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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leaving on several jet planes

Good morning!  Yesterday morning was spent completing the last items on the trip one to do list.  The notary made a special trip in to the office (everyone is shutting down for Christmas here and, like everything in Russia, you can get things done if you know the right people. Fortunately for me, my facilitator and her mother have many excellent connections with the current operator (Director) and with the notary so it was no problem to get this done.)  Next, it was on to the 8 doctor medical. First stop - 2 doctors.  In and out in under 5 minutes... an advantage of going to get this stuff done on a day that everyone here is shopping for gifts or wrapping things up for the year - not going to the doctor.  Elyas mom (our driver) laughed out loud when we came out so quickly from the first stop.  Next, another clinic where I had to see the other 6 doctors.  Everything was smooth... one or two questions... take your shirt off... close your eyes, touch your nose with your finger, breast exam (worst part... yuk), and I did have to get blood drawn because a new rule came into effect that the syphilis test is only good for 30 days.  For those of you who are headed to / back to Khab, don't worry.  It was even more diligent than at home in terms of sanitation. She used about half a bottle of rubbing alcohol and I watched her take the new needle from the sterile package.  It didn't even hurt.  That was it for the check list.  I then checked into my hotel and exhaled... for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks I didn't need to do anything, rush anywhere or complete anything.  I felt a little out of sorts and am having a hard time shutting the motor off inside.  My heart still races pretty much all the time... just running on adrenaline.  We went to do a little shopping (bought a matroyoshka set and a few things) and then to dinner.  After dinner we took some pictures of the Gold church which is beautiful and brand new... I guess it's the third largest in Russia (trivia for you).  From there we went to the square and took some pictures / video of the Christmas tree and ice sculptures.  It was very beautiful but VERY cold.  Some men stopped me to ask me some question which I thought was "Are you Russian" to which I responded "no"... turns out they wanted to take a picture with us... and I said no... lol... anyway, I'm sure they are over it. 
Yesterday was ok in terms of missing my little boy.  I get that this is part of the way things happen... it has to be done.  It also helps that I know he hasn't grown 2 inches from yesterday and hasn't started doing long division so he is just as I remember him which won't always be the case.  It will be harder as the days pass imagining how much he has grown or what new things he is doing.  Today, the hard part is just wondering if he is confused and sad that I didn't come back.  I hate that things just keep happening to these little guys - things they don't ask for.  They didn't ask to have parents who couldn't / wouldn't take care of them, they didn't ask to be taken away, he didn't ask for me to come and make him laugh and bring him fun toys and teach him new things, he didn't ask for me to kiss him and love him and pray he would reciprocate... I just showed up... and then I left. That is the only thing that makes my eyes water right now.  Two weeks, a month, two months... four months... other things will sting, but that's what does it for me today. 
I have a job now.  My job is to do everything in my power to get the paperwork done so that I can come back as quickly as possible to bring him home forever.  There are new paperwork requirements by the Canadian government that will take more time.  So that means that I need to be fast and efficient in getting things done now.  I have a feeling it will be a challenging interaction with my homestudy agency in terms of having them do things differently than they might be used to but EXACTLY the way the need to be for Russia.  It is a good thing that I feel like I have an ally in the provincial government director of adoption who will advocate for me and has the authority to tell them to just do it. 
Anyway, those are bridges to be crossed when I get home - see what I mean about not being able to shut off??? Question for Heather and Michelle - did you have to sign papers indicating his new name or anything?  I have not been asked to do that and am a little concerned.  Anyway, Heather, we can talk about all of this on Friday - I am there for work Thurs/Fri and asked for a late flight home so will have time for dinner and debrief of our trips :)

See you guys soon and thanks for being my long distance cheerleaders while I've been gone.  I'll leave you with one last thing: one of the big things I worried about going alone was that there would be no one to take pictures / video... well I didn't need to worry. Elya loves taking pictures and I have probably 300 pictures and 100 videos of my visit.  There should be enough to get me through... hopefully :)

Paka~!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Paka is a hard word to say

Today was everything... terrifying, white knuckling, mario andretti driving, blowing snow, joyful, sweet, beautiful, enduring, hopeful, enlightening, educational, sickening, disdainful, heartwarming, heartbreaking, sad, thrilling, loving, sad, humbling, empathetic, hard....

I watched again as my little boy became more at ease and comfortable with me.  He started being more of the boy I watched with his groupa when he didn't know I was there.  His laughter is etched on my heart, his million kisses linger on my lips, his smile reamains in my soul and the promise that I will return will echo in the words of a letter the wonderful babushkas promised to read to him in between.  He likes me... seems strange to say but it's the best thing that we PAP's can hope for in a first visit.  He talks more when we are alone - the problem with that is that there is no one there to tell me what he is saying.  The whispers return when others are in the room.  He learned 2 english phrases while we were together - one is functional... "turn it around" in response to either a car or a puzzle piece.  The other I could only dream of but it came true... "give me a kiss"... I have it on video... he did it a million times today.  I also got unsolicited kisses which absolutely melted me.  Saying goodbye - you know it's going to be hard.  We go into adoption knowing the "drill" and that there is a period of time that we will be apart... it's so hard none the less.  Grisha and I were alone in the visiting room and I told him everything I wanted to say - he just looked at me with his huge blue eyes and hugged tight to my shoulder.  One of his caregivers came in and spoke to me in Russian - I understood only "don't cry" "it will be OK" "we love him"... I took him to the front and we stood at the playroom door giving final instructions on disposable cameras and the photo album with my bedtime letter.  They told me that they could tell he already love me - he woke up from his nap today and cried saying "good-yeh mama, mama, mama..." over and over - they told him I would be right back.  Elya told him today as he clung to me that I needed to go home for awhile to get more toys for him... he astutely pointed down to the bottom of the Christmas tree by the door and the 2 boxes that were there and said, "toys there... she doesn't have to go". 
I hate to leave... and can't wait to get back.  I might not have good interenet for the next while so this might be the last for a few days.  I head back on the train tonight to Khabarovsk to have my medical and see the notary tomorrow.  At noon the following day (I think it's the 31st???) I fly out through Moscow to Amsterdam (overnight) and then home on the first. 
Sleeping in my bed will feel amazing... but I'd sleep on this rock hard bed for ever if I had to...
Better get a move on - trains in Russia don't wait. 
SJT

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 2 Visit 2

I have tried to be pragmatic and sensible and careful in this "process" but this afternoon... I threw my heart right over the fence.  I know every adoptive parent who goes through this likely feels exactly the same (and we all should) and from the outside looking in I think that others likely temper our enthusiasm knowing it has been such a long time coming and likely a bit overstated... and maybe this is... but...
This afternoon we walked up to the baby home and Grisha was in the window looking out with another boy.  He broke out in a big smile and ran to the door.  He took my hand once we were inside (we didn't even have our boots off) and walked me down the hall to the visiting room.  I picked him up at some point and carried him and he just melted into me.  His caregiver came and she said, "that is all he needs and wants... he just wants to be loved and held".  I can do that :)  We just started playing... going through the puzzles and the stacking games.  I pulled the bubbles out today and at first, he wasn't all that interested in them - wanted to go back to the books.  Later, Elya got the bubbles out again and he decided that he wanted to learn how to make bubbles.  It was absolutely amazing to watch the excitement on his face when he blew and saw his first bubble... then he didn't stop.  This really got him wired up and he started chattering a bit more (albeit still very quietly) - I have some amazing video and photos of this that I can't wait to share.  He has not been interested in eating anything that I brought until today.  He WOLFED down a nutrigrain bar and a bag of goldfish... he opened his mouth up so wide he looked like a little baby bird lol.  I got more kisses today and at the end of our visit I got to watch him back in his groupa.  There were two tables with children about his age around them during "quiet time".  They were each given a book to "read".  Grisha decided he wanted a different one and went to the other table and said to a little girl, "give me yours please" - they exchanged books.  He talks so much more when he is with the group - he was very vocal and funny.  We dropped some ballons off that we had been playing with in the room and he ran like a mad man to claim them (or at least one of them) as his.  He yelled out, "my balloon" just to make sure there were no mistakes.  One of the care givers that I hadn't seen before came while we were cleaning up and asked Elya what I thought of Grisha... I told her that I think he is perfect and would very much like for him to be my son.  She smiled a big smile and told me that he will miss me when I go and was so sad to hear that it will likely be for months.  I then asked Elya - what does she think of Grisha?  She told me that compared to others his age his is very bright and interested in EVERYTHING.  He asks more questions and figures stuff out more than the others.  He is very vocal and the care givers love him very much.  He doesn't have any special friends but plays well with everyone.  He is a nice boy.  I could have stayed and watched him all night from the doorway... The children were so cute and I told Elya that the one little girl would fit perfectly in my suitcase just for you Carala :) 
That's enough for now.  Elya and I will be celebrating her birthday over dinner and I hope to be in bed early because I am so exhausted... in a most excellent way.
Spa-coin-a   nochey
Stacey

