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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Run for the Hills

Sara began her endeavor in the Registered Nursing program when she realized she was at a dead end job that would not be for very much longer. That was nearly five years ago. She evaluated her passions at that time and it was very clear that she was meant for the medical field. Her compassion for others is unsurpassed. She is ever curious, eager to learn, and her demeanor is nothing short of professional. She wanted to be a nurse, so she began her student career at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC).

Sara progressed quickly into her student career at FVTC. She was delighted to have teachers and mentors that realized her potential and that would push her to new heights. They were honest with her. They encouraged her. They were the best kind of brutal. There were others that that tried to poke a pin in her aspirations. Maybe they were just trying to be realistic when they told her she could not work full time, raise a family, AND be successful in the nursing program. They apparently did not know my wife. She is unstoppable, so of course she did not agree with that assessment. Instead, she embraced those that inspired her. You know the kind...the people that leave you feeling more energized than you did when they arrived. 

I am so proud to say, after years of blood, sweat, and tears, Sara has not only graduated, but has also lined up a nursing career for herself! This is greatly in part to the professionalism she has portrayed during her tenure within the system she currently works. She worked her way through the ranks and, in doing so, has gained great respect for all positions leading up to the registered nurse. She has been recognized by colleagues, her superiors, and, most importantly, her patients for her quality of care and professional work habits. In my opinion, she is the epitome of what a nurse should be. Biased or not, I would not want anyone with standards lower than her own caring for me.

The goal of our college educators is to deliver the best to the industry. They did that with Sara. They did that with her peers, but they did not do it alone. It was the drive of the students that got them through. It was support from their equals, their friends, and their family. All it all, it was group effort that was sustained by those that wanted it most, the students. 

I'm looking forward to seeing my beautiful wife more. My children are eager to get to know their mumma, who has been more absent than present for the benefit of their future. Together we will continue to foster the support system that we have built so that I can finish my education without the worry of my family being neglected. It's onward and upward from here. We will run for the hills and not look back. It's time to breathe.

Don't forget, honey. Boards are January. ;-)

We love you and could not be more proud!

Sara getting ready to speak at her R.N. Pinning Ceremony

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making History

We are all very well aware that our beautiful country of the United States of America is a divided one. Those that have not noticed this have been sheltering themselves. There is unrest, pre election, during election, and post election. It is the perfect storm. People with a bitter taste in their mouth and people sipping on the sweet nectar of the results are clashing. The angst can be observed among families, friends, and neighbors alike. A new level of antipathy is transpiring in human communication if mutual political opinion isn't shared. It makes me sad.

But more than sad, I find it annoying. It seems that people have forgotten a few ground rules surrounding voting, politics, and the like. Here is a friendly reminder of some of them for those who could not play nice this year.

1. Shut up.
Pardon me. I mean, please be quiet. We all have our own reasons for voting for one representative or another. Unless you can engage yourself in respectful, adult conversation and/or debate without belittling another for his or her vote, keep your mouth shut.

2. Reflect.
Take a good, hard look at your life in the past four plus years. Do you still live comfortably in your home? Are you driving a four door sedan or larger? Can you or did you vacation? Do you own any luxury items? Do you have access to quality health care? Do you have a job? If you can say, "yes" to all or most of these things, then I encourage you to evaluate your complaints. If you cannot, then let me extend my apologies for the unfortunate series of events that has cause your demise.

3. Decisions.
Many times, though not all the time, a person's good fortune comes from the personal life decisions he or she makes. For example, I would love to have full equal rights for my family without having to go through thousands of dollars of legal fees to obtain them. Instead of deciding to wait for the law to catch up with the times, my wife and I decided to pursue legal security via life and estate planning and the adoption of our two biological children. Was this the fair route? No. Was it a decision that needed to be made to ensure the security of our family? Yes. We all have things to complain about. What are you doing to get the best results for you and your family?

Now, keeping in mind these three little rules, I am going to write a biased blog about our most recent election. Though it will be weighted with my political views, I can assure you that it will be written in a respectful tone, that I dedicated more than enough time to reflecting on the past four plus years of my family's life, and that I have evaluated all of our major life decisions.

This election was about much more than the price of gasoline, the cost of campaigning, the amount of debt our country has, tax breaks, or even state of the economy. These things have consistently been a component of nearly every Presidential election. Take a look at history. It's an obvious tradition. It doesn't matter if the party is Democrat or Republican. Each has there own views and agendas on those topics. What this election held that was different and that was a pivotal point in the history of our country was a social component.

For the first time in a long time, the people of our nation were put in a position to address human rights. For the first time in a long time, a President took a controversial position on gay rights and the rights of women in the work force. There was a statement of equality for all. Perhaps that statement was made because our President realizes that the economy of this country does not run on straight, wealthy, white males alone. Perhaps that statement was made because our President is human and possesses even an ounce of empathy and compassion towards other human beings. Perhaps it is both.

In any regard, this election was not and is not trivial for my family or for families like mine. The re-election of our President confirmed that equality for all is just as important as rebuilding the financial stability of our great country. Three states, Washington, Maine, and Maryland, won the freedom to marry, and Minnesota blocked an anti-gay marriage amendment. Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, the first lesbian congresswoman. New Hampshire elected a pro-marriage governor.

Across our nation people are making an effort to move this country forward from a social perspective. This excites me, but I'm not excited only for me. I'm thrilled for my children. I cannot wait for the day they understand when I tell them that the President of the United States loves our family and families like ours. I will gush when I tell them that he and many others are working very hard to make sure our family has the same legal securities as everyone else's. I am eager to teach my children about this moment in history. It is a critical one. We are making history and it is good.

I shall close with just a couple remarks on the economic state of our country. It is not all doom and gloom, folks. I think it is easily forgotten that our President walked into financial ruin. He did not create it. The work required to amend those damages will extend far beyond a four-year term. It may even extend beyond his eight years in office.

Is our government making progress? Yes. Is it happening overnight? No. Is the overall state of the economy something that we as individuals should consume ourselves with? Kind of. We should all be concerned, but it should start at home with our personal finances. Believe it or not, responsible fiscal management at this level will contribute to the overall financial health of our country.

Finally, I think there is something to be said about privilege. I could live in Sudan, a country that ranks as one of the world's worst economies. I could live in Rwanda or Ethiopia where there are incomprehensible levels of crime and hunger. Or, I could live in Jamaica, one of the most homophobic places on earth. I don't. I get to live here in the United States of America where I am comfortable and well fed and moving toward equal rights. I am, we are, privileged. This country is ready to make history. Let's go!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Sara and I just purchased our second home. It is a large, mature home that has been tastefully updated on the inside, and that has room for me to get lost in leisurely landscaping on the outside. There is a wrap around porch that will welcome me and my wife on nice evenings for a glass of Malbec or Syrah or whatever my glass will hold. My kids and my dogs will have room to romp at will. There is room for them to create chaos and have hideouts and secret little places that only they will know of. There is room to grow.

