My Not News

The adoption process moves very slowly. The wait seems like forever, especially because the wait to have a child started way before the adoption process ever began.

Here’s my sort-of-not-really news.  We’ve moved up on the list.  In December of 2012 we were #25.  By July 2013, we had moved up to #12.  Now, in March of 2014 we are #6 on the list.  That’s my news.  Being a Special Needs adoption, the list isn’t as straight forward as a regular list.  For example, if there is something on our “would consider” medical need list that comes up before someone ahead of us, we could jump the queue. The woman at the agency (the sweetest woman in the world) told me that there are two people on the list above us who have specified “girl only”.  If by some miracle more boys come up, that means we’re actually #4 on the list.

Hearing the single digit numbers got me excited.  Things are moving. There is hope. The conversation with the agency brought me to tears.  I can do this!  But then reality set in.

Optimistically speaking (I’m trying to be optimistic), the soonest we would be matched would be August or September.  That is two full years after starting the adoption process.  There is also a chance that we could wait another year before being matched. The long wait also means having to renew our home study, re-do our police, medical and financial checks and re-submit our updated application to Vietnam.

I’ve also just learned that the time from match to travel can be from 6-12 months.  This broke my heart.  Even if we get our optimistic September match it could feasibly be the following September by the time we meet our child.  I’ll still need to get through at least another Christmas, school year, couple of birthdays, Mother’s Days, friends having more babies. There goes my optimism.  It’s just so much time.

For all of those positive thinkers out there, I need you.  I need your pep talks, your encouragement, your reminders that I CAN do this and that it will be worth it, your positives vibes to match me with a boy so that I can move up the list, your hope that it won’t take so long.

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A Look Back and a Plan for the New Year

The last few years have been very difficult. Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Mother’s Day even Halloween always remind me of all that I have lost.  For years now I have suffered through “the worst Christmas ever”, only to have it trumped the following year.  On New Year’s Eves I have put the pain of the previous year behind  looking forward to a “fresh start” only to face another difficult series of events.

Christmas was hard.  It’s impossible not to think about what might have been, what Christmas in my home SHOULD be like, the celebrations that are happening  in the homes of my friends and their new families and where we could have gone on vacation if we hadn’t have spent our money on a failed IVF.  I got through it.  There were tears, arguments with my husband and loneliness but I got through it.

I got through New Year’s Eve too.  I thought a lot about last year’s New Year’s Eve reflection.   I knew last year that 2013 wasn’t going to be a good one.  I wasn’t being pessimistic, I was being realistic.  This year is a little different.  This year there is actually a chance.   Not a guarantee, but at least a chance.

My husband and I were approved for adoption over a year ago.  The original estimated wait time was 18 months.  The numbers have gone up and down since then, but it does mean that REALISTICALLY, we could be matched with our child this year.

As frustrating as the fertility treatment fails were, I’m glad that I did them.  I can say with confidence that I tried “all the ways“.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not mourning the loss of that potential biological child, but it does mean that I need to shift my focus towards the adoption.

Unlike fertility treatments, focusing on adoption alone feels much less productive.  There are no calendars or early morning appointments.  I had to consider what “focusing on adoption” meant to me.    I think it’s going to mean the following:

  • getting into shape to prepare to run after a potentially terrified running toddler (I’ve heard stories about this from other adoptive parents)
  • taking care of myself, continuing acupuncture and mourning my losses so that I’m ready to be a happy parent
  • continuing and possibly increasing my involvement with the adoption agency. ( I currently write for the newsletter)
  • saving money so if I get my referral the trip to Vietnam and time off work won’t put me into enormous debt.

That’s a start. If the adoption doesn’t go through this year, none of those actions will be a waste. They’re all positive things.

My husband wants me to start considering that our life may not include children.  I’m not ready to think about that.  For now I have to assume that I will have a child. I just “can’t choose when“.

