Monday, March 30, 2009

updating our file

Today D and I completed the first task of many required for a yearly update to our file. This morning we got our criminal checks done. Next month our medicals expire. In May we need new child abuse checks. And in early July our homestudy must be updated. Sigh. Last year when we did all of this it never occurred to me that we would be updating. Each piece that requires an update is another reminder that we’re still waiting. Like I needed more reminders!

A year ago after completing the criminal check paperwork, D and I make a quick stop to check out a baby and children’s store located near the police station. Here we walked through the aisles looking at furniture, strollers, and other baby paraphernalia. We bought a super cute stuffed elephant – the very first item purchased together for our future baby. That day we were excited as we contemplated our future and dreamed about this baby. Now after a year of chaos and mayhem we are not quite so na├»ve about this process. No walk through the baby store today. Instead it was a quick in and out before heading off to work. What a bummer of a way to start off a week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

link to another post

"Opening the gates" is a great post about international adoption by Harlow's Monkey. The blog is written by a transracial adoptee and she poses a challenge to all adoptive parents in this post.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

two great posts

I've recently read some great posts by Margie at Third Mom. Her post titled "The grand plan of adoption" makes reference to the same adoption ad that I did in my last post and very eloquently discusses faith and adoption.

In another recent post titled
"Saturday with Alison and John" Margie reviews a recent adoption conference she attended. The conference theme was In Our Own Voices: Adoptees and Foster Youth Speak Out. Margie references some good speakers and information from the perspective of adoptees.

Take a look around her site, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, March 23, 2009

adoption advertisement

I recently came across an ad put out by an American adoption agency that disturbed me greatly. This is a Christian agency and this is what their ad said:
Adoption was God’s idea. We just decided to get in on a good thing.
As a prospective adoptive parent I am appalled. As a Christian I am appalled.

This ad then insinuates that it was God’s plan for there to be war and destruction in this world so families are broken apart.
It was God’s plan for families to live in poverty that they relinquish rights to their children because they can’t care for them.
It was God’s plan for babies to be stolen from their families so the corrupt of this world can make a profit.
It was God’s plan that AIDS would claim the lives of parents so that their children would be available for adoption.
It was God’s plan that profound pain and loss would come to others so that us in adoption can gain.

I do not believe in this kind of God. I believe that God hurts when a child is orphaned or relinquished. I also believe that God works to bring people and circumstances together which is how adoption happens. I also believe that He can heal the hurt and loss. (This doesn’t mean it is forgotten).

Ads like this and other Christianese adoption language makes me cringe. I love the Lord deeply and know without a doubt that He has guided us along this journey, but I will not distort God’s character to make adoption all sunshine and roses. Instead I hope to have enough strength to face the tough stuff in adoption head on, all the while asking God for wisdom and guidance.

And I will be writing this agency a letter letting them know what I think about their ad.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

international adoption

A good friend sent me this article called Foreign Policy: The Lie We Love which is about corruption and international adoption. It's a good article to read but be forewarned that it includes disturbing information.
We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.

Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction. Continue reading...

Understand that I am not against foreign adoption as I believe there is a real need for it. (We certainly live in a broken and fallen world). However, I also believe that we must be smart and enter into international adoption with eyes wide open. As adoptive parents it does neither us nor our children any good to hide from some of these truths. Corruption is alive and well in adoption, we all know that. Instead of turning a blind eye we need to work together for reform in the system and check our motives. Speaking as a prospective adoptive parent, motive checking is a really hard place to go. There is nothing more that I want in this world than to have a child and raise a family, but I can't knowingly be a part of an unethical process. And that is the hardest part of all of this. You really don't know. You can look for the red flags, you can do your best to ensure ethical procedures, but at the end of the day it is difficult to get a clear understanding of the whole truth.

This article is about foreign international adoption. D and I are in a different kind of international adoption process which looks more like a domestic adoption situation. In foreign adoption, children are generally adopted from orphanages and government or orphanage and agency staff match families with children. In our international adoption situation we will be chosen by an expectant mother to raise her child. This certainly does not mean that our chosen route of adoption is devoid of all corruption. There are very real ethical concerns with newborn adoption and the American system where adoption equals big business. And let's face it, there are corrupt people everywhere in this world.

