

Although my mother-in-law did mention getting rid of the twin bed in the room where Gabe sleeps and putting in a futon that would sleep two children. So, I have to take that as at least a positive sign.

The computer issues have not been entirely resolved, and in fact, S., my wonder-secretary, is without her computer entirely, so, I am going to vacate mine so that she can get some actual work done.

More later,
Law Mommy

Friday, March 17, 2006

Names Names Names

I am occupying myself in the midst of computer networking crisis by thinking about:


Names of significant meanings:

Anatola - means, 'from the east' - sadly, I don't really like it very much

Ariel - one of the archangels of the Lord, to go along with Gabriel - sadly, also associated with a Disney Mermaid

Michael - yet another one of the archangels of the Lord, to go along with Gabriel, but, unfortunately very popular, also the name of Gabriel's godfather - (hello Michael if you are reading)

Raphael - again, an archangel, but, destined to get our child the crap kicked out of him

Isaiah - means "salvation", also the book of the bible that contains the quote, "I will gather your children from the east"

Hope - self explanatory

Names I just LIKE

Daniel - I think this goes nicely with Gabriel, however, while I love both "Gabe" and "Gabriel" - I DO NOT like either "Dan" or "Danny" - problematic

Sebastian - I love this name, but, also, sadly, associated with Disney film. Also tends to evoke the nickname Bastian, which, it seems to me, cruel children will turn into "Bastard" - not good for an adopted child

Anya - I have always liked this name, however, probably will not use it because it is the name of a very dear friend

Annika - love this name - also it has a nice meaning, "Grace", which also happens to be the meaning of Anya, above

Sasha - I love this, but, the only meaning I can find for it is "pet form of Alexander" - Sasha sounds like a girl's name to me...

Natasha - I am equally fond of this name. Unfortunately, it means "born on Christmas" which makes it kind of limited...

Nadia - beautiful name, it means hope...but also the name of the child in the first and only custody battle I ever fought for a client and it about ripped me to shreds

Jonah - just cause I like it, also it means "dove"

Jonas - just cause, however, a friend who lives in Switzerland just named her baby this (not that they will exactly run in the same crowd, or even run into eachother, um, ever)

Josiah - I just like this

Samuel - I like Sam, I like Samuel, and it is a bonus that it means, "asked for"

Zebulon - okay, maybe this is too weird, but, I think "Zeb" is pretty cool - pretty sure Husband will veto this one

Nikolas or Nicholas - my husband's middle name, also his grandfather's name - BUT it was one of the 10 most popular names for last year...

Veronica - the name Gabe would have had, had he been a girl - in fact, he would have been "Veronica Grace".


My secretary's computer AND our network just CRASHED.


I think I am going to f**king hyperventilate.

Our senior partner has just called our computer service company to see if they can salvage any documents.

Did I mention that I think I am going to f**king hyperventilate??

Boat Drinks

Two weeks and 1 day until we leave for Jamaica.

I am sitting in my office imagining the combined smell of a coconut rum and pineapple juice in my hand and the ocean in the air. This is, without a doubt, my "happy place."

This will be the last year that my husband and I will be able to escape to the islands, childless, for quite some time.

See, since Gabriel was 3 months old, he has been safely cared for by the loving staff at the daycare center/pre-school/kindergarten attached to the University where I attended law school. They graciously allowed him to stay after I graduated from law school - because he was 3-years-old at that time. (Spots for children under two-and-a-half are pretty much exclusively for current students and professors, but, the pre-school part is less competitive.) He currently attends kindergarten there, after which they will kick him out into cruel world of the public school system, since they don't have any elementary grades.

The point of this is, that the daycare/kindergarten is on the University calendar, which means that "spring break" is the first week of March, because that is when the University has spring break. This means that Gabriel is actually in school during the spring break for the high school where my husband teaches. Hence, Husband and I have been able to go on vacation every year for the past four years while my dad and step-mom have been able to watch Gabe, because they can take him to the daycare during the day and go to work themselves.

After next year, this will not be the case, because Gabe and Husband will (probably) have the same spring break. This means family vacation, which is not a bad thing at all. But, it does mean, no more childless island escapes for the next, oh, 12 years or so.

