Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Profile Book Angst

Today is my third (week)day of summer. So far, I have read two books, started a third, watched a lot of Insi.de Amy Schu.mer (which I've enjoyed immensely), done a little working out (and realized how horribly out of shape I am), and spent a lot, a lot, A LOT of time at the computer. I have NOT spent hardly any time gardening, not really, because it is apparently monsoon season in Western NY. I am not complaining about the chilly temperatures, because I love not being a sweaty mess. But the weeds are definitely winning.

I have already shared with you that the profile book is a project that is not bringing out the best in me. As in, it's pretty much bringing out the worst in me. I want to control it, but I kind of suck at this sort of graphic design-oriented project. I want to work on it all the time, but I also want to do it together. But, as I've mentioned, we handle these sorts of challenges differently. And I am really, really bad at letting things out of my tight, sweaty little grasp.

So I've been a rat bitch lately.

Which is why today, after going to see Juras.sic World at the fancy leather-recliner theater with a friend (so much fun, not too terribly scary, but terrible cliched script writing...if you can overlook that and Bryce Da.llas Howa.rd's constant heavy breathing, you will have a grand time), I picked up this strangely apropos card for Bryce:

Art by David Olenick
Hilarious, no? On the inside, it says "Well you get the idea." Except I had to add a comma after "Well," because it really bothered me that it wasn't there.

It was basically an apology card for being such a monster lately. I just want us to be parents as soon as possible, and now the profile book is the last thing standing between us and going live, being able to be profiled and get this show on the road. This exciting, terrifying, exciting-terrifying show on the possibly long and twisty road.

I think my angst over the profile book is multi-layered. It is a creative effort, and while usually I love me a good creative project, it is kind of surreal to be encapsulating your life into a photo book when I have only made one photo book, for our wedding, and I wasn't really all that happy with that one. It has to be perfect. Not for everyone, but for the person who will ultimately choose us to parent her baby. We don't know who she is or where she is or if she is baking that baby right this very minute, but she's out there somewhere and we don't know what about our book will attract her to us. Will it be me with my violin? Bryce with his guitar? A picture of us taking advantage of our beautiful woodland backyard? A picture of our cats? A picture of the gardens, or us in the kitchen? Will it be the montage of us making the same stupid silly face on every outing/hike/trip we've ever been on?

This year, in Ithaca
Last year or possibly the year before, here in Rochester.
Just a smattering of the many photos we have like this.
Attractive, no? Endearing or crazy?
We just don't know. It could be that I like owls. It could be that Bryce woodworks. The problem is, we kind of have a lot of interests. They are all quiet interests, relatively speaking, and ones that you do alone or with another person -- hiking, cooking, gardening, woodworking, reading, playing instruments... how to show all that and not look like weird hermit people? Because through going through all the pictures, we are not particularly social. We do not have a lot a photos of us with others.

Caveat. We do not have a lot of photos with others that do not involve some sort of booze. Bryce's 40th birthday party? Well, lots of friends there, but it was a classic cocktail party, Frank Sinatra style. So it was classy, but there are cocktails in virtually every shot. Dinners with friends? Dinners out with family? Wine, cocktails, champagne toasts.

And we are not supposed to have pictures with booze in them. Which again, makes us look like  antisocial people who live in the woods, the workshop, the kitchen, and the garden. And there's the question of: should we hire a professional photographer to do a small shoot of us around our home and the park nearby? Or are our photos (some professional, some not) enough?

So the pressure keeps building up, and I get overwhelmed, and then I get so super cranky that I can hear the tone coming out of my mouth and I cringe inwardly as it comes flying out like sarcastic daggers, but I have had a hard time stopping the onslaught until the damage is already done. All I can do is say I'm sorry and hug deeply and give Bryce apology cards with ironic dinosaurs on them, and a contrite packet of his favorite strawberry licorice.

I felt loads better after talking with a friend of mine, who I haven't spoken with in AGES, who adopted her son through the same agency at the end of last year. She told me everything about her process, her journey, and it was twisty for sure. But, she said that she was hideous during the profile book process, too. (Not that this makes it better, but at least I'm not alone.) She basically said that it's a miracle they survived it. Maybe the profile book is a way to gauge the strength of your marriage before you really get past the turnstile and are on the road to adoption, truly. My friend said that she used a different program than Publisher or Shut.terfly, that she used Mi.xbook. And that she basically wrested all control and spent 6 weeks on the thing until it was perfect. And then after it was live, she found a typo and recalled her books, reprinting them all. Yeah, that sounds about right to me.

So, I spent yesterday evening and this morning messing around in Mix.book, and basically love the program. But right now, Bryce is in his office working away at his version of the book in Publisher. And that is okay. Maybe his version of things will be better. (It probably will be, from a design standpoint.) He has an incredible eye for color and pattern and space. It's what makes him a great engineer, a great designer of woodworking projects, and a great decorator of our home. Every renovation that we've done to our home has been masterminded by him, to the point where he uses a CAD program to do up his own blueprints and designs down to fractions of an inch. It's why finding the right contractor is so important, because... oh my god... HE IS A CONTROL FREAK TOO.

