Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Goodbye and Hello!

I had a FEELING that this wasn't the end of this story. Like M.Night Shyamalan's "Signs" when we find out the aliens are allergic to water...that would've been a terrible ending in the movie that is our lives. (did i miss something? you are a super smart strong alien but water makes you burn?).

Do you believe the cliche, that "everything happens for a reason"?
I'm not always sure that I do. Sometimes I think we use this as a warm, comforting catchall phrase when we need help explaining the unfortunate, sad or otherwise undesirable things that happen in life. This would mean that every single step, every wrong turn, every right decision, every death, sickness, war...it was all predestined before it happened. Hhhmmm. Sometimes this works and sometimes I think it's accurate; but only part of me believes this and it's the same fantastical part of me that still wants to believe in good angels and kind hearted vampires.
I think that mostly we make our own good luck, we choose our lives and the paths that we take. We create the lives we live right down to the people that are in them and the jobs we work and the level of happiness we feel on a daily basis. Possibly with some help from some sort of Divine Intervention. I know, I am a study of contradictions.
You've probably heard me blab about this before, but Buddhism teaches that we must accept pain, and death. That bad things happen in life. And not so much to celebrate that fact, but to ACCEPT it. Trying to fight it, and always put a happy face on no matter what, is not acceptance and will only cause delayed pain and inner turmoil. You allow yourself to feel the pain, and move on. Accept that it happens. Don't dwell on it, but acknowledge it.
I bet you are wondering where I am going with all this really uplifting happy talk. After our decision to back out of Russia, I was a wreck. I mean full on couldn't deal with it, couldn't look at a baby, had to keep the baby's room closed. Blubbered my eyes out for days on end. But I just let myself feel it all and in a few weeks the fog lifted. I was able to see clearly and could move forward with my quest! Did Fate take me in that direction, or did I consciously make it happen, or both? I don't know, but I'm happy we're here!
So for anyone who was following along and would like to continue to; you'll have to redirect your literal and figurative path, just like we did: www.seoulbabee.blogspot.com

Monday, April 12, 2010

Closure. Or Open-sure?

This post is a bit overdue. For some who I talk to outside of this virtual world, this is old news, but I finally felt ready to wrap things up and share the ending with you. The ending of this particular story anyway, I like to think there is a beginning of another one somewhere out of all this.
Somewhere around mid-end March we had, or rather I should say I had, another financial reality check. I remember when it happened, I was staring out the kitchen window at Bek playing with the two neighbor boys in the backyard. These two boys, who are being raised by their unusually young grandparents, who swear and shout and can’t drive because of multiple DUIs. One of these boys taught Bek what the middle finger is. He had no idea what it was. Yeah, thanks neighbors. I try to find the good in people, I really do. But I can’t find anything but lazy trashy neglectful possibly abusive parenting here. And I don’t want Bek growing up here. I don’t know what that makes me sound like but it doesn’t matter, it’s not part of the story.
We’ve wanted to move for a while, but put it on the back burner when we decided to pick the adoption back up. I realized, as I heard the 6 year old boy from next door use a very ugly racial slur, that with the adoption debt, we will be stuck here forever, or at least another 10 years. A sad reality started creeping up my spine. The reality was that IF we could even somehow come up with the amount we were short, we’d be sacrificing the quality of life for the child we already have. Not to mention our own.
I knew all of this for a long time, in theory. My husband continually told me we cannot do this, that it would ruin us. I kept telling him it would work out somehow. Love conquers all! Except debt, sagging roofs, bad neighbors and high interest rates, of course.
I fought it, even though I knew it was true. This could NOT be happening, again. How many times have we started and stopped? This baby was already alive and waiting for us. Our dossier is already over there. We’ve already spent $4k. I’ve started painting the room. We’ve told Bek over and over about ‘when your baby brother or sister gets here’. But I knew it. Knew it not only wasn’t meant to be, but that it couldn’t be.
All this paints the picture that we are hobos living in a one room shack! We are normal “middle class” people. We have a nice-ish house in a city with an excellent school system. We can afford some nice things, have a savings and 401k and a college account for Bek, take vacations (frugally of course), we love good food and prefer French reds. *Sigh*.
Like any loss or death, this was the denial stage. Next was anger. Fuming Blazing Raging anger, that apparently only the wealthy can adopt more than one child! That we are kind good spiritual people ready to open our hearts and homes to one of the world’s orphans, someone neglected in an institution on the other side of the ocean without a mommy or daddy….if only we were in the right tax bracket. Why of all the nice people in our city, which I otherwise really enjoy, did these losers have to move right next to us!? C’mon, it’s wood and tar, why does a new roof have to be so flipping expensive?! Oh yea, I was pissed. About everything.
Then we were told that because many families were turning down referrals due to health issues, we might need to be prepared to take a third trip to select a child. With Russia’s internal foster program going strong, many of the children left available for adoption were not the healthiest. This all really knocked it out of the ballpark, there was no way we could do this. The additional airfare and lodging would put the total cost somewhere around 50k. In a way, this was good for me, because seriously, that is just too much for us.
AAaand then came acceptance. Not only about the financial part, but that I had some other certain nagging feelings in the back of my mind all along. Health of the children, political issues (during this time there was another terrorist attack on the subway in Moscow). Then a few news stories broke about yet another nutjob American sending her adopted Russian son back to Moscow on a plane by himself. Rumor started circulating that Russian adoptions would stop, or at least put on hold temporarily. I don’t think this has happened yet. For all the families waiting I pray that they don’t shut it down, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did.
Then, in a routine thyroid exam, a lump was discovered on my thyroid. I am going for an ultrasound today, and it will likely (hopefully) be benign. Even if it is malignant, it is very very treatable form of cancer.
It all added up to this just not happening for us. When I look at all that was stacked against us, I’m pretty sure the universe, God, whoever, kept trying to send me a message. I kept not hearing the message until I practically had to get hit on the head with it.
I am NOT giving up though. I have already begun researching other options (hhhmm Korea maybe?). But for right now, our goal is to sell our house, focus on Bek, and my health.
I love the cathartic therapeutic outlet of this blog though, and will continue to post about parenting, adoption, cooking, life in general. Thanks for reading up until now, and stay with me if you like!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homestudy Update

