Thursday, January 28, 2010

A view from his room

In an effort to avoid the work I should be doing I thought I'd post a quick photo of his room.  I started collecting things 2 years ago and his bedroom set gathered dust in my garage for over a year.  When I declined my first referral I felt like I had to do something positive and forward looking (field of dreams: build it and he will come... a month later, I "made the call").  In retrospect, there are some things that a single girl SHOULD do (like get pedicures, treat herself to a glass of wine now and then, see a good movie with a girlfriend and sleep in on Sundays) and there are things that a single girl should NOT do (like move 2 entire bedroom suites made of solid wood - one a Queen sized guest bedroom set and one a double sized set down 2 flights of stairs and up 2 with the other) but I digress.  The end result is a room that looks pretty good (but you can't see the hole in the drywall behind the far bedpost nor hear the cursing that flew from my foul little mouth as I tried to set bed rails on my own and watched as the headboard careened for the floor narrowly missing the beautiful mirror for the chest and knocking drywall dust flying).  It is non functional right now as the real mattress needs to be brought in and curtains hung and the chest of drawers heaved up (I do know my limits and this one calls for some strapping male friends and a complimentary case of beer) but is enough to give the little guy a visual on where he will sleep.  He seemed most impressed by the collection of stuffies and the rocking horse.  Anyway, back to that work thing and hoping for a decent nights sleep.  OH YEAH!!! How could I forget this!!!  My updated homestudy for dossier two will arrive on the appropriate desk no later than 10am tomorrow.  I am hoping that the modest upates won't require scrutiny and will be out to my agency early next week.  Everything is ready to get packaged up and head out for compilation and final send off to Ottawa.  Not bad.  4 weeks home tomorrow and everything is good to go :) 

It's been a good day :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One month ago...

One month ago I walked up the snowy walk to the double wooden doors of the baby home you call home.  I remember taking a deep breath as I came to the front and announcing to the camera I was holding, "well, we're here".  Under the fading light of the afternoon, I scanned through the window and then through the open door of the play room to see if you were there.  I didn't see you.  I remember being anxious and calm all at the same time - panic has a strange way of taking over.  I was happy I didn't have to wear gay blue booties over my feet (no disrespect to the sanitary booties) and I was relieved to be welcomed like family by Irina the director and the curious other babushkas who peeked at the Sunday visitors.  We were guided to the room in the back hall where we spent our time together and it was a blurr I am so fortunate to have on video... the first time I saw you.  You were so afraid.  There were so many people cooing and telling you that I was nice... so many people encouraging you to play with the toys just for awhile... so many ladies urging you to let go of the babushkas leg and come out to see what I had brought.  It took probably 10 minutes for you to even take your first peek at me - and that's on video too.  I think you made a break for the door 4 times before I finally pulled out your stuffy - the orange lion... and you smiled... a small, sweet, precious smile.  Probably 20 minutes in (who knows... it was a moment and an eternity all at once) You took him from me, and proceeded to feed him the crackers I had been trying to see if you would eat.  You stroked his soft fur like it was the first time you had ever held a plush toy... and likely, it was.  Someone asked you to name him and when I watch the video you say "Mika" over and over... I don't know but I think that is what you named your lion.  Mika. As you checked out every inch of your lion, your babushka told you that most kids don't have any toys of their own and how lucky you were that I brought you so many to play with.  You were unphased by the noise, the commotion, the urging and really, I am sure you didn't "get" that this strange woman you wanted no part of had travelled pretty much all the way around the world to meet you and that to me, Mama means so much more than just the lady who is younger than the babushkas who care for you.  One month ago today everything was so surreal.  It was really only just over a week before that, that I even knew your name or your picture.  Truth be told? I didn't even have time to fall in love before I left.  Did I like you? Absolutely.  Did I think that everything looked good and that I was happy?  Yes.  Did I know how you would melt me and what the exact moment would be like when I let my guard down and threw my heart over the fence would be?  No... but you did.  Ever since I have thought of being a mom, ever since I've contemplated adoption I have dreamed of one thing.  I dreamed of holding your hand and what that would feel like.  That was my vision... that was my moment.  I've carried that moment for the two years now that I've been in the process officially but ever since the first time I talked about adopting, I had that moment in my head.  The first time I talked about adoption was probably in Revelstoke at Scott's memorial.  I think I said something about maybe I'd never get married again - maybe Scott was my one true love and that would be all I might get... and that maybe I'd adopt kids and that would be my chance to be a mom.  I didn't consciously hold that moment and I didn't know it was so meaningful or even that I had replayed it over and over in my head... until it happened.  Later that day, one month ago today, you became my dream come true.  You reached up, put your tiny hand in mine and gave me every tender moment, every loving feeling, every reason to hope that I had envisioned for almost 11 years.  When you took my hand, you took my heart... A piece of me is still there with you.  One month ago I held my son and my future became a little more clear so for those of you wondering if everyone falls immediately in love with their childs photo... I didn't... I wasn't purposely holding out - I was afraid... It all happened so fast... and maybe I was waiting for a sign... I got it... and I fell.  One month ago today I met my son... and that is a day I will forever celebrate.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another day bites the dust