So in anticipation of our move, we are packed up our things. All of our memories shoved into plain, drab, brown boxes temporarily, only to be unveiled again at our new home. One of my dearest friends told me it will be like opening presents, a much needed boost since I had been an emotional mess since the boxes appeared. I was not sad to leave our home. I was and am excited about our new home. But, I think I was overwhelmed with leaving all Sara and I had created there in that little house. There was a bit of sadness even though I understood I would be taking the memories with me.

That little house is the house where Sara and I grew together as a couple. We learned more about each other there and we relished in each other. Everything that young couples do, we did and we enjoyed every minute of it. I learned how to love and how to be loved and I will take that with me every where I go.

Lexi, our old boxer lady, grew old in that house. She's reluctantly continuing her journey to graydom in our new house. I am prematurely joining here. That house was her first place with a fence so she could run freely without fear of a leash or chain stopping her short. That is where she learned what being a dog is all about.

It was between the four walls of that old house that Sara and I decided to create a family. Okay. Fine. We conceptualized it there and got basted at the doctor's office, but either way, We brought two squealing bundles of joy home to that house, a Graisyn Quinn in October of 2008 and a Kazmer Joseph in May of 2012. Our lives haven't been the same since.

We made friends at that house. We watched their children grow into strong, intelligible young adults. They accepted our new little family with open arms, no questions asked. Gay, straight, or otherwise, they never cared. Together we shared bon fires and birthdays and dinners and occasion after occasion. I don't have many friends, but I think that's what friends are for.

Sara changed careers while we lived in that house. She stuck her middle finger straight up in the air at her job and began the process of educating herself to care for people. If you have ever met my wife, nursing is the perfect career for her. She is empathetic and compassionate and brutally honest. Her decisions are calculated and she makes time to understand each and every patient she touches. She is what a great nurse should be.

One day Sara and I got a bug up our butts to save the world. We did so in that house. We didn't have the room for it. We didn't have the time for it. But, we did it nonetheless. We fostered boxer dogs in that small, old house. It was wonderful. We will do it again someday, but meanwhile we are getting ourselves settled. We are getting Sara finished with school and myself started with school, and we are raising our very young family. If this journey brought us nothing more than a bout of patience, it brought us our Abbott, a big, goofy, white boxer boy.

To some people a house is just a house. I can't live by that philosophy. It feels too cold for me. To me a house is where you build a family and a house with a family is a home. We built a home at our old house and we will build a home at our new (old) house. I can't wait.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blank Slate

I am amazed at the ability children have to love and accept unconditionally. They love without question and without boundaries. They are not apt to resist differences. Their points of opposition will surround a toy or space in a sandbox not race or gender or family make-up or physical dissimilarity. Children, unlike adults, have the ability to look far beyond these things to see what is directly in front of them. Another human being. A person with wants and needs and aspirations just like them.

As adults we are given the privilege of molding our tiny beings. That's right. It is a privilege. It is not something to be scoffed at or brushed off. We take them away from their innocence and expose them to a gamut of human emotions and behaviors. We teach them our own worldly definition of normalcy coupled with judgement and recognition of irrelevant disparities. We teach them how to love, to demonstrate empathy, to be selfless. Or, instead, we fill their cups with apathy, ignorance, and hypocrisy. We are given the power of influence.

Influence is a scary tool. I think it can be a gift or a curse. When it is used to demonstrate good, it is a gift. On the contrary, when it is used to develop bad, it is a curse. My partner, no...that is such an insult, my wife and I want to teach our children to that it is okay to love whomever THEY choose. We don't need for them to be gay or straight. We need for them to be safe and loved and happy. It is important that they respect individuality and that they are humble, yet confident. They should grow understanding that hard work pays off and that honesty, integrity, and charisma are desirable traits. Most importantly, they should be as the good Lord intended for them to be. They must love themselves first. Then they will have all the love in the world to share with others.

Graisyn, you are smart. Graisyn, you are beautiful. Graisyn, you are kind and important.

Kazmer, you are smart and you are handsome. Don't forget, you are kind and you are important.

These are not things that we can instill in our children on our own. I think Sara and I would agree that we would be naive to think we could do so. We can do damn good job at it, or at least kill ourselves trying, but, at the end of the day, our children are influenced by many, many others outside the secure walls of our home. The thought of this used to scare me, but now, as I watch them grow, it excites me. 


Our children get to live in a world that communicates on a scale beyond my mind's comprehension. Because of this they will be exposed to more culture than Sara and I and even our parents combined. I envy them. I was in a bubble growing up. I was surrounded by straight, Catholic, anglos. There is no ill will intended with that statement. It is a fact. My bubble kept me safe and unexposed. I knew the community around me. Nothing further.

This bubble has been popped for Grai and Kaz. Human migration and technology has fostered cultural integration. They have been dumped into a melting pot where they will fit in and be misfits and make friends and have foes and create successes through learned failures and, I hope, thrive. Let me and Sara, and all adults with greater influence in their lives, inscribe them in such a way that they continue to take pride in the beings that they are, love without precincts, and embrace the differences of themselves and others. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Finding Calm

Kazmer is now eleven weeks old. This means I have been back at my place of employment, my job, my paycheck, for seven weeks now. I am happy to have my job, but the truth is I am sad. I would rather be tucked tightly at home with my little family wasting away the days with childish banter, messy meal times, naps, playing, extra snuggles with my lover, dog walks, and everything family. Wouldn't we all.

I'm not sure that I took full advantage of the twelve weeks off that I had with Graisyn. In fact, I am sure I didn't. I was actually eager to go back to work after having her because she had colic and I needed a break from that. Looking back I think what I needed was less of a break and more of an understanding. But it is water under the bridge, I say. Water under the bridge.

During my four weeks off with Kazmer and Graisyn, I learned how to appreciate the world through the eyes of a three-year old and the eyes of a newborn. I was forced to turn off my work brain and move solely to family brain. It was lovely and I needed to find a way to better balance the two. I loathe my work brain. It is focused and strategic and demanding. It is driven and nagging and bored. It is everything not family and it was too easy to bring that brain home with me. I am in love with my family brain. It is everything playful and curious. It is loving and patient. Okay, sometimes it isn't. It is kind and uplifting. It is serious and authoritative when need be because it is the discipliner. It is calm. Okay, sometimes it isn't.

