Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From the State Department

Nepal Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

September 29, 2009

On January 1, 2009, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) announced procedures for processing adoptions pursuant to the Government of Nepal’s (GON) new “Terms and Conditions” for adoptions. The initial announcement stated that only 10 applications will be processed from each Embassy, Mission, or approved Agency in 2009. The GON provided copies of the new requirements, to all approved agencies.

According to Nepali officials, the new requirements apply to all intercountry adoptions. There is NO provision to permit prospective adoptive families who had already begun an adoption to be “grandfathered” under the previous Nepali regulation. All but one of the prospective adoptive parents matched with children under the previous system relinquished the match so the children could be available for adoption under Nepal’s new Terms and Conditions. Some of these children have since been matched with new prospective adoptive parents.

On September 2, 2009, the Nepali Prime Minister appointed a new minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare. This minister has authority to sign final adoption decrees. Since then, under its new “Terms and Conditions,” the GON has granted adoptions to U.S. families in four cases. As a result, these families have now approached the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to complete their processing under U.S. law. The GON has also indicated that they will likely process several more adoption cases for U.S. families in October and that approximately two dozen additional case referrals have been sent to U.S. families. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to meet with GON officials and is working with the Office of Children’s Issues to provide timely public updates.

As part of required processing for orphan adoption cases, the Embassy conducts a thorough investigation of each case. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that the investigation process may take several months, which could mean that prospective adoptive parents who travel to Nepal before the investigation is completed will need to spend a significant amount of time in country.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

20 weeks, 5 days...

Today was our Level 2 ultrasound with the perinatologist and all was.....perfect. Everything was measuring on schedule; the heart had 4 chambers, no cleft lip, 10 fingers, 10 toes, big nose. Len tried to film part of the ultrasound to see it moving but alas, it is a bit blurry. I've included it anyway so just squint a bit and imagine that the blob looks like an actual baby (head is on the right side, legs on the left). The movement you see is the baby--there are legs kicking around and at one point the heartbeat sound machine is turned on so you can hear that as well.

We're also including some ultrasound photos that they gave us. This first one is a profile shot, head is on the left.

Here are the bottoms of the feet, toes pointing to the right.

And here is the spine with the baby's head on the right facing down.

Amazing huh? Oh, and as a bonus, I've been feeling movement for a few days (like a goldfish is swimming around in there) and Len finally felt a kick last night!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Halfway baked

I've decided that as a means of self-motivation I'm going to try and publish a weekly set of photos that will include a status snaphot of my growing belly. This may or may not work, and in a couple weeks I may abandon the whole idea because I'm lazy like that. But I keep thinking that it would be fantastic at the end of this pregnancy to have a weekly collection of photos that shows me getting bigger and bigger, if only to be able to show it to the baby when he/she is old enough to respond to guilt and manipulation.

Since I just decided this today, at almost 21 weeks, I'm am behind in photos. The last photo we took was at 14 weeks.

This photo below is at 20 weeks. Notice the lovely zesty lime wall behind me--a sneak preview of the nursery wall color! We'll unveil more as we get the room put back together.

Most of the pregnant women I've talked to have said that the second trimester is the best trimester because you no longer suffer morning sickness (which I've already proven to be false testimony) and you're not yet big enough to be uncomfortable. What all of them failed to warn me about, however, is that the second trimester is basically puberty ALL OVER AGAIN, as if the first time wasn't painful enough. My body feels totally awkward, as if I've just grown 4 inches in 6 months again, except this time the 4 inches are at my waistline, and pants that fit 15 minutes ago are right this minute cutting off oxygen to the baby. I don't "get out of" bed anymore, really. Getting out of bed is now more of an assisted roll and shove off the mattress where my husband pulls me with his arms and legs using a strength he normally reserves for knocking down brick walls.

I feel really sorry for Len because I know he fully expects my head to start spinning all the way around and for his dead ancestors to start speaking through my mouth. All he can do is watch this terrifying metamorphosis take place, from a safe distance, preferably behind a stain-resistant protective wall. The good news is that we're officially half-way through this whole mess, only 20 more weeks to go. The bad news is he has to spend those 20 weeks married to me, and that's hard enough when I'm not pregnant.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Too much time on my hands...

