Adoption timeline


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Only News... is really no news...

The agency emailed today to tell us that the person they now believe is Samantha's birth mother is coming to the transition house on Friday to verify that this is infact the child she relinquished. Our agency has requested a new court date. They have also requested that Samantha have all new medical tests, and then after they meet with the mom, they will create an entirely new profile. I still don't know my daughter's birth name.

This has been unbelievably hard. We knew there was a very good chance our case could fail the first time through - it happens to a lot of people. We certainly never played out this scenario, though. For the last 24 hours I find that the littlest things make me well up and start to cry. Every time I think of her - stuck there even longer, I get so sad. How could this happen? We got her referral in September. Why didn't something happen sooner that would have shed light on the situation? Why, when I kept asking about the age discrepancy didn't anyone probe further? UGH. I am such an optimist, and I am really struggle to look at this as a glass half full right now. Maybe I will get there, but I am a long way away right now. And... I apparently won't have any more answers for another week...

Monday, December 14, 2009


We did not pass. Not only did we not pass, we have to start over - sort of. Apparently the orphanage switched at least two kids during the intake process. So... our "8 month old" who clearly wasn't an 8 month old really wasnt - it wasn't even her correct paperwork. So, the birthdad listed showed up for court and basically said "that is not my kid". After a little investigation, it became clearer (still fairly muddy) that none of the paperwork was my little girls' (except her weight - the one thing they apparently got right). Apparently she has a living birthmother, but the father is unknown. Now they have to retest her, get her paperwork straight, get a new court date assigned, get a new letter from MOWA, contact and find the mother, and get her to court. And a judge has to show up, and show up in a good mood.

My poor baby has been called by the wrong name for the last 4 months. Her whole world was turned upside down, and no one could even comfort her by the correct name. That is killing me. I don't even know what her birth name is. I don't know a single thing about her... except that I have held her, and kissed her, and in my last moments with her in November, she called me mama and gave me a kiss on the lips. Thankfully, god brought me to her in November...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

18 Days of Thanksgiving...

Today I am thankful for many things. Topping the list is that I work at an amazing school where my children are fortunate to attend. Yesterday we had the school wide Thanksgiving program. The three student speakers were impressive and their words heart felt, as each described very personal experiences that have left them full of gratitude. The program ended with a mob dance for all the kids in kindergarten through 6th grade! It was unbelievable! So cool. Today each of my boys had Thanksgiving feasts. They were cute and in each of their classrooms they said what they were thankful for. Colby said he was thankful for animals, bugs, and his family. (bugs? really??? They are NOT on my list!) Reilly said, "I am thankful for... EVERYTHING." Most kids I would say that answer was the easy way out, but Reilly is amazingly gracious, so I have a feeling he simply couldn't decide how to prioritize. Both boys looked so happy to have both mommy and daddy at their classroom parties.

It got me thinking... what am I grateful for? I, too, struggle to prioritize the list. I have happy, healthy, smart little boys who are amazing individuals. Each warms my heart in such different ways. I have a husband who continuously strives to work hard as a man, a father, a husband, and a friend. I have a father who raised me to be confident and strong, but to accept the love and nurturing of others. I have siblings who live very far away, but who I feel close to. I have a network of friends, both near and far, who are supportive, kind, and wonderful. I have a daughter, though still so very far away, who has already stolen my heart. While there are so many other "things" I am grateful for, the people in my life definitely top the list.

In 18 days the Ethiopian courts will hear Samantha's case. (ok, supposedly in 18 days, but that is a Saturday, so really, we have no idea when the case will be heard, which is totally freaking me out, but I am trying to remain positive...) That puts us half way between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I guess I can add that I am grateful to have the distractions of the holidays during this time of wait. I am struggling with my inability to control this situation, so I suppose distraction is the best I can hope for. I am pledging to focus more than ever on my boys - who are doing so well with all of this, but who undoubtedly feel a little inner turmoil over the addition of a sibling. I'd like to use the time to amp up my fitness level and clean up my eating (not so easy during the holidays!). But most of all, I NEED to focus on my gratitude. I am one lucky lady.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Little Time to Process...

I have sat down to write about 8 times, but inevitably something comes up and I can not start, or finish, whichever the case may be. Life seems to get in the way. I have been home for 3 days. Everyone asks me, "How did you leave her?" and seem to expect me to burst into tears. I think I was so happy to see my boys and my husband that I was able to compartmentalize and deal with the goodbye quite stoically. Now... not so much. Today, right now, I feel like I was punched in the stomach. Perhaps it is that when I pointed out to our agency that we had been assigned a court date (Dec. 12th) on a Saturday, their response was "it will likely be the 11th or 14th". I think Samantha's dad, who needs to travel many, many long hours, would like to know the specific date. Why have I had to point out so many inaccuracies since our referral (and including our referral!)? Why is that suddenly making me sad? I have been angry, but now I am disillusioned and sad. Maybe because I know that every one delays Samantha's arrival. Now that I have held her, kissed her, and fallen in love with her, delays seem unusually cruel.

