Wait, what'd she say?
She said she hates blogging.
Oh no she didnt.
It's not true. I love my blog. When I first started this thing, it was just a way to keep friends and family up on the adoption process. I could not foresee what it would become. I could not foresee how it would be my connection to the most amazing, supportive group of women who are going through the same experiences as me. Truly, at times these women have been my lifeline.
But I hate blogging. No, I mean I hate writing. Like I told the beautiful, resilient Heidi, it makes me itch. When I sit down to write, I feel twitchy and itchy and fidgety. Like I want to crawl out of my skin. So I don't do it much. More often than not, I read the posts of my blog friends, and I live and breath through them. They say what I want to say, only so much better. But sometimes it all just wells up inside of me and if I don't write it down, I definitely will burst. I guess that's whats happening now. I know its bad when I don't remember a thing from the massage I just did because I was too busy composing in my head. It's time to sit in front of the computer and itch.
Yeah, all that was just exposition. Buckle your seatbelts, grab a cup of tea. It's gonna be a long one.
The last real post I did (I mean really real, with actual thoughts) was on September 26. One day before my 36th birthday, and almost exactly one month before our referral. It kinda seems like nine years ago. And it kinda seems like yesterday. What has happened in between then and now is so much. And yet I am still on the cusp of it all. My life really hasn't changed a bit. How do I explain it? How do I understand it, for myself? I still go to work with the same schedule I've always had. I still go out for a drink once a week with my buddies at the Sov. Matt and I are still living the life of a childless couple. We're kinda lazy. We let the dishes pile up. We should have gotten our stupid European washer/dryer repaired long ago. We should've already put the baby's room together. We should've gone to the dentist. But we're in our mid 30's, and though we wanted to start a family long ago, it still is as has always been. Just us living our lives.
So much is happening now. And I just don't really know what to do with it.
So ok, I'm gonna go metaphor now. Please bear with me.
I'm from New Orleans. I'm a Saints fan. If you are into NFL football, you know what I mean. If you are from New Orleans, you really know what I mean. If you are not a football fan, I apologize. I know you don't know what I am talking about, but just imagine how it is for me when people try to explain how exciting hockey is, or that New Moon thing. That's when you get the blank eyes from me.
Anyway, so I'm a Saints fan. The New Orleans Saints are losers. I mean, they always have been. From the beginning. Really, they're bad. There have been a couple of good seasons in there, but nothing that ever lasts. They have some of the worst luck of any professional sporting team. Is it because of Marie Laveau? Is it because the Superdome is built over a burial ground? We don't know. They've just always been that way. But oh, how the people of New Orleans love their Saints. The love is unending, undying, unflappable. Why do we love such a loser of a team? We love them for the dream. The hope. We've dreamt of it our whole lives. It's something we want so bad, it has at times been painful. The dream of seeing the team parade through the streets of New Orleans, Lombardi Trophy in hand. But really, that's for other towns. Not us. As much as we have wanted it, it has always been just out of reach.
But then, there's this year. The Saints are 13 and 0. They have yet to lose a game. They have played with so much talent, so much spirit, and so much good luck, it is insane. They are really, honestly, truly the complete team that we always dreamed of. They really seem like they are the ones to take us all the way. It seems like it is all really happening. Those dreams. They haven't come true yet. But it really seem like they are going to.
So I guess you can see where I am going. No, I don't think Matt and I are losers. But I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mom. From the beginning. I have dreamt of it. And then I was lucky enough to meet the love of my life. But we waited, because of course we were too young, too poor, lived in New York, we weren't ready. Then we moved to Chicago. We were ready, but there was nothin doin. We tried. Nothing happened. And yeah, there were times when I though, maybe that's for other people. Not me. Well, you know the rest.... It really is happening. I really am going to be a mom.
And its crazy that it is all happening at once. In any other year, this Saints thing, it would consume me. There is a part of me that is sad because I wish I could get more swept up in the frenzy. I wish I could be down there with my people, smiling at everyone you pass by on the street, and you all know why your smiling.
But there is this THING that is happening. I have seen the eyes of my daughter (and let me tell you, her eyes will blow you away.) This tiny little being, who has lost more in her 7 mos. than I have in my 36 years, is waiting for us to come swoop her up and be her loving forever family. She is depending on us. She need us. And I have no doubt in my mind that we can provide the love that she needs.
But I don't have her yet. And I don't know what to do with that. And the Saints haven't won anything yet. And I don't know what to do with that. And all of my best friends are going through some serious stuff right now, some of it great, some of it bad and some of it terrible, and I have not been very present in there lives because of the all-consuming nature of this. And I don't know what to do with that. And if I let myself, I would collapse into a puddle of tears and mush, but I am not ready. And I really don't know what to do with that.
So I just go about my life. On the cusp of everything about to change. Everything. Things I never really believed would happen. To be honest, I am still unsure if they will. It's hard to believe it sometimes. It really is.
The thing is, I'm ok. No, I'm great! I'm so excited I could pee my pants! But I'm also so frightened. I'm frightened of the normal "becoming a parent" stuff. And I'm frightened of going to Ethiopia. I'm frightened of the logistics of it all. And I'm frightened of what I will see, and how it will break my heart.
That's where I'm at. All over the place, and no idea what to do with it.