This has got to be one of the most horrifying pages on the web.

I have way too much time to surf the web while the painters are here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You must exit through the front door or don’t exit at all

For the moment, those appear to be my only two options. I am trapped in a maze of drugs approved for use during pregnancy and those that are a bit sketchier on that front. Yes, I’m still battling nausea/vomiting. At 20 weeks, for those of you counting.

Everything I read says how this middle trimester is supposed to be the “happy trimester”, filled with energy, glowing skin and “a return to feeling somewhat normal”. Hah! The only thing that I have on that list is glowing skin and that’s from the flush I get when I raise my head up from heaving into the toilet (no pun intended).

My dilemma is this:
Medicine #1 makes me feel “somewhat normal”; no dry heaves, no loss of appetite, some energy to go out and run errands, etc. The rather large side effect is that it prohibits any food whatsoever from exiting your body. I amended the exit strategy this time around with c*lace 3x/day, lots of liquids, fruits, etc. It had absolutely no effect. My colon was as compacted and entrenched as the US troops in Iraq. After 4 days, my stomach started to look like I was 8 months pregnant. Sitting anywhere was an exercise in gingerly easing myself onto the softest surface I could find and then hovering there on one cheek.

Medicine #2 solves the back door exit problem but is fairly useless when it comes to actually keeping food down on a regular basis. It will work for some foods some of the time but not consistently and not for more than about 3 days. The midwives/doctors and I have played with various dosages, endless food combinations, exercise, ginger tablets, ginger tea, ginger mints, ginger chews, wrist acupressure dots, eating every 1 ½ - 2 hours, upping protein intake, eating in the middle of the night, eating before getting out of bed, eating right before bed, sipping water slowly, and drinking coconut water among many other things. None of it has worked.

The third alternative is a medicine that is a Class C drug which means, in essence, that it has not been tested extensively for use during pregnancy. In other words, use at your own risk. And the side effects are extreme drowsiness (which I already have with Medicine #2) and constipation (which would be the problem with Medicine #1). Oh, and it’s not really all that great at solving the vomiting issue.

So it looks like I still have halfway to go and no viable method to solve this problem. For the moment, I am back on Medicine #2 and the only things I have to show for it are rosy cheeks from dumping my breakfast this morning.

Our next doctor appointment is Tuesday for a Level 2 ultrasound with a perinatologist which should take about an hour or so. That should shed some light on how the baby is growing and whether or not we’ll have to take more drastic measures to solve this issue.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm not saying there's a different policy...

but it sure as hell looks that way for famous/rich people when it comes to adoption. First, Madonna picks a kid out of an orphanage (against his father's wishes no less) from a country that has an 18-24 month residency requirement for adoptive parents. Last I checked, she had been living in London prior to adopting David.

Then this article greets me as I log onto yahoo today. Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley were married on December 23, 2007--less than 2 years ago.

Here's what I know are the criteria to adopt from S. Korea based on several reputable adoption agency websites:

Length of Marriage
Minimum 3 years.
How Long it Takes
Timeframe from application through placement: Approximately 24 months with timeframes expected to lengthen.

So, they've been married less than 3 years and their baby is in their arms back in the US in less than two years.

Yeah, that sounds fair.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

U2 concert!

Sunday night U2 played an extra gig at Soldier Field and Len managed to snag some pretty awesome tickets! Snow Patrol opened right at 7pm and U2 finally came on around 8:40pm or so. Enjoy the pics!

A shot of Week 18 1/2 prior to going to the concert.

And here is a short 2 min. clip of one of their latest songs Magnificent

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More referrals and travel plans

Several more families have received their referrals and a few more have also been given travel approval to Nepal. Still no word that anyone from my agency has received a referral though.

In addition, here is the latest article from ekantipur:

Kathmandu, September 15 - The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) has handed over seven children to their foreign adoptive parents, after a gap of one and half years. Three Nepali orphans were handed over to American adoptive parents, another three children to French parents and one to British parents, all of whom have been residing in the country. The seven Nepali children were officially adopted after the government approved their documents regarding inter-country adoption.

