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, October 30, 2008

A Quick Post

Well, the to-do list for this week is coming along just fine. Gates are hung in the yard, but latches need to be attached, still. My NaNoWriMo plan is... non-existent, and my marking, well, sigh. It'll come. It'll have to; I have to start on report card this coming week! Ah well, all in good time.
I bought a thing of face paint last weekend for a dollar. Best dollar I've spent in a long time. Jonah has been a pirate, a clown, Spiderman, one of the Incredibles... and tomorrow he'll go off to the sitter's as a ladybug. I don't love Halloween, but my boy does like to dress up!
This week at school, we've had some fun school-spirit inspiring days. Crazy hat day, Super Hero day, PJ day, and something else I don't remember. For super hero day I went as Super-Nerd. With pants rolled up high, tape on the glasses, off-center ponytail, and a cape with an N, my students were like, "Who are you?" I told them, and the general response was, "As opposed to your... normal self?" suggesting that I'm normally a nerd (I am). My response, said in sarcasm, was, "As opposed to my super-cool alter ego! You probably don't even recognize me, do you?" "Um... Yeah. Right" was what I got back. I'm okay with my nerdy self. May as well make fun, right? Jonah went to the Family Day Home as Spiderman that day. And today I wore my PJ's to school, and Jonah wore his to Vicky's. Good times. Tomorrow, I'm sewing a baby-doll to the bum of my jeans and going as a babysitter. My 13-year-old students will get a kick out of it.
Anyway. This has been a bit of a trying week at school, and as much as I would like to vent and write about it, I would also like to forget about it, and not relive it as I share these journals with my girl in the future. I am determined to forget, so I'll just leave it. However, I will say that time like these, I can't wait to get out of this town. Blech. Looking forward to hanging with the family in E-town this weekend.
Got word from Erica today, at Imagine. Dossier has passed Anne and is off to Ethiopia. She'll let me know when it gets there. Come on! Let the waiting begin!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Week to Look Forward to.

Okay! It's a bit over half way into the weekend, and I am looking into the near future through rose-colored glasses. I'm choosing to stop fretting and stressing and BE POSITIVE! So here is a list of things I'm looking forward to in the next week:
1. I am looking forward to getting caught up with marking student work. I made a resolution to be better at marking and returning assignments and tests quickly, and so far, I am not doing great. This is the week to catch up.
2. I am looking forward to finishing (and starting -- eek!) my plan for my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project. If I plan to write 50,000 words in November, I'd better have a plan.
3. I am looking forward to having gates on my fences so my dog is finally contained. Not looking forward to the work, but the end project will be worth it.
4. I am looking forward to going to Edmonton next weekend, to hang out with family and friends.
5. I am looking forward to taking a PD course on Saturday -- all art all day! Two seminars: one on large-scale print-making and one on silk screening and stained glass. Sweet!
6. I am looking forward to finishing sorting through closets and rooms in my place, and picking out stuff to donate or sell. I've done 2 rooms so far and have 3 boxes to get rid of. I love minimizing! It is so freeing! (What I find hard and limiting is not buying anything. I'm trying really hard to buy only things for myself that I need, but the same does not hold true when it comes to my kids.)
It's going to be a big and busy week! And of course I am happy to follow my dossier as it makes it's way to Ethiopia!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Nerd with a Spreadsheet

I can't stop obsessing about a potential timeline for this adoption. If this helplessness that I've been feeling the last few days is an indicator of how the next year plus is going to go, I can't help but think I am going to go grey from worry and frustration before my girl comes home.
I told Jonah today, that he would not be meeting his sister for a long time and he would be 4 before he even gets to see a picture of her. I guess I shouldn't have told him anything about it, but he's perceptive and it's pretty much all I think about and talk about these days, so he was bound to wonder what was going on. Oh well, it was so abstract anyway, his invisible sister. He was dissapointed but fine.
When I feel powerless, I like to analyze and lay it all out in front of me. I'm a list maker, an organizer, despite what some close to me might think. It gives me peace and stability. So I made a spreadsheet of possible timelines.

