Tuesday 31 March 2009

I am going to have very sore arms

Well, nothing has moved and we are STILL waiting for our Certificate of Eligibility from the gub'ment. So I've decided to swing into action anyway and do what I can, which basically means getting my shots. I turned up to the doctors' surgery on Monday with £300, rolled up my sleeve and pretty much said 'give me one of everything'. As it turned out, the nurse would only give me two shots at a time, so I've had my measles-mumps-rubella booster and yellow fever vaccination, but I've had to book four (count 'em, FOUR) more appointments for my remaining 8 jabs. And the £300 wasn't quite enough, either, which is kind of scary.
I would also like to take the opportunity to apologise sincerely to the person who was offended by part of my last post and told me so privately. I'm very sorry.

In other news. I've been making lots more jewellery. And we've been doing some thinking. And have some decisions to make. What do y'all think about .... twins? Brilliant way of making sure our baby never feels isolated and without birthfamily connections, or sheer greed? Twice the fun, or a shortcut to sleep-deprived mania? We expect it would take a bit longer, but would set a limit on how long we would wait, if we decided to go ahead with this idea. Honest opinions sought.

Friday 20 March 2009

Three Thoughts

Thought the first:

It's amazing how this baby, a person that we haven't even met, has already opened our lives up in ways we never would have expected. Last week a group of UK adopters all met up and had an Ethiopian cooking lesson, which was brilliant. It was shoddily organised by moi, (and I found out that wow, I am unbelieveably bad at organising events - useful lesson) which means that I got to know the lady who did the demonstration- she runs an Ethiopian cafe near where we live, and due to my uselessness at organising, we had to have quite a few confabs. Anyway, I saw her again yesterday and it struck me just how much I like her and that we never, ever would have met her if it hadn't been for HFB. And I certainly would never have learned to cook zelzel tibs. Later yesterday evening, we went around to another Ethiopian friend's for dinner. We met him when we went to Ethiopian church (which I blogged about a while back). He is a truly radiant person - it's such a pleasure to know him, and again, it never would have happened if it weren't for our unknown, unmet HFB.
Thanks, kiddo.

Thought the second:

I've known for a while that the most effective fertility treatment in the universe is either to be my friend, or to be related to me. I thought I would feel okay about this by now (you're expecting, I'm expecting, lets swap stories about prams) but each new announcement reminds me just how long we've been waiting, and how long we will continue to wait, and that nobody is going to keep these babies in an orphanage for two extra months while their parents wait for the courts to open again after the rainy season. I know, I know, it's not all about me, and yes, I am a sucky friend / relation and I should be cast into the depths of the ocean. Please believe that I already know this.

And yet. Rather than thinking 'oh, how lovely, more babies for my baby to play with!' I think: 'July? You mean THIS July? That is so monumentally unfair!'

Actually I think that on one occasion, I may have actually said this. See, depths of the ocean.

But I'm realising that a time is approaching when a twelve week announcement won't have that effect on me. Barring unforeseen changes (did I really even need to spell that out?), someone will stroke their belly and say 'November!' and I'll smile beatifically and say 'oh, how lovely. Our babies can grow up together'. That moment can't come too soon.

Thought the third:

J tells me that I can't get upset if people aren't understanding of what we're going through if I don't actually tell them. So, I've been trying to be more communicative with people about what this wait is really like. But these emotions are difficult to convey. I mention the uncertainty and the waiting and the most common response is : 'Oh, that's just like being pregnant!' Ummmm, no, it's really really not. I know that being pregnant is difficult. (Anybody else tempted to write a book called 'What to expect to hear when friends are expecting?') But those difficulties are not these difficulties. This baby is separated from me not by layers of skin and flesh and 40 weeks of waiting, but by oceans and continents and what feels on some days like the entire space-time continuum. I love and long for this child as much as if he or she was inside me, but I can do nothing concrete to keep this child safe. I can't eat or not-eat, do or not-do. I cannot monitor anything. And I know none of those things are guarantees, but I can't even do what I can, because I can't do anything. I don't think I ever really knew what trust was until I realised this. All I can do is pray: Lord, please look after my baby.

Monday 16 March 2009

My Hopes Were Up

Just so you know: this post has nothing whatsoever to do with our adoption.

A little while ago, a well-known manufacturer of confectionery (okay, it was M.ars) ran a competition that they were promoting on campus. The task was to make something out of three m.ars bars: first prize, £1000, runner up prizes - m.ars hampers.

Now, if I have one tip for successful living - one thing I have learned in all my years, it is this: enter competitions. I don't mean the 'phone this number and answer a stupidly simple question' competitions, I mean competitions where you actually have to TRY. The reason is: most people can't be bothered trying, and there will be many, many fewer entries than you think, meaning that you can win AMAZING stuff with remarkably low-quality entries. With this approach, I have won, in the last two years, a very nice cameraphone, a Pentax digital SLR and an out-of-this-world African safari.

No, not kidding. If you've ever been on my flickr page, the pictures of lions and so on from August 2007 are from this trip.

So my motto is: You've got to be in it to win it! Otherwise known as: most people are lazy, so take advantage of that. So anyway, back to the story. I decided that of course this was worth my time! A colleague and I spent two lunchbreaks carefully crafting the following:

which was more difficult than it looks, but surprisingly fun. (That's the other rule, of course - only do competitions that are fun. Otherwise it's really NOT worth it, no matter how great the prizes are). As we suspected, the organisers were not bowled over with thousands of entries and despite the ordinariness of ours we won a runner-up prize. Yay! A hamper! Full of chocolate! Life was (no pun intended) sweet.

