Monday, December 28, 2009
Actually we do have a short list of errands for the day, but we are approaching them slowly, on our own terms. Target will be there no matter what time we finally get out the door. We may even go half jammied!
I love LOVE Christmas and the first thrills of the holiday season. I love the holiness of it and the matierialism of it. I love it all; The decorations, the music, the shopping, the cooking. But I am always just as happy to see it go. If I weren't savoring my laziness so much I might even take the tree down today.
But now that the sparkly busy time is behind, a new frame has come into focus in the slide show of our lives. A new kind of busy-ness, a re-direction of energies. A completely new chapter, that I can now fully concentrate on. Paperwork that must be done. Mental preparations. Nesting. A baby to bring home!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I understand all of these questions. We've been on and off the 2nd adoption train a few times now, usually unable to even get out of the station. And now here we are, slowly lurching forward on the proverbial Transiberian express.
There's a lot of scary things going on politically in Russia. There is a notoriously high record of alcohol abuse. But there are scary things going on here and everywhere. And there healthy beautiful babies still needing homes. And people like us who still have parenting in them. And people like me who just feel drawn, like it is where we are supposed to go. This same feeling led us to Uralsk to get Bek...so I have to trust that this feeling knows what it's talking about.
For those of you saying, "ok, too much information, just give me an update!" Here's where we're at: right after the holidays, like January 2nd, i have a list of about 20 dossier items that i need to fill out, collect & assemble. Then each piece has to get notarized here locally, then each piece gets sent to Columbus to get apostilled (like a secondary, state-level notary). Then the dossier gets sent off. That's when the real wait will begin. Our agency advised us to wait until after the holidays, for both our personal sanity and because everything is just slowed down or shut down during this time. Russian Christmas is Janary 7th, so by the time I get our dossier out at end of Jan or into February, the timing should be perfect. Or good, atleast. No such thing as perfect timing in adoption!
So that is the big To Do list I have in the back of my head, behind the shopping list and the Christmas grocery list.
For now, S RazhdestvOm, moya Milaya!, or Merry Christmas my dear!
(i learned how to say that on a Find Russian Brides website, right in between how to say 'you are so beautiful my little angel' and 'do you understand me? will you marry me'?)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I have always said both, honestly without much conscious thought to either one. It should be noted that I was raised Catholic and still consider myself (mostly) Catholic, with a good dose of Buddhist philosophy thrown in. I know, this could be a debate of a whole other kind, but it works for me. I'll try to stay on track.
For Catholics and Christians, Christmas marks the birth of Jesus. It's a celebration of his birthday. We say "Merry Christmas" to mark this occasion, much the way you'd say Happy Birthday to someone on their birthday. We say it at our house and I say it to my family, since I know they are all Catholics (or at least a person raised Catholic / Christian living the life of an evil sinner, oh my there's another debate). But starting the week of Thanksgiving I also say "Happy Holidays", which to me includes the entire season. A catch-all term that covers November 25 to January 2nd. It's wishing someone happiness for this entire time, not just on December 25. The time that seems to be filled with mass commercialization, shop at 5am for the lowest prices, fake evergreens, a great new appetizer recipe, parties, eggnog, gigantic electronic snow globes, Frosty, Rudolph, cookies, and last but not least Santa Claus, a purportedly adult elf with German heritage who gives gifts to only good little girls and boys. Those components, all of which I LOVE I might add, scream "HOLIDAY". They don't however, in my own opinionated opinion, have a thing to do with Jesus or God, whom I also love.
I also say Happy Holidays when I am not sure what is the religious persuasion of the person receiving my greeting. Since after all, it is a greeting or a wish of good wills that you are GIVING, which is what the season is all about anyway. When you give a gift you consider the recipient, not your own wants. It is not a moment to announce your own religious beliefs, but rather a small token, a considerate exchange of wishes, a good day to you sir.
Maybe this the crux of the differing opinions.
I believe we should be allowed to say Merry Christmas. And Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukah and Kwanza. They all have different meanings for both the giver and the recipient, but the end message is the same. Peace and happiness to you.
But I also believe that not everyone believes what I believe. I am curious to know, what do you believe??
Monday, December 7, 2009
I am usually pretty good with the holiday season, but I have to say that I'm not quite sure what happened this year. Usually shortly after halloween I start christmas'ing. I make cards, get my lists going, and otherwise just get in the spirit of the season. Now I've realized that there are 18 days until Christmas. When did this happen? I have literally bought one gift and haven't made a single cookie. Any minute I just know it, a funny bearded father time will jump out and say, 'haha gotchya! it's really only October 23rd!".
