Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just what I wanted this Christmas!

 A longer wait!! Really, you shouldn't have. No, I mean, you Really. Shouldn't. Have.
I'm not sure if the sarcasm is coming across in the written word? Are you picking it up ok?
On Monday, 4 days before Christmas Eve '10, we got a letter from our agency stating that there would be an additional wait for paperwork to be sent to Korea, up to 4-6 months. Additionally, referrals are up to 9 months wait. The short version is that we're now looking at a year to a year and a half from now to bring our baby girl home. We had been thinking summer of 2011, and it's now looking like winter of 2011 or spring/summer of 2012.
And oh, there's a fee increase.
Merrrrrryyy Christmas!!!
I'd been hearing a buzz  about this on the yahoo boards, so it wasn't a total surprise, but it still stung to see it there in print.
I was devastated. Angry. Annoyed. I let it all percolate for a few days. I think it's important to feel emotions in some organic way. Sadness and disappointment exist; better to let them bloom, combust, then sweep the dust away for a tidier more content existence.
Then I began forming mental lists, because lists make me feel organized and like there's order to the universe, which I badly needed to believe at this point. An attempt to find a silver lining of any sort: 
At least we have Bek. If this were our first adoption it would be much more devastating. If the whole thing (God Forbid) fell apart, We Have Bek, the greatest kid we could ever hope for.
What's another 6(ish) months at this point?
We'll have more time to save more money.
We'll have more time to finish bathroom/other house renovations.
A year and a half is still quicker than many of the other country programs and it's certainly the minimum "new norm" in international adoptions. China is at 6-7 years!
Int'l adoptions are NOT easy and bumps in the road are part of the process. Country closings, bureaucratic BS,  paperwork and policy changes, travel issues, political scares, societal climate changes...it's ALL part of the process and I really should have expected it.
 We are lucky to be adopting at all, let alone complaining about a longer wait. Requirements are strict and it's very expensive. Be thankful we are in this spot at all.
We may get in and out in the nick of time, as they are projected to close all together in 2012. 
And as a good friend reminded me, 6 extra months is nothing compared to the lifetime you will have your baby for after the Godforsaken Waiting Time!
Yes, it feels as if we've been at this forever, (quite literally YEARS of waiting for a second child and many different country changes!), yes it is disappointing. But wallowing in it does not change the outcome, it only breeds negative energy.
Focusing on what we have, being grateful for being "in line" at all, and going with the flow is the only way to get through this! Besides, it is Christmas, and I can't let something that is out of my control dictate how holly or jolly I am. How we react to our own situation, what our perception is, is what does.
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

One Day At A Time...

I joked to a fellow Adoptive Mom In Waiting who has become a dear friend, that I often rely on the AA saying "One Day At A Time" to get through this God Forsaken Wait. The joke being that we actually need the alcohol to get through it! Some days it is so difficult I want to scream and kick and have a full blown tantrum. Today is one of those days. I know that I had these days waiting for Bek, and I know we got through them and that day when we met him eventually came. I know all this to be true, but it still sucks.
Many days you can busy yourself so that it's not in your head every single minute of every hour of every day. Some days though, it's there, needling and nudging at your heart, it's physically palpable, the longing for the Wait to be over.
I also know that once she gets here I may long for these quite mornings with the house to myself! Making my own schedule, perusing recipes and facebooking while the laundry twirls. I can have complete silence or I can listen to NPR or Pandora. I can meander the aisles at Target, whatever. But...as nice as it is, I MISS the t.v. tuned to Sesame Street, I MISS waking up to a smiley snugly baby and spending my mornings at storytime. Of course we know this is one of the great ironies and paradoxes of life...we often want what we don't have!

There's no real rhyme or reason to this post...just needed to vent a bit. It's part of the reason I haven't been posting much, because blogging about baby just reminds me that there's no baby yet and baby, I really don't need any reminders.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baby Steps

It's been a while! I've been a bit disengaged, disenchanted, discombobulated.
I really thought that when we submitted our home study it would then go to Korea and we'd be on our way to Waiting. You know, as in The REAL Wait, the 4-6 months until we saw her sweet face then the 3-4 months after that for travel! I wasn't prepared for this whole pre-Waiting thing, or a wait to start waiting as it were. Ok, I'm even annoying myself with my over use of that word.
But then to find out that we're on a waiting list for our home study to even go to Korea, it took the wind outta my sails a bit. I guess part of my discontent was that I was just wishing the paperwork were sitting way over there, in Seoul, instead of on a desk in Troy, Michigan. For some reason having it sit there for an additional few months is more acceptable for my brain. Which I realize doesn't really make sense.
So after I wallowed in my deflated dejected-ness for a while, I came to see it's really not that big of a deal. They really have no idea how long we'll be on this waiting list, it's anyone's guess, but she estimates 1-3 months. Really in the big picture what's another couple months?? I'm just telling myself it is now going to be 6-9 months for our referral. This actually works out great for travel since it will fall right in spring/summer so Bek will be out of school. And of course these are all estimates, could go longer (or shorter) and if it does you just roll with it. It's a comforting thought that even if things go on the long end, we'll have her around this time next year! Hopefully anyway, nothing is definite in this crazy world of International Adoption.
For now, I remind myself how far we've come. How just a few posts back I was agonizing and whining about paperwork and wanting to be done! Now, here we are, done. Our home study has been submitted to our agency and it sits there, as a representation of us, in a waiting list pile. Our application for our country change from Russia to Korea for Immigration has been completed and submitted. They are all tiny baby steps that take us that much closer.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

