Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Late night fun

It's been a busy week so far. Saturday I spent the afternoon with my good friend Shelly who now lives in Baltimore. She and her son Nate came for lunch. Then Len and I met up to see the latest Batman movie--quite good! Sunday Len spent all day at a Futurist conference in DC--I've asked him to predict our future but apparently that was not the gist of the meeting. Gah! I'd like to know what's in store for the next year (planner that I am) and all he could tell me was that the latest generation doesn't wear watches anymore...they get their time from their cell phones in case you were wondering.

Monday night was "Arsenic and Old Lace" at Screen on the Green. Every year we get together with Spiff and Paul, some Popeye's fried chicken (it's only once a year!) and a blanket to watch a movie on the Mall. Cary Grant did not disappoint.

Last night was George Michael at the Verizon Center. This is his first American tour in 20 years--boy, did I just date myself horribly or what? Len's office is nice enough to provide box seats for various concerts (we've seen Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Stevie Wonder so far) For those of you 80's Wham! fans, here's a little taste of last night's concert (sorry in advance for singing over Georgie-boy):

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Charity Game Night...we have such wonderful friends

Have I told you about my friend Ryan (affectionately known as Spiff)? Let me share...

We met in an LSU interior design studio probably 12 years or so ago. Long hours slaving over tiny sofa and chair models will bond you to your studio buddies for life. As luck would have it we both ended up in DC working commercial design straight out of school. Over the years our friendship has become more like family....family that you actually like though, not the family that you suffer through once a year at Christmas.

Every year Spiff and Paul host many glamorous parties and this year is no exception. We were quite honored to be the inspiration for their latest soirée. Here is the invite that he sent out!

Charity Game Night

As many of you may know part of my New Year’s Resolution was to give more to charity. Some charities I already knew I wanted to help, the rest I thought would come along during the year and they did. A while back Annette pointed me a website called Global Giving http://www.globalgiving.com/index.html.

They allow you to make donations to small grass roots groups that have very specific goals. So it's not "give us money and we will teach the world to read" it's "give us $50 and we will buy 10 books for 10 children." I like that the goals are very tangible.

So, we also have two very good friends who are adopting a baby from Nepal and in honor of that I found a group that helps rescue Nepalese girls from what is a life of indentured service called Bonded Labor. Nepal is a very poor county and some families send their girls away, pulling them from school to work in the city for the rest of their lives.

Here's a summary of their mission: In Nepal, approximately 40,000 girls are sold into bonded servitude. Families are so poor that they cannot get enough food without the $40-$50 they receive for their daughters. These girls, some as young as 7, are sold and shipped off to work in distant cities. The situation is tailor-made for abuse. NYOF educates the families; pays for all school costs; provides the family with an animal; and has a micro-lending program enabling the parents to end this practice. http://www.nyof.org/

For $100, they can rescue one girl, educate the family, and buy them a pig or a goat and help ensure the girl will be able to stay in school. One life changed for $100. The good news is that my contribution will be $250 towards this cause regardless of how much we raise on game night. The money we raise will be added to the $250 I am already going to give. So we will be playing Hearts and Dominos for charity. The MAX you can lose is $25. We played this about a year ago for Andy who was doing the AIDS ride and it was a lot of fun. Who doesn't go out on a Sat. night and spend at least $25? Only this time it will go to a good cause instead of the bar. We'll have drinks and snacks, feel free to bring a bottle of your choice as well. Hope you can make it!

Thanks Spiff and Paul--you two are the best.

I've been practicing Dominos--I hope I lose big.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A walk on the sunny side of life...

I have realized that the past few weeks...make that months...I have been looking at the glass half empty. In an attempt to rectify that, I made us an appointment with our local hospital to take the Baby Care Class. I kept putting it off because the wait kept getting longer and longer and frankly, I was worried I would forget what I had learned (if the armpit temperature is below 97.7 and above 101.1 then that's a bad thing...or is that below 96 and above 102??)

I was also worried about sitting in the class surrounded by fecundity and having to say, "No, I'm not pregnant, I'm naturally Rubinesque thankyouforasking."