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 2 visit one

I am so very fortunate to have free wifi and be back at the hotel between visits.  Today was another great visit with Gregory (Grisha).  He was shy again when we first got there and we had a bit more of a quiet day with some coloring, stickers, puzzles, and cuddling.  He love love loves puzzles - for those of you waiting to travel I found the most AMAZING puzzle set at winners (surprise surprise lol).  They are a "Mellisa and Doug" brand toy - they make many wooden type / organic sets.  This is a set of 4 puzzles that slide into a housing unit made of wood and each puzzle is wooden with 4 pieces.  Hard to explain but I'll show pictures of it - it is Perfect for a traveling puzzle set.  He did wonderfully at them and had to slow down long enough to actually LOOK at the piece and then was fine... but he was just so excited that he would try and try but you could tell he was just hurrying too much... Elya would tell him to look at the piece and find the one that matches and he would listen and do it.  He only will talk in a whisper to me... lots of "dye" which is "give" when he wants something.  He will often say things that I hear but Elya isn't listening so she doesn't know what he says.  She left the room for a few minutes today and we were alone together... he started chattering away and I had no idea what he was saying.  We colored today and he followed instructions and would draw a single line next to mine and then scribble happily away.  He also LOVES stickers.  We played games where he would put them on my face and arm and he'd laugh. We got video of him giving me my first kiss today as well as laughing when I gave him "zurburs" on his tummy.  Great news... I didn't get pee'd on today lol.  I did find out that I am the very first foreigner to come to this baby home to adopt a child.  That is so very sad to me given that it is an old building that must have seen hundreds if not thousands of children who likely never came to know a family of their own.  I am so very very lucky to have this opportunity.  I took pictures of the baby home from the outside as well as down a street or two as an example of what this town looks like... right out of the 50's - clap board houses and all.  Anyway, better run along here we leave in 30 minutes for the second visit.  It is Elya's birthday today so I am going to take her out for dinner and get some cards to take to the care givers at the baby home so they can write a letter to Gregory so that he will know that he was loved and taken really good care of by the babushkas. 
Another great day :)  oh yeah - one more P.S. for parents waiting to travel??? I HIGHLY recommend getting a "net book" (I got one from Costco just before I left) for the trip.  Its small size makes it great to travel with and mine came loaded with skype which has been wonderful for calling home (I have excellent wireless access - wouldn't be any good without it!) for pennies a minute. 
Paka!

I'm here... he's amazing

I made it... and it is so worthwhile.  I'm hungry, exhausted and so very very happy.  I don't have the energy right now to re-type the whole day but the parts that matter are these: He was extremely shy to the point of tears when I arrived on his scene (which is the saddest, most desolate, run down, destitute place I have ever seen - I will try and take photos tomorrow after the first visit) - let me clarify that - the town of Seliheno is... the baby home however is clean, comfortable, doesn't even smell weird and full of love.  He took about 10 - 15 minutes to come out from his babushka's skirt after me brandishing out endless noisy, flashy, crinkley toys from my bag of tricks and treats.  He would feign interest and return to her skirt and cling for dear life.  The winning ticket was the orange, soft, stuffed lion that I brought for him.  He smiled the smallest, sweetest smile and started to thaw.  Soon, he was blowing balloons with me, lookng out the window for sabakas, racing cars around the floor, peeing on me (yup, I'm christened!), and smiling the sweetest smile I've ever seen.  He's smart (stacked blocks and shape sorters like he was blindfolded) followed instructions, answered simple questions, learned what the strange lady who obviously doesn't know how to speak properly means when she says "turn it around" with the associated hand gestures (in reference to the toy car that only goes when you zoom it forward not backwards), loves to be hugged, cuddled and read to, is inquisitive and neat (put everything back into my bag at the end of our visit, and melted my heart when he took my hand to show me where he sleeps so that he could put his lion and new blanket into his crib.  Things couldn't have gone better today (OK could have done without the KGB road side check point - my heart almost came right out of my chest - another story for another day, getting pee'd on but I guess that means my boy was that close I'll take that too... ).  I will see him 2x tomorrow and then again 2x before leaving on Tuesday (or whatever day it is... I have no idea really???).  No worries about the airport security thing on the way home... A) I don't care... the hard part will be over and they serve free drinks on KLM  and B) I don't fly through the USA so hopefully it won't affect me at all and C) it will be nothing short of a miracle to begin with if I make my connection in Moscow on the way home.  (did I tell you how much I LOVE that city already??? Can't wait to spend another night there grrrrrrr.  I'll be going through Seoul on the next trip and sending a courier to Moscow). 

Good night from Komsomolsk from a very happy Canadian girl. 
P.S. did I tell you he called me Mama on the way to his crib... "Mama... Pashlee" (Mama... follow me)...
Smiling... a really content happy smile :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Made it to Komsomolsk

Hi Everyone!  I have covered the planes and trains portion of this journey to Gregory (or as I learned today "Grisha" (and roll the r lol) I arrived in Khabarovsk with no trouble - the shuttle went directly to the terminal "D" and I followed a lady from the hotel who was also going to Khabarovsk.  I was only allowed one 50lb bag... so my "purse" and my carryone accounted for another 50lbs which was heavy to haul around.  I was greeted at the airport through the glass window by Elya who recognized me immediately.  We checked in for a few hours at the hotel so that I could shower and put a bunch of stuff from one carry on into my suitcase (which now weighs a full tonne).  Elya and her boyfriend Kiril took me for pizza and then after collecting my things we went to the train.  Oh yeah - don't worry, my bank card and visa work just fine here so I don't know what the issue was in Moscow.  We boarded the night train... and I felt like I was in a Charles Dickens Christmas story... literally standing in the snow, between two tracks waiting for the doors to open so that we could climb up the ladder onto the passenger car (which was cause for some entertainment with my monsterous and heavy bag).  We got on and settled into our cabin - we had top bunks but no one joined us on the lower ones.  Elya and I chatted for awhile about the region, the changing of the administration, the children and of course Gregory.  I found out his birthday is May 23rd.  Sleep didn't come as easy as I would have liked but I did konk out eventually none the less.  Thismorning, we arrived in Komsomolsk and checked into our hotel.  After breakfast, I packed my things up so we could go and meet the social worker.  We were not clear on when we would be able to go to the baby home - turns out we can go at 3:00 to be there for 2 hours.  I got some additional information on Gregory - all "nice to know" sort of stuff but nothing earth shattering.  So, for now, I am waiting in my hotel room for lunch at 2:00 downstairs with Elya and then we will go to Seliheno to meet the little guy.  I was right, the baby home is tiny - only 20 children so that is a good thing.  Can't wait to post an update but given the speed of this internet I may not be able to email photos until I am home :(
Paka!
Stacey