I love Drew Brees. He's the quarteback for the Saints. It's ok, Matt knows. He loves him too. Here's Drew speaking after the Saints completed a very improbable come-from-behind win over the Redskins. This is where I get the title of this post from. I really wanted to embed the video to the post but I just couldn't make it work, so I will quote and then provide a link to the video. Please watch it.
"I definitely believe in destiny, and I believe in karma and what goes around comes around," he says. "We have been on the other side of this deal probably too many times. Maybe it's our time that we start catching some of the breaks, and start being the team that wins them like this in the end."
I don't know if I believe in destiny or fate. But it sure sounds good when he says it. And maybe it is our time. Me and Matt. The Saints. New Orleans. My sister. My friends, those that I have had in my life forever and my newfound blogging sisters. All of us.
Our court date on Monday. Hopefully Monday is our time.
Ok, so here's what's happened in the past couple of days. Referrals. Lots of 'em. How happy am I for these amazing people? Words cannot express. It's kind of like a dam broke open. Really an exciting time for those of us in the Gladney waitlist world!!! It's so crazy how happy I am for people I have never met, but still feel so close to. These interwebs are a wild thing. Creating a family through a series of tubes. Whoda thunk?
But now it seems that we are very close to the top of the list. And I might be going out of my mind a little bit. See, This whole time I had been preparing myself for a November or December referral, if not later. Now, I don't know what to think. I keep telling myself, keep your mind set, don't alter your expectations. But its so hard! I keep letting it creep into my mind. Wait, did I say creep? What I mean is, its the ONLY thing I can think about. Seriously, there must be something else to think about! I mean, there are other things going on in the world, right? And let me tell you, my job doesn't help things. I know you all want to think that when you are getting a massage, your massage therapist is focused on nothing but you and your knots. And there are times when that is true. But when we have things on our mind, well lets just say I've been doing this a long time, my body can go on automatic pilot. Which provides me endless hours to think and obsess and do mathematical calculations about referrals and court dates and travel and AGHHHHH!! Help me!!!
Ok, no I'm okay. I'm still not expecting anything for a while. That's good, right?
So another awesome thing that happened in the past couple of days is that our awesome, amazing, wonderful, awesome friends bought us this:
I know, I say awesome too much. But isn't it so awesome?!?! Our friends are too good to us.
So now all we need is a baby to go in it. Yup. No rush though...
Heidi tagged me, errr, a while ago. And as you can tell, I'm not the most prolific blogger in the world, and I had a million visitors this summer and was working all the time and blah blah blah... so I'm just getting around to doing this. For the uninitiated, its pretty simple. Someone tags you, you state 7 random (hopefully interesting) things about yourself, then tag 7 more people to do the same. And that's how we entertain ourselves while we wait for our babies ;-)
So here we have it.
1) I have lived in 9 different cities in 7 different states. I have lived in the south, the mid-west, the east-coast and the west-coast. I have lived in the 3 largest cities in the country. I don't know why I have lived in so many places. I hate to move. I fear change.
2) Following that same theme (and borrowing from Heidi a bit,) I have been present for, or closely involved in some of the most terrible things that have happened in our country in recent memory. I lived in LA during the Riots and the 6.9 Northridge earthquake. I lived in New York during 9/11. And I am from, and was considering moving back to New Orleans, when Katrina happened. My memories from each one of these events are some of my saddest and scariest. I remember fleeing south central Los Angeles as the area around my school (USC) burned to the ground and coming back to find a charred landscape. I remember a moment that seemed to last forever, huddled in the doorway of our 8th floor high rise, hugging my roommates, screaming how much we loved each other as we thought we were about to succumb to the "big one." I remember watching the streams of people on an otherwise perfect New York September day, walking past our apartment, looking like ghosts, covered in ash and soot. And the sadness I felt in me that day I thought could never be topped. Until I watched my home town drown, a city of people left to die, and wondering if everything my dad and step-mom owned was gone. These are things I carry with me every day. On the bright side, Chicago seems good so far. Knock wood.
3) I have never worked in an office. That's not random thing #3. I wrote that in order to explain random thing #3, which is that I am fascinated by offices. I have no idea what goes on in them. Seriously, what do you do all day when you work in an office? I know what I do when I go to work. I show up, someone hands me a list of clients, I massage each one at the appointed time, then I go home. Open and shut. But what happens when you show up to an office? Is there a list of things you have to do? Who comes up with that list? Is it the same everyday or does it change? I realize the answers are probably dependent on the office you work in. Near as I can tell, everyone I know who works in an office just spends their whole day on Facebook. But what did they do before Facebook? (and don't say Myspace.) And seriously, most importantly, how in the world do you stay awake!?!? I know there are times I feel like I could almost fall asleep standing up doing a massage. If I worked in an office, I would have no chance. I'd be fired in about 2 seconds. I know its weird, but office work is as mysterious to me as creating music or space exploration. I just don't get how it works.
4) I was blessed with so many amazingly good things in my life, it is embarrassing. Good skin, however, was not one of those things. It is, at times, the bane of my existence.
5) Left-side parallel parking is my nemesis.
