Friday, May 29, 2009

You Really Want These People In Charge of Your Health Care?

My husband and I are in the very beginning stages of adopting three children from foster care. The kids are relatives of mine and currently living with another family member who cannot keep them permanently. This will be a win-win situation when/if it goes through, but until then it's an emotional nightmare. Dealing with dependency courts and the adjoining social service agencies is like dealing with the legal system of a foreign country, one that

  • My husband and I are not allowed to speak in court or have a lawyer speak on our behalf. Actually:
  • We aren't even allowed to be in the court during hearings. And even outside the court:
  • The social worker is not allowed to talk to us about the situation. In addition:
  • We are not allowed to talk to the children about the situation. Even when they ask us. They would like to know what's going on as much as any other person would, so they DO ask. Until then:
  • We have to drive nine hours each way once a month to visit them to maintain the bond that will make us their top adoption candidates when/if they need adoption candidates. And on our three weekends off:
  • We have to prepare our house to hold these three children, fence our above ground, completely inaccessible pool, and buy a huge van before we will be considered as candidates for adoption. Remember, they won't tell us anything about whether said adoption is even a possibility. Except what we need to buy. That's because:
  • The ultimate goal is to reunite the children with their emotionally disturbed parents at all costs. In 6 to 18 months, that goal will change suddenly in a court hearing I am not allowed to know about or attend. Then we can begin another long, scary process:
  • Out of state foster care adoption. The social worker says it requires an immense and maybe impossible amount of paperwork. All in the best interest of the children, but he likes to remind everyone that there is a limit to what he can do. This might be just short of that limit, or beyond it. And then he remembered that he isn't legally allowed to discuss anything and clammed up. If you still don't think it's a scary, precarious process, consider:
  • One of the children is still in a state foster home because the wheels that turn the justice system sometimes get stuck. She is honestly just waiting for the right things to be filed, and the worker will be out sick this week, and his supervisor is on vacation. Whenever they get around to it, this infant will be reunited with her brothers and the extended family members who care for them. Right now, she is literally lost in the system.

Adopting children is a great, green way to enlarge your family, and foster care is full of children who need families. It's just the 6-18 months of labor pains that bring me down sometimes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Encouraging Others

I met a new homeschooling mom this spring, one who has somehow stayed under the radar and managed to have a full, homeschooling social life without belonging to our local homeschooling organization or even hanging out with anyone who does. Another story for another time. Anyway, she was telling me that her house was so messy her mother-in-law was coming to dig her out. She's pregnant and super busy, so a messy home was to be expected, but her willingness to have someone see the mess was what amazed me. "I don't even pretend to keep a perfect house," she told me. "Keeping up a facade is too discouraging to others."

What an epiphany. Personally, I do my best to hide the fact that my house is messy on a regular basis, that my children eat (organic, of course) macaroni and cheese for dinner when I am cramming for a chemistry exam, and that we have even had to wear each other's socks at times for lack of clean ones of our own. I tend to think people would judge me if they saw these moments, that they would think less of me.

In all honesty, I think I'm not giving my friends enough credit. Only a jerk would look at a pile of clean laundry and think bad things about me, and my friends are not jerks at all. When I see glimpses of these realities in their lives, I usually feel relieved: I'm not the only one???

So, I figured I would encourage you all in my friend Heidi's spirit. Today, instead of telling you about my successes, I'll tell you about my failures. I got 77% on a chemistry test because I mistakenly thought I understood the difference between a paramagnetic and diamagnetic complex; I am making taco casserole for dinner because my stove and counters are covered with goldfish apparatus; my to-be-folded laundry pile is so substantial that my kids don't even look in their drawers for clean underwear anymore; I am using the dryer and putting disposables on my youngest child because I am too backed up on laundry to deal with lines or create one item of extra linen; I haven't even started my homework even though it's about the most fascinating subject ever: monkey penises (no kidding). That's just the beginning, folks. I'm not even going to get into the relative emails and phone calls I have to return.

I hope you all feel encouraged now. If you want to encourage my readers and me, feel free to leave a comment telling me about your own personal failures.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Goldfish

Here's just a little sample of how weird my life has become lately: my kitchen is infested with goldfish.

For a school project (mine, not the munchkins) I am keeping goldfish at a variety of temperatures and measuring the effect on their metabolism. How easy is it to keep four different fishbowls at four different constant temperatures in the same room? Not easy, my friends. The things we do for science. So preparing dinner involves working around a jerry-rigged crockpot/heater and a weird cooling contraption that involves an ice chest I have to refill twice a day. Among other things.

The effect of different temperatures on a goldfish's metabolism is important in a world with a changing climate. Goldfish are fairly typical freshwater fish, the lab rats of the pescine world (is pescine a word? doesn't it make me sound smart either way?) so my results can be used to make broader predictions. I may even get it published in a real scientific journal, or at least a homeschooling magazine. Not bad for a housewife!

This is one of two weeks before finals. After finals, I plan to:

  • nurture my garden beyond it's current neglected state
  • finish sewing two skirts for my oldest daughter.
  • reconnect with neglected family and friends.
  • revamp my website ( and, yes, this includes doing something with the nine months old daily freebies page. It's nice to know you all are still looking.
  • work on getting some real publishing credits and not just the usual copy. If you would like a parenting or green living article written by the ever-opinionated, ever-interesting Emily Marshall, email me at . And I'll get that email because I am going to:
  • clean out my inbox, which has like 10,000+ messages. I wish that was an exaggeration.

See you all in two weeks!