Sunday, April 27, 2008

Juno What I Mean?

Juno. You have to see it. You'll love it.

That's all we kept hearing since we started this journey. Juno this and Juno that. It was even nominated for best picture at the Oscars (won best screenplay; also nominated for best actress Ellen Paige). Because it's late, I'll plagiarize from the fine people over at IMDB and let them summarize the plot for you:

Sixteen year-old Juno MacGuff is the type of girl that beats to her own drummer, and doesn't really care what others may think of her. She learns that she's pregnant from a one-time sexual encounter with her best friend, Paulie Bleeker. Juno and Paulie like each other, but don't consider themselves to be exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend let alone be ready to be a family complete with child. Although she would rather not be pregnant, Juno is fairly pragmatic about her situation. Although there, Paulie really leaves all the decisions about the baby to Juno. Initially she decides that she will have an abortion, but that's something that she ultimately cannot go through with. So she decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption. But first she has to tell her father, Mac, and stepmother, Bren, that she is pregnant. Although they would have preferred if Juno was on hard drugs or expelled from school, Mac and Bren too are pragmatic about Juno's situation. The next step is to find prospective parents for the yet unborn child. In the Pennysaver ad section, Juno finds Mark and Vanessa Loring, a yuppie couple living in the suburbs. Juno likes the Lorings, and in some respects has found who looks to be a kindred spirit in Mark, with whom she shares a love of grunge music and horror films. Vanessa is a little more uptight and is the one in the relationship seemingly most eager to have a baby. On her own choosing, Juno enters into a closed rather than open adoption contract with the Lorings - meaning she will have no contact with the baby after she gives it up. During the second and third trimesters of Juno's pregnancy which she treats with care but detachment, Juno's relationships with her family, with Paulie, and with the Lorings develop, the latter whose on the surface perfect life masks some hidden problems.

OK let me first say, whenever there is mondo buzz over a film and everyone keeps telling me I have to see it, I intentionally start avoiding it. I hate doing something because everyone else is doing it. Like watching American Idol, or kissing girls. I actually have it as a point of honor that to this day I have never seen that other movie, the one about the retard. I can't think of the name right now. The "Life is like a box of chocolates" guy. But you're saying, you have to see that one. Um, no I don't. At the weekend intensive, all the other couples had seen Juno and were singing its praises. They even kept saying Ty (the birthmother...see Weekend Intensive, Part Two) was so very Juno MacGuff. In the film, Juno is a very cool girl. She's the ultimate hipster. Into music that is at once cool and obscure. She has a taste for 70's camp horror and an intimate knowledge of its European directors. She is mature beyond her years. She's one of those high school girls that is so secure with her own hipness that she's above criticism. She doesn't care what anyone thinks about her situation. In other words, complete unrealistic fantasy.

Juno is not doing drugs or alcohol. She's funny. She's cool. Her parents aren't abusive. In fact, they give nothing at all to the discussion of adoption. She doesn't seek their advice. They're mostly absent from any real decision making. In other words, the movie is totally divorced from reality. I have no clue what type of birthmother(s) may eventually contact us, but I have a feeling it isn't going to be Juno. Oh yeah--I also hate movies that end the same as they started. At the end, Juno and her boyfriend just kinda go back to hanging out and playing music, no different from the way they were before.

As the stars would have it, we now own the DVD. Sigh.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We've been edited!

We sent in our BM Letter as I mentioned a few posts back. Lane has already reviewed it and sent it back with his revisions. I think he must know my third grade teacher Mrs. Lopo-something, because the letter is covered in red. I thought I'd get all defensive when he sent it back, because I knew he'd edit it out but this much? Geez. After re-reading it I can see it does flow alot better now, and there definitely were some areas where we kind of repeated ourselves. I'd say it's about 75% there. We'll work on it some more and hopefully send it back to him by the end of next week.

Oh for clarification this was only the text part (or did I say that? I should really read this blog.) We're collecting the pictures for it, and Tricia is going to try to take our "main picture" when we all go camping on the first weekend of May. Hope it comes out good!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Potential Website & BM Letter Pics

Random stuff and a thought from The Boys

Just a few things real quick...
  • We finally finished our first draft of the Birth Mother Letter (BM Letter) and sent it off to Lane for review. He said he will look at it and get back to us next week. Since I helped write it it's way too long since I'm very wordy. If you're still even interested in this blog you've figured that out already. The section called "About Bobby--by Gregg" made me tear up. That goober really does love me...hee hee. No, I'm not publishing it here, but I will let you see it once it's completed.
  • We uploaded some pictures to MyPhotoBucket that we are considering for the letter and website. Lane will help us pick those out too. I have a lot more to scan in and put up. You can see them in the post above.
  • A note from The Boys...Ripley and Chase
    They are adopting a baby. It's human. We want a kitten.
    I love jumping! I love playing! Who cares what they do can we go to the Dog Park PLEASE!!!