Sara and I walked Graisyn to daycare nearly every day while I was off. She only went part-time. She still needed routine, but we needed her home too. While she was gone, Sara and I took every second to learn Kazmer. What did his cries mean? Was he hungry or tired? Did he just want to be cuddled? When Graisyn was home we played and she adored her brother. She was eager to help with him and even more so to hold him or to kiss him or to hug him. We had and have a very full and happy house.

I was afraid that little bubble of happiness would burst on my return to work. I wish I would have brushed that fear aside and replaced it with balance and courage. But alas, I did not. I trudged to work on that very first day convinced that I had not been away any longer than a weekend or maybe an extended holiday. I was pouty and out of sorts worried that I would be one of THOSE people who can never seem to set work aside to show their own family they are loved and appreciated.

But that won't be me. Only a few days into my return to my turbulent sea of beige I made the decision that I was not owned by work. Essentially, I was and am owned by my family. And I don't mean that negatively. After all, that is the way it should be. Sure there are days when I bring the stress of the office home with me, but more often I come home to be pummeled by my kids and kissed on by my wife. I  put myself in a position where I am in control of my time. I will always work hard. I will always put forth my very best effort, but I am working to live, not living to work. This is the way I have decided to absorb the shock of returning to the office when I would rather be home tickling my kids until they pee. It is in this decision that I found calm.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

LaCrosse County

The thought of a family mulled around in my head the whole while I was growing up, but I think I thought I would never have one. Come to think of it, it took me at least a decade to admit to myself that I was gay. So, when I realized I was gay, I pushed the idea of a family out of my head entirely. Why? Because gay people don't have families. It isn't right in the eyes of everyone...whoever "everyone" is. But I am gay and I have a child. In fact, now I have two. Wow.

These were my thoughts as my family and I, the four of the six of us (excluding the two doggies), made our way to to the "friendly" courthouse in LaCrosse. It was June 8th, 2012. It was adoption day, and, as I drove along with my family, I realized, again, how lucky I was and am. I was a gay girl with the beautiful lover and the forbidden two children. I had one girl and one boy, both perfect in every way imaginable.

We left the house that morning before six. We needed to be at the courthouse before ten, so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time for the normal traveling with kids know feedings, shittings, changing of outfits, gassing up the car, etc. Plus both Sara and I were concerned about the stress level in the car. When we had travelled to LaCrosse for Graisyn's adoption in December of 2008, she cried the entire way. It was dreadful. We did not want the same experience, not that there would have been much we could do to change it.

To our delight, the drive to LaCrosse was uneventful. The most excitement we experienced was possibility of three deer lunging out onto the highway in front of us. In all our luck, the deer remained properly stationed on the side of the highway. They must have valued their lives. Outside of that, I think we stopped a total of two times, once to pee and get gas in the car and once to pee and feed Kaz. There was minimal crying from Kazmer; only a sputtering when he was hungry. And Graisyn was very unlike Graisyn. She was saintly.

We arrived at the courthouse shortly after nine. As instructed by our lawyer, we made our way through security and up to the second floor where she was waiting. We made small talk. She cooed over the kids and Sara wandered off to pump. It wasn't too long before Kazmer's guardian ad litem made her appearance. She too ogled over Kazmer and raved at how big Graisyn is getting. I was quietly proud.

Sara soon rejoined us and said her hellos to the guardian ad litem. The prior court session, I think it was small claims, was just adjourning. It was ten. Our hearing was scheduled to begin. We corralled into the courtroom and took our seats. The guardian ad litem was at one table. We and our attorney sat at another, adjacent table. Sara held Kazmer. I held Graisyn. Everyone faced the judge.

Sara was sworn in first after the judged doled out beanie babies to Kaz and Grai. Toys come first, then business. Kaz sat quietly in Sara's arms as the questioning began. Did she understand what she was doing? Was she an equal participant in the conception of Kazmer? Was she coerced in any way? Did she understand that I would be an equal parent to Kazmer? Did she get that she would have to terminate her rights so that we could adopt him together? Was she aware that, if the adoption was granted and our relationship was dissolved, she could collect child support from me?

Grai and I heard the banter of questions in the background, but really I was trying to keep her entertained. She did fine except for one moment when it was my turn. Then, as the mic was slid across the table to me, she made it a point to say that this wasn't really her idea of fun. Silently, I agreed with her. No one in the courtroom acknowledged her statement and it was my turn to be questioned.

I hushed Graisyn moving her over to Sara's lap and taking Kazmer. I received nearly the same questioning as Sara, but was moved to tears when the judge informed me that, without this adoption, I had no legal rights to my son. Of course I already knew that, but there was something about hearing those words from a judge that made me feel sick and angry and defeated. It is always in that moment of understanding that I hate this state. It is always in that moment of understanding that I am bewildered by the ignorance of people. Then I move past it.

The judge quickly stopped my tears. She told me we didn't need the whole courtroom crying as she motioned our lawyer to get the box of tissue she had at her bench. I agreed, apologized, and calmed myself. Our lawyer finished the questioning, made a final statement, and turned to the judge for commentary. Gently the judge reminded us of our reasoning for being in her courtroom that day. She went through a summary of the questions and moved to grant the adoption. It was all done in a matter of thirty minutes.

After a successful hearing, The judge called us up for photos. She instructed Graisyn to take her seat at the bench. She reminded Graisyn that she remembered her adoption day and told her that it was an important job to be a big sister. She told Graisyn that someday that chair, the judges chair, might be her chair. She told her to do good things to change the world. Sara and I were humbled. We smiled for the camera and headed out of the courtroom in time for a Subway lunch and our long drive home.

Now I know it isn't fair that we have to adopt our own children. But, fact is, we do and I can't help but wonder if these people, our judge, and our lawyer, and our caseworker, and Kaz's guardian ad litem, know what a difference they make. With them, we have created a level of secret progress in a state that is so quick to directly deny our rights. Someday, families like mine won't have to do this. In the meantime, I suppose we are okay with paving the way. And, in the meantime, I can call my family mine.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


PLEASE NOTE: This post is surrounding circumcision and my and my partner's personal views on the procedure. It is not a judgement of parents who have opted, or not, to have this procedure performed on their male offspring. I do welcome friendly conversation and/or debate on the topic. Read on at your leisure, but be warned that some of the content is quite strong. Thank you.

If a little girl is born in our great country there is no discussion of genital circumcision. At least there shouldn't be. It's illegal. In fact, the World Health Organization views this procedure on female minors as genital mutilation.