I will back track to my trip. It was amazing! Jennifer was a great travel buddy. We spent 24/7 together for 10 days and got along incredibly well! She was a great photographer too. We arrived at the transition house and were immediately greeted by the older children. They quickly stole our hearts - lots of hugs and kisses and smiles. They were so happy to see new people (and I think they know that new people often mean treats! We were quite happy to keep this trend alive!) We played with them for 20 or 30 minutes the first day. It was sad to see that for the 15 or 20 kids there was one old soccer ball and one dirty tennis ball. I tossed the tennis ball back and forth with a few. The driveway has a fence on one side and it is only about 8 feet high. Apparently the kids kick a lot of balls over and they are not returned to them. We went out at lunch time and bought several new soccer balls, hand balls, and a basketball. We also bought a pump so future families can bring deflated balls. The look on their faces when we returned with the balls was priceless. We found ourselves in quite a heated soccer match!

The transition house isn't what I expected. It is a somewhat converted single family home (housing 70 kids!). I spent most of my time with Samantha on the front porch or in the small yard. She is in the 1-2 year old room. It must have been the living room in the original house. Now, the perimeter walls are lined with toddler beds (they were cribs when we arrived but they switched them out while we were there; FYI, the toddler beds would not pass American safety standards - they had giant bolts in the corners!). The front wall of the room had floor to ceiling plate glass doors. The kids would get excited to see us on the porch and come over and bang on the glass. It totally made me nervous. Also, the room had a fireplace with a marble hearth! It wasn't covered in foam or anything! It just seemed like an accident waiting to happen. I saw a few of the baby rooms (two rooms full of little ones, and then there was a room that was maybe used as the sick room - with only a few kids in it), and a small room used as the doctor's office. There was a kitchen and two bathrooms as well. I never saw the big kids' rooms - there may have been some sort of addition in the back.

The nannies work hard. There are a lot of kids and the nannies rarely are idle. In the toddler room especially, there was always a baby crying, falling, bopping another on the head with a rattle, needing a diaper change, etc. So they were busy. For the most part, I was impressed. They do pick up crying babies, they do give kisses and cuddles, and they do smile and make eye contact with the kids. I wasn't so impressed when Samantha peed through her outfit (perhaps because she was in a diaper at least two sizes too small - which matched her dress that was equally too small) and they changed the diaper, but not the wet onesie! Jennifer put her foot down on that one and asked them nicely to provide another outfit. I had brought 5, but I noticed a 4 year old was wearing one of the 2T outfits the next day. hmmmmm.

Our guide T and driver, David, were awesome. They were incredibly accommodating and helpful. We had them driving us all over - from shopping to lunch to picking up more supplies for the kids, (ok, or Kaldi's coffee for us!) they just smiled and went with it. I can't imagine us trying to navigate the trip without them. Thanks guys!

Addis is beyond description. I have been exposed to poverty. I have worked with the homeless. I have doled out meals at shelters. I have been approached by beggars in big cities. None of that prepared me to see Addis. Multiply all that you have seen by about 100, and you might be prepared. It is a huge city - dirty, smelly and full of smog. The cars are old and beat up (perhaps due to the bizarre lack of traffic rules and regulations!), but they are everywhere. I didn't really expect that. There are people everywhere as well. In every direction, you can see the tin roofed shanties (envision Slum Dog Millionaire) and it becomes understandable why there are people all over - who wants to sit around in that? So they take to the streets. Women with small babies approach the car windows and beg. T asked us not to give money, rather food (in the form of granola bars and packets of nuts), because some will just keep having babies to play on the sympathies of others. I will say that the people are gracious. They are not aggressive, but seemed genuinely appreciative of the food. The street kids make me sad - it was very "Oliver Twist". They would approach us, but there was always a handler nearby. I knew the money went straight to him, so it was good to be able to give them food that they could enjoy and benefit from.

I was very surprised by how global Addis was. When we sat at the Lucy Gazebo for lunch, we were surrounded by about 6 tables, and at each were folks from different countries. I heard German, Spanish, Italian, and what sounded like either Finnish or Swedish being spoken. T told us that in Ethiopia alone there are 82 languages spoken. This has me wondering - what if my daughter's family spoke one language, a different was spoken at the orphanage, and now Amharic at the transition house. When we introduce English it could be her 4th language in less than 2 years! I think sign language will be important!

Samantha is a doll. So cute. She loved hugs and kisses and really didn't reflect what I had gotten in her update. I expected her to be shy and withdrawn at first, but she really wasn't. By the last day she had bonded well and must have been confused when the fun white ladies didn't show up! She called me mama the last day and leaned in for an unsolicited kiss. Talk about owning my heart!!!! She was also much larger than I expected. She gets little to no exercise. (which, if you know me, is a scary thought! She will have to get used to moving around when she hits our house!) She is very chubby and has a gigantic belly. Of course, one day they let me feed her lunch and it was a big bowl of mashed potatoes. After that she got formula - the Ethiopian brand which is mostly carbs. Hmmm, perhaps this is what is puffing her up like the stay puff marshmallow man? I did switch her to the Toddler Formula (Target brand) that I had brought. I brought a dozen cans and just gave the Catletts 10 more cans to bring this week when they go to pick up sweet Daniel. I encouraged them to switch as many of the toddlers as possible. They need those fatty acids.

Anyway, I am rambling. It was a lot to process. Heading to Dubai for 4 days after was a mixed blessing. We needed the day at the spa, but the opulence was somewhat over the top and after Ethiopia, a bit disgusting.

So... now we wait for our court date - whenever that will turn out to be - and pray her dad shows up and the paperwork is correct. I have a bad feeling, given all the other strange mistakes, but I have to hold on to hope.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two more Sleeps Until I Go...