There were 10 couples in the class including us. Fortunately, there was one other couple adopting. They were hoping to hear soon about a baby in FL and, as they quickly pointed out in the introductions, "this class is required by our home study agency." They looked extremely unhappy most of the night and did not ask any questions.

There was one woman who was due with twins within what looked like minutes. There was also one really young woman who looked paralyzed by abject terror at the thought of caring for a newborn. She had very specific questions like,

"how long will my baby cry if he has colic?"
"what size diapers should I buy?"
"how many diapers will I need?"
"how much diaper cream should I apply?"

She wanted answers in numeric terms with a calendar for completion. It was great! I didn't feel so anal-retentive after all--I had met my match!

After three hours though, I really feel like it was not very informative for adoptive parents who will not be bringing home a baby younger than 3 months old. It covered swaddling, sponge bathing, breast feeding, and various other things that you will only do with a newborn. We did get to change a diaper (our second attempt at this and made easier since the "baby" was comatose and had dislocated arms and legs...oh, and the diaper was clean!). Overall though, I didn't learn anything that I hadn't already read in one of the many books on the subject.

It was interesting to watch all of the men squirm during a rather long narrative on circumcision that included how the actual procedure is performed and a graphic explanation on why petroleum jelly is applied liberally post-surgery. Not to leave the women out of the squirm category, we were also shown what a post-breastfeeding nipple will look like. This was the only point where we adoptive mothers were looked at with envy.

Keeping with the glass half full scenario, I bought a few cans of colorful paint. Yesterday and today I have been painting my childhood dresser and an old bookcase of Len's for what will eventually be the nursery.

The colors are crisp white, orange and pink.

Len walked in last night and said, "Wow, for another quarter you could have had pink and orange." My grandfather, Gop, used to say that but it would've only cost a nickel. Inflation has apparently made it to pithy sayings.

I'll post a picture when they are done....trust me people! I'm a professional designer! You can too put pink and orange together!

I'm optimistic anyway.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

China update

According to the latest "unofficial" count by the CCAA, this is what we know:

1. There are about 24,000 dossiers waiting to be matched at the CCAA.
2. The CCAA has received 300 - 450 new dossiers every month since the beginning of the year.
3. The CCAA has matched 400 - 600 children every month since May 2007. In recent months, about half of matches are from the Waiting Child Program (which are special needs children).
4. Every month, about 150 - 200 families transfer from the traditional program to the Waiting Child Program.
5. On average, about 150 - 200 families close their files every month.

According to our agency, the percentage of families who are choosing concurrent adoptions (like we are) is not high at this moment, mainly because of the uncertainty many adoption programs out there are experiencing, as well as the additional financial burden of financing two adoptions at the same time.

China still matches more babies every month than any other country (including America). They are also still the most stable (although South Korea is fairly stable as well but they are running even slower).

The current wait to adopt a healthy child is 30 months. With our current "time served" we still have 15 1/2 months to go.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another update on Nepal

As I understand it, when Nepal closed to foreign adoptions last year, there were two sets of adoptive parent groups caught in the closure. The first set, numbering 442 or so, had already received a child match, had a picture and in some cases had actually traveled to Nepal but were turned away when they closed. The second set, numbering somewhere between 40-60, had an un-numbered file and were waiting for review. There is good news for both camps. The first set have already gone and returned with their children--this began in December and finished up earlier this year. This latest email is what is happening with the second set:

"I thought those of you with unnumbered files would appreciate knowing that the Social Welfare Ministry has just begun reviewing those files. Files at Bal Mandir are not yet being reviewed because the documents for orphan status have not been processed yet. The expectation is that those documents will be processed shortly after the new government meets, which is expected to happen in about a week."
Mary Celeste Starzyk
Director American Nepalese Children's Foundation

This is good news for us because those families need to be matched before our files can be reviewed since they've been waiting over there for MUCH longer. In case this is confusing, we are in the third set of adoptive parent groups: our dossier is over in Nepal with our agency's representative. When Nepal finishes certifying agencies (expected to finish by the end of August) then our representative will be able to submit our dossier once the government officially opens up to foreign adoptions.