In my own defense, my mind HAS been a little preoccupied. The extra space up there that was reserved for such things as hand crafted xmas cards and holiday organizing has been replaced with adoption to-do's such as "follow up with social worker regarding license" or "repeat prayer for health of baby". A hard drive only has so much space. Try to overload it and you are bound to freeze up or shut down.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
OMG! We are able to furnish proper care!!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Country Living had this great matchbox advent calendar in their most recent issue. I thought it was adorable and I am all for almost-instant gratification craft projects. The matchboxes were cheap, $3 or so. Bek helped me empty them all out - yes i let my child play with matches, let's hope the adoption officials aren't reading this! - and we hot glued them together...the article suggested using Christmas wrapping paper but we used some festive scrapbooking paper. we stamped the numbers on, and there you have it. it was quick easy cheap fun. today I went out and got candies and chocolates to fill it with, along with some little notes, some quarters, and tiny surprises. he was so excited to know he would get to open a drawer when he got home from school! here's our version below:
i have always been into crafts...but lately as my mind is filled with too many thoughts (that train bombing near moscow hasn't helped) i am needing these types of projects more than ever. thank goodness we have an oven now i can also cook my worries away.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Any amount will help to go towards document fees, travel costs, visas, etc. This is for A CHILD. For FAMILY. Our Family! And it goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyway) that you are helping a child who is in desperate need of a family and a home.
I found this great organization that sells Fair Trade Coffees through another family adopting through Catholic Social Services. The founders were in the coffee business when they adopted from Ethiopia. They started their company to help other families afford adoption, and also help build schools and other humanitarian needs in Ethiopia. When you buy their coffee, a chunk will go to our adoption and another portion will go to their efforts in Ethiopia. So the giving is two-fold! Why not buy some coffee - a GREAT Christmas gift I might add - and do not ONE, BUT TWO good deeds this holiday season!! All together now..."here's to you, raise a glass for everyone. here's to them underneath that burning sun. DO THEY KNOW it's Christmas time at alllllll......feed the wooorrrld, let them know it's Christmastime again...."
here's the info:
And ok, maybe you don't care about Ethiopia. Maybe you want all your good deeds to go straight to the future Sale Baby. You can donate direct at the "ChipIn" widget over there to the right.
MANY many thanks friends, family and good samaritans.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
One of my favorite stories on this end is of the Chinese farmer on his horse, which he uses to till his fields. One day the horse runs off. A neighbor sympathizes with the farmer at his bad luck in losing his horse. "good luck, bad luck, who knows?". A week later the horse returns with a whole herd of horses and the neighbor congratulates the farmer on his good luck. Again he replies withe the "good luck, bad luck, who knows?". Then the farmer's son is trying to tame one of the wild horses and gets thrown off and breaks his leg. Everyone in the village thought this was very bad luck, except for that wise old farmer who knew the ancient Chinese secret. again he replies "good luck, bad luck, who knows?". A while later the army marches into the village and orders every able bodied young man to enlist. Except for the farmer's son of course, who they let off because of his broken leg. Can you see where I'm going with this....
So I mentioned that we decided to edit our homestudy from 'girl only' to be open to either gender. I thought this would be a quick and easy change. Just a few clicks of the social worker's mouse and there you have it. Without boring you and myself with all the details, it turned out to be a convoluted confusing process and our placement agency advised us to just leave it 'as is', meaning with the "girl only" request. This way we get it into USCIS (Citizenship/Immigration) and get the ball rolling on getting our 171-h (a form from USCIS/Homeland Security that allows us to bring our child in the country). Now we might still change it in the future; many different regions will still allow you to consider a boy even if your homestudy says otherwise. But I couldn't help but think if this was all happening in some preordained way; that try as hard as I might to change a freaking piece of paperwork it seemed unchangable! So as of yesterday the Fates decided we are still getting a girl, but I'm trying not to think too much. Nothing is ever definite in adoption and it is not a good idea to get predestined ideas in your mind. Good luck, bad luck, who knows.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
5 years ago we traveled over 25 hours and countless time zones to Kazakhstan to adopt our son, then Bekbulat Valiev. After a few bleary days of paper pushing and money exchanging, we found ourselves jet lagged and sitting in a soviet era office on a couch next to a large stuffed monkey (as if it weren't all strange enough already), with a plump adorable teething child we'd just met who would soon be our son, sitting on our laps. I'm not sure I have the right words to convey how surreal and strangely beautiful this moment was.
Although he had grown in our hearts many months before we'd even met; Bekbulat Valiev became Benjamin Bekbulat Sale, aka "Bek", some 25 days later on June 4 of 2004. We went to court nervous and excited, and gave our speech to an expressionless judge, then he was ours, FOR GOOD. We vowed, with the help of our Russian born translator, to be the best parents we could be, to teach him of his culture and birth country, and to provide for him the very best we could.
