Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Anatomy of an Adoption

February 23, 2009 – Met with attorney to ask some preliminary questions regarding adoption such as what the options in our state are (second-parent adoption is available), how soon we can take next steps (infant must be 6 months old), how to complete the birth certificate (do not list known donor), etc.

December 17, 2009 – Met with our primary attorney and a second attorney to begin process in earnest. Paid (large) flat fee for them to jointly represent us in legal proceedings to come. Attorney explains that I can not maintain my status as a legal parent and add M as a second legal parent - I must terminate my own rights and then we can adopt him jointly. We are assured this will all take place in a matter of seconds (i.e. no termination until the judge is actively signing the adoption order as well) but the bottom line is that in order for M to be granted any rights as a parent, I must legally disown and then adopt the son I gave birth to.

February 7, 2010 – Went to attorney’s office to sign papers in front of witnesses and have them notarized. K has to sign scary document terminating her parental rights. K and M have to jointly sign petition to adopt. Attorney mails a copy of termination of parental rights document to KD which he has to sign in front of two witnesses and a notary, then return by mail. We write check for court escrow account which must clear prior to filing.

February 19, 2010 – Case filed with family court. We are informed our next step is completing a home study with the Guardian-Ad-Litem, aka our 11 month old’s attorney.

March 10, 2010 – Mail requests for child abuse/neglect criminal record checks on both K and M. Attorney notifies us court date has been set for May 19th.

March 26, 2010 – Criminal record checks returned – no findings.

April 20, 2010 – Notified we have a problem. Since KD is not a legal parent and therefore cannot technically terminate his rights, Guardian ad Litem has requested newspaper notification of pending adoption. Catch is that newspaper ad has to run a minimum of 45 days prior to court date, which is unfortunate since our court date was only 29 days away. Alternatively, KD may be able to sign an affidavit claiming parental rights (prior to terminating them) but we’d need to get a revised birth certificate prior to court date and bureau of vital statistics typically does not offer that efficient of a turnaround. K expressed extreme dissatisfaction with this development and authorized attorney to spare no expense or assertiveness in trying to get things back on track.

April 22, 2010 – Attorney notified us problem was merely a “misunderstanding” and we’re on track for May 19th. We elected not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

April 24, 2010 – Talked with Attorney via phone to prepare for meeting with Guardian ad Litem. We are given a laundry list of things Guardian is likely to ask about including the layout of our home, our family and community supports, the history of our relationship and efforts to conceive, our educational and professional backgrounds, a detailed accounting of all of our debts and assets, and our thoughts on discipline, education, vaccinations and more.

May 3, 2010 – Met with Guardian ad Litem. Mercifully, “home study” is conducted as more of a formality than anything else and he ushers us through the information-gathering relatively quickly and painlessly.

May 18, 2010 – Talked with Attorney via phone to prepare for testimony in court.

May 19, 2010 – Court proceedings take place as scheduled. M and I both testify under oath. Elliot's attorney reports that it is "with great pleasure" that he recommends our petition to adopt be approved. Our son walks into the courtroom with one legal parent and walks out with two. M and I finally have legal rights and responsibilties that reflect our equal relationships to the child we have spent years dreaming of, planning for, conceiving, gestating, and raising. It feels even better than I thought it would. :-)

Ahoy mates!

Holy crap have I been busy.

No, I have not been busy entering giveaways. :-) In fact, I've hardly been on the internet at all for the past week. Much of that was an effort to avoid Lost finale spoilers (caught up now) and the rest was due to parental visits, spending a week as a stay-at-home-mom (how do you ladies keep up?!) and Big-Happenings-To-Be-Blogged-About-Shortly.

In the meantime, an answer to Katie's question on my last post: I usually don't waste time on the extra entries (except for following via google/blogger) unless I really, really want the prize being given away. Twitter seems to be the most common way of racking up extra entries but I don't know the first thing about tweeting - that is what it's called, right? ;-) So yeah, I usually just do one or two entries and move along. And also to Katie... congratulations on your win!!! If you're anything like me, you're in really big trouble now. :-) I initially thought I would only obsess over giveaways until I won something. Ha. My first win multiplied my addiction by about 1000%.

