Wednesday 29 April 2009

Just in case you've been living in a mayonnaise jar...

...and didn't know the fabulous news, Courtney and Jason have their referral! Click here and give them some lovin'!

This is loooong awaited. And possibly the cutest referral video I've ever seen. Those kids in the classroom? Priceless! Now all I need to make this the best week EVER in adoptionland is to hear tomorrow that Cindy has passed court. Come on!!!!

**************Edited to say****************

Ummmm, okay, so not only has there been a further court delay (which I hadn't caught up on because apparently *I* am the one living in a mayonnaise jar), also, it turns out that Friday is not the day after Wednesday. Who knew??

Monday 27 April 2009


Today, we found out that we have been issued with our Certificate of Eligibility. I am beyond relieved.

While I say I'm relieved - I am, but I'm also completely exhausted. I feel like I've hit a wall with all of this. I'm not coping very well with the way things are at the moment. I'm also not coping very well with the fact that someday between soon and never, someone is going to expect me to get on a plane and look after a baby (or TWO! Arrrghhh, what are we THINKING??) and while I'm looking forward to that day with huge anticipation, I also don't feel even a tenth of the way ready. The room for the baby/ies is completely uninhabitable. And no, I don't just mean that it doesn't have a ducks and bunnies frieze painted around the edges (it's a nice stony brown, and it's probably staying that way) but it's full of furniture from another room that we're renovating and also full of books that, as yet, have nowhere else to go and it's beginning to FREAK ME OUT that this stuff needs to be DONE at some point and it HASN'T been done even though I was promised it would be done MONTHS ago and we aren't READY and i just want some SPACE to ADJUST to the idea of such a HUGE CHANGE and I don't want to spend the four days in between getting a match and getting on the plane REARRANGING FURNITURE and QUEUEING AT IKEA and we've got people COMING TO STAY for a few WEEKS and I can't really see how I'm going to cope with that and there's some changes at WORK that TERRIFY ME that I CAN'T TALK ABOUT HERE in case anyone ever goes through my web history and finds this and in case all the capitals haven't made it clear, I feel like I am LOSING MY MIND with all the uncertainty and change. I'm seriously considering asking if I can go down to 4 days a week at work - I feel like an extra day each week to get things done would help a lot.

But, um, yeah. C of E today. And I am incredibly grateful. Losing my mind, but grateful.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

So it all became too much

Today, I sent this email to the government department that is SUPPOSED to be processing our paperwork.

Dear [name of person in charge],

My husband and I have been approved by [assessing agency] to adopt from Ethiopia. Our papers were sent to the [department] on the 11th of February. Tomorrow, ten weeks will have elapsed, and we are still waiting for our Certificate of Eligibility. [ie, the thing without which we cannot do this thing. The thing that is stopping our papers going to country. And the thing whose delay means we won't be adopting before court closes this year. And no, these square brackets weren't in the original email]. In fact, we are still waiting for written acknowledgement of our application and an official case number! We are writing to let you know how unhappy we are with the wait times, and the way these wait times have been handled by the [department].

We know, from reading the notes of a meeting held with prospective China adopters back in January, that the plan was for the ICA [intercountry adoption] team to take a maximum of three weeks for each stage of processing after the end of March. This seems like a perfectly reasonable time for this sort of paperwork to be processed, and we were really encouraged to read these notes when they became available. However, when I spoke to a member of staff this week (late April) and said that we had been waiting for our C of E for ten weeks, the response was 'well, the website says that it takes about eight weeks'. Her clear implication was that after ten weeks I shouldn't be dissatisfied! No interest, and definitely no apology. If the website said sixteen weeks, would that be okay? Twenty weeks? Similarly, I asked why we hadn't had a response to the email that we wrote two weeks earlier (stating that we had then been waiting for our C of E for eight weeks, and asking for an update) and again, the only response was 'well, the website says that it takes fifteen days to respond to written communication'. The fact that the website states it takes fifteen days to reply to written communication does not make that acceptable! Two weeks waiting for a reply to an email of this nature is astonishingly poor.

The person I spoke to then said that I would get my C of E this week. Or maybe it won't be the C of E. Maybe it will be the acknowledgement letter. And maybe it won't be this week. Maybe it will be next week. Can you see why this is frustrating?

I have now contacted (or tried to contact) the ICA team three times, and each time I have been fobbed off, completely ignored, or treated with indifference. From talking to other adopters, I know that others have had the same experience.

The people who are processing our paperwork need to understand how important this paperwork is is to prospective adopters. They need to understand that we aren't waiting for them to do something trivial. The paperwork they are processing is, for us, a key step towards being matched with our child. When I speak to members of the team, I want to be treated with respect, rather than indifference. It's hard to express just how upsetting it is to be waiting for something so important and be ignored or fobbed off by someone who openly doesn't care.

In short, it seems to me that there are two key problems: the processing is heartbreakingly slow, and nobody seems to care that the processing is heartbreakingly slow. I would really like the first to be fixed, but if that is impossible I would settle for the second!