I miss the days when my boys counted the time until an event by "sleeps". They would mark time until birthdays, special Grampy visits, Christmas, etc. by determining how many nights they had to go to bed before they got to wake up on the big day. Two more sleeps and I will be heading to Ethiopia. How cool is that??? It is going to be a very long trip in terms of time in airports and on planes. I have tried not to think about that part! Oddly, the hardest part was getting a decent flight from NC to NYC. I have a crazy layover in NYC in both directions! I am still trying to figure out in country transportation once in Ethiopia. I am a bit nervous about trying to navigate my way. My hubby would be so good (and will be when we go back), but since he isn't coming, it will be me and Jennifer. It could be ugly! I look forward to taking pictures of some other AWAA families' children and bringing care packages. I guess I just have no idea what to expect on so many levels. It hasn't really sunk in that in a few days I will be holding Samantha. So many friends have told me how worried they are about me leaving her behind - and how I will deal with that emotionally. I have been trying to self protect by telling myself that it will help her transition to meet me for a few days before I go back to take her from the only world she has known. We'll see how that goes.

It looks like I will have internet access at the hotel. I will try to post. I will at least do a few facebook updates. Oooooh, I can't wait. I was weighing my bags last night. It is amazing how much 50 pounds of donations really is. It is a lot of formula and wipes and diaper cream, etc. The suitcases are jam packed! I can't wait to help them fill their shelves with what they need. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One Week Until I Meet Our Daughter!

On Friday, November 6th my friend Jennifer and I will board a plane and head to Ethiopia! How crazy is that? My dining room table is full of donations for the orphanage, but I haven't even thought about what I need to pack for me! The trip got moved up a week from what we originally planned, and amazingly, we were able to make it all work. Thanks to Doug for acting as our travel agent! I tried, but never ask an English major to work with military time, time zone changes, etc. I was so confused by the end that I had us on flights that wouldn't work! Thankfully, my husband rocks and is totally taking this trip in stride. He will have our two boys, our Finnish exchange student, Jennifer's high school son (for half the week her husband will be in China) and my dog Betty, who really only likes me and our little guys. He will have his hands full! I am going to have to do some serious grocery shopping this week or they will eat out every meal.

I really haven't been able to conceptualize what it will be like to meet Samantha the first time. She won't know me, and won't be excited to see me, but my heart will be bursting as I pick her up. What will that be like? Will she think I am crazy when I squeeze her close in the hug I have been imagining since seeing her cute face? Probably. :)

It will be SO HARD to have to say goodbye at the end of the week and come home without her, but I just can't sit back and wait any longer. I think once I meet her, I will be able to come home and really get ready. I have mentally adjusted to the fact that she is a year older than we originally thought (I think!) but I haven't really put that into realistic terms - such as wow, we need to baby proof the house and put drawer latches on, etc. Haven't done a thing on that front! Our sweet friends are throwing us a cocktail party "shower" on the 21st, which will be really fun. We are lucky to be surrounded by so many fun, wonderful people.

I just called Verizon, and since I have the world edition blackberry, I can upgrade my service for about 20 dollars, and then just pay 2.00 a minute to call home. That will be so much easier than anything else. I feel better knowing I can call home and talk to Dennis and the boys.

The assigning of court dates has certainly been slow. When we got our referral we were really hoping to have Samantha home for Thanksgiving. When courts didn't open on time, we realized that was unlikely. Then we were hopeful we would have her home for Christmas. While I still hold on to this hope, it too is looking increasingly unlikely, which is a big fat bummer. I was so looking forward to Christmas morning with our whole family!

Well, off to have lunch with Dr. Floyd "Ski" Chilton - author of "Inflammation Nation" and "The Gene Smart Diet". He lives here in town and also specializes in malnutrition in Africa. I am hoping that we can learn some tips for Samantha as well as ask what supplements we can bring to the other kids in the transition house and orphanage.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I am so lucky to have great friends!

I have the best friends. I really do. Some I have had for 37 years and some are far more recent, but regardless - these are some amazing folks. My friend Jennifer shocked me yesterday when I said, "Hey, I am going to go to Ethiopia in 3 weeks to meet Samantha (I just can't wait any longer), do you want to go?" and she hesitated for about 3 seconds and said, "Sure!". AND SHE IS COMING! How cool is that? Apparently when she told her husband Doug (maybe the nicest person I have ever met) his response was, "You have to go - you can't let her go alone!". I am so excited! I am starting to accumulate donations all over my dining room table and now I want to pack! Ooooooh I long to hold Samantha and squeeze her tight! Now I will have a friend catching the moment on film! Plus, Jennifer cracks me up, so I know I will laugh on much of the VERY long flight.

I wish the agency would confirm when I can go. It is getting very frustrating! I know they are busy, but since I don't need to get in line for a visa, etc. it would be nice to be able to book plane tickets. Of course, I would love a court date too... I have been a bit distraught about why it is that court dates are few and far between. Such a bummer! This part of the process is definitely hard. I had so hoped to have her home in early December, which isn't going to happen, but then I was REALLY hoping to have her home for Christmas, which is also looking like it won't happen. Soooo hard.

