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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Few of Life's Ups.

After my none-too-positive post yesterday, I felt like I should write about something more positive. It's not that I'm a negative person, contrary to what I've written in the last month or so. And I detest reading a blog, where post after post the person complains. So. Something positive today. Umm... surveying my day in my head, and thinking, how did my day go? Oh yeah! I woke up because Jonah crawled up on my bed and puked right beside me. Hmm. Maybe I won't mention that in this blog. I made the best bread today, not even kidding. If I'm having a rough go, well I tell you, there's nothing so awful that this bread can't fix it. Here's a link to the world's greatest Wheat Bread. Get out your bread machines and set them on "dough." Two and a half hours to bliss. My sister came out for a week in August and tried it for the first time. Said she'd forgo all other caloric intake for the day if she could just finish off the loaf.

I know there are more great things in my life than bread. I finished setting up my class today, and it looks awesome. So neat and tidy. A place for everything and everything in its appropriately labelled place. There is little in this world as satisfying as a perfectly well-organized filing cabinet. Okay, well actually there are plenty of things, but it's up there on the list for sure! I have all of my course outlines printed off (and filed in my desk) and am bound and determined to have the most on-the-ball school year of my career (okay, so this is only the second year of the career, but it has to be better than last year and the rolling cart -- my OWN class. Yesssss!). I am so excited to start back to work on Tuesday. There is a real sense of satisfaction in my job. I love teaching and it's great to be able to get to know students and really enjoy them. I have a great deal of affection for and pride in my students. One of my (now grade 9) boys placed second in steer riding at a nearby rodeo last week. I saw him ride (and take first) at a rodeo in May. I had one of my grade 5's compete in the provincial swim championships this summer and she was ranked 11th in the province. Even with less traditional accomplishments, I take pride in my kids. One of my grade 5 boys punched a kid (a big one) last year. Now it's not that I condone it, and he certainly didn't get away with it, but the reason for it (he was sticking up for an underdog who was being bullied by the punchee), I couldn't help but admire. He didn't do the right thing for sure, but he was sticking up for what he knew was right, and that is good. I am looking at a new year, with many new kids and a couple of really tough grades -- 31 grade 7's and a rowdy class of 27 grade 8's. Other than that, it all looks good: manageable class sizes and kids I've taught before. One cool thing about being in a small town and teaching at the only public school is that you have the same kids year after year, and then you have their siblings, and unlike the city where you always have new students, a couple may come or go every year, but otherwise the population is stable. There's security in knowing the kids and their families and where they've come from.
Jonah and his friend at the park -- notice his stylin' bee costume.

If ever I ask him to get dressed nicely, that's what he wants to wear!

Only one more official day of summer holidays, and I am looking forward to chillaxing (that's right, people still use the word "chillaxing") with my favorite boy tomorrow. I think we will be heading to the nearest metropolitan center (population 5500 -- almost) to do some groceries and hopefully, swim. We'll hit BP's for dinner and maybe come home and paint. Who knows? Whatever. It doesn't matter what we do. It's about spending the day together, giving him all my attention 100% of the time.

Jonah's dad and his girlfriend came up to see Jonah this afternoon. It's always tough when he leaves. Jonah gets so blue, and bedtime is always rough. But I laid with him, just singing the same song over and over until his eyes fluttered and closed, and I thought of my little girl in a belly across the world and I can't wait. Being a mother is what I love. I was made for it. I never thought I could see myself as a stay at home mom, but if I could pull it off, I would love it.

I read this great blog today and was totally touched. The one thing I can't relate to is the infertility. But there was a part where she says, (about people they knew looking at the couple's decision to adopt) "They didn’t quite understand why we were 'giving up on having our own.' " I do understand that. As a single, I do worry at times that being a single mother of a multiracial family might scare off potential suitors (do we still have suitors, in these modern times?), but it's not really giving up. I think those who are adopting (for whatever reason) are empowered. There is a goal (to be parents) and there is a solution. I don't (often) feel like I'm broken because I'm (perhaps terminally) single. I feel like a gal who knows what she wants and is going to get it. I have started being more open with people about the fact that I am adopting. Some people (usually moms of toddlers) think I am crazy. But the general reaction is one of support. Paperwork may have ground to a disappointing halt, but the end result of this will always be my girl. I can take solace in that.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Seriously, Shut Up.