I think that we have kept our vow, and in return we've been blessed with the most beautiful son we could have ever asked for!
Adoption is an amazing process. On the most simple level it provides a solution to a two-sided problem; a child in need of a home and parents in want of a child. It is a conscious choice, one that is difficult and costly and frustrating. It begins with pain and loss for the child. There are never any accidents, you would never hear adoptive parents say "woops, we adopted!". It is an ongoing journey that does not end with a court date or adoption decree. Every birthday brings thoughts of the birth mother on the other side of the world, and every Mother's Day keeps me in happy tears at the gift I've been given. Many people say "he is so lucky to have you"...and this is true; but we feel lucky to have been led to Kazakhstan and that he is ours. And even more lucky and grateful that we are able to embark on another adoption journey.
In celebration of Adoption Awareness Month I salute all adoptive parents, grandparents, relatives and friends! The parents-to-be that are waiting or saving, don't give up! I salute the birth mothers who loved enough to make this choice, the countries that give us these gifts, the governments that allow adoptions (albeit not without extreme difficulty but let's not ruin this moment!) to happen, and most importantly the children that become Our children.
Once there were two women
Friday, November 13, 2009
I think of a boy and thoughts of sweet baby Bek come to mind! I think of a girl and all of their girlish charms. I will be thrilled either way!
First I need to focus on the mile long list of items I need to collect for our dossier. Once I get them all collected I need to have them notarized here locally, then send them to Columbus to get them apostilled, which for those of you who are in the know of such terminology, it's like a state level notary, certifying that the document and notary are totally seriously legit.
I hope to have all this done and turned into the agency before the New Year.
I should get off this computer and get moving!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
the above is the sound of:
a) a fabulous new educational sensory toy i got for the baby
b) bek wielding his light sabers in the house
c) my exhaust system finally giving up, scraping all the way down Lakeland Avenue, with a schoolyard full of children and parents reflexively craning their heads to the awful metal grating sound, then the final clunk when i looked in my rear view mirror to see the piece of tailpipe, as if the car had left some sort of mechanical metal bowl movement, right there on the street in front of the school.
Did you guess C?? You win! you win! Tell them what they've won Vanna! it's a fabulous '97 Subaru Outback! it's not old, it's vintage!
I took a peek under the car, and saw what I'm guessing was more of the exhaust pipe, hanging down towards the front of the car. So any further movement of the car was going to cause more of the scraping, and who knows, maybe more metal droppings. I stared at a pile of leaves and contemplated leaving it parked right there and walking home. Call Brad, feign helplessness and let him deal with it. We are literally about a minute's drive from school (i should've walked in the first place!), but I still loathed the thought of scraping, and now rumbling really loud since the exhaust pipe was off, all the way home. But I forcefully put it in gear, to punish the bad car, and made it home slowly with my hazzards blinking.
I hate cars. I really do.
It's been a long time coming I guess. Brad has rigged and taped and clamped several times over now, putting repairs off as long as possible. And, the car is paid for. It was given to us as a wedding gift back in '01. So I suppose repairs are inevitable. And in the bigger picture, things break, that's all there is to it. I should understand this basic principal better now more than ever after this year of broken appliances! I know now why the buddhists spend so long learning this concept; that suffering (all forms, from death to broken washing machines) happens. The looser more everyday version of this principal is $hit happens. It just does. The sooner you learn to accept it the better!
Friday, November 6, 2009
I began thinking about names today. Somehow to me, a name, The Right name, is truly utterly important. You are labeled with this name, and the very sound of it, the harshness or softness of certain letters, the way it may or may not roll off the tongue with your last name (a whole other blog post), what it rhymes with (curse you penny and henny), it all becomes who you are. Or you become it. Or both, for Life. I had always disliked the way Jenny sounded coming out of my mouth. When I applied it to others of the same name, or someone else said Jenny, I was fine with it; it took on a different sound and meaning. But to me, the cutesy sing songiness bothered me, and the "J" sound was never quite right, for me individually. I knew plenty of other Jennys that were the epitome of Jennyness and I liked them well enough and had no problem calling out their namesake with confidence. Now, perhaps this is my own psychological conundrum to deal with and there are issues deeper than names here but let's not get off topic.
