Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where the Light Is

There's that old joke about the drunk looking for something under a lamppost. A cop comes over and asks what he's doing.

"Looking for my keys," the drunk says. "I dropped them across the street."

"Well if you dropped them across the street, why are you looking for them here?"

"The light's better."

Which reminds me of something I tell people at work all the time. We may operate on one space, the easiest, the most convent, the safe one we know. The one where the light shines brightest.

But our audiences may be elsewhere.

So I sent stuff to Facebook and Linked In and Twitter, but how do I know pregnant people hang out there?

Then I found the mother lode, referred to me by a young mom I know: www.babycenter.com. Where there is a group for pregnant teenagers.

Hopefully, as I shine a light in this new space, I will find the key.



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Monday, September 28, 2009

Socially Speaking


Two posts ago, I was disheartened by how much work I am going to have to do to find my baby. Paying a lawyer or an adoption facilitator is one way to go -- and then I can kiss that child's college tuition goodbye.

After the initial crumpling up and bewilderment that often accompanies news of a long and uncertain road ahead, I decided to do the only thing I know how to do really, really well: communicate and ask for favors. So I put up my profile on www.vanessamcgrady.com/adoption. Then I sent the link around to Facebook friends and Tweeted it.

Not too much response.

Then today, too sick to go to work but too awake to stay in bed, I re-posted to Facebook, and asked all my friends to do the same. The Liquid Muse Tweeted it under her "Preggatinis" identity (she wrote a book on cocktails for pregnant people). And after pretty much ignoring years of Linked In, I sent a message to 50 of my contacts asking for help to get the word out.

And they did. Visitors came from nine states, and Belgium. As of 10 p.m. tonight, I have 70 hits on www.vanessamcgrady.com/adoption. Most people are probably just curious. Maybe some can pass it along to relevant people. But I know that at least one person paid attention. A high school classmate of my cousins' wrote:
"Dan just posted a link about your adoption efforts and I checked it out. Unfortunately not for the reasons you are probably hoping for but because I'm an adopted child and I was raised solely by my mom. I just wanted to say I admire women who want to give a baby boy or girl all the love and nurturing that those little ones so much deserve and especially doing so on their own...too cool!! :) I thank God everyday that my birth mother (I have no idea who she is..only that she was 15) was brave enough to go through all that she did so that I could live a life and I thank God for my adoptive mother who has never made me feel like I'm an adopted child~she's absolutely the best mom I could ever ask for.

"Best of Luck to you and I sincerely hope to hear @ least through the "grapevine" of FB that you were successful. "
I hope I can answer her soon.

Any by the way, if you have any other good networking ideas, I hope you'll pass them along to me.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The World Is a Very Good Place

I found this group called Swap Mamas and they just give away and trade stuff. Free. It's really lovely. And they put out calls for help for their sisters and friends who have kids with deadbeat dads etc.

Good change in the karma bank.







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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fat Lady got about two verses in ...

photo: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/49/129635382_421b746277.jpg?v=0

This is an ongoing meditation on the process of adopting a child. I'm mostly through the logistical and ID hoops and mountains of paperwork. Soon I'll be in the "pool" of eligible adoptive parents.

The light was at the end of the tunnel. The light was brilliantly beckoning, jumping up and down and yelling, "you're here! you're here!" With the exception of one first aid class I take next week, I thought I was done with all my steps, ready to jump into the pool of parents, just waiting to get that phone call from the agency about a brilliant and drug-free 17-year-old who went into labor at Target, who wants to relinquish her baby to someone exactly like me.

But I realized wrong. Now the work really begins. I have to FIND the baby. That means a mass email looking for leads (if you're a personal friend of mine, look for one coming soon!). It means a social media campaign, and some Craigslist postings. It might mean hiring a lawyer/facilitator to help recruit.

I'm working on a profile and new website that I'll announce soon. In the meantime, email me if you know anyone.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Future Tripping


This is an ongoing meditation on the process of adopting a child. I'm mostly through the logistical and ID hoops and mountains of paperwork. Soon I'll be in the "pool" of eligible adoptive parents.

My life has intersected with a lot of other people's so far on this adoption journey. One person I've met is a tiny little woman named Pam, whose beautiful, spunky blonde daughter came to her through adoption. Of all the formal classes, interviews and Q & A sessions I've had with the professionals, I've learned the most from Pam.

One thing she told me is to consider fostering -- her daughter was only 5 days old and an emergency placement. With nothing but faith that it worked out, she loved that child as hard as she could, knowing that it could end soon. Two years later, it all became legal.

Another thing she told me, as I continually freak out about childcare, is about a referral site for licensed daycare providers. I went there, and scrolled down the list of names. Iris. Lucy. Bella. All names I like. As I clicked on each one, I felt like I knew even less than when I started. I imagined me and my bundled baby visiting each day care, refusing it for a funny smell, a creepy little kid like Chucky, a strange vibe from the owner. I imagined running out in tears, not wanting to loosen my grip on the baby. Which leads into something around not going back to work, and getting fired. Which maybe will maybe be the catalyst to my life on welfare -- kind of a boon for the freelance opportunities though. But then there's the health care issue and maybe baby and I would just have to go back up to the woods and eke it out ourselves. I've done it before.

