.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Necklace

I saw this site from a group of parents who have adopted from Henan Province in China.  Initially I thought I would just get a henan cutie necklace for Lucy but then I started looking at more of her jewelry and couldn't make up my mind.  After a few emails with Kim I settled on this:
One for each of my girls with their birthstones in the middle.  When they are older I will give them each a chain with their disk and birthstone attached.  For now it looks really nice around my neck!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First steps

Ok, they weren't her actual first unassisted steps because she did it earlier when, of course, I didn't have the camera on.  But, it was all in the same day so that's something! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

And no nausea or vomitting! I call that a win-win!

Yep, we're having another baby.  But this time I can live in the world without running for the toilet the minute Len puts on his aftershave in the morning.  We received pre-approval today for a little girl in China!!

Can you say light at the end of a f*cking long tunnel??

Only I don't say f*cking anymore because I have children...children (emphasis on the plural)

So, light at the end of a supremely long tunnel.  Doesn't have quite the resonance...

If you've been keeping up with the sidebar there to the right, you can see that we submitted our SN checklist in December.  Just 3 short months ago.  We were matched with our daughter on March 15 and accepted a couple days later after consulting with a plethora of doctors and an excellent cleft lip/palate team at Children's here in Chicago.  And thank you to all the fabulous moms out there with cleft children who called and emailed me with advice, references, etc.  You are wonderful and I am so thankful for this blog and the valuable resource it has been.

So, details, I know, I know, get to the details already!
Aren't her eyes amazing??  Her name is Xu Xiang Ling and she's 15 months old.  Yep.  One month older than Kate.  Can you say twins?  This picture was taken before her lip was repaired.  She still has an unrepaired palate. 
Here are more current pics:
 
 
 
 
Adorable I know!  She's in Henan Province which is in the center of China.
We anticipate that we cannot travel until at least late summer, early fall.  Our homestudy just went to IL DCFS last week and then we have to file for our I-800A Immigration paperwork and be fingerprinted (FOR THE LAST TIME!!).  The timeline on the sidebar will be where you can keep up with the steps that remain before we can travel.

We will name her Lucy Xiangling.  Her pictures have been up on the fridge for a week now and Kate will  spontaneously point to her and say her version of Lucy!

These next few months of waiting for paperwork to slog through government channels are going to be excruciating.  EXCRUCIATING.  But hey, I'm not walking around retching or testing my glucose levels so that's something.

Pit Stop

Kate is practicing for the NASCAR races.  She's getting good at making quick pit stops for refueling.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where is Kate's bellybutton?

Kate's getting pretty good at identifying her body parts.  So far she can do her ears, eyes, head, nose, mouth, arms, hands, belly(button), and feet.  We're working on knees but I think until we can get out of long pants weather that might be a lost cause.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pretty Little Pony

Saturday we loaded up the car with a bunch of Kate's outgrown clothes and baby items and drove to this store which, I have to say, is awesome.  You get cash (if it's $50 or less) or a check (over $50) on the spot for all of the stuff they accept and the store is loaded with all kinds of baby items in relatively good condition.  I was hoping to find a good double stroller but the one I want was, alas, not to be found.  They didn't have any extra Ergo carriers either. Or cribs.  Bummer. 

But, we got some pretty summer dresses and a cute crocheted spring hat!  All of the dresses were under $10!  The hat was $3.50. 
 
And, we got 20% off our entire bill because of the amount of stuff we brought in.  We used some of the money we made to buy things and the leftover was given to us in a check.  Nice!

Kate is happiest with this purchase for $10:

Did you notice Kate's new dance move?  She's working on her shoulder shimmy's!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Story-time is my favorite time!

