Tag Archives: adoption blog

Open Adoption, Closed Heart

Standard

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~Mary Engelbreit

In my previous post “Open Adoption 101”, I said I would talk about my feelings on  the concept of open adoption and how they’ve evolved, and I also planned to elaborate more on the benefits of open adoption for the child. Well I think I’m just going to discuss my perspective today, and leave the benefits and create a third installment on open adoption.  This topic is pretty vast, and a very important part of open adoption, and can’t be smooshed into one little rambling blog entry.  Well it probably can be, but not by me.

But before I do, I just have to say that I have read and heard so often from others about how much your opinions and outlooks will change as you make your way through the process.  I totally understood how that could be, as I think this happens with any life altering undertaking, but I certainly didn’t count on any momentous changes before we even sent in our application.  But I was wrong, and open adoption was my first serious change of heart.

Before we had the official “we-can’t-get-pregnant-so-now-what” conversation, I had casually researched adoption.  I say casually because it wasn’t really a confident, “okay, I want to know what my options are”  kind of research. When I first started looking into it, I was still slightly in denial about our infertility, and on some level felt that if I really researched adoption, it would somehow jinx us completely and whatever remote hope we had of a bio child would be extinguished.  So first I searched surrogacy, and then when I got a bit braver, I searched  “adoption in (my city)”, just to see how much info was out there.  I would click on the odd link, but just skim the pages, not really reading any of the info.  I was “grazing” if you will.  Eventually though, the reality set in that a bio child was not in the cards for us, and it was time to get serious about taking another route to parenthood.  So M and I had the conversation and my real research began.

Now I wouldn’t say that my grazing research afforded me any sort of in depth knowledge on adoption, but I thought I had a pretty good handle overall, on how adoption worked.  So when I started actively reading, and came across open adoption, I was quite shocked that a) I’d never heard about it before and b) that people actually did this.   I mean I’d heard of people having relationships with their birth families.  But the stories I knew of were children who’d been raised in their birth family, but just adopted by another family member.  (One form of what is known as kinship adoption.)  Or adoptees who located their birth parents and reunited with them.  The only degree of openness I was familiar with besides those,  was semi-open adoptions; instances where there were exchanges of pictures, letters, cards, and perhaps gifts (totally fine by me).  But I wasn’t aware of face-to-face interactions and ongoing relationships at all.

I like to think of  myself as a very open minded person, so my instantaneous rejection of this idea, caught me off guard.  As soon as I knew what it was, just the word open adoption caused a knee-jerk reaction of “Nope!”  After learning about it, I remember coming across an adoption agency that said they only did these kind of adoptions.   They wouldn’t even consider any potential parents who weren’t willing to accept an open adoption plan, because they approached all of their adoptions this way until the birth mother requested otherwise. And that actually had me thinking, “Oh my God, if they’re all like this, maybe we can’t adopt either.”

If you’ve read my entries about infertility “Rant”, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of just how badly I have always wanted to be a parent.  So my thinking that open adoption could actually be a roadblock to that, tells you just how much I rejected the idea.  Now to put it in perspective, I didn’t carry this opinion around with me for months on end.  Mainly because a large part of what was bothering me wasn’t just the idea itself.  It was also the fact that I couldn’t even bring myself to even say that I didn’t necessarily agree with it, but I could be accepting of it.  That really bothered me.  A LOT.   I could accept that I wasn’t wholly on board with the idea, but totally rejecting it went against my belief in being open minded, and I hated being challenged on that level.

So what made all the difference?  What flipped the proverbial switch?  Well, basically more research.  But this time, I did more than read the experts take on things.  I looked for accounts of personal experiences from parents (both birth and adoptive), in books, blogs, and chat boards.  I just couldn’t get past my hesitation, and I needed to know how other people did.  Surely I couldn’t be the only person that felt this way?

No, I wasn’t.  Many personal accounts from adoptive parents I came across reflected feelings and thoughts similar to, and in some instances, the same as mine.   And throughout these stories ran common threads of discomfort and anxiety.

