Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Nothingness, for now

Aaaahhh. I'm savoring the nothingness of this day! The snow is falling in slow beautiful flakes and the world outside is quiet. There is nothing to do, buy, or wrap! Nowhere to go, no holiday to-do's pushing the limits of my already challenged memory system!
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

a big To Do about Baby

Many have asked What's the update on the baby? Some ask it in hushed tones, as if they're afraid to know the answer. Others ask with unabashed excitement. Some ask questions that hold much deeper questions, such as, Are you sure you really want to go to Russia?
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 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

Merry Holidays, Happy Christmas?

I recently had an opportunity to think long and hard regarding the whole saying Merry Christmas issue. It's of course not a new debate but it can lead to some pretty heated discussions, usually involving political views. But I never really gave it much thought and this prompted my own internal debate on the topic. Warning: personal views you may not agree with are ahead.

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

warp speed

So I've done a little holiday decorating around here, what do you think? I also changed our picture to one that is actually current. I can't wait to have a picture of a BABY to put there!
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

If only there were a Hallmark card for this moment...

I got a letter today! From The Department of Homeland Security!! I know, it's so exciting, right?? It's on plain thick white boring paper. Even the font is boring. Our solemn somber United States eagle stamp is on the top right of the page. In all caps it reads
NOTICE OF FAVORABLE DETERMINATION CONCERNING APPLICATION FOR ADVANCE PROCESSING OF ORPHAN PETITION. It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan as defined in Section 101 (B)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
OMG! We are able to furnish proper care!!

my cover boy

A fellow Kazakhstan adoptive mother put together this AWESOME book to benefit the babyhouses of Uralsk, KZ. Uralsk was Bek's birth city. It is the very Northern part of KZ, nearly on the border of Russia. The book is filled with all the children adopted out of babyhouse #1 & #2. These kids are all just beautiful and have a special place in my heart. Bek made the cover (see bottom row, 3rd from left) and is pictured again on pg 32. The babies are of course all cute, sweet and beautiful. In the 'before' pictures you can see many have that vacant empty stare that comes with institutional living without parents to love you and kiss you goodnight. Check out their many smiling faces in the 'after' pictures and give your heart a little boost today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crafting for Distraction

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


I know, I's the holidays. The economy is awful. Unemployment is at an all time high. You've considered hawking your old jewelry after seeing that very convincing commercial. And here I am asking for monetary help! The nerve of some people. know the saying, when there's a will there's a way. For years I have been campaigning for another child. While my pragmatic husband always concurred that he too would love another, it was never quite the right time financially. And well...while we are in a slightly better position than we've been in the past, we still could use a great deal of help. And I am not shy about asking for it!
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

I am a big believer of signs. I can take the most miniscule event and find great life changing meaning in it. You know, you run into someone you haven't seen in forever that you were just thinking about, see a street name that is also a city name that you are going to, you keep waking up at the same time. It all must mean SOMETHING in my mind. Even though a logical part of my brain tells me that certain occurances happen whether you see them or not; and the fact that you apply meaning to that occurance is what makes it "a sign". If you chose not to see it as a sign, it would cease to be one, correct? And what often seems like a bad sign, might in fact be a good one.
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

November is Adoption Awareness Month!

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.
The Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women
Who never knew each other.
One you do not remember
The other you call Mother.
Two different lives
Shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star
The other became your sun.
The first one gave you life
And the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love
The second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality
The other gave you a name.
One gave you a talent
The other gave you aim.
One gave you emotions
The other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile
The other dried your tears.
One sought for you a home
That she could not provide.
The other prayed for a child
And her hope was not denied.
And now you ask me through your tears
The age old question through the years
Heredity or Environment
Which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling
Just two different kinds of love.
author unknown

Friday, November 13, 2009


We are waiting on the updated version of our homestudy. One little altering of semantics will change the fate of who our future child is to be! From "girl" to "open to either gender" and just like that, destiny shifts on it's axis.
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

life is full of contradictions

It's funny that when you have a baby you long for some time to yourself...and then you finally get some time to yourself and you long for a baby. Or maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

deja vous vous

We have started and stopped a second adoption so many times, it's hard to believe this one might actually take. I've cried Wolf to my heart. A dozen times over I've dreamed of the tiny mystery person on the other side of the world, some sides further than others (china, vietnam, taiwan, nepal, kyrgyzstan, kazakhstan) who would become our child. I always tried to believe in Fate, that greater forces were at work, to allign things just right so that the child that was meant to be, would be. It's hard to keep believing that, and it may even be naive. But I have to, it's the only way to make sense of this crazy process, this crazy life for that matter!
Bek is home from school today with a low grade fever. His spirits are great and he has no other symptoms as of yet. He is loving all of the unlimited t.v and DS time and mommy waiting on him! I am happy to have him home with me during the day, I miss that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Guess the Sound!

it could be worse i guess

Clangitty clangity kkkksssskkkkch clangity clang kkkkksssskch clang....clunk.