In this country, because it is most prevalent in this country, the decision on whether or not to circumcise a male minor is still part of being a new parent. Sara and I discussed this procedure when I was pregnant with Graisyn. Secretly, I think we were both relieved to find out she was a girl and that this would be a decision that we could avoid.

The decision on whether or not to circumcise came up again when Sara was pregnant with our son, Kazmer. Sure we had researched the procedure before, but Sara's recent OB rotation for her nursing clinical solidified our decision to have our little guy remain intact. Readers who are easily agitated should not continue reading...

Circumcision is no longer the "in thing" to do. In fact, 80% of the world's males are in tact. The United States is just running a bit behind the times with 54% of males being circumcised. And though percentages vary by region, with 75% of males being circumcised at birth in the mid-west, this continues to decline annually. Why?

People choose circumcision for their male children for a variety of reasons. Some do it to promote health. Others for religious reasons. Still more for reasons of appearance so that the male child's genitals mirror that of other males in the home or other males that they will encounter throughout their life. Sara and I researched the health side of the argument and there was just not enough strong evidence to persuade us to circumcise Kazmer. Neither of us has a strong religious following currently, though I was raised Catholic and was well aware of the circumcision beliefs held by the church. We both found the idea of inflicting the immense pain that comes with circumcision on an individual for cosmetic reasons appalling, so this was not ever part of our discussions. Our consideration of the procedure was based on the bias of health and the actual procedure itself.

There isn't enough health related evidence to motivate circumcision. A common theory is that being circumcised helps to prevent STDs and promotes cleanliness. In fact, mature sexual behavior prevents STDs and bathing every once in a while prevents pocket lint. Seems logical to me, so we'll be providing our little guy with age appropriate sex-ed and body wash. May the force be with him.

Knowing that health was not a strong enough factor to base our decision on, Sara and I took time to learn how the procedure is performed. As I mentioned early, Sara was able to witness the procedure being performed during her OB clinical. I found a video of it online and we both did a load of reading. My personal opinion is that if parents were asked to observe the procedure or were given an inkling on how the procedure is performed, that many would not opt to have it done. I could be wrong, but for the sake of making a case, I'll describe it for you. Again, readers who are easily disturbed should not continue reading...

There isn't always anesthetic, local or otherwise, given to the baby during the circumcision procedure. This would mean no numbing of anything. However, the baby is given a sweet, syrup like substance called Toot-Sweet on a pacifier to enjoy while being physically restrained so the procedure can be performed. Fun.

The most common way to perform a circumcision is through the Gomco method, though there are other procedures equally as painful. With this method, the foreskin is gripped with some tissue holders while a tool is inserted between the baby's foreskin and the glans. The tissue holder is then used to pull the foreskin lengthwise so it can be cut lengthwise to create room for the circumcision tool, the Gomco clamp. This clamp is placed over the glans and the foreskin pulled over it. The doctor then checks to make sure the positioning of the clamp is correct before tightening the nut on the clamp and using a scalpel to remove the foreskin. Enjoy your Toot-Sweet, little guy, and make sure to thank your creator for lack of short term memory. Did't get the full picture here? Don't worry. The World Wide Web leaves nothing to the imagination. 

Once the procedure is complete, the baby is understandably traumatized and irritable. Many studies note these babies as inconsolable. Freshly circumcised babies often don't feed well. Many are sensitive to the positions they are laid in and express dramatic reactions to having wet diapers. Of course, all of these side affects will pass as the baby's circumcision heals.

What usually won't pass is the dark ring around the penis. I personally always wondered what the intent of that mysterious ring was only to learn that it is the scar left behind by the circumcision clamp. There are other repercussions that are, in my opinion, up for debate, but that include a decrease in sexual satisfaction on both the part of the circumcised male and their female partner. Believe it or not, the foreskin has a job, people. It is there, like a sleeve, to protect that little unit known as the penis from friction, injury, exposure to foreign bodies, and more. For the ladies, it means good-bye chafing and hello really, really good sex. Now I can't attest to this first hand, but I do know someone who can and research shows that the ladies prefer the ones with the sleeve.

So we're happy that we chose to leave Kazmer intact. If he happens to be upset later in life that he missed out on a little Toot-Sweet, I'll be the first to throw a bottle of corn syrup at him and remind him that the sleeve he sports promises nothing short of an awesome sex life...oh, and, ummmm, that the good Lord created our bodies in the exact way he intended. I'm certain he will be grateful, though maybe not for this blog post.

Curious? Annoyed? Interested in learning more? Here are some of my sources:

"Circumcision Resource Center." Circumcision Resource Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

"How Many Baby Boys Get Circumcised?" BabyCenter. The BabyCenter Editorial Team, n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

O'Reilly, Kevin. "Male Newborn Circumcision Rate Falls to Lowest Level." - N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

Peleg, David, and Ann Steiner. "The Gomco Circumcision: Common Problems and Solutions." - September 15, 1998. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

Hartmann, Wolfram. For the Hearing on the 26th of November 2012 Concerning the Drafting of a Federal Government' Bill: Drafting of a Law regarding the Scope of Child Care and Custody in the Case of Male Circumcision. Rep. Berufsverband Der Kinder- Und Jugendärzte, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Welcome Cry

Our boy was due on May fifth. He had no plans on making his arrival on that day or any day in the foreseeable future, so Sara was scheduled to be induced on May eleventh. We were instructed to arrive at the hospital at seven o'clock in the morning. Sara would be doing triple shots of Pitocin. Fun.

So the May eleventh came. The hospital bags were ready. We had Grai scheduled to be dropped off at daycare and picked up by some of our dearest.  In our minds were were all set. We would leave the house at twenty to seven, drop Grai off at her teacher's house, and head to the hospital. We would be a few minutes early, but that was in our nature. We are punctual people. People that aren't drive us both nuts.

But then Sara peed. It was quarter to five in the morning and she just had to go to the bathroom. On her arrival back to our snugly bed, she was quick to realize that she might still be peeing. Odd, I know. Try being the one sleeping next to her. She nudged me to tell me about her trickle. She told me that she thought she may have experienced some incontinence, but, that on further examination, discovered that her water had broke. Cool, I thought. I was still sleeping.

Sara did not welcome my continued slumber and urged me to turn on a light. Fine. Wait. What?! Of course. It was go time. I popped out of my sleep and obliged. I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a towel and placed in strategically near the leak. Success. Now what? We were scheduled to be induced on this very day anyway. Were we to go to the hospital now or at the same time that we were scheduled? I wasn't sure, so I did the only thing I could recall needing from my labor. A shower. I asked Sara if she would like to shower. She did. This gave me time to get Grai up, load the bags, and find the phone number for our doctor.