Okay, I know that confirms what some probably already suspected: I am a total nerd. But this basically summarizes my chart: The earliest I can be ready to travel is next September. That's if I have a 6 month referral wait and court squeaks through under the gun (before closure) and Immigration is speedy and efficient as all government departments are. Yeah right. A little more realistic is an 8 month wait for a referral and about 5 months for court (plus closures) and immigration. That puts me ready to travel February 2010. Hopefully the worst-case scenario would be a 10 month referral wait and 6 months for post-referral business and I would be ready to travel May 2010. I wasn't really planning on teaching here for 2 full years (or nearly full) still, but it looks like it'll be at least 1.5 still. Boo. And while it makes me blue, it does help to have a realistic (and hopefully slightly pessimistic) outlook. Hope for the best and expect the worst -- it's a good way to be prepared.

Realistic Expectations

After email-stalking Erica for days and days, I decided to just give her a call, for my last few questions. According to her my dossier should arrive in Ethiopia in a week or two, which is good. She said they have to send it back through Anne Scully at the Province, and then they send it off. Erica said that they had been sending them through quickly at the province, but I can't help but worry a bit that I may have POed Anne when I stalked her this summer, and I am hoping she doesn't leave it laying around just to get back at me. Okay, she's a professional, and I'm sure she won't but I can't help but feel a bit vulnerable, with my future in the hands of strangers.
Erica also confirmed my suspicions about longer referral timelines. She said I can hope for 6 months, but in all likelihood, I will not be in court until next fall [sob]. So I've had to consciously rework my "plan" (if it can even be called that with so many variables that can change at a moment's notice), and accept that praying to have my baby home by Christmas 09 is probably a little more realistic. But probably not even. Spring 2010? It makes me want to cry.
There's this huge part of me that just wants to be excited by the progress, but an even huger part feeling deflated and powerless. I guess that pretty much sums up the adoption journey of every family.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Destination: Ethiopia

Well, things are on their way! I got my passport in the mail, and emailed Erica at Imagine to let her know I would scan and email it to her right away, and she said it was perfect timing because my dossier just came back from Ottawa. She emailed me today that my dossier would be on the way to Ethiopia TOMORROW!!! That means I am mere days (well, a week or two) away from being officially waiting! So excited. I told one of my pregnant colleagues my news and looked at her belly and couldn't help but well up inside, because I'm there too. I'm expecting. Yes!!!
On the other hand, I'm already worried about the referral. I know that's ridiculous, but I was told 6 months for a referral. Some are closer to 8. Well, if I get a 6, my babe will likely scrape through court before next year's court closures. If it's 8, it'll be an agonizing summer of waiting and missing my girl. Please Please Please let it be 6. Even 6.5. I know it's likely I'll be caught in court closures, I just hope I can avoid it. Thinking of my girl all summer, when I'm not working -- it'll be more than I can bear.
Now what? Immigration paperwork should probably be started and sent off. And I don't really know what else. Maybe I'll see if Imagine has a checklist of stuff you have to do. That would be great. They also have courses that they offer, and if you aren't in Ontario, they can give you the information by module or whatever. Has anyone taken one of these courses? They look very helpful. If you have, or know someone who has, will you please leave me a comment with some feedback on it? Thanks.
I just checked in on the Imagine site to see what courses they offer and I noticed an update for a change in adoption fees, effective November 15. Right now it is $6000 CAN for the agency fee and $6500 USD for the Ethiopian fee. Coming soon... $7000 CAN agency and $8000 USD to Ethiopia. Holy Smokes!!! And what with the dropping value of the Canadian dollar??? I am back to elated and counting my lucky stars I squeezed in under the gun. Phew.
I've just reread this post and sound a little manic with my wide-ranging emotions. Well! That's about right for someone who's expecting. Expecting. That's me. I can't help but think that maybe I should light a little birthday candle each day to celebrate what may be the birthday of my little girl. It's bound to fall on one of these days! I don't know what I'll do, but I will do something each day to acknowledge my second-born. My first daughter. My sweet girl. One of the top two loves of my life. My someday girl.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here it is: the best part of my day

I'm sick and hacky and every time I start to talk, I start to cough. So when I tucked Jonah in tonight, I asked him to try praying. Usually we pray together, but I do most of the talking, or I pray for both of us. Tonight, this was Jonah's prayer:

Dear God,
Thank you for the day.
Thank you for my room and my door and my nightlight.
Thank you for all the great things we have.
Thank you for you (he points at me) and me.
Thank you for all the great things we have.
Bless all the people we know and love.

