Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Today's the day of getting the dossier documents together for notarization. We'll be going to the bank soon with a pile of papers to sign, and they always look at us like we're nuts! "Wow! Uuuh, what's all this?" It really is worse than the pile we signed to buy our home.
As I'm doing all this organizing, there have been two boys out of school since yesterday due to parent-teacher conferences (along with the infant I care for M-F). It's been an unnerving experience because I had laryngitis the past two days and couldn't speak more than a whisper when the boys needed discipline or reprimands. It was comical, really, watching myself in a whisper yell "No, Sky! Don't do that!" I can't believe they weren't rolling on the floor from the hilarity. I ended up having to separate them about half the day just to keep my sanity, and make sure they didn't clobber each other or burn the whole house down! Seriously, I shouldn't paint it that terribly...Sky steps in so often to help with the infant care; he is a huge help. He read her a zillion story books yesterday, gave her so much love and affection and just oogled over her all day. I still cannot get over how much he loves her. I told him this morning about how she had a bowl of baby cereal and he was SO PROUD of her, beaming and complimenting her. He had to run into the kitchen screaming"Eeeeeeeee! Her super cute and tiny bowl and spoon! Aaaaaaaaaw!" I have never known a more baby-crazed 7 year old boy.
Speaking of Sky, the conference with his teacher went great last night. All areas have improved significantly since our last conference. He's showing far more self control, positive choices, and is soaring academically. He's 3 reading levels beyond where he should be, and keeps progressing. His birth mother is illiterate, and I can't help thinking about how proud she'd be (brings tears to my eyes). His reading is so good now that I'm having to ask him for privacy when writing, blogging or doing e-mail (he is a huge snoop!) No more writing stuff out and thinking my boys won't be able to decipher it. I am so not used to that because Liam, with the autism, doesn't read, and Sorin is rarely interested or focused enough to read my things. It is an interesting journey to be the first time parent of a typically developing child, but I'm enjoying it.
Now, if I can just keep them from maiming one another today. My voice is back (however hoarse). Andrew slept in, and woke up crying to me about a terrible dream. He said he was with Daddy, they had a flashlight in the dark and couldn't find me. They later realized I was gone forever and started holding each other and crying. I was standing at the stove, making scrambled egges when he shared this. I held him and had to remind him it was just a "fear dream." Like so many adopted children, he is deathly afraid of losing his mother. His great relief at holding me was palpable, as if he couldn't believe I was alive and well. Aaah dreams...I'm so glad he was able to share that with me. Maybe today will be a more calm and relaxed day, maybe not. We're just happy to have each other no matter how hairy things get.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
On another note, I received news from another family that a judge who was previously on maternity leave in Ethiopia will be returning on March 1st, AND she will have an assistant, AND she will ONLY be hearing adoption cases! This is big news because court has slowed down considerably in recent months, and there has been talk of needing a new judge. This means after we receive the referral of Amelie, it will only be 1-2 months until our court date instead of the 2-3 months we've been seeing lately.
I don't like to set myself up for disappointment, so this projected timeline is merely a hopeful one based upon recent family timelines with our agency:
Dossier completed and sent to our agency- next week (1st week of March)
Dossier sent to ETH and translated- (1st week of April)
Referral of Amelie- 1-8 weeks later (Let's guess late May)
Court date- HOPEFULLY before late July before courts close for the rainy season (August & September). If not, worst case scenario (we can live with) we'll wait during August & September and be heard in October.
Travel- Either during or after the rainy season. Since we started this process we've been hoping to have our little girl home with us on Thanksgiving.
Looking at it that way, we are 6-9 months out, which isn't bad. It's dreamy really! We need to hope this streak of efficiency keeps up. If it does she will be here sooner than we realize.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
The win last night at the Oscars had us cheering out of our seats. "Slumdog Millionaire" is literally my favorite film of all time. Not because it's filmed in Mumbai where Andrew Prasad lived most of his life, but because it's a rich, multi layered meaningful, multi sensory experience that promotes hope and joy. It's positive and uplifting, and most importantly it's about love.
My Indian guru spent so much of his life talking about the importance of merging East and West. The efficiency and productivity of the West with the wisdom of the East could take us into a higher age. This film is a microcosm of that. The English director, the producer and many who worked to make it seamless were Western, but there was a whole "Indian side" of the equation that collaborated and helped build such a wisdom filled, perfect film. I'm hoping this opens people's minds in our country to the beauty of the East, to Eastern and even Middle-Eastern people and that we can all begin to unite somehow in appreciation for one another. We each have something valuable to contribute, and for me this film is a symbol of the growing East-West connection.