Am I getting better at this or was today just simply a red letter day in terms of having something that I could actually control?  Yes ladies and gentlemen, I handed over the keys to the control center in this adoption the day I turned in my first home study (I'm now on version 3 draft one but no one other than me and the lady at the provincial government who signs off is actually really counting - I count because I pay for each one and the rubber stamp counts because it's a pain in the %$@ to approve essentially the same document 3x over... but I digress).  I planned and plotted my meeting today with the social worker who is on board to make the changes for dossier number two.  LATE last night I sent off a list of 48 line items that I needed ammended, updated or deleted from the other copies.  Our meeting skipped the "getting to know you" stage and went directly into "page 1 paragraph two: currently reads xyz and needs to now read abc".  I knew what to expect going into the meeting and my goal was to get in, get out, get er' done and make it easy for the SW to follow so that things can be done quickly.  And the angels sang when she told me that she has set aside time tomorrow to complete the update and will have it ready for sign off by Wednesday by the director and then I can sign off later this week.  The lady with the rubber stamp is likely in a rubber room after dealing with the stress of the children coming home from Haiti in the transfer but, I hope it (the stamp) is good and warmed up... she knows it's coming... she knows I need it... and I sent her flowers last week.  Gold star for me (albeit a completely self serving and transparent attempt to gain favor... I hope it was a nice boquet lol).  On the completely positive side, the social worker seemed very open to my rational for making some of the not so standard change requests.  There were a couple of paragraphs that didn't sit well with me (a play by play of what happened in our accident and some details regarding my Father's health that have no bearing on my ability to parent) and she agreed to remove them... I didn't even have to convince her... it was almost a bit weird.  Anyway, I am waiting on my finger prints and one form from the bank which will be available tomorrow... so, with that, I guess I will start to wait on my home study approval.  Making nice with the lady at the government might be the best thing I ever did... praying for a quick turn.  I meet with my banker geek on Friday to figure out how the mortgage will pay itself while I'm off.  It's a weird experience... living on my own and having a comfortable life, I'm a bit ashamed to say that I have never really budgeted.  I make, I plan for the future and I spend (not always in that order).  2 years ago I did my financial statement... when I re did it the other day I had to stop and think... who's Peter and who's Paul??? I get 9 or 10 months off from work and the government (OH CANADA!) pays a portion during that time (enough to cover the biggest bill)... my employer tops up to 75% for the first 12 weeks and then... it's bread and water time.  Seriously though, it makes me wish I were more careful before... it will be fine... no, it will be amazing to have all that time with my boy (as the song "just the two of us" rings through my head lol) but I will be watching my pennies during that time.  If anyone wants a beautiful little cabin (or 325 of them?)out on Ghost Dam... it will help buy baby G some shoes (kidding... sort of...
I've been home just over 3 weeks and in one breath it's a heart beat and I just got home with my feet under me... in another, it catches the breath in my throat when I think in two days it will be a month ago that I met you for the first time... Moments come when it hits me... and I miss you... a lot.  Moments come when I look at my watch and wonder what you are doing... if they have showed you the pictures or read you my letter... moments hit me when I wonder if you are angry that I haven't come back... moments hit me when I look at the clothes I can't seem to stop buying and wonder if you will hit a growth spurt and nothing will fit that I have planned... moments hit that I know that even though this moment is hard... forever is a long time... and you will be here forever and these moments will disappear in fits of giggles, kisses, bubble baths, and watching you swing at the park next door.  For now, I let those moments remind me that soon those little moments will link together to create the days of our years and the years of our life together.  I can't wait. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mine all Mine

Hello to all fans of adoption.  Especially for those of you waiting on news... some news... any news... this song will ring true.  I heard it last Thursday for the first time and couldn't track it or the artists down on line.  I managed to yesterday and requested it on the radio today (and they played it and my message at lunch on Country 105).  It is written and sang by a country duet (The Wilsons of "Meet the Wilsons on CMT) who are married and had the opportunity to adopt a little girl in 2009.  They went through a failed adoption, had their hearts broken, waited and waited and waited... and brought home their daughter "Lennox" early last year.  The song hit me... it's words are ones that each and every one of us has thought.  I downloaded it from iTunes but can't find a track of it to put here so instead, if you want to hear it, try this link: and then click on the video link on the right hand side or the play arrow on "mine all mine". 

