Monday, April 23, 2007

PMAB, medication and attachment, oh my!

My life is non-stop adoption classes right now. I'm getting way more than 30 hours of training. Mondays and Thursdays for three hours (three and a half tonight!) for three weeks, plus an extra Monday, plus eight hours last Saturday, plus CPR training this Saturday (which, thank goodness, I am going to be able to do in my town). Why do they squash, yet spread it out like this? I can understand the let's-bust-it-out over three weekends approach, or the every week over a couple months approach, but I'm finding this a little exhausting. The big problem is that I'm spending a *lot* of time commuting, which I find very tiring. Whine, whine whine. Actually, I seem to be coming down with my third flu of the season, which goes far towards explaining my crummy attitude. I'm generally a much more enthusiastic and energetic individual.

PMAB (acronym for Preventative Management for Aggressive Behavior, for anyone who hasn't mastered every acronym yet) class was on Saturday. I was kind of dreading it, since I kind of got the impression it was just restraint training. I get the impression that people who work with teens don't use restraint--they try to put a barrier between the raging teen and themselves and call 911. All in all, I was anticipating a really useless eight hours. Imagine my pleasant surprise (yes, you heard right--I'm being pleasant!) when it was actually pretty interesting, and they really didn't emphasize restraint at all. This was the rare well-prepared class that I've been to--a clearly planned out presentation, overheads already created, etc. As an educator, I really find it fascinating to watch other people's mistakes and successes when they teach. The material was also a lot better than I had anticipated. It was all about trying to deescalate. I don't know that I'll remember all of these tips and techniques should I be in a crisis situation, but the instructor did a good job of trying to give examples and make things clear. Way to go Misty!

Tonight we did medications and attachment. The medications section was mostly about documenting and emphasizing the importance of doing exactly what the doctor said to do if you have foster kids. There was a lot of random complaining about how foods and sugar and dye contribute to ADHD problems (not that I'm not on board. . .). It wasn't like I learned a whole lot about medication itself, but I feel like I've got a pretty good idea of what's expected vis-a-vis medication. The attachment section, though. . .oh boy. . . Not like I'm any kind of expert, being no one's mom at all, but from everything I've read, attachment is one of the biggest problems in parenting kids out of foster care. It's a problem that affects all other problems. With that in mind, you would think that we would cover the topic in a great deal of depth, no? That the instructor might emphasize the importance of these issues? Well, sucker, you'd be wrong. We learned about the attachment cycle and did an exercise on babies getting attached. When someone asked the instructor what to do if (if!) a child came into their home with attachment issues, the instructor said to "act appropriately" and "at their level". Uh, yeah, that's helpful. And really conveys the importance of the issue.

I find the lack of emphasis on attachment issues to be particularly bothersome because many of the people in my class don't seem to be doing any research on their own. For instance, we saw this foster care video in which a foster child calls his foster mom a bitch. It was unpleasant, but it wasn't like the kid was kicking or hitting or destroying anything. A big deal, but not disasterous, and certainly the kind of behavior you might expect if you'd done any research on this at all. I was talking to one woman (who I have started to develop an antipathy towards, but that's another story) about the age group she was interested in. She said that before the video, she had wanted older kids, but now she was more interested in toddlers. I pointed out to her, in a casual way, that the younger kids who have been traumatized can have lots of issues, too. She said breezily that her daughter had had "issues" when she was a toddler, and that all toddlers do. Now, in a semi-ideal world, she would learn about attachment issues and how much they can affect even little kids. But I just don't think that's coming. If this woman is placed with a toddler (and I sincerely hope that she isn't), she just isn't going to have the tools to address the issues that come up.