And a name has to fit, right? You have to look like a name. A perfect example is how our dear Benjamin Bekbulat, aka Bek, almost became a Wesley. WESLEY for God's Sakes!! He looks no more like a Wesley than I do an Amber. But before we saw him, Wesley conjured up whatever it was in my mind, and that's the name that appealed to us. Once we saw the picture that digitally traveled to our inboxes from Kazakhstan...it was clear he was not a Wesley, and it became absolutely laughable. And as much as we loved Benjamin and had every intent to call him that, he is now just BEK. I remember telling some family members we were considering calling him this, that we just couldn't seem to transition to Ben. "Bek?? What? That's just too weird. You can't call him that". Is it crazy that people are so opinionated about names? They'll tell you, YOU, you know the You who is going to be the parent, that YOU cannot name them that, and they're all Oh because I knew this kid in school named that and he was a nose picking loser or Oh my friend growing up had a dog named that or Oh that's the name of satan's mythological mistress. And because of these attached, perceived meanings They have with Your proposed name for Your child, you are supposed to change the name and therefore the potential Fate of your kid.
I am glad we didn't. I love the name Bek and we get many compliments (and comments) on it. There'll never be any Beks in his class and like Cher or Madonna he can go with one name and people know who he is! I love that it is his given Kazakh name, for that is all he had! And fittingly, it means STRONG. Whether his birth mom gave it to him or the ladies that took care of him at the Babyhouse christened him that, I don't know, but it couldn't be more appropriate.
We'll have to see what Russia calls our next child to be. We will adopt Russia along with the child just as we adopted Kazkahstan along with Bek. At the very least we'll keep his/her given name as a middle name, because as I already said, it's all they have of their own and important I think. And I don't even dare post what we're thinking about for names anyway...we'll probably be told it reminds them of an old man with bad breath or a crazy teacher they knew in school or somebody's pet parrot or...
Monday, March 23, 2009
Complete dossier, submit, dance with joy
Get The Call, freak out
Do a shot of vodka to celebrate, na zdorovia!
Make travel arrangements, pack, panic
Fly to Russia, meet baby Girl, dance with joy (stay one week)
Come home, wait for next call (court date)
Pray for baby Girl, back in Russia, blubber tears of sadness
Fly back to Russia, see the Kremlin, Red Square, more vodka, go to court, make it offical, more dances of joy (stay 3 weeks)
Fly home with Bek and Baby Girl as new family of 4!
Monday, March 16, 2009
There's really no other news. I have the usual intermittant waves of fear and joy. Fear that Russia will close it's doors or some other major catastrophe will happen in international adoptions, fear that she'll have some health issue we're not prepared to take on, fear that Bek will get sick during the 3 week trip and have a terrible asthma attack in Russia. Right around this point my mind starts twirling out of control and I take some deep Sat Nam breaths, focusing on the Truth, on my breathing, on nothingness. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I have a glass of wine and just go to bed!
The joy part is easy and I love when this wave hits. I get so overloaded with it at times that it's physically palpable. I know now though, that there is a lot she must go through. I know that joy might not come easy for her, even though we are overjoyed. Surely there may be many moments, even very quickly, of laughter or smiles. But her life started as loss, and when we take her from everything she's known it will be another loss. Some children are effected more by this than others, but all feel it on some level. I can go into this one with eyes wide open.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
>bek at one of the babyhouse visits
Well our last homestudy visit has been rescheduled for next Monday. It was supposed to be tonight. Brad had a work things that he forgot about and could not get out of. And since he's been writhing in pain for the last 2+ weeks with a serious case of the shingles, I cut him a break. This will give us time to finish up our taxes anyway.
At this point I really should start our dossier preparations. I don't know why, I'm having a hard time getting going on this round of paperwork. Could it be because all I've done for the last 3 months is paperwork?? Could it be I'm just tired of paperwork and want to be done and am in lazy mode?? Could it be some greater Force at work guiding me through each and every step of the process so as to set the whole plan in motion and determine who our daughter will be?? Hm. Maybe I just need another cup of coffee.
So of course my brain has been in Baby/Russia/Travel mode I seem to be thinking about the foods we ate in Uralsk and Almaty. Yes, somehow it's always about food for me. Sunday I made my rendition of a layered salad we had at Camelot in Uralsk. This restaurant had a whole King Arthur knights and castle thing going on, complete with swords and armour hanging on the walls. They tried their best to be able to offer their American patrons a menu written in English. Which was really nice and a great effort at customer service. Except the names of the dishes all came out like "bird beautiful on log" or "wind dancing thoughtfully", and if I remember correctly the name of the dish was in English but not the entire description. Brad and I wound up with this amazing salad that I've made many times now even after being home almost 5 years. I've added my own twists of course but basically it consisted of thin sliced cooked potato, long shredded raw carrot, super fine shredded white cheese that must've been in the swiss/gruyere family, julienne roasted beets, chopped pickle, crumbled hard cooked eggs, walnuts, raisins, and of course a huge dollop of that amazing, unpasturized mayonaise. I think our main entree was salmon but it was nothing memorable, it was this salad that stuck with me. Now having read many Russian/Kazakh/Eastern Europe cookbooks I have learned this is a very common salad and there are many variations but they will almost always include beets, potato, carrot & mayo. I will add fresh dill on mine as they use dill in everything. The mental journey that this salad takes me on is priceless!