The other bit of interesting news out of Nepal is this:


KATHMANDU, July 10 -
International agencies interested to work in Nepal on adoption have shown lukewarm response to the notice of Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW), which has called on them to submit documents to get adoption license under strict new terms and conditions.

Until Thursday, only four Americans and one Italian agency submitted documents showing interest in inter-country adoption. However, Prakash Kumar Adhikari, law officer at MWCSW, expressed hope that agencies from other countries would also submit documents, seeking license for adoption. Only two orphanages have submitted documents in this regard.

On June 23, MWCSW published a notice in a government-owned national daily inviting international adoption agencies for listing at the Investigating, Recommendation and Monitoring Committee of the Ministry, giving a deadline of 60 days.

After suspending international adoptions a year ago because of reported widespread corruption, the government passed new regulations for foreigners wanting to adopt Nepali children.

As per the new terms and conditions, the Adoption Recommendation Committee, formed under secretary of WCSW, will formally approve and give final decision on applications of adopting parents.

Adopting parents need to contact the ministry either through authorized international adoption agencies or through concerned embassies located in the capital. Now the orphanages only have to submit a list of eligible children meant for adoption, and adopting parents need to select from the same list provided by the ministry."

Our agency is in the process of registering now. We'll keep you posted on her progress.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Patience is a Four Letter Word, Part Three

In conclusion...Yay, we are at the end of the Patience essay! No more patience is needed!

I have decided that the next person to tell me that this adoption saga is so that I can practice patience before they arrive will receive this question in return:

How come my friends who had 9 month gestations and now have two year olds didn’t have to learn patience before having children? Do I have to graduate from Patience University while everyone else is allowed to learn it with on-the-job training?

I never said I didn't have a slight sarcastic side...

My mom (I love you mom!) has wonderfully pointed out that "the type of patience you're having to try right now with foot-dragging government bureaucracies is NOTHING like the patience needed with children in various phases: melt-down-tantrum, whiny, ailing, whatever. Unfortunately, "working on" patience is generally not very effective, since it just stresses you in a different direction as you try to be "good."

I do hope I am as good a mom as she is!

Since we are all human and do feel the need for there to be a "reason" and a "lesson learned" when someone we love is suffering, I will make an attempt to explain what I think I have learned through all of this.

Since most of us are uncomfortable discussing death, especially death of a child (unless it’s abortion, at which point everyone seems to have an opinion), most people’s brains will freeze and their tongues go on auto-pilot.

I have learned that before this happened to us, I never knew what to say to someone who had lost a loved one, whether through death or divorce. I never knew what to say to someone I loved who wanted something that I was powerless to give. I wanted to "fix" it, to say the one thing that would make it all better.

I have learned that sometimes just saying you are sorry and letting that person talk, for as long as it takes, with no timetable for when they should be over it, is the best that I can do.

Tell them you love them. Hug them. Let them cry. Ask them if they want to talk about it, even if you've heard it all a thousand times before. It helps to talk about it, even if it’s hard to hear.

Ask them if they’ve checked out one of the chat rooms on the internet or thought about joining a support group – they are surprisingly helpful. Tell them if you have also suffered a miscarriage/infertility/death/divorce/etc., but spare them the details unless they ask for them. Knowing your audience is sympathetic and knows what you are going through is enough. When a loss is fresh (or on-going), you don’t need to receive advice on what you should be doing. You don’t need to hear other people’s war stories – you need the freedom to tell your own.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Patience is a Four Letter Word, Part Two

See, I only made you wait one day ;-)

There are many reasons why I chose not to share about our attempts to have a bio child until after we had stopped trying. Now that I have opened that Pandora’s box, the overwhelming reaction from many of you has been support and for that we are truly grateful. When you are in the midst of it though, your fear is that no one will understand and that you are somehow to blame for why this is happening to you. Shame is a huge factor with couples facing infertility.

Unfortunately, not all of the responses are as kind as what we have been blessed to receive. Several of my friends still struggling with infertility and/or dragging adoption timelines choose not to share with family and friends because when they have, this is what they hear (and sadly what we have actually been told on occasion by a few acquaintances):

It is/was God’s will.

Everything happens for a reason.