6) I should have been a rock star. I know, its silly, we all have those fantasies. But every year I watch American Idol, and then I go into the shower and rock it out. Or in my car, yeah I'm that crazy person you see singing their guts out. Really I am pretty awesome. Except I can't sing. I mean, to me I can. When I am by myself, I sound so amazing I wonder how I am not signed already. But something strange happens when you throw other people into the mix. Apparently my voice is actually crap. It's too bad, because I would have been an awesome rock star.
7) I think the system of tipping is stupid. Customers shouldn't be responsible for paying the wages of workers. Employers should. That being said, it is the system we have here in this country. And it is how my husband and myself and millions of other people make their living. And I truly believe there is a special level of hell reserved for those that don't tip adequately or at all.
Yeah, so that's it. It really is hard to think of things about yourself. I had some others but I didn't think they were too interesting. I mean, who really wants to know what I think about my hair?
Should I tag other people? I don't know, Heidi tagged a bunch of people and no one did it. Guess everyone is as lazy as me :-) Maybe I'll just re-tag those people. That's pretty lazy right?
Many Gladney families were supposed to have court dates tomorrow (the 24th.) They have all been postponed. Just wanted to say I'm thinking of yall and hoping with everything in me they are rescheduled before the closures.
Most people who know me, know that I love talking about my adoption. It makes me happy. I'm excited and nervous and scared and excited and.... all of the things one might expect from anyone becoming a new parent. Conversations about my adoption will, many times lead to a wider conversation about adoption (in general.) I love having these conversations too. There is so much I have learned in the past year. So many things to consider. Such a broad world that I never gave much thought to before. Lets just say, to put it simply, my eyes have been opened. So, I have these conversations with people, and they might just be broad and general and quick. Sometimes they get a little deeper. It doesn't matter to me, I just like to talk about it. But then, it happens. Not every time, but so many times. This person that I am speaking with, who is sharing in my joy for adoption and telling me how cool it is that we are doing this will get a little glint in their eye and, almost in the same breath, say to me, "(insert snide comment about Brad & Angelina and/or Madonna here.)" And they give me that look, you know, the one that says, "Right, my sister? Can I get a high-five?"
I'm sorry, what?
Ok, I know. We tear down celebrity in this society. Its just something we do. Is it because they are richer than us? Better looking? Is it simply because they are famous? All of the above, I'm sure. And frankly, I don't care. What I do care about, is how somebody can see this:
and not see simply what I see, which is parents loving their children. Instead they think; those assholes, who do they think they are? just trying to make themselves look good, that's all they're doing, they don't care about those children, its all for show, etc, etc...
Really? All for show? You really think that people adopt children for show? How interesting. I guess because they are famous, there is no way they could possibly have enough heart to love the children they have taken into their lives. Clearly it would be better for those children to have remained where they came from. In their orphanages. Where they would have the benefit and the privilege of living like this:
Well, at least until they are of adult age, upon which time they will be kicked out into the real world, where their emotional scars and lack of supportive upbringing will surly bring them a lifetime of lovely rewards, and then finally, may they find some peace when they die at the ripe old age of 45. If they're lucky. Yeah, that does sound better than having Madonna as a mom.
Ok listen, I don't lie awake at night worrying about how Madonna/Brad/Angie feel. I'm sure they're fine. What I worry about, and what this rambling is really all about, is how people view adoption. And I find it interesting that the strongest and loudest of opinions come from people who have never, and will never, consider adoption for themselves. And I say to you, honestly, I wish they would keep their uneducated, narrow minded opinions to themselves because they just don't know what the hell they're talking about. They don't think about how many orphans there are in the world. They don't think about the conditions these orphans live in. And they don't think about the children growing up in the foster care system in this country. But for some reason, they feel secure as they sit in judgment of those who do think about these things.
Do they really think that someone who does not care about and love children would go through the adoption process for show? And let me assure you, it is a process. My husband and I have been fingerprinted 3 times for various background checks. We have submitted 2 medicals forms for which we were assessed and tested for every possible communicable disease. We have been studied and grilled by 2 social workers, wherein we were asked questions about parenting that I guarantee you no parent who has given birth naturally has had to consider. Our home has been scrutinized. I have drawn a floor plan and written out our fire drill routine. We have filled out more paperwork than I ever could have imagined. Before our adoption is complete, a governing organization in Ethiopia will pour over every document and detail of our lives and issue an opinion of whether we are fit to parent a child of Ethiopia. And after that, a judge will make a final decision. Adoption is not easy. And you know what, its also not the answer to the orphan crisis. That is a whole other can of worms. But I know this. For every child adopted, that is one less child living in conditions we wouldn't wish upon our animals. For every child adopted, that is one more child loved, hugged, kissed, sung to at night, held when the bad dreams come, tickled, played with, educated and fed.
I'm not saying everyone should adopt. I'm not naive enough to think that this is a reasonable option for every family. And I'm certainly not disparaging having your family the old fashioned way. I think pregnancy and child-birth are beautiful, and there will always be a piece of me that hurts because I can't do this. What I am saying is this:
I have a problem with people who think celebrities shouldn't adopt. And I have a problem with people that think gays shouldn't adopt. And I have a problem with people who think singles shouldn't adopt. And I have a problem with people who think you shouldn't adopt outside your race or ethnicity. And I have a problem with 'people who don't adopt' that have judgmental opinions of 'people who do adopt.'
