Monthly Archives: September 2013

How to Become a Parent in 37 Easy Steps

We celebrated the 7th anniversary of my daughter’s “Gotcha Day” last weekend. That was the day we met–the day we became a family.  The day I became a parent. Most people become parents the old-fashioned way. There are really only two steps . Step 1: Get pregnant. Step  2: Deliver a baby. Yes, there are all sorts of doctors appointments and stuff along the way, but that’s the gist of the process as designed by Mr. Spock. Simple, logical, and straightforward.

The process by which I became a parent was designed Rube Goldberg (or maybe M.C. Escher) . It went kind of like this.

Step 1: Yay, we want to have a family! Attempt traditional step 1.

Step 2: Step 1 does not work. Consider other options.

Step 3: Take a bunch of tests to see why Step 1 does not work.

Steps 4-7: Attempt various medically induced methods of achieving Step 1.

Step 8: Cry a lot.

Step 9: Realize that the love in our hearts does not need to be confined to bio-kids.

Step 10: Decide to adopt.

Step 11: Go to parenting certification classes through county.

Step 12: Complete home study with county social worker, who inspects your house and has to ask some very personal questions.

Step 13: Wait around for county to match you with a child.

Step 14: Get disappointed a few times and wait some more.

Step 15: Switch to a private adoption agency.

Step 16: Make the decision to go with an international adoption.

Step 17: Repeat Step 12.

Step  18: Fill out a gazillion forms.

Step 19: Collect copies of every important document in your and your spouse’s life short of high school transcripts.

Step 20: Mail everything off to the adoption agency in a starry-eyed dream of parenthood.

Step 21: Wait 12.5 months (note that this is one trimester longer than the old-fashioned method but less than half the gestation time of an elephant, so we’ve got that going for us).

Step 22: Receive a photograph from the adoption agency of Your Kid. Fly over the moon as many times as necessary.

Step 23: Get visas and other travel documents together.

Step 24: Make arrangements to leave the country for two weeks. (If you don’t have pets, perhaps you can skip this step.)

Step 25:  Pretend to go to work and do all the things you’re supposed to do while surreptitiously looking at photo of Your Kid and flipping out.

Step 26: Fly to Beijing, where you spend a nervous few days trying to remember every moment so you can share it with your child later while you acclimate to a time zone 12  hours opposite your own.

Step 27: Fly to the city where you’ll meet your child. Walk into the hotel room in this city and see two beds, a crib, and a stroller an realize This Is Really Happening.

Step 28: Sit nervously in said hotel room in new city for two hours waiting to meet your guide while your husband finds an NFL game from four days ago to occupy his time (and takes a video of you babbling your excitement so your child has future documentation of what a spaz you were before you met her.)

Step 29: Meet the guide and other family who is adopting in the lobby and walk down the street to the civil affairs office.

Step 30: Sit down in chairs across from the door of the waiting room so you can see people walking down the hallway. Wait

Step 31: Other family is adopting an older set of twins. They get there first. Watch this new family take shape before your eyes.

Step 32: Hear the elevator bell ring and know that in two more heartbeats, a stranger will turn the corner and walk down the hallway toward you, carrying the baby who is destined to be Your Child.

Step 33: Wait the longest two heartbeats of your life.

Step 34: Have your breath taken away by the first sight of Your Child.

Step 35: Sit down with your guide/translator and people from the orphanage.

Step 36: Have person from the orphanage hand Your Child to you. Reach out your hands, wondering if you are really prepared for this, if you are totally going to screw up this whole parenting thing, if someone made a terrible mistake somewhere because this can’t possibly finally be happening, if you’ll ever manage to be as good a parent as this little human deserves to have.

Step 37: Hold Your Kid in your lap for the first time. Breathe. Feel an unimaginable wave of gratitude wash over you. Repeat as often as necessary.

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The SockKids Go to BloggyCon 13!

In the first SockKids book, Stretch goes back in time (via the pesky spin cycle) and ends up on the foot of President Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address. I didn’t have to go nearly that far to attend BloggyCon 13–just down Route 2 west to Sandusky, Ohio, and Cedar Point.