These are the people who find comfort in their religion, and for them, hey, that’s great. For those of us who are on the edge of spirituality everyday anyway, the moment when we are most angry with God is not the time to tell us it was His idea to kill our baby or to test our patience with mountains of government paperwork and increasing timelines year after year after year.

I took this picture on a recent trip and it summed up my thoughts exactly:

Most days I find some measure of peace from the idea that I am not in control of the universe. However, acceptance is something you have to arrive at by yourself, and you should be allowed to kick people in the shin for trying to make you skip a step in working through your grief.

Go on, be angry, you have every right to be (thanks Jay).

Funny how we need permission nowadays to be angry. Oh, we are allowed to be angry for a time but pretty soon you are supposed to just get over it and move on. I think this is said more to make themselves feel better than for the person who is actually going through the reality of their loss EVERY SINGLE DAY. We make them uncomfortable.

So who gets to determine how long your grieving process should take? Or what form it will take? I know that I need to work through my anger at how long this is taking. Being able to finally talk about it is one of those steps.

I have a large circle of on-line friends who are waiting to adopt—many are becoming so frustrated with the wait that they are considering dropping out and becoming “child-free”—the PC version of the term “child-less”. Some have switched to domestic adoption (it should be easier in America right? ); one couple has been chosen 9 times (NINE TIMES!) by birth mothers only to have it fall through when she changed her mind and either picked another couple or decided to keep the child.

I do understand the need to find something to say and some LESSON to be learned in all of this. It’s only human right? But what if there is no lesson? What if things happen and there really is no explanation? What if it really does just take an exorbitantly long time for these adoptions to come through and it turns out there was no cosmic lesson to be learned? What then?

What we do not want to hear is that you understand BUT…

Just leave out the BUT and anything that follows. A quick lesson from my former English teacher-self:

When you say anything and then follow it with BUT, you have pretty much negated whatever came before. For example:

I really love you but I wish you wouldn’t do (insert annoying habit here).


I understand that this wait is really hard on you but maybe this is an opportunity to practice patience before you actually get your children.

What I hear:

I will love you if you conform to what I want you to be.


You need to be more patient and until you learn this lesson, you WILL NEVER BE ENTRUSTED WITH CHILDREN BECAUSE YOU DON’T DESERVE THEM.

Now, I KNOW this is not what was said. I even know it is not what was meant.

It is what we hear though and it is also one of my greatest fears. What if I never learn the lesson? What then?

Another state-mandated break is in order; please help yourself to coffee or tea and please stay tuned (and keep practicing that patience!).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Patience is a Four Letter Word

For those of you who worry that my English education degree was somehow a waste of money, yes, I do realize that patience is really an 8 letter word. However, every time I hear someone tell me you need to be patient, this is just practice for when you actually have children, I want to run screaming into traffic.

Look at it from our point of view:

Our first serious discussion of “OMG, I think I would like to have children” took place in October 2004. Our first positive pregnancy test was April 2005. We have been waiting 46 months to have a child. That is 3 months of 2004. ALL of 2005. ALL of 2006. ALL of 2007. And almost 7 months of 2008. And counting.

We have NO IDEA when we will get a match with a child from either China or Nepal.



How many of you have been waiting 46 months for ANYTHING? (Retirement doesn’t count—we’ve all been counting that for decades.) Add to that the one step forward, fourteen steps back approach and you can see where I am headed.

When we decided to adopt from China the wait was 15-18 months. About the gestation of an elephant. Longer than we had hoped but we figured it was do-able because we were told (by various Dr. Experts) that we still had some options with having a bio child in addition to completing our family with the child waiting for us across the globe. We would have two children by the end of 2008 if all went well. Four years of waiting (in total) but at least then it would be over and we could move on.

We all know things did not go as planned…as it rarely ever does with children I will save you the trouble of telling me that.

Most of us struggling with infertility just want to be parents. Yes, it would be so emotionally fulfilling to grow a baby inside of us and give birth to a tiny little miracle all of our own doing. It’s something so easy, so natural to do, that the morons on Jerry Springer do it six times with six different guys (often at the same time – “you are not the father!” ). But for many of us, that will never happen. And we are ok with that for our family. Adoption is not settling for second best in our book.

