Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Does everything really need to be this difficult? Really?

When you put your house on the market, there are several things you must do. Rearrange furniture so it looks big,

It’s a Cape Cod! How big can it be???

keep all dishes out of the sink,

easy, just eat out a lot


and the one day you don't you'll have 10 people come by without calling first

and lock up all valuables. That included locking up our two adoption notebooks since they contain every bit of personal information on us except how I lost my virginity

although I wouldn't be surprised if that made it into the homestudy…

I also decided, in an effort to focus on something other than this interminable wait, that I would not obsessively look through the adoption folders every week and since they were locked away that made it easy. Isn’t there a saying about good intentions…

Well today I needed to get a phone number out of the Nepal binder so I dug it out of the secret special locked down hiding place and while flipping through it I noticed our I-171 form.

It had expired.

On 9/22/08.

Over one month ago.

This form is from Homeland Security and without it, we cannot adopt.

That means that our dossier, which is currently in Nepal, is not completely up-to-date.

A little background on this one sheet of paper. We obtained our first I-171 when we filed to adopt from China. As the wait grew and we decided to do a concurrent adoption with Nepal, we found that we could transfer, for free, our I-171 from China to Nepal. So we did and then were re-fingerprinted because they were set to expire in July.

Unfortunately, even though it was re-issued for Nepal earlier this year, they continue to keep the original expiration date that we had when it was for China and that was last month. There is a one-time free extension if you request BEFORE YOUR CURRENT FORM EXPIRES.

Alas, in a misguided attempt to actually stop obsessing over these adoptions (and transfer that obsession to selling our house and moving) I missed the deadline. So today has resulted in frantic calls/emails to the USCIS office, our adoption agency, our home study agency, and to home study agencies in IL to find out if there are any pre-adoption requirements there that we would need to know about in case we end up moving before we travel to Nepal or get our new I-171 form.

oh, and someone else wanted to see the house so I had to leave for another hour in the middle of all these calls/emails

Here’s where we stand: I have downloaded an I-600A form from the USCIS website,

I don't care what Al Gore says, I think God invented the internet

and filled it out, made copies of our marriage certificate, birth certificates and paid the requisite fees (read: another large check was written to the Dept. of Homeland Security). That was mailed via Express Mail today. Our homestudy agency is re-issuing our homestudy report and sending it directly to USCIS. The one silver lining is that we won’t have to be re-fingerprinted (or pay the $80 per person fee) since they don’t expire until July 2009 which may mean it will be processed faster.

Megan is notifying the person who has our dossier that we have re-filed for the form and should have it within 4-6 weeks so that *hopefully* will not delay us getting a child match.

In the meantime, I am interviewing several home study agencies located in IL. If we move before we get our new I-171 or our referral and travel dates to Nepal, we will have to re-do the home study and several other pieces of our dossier to make it valid. If we don’t do that we will not be allowed a travel visa for our child to come back to the US.

Lesson learned: sometimes my obsessive-compulsive behavior is a good thing and to ignore it can cost lots of money and massive heart-palpitations.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ok, I take back the lightbulb joke

In the middle of Tihar, this announcement came out on adoptionnepal.com:

Government Announce Agency Listing: 58 approved

Kathmandu: The Nepal Government has announced 58 agencies as approved, from 10 different countries enabling only these to file applications to adopt Nepalese children internationally. 32 agencies have gotten approval in the USA while Germanu and Norway each had one approved. 8 agencies from Italy, 5 from Spain, 3 from Canada, and 2 each from France, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark have been approved.

69 applications had been received from various countries seeking approval to do international adoption from Nepal.

Likewise in the recent shuffle of the Secretaries, the Secretary of Women Children and Social Welfare, Mr. Punya Prasad Neupane, has been transferred and replaced by Mrs. Brinda Hadda.

Our agency was on the list and was confirmed by Megan, our adoption agent. She said that they "may" start accepting dossiers in 2 weeks. Ours is already there and in the hands of her lawyer in Nepal so when the government starts accepting them, we'll be ready. I hope I am happily surprised again....dare I hope?

