Friday, February 22, 2008

Winds of Change

I may have to rethink the name of this blog.

You see, there has been a LOT going on in our lives over the last 6 months or so that never made it to the blog. I take responsibility for that. I've felt more like living my life than writing about it in that time. Sue me.

Anyway, the blissful sheen of foster care has worn off. Okay, it was never there, but it's even less there lately. "Celeste" is a real piece of work. She's a walking, talking potential-foster-parent-repellent...with a few bright spots, as I've been careful to note.

Still...I'm now 40. The Wife will be 40 this summer. Time to think about our own family, if we're to have one. And it seems that maybe we ARE to have one, after all.

There are two serious irons in the adoption fire right now.

One I've already partially described...we're currently in the process of trying to figure out what we need to do about him. We went down and met him yesterday, and he's SO PRECIOUS!!!! Oh, and he was NOT born without any ventricles in his heart. That'll teach me to take what I hear from a non-doctor as even somewhat true.

The real story is that he was born either without a wall between his ventricles, or with a very large hole in that wall. The doc tells us he was born without a wall between the ventricles...basically one big ventricle sending blood through the pulmonary artery to his lungs AND sending blood out the aorta to his body. This leads, obviously, to decreased oxygen content of his blood in general. Not good, but not catestrophic. I was watching his blood oxygen level obsessively the whole time we were in his hopital room. The highest I saw was about 90% (of normal), and the lowest was something like 65%, even when he was fussing. From my CF experience, I can say that 65% is not even close to being dangerous, unless maybe over the long term. I'm not entirely sure about that. However, the doc says that 2 more operations should make this little guy able to live a normal life. I'm ready to bank on the American medical system at this point.

You remember the American medical system, right? The one I've championed just recently in this blog? This mom has NO resources. Her child was born with severe medical problems, and she is a drug addict. This child has not only received the best medical care available in the WORLD, but he's obviously a favorite of the nurses and volunteers. He's getting LOVE. That's good stuff, even if it's not his forever family giving it to him at this moment.

But we haven't been sitting still. I've set up a meeting with an attorney (on the advice of the SW most closely working with this new baby's case) for next Tuesday. Her assistant laid it out grand that her fees were $175/hr. I laugh at her misfortune. My divorce attorney in the cities cost me about $400/hr, and $75 to "review" an email of 2 lines. Anyway, we're going to go ahead and draw something up, hopefully, to the effect that this will be a "trial" placement for adoption, and after 30 days (or whatever seems reasonable to the attorney) it becomes permanent. I don't know if such an agreement seems normal, and any attorneys or other knowledgeable people out there please advise, but we need some way of time-limiting this thing.

Anyway.....on to the next exciting possibility. A coworker overheard me negotiating time off to go see the first birthmom described above, and he asked me how serious we were. Hello! So he knows this woman who is 6 months pregnant and has been desperate to find a good situation for her child, since her boyfriend doesn't sound like the type to welcome a child at this time. Sorry, but i have to be diplomatic, here.

So we are to go to his house tomorrow and meet this woman. She's already viewed our profile as well as a PDF copy of the newly-created profile we'll be sending out if none of this works out to our satisfaction. My coworker says she's all fired up and even relieved already that she's found an option that might work.

It sounds like it's ours to lose...which always sets off alarm bells in my head. Still...we are what we said we were. We have not told a single lie through this whole process. I am a product of my parents. I want desperately to bring my child(ren) up in the very same principles and environment that my parents brought me up in. I've been DESPERATELY glad of my parents' support and my upbringing since I've been old enough to care.

So why am I so nervous? Because of the counties. One county wants this, another wants that. One wants you to be a foster parent in order to care for a medical child, another wants you to be certified as a "medical foster home" before they'll let you TOUCH their children, whether they're medical or not. Sigh.

And now for that "sheen of foster care wearing off" comment. We are quitting foster care. And that's why I need to consider changing the name of the blog. Because...if we're going to adopt, of course I'm going to have lots to say, and I definitely don't want to stop blogging. But it won't be about "other people's kids", now, will it? So...somebody recommend something in the comments that would work in our position.

And I'll let you know what happens in this space WELL before you need to worry about changing links or anything.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Hope

I have new hope on two fronts just lately...

The first point of hope regards what I've been told in the past regarding my feet. Specifically, I was told by the University of Minnesota sports medicine clinic that I have arthritis in my feet, and that this would bury my running habit. I had no reason to disbelieve this, so I gave up my habit without even a whimper. Well, okay, a few whimpers. But I was pretty proud of how I calmly gave up the main driver of my good health.