Best part of my day.
This next part has to with my daughter, not my son. I've already started buying clothes and things for my girl, but these I'm especially pumped about. I bought these Mary Jane Robeez on ebay yesterday for my girl. What a steal: $10.50 USD including shipping. Sweet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hi. My name is Melissa, and I am an addict.

It's true. I am way too interested in reading about other people and their adoption journeys. I check in way too often to see if anyone has posted an update. I should probably take a break, but this little community, this group of one-time strangers, who have gotten to know each other through posts and emails and phone calls and (sometimes) get togethers, I just love to be a part of it.
It is true what some have said -- that these kindred spirits, these bloggers, know what it's about: adopting. We're all in it, at different stages, but it helps so much in the trials and frustrations and confusion of this complex process, to know that there is someone else out there who's been through it and survived, or is in it right now with you. That there are people keeping track of you and encouraging you along the way.
I love my family and friends and they are with me and support me and are there with a shoulder to cry on or an ear to lend. But this group -- none of which I've actually met in person, or even whose voices I've heard -- I value so much. They really do "get it" like nobody else who's not in it can.
I do believe that generally the result of technology is that people have become increasingly disconnected with one another, but I find that so many people who are recording their adoptions in online journals are raw with their emotions and very real about where they are at. Yeah, I'd rather know my fellow bloggers in person, but I am still just thankful for the parts of them I see in their writing.
So to all who are in it, thanks. For sharing where you're at, telling it like it is and encouraging me and each other along the way. I'm loving getting to know you all. Blessings to each of you and your new families.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Favorite (Short) Jonah Conversation of the Day

(While sitting eating supper on the couch -- yes we sometimes eat on the couch)
Me: Hey! Don't wipe your nose on me!
Jonah: It wasn't my nose, it was macaroni!
Much better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