Oh, and just so this post isn't all business, I will tell you we have one new tooth in the front (#7) and at least one molar about to break through so no one is sleeping well in our house. Ugh. E has also picked up some two syllable words (flower, bubble) and added the second syllable to some others (kitty, bottle) and it makes him sound eerily person-like.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

twist my arm

So, you all want me to lower my own chances of winning by revealing my secrets, huh?

OK. :-) I mean, if someone other than me is going to win a giveaway, it might as well be a buddy, right?

I search for giveaways on Google using three different search terms. The first is simply "blog giveaways" and I'm assuming you all already tried that after reading my post. :-) That pulls up sites like this one that track other people's giveaways. If there's something specific I'm looking for, I will search for that, i.e. "organic giveaway May 2010". The final term I search for is "giveaway linky" which is another way of finding a master list of current giveaways. That will direct you to sites like this one where people can add their own giveaways to a centralized list.

Once I find the giveaways, my main strategy is not to waste time on giveaways that already have a billion entries. If something already has 300 or 400 entries when I find it, I usually won't waste my time entering unless it's something I really want.

Really, once I got my foot in the door via the Google searches above, the way I find most giveaways is through other giveaways. The big time giveaway bloggers give you extra entries for posting their button on your blog, which means they all have each other's buttons out for display. So if I find a blog I like, I click on the buttons on their sidebar and I usually find similar giveaways on other people's sites. I have added a couple of giveaway blogs to my reader to track their posts that way, but the bulk of the giveaways I enter I find just by surfing.

Now that I know that so many people reading this blog are interested in giveaways, I may post links to some here and there. That's another way you can get extra entries - advertising the giveaway on your own blog. I've never done that before, but now that I know y'all wanna get in on the action... ;-)

Good luck and please let me know if these tips help you win anything!!

p.s. Loco, I can't remember the name of the restaurant but I can picture it and I remember the chicken salad on brioche like it was yesterday. Ugh. Oh, and yes, you can totally have the playhouse when we're done with it, unless our little linebacker destroys it. Or you can win your own here or here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Picking up where I left off...

Part Two: The Sick

Shortly after that work situation died down, I came down with a nasty case of the good ol' fashioned stomach flu. I haven't had an honest-to-goodness stomach flu in something like 20 years and I was pretty sure I was going to die. The last thing I ate before I got sick was falafel and a blueberry smoothie. Pretty sure I'm off both for life now.

I was down for a full week. For the first three days, I ate a total of about 12 saltine crackers and drank maybe 8 oz. of 7-up. I tried to drink more, but my stomach wasn't having it. For the next four days, I was actually hungry at times and I was able to keep more food down, but I'd feel awful immediately after taking a few bites. It sucked.

You'd think spending a week on the couch would have led to more blog time, but it did not, and that brings us to...

Part Three: The Lucky

Hi, my name is K and I'm a blog giveaway addict.

I have discovered a whole new (to me) corner of the internet... and people are giving away really cool stuff there. Lots of it. And I have become a little obsessed with winning it. I'd seen giveaways here and there before, but about six weeks ago, I discovered just how many giveaways are going on at any given time and since then, I have lost countless hours of internet time to my new addiction. When I was sick and flat on my back for days on end, things got especially out of hand. I think I've taken a turn toward recovery, though. I'm more of a recreational user these days, which is a vast improvement over the free basing junkie I was a couple of weeks ago.

I have been oddly lucky when it comes to giveaways. I have won what seems to me to be a rather high percentage of the giveaways I've entered - more than I should have statistically. I'm not complaining. I have come away with some truly excellent prizes, including a ton of books:


Toddler tees:

And a bunch of other super-cool stuff:

Is that awesome or what?!