So, our next island escape will likely be to a family resort - I'm thinking Beaches in Negril or maybe Turks. But, that probably won't be next year, since we will be endeavoring to save money for our trip to Vietnam, or endeavoring to recover from the expense of our trip Vietnam. So, it probably won't be until spring of '08 that we escape to the islands with Gabe and our new child along for the ride.

So, I am trying to savor this trip, not as, 'the last time', but, as 'the last time that it will be quite this way for quite a while.' And also look forward to the time when we will be taking Gabe and the new child for their own (virgin) boat drinks.

I had to listen to Jimmy Buffet on the way into work today, to start the mood. The "getting ready" mood. The getting the suitcases packed mood. The going shopping for new bathing suit and sunscreen mood.

Jimmy Buffet songs generally take me to my coconut rum and pineapple juice, smell of the ocean, sound of the waves, happy place.

Also, they remind me of the night that Gabriel probably joined us - a night marked by a pitcher of Margaritas shared with our friends M. & D., and me leaving a Mexican restaurant, getting into our car (I was NOT driving of course) and singing "why don't we get drunk and screw" to my husband on the way home. And evidently M.&D. must have had the same song on their minds, because, roughly nine months later, in a snow storm, D and I gave birth to our babies, less than two hours apart.

This is not a story we shared with our homestudy social worker by the way. Nor did we mention that that particular Jimmy Buffet song is one of "our songs" from college.

College having been a long time ago, and that night at the end of May of 1999 being a pretty long time ago too. :-)

Work beckons.

Law Mommy

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Final Homestudy Visit

We had our final homestudy visit with our social worker yesterday afternoon.

She stayed for about two and a half hours, and says that she can now finish the report.

Also, we "passed" the safety audit of our home - which involved her making sure that we had running water, that all our toilets are connected to proper sewer or septic systems, that we have a furnace, that we have no more than four children per bedroom (HAH!) and that we have a furnace. Oh, and that we had a fire extinguisher, and a smoke detector on each level. (For the record, we have EIGHT smoke detectors. EIGHT. Not kidding. We are safety folks, that's for sure.)

Now, we WAIT some more.

Boy, I'll tell you, I am becoming the queen of WAITING.

Also, I have not worked out for the past two nights. I have been VERY BAD. Last night I ate a hotdog and stouffers mac n cheese. Bad bad bad.

I must endeavor to be better today.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Poodle Poo on My Shoe

Apparently a very tiny poodle, or some other very small dog, has taken up residence outside the courthouse.

Because there is very tiny dog poo on my shoe.

And even though the poo is v. small, the smell is v. impressive.

I actually thought, at the time, that I had stepped on a twisted discarded cigarette butt.

How sad for my shoe.

I had an interview with my adoption homestudy social worker this morning and we have our final meeting tomorrow. Thereafter she will write her homestudy and submit it to my adoption agency.

I made the mistake of looking at the waiting child photolisting again.

Bad mistake.

There is a little girl in China who needs a corneal transplant on both eyes, but is otherwise on target in all areas except vision.

This child is a younger child than we really want. (She is not yet two years old. She won't be two until June.)

This child needs a very serious operation. (Granted, 90% of corneal transplants are successful, but, pediatric corneal transplants are not extremely common.)

If this child does not get this transplant, the likelihood is good that she will be blind.

I wonder if my insurance company would consider this a pre-existing condition and therefore disallow coverage?


My social worker suggested that I NOT look at this child's file. At least not yet. Not until she submits our homestudy.

My mother concurs.

In postive news, I did work out again last night, so, I am two for two on the promise to exercise front. Also, from my shopping trip I found two fabulous new sundresses to take on the Jamaica trip. I think I am going to start packing tonight. :-)

Law Mommy

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wonderful Weekend

I had an actual date with my husband Friday night.

You may recall we were supposed to go out for Vietnamese food.

Which didn't actually happen on account of my husband not being up for that, stomach-wise.

We ended up having dinner at the same place our wedding reception was held, though it is now called Gianno's, and, at the time of our wedding it was called The Chadwick Inn.

So, it was nice and romantic to eat dinner at the same place we got married - and we wondered if the third floor "inn" section of the building was still haunted.