I can't wait until my boy is home and MINE ALL MINE!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

From left field... an old friend says

Today I got an email from a highschool friend that I keep crossing paths with.  This fall he and his wife had their first child and I celebrated her arrival with less meaning than he just did mine.  He sent me a message on Facebook (OK I know, since when is FaceBook the most meaningful way to deliver a message??? But for this, it was perfect).  We aren't close, I can't even remember the last time I saw him.  For someone you have known over the years to send a message like this, well, it just makes me feel good.  I feel good because he knows me.  He knows what he could say to recognize the significance of my news and excitement and he found the perfect way to say it.  He said this:
"Только одно может превзойти улыбку молодой мамы – улыбка ее ребенка!

Поздравляем!"  and the translation (which he waited for days to get from their Russian accountant who has been out sick since I shared my news with him) is this: 

"The smile on a new mother can only be out done by one thing. The smile that is returned by the child on the other end. Congratulations"
I tear up every time I read it... it's perfect... it's from an old friend who knows just how much this means to me. 

In other news, I don't know that I've heard anyone else comment / complain / commiserate with the physical difficulty of coming home.  Now I throw myself a bit of a pitty party in that some of the circumstances of my trip made it a bit more stressful than the norm (traveling alone, traveling the LONG way around, missing flights, getting yelled at in Russian, having your travel visa arrive only hours before departure, having only one week to accept and prepare to travel, almost getting killed by your Russian Driver (OK - I think that is pretty standard lol), and traveling into the middle of nowhere to meet your child...) but, all in all, I have had a hard time coming down off of the adrenaline.  I've managed the having to leave him behind in stride (It wasn't a surprise to me - I've got things to do to get back) but the stress and racing heart and pounding chest that comes out of nowhere just when I relax (seemingly to say HEY!!! HEY YOU!!! Don't relax.. you might get eaten by a tiger!!!!) or something to that effect.  It's getting better but man oh man... I have struggled.  Tonight I'll go to my hockey game and work some stress out there.  I have to pick up 200 photos that I printed (yes mom there are doubles of some for you :)  and grab my skates... so I better get at it. 
The paperwork is coming along nicely.  Everything is in order, just waiting for things to arrive so that I can fill some forms out, update my home study and get everything back to the agency.  Inevitably there will be required revisions but I just want to be as fast as I can with fingers crossed to get back there FAST!!!

Well, speaking of fast, my skates are sharp... I better go locate my lungs (which I haven't seen since before Christmas) and see if I can still skate. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

If God made you He's in love with me...

I listened to this song over and over and over on the plane... My dog's name is Lyric... words and music speak to me and like the Tricia Yearwood song says, "a song remembers when".  This one remembers looking out the window taking off from Khabarovsk Russia headed for Canada and away from my boy... but one day closer to returning.
I'm back and starting to right myself into the day and night schedules of home.  I have never felt a more comfortable bed than my own and it was nice to be greeted by smiling happy family and friends.  The travel challenges continued but in English, there was nothing that I couldn't handle.  In the end, I am home and I went... and it's really only the stuff in the middle that ever mattered anyway. 
My sister and 3 nieces made the most amazing frames and printed out photos I had sent them from Seliheno and I cried in my kitchen.  I managed to put together the photo slide show and download my favorite video to it yesterday.  Of the things that will get me through, having 200 photos and 100 videos of little man will make it easier.  I wanted to make a list of things that were helpful to pass on to other PAP's so I am going to wing it (thanks Amy for the idea!)