If adoption is available to us, and we get to be parents, then that is a miracle all of its own making. Take a look on the internet at the couples waiting to adopt – there are thousands of them, smiling, heart-broken faces, begging some woman out there to choose them or others who blog endlessly while they wait for foreign nations to get their acts together. If I am lucky enough to get a baby, then it will be my child, no matter how it came to me. I don’t feel as if I have settled. The idea that love can be divided along lines of DNA is so stupid that you have my blessing if you want to give people who believe this a wedgie.

So on to Plan C. Adopt concurrently from another country with a shorter wait time since China is now expected to be up to 36 months

(BTW, at what point will they put these calculations in years? Shouldn’t they switch to years after you’ve hit the 24 month mark, much like parents do when their child hits 2? How many parents do you know who tell you their child is 87 months old?)

Anyway, we chose Nepal because they were expected to reopen in February 2008. Then April. Then May. Possibly June. Finger’s crossed for July? Now it looks like August.

It is nobody’s fault. Not our agency’s. Not ours. Not the children who need a home. Well, maybe it is the fault of politics and governments but that still doesn’t pin it down to something solvable by me or anyone I know.

I am a list-maker. A problem solver. An organizational freak of nature. I make plans. I know that. Len knows that. He married me anyway. I don’t anticipate that this will ever change. I don’t really want it to change. I LIKE being the person I am. Lack of patience and all. I don’t anticipate that I will suddenly become a person who enjoys an ambivalent, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, no plans, come-what-may, devil-may-care, thither and yon life.

A friend recently asked me why I have been so angry for so long (my Zen comes and goes, what can I say?). I tried to put into words what these past (now) 3 ½ years have been like. How instead of two week waits I now have 2 month waits—every other month we hope that there is some hopeful news out of Nepal (certainly not China) that will speed up this process. How stressful it is on our lives that we can’t make plans more than a month or so in advance because we could be traveling to pick up our child. Or not. How we couldn’t plan that non-refundable trip to the beach this year with our friends in FL. Nor can we plan for next year. How I have an entire room in our house that has been painted for more than a year but still sits empty except for the dresser from my childhood that I have kept in hopes that our child will one day fill it with her clothes. The sadness that I feel when I pass that room every day sometimes makes my knees buckle. How do I make you understand that every day I see my friend’s children having birthday parties (she’s THREE…ALREADY?), yet another couple having their infant child baptized this week (we attend a VERY FERTILE church with the exception of the pew that we sit in, I’m surprised we were allowed to join).

I can tell you the due date for every child I should have had; I mentally measure their milestones against the growing children of my friends, who should have been my children’s playmates. They come to me in my dreams – they have their father’s eyes and my mouth. I also dream of almond eyes, straight black shiny hair, brown skin. Being handed our child by the nanny who has cared for her and looking into our daughter's puzzled eyes. These are DAILY images.

And now we will take a break for station identification and all practice a little patience while we wait for the next installment of why Patience is a Four Letter Word.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scrapbooking is the Devil’s work (followed by housekeeping questions and an update on the adoptions)

I am convinced that scrapbooking is a tool of the devil (my sincere apologies to Sharon who is the Grand Poo Bah in the scrapbooking cult, oops, world).

The little tiny bits of paper, the glitter, the stickers that cost $3 each and are so fat the book won't close properly and end up falling out eventually anyway, the acid-free lignin-free buffered eco-friendly archival quality paper intended to preserve the photos I developed at Snapfish --- it's all a total scam.

When you adopt, you are encouraged to create a "Life book," which is a little different from a traditional baby book. It has sections devoted to the birth parents, the child's culture (if adopted internationally), and starts with the child's birth (or in our case, when we decided to adopt).

I suck at it.

What I am good at, however, is taking about fifteen minutes a day (ok Len, sometimes longer than that…MUCH LONGER!) and blogging. I intend to blog about both of our baby’s adoptions, chronicling what we went through to bring them home, how we felt about WAITING ENDLESSLY (mommy's not very patient), and then following them for at least their first year home.

I just found out I can use a program called "Blurb" to import the blog and edit it. How cool is that?!