We figured it was. I don't imagine ghosts move out when the owner of the restaurant on the first floor changes hands.

The "inn" portion of the building has been closed to guests for many decades. Allegedly, because of the ghosts. It doesn't look like the new owners have any intention of opening it back up.

After having dinner, we went to see a performance of the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - which was excellent and enjoyed much by both of us.

Saturday morning I went to my Weight Watcher meeting, where I got the happy news that I had dropped an additional 2.2 pounds (I didn't go to WW last week, due to throwing the birthday party and the baby shower). So, it was good to see that I had kept up the average of more than 1 pound per week.

We are three weeks away from leaving for our vacation to Jamaica, so, I have promised myself I would work out every day until then. I did work out last night, so, so far, I have not broken this promise. We shall see how it goes!

The best part about my weekend was getting away all day Saturday and most of Sunday with two of my best Girlfriends, for a girl's weekend of shopping and hanging out in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

I met in C. after my WW meeting on Saturday morning, and we drove up to Frankenmuth, where we met up with H.

We shopped and ate good food and sat in the hotel hot tub and did pedicures and laughed and talked and laughed and talked. (Imagine three Girlfriends, sitting on the side of the hotel bathtub with our flannel pajama pants rolled up to our knees, soaking our toes in peppermint foot soak and laughing our heads off.)

And all I can say is, there is nothing like Girlfriends, especially the ones we can be truly comfortable with and talk about anything with and be seen by in our oldest jammies and worst morning face, who still love us. To have Girlfriends like these, is to be truly blessed.

All told, I couldn't have asked for more perfect weekend - romantic date, lost weight, Girlfriend getaway....ahhh...

Happy Law Mommy

Friday, March 10, 2006

Under Siege

Apparently downtown Toledo is under siege. I was just walking to the courthouse for a pre-trial status hearing and I encountered not less than 20 armed soldiers - I am talking armed with machine guns, dressed in camo - patrolling through the streets.

It pretty well freaked me out.

Evidently they are here for some kind of weekend urban warfare training.

I just do not expect men with machine guns to be prowling around my town. Call me crazy.

Is this where the revolution starts?

I've learned some interesting things from my adoption agency today.

There are ten 'homestudy ready' families in front of us on the Vietnam families list.

No new children have been released for adoption since January.

I just emailed to inquire whether or not Vietnam tends to release children for adoption one at a time or in batches of several children.

No answer on that as of yet.

My husband and I are going to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner this evening. I feel like we need to do something to make us feel like we are learning about the culture of our child-to-be. (I am following the advice of the books I am reading - apparently I am supposed to be familiarizing myself with my adoptive child's county and "seizing my rights" as an expectant parent. Actually, I am not entirely sure what "seizing my rights" as an expectant parent is supposed to mean. The book also talks about this in terms of "entitlement" - i.e. developing a sense that I am entitled to become a parent through adoption. Since I've never questioned whether or not I should be "entitled" to parenthood through adoption, I am not sure that I need to be developing this sense of "entitlement".)

I realize that the above is a rather lenghty paranthetical statement, so, I'm going to move this discussion out of the parantheses and down here.

I wonder if this book I am reading isn't spending too much time attempting to assuage my feelings of grief about infertility - which, I, obviously, don't have. At one point, the book stated something like, "preferential adopters" (people who are adopting instead of trying to have a biological child), "have different issues than those adopting after infertility."

I wonder if this is really true? I'm not in a position to know - I've had a biological child and therefore cannot say.

But aren't we all just trying to bring a little person into our home?

Obviously, I think that reading about the issues of the adoptive child is important - I'm trying to adopt a child who has already had a life in another country, that child is going to have needs specific to his or her experience.

I'm just not sure that my "needs" as a preferential adoptive parent are all that much different from the adoptive parent who comes to the decision to adopt after infertility.

Either way, I'm going to seize my sense of entitlement - and I'm taking it off to have some "pho" (evidently, Vietnamese noodle soup.)

Law Mommy

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why girls?

I think I have mentioned before that our adoption agency has told us that the vast majority of Americans looking to adopt from Asia are looking to adopt girls, and that many families indicate that they will not accept a boy.

Our social worker confirmed that this is true.