In the meantime, Len is still in Chicago for work. We are continuing to get a fair amount of traffic in our house but so far no buyers. My brother is in town for work so we went out for breakfast and a movie yesterday, then he helped me rake up the leaves in our yard. This morning I had a long breakfast at our house with my good friends Sharon and Maggie. It was great to catch up with them--they were the women I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with 10 years ago!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is anyone surprised?

No, I didn't think so...if you are, then I have a nice bridge in DC that is yours for, say, the list price of our house which as yet remains unsold.

I am referring to the announcement of agencies approved by the Nepali government which was supposed to be done, oh, you know, in the next day or two but certainly before Tihar. Well, it is now after 9pm on Friday in Nepal and no announcement. Tihar starts tomorrow.

How many Nepalese does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. They keep saying they’ll do it tomorrow until you end up doing it yourself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dustbunnies and Realtors

Saturday mornings now are not that relaxing anymore. Usually the phone rings by 9:30-10am with a realtor wanting to come by in the next 30 minutes with clients to see the house. This Saturday we had 4 realtors do that and they managed to spread themselves out so much that they were here between 10am-5pm. To fill the morning and early afternoon, we met Spiff, Paul and their friend Greg from Chicago at Jimmy T's in Capitol Hill for breakfast and then we strolled through Eastern Market afterwards. It turns out that Greg only lives about 20 blocks or so from our new place in Chicago and he works near Len's office downtown.

Len inside Eastern Market

At the meat counter...Hah!

Serious contemplation of cheese

Doesn't everyone need a leopard print box?

And really big white sunglasses?

Sunday was movie day (since yet more people were coming over). There are some great movies out right now. I recommend these that I've seen lately...Burn After Reading (only the Coen brothers could make two of the sexiest actors today look like complete dorks), Bill Maher's Religulous (not for the ultra-conservative and easily offended), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (ditto), The Duchess (lots of closeups of Keira Knightley's pained face) and Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (timely documentary: his playbook is still being used by the RNC. Scariest line: "People vote their fears...it doesn't matter what's true, it matters what people believe is true" uttered by Attwater referring to Willie Horton. Can you say "Ayers" or "Acorn"?).

For all of the traffic in and out of our house, we still have had no offers. When our realtor follows up, all of the comments are quite positive and most say they aren't in a real hurry to buy or they are still looking and not sure b/c of the lousy economy, etc. Fortunately, we only have until Nov. 17th when our 60 days of listing has passed and then we can start the buy-out program with Len's work. I can't imagine selling our house without this safety net. We should be moved by the end of December at the latest with this program. In the meantime, Len is in Chicago for the next 2 weeks. He's meeting up with Greg (see above) for dinner and also with Karen, our fabulous realtor in Chicago, on another night.

Charis and I are holding down the fort here. She is exhausted from running away from the vacuum cleaner, the mop and the dust spray on a more-than-normal basis. The final affront was when I rousted her out from under the covers so I could make the bed. She's not very useful but she is cute.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Will it be announced before Tihar? Ummm....what do you think.

This was today's news on adoptionnepal.com:

Committee Recommends Agency Listing

Kathmandu: The Investigating, Recommendation and Monitoring Committee, Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare recently held a meeting to recommend agencies for listing. The committee has concluded to list names of 58 agencies out of 69 applications received from different countries. The Government of Nepal will have to give approval on this listing before it can be formally announced. Sources have confirmed that the committee has rejected 4 applications as it was filed after the deadline date while 7 applications needs to update their documents. The government is likely to announce the listing before the coming Tihar festival.

The Tihar festival begins this Saturday, October 25 and continues through Wednesday, October 29. That means the listings would have to be announced by this Friday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What happened to Joe Six-Pack?

All I can say is thank goodness Joe the Plumber wasn't part of last night's shot game or we would not be upright.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mavericky Maverick

Charis is ready for the final debate tonight. She's got on her camouflage hat and is resting up for shots: one drink for "My friends", two drinks for "fundamental difference" (in a show of bipartisanship, that one counts no matter which candidate utters it) and three drinks for invoking Reagan. Cheers!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…into the future

Why no news out of Nepal on the agencies certified to facilitate adoptions internationally? It’s Festival season. Today is the last day of Dashain in Nepal. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. Nepalis of all caste, creed and financial classes celebrate Dashain and travel en masse to their home villages to accept tikas (red vermillion paste daubed on the forehead) from their elders. Regardless of its religious underpinnings, Dashain symbolizes a fortnight for families to be together – not unlike Americans’ propensity to travel home for the Christmas and Chanukah holidays, which may or may not have any thing to do with intentions of celebrating the birth of Jesus. But the rituals of Dashain differ sharply from Christmas or Chanukah in length (Dashain is fifteen days long, ending with the full moon of the Nepalese lunar month of Kartik), purity (there’s no Santa Claus-like competition or contamination) and mounting controversy (the nationwide beheading of animals).

The primary focus throughout Dashain is Durga, the Hindu divine mother goddess in all her manifestations. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorized the earth in the guise of a monstrous water buffalo. It’s not just that Durga must be worshipped; Durga must be appeased. If she is properly attended to and pleased, good fortune will follow. If she is angered through the people’s neglect, misfortune will swiftly waylay the miscreants.

The first nine days signify the nine days of battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.

But wait, there’s more. Unfortunately, right after Dashain is the Festival of Tihar. This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival after Dashain. It lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned, well lit and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals and they guard our house as true guardians. Cows are also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and are also the national animal of Nepal. During Tihar, the Newari community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshipping one’s own body and life. On this day, the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters.

So, time drags on here as we wait for the government to reopen and for any news whatsoever to trickle out. Since our house is still on the market, I do believe that Laxmi will enter our house—it has been meticulously clean and well lit for nigh on 4 weeks now. Now to find that crow…I really need a messenger with some good news right about now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A great fall weekend

Fall seems to have kicked summer out and has settled in. With summer gone the shows at Wolf Trap are held in the Barns which is where we found ourselves on Saturday night with Roddy and Gretchen. The Iguanas were playing and provided entertainment not only with their music but from the audience's attempts at dancing. For those not familiar with the Iguanas, click here for a sample.

Sunday we had another Open House in what can only be considered the worst possible time to sell your house. We had about 15 couples come through but again, no serious buyers. Since we had to be out of our house for the majority of the day, we went to Winchester with Paivi and Euan. After a rather mundane lunch (we are 0-2 at picking eating establishments in that town), the afternoon was salvaged with a trip to a local vineyard.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting to tomorrow

Many people have asked us why we have not looked into domestic adoption instead of continuing with the massive uncertainty of international adoptions. There have been many reasons I have given and I have never wavered in that certainty, even with the lengthening wait times and unstable governments. Here is another example of why we will not consider a domestic adoption. I have been following the journey of a couple who struggled for several years with infertility, then decided to adopt from Kazakhstan. They had a bait and switch situation in Kazakhstan where the child they were matched to wasn't the child they were shown, then were told they needed to pay several thousand more in order to get another child in another part of the country or return to the U.S. empty-handed. They eventually did find their daughter, "Moonpie", and returned home. They then decided to adopt domestically for their second child. After being chosen by nine different birth mothers who all changed their minds before giving birth, the day had finally come when it looked like she would finally get her second child:

Tron was born Tuesday night, at 7:59, at a whopping 7 lbs 12 oz. We didn't get to cut the cord, as he slipped into the world during what we thought was a routine pelvic check and were standing in a separate room.

We watched him get cleaned and weighed, and held him, and gave him his first bottle. We snuggled with him all day yesterday, changing poopy diaper after poopy diaper and getting sprayed with pee in the process. Then this morning we brought him home from the hospital, a family of four. Gracie put the name we chose on the birth certificate, with our last name. He was, in every way, ours.