It is a unique way to give our daughters the stories of their lives without die-cut gingerbread people and sparkly butterfly stickers!

So this is where you all come in. We would also like to include some comments from you, our faithful readers.

On that note: in an effort to include as much information and feedback as possible we would love it if you would use the comment section on the individual posts instead of sending us individual emails (unless, of course, the info you give is private and not intended to be shared with the blogosphere). We have gotten some really great comments on our blog posts but unfortunately, they have been sent to my yahoo account and not posted on the blog itself. That means I then need to forward them to Len's email account since he doesn't read my yahoo mail, etc, yada, yada, ad nauseum.

This will also be of profound importance when we actually do travel to Nepal and China. With Nepal in particular, they have at least 8 hour blackouts when electricity is not an option. We anticipate being able to blog every day but not necessarily have the time or electricity to check our email accounts and respond to each email. In order to get feedback and support from you, our friends and family, we will be looking in the comments section and responding in our blog to you.

On to housekeeping:

A number of you have emailed and said you aren’t sure how to post a comment to the blog itself so here we go:


Go to the bottom of the individual post and click on where it says "comments" (it actually states the number of comments for that entry).

A new window comes up, and you can type your message. (Remember that anyone who reads our blog will also see you comment so don’t post anything like last names, intimate information, etc. that you wouldn’t want our strange friends in another state to know)

Next, under the entry, there is a code word you have to type in to show you are a human and not some machine.

Under that, there's a space to "choose an identity”.

Here is where I think I will lose some of you. It’s very easy but can seem intimidating so I’ll try to explain it as best I can. If you need further help, email me or call and I’ll walk you through it.

If you currently do not have a google or blogger account, you must sign up for one. You can do that by clicking the part in the window that says, “No Google Account? Sign up here.” When you do that, it will open another window. Follow those instructions and then you should be good to go. You don’t need a separate Google or Blogger email where it says to input your email address—just use the regular one that you already have.

The next question I have been asked is this:

I keep forgetting to check your blog. How can I make it easier to see if you have posted an update?

Unfortunately, I cannot send out individual email reminders to everyone that we have posted something (otherwise I would be back to sending out individual emails and you see the circuitous problem I have now created…)

As the administrator of the site, I am allowed only 10 email addresses that I can have the blog site send an email to with our new post. Since we have 50 or so people who we have sent the link to, we are in a bit of a bind. I do apologize if you are not one of the CHOSEN 10 but we do still love you and would like you to share in our journey!

So, what I do with the 15 or so blogs that I am interested in keeping up with is this:

At the very bottom of our blog page is a line that says “Subscribe to: Posts (Atom). This means that you can subscribe to our post and have it automatically update in your Favorites/Feeds on your Internet Explorer.

Here is the process:

Click on the above-mentioned link. It will open up another page.

Look in the yellow box in the upper left corner and click on the line that says “Subscribe to this feed.”

Another smaller box will open up and it will list the name of our blog and will say to “Create in: Feeds”.

Click “Subscribe”

Congratulations! You have now successfully subscribed to this feed! Yes, I am happy for you but this will also be the message you will now see back in the same yellow box. You may now close that window.

So, how do you then find us again? Ahhh. Well, this is where you will need to use your memory (don’t thank me, I’m just trying to keep you young). When you open up Internet Explorer you should see a yellow star in the left side right near the tabs that list what website you are on.

When you click the yellow star it should show you your Favorites (which are the websites that you may have marked that you would like to return to). Right next to the words “Favorites” it should say “Feeds” and then “History”.

Click on Feeds. Our blog should now appear there if you followed the above instructions. When we put an update on the blog, our blog name will become bold and that indicates that you can go to our blog to read the latest. If it has not been updated then you’ll know we haven’t posted.

Granted, it still requires you to go to your Feeds but at least it doesn’t require you to log into our site each time to see if we’ve posted.

With that bit of housekeeping done, I will go back to more interesting subjects.

And here is the latest update from China and Nepal:

China: As of 7/9/08, families with a LID of Jan 23-24, 2006 have been matched with babies. The CCAA has finished the review of dossiers registered with their office before Jan. 31, 2007. So, our dossier has still not been reviewed by the CCAA in China. *Sigh*.