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Moscow

Hi everyone,

Well, there was a bit of a snafu in my travel plans.  My flight from Amsterdam to Moscow was delayed by over 2 hours which made my connection time in Moscow improbable to make... I met a really nice mother and daughter on the flight and they helped me with some logistics and some emergency notes written out in Cyrillic.  Note 3 "I'm going to miss my flight, would it be OK if I went ahead of you?" got me to the front of the cue at passport control which was about a million people so I thought my luck was going to change... NYET!  Which is exactly what the officious Russian lady said while pointing to my passport visa.  She grunted something about Moscow... da... Khabarovsk... NYET!  She looked up long enough to point to the back of the line and yell GO!!!  I was stunned... I said where?  GO!!! she didn't care where just go... I asked for my passport... she yelled for the last time GO!!!  NYET!!!  I sulked back with my 50 lbs of baggage towards the back of the room where there was a phone.  I thought now might be a good time to call the cosulate.  My card didn't work in the phone.  I saw 3 people standing by some benches on the back wall receiving their passports back from an official so I went there.  Which is where I stayed, and waited.  Eventually, this smug, American businessman who told me in Amsterdam that I wouldn't make my flight came in.  He snickered and said, didn't make it huh?  I didn't really answer... He rambled some story about having done this for 18 years... loitered for awhile and then smugly added as he left... "Merry Christmas" and with that, I started to cry.  Up to that point I was trying to be stoic... just be patient.  I'll figure it out... now... at 11:02pm I was crying.  Ironically, this got the attention of the people in blue who started milling about to figure out what to do with the bawling lady traveler with Canadian flag tags on everything.  They were pointing at their watches and doing their best but I couldn't understand.  Finally, a man in a grey suit came down the stairs and spoke to me in English.  He (I found out later although he never did tell me his name) works for the Russian Consulate.  He took care of me from there.  Turns out that my travel visa was imprinted with the 25th as an entry date and exit on the 31st but my invitation has an open date on it so they didn't match.  They didn't want to let me in until 12am or the 25th.  This got resolved but it was pretty much midnight by the time I passed through an empty customs area... no one asked me a single question - I just walked through.  The man in the grey suit met me outside the doors and |I told him no one was there, he said "that's ok... that's good... unless you have bombs or drugs in your bag....... you don't do you?  I managed a snicker and said, "No... not even citrus fruit" which I don't think he understood.  He called Aeroflot and rebooked my flight for later today (9:40pm so I lose a day) got them to cover my hotel and meals for today and ensured that I knew where I was going to for the flight tomorrow.  He also highly encouraged me to head into Moscow to Red Square and St. Basils just to experience it... I think for now, I'll continue to experience some safety and comfort at the hotel.  This man also kindly called my facilitator for me and explained the situation and told her when I would arrive.  Elya and I spoke briefly and she told me not to worry - she would make arrangements.  I can see the terminal I need to be at later outside of my room window (I will take a picture).  While waiting at the Aeroflot "irregular traveler" terminal I also met another young woman who spoke excellent English and she escorted me to my hotel as she checked in as well.  She is from St. Petes and is living in the USA married to a man in the military.  She was coming home for a vacation and they lost her luggage.  She emailed her parents from my computer last night, I emailed my SW and mom and had a much needed shower and turned in.  So, with that, I am here, in the first floor restaurant of the hotel eating my complimentary lunch (Missed breakfast and slept from 3am until about noon - thank God for sleeping pills and gravol!!!).  The chicken noodle soup and red warm tea/beet juice will be as close to turkey and cranberries as I get but I am safe and I am one flight and a train ride away from meeting my boy.  I woke up this morning and looked at his pictures and reminded myself that he is the reason and it will all be a crazy story and so worthwhile in the end. 

So, merry Christmas - have an extra serving of turkey with stuffing for me and an extra bite of dessert.  I didn't see Santa over the North pole so I guess you were all on your own merit this year in terms of what he brought - no last minute requests were delivered.  For now, that's it.  Tomorrow is another day... that hopefully will involve a train ride to Komsomolsk.

Merry Christmas from Moscow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GOOD TO GO!!!!


So the FedEx "Guy" wasn't a guy... and I didn't kiss, hug or otherwise infringe on her personal space but Idid let her know how relieved I am that it is here.  Well, it's last minute things, I may not get to say good-bye but know I'll have plenty of time to think of you all on my Christmas installment of "planes, trains and automobiles!"  This is really happening isn't it?  Will post when I can, skype when I can (if I can) and otherwise, you will be waiting for good news and it will come I promise!

Merry Christmas to everyone and thanks for your love and support!

Stacey

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And the Race is on... Go FEDEX GO!!!


I am surprised that I can put together a coherent phrase right now so forgive me that this is short.  After several bobbles by DHL (do you wonder why they aren't a household name?) and some devine intervention and calling in every favor of everyone with any influence I could think of... this looks like it will happen!!!  A wonderful offer of a favor by Cam, Jo, and Cori to have a Russian Law student from the firm intervene on my behalf to ask for updates and deliver (allong with some sweet talking in Russian I imagine) a return FedEx pkg so that it will be here by 9am.  I might just kiss the driver... At last account, the contact person at the consulate told the student to bring by the pkg that he was working on my visa and that it should go out this afternoon.  (insert HUGE sigh of relief).  I will keep you posted.  For now, I have a lot of loose ends to tie up and about 10lbs of luggage to edit because I'm overweight... my luggage... not me... stop laughing.  And don't stop the good thoughts and prayers... it's not here yet...

I can tell you this: a good stiff drink, followed by some gravol on the plane will be the most peaceful I've felt in a week!  All that and a middle seat for an eternity.  But it will be worth it :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day lost to Courier error


It will all still be OK... It will all still be OK... If I say it over again it both gives me something to do and something to believe in.  I tracked my package all day today... Sparing the details, it ended up on the wrong courier truck and the consulate is only open until 12:30 on Fridays (and maybe every day).  There was no time to attempt delivery later after the error was found.  So my application got a scenic tour of Nepean, Ontario and will stay in a cold dark DHL warehouse until Monday morning.  I cried on the phone with the customer service agent and then spoke coherently to his manager explaining the urgency of this package and the magnitude of their error... while she offered her apologies and sympathies for the situation, there is nothing that can be done until it is delivered first thing Monday morning.  They will send an email noting their error and the resulting delay for me to pass on to the embassy via email but things are completely out of my hands.  I don't believe it takes long to process it... it just depends on where it lands in the pile of applications.  There is still a chance it could be done Monday and in the courier for delivery Tuesday... or if it sits in a pile for a day it could still be delivered on Wednesday in time for my flight later in the day.  There is still a chance... it could still happen... but there is also a chance it might not.  I am numb and strangely trying to be at peace with whatever is meant to be.  I know the courier manager... he feels personally responsible for this error... he hand delivered it for me to the depot... and then things went wrong.  If there is a way that they can fix it... I am sure he will find it.  For now, I continue to pray... and feel numb.  I am so nervous... and anxious... I don't know how I'll make it to Monday.  Here's to good news from the consulate and answered prayers.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wing and a prayer


What an amazing whirlwind the last day has been.  I have just finally sort of stopped to try and let it sink in.  So many things to do, so many things already done(ish).  Thanks to everyone for their support and cheers.  Everything is in order except for the nail biter of a wait that it will be for my travel visa.  So, between now and then I'll pack, find a video camera, clear my photos off of my memory card on my camera, write email addresses down and do a lot of praying that the blessed piece of paper arrived on time and before I go insane.  Once that ticket of gold arrives (or at least I know it will get here by the magic of on line tracking), I will be puting my blog to private to keep me out of hot water.  If you have emailed me, I probably told you what the password will be... if not, email me. 

I spent some time just getting used to the idea of it all... and it really hasn't sunk in yet... too many things on the to do list... but it will.  I feel a good cry coming on - but I'll need time for that.  It's been a lot of years since I've counted down sleeps... but it's six more... It really is Christmas isn't it???

Nothing happens then EVERYTHING happens


So it happened... Monday... I "made the call" (as I weirdly said in last post) but it turned out that I had to call the provincial director for some information regarding what their holiday hours are and how they would handle a referral over Christmas and she chuckled and said, "well, hopefully that won't matter since I'm looking at your referral on my desk!".  I was dumbfounded.  Fast forward two whole days, 3 IA doc opinions, 1 zillion phone calls, 28 heart attacks (or it just feels like my heart is going to pound out of my chest), hours looking up far away (no... not Russia far away but way out in the boonies in Russia far away) places, 2 flights investigated, 1 flight booked, Visa application couriered on a wing and a prayer (needs to be back for my flight Wednesday night YIKES!), and half a heart beat being hopeful (who has time for that when there is so much to process???).  Only this morning I was happily making my way to Lethbridge on my last Christmas run when my SW called to say that the photos had arrived and asked if I had seen them... not yet - thank goodness for wireless at Starbucks.  I would see them in about half an hour.  She paused... and asked... "I have a question for you... do you think you could travel before the end of the year?"... I blurted out that I COULD go but that logistics probably wouldn't allow for it (and the fact that it would be a small mortgage to get there over our Christmas and at short notice) but I'd call.  Miracles, angels, fate and good old good luck kicked in and I'm on the milk run through Amsterdam, Moscow and then on to Khab but arrive on Christmas day.  Details will be hammered out but I will make my way to Komsomolsk from there.
 