  • Because my child knows his birth parents, will that somehow influence her to go back to live with them when they get older?
  • Won’t it make it harder for the child to bond and accept his adoptive parents?
  • If the birth parents don’t agree with my methods of parenting and discipline, are they going to interfere?
  • If my child suffered from mental, physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their birth parents, how can I be expected to have an amicable relationship with them?
  • Can I really face the birth parents knowing that I am potentially a painful reminder that they are no longer the parents to this child?
  • What if the birth parents don’t like me, or think I’m not good enough to parent their child?
  • What if my child likes his birth parents better?

When I looked into how birth parents feel about open adoption, I had to take into consideration, that most accounts I was reading were from birth parents who’d chosen an adoption plan for their child via private adoption.  Again, public adoption isn’t usually a voluntary scenario, so there wasn’t as much on the birth parent’s side of testimony.  In that respect, I had to rely mainly on the adoptive parents who were in those relationships.  However, what I did from the birth parent’s experience, was that they feared judgement, and rejection for their decision or bad parenting choices, from the birth parents as well as their child.  But most importantly, was that they often echoed the exact same fears and anxieties as adoptive parents, just from the opposite side of the fence.

This put me at ease a great deal because many of these same birth parents and adoptive parents, overcame their fears and were now involved in positive and/or successful open adoptions.  That’s not to say all fears and awkwardness will suddenly disappear, and even if you the adoptive parent, embrace the idea wholeheartedly, that doesn’t mean the birth parents will.  However, those who took the leap had no regrets whatsoever.  Even when it wasn’t idyllic.

The second discovery that helped me turn the panic switch off was in some ways, and even easier solution-it isn’t about you.  It’s about the child and meeting their needs.  When I put it into that perspective, somehow it became more palatable.  (Notice I said palatable, not gratifying.)   But continuing to read, with a different mindset, made all the difference.  Suddenly the information was reinforcing all the positive outlook I was gaining instead of compounding the negative one I used to have.  That said, I’m not completely blinded by my new take on things; I know it won’t be all unicorns, rainbows, and warm fuzzy feelings.  But ensuring that I’m meeting my child’s needs,  is my number one objective and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to do that.  I want to give them everything they need, and hopefully a little bit of things they don’t really need, but would be damn cool to have.

It’s funny how your perspective can do a complete 180.  At the outset, I kept thinking to myself, open adoption was the worst case scenario.  Hopefully we would luck out and be involved in a semi-open adoption where we could avoid the face-to-face contact.  Now I find myself desperately hoping that the child we adopt will still have full contact with their parents, or at least some part of their bio family, because that  would be the best case scenario.

Advertisements

Infertility~Rant Till You Can’t Rant No More (Part II)

Standard

“Sometimes things have to fall apart so that others can fall into place.” ~Unknown

See what they don’t tell you when you read about infertility, is that in order to really accept or move on from it, you have to grieve it.  And grieving during the infertility experience is an entirely different process than mourning and accepting it at the end. I know, I know.  You’re saying to yourself, “But, aren’t grieving and mourning the same thing?”  Yes, they can be, but for me they were separate. Grieving is what I did while I was going through it.  I now mourn the loss of my fertility and the biological children I will never see and the pregnancy I will never experience, but I’m not grieving.  They’re two different stages; grieving is present tense, and mourning is past tense.  Does that make sense?  Probably not, but let’s just pretend it does and read on.

When you’re going through infertility, and you arrive at the point where your chances are looking more and more bleak as each cycle comes to an end without a pregnancy, there is still that annoying, nagging little voice that says, “ What if?”  What if after all this time, we miraculously did conceive?  Well that nagging little voice, whispering from the recesses of your mind, is just pure evil.  Your heart is so broken by that point, that when that voice starts babbling, you just want it to shut up.  You don’t want to entertain even the slightest bit of optimism at this point, because you’re all too familiar with how much it hurts when you always end up devastated in the end.  So your brain is saying, “Maybe???” and your heart is saying, “No don’t!”  And your brain is saying, “Aw come on heart!  Just a little bit of optimism….”  And your heart starts yelling at you, “HEY!!!  Will you please do something and make him shut the hell up?!?!?!”  Then you’re all torn, so you tell them both to just stop it and next thing you know, you’re in a three way argument with yourself.  (Did I mention infertility can also make you completely insane???)  And the worst part, is that you don’t even learn from this argument.  All three of you agree to meet, same time, same place, one month from then, and go through the whole argument all over again.  So now, you’re not only grieving, you’ve become completely unhinged, and a sadomasochist.