Officials at MWCSW stated on Monday that the six adoptive parents are planning to take their new children to their new homes at the earliest date possible. Only one child will remain in Nepal with her British parents, who are currently residing in the country. This is good news for both the parents and the children, who have been involved in the adoption process for the past seven months.

The concerned authorities, including MWCSW, have also recently given the go ahead to the adoption documents belonging to another 14 children and the adopting parents. Officials stated that they have already informed Nepali representatives of the Nepal-based international adoption agencies about the approval. This means that other prospective parents can begin plans to return home, with their adopted children.

Over 80 children, who have already gone through matching process, (in which prospective parents are paired with orphans) are awaiting the decision of the recommendation committee. The recommendation committee, comprises representatives from the ministries of home and law, as well as MWCSW, who will collectively make the final decision. The committee selects children in accordance with the adopting parents' preferences. The applications of over 300 prospective foreign parents for adoption are also simultaneously being examined MWCSW.

The new adoption process was started in January after a gap of one-and-half-years. The ministry had put the process on hold owing to loopholes existing in the previous system. Earlier, prospective parents dealt directly with orphanages. As there was no fixed adoption fee, parents often ended up paying huge amounts of money for the adoption. Now, with the improved system, they deal with registered adoption agencies from their home country or Nepal-based embassies.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New blog

Because of the Ministry's request to not post pictures of adopted children, the two blogs I referred you to have been password protected. Fortunately, Teryl has transferred her original blog to another, public, blog that just omits any pictures of her daughter. She is still posting about their journey and has pictures of the beautiful places they are visiting in Nepal and I highly recommend you log on to follow their journey. What an adventure! I have posted her new link with the blogroll on the right-hand side of our blog and it will indicate when she has updated it.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekday visitor

Our friend Nancy flew in from DC Wednesday night and spent a couple of days exploring Chicago and keeping me company. On Thursday we met Len for lunch at the Park Grille in Millenium Park and enjoyed a bit of the Lyric Opera's free noon-time concert at Pritzker Pavilion.

Here are Nancy and Len at the Pavilion.

Then we wandered over to the "Bean" and took our picture in its reflection:

Got a shot of my ever-growing belly:

Len had to go back to work so Nancy and I walked down Michigan Avenue for an afternoon of shopping. Here's Nancy at the Chicago River on Michigan Ave.

Friday before she caught her flight home we explored Andersonville and did a bit to help the local economy with some shopping at the Swedish Museum and lunch at a local cafe.

This weekend we are taking it easy for the most part although I am about to leave to go hit up the local consignment shop for some larger pants and shirts. We also need to drop off about 90 books we are donating to the local library so we can make some headway on cleaning out the nursery. Sunday night is the U2 concert! We'll be sure to post pics from our very-far-away-from the stage seats (no work-related concert seats this time around!).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nepali blogger update

For those of you trying in vain to read the blogs I referred you to earlier, there has been a status change. Apparently, the Ministry in Nepal has asked the bloggers to take down the photos of their children so the question for the blogger becomes: do I make my blog password protected and preserve the right to share our newest family member with friends/family in one central location or do I edit my posts and take down all the photos?

I have to say that I have struggled with that question many times and wrote about it here . I still ask myself that question nearly every time I log in to post. My stubborn nature insists on free speech, non-censorship, etc. but I understand the bloggers who are currently in Nepal not wanting to upset the applecart for either their own adoptions or for those who come after.

On the other hand, I don't understand how posting the full family names, occupations, hometowns and the adopted children's full names in the online papers is much different than posting it on a blog. At least one family has been interviewed by Reuters (with pictures no less) so I'm having trouble with the concept of censoring my own release of information on a vastly smaller scale (methinks my readership is not even remotely as large as the Reuters news service!).