When Sara was done showering, she phoned the doctor's office. The nurse told us to come in at seven o'clock, our scheduled induction time, unless things were progressing unusually fast. They weren't. Though Sara was having regular contractions, things weren't progressing at all. We just didn't know it yet.

We dropped Grai off, made our way to the hospital, got checked in, and headed up to the labor and delivery ward. Sara's nurse hooked her up to the monitors. One for her. One for our baby. Everything looked great on the monitors. Then they did the check. Nothing. No dilation. No effacement. Baby hadn't even dropped yet. The nurse checked with our doctor and he ordered that Sara be induced anyway.

At 9:20 a.m., the Pitocin drip began and so did the real labor. Early on, the contractions the Pitocin produced reminded me very much of my labor. They seemed to be tolerable. Sara and I got some Facebooking in. We sent text messages, e-mailed friends, and we did laps and laps around the labor and delivery ward. Quickly, though, her labor changed. She was experiencing intense back pain which hindered her ability to continue our jaunts.

Sara finally started to dilate by one o'clock in the afternoon. She was becoming more and more miserable with each contraction. With her only position of comfort being draped over me with my fists pushing as hard as they could into her lower back, I was beginning to become fatigued myself. I think she was at one or two centimeters and I think we both felt like this was an awful lot of anguish for not much progress.

A few more hours past and the nurse checked Sara again. Three centimeters. It was four o'clock in the afternoon. This was ridiculous. Sara was inconsolable. My arms and back were screaming at me. We were both irritable. Sara finally gave in to the idea of an Epidural. Thank you God. Thank you! I don't like pain medications, but there are times, friends. There are times.

The Epidural was administered after five o'clock with a spinal to provide immediate relief. Sara was laughing at the next contraction. It was that effective. Again, thank you, God, for creating people smart enough to create drugs like these. We are forever indebted to you.

To our regret, the Epidural did stop Sara's labor progression almost immediately. Even with an increase in Pitocin, it took just over four more hours for her to progress to five centimeters. Our stubborn little baby, bless his heart, still had not dropped. It was nine thirty at night. Not even coffee was cutting it anymore.

Over the next hour, Sara progressed rapidly. She went from five centimeters to nine and a half, but still no sign of baby Kaz in the birth canal. The nurses, ours and a student, had Sara try different positions to keep things moving, and, in all the shifting, Kazmer's heart began to decelerate. 130 beats per minute, 100, 90, 84, 70, 66. With the scare of a four minute deceleration, the nurses called in our doctor and had Sara flip from her back to her elbows and knees and put her on oxygen. Now for those women who have experienced labor, it is known that labor embraces humility. That humility is doubled when you are forced to have your bare ass high in the air for everyone to view. I'm sorry, Sara. At least you have a nice ass.

After twenty-five minutes of elbows and knees, Sara was flipped again to her back. Again, Kaz began to decelerate. Our doctor had also arrived. He and the nurses advised that the baby's decelerations were the result of the umbilical cord being crimped or being wrapped around the baby's neck. Neither sounded good to me. Neither was good. Sara was turned back to elbows and knees again to allow for more slack in the umbilical cord and bring Kazmer's heart rate back up. The doctor called in the surgical nurse and prepped the O.R. for an emergency c-section. No one let on to Sara that this was being done. She would have wigged.

At twenty to eleven, the nurses had Sara flipped to her back again and did another check. She was finally at ten centimeters and only had a smidge left to efface. With the nurses assistance Sara was fully effaced. It was just after eleven p.m. Kaz was still not in the birth canal. Still, in hopes of avoiding a c-section, the nurse instructed Sara to push.

With me supporting the right leg and the student nurse supporting the left leg, Sara pushed with each contraction. It took some time, but by eleven forty-five, the top of Kazmer's tiny head was visible. His heart rate continued to be stable until we was fully crowning. It was just after midnight and he began to decelerate again. Come on, kiddo. No c-section. No c-section.

It wasn't too long before the doctor joined us back in the room and began to help with delivery. I was thankful. Sara was pissed that he was blocking the mirror she had been using to help herself through the pushes. Even with the help of the mirror to guide her and the assistance of me, the nurses, and the doctor, our boy's noggin would not make a full appearance. It was twenty after twelve in the morning on May twelfth. Sara was given one more chance to push with the assistance of the vaccum. If Kazmer was still resistant to birth, the c-section would be performed. One. Two. Three. Push!

The last push was the longest one. The vacuum was only used for forty-five seconds, but it worked. His little head emerged, cord wrapped around his neck, followed shortly by his long, lanky body. It was twelve twenty-nine in the morning. Kaz, all naked and slimy, was freed of his umbilical cord and placed immediately on Sara's chest. She hugged him. We were both crying. He was not. Cry, baby. Cry, baby. C'mon, baby. Cry. Seconds seemed like long minutes, but he soon let out the most welcome bellow. Thank you, God! Happy birthday, Kazmer Joseph!

May, 12, 2012, 12:29 a.m. 20.5" long and a comfortable 7lbs. 1oz.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Unstuck the Kid!

With the hassle of adoption paperwork, home studies, and interviews behind us, we've almost nothing to do but wait for the little squirt to arrive before the court date to finalize his adoption is set. And waiting for him we are...

We (Sara) are presently at forty weeks pregnant. Forty weeks and stalled. You see, the last three visits to the doctor produced nothing. Not a dilation. Not an effacement. Not a decent of little, fetal head into the birth canal. Nothing. Of course, he's not going to stay in there forever. Come hell or high water, he'll come out, and I'm learning valuable lessons while I wait. Let me share them with you.

1. DON'T joke that nothing is happening as you enter the exam room. The luster of this joke will be lost in the fact that your wife is still not effaced or dilated. She will be angry at everyone, but mostly you.

2. DON'T tell your wife that this little delay of game is okay because it will give her time to focus on the end of school. She's sick of school and she's sick of being pregnant. And, at this point, she might be sick of you too.

3. DON'T remind her that she requested this baby to remain in womb as long as possible, you know, for convenience sake. She will not care to recall this statement nor will she appreciate the reminder. Trust me.

4. DON'T tell her you understand. If I were a man, I would be in worse shape than I am. Thank God I'm not. It's bad enough I had our daughter three weeks early. Clearly I don't understand.

5. DON'T offer comfort in suggesting that the cervix can thin at any time or that dilation can occur once labor starts. At this point, you've aggravated her so much, this is beyond the realm of comprehension.