Weekend Intensive, Part 2

First I'm bummed because the Suns lost Game 1 to the Spurs in double overtime today. Arrrgh. Had to get that off my chest.

Anywho, Day Two of the Weekend Intensive. We had the same group of people today, right now I can't remember their names. Gregg better not read this or he'll yell at me! They were nice people and as noted treated us as another infertile couple. (OK, make a gratuitous invitro fertilization joke here. At least we don't need the turkey baster like the lesbians. Note to self: Don't eat gravy at Stacey and Dorothy's house. OK that's gross; I should delete it. Phffff, not!) So...oh OK right. Day Two.

Day Two was more interesting then Day One, because we were going to meet two other couples. A young woman who gave up her baby for adoption and her mother, and a couple who adopted a child through the IAC.

The birth mother was first. Her name was Ty, and she was a very nice, likable, funny girl. Someone you'd want to be friends with. Very "Juno" (more on Juno later). She was in college and seemed to be getting on with her life after the adoption, which took place about two years ago while she was only sixteen. They were an average middle class Catholic family. Her parents were still married. Her mom was a very straightforward, practical type of person. They were kind of "Gilmore Girlish" but without being annoying. Ty began telling her story of how she found out she was pregnant when she was sixteen. At first she planned on keeping the baby and marrying her then boyfriend. Her parents saw this was going to be a disaster in the making, and convinced her to contact the IAC, who I think they found online. Anyway, she talked about the emotion she went through during the process. She seemed determined to go through with it, and was happy with the family she picked. In her case, she declined to let them in the delivery room and just had her mother there (understandable to me). She also requested the second day of her hospital stay to be adoptive parent free. She wanted to spend the day with her family and her baby. Now I'm really glad she brought this up. If this happens to us, I'll understand it and not worry about it. This is the only time in her life she will spend with the child. She should have the day to herself. Once that time was over, she gave up the child when she left the hospital. There were a lot of tears, but she said she understood why she was doing this. After she went home she just wanted to get along with her life. She mentioned her two visits to see her baby since. The adoptive family seemed more interested in contacting her for visitation then she was to them. She just described that she was in college, starting a writing career, and if she wanted to see the child all the time she would have kept him and parented herself. They had some pictures in a book the adoptive parents had made for them. I could see the grandmother was especially proud, and they seemed OK with the entire thing. After they left the room, I wasn't the only one who mentioned she didn't seem like the typical birthmother.

The couple that adopted seemed to be the more realistic experience. Their birth mother was a complete mess, and if she didn't give up her child it probably would have been taken from her eventually. The most important thing I got out of them was that they matched for the first time after being in the book for only a week. After a few weeks of conversation with the birth mother they realized this was a bad connection and voluntarily unmatched. I asked them how hard that was because I am concerned we may not be strong enough to do that. She said it was difficult, but necessary. She just knew this was a bad situation because the mother might get all the way to the hospital and change her mind. They could tell it was going to be bad and felt good about unmatching. That reassured both of us. We know now we can do that if we feel we need to. On a side note, they matched agian the next week, so I'm not sure these people were typical either. But they sure did look happy...

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Intens-ive Weekend--Day 1

So a few words about where we are in Project Baby. We made the official leap at the end of March. We (well mostly Gregg, but what else is new) did the research and signed with the IAC, the Independent Adoption Center ( in Los Angeles. We chose them for a number of reasons. They are the largest and most well respected open adoption agency in the country. They are also well known for helping gays and lesbians adopt. They are also extremely nice, and very helpful. Gregg really researched them out, and we had a conference call with their director at the beginning of March. We liked what we heard, so we signed up and went to our weekend intensive meeting at their office in L.A. on March 28-29th. Do you know how hard it is to have a hotel on Santa Monica Blvd in the heart of Boystown in West Hollywood and not be there to party? We wanted to be fresh for our meetings in the morning so we didn't really go out at all. Actually, thinking about why we were there made it surprisingly painless to stay in and go to bed early.