This was the first bloggy conference I’ve attended, and frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would everybody else know each other? Would they all be full-time bloggers who’ve monetized their sites into a cottage industry? Would they all be older than me? Younger? I was delighted to find a welcoming, madly diverse, cool bunch of bloggers. I met women who write about parenting, faith, hippy homesteading, kids’ philanthropy, Disney travel, simple living, home schooling, fashion, travel, relationship counseling, how to save money, coupons, and more.

BloggyCon was a deliberately family-friendly conference. My husband and daughter went with me so we could make a little family vacation out of it. As a writer, I have a natural tendency to introversion. I like to be by myself. This may surprise some people who know me because, over the years, I’ve learned to put on the face of an extrovert. (I’m not an extrovert, but I play one in real life.) I was at the conference to let people know about The SockKids books. So when we arrived on Friday night and saw the line of people waiting to register at Hotel Breakers stretching around the lobby, I put on my Big Girl extrovert face and struck up a conversation with the woman in line ahead of me. She was going to the conference, had been to a couple other blogger conferences, and was really nice to talk to. We met one of the speakers and other attendees while we waited.

Friday night’s opening party was supposed to take place outside, but strong, cold winds sent a lot of us back indoors as soon as we had eaten. Unbowed, we regrouped and I dragged the family down to the TGFridays located at one end of the hotel. We hung out for a while, then my husband took our daughter back to the room for bedtime. And I cowgirled up some courage and went to talk to a bunch of BloggyCon women at the bar. It turns out any trepidation was unnecessary, as these women turned out to be incredibly welcoming, funny, and, even better, quite interested in children’s books about time traveling socks.

Actually, that was the response all weekend. It was really gratifying to meet so many parents who really liked the book. And as a huge lover of books as well as a writer, I had a great time giving people copies of The SockKids Meet Lincoln and hearing stories about writing challenges and families and marketing strategies and, yeah, just life stuff. When the weekend was over, I was left with an overwhelming sense of having become part of a community. I look forward to staying in touch with the people I meet this week. I’ve started checking out my new acquaintances’ blogs and there is some fine writing out there with great advice and insight.

I’m looking forward my next BloggyCon!

Of Guys and Dolls and Second Grade

All through elementary school, I was one of three “Susans” in my grade (and one “Suzanne”). We also had five “Johns” and a few “Michaels.” Names are different now. There are Brookes and Jordans (or “Jordyn,” and they’re all girls) and Brandons and Dylans. No Susans. No Johns (or Jons).

Name trends are funny things. You can track my daughter’s maturity level by the names she’s given various stuffed animals and dolls throughout her life. The pink blanket she was given as a baby (and still sleeps with) is, appropriately enough, named “Blankie.” One of her pillow pets is named “Purplish Unicorn.” I leave it to your fine powers of deduction to imagine what this pillow pet looks like. As she’s grown older, the names have become a bit more original. The American Girl doll Bitty Baby my sister gave her when she was three is named “Baby Reindeer.” That is, perhaps, my favorite doll name of all time. The uber-adorable pink flowered Webkinz pig is named “Mercy” (after Mercy Watson, from the wonderful book series by Kate DeCamillo). And the big-girl American Girl doll that my other sister gave her is named “Ken-Yan.” I’m not sure where this name came from, but I like it.

My kid has what might be termed an old-fashioned name (one that’s now seeing a huge resurgence, which I didn’t see coming when we named her). What can I say? I like to kick it old school. And I’m kind of a nerd. She’s a nerd in training. Case in point: I took her to see the Great Lakes Theater’s fantastic production of Guys and Dolls this summer. The kid absolutely loved it, and since then we’ve been listening to the soundtrack (from the 1992 Broadway revival) in the car, and watched the Sinatra-Brando film version from 1955 (which, sadly, doesn’t hold up). We wander around the house singing “Fugue for Tinhorns” and “Oldest Established” at the top of our lungs (well, I do. She’s still learning the lyrics.) And she learned some new old-fashioned names like Nathan and Adelaide.

She started second grade last week, and when we saw the class list the day before school started, we saw that there is a kid in her class named “Ken-Yan.” Now this just might be a hipster way of writing the name “Kenyon,” but I thought it was pretty fun coincidence. So did my husband. When our daughter came home after the first day of school, my husband asked “Do you like having a kid in your class with the same name as as your doll?” She replied, “That’s okay, but there’s a kid named Nathan! Like Nathan Detroit!”

What are some of the best names your kids have come up with for their dolls or stuffed animals?