Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Newlywed Game - Part Two - 4/24/2004

Today was my day to go and see the social worker for the long awaited Q&A period. I had to work at Disneyland in the morning so my day did not have an agenda like Michelle's from the week earlier. My day consisted of having to be at Disneyland wide awake and ready to go at 4:45am! Not quite sure how that happened. I really need to stop answering my cell phone when I see a Disney number. Got up at 3:00am, after 3 hrs of sleep, and left for Disney by 4:00am. Worked my shows and got off at 1:00pm. I was starting to feel tired now. I drove up to Brea, which took all of 10mins, and drove around to kill some time. I finally got to the meeting place at 1:45pm and called Karen to tell her I was there.

She met me in the clubhouse area of her complex and I told her that I had been up since 3:00am with very little sleep so if I nodded off during our interview she should just slap me and remind me of what we were talking about. She laughed and said she was sure that wouldn't be necessary. She said our interview should not last as long as Michelle's since I had said I was not a talker like her. 2 hours later she would call me a liar about not being a talker. Who knew! We started with her disclaimer of letting me know that she was not trying to be invasive or trying to pry, she just needed to know about me and who I am. I have long said since starting this process that I would be less than tolerant of anyone who asked ridiculous personal questions that have nothing to do with how I would raise a child. We had both read quite a bit about people who stated the questions they had to answer and I wanted none of that. Fortunately, our social worker is extremely nice and very understanding. The interview was truly what Michelle said in her post... some background on my family, background on me and Michelle, personal assessment and miscellaneous chit-chat. That pretty much covered it.

Those of you who know me will know that there were some interesting things to talk about. She took all that in stride and thanked me for being honest as we went through. All in all, not a really bad interview at all. I think if more people had to participate in something like this before they were allowed to have a child, we would not have as many deadbeat, moron parents out there. When I was done, I called Michelle and said I was going home to have a nap. Not bad for a days work.

Our next meeting will be our last where Michelle and I hand over some documents that are required and Karen will give us copies of our completed Home study. On the move!!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The Newlywed Game - Part One - 4/17/2004

I got up with an agenda: Breakfast, shower, get pretty, go have passport pics taken, drive to Fullerton and have interview with the Social Worker.

I got up. I cut coupons. I opened cabinets and found nothing for breakfast. I read my email. Was bored. Decided to take a shower for lack of anything better to do. Need to let hair air dry before beginning styling, so I got sucked into watching Steel Magnolias for the umpteenth time. Forty minutes later, Julia Roberts was dead and my hair was dry and not styled. Uh oh! I re-wet it and styled my hair. Since I was having passport pics taken, which are notoriously horrible, I actually applied full makeup...and then the phone rang.
It was mom. An hour and twenty minutes later, Julia Roberts is still dead and I am not dressed. Uh oh! The agenda is out the window. AAA closes in less than an hour and I have to drive to Fullerton. No passport pics today! What a waste of makeup.

The drive to Fullerton went very quickly and was mostly uneventful, which was odd because copious amounts of water were falling from the sky which leads Californians to believe that the world is ending and they should drive like idiots. I arrived at Karen's place early and we played Marco Polo on the cell phone until I found the rental office where she was going to conduct our interview. The rental office could double as a location for the South Pole and I had forgotten to bring my down parka. Penguins were seen wandering about the exercise room. There was a polar bear on the treadmill, I was cold, get it? I sat down across from Karen and she spontaneously morphed into Sigmund Freud. "Tell me about your childhood, tell me about your mother, tell me about your husband, tell me about YOU!" I tried to tell her that I was dull and uninteresting. Two hours later, she called me a liar. I think her favorite part was when I told her the story of how the Principal at Riverside Christian Day School told me I was displeasing God and going to burn in Hell because I was flunking math. Freud, aka Karen, seemed pleased that I knew this was not true. Mostly, the interview was what I expected. Some background on my family, some background on Jeff and I, a personal assessment of myself and miscellaneous chit-chat. All in all, it was easy and went well.

