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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two years that we will never get back

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of our log-in date with China. Today on our CCAI website was this update:

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before April 30, 2007.

The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before March 8, 2006.

Which means that our dossier that was logged-in in China TWO YEARS AGO, was finally reviewed by someone official at the CCAA. It used to be considered a fabulous milestone because it meant that you had passed the final review and would be getting a match soon. Now it is barely a minor blip on the radar screen. They are still indicating a 36-37 month wait.

Notice that they are still back in March 2006 in terms of matching. 13 months before they will hit April 2007. And I suspect April 2007 will be just a ridiculously huge month because this was the month they changed the rules so everyone was cramming to get in (we were fine with both the old and new rules and weren't really aware of the pile-up we were getting ourselves into).

sigh.

I am happy about the fact that it is only 46 degrees today. Normally I wouldn't be but we are leaving for a beach vaca on Friday. Ten glorious days in Florida. And I would rather leave here when it is dreary, wet and cold. We are looking forward to our first true vacation in several years. We haven't planned one because we kept thinking any minute now we could be traveling to Nepal!

And guess what happened? Exactly what I feared would happen if we planned a vacation. No, not a trip to Nepal. Something I detest now--paperwork. We still do not have our approval letter from DCFS for Nepal and our agent said we would probably get it when? Early next week of course! When we aren't here to sign for it and get it out immediately in the mail to USCIS for our I-171. Naturally.

And if you are counting, that will make it 6 weeks that DCFS has had our paperwork.

So we have typed up a coverletter and gathered the other forms we need to go with the DCFS approval and have sent them to our agency so she can send it all in for us. This is where I must learn to let go and trust that she will do it. Otherwise we lose almost another 2 weeks.

Have I mentioned before how much I really hate this?

Just checking.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just who is that man anyway?

Every now and then I notice several memes making the rounds among my contacts. I'm not usually a fan of memes and couldn't tell you exactly why. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to talk about myself. But, narcissist that I am, I want it to be on my terms, only divulging the most flattering of information and sometimes the questions asked don’t trend in that direction.

I recently saw one going around where you're supposed to answer several trivial questions about your marriage, and I realized that as much as this blog reveals about me, it says a lot less about Len (even though both our names are on it). So I thought I'd bring this meme here to give you a peek at the person I have spent the last 20+ years with.

What are your middle names?
My middle name is Kate. Len’s middle name is Joseph.

How long have you been together?
We've been married almost 20 years, together for a little under 22.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
About 6 months.

Who asked whom out?
That would be Len. We had chatted before class at UCF for most of the spring semester. He walked me to my car (a fabulous '55 Chevy) one day. As he was walking away, I tried to start my car and realized the battery was dead.

Lisa: Hey….hey you? Ummm, yeah, I forgot your name…do you have jumper cables?

Yes, you did get that right—I could NOT remember his name after HOW many months of conversation??

After starting my car, he asked me out, right there in the parking lot. What was I to say?

He knew it and I knew it.

I owed him.

We met for Sunday brunch and I never forgot his name after that.

How old are each of you?
Let’s just say we were born in the same year and know every ‘80s pop song by heart.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Probably mine. I only have one sibling, my brother and his family, who we see several times a year. We also email and are all on facebook (including my mom) on a daily basis. Len has 2 sisters (who live in FL) and two brothers (who live in MO).

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
The thing that causes the most stress in our lives, and consequently the most stress in our marriage, is this wait to adopt and the accompanying paperwork. Sometimes, I cannot even remember what our marriage was like anymore prior to this odyssey.

Did you go to the same school?
We both graduated from UCF and LSU. He has a PhD in English, I have one degree in English Education and one in Interior Design.

Are you from the same home town?
No. We both grew up in FL but in separate towns. I was in the northern part so I sounded very redneck until I figured out that I would get farther with people if I didn’t sound like I rode in the back of a pickup to get to work. Although, the southern drawl goes a long way in getting contractors to finish installing your bathroom:

Ya’ll are working just sooo hard and I wouldn’t bother ya’ll ‘cepten I cain’t take a bath what with there bein’ no plumben in the walls. Cain’t you just squeeze our lil ol’ project into your ske-jule? I would be much obliged.

Len grew up in central FL which is combo horse country and old-people country; rolling green hills and cars with the left blinker on for miles going 10mph.