6. DON'T tell her she's overreacting. Just don't, okay.

7. DON'T sit awkwardly in bed next to her because you're afraid to open your mouth or stay or leave or blink or leave the bedroom light on or turn it off or anything. She will think that something's wrong with you or, worse, that you think something's wrong with her even though it's neither. You're just scared shitless. Say something. Then pray.

I've been praying a lot. Talking, a minor wincing in anticipation of verbal backlash, a quick prayer session, and a sturdy brace for response. I've got the methodology down pat, and I can see the end is almost near. So can she. We're both excited and anxious and glad and nervous and all those jittery feelings you feel right before you have a baby. We're both a bit on edge waiting. All three of us are and Graisyn maybe more than the two of us. In fact, I'm quite surprised that she hasn't managed to pull him out by his ears. Ahh, yes. There's always tomorrow for that.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A dog Bowl for Every Occasion

Even if you have a caseworker that is human you might be nervous. Even if you don't have anything to hide your stomach might be turning in on itself. You might sit at work in your cube and pray to stay because it's easier than the alternative. Heck, you'd even put in a few extra cold calls.

But you don't. At two-thirty, and not a minute after, you pack up your shit. As you shut down your computer, you'll notice that the sweat from your hands has left fingerprints on the mouse and keyboard. "Fuck," you'll think, "This is stupid."

So the weather is nice and you walk out of work because you're doing the right thing and you care about your family and this home study thing is only a couple hours of your life anyway and is an absolute necessity for the adoption of your own son. You'll set all your crap down in the back seat on top of the cradle that holds your unborn son's carseat. Then, with a sigh, rather, with a cleansing breath of the warm air outside, you'll get in the car and drive away. This will be the quickest drive home you'll have had in a while because today you don't really want to go.

The family is waiting when you arrive home. It is nearing three o'clock and the caseworker is scheduled to arrive at three sharp. You don't know it yet, but she'll be late. A detour will through her off her route. After walking in the door, you set down your things and promptly remind everyone, dogs and all, that they are to be on their best behavior. You don't know it yet, but they will.

After hugging your wife, you will express your nerves. She won't appease you because there is nothing to be nervous about and she isn't nervous and you, yet again, are the worrier. But it is just a nudge past three now and your wife does not like waiting for people. Neither do you, and the two of you have found a common ground.

You will wait for a few more minutes before you call. Meanwhile, your wife has excused herself to use the bathroom. She is pregnant and pees all the time. In the meantime, you have collared and leashed the beasts because they are boxers and they will level your caseworker when she arrives.

Phone in hand, you will mutter, "Jesus Christ, where is she?" Then you will apologize to the Lord for involving him at all, but will also make sure to excuse it do to the stress you have unnecessarily put on yourself. You dial, but never get to hit the green "call" button on your wife's cell phone because your daughter will chime, "MOMMMMMYYY! Someone is at the door!"

The dogs drag you to the door and you motion your caseworker in directing her to keep walking, that the dogs are leashed and will remain so until they settle. She obliges. You will state that you and your wife were getting concerned and that you were just getting ready to call to see if she was okay. She will mention the detour as she walks into your home with her shoes on, unpacks her notes, and settles in on the couch.

Both dogs carry on with their excitement and your wife has since emerged from the bathroom. You will ask the caseworker if she has a dog. She will tell that she did, a pit/lab mix, but that the dog has passed away. You will be empathetic as will your wife, but this information will create an immediate sense of relief about the size of your dogs and their rambunctious behavior. The caseworker will excuse herself to use the bathroom as you offer her a glass of water and she graciously accepts.

In a few minutes everyone will reconvene in the living room. The caseworker will get started right away.  She is just as bubbly and warm and normal as she was when you and your family visited her in Madison just a couple weeks earlier. She will start in on her list of questions, but she will incorporate tales of her own life along the way. Secretly, you will be embarrassed for your nerves, but still annoyed with the requirement of the entire process.

Curious from earlier, you will inquire about her dog. This will become a fifteen minute conversation, but it will be a conversation that is welcomed by all. At this time, your dogs have settled and are laying down. You will think this is unusual and you will state so. The caseworker will rant about how her dog used to run the neighborhood. She will tell you about the eight foot cyclone fence and the steel bars weighting down the bottom of it. She will tell you that the dog managed to escape it anyway and, to this day, she does not know how. Talk of her children and you and your partner's child will mix in with the conversation and it will be known that her dog was a precursor to her children and that her dog was her baby. She will tell you both that she used to buy her dog a different feeding dish for every holiday and that the dishes were plastic. Everyone will giggle when she reveals that her dog was allergic to plastic and this will cause you to think that she is definitely not here to judge you or your partner's parenting.

The three of you plus a child and two dogs wrap up the talk of discipline, canines, and relatives and move to the study of the home. She, the caseworker, will stand up and glance around the living room. You motion her to the dining room, next the kitchen. In the kitchen you mention the fenced in backyard and she looks out the window, but says that she had perused it prior to coming inside.

Stepping out of the kitchen, your wife leads the way to the basement and you make mention that it is just a basement and that it is creepy so the dogs always accompany you down there. In the basement, the caseworker will  agree that it is creepy and will tell both of you that she is happy to see that there aren't any bedrooms down there. You tell her that the bodies are stored in the chest freezer and open up the freezer so she can see. She peeks in the freezer and, in a sarcastic tone, you tell her that you are kidding. Your wife will beckon all of you upstairs.

Upstairs and upstairs again you visit the bathroom and three bedrooms. The caseworker will let your daughter show off her room first and, in her room, your wife will gently scold her for jumping on her bed. The caseworker will retort that her kids jump on their beds, but she will do so in a pleasant tone so that it is evident that a red check has not been added to her notes.

After all the rooms are said and done, there is a gathering in the hallway. She will tell you and your wife that smoke detectors are needed in every room and you will kind of argue that the smoke detector in the hallway is three feet outside of each bedroom. She will push back and you will submit. After all, it is only a couple of smoke detectors.

The three of you plus a child and two dogs make way down the stairs and you notice that the caseworker is gathering her things. You will glance at the clock and note that she has been at your house for nearly two hours, plus drive time, and you will see more dollar signs.

The caseworker will remind you and your wife to add the smoke detectors and send her photos of them installed. She will tell you that everything else seems to check out but that they will be double checking all documents back at the office. You excuse her, tell her to drive safe, and, closing the door behind her, claim the rest of the evening as your own.