Well, it's official... I'm a stalker. I'm probably just ticking Anne Scully off at this point, but you know what? She signed off on my HAR at least 2 weeks ago, and still... nothing. I'm having a hard time being nice about it at this point. This is my life, you know? So I emailed her today and asked if my mam could just go to her office and pick it up (I live out of town). She knows my mam because they both work for Children's Services. And my mam only works mornings right now because her back is not so good. She was run off the road April 20th of this year, when we had a big dump of snow. A big ol' tanker truck was coming toward her, in her lane on the highway, and all she could do was aim for the ditch. At the time, we were all just so relieved that she did get out of the way in time. I wasn't there, but apparently it was so close my mam wasn't even quite sure how she was still alive. Anyway, so because she works half-time only a few blocks from Anne, I asked if she could get it when she got off of work. I asked Anne to call or email my mam to let her know, but I later found out that my mam had to take the day off (because the pain in her back was unbearable -- and she's no wuss!), so I don't know what she said about that. I'm curious to know what the message is at my mam's work. I know I can't get everything sent off right now, but we can get most of it to Imagine and get that ball rolling.
I have school starting on Tuesday, and I am so not ready. Well, I guess that's not totally true. In some courses I'm super-ready. In others I have no idea what I'm doing. In Information Processing, I was told it was a module course (so students basically follow the given directions of the module, and I mark it when they finish and give an occasional typing test), but nope! that's not true. We have texts, but no modules. Sigh. I wonder how long those will take to get in. I'm sure it'll all come together (it'll have to), but I'm not looking forward to the Superintendent coming to check out all of our classes this Friday. Awesome (read: sarcasm).
So I've learned a couple of hard lessons this week. I need to shut my mouth!!! My neighbor's mad at me. I don't really blame her. I said something about how her son and Jonah have been fighting lately, and so I had to cancel a play date that we'd arranged. I was worried about having that conversation, because I didn't want her to be hurt and to have it cause us problems. Well, I was visiting her family this past weekend (her family is great) and so I mentioned the problems they've been having, and told them I was stressing about talking to her about it. Now, okay, you're probably thinking, "That was stupid! Consider your audience!" And you're right. My intention in mentioning it was that maybe they would have some advice to offer on how to approach it to make the chat as comfortable as possible. But none was offered, and I didn't pursue it. And when I talked to her, she was hurt, apparently, but never showed that to me. But then she found out I'd talked to her family, and felt like I'd painted her boy as a brat. Not true, but what can I say? I guess maybe that's how the family felt, but it's not what I said. So I apologized, and said it was wrong for me to say anything to them, but she's still mad. I don't know what else to say, and I'm not going to beg for forgiveness. I really am sorry, but this whole thing makes me wonder if we are as good of friends as I thought, if her reaction when she's mad is to screen my phone calls, and not accept my apology. I don't know what to do about it.
And yet, I didn't learn my lesson from this, because mere hours later, I stuck my foot in my mouth again, ticking off my sister that I visited last weekend. Without going into too much detail, something needed to be said, but I knew it wasn't my place, so I emailed a relative of hers to see if she had already been told what it was I wanted her to know. And then the feces hit the fan, because she's not close with that relative and their response to the email was an attack on her, and it was obviously not what I'd intended, but there it was. Open mouth, insert foot. In all fairness, it was important to say what was said, but I should have just taken the risk of stepping on her toes and just talking directly to her. But not knowing what she knew?... I thought I was making the right choice.
Moral of the story: Shut Up Melissa! (It's a pretty individualized moral) As a result of this stressful week, I have not been able to sleep well. I've laid awake a lot. A couple of nights ago, I decided to make jam at 11:00 at night. I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon anyway. But the result of not being able to sleep, is that I'm tired, overly emotional, and not able to deal with stress like I usually can. Sigh. On the up side: It's the weekend. Hallelujah! I'm going to work hard tomorrow, go to bed early, and work hard on Sunday. Then on Monday, my favorite boy and I are going to have a special day together before I start back at school. No solid plans yet, but maybe swimming (and grocery shopping!) or painting or something.
Well, 1 AM. Bedtime.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lovin' Summer, Had Me A Blast