So again, for now, my blog remains without a password. I will choose what and how much to share and hope it doesn't bite me in the ass later.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New article from Nepal

This was posted on the Kantipur news service from Nepal. I'm not sure how I feel about them posting such personal information about both the parents and the kids (last names, locations, employment), nor how they got the information in the first place as that information is located within the dossiers and should only be in the hands of our in-country reps and the MWCSW.

3 Nepali kids set to land in US
Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Sept 9 - After a gap of one and half years three Nepali children are all set to land in the U.S with their new adoptive parents. This was made possible for three orphaned girls -Anita Himali, Anisha Sai and Santi Sai - after the government approved their documents related to inter-country adoption.

The adoptive mothers are Bonnie Lee Donohue of Wisconsin, Michelle Kyla Blanchard-Roma of Louisiana and Dr. Teryl Rae Elam of Alaska.

Donohue, who is a general manager in the food service sector, has been matched with three-year-old Himali, Blanchard-Roma, who is a reputed Louisiana-based attorney, has been matched with two-year-old Anisha, and reputed Alaska-based physician, Elam has been matched with nearly one-year-old Santi.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) has informed the Nepali representatives of the US adoption agency about the decision, calling the adopting mothers to take their daughters as per their convenience, according to officials at MWCSW.

This will be the first batch of Nepali children to go abroad with their new parents after seven months of adoption process.

At least 18 dossiers, on which almost all the necessary paperwork for the adoption is complete, are also awaiting final approval from the MWCSW. Over 100 dossiers of children, who are already gone through matching process (in which adoptive parents are paired with orphans), are also pending due to a delay in arranging a meeting of the recommendation committee. The recommendation committee, comprising representatives from ministries of home, law and MWCSW, will make the final decision.

The committee selects children in accordance with the adoptive parents´ preferences. Likewise, applications of over 300 prospective foreign parents are under the scrutiny of MWCSW.

Earlier, the ministry had put the process on hold for one-and-a-half-years and started the process with new rules for adoption in January. This time, the prospective parents have to deal with registered adoption agencies from their home country or Nepal-based embassies. Earlier, they directly dealt with orphanages. As there was no fixed adoption fee, parents often ended up paying huge amounts for the baby of their choice.

The adoption fee for each child has been fixed at US$ 8,000 - which means that adoptive parents will not get overcharged. From the adoption fee US$ 5,000 will go to the orphanages and US$ 3,000 to the state coffers. The ministry has already collected over Rs. 15 million from the fee, part of which will be used to monitor the overall adoption process.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day weekend

Saturday found us at the free outdoor Chicago Jazz Festival. We only went for a couple of hours but we enjoyed our evening listening to some great jazz groups in Grant Park.

Sunday we drove to Huntley, IL to visit some long-lost cousins of Len's. Len had not seen them since he was in grade school and they all came down to FL for Disney. Below is Ed, me, Sister John Vianney, Len and Dolores. Dolores and Sister Vianney are his second cousins on his father's side.

They put together a nice lunch and various friends dropped by to visit as well.

As we were leaving, Ed and Dolores gave us two framed pieces of crochet-work that Len's grandma Kate had made years ago. They are very intricate and quite beautiful--they will have a place of honor in the nursery!

Monday was a labor day around the house. We did walk down to Tweet for breakfast but the rest of the day was spent doing chores. Our next houseguest will arrive tomorrow through Friday. Our friend Nancy from DC will be flying in for a quick visit.

Today was my 18 week checkup with my new doctor group. I hadn't been too thrilled with my last OB practice so I spent the last couple of weeks interviewing doctor/midwife groups in the area. I have chosen a midwife practice near our house. They work within a hospital and will refer to an OB should the need arise.

So far, the midwife practice is far superior! My appointment today was an hour long (and didn't include an ultrasound, just heartbeat monitoring and fundal height). Compare that to my last two visits with my old OB--10 minutes at best with the nurse knocking on the door after 5 minutes asking if we were through yet! They stay with you through labor and will deliver the baby instead of waiting for the doctor to come in the last 10 minutes to "catch" it. She recalculated my due date and it has now moved from Feb. 11 to Feb. 15. Midwives typically give you longer (a full 10 months) to gestate instead of scheduling induction as soon as your due date comes and goes (provided the baby is doing well and there is no fetal stress of course, which they do test for).