Our timing was right on because as I pulled out of the parking lot, Jeff called to say the Mouse had released him for the day and we decided to meet at the Brea Mall for dinner at Claim Jumper. At this point, the debriefing began for information for his upcoming interview next week.

Of Valium & Vampires - 4/12/2004

Michelle doesn't like needles! Doesn't like is putting it mildly. Screaming, hyperventilating, physical restraint are normal reactions of hers that generally make three year olds look brave. Therefore, she was extremely productive at work today on the theory that even something as boring as typing filing labels for accounting was better than thinking about the needle coming at the end of her day. She took "lunch" at 4pm which consisted of three Valium to steady her nerves. I picked her up at 4:30pm to begin the trek to the Bird Man (Doc Andrews for those of you who haven't read the previous post). When we arrived in Newport Beach at 5:15pm she was still remarkably lucid. This would never do. Like a bad episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I had visions of chasing her screaming through the parking lot just to get a little blood. Doc Andrews agreed and told her to take the remaining two Valium in her possession. His exact recommendation was "chew them so they disolve faster". Michelle does not recommend this to anyone unless you have a large supply of breath mints handy as Valium does not taste good. Five Valium...enough to knock out a horse, or start a new addiction, seemed like a good idea. Sadly though, Michelle could still recite lines from Shakespeare. It was not working! Her mother warned me that however loopy she might be, as soon as there is a needle within thirty feet of her she would sober up immediately. Who knew!

I had to tell her that we were not taking time off work and driving all the way down here again. She would just have to get her blood drawn today. She was having none of it. I resorted to drastic tactics. I bribed her with the promise of Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I think I heard a sound of agreement through the tears that were beginning. The nurse was trying to help by saying that lots of people have this fear and they all do fine. She might as well have been saying blah blah blah blah because I am sure that is what Michelle heard. The nurse did think ahead and offer to spray the cold stuff that numbs the area. They use this on little kids. Michelle was very grateful, although she said later that it didn't help much. At this point, the vampire moved in the for the kill. I was holding onto Michelle as she buried her face in my shirt and cried. The vampire stuck the needle in and bleeding began...about two minutes later. Apparently, Michelle has the thickest blood in the known world and it flows very slowly. At least I never have to worry about her bleeding to death while waiting for medical attention. That's a load off my mind. The vampire only needed two vials of my blood, but Michelle had to ask for a quick Diabetes check. Oops, that required another vial of blood. She had to give three. This only took moments in my case but for Michelle it seemed like the vampire worked for an hour. Really it went by quickly but when you are sobbing into your husband's shirt, it seems like an eternity. It ended without incident. The vampire quickly withdrew from the room and Michelle was disappointed that she did not get a lollipop.

Now, here comes the interesting thing...apparently we both needed a TB test. Who knew! In the old days, there was a four-pronged, corn holder thingy (that's a technical term) that they scraped on your forearm area. In a couple of days you new you were in trouble if your arm was all red and itchy. But now, thanks to medical advances, they use a very thin needle, stick it under your skin and lift up while injecting what I believe is live TB into your arm. I have to admit, this was painful. Even though I said it only hurt a little, Michelle was thinking you might as well cut her arm off with a butter knife. Once again, the vampire moved in with the cold stuff, a little spray and poke and it was all over. Again, no lollipop. What has happened to the medical profession? Where are all the lollipops? Not even mention of a balloon or sticker. This place sucks!

So, for the pleasure of adopting a beautiful little girl from China, we had to get poked, prodded, pee and have our blood sucked out by the vampire. Oh, and pay about $700 to make sure we hadn't been around any birds lately. With our horrible bleeding and check writing ordeal at an end, we headed off to Cheesecake Factory to console ourselves with food. Hey, my pants don't fit anymore, but that's another story.