Kate totally has opinions now about her books.  She will choose one at a time for me to read to her.  The best part is after she picks her book I will ask if she wants to sit in my lap.  She will smile real big and then climb on up and settle her little back into my chest.  Ahhh.  This (THIS) is what it's all about.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Coming soon to a theatre near you

I sure hope this is coming soon.  So far I don't see any theatres in IL with a showtime.  It is mostly in CA and NYC.  Check out the trailer for I AM.  Looks like a fascinating movie.  It's the quintessential story of almost dying and realizing that there must be more to life than what has currently been lived.  He asks the universal questions about what is wrong with this world and how do we fix it.  But he comes up with a unique take on it all:

The film further discovers that humans actually function better and remain healthier when expressing positive emotions, such as love, care, compassion, and gratitude, versus their negative counterparts, anxiety, frustration, anger and fear. Charles Darwin may be best known for popularizing the notion that nature is red in tooth and claw, but, as Shadyac points out, he used the word love 95 times in The Descent of Man, while his most famous phrase, survival of the fittest, appears only twice...I AM isn’t as much about what you can do, as who you can be.  And from that transformation of being, action will naturally follow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One step closer

Our newest homestudy (that would be lucky number 4) was sent to IL DCFS yesterday.  The turnaround time is generally 30 days or less.  I'm hoping for less.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review--"Half Baked"

I picked up Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson after reading a lot of other bloggers raving about her.  They were all blogs about the trials and tribulations of the infertile among us (back when I numbered myself among them).  Alexa also had a blog, Flotsam, which was chronicling her vast journey through the wastelands of injections, fallopian dye tests and egg retrievals. She is one of the few who actually get a book deal from their online musings and I have to agree that the editors made an excellent choice. 

Her story picks up with egg retrieval and carries on through her pregnancy with twins, the loss of one of the babies and her subsequent stay in the NICU.  Alexa is nothing if not completely aware of her many neuroses but her self-deprecating humor moves the book swiftly along without allowing you to completely wallow in the tragedy that is unfolding before you.  This book could truly have become macabre and impossible to read if it were not for her deft writing.

She gives voice to why so many of us started blogging in the first place:

A few years before, I'd started an online journal.  The subject of infertility didn't lend itself to casual conversation, and it was lonely, being consumed by something I couldn't share. When my late-night Googling led me to a network of blackly humorous women chronicling the absurdity and grief of failing to conceive, I joined them, titling my website "Flotsam" because I planned to write about many things, once I had a baby and my reproduction fixation had waned....I'd have sooner performed my own dentistry with common household tools than discuss cervical fluid with my mother, but my boundaries evaporated before the nebulous strangers on the Internet. Only--strangely enough--they ceased to be strangers, after a time....Combined, my readers formed a virtual kaffeeklatsch of humor and support. Bad days became less so--transformed into slapstick by the prospect of their retelling, or at least made less lonely by the addition of company.

Alexa discusses quite openly her atheism.  To find that in the land of infertility and adoption is quite rare.  So often, most websites are full of biblical quotes and references to God's timing taking precedence over any family planning ideas you may have been innocent enough to think you deserved.  When her son dies in-utero, she was barraged by well-intentioned people trying to find meaning from his death.

I was revolted at the thought of finding meaning in the loss of a baby. How grotesquely solipsistic, to reduce an existence to a single Teachable Moment, as if Ames' demise were really about me, merely a way to impart wisdom I could glean only by losing him. "I don't believe in that," I told the counselor, "Ames' death doesn't have to have meaning. It doesn't have to be anything other than what it is, a terrible thing. Maybe it will change me or teach me something, but a good thing can come from something terrible without that being its meaning." For the first of many times during our sojourn in the underworld of pediatric death and disaster, I was grateful for my atheism. It was comforting to believe that this horror was, if not entirely random, at least nothing personal. It demanded nothing of me. It was not a riddle or a code. It was not part of some celestial puppetmaster's master plan.

Several chapters later, she is still being pursued, this time in the NICU, by the hospital chaplain. "Journeys" and "paths" were mentioned. She is frustrated by the talk of miracles and God's plans by other parents in the NICU. She acknowledges that her atheism was normally of the mild sort, live and let live philosophy. She didn't have a disbelief so much as a lack of one.

What bothered me, especially after Ames died and Simone was born sick, was that some omnipotent paternalistic figure (whom I always pictured as played by Peter Lorre, cackling over the blueprints of a hapless human existence) had a reason for it all, that whether Simone live or died, the outcome was essentially the same; His Will Be Done. Some babies were spared and others were not; some were miracles and other were "angels," and however painful we found the result of the divine calculator, we might as well make lemonade out of the lemons we'd been given for babies.

