Adoption timeline


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!