Thing is, I finally HAD to get a second opinion. Running was the thing that had helped me get off the bottle. I've recently (again) had a few problems with that. It also was the thing that held my CF lung problems at bay (or so I believe). It was also a sacred time, the time when I had only myself and my breathing rate and heartbeat to think about. A time when I could listen to my favorite music without any jeers that I love 80s rock (and even 80s pop, including Michael Jackson and Tiffany). In short, running was a part of my life that I wasn't able to give up easily.

They took more X-rays, and on my new doctor's interpretation, there is hardly *any* arthritis in my feet...much different from what I was told before. I'm of a mind to get copies of the X-rays they took at the U and have my new doc look at them...but it's working. You see, I went out to run Saturday night, since it was a mild night. And it was GREAT. My wind is completely gone after several years of no running, of course, but that feeling of having ran was the same. I probably can't run consecutive days, but my feet weren't feeling too bad after a day. I can RUN. Expect more on this subject in the future.

The second front on which there is new hope is the adoption thing. We found out today that a birth mom saw us on A birthmom in Minnesota. I've spoken with her most closely-linked social worker and heard the details this afternoon, and it sounds ideal for us. The baby is a boy, about 1.5 months old as of this writing. He's a remarkable baby. He was born without any ventricles in his heart.

That's right, he was born, as near as I can tell, without the bottom half of his heart. And yet he's still alive, and according to his social worker, thriving. This child needs a chance in life. I am the man to give it to him, and The Wife is the woman to give it to him. If that wasn't enough, he was born with two thumbs on one hand. This struck me, against my expectations, as pretty cool. Then my mom told me that this is a genetic trait in some families in the area my folks come from, which sort of wrecked a cool mythology I was building up for myself and my future(?) child.

Anyway, it looks like The Wife and I will possibly be visiting the birthmom tomorrow night. Who knows? Maybe we'll be bringing home the latest member of our family.

Cool, huh?

I love my life.

PS. I'm put in mind of the frog-and-cricket orchestra that attends our backyard in warmer times of the year. What do you suppose those critters are doing right now?

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Friday, February 08, 2008

"Celeste" Makes a Run For The Border

...and comes up short. Heh.

First of all, this post is done during work. That means basically that I can only type when I'm waiting for some other (computerized) process to complete, which is usually only about 1 minute or less at a time, so bear with me.

Anyway, "Celeste" decided Wednesday that she had had enough of living in foster care. She was done with our fascistic tendency of forcing her to let us know where she was at all time. After all, *real* kids don't have to do that. She was done with our horribly oppressive regime of loving her, making sure she didn't hurt herself, and (the absolute gall) forbidding her contact with certain people that she found "cool". Truly, people. Hide your children. We are fascists who will swallow up your puny capitalistic society.

So "Celeste" decided that it would be novel to do what kids had done to my parents in the 70s and 80s...go to the cops. Her mistake was to do it after saying things that led us to believe that she meant the cops were actively looking for her as she walked into the police station and claimed asylum from the evil dictatorship that is being practiced in our house. Hey, it saved the K-9 pooch from having to do a reprise of the act he did earlier that saved her life.

Anyway, this caused her to be sent to another PATH home nearby for a night. And then, right back into our house. Yep, the same one she was fleeing, and the very outcome we had hoped for. At times in the past in political blogs, I have left comments to the effect that I had never seen our local government(s) make an intelligent decision. I now have to take that back. They're doing right by "Celeste", just by re-subjecting her to the ministrations of The Wife. Because The Wife loves her, and I love her, and we're GOING to fix this thing, if they give us the chance.

Regarding this, I heard comforting noises last night. If the normal man in the normal situation said he heard "comforting noises", you might think he heard reconciliation, followed by hugs all around and everybody forgiving everybody. I am neither a normal man nor is this a normal situation. What I heard that was comforting was that I heard, for the first time (of many) a session of crying from "Celeste" that sounded sincere. As I learned later from The Wife, a lot of it had to do with her boyfriend breaking up with her.

Don't Pooh pooh that. It's a serious thing. The girl that hooked me in my freshman year of high school had my heart (mostly, with only a little competition from 2 others that both would probably have had my full attention if they'd only found me sooner) for my entire high-school romantic "career". I know where "Celeste" is. On the other hand, I look at she, and any other girl we have, as potential moms. What will they teach the inevitable kids they have?

