Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adopting Princess Margaret

Today when I was sitting down to write about my decision to adopt Buddy, I got sidetracked. By our new(ish) puppy, Maggie. She was scratching at my leg, whining to be picked up and was making a general nuisance of herself. I picked her up for a cuddle. She snuggled in under my chin, her long, coltish legs folded underneath her and gave a contented sigh. I rubbed her favorite spot behind her ear and made room for her in my lap.

It occurred to me as I cuddled Princess Margaret that what we what we wish for and what we get are often two different things. I thank God every day for my two little unanswered prayers sleeping soundly upstairs...

But back to Princess Margaret.

I love dachshunds. You know, the little wiener dogs? I had one growing up named Pluto and in my early 20’s, a friend bought me one to cheer me up when I got divorced. Her name was Lady Cecelia Catherine, CeeCee and she was a long haired blank and tan. My friend Betty had a dachshund named Oliver and together they made PJ, Lillian and Zebediah. I gave PJ to my niece but the rest we kept. So I’ve spend the bulk of my adult life with a pack of dachshunds.

Now, dachshunds are super intelligent, opinionated and a lot like cats, only in ornery doggie bodies. They care little about pleasing their owners, get into trouble on a regular basis, are difficult to housetrain and are NOT good with children. This is in general, of course, there are exceptions. My Cecelia was willful, stubborn, sassy and absolutely beautiful. At the beginning of 2008 our little pack of geriatric dachshunds were all having some health issues. One by one they passed away this year. CeeCee, the last one and the oldest one died in her sleep in the fall at the age of 16. I was heartbroken.

We have a wonderful half black lab, half golden retriever named Chloe but I really missed having a lap dog. I thought about it for awhile and decided I’d look for one in the spring. Prime potty training weather for a dachshund. They don’t like to drag their belly’s in the snow and they don’t like to be out weather that’s too hot.

But then Christmas came along and my aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I thought about it...and thought about it. Besides a call from my agent telling me my book has sold or finding a million dollars in my sock drawer, I couldn't think of anything to put on my list. I'm a pretty blessed woman.

I thought and I thought and I couldn't think of a thing. Except one.

I decided to find a rescued dachshund. A friend who lives in Ohio saw a picture in the newspaper of a pair of dachshunds, Holly and Molly. They were in Paulding Ohio at the dog pound. I also found them on the Internet and saw their picture, just a head shot. They were adorable.

The only time the Paulding Co. dog pound is open in on Fridays from 2-5pm and they don't have anyone that answers the phone. So my friend Betty and Buddy made the hour trip Friday afternoon. They were the first ones there and had to wait. Several others arrived after them, all there for these two dachshunds. One man came from Cleveland! Anyway, Molly had found a home the day before and only Holly was left. Buddy was beside himself with excitement so it was a good thing they were first!

They signed one paper and gave them $50. No references, no home visit, no letter from our vet (all required from our local Animal Control and the Dachshund Rescue Organization) Holly was ours!

Now, Holly is not Holly and also not a dachshund! If I couldn't tell by her longer legs, I certainly would have known because she came housebroken. Holly is now Princess Margaret Sellers, Maggie for short, and is, we think, a Miniature Pincher. She’s great with the kids, great with our Chloe and I know I already mentioned it, but housebroken.

She is a cuddler and loves nothing more than to curl up in my lap on a cold winter’s night. She is the perfect dog for us, long legs and all, and proof to me once again our lives seldom go the way we've planned, but that's okay. The fortunate thing is, while we might not always get exactly what we wish for, we generally get exactly what we need.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Decision to Adopt -- Child #1

There is A LOT that goes into the decision to adopt a child. In the next weeks, since the blog is brand new and I'm not sure there will be many stories to share, I'm going to post about the things I think are important to think about when you are considereing adoption.

I'm wanted to share what I was feeling and thinking about when I decided to adopt my children. Because believe it or not, it the decision doesn't get easier with subsequent children.

I guess it all started because my biological clock started ticking earlier than most single women I know. By the time I was thirty, it was so loud it was keeping me up nights! I’d felt for years, that if I’d not met the man of my dreams and was on the road to making a baby by the age of thirty-five, I’d adopt. I didn’t know the where’s or how’s, but I was sure of the day.

Much to my surprise, the timetable sped up a bit. I turned thirty in October of 2000, and my father, my last living immediate family member, died the following May. The prince I’d had turned out to be less than charming and a new one had yet to show his worthy head. I was, for all intents and purposes, on my own.

In July of 2001, two things happened. First, I received an unexpected check from the Veterans Administration for a life insurance policy I hadn’t known about. Secondly, my employer gave me a form to update some insurance information. It asked me to provide the names of four immediate relatives. The form defined “Immediate Family” as Parents, Spouse, Children or Siblings. I marked “N/A” on the form and used a minor head cold as an excuse to go home for the day.

I think of that day often. It was the absolute low point of my life. I was thirty years old and felt like I had no one. I felt sorry for myself, yes. But mostly I was angry. Angry at the fates and if I'm going to be brutally honest here, at God and everybody, anywhere who had what I so despriately wanted.