Any other giveaway addicts out there? Maybe we can find a 12-step program together. :-)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Radio Silence

This lack of programming has been brought to you by three things: The Crazy, The Sick, and The Lucky. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Part One: The Crazy

I'm going to try to tell this story as briefly as I can. It's over now and I am kind of loath to think about it any more. That said, it's the kind of story one doesn't have the opportunity to share often (thankfully) and it would be awfully rude of me to leave you all hanging after my last post. Read if you're interested, skip if you're not.

What you need to know: I work in a federally-funded, decentralized system and I am in a supervisory position. This means that my professional peers are scattered around half a dozen different sites in our region of the state. We all report to a single supervisor in our region (Boss Man), and several state directors above him. We also share a central support office and one of the employees in that office is tasked with training our staff. Which is a joke. Because he does nothing. Nothing. It must also be noted that I do not report to this person in anyway whatsoever, nor does anyone else in our system. For the remainder of this story, I'll call him Train, as in train-wreck, not train-er. At my worksite, there are two people above me - my direct supervisor (DS) and the woman in charge of everything (ED).

Tuesday, April 6: I attend a meeting with the other site supervisors, DS, Train, Boss Man, and two guests from the state. We are meeting to discuss (read: contest) the roll-out of some new policies that are very problematic and it's like banging our heads against a brick wall. We've been at it for something like three hours when Boss Man does something objectively bizarre. All of the supervisors around the table roll their eyes at one another, myself included.

Wednesday, April 7: I come in late because E had a doctor's appointment that morning. When I get there, DS calls me into her office and shows me an email both she and ED received from Train. It blasts me specifically (and only me), stating that I was making "sneers and awful looks" behind Boss Man's back. He went on to rant about my "gross professional misconduct" and stated that if my behavior continued, he would pursue an official grievance. I told her the only thing I could think of - the part where everyone was rolling their eyes a bit - which I knew she knew about because she was one of the people I exchanged looks with at the time. DS said that everyone present at the meeting had mentioned that same thing... when she'd called them that morning. She went on to explain that she'd followed up with every person in attendance, including the two state guests. Every single person she called said they did not witness any misconduct on my part and if the one time where everyone displayed a little exasperation was the problem, their names should be added to the list as well. DS read me the email response she had ready to send. It was very long and informed Train his complaint had been researched and found to be groundless and went on to say (in many more words) that he should mind his own damn business in the future. About two minutes after she sent it, she received his reply stating that he appreciated her thoughts but as he and Boss Man preferred to "maintain professional decorum" in "their" meetings, he would continue to notify her of situations like this in the future. I won't bore you with the rest of the day's events but the situation continued to smolder with emails and phone messages back and forth - not necessarily escalating, but certainly not deescalating either.

Thursday, April 8 - I am called into ED's office. She has received an email from Train. The email says that he will no longer be able to discuss the situation with her, by order of his attorney. He goes on to explain that through this situation, I (K) have caused him "physical and emotional harm" and is pursuing legal action. ED tells me she has a call in to our attorney and she will keep me posted. About an hour later, I am called back into ED's office. Train has now called her on the phone and claimed that - you may want to sit down for this - immediately following the meeting on 4/6, I took him into a private area of our office, threatened him not to tell anyone how badly I behaved in the meeting, and kicked him in the crotch. He told ED that he was on his way to a doctor's office to have his "abrasions" treated and to obtain documentation for his lawsuit. ED asks if I went into a private room with him after the meeting at all. I state I did not. Not only that, I cite half a dozen people who can verify our respective whereabouts. ALL of us had walked out of the conference room together and to the lobby of my office. Then, DS and I stayed in the lobby talking to some of the other meeting attendees while Train and Boss Man left together and had lunch with the guests from the state. Seriously. He went out to lunch with three other people IMMEDIATELY after the meeting. As I relay all of this to ED, I realize how far out of touch with reality he is. That's when I really start to freak out. ED asks if I've ever had any problems with Train before. I tell her no and that I thought we were friends, and then I get tearful as I recall that we rarely had a conversation that didn't end with me showing him the latest pics of E on my phone. Who knew I was showing pics of my baby to someone so unstable? ED gets in touch with Train's boss. She says that Train is out of the office for the rest of the week but she'll try to track him down and speak with him. Later that day, I am told she cannot get in touch with him but she believes it is because he is out of town for the weekend.