Things I took that I'm glad I did:
  • Instant oatmeal (there were times I was too tired to go to eat... but I could boil water in the room)
  • Protein bars: nervous tummies during Aeroflot adventures could choke down this rather than foreign food
  • Tea in a ziplock: this is my comfort food... figure out what yours is and put it in a ziplock (unless it's chicken pot pie or something) lol
  • 2 pairs of black pants - wore them interchangeably and no one cared. 
  • Warm fuzzy socks / slippers to wear - floors can be cold 
  • various colored tops - mix and match
  • An aresenal of toys: noisy toys, puzzles, bubbles, blow up ball, small cars, books that make noise, soft stuffy, soft blanket.  My facilitator told me that I'd be surprised the number of famillies who show up with one toy... Be prepared - give them options.  Grisha eventually loved everything but the stuffed animal and soft blanket was what brught him out of his shell. 
  • Sleeping pills / gravol... I was so stressed out and off my schedule it was the only way I could rest. Can't highlight enough how important these were to me. eye mask for sleeping on the plane.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!  it was $125 and in the end will save me abut $2500
  • my brand new netbook loaded with skype.  I loaded $14 on it before I left and talked for probably 2 -3 hours while I was away and still have 9.50 left.  Pray for internet connectin and skype away!
  • Video camera.  I have 100 videos to get me through the wait.  Priceless. (thanks mom and sis!)
  • photo album for him, disposible cameras to leave behind with a note from mama
  • postcards to give to the babushkas showing where he will live (they LOVED them)
  • Ipod... time killer and calmer downer
  • notebook filled with emergency numbers / emails / contact / consulate phone number / MAP of THE AIRPORT (Moscow has 4 terminals... know where you are going)
  • Take / Learn some basic baby Russian to interact with your child (if they are old enough). This was very helpful. I recommend Theresa Kelleher's (just google her name) set. It's a CD and handbook
Things I wish I took:
  • I had a power converter (Russia has two round prongs) but it didn't fit the 3 prongs needed for my computer.  (go check - everythign else is 2... not your computer).  I borrowed one thank God but will have one for the next trip.
  • Phone number for peace travel in Russia.  If you get lost, they will fetch you and rescue you... at a cost but there is no price worth a friendly face in the world of NYET!!! 
Things I would leave behind:
  • Big heavy reading book.  didn't have time. couldn't have cared. Lugged it around though
  • Wardrobe of "comfy hotel clothes".  PJ's and baby home clothes are enough.  I didn't have time to lounge.
  • Took too many fruit bars - they are heavy. Just take the protein ones. 
  • My flat iron.  Blow drying was good enough. 
If I had to weed down my luggage I would have kept the toys for him first and weeded out clothes.  The toys are your bridge to them... they don't care what you are wearing.  Be engaging, be entertaining, be prepared. 
That's my unsolicited advice.  That, and if you are adopting from the far East... for the love of God... FLY THROUGH SEOUL!!!  Seriously though, give yourself enough time to get your travel visa and flight schedule that allows for weather / baggage / stupidity delays.  The stress I endured as a result of tight timing could have ruined the trip or caused a breakdown.  It seriously was that bad.  I have never been so afraid, alone, terrified and almost primal in my life.  Don't be afraid to ask and keep asking for help.  There  are amazing, kind, friendly people out there and you would help someone in distress if you could right?  So will they.  Be prepared, be flexible and be ready for the most incredible trip of your life! 

P.S. if you have to take a train it is fine - I actually really enjoyed it.  P.S.S. if you have to go to the middle of nowhere to meet your child and your facilitator tells you that the MOE was concerned you would decline the referral because they are so remotely located... know that sometimes you have to climb the tall tall tree to reach the best apples :)

With all of the travel foibles, I'd do it again tomorrow to meet that amazing little boy that Russia chose to be my son.  If God made him He's in love with me...
One more P.S. His name is Gregory and I will be keeping it as his middle name.  When court is over I'll share the new name his mama gave him :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Monkeys run Aeroflot

Hi all - very quick from Moscow.  Aeroflot airlines sucks.  They have been late every time - delay after delay.  Their (Russians) time matters... not yours.  The flight leaving Khab was delayed by over an hour and then it took 1.5 hours to see bags come down to pick up.  I missed the connection to Amsterdam.  All flights were sold out... I had to pay a lot of money for a buisness class seat one way to Amsterdam so that I could take my original final leg home.  Thank God I paid for travel insurance... I wasn't scared this time in Moscow - things went fine.  Stayed at the same hotel in a much better room.  Got back here really early and paid for the flight and jumped through all the hoops the travel insurance company required to have things paid for.  All in all, I don't really care.  The parts that matter could not have gone better.  Control what you can and grit your teeth at the rest.  I am on the other side of the hard part for now.  My bags are checked all the way through to home so I can just change gates in Amsterdam in a few hours to get on the last flight home.  The end is near and the travel tides are turning.  Thanks for the advice on the paperwork - I plan on being super diligent in getting things done and I will have some help if I need it I'm sure.  Heather, it is the Friday I will have time for dinner (Thursday is a work function).  I hope this works out for you!

See you all soon - Dhas vee dhanya from Moscow one final time (NOTE: I will be traveling through Seoul next time and paying the courier to do the leg work in Moscow.  I have no intent on coming back here... unless forced.  I used to have this romantic idea of getting our picture taken in front of the symbolic St. Basils... now I think the Gold Church is way more beautiful and appropriate anyway.  CIAO Moscow!)