the food allergy experiment update #1

Let me tell you this week has been interesting.  Finding something to eat that doesn’t contain any of the foods I am allergic to has definitely been a challenge.  After one week of avoiding these foods, my reflux was actually worse than when I eat the foods I like, I had a stomach ache every day, and have not lost any weight.

Last night feeling frustrated and discouraged my hubby and I went out to get my mexican food fix and have a cheat meal.  We drove to two different mexican restaurants close to our house and both were CLOSED!!  I guess this is a sign to continue on this journey.

Well until next week…. unless I lose my mind, ha!

the dream

My hubby had a dream this weekend we got a call for a placement and got a girl.

It would be nice if this was a premonition! 🙂

Of course we will let you all know if we hear anything.

Have a great week!!

food allergy experiment

I have had problems with environmental allergies since childhood.  The last couple of years it has become increasingly worse.  The past year has been the worst year, with random breakouts in hives, this spring my face has been breaking out in hives a couple of times a month! It is very rare when I can actually breathe through my nose and I have had 3 sinus infections since January.

My husband has been encouraging me the last couple years to get allergy tested.  I put it off because he has teased me saying he was sure I am allergic to tomatoes and if so he would never let me eat them again.  I know he has wanted this because it would then squash my love for mexican food, especially salsa.  As you have read in my previous post, I have started to consider myself a connoisseur of salsa because I love it so much.  I have my favorite mexican restaurants everywhere I go.

I have been contemplating starting a second blog just to talk about my love of salsa and margaritas.  I would share pictures of the salsa and margaritas from each place I tried and write a review of what I think of it.  I tried to talk my hubby into trying one new place each week, he laughed, rolling his eyes saying he hoped I had someone else to go with.

Years ago I used to make homemade salsa and bring it to work for coworkers.  My coworkers loved it so much they actually asked me to jar it and sell it to them and I did.  I had to stop making it because I hand cut all of the vegetables and my hands were breaking out and burning like they were on fire when I was cutting the tomatoes.  So my husband’s belief of a tomato allergy was not totally unfounded.

I know being a nurse I should know better but who would ever want to admit they are allergic to one of their favorite things.  Especially if their husband is threatening them with cutting them off of this substance!

Due to my allergies being so much worse this year and being miserable, I finally broke down and made an appointment with an allergist.  I saw her for the first time 3 1/2 weeks ago.  Because my allergies have been so bad she didn’t want to take me off of my allergy medicine for 5 days to do the skin testing so she opted to do serum testing.

Today I went to the allergist and got the results of my serum allergy tests.  I found out I am allergic to some molds, every grass, weed, and all trees except mulberry trees, cats and dogs (I have 3 dogs and I am not giving my babies up!)  I am also allergic to carrots, peanuts, corn, potatoes, mango, melons, apples and tomatoes.  ARGH!!!!!

She recommends skin testing to double-check a couple allergies in July, after the bulk of the allergy season is over.  This is because I have had reactions to shellfish and shellfish did not show me reacting on the serum testing.  In six weeks I go back, get skin testing done, see the doctor again and begin allergy shots to work on this issue.  The shots are once a week for six months and than once a month for four years and then I should be immune to the allergies.

What was my response to the new information I obtained at the allergists office?  I called my mom and said,”Hey, I’m allergic to tomatoes! Want to meet me for mexican food for lunch?”  Yes, the stubbornness in me won out.

Prior to going to the allergist, I have done some research about food allergies because I had seen something on TV discussing how food allergies make you overweight.  When you eat something you are allergic to, it causes a histamine release and endorphin release in your body.  You in turn begin to crave what you are allergic to because your body craves the endorphin release, just like an addicts body would crave the drug (substance of their choice) which causes this same effect.  So, you eat the substance, than crave the substance and eat it again and again.  Meanwhile your body is in this constant state of inflammation from being exposed to the substance you are allergic too.  This results in overeating, chronic inflammation, and being overweight.

Experiment

I was contemplating the information I have researched about food allergies, how much it will stink not eating the things I like and the fact I have six weeks before going back to the allergists and starting treatment.  I wondered if I would feel better avoiding these foods and thought it might be fun to do an experiment and see if the information I researched is correct.  Being a nurse I find things interesting and the information I found makes a lot of sense.  I asked two doctors about my findings one said she wasn’t sure it was true and the other said it made a lot of sense and could be true.

So, why not make myself the test subject and try it out.  What do I have to lose ~ other than suffering from not enjoying my favorite foods because oh yes my favorite fruits and vegetables are all on the allergy list!  I may feel better eliminating the foods I am allergic to and since I do carry around a few extra pounds, I may get the added benefit of losing a few while conducting this experiment.