When you’re in the midst of your journey, there is still that little pilot light that flickers away, no matter how dark and cavernous your heart is at that point.  When I was at this stage, I thought I had accepted that I was infertile, and that little light would always flicker regardless.  I figured it would always be there because the desire to become pregnant was still there, even if I knew we couldn’t.  What I didn’t realize was that once you actually accept it, the pilot light goes out.  Now that may sound even more heart-wrenching, but it’s not because I was the one who was finally able to extinguish it.  I was finally the one in control; I didn’t let grief and sadness do it for me.  I did it because I was ready to move on.  And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel heartbreak when another month with no pregnancy passed by.  I was able to step out of my grief, put it in the past, and now, objectively mourn, without stepping neck deep into my grief again.

How did I get to that point, you ask?   Did I just wake up one morning and decide it was over?  No.  If I had that super power, I wouldn’t have suffered all those years, and you would have been reading this part of my blog a long time ago.  I can’t really tell you what caused the shift in my thinking that day.  All I can tell you is that I was sitting on the couch with my laptop, checking my email and found a “Getting Pregnant” newsletter in my inbox.  I hadn’t had any form of trying to conceive or pregnancy newsletters linked to my email in forever.  I had angrily unsubscribed to all of those years before.  But before I deleted it, I had seen an article saying something like, “Potential new hope for couples with infertility…”, so of course, I clicked on it.  Well what I read actually wasn’t too hopeful (“hopeful” was a bit of a stretch really), and it naturally took me down a path I hadn’t allowed myself to travel down for quite a while.

I can’t tell you where my mind wandered from there, all I can tell you is that all of a sudden, everything became so clear it was ridiculous.  I always laugh at the people who claim to be prophets, but if they exist, I imagine that’s what it feels like to receive a divine message.  I’m pretty sure, if I would have been standing outside at that moment, the clouds would have parted, sun rays would have been cast to the earth as a chorus of angelic voices sang “Ahhhhhhhhhh……”.  I’m not joking.  The voice I heard was unfamiliar in tone, but definitively mine, and it said, “You have to get off the fence and decide.  Does your pain stem from the thought of living the rest of your life, never having been pregnant?  Or does it stem from the thought of living the rest of your life never having been a mom?”  Suddenly the decade of weight that had built up on my shoulders was slowly lifting, and there was only one answer, “I can live with never being pregnant, but I can’t live the rest of my life without being a mom.”  I had heard people speak of epiphanies before, but never had any first hand experience.  Well I can tell you without a doubt, that moment fell into the epiphany category.  Or as Oprah likes to call them, “Aha! moments”.  Call it what you will, but it was as if all my previous worries fell away, and all there was in front of me was the thought, “I just want to be a mom”. From that moment on, I was able to let go of my infertility and embrace the idea of adoption.

I’m not going to say that I’ve washed my hands of it entirely.  That would just be kidding both of us.  There will always be a part of me that wonders what our biological children would have been like.  Who would they look like?  Would we have had a boy or a girl?  What would it have felt like to be pregnant and subsequently give birth?  How insanely cute would they have looked in all those baby clothes I bought while ignoring the warnings from my heart not to jinx myself.  Yes, I’d like to say that I’m beyond all those thoughts and completely one hundred percent over it.  But I don’t think a heart can ever entirely overcome something that’s such a part of the human condition.

So here I am, a couple months after grieving my infertility, and I can honestly say I’m at peace with it.  It took a whole lotta time, and a whole lotta emotional upheaval, but I’m ok with it.  It’s not how I pictured my life, but it is what it is.  I can’t change it, but I can change what I do with it.  I can change direction.  I can turn on my signal, and take the next exit off this highway I’ve been driving for so long.  I can look in my rearview, watch that highway slowly disappear, put the windows down, and turn up the radio.  I can look out in front of me and as the sun comes up on the horizon, I can put my shades on so that I can read the approaching road sign that says, “Motherhood Straight Ahead”.