Who is smarter?
Len can retain information like a computer hard drive. He remembers everything he reads (and he reads ridiculously fast). I have to work a lot harder to process information, but I'm far more driven and persistent than he is (if the subject interests me…an important distinction). But we both have razor sharp wit and are quick with comebacks which keeps our marriage lively.

Who is the most sensitive?
Ahem. Next question.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Probably for Vietnamese pho soup…together we could pose as a salt lick for a herd of cows.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Greece, but we keep hoping we can replace that with Nepal and China soon.

Who has the craziest exes?
I wouldn't call my exes crazy as much as I would describe them as diverse. It's just, there are so many of them. I've only met one of Len's exes; she may not have been crazy when he dated her but, how can I put this delicately? Time has not been kind to her.

Meow.

Who has the worst temper?
Mine is definitely worse than his on a regular basis but once Len is not in simmer mode anymore, he far outshines me. He is a very rare species and comes out only for truly temper-worthy occasions.

Who does the cooking?
Definitely me. Although Len can cook and makes a mean crawfish etouffee.

Who is the neat-freak?
Let's just put it this way: I am a much nicer person when he puts things back where he found them.

Who is more stubborn?
I am Southern stubborn, he is more justifiably stubborn.

Who hogs the bed?
Okay, fine. Me, but it's not something I have any control over. My limbs take on a life of their own when I'm asleep, and at least once a night I will wake up to find him stacked on the corner of the bed with no covers.

Who wakes up earlier?
Len does but only in technical, standing-upright-not-still-in-bed terms. He doesn't truly wake up until close to lunch time. He's a night owl.

Where was your first date?
The Village Inn in Winter Park, FL for brunch.

Who is more jealous?
This information is protected by the therapist-client privilege.

How long did it take to get serious?
Len was always serious.

Who eats more?
Reasonably you would think it would be Len since he's bigger than me…however....

Who's the more adventurous one?
If it concerns food, Len wins hands-down. He ate a cow-tongue taco a week or so ago. Although he has not been brave enough to try the cow penis* pho soup yet.

*Now that I've used that word I wonder how many hits our blog will get looking for photos? We are already inundated with hits from Nepal by people looking for pics based on this post. Imagine how deflating it must be find our adoption blog instead of Flynt-style photos.

We are both fairly adventurous in most other areas of our lives: we'll try most anything once.

Who does the laundry?
Since someone finally remembered that he is not supposed to put my sports bras in the dryer, he has been granted laundry privileges once again. Not the goal he was aiming for I suspect.

Who's better with the computer?
You should have seen the veins in Len’s head bulge against his skin when he was trying to figure out how to get the old router to work in our new system…I would say my mom actually. She's a Mac-genius.

Who drives when you are together?
Len, but not because he's a better driver. I drove all over the DC metro area as part of my job for over ten years and did enough driving for a lifetime, so I'd be happy if I never had to drive again (hence the move to the city and proximity to the train).

Maybe someday I will persuade my writer-husband to post something here. Granted, his job is to write every day so the last thing he wants to do for fun when he gets home is write some more. I did warn him though that I don’t want to be the one wishing myself happy birthday on OUR blog so he better start working on something profound. No pressure though.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chicago Architecture Rocks!

Saturday turned out to be a very nice day so we took one of the Chicago Architectural River Boat Tours. They just opened those back up and it was a fabulous 90 minute ride on the various branches of the Chicago River. Afterwards we had lunch at a riverside cafe and then strolled to an art show given by the Art Institute students. Later in the afternoon we sat in Millenium park and watched people play in the water feature (see slideshow below).

Sunday turned out to be rainy and cold so we kind of layed low. Len had guitar class until 2. We then walked up to Clark St. and had a late lunch/early dinner and then picked up a few movies at the rental store to watch. Finally saw The Wrestler which was really very good. Can see why it got all the noms. Lightened things up with Yes Man with Jim Carey.

The laughs were a nice relief. Things are moving at a glacial pace at DCFS. I got a phone call today from our home study agency that we can expect TWO MORE WEEKS until we get approved. That will make for a 6 week wait for an approval to a homestudy that is now in its third incarnation. It's maddening.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

37 months

That is the time they are projecting for China adoptions now.

37 months.

That would mean next May at the earliest for us.

More than another year.
______________

Still no word from DCFS on our Nepal homestudy. Friday will mark one month since they've had it.

And it still has to go to USCIS which is another 4-6 weeks.

Maybe I should start now on our China paperwork since it takes IL so damn long to process this first one....except that it would expire before we got a referral.