So all of this leaves us with the following three questions:
1) When on earth are we going to get our C of E??
2) Will we have to go through the same torture waiting for our papers to be sent to country?
3) What is being done about the two problems above?

We would really appreciate a reply - preferably in much less than fifteen days!

Yours sincerely

[Claudia and Mr Claudia]
(waiting for C of E ten weeks tomorrow)

I'll let you know if we get a reply!

Friday 17 April 2009

A hint

I decided I needed an easter project over the long weekend, and bought this rather fabulous book because it had by far the best pattern for a toy cat that I've seen so far. So I bought it, and well, okay, here's a picture of what I made:
And that's probably made it pretty clear where we've come to in our decision about whether to ask for twins.

Obviously.... we've not got any way of knowing whether it will actually happen or not. But we've decided that we want it to happen, if it can, and have notified the appropriate person. (Turns out the appropriate person is on holidays, so we haven't heard back from them yet about their opinion, but that's a whole 'nother story). So. We'll see. (By the way, before you think that we've just gone crazy, we do have situation-specific reasons for thinking it has a more-than-zero chance of working out). It's still pretty secret, mainly because we are VERY aware that it might not happen, and we don't want people to be disappointed if we announce that we've been referred just one baby! But we really feel like it's the right thing to go for IF it's possible. And we've told my mother that she might need to knit a second baby cardigan at short notice, so the jumper situation is under control.
Lately I have caught myself wondering whether part of the appeal of twins is that it makes the 18 month ish waiting period seem a bit less unreasonable. My 'waiting for baby' counter has ticked past 9 months now, and I'm sure I heard it laugh nastily at me as it did so. The longer I'm in this, the less I'm tempted to make 'paper pregnancy' comparisons, but somehow that nine month marker tasted a bit sour. Mostly, I'm really having a hard time accepting the fact that I'm still at work - back when the government was processing papers faster than they are now, I had really hoped to be travelling in April. Someone close to me who got pregnant waaaaaay after we started our process has just gone on maternity leave and dangit, when's it going to be my turn? I'm beginning to feel like I'm just marking time here and I don't like that feeling.
Don't get me wrong, though, the main appeal of twins is.... twins! Mentally dividing the waiting period in half is just a bonus.
By the way, I got a comment from Kerry a few days ago (which CRACKED ME UP! please start a blog, Kerry, so I can read it) which made me realise that I don't have my email address on my sidebar anymore. It's - I'll put it here because I keep promising myself to sort out my sidebar but haven't done it yet. When I do finally do this, I also want to update my blog list. I've realised that lots of people who I started reading when I started are now home with babies, which is fantastic! And when I think about it - incredible! All those babies in happy families in this one year... I get a bit weepy when I think about it. But I'd also love to be reading some people who are newer - got any recommendations? There are also a few people who I found through other blogs and commented on but now cannot find again, which makes me feel very stupid. If you are one of those people, can you let me know? And if you aren't, but have a blog, can you let me know that too? And I'll try to sort myself out!

Monday 13 April 2009

Some stuff about some stuff, and some other stuff, as well, including why I hate Facebook

Still no C of E. Did I mention that I have been collecting data on the time taken by the relevant government department to process this paperwork? Well, I have, because I am a nerd, and I guess all that stuff about watched pots never boiling must be true, because we have now been waiting the longest for our papers to be done out of anyone that I have data for (with the exception of one person who was caught up with visa issues). And now we've written the first in what will almost certainly be a series of increasingly annoyed emails to said government department, demanding (very politely) to know what's going on and when they are going to get their act together and process us. I'd like to think that I have better things to do with my time, but it turns out that I don't.

And so we wait.

While we're continuing to wait, I've been trying to do a few things that I haven't wanted to do. One of these has been to do a bit of bridge-building, or fence-mending, or whatever you want to call it, with some of my friends. This is really hard to write about, and I'm not going to write about it in detail because I decided a while ago that I can write whatever I like about me on this blog, but that for all kinds of reasons I should stay away from writing about other people. And I plan to stick to that. And anyway, most people who read this probably don't need my stories because you've all got your own about how hard it is to navigate the normal world when you feel shattered and broken. And how hard it is to maintain friendships when nobody comes to your house anymore, because you might as well go to theirs, because after all you don't have to put any kids in the car, and then you have to sit amongst the baby toys while they talk about feeding schedules and you have nothing to contribute to the conversation and you feel like someone is hammering a spike through your brain and they don't ever ask you how your homestudy is going or want to know about anything that's happening in your life and you find yourself wondering whether you ever really had anything in common with the person sitting across from you and then it's not one or two of your friends it's all of them and you wonder whether a time will come when you will ever find it other than painful to be in the same room as any of these people ever again and you know that they are the ones with the normal lives and you're the freak so you should probably accommodate but there comes a point where you JUST CAN'T TAKE IT any more and suddenly the only people you want to see are your husband and your cat and one of those isn't even a person.

Or maybe that's just me.

