Major Adoption-Related Events

  • 09-04-29 Part One Sponsorship Application Completed and Sent
  • 08-11-04 Dossier in Ethiopia -- the wait begins
  • 08-10-24 Dossier on its way to Ethiopia
  • 08-10-23 Dossier back to Imagine
  • 08-10-17 Dossier to Ottawa
  • 08-10-07 Dossier (finally complete) at Imagine
  • 08-09-10 Dossier (most) Sent to Imagine
  • 08-09-04 Provincial Approval Received
  • 08-07-08 Completed Dossier Sent to Province for Approval
  • 08-06-26 HAR Signed and sent back to ABC
  • 08-05-16 HAR Started
  • 08-04-22 Int'l Adoption Self-Study Course Completed
  • 08-04-07 Application sent to ABC
  • 08-02-19 Initial Application faxed to Imagine
  • 08-02-16 References Requested from Friends

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Attachment and Settling

I didn't know for a while what to write, because for many months, we saw progress, punctuated with long bouts of awfulness.  But that seems to be fading. The progress keeps coming and the awful becomes less frequent, shorter, and less awful.  My B is starting to be so much more like a kid who's always had a family.
He's not testing me nearly as much.  I think he's realized that I will be stoic and consistent no matter what, and even though he still takes the odd poke at me just to see if he can break me, I've learned that completely unemotional reactions, and always offering him two choices works miracles.  Like, I might say, "You can continue screaming, but you'll have to go outside, or you can cut it out now."  And then I follow through.  Every time.  And so now he knows.  We've been doing attachment counseling, and when asked what he loves most about me, his answer was that I always do what I say I'm going to.  I can't ask for better feedback than that.  Good or bad, he knows I'm at least predictable.  Our counselor has told me that that is as valuable as the face-to-face play (for example, pretending with action figures, or puppets, or playing store -- not things like crafts or games where the focus is on the board as opposed to each other) in building attachment.  Those are the keys, basically in attachment:  intense one-to-one face time playing, or face-painting each other, or tracing each other's hands, or massaging each other's hands or feet -- basically touch and eye-contact.  But being predictable also creates trust and a feeling of safety, which is good.  I don't really feel like he's attaching super well, but it's coming.
He tests everyone else though, and that's a challenge, because I can't always be there.  School, afterschool care, at Oma's... he doesn't consistently behave at any of them.  I was called into the principal's office when I picked him up yesterday -- second day of school!!!
One thing I've found about B is that he really wants to know his back story.  And I don't really have the answers.  So I say to him, "Do you want me to make up a story?"  And he says yes, so then I'll tell him a story.  He knows they aren't real, but they are usually a fair bit more exciting than regular life.  Last night, Jonah had homework to find out the story of how he got his name.  And so I made up a story for B too.  It involved a purse-snatching and heroic rescue.  I don't know what the right thing to do about this is, but it's the best I can do.
Summer was good.  We spent three weeks at my father's cottage on one of the islands of the St. Lawrence, and the boys played and swam, and fished, and tubed all day.  It was awesome too, that they really didn't have anyone but each other to play with, so the bonding happened there.  Before, Jonah flat-out told me that he wanted B gone.  And he didn't want me to continue with Ethiopia either.  That broke my heart a little.  But now, even though they can be ugly when they fight, most of the time, they play so well together.  I fought with my sister too.  Like threw a bag of milk at her, and banged her head on the ground ugly fighting.  But most of my memories of our childhood are things like building snow forts, and summer forts, and pretending, and that sort of thing.  And I know she thinks the same.
Jonah is now in grade two.  There were 31 kids enrolled in his class by the time he walked in there Tuesday morning, but after school, they reworked the classes and now there are, I think, 23.  Thank goodness.  Brand new teacher was looking mighty frazzled by the end of the first day.  She looked significantly better when I picked him up yesterday.
So, Ethiopia.  I put myself on hold, to let B settle, but only during some very ugly weeks did I think I'd have to walk away from it completely.  Now, home life is pretty smooth, and I'm ready to go.  I talked to Anne Scully at the department a couple of weeks ago, and found out that Alberta doesn't actually have a mandatory wait time.  She also said that since Ethiopia takes forever to process paperwork, there's no point in pausing at all.  As long as baby is more than a year different in age, I'm good to go.  So I'm going.  I'm picking up some remnants of paper work right away, and we're off.  Hopefully, it'll be done by March, or I'll need another bleeding home study update.  Grr.  I should be somewhere near the top of the list anyway, so I guess we'll see.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yes I Did