I heard HONEST tears from the other room last night. The Wife knows exactly where "Celeste" is at. She's had more than her share of heartbreak. I was friends with her for much longer than I've been her husband. I know she won't like it, but I'll say that I absorbed some of her tears back in college, at the same time that I was wishing I could have her. There is at least one "incident" that occurred back in the fall of '90 that we both remember well, and that I believe put me on the path to being her husband. If only she'd shown any interest back then...Heh.

But I digress. I heard HONEST tears out of "Celeste". That's enough. She was letting out something that needed to get out, and I'm glad. I hope it continues.

I'm confused by "Celeste's" love life, but I love my life. And my love life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Celeste" Pushes the Envelope (And "Josie" Goes Down the Tubes")

This girl is good. I mean GOOD. But, the problem is, we've gotten wise to her ways. She has YET to learn that she has no real power in this situation, except to just give it up and TRY. We've now got it set up so that if she screws up at school, she'll get hit at home. If she screws up at home, she'll get in-school suspension (ISS). That's like a daylong study hall, except without the fun.

Now, she's stepped across a couple of other boundaries. She's pierced her NIPPLE. Good God. I'm not a woman, but I picture someone trying to pierce my sack, and I just have to pound their head. What is wrong with this girl??? Somebody please enlighten me in the comments.

Anyway, that's only a small disclosure of the many, many things she's done to deserve to be in ISS for 5 years. Do we still love her? More than ever. Because we tend to interpret her increasing violations of the boundaries that she damn well knows as tests. And her tests will be passed. The girl is now grounded until sometime in 2013.

"Josie". Sigh. I was talking to "Melanie" tonight, and she let slip that "Josie" is now doing meth. It is now only a matter of time until "Josie" either wises up or dies. Based on prior experience, I guess I have to steel myself for tragedy. It's the only way to keep myself from crying as I write this.

And yet...there's still hope. I still hope. I just wish I had been the only father figure in that girl's life. If that was the case, there's no way she would have such low self-esteem. She'd know much higher standards. But now I can only smile and nod when I see her and hope for a chance to address the things that are hurting her so bad.

Why do we do this fostering stuff? Because we care. Maybe sometimes we care too much. But that's far, far better than caring too little.


More Health Care/Politics Stuff

Yeah, I know, this bores a lot of you. However, I started to comment back to the comments in the earlier thread, and ran afoul of the text limits. No fun. So I'll spend this post responding to the very good comments I recieved in that thread, and follow it up very soon with what I really wanted to write about when I logged in.


Wonderful comments. Thank you all. As I hope you know, I'm not doing this to be a polemicist...I really want to know what the attraction is of a national health care system, given the bad things I've heard from people who've lived it.


"sb": You commented (in part) "I don't criticize people who don't want a national insurance system--I just think their perspective is very limited, often to a range of about 200 mi around their own homes."

I answer: This is the heart of federalism, an ideology that is slowly being strangled in the US. To me, the practical effect of federalism is that spending and legislative decisions are brought closer to where you live. This makes the responsibility of those making the decisions much more immediate. I can pick up a phone and call my state rep. I can pick up a phone and get a busy signal for my national rep. It's a bigger problem for a local politician if I get pissed. If the case is bad enough, I can mobilize my town. That's a much bigger problem for him than for a guy whose constituency is much bigger than just my town. If most politicians are facing the people they make decisions about on a personal level, I firmly believe they'll make better, more urgent decisions. I'm new in the neighborhood and don't even know who my state rep is right now, but I damn well knew it was Steve Smith when I lived in Mound, MN. I never had a real reason to call him, but I called him once on general principle. His wife answered, and said he was walking the dog. Then, "oh, wait, I think he just got home. Just a second." I waited. A male voice came on. I asked if this was Mr. Smith. He said yes, and what could he do for me, since his caller ID indicated that I was a constituent? I'm afraid I made a fool of myself, because I had no point in calling other than to see if he was really there if I called. I want that guy making my decisions. What chance to I have to talk personally with my DC rep?

Anonymous: You commented (in part): "Personally, I *can't* get insured, except through a job or through my state's high risk pool. I'm lucky to have found a job that offers insurance, as the high risk pool was way too expensive to join. For people who aren't the poorest of the poor but have pre-existing conditions, I suppose it probably is possible to get health care without insurance, but it might also mean lots of debt that would follow us around for the rest of our lives."

I answer: Welcome to my world. Check my archives. I have cystic fibrosis, as does my sister. Who's going to cover me, EVER (except if they're my employer?) My point stands. Why should other people shoulder my medical costs through government mandate? I've managed to get health insurance and keep it since I was diagnosed. I have full confidence that if I was really in trouble with CF, I'd find a hospital that would help. I'd fight like hell to pay back as much as I could, too...but even if I didn't, people are DECENT. They'll help. Maybe I've got too much faith. But I don't think so.