My husband and I have indicated that we are open to a child of either gender, although, because we HAVE a boy, we COULD request a girl.

I just don't feel comfortable with that. Not sure why, I'm just not.

I mean, if we were trying to get pregnant and we knew that we had some kind of genetic issue that was sex-linked, I would probably do what I could (i.e. sperm centrifuges) to avoid a child of the sex that is affected by the issue. (I can't think of any example here except color-blindedness, and that really isn't a big enough issue to justify screwing around with fate, but, I know there are other, much more serious, sex linked genetic issues. Any biologists our geneticists out there want to comment? Feel free.)

But, anyway, I just don't feel comfortable stating a preference. And I started to wonder why other people might feel so strongly about it.

So, I have some theories:

Two Bland Theories

1. "Balance" for families - I think that people who already have a boy may feel strongly that they want a girl
2. Unbalanced families - people who already have a girl might feel comfortable with girls and want another one

Other not-so-bland theories

1. As a nation, we have a perception that Asian women are beautiful.
2. We have a perception that Asian women are petite, and, as beauty standards go in the US, petite women = positive.
3. We have a perception that Asian men are petite. Here in the US, petite men ARE NOT a hot commodity. I'm just stating a fact.
4. Asian boy babies are not circumsized. I think many American parents would be uncomfortable with that. I'm not entirely sure WHY, but, I do know that I had my biological son circumsized for reasons that, to this day, I do not understand. I am not sure how much this contributes to Americans not adopting boy babies from Asia, but, I'm throwing it out there.
5. The vast majority of babies available from China are female. The VAST VAST majority. I don't have any stats, but, I've only seen one male child adopted from China, and he had a cleft lip and palate (though you could not really tell after his plastic surgery.) And the vast majority of children adopted from Asia are adopted from China, ergo, people see many adopted girls from Asia, and therefore, circularly, when they think about adopting from Asia, they think about adopting girls.

So, there you go, my theories on why most families adopting from China want girls.

I am fully expecting the Vietnamese stork to drop a boy baby in my lap. And that's okay.

No Meeting With the Social Worker Today

Well, our social worker called and cancelled our second meeting for our homestudy (which was supposed to be today) because "some of her daughters" are throwing up.

She has four daughters. I feel VERY BADLY for this woman right now. Because, if it is the same kind of thing that we had last week, pretty soon both SHE and the REST OF HER DAUGHTERS are going to be throwing up. And as bad as "some daughters throwing up" must be, "all daughters plus self throwing up" - hands down, that's got to be worse.

Poor thing.

It's not so bad, as far as timing goes, because we were scheduled to have our third meeting next Wednesday. The 15th. So, now we will have our second meeting next Tuesday, the 14th, and keep our third meeting the 15th. So, we shouldn't actually lose any time, since the homestudy meetings will still conclude on the 15th.

We received a three pound package from our adoption agency yesterday, detailing all the steps of the Vietnamese adoption process, and the paperwork that will need to be obtained.

Suffice it to say that, it looks like the paperwork we compiled for our homestudy was just the beginning of the paper chase.

We cannot do any of the paper chasing until we get a child referral, it's exactly the opposite of the process for China. For China, you submit your dossier FIRST and then you are assigned a child several months later. For Vietnam, you submit your homestudy to your agency, you wait a few months to be assigned a child, and THEN you submit all of your dossier paperwork, which can be no more than six months old at the time you travel to Vietnam.

So, according to this book, I've done everything I can do (start homestudy, obtain 3 certified copies of birth and marriage certificates) until the homestudy is complete and approved by my agency.

THEN, I can submit something called an 1600-A form to USCIS (what used to be called the INS.)

Then, we WAIT some more. I can hardly wait. (Hardy har har.)

Law Mommy

Monday, March 06, 2006

Don't Try This at Home

Stupidly, I scheduled my son's sixth birthday party the same weekend as my sister-in-law's baby shower.

If I had only been a guest of the baby shower, it wouldn't have been so bad, but, alas, I was one of the hostesses.

