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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another year has passed....

And we are still filling out fucking paperwork. Sorry for the coarse language but Len and I both agreed there was not another equally suitable or descriptive word for this. Today marks one year since our Nepal paperwork was finished and sent to our agency and on for safekeeping to her contact in Nepal. One more year gone.

Sigh.

We spent this week updating all the old forms that Nepal requires (these are different than the paperwork we were doing for the homestudy update which is still in the process of being re-re-re-written). Once we updated and printed those we had to get them all notarized in duplicate again and sent off to Megan who will forward to Nepal.

Our dossier is at a complete standstill at the Ministry because we don't have a new I-171. Our homestudy should be done in the next few days but it will still be awhile before we will get the I-171--probably a few more months.

Big, deep, heavy sigh.

Meanwhile, time keeps clicking away on the calendar. One year. Another year. And another year. For those of you who have asked, yes, we have had the discussion about when we will just stop if this continues. No, I will not be sharing that information until we have actually stopped the process.

In other news, I don't think I've mentioned on here that Charis has renal disease. She's had it for years but has soldiered on without it much affecting her. Unfortunately, the stress of showing our house for so long combined with the move here has taken its toll. She has lost several pounds and is starting to drink enormous amounts of water. I took her to a new vet here yesterday to get her blood and urine levels tested again--results should be here soon. In the meantime, she is still eating quite a bit and looks alert and happy most days. She will be 17 on the same day as we log in Year Two on our wait for China.




I can promise you we won't be logging in 17 years waiting to adopt--maybe someone will adopt us by then.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Distractions

Today's big adventure was meeting with our homestudy agent at her offices. We got a lot of good news today. The biggest is that all of our security clearances and background checks have come through and she has all of that paperwork in her file. That took less than three weeks--she seemed stunned that all of that had already been processed and sent to her. Me too frankly.

The other is that we won't need to have any more homestudy meetings since she has been able to obtain our file from our previous agency. So, finger's crossed...she says she will have our new homestudy done in a week and a half and will forward it to us and to Megan for approval. Once approved it will be sent to DCFS where they will hopefully NOT sit on it the customary 30 days before sending it on to USCIS for our immigration approval.

In the meantime, more waiting is required. Everything is now out of my hands once again which, as you know, I find extremely disturbing.

To distract myself I have found a new place to go for drawing. Not far from our place is a large art center with all kinds of classes so I have signed up a for a 10 week course in charcoal. It starts in mid-March. I haven't drawn anything (floor plans and elevations of kitchens/baths don't count here--that's work) for 10 years so I'm pretty excited to be back in the studio. I also found a place for Len to take up his guitar lessons again so I think he'll be distracting himself with that soon.

Tomorrow we are expecting another 4-6" of snow so we are headed to the local theatre for the Best Picture Showcase--five of the Oscar nominated films back-to-back all day on Saturday! It starts at 10:30am with Milk, followed by The Reader, Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, with the last one, Frost/Nixon, beginning at 9:45pm. Not sure if we'll make it through all of them but it's only $25 and you can come and go as you please if you want to skip one and go have dinner instead of hotdogs and popcorn.

Be sure to wish Len a happy birthday--he'll turn 43 on Monday!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Guilty pleasures--the online class reunion

I had put off joining Facebook for a long time. I kept getting Friend requests, watching Len (who joined ostensibly so he could play Scrabbulous…) enjoying his new weapon of mass procrastination. His date from Junior Prom posted their prom picture on his profile page.

“The past is the past for a reason,” I said. I don’t want to re-visit my old prom dates.

And besides, I already have a blog that causes me to lose hours of my day—Facebook would only increase my already decadent larder of computer time.

I pooh-poohed anyone who admitted involvement. I turned my nose up at cyber snow globes and bumper stickers. I guffawed at poking. I sniffed at the sad habit of collecting ex-lovers, those people who shine brightest as a memory but instead come to occupy real estate as smiling thumbnails, babies wrapped in their arms.

And then I caved. I got one too many friend requests. I answered the siren call of Facebook beckoning me. In no time, I became practically Pavlovian upon seeing 1 friend request up in the right-hand corner. The anticipation was like Christmas morning each time, even if my growing group of friends consisted mainly of people with whom I had to look up in my yearbook because I remembered their names but not the aged-25 years-faces smiling back at me.