Our homestudy is being updated. Even though in Ohio it is good for two years, in Russia, like a bag of frozen peas, it goes bad after one year. I have a funny mental image of them sniffing our stack of paperwork there on the other side of the world…. “eewwww. Da, eet’s expired!”.
It is pretty painless. The social worker makes a one page addendum saying there have been no changes to our home life, employment, financial status, etc. We are however, making one very important change. In the sections where it reads gender request…we are officially changing it from “GIRL” to “OPEN TO EITHER GENDER”. Since so many families request GIRL…this most likely means that I will be the mommy to another sweet LITTLE BOY!!
Maybe it’s because it’s what I know, or maybe it’s just because boys are so stinking cute, but this thought makes me very happy! And to give Bek a brother, well that’s just very cool. What boy doesn’t want a brother, in both his younger and older years?? And I already have all the boy stuff, so I already feel so prepared.
This is not a definite of course, and it’s not to say that a sweet baby girl would not make me equally thrilled. If that is what Fate and God brings us, then so be it!
Because I can already see some question marks forming above certain heads out there …
“So when will you know?”
since we are traveling “blind” to Moscow, we will not know until we get there.
“When will you go?”
We’re told June/July.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Baby Signs


For those of you who've adopted before, or even those of you who've traveled to a foreign country (and you didn't speak the language)...you know that lost, confused, frustrated feeling of not being able to understand what the ach ee double hockey stick anyone is saying. I think this is how our newly adopted children must feel. And what do we usually resort to in these incommunicado situations? Charades! Aka sign language. It's a universal form of communicating.
Our new little ones have only heard Russian. The rolls of the tongue and cadence and pace are all different. We are already pulling them away from everything they've ever known, and then we are speaking a crazy sounding new language to them! Granted, they are very resilient intelligent little things and seem to take to new language incredibly well...but for us it was helpful for us to bridge and ease this transition with sign language. Bek at 11 months old, babbled a bit and copied a few small words. He seemed to understand what we were saying, although I know that's not really possible. I started sign language with him almost immediately when we got home, and the results were amazing! He took to it right away, and seemed happy & relieved to be able to convey some things to me. I could see his little baby brain working; "ok, those gibberish things you're saying to me, i gotta tell you they don't really make sense, and it sure as shashlyk doesn't sound like what they were saying to me back in Uralsk. but these things you are doing with your hands? that makes sense! i can do that! I'm hungry! see? i'm putting my hand up and down on my belly. and you bring me food...i love it!"
So..we will definitely be doing sign language again with this one. For anyone who hasn't done it and wants to try, it's easy. When you talk to your baby, make the sign along with the word. Repeat the word with the sign. "do you want something to eat?" (put your hands to your mouth as you say it). Bring the food and say "ok, here's something to eat", and put your hands to your mouth again. They get it really quickly and will even start making up their own.
Baby Signs is a great book but you only need a dozen or so of the signs and there are some free charts online like this one: http://www.signwithme.com/images/SWM_cheat_sheet.jpg

Give it a whirl, it's fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

D-I-Y - Dang It, You!