** Interesting note: my 120 lb wife took five Valium, gave three vials of blood and was still able to walk upright and recite Shakespeare, correctly I might add. Clearly death by drug overdose is not an option for her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Been Around Any Birds Lately? - 4/11/2004

We did neglect to mention that we took Friday the 9th of April off to run some adoption related errands. After we had breakfast at Ruby's of course (buy 1 get 1 coupon- can't let that go to waste!).
The day began with a trip to visit the Riverside Police Dept. to have the first set of LiveScan fingerprints taken. These will clear us through the Department of Justice and run a check on us through the Child Abuse Index. LiveScan is really cool: it's all done by computer (no more ink & paper) and it works pretty much the way a scanner hooked up to your home computer does. You simply place your fingers on the glass plates, the computer scans them, and then matches the individual scans of each finger to a scan of the hand done all together. Simple. Quick. Clean. Unless you happen to be us.
Seems the coppers got a new LiveScan machine, and it is damn persnickety to say the very least. My appt. was at 9:00 am, and 47 minutes and two technicians later, they still couldn't get the computer to agree that my right pinky was indeed the same finger in 2 different scans! They finally just hit the "overide" button and called it good as they were 17 min into Jeff's appt. He fared no better. 42 minutes, 3 techs, and two uniformed officers later, most of his left hand and half of his right didn't match. The "overide" button was used liberally.
That ordeal over, we trotted a few doors down to the Sheriff's to have our county records run (all good! No wants or warrants).
Then we drove swiftly behind the "Orange Curtain" to obtain some court records & copies of our marriage license.
And our last stop of the day was in Newport Beach- we were going to see "The Birdman" - Doc Andrews. The Birdman is Jeff's fault. When he started having trouble with his gallbladder in early '99, he knew what it was, but he needed to go see a doctor to get on the path to having it extracted. As luck would have it, there was a medical group in walking distance from our apt, and Doc Andrews was able to see him. He came in, introduced himself in his mile a minute East Coast accent, and asked what was wrong. Jeff told him. To which his reply was "Been around any birds lately? Can't be too careful with those bird diseases. Haven't been around any birds have you?" We came to discover that this is a standard Doc Andrews question. When I went in a year later for an ear infection, my proximity to birds was also questioned. Ditto this last December when we were both dying with the flu and made the journey to see the Doc. So we almost fell off the exam table in shock whan we told him we were there for adoption physicals and he didn't ask about the birds. Nor did he ask if we were going to expose our future child to birds. No, no; just the usual physical kinds of things: weight (not telling), temp, blood pressure, urine sample, and 3 vials of blood each to run the various required tests. WHOA! Blood?? Needles??? I don't do needles. Couldn't we just make something up?? No. Uh-oh. How about some Valium so I'm so relaxed I don't care? YES! 5 very happy little yellow pills to take the moment I get off work on Mon the 12th while Jeff drives me. Jeff just opened up a vein without a second thought. I was feeling faint watching the vials fill with his blood. Of course, I left with a prescription for happy pills, he left with samples of blood pressure medication since he was 155/115.
I'm not looking forward to Mon.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

3 Hours Late - 4/11/2004

There we were, cleaned, pressed, and ready to face the social worker. Our appointment was for 3:30pm and we were ready. At 3:10pm the phone rang. It was Karen our social worker. She was stuck in traffic and was going to be late. I told her not to worry, we would be here and all would be well. The 91 Freeway frequently resembles a Used Car lot rather than a moving freeway. It did not occur to me to ask where she was. This was mistake #1. At 3:50pm Karen called again to say traffic was really bad and she didn't know how long it would take. At that point I asked where she was. "Anaheim Hills" she said. That meant she was still more than an hour away in traffic. I once again told her not to worry and we would be here. At 5:20pm the phone rang. Karen was still in traffic and this time had just barely passed the 71 fwy. Things were still very, very slow. She apologized & said she would call when she got close so we would know she was here and I told her that we would still be here. Michelle was taking a nap by now. I was bored out of my mind. At 5:45pm the phone rang. Could it be that she was finally here?? No, it was Charter cable calling to tell me that my High Speed internet access and cable TV bill would be going up. How nice!