Why? Because adoption saves lives. No matter who is doing the adopting. And tell me exactly how it is that you could be against that?
Ok, thank you for reading and, of course agreeing with everything I have said :-) Stepping off the soap box now. Please feel free to take a turn.
If you look over to the left at our timeline, you'll notice that it has officially been one year since we started this adoption journey. So crazy. Like most things, it has flown by, and yet it seems like it always was. Why is that? Looking back, I remember how excited we were to start this journey and how terrified I was at all of the work we had to do. I also remember thinking we would have a baby in about a year. Heh heh. You learn really fast in international adoption to have flexible expectations ;-)
This month, we also celebrated 6 years of marriage. Again, how could it possibly have gone by so fast? It seemed like just yesterday there was a bunch of us gathered in Connecticut on a sweltering evening to dance our butts off and celebrate this:
And then finally, this month we celebrated 12 years of being a couple. Holy cow. 12 years! I can scarcely remember who I was before I met Matt McBride. He is my husband, my best friend, my partner in crime, my everything. And soon... my baby daddy! Here is a rough approximation of what we looked like back then:
I saw this on a couple of other blogs, and thought I'd repost...
Bill Introduced to Provide Citizenship Rights
to Internationally Adopted Children
of American Families
June 29, 2009 (Washington, DC) -- The Families for Orphans Coalition announces its support for the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act) which was introduced last week in the Senate and House of Representatives. The FACE Act will allow American families to bring their internationally adopted children home as American citizens instead of as immigrants. The bill is spearheaded by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representatives Diane Watson (D-CA) and John Boozman (R-AR). The FACE Act simplifies the acquisition of citizenship for internationally adopted children and removes these children of American citizens from the immigration process.The Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act addresses needed changes to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) which was enacted to provide automatic U.S. citizenship to internationally adopted children of American citizens. As it stands now, the internationally adopted child of a U.S. citizen receives U.S. citizenship once the child enters the U.S. to reside permanently. If enacted, the FACE Act would allow such children to acquire U.S. citizenship at the time their adoptions are finalized in the country of the child’s birth. The child would then enter the U.S. as a U.S. citizen with citizenship documentation in hand.
“Passage of the FACE Act will eliminate the need for an immigration visa for internationally adopted children and instead will treat these children as children of American citizens, not immigrants subject to immigration regulations,” said McLane Layton, President of Equality for Adopted Children (EACH) and a member of the Families for Orphans Coalition. “Additionally, the FACE Act classifies internationally adopted children as “citizens from birth” just like children born of Americans overseas, thus providing them with equal rights of citizenship, including the right to run for President of the United States.”
“Under current law, the type of immigration visa an adopted child is given to enter the United States determines whether the child receives U.S. citizenship upon entry. Those children who do not receive U.S. citizenship upon entry and whose parents overlook the bureaucratic steps necessary to secure citizenship for their children are often later denied scholarships, passports, and the right to serve in the U.S. military. Most tragically, some young adults who have lived in the United States with loving, American families their entire lives have been deported to their birth countries - places they have no knowledge or memory of – for committing minor juvenile offenses. Half the children adopted internationally each year currently enter the States on the visa that places them at risk,” said Chuck Johnson, a Coalition member and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the National Council for Adoption.
“The Face Act will resolve these issues and provide U.S. citizenship to all internationally adopted children of American citizens.”The FACE Act also provides older orphans the ability to be adopted – children who were overlooked in the Hague Treaty on Intercountry adoption. “Prior to the Hague’s passage, children age 16 to 18 whose younger siblings had been adopted by an American were able to be adopted by the same American family,” said Terry Baugh, President of Kidsave. “The Hague eliminated all adoption opportunities for children 16 and over. The FACE Act will fix this oversight and expand the opportunity of a permanent family to all children up to age 18.”
The Families for Orphans Coalition was established in 2008 to support both domestic and foreign efforts that ensure every child lives, grows and thrives in a safe, permanent and loving family.
Apparently I haven't blogged in a while. So says most of the free world. Or at least the .00000000000000000001% that read my blog :-) Ok, I get it! But most of the time its like, what should I blog about? Well, what have I been doing? Lets see, I went to work today. And I went to work yesterday. And I'll be going to work tomorrow.... Do you sense a pattern here? I'm boring folks! Really boring. So let's talk about other people's lives, shall we? I don't know if you've been keeping up with the list (what? you don't look at it 500 times a day? oh that's just me?) It's very exciting because the referrals have been rolling and a lot of families have been getting through court, including one family (this family) who received their referral for their beautiful twins over a year ago and just finally got through court on Tuesday. You spend a lot of time when you are on the waitlist studying and analyzing. You study how many families are listed before you and you analyze how long it is taking for the people at the top of the list to get their referrals. You wonder why it is taking so long and you hope and pray it doesn't get to be a longer wait by the time you get up there. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Here's the thing. I have to catch myself when I start thinking like this and remind myself that Ethiopia is not a factory assembly line. Nor is my adoption agency. This is where adoption gets tricky. In order for Matt and I to have the family we always wanted, a mother has to make a torturous decision. Or maybe its not a decision at all, maybe she has died. Maybe other families have to make a torturous decision. Any which way you slice it, its heartbreaking. It's not something you would hope for anyone. Period. It's weird sometimes. I know that people feel sorry for me and Matt. They feel sorry because we couldn't get pregnant. And I appreciate their feelings, I really do, but I really just want to scream, don't feel sorry for us! What we have been through is nothing, nothing, compared to what parents who must give their children up have gone through. Whether it is in Ethiopia, or here in America, or anywhere in the world, no person should have to endure that. Ok, rambling... what's my point. My point is, if it takes 8 months to get a referral, or 12 months, or more, its ok, because we are not on a waitlist for a finely crafted Italian handbag. We are waitng for a person. A real live person, who was loved by someone else, or many other people, but could not stay with them. That's big.