Alexa is nothing if not frank and, at least to me, is a refreshing voice in the midst of sometimes banal and pithy sayings meant to comfort but that usually frustrate and render the victim feeling powerless and alone when their prayers are left unanswered.

Because I went in to the book having been a reader of her blog, I knew how everything had turned out. This did not in any way ruin the book or make me feel as if I were rereading her blog. Her story is all the better for the retelling and I thoroughly looked forward to reading the next chapter every night.  The best part is that you can see how Simone turned out here!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mired in paperwork here

This weekend, like every weekend before it, went by all too quickly.  Saturday morning we went to a giant yardsale given by the Moms with Multiples group and walked away with a highchair.  Yes, we already have one but we will need another one soon (fingers crossed...).  Saturday evening we had Tricha and her partner Maria over for dinner.  Kate was thrilled to have Ms. Tricha here AND mama, daddy and Ms. Maria.  She was in rare form after supper, dancing away at the speaker.  She threw in a new move: a shoulder roll that traveled down her body and landed in her hips.  None of us got in on film as we were too busy cheering her on.

Our friend Christina from DC is here this week for work.  She came over Sunday morning and we all went to MHenry for breakfast and a visit.  Kate loved being the center of attention yet again and burbled all through the morning.

Sunday evening was Mama's Night Out!  Every Thursday since Kate was 6 weeks old, I have met with a mama's group.  A few of the mama's have come and gone and we've added a few other mama's in the past year but we've settled nicely into a core group of 6.  Sadly, one of our mamas, Allison (mom to Elliott) is moving to Denver at the end of the month so this was our goodbye party (sans kids and lots of wine flights).
From left to right: Sara (mom to Lina), Allison (mom to Elliott), Alison (mom to Ava), me, Krisha (mom to Arnav) and Margaret (mom to Jacob).

They have been invaluable this past year.  From advice on when to wean, what to feed, how to induce sleep in a non-napping toddler and just listening when you need someplace to vent, these ladies have been a life-saver.  Allison--I will miss you dearly.

In the meantime, we are bogged down with paperwork.  Our homestudy should be going to DCFS this week so I am in the throes of filling out the paperwork for the I-800A for Immigration.  When we first started in China we were under the old rules and filled out the I-600A which was fairly straightforward.  Now, since China became a Hague accredited country, a LOT more paperwork is required. 

We hope some good news will be coming our way soon.  We will keep you all in the loop when we have any news to share!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Feature on Blog

I decided to do a timeline on our China match process. It is over there on the right. I left out A LOT of paperwork deadlines (home study process, the multiple fingerprinting, etc) and have put in what are the major up-coming hurdles which will bring us closer to our daughter.

Here's the latest with our paperchase--our homestudy is still being re-written and should be signed and sent off to DCFS by early next week. We hope to get the approval back from DCFS in a month or less and then everything will need to be sent to USCIS. We will then have to wait for a fingerprinting appointment. After that, it could take up to 3 months to get Immigration approval.

Life marches on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Discussion of Special Needs

I know a lot of families are considering special needs because the wait in China has grown to absurdly long lengths.  We considered special needs back in 2007 but our move, potential Nepal adoption, pregnancy and birth of Kate interrupted our research.  We revisited the topic in December, speaking to a couple of pediatricians who specialize in International adoptions, China special needs in particular.  We also spent several hours of many nights on the phone with parents who had already adopted the special needs we were interested in.

Thank you to the many people who have shared, both on the phone and through emails...your help has been invaluable.

The Rumor Queen is holding a week long discussion of various special needs. This link will take you to the first discussion on Monday of cleft lip/cleft palate. Just scroll down to the comments. The sidebar on her site has links to other issues as she is covering one per day.  Even if you are not pursuing adoption in China, the information can be invaluable for any country, including domestic, should you find a child with a special need. 

And it can be a great way to help your family understand your own child's special need and what may be involved in his/her care. 