I read a great blog today about dealing with hair. My girl has a TON of it, so I am getting increasingly nervous about it! I know from my own curly hair that product is key... but the search is exhaustive! So much to learn.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Week

Well, this week started off with a fun little surprise. One of my YG adoption friends put a new header on my blog. Isn't it cute? Thanks Gina! I am pleased to have survived last week and look forward to a new week. These next two weeks should be the last two of my totally crazy schedule. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, today Mimi is cleaning the house - a once a month treat! My dad comes into town to visit tomorrow. He still spoils his little girl and usually makes some great dinners, does the laundry, mows the yard - man, I love when Dad visits. My boys do too. He is so great - he comes to see them almost every month. They adore him. Yes, this week is looking better already!

A week ago (maybe even more?) I asked my agency if I could fly over and meet Samantha - knowing I couldn't bring her home then. It took them a few days to get back to me, and they said yes, but only with a travel group. I had hoped to go sooner - now it looks like no one will go until roughly November 14th. That is 5 weeks away! I would love to go right at the beginning of the month. I am so longing to hold her, squeeze her, and give her kisses. I want to let her know that I will be back and she will have a family that loves her. I want to bring suitcases full of donations and make sure she has what she needs while she is there! Why is it so hard? I totally understand the logic of the agency's thinking - they need to have a translator, etc. But... my heart feels differently. I am blessed with a husband who is encouraging the trip. Get out of my way and get me to an airport!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Holy Guacamole - What A Week!

Really? Seriously? Life needs to be this chaotic? Goodness gracious, I am going to be a stark raving lunatic if life continues at this pace - with this total lack of order. I may be the least "Type A" person I know, but sometimes, a little order and structure is needed. Right now, it is really needed. It is amazing how chaos has a ripple effect. I could tell no one my sob story, but if any one took two steps into my house, she would immediately know something was up. (or assume that I was now housing pygmy monkeys who had free reign over the place.) There is a full week's worth of "stuff" strewn about in every room. I walked into my bathroom this morning and realized the floor is covered in clothing - workout clothes for workouts that didn't happen, dirty clothes tossed aside before a shower, the boys clothes from their showers or baths. Normally by Friday it is a little messy - this is total disarray. I don't say this blaming the kids or Dennis or me, even. There just haven't been enough hours in the day to care about cleaning up. So... here is a little of what has been happening. Bear in mind, before the adoption chaos took over, I knew this was going to be a very busy week at work. Boy, did I underestimate just how busy...

Tuesday morning we get an email letting us know that they have evaluated Samantha and agree she is 18 months old, not the 8 month old we were told at referral. This wasn't the least bit shocking, given that it took approximately 3 seconds of looking at her picture to know she was not 8 months. BUT... the kicker... two weeks after we accepted the referral, we are told that we need to update our homestudy and our paperwork with USCIS becuase we are not approved for a child that old. PANIC SETS IN. I naturally jump to the worst of conclusions - this will set us back, how long before we hold our daughter, etc. We ask some questions and get a mixed bag of responses. The paper work "shouldn't" hold us back much (assuming our government processes it quickly and it gets where it is supposed to go in Ethiopia. That alone is a terrifying thought). BUT, our chances of getting a court date as early as we thought upon referral are not likely at all because the courts did not open when they were supposed to. Now, at best we might get Sam home for Christmas. So, it has been 4 days of dealing with that paperwork issue. THEN, yesterday, we get an email explaining that as of yesterday, the Ethiopian government has yet again changed the requirements and additional paperwork is needed immediately. Without, we assuredly will be delayed months. With it... well, no guarantees we still won't be delayed. I read the email on my blackberry, as I am 15 minutes from starting a field hockey game. It is senior night, so I have to do a big presentation for my 9 seniors and the crowd is quite large. My cell phone rings and I recognize the number as our Agency. It is our family coordinator explaining I must sign the paper from the email and overnight it to her NOW. WHAT???? Thank goodness, Dennis works with me and was 10 feet away when the call came. He looked at me and knew something wasn't right (I am sure I looked like I was going to throw up). I give a 30 second synopsis of the situation and we jump in a golf cart and speed up to my office, print the form, fill it out, and he is literally RUNNING to his truck to get the thing to UPS to mail. I start our game 5 minutes late, and we win. Thankfully.

So, that, on top of being in charge of the school's Homecoming festivities, and all my regular work has really made for a long week. I did have a great conversation with a friend this week, though as for the first time I really had an opportunity to voice a lot of my inner dialogues about adopting Samantha. She asked me, "Are you really, truely ok with adopting an older child? I know you wanted a baby." There is no easy response to this - it is certainly a loaded question. But here is what I have to say on the subject.

This referral in some ways was a series of errors. The orphanage should have noticed she was much older than 8 months. The transition house staff should have noticed. The folks at the AWAA US office should have noticed. My doctor picked it up in maybe 2 minutes. How could so many mistakes happen, if she wasn't meant to be a Ring? Then, I saw her picture. In one of the photos, she is incredibly sad. My heart ripped in half. She owned me at that moment. It isn't sad like I fell and bumped my knee. It isn't sad like you took my toy. It is an aching, brutal searching loneliness of a scared little girl who has lost her family. It is a sadness I will never know and my baby - MY baby - is in pain. It is brutal. So, to refuse the referall to wait for an infant would have made this whole adoption about me. And that one picture taught me more than anything in this 18 month process - and maybe my entire life - has ever taught me. This is SO NOT ABOUT ME. This is about a lost little girl with a head full of curls who needs to learn to trust that it is all going to be OK and that she has a family who will love her forever. So, yeah, I missed way more of her life than I had hoped to. I will mourn that loss. I missed the first tooth, the first steps, the first words. They are important, and I missed them. But I won't miss the moment that she finally learns that she can trust that someone loves her and will be there for her.