Oy, how'd I get off on such a serious tangent? Ok, I know what you've really been waiting for...
Here's where I fell asleep on the couch and the cats took over.
And here's where I woke up and realized my husband was taking embarrassing pictures of me and tried in vain to hide my double chin.
And here's where Matt and Bishop were posing in their ties.
Yes. Neck ties.
And here's where they were reading Black's Law Dictionary in their ties.
I would like it noted for the record that it was not me who bought a neck tie for my cat and made him wear it and pose for pictures in it. It was Matt. My husband. Future great dad. I'm just saying.
So what's to do when you've been on the waitlist for two months? You're done with all the paperwork, but its way too early to start babyfying your home, cuz then you'll just sit and stare at all this baby stuff with no baby in it. Well I'll tell you what ya do. You obsess. Over the List. You read every last blog on the list. You feel like you know these people even though you've never met them. Hell, you even meet one of them (hi R, had a great time with you!) So this is what I do with my time. I can't get enough of it. It's replaced my facebook obsession. I celebrate when someone gets a referral or learns of a court date or passes court. And my heart breaks when I read the blogs of families who have received their referrals over a year ago and are still waiting to pass court. And I'm a little nervous right now. Because let me just tell you that no less than 16 Gladney families have court dates between May 20 and May 25. I'm getting heart palpitations just thinking about it. I want this to go well. I need this to go well. Because they're my peeps, even though we don't know each other. And our personal experiences may be vastly different, but we're all on the same ride. So my adoption experience is colored by each and every one of them.
Anyway, if you need me, this is where you'll find me. In front of my computer, reveling in my new obsession.
Not a whole lot going on here these days (aside from working a lot.) We had a great trip to the Seattle area visiting with Matt's family and especially our little cousin Connor, who is 4 years old now, and we haven't seen him since he was just a little baby! Here are a few pics...
Check out that hair
Matt and Connor looking suave at the Portland Zoo
Fun at the Mariners Game
Awesome family dinner
And finally... it seems to be spring here. So exciting! This is my favorite moment of the year, when brand new green starts emerging from those brown branches.
Wow, three weeks on the waitlist already. I know its just the beginning and we have a long way to go, but I'm feeling very at peace with "the wait" right now. I think it is because this is the first time in this process that I feel very sure that we are actually going to have a baby. There were times during the paperchase when I would get very frustrated and think that it was too hard and it was just never going to happen. Actually, now that I think about it, we've been trying to have a baby since 2006. Three years of struggling. It takes its toll on you. So to be able to relax into the idea that the thing you always wanted is coming, its a very peaceful feeling.
I think there are some new readers now. For those not in the adoption world, let me explain. There's this thing called the FBI list. No, not *that* FBI. It doesn't involve fingerprints. It stands for "Forensic Blogging Initiative." Its a list, put together by a woman named Grace who adopted from Ethiopia last year. Her description of the list: "This is a little something I do in my spare time to track the progress of Gladney Ethiopia families, from the paperchase stage to their forever families." So I wrote to her and asked to be placed on the list. You can check the list out here Anyway, to all of the new visitors, welcome! Thank you for sharing in our story. I have probably read your blog (if you have one) and anxiously await your good news just as much as mine :-)
As many of you know, I am from New Orleans. I write this because I am missing home somethin awful right about now. Don't get me wrong, things are getting better here in Chicago. The days are somewhat warmer. It doesn't snow (nearly as much ;-) But New Orleans in the spring, man, you cannot beat it. Its festival season. And crawfish season. Its all-around heaven. We usually get down there this time of year, but in order to save money for Baby McBride, the vacation budget has been slashed. Which is ok, I mean, it is totally worth it. You have to have priorities. But man, do I miss Nola in the springtime.
Bringing things down a little bit, there have been two recent passings that have affected me in one way or another. The first was a woman I did not know. Her name was Haregewoin Teferra. A book was written about this extraordinary woman's life by Melissa Fay Greene called "There is No Me Without You."
Most of us in the Ethiopia adoption world have read, or are reading, this book. In short, this woman took in hundreds of orphans in Ethiopia when no one else could or would. She gave all of herself to these children. She died on March 17 of unknown causes. Her story is greatly worth knowing about.
The second was a man I did know. This man.
His name was John Edw. Blankenchip. He was the heart and soul of the USC School of Theatre. He was crass and rude and irreverent. He somehow managed to cut you down, cuss you out, make you laugh, and empower you, all at the same time. And he cared more about his students than any teacher I have ever met. He made my experience at the USC School of Theatre worth it. He died on April 1 (april fools day, of course.) He was loved and will be missed by many. Including me.