When I find a moment between panic and disarray, I remember the beautiful face of a little 2 1/2 year old blond haired, blue eyed boy who looks healthy and is developmentally on track :)  The caretakers did a good job of having him do different things like sit on a fire engine type wheeled truck with a dolly, stand on a slide, and just generally look adorable.  The referral started out with one fuzzy photo and not much info... now, a little more info and 5 photos in total... he is very sweet. 

I have to get some sleep... I have so much to do and not much time.  Packing list advice, questions to ask, fire away... I may not have time or access much once I'm gone but know I will do my best to keep you posted.  Lots of prayers that my documents make it on time and that the trip goes smoothly.  I am looking so forward to 2010 and a new day for both of us.

I'm scared... really scared... but anything in life worth doing takes your breath away.  Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year...
I certainly plan on it!
xoxo

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some people get "the call" others make it...


Cryptic... yes.  Protective... absolutely.  News to follow... prayers needed now. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight...


I find myself here often.  Thanks for always being here when I need you most.  This is where it all started, and where I find you still. 

XOXO
Kid

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Home - out of the frying pan into the deepfreeze


I packed up my sunscreen yesterday afternoon and tucked it securely into a zip lock baggie in my luggage and headed for home. 28 degrees celcius there... minus 9 with a wind chill making it feel like minus 9000 here at home. I was welcomed by a 4 foot high snow drift on my driveway... and I laughed. Thankfully the awful weather made it the best option for my brother in law to stay over which allowed for assistance in the shoveling department :) Today was spent avoiding unpacking and catching up with life that went on for the last week. Nothing new on the adoption front. It's been a month since declining and no contact again since then from my agency. There was a referral from Khab last week, but sadly, the child had to be declined for health reasons. I feel for the family as they now wait with me for referral number 2. Well, since it takes 3 weeks from accepting to travel, 2009 will close without me meeting my son. In the mean time, I have skiing plans for NewYears, will be at my sisters for Christmas eve and then back in town for Christmas day with my inlaws and have a few more vacation days to burn between now and then so the year is winding down.

For now, I'll get back to the business at hand which is finishing the vacation book, shoveling snow and going tomorrow to pick up Lyric (my dog). Oh yeah, and since it's so cold out, it makes a good excuse to dip into my duty free purchase of baileys caramel... and hot chocolate... or milk... or coffee... or maybe just on ice. I've got one more day of "vacation" I'll see how many I can sample before Monday morning :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm packing my sunscreen


It's high time I used up some of the vacation I banked for travel in 2009 and headed to somewhere warm. Booked it. I leave Friday at 7am for Los Cabos. Sun, sand, surfing, slurring (OK maybe just a little), sleeping.... that oughta cover it. Checking out for a week of R n' R. Promise to return in a better mood :)
Ironically, the song "everybody's free to wear sunscreen" came up on my iPod today and it's a good one for me to keep in mind as I recharge and change my focus. It's on the play list here so if you haven't heard it before... un-mute the music - it's really worth listening to.

Adios, Ola, hasta luego or whatever they say in Mexico besides "Dos Cervezas Por Favor"
Stacey

Friday, November 20, 2009

----------When Helmets aren't enough---------



I am this girl - I have my helmet and training wheels but should have also taken a HUGE dose of gravol and at the very least worn some protective gear for my elbows, knees and most of all heart. I have made some decisions recently in terms of contact with my agency (who I am pretty sure has been on here at least a couple times) so they won't likely be disappointed to hear this. I have come to terms with the fact that calling them serves no purpose other than to rile me up and ultimately make them defensive and mad. I have run out of sunshine and skittles in my endurance in this journey and all that is left is determination, grit and fumes... which come out in frustration. We don't see eye to eye on things - they indicate they are doing everything they can... I see a program director running 2 programs on a part time schedule. I don't understand why it took so long to offer options to families registered in regions that they knew were not going to have children available but those changes take time from a program development and relationship stand point and peraps there needed to be more staff to make that happen. I am frustrated at the time this is taking and the lack of proactive communication and the difficulty gettting live contact with my social worker at the times she is scheduled to be in the office. They see a challenging and changing environment in Russia causing the delays. I see other Canadian agencies bringing home healthy infants and children in under a year operating within that same environment. I see clear communications regarding what I can handle as a parent and I also see that perhaps my agency doesn't quite understand what healthy means to me. They see an increasingly impatient, difficult, demanding, curt, frustrated PAP, I see 14 months of waiting (22 in total) for a boy older than most people are hoping for go by and wonder what else anyone would expect? Pregnant women are "allowed" to get cranky as they get bigger and more uncomfortable... and so I am exercising that same feeling. This is getting bigger and more uncomfortable, I'm getting more irritable, moody, and can burst into tears at any given moment... so yeah... I'm over due. I'm good and ready to get this over with. I dont' want to talk about it or ask more questions... I just want to hear the doctor say - it's a boy. Welcome home.

Oh yeah, the conversation closed with some potentially hopeful information regarding the urgency to get registerd families matched with children but there is no warm fuzzy "soon" at this point in the game for me. I have started exploring domestic foster adoption options - the knot at the end of this rope might not hold me for much longer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Settling back in


So it's the weekend... thankfully. I have laundry to do, a house to tidy, and breath to catch. PJ's and coffee (with caramel Baileys) is the order of the day. What can I say about this week? How am I doing? Well, in a word - exhausted. In another word - OK. I don't know if I've gotten better over time at dealing with hard life "stuff" or maybe I've somehow learned to be objective and protective of my heart in so many ways. I hurt hard, deep and fast... and then I cope. I figure out the rational details of "things" and then do my best to move forward. Life is interesting... nobody said it wasn't going to be hard... but it's my job to find the beauty in it... so I sit in my PJ's thankful for flannel and for my amazing dog who sat close and licked lots of tears away. But more than being thankful for flannel and my dog, I'm thankful for everyone who emailed and reached out with words of comfort, advice, support and just to commiserate. I didn't take a lot of calls - because I had to figure out what I felt and what I wanted to say... all without the courtesy of a backspace button or time out for random fits of tears. So please don't think it's personal if I didn't pick up the phone. To the ones who decided just to show up on my doorstep to give me a hug... I'm so thankful for you too... silent tears and a hug go together like PB&J. Sometimes there are no words that need to be spoken - a hug says it all. So what now? What is on the horizon? Not sure. I spoke to my SW and maybe in the end I will be able to give some honest feedback on how to make this process better but for now, I take the high silent road. In terms of "how long" - I'm back to the silence and basically the you'll know when you get a call. I'd like to say that I don't think it will be long... but I have no reason to say that other than hope and I'll continue to do that - Hope... it's what I have to hang onto.

In great region news, one family is returning from Khab after meeting their 12 month old girl and my friend and her husband left this morning to meet their 18 month old son. Things are moving there... I have that confidence. So, if I hear nothing from my agency in the next week, I'll hear from my friend after her journey and maybe have new things to think about if nothing else. And that is that - back to the wait in silence.

Again, thanks for the emails, thoughts, prayers and friendship - you guys make this roller coaster ride bearable. Still hangin' on tight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am learning to maybe keep my hopes under wraps until I know for sure but after consult last night with one of the most respected International Adoption physicians my fears were confirmed. Dr. Bledsoe’s opening comment (loaded with the most kind and caring delivery based on heartfelt understanding of the weight and situation) was that, “I am so very very worried about this little boy”. She reviewed mostly his growth charts and told me that they become worried when a child is more than 3 standard deviations from the norm. My babies very best measurements were 3.5 SD from norm and his worst were 4+. She also reviewed the markers for FAS features and while he is adorable he displays features that she considered stereotypical (especially his eyebrows). Her very strong recommendation was to not proceed with going to meet baby R and to wait for a more healthy referral. She told me that there is a 50% + chance that he will not have the capacity to live independently and be severely academically and life challenged. At 19 months he is the size of an average 9 month old child and stopping just short of begging me not to move forward with this referral she offered to do a pre consult for my next referral.