Perhaps I’m not only a closeted Facebook hater, but a narcissist as well: Researchers at the University of Georgia have found a correlation between egomania and the slickness of the profile picture, the number of friends and the number of wall posts an individual has. Certainly, double-digit friend count is not winning me any popularity contests, and there are only a few scribbles on my wall. But I’m also not posting any photos of myself snapped after a night of tequila-induced vomiting either.

I have derived many-a smile from forehead-slapping connections with people who disappeared from my life because—that’s life. Catching up and finding out how they ended up in far-flung locations has been fun and strangely enlightening. Mostly it has been gratifying to see how well everyone is doing, how happy, fulfilled, etc. everyone is. But then again, if you were in the depths of despair with 5 failed marriages and no job, would you really be on Facebook? Don’t most people who show up at reunions do so because they want to come back and show that they "made it"? Where are the balding, fat, divorced, jobless, strung-out-on-drugs Friend requests?

There’s a certain Chevy Chase Grand Canyon vibe to the rekindling. Like the scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation, when the Griswalds peer out across the desert expanse for all of four bouncing seconds before bolting, on Facebook you do the 25-year recap and then—?

Opinions about Facebook abound, and mine are still mixed because, let’s face it, it’s weird! And no matter how I’ve resisted it, those six narrow degrees of separation have inevitably lead me back to my prom date, who is in the past because that is the only place he belongs. He keeps popping up in my People You May Know section, inviting me to ask him to be Friends once again because we have 6 friends in common.

As one of my friends, a social-networking holdout said, voicing an anti-Facebook smugness more pointed than mine, “If you’re not in my life now, why would I want you to be there on Facebook? I already put you out once.”

For now, the reunion is still new and exciting. I am rounding the bend on my 25 year high school reunion and with that comes a nostalgia that I am happy to see is shared by my Facebook Friends. We are all on diets in anticipation for the big reveal. We are eager to show how happy and content we are with the choices we’ve made in life. And for now, that seems to be enough of a glue to keep us checking for status updates

Saturday, February 14, 2009

News article from Kantipur

International Adoption Speeds Up

Kantipur Report
KATHMANDU, Feb 14 - The process of inter-country adoption has speeded up with Nepal accepting applications from potential foster parents. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Affairs has so far accepted at least 50 applications seeking adoption of Nepali children --orphans, children abandoned by their families or given for adoption by parents unable to care for them -- from registered agencies. The ministry is reviewing applications but no decision has been taken on the new applications.

It will take about a month for the applications to be processed and adoptions to resume as the selection committee needs to approve these applications, officials said. Ministry officials said the process of matching prospective parents and children would also begin soon after receiving documents of children available for adoption from orphanages. The registered orphanages, however, have still not submitted the status of children.

The process was put on hold for over one and half year since March 17, 2007, after irregularities in the adoption process came to light. In order to regularise the process, the ministry had prepared new terms and conditions. As per the new conditions, the entire process will be dealt with by the ministry and the Home Ministry will have no role as was the case earlier.

Prospective parents need to pay fees of US $ 8,000 with US $ 5,000 going to children's homes and US $ 3,000 to the government. The government has registered 62 international adoption agencies,which will each have to spend at least US $ 10,000 per year on the welfare of children. Each agency, on the other hand, is allowed to forward 10 applications of foster parents. Records show that foreign foster parents have adopted 2,244 Nepali children since 2000.
Posted on: 2009-02-13 21:17:53 (Server Time)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crickets and Cat Poop

In case that is the sound you are hearing I thought I would confirm it. Nothing but crickets in terms off News-Out-Of-Nepal. Meanwhile, back at the Let’s-Re-Do-Our-Homestudy Ranch, things are moving along. Our social worker showed up bright and early Monday for our first home visit. I handed her ALL of the completed paperwork that was on the List-Of-Paperwork-You-Must-Complete-For-The-Third-Time. She looked surprised that I had finished everything—obviously we need to get to know each other better.

Then she smiled serenely and said there would be two more forms that would need to be filled out. And no, she didn’t have a copy with her. One is a Criminal Conviction/Arrest History Statement. Ok, this may sound redundant but didn’t the 3 sets of fingerprints and the background criminal history check notarized by the State Police Headquarters in both VA and IL cover that item? All this paper says is that we agree that we’ve never committed a crime. And then some stranger notarizes that we’ve signed it. Talk about CYA.