Ok, enough with the sad stuff. Matt and I are very much looking forward to a trip to Seattle next week to see his family. I know I said our vacation budget had been slashed, but we made an exception, as this was supposed to be our Christmas vacation that never did happen. Hopefully we won't get snowed in this time. I probably just jinxed us. It will be nice to get away from work for a few days to recharge the batteries.
Bishop's dream came true yesterday when I accidentally spilled a whole jar of catnip on the floor. I think it was the best day of his life. I did eventually sweep it up, but I had to let him roll around in it and eat as much as possible because he was so happy. And high. Also, I was laughing way too hard to pick him up.
I got a little side tracked this week. Worked 6 days in a row and it kinda turned me into a zombie. Not the brain-eating kind. Just the don't-know-which-way-is-up-can't-work-up-the-energy-to-blog kind. But I'm better now.
So, yes, it finally happened! I had been somewhat impatiently waiting for about a week to hear word that we had been placed on the waitlist. Kate had sent our final documents (the budget worksheet and the CIS approval letter) off to be authenticated and it seemed like they were taking forever to get back to her. Our agency, Gladney, will place you on their waitlist once your entire dossier has been authenticated on the state level and then sent off to DC for final authentication. Every day I would check my email and phone messages, hoping to hear something. And then on Wednesday, I was at work, between massages, and checked my email (thank god for iPhones.) And there they were, two beautiful emails from Kate and Jessica. I was so excited I did a jig. Luckily I was in my massage room where no one can see me. Of course, then I did another jig in the office in front of about 3 people when I told Kirsten the news. I then texted Matt with a message that said "dude, we're on the waitlist!" He texted me back with, "sweet, dude!" I know, we're so eloquent.
So what does this mean? How Long? What do we do now? Well, quite frankly, we go about our business. Because nothing is going to happen for a while. Gladney is saying right now that the average wait for a referral is 6.5 months. But there a few families who have been waiting for 8 months. And by the time we get to the 6 or 8 month mark, who knows how long the waiting times will have increased to. And remember, folks, this is just for the referral. Add another 4-6 months (or more) on top of that to pass court and be allotted travel dates.
So what the heck do we talk about now? Well, we can talk about how our cat, Bishop has been diagnosed with asthma and now has to be given steroids to help breath right and not sound like he has a smoker's cough. Or we can talk about how Matt bought Shamwows. Apparently they won't make you say "Wow" every time. We can also talk about Ethiopia. It's a fascinating country with a rich culture and history and we want our child to know as much as possible about where he/she came from.
So, as you can see, my blogs might be a bit random now. It's so weird, after all this time always feeling like we needed to be doing something, to not have anything to to do but wait. But that's all we can do! So cheers to the wait and hears hoping its as short as possible.
I seriously thought this would take months to come, but today we received our letter of approval from Immigration! I am so freaking excited! Now all we have to do is get notarizations for that and our budget worksheet and we are done with all of our paperwork! Then, as soon as Kate gets everything authenticated for us, we can be placed on the wait list. Oh happy day!
I am so excited to announce that our very good friends, John and Janet, have had a beautiful baby boy named Cole Bradley! Cole was born at 4:30 AM on Feb. 20, 6lb 9oz at Northwestern Hospital. We went to see him yesterday and he is so beautiful! Poor Cole has to spend 7 days in the NICU because they say he has an infection. It's really just an elevated white blood cell count, he seems totally fine. I got to hold him for a little bit, but I don't think it went very well. I was nervous because he is attached to monitors and an IV and I was so worried I was going to detach him! And he is so tiny! I think he was thinking, man this lady is not doing this right. Anyway, we are so excited for John and Janet and we are totally going to be practicing on little Cole. We clearly need all the practice we can get :-) And we can't wait for Baby McBride and Cole to be playmates! Here are a couple of pics:
Look at this little face!
BTW, nothing has happened on the adoption front. Still just waiting for our CIS approval letter. Waiting and waiting and waiting.........
By my count, there are only two remaining pieces of our dossier to be handed in. One is our budget worksheet which has to be notarized, and the other is our I-171H from CIS. The first one will come quickly. We just have to get the form from KBS Dossiers in the mail, notarize, and send back. The other, well who knows when that is going to happen. Our homestudy has been sent to Immigration. But I just checked their website, and it seems that the Chicago field office is pretty far behind on processing these forms. I will try to keep an optimistic outlook, and hopefully we will receive it within the next two months (please oh please!)
So, as you can tell by reading so far, our homstudy is finally complete! It was a bit of a trial to make that happen. In order to understand why it took a while, let me explain a little bit about notarization as it pertains to international adoption. The personal notary stamp of the individual who is notarizing your document must not expire for at least a year and a half (and that is pushing it.) The reason for this, as explained to me best by my friend Catherine (who had it explained to her by our dossier service when she was getting a reference letter notarized for us) is that foreign governments view this expiration date as an expiration date for the document itself. So, if a document is notarized by someone who's stamp expires on say, 12/19/09, and our case has not passed court in Ethiopia at this point, that document will have expired. Such was the case of our homestudy. FRC sent out copies of our homestudy to us, Gladney and CIS, all notarized by an employee of FRC, whose notary stamp expires on said date. This was a wee bit upsetting because I just felt like, shouldn't you know this? You do homestudies for international adoptions, right? You have done this before, right? Anyway, to their credit, they were very quick in re-doing everything once I made them aware of the situation.