Andrew is so deeply prideful today. He kept saying that Mumbai is the place where he was born, and "it's also the place where they made the very best movie in the whole, whole world." He asked me to write the name of the movie on a slip of paper so he could share the news with his teacher and classmates. Of course, he hasn't seen it (it's not appropriate for 9 year olds), but he has seen many clips online and just loves the soundtrack. It's such a positive part of India for him to embrace, ultimately enabling him to embrace himself :) When I watch those children in the film I know they are my Andrew....they are exactly where he would be if he were to have stayed in India, gone to the government home, and eventually been put out on the streets (or he would have escaped to them.) How we love real life happy endings!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Sky is also extremely wise. I want to record this for him and Amelie because he really touched us today. The younger boys didn't have school today. Little Cecilia (the infant I'm caring for on weekdays) was sitting in our family room and Sky gazed at her lovingly saying, "You know, Cecilia is our teacher." Daniel asked him why he thought that and Sky responded "Because she is helping to teach us about our Amelie and how to take care of her." Then he called her a very special girl and said we are very lucky to have her in our home. Later in the day he walked up to me while I held Cecilia and said "I'm looking at Cecilia now and imagining her with brown skin, dark eyes and curly hair. That way I know what my sister, Amelie, will look like. Not very different from Cecilia, and just as cute." He is so ready for his sister, and with how much he oogles over this baby I know she is going to be spoiled rotten by him!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Years ago, in 2003 when we completed our first adoption we didn't have as many online support groups specific to international adoption (at least that I was aware of, I may have been out of the loop). So we went through that process alone, in the dark without holding the hands of other families. I cannot even imagine this now. We walked hand in hand with another family during Andrew's adoption, and I don't think we would be doing it again if we didn't have others to talk to every day about the rollercoaster we are in for.
We also didn't see hardly anyone blogging back then. I believe "blogging" was a term I came across in later years and it took me a long time to understand or even become interested. Journaling online, without knowing most readers seemed to have an appeal to it, despite how bizarre and daunting it was.
I know both types: Those who would never blog and those who can't live without it. The same goes for online communities. I appreciate the diversity in abilities, preferences, needs and such. Mainly, I feel grateful I have the freedom to choose when, with whom, and how much I share about my own personal life. It's no different than those who choose to write autobiographies versus those who decide they'd rather not expose themselves and their deepest thoughts that way. We all have self-imposed "lines" we won't cross and thankfully it's up to each of us, individually, where those lines will be. Not once have I regretted sharing my life and children's stories publicly...if anything it has guided me to some of the most amazing relationships with the strongest, most authentic women I have ever met. There is a deep connection there, despite the fact that we've never meet in person. I think you all know who you are! There is a vibration, and a connection that transcends all time and space. I value all these people because they have helped me grow and become exactly who I am today.
I'm sure it's clear that the issue of "privacy" has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe because of the raw and honest sharing I am so grateful for from other mothers and families. They have inspired and helped me gain insights, feel less alone, and in turn have helped my children in ways that are beyond words. Or maybe it's because I have a very private sector of extended family who take issue with the the ability to connect and share information so freely and openly. I was amazed to find a view out there that we are somehow giving up our privacy (which was once valued and coveted) by blogging or joining online communities. This view is fear based and negative in my opinion. Whatever the case, I felt compelled to express my thoughts on this matter because privacy is only violated if it is done against our will, meaning, by someone other than ourselves. This has never happened to me. We have freedom of speech in this country and we don't judge those who go out and express views politically, socially, etc. As an artist this freedom is one of the most valuable to me.
Personally, I come from the philosophy that I am depriving the world of my gifts if I hide or keep too many things private. I'm always feeling as if I have NO RIGHT to hide myself from the world. Being a previously shy/timid person this would be an unhealthy route. A very wise person once told me that the only reason people call themselves a "private person" is to avoid pain. Private people keep hidden because they fear rejection, judgement from others, a sense of unworthiness, etc. This resonated with me because my shyness came from that kind of dark, painful place. For many, I realize their privacy may be coveted for different reasons and because of that I hold no judgements here. This view simply helps me get out of my shell because it was true for me. I have problems when people scoff at bloggers who harm no one. I believe most judgements are proof that one needs to go within to find out where they believe they are lacking.