In adoption, there is a 10% chance a family will change their mind about placement. Given Gracie''s assurances yesterday, we were not worried at all about the adoption going forward.
This morning we went to the hospital to get Tron. It took a while to get there, and his discharge took a little longer than expected, but we made it home by noon. And there was much pooping, and bottle eating, and then napping. Moonpie got to hold him, and was so thrilled to be a big sister.

And then my cellphone rang.

D answered it, my lap being full of baby at that point, and suddenly shouted "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F**ING KIDDING ME!"

It was George. They wanted Tron back.

We met them at our adoption agency's office and talked with them for a while. They are making an emotional decision in what is a very emotional time, and nothing the social workers said had any sway with them. They are deluded about their financial situation, thinking only of today. They will use their food stamps. George thinks he maybe sorta kinda might get hired from a temp to full-time. Etc. etc.

D and I mostly sat silent, holding hands, hugging Moonpie. She sobbed when we told her Tron had to go live with George and Gracie instead of us. "I want my baby brother! I want Tron!" she sobbed, and I sobbed with her.

I laid Tron in Gracie's arms, and she didn't even look at him.

When we were in Petropavolvsk, and they told us they had taken us to the other side of the world to get a baby and then told us there were none, I told God that I didn't understand. I didn't understand why he would do that to us, why he would put us through all that we had been through. And then we got a call that Moonpie was waiting for us just ten hours away, and we met the child who was exactly meant for us. I got to love Tron for a day, and I will never forget him. Of course we are hurting right now, but George and Gracie hurt, too.
In adoption, no one wins.

We are going home tomorrow. We are strong, we are a family, we will be ok. We need to give Moonpie the security and reassurance that her world will never change, that she will never be taken away from us. And we need to grieve the loss of our almost son.

We just need to get to tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Charis seems to have a new nightly routine. It involves going up and down the stairs a minimum of 8 times a night. Each time she arrives at the upstairs landing, she announces her arrival with a rather loud meow. This is followed by her clicking toenails a few steps towards our door and another, even louder meow.

“Murphewyr,” I mutter, in an effort to get her to jump on the bed and go to sleep.

Only this time she doesn’t go for it. She clicks away from the room and continues to howl and then the howl changes to that deep, guttural moan that indicates only one thing: a hairball has worked its way loose and is on the way up. I leap out of bed, snatching a Kleenex as I go, knowing that she is probably on the only patch of carpet in the house—the newly re-carpeted stairs. I get to her just as the heaving begins and whisk her to the wood floor with one second to spare. After a quick cleanup, Charis seems a little too happy for the attention as she starts to purr and saunters off, tail high. Mission accomplished: I am awake and have given her some attention. Now she can go back to sleep.

As I crawl back into bed, Len groans that he doesn’t think he'll be able to get back to sleep (because laying there under the warm covers NOT cleaning up kitty puke is quite taxing...). We lay there a few minutes...

"I have something to tell you," Len mutters.

"What?" I ask, knowing from his tone that something isn't right.

"I quit my job last week. I've just been pretending to go to work every day."

And there went the bottom of my world, dropping silently into the vacuum of space.

"You did what?" I scream, shaking with anger.

"I quit my job. But it's cool, we'll think of something."

“But I'm not working! We have our house on the market! We just put a contract and a large chunk of money on a house in Chicago! And the baby! We are about to F*#@%ING adopt a baby! And not just one baby, but TWO BABIES! How could you do that to me? How could you do that to us?”

And I got so angry screaming these things at Len that I woke myself up.

See how much more compelling dreams are when people think they are true?

Moving anxiety anyone?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pictures of Nepal from Tamar

You may remember that I spoke about Tamar in this post. She has since sent a photo album of really amazing pictures from her time in Nepal.

Click here to enjoy her photos. Once on the photo page, click slideshow to view the pictures a little larger.


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