Nepal: Our agency is supposed to *hopefully* be registered with the new government this week. Nepal is in the process of registering foreign agencies and our agency has had her paperwork in the que just waiting for the time when they would be ready for it. Because it is a new government, all agencies must supply new paperwork to them even if they have already worked in Nepal in the past. The latest rumor on the discussion boards is that they may re-open to foreign adoptions in August. Then it could be another 3-5 months before they match dossiers with babies. With that said, it’s a third world country with no potable water and 8 hour-a-day blackouts. Anything could happen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tevel b'Tzedek (The Earth - In Justice)

My friend Katherine introduced me on-line to one of her graduate students, Tamar, who is in Kathmandu, Nepal, volunteering with Tevel B ‘Tzedek. We have been emailing over the past few months and she has had a lot to share about the children and orphanages of Nepal. She has just finished her volunteer time and it has been very nice to have that contact over there during our wait.

This group started a little over a year ago and is on its third cycle of volunteers who live in Nepal for 4 months at a time. We had hoped to be able to meet her over there before she finished but alas, the adoption process is taking longer than we had hoped (understatement of the year).

Their goal (taken from their newsletter) is to “show that caring about the world in all its brokenness does not signal an abandonment of Israel or Jewish identity and solidarity, because our core task as Jews is to fix the broken vessels and raise the holy sparks so that the world can hold beauty and goodness and abundant life. We cannot fulfill this task without increasing our firsthand knowledge and identification with the other half of humanity, those whose lives usually remain hidden from our view.”

What an amazing mission statement. This newsletter is quite a good read and details what work they have been doing as well as an article on the women of Nepal, street children and a nice piece entitled “The Faith of an Atheist”.

On the last page is a description of iCare, the project that Tamar finished a few days ago. There are also a few pictures that she took at a drop-in center for street children, where she also volunteered. All the pictures of the kids painting in the Street Children article were taken by Tamar.

Click here to go to a link of their latest newsletter detailing the work they do (and if you’d like to make a donation to their work I don’t think she would mind!). Information on either volunteering (you don’t have to be Jewish to volunteer) or donating is on the last page of the newsletter.

The print will appear small so use the + sign to increase the font size. Or you can download it onto your desktop and read it at a larger scale when you open it as a pdf file.

Dad and Gloria--email or call me and I'll walk you through it. :-)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Excellent article on trans-racial adoptions

Just a short post today. Click here to read an article by an 8th grader who was adopted from Vietnam. She has some interesting points to ponder. I'd be interested to hear any comments you may have on the subject. Just click on the comments link below.

Friday, July 4, 2008

On Starbucks and Babies

I’ve spent the past few months trying to figure out why trans-racial adoption in the U.S. is acceptable…to a point. Why some people are thrilled at the idea of an Asian child but not a bi-racial or fully black child. Why people are ok with brown, but not too brown. “Will your Nepalese baby look Chinese or…”

Yes, she will probably be darker.

I think I’ve decided that it’s a class issue. Where I am from in the Deep South, race gets complicated. Slavery and segregation are obvious factors but this tends to run deeper. Inter-racial dating and marriage were (and still are to some degree) taboo. For many white middle class Southern families, the worst thing a white girl can still do is sleep with a black man.

When you see a white woman with an Asian child, do you assume that child is adopted even if she’s not? If the child is Hispanic or black, does the question become blurrier…if she’s well-dressed in expensive clothes do you assume adoption?

Fortunately, some high-profile celebrities have taken some of the stigma away. Adoption seems to be becoming the new status symbol, much like those $5 Starbucks’ lattes. But for those of us who don’t have full-time body guards, at-home tutors or the privileges of Brangelina’s brood, we must face the reality of living in a country where racial lines still run deep.

When we decided to do a multiple adoption, two of the countries we considered were Guatemala and Ethiopia. We got quite a different reaction from a few people than we did when we announced our intention to adopt from China. There were no overtly racist comments to be sure but there was that slight inhalation, the sideways glance before replying “Wow! What made you choose Ethiopia??”