Infertility~Rant Till You Can’t Rant No More (Part I)

Standard

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity”. ~Gilda Radner

Okay, so being those of you who are reading this are super smart (at least I like to think my readers are or will be whenever they get here), you’ve figured out that this entry is a rant of potentially epic proportions.  (I’m sure the title didn’t give it away or anything.)  But I feel I have to get this out right off the bat, for a myriad of reasons:

  • Reason #1- It tells you how we arrived at adoption, as many different people do it for different reasons.
  • Reason #2-   I hope that for those who haven’t experienced infertility themselves, this will help them gain some insight, and perhaps be a good support to someone who is going through it.
  • Reason #3-   I hope that for those who might be right in the midst of their infertility journey, that they may feel understood, and not so alone.
  • Reason #4-  I wanna get this out of my freakin’ system!!!  I’ve carried it around long enough, and I’m ready to stop lugging this suitcase around and downsize to a carry on.

So bear with me.  This will be the one and only rant, I promise.  On infertility that is.   I mean,  inevitably I’ll make reference to it, because regardless of moving past it, it’s still a part of me and who I am.  I’m just not letting it define my life anymore.  So grab a coffee, a water, or your beverage of choice, find a comfy spot to curl up, and follow me….

Well this past Mother’s Day, was the first, in probably about a decade or so, that I didn’t spend  throwing a pity party for myself.  After years of infertility, with month after month of endless disappointment, Mother’s Day and all the commercial hype leading up to it, was always a period of mourning.  Of course I celebrated my mother, mother-in-law, and all the other friends and family who were mothers.  But there was an underlying and building sense of dread whose pinnacle was  the actual day, and had me just wanting to crawl under the covers and not come out until it was all over, and a couple days passed..

It’s not bad enough that you have the infertility reminders on a day-to-day basis.  Co-workers waddling around the hallways with their pretty little pregnant bellies, and the emails sent out announcing the “Shhhh….it’s a surprise!” baby shower.  All the relentless phone calls from my mother with the “good news” that yet one more cousin is expecting.  Which of course means,  the onset of another shower plan in the works.  (And can I just add that with 40+ cousins on my Mom’s side alone, I’m not being dramatic.  That really IS a lot of “good news” phone calls.) Then there’s living in a part of the city where you can’t spit without hitting either a public or private school, and you can’t blink without seeing yet another happy mom and/or dad pushing a baby carriage.  (And to add insult to injury, that mom often has another baby on the way!  Then there’s the well meaning jovial comments such as, “Sooooo…are you and M ever going to have kids?”  When you’re infertile, you’re surrounded by a barrage of ruthless reminders of a barren womb.

So in order not to be reminded of your seemingly useless and uncooperative uterus, you think, let me be honest with people, and just tell them that we’re having fertility issues.  I may not be able to control all the visible reminders of motherhood that the universe seems to thoroughly enjoy pelting me with, but this should make people feel uncomfortable enough that it will at least put an end to the painful procreation inquiries.  Yep, it sure did.  It did, and then it took things to a whole ‘nother waaaay too personal and intrusive level.  (Something about fertility immediately inspires aquaintances to share.)  “Have you guys tried this position?  You know if you’re standing up that they say it’s not conducive to helping the sperm travel to your egg.”   “Well how often are you having sex?  Are you sure you’re doing it enough?”  “When we got pregnant, we were all over eachother non-stop during my fertile period.  Couldn’t have pried us apart with a crowbar!”  Insert giggles from them, and forced smile from me, here.

It is just so incredibly painful to be infertile.  Not being able to do the one thing that is a natural process for seemingly all of humankind (and supernatural for some particular members of the species), is absolutely devastating.  I remember thinking how often as you’re growing up you’re warned about how easy it is to become pregnant.  How in the early years, you’re told in the schoolyard how holding hands or kissing a boy or it could lead to pregnancy. Or not.

Ah the cruel and bitter irony of it all.  You spend what seems like forever trying to avoid it, and then it’s finally the right time; you’ve met “the one”, and you’re ready to settle down, and start your family.  “Okay, here we go!   Lets be parents, we’re all ready… oh yeah, this is gonna be great”…..(rubs hands together)….”Here we go”………….(silence)…………….”Yoohoo!!!!”………”I said, ‘ Here we go!  We’re all ready’!”………(silence)……..”Hello????  Is anyone listening?????  We’ve found that person.  You know, that “one” everybody  talks about???  We’re committed to eachother and ready to be parents.  Yeah, us over here!”  (frantically waving arms)  “Hello??? ….. Anyone???????????????”…..(silence and the sound of crickets)…….