Whatever our choices, there is an increasing connectedness taking place in this world through the web and we have to get used to it. It's a connection we all never could have fathomed having 15-20 years ago. I will never forget watching President Obama sworn in through Facebook & CNN. I could see people's thoughts, ideas, excitement, etc. and share mine with total strangers. It gave me an eerie sense of unity I have never felt before. It makes this a much smaller, more intimate world. Maybe this is intimidating to some who want things to be the way they used to be, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I consider the "Leave it to Beaver" days and how people worked so hard at portraying an 'image' to the world, shared nothing personal (especially if it was negative) and if anyone was depressed, felt inept, or needed therapy it was kept secret. Those days are long gone as we work toward a more authentic and loving world of acceptance and unity.
I'd like to thank all the mothers whose blogs I have read and been inspired by, gained wisdom from, and all those who have helped guide and support me in big and small ways through the web. My life is richer because of you and I hope I have been of benefit to others as well. We are all so much alike. After reading hundereds of blogs over the years there seems to be a thread of similarities; they tickle my heart. We are all going through this same human experience, hoping for grace, falling down, getting up, and needing support. We are all at our core the very same.
By the time we were both completed it was 10:10 a.m. We were shocked and giggling. With Sky's in '02 we were there at least an hour or so, and with Andrew in '06 it was several hours of waiting (Sky was with us and it was agonizing on him). Ten measely minutes is unheard of in bureaucratic government offices. It reinforces for us how supported we are and how supremely right this adoption is.
Now it's just a matter of waiting for their approval letter (the 171-H). I've heard it's typically about two weeks, but there seems to be nothing typical so far about this process. As soon as that's received we can authenticate our dossier and become an official WAITING FAMILY.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I wanted to share that my favorite 7 year old sat with me, arm in arm, this morning and watched the Ethiopia video at the bottom of this page. It was the first time Sky had seen anything like that and he was teary eyed, asking if he could go to Ethiopia some time to help those children. He also added that he understands why we're adopting again "because of so many kids needing families like I did." That little video opened his mind and heart even more...I think the faces make it real.
He also asked to look at his personal weblog and added some new pictures this morning.
I don't know why this surprises me, but Andrew is showing great interest and pride in India now. When he first came home two years ago he refused to discuss India, then went through a very negative phase about all the pain and suffering he endured physically and emotionally. So, I guess I figured it would take him years to separate his whole birth country from the negativity. Just a month ago he surprised us by differentiating between India and Bal Vikas (his orphanage). This was a huge step. He finally understood that his orphanage was not all of India, but a mere speck in the ocean of his great birth country. He's begun bringing things to school from India to educate his teacher and classmates about clothing, traditions, religions, holidays, etc.
A few weeks ago he brought his orange silk kurta outfit covered in sequins that has a rudraksha mala (prayer beads) to go with it. The teacher told me his classmates went bonkers over the beauty, and that Andrew did a marvelous job of presenting it. A week after that his classical Indian singing teacher and a local tabla player came to his class and gave a demonstration. Andrew introduced them, and I'm told he felt extremely important and valued that day. The entire second grade saw him in a whole new and interesting light. This is gold for his self-esteem and healing process; his pride is still blooming. I seriously thought this would take many years. This morning he begged me to bring a book on Hindu holidays and rituals to class, but I told him to ask his teacher first. He's been looking all over the house asking to take anything to school that has to do with India. He ended up drawing a large Indian flag last evening, and brought that to give his teacher today. He drew it twice because the first time he didn't get the Buddhist wheel at the center "perfect" enough.
Sky has started attending the Indian singing classes with Andrew. This can be a bit challenging as I sit on the floor behind them, prompting and correcting two boys who typically bring out the mischief in one another. Not to mention Sky has nervousness surrounding music in general (I think it's the emotional, feeling aspect of it). The classes have been great at helping Sky realize it's safe to sing and feel things. The teacher is incredible because she mixes in yogic teachings about the mind, self discipline, and life, and she has very high expectations of the children. She doesn't sit and have a play-like time with the kids like most Western teachers do, she makes them work. She also throws in a lot of Hindi, which Andrew no longer understands but wants to learn. Sky keeps saying "Hindi is way too hard, dude, so I'm sticking with Espanol!" He is a true ham. We are very blessed to have access to such a wonderful class with a teacher who gives the lessons for free in her home, and helps fuel pride in our creative and expressive Indian child.