I signed up with Blog Action Day, committing myself to writing about a given topic today: poverty. And here I sit with the day passing quickly, and I can't think of anything brilliant to contribute. I read a great, tear-jerking post linked to from Lori's blog (see the menu on the right). It wasn't made of new ideas and I didn't hear anything that I hadn't heard before, but it still got me.
I started thinking about how to end poverty. A lot of the posts at the Blog Action Day site had to do with that topic. I can't but wonder if that is indeed possible. I have to think it is. I have a newspaper clipping from the Globe and Mail, that I laminated and posted on my whiteboard in my class. It says,
In the next 30 seconds, 8 people will die of hunger,
and 92000 tons of food will go to waste."
It blows my mind every time I read it. What are we doing wrong in this world that that is happening? I often worry about the exponentially-increasing world population. I wonder how many this planet can sustain before it starts fighting back. Al Gore said that the increasing frequency and severity of storms in the world can be attributed to global warming, and while industrialization and pollution are related to the increasing world population (in that an industrialized world, with it's increasing efficiency can sustain more people, who then create more pollution through vehicle usage, etc.), it is not because of the population.
That was off-topic, but the point I was trying to (eventually) make was simply that with the population going up so quick, I wonder not only if the world can counter-balance human environmental abuses, but also if the world is physically capable of producing enough to meet our basic needs and sustain the population. While I do believe that at some point, the world will not be able to, right now, I think we are definitely able to support the present population.
So then why do people in developing nations starve, while North Americans and other over-indulgent nations spend millions of dollars on diet books, programs, exercise plans and specialty foods? Why do we have so much? Of course, the answer is obvious: uneven distribution of resources in the world, and democracy. Okay, the former is a given, but certainly the latter can be debated.
The simplest reason for poverty is uneven distribution of resources. Some countries have them, and others just don't. Those that do benefit and reap the rewards of having these valuables, and it allows them to get money which then pays for any and all basic needs not already met by the immediate environment. You don't have manufactured goods, but you have oil? Just sell some of that and spend part of the profits on what you want. The problem with uneven resource distribution, especially in our times, is that we "have" nations are continually developing new ways to efficiently harvest resources, at the same time exploiting the "have-not" nations by engaging in unfair trading practices, underpaying laborers, and so on. Related to this is the problem of brain drain, in which the few (as a percentage of the population) who manage to get an advanced education end up moving away from their home country in search of better prospects for themselves and their families. The result of these things: an ever-widening gap between the rich and poor nations of the world. I can't help but think that the wider the gap gets, the harder the problem will be to remedy.
The other reason for the poverty of some nations can unequivocally be tied to a country's government. There is undoubtedly a correlation between a country's government and their economic stability and citizen well-being. And while I concede that there may be some benefit to a dictatorship in that the leader has a long-term investment in the people, and decisions can be made quicker than with a system requiring even the slightest degree of consensus (e.g. democracy), it cannot be ignored that democratic systems take care of the people. How can they not? We in Canada may gripe about the government (and the fact that Harper has just been re-elected -- sigh), but the fact remains: if we don't like them, in four years maximum (five if we are at war), we can eject them and replace the leaders of our country with people we believe will be better suited and more willing to meet our wants and needs. But in non-democratic nations, the people do not have the power. In a democracy, if the government does not take care of its citizens, they will not remain the government. Simple as that. So regardless of your political leanings, you have to acknowledge the value of democracy in citizens' well-being.
Anyway, I don't know how to fix it. I think that if citizens of the rich countries make a collective choice based on our own consciences and sense of what is right, if we can somehow avoid living as human nature dictates -- with our own well-being in mind -- even then, without the people of the world having a say in their governments, I doubt we will see an end to poverty, because in countries like that, surely the foreign aid and domestic resources will end up in the hands of those with the power. Those with the power must be the people in order to start spreading the wealth and closing the gap. I wanted to end this post on a high, but I can't. Sorry. I got nothing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

3-Year-Old Wisdom and My Big 31

The propose of this blog is to record the events and my thoughts related to the adoption process, but having just come out of a long weekend, there has been no forward movement. I thought I'd blog instead about my favorite three-year old boy, and the joy he brings. Everyday, he comes up with something new and hilarious, and so today, I want to recap some of these conversations before I forget them.

1. In the car about two weeks ago:
Jonah: Mountains don't jump, right?
Me: What?
Jonah: Mountains can't jump, right?
Me: Mountains?
Jonah: Yeah.
Me: Can't jump?
Jonah: Yeah.
Me: No, mountains can't jump.
Jonah: Because they're attached, right?
Me: Right.
Jonah: I can't jump either, because of my seat belt.
Me: Yeah.

2. Last week:
Jonah: Mam, can we talk about punching?
Me: Sure.
Jonah: Why can't I punch?
Me: Do you want me to punch you?
Jonah: No.
Me: Why not? Because it hurts?
Jonah: Yeah.
Me: That's why.

3. Today (after we talked about how he can earn a new toy, if he cleans up his toys for 10 days in a row):
Jonah: Can I open up the box?
Me: No, you have to wait until you've earned it.
Jonah: But on the box, it says, "Open this right now."
Me: Actually, it says, "Leave this closed until you earn it."
Jonah: Hm.

Jonah: Okay, I'll make you a deal. When we get home, you can do all the laundry three times and then you can open this box for me.
Me: No deal.

Jonah: I have a new baby mam, look!
Me: I'm driving right now Jonah. What does it look like?
Jonah: It's a box.
Me: Oh.
Jonah: A baby box.
Me: Does it cry much?
Jonah: No, it's a box!
Me: Does it poop in it's diapers?
Jonah: No! It doesn't wear diapers. It's a box!
Me: Okay. Well, it sounds like a good baby.