On a walk with your family, that same night, you will recall the dog bowls. There was one for every holiday. You and your wife will chuckle in the silliness of it, but will also relish in the moment because for this home study you both got to deal with someone human.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

An Afternoon Extravaganza

Sit me down with coffee and, please, get a water for my wife. Oh, and my daughter would like some juice. You know, the kind in the pouch, the kind that she doesn't get at home because there is too much sugar in it. Make us comfortable on your broken-in sofa, your davenport. Our asses could use a bit more squish after our hour and forty-minute drive to visit. Thank you for your hospitality. Will you please badger me?

Sara, Sara's pregnant belly (a.k.a. Kazmer), Graisyn, and I arrived in Madison at The Law Center for Children & Families and Adoptions of Wisconsin (A.O.W). I had just finished a near full day of work and Sara had racked her brains with everything medical. It was 4:34 p.m. The weather was shit, but much better than it could have been. It was a balmy thirty-two degrees so the wet that fell from the sky was slushy. We considered these ideal driving conditions and arrived to our destination safely. It was February 29th and our first face-to-face introduction with our case worker.

On our arrival, a young man let us into the unsuspecting office building shared by The Law Center for Children & Families and Adoptions of Wisconsin. The building was not immediately accessible. Maybe this was for security. Probably it was because it was after hours. Immediately we were greeted by a short woman. She was young. Sara's age, I think. Her hair was wavy and plain brown, but she wore a warm smile and a presented a soft handshake. She introduced herself as our caseworker...the A.O.W. side of things. I think I was relieved.

We were early. Our appointment wasn't until 5:00 p.m. It was 4:34 p.m. We would wait. Our newfound caseworker had a few things to finish up, some paperwork and some calls to make. It was okay though. We were early and I had a three-year old and a wife doing the pee-pee dance. We could wait.

After we all relieved ourselves, we greeted back in the hallway by our lawyer. She was just as pleasing as she was when we went through Graisyn's adoption. Tall and slender and also young. She was smart and always reassuring, plus a real stickler for the rules. Her familiar face was relaxing as she settled us into the little suite with the sofas and our beverages.

We took the opportunity to catch up while we waited for our caseworker to complete her tasks. It was nice. We had lots to talk about. She was curious about life since Grai's adoption and our dogs as she too was a boxer lover with a bouncy boy herself. We wrapped up the conversations with blurb on adoption related next steps and good-byes. It was 4:54 p.m.

Shortly thereafter, our caseworker joined us in the room. She sat down facing Sara and me. Grai played quietly in the corner behind her. She was armed with pen and paper. We were armed with credit card and documents supporting our relationship and our family. Between the three of us, we could have burned the building to the ground.

"We're here to talk about the children today," she stated, "When I do the home study, we will talk more about you."

She segued into small talk about herself and her family and I was quickly realizing that this interview wasn't going to be anything like the one that we had when I was pregnant with Graisyn. She was conversational. We didn't feel degraded or interrogated or scrutinized. She welcomed our answers and related them to her own life. It was unusually comfortable, like talking to a friend.

We chatted about many things that evening. What are our discipline philosophies, like Love and Logic, for example? What things does Graisyn like to do? How does Graisyn feel about a sibling? A brother? Do we do things as a family? If so, what? Does Grai have child care during the day? Does she like it? Will Kazmer go to the same home to be cared for? Do we have pets? If yes, how do they interact with Graisyn? How do we think they will respond to a baby? How do our families feel about the children? Are they supportive? Do we have a surrounding of friends that are involved in the children's lives? ARE WE NORMAL?

Yes we're normal and, no, she did not ask us that. Admitting that many of the questions seemed a bit odd since Kazmer is being born directly into our family, she made certain to document all of our responses. These responses, coupled with the findings of our home study on March 21st, would create our adoption story. These and our money and our application for adoption and our trial would make our son ours.

It was 5:49 p.m. Our interview was done. Even though our case worker and our lawyer did all things possible to ensure our comfort and ease our anxiety, we were all exhausted. Swiping our credit card and bidding our farewells, Sara, Grai, and I headed back out into the sleety weather and piled in the car. The grumblings of our tummies played in tune to the radio. I'll take a foot-long veggie on wheat. Toasted, please. Sara will take the same and quarter that for Grai with a side of parfait and a cookie. So long, Law Center for Children and Families. Until next time, A.O.W. Subway, here we come!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Support Me

I do a lot of ranting about how unfair things are for my family, but this blog post is not a bitching session. No. I will not gripe about the blatant and obvious inequalities, though there are plenty. Rather, I would like to send praises to those who raised us, to those who grew up with us, and to those of who we accumulated along the way, all of whom continue to support and inspire us. That's right. This blog post is to say thank-you to those who can stand, or even love, to be around us because, believe it or not, we aren't contagious. See. Sometimes I can be gracious.

1. The mamas and the papas...on both sides. Because there is something to be said about spankings as needed, balancing a checkbook, humiliation, pride, working your tail-end off for life's necessities, and unconditional love.

2. My siblings. I love them and now I have to share them with Sara. I should charge her, but the funds would be extracted from a joint account. With them, it was about building booby-traps for dad on the railing at the top of the stairs to bombard him after work and playing hide-and-seek and building forts. With them, it's about having those two someones to share life's moments of bliss, sorrow, and pissing and moaning.

3. The parent's parents. I am inspired by anyone that can raise 2+ children even it was "the time" to have large families. If a brood can overtake the brooders, that scares me. Humor aside, and not applicable to all of our grandparents, but certainly to a set or two, thank-you for putting the love my family ahead of beliefs and values. I know our "lifestyle" doesn't fit those beliefs and values, but the love is there anyway. And to Ma Rab. She doesn't kiss anyone's ass, and I'm pretty certain she rules the world.

4. Our friends. We don't have a lot and we're too busy for the ones we do have. But, no matter how much they are neglected, they keep coming back for more. Thanks guys. There will be food, spirits, and open calendars sometime in 2013 after Sara's graduation...promise.

5. The teachers. I won't speak for Sara, but I know I had some notable ones in, say, kindergarten, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. There's a couple I would pluck from high school too.  These were the people that taught me to get my head out of the sand, challenge myself, and be whoever the hell it is I want to be. Good news. I spend fifty percent of my time being the person I want to be, but by day I'm a sales representative. Block your phones, I might be calling you.

6. Sara's cousin. Because anyone who even considers planning her career path around bettering the life of my family deserves her own shout out. You know who you are and you are inspiring.

7. Graisyn's teacher. She didn't even blink when she was introduced to a child with two mommies. She took Graisyn in with open arms, and I think she even asked us if we needed or wanted a rainbow flag somewhere on premise to show friendliness. Cute. That makes me giggle.