I guess the bottom line is to always be on the watch...eyes and ears open to see and hear the truth, no matter how difficult that may be.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

a year in review

One year ago we signed paperwork to start the adoption process. In many ways this seems like a lifetime ago.

I’ve noticed that many adoption bloggers have documented their timeline. I’ve decided to review our last year in a similar way while all the dates and such are still pretty fresh in my mind. That way our timeline will be recorded before everything becomes blurry. Although some of the dates over the past year will certainly be etched in my mind forever.

March 19, 2008 – Signed paperwork with a local agency and American agency.
April 2, 2008 – Phone interview with American agency social worker.
June 17, 2008 – Home study completed. Become aware that our social worker didn’t completely follow the American agency guideline for home studies so an addendum must be written. We decided to get it completed immediately versus after our file reaches the States.
July 6, 2008 – Home study addendum completed.
August 8, 2008 – File approved by Provincial Director.
August 13, 2008 – File takes an unnecessary detour to Ottawa for authentication. Were told this would take 7-10 days when in fact it takes a month.
September 9, 2008 – Receive confirmation from the American agency lawyer that our file will be considered pre-Hague.
September 16, 2008 – File sent to the American agency. Arrives the next day.
November 19, 2008 – File approved by American agency. Were told that approval would take 6-8 weeks, ours took 9 weeks.
December 12, 2008 – Contacted regarding potential adoption situation.
December 26, 2008 – Potential adoption situation a no go. She decides to parent.
February 13, 2009 – Experience further frustration with the process.
March 19, 2009 – Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Looking back a lot has transpired over the past year, but it sorta feels like nothing has happened because our lives haven’t changed. We still get up and go to work every day and come home to an empty house (although thank goodness for our cat who greets us at the door!). We’re still the childless ones in our circle of friends. We’re still the ones that don’t have to arrange child care and can sleep straight through the night.

I guess in the end my hope is that my next year in review will result in the end of this crazy process and that by March 19, 2010 our lives will look very different.

Monday, March 16, 2009

something worth sharing

This post has everything to do with chocolately goodness and nothing to do with adoption.

I typically follow a diet regime that omits refined sugar, dairy, and wheat (sometimes all gluten). Those of you who know me well, know that I have quite the sweet tooth. I have definitely found ways to modify recipes to use more natural sources of sugar like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar. Some people tell me that to make something gluten, dairy, and sugar free it must be taste free. I totally disagree. It’s a matter of being persistent and willing to try new recipes and find new products, etc.

I must credit Northwest Moms for my recent find. They posted about a gluten, dairy, refined sugar free brownie mix sweetened with honey and molasses. Their review about Pamela’s chocolate brownie mix was so good I knew I needed to try it. I checked the internet looking at the sites for this mix but they didn’t ship into Canada. Then one day while at a local organic grocery store, low and behold, right in front of my face, was the sought after brownie mix. I almost jumped for joy!

I baked it.
Tasted it.

The Northwest Mom review was bang on. This brownie tastes like the real thing. I would serve it to guests and never tell them what's NOT in it! This just goes to show that healthier foods don’t have to be taste free! So if you have diet restrictions that leave you wondering how you can ever enjoy chocolately goodness ever again, this post is for you!

I baked my second batch of these AMAZING brownies this weekend and there are a few left in the pan…must go finish them off!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

decision 2008

One year ago today D and I received a phone call that propelled us into action. We had been researching adoption and thinking and praying about our options for many months. Early on in our research of agencies and the process we heard about the Hague Convention* and its potential to halt all out-going adoptions from the US. But no one seemed to have any solid information about how the Hague was going to work in the States. Everyone was pretty vague. And no one knew exactly when the Hague was going to be ratified in the US. So D and I continued on in our research and sort of forgot about the Hague. Then on that fateful day one year ago I received a phone call from a friend who was in the know. She told us that the Hague Convention was for sure being ratified on April 1, 2008 in the States and that it really didn’t look good for Canadians to adopt US children. However, there were rumors floating around that if one signed with an agency prior to April 1 there was a possibility of being grandfathered into the new system. But this was no guarantee. And some people felt that to be grandfathered in you would have already needed to have a home study completed before April.

What were we to do?