Okay, I know we both sound a little weird, but these are the kinds of conversations we have several times a day. Jonah's big thing right now is "Can we talk about it mam?" He asks this about various things, many times a day. He is such a character, constantly coming up with words and phrases I don't expect from him. Today, he was looking at a toy box, that had a picture on the back of all the different sets that exist. He says, "I want this whole collection." He's three! What three year old says that? I have never heard the word collection from him before. It never ceases to amaze me what he can learn.

And I love his sense of humor. I mean, it is definitely age-appropriate in development, but it cracks me up. When he hears a word he thinks is funny, he'll keep repeating it and laughing. Weirdo. We were at the mall today with the family, and Jonah and his cousin Miriam (who is 10 months older than him) were walking, holding hands. And Jonah picked up on a word, and repeated it to Miriam, and they laughed together a couple of times about it, but after the third repeat, Miriam started to look at him like, "What is wrong with you?" Okay, so he's not funny, but I love to laugh at him! He recently was introduced to the song, "This little light of mine" and often he goes, "Hide it under a bush -- that's funny! Don't let Satan blow it out -- that's funny too." I don't know what he finds so funny about it, but everytime we sing it, he laughs.

Well, we had a great weekend, visiting the family. Everytime we have to come back home from Edmonton, Jonah bawls because he doesn't want to leave. Neither do I. I love being in Edmonton with the family. On Saturday, we went to my sister's scrapbooking and had a great time. We made 3 double-page spreads in one evening, including titles (God bless the inventor if the Cricut!) and journalling. Oh yeah! Any then Sunday was my 31st Birthday, and we went to church, had a family lunch (croissants -- yum!), family dinner (pesto lasagna -- yum!) and played some 3-handed bridge with my sister and mam, and watched a movie too. Then this morning I visited with an old friend, met up with the family at the mall and got my hair cut at a hairdresser. A real hair dresser. Usually I get my sister to trim my blunt cut twice a year. But I actually decided to do something new. Layers around my face and a side part. Maybe a bit conservative by North American standards, but a huge leap for me! And after the mall we went back to my mam's for cheese fondue and chocolate fondue. Generally a weekend of sweet indulging. My sister bought me this great purse for my birthday, that is shiny black with red flowers on it. I will try to post a pic, because the description didn't do it justice. And then my mam gave me a beautiful silver bracelet with these really light purple-pink stones in it. I feel like a real grown-up. And a girl. Okay, so maybe this should have already happened, but I am generally too simple (in my tastes and lifestyle) for that.
The best part of my birthday? Imagining that this time next year, I should not only know my daughter, but I will hopefully be making plans for my trip if I'm not already back (praying hard about that!). I thought 30 was a bit of a tough birthday, but at 31 I realize that life just keeps getting better. It really does.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Oh! I'm so glad it's nearly the end of the week. We have a PD day tomorrow (well, they say is a Professional Development day, but really, it is a breakfast, speeches from folks who are retiring from teaching, some rah-rah speaker to motivate us, and then lunch and g'bye!), and it is in a town 1 1/2 hours away. Hard to motivate myself to go given the distance, I tell you, but whatever. Free food. I was once told that food is the lowest form of reward -- in that for any creature (yes I'm talking animals here) that can understand rewards, food is what they respond to best (I'm thinking now of rats in a maze). Ah well, I'm okay with it!
I haven't heard yet if Erica has sent off my paperwork to Ottawa. She said she could, but hasn't emailed confirmation that it is in fact on the way. I've heard from a couple of people that this stage takes about a week, but now I realized that the passport is still going to hold things up. Oh well.
I feel a bit right now like I've been floating down a somewhat turbulent river and am now at a point where the river narrows into a chute and flows fast and heavy, before dumping out in a waterfall to another faster-moving part of river. This is it... the water is flowing so rapidly that I can't stop even if I wanted to (which I don't). And the drop into the next part is coming. The inevitable ups and downs that will carry me along for the next many months through unknown waters. I'm bound to pass (and even get caught up in) unseen snags lurking below the water which will no doubt cause me discouragement and despair. And even knowing that they are there and anticipating the catches will probably not prepare me better to deal with them. But going into this chute right now, getting ready for the drop... my stomach full of butterflies, but I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dossier to Ottawa Soon?