And though you read the statistics, and they tell you you’re not alone (anywhere from 1 in 6, to 1 in 8 couples experience infertility), it can feel like yours is the only womb for miles with a “for rent” sign posted on it.  Okay, let me re-phrase that, it does feel like yours is the only womb looking for a tenant to sign a nine month lease.  Everywhere you bloody well  turn, you see glowing pregnant people and couples, and your uterus can’t help but cringe, and ache a little.  Actually a lot.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want all the people in my life who may read this thinking, “Oh God.  She was so miserable and there I was rubbing our good news in her face.”  Or, “I had no idea how completely insensitive my comments were.  She must have hated me!”  Nuh uh. Yes, the news and comments get under your skin, but you know that they’re all coming from a genuinely good place.  So in some miraculous feat of emotional fortitude, you manage to be happy for others who have succeeded at what you so desperately want.  Your feelings of hurt, disappointment, and anger don’t overshadow your joy at finding out that your friends or family are expecting.   Let me put it like this….

“The saddest kind of sad is the sad that tries not to be sad. You know, when Sad tries to bite its lip and not cry and smile and go, ‘No, I’m happy for you.’ That’s when it’s really sad.” ~John Mayer

You’re like those little cartoon people that walk around with a little grey raincloud over their heads. You never can shake that little grey cloud entirely.  So in those instances, that’s pretty much how you feel; a happy sadness.

But eventually, for me, I went from sad to bitter about it.  (If you’re really comfy and ready for a legendary, metaphorical display of the aforementioned bitterness, you can read an old ambiguous My Space post where I wrote about it: Pity Party ) Gradually, infertility was just there.  A hole in my heart for sure, but you learn to live with it, and  just keep plugging away.  That little grey cloud still follows you everywhere you go, but he backs off and lags behind a bit.  Didn’t mean that I didn’t still want to get pregnant as badly as I ever did, it was just that the disappointment had turned to doubt that it would ever happen, and I  just learned to live with it until I was ready to move on to the next point.  And at that point, I didn’t know what that point would be.  Would we move forward toward adoption, or just scrap the idea of being parents all together?  M had never really given up on becoming parents, but I will admit that I certainly did.  I remember coming out with a comment to him that I had been afraid to say out loud for a very long time, even though I’d been thinking it for quite a while. “I’m thinking maybe I’m just not meant to be a Mom at all.”  Which he, quickly and exasperatedly, dismissed, but I really wasn’t so sure.

M and I had always said we’d consider adoption, even before we knew we couldn’t get pregnant. We had spoken about having biological and adopted children.   I thought it was a wonderful way of building your family until I was faced with it being my only option.  I felt like such a hypocrite.  I had touted how wonderful adoption was and casually threw out there how I would be more than willing to adopt, and how more people should consider it.  I had encouraged friends who experienced infertility and were contemplating adoption, before eventually conceiving.  I was the cheerleader for adoptive children.  Then when it came my turn….well, lets just say I wasn’t exactly waving my pom-poms quite so high anymore.  More like not at all.

Disclaimer

Standard

Before I put any of my thoughts to screen, I just want to say that the views expressed in this blog, are in no way to be misconstrued as my interpretation and presentation of one voice for the masses.  I don’t pretend to know what others experience as they travel  the paths of adoption or infertility.  I’m just one of many voices that make up the composite face of either of the two journeys.  So if my written word implies an omniscient tone, please don’t take it as such.

Coming Out

Standard

Not really sure how to start this blog other than to say M and I have decided to adopt!  Yay!  This is our official coming out party!  Our adoption cotillion if you will.  Well, mine I guess, being as I’m the blogger.  M is just the date I’ve dragged along to the dance.   Anyhow, both of us been waiting a long time to start our family, and I am so happy to be finally moving in a direction that will hopefully make children a reality for us.

We have decided to adopt domestically, and to pursue a public adoption as opposed to private.  For those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of adoption, I’ll explain the different options that are available.