wAiTiNg... WaDiNg...wAy DiNg: a short quick essay on patience

Oh How Tired I Am of Waiting! You'd think I'd be good at it, I've done it so much. When I look back on the amount of time that has been spent waiting for a child it is astonishing! Going back to the infertility days: waiting for cycle, waiting for enough money in bank account, waiting for test results, for follicle stimulation, egg retrieval, transfer, then for the crucial two weeks, wait for the disappointment to pass, for another round of savings, for more meds, for your next appointment. Then when it doesn't work you WAIT for things to settle, you Wait and see, you wait and think about things. Enter Adoption. What a great feeling! Light at the end of the tunnel! Why didn't we do this sooner, what were we waiting for? Do adoption research, but just hold on and WAIT a minute, you don't want to make any rash decisions. Read, talk, research, read some more, ticktickticktick. Vietnam, China, closed due to SARS outbreak. Would you like to sign on and go on our Waiting list, and wait for them to re-open? No, no more waiting, must move on! Epiphany - Kazakhstan! It is the Right One, I can just feel it. Call agency, wait for application. Fill out application, wait for response. Accepted! Contact home study agency, wait for response, wait for home study visit, wait for doctor's appointments, background check appointments, for paperwork to return from various state/government agencies, for social workers, for endless piles of forms and signatures and certificates . Paperwork complete, hurray! Submit paperwork, WAIT for referral, one of the hardest waits ever!! Until of course that amazing life altering day you actually get that referral, and find out you have to WAIT to travel to go get your baby!! He is now a real living 8-month old baby boy, there is a photo and a name attached to the ever growing mass of love that is your heart. To know he is there, waiting too, is excruciating. Is he being fed enough? Does someone come to him in the night when he cries? Does he drool, giggle, crawl? I can't Wait you find yourself thinking. You pass this time with important preparations, this helps, this nesting, gathering of supplies; safety precautions are made, outlets are plugged up, the nursery is completed, car seats are installed. A couple of weekend trips for distraction, the last you'll take before the new one arrives. But time still drags and The Wait continues. Finally the day comes, The Call you've been waiting for that tells you when you need to be on the other side of the world to get your child! It is a final frantic blur of preparing, packing, ticket buying and loose-end tying. The waits associated with this part of the process are much more endurable and enjoyable, the wait to board your plane, the wait on the flight itself, the long drive to the babyhouse for the first meeting. When at last the moment comes, and you are bleary eyed and jet lagged and out of sorts in a strange country, when ALL of the waiting has led up to this moment and he is put into your arms...his soft warmth and big blinking eyes staring up at you; it all just washes away. It doesn't matter. You were worth the wait. 
I had to remind myself of all of this, to remember that there is a beautiful ending to this story, which really is just the beginning of the story. I have been WAITING for our social worker to finish our homestudy and waiting for our placement agency to approve it so that it can get sent to Korea already. I'll remind you that we had our homestudy visit in August, over 6 weeks ago. Some final edits have been made and it looks like it will finally go to our agency this weekend. I called our agency, to give them this news, and inquired, when did they think it will go to Korea? Next week maybe? Oh you'll be PUT ON THE WAITING LIST. This after waiting all summer for official approval for them and for waiting for this and for that and I am SO SICK OF WAITING!! They couldn't really tell me how long this wait would be either. A month, a few months, who knows? Referrals are coming slowly they said, there's just no real way of knowing. Sigh. There's a happy ending here, I know there is. And we certainly have enough to do to keep us busy, the bathroom re-do and her room and I guess I could reorganize closets or work more or take up paper mache projects or something?? One day we'll be in Korea meeting our daughter and this will all be a distant memory. One day it will happen. Until then, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Room, Continued

I think I have a plan.
I tried to make the orange work, I really did. And I like it, but it's just too much of it, I should've used it as an accent color. Also had it been for a boy like the original plan it would've worked a little better with green, brown & blue. But a whole room of this orange. Who knows what kind of long term damage it could've caused her? Thankfully we'll never have to know because husband kindly agreed to re-paint it. "for you? ok." he says. And yes this sweet submission to my decorating whims has since turned a little sour as he's groaning about the prospect of having to do it all over and how great his edging was...but it's mostly in good humor (for me anyway). He also is not a fan of the color of circus peanuts.
My mom and my dear friend Laura have both agreed to make the bedding. We've all concurred, how hard could it be? The bumper is nothing but a rectangular piece of fabric covered batting. Stitch some cute ribbon ties and there you have it. The paint is called Aegean blue from the Martha Stewart line and is the prettiest pale robin's egg blue. The fabric has the same blue tones along with red and pink.
the paint:

fabric:

coordinating fabric:

more fabric-window treatment, pillows, who knows?