On the first day we met our adoption counselor, Lane. He put us (especially me) at ease right away. Lane is also gay and together with his partner adopted two children from the IAC before he worked there. He really helped me to allay my fears about a lot of things. Lane thinks we have a good shot at a short wait once we get "in the book". Getting "in the book" means getting signed up, on the IAC payment plan, and having your home study and birth mother letter and website completed. Once that happens, your letter and information is published by IAC and sent out to potential birth mothers. Apparently, gay male couples don't wait any longer then straight people do. I think it's because many woman subscribe to the "gay best friend" theory. I've found it to be true that women, especially single women, feel very comfortable around gay men. I guess it's the whole "no threat" feeling we give them. They listen to what we say and expect to hear the truth from us. I know I can say the most horrible things to my personal fruit fly Angela and she takes me at my word. (Like when she was doing bangs. Oh-my-god. She actually thought she could pull that off. And don't even get me started on those brown sparkle shoes of hers. It looks like they lost a fight with the "Beadazzler".) Then we have that whole rep for being "nurturing". Chicks dig that, or so I'm told. I'm not sure how the most infertile couple possible has a reputation for being among the best parents, but it works for me.

Lane's other remark was also comforting. Telling Gregg that for the first time in his life being black was going to pay off in a good way (Lane--"Oh Snap!" to you!). We are hoping for a mixed race baby and many times they don't go to white couples. I still haven't figured out if that's a tiny bit racist, but OH WELL.

Lane also went over the whole money part. Gregg took it all in, but I've inherited my mother's monetary sensibilities. My mom's a shrewd one when it comes to spending money. If there's a deal, she'll get it. If there is something less expensive, she'll find it. My head starts swimming when large amounts of money are involved. I was still ticked I didn't walk the extra two blocks that morning to get my latte at the Coffee Bean because they are a little cheaper then Starbucks. I describe myself as frugal. Gregg calls me "cheapie". When Lane was talking money Gregg was giving me the stare down. Yeah it's expensive. But I wouldn't care if it cost twice as much. Me and my honey are having a baby...

After lunch it was time to do the group sessions. We would be meeting with three other couples for the rest of the day and tomorrow. I remember telling Gregg I hoped at least one couple would be gay. I was feeling like straight couples might resent us for horning in on their action. You stay away from our babies and we won't attempt dramatic lighting or floral centerpieces. I was pleasantly surprised. All three couples were very nice and didn't seem to be bothered at all by the homos. As the afternoon wore on, we talked to social worker after social worker. We learned about birth mom letters, trans racial adoption, birth father rights, what to do when birth mom's a jailbird, all that stuff. Information was swirling in my head. We were both really excited...this is our first official step to Fatherhood! At least we had time for a nice dinner in WeHo and quick drink at East West lounge (sigh, the old Revolver...gone but not forgotten!) before we were back in our room for the night. Saturday would be a shorter day, but a very interesting one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

And for dessert, raspberry SURPRISE!

So this was the big weekend. Since we started seriously pursuing Project Baby, we've only told a few people. As far as the family is concerned, that was my cousin Charlie and his wife Michelle, and my sister Tricia and her husband Keith. We slowly let the cat out of the bag to a few friends, and then to Gregg's brother Bryan, but that was about it. We didn't want to go too fast because we're both afraid of the Big Bad Jinx. On the other hand, the family, especially Gregg's mom and my parents, needed to be told.

We wanted to tell them well in advance of Little Finster's arrival for a few reasons. First, we had no idea how they'd react and we wanted to give them plenty of time to digest the whole thing. If there are going to be any issues, we want to address them now. We're coming up on our eleventh anniversary as a couple, but even so we really don't discuss the whole "gay" thing with them. Actually, we've never had THE conversation with either one of them. My parents have been to our parties with all of our gay friends, and they have no issues as far as I know, but it's a great Heptig tradition to take anything out of the ordinary and never talk about it again, EVER. So my love affair with Cher, affinity for dance music, and unnatural obsession with dead movie actresses from the 1940's is especially off limits. Second, in the normal course of events, you get preggers, wait nine months, and then burp out a kid. In the meantime everyone gets to plan and anticipate the little bundle of joy's arrival. We didn't want to deprive anyone of the usual "we can't wait to see the baby" rituals. Lastly, we have both been a little nervous to see what kind of reaction we were going to get, so better to get it over with and move on from there.

