Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Spidey Sense....

The last few weeks I have the strangest sensation...almost like the feeling you might get when you sense someone is watching you. It's an internal nudge, like my heart is feeling a ripple from across the world. Maybe it's adoptive contractions. I don't know that we'll see her anytime soon, but I have the feeling that our fate has been sealed, that we've been matched with whomever has been chosen to be our daughter. I can see a tiny picture attached to our file, already connected to us.
The problem is, this has been such a long bumpy road for us and we've been derailed so many times, it's hard to embrace this feeling. You keep guarding your heart for fear of another road block. I've had to continually remind myself about being adaptive to change, being a leaf on the river who goes wherever the current goes, and that the current cannot be changed. Most of the time it works, but sometimes has resulted in some pretty unproductive internal dialog: i am a leaf on a river. i will go with the flow. my worries will not change the current or outcome. i am a leaf on a river. i am a leaf on a...god#$%& leaf!! i don't want to be a $%!$ leaf! and $%^ this river too, i mean where is the #$^&*ing current going to?! 
 Like I said...sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
We had to update our homestudy, again. This time for USCIS (for anyone who cares/doesn't know...this is the branch of Homeland Security that handles immigration and stands for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), because they want the homestudy to be current within 6 months of your Immigration application. It was painless, our social worker took pity on us and basically did an addendum sheet that had a new date and stated there were no other changes; we still weren't criminals, we still went to work at the same place, and still weighed the same amount. Actually we both lost a few pounds since the last update, but..I digress. Korea doesn't care about this date, our agency in Michigan doesn't care about this, and our homestudy agency in Ohio could give a rat's arse about this, it is all the US government. But either way it's done. Homestudy update, $50. Cost of it being painless, priceless.
So...while we were at the homestudy update point, I called our agency (just this morning) to check in and let them know we were doing an update, and if we were going to do a gender change now would be a fantastic time to do it, since we were already doing the date update for USCIS. It was the FIRST time I ever got an optimistic, positive response regarding our status from them! Well other than the day we agreed to sign on with them and give them boatloads of money...But she actually said the words, you are in a very good place considering the situation in Korea. You are very near the top of the list! They advised us to sit tight and not make any gender changes.
This news along with my undeniable spidey sense, makes me feel pretty good and that this might actually happen in the not too distant future! For now I will embrace it. I will still be the leaf, but maybe one who just drifts off to the river bank and basks in the goodness of the sun for a while!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Logically Speaking

Hello out there! It's been a while. I tend to fall off the blog radar for the 3 readers I have in Sweden, 5 in Russia and 19 in the sincerest apologies!!
The days are getting shorter and there is a refreshing chill in the air. I have made it through the summer, dutifully crossing off June, July and August on the time line chart. We stayed busy, had fun, and mostly kept my mind off of The Wait. And by mostly I mean hardly.
I am still amazed at how different this process is not only from our experience with Bek, but from what it was supposed to be when we signed on.
We were warned when we signed on for Kazakhstan that it was a somewhat unstable program, that changes could unfold during the process, the travel was long and difficult, the accommodations primitive and rustic (read: post soviet), the incidence of fetal alcohol risky. In short we were told it was a difficult program but that it could be right for the right kind of people. We decided we were Those Kind of people and moved forward. What it turned out to be was relatively quick and bump-free wait (10 months start to finish), an impatient but pleasant nesting period, a life changing soul enriching travel experience and of course the easily completed adoption of an amazing boy who is, simply put, Our Child, the perfect match for our family.
Maybe it's the hindsight bias theory, or just the rose colored lenses we wear for the first child. We always tend to gloss over the painful parts when reflecting and nearly every mom who biologically birthed a child will tell you it's a good thing you don't remember how painful it is, otherwise there'd be fewer children in the world.
But here we are, years later, (more than a FEW years later since we are now in our early 40s)...going down this road again but with a much different landscape. We got on this ride because we are in advanced age to become parents, we wanted a comfortable, relatively easy, predictable cost effective route. South Korea fit the bill for us: healthy young infants, quick process time that runs with military precision and predictability, travel with comfy posh amenities and adoption fees a fraction of the cost of other countries.
Well, well, well. Irony doesn't begin to describe this situation. In the 1 year, 3 months and 3 weeks we've been on this tilt-a-whirl from hell; it's gone from a one year-ish process time to 2, maybe 3 years. The infant we thought we would get may be a toddler. A Toddler! Forget “Learning To Sign With Your Baby”, I may need to learn Korean! No one, not even the agency we are working with, has answers as to when we might be matched with a child and when we might travel to get her. It might be 2012 or it might be 2013. There is no predictability.
The only thing our agency has told us with any sense of certainty is that they were told by the Korean government that referrals (matching) will resume in October to November of this year. Will we be one of the families referred a child? I know you will be shocked by this next statement, but WE DON'T KNOW. Our agency hinted at “probably not” since we are requesting a girl, but then admitted there are fewer families waiting for girls, once again they don't know, and anything is possible.
So I will don my Spock ears and look at this logically:
Referrals will resume in October/November.
October is 8 days away. There are 31 days in October. November is 40 days away and there are 30 days in November.
We “could be” matched with our baby girl anywhere in the next 9 to 69 days. 
Cheers, and here's to "could be"!! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Time Is An Illusion