I'm really embarrased to admit this, but in general, I thought people were kind of whiny when I read forums and they protested that they didn't understand this or that aspect of the process--didn't know that placement would take so long, did not know that they wouldn't easily be able to get a reasonably healthy child under the age of five, didn't know that the fifteen year old boy who just came out of RTC was not likely to be particularly emtionally stable. Thirty hours of classes!, I thought. How could they possibly not know this stuff? I know this stuff and I haven't even started! (lest I start to sound incredibly arrogant here, I know I still have a *LOT* to learn. Like how to actually parent, for instance. . .) Now I get it--these classes really are not the bee's knees. If you want this information, you really have to go look for it. I'm an obsessive researcher/reader/worrier, so that's second nature to me, but it isn't going to be to everyone. The thing is, I just don't get it. I'm working with a private agency, one that is supposed to be quite good. The instructor on Saturday emphasized that their caseworkers are really interested in making a good match between parent and child so that the child doesn't have to be moved so often, and they have far lower caseloads than CPS so they're in a better position to do that. But what good does matching do if people don't really know what to expect? And, hello!, we're trapped there for thirty hours! Wouldn't kill them!

In happy news, I found a book-on-tape for the car ride that I'm really enjoying. It's about a girl who was adopted at age eight, and her father is a professor! Professors, adoption--totally an appropriate mystery novel. Plus, each side of the tape is almost exactly the length of my commute to class. Yay!

Friday, April 20, 2007

second day of class

Today was my second day of class! I appreciate that they're trying to get it all squashed into just a few weeks, but this schedule is kind of killing me. At the end of class, she said something about class on Saturday and I was filled with a bit of a feeling of dread. I know this is ostensibly important, but I don't want to drive down there again in less than 36 hours (whine, whine, whine--I know that parenting will present bigger challenges than getting to a silly meeting at 9AM on a Saturday). I think I've read in many other blogs that people found PRIDE classes to be somewhat useless. I've just started, but I think I may end up concurring in that sentiment. The curricullum itself doesn't seem particularly informative, and the presentation our worker is doing is not exactly the heart and soul of coherence. She sort of flips through the papers until she's reminded of something, then she'll give a general review of the topic, and throw out enough tidbits to get people in a tizzy (do you need a respite provider every time you go to the movies? Can foster kids spend the night at another kid's house? Honestly, I couldn't tell you, and I don't think anyone in the room could, even though we spent a good fifteen minutes discussing it). I am very, very open to it getting better, but I just don't find this beginning to be promising.

I've been struggling with the whole straight adopt v. foster/adopt decision for a couple of weeks now. I started out just wanting to do staight adopt, but there are a lot of arguments to be made for foster/adopt--you get to see how the child does in your home before committing and the child has less risk of multiple placements. The thing is, though, I'm beginning to feel like doing foster care would just be too much of a nightmare. Maybe I misheard her, but it seemed like she said that the backyard has to be completely fenced. I'm already making some modifications to the house to get this to work. The fence wouldn't be that big a deal, but somehow I just feel like it's the final straw (this is really dumb, since I kind of want a fence anyways. . . ) The other problem is that I just can't figure out from her exactly what is required. If there were a clear list somewhere, that would be great, but that doesn't seem to be on the agenda anywhere. Maybe the last week when we do policies and procedures? I also like the idea that with straight adopt you have access to all of the child's records ahead of time--you're going into it eyes open.

I did get to do some networking with other families from my county. Networking sounds so fancy--I should say that I started making friends. One couple adopted Russian toddlers about 7 years ago, and they sound so interesting! She said that she had a friend who adopted a 14 year old girl, and that it was going really well. That made me feel optomistic.

Also, I cried about four times during the foster care video we watched. I am *such* a sap.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tag--I'm it!

Everyone who's anyone in the foster/adopt blogging community seems to be doing this whole interview meme thing. I've had a lot of fun reading other people's, so I thought I'd participate too. The thing is, I haven't been blogging all that long and I don't really want to impose on anyone to interview me (particularly not Yondalla, who seems to be the world's most popular interviewer, or Maggie, who has visions of Slugger dancing in her head--yay for Maggie!), so I thought I would interview myself. Actually, I'm going to steal some of the questions Yondalla wrote for Atlasien and make up a couple of my own. That way I can be like everyone else! Only weirder! Which is kind of what I'm like in real life! (plus, it might be really good practice for answering questions in my homestudy. . .)

1. Why teenagers?
When I think about what I want out of parenting, a few things come to mind. I want to have family meals. I want to talk to someone about how their day went (and, possibly, mine, though I don't believe most teens are particularly plugged into the feelings of others). I want to have a child I could have a conversation with. I'd like to go to school plays or (lord forbid) atheletic events. I want to help with homework. I want to provide guidance and advice. I want to help plan someone's future. I would like to read aloud. Most of those things I can do with a teenager. Probably not reading aloud (although my mom actually read to my sister when she was in high school--it was a pretty chilled out way for them to spend time together), but the other stuff.

I like the idea of parenting a child who won't be dependent on me for everything. Who could boil water and make spaghetti if they wanted to.

I feel a certain amount of shame in saying this (though I've been feeling a little less bad since I saw it on a CPS poster promoting teenage adoption), but I also like the fact that teenagers are not in the house forever. I could be an empty-nester by 35! I know that wouldn't appeal to a lot of people, but I like the idea of continuing to have a parenting relationship with someone who doesn't live with me anymore. In an ideal world, I like the idea of sending a kid off to college--buying all the cool dorm gear, sending care packages, hanging out during holiday breaks. I know I would be lucky to get a foster kid who is truly college bound, but I really love the idea of supporting a child through a transition like that.

I think I could do a lot of good as an adoptive parent to teenagers. It seems like it is so difficult to place them. In most of the discussion groups I read, people identify older children as being 10 and under. It doesn't seem like a lot of people are interested in the teens, particularly the older ones. I can totally understand why some people wouldn't be into it, but since I like the idea it seems like a shame to go for the youngers.

I also like the idea of adopting a 16+ year old kid because children have to figure out whether they want to be adopted or just age out of foster care at that age in my state. If a kid still wants to be adopted, that suggests to me that they've thought about their future and see a place for a permanent family in it. I like to think that would mean there's less chance of out-and-out rejection.

(now, two from Yondalla to Atlasien, stolen by mungos_mom!)

2. What do you predict will be the most challenging for you personally?

In terms of potential extreme behaviors, I worry a lot about someone hurting my animals. But in terms of day-to-day parenting, I think that the loss of autonomy is going to be the most difficult thing for me to deal with. I went through two roommates my freshman year of college, and I've lived alone ever since. My dogs are very laid back, and I've got a weird job schedule-wise, so I kind of come and go as I please and keep sort of odd hours. If someone calls and wants me to hang out at the coffeeshop and work until 11PM, I can do it. I can go dancing or to see local rock bands and stay out until 2AM if I want. If I put off dinner until 9PM and just have cold cereal, that's totally cool. Being constantly responsible for someone else is a little terrifying. This sort of plugs back into my whole wanting to adopt a teenager thing--while I know that they require a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of work, I find it conceivable that I could run to the grocery store sans kid if the kid were 16 and wanted to stay home. I've thought about all this a lot, and I think that the trade-off will be very worth it, but it's still a little scary.

3. What strength or skill do you have that will be most valuable to you as you parent?

I'm a really good listener. I was the outlet of choice for many of my friends and their problems in high school and college (also, weirdly enough, my mom who used to tell me that I sounded like her therapist--I believe she meant this as a compliment). I've gotten away from that a little bit in the grown-up years, but I think those skills will just come rushing back when needed.

(now, back to my own questions)

4. As a swinging single gal, how do you plan to deal with the whole dating thing once you're a parent?

I kind of figured I would just give up on dating while I was parenting. I found the stress of dealing with stepparents to be pretty annoying, and I was an adult when my parents got divorced and started dating. I also figured that a kid out of the foster system could use my full attention and the kind of stability that not dating would bring. And, to be honest, the prospects out there just don't look too good to me. Temptation in the form of a very cute art professor e-mailing me through myspace has recently reared its ugly head and made me think about priorities and dating and what I'm willing to/have to give up. I think this will be an ongoing issue. And I really don't want it to be. It would be so much nicer if I could just turn off that part of my brain for a while.