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

A Rose By Any Other Name...

A Chinese proverb says The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
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 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

The Reader's Digest Version

Well I've been shuffling through the dossier paperwork and made a small dent in it. I'd say we're 1/3 to 1/2 way done with it. Many have asked "What happens now?"...Here's an abridged version:
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

Happy Dance Happy Dance!

We officially finished our homestudy! Our social worker came tonight, asked us a bunch more questions & did an inspection of the house; led by Bek the dutiful tour guide. He showed her how to turn on the t.v. and where all his Star Wars guys are stored. Both very important to Russia & their consideration of us as parents I'm sure! We handed over all our precious paperwork that took months to compile, chatted a bit over some mixed nuts and that was that. As she left she reminded me the next time she'd she us would be for our first post placement meeting. Meaning when she comes to do our first post adoption report for Russia after Baby Girl is already home with us. Wow what a thought!
So what happens now you ask? I dive into dossier paperwork, which is a list of about 20 items. Most of them are easy but time consuming pieces of paperwork: copy of house deed, copy of county tax assessment, request to register in what region, financial forms, medical forms, letter of intent to adopt, employer letters, local criminal background checks...that's a sampling. Then ALL of that paperwork has to get notarized, each piece individually here locally. Then each piece gets sent to the Ohio Secretary of State in Columbus to get apostilled, which is like another form of notarizing only on a more important state-level. I've been slow to move on all of this, but now that the homestudy is done I have renewed energy to dive in & can focus.

Almost There...but not that There

Tonight is the last homestudy visit. I am much less worried about this one and want to just get it over with so we can move on to the next step!! Our house is nowhere near ready but I will go into attack mode here shortly and get it done in record time. I work better this way sometimes. We are down to one final piece that is needed for the homestudy, our taxes. This is the portion that has been Brad's responsibility. The only reason I'm not giving him grief about it is because he's been miserable with shingles for 3 weeks now. It takes everything he has just to function at a bare minimum, make it to work, etc. I'm going to see if we can use last year's return or just put the pressure on Brad that we can get them done at a tax service just to get it over with. Being Brad, I know he would not pay for this service so he'll probably get them done, doped up on oxycodone or not! I'm also trying to keep the attitude that every step of this process is happening the way it should, in the timeframe it should.
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

a lull

>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

paper pregnancy panic

I have the craziest thoughts racing through my head and I'm so emotional. I am more in love every day and I don't even know her. I see her in our lives and in our house. I'm terrified I won't have enough energy and worry how we'll be able to afford it and worry about her birth mother's health and pray she's not been swilling vodka every day. Yeesh...I forgot what a roller coaster this all is....
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

Home Study Home Stretch

We are getting there. We have completed medical forms. Bek's pediatrician just called and said his is ready for pick up. Education is complete. CIS appointment is in place. That leaves Taxes and CPR training on the to do list!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Important Milestone!

We got our notice from the Dept of Homeland Security / USCIS (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Svcs) for our biometrics appointment. It comes on this very official thick paper with THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA emblazoned at the top. And biometrics is just USCIS speak for fingerprinting. Yes, more fingerprinting. This is the response to the I600a form we filled out (and dropped $860 for) in mid January and allows us "advance processing of an orphan". It's an important step, one of those during the process that makes you realize that this is real, it's happening, and it's starting to sink in! So on Wednesday March 4th at 9am we'll head downtown to the Federal Building, get our fingerprints and be one step closer to Baby Girl!