It is always best to go into an adoption with as much information as possible and then, if you find your situation isn't as serious, well, at least you were prepared for the worst-case scenario.  The common theme I found in talking to many adoptive parents, whether special needs or not, is that attachment is by far the biggest issue, bigger than any medical need.  There are a lot of books on the subject but the one I have found recommended over and over is this one.  I picked it up last weekend and plan to start reading it this weekend. 

Any APs out there have other recommendations for great attachment books, techniques, etc?  Please feel free to share in the comments section!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Suppertime!

Kate is getting much better at feeding herself.  Tonight's menu includes kale sauteed with garlic, baked fish with roasted butternut squash, roasted beets, steamed broccoli and milk.  Yum yum!  You will notice that when Kate doesn't want something she makes the sign for "all done".  And she said "Papa!" so Dad, you'll be very happy to hear that!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brunch with friends

It took 2 months to arrange but we finally all had a Saturday free for a playdate/brunch.  Candice brought her daughter Antara who has grown like a weed since we saw her in January!  She's up to 31 pounds already and I can attest to that--I made the mistake of not bracing myself when I was picking her up and nearly fell forward!  She's cruising around and, once she warms up to you, is quite the charmer.
Kelly and Keith brought M who has also grown much taller!  She settled right in playing with toys and checking in every so often with her mama and daddy--it was clear that she has bonded quite well and is a happy little girl.
Everybody tucked right in to Croque Monsieur, a fruit and yogurt salad, scones, milk, coffee and tea.  After brunch, the girls settled in for a bit of play.
Saturday evening Ms. Tricha (or TT as Kate calls her) came over so we could have a date night.  We tried a new Thai place in Evanston and then went to see Black Swan at the movies.  Wow was that just a dark movie or what?  Very good though and Natalie totally deserved the Oscar.

Sunday was more low-key.  Kate woke up as usual at 6:30am which is now 7:30am thanks to D.S.T.  No nap (she didn't take one yesterday either--big surprise) and we followed our normal routine based on the new time.  She was in bed by 7pm and we thought she was out until she started crying pretty hard at 7:25pm.  Len went in and spent a few minutes soothing her (which really didn't work), so he laid her back down and left the room.  She managed to calm back down and fell asleep a few minutes later.  No idea what the problem was since her diaper wasn't dirty and she had finished a bottle before her bath.

Happy Monday!  And a very happy birthday to my niece Martine today!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Around and around we go!

Kate is pretty much in constant motion these days.  She is itching to be able to walk everywhere and she is only hampered in that endeavor in countless ways every day, starting with her inability to walk without holding onto something.  Combine that we her penchant for distraction (like looking down to admire her shoes while walking into the cabinets) and there are many opportunities for Mama-intervention.  Last afternoon, in an effort to get that last bit of energy out, we encouraged her new obsession of walking endlessly* around and around the kitchen island.  Her reward at the end of each loop was a big hug and kiss from Daddy (her new favorite person in the whole world) and help turning around.

*She had already been doing this for a good 15 minutes by the time I grabbed the camera and she continued for an additional 30 or so laps after I turned it off.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Love Letter, Month 14


Dear Kate,

You are fourteen months old today.  I think we should start off by discussing your eyebrows.  They have come in quite lovely and they are usually the first thing anybody talks about when they first meet you.  The next thing they notice, if they pass the intense scrutiny you give every new person, is your fabulous smile.  This is usually accompanied by your marvelously adorable head tilting from side-to-side.  It’s a devastating combination that never fails to charm everyone who meets you.
This seems to be the month of verbal leaps forward, both in words you use and in how much you understand.  You can say walk, hot, up, down, poop, wawa for water, moo for cow, and woof for dog. You usually call your daddy DaDa, but there are some times when your voice gets very low and sweet and you whisper, Dad’n.  He told me last night that he loves it when you say that.
Your understanding of words and actions, though, is far beyond this paltry list.  When your daddy heads to the door in the morning to put on his shoes and coat you will blow him kisses, wave and say bye bye. You will also say bye bye when I flush the toilet.  As your daddy is getting you dressed in the morning you will point to your brush and then make a brushing motion on your head.  And, my favorite, you will happily throw your feet up in the air and point your toes when it is time to put on your socks and shoes.  Once your shoes are on your feet, you will lie there on your back with your feet in the air, admiring your shoes from all angles. 