This is a web we can't seem to get out of.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy 2066

It's New Year's Day in Nepal (Bikram Samwat 2066).

The Bikram Samwat is a lunar calendar based on ancient Hindu tradition. It is 56.7 years ahead (in count) of the solar Gregorian calendar. It was established by an Indian emperor, Vikramaditya. Bikram Samwat is a popularly used calendar in India whereas it's the official calendar of Nepal. The new year usually falls in mid-April of the Gregorian calendar.

Nepal was considering reducing their 12 month calendar to an 11 month calendar to keep more in line with lunar events. A task force formed by the government had recommended for an 11-month calendar in order to adjust the timing of Nepali festivals with seasons of the year. But astrologers urged to continue with the 12-month calendar to minimize the hassles a changed calendar would invite. And an all-party religious meeting has decided to stick to the old 12-month calendar for technical reasons.

The seasons of the year are determined by solar movement, while the Nepali calendar is based on the earth’s movement. Considering the earth’s movement vs. solar movement, the Nepali year is already 23 days behind. This has resulted in Nepali festivals occurring 23 days later according to the seasons. The task force recommended the government scrap Chaitra – the final month of the Nepali year in order to make up for the ‘loss’.

I would imagine that all of those people born in Chaitra would be upset when their birthdays were no longer marked on the calendar and everyone's lives were shortened by one month!

Our Secretary of State sent America's best wishes for a Happy New Year to Nepal:

Message from Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington DC, USA

To all those around the world who share common Nepali cultural and linguistic traditions, I send best wishes for a happy 2066. I hope that in this New Year, Nepal will continue on the path to peace and prosperity. As you welcome the New Year, I salute the spirit of tolerance and shared heritage that brings Nepalis together regardless of their differences on this day to celebrate and exchange good wishes. All New Year celebrations reflect the hope of new beginnings. As the world faces the greatest economic challenges in generations, we all must stand together to embrace the New Year’s promise of rebirth and renewal. Naya Barshako Suba-Kamana!

In other news, we had a nice Easter weekend when Maggie and Steve decided to visit from DC. Maggie was one of the first people I met when we moved to DC in 1997. We both trained for and finished the Marine Corps. Marathon to raise money for the Whitman Walker Clinic. The weather held out and was quite nice* during their stay.

*By quite nice I mean it didn't rain or snow or freeze. It was, however, only in the 40s and as usual, the wind was quite a bit more in evidence near the lakefront where we live. Coats, hats, scarves and gloves were still de rigueur.

We went to the Shakespeare Theatre down at Navy Pier on Sunday where Second City was performing their new play, Rod Blagojevich Superstar--a parody of our former governor set to the 70's Broadway hit, Jesus Christ Superstar. It did not disappoint!

Here we are at Navy Pier before the show.


And here are the cookies offered during the show.


No other news on the adoption fronts. DCFS has had our file for over 3 weeks and there is nothing I can do to move it along.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Come take a ride with me

I never thought, when I started this blog last May, that I would still be sitting here in front of my computer with nothing to report. There continue to be rumors on the yahoo groups and other blogs but I'm just not real inclined to post them here every day. I'm not really sure why. I mean, if I did, then you could all be on this rollercoaster ride with me instead of just watching from the safety of the ground.

For those thrill-seekers out there who would like to see the view from a tiny, careening cart that has taken the loop at 150mph and is currently upside-down, here's a tiny sampling of some of the rumors*:

*I say they are rumors b/c none of these have been verified by our agency, so on that account, it isn't relevant to our dossier/situation.

There are currently 25 dossiers in the Matching Committee and some people know that their dossier is being matched with a child because their number is below 25.

Some people have numbers that are above 1,000.

Some people have not been told they have been assigned a number.

There are 5 test files at the Ministry.

There are currently 121 files at the Ministry.

There are a large number of files being moved to and from the Legal Department.

There will be 10-15 dossiers that get through first as test cases.

Older and special needs children will be matched first. If you want an infant, your wait will be much longer. Maybe even a year or more.

Older and special needs children will be matched first but if you are part of the first 10 dossiers your agency submits and you want an infant you will be matched before the next 10 dossiers even if those people have requested an older child.

An older child means 10+ years.

An older child means a 3-5 year old.

No infants will be matched. There are too many older children now since the country closed.

There are two matching committees in Nepal.

There is one matching committee in Nepal.

Dossiers are accepted at the Ministry only.

Dossiers are accepted at either the Ministry or Bal Mandir.

No, only at the Ministry.