8. My dogs. Yes, I just became "that" person. Sue me. Our dogs look at us without judgement, and I know that when Abbott growls at me he is muttering, "Mommy, wanna play," and not, "Mommy, you're such a fag."

When I look at my life, now and in past, I see that it is daubed with people who were willing and are willing to support me. Thank-you for listening to the struggles of my family, for providing insight as needed, and for celebrating our victories. Lord knows I never saw myself or my family on the sour end of what turns out to be our very own political and legal nightmare. I wouldn't have. It took this idiot 19 years to figure out "gay" was even part of her vocabulary. My feet would be stuck in the mud if it weren't for the support of all of you, so thank-you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Here we Come Adoptioning

With Sara nearing the third trimester of her pregnancy it is time to get the adoption planning for Kazmer underway. We both are in awe at how fast the pregnancy is going, but honestly, and shamefully, I think our lives have been too busy to really sit back and enjoy it. I don't think either of us is excited at the thought of the adoption process. I know I'm not, but it's one of those necessary evils. Per the wisdom of our attorney, this time shouldn't be quite the pain in the ass that it was with Graisyn. We should save time and money. Given my love of time and money, I am very excited about this. I am also, for lack of a better term, cautiously optimistic.

The first conference call with our attorney took place this past Wednesday. I scooted out of work early in high spirits. I was anticipating a productive call with explicit action items given to each party. Sara's phone rang at 3:00 p.m. She answered and placed our lawyer on speakerphone. On the other end a pleasant voice chimed a "hello" and a friendly laugh and a "hey, how's the pregnancy going" to which we provided appropriate responses. It was small talk, but it was needed. The three of us were getting reacquainted after nearly four years of attorney free bliss.

She, our attorney, is an attractive, younger woman. She works at The Law Center for Children & Families. She is matter of fact and by the book and I very much like it that way. Though she's not gay, she likes us gays and she is an advocate that is dyed-in-the-wool. She likes boxers too, so that's an extra added bonus. Anyway, she quickly guided the conversation to the obvious point of discussion, adoption. She told us there were some changes to the process. She also told us not to worry because the changes affected mostly her, not us. Thank God.

Still, there were changes. First, and at the forefront of my brain, there was no increase in the cost of her fees. In fact, we're eager to receive a discount for it being our second adoption case with their office. Only a $3,000 flat fee this time (not including travel and mileage) instead of the original $5,000. Second, and we are very sorry to our tree friends, there would be more paper. Lots more. A nice lady by the name of Shelley Jay tried to kill the entire concept of gay/lesbian families for all the family-trying homos in the state of Wisconsin. Our attorney even mentioned that the chaos Jay's case created caused them to put all alternative family adoptions on hold for nearly four months. To think one woman wanted a child with another and went through the same shit that we are going through to protect our family only to throw it in the face of her ex, her child, the professionals that made her family possible, and the gay community because she wanted to terminate her parental rights and claimed that she didn't sign a single document agreeing to the adoption to begin with. Bitch pleeeassse! I recommend Googling that one if you care to learn more.

Back to my family.

We will be dissolving ourselves in a ream or three of paper from our attorney's office. Per our conversation with her on Wednesday, she will be putting that package in the mail. Upon receipt, we are to follow the instructions provided with the contents to guide us through the paperwork. Sounds vaguely familiar. We can do that. We were also instructed to contact the adoption agency to schedule the home study update. Since we had already completed a full one with Graisyn, she advised that this should just be an update and to expect a charge somewhere in the realm of $500 from the adoption agency. Fair enough. We wrapped up the call with our attorney and proceeded to reach out to the Community Adoption Center to schedule our home study update.

Sara dialed and again put the phone on speaker. A crass lady at the center answered. Sara explained who we were and what we needed. Snidely, the lady informed us that they would not do an update to our home study. Sara reiterated that we already had a home study done through their agency with the birth of our daughter, Graisyn. I could feel my blood starting to boil as this woman sighed, asked us who our case worker had been, and told us to hold on a minute.

She returned to the phone seconds later. With my chest growing tight and blood running hot, she advised that our case worker "kind of" recalled us and that they still weren't willing to update our home study. She told us home studies are only good for one year. Bull shit. If that were the case you'd have stated that right off the bat. Why then did you put us hold? She carried on with the costs of the home study and, with as much grace as she had managed to muster thus far in the conversation, told us that they had doubled their prices from a $1,500 flat fee to a $3,000 flat fee and that this, of course, did not include travel and mileage.

I butted in and asked her to repeat herself. She obliged to which I interrupted again, "You're kidding me, right? If this is going to be the case with your agency, then we'll find another who is willing to work with us."

"Okay," she said and we hung up the phone. I looked at Sara. Sara looked at me. It was the "now what" look. Sara called and left a message for our attorney to provide alternative adoption agency options and we scanned the Internet. We came across an agency listed on our attorney's Web site and decided to give them a whirl. Sara handed me the phone. I pushed it back. "You have more tact," I said. She dialed.

A comforting voice answered. "Adoptions of Wisconsin," she said, "How can I help you?"

She said, "How can I help you?" Exhale and loosen up chest of mine. She wants to help us. Sara explained our situation and the message the last agency delivered to us. The woman advised that they could do our home study, but that it would need to be processed as a full and not an update as they did not do the original filings. She even put us on hold to find the most cost effective method for us. The costs would be a $1,200 flat fee excluding travel and mileage. A bit more gut wrenching than the $500 we were anticipating, but much more doable than the $3,000 the woman at the Community Adoption Center laid on us. I'd really like to know how one agency can pull a number of $3,000 out of the air and the other can perform the exact same functions for $1,200. I'm going to call and write the Community Adoption Center for an explanation. I'll let everyone know when I get slapped with the harassment lawsuit.

We ended the call with the woman from Adoptions of Wisconsin. It was 4:30 p.m. by the time all was said and done. An hour and a half of phone time and we were both fatigued. Shortly following our final call, Sara already had the paperwork from Adoptions of Wisconsin in her inbox to complete. Fifty-five pages of peering into our lives. Fifty-five pages of interpretation and judgement including, but not limited to, full body physicals. Most people can get that for free. We prefer to pay for ours.

I finished the evening sobbing with frustration and exhaustion while folding a load of laundry. Sara played around on her computer. She didn't cry at all. Funny, it's usually the other way around. "There's nothing we can do," she said, "This is just what we have to do. The state just isn't there yet, so there's no sense in being upset over something we can't fix."

She's right. I know that she's right, but I just want to know why. Why isn't our state there yet and why can't I fix it?