Our other options for adoption weren’t great. Either wait 2 plus years for an older baby through International adoption or 8-10 years for a domestic adoption. The American option (for many reasons) felt best for us and was our first choice. The Hague certainly threw a potential large wrench in our plans. That phone call threw us into action. We researched more, made phone calls across Canada as well as into the States, and prayed…a lot! Initially our plans were to start the adoption process a few months later but here we were with this dilemma.

Three days before the phone call about the Hague, D and I had a conversation about adoption and our options. We talked about how we were both feeling and where we were in our thought process. We basically determined that we were both feeling good about adoption and pursuing it. So what was keeping us from making the phone call? We weren’t really sure. Likely because it was such a huge step and one that we both knew once we made it there was no turning back. It takes D and I a long time to make large decisions like this. We talk, and think, and research, and pray. But once we’ve made a decision then generally it’s been made for good. We don’t do much half heartedly, we’re either in or out. So to make this decision was a pretty big deal.

For 9 days we lived with an intense amount of stress. Do we try the American route? Go domestic? International? Nothing seemed certain any more. I very clearly remember those 9 days…but would actually love to forget them! Although they are a part of our story. Previous to March I could visualize myself on a fence with adoption sitting on one side of the fence. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get off the fence onto the side with adoption. I couldn’t understand why because I was quite okay with starting a family in this way. I still don’t know why I stayed on the fence for so long but I clearly remember during that 9 day period last year, as we were making a decision that would change our lives forever, I got off the fence and quite calmly stood on the adoption side. For some reason we needed to experience that stress and uncertainly to take a leap of faith and make a decision.

So on March 19, 2008 we signed an initial application with our local agency as well as an American agency. What freedom we felt that day! Decision made. Everything with the Hague was still very much up in the air and there would be more stress to come regarding this. But we had done what we could to start the process. My friend has said that she wished she had never called us that day one year ago to cause us so much anxiety. But I thanked her for doing it, because without that call who knows where we would be now with regards to family planning. I know one thing, without that call we would not have applied with any agency prior to April to be potentially grandfathered into the new Hague system. But we did and here we are…a pre-Hague adoption.

Hard to believe that was a year ago. In some ways it feels like forever and in others just like yesterday.

*The Hague Convention is in and of itself a very good thing. Canada has been a Hague country for quite some time. The premise of the Treaty is to minimize unethical procedures in inter-country adoption and help to streamline the process. However, the Hague can be interpreted in a multitude of ways by each country.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

perspective is good

Awhile back D and I started volunteering somewhat regularly at a local homeless shelter. We help out in the kitchen, serve food, and interact with the patrons. Besides being a good distraction from my woes it provides us both with some perspective in life. When I spend time reflecting on the lives of the patrons at this shelter I am very aware that my concerns are minimal. I’m not for want. I have warm shelter, enough food, transportation, a social support network, and employment. I’m not caught up in a system that on the outside is set up to help (i.e. social assistance) but in reality works to keep people trapped in the system. I have certain freedoms and can advocate for myself (that has become apparent in our interactions with our agencies). I have so much and yet I am the one that feels blessed by volunteering.

I don’t want to minimize my own concerns or that of others, but every once in awhile a good dose of perspective is a very good thing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

another month passes by

The beginning of every new month is really hard for me. It means that yet another month has passed by and no change in my life. Every month I wonder, is this the month?

I feel like a fool. We thought our file would reach the American agency much sooner than it did - there were unexpected delays and procedures that we weren't privy to at the beginning of the process. Had we known how long this waiting time would have been we wouldn't have shared our plans to adopt with our larger circle when we did. And because we knew that our approval process in the States could have been expedited if there was a potential match I also had to inform my employer of my plans to leave work sooner rather than latter. They are really the last people in my circle that I wanted to share our future plans with but it was necessary. My employer has been supportive and they've got everything ready to go for when I take parental leave. But I feel so foolish...I gave notice of my upcoming need for a leave in September and it's now March. I also feel foolish for falling for the agency's expected time lines. They all told us that our wait wouldn't be that long, that generally when you're open to race things move quite quickly. I guess we were really too optimistic. I don't know why the length of waiting should surprise me really, not a lot has ever come easily for me so why should this be any different. But I had hoped.

Will March be THE month? Possibly. But I'm preparing myself that it might not be and that this month too will pass by.