Yes, I did ask that question but without the CYA reference. I know when to behave.

Our next meeting will be at the offices of the homestudy agency next week. Yay. Len gets to take another ½ day off work. Did I mention they don’t work weekends? So Len gets to use up various vacation/sick days that we would otherwise use when we travel and then return with a child.

Anyway, we went through paperwork and then we had the home tour. We were told that no cleaning supplies could be kept in lower cabinets—even with locks on the cabinets. Yes, they do look in your cabinets and when they come back for the 1 month checkup, the 3 month checkup, the 6 month checkup and the 12 month checkup, they will also be checking the location of various cleaning supplies. And the fire extinguisher. And the smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Is the crib too close to the window, she could fall out or strangle on the cord—you will have window coverings right? Oh no, you need to install additional deadbolts up high on all of your doors. Oh dear, you have TWO decks? You have a lot of cords for that tv. Is your range bolted to the wall? How about your bookcases? Why isn’t your toilet lid locked down—you know children love water don’t you? Oh no…the litterbox. They need to be taught that it’s not a sandbox to play in.

I wanted to scream

We just moved in and we don’t have a child yet!! No, our house is not baby-proofed. All we have is a 16 year old cat and without opposable thumbs it’s hard for her to open a can of Drano.

Or

Umm, have you not read the part in our file that says we've had 3 prior homestudies and various parenting classes? And we even took notes--would you like to see them? (and then I would thunk down the 3" thick binder on her pretty little....ah, that's not nice and will not get me the gold star for today's visit)

Or, my personal fav:

Nah, I just thought we’d leave all that stuff. How else is she going to learn that cat poop doesn’t taste like Tootsie Rolls?

But I just nodded meekly, bared my teeth in what I hoped was a servile smile and said all would be in order prior to the blessed event.

Moving on for those of you keeping track of the process:

IL is a lot different from VA in terms of procedure once the homestudy is completed. There is an interim step. All of our info is sent to DCFS (Dept. of Child and Family Services) for approval which can take an additional 20-30 days. Once they approve your paperwork, THEN it is sent to the USCIS office for the coveted I-171 form and that can take 4-6 more weeks. Meanwhile, our next set of fingerprints expires in July so in May we'll need to start working on the appointment to have them re-done.

Since there is no sound coming from Nepal at the moment we are just plugging along and hoping that everything comes together in the end.

Meanwhile, I need to go board up the decks, remove all wiring from the tv, and teach Charis how to use the toilet. After I teach her how to unlock the lid.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What is that green stuff?



It's grass! It's 53 degrees, the sun is out, the snow is melting and we've opened the windows. I know it's temporary but it's a nice break after yesterday morning's -13 windchill.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A weekend visitor

We've lived here three weeks but we've had our first visitor nonetheless. The intrepid Paivi came to visit in January (yes, January, people--it can be done!). It was actually pretty mild while she was here this weekend--the temps. were in the upper 30s during the day with not a lot of wind. And she's Finnish so this is "my kind of weather--quite delightful" if I may quote her.

Here's Paivi with a picture of Obama amidst the adverts for phone cards, cigs and Lifestyles condoms (all the essentials you may need for your train ride).
She calls this look her German Border Guard outfit.


Waiting for the train and watching the Uptown Chinese New Year parade down below.



Paivi at the skating rink in front of Chicago's Bean.



Yummy breakfast at MHenry's. These are mango and sour cherry bliss cakes filled with mascarpone cheese.



And this is their version of Huevos Rancheros with mole sauce.



Because we've had temps above the freezing mark now for a weekend, this is what has happened to our neighbor's back porch. The ice starts at the roof and continues down the gutter all the way to the ground.



It's rather dramatically pretty is a frigid sort of way, huh?



Turns out Paivi left just in time. We're under a weather watch for some lake effect snow, it was 1 degree this morning with a wind chill of -15.

Most of my posts cover food and weather. Maybe I was a bear in a previous incarnation and I should be hibernating.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Headshrinking completed

So the process wasn't as painful as it looks but in the end, Len's head shrunk more than mine. I guess it was all that hair.






Turns out we are sane.
And we have two notarized statements to prove it.

Our friend Kevin's head was shrunk long ago. The foil hat was to silence the Aliens in his head so he could pass the test...
We think he'll make a good "uncle".

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