So I started the day with plans to start painting the baby's room. I was motivated! inspired! Well-rested!
Bek woke up late, I let him sleep in til the last possible minute because Brad put him to bed late. They have testing all week so he needs his rest, it's incredible what they ask of 1st graders nowadays. So, our morning was a little rushed, a little chaotic. Ok, hurry up, finish your toast! Run upstairs and get dressed, brush your teeth while you're up there! Gulpgulpgulp, chug some coffee (me, not Bek). Grab lunch, backpack, hop in the car, make it to school just in time for the brrring of the 1st bell at 8:45.
Home again, it's quiet and calm now, I can roll up my sleeves and get to it. But, I really need more coffee first. I check my email, a few blogs, drink some coffee, make half an english muffin with one egg and half a slice of jalepeno cheese. More coffee...definitely getting there now. Off to Sherwin Williams I go!
I stand staring at shades of orange with names like kumquat, copper wire, tango, papaya. I stand there a long time looking at these colors, holding it in different lights at different angles. I like Kumquat, but am worried it will be too dark. Exciting Orange is the same tone, but one shade lighter...but it's almost too light. I don't want circus peanuts, I want warm tangerines. I ask if they can go somewhere in between, they say yes. Sweet.
Home again now. Change into loungy pants and sweatshirt that already has paint on it from kitchen re-do. Get old blanket for drop cloth, paint tray, paint roller & spare towel for drips. Turn radio on alternative rock station. I'm ready! Lay out the blanket against the wall. Straighten up room and pull existing furniture to center. The tall cabinet w/ all our towels in it, I gotta tell you it's heavy. I move it as far as I can and decide I can just maneuver around it. Ok, let's pour the paint. Oh man, I forgot a flathead screwdriver to open the paint! Back down the stairs of our 99 year old house, down to the basement, which is 4 sets of stairs. Grab screwdriver. You know, I really should put some laundry in while I'm down here. Set screwdriver down. Load laundry, back up with the screwdriver. Pop open the lid, it's beautiful! Bright and happy and verging on the color of circus peanuts, but I'm still good with it. Where's my stir stick? Dang it, I forgot the stir stick. Back down...to basement. Phone rings. It's my mom calling from my sister's down in Georgia. We have a conversation about unnecessary souvenirs, and how overnight guests, like fish, start to smell after 3 days and that it's time for them to come home. I wrap it up with her and hang up. Ok, re-focus. Where was I? Oh yeah, painting, stir stick. Back up I go, stir stick in hand. I stir, I pour, I load up my roller and...it's lovely! I got nearly a wall and and a half done, and it's a beautiful color. Strangely though, I did find myself craving those chewy marshmallow like circus peanuts! But combined with some other colors, say brown, khaki and red, it's going to look great. That's about as far as I got though, because by now it was after noon and I was starving and losing my painting steam.
Annoyances aside, I found myself happy and enjoying the process. I was painting THE BABY'S ROOM! You know, that baby, that is already born and alive, in Moscow, waiting for us. I tried to send a telepathic message of love, to let him/her know we were getting ready and would be there soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Friend Food

Did you ever discover or re-discover a food and suddenly you think about it all the time, the things you could make with it, what else it would be good with, how many different ways you could eat it? I know this sounds a little bit like obsession, and by some standards it might be or mark me as an "emotional eater", but I just KNOW there must be fellow foodies out there who know what I'm talkin about!
My recent obsession is smoked gouda cheese. It's smoke-y (well, duuhh), so when used in certain dishes it adds a whole other layer, it melts fairly well, AND it's relatively inexpensive. Right now, as I type, with my 3 fingers on each hand so as to not completely grease up my keyboard, I am enjoying a Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese with Sweet & Tangy spread. If you, like me, are a lover of all things between bread and grilled with cheese, please, try the following concoction:
Sweet/Tangy Spread:
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
mix, taste & adjust to your sweet/tangy desire
Rye Bread
Smoked Gouda Cheese
Red onion, raw, thinly sliced
Tomato, raw slices or sun dried
Baby spinach, arugula, chopped romaine, any sort of green for vegetal goodness/texture
Lay two slices out on a plate, spread each side w/ sauce. Lay 4-5 slices of smoked gouda, about a 1/4 inch slice.
Layer rest of ingredients on top. Sprinkle w/ s&p. Heat large pan, drizzle 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil, use a spatula and spread the oil around, put both slices in, grill for 2 mins or so, put the slices together. Enjoy w/ homemade fries or your favorite potato chips. Yuuummmm. Something about the combination of the smokiness, the soury maltness of the rye bread, the hint of sweetness int he sauce and the twang of the onion make me very happy.
Try it and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Inspiration

I've made a small dent in The Baby Room Project. Plastic bins have been filled, stray chochkies have been sent to the garage sale pile, and useless random items I haven't used in the last year have been pitched. What a great cleansing feeling!
After I've had my morning fill of online time and coffee I will be heading up to get back to it. I've been perusing a few different sites this morning for inspiration. I have a vintage Chinese checker game board that sortof inspired me, it's orange/brown/red/mustard, in those muted vintage shades. I'd like to throw in a nature-y/bird/owl/tree thing. I hesitate to say "theme" as I don't want too much of any one thing. I think that is gender neutral and not overly annoying. I don't like an explosion of ducks or trucks or pink or blue and feel it needs to be equally aesthetically pleasing for everyone! And really let's face it, the baby could probably care less on the actual color scheme. Although Bek loved his clouds on the ceiling and the minute we put him in his crib he loved it. His face lit up and his expression said "wow, this is all really mine?"
So here's some random stuff I've been looking at. I love the decals you can get everywhere now and think a tree of some sort is in order. Target has this one and it's only like $15 or something:
love this one too:


land of nod has these great number flash cards that i think would make great art:



maybe hang the flashcards from a clothesline like this martha idea:
Ok...with that said: I am fully caffeinated and inspired. Off I go!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Where Words Fail, Music Speaks" ~ Hans Christian Andersen

Kim over at www.kimnlanceadoptionadventure.blogspot.com
inspired this post! She wrote out the lyrics to 'Somewhere Out There' from An American Tale, and talked about how she listened to this song during The Wait for their first son; and how these drippy oozing songs can bring any adoptive mom in waiting to tears! My song, when we were waiting for Bek, was Only Time, by Enya. Kim I have to say yours might be sappier than mine, but only by a smidge!
This song, with it's happy sad haunting sounds that only Enya can produce, gave me comfort and strength. It brought me to tears, which were sometimes the happy kind, and sometimes not. The ones that flowed happily were because we'd made it this far, to this place, after the nightmare of infertility. The time that led up to this, I'd felt, all served a purpose to bring us to that place, the place that was now called The Wait. It all finally made sense. The sad tears were for the thoughts of a child alone in an orphanage, waiting for his mommy and daddy. When Enya sang Who can say when the roads meet,
That love might be ,in your heart? and who can say when the day sleeps, and the night keeps all your heart? Night keeps all your heart.....