So, now I live in fear that delays will slow down the process even more and I will continue to miss important moments. That is hard. I fear she will get sick and not have the proper treatment. I fear she is sad and scared. I fear she is still being deprived of proper nutrition and vitamins. This part of the journey is downright terrifying. But soon, hopefully, we can begin to show her she is a Ring...forever.

Friday, October 2, 2009

We accepted our Referral!!!!

WOW - what a week! On Tuesday, we got THE CALL we have been waiting for. I can't believe today is Friday and it has taken me this long to post. It has been a crazy week. AWAA called on Tuesday and told us they had matched a beautiful 8 month old with our family. We were so excited! Colby and I were actually sitting in the waiting room of the pediatrician when the call came in. It was incredible - I had literally just said to Colby, "Wow, I really had a feeling that today we would get the call - I am disappointed it didn't happen" when I looked down and there it was - it hadn't even rung yet but the number appeared on my phone. It was a 703 area code!!! It was so surreal! I absolutely shrieked in the waiting room! They conferenced called Dennis in and he and Reilly immediately got in the car and met us at the doctor. Now, you have to realize that Reilly had been home for 3 days with strep and the flu, Dennis had the flu, and we were at the doctor to confirm (which we did!) Colby had strep. Quite the week in our house! Well... Samantha is just spectacular. We were a little shocked when they told us she weighed 25 pounds!!! After a little more investigation, it appears she is actually 18 months (roughly!), not 8, but she is just wonderful. The head of hair on this child is adorable - a mound of curls! I wish I could post her picture. Well... I promise to write more later. :) Ahhhhh how can I fall in love this fast!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We're Number 1!!!!

So it was an exciting night in the Ring household last night - the family "in front of us" in the baby girl adoption line received a referral. Honestly, I was a little surprised by my genuine happiness for them - I say that meaning I guess I thought my selfish excitement at being next in line would overpower my emotions. While I won't downplay that excitement - because it is huge, I was absolutely thrilled for this family. There is something about the adoption journey that is a unique bond for those travelling the ups and downs together. While we only know each other via the internet, I know the emotional struggles they have faced first hand, so I was elated that this faze of the wait is over for them. :)

So... for the last couple of weeks I have been a crazy person; now that gets amped up tenfold, I imagine. I feel like it is unlikely it will come today or tomorrow, so that gets me through this week. But, by Monday, I will be playing mind games once again! Oh well - that is just the way it is. We are surrounded by love and support, so I simply can't wait to share our daughter with everyone. She will be one lucky girl - they say it takes a village, and we surely have an incredible support network. I was also really thrilled to see how excited the boys were last night. They were jumping up and down and calling grandma, etc. It was so cute. They have been so passive in the process, since they have been hearing about it for 18 months - and it is rather abstract. I realized how much of this adoption journey has influenced Colby's thinking (age 6). Our next door neighbor is pregnant and having a boy, and when I told Colby, he said, "Where are they on the list? Will they get a referral soon?" I had to explain that she is having her baby just as I had him, at a hospital - etc.

Well, I better get some work done. Something tells me productivity might slow down a bit in the next couple of weeks. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

So Begins Month 11...

Today is September 21, 2009. Exactly 11 months ago our paperwork went overseas to Ethiopia. I would say the first 7 months didn't seem too bad. I didn't expect a referral in that time, so I didn't have my hopes up, and thus life moved along. In July, there was a flurry of referrals, so I started to get really excited. In fact, it looked like a July referral was a possibility, so Dennis and I debated a trip for me and Reilly - in August, before school started - to meet the little one, knowing that we would get caught in court closures so we wouldn't get to bring her home until October - at best. Well, here we are in the eve of September, still waiting on that referral. There is one family ahead of us, who is about 3 weeks ahead in process, so I know their hearts are hurting! Each day now is such a swirl of emotions. I wake up excited, nervous and ready to jump out of my seat when the phone rings, I fall asleep each night a little sad that it didn't happen. I know I have been cranky and out of sorts - more withdrawn then normal. One one hand it is easy to just say "things happen for a reason - it is all in God's timing" - which I do totally believe, but it is another to live it patiently. Patience is not a gift I was endowed with in mass quantities (there are other ways in which I am not well endowed too...:) I am beginning to nest - I cleaned out closets and the pantry. Now, I am thinking about new furniture for her room...

hopefully soon. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wow, It Is September 1st!

I am not really sure where August went. The scorching humidity enveloped the start of the field hockey season, the school doors opened and welcomed back the faculty, my boys prepared for kindergarten and second grade, and well, the month disappeared. It passed without a baby girl referral and I have solemnly held my # 2 place in line. Truthfully, there were days that were so busy, that had AWAA called with our referral, my head might have exploded. It would have been a lot to deal with. Now, that being said, I would have managed! But, now I am ready. I am sensing in Dennis a longing that he is really ready too. That makes me really happy. It has been tough to start another school year and have to answer the "when are you getting your baby" questions - with the pitiful response of, "I have no idea".

We are hosting an exchange student from Finland for the school year. My boys are loving having Lauri with us. He is a great kid and has filled in the "big brother" role quite nicely. Hopefully before Thanksgiving we will have baby girl home - how fun to have 4 kids with us for the holidays!

