Friday, August 31, 2012

Waiting Pool Stats - September Edition

The past month has been an extremely busy one for the waiting pool.  In August, the waiting pool had the most families at one time that we've ever seen, a total of 89! 

Total Number of Families: 89
Families Remaining in the Pool from May: 74
Families Leaving the Pool: 1 (-8.6%)
New Families: 7 (+11.1%)
Net Change Since May 1st:  +7, (+8.5%)

Net Change Since August 1st: +6 (+7.2%)

Couples: 86 (97%) (+1)
Single: 3 (3%) (-1)
Heterosexual: 54 (61%) (+4)
Gay: 23 (26%) (+3)
Lesbian: 9 (10%) (-1)
Single: 3 (3%) (--)

Since entering the pool with Charley on July 12th, we've seen 4 screening emails, taken a sign language class, a newborn care class, decided on a family last name, and started thinking about first names for our future child. Overall, we've been busy! 

At the same time, the stats above show the waiting pool has been rather busy too.  With all of the new families entering and leaving the pool, we are now the 13th most recent family to join.  It's crazy to realize how many families have entered the pool in the past few weeks!  In a way, our profile is quickly becoming a seasoned veteran on the list.  After a month with only 1 family leaving the pool and 7 joining, it'll be interesting to see what happens between now and October 1st.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sign Class Graduation (or, Why Brian is a Bastard)

You may remember a few weeks ago when Brian and I started going to a baby sign language class. Well as of this weekend, we are officially graduates of the Hop to Signaroo program!

I'm not sure if this counts as accredited...
Despite our initial reservations (when we showed up and were the only people there without an infant), it turned out to be a lot of fun and we learned a lot. I now know over a hundred signs for various foods, family members, animals, and other things that seem like they'll be really useful for a young toddler.

There was a brief snafu when we tried to come up with name signs for "Daddy Andy" and "Daddy Brian", though. Combining the sign for "Dad" with the letter "A" worked fine. But when we tried to do the same with "Dad" and "B", when inadvertently ended up with the sign for "bastard". Now, I'm not gonna go into whether I think that's an appropriate sign for Brian or not, but suffice it to say that we had to come up with something else!

It was also really encouraging to see some of the kids in the class start picking up on signs after just a few weeks. Some of them were as old as 8 or 9 months, and they really seemed to get it quite quickly. One in particular had 4 signs down by the end of 4 weeks, and it seemed like the floodgates were flying open!

All in all, a good experience, and I really liked our teacher (Nancy Hanauer). Highly recommended to anyone in the Seattle area!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Newborn Care Class

Keeping up with our parental education, we attended a newborn care class on Sunday.  It was part of a broader class that dealt with 'Childbirth and Newborn Care,' but our adoption route meant that we could skip the first portion of the class dealing with childbirth.  Similar to our baby sign language class, we walked into another unfamiliar environment.

This time around, rather than walking into a room full of straight couples and all of their babies, we joined a class of straight couples that were all pregnant and had already spent a full day together with the instructor.  In some ways, being an adoptive gay couple really means that we're doing a terrible job at conforming to societal norms!

The class itself was a good experience.  We got some brief rundowns on subjects like postpartum depression (fathers get it too!), feeding, umbilical cord cleaning, car seats, and swaddling.  It was fun when all of the interactive materials came out.  There were little containers of diapers, onesies, and blankets, and then next to those was a giant tub of babies.  You know... just like real life.

Overall, it was a rather quick rundown on some important things, and we enjoyed being in a room with many future parents.  Like many first-time parents, we still don't feel 100% prepared for a baby, but we're becoming more and more comfortable and ready for when that time comes. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Baby Name Research

A lot of you have already asked us if we've been thinking about baby names.  For a while, we've held off on first names because some first name-last name combos can sound a little weird.  Of course, now that we have our family last name decided, we're finally free to plow ahead and start thinking of some first name options!