You are a crazy mimic.  When I blow on hot food and then stick my tongue on it to test it before handing it to you, you will then inspect the food, blow on it, stick your tongue on it and then decide if you will open your mouth to eat it.  When you saw your friend Lina drinking out of a straw, suddenly you decided you could now sip from a straw. 
You are a very good listener.  So far we have not had to move or gate off any of the electronic equipment or the fireplace.  You have tested the boundaries a few times but just as you are reaching out a hand to touch the forbidden, I say, No No Kate.  You will then withdraw your hand, shake your head no and say No No No!  It’s so freaking adorable that I sometimes forget what you were doing in the first place and I have to suppress the urge to grab the camera and re-stage the incident for posterity.

Ms. Tricha is teaching you lots of sign language and so far you have mastered the following signs: more, all done, eat, milk, and hot.  I had no idea you had even learned hot but you kept pointing to the fireplace, putting your hand over your open mouth and saying ot.  You also do that to the teapot in the kitchen.

When we sit down to read books you now have a VERY DEFINITE OPINION on which books I shall read to you.  I will pull one out and you will shake your head no.  If I don’t immediately return it to the pile and reach for another but instead try to open the book to proceed, you will slam the book closed and vigorously shake your entire body in the negative.  I guess No means No.  There is no gray with you my love. 
You have your favorite books but you also have your favorite parts of books.  You will make me read and re-read certain pages if they make you laugh.  For example, in The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, you will smile as soon as I turn the page and when I say, Sloooooowwwww Feeeeeet……..QUICKFEET!, you let out a laugh and then prevent me from turning the page so I will have to do it again.

You can now point out your bellybutton, your feet, your mouth, your nose and your ears.  When I ask you where your eyes are you get a small, sly smile, cock your head to the side and randomly point to three areas of your face at once.  Maybe it’s because I wear glasses.  You are used to poking at your nose and then my nose, your mouth and then my mouth, but I don’t let you do that with my eyes anymore because the wet smudges on my glasses made me feel like I was getting glaucoma.

Although you are not walking on your own yet, you are much more interested in getting around in an upright position.  This usually involves cruising by holding onto anything within reach...most often my legs.  Do you know how difficult it is to prepare your lunch when you have wrapped your 20 pound body around my calves? You will cling to my legs, reach up for my hands, flash a ridiculously cute smile and demand, WALK!    
You are also standing without touching anything for almost a minute.  You will start clapping your hands to music before you realize that you have let go of your support.  Just yesterday you started testing your new-found freedom by letting go of one hand for a couple of steps when we walked together.
When you are not walking everywhere or trying to crawl up my legs, you are mastering some major play milestones.  For a couple of months I have been rolling a ball to you only to have you chuck it across the room in the complete opposite direction.  Just last week you finally understood that Roll the ball to Mama means Roll the ball to Mama. I have to say that you are dominating the game of Stack the Rings as well, stacking and then turning the post upside down, only to re-stack them again, all the while singing a song and bobbing your head back and forth.
Yesterday morning you and I were playing on the floor and you suddenly stopped, your face very close to mine, and you leaned in and pressed your nose to my nose, your forehead to mine. We stayed in that position for several spectacular seconds and I held my breath so you would not move. I could feel you grinning on my skin and even though I wanted to scoop you up and cover you in kisses I let you hold your face there for as long as you would. I know there are only a handful of moments like that in life. Thank you for that one.
Love,
Mama

Friday, March 11, 2011

The only cabinet without a child lock...

And she knows right where it is:
 
Afternoon fun!  Kate ended up sleeping 1 1/2 hours yesterday which was great.  She was an absolute joy this morning--talking up a storm and dancing around.  After our party with the plastic containers she asked for "baba" so I took her in and gave her a bottle and then put her down for a nap.  She's been asleep now for about 2 hours and should be waking up soon.

Tomorrow we're making a brunch for Kelly, Keith and their daughter M as well as Candice and her daughter Antara.  Very much looking forward to all the girls getting together and for us to catch up on how everyone is doing.  Stay tuned for pictures of the girls playing.