The baby's heart rate was great today and I'm measuring correctly in terms of growth of belly. They only thing she was a little worried about was my weight gain--I've only gained 1 lb in the entire pregnancy and I'm still having trouble eating and keeping some foods down. She re-worked my anti-nausea meds again and suggested some different food combinations to try.

I'm not entirely convinced this child is related to me--it sure is picky about what foods to eat during its growth in my belly!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Two bloggers in Nepal!

There are two US families in Nepal right now who are posting their journeies onto blogs. I have listed their blogs onto this blog on the right-hand side if you would like to keep up with them. Or, you can enter them into your google reader. Here are the links to their blogs with their latest posts:



Enjoy their journeys...I know I am! Very exciting for them!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Living in the Land of Denial

First of all, I’d like to say a huge THANKYOU to all of you who wrote into the blog and/or emailed us with words of support and encouragement on our news. We have been overwhelmed with your kindness and grateful for the support (and so many more thanks for not one comment about how being less stressed or not trying anymore led to this condition!). I think, in looking back on my motivation for sharing the news despite the odds that we will make it to term, I was hoping that everyone’s enthusiasm and joy would rub off and provide at least a bit of that same feeling here for us. I am happy to report that it is starting to work….albeit slowly.

I am still suffering from extreme nausea and have been taking anti-nausea medication for that. It works most of the time (although BBQ smells can still send me reeling) and now that I have learned I must also take colace as part of my morning/evening cocktail, life is much more manageable. I feel less like I have an alien trying to kill me from within and more like I might live to see Christmas.

But I still feel sometimes like I am getting away with something, like I’m "passing" (to use an antiquated Southern term). I finally made it to prenatal yoga yesterday. What a different world that is and not just because it was the first “exercise” class where I’ve been one of the smallest women in class. First of all, it was just accepted right away that I was indeed pregnant and the questions ranged from:

How far along are you?
Do you know what you are having yet?
Is this your first?

This is so different from sitting in the reproductive endocrinologist’s office in DC. If you speak at all to the woman sitting next to you (most women in DC are there on a mission: get in, get done, get out. They have work to do and the mountain of paperwork and constant cell phone calls/texting in the waiting room does not lead to intimate conversations). But should you actually find someone who is feeling friendly, the questions are much different:

How many cycles have you done?
Have you ever gotten pregnant?
How many miscarriages have you had?
Have you done just IUI or have you progressed to IVF or donor egg?
(there seems to be a sliding scale so that IUI is always preceeded by “just” as if that is barely worth mentioning and you really aren't serious until you’ve done harder time with the extraction of your eggs).

Like I said, worlds apart. Sitting there in the yoga studio waiting for class to start and chatting with 25 other VERY PREGNANT women, I kept feeling like I needed to qualify my attendance at the class. It was all I could do not to say

I’m only 17 weeks and I’m just trying the class out but I probably won’t be back next week since I’m not very far along and I’ll probably miscarry.

That ‘s not exactly something you should blurt out to a roomful of zen-filled women who are perfectly reclined in the lotus position, their burgeoning bellies screaming of Chicago’s fertility rate.

And how do you answer the question, “Is this your first?”

Ummm. Well, technically it’s my 5th pregnancy but we miscarried the first 4 and this one was a total surprise because actually we are hoping to adopt from both Nepal and China but this one has caught us off-guard but it may not make it so…..

Crickets and uncomfortable glances abound with an announcement like that. So I just said yes, it is our first and we are very excited before trying to switch the focus back to them by asking the usual questions and praying that class would start soon.

So when will the big AH-HA moment happen? I’m not really sure that it will. I do get small moments though and for those I am grateful. I broke down and ordered a fetal heart monitor from the web—only $40! I figured that if we only used it for a few weeks before we lost the baby that it wasn’t that big of an investment (how sad is that thought??). But so far, it has been money well spent. We check the heartbeat every few days and only for as long as it takes to find it before that baby moves to another spot (but not before kicking quite heartily—it doesn’t like to be poked anymore than I do apparently). It’s still in there as of yesterday morning. I can tell you that hearing that heartbeat and the kicks is the highlight of our week. I usually do it right after a particularly bad face-time visit with the toilet or a rough day in the headache department—it never fails to make me smile.