I talked to Erica (from Imagine) today, and apparently, all parts of my application are present and accounted for. Except for my passport. I got it back in the mail a couple of weeks ago, saying that my guarantor was not good enough and I had to resubmit. But I had to wait until I went back to Edmonton again to find someone with a 5 year valid passport, who has known me for at least 2 years. And when I went last week, I could not for the life of me find my passport picture, which they had also sent back, and I just needed it signed by my new guarantor. And then the day got away on me and I was on my way back to my town, with my application still not complete.
I was back in Edmonton again this past weekend and had found my picture and everything and so brought it to church for my pastor to sign and when I pulled out the envelope after the service, my photo was gone... again. Seriously!!! So I said to myself, "Heck this," and went and got new passport pics done, dropped by my pastor's house and got it done. Phew. It was sent off express Monday, and because there is already a file open, I just quoted the file number and things should cruise along pretty quick.
I thought I'd have to wait for my application to have the recent passport in it, but Erica said it might be okay to send it off to Ottawa with my old passport, as long as my name hasn't changed. It hasn't (hurray for being a terminally single girl!). So hopefully, my application will be on my way to our nation's capital soon. Yay!
I also asked about an updated estimate for wait times, and she said it is about 6 months -- longer than what I was told a mere 4 or 5 months ago, but not a surprise given what my fellow bloggers have been reporting.
So that's the news on the adoption front.
On a personal note, I got an email from my ex's girlfriend 2 or 3 days ago, to arrange a visit for this coming long weekend (if you didn't read my recent post on the ex, click here), and I just emailed her back to have Jon contact me to arrange visits from now on. Shock and surprise, he hasn't bothered to email me. Now I can't help but feel guilty that my actions may keep my boy and his dad apart, but even so, I'm not going to pursue him.
A little bummed that I've got no takers on my NaNoWriMo challenge. I even left the post up and didn't write a new one, hoping that someone would jump in, but that's okay. I'm still going to do it. I had thought I might write something which reflects my life, just because this is my first go and I want to be able to complete it, even if it is not brilliant. And well, I know my life. But the more I think about it, the more I want to write a sort of futuristic war/ adventure type of story. I'm in the early planning stages, but I have many little blips of ideas that I hope I'll be able to pull together into a unified plot. We'll see. I'll let you know when I know.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Looking for Something to Pass the Time?

Okay adopters, I know the waiting sucks. I know some of you are ready to pull your hair out and sit down and cry at the frustration of the wait. So I'm pitching an idea that you might want to think about, in order to pass the time (a whole month's worth of time). Something to take your mind off of the wait and to turn your energy to something creative and fun. Curiosity piqued?
It's that time: National Novel Writing Month (A.K.A. NaNoWriMo, pronounced NAno-RHYMo). Okay, it's an American National Event, but non-Americans are welcome to participate. The challenge: to write a 50,000 word novel about anything, in just 30 days! Sounds impossible? It's not! In fact, if you write every day of the month (of November) you need to put out less than 2000 words a day. A very reasonable expectation I think.
I know it is the beginning of October, but if you draft up a plan, you are much more likely to finish than if you just burst forward with no direction. So there you go. Get planning, and if you do choose to participate, let me know, because then we can encourage each other.
If you want to sign up for the challenge, check out this site (down for construction when this was posted, but will be up again soon, hopefully). There is no cost (unless you consider the blood, sweat and tears you'll be putting into your writing), and there are NaNoWriMo Events all over, where you can get together with other budding authors.
If the satisfaction of being able to say (casually), "Oh yeah, I've written a novel," is not enough to convince you, well keep in mind this will change your focus for a month, and keep you from being frustrated at the wait.
I've reread this and can't help but feel like I'm trying to sell you on this. I am, but not because I work for NaNoWriMo or anything; I just want company in this adventure. Looking forward to hopefully hearing from some of you!