Ah.  There it is.  Kate just woke up.  Good timing.  Cheers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kate's 14 month checkup

Kate and I are both on the mend this week. The coughing has subsided but we are still battling stuffy noses. Fortunately, she really likes to have her nose cleared up so she sits quite still when she sees the kleenex approaching. She's even learning to blow her nose when I ask her to. She's not completely there with it but I'd say she does it about 75% of the time which is better than none.

So, on to the newest stats (her 12 month stats will be in parenthesis):

Weight: 21 lb (19 lb, 10 1/2 oz)
Length: 30 1/4" (28 3/4")
Head circumference: 44 cm (43 1/2 cm)

She was quite cheerful with Dr. Ettner today. She said "Hi!" to him repeatedly. Then moved on to initiating peek-a-boo, raising her arms overhead when he asked her how big she was, and topped it all off by blowing him a kiss as he was leaving. She is a charmer!

Then Sarah came in with the two shots she needed this month. We missed getting any shots at her 12 month appointment since he only had the MMR in stock and he prefers to give that to her at her 18 month checkup. So today she got two vaccinations (only one needle though thank goodness): the Hib and the DPT.  Gone is the day when she didn't cry with a shot.  She squalled quite a bit but settled down enough to have some water and regroup.

Unfortunately, we then had to go downstairs to the blood lab for her first blood draw.  She came through it like a champ.  I sat with her in the chair while the technician put a tourniquet on her arm.  I then held her arm straight and surprisingly, she didn't jump when the needle went in, nor did she squirm at all.  She just sat there and cried piteously, which made the whole transaction easier (and thus faster) but was still sad to hear.  So in two days we should have the results which include standard testing for things like iron and lead.

And (AND!), I can now report that for the first time since last week, Kate is taking a nap right this very minute!  Sickness always seems to screw with her already tenuous hold on daytime sleep.  I put her in her crib as soon as we got home at 1:35pm and after an hour of playing in the dark (which included throwing everything out of her crib), I hear nothing.  Let's hope it's a good long nap.  We both could really use it.

And, just for the proud mama in me--could you not just eat those scrumptious eyebrows right off her forehead?  And polish it off with those cheeks for dessert?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Exhaustion

It's been a rough couple of days.  This weekend seemed to fly by with barely time to rest before Monday rolled around.  I find that I tend to push, push, push until I meet a deadline and then I collapse from the weight of it all at the end.  Last week we finished all of our paperwork for our homestudy and between the filling out of forms, the meeting with the social worker, the doctor's appointments and the parenting classes,

not to mention the taking care of Kate!

I finally succumbed to the cold that had been threatening for weeks. And now Kate has it too. Oh, and she's teething again. Kate had a slight cold a few weeks ago but her cough never seemed to clear up. Now, the cough has gotten worse and her nose is all congested and she's sneezing. And drooling from all the teething. She's a giant slobbery, boogery mess. And (AND!) she insists on walking everywhere even though she cannot walk yet. So she gets on her walker-thingy and most of the time she's fine on it but the more tired she gets the more she runs into walls, furniture, etc and then can't turn around. So she just stands there repeatedly bashing her walker into the wall and whining.

This is where you say, "Why don't you just put the walker-thingys away?". Yes, I have done that. But then she wants me to hold her hands while we both walk which is much worse on my back so, path of least resistance is my motto in this case.

Yesterday was by far the worst day in our last few weeks. Both of us were sick but ONE OF US wouldn't nap so neither one of us did. She was so exhausted and cranky (frankly, we both were) that I had her in bed by 5:30 and I was in the tub by 6. She still had a pretty fretful evening, waking every 40 minutes or so to cry but then settling back down within a few minutes. I was asleep by 9:30.

We are both still snotty and congested today but are in better spirits. She was very much into Daddy this morning since she didn't have her usual time with him last night. He only made it out the door this morning without major clinging from her because Ms. Tricha showed up right as Len was leaving for work.

We have another checkup appointment with the pediatrician on Thursday. Think she's over 20 lbs yet? I think so. I have ordered the next size up in diapers and she's steadily growing out of some of the smaller 12 month old clothes.