So, on Saturday at 2:00 PM I had 11 munchkins show up at my house for pizza, cake, ice cream, and festive party games. Okay, festive party GAME, singular - namely, pin the bat on the Batman. Much noise was made by all. I ordered eight pizzas, because I expected the parents who stayed would want to eat as well. Almost none of them did (eat, that is.) I had 5 and 1/2 pizzas left after the party. For the record, that is too much leftover pizza.

The birthday ended and I went to my mom's house, where we proceeded to plan the menu for the next day's shower while finishing up wrapping the baby shower favors in festive blue fabric bags handmade by my mother. (Kudos to her for being excited enough to make handmade blue fabric bags to wrap the baby shower favors for her TWELFTH grandchild.) (I am not describing this very well. She made these little bags, that closed with a pacifier shaped button, and each bag had a candle and picture frame inside. Trust me when I say it was adorable, just a hell of a lot of work.)

After that was finished, my aunt and grandmother and I went to the grocery store at 8:00 PM while my mom created a fantasy baby buggie out of cake and frosting. (See, my mother is the creative one in this relationship.)

While grocery shopping at 8:00 PM with my grandmother and aunt (who is only three years older than me) (my aunt, obviously, not my gran) - I had a small breakdown in the oriental food aisle, about the fact that "they gave my Vietnamese baby to some other family." (Apparently, I am not over that so much, quite yet.) My aunt made all the appropriate clucking noises and told me that they would find me another Vietnamese baby...and then she suggested that we not buy any Vietnamese foods for the baby shower, since the only thing my sister-in-law is eating right now is plain chicken and potatos and iceberg lettuce. Pregnancy heartburn can be a bitch.

After grocery shopping, back home to start the cooking and prepping and setting out of decorations.

Whirlwinds of activity...Sunday afternoon, the guest of honor arrived late and looked like someone was stabbing her in the head and like she wished the floor would open her up and swallow her alive. No one enjoyed my cheesy fiesta potato casserole. (Except for my husband, who seemed extremely happy that there was SO MUCH of it leftover. Or, he was trying really hard to make me feel better about what a flop it was. Either way is okay.)

The rest of the food and "rum-less umbrella drink" punch we created was enjoyed by everyone EXCEPT the guest of honor, who, evidently, hates pineapple juice.

Who hates pineapple juice? I ask you, really?? Who hates pineapple juice? Especially pineapple juice dressed up with fizzy soda and sherbet? It tasted like vacation. Who wouldn't love that??

Apparently my very pregnant very uncomfortable sister-in-law.

Anyway, I am just utterly exhausted and I don't want to do any work, which unfortunately, is not an option, since I have a ton to do, and I was late to work today because I had to go to the eye doctor - joy of joys. My pupils are so dilated I can hardly see, which makes working kind of a chore, when 90% of your job is reading documents with very tiny print.

Falling asleep in my chair,
Law Mommy

That is ,

Friday, March 03, 2006

First Homestudy Interview

Moving on past our grief about the loss of the referral of Dung means moving forward towards the referral of a different child.

To that end, we had our first face-to-face interview with the social worker who will be completing our "homestudy". Basically, this is an 8-11 page document that talks about my husband and I, and our son, and our home, and whether or not we would be a good adoptive family. It also includes a ton of paperwork that we have already completed, such as a fire safety inspection of our house, copies of birth and marriage certificates, paperwork from our family physician, our parish priest, police background and fingerprint check, and letters of recommendation from our employers and friends.

S. (the social worker) met with us yesterday for about two hours, and the meeting seemed like it went well. She was surprised to hear that we are looking to adopt a toddler rather than an infant, but, seemed please to hear that we had been doing research and reading about the issue and the we were making that decision for well-thought out reasons. We are meeting with her again, individually, on Tuesday, and then the following week on Wednesday she will meet with all three of us, and do a "safety audit" of our house. (Apparently this involves questions like, "is there heat" and "is there running water". She did want to make sure that the swimming pool had a safety cover and adequate fencing, that was her only real concern about the safety audit and our house.)

So, that's the news...

Law Mommy

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Well, just when I thought that I was moving on and not grieving about Dung anymore, I find this posted on the "Vietnam family forums" at our adoption agency's website:

USERNAME DELETED Location: DELETED Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:32 pm Post subject: We have a son!