The last two weeks have been a flurry of activity: July 3rd, 2 parties, 4th of July; the parade, party, fireworks, cocktails, fun! Cedar Point two days later; fun, hot, long day! Birthday preparations, planning, shopping. Bek's birthday two days later; the bittersweet-ness (my baby is 8!), a quiet get together with his grandma and upa. The next day his party; the excitement, the presents, the chaos, the Transformers movie (a noisy chaotic mess itself)...wedge in there the normal everyday stuff like work, taekwondo, our ailing cat etc and it's been a recipe for overload.
Today Brad is back to work after a week's vacation and Bek is still sleeping and I finally feel some return to normalcy and have some quiet time to myself to pontificate...aaahhh!
I feel like these milestone dates nudged us that much closer. But closer to what? The end of summer, which gets us closer to the fall, which in turn makes it almost winter at which point we MIGHT be matched with our child?? It's a terrible thing to be constantly willing time to move forward, but on some level, it's what I've been doing. I've made a conscious effort to stay present, and just enjoy summer and Bek and family and friends..and I have been. But I cannot deny the quiet ticking in the back of my head, like a giant metronome that is clicking away the calendar days.
The chase and The Wait and the red tape has become such a part of this process, that the end result, our daughter, has become some sort of elusive slippery hard to grasp concept. I see faint glimmers of her every now and again, and feel her growing in a vague distant way, but the long wait has made it cloudy and hard to see her. She's too far off in the distance, just a tiny dot on the horizon.
I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the prize so to speak, no matter how far away she is; and to remember that after all the waiting, we will have a child! And that end, really just marks the beginning.
Time is funny like that. It's expediency or it's sluggishness is all in our perception. The same number of hours are in every single day, the number of days in every week and month are the same for every person; but ask a parent how time flies by when you are raising a child, then ask a waiting adoptive parent how time is moving for them! Those same amount of hours/days/weeks/months become something entirely different.
For me, I am stuck somewhere between both worlds, some rubber band time space continuum where time stretches and bows; like my 80's tape player, whirring frantically one minute then warbling slowly to a near stop the next. 
All this thinking about time made me think about all the songs devoted to the topic and how it's a universally mystical concept:
Time is On My Side - Rolling Stones, Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper, Time - Pink Floyd, Turn (is that the name of that song?) - The any good ones? 
On the wall of our old (sniff sniff) summer beach cottage on Pelee Island there was a yellowing plaque on the wall with my favorite verse about time: 
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love; Time Is Eternity.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Denial, Anger, Acceptance!

“Is there any news on the adoption?”
Well...funny you should ask.
On Thursday, June 2nd, we got a letter from our US agency. I'll try to give you the Reader's Digest version of this letter in a way that doesn't cause you to completely glaze over:
The Korean government has established 'quotas' for the number of children placed for international adoptions. Each year they reduce this number by 10%, with the ultimate goal of ending all adoptions (they do not want to be seen as a 'baby export' country, amongst many other reasons but this is not the time or place for that discussion). This year, they've already reached their quota. Most years, they do not reach quota until closer to the end of the year. But apparently in 2011 the number of babies available for adoption was up, and as a result more referrals were made. However, not all of these referrals/children would be granted an Exit Permit because of the quota. No more referrals will be made until Oct/Nov of this year, with travel sometime in January '12 or later. Additionally, there is no guarantee the babies will be under the age of 12 months at the time of referral.
This means:
  • we may or may not get matched this fall, as originally expected.
  • if we do, there may or may not be an exit permit for her to travel in 2012
  • it could feasibly be 2013 before we have our baby girl
  • she may or may not be an infant under 12 months as originally expected. She might be 14, 18, 22 months old (while the upside to this will be less time dealing w/ diapers - adopting a walking, korean- talking toddler is a whole different bag of tricks)
  • it's all a big crap shoot and anyone's guess!

I'll point out again the main reasons why we chose the Korea adoption program:
  • it is a stable program that has changed little in 30-50 years
  • the program is relatively quick, around 12 months start to finish
  • the babies are young (under 12 months) and healthy
  • the travel is relatively easy – only a 3 day required trip (hooray this part hasn't changed but maybe I shouldn't say that out loud!)