I love the fabric and it is even on sale. I should be able to get enough fabric for the bumper, crib skirt and window treatments for $50, score!! I mean, what they are charging for the hideous things that are out there is just wrong. It's cotton. Granted there are beauuuutiful lines from small boutique stores that I fell in love with..but really? Is it morally right to charge someone $950, for something which is also just cotton?? I can justify paying a little more for the design integrity and to support smaller companies, quality material, etc. But this whole baby thing is big business and they know moms to be go into this crazy obsessive nesting zone and they just capitalize on it!!
Ahem, anyway. I'm feeling much better now that I have a plan of some sort. And I know you've all been on the edge of your seat with this whole room thing. Stay tuned to see the transformation! And if it all works out I may just start my own line of affordable, modern baby bedding!
In actual baby news, there is not much to report. Our paperwork will likely get submitted to Korea this week, so that is at least exciting! I'll know for sure mid-end of week if it went.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Room

I have been combing the internet and stores for crib bedding like a detective searching for a hidden clue. I know it must be out there, I'm just not looking in the right places! I have come to the conclusion that I don't care for most of what is out there...Well, what is out there in my budget I should say. As usual I have import taste on a domestic budget! I also don't care for the overly girly pinky ruffly sparkly matchy stuff. When she is older and possibly developing that magnetic like draw to all things pink, I will be happy to indulge her. But in the meantime, when this room is just as much for me as for her, I'd like to keep it calm but bright, happy, with clean lines, modern. And I'm not opposed to pink and actually like it, when paired with other non pink like colors. Why is this so hard to find? I stood at Babies R Us yesterday, staring up at a warehouse sized wall lined with nothing but complete bedding sets. Surely there must be something here, in this store with the name that specializes in all things Baby. I pictured a group of designers together trying to figure out what to do for the new line...scratching their heads they decided to just toss a bunch of princesses, butterflies and pink fabric into a blender then threw it all out and called it bedding. Sigh.
I have a dear friend who can sew, so I may resort to having some stuff made, or, just get simple solid colors.
Here are some rooms that I love from a great design site called simplified bee:


I love the pink and teal and would like to incorporate some orange into that. i know. when i've told people we've painted the room orange they mostly just say "oohh. orange?". But i love it and it's happy and bright. i also like this one from the always fabulous martha stewart:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grown Not Under My Heart But In It

I have felt the first swell of my heart, of what it’s like to have more than one child’s well- being on your mind. And it really is as they say, that your heart just grows to accommodate the new one; a limitless mass of love lodged in your chest, capable of infinite amounts of devotion, wonder, anxiety, pride and the countless other emotions associated with motherhood.
Bek is home from school today. He is suffering from late summer allergies, which as usual has triggered a chronic asthma wheeze and cough. I was up all night doing every other hour breathing treatments with the nebulizer. It is the first hint I’ve had at having two, of them both in my heart and mind, worried about them both at the same time; and seamlessly and transparently my brain began to switch gears, without my really noticing. It’s fascinating really.
The new one, who is still She Who Cannot Be Named, has begun to take shape in my heart. She grows there each day. In a dream the other night, I was suspended in shimmering grey liquid, and she was there with me, or rather I was there with her as I imagine this was her turf. She was nuzzled next to me, curled into a tiny fetal position, barely mammalian (and strangely slightly amphibious?), with a translucent nub of a thumb stuck into her heart shaped mouth. We bobbed and floated together in slow motion, the fish tank bubbling and oceanic uterine swooshes the only sounds around us. She was afraid; and I told her it’s ok, it might be a little bit scary and sad, but only for a little bit. We’d get there as soon as we could. It’s ok, it’ll be ok, I told her. Through some sort of telepathic communication she told me she understood and was comforted. From that point on, we simply floated together, in what was the most peaceful, happy, quiet, watery void I’ve ever experienced.
Lety, my friend who I work with, told me in her thick Spanish accent, that maybe this meant she was born, or about to be. The timing would be about right. Perhaps it just signifies the birth of her in my heart.
Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute;
You didn't grow under my heart
but in it.
- Fleur Conkling Heylinger