Oiy! I just read over this post and it is incredibly rambling--not normally my style. However, I'm really too tired to do any editing, even on a suck-post such as this. Here's to a better rest-of-the-week.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Homestudy....again

Yesterday was our fourth homestudy update.

Sigh.

Our newest social worker came over today for about 3 1/2 hours to discuss, again, what we have discussed ad nauseum for the past 4 years.  To be fair, it's her job.  I know that.  I know that she needs to know where we store our cleaning supplies, what our hot water heater temperature is set at, that our smoke detectors work (complete with demonstration by Len on the stool), what our relationship is like with our siblings and parents, what we will do the same and differently than our parents did, and the question that never fails to make me blanch....

Why do you want to adopt?

When you announce your pregnancy (well, when most people who have not suffered through infertility announce their pregnancies), no one says,

"Why?" 

No, they celebrate with you. There are no questions about what forms of discipline you will use, if you've ever experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse, how you and your husband plan to parent, or ask for a detailed explanation about your fire escape plan and where you are going to post it in your house to review quarterly.

I know, intellectually, that this is what is needed to be sure that a child is going into the best possible family.  They have already started out with a huge loss, their birth family, so you want that next family to be THE ONE.

I really do know that.  Problem is, I knew that 4 years ago.  And I was gung-ho and very happy to fill out the forms, ask for references, and do multiple fingerprints.  No problem.

Now I'm just tired.  Tired of waiting.  Tired of the morass of bureaucracy that keeps a child who needs a family from one who wants her. Tired of our government profiting from our misfortune to be stuck in limbo waiting for a referral as they squeeze even more money out of us to re-file the same form and re-take the same fingerprints we have given dozens of times.

For now, our part in the homestudy is complete.  We met with her a few weeks ago for several hours and again today.  We took 12 hours of parent training courses in the evenings last week.  We have been re-fingerprinted and mailed off background check requests to every state we've lived in since we were 18.  We've asked our friends to write more reference letters and resubmit them. 

And now we wait.  Some more.

Our social worker will re-write the homestudy and then submit it to DCFS who has to approve it.  That takes about 30 days.  Then it comes back to our agency who will send it to us.  We then have to write another check to USCIS and mail the whole packet to them.  And get fingerprinted again for Homeland Security.  Then it's about 60-90 days to wait for that to come back with our form that says we can travel should we ever get a referral. 

Until it all expires in 15 months and we have to start over. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Review--A Fortune-Teller Told Me

I always love reading travel books and this one caught my eye for a few reasons, the first being that it takes place in Asia but is told from a Westerner's point-of-view.  A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani is an engaging travel log that covers a year in the life of a reporter who was warned by a fortune-teller not to fly for all of 1993.  It happened in Hong Kong is 1976.  I was intrigued.  Who remembers what someone told them 17 years prior??

When I heard his dire words I was momentarily taken aback, but not deeply disturbed....I did not forget the date, however; it lingered at the back of my mind, rather like an appointment one hasn't yet decided whether to keep or not.

By the time 1993 rolled around, Terzani had been living in Asia for over 20 years so his mindset and thus his decision was a solidly Asian one: not to fight against it but to submit.  However, he acknowledged this truth:

The prophecy was a pretext.  The truth is that at 55 one has a strong urge to give one's life a touch of poetry, to take a fresh look at the world, reread the classics, rediscover that the sun rises, that there is a moon in the sky and that there is more to time than the clock's tick can tell us.  This was my chance, and I could not let it slip.

He then has to figure out the practical problem of being a foreign correspondent for Der Spiegel without being able to fly at a moment's notice to cover breaking news. He was honest with his editors, told them the fortune-teller's warning, and announced his intention of not traveling by plane in 1993. Surprisingly, they told him to do what he thought was best...and he didn't lose his job.

As someone who loves to travel, I have always hated the actual traveling part. Going through security, sitting on the plane, waiting for luggage. That, and I always get a traveler's headache for the duration of every flight. I was interested to see how he was going to navigate this aspect of his life. And, since we are planning a trip to China (hopefully sooner rather than later), I wanted to read his impressions of the people and places he would encounter in a year.