Another milestone we passed was finally getting approved to adopt by Gladney! (I sometimes secretly can't hardly believe that two agencies have approved us to adopt a baby. Really, us? I don't know, that seems so grown-up :-) With this approval, we have transitioned from our assistant case worker, Susanne, to our actual case-worker, Jessica. We had a conference call with Jessica last week. She is so nice and helpful (as everyone at Gladney has been, seriously, if you just stumbled upon this blog and are considering international adoption, these people are awesome and soooooo nice.) Jessica will be with us the rest of the way through this adoption process. She will be the one to call us with our referral and she will be the one to let us know if we have passed court. She gave us a rundown of the process from here on out. It seems that the average wait time for a referral right now is about 6.5 months. Once you have accepted your referral, its another 1 to 3 months just to get issued a court date, and another 10 weeks or so to have your first court date. She also made sure we understand that there are many different factors that go into passing court, and that it is a very challenging process that Gladney is not really in control of.
I can hardly believe we have already been on this adoption journey for about 6 months now. Looking back, I do wish that we had done some this differently. I wish that we had initiated the homestudy sooner, like right at the very beginning. And I wish we had been more vigilant about getting all of our documents and paperwork completed as fast as possible. But honestly, we had no idea what we were doing. And at least we will know better for the next time!
Man, we are so close now. So close to being done with the paperchase I can taste it! Well, I hope we're close. I do panic when I read other adoptive family's blogs (yes I am a blog stalker, haven't quite worked up the nerve to "introduce" myself yet) and I see how they had to redo this document or that or many documents, for various different reasons. It's just not simple. None of this is simple. I find myself cursing that fact from time to time. But then I give myself a pep talk (yes, I actually do that) and I try to get over it. Eyes on the prize, as my very wise sister said.
So we have taken the remainder of our adoption classes that are required by our homestudy agency, FRC. Our favorite, by far, was a class called Race and Adoption. There was a panel of adoptive parents and adult adoptees and there was just so much perspective and so many things to learn and consider. We talked about so many different things that I couldn't possibly cover it all here, but let me tell you one of the most important things to consider if you are a white parent adopting a black child. I'm going to speak to the white folk reading this blog now. People, we do not know about the hair! And it's not trivial, it is in no way unimportant! Hair, especially for black women, is a source of pride and identity. And it cannot be cared for the way that white people care for their hair. So if I don't want to look like a neglectful momma, I better learn about the hair! Anyway, we took two more classes after that, one of which was an on-line class about medical issues in international adoption (important because there can be so many unknowns when you are adopting from another country) and another class at FRC called Viewing Adoption from a Family Systems Perspective. It's a fancy, social worker-y name for a class that actually was pretty interesting. The idea is that the adopted child's birth family actually becomes a part of your extended family network, which I really liked. We have no idea if we will actually meet any of the birth family, but if we do, we are very interested in trying to keep contact with them, as much as possible.
Sooooo, the classes are done, what else is there? Well, our homestudy has been finalized and printed up. Very many things can hopefully move forward now. Our main agency, Gladney was waiting for copies of our criminal clearances obtained by FRC. They needed them for our application with them to be complete so they can approve us for adoption. But FRC didn't want to send the copies until our homestudy was complete. The homestudy couldn't be complete until we finished our classes. We couldn't finish our classes until FRC actually offered the classes we needed. (Do you see how this is a vicious cycle of waiting for things that are completely beyond your control?) We also are waiting on a couple of things that will complete our dossier. We just received our FBI clearances by FedEx (those dudes at the Bureau are quick! only took them 2 weeks!) so we have to get them notarized. We have to get our budget worksheet notarized, but our dossier service hasn't sent it to us yet because she needs to see the homestudy first (of course) and we have a couple more reference letters to come in. We also now have to wait for our I-171H which is our approval from CIS (immigration). This was also completely dependent on the homestudy. Is your head spinning? Are you even still reading this? If you are, kudos.
Today was a Thursday of immense production. It's curaazy how much we got done today, and even more impressive is the fact that my poor husband managed to get through all of it without having a wink of sleep last night.
So what did we do? Oh you know, everything. No, not everything, but almost, I swear! We started out by stopping off at our State Farm office to get a notarized letter from them stating that we have life insurance. I tell ya, what a nice group of people this is. Not only were they so happy to do it for us, but Dave Fredrickson, the guy who owns and runs the agency came out of his office to offer any support he could possibly give us, including introducing us to a local Ethiopian businessman he knows from the chamber of commerce. That's just so nice. Our second stop was the bank. I had spent a while this morning calling around to various Washington Mutuals to find out if any of them had a notary on site, which surprisingly few of them do. We finally found one and went off to get a letter from them stating that we have a checking account and are in good standing. I was kind of dreading this. I feel so awkward when I go into an establishment and start stammering about international adoption and company letterheads and notarizations. Sometimes they just stare back at me with blank faces, like I'm speaking another language. But luckily the guy completely understood what we needed and was happy to do it for us. He just asked for a little time to complete it, so we left it with him and went off do do more tasks. Our next stop was downtown. We had to get fingerprints (yes more,) notarizations for a bunch of different documents and passport-sized photos. Driving in downtown Chicago sucks and parking is even worse. But sleepless Matt managed to do it without loosing his sanity entirely. We parked in a garage that cost almost as much as this adoption is going to cost and trotted off to this weird little store that performs all of these services. It was a mad house when we got there and the man who owns it was running around yelling "two hours ago, nothing, now lunch time, everybody is here!" When it was our turn, we got inked, fingerprinted, photographed, notarized and outa there! Once we made it alive out of downtown, we drove back up to the bank to pick up our letter, back home to make copies of everything (an absolute must in the adoption process) and then back out to the FedEx to send everything off. We sent the fingerprints to the FBI and all of the rest of the documents we had compiled off to KBS Dossiers, who I am sooooo glad we hired to put all of this stuff together for us.