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shrimp and Grits, sort of

I have made "real" shrimp and grits before. I love them. My mom grew up in the South, so we often had grits as a breakfast side dish growing up. Sometimes sweetened with sugar, a nice companion to salty scrambled eggs; or savory with cheese, which is perfect with any syrup covered breakfast goodness. Grits are almost more of a textural thing, as on their own they don't have much going on. They become more of a vehicle for other flavors, although once you simmer them with liquid and stir in fats such as cream and butter, aromatics such as garlic, shallot, green onion...they become something else all together. They are up there on my comfort food list along with mashed potatoes.
Grits are made from hominy, which is the dried corn kernel after the germ and hull have been removed. Grits are also what the Italians call polenta, which ok there's a slight difference in the type of corn used and a slight textural difference, but essentially is the same thing. When I make a grits dish, I use old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) grits. When I make polenta i use regular old yellow cornmeal. The resulting outcome is similar and in my opinion one could be exchanged for the other. Alton Brown probably did a show about this and there may be some foodies out there who dispute this, but c'est la vie.
Last night I had a windowsill with a small row of happy round ripe tomatoes from my parent's garden. Not enough to make marinara sauce with (and did not feel like blanching, skinning, etc), no peppers or cilantro on hand to make salsa.
They became the supporting role in what I'm calling Shrimp and Grits, sort of. Or Parmesan-Polenta Stuffed Tomatoes with Spicy Shrimp. Whatever...it was good and I'm always happy when I find a good way to use up a food on hand. Here goes:

SHRIMP AND GRITS, sort of

For the polenta stuffed tomatoes:

1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. diced shallot (or minced red onion would work or in a total pinch a shake of onion powder)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups chicken or veg broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup yellow corn meal
a pinch each of fresh or dried thyme and rosemary (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs or so of fresh or dried parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
4 - 8 large tomatoes

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil. Add the half and half and then whisk in the polenta in a steady stream while stirring. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the thyme and rosemary and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is tender, creamy, and thick, 5 mins or so. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of the cheese. Season to taste with s & p.

Preheat oven to 400° F (I used my toaster oven -worked great). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and hollow them out. Cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each tomato half so the filled tomato can lie flat without rolling. Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet and season them lightly with salt. Fill each tomato half with some of the polenta, mounding just slightly (depending on the size of your tomatoes, you may or may not use all the polenta). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over each. Bake until the tomatoes are soft and cheese is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

NOTE: If you do not have tomatoes, just make the cornmeal mixture. If you don’t have parmesan, use sharp cheddar! This would be more traditional “shrimp and grits”. Serve the shrimp over the cornmeal/polenta mixture.

For the Shrimp:

1 tsp. Tabasco, Habenaro or other hot sauce (Frank’s is great!); more to taste
½ to 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

2-3 Tbs butter

A splash of half and half

Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and season with s & p. Cook until the shrimp is opaque about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, stir. Add the remaining 2-1/2 Tbs. butter and a splash of half/half, stir to melt/mix. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce.

Make sure to spoon some of the sauce over the polenta tomatoes, yum!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of School!



Today was Bek's first day of second grade.
Waaahhhh!! I am not one of those moms who can't wait for school to start. Well of course I had the occasional days where I really wanted my solitude and just wanted to go to Target in peace, but for the most part I want to keep him around and even worse I don't want him to grow up! I know it's an inevitable part of parenting and possibly even unhealthy to want such things, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It's not the milestone like first grade or kindergarten was, it's just regular old second grade. It's just proof that time is marching, no, marching is too slow, more like zipping - along. And he is growing up. I am reminded of a great quote:

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?” – The Buddha

Each year you can feel them gaining more independence, becoming more and more whole people on their own. They need you less and less. And it is during this time that you should be learning to let go 'deeply'. It is not an easy lesson to learn and a class that I'd prefer to skip!

Fortunately, I have Baby Girl to focus on, which helps tremendously! I know, the Buddha probably never said something such as "Fill empty space in your heart with another child". But I believe the Buddha was childless as well, so what does he know? Actually maybe when he was Siddhartha he had children, but when he became enlightened he did not...but I am getting way off track.

This adoption, like the last one that went uncompleted, has served as a tremendous salve to my heart. Today, instead of looking over baby pictures or moping around in the quietness of the house, I can get some paperwork completed or make yet another annoying phone call to Ohio Department of Job and Family services to pester them about WHERE our clearance reports are!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moving Right Along...

It's been a while since I posted! It seems I've been busy with birthday parties, holiday parties, a surprise party for Brad, summer fun in general...with all that behind me I feel like I can finally give my full focus on baby. Of course I have been multi tasking and doing adoption related stuff all summer long, but it's always been in this distracted, not fully there mode.
Today we have our visit with our social worker to update our homestudy. It is an integral part of the process, and once it's done we are really on our way! I also heard from our placement agency on Friday, saying that our formal application should go out this week, also a huge step! And the genache on the flourless chocolate cake, we got our i171 on Friday as well. That is approval from Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration for anyone who doesn't know the numerical acronyms of international adoptions! Things are moving and it feels good.
The latest development though...is that we've decided...that the best fit for our family is to request a girl! Ok I know, it's what the original plan was, and then it was changed, and now it's changed back, so it's a bit like old/new news. But still!
With that said...instead of sitting here on Blogger I should probably be cleaning and baking cookies in preparation for the social worker's visit. Better clean up all the wine bottles, firearms and loose electrical while I'm at it work too...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fingerprints and Fat

Friday we had our FBI/BCI (the BCI is Bureau of Criminal Investigation, not Body Condition Index thank goodness) background checks. This included another set of fingerprints! Dear God, how many times can one couple be fingerprinted for the adoption of a child! If I put them all together, going back to the pre-Bek paperwork days, I've been fingerprinted 7 times!! Who knew the tiny cooking-worn ridges on my fingerprints held so much information.
I don't care though, it's one more thing to cross off the list. At this point they could advise me to have my toe-prints done, while wearing a top hat and leopard print jacket, and I'd do it. Whatever, just get 'er done so we can go get this baby and move on already!!
Today I have my physical. It's another redo for the Homestudy...but I have a form that is for the Korea end of things that needs to be filled out too. They will take my weight and calculate my BMI, as anyone with a BMI over 30 is not eligible to adopt from Korea. I'm pretty sure I'm ok and according to the charts I've seen online I'm in the "normal" range, but I could be on the cusp of being overweight. I've always had a few extra pounds. What can I say, I like real butter, carbs of any sort, ethnic foods, and pretty much anything cooked with love. I like to call it pleasantly plump, however I'm worried Korea won't see it the same way. Which really doesn't make sense..the Koreans love their food, you'd think they see this as a positive character trait??
*Sigh*....Cross your fingers for me that I pass the BMI part. How pathetic sad and terrible would it be to not be able to go to Korea to get our baby because I've eaten one (or two) too many tomato confit pizzas covered in french goat cheese and fried shallots...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's Goin On

Many people have asked the basics....you know So What's Going On? Do You Know When You'll Travel? How Long Do You Have to Be There? Do You Know if You Are Getting a Boy or a Girl? WHAT? You don't want to read about my book reviews, my Pa Jun recipe experiment, or my ranting about more paperwork and homestudy updates??
ok so...I'll take a moment to answer the most asked question I get:
WHEN WILL YOU TRAVEL?
Well it's anyone's guess really, but the estimate is next Spring or early Summer of 2011. This could be wishful thinking or it could be way overestimated. Anything can happen in International Adoption but that is a partially educated guess.
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO BE THERE?
We are required to be there for 3 days. Since it is such a loooonnng flight (close to 20 hours I believe, maybe 30 with connections?) and seems a waste to go all that way and turn around 3 days later, and we would like to really see our future son's birth country, we'll stay for a week.
DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE GETTING A BOY OR A GIRL? CAN YOU REQUEST?
You can request the gender. Girls take longer, as for whatever reason more families request a girl. We left our request "open to either gender". Nine times out of ten this will mean you will be given a boy.
HOW OLD WILL YOUR BABY BE?
He will be around 6-9 months when we receive his picture and information. We will then wait for our Travel Call. He will be around 9-12 months at the time we bring him home.
ARE THE BABIES IN ORPHANAGES?
As I understand it, the majority of babies are with Foster families. This is very good for attachment, but can be very tough on them as far as grieving. The foster family will of course be the only family they've known and certainly they've come to know and love them as such. It will show they can form loving bonds with a singular caregiver. It will show them they can trust someone. But when they are taken away from them and handed to these strange smelling, funny looking, foreign sounding people that will be his parents, it will be very hard on him.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF STEPHEN KING'S LATEST, "UNDER THE DOME"?
Ok, no one has asked me this. But like many of my other thoughts, I'll tell you anyway. This 1100 page brick of a book has a huge cast of characters, many of whom at only 100 pages into it I cannot keep straight. I love the concept that a giant invisible dome has dropped down on a stereotypically King-esque town of Maine. I even like King's B-movie dialogue from time to time. But it's just too long. I didn't even want to take it up to the cottage for beach reading because I didn't want the extra weight in my suitcase. Does he really think this much diarrhea of the mouth is necessary? I actually want to write him a letter I am so annoyed with the length of this book. Great idea (even if The Simpsons already did it), great typical King prose (sometimes it's so bad it's good), and excellent apocalyptic/horror/sci-fi theme. It just needs to be cut in half. I keep going back to Tracy Chevalier's "Remarkable Creatures" (excellent) and finished Julie Kenner's "Carpe Demon" (silly, fun, great beach book) in between. I'll keep at it but only because of my compulsive I Must Finish This Book way of thinking.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Exploring Your Child To-Be’s Culture – Through Food Of Course

I have been reading about Korean culture and flipping dreamily through Korean cookbooks. My eyes linger over glossy photos of glassine noodles and bright orange carrot, spicy crunchy kimchi, pancakes and vegetables and egg-topped everything. The Koreans have known for a long time what I’ve only learned in the past few years: everything is better when topped with egg!

I have cooked a lot of Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese. I have cooked and eaten a lot of authentic Chinese food. I’ve experimented with loads of Indian dishes and some Cambodian. I have never cooked anything Korean!

There is a large Korean population in Kazakhstan so as a result we had some amazing Korean noodle and salad dishes while we were there for Bek. But that is about my limited experience with Korean food…

So tonight I experimented with Pa Jun, or Korean pancakes. These are not unlike our zucchini fritter or potato pancakes. However they are loaded with green onion (typically) and dipped into a savory but slightly sweet soy sauce, which then makes them very Korean. After reading several different recipes I realized the fillings can vary and was probably a way to use up what you have. Green onions seem to be the only constant.

First make the dipping sauce: 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1.5 tsp sugar, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Set aside.

I started with shredded vegetables of carrot, zucchini and yellow squash. My parents just gave us a boat load of the latter two from their garden and it seemed a good way to use them. I threw all three into the food processor w/ the shredder blade. I chopped one large clove of garlic and sliced 3 green onions. In a large bowl I beat 2 eggs until frothy, added flour, maybe about a cup to a cup and a half. I added about a cup of cold

water. You really

just want a loose-ish batter, thicker than crepe batter but not quite as thick as traditional pancakes. But I think this can also vary depending on preference. Throw in your veggies, maybe a good handful of each, say ¼ to 1/3 cup of each? You could use chopped bits of leftover meat or shrimp or tofu too. Salt & pepper. Mix all until blended, but as with any batter, don’t over-mix. If time allows let the batter rest, if not move on. Heat 1-2 tsp of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan. Use a measuring cup to scoop up the batter, in maybe 1/3 cup increments; drop into hot pan and smooth it around; fry until edges start to brown and set, about 2 minutes. Flip and press down, fry another 2+ minutes.

Fill the pancake with kimchi, the requisite spicy cabbage condiment. Drizzle a good tablespoon of the sauce on the pancake, or dip in w/ each bite! Pick up like a taco. Have napkin handy. Enjoy savory, spicy, slightly eggy goodness!

Next I might try putting the kimchi in the batter, and topping with strips of cooked egg and julienne smoked tofu. I’m thinking chopped shrimp and green onion would be delish too! If you

try them, let me know how they came out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just When I Thought It Was Safe...

















...To put down my pen, pencil and organizational folders....
I have found out we have to do a Homestudy Update. I've known this for some time actually, I just didn't know what it meant. I THOUGHT it meant our social worker would open up an electronic copy of our last homestudy, do a FIND on the word RUSSIA, and then do a REPLACE on the word KOREA. She'd hit Save and Print. She's assemble all other paperwork we did for our homestudy. Then we'd pay a few hundred bucks and submit it to the fine people of Seoul. I'd be free of paper cuts and blistered fingers and we'd sail off into the sunset with our new baby.
Sadly, as you might have guessed, this is not what a Homestudy Update means. It means much much more.
This will be my FOURTH round of adoption paperwork. And I know most of you already know what I'm about to say but I'll just say it anyway, We only have ONE CHILD!!! Four rounds of paperwork, one child. GAWD I could just lay on the floor and kick and scream and have a full blown tantrum right now.
I guess I should explain. And maybe if I type it all out like this it will help me too. So, our homestudy, which is a portfolio about us of sorts, containing everything from criminal background checks, FBI fingerprints, medical reports, psychological assessments, water and fire inspections of our home, employment letters, personal references, CPR certifications, financial statements and oh let's not forget BMV driving records, because apparently you need to be a good driver to be a good parent. Although regular procreating folks don't need to prove that. But where was I? Our homestudy, which is required for ALL adoptions whether Russia, Korea or even domestic, was written for Russia in 2009. It's technically good, for Russia, in Ohio for two years. Korea wants the homestudy to be a year or less old. As did Russia and I think probably most countries. Why say it's good for two years if it's really not? Oh I don't know, I suppose it's like that goat cheese I just bought that says it's good until August, when clearly by the smell of it it's not. SO...that whole list of things I mentioned up there, has to be re-done. We will pay half the cost of a full homestudy, in addition to repaying whatever the fee is for said items. For instance, FBI background check and fingerprints? $180. Already paid it once, even though we didn't use 'em, and now have to pay it again. Because like that goat cheese in the back of my fridge drawer I also wasted my money on, it's EXPIRED.
I will take deep cleansing breaths. I will tell myself this is all part of a sublime intricate grand plan of the universe. There are no accidents and the timing will work out exactly as it should so that the child that is meant to be ours, will be. I will savor the paperwork as part of the process, part of my labor. Ok, savor might not be the right word. But I will at least acknowledge both good and bad as part of the required process. Nothing worth having comes easy. Right. Repeat.
I think I need to cook something before I blow a gasket! Something therapeutic and time consuming. homemade Pierogis... or oh! maybe Julia Child's hand whipped mayonnaise with some fresh sliced tomato and avocado...see, I am feeling better already! I know, I'm an emotional eater and fully aware of that. But that is another post. I'm off to the grocery store and post office to mail off our Child Abuse Registry Reports.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. ~Mark Twain

So I just finished two great beach books, although I did not read them at the beach and find that to be annoying. I can never get comfortable and there's the whole skin damage thing, sand going everywhere, argh. But I digress...if you need to mentally check out for a while, check these out:
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby http://amzn.com/1594488878
If you liked Nick Hornby's High Fidelity you will love Juliet, Naked. He really gets back to his musical roots. It's funny, sweet, engaging and hard to put down, but not impossible (so that you completely avoid reality, responsibilities, etc - a bad habit i have when reading books).
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth http://amzn.com/0399156356
I got this at the library after reading about it on one of NPR's book feeds. Had I not read about it on NPR and just saw the cover at the bookstore I'm not sure I would've read it. But you know the thing about books and covers and all. The subtitle reads "The Ultimate Secret. The Ultimate Agent. The President's Vampire". Now I like a good vampire story as much as the next Team Edward gurl but the president's vampire, really? Even though parts were predictable and even laughable, I couldn't put it down. Mash up Supernatural, True Blood, 24 and the X-Files and there you have it!
And that concludes today's book reviews!

Fingerprint Renewal, check.

Well we can check that off the list, over, done with, uneventful.
Our appointment was at 8am. I got up at 6:30. A.M. I haven't been up that early since Bek was a baby. I schlepped down the stairs with my joints aching, eyes still half closed in an effort to block the light from burning my retinas, hands flailing towards the coffee pot like a B movie zombie. Then I realized...Dear God, sometime in the not so distant future I will be getting up that early with a baby again!
Maybe we'll get a sleeper? Maybe I'll suddenly enjoy the wondrous peaceful time that some refer to as the butt crack of dawn, waking chipper and singing a happy working song while making my bed??
I'm betting on none of the above. But I'm also guessing that after the painful initial shock of middle of the night and early morning risings that my internal clock will readjust to Baby Mama Time. Right? It will, right??
I have many memories of hearing that cry in the middle of the night, my ears trained like military grade radar, twitching at the slightest chirp. First whimper, give it a minute, see if it passes, maybe he was just dreaming, babbling in his sleep. Please, let it be a dream, let it stop, pulling the toasty covers back up over my shoulders! Waaaaahhh. Crap it was not a dream! And once I dragged myself to his crib, and scooped up his warm solid little body into my arms, we'd settle into the glider. I'd sing and we'd rock, and he'd rest his head on my chest, sometimes look up at me and whisper "mamma" in his deep raspy baby voice. He'd clutch onto my shirt or touch my face; sometimes I fell asleep with him...and those middle of the night moments were some of my favorites of motherhood.
I will choose to remember those moments. I will acknowledge that the too early really unpleasant 5am wakings exist, but I will not dwell on them. And...at least I know they are coming this time!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fingerprints, Redux

So tomorrow we get to go downtown to redo, or actually renew, our fingerprints. Another trip to Homeland Security! To the sterile white square room with the American flags in the corner. We'll check in with the pleasant balding man at the desk behind the sliding glass door and hand him our very official I-797C forms. We'll wait, fidgeting with Bek, while a small wall mounted t.v. burbles out the morning news. They'll eventually call our names, and we'll be taken back to have each one of our digits bio metrically scanned. And that will be that.
In simpler terms, this will let the Government know that we haven't done anything illegal in the last 18 months, and therefor are still able to parent a child.
As bland and insignificant as this seems, it is really what I need! I have been very afraid to get fully vested in this process. Even though my body is going through the steps, my heart is afraid that once again something will happen, shut down, the sky will fall, we'll have to back out again. I'm like Charlie Brown with Lucy pulling the ball out from under him. I'm the jilted lover who's been dumped one too many times. I'm the...ok, you get the idea. I'm afraid to get attached to this little paper baby. It's my heart and mind's protection process of course, to shield me from anymore pain. Quite amazing, really.
But nothing makes the pending adoption of a child feel more real than a required visit to a government building. To have a certified form sanctioned by the United States of America, Department of Homeland Security to carry in your possession, which allows this formal and legitimate process to take place. What could be more real than that??