So it becomes control vs control, and for the time being I have relinquished mine. I am curious to see what he comes up with. I don't hear him sobbing and swearing in the other room, so he's obviously got a better hold on this than me. Maybe giving him control over the design and then tweaking the drafted product and providing the written copy is enough. We did select pictures together, and maybe after we see what we have it will help us decide whether or not to have that professional shoot done.

We will get this done. It will get done sooner than later. And when it is all done I will share with you advice (if you wish to take it from a person who has admitted being a crazy cranky overwhelmed bitch throughout the whole process), the stuff that we decided to take and use and the stuff that we chose to ignore, and how our book turned out. Probably not the actual book, because of confidentiality and stuff, but maybe some pictures and spreads that we chose.

Those of you who have already done this, recently or not, please please please share your wisdom on what worked for you and how you tackled this beast. I am feeling like I have it mildly tranquilized, but it still has the potential to pull the dart out, rear up, and bite me. Or Bryce. Let's hope this divide-and-conquer strategy will work for us!


  1. I hate to say it but it's not about the book. It really isn't. You're just trying to exert control over a process that is not in your control. Not that I don't understand what you're going through. I do. Years ago, I wrote a profile and included pictures and agonized over every inch of it. In our case, the profile didn't actually work, we were matched with a birthmother and we had an interview and that was that. Just speak from the heart. It's the heart that truly matters.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts! Definitely trying to exert control over a process that is not at all in my control. Or our control, since Bryce totally agreed that he is also a control freak.

      It's so hard, because if it was just about writing and speaking from the heart, that I could do. It's making it aesthetically pleasing and choosing from the pictures to create a snapshot of our life that's hard. But we're making progress!

  2. I'm not sure what happened to my last comment....but I'll try to recreate it.

    Inside Amy Schumer is amazing!

    I don't have any wise words for you about your profile book but I like what the previous commenter said about speaking from the heart. You have a bunch of heartfelt posts on this blog- why not copy and paste from them and put some of them in your book? If I were a birth mother I would pick you!

    1. Oh yes, so amazing! I love her.

      I would love if it was all about the writing, but from what we're gathering from the agency and accompanying resources, too much writing is bad. More pictures, good. So it's kind of outside of my strengths... Thanks for picking me! :)

  3. Photo books are so much work even without the pressure of feeling like you are auditioning your life. I can't offer any wisdom but I tam sure the book will be beautiful and I hope others who have done this before can offer some reassurance!

    1. Seriously. That's it, I think, the feeling of auditioning my life. It's the scary part, and the part that scared me before I became educated about adoption. The selling ourselves part. I don't want to pander, and I don't want to be obviously marketing ourselves, however we're not the only book that will be seen at a time, so it HAS to be marketed to our strengths and different somehow. And I agree, the photo books can take forever anyway, but with this added complexity it's hard not to have it take over and weigh heavily. Thanks for weighing in!

  4. I could imagine there may be some underlying finality in completing this project on top of all of the other factors with making the book. Control is a difficult thing, especially when you feel there is less and less of it. You have referenced this is the last thing in your control. This may be a last step before going live, but you have more opportunity for control after this point. You can control how you interact and respond with potential birth mothers. You have a relationship with a social worker and you can control the feedback you give to them. Listen to your intuition because while it may seem like they are choosing you, you will have a opportunity to choose them back. As many adoptions are open, if you are going this route, it may also be important for you all to feel good in moving forward with a possible birth mother and child. You will be bonded to this person no matter the distance or time. Make the choice of a child who is right for you and your husband to welcome into your family. The book is only one piece. You have a social worker who should be advocating for you while balancing the needs on both sides for a good match. There may be opportunities for conversations or meetings with possible birth mothers, a time for you both to shine beyond the two-dimensional page. Do your best with the book and make peace that you have put forth your best effort. Do it well, then let it be. :) Easier said than done, but I have full confidence in you both!

    1. Oh, thank you! Yes, the underlying finality is definitely part of the complexity. And the "last thing under our control" piece? It's just the last thing that is proactively in our control. THe rest is reactionary, you know? And I know that really nothing is truly in our control, but it's a struggle I had throughout infertility treatments and one I am struggling with now, too...the great letting go. Absolutely we will be sure that our match is good for everyone involved, and we won't just jump on a profiling opportunity because it's there, so those choices still exist. But this is the jumping off point from which all those decisions happen-- our book is the only only thing that a birthmother will see, the way our agency works. So we want it to be right because it is what will give us those opportunities for face-to-face meetings, or further discussions with our social workers. We can't get to that three-dimensional shine without the two-dimensional piece. :) But, we're making great progress and I'm feeling good about where we are now. There has been a lot of compromise and deep breathing. We had a whole day of profile book work with absolutely no strife, and that was AMAZING. :) More on this to come! Thank you for your thoughts, always appreciated!