There are two parallel but separate matching processes.

Once you have been matched, it will be 6 months before you can travel to pick up your child.

Once you have been matched, it will be 4 months before you can travel.

Once you have been matched, you will travel immediately.

The required trip to Nepal will be 2 weeks.

The required trip to Nepal will be 4 weeks.

The required trip to Nepal will be 4-6 weeks.

The required trip to Nepal will be 3-5 weeks.

You need 5 sets of color photos for your dossier.

These color photos are to be your passport photos.

These color photos are NOT your passport photos, they are of your home.

These color photos must feature you in your home.

These color photos cannot contain anybody in the photos--they are to be only of your home.

You need to provide an 8x16 color photo of yourself. It cannot be a passport photo.

You don't need to provide any photos of yourself other than your passport photo.

You need 10 passport photos.

You need 3 copies of your 10 passport photos.

Matching will start by the end of this month (that was in February).

Matching will start by the end of this month (that was in March).

It will be three months before referrals start (that was in February)

Matches will start being announced in March.

Matches will start any day now.

Wasn't that fun? How does that hotdog feel in your stomach now that you've taken the rollercoaster triple-loop several times in a row? Does it taste good the 2nd time around? No?..burns a little huh?

And let's not forget China where the wait is still currently 36 months and holding. We get the two-for deal: the other ride is the Merry-Go-Round; it keeps spinning and spinning in circles but never goes anywhere.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

You do if the following sounds are part of your daily repetoire:

Clocks ticking

Crickets

Hair growing

The double-click of your mouse on the "refresh" button for the Nepali websites

Tomorrow will mark the end of the 2nd week that the IL DCFS has had our homestudy. In the meantime, there is still nothing from Nepal about when actual matching of children with parents will start. The message boards are running wild with speculation and rumors, adoption blogs run the gamut from excitement that "it could be any day now" to dejection that March came and went without a peep even though the word on the street was that March was THE month that things would start moving. Frankly, at this point I'm not sure even the Nepali government knows when they will open.

Having had our paperwork in the hands of our agency's Nepali contact for over a year now (along with all the various updated paperwork), I have learned not to believe anything that I read on the boards. Don't get me wrong, I still check them everyday like my life depended on it but until someone actually posts a picture and an invitation to travel, I take every bit of news with a grain of salt.

Fortunately, this past week I finally feel like I'm getting my feet back under me. We've lived in Chicago now almost 3 months but it feels like a lot longer. Figuring out where the basics are (grocery stores, hardware stores, where to get my hair cut, etc.) is not something I've had to think about for 12 years. Before every trip I have to make sure I know either the train times and connections or the address so I can punch it into the GPS on the car. Things that were routine are not so routine anymore.

My friend, Karen (a native Chicagoan btw), asked why I haven't posted anything positive about Chicago yet (I think I have but I'd need to check the archives to be sure). Apparently my bitching and moaning about the weather is giving the wrong impression of my true feelings for my new home. So Karen, this is for you:


I CHICAGO!


Which is a mostly true statement. Now that I can find my way to the 2 grocery stores I like, the yoga studio, the art studio, the bellydance studio, the doctor's office and Len's office without referring to the map, my equilibrium is returning. It's one thing to go on vacation where everything is supposed to be new and exciting and you can't find anything without a map. It's quite another to know that this "vacation in a new place" is not ending and sometimes you learn that you took the absolute longest possible route to get where you wanted to go (re: our recent excursion to Oak Park which took an hour, and yes, yes, I will call you next time Karen but sometimes you wish you could just do it on your own because you like to think of yourself as somewhat independent until someone points out that if you had just ASKED FOR HELP it would've only taken 20 minutes but whatever).

I have found it quite lonely during the day since Charis is no longer sitting on me, demanding attention, so I'm working on a few projects (the nursery is not one of them though--the door to that room will remain closed and undesigned until we get a match). As mentioned above, I have found a fairly regular routine of yoga classes, bellydance classes and my drawing class. Tomorrow I am having coffee with a woman who is also waiting to adopt from Nepal. Spring is coming so I plan to start working on the veggie garden over at Karen's house as well as get our decks looking presentable.

Spring seems to be slow in coming but it's trying--the daffodils have now popped out of the ground and a few of them have buds. The first robin of the year crashed into our giant front window (more than once, stupid bird). Easter is next week and with it comes our 3rd guest visitors--Maggie and Steve from DC.

Time continues to march on.

And if you listen closely enough, you can hear it.

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