So now, our dossier is almost complete! We have a couple of things left to do, but not much and then we still have our classes to take. I can't believe we are nearing the end of this part of the process. I was looking back at my older posts and remembering how intimidated I was and how I thought there was no way we would be able to accomplish this. I'm pretty darn proud of us, if I do say so myself!
Ok, I'm back! Time to stop moping about winter! I live in Chicago. Winter happens. Time to move on :-) I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I have to admit, I'm glad that's all over. We had a pretty lame December. It was dreadfully slow at my work, I couldn't focus on anything important, and to top it off, we were supposed to go to Seattle to see Matt's family for Christmas but our flight got canceled so we just stayed home. And I got a cold.
But it's a new year! And it's time to get back to the business of adopting!
Soooooo, we still have paperwork, all of it for our dossier. And we have two more classes to take in person (on the 11th and 15th) and we have to do some online classes too. But that's it. Our goal is to be done by the end of January, or possibly even before. Then we just wait.
And that brings me to what I believe will be our theme this year: Waiting. Once all of this work is done, we will be placed on the waitlist with Gladney. And we wait for our referral. I believe we will be waiting about 6 months. Then we get our referral. Then we wait for our court date. 1 or 2 months. And in this time we will also be waiting through the rainy season (August and September) when the courts in Addis are closed. God willing, we will pass court on the first try. But I don't count on that. So we wait to pass court. For some families this takes months. Once we do pass court (hooray!) we wait 3 to 4 more weeks to travel. Oh Tom Petty, its true; the waiting IS the hardest part.
Patience has never been one of my strongest qualities. But in 2009, I will learn to be patient. I don't have a choice! I am looking at it like this: When we are put on the waitlist, I will consider us pregnant. Ok, so our gestation period will be a little longer than normal, but that will give us more time to save money and, of course, to buy baby stuff! I can't wait to buy baby stuff! Then, hopefully at the end of this year, there will be a baby to go along with all the baby stuff. I can't wait! Oops, I mean I can wait! I will wait! I loooove waiting!
I'm Tam and my husband is Matt. Our names form a palindrome. We're just that cool.
We are hoping to add to our family by adopting our first child from Ethiopia. Please follow along as we journey through the process of international adoption.
7/12/08 Decide to adopt! Request and receive online information packet from Gladney 7/19 Send on-line information sheet to Gladney 8/1 Initial contact with Judy from the Gladney Center and receipt of international adoption manual and immigration form I-600A 8/6 Phone orientation. Request application from Family Resource Center for homestudy. 8/8 Mail in initial Gladney application 8/12 Receive full Gladney application and Ethiopian dossier manual by email 8/21 Get life insurance 8/28 FedEx form I-600A Doctor appointments for both of us. 8/30 Pick up completed medical form for Gladney app. from doctor 9/4 Pick up completed notarized medical form for dossier 9/11 Mail in application to Family Resource Center for homestudy 9/12 Receive receipt and acknowledgment of form I-600a from Immigration 9/13 Receive Matt's fingerprinting appointment letter for immigration 9/15 Receive Tam's fingerprinting appointment letter 9/23 Receive phone call from Kathy from FRC to set initial interview for homestudy 9/25 Fingerprints taken for both of us for immigration 10/2 In-office interview with Kathy from FRC 10/3 Mail in Gladney app. part 1 10/15 Fingerprints for IL foster parenting license 10/16 Cat vaccinations 10/17 Got Tam's employer letter 10/23 Picked up medical forms. Dropped off packet at FRC. Got Matt's employer letter. Talked to Linda from FRC and set homestudy for Nov. 13 10/24 Mail in Gladney app. parts 2 and 3 10/30 Contact Kate from KB Dossiers 11/13 Homestudy 11/18 Adoption class 12/9 Adoption class 1/8/2009 Compile and notarize many dossier documents. Get fingerprints (ink) and send them to FBI. 1/11 Adoption class 1/15 2 remaining adoption classes 1/22 Receive FBI "no arrest" records by FedEx 1/23 Receive finalized homestudy from FRC by mail 2/3 Email informing us we have received Gladney approval 2/5 Conference call with Jessica from Gladney 2/6 Receive really truly finalized homestudy from FRC by mail 2/12 Send remaining portion of fee to Gladney and FedEx FBI approval, homestudy and last reference letter to Kate 2/27 Receive I-171H in the mail 3/2 FedEx final documents to Kate 3/18 WAITLIST!!!!
The blogs I stalk, because they say the things I want to say, only better: