Warning: This is a long and poorly worded post!

So I don’t get blog etiquette, or more specifically, blogroll etiquette. After googling it and reviewing the (blogger) literature on the topic, I am no less confused. Here’s the deal (and these are pretty much summed up elsewhere here, too): we wanted to adopt (it was even a pre-requisite for me to marry DB!), we decided this fall was The Right Time, and we’d always planned on adopting from Vietnam because we love Vietnam, and it was really important for us to adopt from a country where we felt we could continue to foster a cultural connection – returning several times with our adopted children, spending long amounts of time there, learning the language, etc. Everyone has their standards for picking a country to adopt a child from; this was one of ours. Others that were extremely important to us included ETHICS (which ultimately was the death knell for our Vietnam plans), cost, and the country would let us adopt its children (because I have a chronic health condition, some countries like China, Russia, and Korea aren’t interested. It is very well-controlled but apparently – let’s be honest, even though it’s morbid – they think I’m going to keel over imminently.) At any rate, I joined all of these yahoo groups (APV, LVC, AAR), and started to do some research to begin the long paper-chasing process.

At the same time, Vietnam adoptions officially to go haywire (the specifics of which are adequately covered in many blogs, and I will not revisit here – email me if you want me to give more details or links). Suffice it to say: the U.S. and Vietnam have a long history of sustaining adoption diplomacy ties, shutting down the program, and re-opening it. The two countries engage in international adoption under the auspices of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is set to expire September 1, 2008. In November 2007, it started to look as though the MOU would not be renewed and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi advised that PAPs should not begin an adoption application from Vietnam given the potential for the program to close again, so we decided to hold off.

In the meantime, though, I started to get intrigued by the blogs of several families who had adopted, or were in the process of adopting, children from Vietnam. As in, I started reading some of these people’s blogs every day and pretty much knowing the intimate details of their lives – without ever leaving a comment. I realize this sounds totally creepy, but it gets to the point where you feel awkward knowing so much about their lives without making yourself known…and I justified it by thinking that it was a public space and they wouldn’t know that I was on there. (It turns out, apparently, that I was totally wrong. Whoops. If any of you are reading this, I promise I am not that weird and I am just a little shy about leaving my personal thoughts about your personal lives on a very public internet and I’d even have emailed you to tell you about how I felt like a stalker but some of you don’t leave an email address!!!)

At some point (probably a month ago) I realized that a) I never left a comment, and I was totally committing blogosphere faux pas all over the place by staying anonymous, b) I didn’t have a blog myself, so I looked even creepier, and then the most recent, c) we aren’t actually adopting at this point in time, so I wasn’t part of the adoptive community, and once we are, we are probably adopting from Thailand (which has a small, slow, stable, program and, some would argue, one with slightly less propensity for ethical issues, although any adoption enterprise is subject to ethical problems), so I’m not even part of the Vietnam adoption community, although I desperately want to be. However, I did start to leave some comments to assuage my guilty conscience, and finally TONIGHT I popped my commenting cherry by leaving my URL on one of these adoption blogs, too!! (I did it on one that I am a particularly huge fan of, mostly because the woman sounds like she is so on top of her life, has two beautiful kids with a third about to pop out imminently, and her field of work is very similar to mine. Oh, and she writes well and honestly, so I’m hooked.) There are several other Vietnam adoption blogs that I continue to follow, if only because they talk a lot about adoption parenting (which is a not country-specific), adoption ethics, or I’ve just become somewhat wrapped up in their lives.

I do not think this is rare by any means, but I would like to know what to do about it once you (I) find yourself entangled, committing faux pas right and left, and addicted to the next installment in the blogger’s family lives (other than get your own blog and your own life. I got a blog, and I’m working on getting a life :)). For instance, there’s another blog about a girl who is dealing with infertility who was once pursuing adoption but decided to forgo it in favor of IVF. I’ve been reading about her story ever since she and her husband got burned by the adoption agency (the agency went bankrupt and stole a lot of money from prospective adoptive parents (PAPs), including them). Her name is also Rachel, she is a Christian, and although DB and I are not necessarily dealing with infertility (we just have the potential to have some issues, but adoption has always been our Plan A so we’ve never exercised the pregnancy option), reading her story, I always feel like we have a lot in common. Anyway, she ran a poll of people to see how many people were reading her blog, and it turned out she had something like 400 people reading her blog regularly – almost none of whom posted comments!!! So I know there are a LOT of lurkers out there. There’s something comforting in that…!

So…those of you in the know – what is the etiquette here? Do I list the blogs I read? Do I say “hey, this one is cool” and link it in a post?