Like many parents, we'll waffle on baby names for quite some time until we actually have to make a decision.  Part of that is tied up in how we won't know a lot about the baby until we are chosen by a birth family.  Another part is that we have enough problems choosing where to go to dinner some nights, so making a decision that will have a lifelong impact for our child is even tougher.

At this time, Andy and I are planning on doing some research into baby names to develop some short lists.  We'll each create our own lists for boys and girls and then have those on hand to use as a go-to list if we suddenly have a last minute placement.  Amazingly, the government will be helping us do this!  The US Social Security Administration has an excellent database for history and statistics on baby names.  They track the top 1,000 baby names for boys and girls of any year going back decades.  Just for fun, I've included a quick screen grab of their Top 10 of 2011: 

While we'll be using lists like these from the SSA website as a reference, feel free to post a comment with any suggestions you have.  I know our friend Eric has already started lobbying for us to name a boy....Eric.  Very stealthy of him.  

In honor of Eric's efforts, here are some fun facts:
1. Eric was the 103rd most popular name for boys in 2011
2. The name Eric has been decreasing in popularity since it peaked in the mid 1970's
3. Our friend Eric is getting old.
4. Name rankings won't play a huge factor for us, so after ribbing Eric I might still be nice and put his name on the list  :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Adoption in the Media

Found an interesting article on the Huffington Post about how adoption is portrayed in the media:
"Here are just a few of the examples I was considering as a jumping-off point, and I did not make any of these up: A new reality show called I'm Having Their Baby, which films pregnant women as they agonize over the decision of whether to place their newborns for adoption; a headline in a New Jersey newspaper, "Did They Adopt Their Killer?" atop a story about a 26-year-old man accused of murdering the father and grandmother who had brought him up "as their own" for two decades; and an online poster of two infants, the laughing one assuring the crying one, "Dude! I'm joking, you're not adopted!"
Ah, welcome to the wonderful world of adoption, a place where women are baby-delivery devices for other parents, where men slay the people who raise them because they are not biologically related, and where the very idea of having entered a family in this way is so unnerving that it makes you weep."
Read the full article on HuffPo. I think parts of it may be a bit hyperbolic, but I'm interested to watch how my own feelings on this evolve especially once we have a placement.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stroller and Car Seat

A while back, we posted about our research and process in picking a car seat.  We ordered one and thought it would be fun to take a few pictures when we pulled everything out of the box.  Enjoy!

I was excited to open the boxes

Andy was excited to have instructions

An assembled stroller!  Without children around, we gave the cats first dibs, but they kept running away.

Alex looking warily at our new acquisition

Friday, August 10, 2012

What's in a (Last) Name?

One subject of much debate for Andy and I has been what do to with our last names.  When we had our wedding, we each decided to keep our individual last names.  However, it really makes sense for us to have a single family last name.  Simple travel as a family could have some challenges with us being two dads let alone any emergencies that could crop up in areas less than accommodating to gay families.  Our thought is that using a single family last name will be best for us in the long run to smooth out any potential roadbumps and also just to make us feel more like a cohesive family.

So when thinking about all of our options, we came up with some general possibilities:
  • Andy's last name (Magee)
  • My last name (Gardner)
  • Hypenating our last names together (Magee-Gardner / Gardner-Magee)
  • Merging our names together (Gargee?)
  • Choosing an entirely new last name (?)
Looking at the options, we first leaned away from choosing one last name or the other.  It would feel weird to have one of us keep our name and then make the other change it without any real reasoning behind it.  Also, being a gay couple means that we really don't have any good precedents to follow.

Next up, we thought about hypenating our last names.  That got knocked down the list pretty easily as hypenated last names can be cumbersome and pose all sorts of fun questions for when our children get married in the future.  What happens if they marry someone with a hypenated last name?  Boom.  4 last names and 3 hyphens.  That sounds dangerous.  Also, our merged name options were pretty dangerous too.