Well, back to work. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflecting on a Good Day

I am an optimist. I see the negative, I deal with the negative, but I do not let the negative - at least in most intances - bog me down and break my spirit. As I see it, my life has always worked out, so why shouldn't I be an optimist?

Today was one of those days where I realized how much I love my job. Seriously - I LOVE my job. The pace of the day was a bit frenetic, and I had a million things I had to do; I did not get all one million done. But, what did get done made my heart happy. As I have mentioned before, I am the director of a program for students with significant learning differences - bright kids who struggle in a traditional classroom for a wide variety of reasons. Today we had our first official faculty meeting. I say official because my core full time staff works all summer and we talk and collaborate every day, so we have very few "official" meetings. But we have several new part time folks because our program is expanding. I feel so honored to work with the incredible group of people that teach these kids every day. They are SMART, kid-centered, innovative, hard working and fun. They are true team players who have the best interests of kids at heart. They are self-less and tireless and I respect each and every one. We laugh a lot - it is an easy trust that has grown among us, and for that I am grateful.

But today was about the families we help. I had two different parents cry tears of joy in my office as we determined how exactly we could help their children. Is there any greater reward than looking into the eyes of a parent who feels like they have finally found an answer to one of their prayers? When they say with gratitude that we have changed the course of their child's life forever? Really, this is my JOB. How cool is that????

So, anyway, I was up most of the night - which is rare for me. I am a "gifted" sleeper!!! But I think the day was so busy that I just couldn't process it all and needed to work through it on a subconscious level. Today is another busy morning, then I take the field hockey team to a tournament overnight. I have great girls, and we plan to play laser tag after the game, so it will be a lot of fun. Again - my job. HA!

We are now number 2 on the adoption list. MAYBE we will get the call soooooooooooon!!!!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

True Friends

So, I have been meaning to catch up on blogging for a week, but this past week was rather chaotic. Last week I had the pleasure of spending 4 nights with my childhood/high school best friends. It was so much fun! The quaint Cape Cod landscape added to the enjoyment, but the company was unbeatable. I really don't think I have laughed that much in a long time. There was a certain luxury in being without children for several days; it allowed for no schedule, no time lines, and no stress. We ate breakfast on the deck at 10 AM in our PJ'S! What is better? But what I enjoyed most was that a single word or phrase could spark a stream of vivid memories that had buried themselves into the deep recesses of my mind. Moments from 20 years ago were a clear as if they were weeks ago. This provided much amusement.

I am fortunate to have 4 incredible friends - each so very different, yet wonderful. Sometimes I wonder if our differences are what make us so close; do we seek in each other what is missing in ourselves? I know I admire Holly's unabashed individuality, Melanie's serenity, Alyssa's compassion and Kim's genuine likability. We each bring to the friendship something unique - we each embrace each other wholeheartedly, flaws and all. Our differences are just facts, not worthy of examination or judgement. There are not many places in life that we can exist free from the fear of judgement, which is sad. But for 5 days on the Cape, we erased time and remembered how important our connection is. Thanks to my wonderful husband for helping to make it all happen. Girls - I already miss you. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Waiting in line is NO FUN

So, I have been really up and down lately, emotionally. Isn't it odd how quickly one's mood can be affected by another? Do you think animals are like that - does Betty get pissed off when Max, the golden retriever next door, starts griping about his troubles? I have NOTHING to complain about. Seriously, nothing. My life is so ridiculously good that I should be slapped whenever I gripe. But I am a sponge, and when those around me are unhappy, I feel it too. Is this unusual? Is it a female thing? Or just a me thing? I am totally and completely affected by the mood of my children, my husband, my friends, etc. I am easily swayed in either direction. I am for the most part an upbeat person; I am optimistic and look for the good, because I would much rather be happy (even in denial!) than unhappy. But when I hear the negative chirping in my ear long enough, it drags me down. This is especially tough when it is about an issue over which I have little or no control. I do my part, and if others don't, it stinks, but what can I do? I am bossy by nature, but I can't always tell everyone else what to do (or to do it MY way). Unless of course, you are my children, in which case I have no issue! Ha! Sometimes I wish I could yell - "Do the right thing!!!!!!!!!!!!" to those around me. But, I can't so I deal. Watching folks take the easy way out is really frustrating. In the big picture, I do believe that "what goes around comes around" but in the immediate, I want to shake people and make them see how they affect others. Sorry, this is all somewhat veiled and vague. It is just me needing to vent again. Speaking of venting - where are the baby girl referrals? Seriously? where are they???? We have been number 5 for several weeks now. I had really hoped to have the referral before my girls' trip to Boston - so we could do some shopping, etc. Guess that isn't in the larger plan. In the mean time, we were blessed with a surprise email this morning from a friend - offering us their beautiful beach house for the weekend. So, the Rings are headed to the coast for some much needed bonding. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ok, now I am humbled...

Have you ever been that person that was in a crowd and just as you said something slightly off color the crowd hushed or the music stopped... but you continued to blurt out something about your Aunt Edna's giant rear end... and then you just felt foolish?

I whined on this post earlier, having my own little pity party - since it is all about me, right? Then I logged onto the YG and saw that all 4 families with court cases today failed and my heart just broke for them. If they don't get a court date quickly, they will get stuck in the court closure and take even longer than the many months it has taken! This abandonment issue has really taken a toll on the families and children involved - and I really hope it is cleared up soon!