I had the best weekend! This summer has felt lie a bit of a wash. After this school year (my first year teaching) I thought, how awesome summer will be now that I have it off -- really off. Yeah right! Between fencing, painting, hanging out in E-town with the family and planning for next year (teaching six -- count em SIX -- new courses this year!), I kind of feel like summer is ending and I have yet to do summery stuff!
But this weekend I went to Regina to visit my sisters (former foster) who I haven't seen in seven years! That's way too long! I drove down Saturday morning and visited with them that afternoon, and Sunday all day, and we had such a good time. Stephanie, the older of the two, has a young son, and it made me really proud to see how she was raising him, and working so hard to bring him up "peacefully" (as she said). She's read all the books and taken a half dozen parenting classes to avoid becoming her mother (a wise move), and both girls have grown into beautiful, amiable adults. It was a great reunion, and we parted with promises to visit at least yearly -- surely an attainable goal.
I also took Jonah camping on the way home. Oh, we need to do that more, because apparently, I've raised myself a chicken! Scared of the flies, the spider webs, trees (because they are shadowy), dark, animals, tent and so on! Really? Scared of the tent? Honestly! My sister's 4-year-old mistakes pinecones for ants, and my boy fears treed areas! An unfortunate family trait? I hope not! We made it through and he did just fine, but it is clear that we really do need to do it more often. I bought him a fancy kid sleeping bag this month from MEC so we have no excuses! Maybe we will camp out another night this weekend, before it gets too cold.
This afternoon, we visited my neighbor's parents' farm south of Saskatoon. I'm trying to figure out the appropriate revenge for my neighbor's husband, who gave me directions that took me on a scenic hour-long drive through the Saskatchewan back roads. Yeah. After a frustrating detour, tears, a ghost town (not even kidding!), and finally a payphone, I was on the right track. We had a great afternoon with the family, checked out the harvesting... stuff (my technical knowledge of farming is limited and doesn't include proper vocabulary), got two bags of apples to can, jellycized and sauceify, and spent some time visiting -- I really like the family.
We stayed later than I had planned, so I ended up driving through twilight and into darkness which I always try to avoid, and saw a dozen or so Pronghorn deer. I've only seen them two times, both times near the AB-SK border along hwy 13/14. Very cool-looking deer. Got home safely (what else could I ask for?) and exhausted. A busy weekend -- time well spent -- that made be feel like I actually was part of something summery. On an aside (as a proud mama) my boy passed both his swimming levels this summer -- sea turtles and salamanders. Okay, it's preschool swimming, but he is only three and can glide with his head down, and then roll on his back to keep gliding... an impressive skill I think. Wednesday, I'll be back to work, but I'm now going back a little more satisfied with the holidays.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Willing Mind, Unwilling Body

The selflessness of some people absolutely awes and inspires me. If you haven't already, check out this new blog for the Faya Orphanage, a new orphanage opening in Ethiopia for HIV positive children. They are looking for sponsors to support this new endeavour. What a worthy way to spend a life -- loving kids who desperately need to be cared for and provided for. One description I read on this site that left me deflated was of a mother with a 8 month old baby, unable to feed him or her. Begging them to take her baby. Crushing. I cannot imagine losing my Jonah. I don't even like being away from him overnight. The thought of him eventually doing weekends at his dad's makes me sad. So for this mom -- for any mom -- to be so desperate that she is begging a stranger to take and care for her child, it breaks my heart.
I do have plans to do missions, but there is this need of people in this part of the world to prepare for the future, before they strike out and give of themselves. Obviously, this is not everyone. But so many people do missions after they retire -- a great use of the time, I think -- but what about the 40 years before? I am going into my second year of teaching, have a permanent full-time position with the district, and should be focused on working for the next 27.5 years until I am eligible for a full pension. No, I am not counting down to my retirement, and yes, I do feel like my job is worthy and enjoyable, but I do sometimes (read: often) want to do greater things in my life. I want to make a difference like these folks, at the Faya Orphanage. What I want to say is "I need a plan -- to support them, or to donate large sums to the Sharing Way for microcredit loans, or something," but that's exactly the problem! I have to decide to proceed with no plan. I need to trust that everything will work out, and I will be taken care of regardless of my plan, or lack thereof. That if I give my life to serving others, I will be taken care of.
Funny, I was driving back home from Edmonton just this morning, and I thought to myself (I was thinking about the adoption and the waiting time), I know that God has a plan, and I know that everything will happen in due time. I thought to myself, how liberating to know that God is in control, that He is taking care of me. And yet, in this, this going out and serving, giving of every part of me, I can't take the leap. I'm stuck in the western mindset.
There's no resolution that I've come to. I'm not there. I'm not yet willing to quit my job and take care of orphans. I'm not willing (or able, due to choices I've made to get a new car, etc.) to give buckets full of money -- yet. But I'm thinking. I'm trying to think boldly, and hope that my body follows these desires of my mind.
Anyway. What more to say?