I just about lost it every time! I thought of him alone, in the dark, waiting. And wondering what his reaction to us would be when we finally met. Oh jeez I'm getting all blubbered up just thinking about it all over again. Thanks Kim.
For your listening or reading pleasure!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbCEQHfDvWk

Who can say where the road goes,
Where the day flows, only time?
And who can say if your love grows,
As your hearth chose, only time?

Who can say why your heart sights,
As your live flies, only time?
And who can say why your heart cries
when your love lies, only time?

Who can say when the roads meet,
That love might be ,in your heart?
and who can say when the day sleeps,
and the night keeps all your heart?
Night keeps all your heart.....

Who can say if your love groves,
As your heart chose, only time?
And who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time?

Who knows? Only time

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To-Do's, Baby Names, Attachment

I figured since I sent out that call for help by way of clicking action I had better at least post something! I have more random thoughts in my head, (I know, how unlike me) and this is a good place to toss them out. I can't guarantee it will be interesting or witty but hey, maybe it's a slow day at work for you, or you're really bored, or you're a fellow adoptive parent to be!
I need to start cleaning out the spare room, which I should probably start referring to as 'the baby's room'. This should be fun and is the kind of thing that would usually have me frothing and researching and picking paint swatches...but I can't seem to get started! Part of the problem is the MESS I need to clean up, organize, sort through, throw out...before I can even get to the fun part. Now c'mon, you might say, it can't really be that bad. What, do you live like slobs? Well, actually, yes, I do. I am a self proclaimed slob. It should be noted though that being a slob is different from being unclean. Our house is generally clean, and I have areas of the house where I am not slobbenly at all. My kitchen for example, the living room, the bathroom (mostly). The spare room, oops I meant baby's room, the bedrooms, the basement...all seem to just attract the overflow of stuff, and since they are not in sight, well, you know the saying. The baby's room is now holding a collection of random overflow items like scrapbook supplies, and I mean A LOT of them, baby toys/clothes/chochkies, The cabinet which holds our towels and sheets, Brad's 1-ton safe full of his coin collection, an extra dresser holding Brad's seasonal clothes; I think this weekend I will have to really roll the sleeves up, dig deep, turn on some inspirational music (maybe some Peter Tosh, Muse, Modest Mouse, old Hole, or Wilco?) and put myself under lockdown until it's complete.
I have some names I'm twirling around in my head. And I know, I shouldn't really share, because this is such an objective, opinionated topic. But Imma do it anyway. GIRLS: Anika, Ella, Emelia, Julia, Sadie. BOYS: Alex(ander), Henry (this is one of Brad's, and altho I don't hate it it's not my favorite), Jacob. Seriously, that's all I got for boys. Of course we'll have to see what his/her Russian name is; for sure we'll keep it as a middle and maybe as a middle used as a first like Bek. For anyone who's just joined us; Bek was named Benjamin Bekbulat. His Kazakh name was Bekbulat (Russian or Turkish in origin i believe, means "strong sword"). We shortened it to Bek with the plan to transition to Ben, but the transition never really happened and he just looked like a Bek.
Can I share a pet peeve? Of course I can, it's my blog, that's the beauty of it. Why is it when discussing adoption, adjustment, attachment...many non adoptive folks feel the need to say "well that's true for any baby" or "that would happen even with a biological child". It's as if they don't want this child to be treated any differently, or they maybe just don't understand that a newly adopted child should be treated differently. I can't quite put my finger on what it is in their tone when they say this but it almost comes across as this child is no different from any other. I'm not saying they mean it in any malicious, derogatory way, maybe just an uninformed way (although they sure as bleep act like they know what they're talkin about). And I am always happy and grateful that anyone shares an interest enough to have a discussion in the first place. But I'm just sayin'. Yes, there are general rules that apply in the care and feeding of a tiny human and there are certain constants across the board; don't let them put small objects in their mouths, dress them warmly if it's cold, don't dangle them from high buildings. But a child that did not experience bonding with their biological mother or worse yet experienced only pain, neglect and abuse from her, who did not get responses when they cried, who never owned their own rattle or soft blankie, who were never sang or cooed too, who don't know what the outside world looks like, smells like, sounds like...these children ARE different. You don't experience loss, pain, neglect in an institutional life and then just don a cute Baby Gap outfit, leave everything you've ever known, fly to the US with complete strangers and then everything is ok. There is grieving, trauma and adjustment that is different. This is not only a proven fact, confirmed and substantiated by countless specialists, but something I experienced first hand. Despite reading all of the books and taking the classes, I was even one of those doubters, who thought a lot of this attachment stuff was social work babble and the result of overly analytical doctors. You don't really know until you experience it.
So when adoptive parents say that a big crowd of people might be too much for the baby at first, or that mommy needs to be the only one to hold her/change her/feed her to establish a bond, or you think a 12-24 month old should not have a bottle or be fed...remember the lives these kids had before. Know the parents aren't being rude, overly doting or obsessive. And know that these kids are, at least initially "different" in some ways.
I hope that didn't all come across as too defensive! What can I say, my horoscope sign the Lioness comes out when it comes to the well being of my child to be.
Parent's to be, or anyone who might be interested: here's a great link on this topic
http://www.rainbowkids.com/articledetails.aspx?id=530

