Going back to the homeland tomorrow! I’m not a big Joni Mitchell fan, but whenever I’m going back, I can hear her voice in my head, yodeling just how I feel: California! My sister Kate’s wedding is on Saturday, I am a bridesmaid, and Mr. Book is not able to come. He’s pretty sad about it, but what can you do? Crappy jobs is crappy jobs. I am sad to be ringing in the new year without him, but my sister and I may make Skittles vodka for her bachelorette event and watch MST3k, and that sounds like a pretty good time to me.
Since it came up in comments, I thought I’d detail my agency situation. I don’t know whether it’s kosher to name the agencies I was involved with—no one seems to, and I just assume there’s some reason. But there were two. When I started to think about adoption, I contacted the agency mentioned in Dan Savage’s book; they told me that they weren’t licensed in my state, and that I’d need to work with A Crappy Agency (hereafter ACA). The crappy agency treated me badly and also treated Ruth and Nora poorly—a couple of months ago, Ruth told me that they were not only lying to me, ACA was lying to the prospective adoptive parents. By the beginning of December—just over a week before Cricket was born—the situation with them had devolved to the fact that I sent them this email! (reprinted here in its entirety)
“I am not willing to talk to you on the phone at this point–I want a written record of what you have to say. I am deeply unhappy with some of the actions recently taken by the agency.”
Oh, those were good times. In short, ACA told me when I asked that the health history I was about to fill out would go only to the court, and then Ruth and Nora were mailed a copy; they told me that while I was signing a release saying that anything I said in counseling would be repeated to Ruth and Nora, that didn’t really mean anything (somehow I ended up not getting any counseling); that I shouldn’t put Mr. Book on the birth certificate, but instead claim that I didn’t know who the father was; told me that I shouldn’t breastfeed Cricket, that it would make things harder for him; never, ever asked me whether I wanted to parent, or wanted to hear about resources that might help me parent, or told me that I could take time to decide and didn’t have to sign irrevocable consent twenty-four hours after the birth. What ACA did to Ruth and Nora is lie to them about the expenses involved until they’d written the first (nonrefundable) check; had them sign a contract saying that if I ever expressed unhappiness with the agency, they would rat me out (Ruth says she looked at Nora, not even having met me yet, and said “Well, we won’t be doing that”); consistently (again, according to Ruth) misrepresented what I was saying, which was easy to pick out since Ruth and I were emailing each other every few days; told them that I was probably changing my mind when I told the SW that I was definitely placing but didn’t want to talk to the agency because I felt manipulated and lied to; dragged their feet and misplaced paperwork after the placement, delaying the finalization of the adoption by a couple of months; obstructed their efforts to have the open adoption agreement filed with the court, perhaps assuming that no adoptive parent would actually want a legally enforceable agreement.
In the end, I freaked out, talked about trying to do an independent adoption, or move in with Ruth and Nora for a month, or anything to avoid finalizing with ACA. Ruth, God bless her, never blinked; she researched options and got back to me. Reading that email, I realized that I needed to stick it out for them—I finalized with ACA, but without ever having to have a conversation with those people again.
Luckily for Ruth and Nora, they were working with a genuinely excellent agency that continues to provide them support; unfortunately, since I wasn’t able to work with them, I’m also not eligible for any of their services to birthparents. ACA won’t take my calls, which is perhaps just as well; I don’t want to talk to them ever again. Still though, the one time I did contact them about paperwork, I never got a response. What can you do?