Friday, August 15, 2008

HAR Approved

I finally cracked today after I got home from the post office again today, with no exciting news. As far as I understand, the HAR was sent to the government by ABC at the beginning of July (I signed it off and sent it to them at the end of June), so I was starting to feel like, "What is going on?" I know I can't send off the whole shabang to Imagine just yet, because I have the Notice of Assessment that will still probably take 6 weeks or so, but it's been killing me to not know. Forward progress! I need forward progress! You can probably tell that the real waiting time is going to be tough for me, but I am hoping that since I will be back to work and absorbed in teaching, that it will be bearable.
So, I called Anne Scully, and not surprising, she sounded a little put out. "Look, we're short-staffed right now, so things are taking a while." So we're clear I didn't attack her or anything, but I think I'm probably not the first person who's called. I get it, and it's even as I suspected, but I just had to know. Now I know. She's signed off on it and will mail it off when she can. Hey! That is okay by me. Obviously, I'm not in a huge rush, but it puts my mind at ease to know it is all going just fine. I didn't think there would be a problem, but it's just good to know.
Yay! A half-step forward!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Taxes? Check.

I'll admit I'm pretty proud of myself right now. In the mail yesterday came my stuff from Revenue Canada, and at exactly 5:00 today, I sent them, completed, back to Revenue Canada. Go me! Admittedly, it was a bit of a stressful afternoon. I had to track down receipts for the Family Day Home, tuition, etc, but I got it all done. Yesterday afternoon I printed off the forms at school, but the computers don't like me right now, because for some reason I can't log on so I had to do it when someone else was on the computer. And there were some schedules and and stuff that needed to be printed that I missed yesterday, so I visited my neighbor 4 or 5 times today to print.
Seriously, I am so thankful for them. I have the greatest neighbors. Yvonne called me this morning to see if I had any carrots she could have, and I've called on her for various things. We are the kind of neighbors with open doors. Seems to me it is a rare find these days. I had a question about something tax-related when I was over at her house for the afternoon yesterday (this will give you an idea of our relationship: I came over while her youngest napped, so our boys could do quiet time together and we could have adult contact -- I worked on taxes and she folded laundry and sorted through toys), and she pulled out her taxes for the past few years, handed me one -- she kept one -- and said, "see if you can figure it out from this." Honestly! How many neighbors would just hand over personal financial information to help out a friend? What a great gal! Another time, early in the school year, her husband Lance and her brother Chris came over. Lance said, "Hey, do you want this icecream?" holding up a partly filled 4L pail. "Sweet, sure," I said. And then he goes, "Do you have a deep freezer?" "No, why?" I say. "Ah, I got that deer back from the butcher, and don't have enough freezer space." I was glad not to have a freezer. We don't eat meat, so a neighbor (even a neighbor we love), who comes over and asks to borrow my freezer to store his dead deer? Yuck. Even so, I would have done it. I was happy not to have to, but I would have. I just can't say enough about how awesome my neighbors are.
But anyway! Taxes are in the mail, but still no sign of my province-approved HAR. I want to call Anne Scully about it tomorrow to find out the status, not that there is a huge rush right this minute. What else? Ruth, from ABC had sent me some paperwork that I submitted to them when I applied for a HAR, but need now to send on to Imagine. She emailed me today to let me know that it had been returned. We worked out an addressing issue, so it should be coming soonish.
Now that I have access to the school again, I am going to go in and get some ID photocopying done, so I can send off my passport application tomorrow. Despite my former blog, with my peaceful internal acceptance of the whole not filing my taxes problem, I am having a hard time with the self-imposed delay. So I will take the time to do all the preemptive paper pushing I can -- passport, immigration part I, and then lesson planning like crazy.
I introduced Jonah a little more today to the idea of his sister. So far all we've said is that one day, he'll have a sister. And we've said, "One day, when you have a sister..." about different things. But today we talked a little bit more about her. About when he has a sister, she won't be as little as his cousin, Carmen. That she will probably already know how to sit, and may know how to crawl, or even walk a bit. He thought that was pretty cool. I told her how she would probably have black hair and eyes and brown skin. I feel so uplifted whenever I think of her.
This afternoon, during one of the many invasions of my neighbor's place, I met Yvonne's friend Michelle, who has a Son and daughter who are 3 1/2, almost 4 years apart, and she was saying that they are really close. That he just adores her, is always patient with her, never loses his temperature, and thinks she is great. This gives me hope. I know that lots of sibs who are a few years apart, are close, but some aren't. I know that it'll be a bit of a shock to Jonah's system to be thrust into the world of brotherhood, after 4+ years as my one and only, but I do hold out hope that he will do well. He loves babies and is always sweet to little folks. We have some family friends with kids a few years younger tha Melanie and I. The older of the 2, Nick, was 5 I think, when Tasha came along. But he had a really laid back personality, and they have always been close, despite the gap. I remember when Tasha was small and got hurt, their mom would go to console her, and she would refuse the affection. She'd sit and cry until Nick came to make it all better. Ruffled their mom's feathers a bit, but nobody could deny that it was the sweetest thing. I really hope that they will be close.
Anyway, I also wanted to send a shout out to Lesley from Calgary, who has generously offered a crib set and border for my girl's room, after she found out her match is a boy. Thank you so much! I am really excited to have them. And a big congratulations on your referral! Also, I have recently joined the canadaadoptsethiopia yahoo group and am looking forward to getting to know fellow family-growers, and becoming part of that community.
Have a good one all!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Productive Day