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

i still just keep saying...wow.

it's still soaking in that in 4-6 months we will be making our first trip. the first trip where we will fly to meet our sight unseen child. this information is still on the outer layers of my psyche, but it's slowly seeping in.
there were several families that went with the moscow region and left, empty handed so to speak. they turned the referrals down, some for medical reasons and some for whatever else. i am terrified that this will happen to us but at the same time i have a sense of this being the right choice for us.
at any given moment there are a thousand different worries, stresses and random weird thoughts running through my brain. the health of the child who is probably already born (is he or she crying and if so will someone go to him/her?), the birthmother of that child (her prenatal health, mental health, alcohol consupmtion, peace with her choice), the 1st trip where we'll have to leave bek (which we've never done for more than a night, oh the heartache!), the second trip where we'll be taking bek (if god willing we've even made it that far and the referral is the child of our dreams!), this one includes a whole other string of thoughts like dear god please don't let him have an asthma attack on the trip, or what if he does and we take his nebulizer and the power blows, oh note to self take extra power converter, maybe even 3 power converters; of us all staying in a tiny expensive moscow apartment for weeks, i hope it has internet, if the first or second trip will fall on bek's birthday, if we'll be able to make a trip to the bathhouse cuz that sure was fun in KZ, that i am in need of a good pair of summer shoes that are both fashionable and comfortable, don't forget homestudy will need updating in april and don't forget to do FBI checks at this time and oh don't forget about chest x-rays/TB tests....hey, did i leave laundry in the washing machine...
There's really no end to it and sometimes I'm amazed the brain has the capacity that it does!

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's All Happening

So I get an email from CSS yesterday saying Svetlana would like to register us in the Moscow region. For what we are requesting it is our best bet. This would mean SUMMER TRAVEL. Blind referral. No information in advance. This is all really big in so many ways. We really thought we'd be waiting a year to a year and a half. And that we'd get a referral like we did with Bek. I am actually still freaking out. Of course we can say no, that we don't want to travel blind, but who are we to argue with Svetlana? She may be acting as some mystical force who is ensuring this is all going to work out exactly as it should.
The biggest blow to us is going to be financially. We thought we had longer to save. And I have to admit it does suck the joy out of it a bit when you are freaked out about the money. But we will make it happen somehow. And we're always best under pressure. And you know the saying about if you wait for the exact right time it will never happen!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dear Ohio Winter....


I know you've been a part of my life for a long time. As long as I can remember really. And I've grown fond of you, you are always there for me, once a year for oh, 4 to 6 months in a row? You encourage family bonding and closeness through snowball fights and sledding; warm cozy movie nights, slow cooked hearty food, and dreamy white wintery scenes outside our windows. You give us pause to slow down, meditate, appreciate. And what would Christmas be without you?
But, I have to say, you are wearing out your welcome. I can't think of any other way to say it, I'm tired of you. I'm tired of scraping and brushing, of sloshing and slipping. I'm tired of the dry heat blowing constantly, tired of slathering moisturizer on enough times a day to make me feel like a basted thanksgiving turkey. Tired of a drafty house and icy chilled mornings and being kooped up and boots and soggy mittens. I'm guessing you probably get it, I've HAD ENOUGH OF YOU!
It really is you, not me. What do you say we just make it a clean break, and you can go away quickly, quietly and kindly.

Friday, February 5, 2010

thoughts of babies...


i can't help but wonder...how can we get so lucky again?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Official

I just found out our dossier is being hand delivered to the Powers that Be this Saturday, Feb 6th. Set the countdown timer, we have officially begun the wait!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I've Got Nothin