The last option of picking a 'new' last name seemed a bit weird as well until Andy had a great idea.  He suggested that we check our family trees for a common last name.  I thought that was awesome and over the span of a couple weeks a lot of research ensued on  In the end, we had 3 last names in common which were "Bennett," "Hill/Hylle," and "Richards."  Once we got to this point though, neither of us were overly excited by any of these.  If we changed our last names to something new, we wanted it to jump out at us and sound awesome.  Just like marrying someone, you're going to have that last name for a long time so we knew we'd better like it a lot!

That made us pause from the ancestry track and circle back to our initial choices, our current last names (Magee or Gardner).  Neither of us had a strong preference and were a bit reluctant to make the other change.  However, our ancestry research did play a final role in our decision.  On my side, my 3rd great grandmother had a last name of McKee which is essentially the same as Andy's last name.   Decision made: Magee it is!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Baby Sign Language

Brian and I went to our first sign language class on Saturday! The concept is that infants are able to comprehend and use basic language before they have the ability to actually verbalize those concepts - but they're definitely able to use their hands earlier. By using some simple signs consistently, a child will ideally be able to communicate basic needs (eat, milk, change, etc.) much earlier than they will be able to speak. And that in turn can reduce both parent and child frustration. Sounds good to us!

There's a class offered at a number of local hospitals called Hop to Signaroo, so we enrolled and started over the weekend. What we didn't realize was that we're the only people in our class who actually don't have a child yet! Awkward. It seemed like a good idea to me - learn all the signs and the methodology before our lives get a lot busier with the arrival of a new family member. (As long as we don't forget it all by the time a placement actually happens, that is.) Anyway, we quickly explained that we're waiting for an adoption placement, and so everyone nodded knowingly and stopped looking at us like the creepy childless guys sitting in the corner by themselves.

So the class was actually a lot of fun, and I now can punctuate a few words with signs! (Have a diaper that's wet and needs to be changed? I got you covered!) The class is using actual ASL signs, which could potentially end up being useful outside of the context of raising a child. And we came away with the handy flashcards to practice on our own before next week. We'll be signing like pros in no time!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Baby Pick 'Em

So, now that we're in the pool, it's anybody's guess when we'll get a placement. But if you guess correctly, you win a prize*!

Just leave a blog comment with these guesses. Whoever gets them all closest wins!
  • Placement Month and Year
  • Boy or Girl
  • Birthfamily's state: Washington, Oregon, or Other

Have fun guessing!

*Chances are very high that said prize will be a mention on this blog. But, you know, isn't that awesome in and of itself?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting Pool Stats - August Edition

Now that's it's August, time for a quick check-in on the waiting pool!

State of the Waiting Pool for Adoptive Families
Total Number of Families: 83
Families Remaining in the Pool from May: 74
Families Leaving the Pool: 7 (-8.6%)
New Families: 9 (+11.1%)
Net Change Since May 1st:  +1, (+1.2%)
Net Change Since July 1st:  +2, (+2.5%)

Couples: 80 (96%) (+1)
Single: 3 (4%) (-1)
Heterosexual: 50 (60%) (+3)
Gay: 20 (24%) (+1)
Lesbian: 10 (12%) (-2)
Single: 3 (4%) (--)

First off, this is our first edition of the waiting pool stats where we're part of them!  In July, a total of 9 new families joined the pool, so we jumped into the waiting pool at a busy time.  Speaking of this being a busy time, there's been a lot going on since our last update.  Since entering the pool with Charley on July 12th, we have already had 4 screening emails.

Additionally, there has been some busy travel weekends for a wedding at Notre Dame and a family reunion (Andy's) over in western Maryland.  Traveling for both of these events definitely has had us thinking about family.  For me, it is especially apparent how cool it can be for a child to have siblings. Between seeing siblings together at a family wedding and several generations interact at a family reunion, I'm really glad we're planning on adopting at least two kids.

What else is next?  Well, we had a post where we listed some items that we have to get done to be ready for last minute placements.  We've made some progress on a lot of fronts, but the exciting part is that we have our first parenting class this Saturday.  Wish us luck!