On the adoption front, I am still waiting for the Provincial approval to come back. I talked to one of the gals at Anne Scully's office (Faith or Grace?) and she said that it would be signed in a week or two and then sent back. But that was a few weeks ago now. Every morning I zip over to the post office first thing to check on the progress. I know it doesn't really matter when it comes. I still have tax stuff to do, but I just need to know I'm making progress. I'm moving forward. I'm sure others who have been here have felt the same.
On an aside, I've been getting ready for this upcoming school year, and have made some serious progress today. I got a bunch of binders full of everything I need to teach Science 7 this year, but didn't take them home in June (because the are HEAVY!) but I got into the school today (I couldn't get in earlier, because they were waxing the floors), and nabbed a binder. I hadn't even looked at it before, but SCORE! It actually has everything I need. And since I'm teaching 6 new courses this year, I'm going to go ahead and pretty much teach it exactly as is. It seems good and, well, I'll have time to tweak and change things next school year (if I'm not on mat leave). There are 5 Units in the year, and I finished putting the notes from Unit 1 into 4 PowerPoint shows (52 slides, complete with graphics), so I am pretty stoked. I started settling into my new class this afternoon, and Jonah fell asleep on a blanket on the floor for a couple of hours (so rare -- an afternoon nap!) and so I was able to do a lot of work and it's really starting to look great. Aah. A very satisfying day.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Am So Smrt

I am so mad at myself right now. I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know where my head has been. So, okay, I'm not the most organized person. Far from it. There are plans, there are systems that I have put in place, but then the system rules are forgotten, and in the midst of what can be a neatly kept, seemingly organized space, I can't find anything. Keeping this in mind, I am not the most punctual with filing my taxes. I never owe and so it's tough to get motivated, and, in connection with my organizing issues, I never know where all of my T4's and receipts and stuff are at the same time. So! I haven't filed my taxes for this year yet. I kind of view it as a savings account, with money that I can't access. And then when I'm really short and need some extra cash flow, I file, and BANG! There's money in my pocket! Okay, I understand that it is not the way most people choose to live, but, hey, it has worked for me for many years now.
How does this relate to my adoption, perhaps you are wondering. Well, I need to include a notice of assessment in my dossier when I send it off to Imagine right away here, only, because I am an IDIOT (I'm so ticked at myself right now, I had a good frustration cry yesterday), I have to delay, and wait for my new T4's to come from Revenue Canada (Arg) and then file (and though it won't take more than an hour to actually do the taxes, it'll be a few weeks before Revenue Canada processes them and gets that Oh So Important Notice of Assessment to me). Sucks! I'm so choked. I don't know how I could have overlooked such an important detail. I have everything I need once my provincial approval comes back to me this week or next, except that now. And so because I am ridiculously disorganized when it comes to taxes, my adoption will be delayed for up to 2 months! I'm trying not to lose my mind. "It'll all happen in God's time," my sister says. "Your little girl is there and will be there when your stuff is together." And my head knows that, but still.
On a related front, this total lapse on my part has me worried. If I mess things up and fail to do what I need to when I have been matched and my girl is waiting for me, and my only real role as a parent at that time is to get organized and make sure paperwork is being filed as needed so she can come home as quick as possible, then it is she who will be stuck with the consequences -- that being that she will spend more time in an orphanage instead of a proper home.
Hopefully this eye-opener will cause me to be that much more diligent about everything that needs to be done. Maybe that was the point of this whole thing. If I mess up with paperwork now, it is me who pays, as I will end up waiting that much longer for the dossier to be sent, and for my match. If I mess up later, it is my girl who pays, really. I guess I should be thankful that it happened now and not later. Funny how writing can really get these things worked out in a person's mind. Where I was so ticked at myself when I first started writing, now I'm just glad it happened now, to get me aware and conscious that I really need to do better.