Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's Complicated

I mentioned earlier that we just finished praying a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. (Also known as Our Lady Untier of Knots - we used this novena.) I can't remember where I heard about this devotion, but it's really a beautiful one. The imagery goes all the way back to the Church Fathers: St. Irenaeus said, "Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it." There's a beautiful painting associated with the devotion (at the link). And I like this description (also from the link):

"What are these knots?
"These are the problems and struggles we face for which we do not see any solution."

Bingo! I think I have some of those...

And I like this too, although it's sobering: "Ah, the knots of our life! How they suffocate the soul, beat us down and betray the heart's joy and separate us from God." I can relate...

(Pope Francis likes this devotion a lot too, FYI.)

So, knots...

One big knot we're experiencing right now is our situation vis a vis adoption. I know I've touched on it before, so I apologize for the repetition. Fair warning: being a "knot," it's all tangled in my mind, which doesn't make for the most lucid writing...but I just need to think through it.

Basically, after spending the first two years of our marriage living in a one-bedroom apartment, we decided to move (June 2013) to a bigger basement apartment in a house owned by good friends of ours. The friends live upstairs.

Our new apartment is nicer in so many ways - we have a patio and a backyard, more counter space, and (my favorite thing) a "spare room" that is both my craft room and also our guest room when guests come. I absolutely love being able to host guests and not have them sleep on our living room couch/floor. Plus our landlords are wonderful and we don't have to deal with the arbitrary, cranky management of our old place, not to mention the occasional bugs and mice. an adoption information session back in September, I was told (in response to a direct question) that our apartment probably would not be okay'ed for an adoption because the two bedrooms (main and guest) don't have any windows. And that is not okay per the fire code. (I gather that that's part of the home study, having a basic fire safety inspection by the fire department.) I asked whether we could designate our study, which has a window, as the child's bedroom. The adoption agency said that maybe could work (emphasis on "maybe") and that I should request an inspection from the fire department. I have the form but haven't done anything with it yet. (It's a basic form for a variety of inspections - adoption, daycare, I forget what else. The cost is $75).

I'm delaying because a friend pointed out that what if the fire department comes, tells us that no, this apartment wouldn't be cleared for an adoption...and also says that it's not fire-safe AT ALL and that we have to leave. Yikes.

The more I think of it, the more I think that there's no way our apartment would be approved. Besides the no windows in the two bedrooms, both the laundry room and the kitchen/dining room only have tiny windows up high that no person could fit through. Only the living room and study have a normal-size window (it's a basement apartment, but because of the ground slope, only part is truly underground - the part with the bedrooms). So in my bleak imaginings, I can see that a disastrously placed fire could definitely cut both bedrooms off from any possible escape, for example in the (one) hallway that leads from the non-window/small window part of the apartment to the rooms with normal windows and the door...yeah, doesn't make me feel too safe.

Is that even a possibility - could the fire department kick us out, saying that our apartment isn't fit for residence? I honestly don't know.

The thing is, since we're renting from friends, I imagine our apartment didn't face the same safety standards as for an apartment in a big apartment complex, right? Our friends never advertised their apartment anywhere - because I think you can't count a room as a bedroom if it doesn't have a window, right? Anyway, they just advertised word-of-mouth, which is how we heard.

Our landlord friends (who we've told about this whole situation) are really concerned that we'd get evicted by the fire department. They're worried (1) about finding new tenants asap, which would be a challenge, or worse (2) not being able to rent the apartment at all, legally. In other words, they're renting it somewhat under the radar right now, and all involved parties (us and them) are fine with it. But if the fire department comes and inspects it, and finds it wanting in terms of fire safety, then will it get a big red "x" and our friends told not to rent it or else?

Mr. M wants to read our local fire code and any other relevant regulations that might explain what is needed for an adoption or (more immediately pertinent) whether you can get evicted for not having windows in your bedrooms...I personally don't think that codes of any kind are ever that clear or understandable, so I'm not convinced we'd find the information we need.

I'd like to just call the fire department and ask them point blank whether we'd get kicked out if we weren't approve for an adoption. I wouldn't tell them where we live (other than the county) and I don't think they could trace my cell phone (it's out of state) so that's a no-risk option, right? Although they might not be able to (or willing to) give me a straight answer. They might need more context or something.

Or we could have the fire department come and inspect it, and risk getting evicted...