5. Why can't college students recognize that Democrat and Republican, when in reference to the parties, are proper nouns? Or that 4+ pages probably won't cut it when the professor asks for 7-8?

Oh god, I wish I knew. . .

Monday, April 16, 2007

first day of adoption classes

Tonight was the first day of foster/adoption classes. Totally fascinating, though I'm not necessarily sure in the way that they intended. When I pulled up, a gay couple was looking for the agency as well and I thought "Yippee! A gay couple feels comfortable with this agency! I've chosen correctly!" Overall, I'm still feeling good with having gone with this agency (although the place is a full hour drive--very unpleasant for the girl who insists on riding her bike everywhere). The guy who did the agency orientation emphasized the fact that they were not a faith-based agency, and that the founders did that in part so that they could be open to all kinds of families. That made me happy.

I know I should be reflecting on all of the deep lessons I learned, but I'll talk about that in a minute. First, I want to reflect on the people (by that, I mean that I want to gossip). It was such a fascinating group of people. Some people seemed really interesting, some seemed kind of clueless (like the woman who didn't seem to realize that her husband would have to take classes, too--when the person who was running the class emphasized that point, she said something about what a great guy and comedian he was, and then suggested that maybe he could do the classes over the phone, because he was a truck driver. Reality check in aisle four!) There was a lovely family (I mean, literally, lovely--five of the most beautiful people I've seen in a family group. I hope those children don't grow up ugly, because they totally won't fit in as adults). There were a lot of people who wanted babies and some people who wanted siblings for their current children. I wanted to start lecturing and quoting from all of my adoption books on the perils of adopting kids who were the same age as the bios, but it's hardly polite. Besides, I got wide-eyed looks of horror from the experienced parents when I said I wanted a teenage girl. I felt sort of dorky, because it was just intros and I don't like to talk a lot during intros so I think I sounded rather lame in my teenage girl reasoning. Whatever. The adoption coordinator actually sort of recommended against teenagers during her spiel, emphasizing the fact that they've probably been through a lot of placements and that can make things more difficult. That kind of has me worried--not that I am altered in my teenage girl resolve, but I hope that she won't be resistant to placing a teenager with me if that's what I want. I may change my mind, but I doubt it at this point--I've thought about this a lot, and I'm almost certain that's the age group I want to go with. The adoption coordinator also emphasized that the kids on the photolistings are often there for a reason--they're hard to place, with more difficult behavioral records. She said that the kids who were listed with "Moderate" problems were often closer to "Severe". As I've read more on special needs adoption, I've gotten better at photolisting interpretation (i.e. "needs a strong father figure" probably means that the kid will pretty much reject the mother) and I've begun to realize how many kids have problems I'm just not up to dealing with. Still, I wanted to raise my hand and sort of beg on behalf of those chldren. Of course, I don't know their histories, but so many seem to have potential. I totally get why the adoption coordinator would want to do that (and I think that her position is not uncommon)--people fall in love with a picture and a description, take on more than they can handle, disrupt the adoption, and the kid ends up in another broken home. If I were the adoption coordinator, I would probably say the same thing. All the same, it seems sad. I guess depressing is just something I'm going to have to get used to in this biz.