 

 

My Mother’s Day Gift to Myself: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sSeXv9QDAPQ/UVxS6yMwuhI/AAAAAAAAFXc/CJdrF9ZnnMM/s1600/VARDALOS_InstantMom_HC.JPGAdmittedly, I steered clear of this book when I first heard about it.  Books with “Mom” in the title simply don’t appeal to me right now.

I started hearing little bits and bobs about the book in the media and downloaded it to my iPad.  The preview of the book sat on my “bookshelf” for a while.  I still wasn’t sure that I could read a “Mom” book.

Mother’s day weekend came.  I was feeling really down and felt like I needed to acknowledge the day.  I knew I wasn’t going to get brunch, flowers or a card so I had to do something for myself.  I bought myself the book.  It was empowering.  It made me feel proactive rather than mopey.

I started reading and I could not put it down.

Within 20 pages I was sobbing and laughing (simultaneously – a very attractive look).  I immediately contacted friends and created an impromptu book club.  This book not only needs to be read, it also needs to be shared and talked about.  I shared it with one friend who has struggled with infertility and is now a mom through adoption of the cutest curliest haired girl I’ve ever seen.  The other friend is one of my closest friends and the sister of Lil Curly’s mom.

I fell in love with this book because it was so relatable.  The first half of the book follows Nia Vardalos’ personal struggles with infertility. Being a comedy writer (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), she is able to share stories about infertility, IVF, multiple miscarriages and surrogacy painful but still able to laugh  – much the way I try to approach my own life and my blog.  There is so much sadness in my life right now, I have to find some things to laugh at and I have to find the joy.  Nia’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis) voice was so refreshing.  I described it my friend (when I told her she had to read the book)  “this lady is our people”.  My friend agreed whole-heartedly.

Nia’s stories about infertility brought me to tears (and still do upon re-reading).  It really felt as if my own feelings were being articulated through someone else’s words.

One of my favourite scenes was her description of a Mother’s Day party.  Being Mother’s Day when I read it made it even more significant.  She describes Mother’s Day as “the worst day of the year”.  At the party she gets all of the dreaded questions including the classic, “When are you due?”  (WHY?? WHY do they ALWAYS ask that???)

Reading this passage, similar to the way I feel when reading other blogs, I no longer felt alone.  Someone out there gets it and is sharing her story very publically.

After years of struggling, the story moves on to Nia’s decision to adopt.  She and her husband (who sounds like an amazing husband by the way) considered and tried different avenues including private adoption and international adoption and finally came to the conclusion that foster adopt was the best route for their family.

The second half of the book, which focuses on the adoption and first few years with their daughter were much harder for me to read.  I feel so far removed from my “happy ending” right now that it’s hard for me to go there.   It comforted me that Nia acknowledged this feeling in the book,

“I could here a hundred fantastic adoption stories in a row and then be stopped in my tracks by a negative one”.

I kept reading and was very glad that I did.  Nia’s story is so honest.  She describes the process from the Home Study to the adoption ceremony.  Her daughter was adopted as a toddler and with that came the struggle to attach and to adapt to a new life (and to sleep).  The way that Nia approaches these challenges is heart warming.   She parents the way I dream of parenting one day.  She reminded me that when I do get my family that my wounds will begin to heal. More laughter, more tears, more hope.

Thank you Nia Vardalos for sharing your story.  Thank you for telling all of our stories.

*Here are the book club questions that we discussed (through sobs and giggles).  If you read the book, feel free to join in the conversation!

  • Which part of the book did you relate to the most?
  • What unique challenges Nia Vardalos face as a celebrity exploring adoption?
  • What were your favourite Canadian moments in the book?
  • What surprised you the most?
  • What made you sob?
  • Favorite quote from book.

“Ooooh so cute! I want to find a baby too!”

Maybe I’m just sensitive but….

This story is doing the social media rounds and it’s driving me crazy!  I need to get this out of my system.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/we-found-our-son-in-the-subway/?smid=fb-share

I’m not calling total “B.S.” on the story. I’m not questioning its authenticity, maybe just it’s up-to-datedness.   I do think it’s spreading a false message about how adoption and children’s aid societies really work.