Or maybe I'll just find someone, when it's time.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pass It On

Practicing with the adorable Eden, who is very good at kissing and eating lentils.

This is an ongoing meditation on the process of adopting a child. I'm mostly through the logistical and ID hoops and mountains of paperwork. Soon I'll be in the "pool" of eligible adoptive parents.

My social worker visited my home for the first time this week.

"Don't be yourself," Lois at work told me, "Dial it back a bit."

But the social worker is quite nice, finds me amusing, has been doing adoptions for a bazillion years, and has pretty much seen everything.

She ran down her battery of questions, going over the autobiographical information I supplied, checking boxes regarding my fire extinguisher and baby-proof windows. We were fine. We were all buttoned-up, the house impeccable, the dog adorable and a little too attentive.

But there was one thing the SW asked me that made me bust loose.

"What did you get from your parents that you hope to pass on to your child?"

My head and heart and lungs and throat suddenly welled up with the cumulative love and generosity of my mom and dad and all they bestowed upon me. Kindness. Appreciation of art and culture. Compassion. Working to make the world a better place than I found it. Mad, passionate love for the people in my life, who extend my family. Permission to walk the earth in my own way, on my own terms.

At this point, I can only thank one of them, and I don't nearly do it enough.





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Friday, September 4, 2009

My past has caught up with me

For more than 20 years, I worked as a freelance writer. I covered all kinds of things -- schools, health, quirky country folk, crime, politics, oysters, food and art. I was very busy and very comfortable. And then I moved to California. And I was daunted at the prospect of finding new stories from a place where I couldn't even find Target and had to pull over and cry.

So I took a Big Corporate Job. Which has been very good to me, in so many ways.

But there is always the shadow of my freelance self. Sometimes it is large and looming and howling to get out. Sometimes it is a slight sliver that will give a little polite cough every now and then to remind me its there.

Somehow, the good PR people of Sonoma County found it fitting to invite me, based on my past and present freelance work, to a Wine Country Weekend. Yesterday we had a full day -- we began in a vineyard where the complexities of grape-growing were explained. And of course, we tasted a delightful pinot to help illuminate the lecture, and were each given grape knives to learn how to remove the delicate berries from the vine and toss them into a bin. It is the only time that I can think of when drinking wine at 10 a.m. is totally acceptable -- even expected.

And then it was off to the DaVero olive oil folks to learn about olive oil and rose, and because of this, I am forever ruined from my Trader Joe's $5.99 bottle. I also began harboring fantasies about running off to live the Sonoma lifestyle, which apparently includes TWO dogs, a biodynamic farm for chickens, pigs, olives, all vegetables, Meyer lemons and a house my husband and I build ourselves. And in this fantasy, I've let my hair go totally grey and long but I am still HOT and GORGEOUS in my farm dress and wellies. I'm digressing but I don't care, it's my blog.

Then to the MacMurray Ranch, where the intelligent, etherial curly redheaded Kate (the late actor Fred MacMurray's daughter) gave us a tour and sat us down in a redwood grove on the property to teach us about wine and cheese pairing. Which led to an alternate-reality fantasy about curling up under a tall tree, on a soft patch of needles and woodchips, while eating a Humbolt Fog soft goat's milk cheese and pairing with the MacMurray Vintner's Block merlot, and in my culinary bliss, and as I nod off to a nap of undetermined length, coming up with a brilliant idea for a novel that will be optioned for a rock opera.

Then dinner, with a well-known sommelier who pairs wine and movies.

I went to bed, full, happy, slightly queasy and a head full of pitches for my editors.

The 40licious take-away is this: By the time you are 40licious, you've done so much work laying your foundation that it will serve you as you coast along in your future. It's still just about saying yes.


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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Peeling the onion



This is an ongoing meditation on the process of adopting a child. I'm mostly through the logistical and ID hoops and mountains of paperwork. Soon I'll be in the "pool" of eligible adoptive parents.

Last night was my third of four workshops through my agency. This time an amazing mother brought her four teen-aged daughters. Who were adopted -- two as babies, the other two at 15 and 12. And they couldn't have been more gracious and funny and smart and like regular sisters, alternately picking and snuggling up on each other. Except they were born to Jewish, African American, El Salvadoran and garden-variety white women, and didn't look a speck alike. We heard all their stories of love and horror. And each one of us prospective parents in the room, I swear, were bowled over by their charm and grace and bravery.

At the end of the night, the eldest girl, at 17, made an appeal to all of us hopefuls who'd signed up for the infant adoption program. "Consider taking an older child. They have a harder time finding a home."

It struck me so good and true and -- possible. So yes, I am considering taking an older child as my own, with eyes wide open to a whole new layer of complication.

We might have to give away the Paul Frank baby hoodie, the only thing I've bought so far in anticipation.

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