I haven't had much to report lately, nor can I come up with any lame non adoption related topic to blab about. Partly because ALL our paperwork (well atleast all we can do for the moment) is now done and submitted, and partly because I've had a thyroid issue that's had me running around in spastic circles one minute, then passed out in a narcoleptic catatonic state the next. I had days of my heart racing, headaches, foggy brain, blood pressure jacked up...it's been awful. Blood tests showed that indeed my thyroid levels had gone up, and I'd gone from being hypothyroid (not producing enough thyroid hormone) to being hyperthyroid (as you might guess, producing too much). More tests are being done at the moment, as there is a possibility this is all due to to the dreaded pre men...perimeno...you know what word I'm trying to say. The phase of life that takes place before you move on to becoming a mature, wise woman. Like a nice Cabernet you've had time to mellow, you are not too tanic or bitter. Ok that metaphor didn't quite work and has gotten me way off track.
Other than that; I've been thinking about the early days with Bek and wondering what we'll experience with the second. We brought him home at 11 months old. While I was elated beyond words to have finally become a mother and got through the adoption process, trip, etc...I was overwhelmed when we got home. Sure it was in between lots of smiles and new discoveries and the joys of first time motherhood..but it was also very difficult. We had to work hard at attachment. He would physically push me away when I tried to hold him and have inconsolable crying fits. His back arched and his eyes would look anywhere but into mine. There was very little cuddling and he seemed to repel physical contact. Even though I'd read all the books, I was still caught off guard at how difficult this part was. At the same time though, I was fascinated that such a tiny being was capable of feeling those feelings, though they may not have even been conscious feelings; somehow on some level he knew he'd been hurt, and was trying to protect himself from being hurt again. I was driven to help him, to learn everything I could about attachment, and to show him my love no matter how much he protested. If any new adoptive parents are reading this, I think this is of the utmost importance, to really be prepared for this. I know it sounds scary and alarmist, but hey the worst that happens is that you are prepared and maybe you don't need to use all that wisdom you gained. Some kids experience it more than others, but they all, on some level, have some residual effects of neglect, abandonment and institutional living.
We kept him on his bottle longer than what is normally recommended, since food and feeding is a nurturing, comforting act. I made sure I was the one to do all of the nurturing duties, to go to him when he cried immediately. We acted out little scenarios with stuffed animals about mommies and babies, we put stickers on each other's noses to encourage face to face contact, i fed him, even when he "should have" been feeding himself. Fast forward 5.5 years, he is a happy healthy loving boy. He loves his mamma and his daddy like you wouldn't believe. We still have a few quirks, but I guess all kids do and who knows what is a result of a previous life and just personality.
It wasn't easy, but it was so so amazing to watch this transformation, and on the days we had breakthroughs when he first reached out to me with a real desire to be held, when he looked me in the eye and said "mamma", when he cried for me in a normal 'i want my mommy' cry...those moments were worth every tear we both cried!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Waiting to Hurry Up and Wait

Yesterday our Canadian marriage certificates landed safely in the hands of Catholic Social Services, along with the other pile of dossier items. I'm waiting on just a few stray pieces to complete dossier submission. Our homestudy, letter of good standing, and homestudy agency license needs to come back from Franklin county with their Apostille's, I would guess I'll get those by the end of the week.
After I get those off to CSS there's truly nothing to do but wait. CSS has told us we could hear something as early as Summer or going into Winter/early Spring. They just don't know. When we started the process it was 12-18+ months total, and that timeframe includes homestudy and dossier prep. So I'm guessing our time estimate is 6-12 months from now. Give or Take. Give or take maybe a lot.
I'm ok with the wait. For now anyway! We still have a lot to do around the house and need to keep saving and fund-raising as much as possible. We need to work on the room, study Russian, get all our baby gear organized.
For now though I'm still feeling the buoyant happiness of having just completed the paperwork; I will bask in this paper-free world for a while!
I'm sure that will wear off soon and I'll be antsy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just Keep Swimming

Friday Bek and I went downtown. Two quarters in the meter, ok 59 minutes to get all this done! First stop, the Justice Building. Through the rope maze and bad guy detector, over to the clerk of courts. It is a busy dark cave of a place. No line for county verifications, hurray! Bek plopped down on the floor with his DS, I handed over all my documents. A pleasant woman processed everything, gave us pretty little 1/4 sheets of paper with sunny yellow seals on them, charged us $24, and 15 minutes later we were done. "oh, did you know there is a secretary of state office right here downtown now? yeah, not many people know about it and i bet you can get right in to get all your apostille's, that way you won't have to send these off to columbus. you can walk from here. your son is adorable, does he like smarties?"...I could've climbed over the counter and kissed this woman.
Off we went over to the State Building, about a 10 minute walk. Sign in, provide ID, up the elevator. Into a sparkling new Secretary of State office with not a soul in it. Stepped right up, handed over documents (again), waited 20 minutes, forked out $120, got 24 beautiful apostilles! Chilly walk back to car, Bek moaning he is tired, my head starting to throb, but we did it! Back into the car, quick stop for Excedrin, pop two, off to FedEx, send 95% of dossier off to Catholic Social Services. Yipppeeeee!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

seriously?

'Member that post yesterday about not having any paperwork? So breezy and nostalgic??
I seriously could just cry! As if I'm not already a hormonal mess. I tracked the return pkg from the Sec of State which was to have our apostille'd dossier documents. I saw that it was already scheduled for delivery today, which would be an amazing turnaround. So quick in fact that I thought surely something must be wrong. Called Sec of State and sure enough they said they were returning all documents because there was no COUNTY VERIFICATION. I don't even know what this is and don't remember doing this the 1st time. And of course I'm getting no direction from anyone. I remember now w/ the first one they advised us to have all notaries done by a lawyer, but never said why and I never asked. This is why. Notaries done by a regular notary need to be verified by the county they were notarized in. Which also means I've got two separate counties of stuff that needs county verifications, Franklin & Cuyahoga.I see now, on a stray piece of paperwork from our homestudy agency that indicates as such. Ok so my bad I guess, but I've emailed them many times and told them stuff was notarized and ready to get apostilled, you'd think at some point they'd say, 'did you get your county verifications?"...argh. So this is done at the Clerk of Courts downtown. $28 out the door in FedEx shipping costs wasted on the first batch. Will have to take it all downtown tomorrow, then shoot it all back out to Columbus on Sat. The only upside may be that the corrected homestudy copies came today so I can send it all out together. I already flew out to the Post Office to send those docs to Franklin County Clerk of Courts, with yet another check and more two way shipping costs. Looks like Bek and I are taking a field trip tomorrow to the Clerk of Courts. Have eaten 1/2 box of Cheez Its. The real kind, with all the chemicals.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Not Quite but Almost There....