For the last 48 hours my Facebook page has been riddled with links to this article connected to comments like, “Oooh so cute!”, “I like babies, I want to find a baby too!”

It’s just not that easy!  I have read the story a few times now and I still find the circumstances so bizarre.  I understand this happened in Manhattan; maybe the rules are different there.  I understand this happened twelve years ago, maybe things have changed that much in just a short time.

Here’s how this story would have gone down here (in Ontario) and now.  I assume this would be the same for many other places.

A baby is found and someone calls 9-1-1. The child would then be placed immediately into foster care. To become a foster parent, one has to do home studies, trainings (in many places, P.R.I.D.E training) and be approved by the ministry.  Once the child is placed in foster care, an extensive search for the parents would take place.  Assuming the parents are found, charged and classified as unfit to parent, or signed away their rights, the child would become “ward of the crown”.  The child (probably no longer an infant) would then be put on an “adoptable” list.  Waiting parents who have gone through the same home studies and trainings, as the foster parents are now eligible to apply to adopt the child.  Children’s Aid in Ontario would make and effort to match a child of “light brown skin” with a couple of the same race, this is their policy.

A perfect parallel to this story is the story of baby Angelica-Leslie, found in a North Toronto stairwell on a cold day.

I’m happy that the couple in the NYT story have their happy ending.  It really is a dream come true.  I just don’t like the way the story has contributed to adoption myth and fantasy.  I don’t like the way it trivializes the long, painful wait and process.  Yes, I’m just sensitive.  I like babies.  I want to find a baby too.

Hey! We’ve seen this story before!
(source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/619N55YT7GL._SL500_.jpg)

Step One!

Step One

Yay! Our home study is complete! What does this mean? It means that our adoption practitioner now sends our file to the adoption agency, who then sends it to the ministry who will then take 4 weeks to 4 months to approve it. On approval (if we are approved), they will send it BACK to our agency who will then translate our documents into Vietnamese and send them to Vietnam. Once our file is sent to Vietnam, and if our file is approved in Vietnam, we wait. Our expected wait time is 18 months to 2 years. (People tell me this will move quickly, but right now it feels like a lifetime. We will likely be adopting a toddler. This baby may already be born!)
In the meantime, there are more forms to fill out, letters to get from accountants and then all we can do is wait.
Step One is another small victory that I will celebrate.
(Now can I fast forward?)

A Picture of Parenthood

To apply to adopt internationally, my husband and I were not required to create a profile or write a “Dear Birthmother” letter.  In our case, the agency will use the information in our home study and any insight from communications with us to create the best match with a child.

When adopting locally, the process is much different.

To prepare for the A.R.E. (see previous post), my husband and I had to create a profile.  We weren’t sure that local adoption was the route we wanted to take, but we didn’t want to turn up empty handed and close a door on ourselves.

Creating the profile was a very interesting challenge.  It’s a strange combination of employment cover letter and an on-line dating profile but with way more weight behind it and way more heart and soul.

I have heard from friends about getting photo shoots of themselves rolling in fall leaves and playing in the park to help to create an image of fun, welcoming parents.  Being a “just in case” profile, we didn’t want to go as far as a photo shoot (this time).  Instead, we went through every photo ever taken of us to find our most “family friendly”, warm, “parent-ish” but also fun, most “ourselves photos. This was a little bit of a challenge but also a heart-warming experience. It was so nice to go through all of our photos, to see all the happy times we have had together and how much we have changed in just a few years.  It was a really good reminder of the positive things in my life at a time when life has been feeling negative and full of loss.

We managed to pull together some photos and write up some general information that painted a truthful and positive picture of us as a couple, us as potential parents.

I have to say; seeing it all on paper really confirmed to me that we’ll be great parents.  I was convinced by my own words.