In other news - we had our medical appts a few days ago - blood draw for Hep, HIV and injection for TB test. Today I had to go back to show them that I did not develop a bubble at the injection site, proving that I did not have Tuberculosis and therefor confirming by yet another seemingly senseless step that I am fit to be a parent. Even though I already am one. Via adoption. Yeah, already did all these steps and paperwork the first time...but still have to do em all over again. But I look at Bek, and look back on doing all this the first time...and it all goes so fast....that before you know it you've got a 5 and a half year old standing in front of you, saying 'just take a breath mom, it'll be ok'. Where does the time go?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moving Along

Well the 1st homestudy visit came and went relatively painlessly. Turns out she did NOT do the safety audit/walk thru, so all my mad cleaning was for naught! Although it was nice to bask in the cleanliness, even if it only lasted a day. Once we finish up what's left - CPR training, 10 hours int'l adoption education, child abuse registry clearance letters, medical statements (appt w/ dr is on weds 2/18), taxes, family photos and proof of residency for the last 5 years - then we will have our final visit, to include the walk thru, submit all paperwork, and she will write up our homestudy. It will get handed over to our placement agency, Catholic Social Services out of Charlotte, NC, and it will become part of our dossier. Dossier preparation includes more paperwork and lots and lots of notarizing and apostilling (sort of like a state level notary to ensure the notarys are cool). The Dossier is extremely important and is sort of like our representation to the Russian Powers That Be. Not only is the content important, but the accuracy, such as having all signatures the same (this can be tricky for me, i tend to write different alot of the time, according to a handwriting analysis this makes me genius or insane) and the organization of it is very specific. All t's must be crossed exactly as they want them. My timeline is to have the dossier ready for submission by the end of March/early April.
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

Mrs. Clean

Today is the first homestudy visit.
I am getting coffee'd up to begin my mad day of cleaning. The goal is to have the house looking clean enough, organized enough and safe enough to house a baby! I have to dig out the safety gear, wrangle up loose cords, clean up Bek's sun room which is filled with an uncountable number of tiny choke-able unsafe parts. I need to get her room to be in more of a 'baby's room in progress' looking state instead of the random junk storage space that it is now. The basement, oye. I'm leaving that to Brad and am hoping he'll be home by 4ish so that he has time to work on that before she arrives at 7pm. Then of course there is the regular vacume, sweep, mop, dust, scrub toilet, windex all surfaces, general de-clutter/put away type cleaning. Oh I have to make cookies at some point too - nice to have them to offer and also fills the house with that oh so homey smell!

Even though I've done this before, and know it's mostly a formality, albeit a very important formality...I'm still anxious about it. I'm anxious about the questions and about the house audit. I know it will be fine (it's that one part of my brain taking over again), we'll pass, the house will be clean & safe, etc. But thanks to that other part of my brain, I still can't help but be nervous, excited, freaked out and neurotic.

On that note - I should sign off and get moving. Those dust bunnies aren't going to hop away on their own.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The Fire Dept was here for our inspection for the homestudy! We passed! One more thing checked off the list. Also I got our marriage licenses in the mail yesterday from the Canadian govt. Of all the things I've mailed out waiting for a return item, this was the first to come back. Oh Canada! I knew I could count on you for efficient & excellent service. When I told Bek the Fired Dept was coming today "to make sure our house is safe for your baby sister" he said, "then after that can we go get her tomorrow?". Ahhh if only that was all there was to it. "So, we see you have smoke detectors. Great job, Sale Family, you are now approved to fly to Russia and pick up your baby!". But...we are making progress. The first homestudy visit is next Monday, 2/9 @ 7pm.
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

A Look Inside My Brain

I keep having these moments where it’s like another level of my conscious has just opened up and speaks to me. Lately it’s the hippy mommy one with crazy hair and Birkenstock clogs…she says to me, “you know that this is all really happening, right??”. All the others (and there’s many up there in my brain) just turn around and stare at her.
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

Paper cuts

Each day has been filled with some sort of paperwork, some minutae of our life that they supposedly want to know about, copies made and filed, phone calls, emails, online work, trips to copy shop and post office. I remember thinking with Bek, that this process is like having a second job. And by God it really is! Only now I actually already have a full time job as a mommy and a part time job as a server, and I'm 5 ancient years older!! It's a lot harder and I'm continually amazed to think that they really want to know all this. As I fill out paperwork, I keep picturing some Russian government official reading the translated version of it in a smokey office..."eet says heer dat they feel time outz are eefektive forum of deesaplin! Da!! Harasho! We give them best baby today!!" ...I mean...are they really reading all this??
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!