He does not disappoint.  His descriptions of the characters he meets make you feel like you are in that back room sitting across from the soothsayer he has sought out.  The descriptions of the landscape, when viewed up close, make you feel as if you are squeezed into the train car with a bunch of Mongols selling their wares at every station.

To his surprise, traveling by train and boat awakened his senses. Slowed him down in every measurable way.

As soon as you decide to do without planes, you realize how they impose their limited way of looking at things on you. Oh, they diminish distances, which is handy enough, but they end up diminishing everything, including your understanding of the world. You leave Rome at sunset, have dinner, sleep awhile, and at dawn you are in India. But in reality each country has its own special character. We need time if we are to prepare ourselves for the encounter; we must make an effort if we are to enjoy the conquest....Reading a guidebook while hopping from one airport to another is not the same as the slow, laborious absorption-as if by osmosis-of the humors of the earth to which one remains bound when traveling by train.

Along his travels to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, he consults soothsayers, sorcerers and shamans in every village. He receives a lot of advice, some wise, some not. He discovers that most of the craft of fortune-telling is in reading the person before you. Much of the time they are only 50% correct in their reading of his past but a lot of that can be explained as "your past life" which is part of the belief system in the East.

His travels taught him a lot including Chinese astrology. Astrology plays a huge role in predicting both your personality and your destiny and his date and exact time of birth were the first things any fortune-teller asked him.

As an aside, I found this quite entertaining: I was born in the year of the horse (which I already knew) but 1966 also was a combination year which happens every 66 years. So I am a combination horse with fire which is very inauspicious. Apparently, girls born in this year are wild, dangerous and practically impossible to marry. In Asia in 1966, many women resorted to abortion and in Taiwan the birth rate fell by 25%. It's a good thing Len didn't know this before he proposed...

In the end, he reveled in his new-found "freedom". He rediscovered not only the pleasure of travel but of life itself. Of his long voyage by ship from La Spezia, Italy to Singapore he wrote:

I had leisure to put my impressions in order, to reflect. Time and silence-so necessary, so natural-have by now become luxuries which only a few can afford....Taking time for oneself is a simple cure for the ills of the soul, but one which people apparently find difficult to allow themselves. For years, in moments of depression, I had dreamed of sticking a note on my door saying "Out to lunch," and making that absence last for days or weeks. Now, finally, I had succeeded.

He discovers that the point then, of travel, is in the journey, not the arrival. Similarly, in the occult or spiritual realm, what counts is the search, the asking of questions, and not the answers found in the tea leaves, the lines in your palm, or the lines of text on the random page you opened in whatever holy book you subscribe to.

I will omit the information on whether there is indeed an accident on a plane flight he would normally have been on. There are some surprising fortunes that do indeed seem to come from a place of truth. The question lies in whether it was destiny or whether, after hearing the fortune, he created the destiny himself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Methinks the swing is too small

It was approaching the witching hour, 4pm, last week.  Kate was bored with her plethora of toys, it was raining so no walk in the stroller, and it was too early for supper.  I was looking for any possible distraction so took her into her room, ostensibly to read some books.  She pointed to her swing which, honestly, I don't even see anymore and which we really should pack up to make more room in her nursery.  So I thought, if it will buy me even 5 minutes, I don't care if her feet do hang off the end.  And turns out, they do!
She was good for 10 minutes but I had to stay right with her as she was too big for the straps to hold her in.  That and I had to tie up the netting and keep her from grabbing at the mobile.  Overall, I think we're done with it.

I looked back through our pics for a comparison and the first time we actually put her in the swing was at 3 months old, almost a year ago. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Multi-tasking

Kate has been standing for longer periods of time before she falls down.  Now, she's added clapping to the mix!  Kate was entertaining Tricha (and trying to prolong staying up before bathtime I suspect) by dancing and clapping Saturday night while Len and I were out on a date.  This particular song involves a lot of clapping so every time it comes on Kate is quick to start clapping.  She's almost to the point where she actually claps on the beat.  Looks she didn't get Len's genes on that front.


This is a short clip of Kate's fancy footwork and all-over body wiggle.  She really does love music and dancing.

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