Stomping My Feet and Pitching a Fit

I am sort of bummed out that stomping my feet, throwing myself to the ground and flailing about while wildly thrashing my arms and yelling is no longer an acceptable response to disappointment. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled my boys are well past this stage, but on occassion, it would be nice if I could revert to such an instinctual response to the obstacles life often presents. So, this adoption thing - it is one crazy journey. Those of us Type A control freaks really get it handed to us on this one! My friends and family all know that while I completely give off the appearance of taking everything in stride, it is only because I have worked behind the scenes to completely orchestrate my life. You lay the proper ground work, the rest falls into place. Not so much in the adoption process. I felt moderately in control during the paper chase. While I did have to wait on doctor's appointments, vet appointments, social workers, the government, etc. there was always something to be done, so I could attempt to look at the big picture and move the coconuts so there was always something to do. But once the paperwork is overseas, it is sit back and wait and let God do the work. Now, I am a fan of delegating, but man, it can be hard.

Two weeks ago we discovered we had made it to the unofficial "top 10" on the waiting list. Now, I have us at 5. But the girl line appears to be moving slowly, as those after us are getting referrals for boys. In addition, we will now assuredly get caught in the court closures, which will add two months to our wait, post referral. (insert tantrum!) I am trying to sit back and take it in stride. Not feeling particularly successful at the moment and I need to vent, so here it is. My head gets that this is all about my daughter, not about me. But what about my heart, which longs so badly to hold my daughter - who is half way across the world and probably really hungry and scared. I don't like to be either, and I am an adult! What about her mom, who is either dying, or scared and hungry and knows she can't provide for her child. Wouldn't her heart feel better to know her little girl is loved by a family?

Ok, enough wallowing for one day. I just expected to get the call this month and was told by our agency that it likely wouldn't happen. I am feeling a bit put out, that is all. Poor pitiful me... :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kids rock

For every moment my children have driven me to the brink (c'mon, we have all had those moments where we have felt like crazy people - saying ridiculous things such as, "Eat the broccoli or we WILL NOT SWIM!" Really? Are the two related??? or "STOP PRETENDING TO POKE YOUR BROTHER!") we have 100 moments where I feel so unbelievably blessed to be a mom. We are on 24 hour high in my house right now. My husband is awesome, but one of the things I most admire about him is his ability to accept our children for who they are and encourage them in every way. That probably sounds odd - because of course I accept my guys as individuals, but I think I am more likely to say, "They are night and day - so very different!" than he is. We have decided it is important to give them as much one on one time as possible before baby girl comes home. This weekend, Dennis took Reilly to Atlanta to catch two Red Sox vs. Braves games. We could have all gone, but Colby really has little interest in baseball, and would have found the 5 hour car ride torturous. Reilly, on the other hand, thought it was the greatest opportunity ever! Today they are touring Georgia Tech. Reilly is 7, but he will love it. It will give him some reference point for all the GT / ACC match ups. My heart is so full thinking of how happy he is right now. How great he gets to share it with Daddy.
Colby and I have had fun too! Yesterday we went to the water park. I really didn't know what to expect. We had a BLAST. Colby knows no fear. I, on the other hand, am a wimp! He definitely had to encourge met to go on several of the slides. He did all but the two I refused to allow him to ride. Bear in mind, he is about a half inch shorter than the requirement to ride most of the rides, but he did them anyway. There were a few that I had my eyes closed tight just waiting for them to end, and the minute we finished, he grinned and said, "Let's do it again!" But the pure delight on his face made it all worthwhile and we stayed for 5 and a half hours! I was so exhausted last night and he was just fine. Colby talks non stop and simply has the most wonderful spirit. He is open minded and accepting - if you are willing to have fun, he is willing to have fun with you - whomever you may be! What I love about him is that places like water parks attract all sorts of folks, and he just smiles and says hi to everyone he comes in contact with. I swear, God gave me Colby to eradicate the judgemental side of my personality. We can learn a lot from our kids!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why do vacations pass so quickly?

Have you ever noticed that "time flies when you are having fun"? It really does. We recently took our boys to Boston to visit my brother and his awesome family. His kids are the same ages as my boys, so they have a blast together. While we were there, it was the 5th anniversary of our niece Lily's, "Gotcha Day". She was adopted from China. That certainly made me think. What will our family be like in five years? Will it seem like our little girl was always a part of our family? I am just so ready to welcome her home.

Anyway, back to time flying. We took the kids in to the city for a trip to the Aquarium. Apparently approximately a billion other people had this thought as well. The fish must have been looking out of their tanks wondering, "Hmmm, why are all those humans packed in, body to body, staring at us? At least we can swim around and not smash into each other." But we had fun and wandered the city a bit. On Friday we headed in for a Red Sox game. My 7 year old is a HUGE sports fan, so this was definitely the highlight of his trip. My brother bought amazing seats and we had a wonderful evening. It was so great that Lily's barfing in the limo on the ride home barely put a dent in the experience (ok, maybe more so for Jess, who had Lily in her lap when it happened!) What is up with kids and hair-trigger vomiting anyway? They seem to have no ability to offer warning. How many times have I heard, "Mom, I don't feel good" - only to have the statement punctuated by projectile vomit. But I digress...

While we were in Boston my brother and his lovely wife gave us a Flip Mino video recorder. The thing is so cool! It is smaller than my cell phone, but takes an hour's worth of video, only to - in true inspector gadget fashion - plug directly into the computer for downloading. Wicked Awesome. (That one is for my brother - we had a very funny discussion of random Mass. dialect idiosyncracies and bizarre sayings. I wonder if they guy who invented "Can of Corn" to describe an easy catch (or whatever simple, non-thought producing action) really thought it would stick. It makes me want to come up with something utterly ridiculous and try to get folks to start saying it. hmmm, I will have to start thinking about that one.