 

    • International Adoption–  This would be adopting outside of Canada, or within Quebec.  (Yes, in Quebec, they deem an interprovincial adoption “international”.  This is done through an adoption agency, or with the aid of a licensee. Age ranges for these types of adoption can be anywhere from babies to teens, and the cost can run on average, anywhere from $30000-$50000 dollars.  (Not sure, but I would think Quebec would be less than this; more likely around the cost of a private domestic adoption.)
    • Private Domestic Adoption–  This is adopting within Canada through an agency or licensee.  Inter-provincial adoptions can and do occur, however, the most common is usually within your province of residence.  Couples/Individuals seeking newborns usually pursue this option, as it centres mostly around mothers who are pregnant and looking to place their child.  In most cases, the mother picks the adoptive family she wants for her child with the help of the agency or licensee.  Costs for this can range on average, anywhere from $10000-$20000.
    • Public Domestic Adoption–  This is again, adopting within Canada, but in this instance, it is done through a public agency, which in Ontario, is the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).  Age ranges for this type of adoption are anywhere from toddlers up to age 18.  Newborns or children under the age of one are extremely rare.  There is no cost to adopting publically, other than the minimal cost of fingerprints and police background checks which must be submitted with the adoptive couples/individual’s application.

Initially we were unsure of which route we would go, and but were thinking we’d be pursuing a private domestic adoption.  M had a preference of a baby for our first child, so we figured we would be going that route.  However, we weren’t committing ourselves to anything until we’d looked into both sides.  So at the beginning of this month we attended an info session on public adoption at the Children’s Aid office.

In our discussion on the way home that night, M said after going to the info session, he was more comfortable with the thought of an older child, and didn’t necessarily feel drawn to the idea of a baby any longer. He said that the babies in private adoption will be adopted without a doubt because it seems everyone wants a baby when they adopt. (Currently, there are 100-150 couples/individuals waiting to adopt, for every 1 baby that is born. That’s a whole lot of competition!)   But these kids were already waiting for parents.  He thought that going this route “just felt right”.

Hearing that from him just sealed the deal for me and I was completely on board.  I was so excited he felt this way! This was music to my ears, because during my research of public adoption, I had signed up for access to the Adopt Ontario website, where you can view profiles of children in the care of CAS who are waiting to be adopted. I didn’t have my heart set on any child in particular, but there was just something about seeing those kids and knowing they were already out there, that had started to turn my heart away from private adoption.

The music wasn’t over yet. He added he’d even be willing to accept two siblings!  So it was decided then and there, that we would be going home, and starting work on our CAS adoptive parent application.

It’s quite surreal to be talking about all this, and be talking about it in the present, “We’re going to adopt”, instead of the “We’re looking into adoption”, context.  It still doesn’t feel real.  At times it feels silly to be excited because we haven’t even submitted the application yet, so it doesn’t feel like we’ve officially started anything, but I guess it’s just the excitement of a new plan, after our initial plan to have biological children was quashed by infertility.  For a long time, there wasn’t too much positivity going on, and it’s just nice to finally be in a place again where we can think about children and not have it sting so badly.

So this blog is my official launch into the big bad world of parenthood through adoption.   The wholeprocess of adoption is terribly overwhelming with everything you have to consider personally, as well as through the application process.  But at the moment, the anticipation is outweighing that for the most part.  (I’m sure that will not be the case, very soon.)  We know that we have a long road ahead, but we really hope that with some of the positives we have going from an application standpoint (more on that later), we won’t see our already 10 year wait being extended by much longer.

I’m excited to share our process with people; especially friends and family.  Some of you have been with me on the infertility roller coaster since day one, and some of you are just finding out about all this now.  Wherever you fall between those two, I hope you will check in from time to time and see where we are, and ask questions, as well as offer your insight and encouragement.  We don’t know anyone who has adopted, so this will be a learning curve for us as well as some of you.  Right now, all I know is the theoretical side, and I’m ready and willing to get to the practical side of it!

As for those of you who don’t know us and stumbled upon this while researching your own adoption, I hope this gives you some useful information that will help you in your journey.  I’m sure I will more than cover anything you want to know (and probably some stuff you didn’t), with all my excited babbling, but if there’s anything you’re curious about that I haven’t covered, please don’t hesitate to ask.

So that’s it.  First blog entry of many, complete. 🙂