So, if anyone still checks in, I thought I'd better let you all know how things went after my last blog post. 
I was indeed found to be the most suitable home for young B, who was a little munchkin that I worked with at the group home when I moved back to Edmonton last summer.  I spent several 12-hour Saturday shifts in his unit, and got to know him pretty well.  It's funny, because when I first met him, I thought he was one of the toughest little ones in there, because he was so stand-offish.  But as he became more comfortable with me and got to know me better, he started wanting to be around me more.  And he responded well to me as I am (generally) calm and straight-forward, logical in consequencing, and consistent, which always works best with kids in care. 
Jonah in the Dominican February 2012
Anyway, long story short, after several conversations, and behavior which may have bordered stalking (via phone -- me to the social worker), the social worker was pushed pressured bribed coaxed into making up his dang mind.  He takes a frustratingly long time to do anything (so it seems to me).  A week after Jonah and I returned from a sweet eight-day all-inclusive getaway to the Dominican Republic ($570 each!!), young B was placed in our home.
And it's been a total crazy house ever since.
One of the reasons I haven't updated, is that I'm ridonkulously busy with the boys and my new job (subbing for Edmonton Public!  Yay!!!), but the other reason, is that since the end of the really short honeymoon, it's been pretty much awful around here.  Yep.  Crappy.  I couldn't find a euphemism for crappy.
It's not that there hasn't been gains.  B is settling in alright.  He knows the routines and expectations, and is doing okay with following them.  I wasn't much of a parent for routine before, but I didn't have to be with just Jonah.  B, on the other hand, needs it.  He can be a very likeable little guy, but he can also escalate so quickly and loudly that you'd never have seen it coming.  That's tough to deal with: the screaming.  There are other things too:  pooping his pants, whining constantly, manipulating, ignoring, etc.  And it's been really hard on Jonah, which is difficult for me to see.  He's easily frustrated by B, constantly being rejected (because everything has to be on B's terms -- he has spent a lifetime having very little power over his life, and so what he can hang on to, he does), and probably feels like B is a threat to his formerly secure spot as #1 kid in my life.
So yeah, it's been tough.  And some days, I didn't think I could do it.  And so I didn't want to announce it until I was sure I could actually parent this boy.  I still honestly don't know.  It's been nearly four months, and he seems no more attached to me than when he came.  We're in attachment counselling, but I don't know if he'll ever stop loving whoever gives him sweets, and hating those who deny him.  That's really how he is right now.
So that's where we're at.  The actual adoption of B is on hold until I am more certain of its stability, and Ethiopia is on hold until the family stabilizes.  I can see why they make you wait!  And the other reason I need to be very sure before signing any permanency papers is that if I do, and then I was not successful at parenting him (like, say when he's a teen), and the adoption were to break down, then according to the government, I would be responsible for causing a child to come into the care of the department, and I would no longer have a clean child welfare check (without which I cannot get a teaching job).  It all seems so much more complicated now than it did half a year ago.
I know this seems like a sort of downer update, but it's honestly not.  He does show progress and the people who know him well all agree that with the proper upbringing, this boy has loads of potential.  I just need to remember that when he's screaming his head off, smelling like feces.
Eye on the prize ;)

B getting ready to wall climb at single moms`camp May 2012

With my boys on the beach May 2012 (you`d never guess by the size
difference that they`re only nine months apart, would you?)

Note:  B's face can't be revealed until the adoption goes through completely.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On Hold

Sooo... it looks like my file will be on hold. By my choice.
It looks like a domestic adoption, something that I hadn't even really explored, is in the cards for me. I can't say with 100% certainty that this is a go, but from what the munchkin's social worker has indicated, it is extremely likely. Without divulging too much too soon, I can say that in the very near future, my son will likely have a new brother. And I just might be the mother of (count them!) TWO six year olds. Yeah. Wow. I'll let you all know when I know with certainty.
Pray for me that if this is meant to be, then it will be.