Okay, so things I actually learned tonight:
-apparently, subsidies are pretty automatic for those who qualify. It is more a matter of negotiating how much. This makes me happy, since Texas offers free college tuition to all kids who get subsidies. I know that my fantasy of seeing a child off to college may be unrealistic, but it's nice to know that it will be paid for if it proves a realistic dream. I was also really interested to hear the sorts of things that one could negotiate for as part of the subsidy. In particular, I was really thrilled to learn that you could try to get additional funds for private school if you thought the kid could particularly benefit from it. I'm a big fan of Montessori education, and I think that it's an approach that would work really well for a lot of children coming out of the foster care system. I've been all in a tizzy trying to figure out how on earth I would afford it if I thought a kid really could use it. If I could get a subsidy increase, though, that would really help.
-23 kids are currently sleeping on cots in CPS offices in my region because there is no room for them in foster care homes or shelters. Not particularly relevant information, so we'll just file it under "depressing". Also, maybe, "call to action".
-Texas recently changed foster laws so that you can't have more than six kids in the house, total, if you foster, and then only if both parents are home. This also doesn't affect me, but it sort of sucked for the seemingly cool family who was enthused about taking in big sibling groups but had three bios at home.

I knew a lot of things that they were talking about, just from doing so much reading. Actually, I'm not sure I would have totally followed the presentation if I hadn't done a lot of reasearch ahead of time. I wonder what the next class will be like (and who will be there) . . .

Saturday, April 7, 2007

things I accomplished today

I made the big move of actually signing up for PRIDE classes this week. They start in about nine days. I'm pretty excited, but they will be taking up two or three of my Saturdays, as well as Monday and Thursday evenings. With that in mind, I've been planning to go to town on getting projects done over the next two weekends. Today was not quite the productivity bonanza I was hoping for, but I did do the following:
*installed lock on bathroom door
*installed three smoke detectors (kitchen, and both rooms that might be potential kid rooms)
*installed fire extinguisher (please note: I purchased this fire extinguisher 3 years ago when I moved in. It has been sitting on the dining room floor ever since. Nothing like a little motivation. . .)
*ordered kid-friendly bedding from Land's End on massive discount (when I actually get an adoption placement I'll probably let the kid pick out something they like, but I think I would like to do respite while I wait and I think these will definitely work for that)
*bought a copy of Sorry! at the thrift store for 50 cents
*looked around the thrift stores for kid furniture. Found a bunk bed by Stanley Furniture for $250. It has drawers underneath, so I think it's pretty cool. I didn't buy it, but I am seriously thinking about it. Here's to hoping it is still there on Monday!
*looked at the ReUse store for a door to my bedroom. It turns out that normal doors are 36" wide, while my doorway is only 35" wide. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do about that.

Still to do this weekend:
*finish stupid paper
*start filling out mountains of adoption/foster paperwork

A couple of days ago I ordered a bunch of books: Parenting the Hurt Child, Adopting the Hurt Child, Adoptive Parenting, and Attaching in Adoption. I'm trying to get the most recommended titles out there.

One of the books I read said that I should keep track of when I was feeling positive or negative about adopting, and try to keep track of what brought on those feelings. I've realized that I get a lot more stressed out and anxious about this decision when I start thinking about taking on a boy or kids under about 13/14. That cool boy sibling group I was interested in still sounds interesting, but I'm probably not up for a seven year old boy. I've got to keep repeating that to myself, even when the young'uns and the boys look awfully intriguing.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

How I Dealt With It: The case of the three cheaters

When I went to the expo/info meeting the other day, the recruiter really emphasized that even non-parents may have parenting experience. Time you spend supervising others builds parenting skills, as well as teaching. It was an "a-ha" moment for me. Hell, I work with teenagers all the time. Actually, most of my students are in their early twenties, but still seem to act like teenagers. I was involved in an incident today that seemed like it involved parenting-type skills. I thought maybe I would start a little intermittent series, so that I could keep track of such situations, and how I did and how I could improve.

The situation:
My TA came to me with three homeworks. Two were exactly the same (I mean, exactly the same--same words, same format, everything) and one was mostly the same (part of it had the same words and format, part was different but similar). This, as far as I am concerned, constitutes cheating. Not really an ambivalent case, either--even if they worked together (and, actually, they really shouldn't have been working together on an assignment like this, but we'll leave that be for a minute), their responses to the questions should not be exactly the same. By the time you get to college, you should know that. I wrote a note on each of their papers, explaining the similarities and the consequences (a zero on the homework and a report to the committee on Student Rights and Responsibilities--actually, a pretty mild punishment). I also explained that I would have to meet with each of them to discuss the report and describe the appeals process. This is all pretty much standard procedure.