I have been lurking for a while with a few posts, but I just need to share... Thursday we were matched with a beautiful little boy from Veitnam. He is on the Southeast Asia waiting child page and his "number" is XXXX [this was the random number assigned to Dung]. It is so great to see "I have a Family" written over his picture. We are just getting ready to send in our paperwork to start the home study. So we have a ways to go. They say it could be a year before we get him home. Hope it goes faster, but we are thrilled just to have been matched to him and know he will come home to us.

Obviously, the red and the italics are mine. They gave the little boy to a family who is even further behind us as far as paperwork goes. We have all our paperwork in, and had all of it in when the interviewed us.

I was so terribly upset, I sent an email to A., the social worker who runs the waiting child program.

This is what it said,


This feels like a childish reaction, is probably an inappropriate question, but, I am so upset I don't know how to not ask it.

This was posted at the "Vietnam" forum yesterday:

(I copied and pasted the other family's post).

I guess I had the impression that we were passed over for a family that was closer to having their homestudy done, but, that doesn't appear to be the case.

I feel like this is such a tremendous slap in the face, and honestly I am really confused.

If there was something about my husband and I that led the committee to feel that we are not committed to adopting an older child, or not ready, or some other correctable issue, I would really like to know what those issues are so that we can work on them.

I'm not sure what else to say, and I do not mean to sound childish or petty, I am just genuinely shocked and confused.

So, yesterday evening, A. called me. She said that she didn't want to reply to my email with another email, and wanted to address the fact that we "rightly feel betrayed and misled."

She said she didn't mean to mislead me, and that if she had implied that that was the reason for choosing another family, she was sorry, that she had placed three other children with families that day, and that in all the other cases timing was the number one factor. She apologized several times. Then she said, "I'm limited by confidentiality, in what I'm allowed to tell you about the other family and why they were chosen for this child instead of you. You are a qualified family and you should in no way feel that this was an indication that you weren't 'good enough' for this child. I went back over this other family's file, and they have had one particular life experience that you have not had, that I would not wish for you to have had, that I would not wish on anyone. But, the fact that they had experienced what they had experienced, it made it very hard for the committee to place this child with any other family."

I am not sure I responded to that. And she said, "I'm sorry, I think I've confused you more." And I said, "we'll it sounds to me like they lost a child of this age." And she didn't answer. She just said, "you have an excellent family, and I am quite certain that you will get a positive home study, and then you won't have to go through this horrible process again. I sense that you really came to love that little boy, and you are grieving right now, and that's understandable, and expected, and you need to give yourself time to grieve. You aren't the first family to be truly emotionally attached - and those other families, who experienced this same loss, have gone on to say that they found the right child for them."

So, I said, "so, it's not that you didn't like us or thought we were bad parents?" And she said, "Absolutely not." (I am ashamed of myself for having stooped to such a pathetically low self-esteem moment right then.)

And I said that I knew that our child was out there, waiting for us to find him (I meant "him or her" - we really are open to either gender, but, I said, "him"), and I want to find him."

And she said, "we will find him."

And then I thanked her for calling instead of emailing, and she said she didn't really think it was a conversation that could have been adequately resolved over the email.

So, I guess I feel better.

Oh, who the hell am I kidding. I am sorry if that other family lost a child, but, it doesn't really do anything to assuage the fact that I still feel kicked in the teeth.

Law Mommy

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Monday evening around 7:00 PM Gabe said his tummy ached. Thus began an 8 hour season in hell for Gabe and I, with full on misery, completely disgusting. Thank goodness my husband was spared the illness, because he was taking care of both of us, and I'm not at sure what would happen to a family if every member was throwing up at the same time, instead of just 2 out of 3. All I can say is - thank god for a man who shows up with a cold washcloth and a bottle of Scope and picks you up off the bathroom floor, even when you outweigh him by 30 pounds.

All day yesterday Gabe and I laid around (in front of Noggin and Playhouse Disney for him, Gilmore Girls Season 4 on DVD for me), passing in and out of consciousness, with headaches like someone had stuck an ice pick into the backs of our was awful.

We both started to feel human about 7:00 PM last night, and everyone in my house was asleep by 9:00PM. We are feeling better with 9 hours of sleep in us.

What a horrible 24 hours...


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