When you're dealing with adoption - one thing is for certain - milestones, however small or large - keep the motor running. This long and arduous road is paved with potholes, dips, and bumps - but the end provides us such an amazing sight for sore eyes that you can't imagine having not made the journey. But there is no doubt in my mind that what keeps the car moving forward are the milestones. Whether that be another piece of the dossier collected, turning it in and getting it off to country of your child's origin, monthly LID markers, or your actual referral.
Having said that, many of you know the details of our adoption of Keira. We're LID 3-29-06 and still just simmering like a good pot roast in the crock pot. Meanwhile, we've begun the pursuit of our son through Ethiopia while our wait for Keira continues to lengthen.
As a whole, it's a much easier paperchase. There is less certifying and authenticating of your documents, and actually - less documentation to have to collect. On the other hand, we are personally experiencing far more road bumps on this paper chase than we ever had for Keira's dossier. Not only is that a morale sinker, but an assault on our battle weary adoptive armor. We need something to go well. Something to go through quickly. Something to take off and surprise us.
We've had some frustration with trying to get everyone on the same page, between our agency, our Chinese agency, our Social Worker and her agency, etc. We've struggled to explain and re-explain our past, present, and future - but it's just starting to get old trying to prove that you are going to die trying to be the best parent you can be. Our Homestudy was done quickly for Ethiopia - and our Social Worker is a dream. But her agency held up the approval process for getting it turned in to the state for our I600A. So, it sat for a month waiting to be sent in to the Govt. Finally, it was sent and we rejoiced - "let's get this show on the road!!"
So imagine our surprise when we got a letter marked from CIS two weeks ago! Already?!?! You're kidding!?!? Keira's 171-H took two months to get to us. Actually, I think three months. And we just happened to have friends over who said "STOP! GET THE CAMERA!" So we husteld and bustled and found the camera and started to open our 171-H Approval for our BABY BOY!
Right...ok...so enter this picture - totally candid and utterly pained...
Yep...not exactly what we were expecting. Once again. Another disappointment. It was a letter requesting finger prints. For Ethiopia. Yeah, so the first three sets we had done weren't enough? The fingerprints we took in August are now, what....tainted? Our fingers haven't changed - I swear. It's still us. No miraculous surgical proceedures to change our prints from one month to the next. I promise. Still the same old couple from yesterday that you wind up with tomorrow.
Two frantic e-mails (because there is no number to call and no case number to reference) and we still hadn't heard back from CIS. What in the SAM HILL is happening when there are millions of orphans waiting for families and this political red tape is tying up everyone's process? Who are we kidding if we say this isn't about money and government? You have families desperate for kids, and kids desperate for families...and please someone tell me how it got so convoluted from that point?!?
Finally I got a call from CIS and I hurriedly dialed the number back thinking "omg! this is it - finally a real person to talk to..." When I called and got "Heather", she was really nice, but she wasn't calling about our fingerprints. What? She was calling about another issue. You see friends, she had on her desk both of our applications. One for Ethiopia, which was a new app. And our renewal 171-H request for Keira. She felt some of our information was lacking and needed us to provide additional background. Huh? But...why? Because it's her job to determine (dontcha know?) whether or not people are eligible to adopt a foreign child and she didn't feel she had enough documentation to support that. WHAT? Our homestudy is KICK BUTT. I've read it. Three times. It's all there...who we are, what we are, what we do, where we are, where we came from....it's all....there...
Yes, but still...if she's going to put her name on it, this is what she needs. And she's got both apps. And neither are going through until she gets what she needs. What the frig are you telling me? That the first time around, for Keira, it was all good - and now, not so much? That we're...somehow, deficient now? Well, no...just that she needs this documentation to move forward. Don't worry - she says - get me this stuff and I'll review it and sign off on both, and you'll go get your kids and life will be great. Did she just say "you'll go get your kids"? To me? I know she didn't...
Ok,...stutter...well...gulp...(sniffle) it's not that easy...we're gonna have to send away for those docs and we'll have to try and write to such and such to get that doc. Ok, she says. Take your time. WHAT? NO! NO TIME TAKING....IF I HAVE TO WALK TO MICHIGAN AND BACK, I WILL NOT TAKE MY TIME, SO HELP ME GOD IN HEAVEN. Meanwhile, she forgot to mention, AB forgot to sign the second page of the app - so she's sending that back and we can just send that in with the rest of the documentation. But what about this letter I got for more fingerprints? Oh, that? Just disregard - it's just a mistake - she has them there. Oh...a mistake. Like this whole call? She's holding both my kids hostage and she doesn't even know it. I felt totally defenseless. So sad...so beaten down. It's the only piece of paper we need to get this dossier to Ethiopia. The only one.
So, my friends - once again I must re-iterate. Adoption is not for the faint of heart.
Moving right along...
I started something that I was unsure of, but now am so glad I did. Wanted to share so that those of you that feel nudged by it, can make the most of it. Tonight, I was alone. AB was working and I was sitting in my chair in the office thinking about my kids. Man, I wish I could tell them how hard this has been. I wish I could convey to them, now...while it's fresh...what a difficult road this has been but how they are so worth every single minute. So I had a light bulb moment, and got out the digital video camera. I set it up on the shelf, popped a sixty minute tape in, and forgot about what I looked like. I pushed record and let it all come out. I talked to them. Just talking to them felt so good. I said that I love them and that I hope they are teenagers watching this and shocked at how young Mom looks. I told them how much their Dad and I have fought for them, and how much we long for them and love them even now. I walked through the whole process from conception to where we are now, and why we chose to adopt, and how difficult it's been to wait for them. I blubbered at some points. And I even felt a little embarrassed at first. But when I was done, I labeled it "Your Adoption Journal, Part I" and it felt good to have it all out. Then, I watched it. I surprised myself. I cried watching myself tell my kids how much Anton and I love them...and can't wait to hold them. Sometimes, I cracked myself up - and other moments, I just marveled with the thought that someday, before I know it, my kids will be old enough to watch that little tape and understand exactly where we were in this moment. And just how much we longed for them.
I also shot moments of our pets, and said "I hope you will know these furry sisters in your lifetime - because they have made this wait possible for us". I told them how old everyone was at this point, including their grandparents, aunts and uncles - so they would have an appreciation of where we were all at during this stage of the wait for them. I talked about our jobs, and our cars, just to give them a window into our world right now - sans kids.
I plan to make a few more tapes. One that shows them the house, Keira's nursery and all those clothes!!! I want to explain the M3 Posse and how they were pivotal in getting me through this wait. I want to tell them about my enduring love with their father and how much he is my best friend in the world. I want to share with them the days when I feel lousy waiting, and the small victories that we cross while waiting for them. And of course, I want it to all culminate towards the days when they're put in our arms and it's all there on video for them to re-live any time they need it, down the path of their lives. Sort of my adoption gift to them. So that they will never have to doubt for a moment how we really and truly waited, and rejoiced to have them in our lives.
Just a thought - if you're thinking you might want to steal the idea...I think it's a miraculous gift to give your children. And since we have the gestation of a Lemon Shark, we have plenty of time to give them us - as we are now - and maybe seeing it someday will help them know how passionately loved they are - now and always. To the moon and back - right?