When I handed back the assignments, only one of the students was there. Unsurprisingly, he came up to me after class and told me he hadn't cheated, he was not a cheat, he's never cheated in his life, etc. According to him, the only reason that their papers were so similar was that they had worked together. I explained to him that three papers that were exactly the same left me with no choice but to report to the Committee, and if he thought he had a sufficiently good explanation there was an appeals process in place. He followed me down to my office, continuing his protests. I said that I would make an appointment with him to talk about the report and the appeals process. We made the appointment for Friday. He asked if anything would change then, and I told him that this meeting was just about explaining the report and the appeals process to him. He was gone within about five minutes.

I thought that was it for the night, but apparently he called his friend. The friend showed up at my office door a few minutes later, demanding to know whether I had actually read his homework paper. I assured him that I had, and that I would also need to set up an appointment with him at a later time. He started yelling about how he had been in school for five years and never cheated, why would he start cheating now, blah, blah. I explained that it was the end of my day and time for me to go home (9:45 at night, so not unreasonable), and that we could discuss it over e-mail or make an appointment for a later time. He kept on yelling, so I shut the office door in his face. He continued periodic shouts for a couple of minutes. I waited another ten minutes and took off. I was a little freaked--in retrospect, I probably should have called campus security for an escort--there is no one around at that hour and this kid was pissed. It probably didn't warrant it, but better safe than sorry and all that. At any rate, when I left the second (really pissed) kid was gone and the first one was still there. He tried to flag me down in the hallway, and I told him I'd had a long day and I was going home (by this time, about 10PM).

Translatable parenting skills I think I practiced in this incident:
Not really engaging/escalating. I didn't engage in an argument with the first student about whether working together on the assignment constituted cheating. I just reiterated my point that having exactly the same answers does constitute significant evidence of cheating, and reiterated the process we would need to go through.
Boundaries: I asserted that it was my right to go home at a certain (reasonable) hour. When one student did not respect that, I put a physical boundary between us. When the other did not respect that, I reiterated my right to go home and he left it at that.

If any real parents are reading this: In terms of translating this to kid/parent conlict, how did I do? I actually feel pretty comfortable with how I handled it as a professor, but of course the situations are different (I don't sleep with these kids in my house, for instance, and I'm not hugely invested in their futures). Any tips anyone has would be good to hear.

Can I just say, too, how sad cheating usually makes me? I'm always angry and righteous about it in the abstract, but in person I just find it depressing most of the time. Two of these students have been really good about coming to class and doing their work, although their grades have been pretty low. The one student who I haven't talked to yet actually stopped by to drop off his homework with his four year old daughter today (the reason he wasn't in class). I teach a lot of non-traditional students, and I always want them to do well. I really want these kids to do well, even though they haven't been. I was actually going to make a point of suggesting to one of them that he come talk to me about the work and how he could improve, but I sense that our relationship will be pretty strained now. Actually, that would probably be a good way to practice parenting skills too: making a point of talking to this student about his performance in the rest of class in an encouraging way. Maintaining the relationship after conflict, and all that.

Happy news for today: I mentioned in passing, and sort of jokingly, to my chair that I thought it would be fun to go to the charity ball that our new president is throwing to raise money for scholarships. He looked pretty unconvinced, but his wife (also a colleague) started bugging him about how the department should do more stuff like this in order to be higher profile in the university, etc. I never expected anything to come of it, but he sent around an e-mail to ascertain if people would go if he bought a table. I ran around all day trying to convince people. I'm not sure if I have enough on board, but I might. I might be going to a ball! A ball! Like Cinderella goes to balls! The downside is that I would really want to make my own dress, and the ball is next Friday. I had planned to spend a bunch of this weekend working on home improvement stuff. But a ball! And, you know, a ball gown!