As you might imagine, this was a pretty big blow. All the reasons we chose Korea for were now null and void.
We've been at this Trying To Add A Second Child thing for literally years now. An uncountable amount of time and mental energy has been devoted to this singular quest. If we weren't actively involved in an adoption (Russia), we were talking, saving, researching, speculating about it (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal). We've lost thousands of dollars on false starts and back outs. It seemed that no matter what path I followed, a giant road block dropped down just as we neared the destination.

I'll spare you all the details of the emotional downward spiral I went into, but there was stomping and fit throwing and tears and fists shaken at the sky and wine consumption. I allowed myself to wallow in that place for a while. I went into damage control mode and halfheartedly researched other countries as back up plans (this was sadly disappointing, not many other options out there). I imagined quitting all together and remaining a neat, happy family of three.

We then got some encouraging news that we might be among the group of families that gets a referral in the fall and travels sometime in 2012, possibly the early part of '12. Still no guarantees on the age of the children, and as for this part I just slowly got my brain and heart to accept this, even though I was initially adamantly opposed to toddler adoption. 

Yes, it really is all speculation and even the agency cannot tell us what might happen. We might NOT get that fall of this year referral. It COULD be 2013 before we have another child, with our paperwork expired and necessitating redoing and repaying for all of it. We COULD wind up with a toddler, who will speak Korean baby talk and suffer serious grieving issues when we tear her apart from her foster family she's come to know and love. 
But I started thinking that doesn't that mean there is just as much chance that it will all work out? Why NOT be hopeful? I know, I know, because preparing for the worst protects your heart from breaking to some extent. But it also generates negative energy. It makes you bitter and agitated (and by "you" I mean "me"). And, if you believe in such things, visualizing certain outcomes can cause them to become reality. 
So, I decided I'm hopeful. It could be fine and not be too far off from our original expectations. Maybe it will be one of those worst case scenarios but that it will still all work out and be okay. 
I had an amazing dream the other night. In the dream, a foreign looking landscape ticked along in choppy movie reel fashion; small bulbous trees flew by outside of a subway window, as we cradled a beautiful tiny girl. She was crying and clinging to me tightly. She settled into my arms as Bek and Brad huddled around us and cooed and consoled her and the landscape changed to enormous modern buildings. I could not tell her age but this did not seem to matter. There was a feeling of contentment and fulfillment, the culmination of a long hard journey. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Korean-esque Burgers

So last night I tried a recipe for Korean Barbecue Beef Burgers.
In the pre-testing for my surgery they found I was anemic. This was not the first time I'd heard this; my family Doc also brought it up after getting our CBC testing for the adoption. But, I guess I kindof ignored it or thought it was a lab error. Well this time I took it a little more seriously as it certainly explained the fatigue, splitting nails, etc. After getting stamped with this diagnosis, I have been trying to work a little lean beef into my diet, in addition to lentils, greens, strawberries and iron supplements every other day. Anyway I digress, back to the burger. The recipe was from Cooking Light, usually a trusted source for me. It contained all the components for what I thought would be an amazing, sweet, salty gingery garlicky Korean-esque burger; soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, green onion..along with good quality ground sirloin. It was topped with red leaf lettuce and thinly sliced radish. Sounds delish right! And it got all these outstanding reviews. If a recipe sounds good to me AND gets great reviews, that's usually a winner. Well, while it was pretty tasty, it didn't knock me out but I thought that it could and had potential to. I am going to give it another run next week making the following tweaks: sauce. this burger needs a sauce. preferrably a sweet but spicey concoction..and kimchi instead of lettuce. Hey why not grated carrot and cucumber & fried egg too? Maybe leave the garlic, ginger & green onion in the burger mixture, but then bathe the whole thing in sauce after? I don't know, I'll keep you posted with the results but feel free to give it a try with your own tweaks and let me know how it turns out!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Non Update update and Random Deep Thoughts