Second anonymous: You commented (in full, because I REALLY like it): "It is also very discouraging to see family members that are not given medical service. My mother would not go to a doctor because she could not afford the bill it would create. After my father died, she was working three part time jobs, none of which would/could supply insurance options.

Small town America limits the options for jobs, yet how do you move if you have lived your entire life there and raised your family there as well?

My point is that you may know people that do not visit a doctor because they cannot afford insurance, but they do not make a big deal out of it until the situation gets critical."

I wish I could know your mother. She sounds like a woman I could really respect and admire, and hopefully emulate. I also understand your dilemma, and have known people personally that have shared it. However, she makes the choice to deny herself services in this case (from how it sounds). She would not have been denied from treatment from many places, but she values her status as someone who wants to owe nobody anything. I live in small-town America too, though I'm lucky enough to have a college degree, and hold a job where health is included (though expensive anyway). I know many, many people who would die rather than leave the place they were born and lived their whole life. I'm fast becoming one of them. As to your point, that's a pretty personal decision. I still don't think anybody would be forcibly denied around here...though it IS often something that requires persistence.

"Loren": You commented (in full, because it's brief): "I'm a long-time lurker and appreciate your insight on foster care and adoption.

I guess you can get medical care if you don't mind claiming bankruptcy. See this article from early 2005."

I answer: I gave a brief scan of your link, but it's really immaterial in my view. In the US, most credit problems have a horizon of 7 years (or so I've understood from the financial pros I've had the privilege to ask.) Most financial apps have the question "have you declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years?" Let's see...wreck my credit rating for 7 years or save my life....hmmm...

I don't mean to make fun, but DECLARE BANKRUPTCY in that case. That is precisely the kind of situation for which the very concept of bankruptcy was formulated. I'm more concerned about the bankruptcy protection laws that allow someone declaring bankruptcy to keep their half-million-dollar home, their hummer, and all their toys.

mj: You commented (in part): "I too dont support national healthcare. I really think it would downgrade our system without some of the competetive nature of having it private. I do think there maybe more we can do to get more people insurance but we should be leaning on the insurance companies not the government to do this."

Right on, brother/sister. A solution based on private enterprise is ALWAYS better than some sort of government bureaucracy bearing a pretty name.

Friday, February 01, 2008

American Health Care, And Politics In General

I'm a very political person. I have to be.

You see, I'm an Eagle Scout. It's like being a Marine. Once you join that club, you're pretty much always active duty.

In the course of earning my Eagle award, I had to earn three merit badges that ended up coloring my future life in permanent marker: Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, and Citizenship in the World. When I went through the program, these were all required in order to get Eagle. No idea if that's still the case.

So...I know I have some international readers. I particularly want to hear in the comments from people in nations like Canada or Britain, which already have national health care. Because I'm listening to the Dem candidates, and I have to say that this is an issue where I disagree with both Clinton and Obama. They both seem to be trying to outdo each other on how we can nationalize health care fastest. And I just don't see the benefit...and after talking with my Canadian friends (all three or so of them) I am not encouraged that this is the way to go.

I am a thriving member of the evil capitalist entity that is America. I also am an active provider of social services here. I personally know people that are in the worst circumstances that it is possible to be in while still in America, and I have yet to meet anybody who has been unable to get medical treatment for themselves or their children. No, I'm not a Republican shill. I'm just stating the facts as I see them. I repeat: after about 2.5 years actively working in the social system in the US, I have yet to see a person rejected for ANY kind of health service, if they asked for it. This includes dental.

Makes me wonder why I pay for dental and health...until I realize that it's people like me who pay their bills religiously that allow these medical guys to do some freebies. It seems to be working out really well for our country, so I haven't argued.

But now we have people who would be our president telling us that they will gladly confiscate our money so that illegal aliens, along with my fellow citizens, can benefit from the many dollars I pay in taxes.

Call me a "nativist" if you must. Call me a conservative if you wish, though "conservative" has gotten to be a scapegoat term in recent years.

I actually LIKE GWB as president. At least with this guy, you know what to expect, am I right?
Anyway, I just needed to ask if my international readers (and I KNOW you're there, because I do check my referral logs) feel that nationalizing our healthcare is a thing you would recommend.

Other stuff? Well, I've been working with Mary...we'll see. The girl is just DEVIOUS. And I LIKE it. If I don't write a novel, I'm probably going to have to write a nonfiction book about how it is to try to adopt.