Yesterday I FedExed a bunch of documents to Columbus for Apostilles. I'm still missing 4 pieces of the 19 dossier items, but now I've got a majority of the paperwork atleast in the tail end of the paperchase. Atleast I can say all of these missing pieces are in the hands of someone else and not due to my negligence. We've had some hiccups with our homestudy, typos, slowness, general poor service. But...it's all getting there. Today I didn't really have any paperwork I COULD do, which feels weird. It's funny that the paperwork is so stressful and then when it's gone you are not quite sure what to do. I remember this now from the first time. When I unloaded that pile at FedEx I walked out feeling strange and a little panic stricken. Like I had lost or forgotten something important. Left stove on, lost car keys, no, it felt bigger than that. I walked down the sidewalk to Half Price Books where Brad and Bek were waiting for me, and as is customary on our visits there we each pick out a book. I couldn't focus, kept patting my sides like I lost my purse or was looking for something; it was an involuntarily reflex, my psyche and physical body was causing this reaction; as they has already become acustom to this paper baby I'd been caring for for weeks, months!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Great Cheez It Experiment

Have you seen the movie Food, Inc? Brad and I watched it a while back. It was a great movie and as it boasts on the dvd cover, it will make you re-think your dinner. A lot of it was not a news flash for us, we've always tried to eat consciously, buy organic, etc. Some times with more success, other times slipping into convenience food mode, cheese dusted hands held guiltily in the air.
This movie rejuvenated our desire to eat more wholesome, unprocessed food. I had also recently read the book Food Rules, written by Michael Pollan who was a big contributor in the movie. Some of his food rules (not really all his, some are ancient pieces of food culture and things you may have heard your grandmother say)include 'avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry' and 'eat mostly foods that will eventually rot'...basically get away from processed junk loaded with preservatives, spend more but eat less, etc.
So...I love Cheez Its. I buy them everytime I'm at Heinen's or Target or Giant Eagle. I eat them as a snack, love them with coffee (weird I know), red wine, coke zero (another vice i'll have to work on), an egg sandwich or tomato soup. Bek has inherited my love for cheez its. Sadly, cheez its contain a lot of things our bodies may or may not be great at processing. Genetically modified junk, hydrogenated oils, msg, and other artificial crap that's too hard too spell. In the big picture of snack foods and relative to many they are not that bad, if the comparison is a cool ranch dorito or an extreme cheddar cheeto.
So I decided I would try to make my own. I'd read 'make your own crackers' recipe articles before and always wanted to give homemade crackers a whirl. It was easy, ok a teensy bit more time consuming that going to the store and buying a box of cheez its, but way more satisfying! I knew exactly what we were devouring, er eating, once these flaky, buttery cheezy little things came out of the oven! It should be noted that while they are more "wholesome" because there are no preservatives and I used mostly organic ingredients, all of us girls know that a calorie is still a calorie. These are probably a special treat and should be consumed in moderation. (argh! curse you moderation!)Here's the details of my homemade cheez it experiment which I edited from another one I found online:

1 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup flour
1 stick of butter, softened/room temp
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper (i used white pepper because i didn't want black flecks on my crackers, but black would be fine)
1 tsp paprika
1/4 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper, more or less according to how much heat you like, i used only a few shakes to keep them family friendly
1 - 2 Tablespoons ice cold water

Put all except water into the food processor, pulse til it's like course bread crumbs. slowly add one tablespoon of the water and pulse til it comes together, add more water if it's not coming together. it will look like pie crust dough. Dump it out onto a floured surface, kneed a few times and let it rest for 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 325.
Roll dough out thin on floured surface, 1/8" or less. Use a pizza cutter to cut long strips about an inch wide, then horizontally to make squares. Poke each square w/ the small end of a chopstick or whatever stick you can find that will make a small hole! the tine of a fork might work. They puff up quite a bit if you don't do this; still taste delicious though so don't worry if you skip this! Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt.
Line up on parchment (or non stick) lined pans, bake for 13-15 mins. cool on wire rack. try not to burn your tongue when you can't resist eating them right out of the oven.
I'm anxious to try different cheeses, would love swiss or gruyere, maybe some garlic, dill or rosemary.
Let me know how yours turn out!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Really Great Service, Eh


I had mailed off our Canadian marriage certificates to the Ministry of Government Services in Toronto to have them authenticated. I sent them UPS on Monday the 11th. On Wednesday 13th I had an email from them, like a personal email, not a stock auto reply. They told me they had been received and would be submitted for processing. Today, Friday the 15th, 4 days after I send them, I got another personal email asking kindly how I'd like them sent back and where to! I have to say, those Canadians are pretty darn efficient!
In other news, I got a huge chunk of documents notarized. The one snag is that I couldn't get them all done because Brad was not present with me. No worries, no hurdle I can't overcome since I've become Super Focused Paperwork Woman. Dutifully emailed husband at work and told him what time he needs to be there, no questions asked. An aura of calm and focused peace must of been emanating from me because kind Notary Lady only charged us $10 for the whole pile."it should've been 1.50 each, that comes out to $34 total, but I'll just waive the rest honey"... we got a deal AND she called me honey!
The other day the upstairs computer, which is connected to the printer, finally breathed it's last electronic breath. I still had cover letters & other docs to print. You might think this threw me into another stress fueled rant, but no, no problem, called local corner copy shop up the street and emailed documents to them for printing. I am a zen paperwork master! I have borrowed a phrase from the British which has proven to be a most helpful mantra!