In further adoption related news, I mentioned to my mother last week that I was thinking more seriously about adoption (I had been thinking about it in a more passive way a while ago, which she knew about). She expressed some concerns about my on-going happiness (she's provided respite for two boys adopted by her friends who have some pretty severe attachment problems), but said she thought I would make a wonderful mother. I wrote back and told her more about the process and the age group I was looking at (teenagers) and she wrote the following:
I think a teenager is a great idea, and if anyone can do it, you can.
I'm glad that you are aware of the attachment disorder and that you are
provided meetings. I want to say more, but I'm out of time. Kids are
Aww! I mean, it isn't exactly like my mom is the most objective source of evaluation, but she doesn't usually hold back when she thinks something is a bad idea.

It's so hard to get this whole adoption decision out of my head. As I was lecturing on standard deviation today, inside was thinking, "How would I feel about having a kid at home right now? Would I be happy to be going home to someone in the house, or would it just be an extra stressor after a long day? Would I be happier, sadder, completely ambivalent?" I guess I have to think about it a lot, so that's good, but I also have other things I have to get done.

Monday, April 2, 2007

a bit of a demoralizing day. . .but no!

Thank you so much, Yondalla, for sending some people my way! I've found reading your blog and others so interesting and informative--now I kind of feel like I'm part of the blogging community, instead of a lone, renegade blogger. Thanks so much to the rest of you for your advice--it looks like I'll have to start emotionally bidding adieu to those coveted dining room chairs. . .

I have been feeling a bit demoralized about the whole potential process today. Yesterday I was feeling quite confident and sure that this was what I wanted to do. Today, it feels so much more uncertain. My friends have expressed differing levels of support for this whole adoption thing, but pretty much in a pattern that's consistent with the way that they react to all of my ideas. One has been wildly supportive--we talk about it and discuss the possibilities and how I might deal with different scenarios a lot. She is just awesome--supportive and also interested, so it gives me a chance to talk through things. One has been cautiously on the fence--not really saying much except "hmm" and "interesting". She is generally like that--very diplomatic. One has been telling me stories about how one of her friends was beaten to death by a boy she adopted. But again, that's pretty much what she's like, too. I'm pretty comfortable with these patterns, and really could have predicted those responses. I only told the wildly enthusiastic friend that I went to the adoption expo because she was the only one who I knew for sure would be really interested and supportive. I mentioned it to the diplomatic friend today, and she said (all in a rush) "You know, I just can't see you doing this. It was so difficult for me to adjust to my husband and he's pretty easy to be around, and you're so set in your ways." From my more negative friend, I might just sort of dismiss this kind of thing. I know, though, that it has probably been worrying the diplomat for a while and she wouldn't have mentioned if she weren't really concerned about me. That's probably the tip of the iceberg in terms of her concerns, too. I guess that doesn't mean that her opinions have to shape my actions, but it does give one pause. I really *am* used to living alone, but I've been feeling lately like I'm ready to move on from that. I guess I need to think more (and blog more!) about what that would look like on a day to day basis.

I also looked at the AOK forum, looking for this woman who I remembered who seemed quite similar to me. She and her husband were vegetarians who were looking for a teenager. I had remembered that she finally got a teenage boy who she was just thrilled with--he didn't have a history of serious psychological or behavioral problems, and he seemed to be college bound. The part of the story I forgot was that he started getting very violent after the first three months of the placement and they had to have him put into a mental hospital and then into a residential treatment center. They ended up disrupting the adoption. It was so sad, and very easy to project myself into that situation. Not that I know that I would have disrupted, but there was just so much confusion and pain surrounding her situation, both for her and the kid. I'm trying to go and look for happy, or at least forward-moving, stories. I like reading Baggage's blog because she makes things seem so possible. Not at all easy, but within the realm of imagining.