So… I've sat here and had a big old fashioned cry… a cry for a beautiful little boy who I very much wanted to bring home and love back to health and a little boy who will always stay in my heart. In just over 24 hours, I fell in love with his sweet face and somehow was even looking forward to changing diapers… I’ve learned to be patient and rational… even in affairs of the heart. I have the support of my agency in making the right decision for me and they told me that it will not be looked upon negatively by them or the Ministry of Education in Russia as they move forward to find me a healthy little boy. I’ll be fine… my heart breaks for this little boy that I’ll forever wonder if I did the right thing and pray that he will find a family to love him and help him with all of the things his broken little life will need.

I wanted to let you all know now before I had to say it out loud if you called… I sent the email to my SW and she compassionately understood the challenges associated with raising a special needs child as a single mom by choice and told me to take the time to grieve this loss and she'll call me on Thursday. Thanks so very much to everyone for your support, comments, emails and excitement - it's a hard balance. I prematurely shared my excitement and was given the gift of your friendship and celebration and now, although there are big parts of me that wish I could put a lid on my emotions until things are sure... I need you guys now more than before to lean on. So, I guess in the end, it was OK... I got to be deliriously happy if only for a short while. The crashing hurts though... beware of the landing.

I used to like roller coasters.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

:-( Love the IA doctor... not the message


Will update more when I get my head wrapped around everything... but the news isn't good.
What a roller coaster...
Stacey

Monday, November 9, 2009

REFERRAL!!!


Well I guess that's exactly what "soon" means!!! I got up early today and headed to a meeting at the hospital. On the way there I realized that my cel phone only had one bar of power left. I made a mental note that I NEEDED to go home to grab my charger. After I did I headed on my work day. I got out of a big clinic building where I had spent about an hour to see that I had missed 6 calls... and in that moment... about 20 heart beats. I checked my call history and saw a "780" number which is where I expected a call from the provincial government. It took forever to get through the messages and to the one I was waiting for... THE CALL!!! My sister came to be with me as we sat outside of Starbucks and read the email together, took a big deep breath and opened the pictures... WHEW!!!

Skip to the juicy part: Boy: 19 months old, 15.5 lbs, beautiful big dark eyes and brown hair, walking, cruising, babbling, says "mama" "a man" "give me", likes musical toys, plays shy when someone talks sweetly to him by hiding his face, eats and sleeps well, no major scary medical diagnosies (that I know of yet). They don't know how long he's been in the baby home nor what his exact birthday is but when I looked at the photo listing I found a picture of him as a TINY baby so I'm assuming he's been there from the start. I have put the call in to have him reviewed by an IA doctor and the only thing of concern for me right now is that he is such a little peanut. He was born 4 weeks early so I'll subtract a month off of "his real age" for that and if he's been in the baby home for 19 months and "they say" that there is an expected delay of 1 month for every 3 in the home that could account for another 6 really??? So... is he really that small for his "age"??? time will tell.

What does my gut say? He's just little. I am praying that he'll be fine... just needs lots of love and high fat foods!!! He is beautiful to me - he looks proportionate and strong... just little... and beautiful... and like he'd like to be my son.

What else can I say??? I'm exhausted but not to tired for a great big
WHOO HOO!!!!
Thanks to Darla and Carala for coming over to celebrate my joy and excitement! Thanks to everyone who's called and emailed and cried with me. I can't wait to meet him and be able to officially introduce him... This feels amazing :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wild Wild Roller Coaster Ride

Everybody get ready to board the roller coaster with me... Put your seat belts on, remove all loose objects from your pockets (except wallets and large unmarked bills - if they fall I'll have my people collect them on the ground :) and put your hands way up with your fingers crossed in the air.
What a change a week and a melt down can make. I'll skip the details in between where we clarified some details and get right to the juicy excerpt from an email from my SW this evening, " just received confirmation from our facilitator in Khabarovsk that we will continue to offer proposals, as she is confident we will be able to meet court requirements. Another Canadian agency works in Khab and is able to get through court, so I am confident we can do the same. So, we have decided not to withhold or delay any proposals from the region.
Good news for you...who I do expect may receive a proposal soon...stay tuned! Have a great night!"

Now I don't know what "soon" means exactly but my agency doesn't say "soon" unless they know something we don't and have reason to believe that there is a happy phone call in my foreseeable future. Wow... this could all become very very real very very soon. Wow. Fingers crossed for a happy, healthy cutie who wants nothing more than to come home to Canada with his mama (but he just doesn't know it yet). Will certainly be posting updates as they come - praying for everything to be wonderful!
YIKES!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bah Humbug


So, would you like the good news or the bad news first? Well - you don't REALLY get to vote so, let's start with the good news. There have been 2 referrals for families in Khab. Actually, let me re-phrase that - for one family REGISTERED in Khab and another who were registered in another region and brought in for a referral of an infant girl. On the surface, it shouldn't matter that the family was pulled in from another region (no one in Khab was waiting for an infant girl) but in the end, it does affect me - which leads to the bad news. I spoke to the program assistant today at my agency and she told me that, "we will not be doing any new referrals until court is granted for the families who already have accepted matches". Now given those of you who have contacted me with info on Khab, my understanding is that time from 1st to 2nd trip is pretty standardly 4 months... which means that even if they allow a match after getting only one court date, that will already be into 2010. I spent the afternoon mulling this over and working my way through the reality of Christmas with months potentially still to wait. It's been a teary afternoon 'round here. I'm all out of ideas on how to manage the wait. I'd love to take a big beach vacation with all inclusive umbrella drinks (and lots of them) but I don't have anyone to go with... Someone suggested that perhaps changing my age range to 24 - 48 years might help. I guess then I might have someone to go on vacation with.
Bah humbug.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Snow, Soccer, Silence and a birthday wish?


It's been a whril wind of activity around here lately. Soccer wrapped up in a snowy weekend competition at Nationals over Thanksgiving in Edmonton. My team seems to be a bit of a dynasty at this point having won 4 Provincial championships in a row and Nationals last year... but this year it was not to be. We went into the gold medal game heavily favored and by all acounts dominated regulation time but just couldn't finish. They were the sort of team that had lots of heart but little talent other than getting in the way and breaking up plays... which was sadly effective. We finished off at 0-0 and went into PK's where we lost... not only the snow and wind giving sometimes -15 temperatures left us feeling a little numb... that is life. I was then welcomed home to shoveling my driveway twice and installing winter tires which made me grumpy. I did however manage to spend some time with friends off the pitch and weaseled a turkey dinner and laundry which was so so nice! Back home on the range, indoor soccer fires up shortly and I have to balance that with my budding hockey career. This is season number three and I'm still having a blast!!! On the adoption front, we have heard nothing. I've been in touch with the other families waiting in Khab with my agency and they have been told that they are still expecting 2 referrals "shortly" and they don't know what the delay is (they thought they would come 2 weeks ago so they don't know if the children released from the DB did not meet our families requirements, had health issues or were simply not released yet). Anyway, I'm still hoping one of them is for me... time will tell. Since my birthday is at the end of the month, wouldn't that make a wonderful gift??? I think so. So cross your fingers that I'll have good news soon!

In a side note, I wanted to say that a blogger friend has had some very sad news in her quest to bring home her little girl. It is so hard to read the journal of her time in Pakistan with her "sweet pea" and knowing that at the 11th hour things fell apart and she came home without her tiny beautiful daughter. I can't imagine her pain and grief right now so... if you are the praying kind, I know there is a Mama out there who could use a little help and a big fat miracle.

P.S. the snow has now melted and I'm going for a hike in the mountains today because it is beautiful out :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You know it's been longer than usual when...