I guess that comes from being the well-loved, only child of a single father. I wasn't raised to hide in a corner and rail at the fates. I grew up believing we all have the power to change our own lives and shape our futures the way we see fit. From my vantage point on that day, there was little in my life to salvage. I did have some things going for me. I was healthy, I had a job that paid me a living wage and I owned my own home. I had this new found tiny nest egg, but no husband, partner or significant other on the horizon. Frankly, I was still stinging from an old relationship and I wasn't really interested in beginning another at that point. Try as I might, I couldn't pull my prince out of any old hat.

I was determined to change my life and find my own happiness. When I arrived home, I went directly to my computer and typed, “Single Parent Adoption.” Over the next months the where's, how's and when's of my adoption journey would change. But I never lost focus, never faultered and never had a second thought. Only with hindsight do I understand how unusual that is and what I gift I was given.

Rarely in my life as I know it, can I ever be sure I am doing the right thing when I am doing it and rarely are there absolutes. But I knew to my soul I was doing what I was meant to do and I never stopped working my way towards my child.

In seven short months from that monumental day, I was a mother.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I let the children take the reigns on our celebration this year. I have always particularly disliked Valentine's Day. Pretty much forever.

The worst one of my life was when I was waiting for a court date for Fifi.  It had been months and I was at my wits end. I can't remember ever being so miserable. I thought I'd never be happy again. 

Then the next day the phone rang and it was my agency, telling me to be in Russia in five days.  It's been a whirlwind ever since. 

So today I remember the worst day of my life and give a special thanks it's in the rearview mirror.

The kids have decided we should stay home and make heart shaped pizza. I'm thinking that sounds good, too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stacey's Story

I'm so excited to be posting our first adoption story (other than my own, of course). It goes along perfectly with yesterday's post about whose world will be saved.

Thank you, Stacey, for sharing with us.

A note from Stacey:

Hi Julie, I read about your blog on one of the yahoo groups and thought I’d stop in with my story. I’m in the same sort of boat as you… mid 30’s, single and more than anything just want to be a mom. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your journey and your family now. I’m still in the early process – waiting for a referral from Perm. Here is my starting point… the “why” behind it all. Thanks for starting this blog – I think it will be a nice way for people to come together for support and to share. All the best in 2009! Stacey

Stacey's Story:
In my blog my first entry captures the how I got here and it is titled, “Two wrongs might just make a right”.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I married the most amazing person I have ever known… I married my best friend. Some might say that "Love at first sight" is for dreamers or fools... well, I guess we were both. Scott was an amazing man full of life, light, passion, and humor - he was everything I ever dreamt of in a husband. We shared so many adventures in our time together but the best part was how he could make me laugh until my stomach hurt or smile by just walking into a room. He made me want to be a better person and together we wanted to raise a family.

We knew we would be good parents and we knew that the adventures we shared as a couple would be made even better by sharing them with children... that was not to be. On April 30th, 1999, Scott died beside me in a roll over car accident. The years following that were the hardest I might ever have to endure. Through the tears, grief, pain, and sorrow I've learned that life and the dream of love and a family does go on... albeit in a different way. So here I am... 9 years later contemplating my family in a way so different than before but in my heart feels so right.

You see, I lost my family, my security, my love, my protection and my future when I lost Scott... and it took a long, long time to be able to picture my days without him... without my dreams. And I'm an adult. Somewhere, in an orphanage far away, there are children who, in ways that likely feel very much the same, lost their family, security, love, protection and future... perhaps this is one of the few exceptions to the rule where "Two wrongs might just make a right".

Just after we were married, Scott and I had a conversation that can only be classified as foreshadowing. He told me that if he were to die, he would want me to go on and be happy. He wanted me to find love again, be a mom and a wife. Now he didn’t say in what order that might happen… so here I am. I am going to be a mom. Adopting won’t erase the hurts and disappointments’ of my or my sons life, but together, there will be more hugs, more laughter, better memories and much, much more love. I have a listing of great quotes on my blog… the one I’ll close with is, “Love is the answer… now what was the question?”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Times, they be a changing...

The last of the paperwork FINALLY went in to our caseworker, Ellen at DCS. Now we wait for a call from the Social Worker to schedule the homestudy. It feels good to be making progress after taking such a long break.

I have to admit I’m nervous about getting to know a new social worker. We have only ever had one social worker, Miss Ruth. She is a wonderful advocate for children and our family. We see eye to eye about what is best for my children and she has always been a valuable sounding board for me. She is one of the great blessings of my adoption experience and I hold her in very high regard.

After ten years together, it feels like I am being disloyal to Ruth, but DCS has their own social workers and you don’t get to choose.

There is also a subtle, but remarkable difference between adopting publically and privately. When I adopted in Russia, I was a paying customer. That might sound cold, but it’s true. I was contracted with various individuals for various services. Once they performed them to my satisfaction, they would be paid. It gave me a tiny feeling of power in this out of control world of adoption. I had, at least what felt like to me, an army of people doing their best to find me a child. Because that was their business. Finding children for parents.

Now the tables have turned. The job of DCS is to find PARENTS for CHILDREN. It might seem like the goal is one in the same, but let me tell you. It’s not! The wheels turn slowly and there’s not a lot you can do to speed them up. But I know child or children meant to be ours will be ready for us when we are ready for them. I often wonder who they are and what they’re doing. I wonder if they’re eyes are light or dark or somewhere in between. I wonder if they’re sad, or sacred or hungry. I wonder if they are loved or merely victims of a society that values the rights of parents who hurt them more that it values their right to be protected.

All I can say is stay tuned for further developments. It might be awhile.