“Any news on the adoption?”
Nope, just waiting. That's pretty much it right now. Waiting, and more waiting.Things seem to be speeding up for some families but we are likely still on target to be matched with baby Eva in the fall, Oct/Nov.. and travel in the winter, Dec/Jan.
It is hard, and some days are harder than others. But I still feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be here at all.
I once had an acquaintance with whom I was sharing infertility war stories with say to me, with no bad intentions I'm sure, “well, I tell ya with everything we went through WE almost had to adopt too”. I said nothing in response to this because of the situation we were in, a quick exchange during school pick up or drop off....but this would become one of those moments that in hindsight I thought of all kinds of great retorts long after the fact. One of those Things I Should've Said moments. Mostly I just wanted to say that if you did “have to” adopt it probably would've been the most amazing experience of your life. That you wouldn't believe the love that can bloom when that tiny person born of another's flesh becomes your own. That you've given hope, love, family, to someone who had none, and the feeling that gives you is something indescribable but that I wish more could experience! To travel to your child's place of birth and fall in love with their culture and learn of a whole other world you never knew existed. That you would feel pride, honor and reverence for a country you knew little about. That you will love in a way you never knew was possible.
I wanted to say all of this and more, but I didn't. I nodded and let her finish her story and said “talk to you soon” and crossed the parking lot to my car.
Not surprisingly, this same person's son, who is in Bek's grade; recently (as in about 3 days ago) said a very hurtful negative comment to my son regarding his pending baby sister's arrival and about adoption in general. The comment went something like this:
when your baby sister gets here she won't even be a real part of your family because she will be adopted just like you are”.
That little cracking sound? Yeah, that's the echo of my heart still breaking.
Ok...I knew we'd deal with these kinds of comments one day. ONE day. I didn't really think it would come out of the mouth of a second grader. That a 7 year old could be so cold and need the ego boost of tearing someone else down to make themselves feel better! That our culture's negative connotation of adoption has somehow already been ingrained in someone who's only been alive for 7 years??
This mother-son dynamic duo of social disgraces really got me thinking. One thinks that adoption is at best a second choice or a last resort when the preferred biological method doesn't work. The other thinks it's “not real” and it doesn't mean you are a family. Where do these ideas come from?
To an extent, some of it is normal. Typically when you want a family you do it the old fashioned way; maybe you have some wine, get busy, and if all planets are aligned 9 months later you have offspring. This is the common, most socially acceptable way. And for most, the preferred way, as genetics and ego play such a huge role in the desire to create a small version of yourselves (but that is a whole other blog post). And let's be honest, it's also the cheapest, easiest and funnest way to create a child. When this doesn't work, many turn to other options; fertility treatments, donor eggs, surrogacy. Then if that doesn't work they look at their next options, which for most means adoption. These latter options are costly, stressful, un-organic, and did I mention costly.
This is not unlike how it played out for us. I only wish I knew how amazing adoption was before the hell of fertility treatments! I wish it was our first choice, we could've started sooner and adopted more.
But, as is usually the case, you need to take a specific road to get exactly where you need to be.Wow deep thoughts huh.
So I guess how I can see how adoption gets it's “second choice” rating.
But I've decided to take this opportunity to let people know that it doesn't have to be and shouldn't be. Of course we all need to follow our own paths and come to our own destinations in life in our own ways (ok this is starting to sound a little too Dust In The Wind), but if you know someone who is struggling with infertility, tell them about adoption! If you know someone who is pregnant and doesn't want to be, tell them about adoption! Or refer them to this blog post and tell them to read all those things I wish I would said to That Acquaintance in the exchange I told you about.
As for the antagonist son in our story. I'm not sure where he would've heard such a thing. Movies? Parents? But I thought maybe in spite of him being a mean spirited little bleep, maybe he, and others too, just needs some education? I spoke with his teachers about coming in and talking to the class about what adoption means. Nothing too big or heavy, just a quick normalization and factual presentation.
As for Bek, the recipient of the verbal assault, he was fortunately a little confused by what this kid said, so it didn't hit too hard. It didn't ring true with anything we'd ever taught him or said to him, so it was almost like it just didn't compute. But he was hurt, and it began the wheels turning; this I know. I told him that not everyone knows about adoption, and that it's our job to teach them. To tell them that adoption is just another way that families are built and they make forever families just like others. But that also if they are being mean spirited, you have the choice to just walk away or tell them they don't know what they are talking about, or to just clock them in the pie hole. Ok I didn't say this last part, but I wanted to.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Really Real

On March 31st I got the email we've been waiting for - our HOME STUDY WAS SENT TO KOREA. Press the start button on the giant clock, we are officially waiting for a referral for a baby girl!! In the Korean adoption community, this is known as being HSTK (you guessed it,' home study to korea'). The date that you are HSTK is the date that you can officially start counting.
It is AMAAAAZING what this one little acronym, 4 little letters - has done for me. Suddenly it feels, real. Our paperwork is sitting in Seoul, South Korea, as we speak. I can allow my brain to now think of the tiny baby that may have recently been born, or is about to be.
We still have a VERY long road of waiting ahead of us; 6-9 months to receive her referral and 9-12 until we travel to get her. BUT I have an idea now, of when things will's not an vague open ended block of time where everyday you are just wondering when? who knows? We KNOW now, that sometime between September and November we will get her picture, and that sometime between December and February we will bring her home! She will be around 9 months old, give or take. It will be winter. These are things I now know!