Friday, April 9 through Tuesday, April 13 - Believe it or not, very little happens. I am told nothing, despite my requests for updates. I get off the elevator a floor below mine and sneak up the stairs each morning, afraid the doors will open on my own floor to find him waiting there for me, and I jump out of my skin every time the phone rings. After work on Tuesday, I call a friend who works in the same office as Train and beg for any information. He tells me that Train resigned that day but will be working through May 14th, and no one was given any details.

Wednesday, April 14 - Train's boss announces his resignation in a public meeting. She claims he is leaving to care for a sick family member. She says he intended to be at the meeting but something came up at the last minute, and he'll try to make the next one. She encourages people to call or email him with support because he's very sad to be leaving. I nearly go postal. I call a mentor who helps me get my thoughts in order.

Thursday, April 15 - I request a meeting with ED. I tell her I am extremely dissatisfied with the way this situation has played out and especially the lack of information I have received. I deliver my manifesto (as designed during the conversation with my mentor) and she is relatively responsive to it. She admits to me that she received a final email from Train on 4/8 that she neglected to tell me about in which he disclosed he had not actually spoken to a lawyer. I tell her I really wish she'd told me this at the time. She has no answer for why she didn't. She agrees to request more information from Train's boss on my behalf, but she asks that I write the email and she will simply forward it. Fine. Whatever.

It takes me several days to write the email. I keep having to dial back anger and frustration that nobody but me seems to care about my involuntary involvement in his breakdown.

Tuesday, April 20 - I learn that Train has been attending meetings with other staff in our system. So much for my theory that the May 14th date was only on paper. I send email to ED.

Wednesday, April 21 - ED forwards to Train's boss.

Friday, April 23 - Reply from Train's boss received and shared with me and DS. Train's boss confirms that Train is still working in system but will probably be done by May 1, not May 14. She also says that the conversation with Train (which did not occur until 4/13) was very calm and professional and he showed - get this - "a high level of insight." Oh, except that she didn't talk with him about that whole falsely accusing a co-worker of a criminal act thing. She and HR decided that "would not be productive." So, they just talked about the email he sent and how it was very inappropriate. He said he'd been under a lot of stress lately because his sister was in a car accident and perhaps it would be best if he left work so he could tend to her full time. And that was that. She did say that she asked him if there were any lingering issues between he and I (but again, avoiding the whole physical assault thing) and he said no, the problem was his own and had nothing to do with me. ED concluded ourmeeting by announcing three things:

(1) If I choose to pursue the situation further (i.e. defamation lawsuit), I'm on my own. She and our attorney consider the situation to be fully resolved.

(2) She would like DS and I to recognize that either one of us could have prevented this situation, me by refraining from rolling my eyes in the meeting and DS by "taking the high road" (read: backing down) when Train sent his first email. (Oh, right, and did you hear the one about the rape victim that shouldn't have worn the low cut shirt? ) DS argued back on this one. I knew immediately what direction she was going in and decided not to waste my breath.

(3) We should all feel good about the fact that the situation had resolved with no harm done to anyone. Again, DS contested this a bit. I checked out even further.

And that's pretty much the end. I haven't seen him since the meeting on the 6th and hopefully I never will again. I have several theories about why he said the things he did, the most probable involving serious substance abuse and/or an attempt to fake a mental health disability claim. Maybe I'm just telling myself those stories to make myself feel safer, but I think they are more probable than him having the degree of psychotic break it would take to make the specific claims he did, then reorienting himself quickly enough to send a back-peddling email to ED Thursday afternoon and show "insight" during a meeting with his boss the following Tuesday. Really, I'll never know what happened or why. I'm grateful that my professional reputation was strong enough to bring me through this without a scratch, but I'm resentful of the extreme stress it caused me personally. I suspect it fed into delay #2, The Sick, but that's a story for another day.

Thanks to everyone who sent good vibes after my last post. I was really grateful to have you all as a touchstone when everything started spinning out of control.