So starting tonight with dinner, until my doctors appointment on July 20, 2011, I am going to avoid all of the things listed on my food allergy list and see what happens.  This will be the longest my husband has gone without mexican food in the 15 years we have been together!  I suppose we could have mexican food, but what is mexican food without salsa??? Not worth having!

Over the next six weeks you may hear me ranting about how tortured I am not having my favorite things and we will see what July 20 brings.  Let the experiment BEGIN!

the process of selecting a family

We have learned a lot preparing to adopt through the foster care system.  Prior to our classes, the image I had of foster care adoption was what I had seen on TV or in movies.  I envisioned visiting a facility where kids were playing, looking at the children, getting to play with them, and selecting the child we thought would be right for our family.  I thought of all of our visits to the pound or pet stores, when it is hard to select just one animal.  They all look so precious and cute and how would you ever choose.  I don’t mean this in an insulting way, I do not think the children are like animals.  I have so much love to share, I imagine myself wanting to take them all home and this is the same feeling I have when I look at my dogs.  I love them to bits!

Recently in a TV show, “Army Wives”, they portrayed almost this exact image.  The family went to the facility and met the children.  The case worker had a child in mind for them but they did go to a facility where they saw children playing.  I know it is a TV show but I found it frustrating how simple they made the process look.  They decided to adopt and within a day or two were meeting kids, then within a very soon after they were bringing the boy home to live with them. There was no talk of classes, or preparation needed before bringing a child home.  

There is a multi-step process to how you are selected to be the adoptive parents in the foster care system.

First I need to explain there are three different types of care through the foster care system.  Fostering, Foster to Adopt, and Adoption.  Fostering is when the court goal for the children is reunification with their birth family and the foster family cares for them during this time.  If the court goal changes to termination of parental rights, the child’s case worker would ask the foster family if they would want to adopt the child.  If not, the next step would be a foster/adoptive home. These parents want to adopt but are willing to take children who are not yet legally free for adoption.  In this stage there is still a chance the children will go back to their birth family. When parental rights are terminated, if a child is not going to be adopted by their foster family, or has not already been placed in a foster/adopt home, this is when an adoptive family will be sought.

The process for a foster placement is different from for an adoptive placement.  We are looking for a foster to adopt placement.  I will explain the process we will be going through. Right now we are certified, on the adoption registry and waiting to be selected for a red file staffing.

THE RED FILE STAFFING

When looking for a foster/adopt family or adoptive family, the case worker will look through the registry for a family who is willing to take the age, sex, race, and specific needs the child has.  They will pull the family files which are matches and look through the home studies.  The case worker selects which families they feel may be a good fit and they want to learn more about.

The case worker contacts the licensing agency of the families to ask if the families are interested.  At this point our licensing specialist will contact us, give us the minimal information they know about the child or children and ask if we are interested.  Of course we are!! 🙂

The next step is the Red File Staffing Meeting.  Our licensing specialist attends this meeting with the representatives for the other families, the case worker, and the foster family. Other people involved in the child’s care may be there as well, for example the GAL (Guardian Ad Litem), or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), or anyone else the case worker feels should be there.  Our licensing specialist brings our photo book and our file to this meeting to represent us and discuss why we would be a good fit for the child(ren).

After this meeting the case worker decides who is their first and second choice family for the child.  Our licensing specialist will call us and let us know if we are selected.  If we were selected, she will share any new information she learned about the child in the meeting. Then we will work together with her to create a list of all the questions we have about the child.

The next step is the Paper Presentation Meeting.  We will attend this meeting with our licensing specialist, the case worker, the foster family, and anyone else the case worker this should attend.  At this meeting we the case worker will tell us more about the child, we get to ask our list of questions, and at the end of the meeting we will get to see a picture of the child.  After this meeting we will have to wait 24 hours to give our decision whether or not we feel the child is right for us.

If we decide the child is right for us, the next step is the Transition Period.  The child will transition from the foster families home to our home.  This is done through a series of visits starting with visiting the child in the foster home, taking the child out for a day trip, an overnight trip to our house and eventually coming home to live with us.

Usually the child has to be in the adoptive home for 6 months prior to the adoption finalization.  Since we are doing foster to adopt and the children are not yet legally free it is still possible the child may return to the birth family and may be longer than six months before we are able to finalize the adoption.

curiosity vs. confidentiality

We all know the saying “curiosity killed the cat”.  I am sure everyone in our lives will be wondering so many things about the children we are privileged to bring home and adopt.