So I looked at my countdown timeline ticker thing and it said that I applied for adoption today... which is funny. I tried to edit it to reflect the fact that it's officially a year today that I've been waiting for a referral from Perm and it won't put that it's been a year and a day... it just says that I applied today. So I changed it - I like this one better anyway :) BUT - let's wipe the slate clean - start over in a new region without the weight and wait of the old. Out with the old and in with the new!!! It's day one and things are gonna happen - change is in the air! My agency thinks that there will be a couple referrals and I think it's preemptive to hope that one might be mine... but stranger things have happened :) I'll take him at Christmas... or a birthday gift (end of October) would be great too. Fortune cookie said Christmas and I'll believe in almost any sign these days lol...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Going to Khab (my dossier that is)


Today's tidbit of information came from talking with my SW. My dossier is hot off the press and en route to Khab - it should arrive any time!!! The facilitator has been aware of my file for a couple of months now and my SW indicated that this is a good thing as it allows them to begin 'working on finding my child'. She clarified that there are 4 families waiting in Khab for their kiddos. She said that the ministry makes the decision on which family receives the referral not the facilitator or the agency - the invitation comes assigned to the family with a pre specified child. The last referral came with a few pictures and a brief medical. They are confident that referrals will come quickly and in fact are expecting one by the end of the week (I have my fingers crossed for Heather!). She was reluctant to advise me on notifying my employer and hesitant to give any sort of time line given that they do not make decisions - the MOE does and they become aware of them when the document or call comes from the facilitator. Once a referral comes in, it is about 3 weeks to travel and they anticipate 3 months between trips (but that is a guess because they have not had a court date assigned yet). It is nice that of the 5 families in Khab (4 waiting and one between trips), I am in contact with 2 of them.
So, I'm feeling hopeful... I'm feeling excited... I dusted off his bedroom furniture in the garage... I'm starting to feel like the wheels of progress are in motion once again. Or maybe that's the cold medicine going to my head??? Either way, it feels good to be moving in a good direction where there has been some momentum and success!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A sign?


I had a work function last night where I had to cater dinner in for the attendees and the meal came with fortune cookies for dessert. I cracked mine open and there were two... I don't remember the one - probably because the one said,

"Take note of today's date. Three months from today will be a monumental day."
That date would be December 24th... any day that you meet someone you will love and nurture and protect will be a monumental day but for me, if I were to meet my son on Christmas Eve... I don't know if I could find the words. I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be this Christmas than Russia. I've never put much stock into fortune cookies but could I believe in this one???

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One more step to registered


I always like to have happy mail when I'm not expecting it... I got back from a work trip to San Francisco to find a note saying that my new dossier has been sent to Ottawa for legalization which is the last stop on the train before Russia. I guess this takes 2 - 3 weeks but with any luck I'll be official in Khabarovsk by the first week(ish) of October. On last report, my agency is hopeful if not confident that I'll get a referral and travel on trip one before Christmas. It's funny how a statement like that can make time disappear. Between getting registered, getting a referral, having the referral evaluated, accepting the referral, making travel arrangements and getting visas... that's a lot to do in such a short period of time... all before Christmas. Wow. I read a statement about adoption that said, "nothing happens, nothing happens then EVERYTHING happens" and I guess that sounds about right.

Other than that, it's been a nice time of celebration for friends of mine who received and accepted their referral after an exceedingly long wait in Ethiopia. They are not with the agency that went bankrupt. They were referred a beautiful, smiling, happy little man who is 7 months old. They will likely travel in December or January to bring little Mamush home. CONGRATS!!! We celebrated together in San Francisco and I checked off a number of things on my bucket list: Major League Baseball game (We don't have MLB here in Canada lol) including hot dog - check. Cable Car ride - check. Alcatraz - check, Pub crawl er I mean vineyard tour - check. We had fun, lots of laughs and managed some shopping in there too. Now it's back to reality and trying to implement a new software system in the field... today was a bit of a gong show!!! Next post will likely be I'M REGISTERED!!! AGAIN!!! LOL. As some smart fish once said, "Keep on swimming, Keep on swimming!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fall is looking up


September first for so many people out there is the return to school for their children and a return to a "normal" schedule. To me, it's always been the return of tall boots, Taber corn, fall soccer, tea in the cool evenings, amazing fall colors and the countdown to Halloween, my birthday and Christmas... Tonight I am looking forward more than ever to the changing of the leaves and the coming of Santa. It's not time for tall boots yet but I'm dreaming of Khabarovsk in the snow and hopefully meeting my little boy... all I want for Chistmas is YOU! All my documents are signed off on and notarized / apostled and headed for translation. I'm in the works. I know there is one family ahead of me in Khab waiting for a boy up to 2 1/2 and I really hope that things happen for us the way that our agency seems to think it will. Hanging in and hanging on - 11 months today since registration in Perm (which on the upside is 11 months closer than I've ever been to having a son).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Today was a beautiful day...

11 Years ago: Today was a beautiful day. We laughed, we sang, we celebrated. It was HOTTTT! The sunshine shon down on us as we were surrounded by friends and family and Love. Chuck (our dog who was part of it all) behaved - the goldfish however did not :) I can still remember the first time Scott sent me flowers and they were addressed to me as "Mrs".... my heart skipped a beat. I felt so grown up... I felt so happy... I felt like I had everything in the world I ever wanted in him, in our marriage, and in our dreams of the future. I celebrated that happiness for everything it was... for 8 months... and then the happiest moment of my life with Scott forever became our wedding day. The happiest day wouldn't get the chance to be rivaled by the birth of our children or surprises or accomplishments together... because there were no more happy days to be shared. Scott died beside me in our roll over accident... and my world changed.
There are few days in the year when the memories sting and the "grief monster" returns to make himself known... today is one of them. I've celebrated every one of our anniversaries alone and I don't think I'm getting any better at it :( Today is a quiet day of reflection on who we'd be... what our lives would be like and how much love we would still share. I know he'd want me to be happy and to be loved. I know he'd be proud of me for finding a way to bring this little boy home... I just wish he could be here to share it with. This adoption process has tried my patience and I think sometimes that maybe it's because I think that life "owes me" something good - something easy - something happy... to help even out the odds for what I've endured. then I remember a quote: "Being a good and kind and fair person in this life no more protects you from lifes evils than being a vegitarian protects you from a raging bull". Life owes us nothing but I owe life and myself so much.
So today, I look back and remember the love that we had... and today, I look forward to a love that is still to be. I hope you are up there consulting with God on the little boy who will become my son and how we might be just right for one another... but one small request??? Could you guys hurry???
Miss you Boo... today and always.
Love Kid.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Timely Quote...

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
Thomas A. Edison
Thanks for your emails and comments and thoughts... these rough patches in momentum occur when there seems to be nothing else to do... and I guess it's my job to find ways to keep busy. So, I'll try and be better at being busy hoping and dreaming and knowing that in whatever way he comes home, he's meant to be my son and hurrying through the process would have meant that it wouldn't be HIM that is sleeping in his new bed and playing with our dog... and it's HIM I'm waiting for. I need to be patient while his journey is made ready for us to be a family. I have spoken to my agency and it is fairly certain that I will be traveling to Khab rather than Perm. They are not offering Perm as an option for new families and to me, they talk only in terms of Khab for my dossier and travel. My SW has spoken to the facilitator there about my request and child requested so I am on the radar at least. I asked if I should anticipate travel in 2010 for a first trip and I was surprised when she seemed taken back by that and answered, "NO! we hope you will travel before Christmas for trip one"... So I'll be dreaming of a Khabarovsk Christmas :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