Ok, coffee has kicked in. I'm off to get some paperwork done.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Outside of all my manic thoughts things are going great. We had our appointment at Homeland Security/Citizenship & Immigration yesterday. It felt like a big step closer to Her.
We took Bek out of school and he went with us. I wanted him to have a sense of being involved in the process and also it was just easier than trying to find someone to watch him at 8am & take him to school. It was strange being in the same square room with the American flag that we’d been in when we were going through the process with Bek. And there he was, 5 years old and our son & all his sweetness…waiting with us for our number to be called. It was a chilly but clear & beautiful day, just like the time before. Every Spring for the last 4.5 years, when I get the first deep breaths of that Springy wet greenness my entire psyche is taken back to getting our referral for Bek on March 15th,. I'll never forget that day when his face unfolded on the screen before us and my heart burst!
I am pretty much certain at this point that we are to go to Moscow. I have that same sense of Just Knowing, the way I did when I first read about Kazakhstan. No doubts creep into my head, no second guesses, it just feels like what we are to do. To be on the safe side I’ve done a lot of homework and talked to a lot of families who’ve done it. I’ve prayed and meditated and reflected. And what I’ve come up with is that it’s where our daughter will be waiting for us.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Last night I took an online course titled Attachment and Bonding, it was really good. It was all material I'm familiar with, having read tons of books on the topic in preparation for Bek's arrival, but it was a good refresher and reminder on what these sweet little things go through before we even get there, and what the road ahead will most likely bring. I took another one this morning called Your Child and Emotions. So that's 4.5 hours towards our requirement of 10 hours. Brad will read all the material as well, though I am the designated test taker!
So...things are moving along, even though it feels like paperwork will never end. I know I should be grateful for this paperwork to keep myself occupied, because after it's done, it's just wait, wait, wait.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
And any day now the coveted reciept for our i600a should be arriving in the mail. I was like a postal stalker yesterday waiting on Mr. Postman and wouldn’t you know there was no mail even up to the time I left for work at 3pm. It’s an approval from the Department of Homeland Security, allowing us to bring her into the US. It is a BIG milestone. The actual approval takes up to 3 months, but we should be recieving some sort of notice that it's in process, and give us an appointment for INS/BCIS fingerprinting (yes more fingerprints). The bad part is this approval expires after 12 (or is it 18) months, so should the process take much longer, we’ll have to apply (and pay) again. *sigh*…but we won’t think about that until we have to.
Monday, February 2, 2009
See, we’ve started and stopped the process so many times, I’ve been researching so long, seriously for probably 3+ years, that it’s hard for my entire brain to realize it’s real.
There’s another part of my brain though, the one that’s wearing a fabulous black suit with hair slicked back into a chic French twist, this part has grasped it since day one. She got out her blackberry organizer and began calculating tasks and procedures immediately, she made phone calls, scheduled home studies, did paperwork (and made copies and filed them according to stage of the process, damn she‘s good!), she’s began purchasing clothes at cost effective prices, researching nursery colors, she’s ON IT. When hippy mommy posed the above question, she whipped her head around and took off her glasses (because of course she wears glasses) and says in her best bitchy executive voice: “of course we know this is all happening, man. We’ve been working on this since the second the husband said Go. It’s time for you to Wake Up, smell the patchouli, and get to work!” But sadly, bitchy (but uber productive) executive doesn’t always show up, sometimes it’s these other ones on duty up there, like today it's lazy lame hippy mommy. I don’t know how they organize their schedules but it’s not easy to get things done with so many different management types in charge!
Disclaimer: the above is a complete fictional work and any resemblance it may bear to real bitchy executives or real hippy moms, was totally unintentional, coincidental, with no offense intended.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It's probably not like that nor do they sound anything like that (ok maybe a little like that).
But I've made major progress in the last week, we had our BCI/FBI background checks. Our social worker will be calling this week to schedule our all important 1st meeting. Reference forms have gone out, along wth BMV reports. Smoke detectors have been replaced, I'm signing up for online CPR classes, personal questionaires are done, work reference letters completed..and I bought the cutest blanky, crib skirt and crib sheet!