In adoption, probably specifically foster care adoption, there is a confidentiality clause. This is a rule to protect the children who come into our homes.

Although I am sure everyone will be curious what their story is, why they are in the foster care system, what they have been through, this is their story.  When they are older and when they are ready they can choose to share this information with whomever they choose.

J and I will know whatever information we are told but we are not allowed, nor do we feel it would be the right thing to share this information with anyone. If something specific needs to be shared with a doctor or therapist for them to treat the child they we will have to share the information but other than that we can not.

This isn’t because we don’t love you or know you would love and support our child regardless, it is to protect them and their private information.  It will give them a fresh start where everyone “doesn’t know their name”.

the UNIVERSE’S take on the good, the bad, and the ugly

The day I wrote my post the good, the bad, and the ugly, I also signed up for TUT\’s Adventure Club.  I learned about this website from another blogger Tara.

Tara wrote:

If you would like to receive “short and humorous reminders of life’s magic and your divinity,” you can do so at http://www.tut.com.

You sign up for this club and it sends you daily personalized (positive) emails from the Universe.  At the point I read her post, I was feeling a little blue contemplating how long our wait will be.  I thought how great it would be to have a daily reminder of the positive things in life.

Ironically the very next day I received this message:

All is well, Michelle. You don’t have to like or love everything or everyone, not in the usual sense. Injustices and villains always abound during primitive times. You knew this would be true before you chose this life, just as you knew that the good and the beauty would far exceed the bad and the ugly.

Life is beautiful,
The Universe

The last part is what stood out to me “the good and the beauty would far exceed the bad and the ugly”.  I am sure everyone who signs up for the club gets the same messages and they are just personalize it with your name, but this felt like it was speaking to me almost as a reply to my blog.

It just reminded me to focus on the reward of this long journey and it will be so wonderful and beautiful the challenges will be well worth it!

adoption etiquette

I read an interesting post today on a fellow blogger’s page Adventures in FosterLand.  Her post links to Single Dad Laughing’s blog about Adoption Etiquette titled “How much did YOUR kid cost?“.  Here is his list of comments or questions, which will be hurtful to adoptive children and/or their adoptive parents.  Thought it was good information to share.

Single Dad Laughing’s Guide to Adoption Etiquette. 

  1. Never, ever, ever, ask how much a child costs. This includes the phrase, “how much did you pay for him?” First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, if you’re interested in adoption, research it through the appropriate channels. Speak with an adoption agency. Adoptive parents don’t purchase children. They simply pay legal fees and agency fees. Just like biological parents pay hospital and doctor bills. Don’t turn the child into nothing more than a commodity.
  2. Never ask if a celebrity inspired the adoption. Believe it or not, Tom Cruise, Connie Chung, and Angelina Jolie did not convince me one way or the other in the biggest decision of my life. Are you serious?
  3. Never ask “where is his real dad?” Forget the fact that it will hurt my feelings. How do you think it will affect my son’s feelings to feel like I’m not a real dad to him? Adoptive parents are real parents. The term you’re looking for is “birth mother” or “birth father”.
  4. Don’t say things like, “as soon as you adopt you’re going to get pregnant” when you find out somebody is adopting. First of all, there are usually many, many years of pain and financial burden strapped to infertility, treatments, and heartache. Do you really think that what you’re saying will help them? Secondly, while it is funny when it happens, it’s rare.
  5. Never say, “why did she give him away?” Do I really need to explain why this one would hurt a child? The proper term is “placed”. A birth mother and birth father place their child for adoption. And again, it’s personal and none of your business, so don’t ask if you aren’t my BFF.
  6. Don’t say, “it’s like he’s your real son”. This is similar to number three, but worthy of mentioning. He is my real son, damn it.
  7. Don’t say, “do you love him as if he was your own?” Ummm… probably more than you love your little terror, that’s for sure. And again… he is my own, damn it.
  8. Never say things like, “you’re so wonderful to adopt a child”. I am a parent. Just like anybody else with kids.
  9. Don’t start spewing your horrible adoption stories. “This one time, my friend’s sister’s aunt’s dog’s previous owner’s niece adopted a baby and the real dad came back and they took the baby away after they had him for two years.” First of all, it probably isn’t true. Second of all, how would you feel if I told you about all the ways you could lose your child. Adoption is permanent. And in the extremely rare circumstances that something like that happens, it’s not something you should spread because the hurt that exists for all the parties involved must be immeasurable.
  10. Don’t say things like, “is it hard for him to be adopted?” Well, it wasn’t, until you asked me that right in front of him you freaking idiot.
  11. I don’t want to hear about your second cousin who was on a waiting list for twelve years and never got a baby. Granted, this one was much more annoying when we were going through the adoption process. Nobody wants to know that some people never get chosen. Show some kindness. Even to ugly people.