In a Funk... but not feeling funky


Well, we are almost 2/3 of the way through the 2009... In a month and a half I'll have been registered in Russia for one year. Oh the innocent optimist I was this time last year giddily waiting for my dossier to be registered in Perm dreaming of maybe traveling before Christmas '08 LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!! I look back over my time line - I started conversations with my home study agency January 2008 and waited for the IA course in March to get things rolling for my home study. All tallied, that's 18 months in process... 2 pregnancies worth of process and pains. I guess that's why I feel worn out and weathered. It's to the point that friends are afraid to ask how things are going or any news... probably because I've started bracing them for the likelihood that this process will undoubtedly push well into 2010. There has been NO indication to hope much less expect any sort of movement from Perm... eggs are being carefully transferred to my awaiting basket in Khabarovsk with a caveat that I won't actually be registered there for another 10 weeks or so (it will take them that long to process / translate / notarize etc the documents). It has taken a ridiculous amount of time to update / approve the addendum of nothingness and get an actual, accurate and mistake free list of documents from my agency. Good thing I learned to proof read... I've caught errors before they got to Russia and caused delays... yet I sit, waiting, behind where I was this time last year and certainly lower in hope and anticipation. His bedroom furniture arrived on my birthday (October) last year... my basement is full of toys, clothes, books, travel gifts, and little boy stuff. I've read books, learned some Russian, researched, learned, listened and asked... Now what? I'm discouraged and don't know quite how I'll make it through to the end. Optimistically, if I'm registered late October, they say "a few months" for referral putting me into 2010, travel Jan / Feb, 4 months between trips, maybe court in June... home next July??? Best case scenario I'll have been in process 31 months. Hmmm... I guess that likely could mean that my son wasn't even born when I started this process... Wow... this is gonna take some endurance. And it's hard... it's hard to watch people in the adoption world who I've become cyber friends with bring home baby after being registered for a few months, or weeks... it's hard to watch others agencies make things happen out of concern that their families have waited for 6 or 7 months for a referral... and I'm almost at 11 and know that it will likely be 15 or 16 months by the time I get a referral of an older toddler boy... and that's not to say that I will be able to accept... There was a time that I would amuse myself with checking my voice mail just in case I got "the call"... now, I can't remember the last time that even crossed my mind. It just seems so far away and remote... I don't even know what to ask anymore... "sometimes I sits and thinks... sometimes I just sits". Will this ever come to the happy ending I visualized so vividly a year ago??? How to I fill another almost year??? Will I ever be able to park in my garage again? What happens if I hate the things I bought for him by then? It used to be fun and exciting to imagine the what ifs... now I feel like the fun police sucked all the joy out of this journey. UGGGG!!! Calgon take me away... :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fun stuff tonight



Everyone needs a little bright spot from time to time and I'll take my moments gladly! Tonight I took Lyric for a nice walk, coffee and ball toss to a park we haven't been to in awhile. While it is very close, we just don't walk there that often. We turned the corner, coffee in hand, and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a new K-4 school for my little boy - I cheered!!! Wow. What a blessing this will be for us! It is literally a 10 - 15 minute walk or a 3 minute drive from my front door. It will be brand new and ready for him when he's old enough to go! So there - that's my bright moment. That and the photos that JoAnne sent me from baby Becketts baptism trip. I love love love them so I'll post a few here! All that and I jumped directly off the crazy spring board into the deep end with a far fetched stab at figuring out Lyrics allergies (I'm not ready to admit publicly what I did... until I know it worked - then I'll fess up!). Cross your fingers, say a prayer, send up some smoke signals... but I need her to be well (I can't afford her meds AND this adoption (kidding... sort of... no really... I'm kidding - but wow is it expensive and uncomfortable for her).
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer is a beautiful time to have to wait

Well, I guess it's been a month since I've posted and that makes me feel a little obligated to find something to say. Hmmmm - it's been a busy time socially for me - not so much in the adoption though. Adoption update first: it took almost 3 weeks for my HS agency to process and submit my update. No real reason why... and when I did go in to sign off on it, it was formatted all over the place - completely illegible. I contacted the director of adoptions at the government and it was reworked and sent off the following day BUT now I'm waiting for approval and for things to be sent to my agency to start getting things finished up for my new dossier for Region #2. If things go smoothly, I could be registered in Khab sometime in late September (after completing my updates and new dossier for the new region) In some good news, my agency did receive referrals for siblings and said that the facilitator has received 2 other referrals that she turned down before even passing them on to the agency due to health reasons. So, maybe things are moving in Perm??? Time will tell.
On the social side, I went out to Ottawa to visit Jo, Cam and new baby "B" for his baptism. I was so honored to be his GodMother - it really makes me feel like I must be doing OK in this life thing if someone would choose me out of all the important people in their life to stand up and say I'll be the best role model I can for their son :) Getting out East makes visiting with friends I don't get to see easier and spending a couple hilarious days with my friend Jay was a highlight too. From there, it was a couple of days in Banff for "work" meetings and then out to Shushwap Lake for my annual Canada Day vacation. My niece and I always have a great time sunning, boating and wakeboarding with Kari & Matt's family. Everyone did fantastic behind the boat and learned some new tricks that they couldn't do before... and this year I didn't have to wash Advil down with beer following any 'stunts' on the water! Now, I'm back home to Stampede mayhem. For those of you unfamiliar with Stampede, it's 10 days of pure debauchery... rodeo, fair, parties, pancake breakfasts, parades, parties, fireworks every night, parties, corn dogs, mini donuts... concerts... and then exhaustion. I'm generally pretty tame and have only been to two events... but I don't bounce back like I used to (and Lord knows I need to bounce!).
So... that's that - not much but I guess it's summer and it's a good time to have nothing really new to say?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Addendum of nothingness


Ground hog day... mulligan... snakes and ladders... Call it what you will or title it something fun to make the fact that it's been a year since my homestudy was completed and I really felt like things were getting going in the adoption department... yet today... there has been no movement at all. I am at exactly the same place as I was a year ago. I sat with my social worker today to update my home study. I don't think she found it amusing when I told her that the only things that have changed in the past year is that Chuck is gone, I've planted a tree on my lawn and planted 150 bulbs in my garden but that I didn't think the Russians would find that noteworthy. My agency is re-doing my dossier to submit to Khabarovsk and told me that it will take 8 -10 weeks before it will be ready for submission. I'm waiting on clarification on exactly why it takes that long... my home study is already translated so that shouldn't take up time... they notarize my documents in house in a day... and then send things to be legalized etc. at the Russian embassy. Whatever. The net net is that with waiting for my addendum of nothingness will be sent out by the end of next week to the provincial government and await rubber stamping that what made me a fit applicant last year still stands for this year (probably another week) and then my agency can start putting together my new dossier (which they are charging me 2K to do)... So, with any luck, I MIGHT be registered in Khab by the middle of September. BUT... the good news is that the facilitators say that referrals are coming most often in a few months from registration... uh huh... I'd like some clarification on that to know just where that data comes from AND the fact remains that, from the middle of September "a few months" means I won't be traveling until 2010 to meet my little guy... with the Christmas shut down it will likely be February... Khab is known for difficult paperwork process with the judge and that it takes 2 -3 months for a court date... SOOOOO with that math, it looks like best case scenerio I could be home with my son next June... Wow... so much for Merry Christmas or Happy Easter... nice... but I guess it's better to know. The million dollar question is: when do you tie a knot in the end of the rope and hang on and when do you let go and grab onto a new rope???
In other news, 2 single gals brought home their children this week. I've shared their journeys to their families and am thrilled for them both and their new son and daughter! Congrats Iradia and Silvana and their babes Valeria Sophia and Aleksander!!! Welcome home!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My "adoption clock" is ticking


I had to say goodbye to my first real live in the flesh friend who successfully adopted from Russia the other day. Their little boy lay sleeping like an angel while we chatted about life, love and the pursuit of adoption happiness. They got caught in the re-accreditation mess and waited an eternity to go to their son and bring him home. I can't imagine how hard that must have been holding his beautiful picture and waiting for 5 or 6 months to travel on the first trip... but, like taking off a bad pair of shoes that have been killing you for blocks while they cut into your feet and give you painful blisters... when they are off... it's over. Being barefoot never felt so good... just like holding your child and rocking him to sleep will make this hard time vanish in a snuggle. So here is is... pretty much June 1st... 8 months have quietly passed in my wait. It's now been well over a year since I started with the journey and it's been over 10 years since adoption has been on my mind. Like my friend Courtney and I laughed about the other day... my adoption clock is ticking. My girlfriends and I joke about 'biological clocks' but for those of you who've never contemplated an adoption clock... it ticks EVERY bit as loud lol. So, in an effort to be a bit lighter than the grumpy, irritated, crusty, boob I've been lately around here, here's what I know in the "good" camp. Perm is rumored to have referrals coming - perhaps a couple for my agency. No indication whatsoever that they might be for me. In fact, I've been advised to update my now outdated home study so that I can be officially registered in Khabarovsk. The upside to Khab is this: there are many pages of boys in my age range on the photo listing page (with all the limitatons of the site duely noted). They look healthy (unlike many in Perm).
By virtue of the location (far East by Vladivostok), there are not many agencies that work there. In the Yahoo group, everyone talks about how caring and kind and well run the orphanages are. So with that update... lets leave this on some good news. I'm in the process of having my Home Study updated and then will go through the hoops of being registered in Khab... I don't know what that means in terms of wait... does the adoption clock get re-set to zero and I start out again? My family was here for a BBQ for my nephews high school graduation last week and someone asked how things were going... before I could answer, my mother in law answered, "He might be 25 by the time he gets to Canada..." Which everyone laughed at because someone quipped about mail order grooms in the background... very funny... very very funny.