Excuse this House

I saw this poem on another blogger's website and had to grab it! The author and composition date are unknown. My only question is, who shines a doorbell?


Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there,
Ours boasts it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges are on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with my children
And we played and laughed and read.
And if the doorbell doesn't shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I'd like to cook and clean and scrub,
But first I'll be a mother.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

go towards the light!



i can see it, faintly, it's there...tiny cracks of light emerging..it's so beautiful; i want to be there, where there is peace, happiness, comfort all around you, cherub faced babies flying through the air...AND NO PAPERWORK. PHONECALLS. PAPERCHASING TO police departments, doctor's office, banks, notaries! Where printers and computers don't break down, where homestudy agencies don't make major typos that require correcting and re-correcting, where documents don't expire and need re-doing, oh how i want to be in that place! But the fact that I can see it, the light that is, means I am ever so much closer...I am almost there! Like bad labor pains, I forgot how hard this part was. But what I DO remember, is that when it was all done and submitted and translated and sitting on the other side of the world; all there was to do was sit and wait. and wait. and wait....I almost longed for the paperwork. Atleast it kept me busy and it kept me in control. So I must remind myself that this is part of it. Part of the big picture in getting to him or her. That and it's keeping me (barely) out the clearance aisle in the baby department at Target....

Friday, January 8, 2010

paper labor pains

Before the holidays, our agency sent us electronic copies of all of the dossier documents. It is a list of 19 items, some of them templates to customized & edited electronically such as 'parents letter of intent to adopt' and some other items that need to be collected; such as 'copy of county tax assessment record with detailed description of home'. It's a long and tedious list. And as I've said way too many times in previous posts, each of these items must get notarized locally and apostilled by the state of Ohio. Our agency advised us to work on these right after the holidays.
So January 2nd rolls around and I roll up my sleeves to get to work and head up to the freezing cold attic office to commence printing/editing these documents. Brad uninstalled the printer when he reformatted his computer, and never reinstalled it. Oh snap you gotta be kidding me. Brad I'm gonna kill you! Other things came out of my mouth that are not fit to repeat. My dear friend Laura offered to help me out, and she kindly printed the docs out for me. I trudged out into the snow and drove through the near blizzard like conditions to her house, and got the documents. I begin working on them. I've put a good dent in them, am feeling oh so productive! I realize, as I dutifully push all this paperwork around, humming a happy little working song, that since these docs were sent before the holiday, the New Year, they all are dated 2009. Son of a biscuit! I now have multiple copies of everything, as I already started this process some time ago, and now i have another set with the wrong dates, it's getting confusing. I go through piece by piece and draw an X on each dossier doc and put it in a garbage pile on the floor. Ok, no big deal, starting over now, I can do this. I electronically edit each one, and save accordingly. I then realize...mm hmmm I know you see it coming...that several of these documents will have to be redone yet again should a certain employment situation change. Can't say many details as I don't know who is reading this! But suffice to say, chances are good I am now going to have to re-do several docs AND ammend our entire homestudy due to employment changes!!
I will not give up! I will complete this paperwork! Breathe!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!



Happy new decade for that matter! It's hard to believe. What will we call this decade? We've had the 80's, 90's, then the 00's (never really knew what we called that one either) and now the...'tens'? or the 'teens'? Hmm, surely there has been or will be a segment on NPR about that. As a former child of the 70's and 80's...2010 still sounds so, so...futuristic, to me. Hearing that number in Sister Marie's 8th grade classroom, I envisioned us all flying around in cars by now, getting our dinner from our own personal kitchen vending machines. But here we are, still schlepping around on the ground in our gas powered cars.

Speaking of schlepping and cars...the old girl Subaru just did not want to go this morning! She seemed to mirror Bek and I, on the second day back to school after break...we did not want to go either. We had two glorious weeks of sleeping in and no schedule and it's been tough getting back. And of course, the thought that always pops in my head during every moment such as this (and pretty much every moment, period)...how about doing this with a newly adopted 12ish month old? I mean the waking up (whine, i don't want to get up!), the getting ready (hurry up, brush your teeth, we're gonna be late!), the search for the missing glove (no you can not wear just one!), the getting boots on and tromping out (why do we live in cleveland again?!) to the freezing cold car.
I am up for the challenge though, and can't wait to add him/her to our lives! If the Bek Experience has taught me anything, it's that 1. you can't really prepare for it (but oh you can try), you need to just do it, and 2., it will be so much more amazing that you can even imagine.
I have put a good dent in paperwork but need to keep at it. Signing off!