Going through our PS MAPP classes at our agency we learned a lot about things we shouldn’t say or do, things which may be hurtful to our future children and/or their birth families.  We cannot expect our friends and family members or others we don’t know to know everything we have learned.  Part of our job as adoptive parents is to help others around us understand things we have learned to help prevent painful comments being made in front of our children. I know our friends and family would never say anything to intentionally hurt us or our future kiddos.

We will love the children who come into our lives just as you love your children.  We wanted them and prayed for them just as you wanted and prayed for your children.  They will bless us and challenge us just as your children have blessed and challenged you.

Thank you in advance for being understanding and sensitive!

the good, the bad, and the ugly

the good:  becoming parents to children we have been praying and longing for, for a long time, fulfilling a dream, expanding our family to have more than furry babies

the bad:  for children to be in the foster care system something bad has to have happened to them. This is sad and something we will have to work through with the children we adopt.

the ugly:  waiting, praying for a child to adopt through the foster care system is tough.  I feel guilty sometimes. As a nurse, what I compare it to is someone who is waiting on an organ transplant list for someone to die for them to get the organ they need to live.  While I don’t need to be a parent to live, it still feels like I am waiting for someone to screw up or fail so I can be a mother.

Deep down I know people make mistakes and this is out of my control.  I can be challenging though to think we will be benefiting from it.  This is one way I feel foster care adoption is different from private adoption. With private adoption the parents are choosing to give up their children.

I am not feeling discouraged, just thoughtful about all of the parties involved.  I’m feeling the need to pray for our future children and their families.

the last childless weekend getaway???

California – no doubt about it, a beautiful wonderful place to visit!  The weather was cool and divine, a fabulous get away from the AZ heat.

We visited the Santa Monica Pier, one of our favorite places in California.  We also saw Hotel California.  Being an Eagles fan I have heard the song but didn’t know there was actually a hotel named “Hotel California” but there is! 

Our hotel was about a mile from Disneyland.  Every time I thought about how close we were to Disneyland, I was excited and overjoyed thinking… I can’t wait to come back with our kids, which we hope will be joining our family really soon.  I had no negative or envious feelings at all when seeing all of the children with their families. Only excitement and anticipation for us!

I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mother.  I have prayed for my children for as long as I can remember.  Although things have not worked out as I have planned, HE has a plan for us and I know our children are out there, waiting for us as we are waiting for them. I can’t wait to meet them!

We visited a restaurant, El Cholo, which my friend claims to be the best mexican food in Los Angeles.  It was yummy and J could eat the salsa, definitely a benefit.  For those of you who don’t know my husband well, he is not the biggest fan of mexican food (my favorite) and he finds Taco Bell Mild Sauce to be “spicy”.  So finding a place he and I can both enjoy is awesome!

The had pretty darn good Margaritas too!!  One of my favorite occasional treats is having a Margarita, they are like a refreshing lemonade with a kick! 😉

I am really starting to consider myself a connoisseur of salsa and margaritas.  Two of my favorite things.  I now have my favorite places is multiples cities, states, and in three countries.

We also visited Desert Hills Premium Outlets and Cabazon Outlets.  We both found some summer clothes and I got a couple new purses with my fabulous 30% off coupon. 🙂

We have been told by our licensing specialist to keep living our lives, not planning it around our children to be because we don’t know when they will arrive.  But this weekend we sure found ourselves wondering if this was our last childless weekend getaway???  What will happen with our planned September vacation?  Will we have another childless getaway?  Will we be bringing children along?  Will we be canceling because we have just been placed and feel it is too soon to be traveling as a family?

Not really sure what the future holds right now but feeling optimistic and excited today.

BREAKING NEWS … We interrupt your day for this EMERGENCY BROADCAST!!

Hey everyone, amazing, exciting news received today….. WE ARE CERTIFIED!!!!

Here is the message I received from our adoption licensing specialist today…

I just wanted to let you know that I received your certification in the mail today!  You should be getting a copy of it in the next few days.  I have also submitted everything to the registry and CPS workers should be able to view your file for children by next week.

I am surprised she wasn’t so excited to call and tell me the news and I got it in an email but nevertheless…. WE ARE CERTIFIED!!!!  Can you tell I am excited??  This was worth waking up to post in the middle of the day!