This whole feeling of freakdom, of course, is why I hate and despise facebook. I know I'm not the only one. Oh boy - I do NOT need to see another ultrasound picture as an avatar. I've just got nothing to say to the status update of how pregnant you are now, or what your little boy is doing, and I do not want to take the 'how many children will you have?' quiz, even if you do assure me it is 'scarily accurate'. (I wonder is there an option of 'zero! After a failed adoption attempt, you will rot in an Ethiopian jail for attempted kidnapping'. I doubt it).

But I digress - I was intending to write about how things have been getting better. For a while, I think I've had a vain hope that I was going to hear the words 'you've been through a lot of pain and grief in the last few years, and I probably wasn't very helpful to you. I'm sorry. I wish I had been kinder' from some of my friends. I think the appropriate response from me would then be 'Thank you so much for that. I also realise that you've faced lots of changes in this time, and I probably had unrealistic expectations about how much support you could give me. Also, I probably didn't cook you as many dinners as I should have when you were adjusting to being a parent'. Or something. But you know? I think I've finally realised that those conversations are never going to happen. Most of my friends will probably never think through how painful the last few years have been for me, because they will never need to. And that's good, I think. And so... I need to let a lot of this stuff go. On my own. Without any confrontations or 'big conversations' about it. I owe that to our child, apart from anything else - socially isolating myself wont' do them any favours. So I've been actively trying to see people who I've been avoiding. As in - making times and going to their houses (after all, we don't have any kids to put in the car...) and having the conversations about feeding schedules and just sucking it up. I think this is kind of working for three reasons. One, I do actually like my friends. I do want to have friends. So I feel motivated to do it. Two, the pain of being surrounded by that much normality is nowhere near as bad as it used to be, and is now mostly outweighed by one. I still get sad, but not for as long, and not quite so deeply as I used to. I still find it really hard to be around newborns, because I start thinking about all the difficulties our baby will face in its first weeks and I compare it to the maternal cosseting a tiny baby should have and I just want to cry for both baba and birthmother but Three, I've started to believe that this is really going to happen, one day, and I'm trying to look at the sea of babies and see my child's future friends, rather than just potent reminders of mine and my baby's losses.

It's such hard work though.

At times like this, I think 'this sure would have been easier if I just hadn't drifted away from my friends in the first place' and I feel really tempted to pass judgement on my former self for letting this happen. And in a way, this is a good thing because it shows me that the pain I felt must have faded a lot, if I've already forgotten it enough to be judgemental. And it's good that the pain has faded, but I wonder: what else will I forget? I know how easy it is to think that only what I'm going through now is difficult, and that other thing was not actually that bad, and really I must have overreacted if I thought it was tough because wow! That wasn't tough! This is tough! So this is to me, in the future:

If I have a house full of screaming children, a nappy to change, a spill to clean, and a song to sing, now, mummy, I want to remember: this.
When I'm crazed with sleep deprivation,haven't showered for days, and smell of poo, constantly, I want to remember: now.
I want to remember the feeling of empty arms, of waking at night, but not to feed anyone. Only to stare at the ceiling and wonder if we should just get another cat.
I want to remember. Because: I know that won't be easy. But this wasn't easy too.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Facing Loss

No, it's not what I'm normally complaining about. It's just that... I've finished all seven series of the West Wing.

That's it.

No more.

All gone.


So, what next? It's struck me that I could actually, gasp, try to use my time constructively. So, I decided that West Wing Time needs to become Amharic Time. I've finally peeled the wrapping off my ' Amharic Talk Now' CD-ROM, shoved it in the computer, and.... it's pretty rubbish. Okay, so it's taught me to do some counting, which is good. I like that. But it's all based around comprehension (see / hear a word, then match it to the picture) and it's not very well designed because you can pretty much ALWAYS guess the answer, even if you know zero Amharic. Like I do. Dont' get me wrong, I feel great about scoring top marks on the quizzes after my first lesson. But - I'm realising that the phrase 'I got full marks on the quiz on my CD-ROM' won't get me very far in Ethiopia when I need to find the yesatoch metsedaja bet. Urgently. Can anyone recommend a better resource? I've got the lonely planet phrasebook, but the language is just SO different from English... I think I need something else. Like a CD-ROM. Just... not the one I've got.

Alternatively? I need a new box set of DVDs. Recommendations for that instead, anyone?

Saturday 4 April 2009

Still waiting

for our C of E, which is just beyond silly.

In the meantime, anyone else who asks me about M.adonna's adoption is going to get directed here, for St Melissa's take on the situation. I heart that woman. Really. I wrote her an embarrassingly fan-y email once, which pretty much said 'I just want to tell you how great you are and how much I loved TINMWY!' I cringe a little now, thinking of it, but hey. She is great.

Thanks very much to Julie for the link.

In other news:
I think I've finally begun to crack this jewellery photography thing and my etsy shop is almost ready to GO! The bead explosion has reached the stage where J has started to get annoyed at always finding beads and unexpected pieces of wire in every room of the house. I've got to get some of this stuff out of here!

(Incidentally - the ring at the bottom is made of peridot and iolite and J saw it and called it 'the frogspawn ring'. And okay, I can see his point, but now I need to come up with a REAL name, one that might actually help me to SELL it, and all I can think of is 'frogspawn'. Any better ideas??)