So in the mean time, I dusted off his bedroom set that's been in my garage since last October, re-arranged some of his things stacked neatly in my basement and spent some time wondering just where in the great big ol' USSR you are??? For now, it's all good.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Did I choose the wrong Canadian Agency?


Well, another month has passed. It's now almost 7 that I've been waiting in Perm. That wait in and of itself would be OK if there were communications that indicated there is momentum and reason to be hopeful... but there is not. Since late December '08 they keep saying new regions are opening and families with dossiers registered in Perm will have the opportunity to move... well, I'm still waiting for them to call with any sort of specific news other than semi monthly generic updates that go out to all of their adoptive families. I know that the photo database is not a comprehensive nor accurate portrayal of children available for adoption but it has to be representative of a good proportion of boys there... and it is not pretty. The majority of the little guys in my age range (up to 4) have visible disabilities. My agency has facilitated probably only around 6 or 8 Russian adoptions in the last year - all but one from Vlad and only one from Perm. Meanwhile, I have consulted with the other agencies and they cite having been active in completing 30+ families in 8 months. I know it's a bit of a crap shoot depending on region but they work in busy ones... not like my guys. I am starting discussions on starting over with another agency. My requested child criteria are not difficult to fill and I can't help but wonder if going with an agency who has momentum and experience in their regions trumps the cash / time I've invested languishing in a dead region with the promise that they will be working in new ones "soon" where they have no more of an idea that it will be better than Perm or that their new facilitator will have any sort of relationshps to start from... Any thoughts or advice???

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Empathy and Validation - beautiful words

I fired off a quick note on Friday to my SW to ask if families waiting in Perm were being advised of registration options in the new regions and I was surprised and really relieved at the response I got. Not really in terms of what I have as options (that is still TBD) but in the recognition of this statement, "To be honest, I am surprised given your age request it is taking as long as it is, but again...we cannot predict or control, all we can do is advocate for our families, which is exactly what we are doing." I exhaled... a big long sigh of relief. There are times I feel a bit judged in this journey when I tell people about being frustrated at the length of the wait so far and I get the reply of, "it's only been 6 months" which is true... only 6 months is short for those looking for "AYAP" or "AYAP / AHAP" or potentially the longest wait "healthy female under 12 mos". It felt like my feelings that I am asking for a boy - an "older" boy were being dismissed and lumped in with families waiting for healthy infant girls. Now I am certainly not suggesting that their waits are any different or any less torturous - just that the expectation was set up front that it would take longer. Friday night, my SW showed me the empathy and validation that I have been needing to make the wait bearable. I think I may have gotten my second wind.
So with that, we are now exploring new options: Saratov, Pskov, Tula and Khabarovsk. I have no idea what the merits of these region are or if I should simply ask to be registered in Vladivostok where there seems to be stable consistent referrals. Time will tell in the direction I go from here and it sort of feels like starting out from square one again with a whole new unknown region where I could sit and wait another 6 months... but if I do, that's another 6 months closer to my son than I am today... and I'm already a year closer to him than when I started this journey last year. So I'm hoping for advice and insight on what to do next? I've joined the yahoo groups and asked the question on line... no one seems to have heard of the smaller regions... I guess it's perspective really??? Scary and un-nerving or one heck of an adventure to my son? I'll take the adventure EVERY time. One foot in front of the other... one day closer to you xoxo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Uncle... there I said it.

I give up all control... or perception that I ever had any in this process. Uncle. I give.
Last week I was told that St. Petes was open for my agency - final stages - rubber stamping and it would be active soon. This week... "Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg are not regions that are favourable for international adoption, so we have decided not to pursue these." I'm not exactly sure what that means given other agencies are successfully bringing children home from these regions... but the monthly update doesn't give details... just facts. More "facts" that I got in the email, "We are hopeful that proposals will be coming in the next few months from Perm and Nizhniy Novgorod, and have information from our facilitators in these regions indicating this. Please note that expected wait times continue to increase from time of dossier submission to Russia. It is now estimated over 12 months wait for a proposal any child under the age of 7 from the time your dossier is registered with the Ministry of Education in Russia." Which seems more like a "CYA" statement than anything to keep waiting families from freaking out over the wait since they have a handfull of families approaching the year long wait for INFANT GIRLS not a boy up to 4... but that doesn't seem to matter anymore... blanket statement of expect to wait a year or more which seems to indicate for me not to expect a referral in the aforementioned "referrals in the next few months". Did you hear the air whizz out of my balloon of hope? It did. Funny - I started out with a 4 - 6 month wait time line... I'm at 5 months and am now told 12+ months... I used to hope that I might travel before Christmas '08 on a first trip... then I started hoping he would be home for the warm summer... then I hoped he'd be home this fall for my birthday... now I wonder if I'll even travel before the end of '09. This is nuts. But I have no hand as Seinfeld would say... So what now? Besides banging my head on the wall, how do I make decisions for work (assignments / training etc. that would make me look foolish if I take on and then bail on), for vacation (I'm going to need a rubber room if I save my vacation until the end of the year in hope that I might travel in '09 but don't) and for life... It seems the only news I get from the agency is email updates increasing wait time and giving vague reference to someone might get a referral sometime in the distant future... and we might register a copy of your dossier in a new region but don't call us... we'll call you. I know nothing about the new region Khabarovsk except that it's far away from Moscow by Vladivostok. Still pouting... as the song goes, second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse. But no one is listening... and my agency doesn't seem able to do anything about it even if they wanted to listen. Exploring the idea of seeing what other Canadian agencies are saying. One in particular has exceptional in country contacts... something I'm wondering if my agency is lacking.
Now just when it seems that I'm all doom and gloom... I get it. Somewhere deep in the frustration of it all I know that these delays and moments are built in to ensure that my son finds his way home to me... but like the 3 year old at the grocery store who's just been told he can't have the candy bar... BUT I WANT IT NOW!!! I've really come a long way since those cash line tantrums haven't I.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saratov, Izhevsk, Penza, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg or Perm?

I am begining to feel like my adoption journey mirrors the sound coming from my iPod FM tuner... sometimes it comes in clear and things sound good... turn a corner and - without warning or reason things go to static and there is nothing to do but wait out the annoying drone or change stations. Perm... a whole lot of static with no end in sight. No referrals for 5 1/2 months and folks actually getting a referrals (with other agencies) have questions on their health and are losing them to Russian families. Sounds like there will be nothing for a few more months at best. Next, the agency is opening up new regions... small ones... no news... no direction... only advice - best thing you can do is wait to read the monthly updates. Seriously? A phone call once and awhile would be nice just to keep in touch... but I guess it's a good thing I can read.

So, what do I do to kill time? Buy him 'stuff'. today, it was a chariot jogger / bike carrier. It's great and it was a good deal. I still feel crummy... I wish I had news. I'm pouting and frustrated (am I allowed to be frustrated yet??? It's only been just over 4 months but... I'm frustrated). I should probably stop reading the reports coming from other people who say the wait for an "older toddler" should be very short and that 4 months or the 9 that it could likely be doesn't make sense... but my money, my heart and my hopes are tied up waiting for news... So tonight, I'll head downstairs and fiddle with his new jogger and wonder again how long this will take. Is wanting some sort of news too much to ask?

BAHHHHHHH!!!!