Gregg's mom Bertha and her husband Cleo arrived Saturday from San Antonio. Our plan was to tell them first, and my parents could wait for another time. We don't get to see them much and telling them in person was the best way to go. We had no idea we had so much chicken in this house, and I'm not talking about the kind that comes with biscuits. We passed up numerous opportunities to tell her on Saturday. Gregg and I, like many couples that have been together for a long time, have the ability to communicate entire paragraphs with nothing more than a look. That's what we did all weekend. An outsider would have thought we were both stroke victims with the contortions our faces were being stretched into with "You tell her", "No, YOU tell her" looks being traded all day long. It went on all day until I finally had to text Charlie not to mention it when we went out to dinner at D-Vine later that night. I'm sure he was thinking "You wussies!". Well there's always Sunday right?

SUNDAY, April 6th, 2008. It's like in the movie Titanic, where you're going along enjoying the film and then the screen goes black and the date of the collision with the iceberg flashes into view. You have a shortness of breath and think OK, this is it. This is the part where it all goes down. That's what it felt like when I got up that morning. What the hell was she gonna think? Good, bad, what? Maybe she'll get the granddaughter she always wanted. Maybe she'll be overcome with happiness. Maybe she'll cry tears of joy. Maybe she'll kill us in our sleep. What??

I got dressed and took Ripley and Chase to the dog park. I like to do things with The Boys when I'm stressed because watching them have fun relaxes me. I fully expected we'd have our sit down when I got back. So of course, I took my time. When I got home, Gregg was preparing dinner. We were having my parents and Charlie and Michelle over tonight. We only had a few moments to talk and Gregg was thinking it might be better to tell all of them together. At dinner. While we were eating. With like, knives and stuff.

Well the parents arrived. I made the usual small talk, fully knowing they might be so upset later they might not want to talk. I realize this was silly, but I just had a feeling something was going to go wrong. We spent the time before dinner doing our face contorting act, but in the end had a nice meal. As usual Gregg out did himself, the food was fantastic. And the dessert! Individual raspberry tira misus. Charlie and Michelle brought a Boston cream pie. Fantastic! Coffee all around. And then my father said "OK Gail you ready?". They're leaving. It's now or never. We went into facial spasms. Gregg at one end of the table, next to my parents, me on the other. I had conveniently positioned Charlie and Michelle on either side of me as a buffer. This time everyone was watching us thinking we had gone nuts. As my eyes bulged "We decided you'd tell them" across the table he said it. He just blurted it out.
"Before you go, we have something to tell you."
My mother and Bertha locked eyes. What was coming next?
"Bobby and I are adopting a kid."
Silence. Looks. Raspberry tira misu anyone?
My mom was trying not to cry. "Really?" Then it hit me--she was happy. My dad didn't say anything. Bertha was looking right at me. "Boy or girl?" she asked.
"This is going to be a newborn," Gregg said. Now my mom was tearing. This was making her very happy. She stood up and gave Gregg a huge hug. "I'm so happy!" she said. My dad was still sitting there not looking at me. Gregg started explaining what we were doing, and how open adoption worked. I just sat there staring at my dad while he spoke. "Well Bob always said he wanted another grandchild to make it nine, enough for a baseball team!" was my mom's response. She was beaming. Gregg pretty much summed up where we were in the process, and that was it. No real response from my dad or Gregg's mom. As my parents left, they hugged us both again. We didn't talk about it again for the rest of the night or the next day. We knew Bertha and Cleo would come around soon enough. As it happened my dad left his camera at the house, and when they got home my mom called to make sure that's where it was. She told me again on the phone how great she thought all this was. Phew. Relief there. I was sure my dad would come around eventually. On Tuesday morning, as they left, Bertha wished us good luck on Project Baby. By the way she said it, I knew she'd be OK.

Well, here we go!

Another project that was supposed to get off the ground years ago...blogging. Blogging sat around in the same dusty space of my brain as painting, art classes, learning to create iron artwork, writing the Great American Novel, starting an internet business, and rebuilding the koi pond. At least I've gotten a little better, I have actually been painting and did at least take a watercolor class with Michelle. Now there is a reason to start the blog project, or at least a more important reason then before. I want to detail our adoption adventure so we can share it with friends, keep my brain relaxed, and eventually show it to Baby Faced Finster so he or she knows how the family came to be. I don't think I'll start from the beginning, I think I'll start with now and use flashbacks to fill in the blanks (should make my English professors happy--literary devices and all...). So onward and upward...