Only when we chose Nepal (“where is that located btw?”) did some of the more candid comments find expression. Relief was the operative word followed by concern…”do you know how hard it would have been to parent a black/Hispanic child as white parents?”

I don’t know…how many black/Hispanic children have you parented? Will it be harder than parenting a slightly less black child?

We struggled with our decision, trying to reconcile our own liberal attitudes with those of some others. Would it be fair to our Ethiopian child when her Chinese sister was so clearly more acceptable to others? Even though we live in liberal Northern Virginia, we are still below the Mason-Dixon line. What will she face as a young African/Latino girl when we aren’t around?

I just read in one of my adoption mags about a woman who has two boys from Guatemala. When they were little everyone cooed and said “Oh how cute!” As they have grown to be teenagers they are now viewed quite differently. Now they are more sinister. Possibly illegal immigrants, yard service workers, or worse, part of a gang. It’s a whole new education for those boys…they are viewed one way when they are with their parents but in a whole other light when seen out on their own in town.

Yes, Nepalese children are darker. How much darker? How do I answer that? Do I compare them to coffee drinks at Starbucks? Well, BIB 1 is more like a caramel frappuccino but BIB 2 is closer to a dark espresso with just a hint of vanilla soy…

Just call us Lenisa.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

About the slideshow below...

The China adoption community is huge. My friend Laurie (who adopted from China as well) recommended that we join a yahoo group made up of people who also have the same LID month as us. So we found a group and all (or most) of the families have April 2007 LIDs. There are currently 281 families from all over the world on this site alone (gives you some perspective on why it takes so long to get a referral).

So to pass the time and make it more bearable, there are various activities you can participate in online and one that I chose was to be a secret pal for someone for a year. I in turn was assigned a secret pal. Our only goal for the year was to send a small care package every month, kind of a monthly cybershower.

June was the last month of this gift exchange and then we had the big reveal. Thank you to my secret pal family, Chris and Freddy from NY, for all of your wonderful gifts to our as-yet-to-be-matched daughter! It has truly been one of my favorite things every month when the mailman approaches with your packages.

Gifts from my China secret pal!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My husband the chipmunk

Before we get to the title of this post allow me to digress for a moment:

Apparently, listing that I will not enroll our child in swimming classes as an infant has not gone over well as I have received numerous emails exposing my naïveté on this subject. I was even given a website to peruse as proof of my folly (thank you Mack):


I'm sure this will only be the first of many words I will eat.

Now back to the chipmunk.

Len had to have 2 teeth extracted today! He started having some tooth pain on Friday and by yesterday he couldn't take it anymore so he went to the dentist. He had an abscess under a crowned tooth. Then dentist tried for 4 hours to relieve the pressure and drain the abscess to no avail. He was sent home with some antibiotics and vicoden. Today he went to a surgeon who removed the crowned tooth and also the wisdom tooth behind it which apparently was loose.

His face is swollen. REALLY swollen. He looks like some of the guys I used to date back in Macclenny when a packet of Big Red tucked into your cheek was part and parcel with the truck, dog box and gun rack.

Or a chipmunk.

For those who know me well, you will not be surprised to find out that at this point I am in a fetal position and my toes are permanently curled under. I have a rather large dental phobia. Large may actually be an understatement. I think if I were ever in a position to be interrogated I would completely buckle and sing like a canary if faced with a dental chair and sharp metal instruments.

But wait, there’s more to this grisly tale. He has to go back in 3 months for an implant because a bridge will not work. That suggests screwing or nailing something INTO YOUR JAWBONE (I don’t think Crazy Glue will work right??). He was about to launch into an explanation of how this procedure will work when he noticed that I was squirming and grinding my teeth in an effort NOT to visualize the process—all this while talking around the large chunk of gauze in his chipmunk cheek.

He is amazing though. The dentist from last night said that if he hadn’t been such a stellar patient he would have stopped an hour and a half earlier. I don’t think I would’ve lasted 5 minutes without serious medication…like total, full-body anesthesia.

Len’s input to this blog post is, “It hurts me more than it hurts you.”

I’ve absolutely no doubt it does but on this one I do seem to have serious, toe-curling sympathy pains. Maybe I should go floss.


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