So why don't we just move? I've been thinking about that a LOT! (In between feeling sorry for myself and trying not to feel guilty for moving from our smaller but window-filled apartment.) Yes, one solution would be to move to an apartment that's above-ground and has windows in all the needed rooms.

But ugh, moving. In the past 5 years, I've moved 4 times. Ugh. It's a pain! Not to mention that finding an affordable, safe, liveable place to live in our extremely expensive housing market is so daunting. That's a big reason we moved to this apartment - there was no way we would find a place this nice and big for the price we were offered. No way. If we move, and unless a miracle happens (hence the novena!!!) it will almost likely be either a much smaller/worse apartment (not the best set-up to do an adoption - I really have my heart set on two bedrooms) and/or a sizeable increase in rent (not the best when you're trying to save for an adoption!) Hence the "knot" - there doesn't seem a good solution any way you slice it.

Add to that: my husband is working on his dissertation, and both he and I heartily agree that he needs to get it done. We'd like to move on to a new phase of our lives where he works and I don't necessarily have to (although I might if we still don't have children, especially to save for an adoption). Anyway, we have a great set-up for him right now: a study where he can have plenty of space to spread out and write that dissertation, go Mr. M go! =) Moving is so disruptive to daily life, and I think would be a(nother) setback for his dissertation work. Which doesn't move us any closer to adopting...

Oh, and plus once Mr. M is done with the dissertation, he'll be job-searching all over the country. So we could move, again. So do we move in the area now, just to pack up maybe within another year? But what if we could adopt before moving out of the area? It would be so great to adopt "in town" while we have such a strong network of friends and parish community. So that's a nudge toward moving sooner rather than later...

Ughhhh...Mary Undoer of Knots, pray for us! I am entrusting this situation to Our Lady to find some remedy. Maybe the answer is just WAIT - stay in this apartment, which is saving us money, keep putting it aside to save for the adoption, and just wait until Mr. M gets a job, we know where we'll be living, we can afford a different apartment of the same caliber, etc.

Or do we push ahead now, cough up extra money for a more expensive home that would be approved for adoption and just do it already?!? (My heart likes this head is not so sure.)

So that's about it. Mary, you can take over from here =)

+Ecce Fiat+


  1. Oh wow, lots for you to discern!i believe the fire dept. does have the power to declare a place unlivable due to fire safety, but it may be different depending on your state. Since it sounds like there is so much up in the air with Mr. M's dissertation and then job search, waiting and getting your financial ducks in a row might be the thing to do. Why does it all have to be so complicated?! In this situation I would usually have my husband decide so I don't think about it for too long and get too anxious.

  2. So many things to think about; praying that you are able to find some answers!

  3. Yikes! Sounds like there's no clear winner amongst your choices right now. Sorry. :( I think I'd start by anonymously calling the fire department. Collect as much info as you can before taking action. One thing I've learned with adoption is once you move, you have to start the whole process over. We're sort of in a similar situation. Husband and I are talking about moving in the next year or so, and if we haven't adopted by then, it's back to the drawing board. But maybe that would be different if you use a larger, nation-wide adoption agency. Is there such a thing? Sorry, this is likely creating more knots for you. I'll just stop here and say... praying for ya!

  4. Lots of stuff to ponder...but I agree..first have your dh finish his dissertation...and if he finds a great job somewhere can move. I can only imagine how a baby could complicate moving and remember...adoptions are not finalized in most states until six months after you get the baby. There will be post-placement visits etc. It takes time to get the paperwork done for the courts. Technically, you are foster parents for those first six months.

    I would think moving might make things harder. I have no answers about the fire dept. I'd imagine that because there is a door you could get outside. Around us, you need to have a safety exit in the basement if there are bedrooms. I thought having a closet in the bedroom made it a bedroom. hopefully soon your knots will be undone!

  5. I don't have much to add from the other commentors, but I wanted to add my prayers and shared "knots" with all things IF. (((hugs)))

  6. I love that novena, it sounds like a great time to pray it. Sounds like a lot of possible roadblocks and unknowns with regards to adoption. I can relate, prayers for direction for you and hubby. It is so hard to wait to move forward with adoption after IF, peace be with you!!!

  7. I love that novena, it sounds like a great time to pray it. Sounds like a lot of possible roadblocks and unknowns with regards to adoption. I can relate, prayers for direction for you and hubby. It is so hard to wait to move forward with adoption after IF, peace be with you!!!