On another note, Andrew's need to express himself is growing by leaps and bounds. I can relate to this, being an artist myself. He is starting to verbalize this by saying the mantra "I love to paint, I love to draw and want to do it all, all, all day." I explained to him that after completing public school he can choose to attend an art school. He responded with a firm "No way, there is no such thing as a school that does only art, Mom!" He sounded angry, as if I was teasing him. I explained that I attended the art school at KU, and there are others in the area he can apply to. His chin literally dropped, then he quickly shifted to complaining about the long wait until graduation. I explained he has to do well at 'regular (boring) school' or they won't let him in an art school. I also reminded him we're setting up a room downstairs where he'll be able to paint for hours on the walls, furniture, canvasses, etc. That will be his decompression chamber and haven from the world. There seems to be nothing more calming for him.
Monday, February 16, 2009
She sat down and shared with me about the amazing experience of walking through fear. Someone at Rally had taught her how to play notes and strum on the guitar, and they recommended she play a tune or two at Spirit Sharing (a kind of 'talent show' they always have). She agreed to do it, but just prior to playing she began crying off stage. She said she was terrified and wanted to back out. Suddenly she heard hundreds of teens chanting her name and she was touched. She found the courage to get on stage and basically walk through fire (I wouldn't have the courage to do it!) She sat and played a tune she made up, and when she finished everyone stood up and cheered for her. As she was telling me all this I couldn't shake the feeling I'd missed something huge in my daughter's life... this was the very first time I'd felt this way, and I think it's something that comes when your child begins growing up. She will have many experiences, both difficult and beautiful that I will not be witness to. This is hard for me to accept, but I was thrilled to know how profound this experience was for her-- a 'defining moment' in her life. How empowering for a girl who has always felt so different and often disconnected socially. How beautiful a place that must have been, and what beautiful teenagers they are to support her with such love, empathy and acceptance. She's now begging to attend the Spring Rally in Oklahoma and I wouldn't dare deny her another miraculous experience away from home.
Sorin- YOU INSPIRE ME!
ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
On a happy note, today we received our notarized and gold-sealed copies of the State Police Clearance letters. Things are slowly coming together. Looking back at our other adoptions, the ball never feels like it's rolling until we get all the paperwork done and sent off. At that point it will feel like a 'conception' has taken place and we'll wait, wait....wait, and wait some more. My mom said the other day that she keeps wondering each day "Is this the day Amelie was born?" It's eerie, and we have asked ourselves that same question many times.
I'm finding it more difficult with each adoption to find the time to compile paperwork. With my daily schedule it makes me think of another blog I read recently about multi-tasking. My daily routine: Peeling myself out of bed at 6:45am, sitting in silence for a moment to gain composure and focus even if and when Liam is yelling for me, as I'm half-dressed wobbling out of my bedroom with a rooster hairdo into the dark hallway to make sure Sorin has gotten up on time and has showered so that Liam can bathe by 7:00am, while at the same time putting pets out and getting ready to greet baby Cecilia at 7:15 (I have to orchestrate Liam's bath to be over, dressed and fed by then), along with getting Sky and Andrew peeled out of their gooey sheets while not buying into their cranky complaints and arguments, picking out their clothes fast enough to get downstairs for Liam's bus, then breakfasts, sack lunches, cleaning up the kitchen, showering myself and getting ready just 20 minutes prior to getting Andrew & Sky to school, coming home, collapsing for 15-20 minutes with my tea recovery time, and then I proceed to the duties of the day..I'm lucky if I remember to check my calendar and get everything done. All the while I'm breathing and focusing upon a central part within myself that remains inactive and calm, unchanged and unaffected by the whirling dharma of my life. It's a core of joy. I won't even get into how my daily juggle goes after school. That can become even more hairy, but when the kids are in bed (all by 8:00 and no later) I have my cherished time with Daniel, and we reflect on all the wonderful things that took place in between all the actions and duties we carried out. Those make it all worthwhile and we cannot imagine how it's all going to be with our 5th little munchkin thrown into the mix. Routine seems to be the most valuable asset with a family...it becomes like a fine tuned machine when we have a rhythm and it takes time to obtain. I like to think of it as a cyclic dance; the more the merrier!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Yesterday Daniel and I drove to Topeka to acquire original birth certificates for Sky and Liam. Daniel is getting Sorin's today in Kansas City. After that we'll have all our documents for the dossier, except we're awaiting a notarized copy of our State Police clearance letter. That should arrive any day.
I took Sky to his therapist this morning and all went great. He spent about 1/3 of the session talking about how excited he is to have a baby sister, and that the wait is killing him. I have to say I am amazed at the extreme nurturing side that is blossoming when he is around baby Cecilia.... As a rambunctious boy I never would have guessed he'd be so caring and gentle with her, but watching him is very touching. He reads to her, strokes her head, hugs and holds her in his lap, and all the while he is glowing in a way we've never seen before. What a wonderful daddy he will be some day!