And finally, why is it that the reality comes crashing down on us whenever we return from a vacation? Did I know that our dishwasher was broken before I left? Yes, but I didn't have to deal with it because we were going out of town! Now, loading my dishes is like playing Plinko with Bob Barker. The door won't go down all the way so I have to essentially roll the dishes in. We have one working phone in the house. AT & T can't seem to figure out why none of the other jacks work. At one point, we had three different phone lines. Now, we just want one line coming in, yet it is apparently completely confusing the phone company. Really?

Oh, I could go on and on. But, alas, young Reilly is begging me to play wiffle ball. Definitely the better use of my time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

We have reached the TOP 10!

We have finally made it into the NAG's top 10! This means that a referral might be imminent. I have really tried not to get too worked up about timing prior to now, but it is beginning to feel real! The boys seem particularly excited now; I think they have been happy about the decision to adopt from day one, but it was a very abstract concept for them. It must seem more real to them now because they are beginning to ask more questions about referrals and time lines, etc. They will be such good big brothers. Both have such different things to offer a sister! Reilly will be nurturing and sweet; he will be the brother that helps change diapers, holds her hand as she learns to walk, practices her alphabet, etc. Colby will teach her how to LAUGH; he is an expert in the field. He is simply innately funny, and loves to make others laugh. He is busy with a capital B and has more fun in an hour than most of us do in a week. I wonder if she will be cautious and reserved like Reilly or wild and carefree like Colby. Hmmmm

We are headed to Boston tomorrow to see my brother and his awesome wife and kids. He got us a box at Fenway for the Red Sox game against the Braves. I am not sure anything could excite Reilly more! We can't wait. We'll get to catch up with some old friends as well. So, I probably won't check our YG as much (although it is so nice that I can check from my phone!) so I hope lots of folks pass court and there are more referrals this week!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Here we go...

OK, so I am a blog virgin. I have read plenty of blogs, but never have I felt the need to write my own. I am still not feeling particularly called, but it has been raining for days and I am procrastinating on getting any meaningful work or household chores done. I have absolutely no idea the journey this blog will take in the future, so it may be meaningless drivel that no one wants to read - and you know what, that is totally fine. More than anything, I am just glad to notice there is a spell check button. I am a former English teacher and current school administrator, but I am not a naturally strong speller. I have an irrational fear of posting something with horrific spelling errors and looking foolish.

My brain is going a thousand miles an hour trying to come up with something witty and intelligent to write about. Apparently the synapses aren't all firing, because I am drawing a blank. I swear, when I was running this morning, I was on fire. Had anyone been there to listen, they surely would have been wildly entertained. Instead it was just me and my thoughts - and my slightly asthmatic lungs attempting to breathe as I finally get back to running. Oh well. So, I guess with the thought in mind that in the future the only folks who might stumble upon this are family and friends who are mildly interested in a peek into our lives, I will make today's post about the topic of converstation that comes up the most - the adoption of our Ethiopian little girl.

As I have told many of you, a few weeks ago the Ethiopian government began investigating the cases of abandoned children in Addis. MOWA stopped writing letters of endorsement for the court system as well. It is impossible to pass court without a letter from MOWA. Thus, the referrals have dramatically slowed down and so many families are stuck in limbo waiting to pass court so they can be united with their children. We are entering into our 7th month of waiting for "the call" since getting our paperwork overseas. This process is so much harder than I ever anticipated. I am crossing my fingers that come July, we learn who our little girl is. Unfortunately, the courts shut down anually for August and September, so we likely would not get to travel until late fall - making it an 18 month "pregnancy". I have learned a great deal during this journey. I suppose the greatest life lesson I have gleaned is that patience truly is a virtue. I can't control the course of events, so I just need to learn to step back and let it all happen. Yes, this is WAY harder than it sounds. Especially for me - who is a self proclaimed control freak. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Reilly, when he was probably 4 years old. I remember telling him, "Reilly, sometimes you just need to go with the flow" to which he responded, "Mommy, I do NOT like the flow" as he balled his little fists up in frustration. Well, Buddy, I too am not a fan of the flow, but such is life.
Everyone asks us what we will name our daughter. Last year, when we first began talking about it with the boys, Colby really wanted to name her "Pikachu" after his favorite Pokemon. While that will not be her formal name, we have yet to settle in on a favorite. We have a short list at this point, but we can't seem to agree. (Ok, I pretend it is a democracy, but I am fully aware that I give my own vote far more weight than anyone elses... but we can pretend). I really am longing to hold her. I have done a fairly good job of managing my emotions during this process, as I knew up front it would be long. But now I am simply ready - ready for gummy smiles, belly laughs, and baby kisses. Yes, I know the adjustment will be hard, but really do I need to focus on that in my daydreams?
So, I will sign off for now and get to work. When I have a brilliant - ok, even not so brilliant- thought about some other random topic, I will post. Believe me, my brain swirls with a bevy of thoughts - from my uncharacteristic love of the TV show "Tori and Dean" to my thoughts as to why there are clearly genetic differences in genders (c'mon, we all know that women are programmed to nag and men can't unload a dishwasher...). Adios for now...