At 7:05pm Karen called again. Michelle, fresh up from her nap, got the call this time. I was waiting to hear that she was still in traffic and somewhere around Tyler. I heard Michelle say, She's here! Of course I didn't believe this and went on playing a video game on the computer. At 7:10pm there was a knock at our door and the social worker had arrived! Right on time if your are in Michelle's world.

At first we thought there must be some mistake because a Jamaican Grace Jones walked through our door. But no, it turned out that was Karen, our social worker. She was very, very nice and extremely apologetic for being late. The 91 freeway claims yet another hapless victim. She was grateful for the use of our restroom and the munchies we had set out for her. She received an immediate cat scan from our three fuzz buckets and was deemed acceptable. This concluded the cats participation in the events as they all went to their respective places and promptly took a nap.

Now the fun begins. We showed Karen around our apartment. She glanced in each room and did not take out her white gloves, Megan! A cursory glance was all it took. Makes all that cleaning seem somewhat unnecessary. She was pleased that there were two bedrooms and two full baths. She commented on the large size of our kitchen. Then we gathered around the coffee table for a little Q&A. The meeting was really to get a basic overview of who we are and what we understand about this undertaking. She felt positive about us as a couple and was impressed with the amount of research that we had done and how many of her topics that Michelle and I had already discussed at length. We were prepared with answers to some questions like "how do we feel about discipline" and "what would be our parenting style."

Overall it went very well. We have three more meetings with Karen before our home study is complete. One meeting with each of us alone and one last meeting together. Michelle begins her round of the Newlywed Game next Saturday! I will go sometime after that depending on schedule. We will probably get this done within the month if our schedules remain flexible. The rest depends on how quickly we get responses from places like the INS and FBI. If all goes well our dossier could go to the facilitator for translation into Chinese by the first week in June.

We are on the move now!

Calling in Reserves!! - 4/10/2004

Due to the facts mentioned in the previous post, we had to call in reserves to help with the cleaning effort. Megan "where's the rubber gloves and Fantastik" Papa, close family friend & ruthless cleaning tyrant, came over to lend her extraordinary skills to our project. She walked right in and immediately starting asking things like, "Does this need to be here?" and "Do you really want to display this?" and "I'm gonna need another trash bag!!" We heard these statements for the past two days as Megan, Michelle and I worked our way through the jungle that is our apartment.

Michelle tried in vain to explain to Megan that the social worker was not going to use the "White Glove" treatment on our apartment. It still needed to have that "Lived in Look" but Megan insisted in soaking the glass light fixtures in bleach and scrubbing the inside of the refrigerator (for which we are eternally grateful) anyway! As a result our kitchen and front bathroom are shining examples of what human being can do when faced with extraordinary odds and an extremely sensitive nose to the cat box.

There was still just too much stuff! We are drowning in paper, catalogues and miscellaneous stuff. There was talk of a bonfire, mass trashing, and possibly moving altogether. In the end, it turned out that apartment #1 was available and we, with the manager's approval, moved all our stuff down to that apartment and closed the door. Suddenly it was like a whole new world at our apartment. The cats didn't know what to do. There was nothing to climb on and play in. They rolled all over the newly cleaned floors and continued to look around for all the stuff.

We could not have done this without Megan. She saved our lives with her willingness to help out and her strong cleaning skills. Thank you Megan very, very much. We owe you big time!! And yes, all the stuff has to be moved back after the social worker visits. Lucky us.

Cleaning Hoax - 4/2/2004

It has been pointed out by several of our "So-Called" friends that they did not believe we have actually been cleaning this entire time. In the interest of full disclosure, we have been cleaning. There were, however, several delays...both of us got colds, then Michelle threw her back out while planting plants for our patio, there was TV to watch, oh, and that pesky work thing got in the way too. So I guess there might not have been as much cleaning going on as there should have been. There, now we feel better. Still cleaning though!