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

this just in

I just heard from our placement agency that our preapplication and financial statment has been approved!! Do you know what this means?! Well...it means we are put on an official Wait List that will allow us to receive a Formal Application in about 3 months. Wat Waaaaaaah.
I know, a bit anticlimactic, huh?
But, it's something.

waaah boo yaye

Yesterday was Bek's last day of school! My one and only baby boy is no longer a first grader. I was pretty emotional but restrained myself from having a full on blubbering fit. A friend and fellow first grade mom and myself took the boys to Burger King after school for some fries and Icees. The boys had fun, and junk food is always a good salve for me!
In first grade, they are still little boys, you know? They still snuggle with you and say the silliest things and still have some snips and snails left in them. 2nd grade, well that's just on to skull tattoos and slammed bedroom doors. Ok maybe not quite, but it's not far off in my mind!
And Bek has come sooo far! He could barely read at the beginning of the year and now reads on his own. His inability to control his emotions has gone from a common everyday thing to more and more isolated incidents. The push and pull of the heart that motherhood brings never ceases to amaze me. You want them to grow, to learn, to experience..and yet you want freeze them and selfishly keep them "yours" forever!
Maybe part of the reason I was able to restrain myself, was knowing that the cogs and wheels of fate are slowly turning; somewhere off the Pacific Ocean, a warm breeze blows. A woman or a young girl is pregnant or about to be. She will make a very difficult decision that will allow us to become parents again. She will birth a child that will become our child who we will love (and have already started loving!) with all our hearts.
Knowing this made Bek's last day of first grade easier. I don't know if that right or wrong or neither, but it's true! The thought of the second one was like a soothing balm on my heart. It's that push-pull thing again, motherhood is both selfish and selfless.
On Monday we also got our appointment letters from Homeland Security to have our fingerprints re-done for Citizenship and Immigration! Each of these steps always means progress, and that means one step closer!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

So You Think You Can Adopt?

Cue music: "These Are Days" by 10,000 Maniacs....
Coming soon, a new reality show that showcases the rollercoaster ride of international adoption!

Voice-over by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie:
Tune in to see riveting edge of your seat drama as countries open and close, families pushed to the brink of emotional and financial meltdown, witness the heartwarming joy as families travel to their children's birth country to complete their family!

Cue promo clips: mom buried knee deep in paperwork shouting "i just can't do anymore paperwork!!", dad getting beeped by the censors as he waves around the bank statement as couple nearly throws int he towel due to finances, silly fun as couple paints the nursery complete with touching moment as they hang a piece of artwork that represents their child's birth country, finally the climax episode clip where family gets The Call and an email with their child's photo, this episode ends in a cliffhanger as the family prepares to travel; funny but tense moment as family is harassed by Immigration at airport; father is pantomiming rocking a baby and mom is thumbing thru mini dictionary, shot of family eating local food such as horse meat, shots of vodka, anything raw, smelly or otherwise disturbing to Americans, of course amazing and interesting scenic shots in country. finally the episode we're all waiting for, the tearful joyous moment when mom and dad finally meet their baby!
Cue music: "At Last" by Etta James"

C'mon, can't you see this?? I'm thinking I'll pitch it to Oprah or Ellen. Think of the guest star possibilites! Madonna, Sandra Bullock, Ewan McGregor, Branjolina, That girl from Grey's Anatomy...and ME of course as writer/director!!

disclaimer: by reading this post you have automatically and unwillingly agreed to a Confidentiality and Non Compete contract.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A New Journey, sort of

In the past week we made the official decision to move forward with Korea. For anyone who's just tuned in; we started the adoption process from Russia over two years ago. We stopped and started, twice. TWO TIMES that I let my heart go wild with planning, preparing, and quite frankly, loving, the child that was to be but never was! Prior to Russia we came very close to going to Kyrgyzstan , Vietnam and China. I even looked into domestic options and our foster to adopt system (disenchanting). It has not been an easy road. I won't got into specifics on why we started and stopped, it's neither important nor interesting. I will say thank you to the Obama administration though; for the extended and increased International Adoption Tax credit/refund that was included in his health care reform. It is basically the reason we are able to do this now!
So, barring any major catastrophes, financial melt downs or improperly aligned planets, we WILL be adopting from Korea!!
The process is SO so different from Russia or Kazakhstan. I'm thinking that from what I've learned so far, Bek and Kazakhstan was our "difficult pregnancy"..and Child #2 from Korea, will be our "easy pregnancy"! There is NO DOSSIER. There is a 3 day trip or escort option and if you travel you stay in modern, affordable digs (what? no cold brown water??)! The overall process is affordable (that word is relative of course), and the babies are young and healthy. I know, right? Seems too good to be true.
For now, we are on a Wait List with our agency. The total process is about 14-16 months, give or take.
You still need clearance from Citizenship/Immigration, that works the same with any country. Our fingerprints that we did for Russia expire on June 3rd, so today I applied for the extension and mailed it off to Homeland Security downtown. It felt good to be doing baby paperwork again.
Stay tuned, I have a feeling this one is going to stick!