Well, anyway, that was more than three weeks ago. Whenever one of us was out of the office for more than about ten minutes, it became a running joke to ask 'has the hamper arrived while I was out?' on returning. The answer was always 'no', of course, and this hamper began to assume gargantuan, mythic proportions in our minds while we waited. Whenever things got a bit difficult (often) one of us would sigh and say 'you know, what I really need to get me through this is a hamper full of chocolate'. In quiet moments, we would discuss what we thought we would find inside on that happy day when it finally arrived. We had already promised bits of it to various people. Basically, we were like children waiting for Christmas. Occasionally, we would say 'ahhh, there is NO WAY this is going to be good enough to live up to our expectations'. But secretly, we thought it would.

Today, it arrived. It was a brown cardboard box, smaller than we had hoped, but with a promising weight of four kilograms! That's quite a lot of chocolate! Anyway, I know the suspense is killing you so here is what was inside:

The stuff in the big orange packets is... rice. I kid you not. RICE. And not just any rice, but... instant rice. And there is some stirfry sauce. Altogether, this is more than half the weight of the package. There's hardly any chocolate. Not a single m.ars bar. Not an M&M to be seen. No snickers (I love snickers).

What kind of company goes to the bother of running a competition, administers it, and then at the point of packing the prizes (at ZERO cost, from their OWN factory) decides: what all the kids want these days is a big box o' rice?

I'm not even really sure what the point of this post is, except to say... some things are so weird you just have to write them down. Today, I think I experienced one of them. Anyone want to come to my house for .... rice?

Sunday 8 March 2009

Good News for Clarins

The good news for manufacturers of expensive skin care products is that I have started to wrinkle. You may ask my age, and then scoff, if you like, but it is true. True. I blame it on my sunlit childhood, mostly spent swimming and absorbing as many UV rays as possible. I wore suncream, obviously, but nobody has mentioned this to the crows who seem to have permanently planted their little feet next to my eyes. Anyway, the time has come for me to stop whining about it and start taking Proper Care of my Ageing Skin. Lucky me. Otherwise I worry that HFB will take one look at me, recoil and think: "what's going on here? I need a mother, not a grandmother! Who is this haggard old crone? Ach, she's too cheap to buy proper skincare! What kind of a future am I going to have with this wrinkly tightwad?"

Yes, at the moment, the voice in my head tends to belong to an angry Ethiopian baby.

Anyway, long story short, I bit the bullet on a 'skincare plan' (snort) and since I was spending such a freakingly stupid amount of money, this seemed like the right time to take a form home and join the store's loyalty card scheme. Name and address aren't too challenging. Then you have to tick all the discount sub-schemes you'd like to be part of. 60+ health scheme? Errrr, not quite yet, thanks! But here's an interesting one....For parents and parents-to-be.... hey! That's us! Finally, that's us! We've got no baby stuff yet, and I really love discounts. So I'm definitely joining up. But then I take up my pen to tick the boxes and it says 'if you are pregnant when is your baby due?' and I'm stumped. Should I guess at when we'll be coming home, baby in hand? Or should I pick some kind of joke date? April Fools Day seems appropriate. Scrawling 'What about ME? I'm adopting and I don't HAVE a due date! Do you have any idea how HARD that is? Just because I'm not pregnant doesn't mean I don't need DISCOUNTS' across the application form seems like a little bit of an over reaction, but I get dangerously close.

In the end I tick 'not applicable' and shove the form in the mail with quite a lot of force. It was probably just going to be discounts on folic acid supplements anyway. Who needs that, huh?

Friday 6 March 2009

amazing amazing

For the last few days, rumours have been spreading about what's happening in the courts in Ethiopia. I've been trying not to think too much about it - just last week, we found out that a friend (from the UK) had her court date set and it was going to be a three month wait. This felt like crushing news - for her, that it was such a long wait, and for us too. I've always been hoping that one of the perks (okay, the ONLY perk) of having to adopt independently would be that when we went out to apply for a court hearing for our baby, I could stay and start making friends with him or her while we waited for court. But the longer the waits for court become, the more impossible this looks.
Two months out there - I can probably do that, financially, and in terms of neglecting my husband. I want to do it, by the way. But three months starts to look a lot dicier, and the worst part is that the waits went so rapidly from two to three months, they could easily become four by the time it is our turn. I haven't really blogged about all this because it very quickly makes me feel unbearably sad, and also because I know that I don't know the first thing about how hard that post-referral wait must be. I know that lots of people have to go out, meet their new baby, and then come home. And I know that if I really had to do that, I would probably survive it. But I feel like it's killing me now not to be able to see my baby, when he / she is still only the hypothetical future baby in my mind. I've witnessed enough of other people's experience to know that being separated from a baby you know through a photo, video and descriptions can be indescribably painful. But a baby I have actually held? And then had to put back down again? And had to get back on a plane and come back here? For three MONTHS? I have to keep telling myself : like every other part of this process, I would survive, because there's no other option. I can rage and cry about this but it doesn't do any good.
But today. We got an email from this friend, and she told us that her court date has been moved forward by FIVE WEEKS. This is so amazing - I can't take it in. In the nearly eight months we've officially been in this process, we've seen a lot of changes and they've all been bad. Two compulsory trips. No singles. No official referrals. Independent adoptions only. Telescoping timescales. I have felt like we are trapped in a system with an unusually high level of entropy - things are falling apart at speed and we just have to hope that we manage this before they fall apart completely. But now, but now... is it possible that things might be getting - not worse - but better?