I have also started to tentatively plan the nursery. I think my happiness here is more related to just doing design again (something I have sorely missed by not working for so long). We are slowly finding spots for all the crap we’ve stored in that room since January and as more floor-space appears, I can envision a bright, sunny room with toys and books (not an actual child in the room yet but hey, it's a start). I’ve drawn the furniture plan on CAD and have dragged out the paint chips to work on color schemes. Since my forté is kitchens and baths and not nurseries, I spent an afternoon in the bookstore perusing various design books for inspiration. Turns out most of the nurseries in those kinds of books are way overdone and full of fairies and stardust but I did get some ideas that I’m sketching up.

So, there are some bright moments and I do hope that they increase in number and start to outweigh the dire thoughts that dominate my mental landscape. It has helped that most of the people I meet in Chicago have no idea of my failed uterine history and just accept that this pregnancy is a normal part of our lives.

I’m hoping to leave the Land of Denial for the fecund pastures of motherhood very soon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another new Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare

2 Ministers sworn in
Last Updated : 2009-09-02 5:41 AM
The Himalayan Times

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal expanded the government for the sixth time on Wednesday. Two of the ministers already have taken oath. Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Sarbadev Ojha from Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Loktantrik and Minister without portfolio of Sadhbhawna Party Laxman Lal Karna have taken oath. Karna took his oath in the Hindi language. Other Ministers are in the process of taking oath.

The first three families who received referrals were notified early this week that they were approved for travel and the turn-around time is quick--they have all booked flights for today and tomorrow! Yikes. Am looking forward to following their progress and to see how long their in-country stay turns out to be.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy September!

First, news out of Nepal: the families that received their referrals in May have finally been approved for travel to Nepal to pick up their children. You can follow their journeys on their blogs if you are curious--I have them posted on the right side of the blog if you scroll down a bit. I have organized the blogs so that the ones with the newest posts are at the top of the list so you don't have to search the whole list each time. Although Teryl does not have a blog just yet, Bonnie and Joel do; it is called The Journey to our Daughter. Should Teryl list a public blog I will add it to the register.

I am remiss in posting mainly because this pregnancy is kicking my butt. I had signed us up for one of the Taste of Chicago Neighborhoods Tours in May not knowing I would be unable to stomach most foods in August. However, I downed one of my anti-nausea pills (more on that adventure later) and put on my game face for the 2 1/2 hour food fest.

The first stop was Orso's Restaurant, an Italian place in Old Town. On the menu was bruschetta, Italian Sausages and Peppers, frittata and tiramisu.

Next was 90 Miles, a Cuban restaurant in Logan Square. There was a buffet with Yuca frita, congri rice, lechon (roast pork), ropa vieja (shredded beef), goat cheese empanadas, and fried plantains.

Our last stop was Fritz Pastry in Lake View. We had an assortment of blueberry tart, chocolate tart, macaroon hazelnut served with coffee or tea.

The medication worked well although I still only ate a few bites at each place. The truth is that the pills work too well--they prevent any food at all from exiting your body....FOR DAYS AND DAYS. So I have now switched to another pill that doesn't quite do the job. It only works in the morning and early afternoon and only if your stomach is full anyway. It wears off if you don't eat every 2 hours and it is completely useless by dinnertime so I'm still crawling into bed early to stave off the quesies.

So with this new medication in hand, we flew to Atlanta for my brother Terry's 50th birthday celebration. Wheez put on a fabulous Italian-themed party for about 20 or so people. Our cousins Marsha and Norm who live near Atlanta also were able to come. On Sunday before we flew home, we managed to meet up for breakfast with Julie, Dawson and Emma Rae. Julie was a high school classmate of Len's who we visited last year as well. Enjoy the slideshow of the party below.


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