Thursday, May 27, 2010

Retail Therapy

Mama needs a new pair 'o shoes...and the sparklier, the better!

So, it appears in honor of Baby N's seven month birthday on Wednesday, I subconsciously wriggled a gift out of it for myself. At lunch, I decided to take a long walk and mysteriously found myself standing in front of the most wonderful display of shoes with a little voice in my head bellowing: "Do it. Do it." So I did.

Other mothers-in-waiting will back me up on this...on some weird level you feel closer to your baby when you buy little things for them. Doing this occasionally is wonderful but it's not ideal if you already have a nursery stocked full of items from amazing friends & family. I also find it to be a very temporary solution, sometimes even making the wait worse when I have to put the item away in this ever looming nursery that screams, "Come on folks, let's get going!" (am I losing it if I think our nursery is speaking to us?)

Back to the shoes...they're the injection of lightness & fun needed right now. Things can become heavy in IA - as more birthdays pass, updates loudly pronouncing your child's growth while not with you, saving furiously for two trips, awaiting another call that holds the next clue to your journey and on & on.

Yup, these sparkly shoes are in order and I recommend it for all of you. I can't decide if they're fabulous for their Bowie'ish glam or so beyond tacky, like something one would find in the bottom of a thrift store bin. I do like that they resemble a little party for your feet and that's exactly the look I'm going for right now, so I've decided they are simply perfect.

Next week is a BIG one! There are five Gladney families with court dates on Tues, 6/1 and at least three more on Fri., 6/4. Sending prayers, crossing fingers & sending positive vibes and thoughts to all of you! Come on MOWA!!!

I also believe our lovely Heidi is returning from Ethiopia this week with the twins! YAY!!!!

Happy Memorial Weekend to all!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ma & Pa Gittens

Who doesn't love Little House on the Prairie?

one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress –noun
to take part in the beginnings of - verb

When your head is so deeply buried in something, it's hard to see anything objectively from the outside looking in. So, when a handful of various friends, family and supporters have referred to us as 'pioneers' I would simply look at them with a quizzical look. Well, now I get it.

As one of the first families proceeding under the newly enacted Ethiopian International Adoption laws (effective 5/9/10) we now see that our recent lull was directly related to being one of these so-called pioneer families. So, while I was pulling my hair out as others flew by us on the wait list (including a family who received their referral on the same day as us, who are now in-country picking up their child) our files were being brought up to speed to meet these new requirements.

Since receiving an update yesterday and gaining some insight into our case, I feel our heads are no longer buried and we can look at our situation as others do. You see, our paperwork WAS submitted to court. However, it was denied because the court requested further documentation specific to our case that wasn't a requirement under the previous law. It has now been produced and our file will be submitted to court over the week to request a court date. Now why couldn't I have simply recognized that we ARE among the pioneers and will most likely face a delay here or there due to the new policies in place? Well, because what I'm realizing is that when it's your baby at the other end of this - there will be no reasoning or rationale!

So, now that we're in the loop and know what is expected for the next step, we're exhaling a little bit. It's very possible we'll experience further blips, as the courts are becoming more rigorous under the new laws, but we'll deal with that later if we need to. Right now our focus is receiving a court date and crossing our fingers that it's before rainy season.

And in the true spirit of saving the best for last...

Happy Birthday Baby N!!!!
Sending loads of hugs & kisses on your 7 month birthday and a big squeeze to those humungo cheeks!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Who Suggested This?

and what were the details???

Okay, so I'm lame by sending out a broadcast message, but I've Googled and searched my fingers to the bone trying to find this on my own to only turn up with naaaaahDAH after two days.

I'm compiling our travel to-do lists for Trip Part 1 (for court) and another for Trip Part Deux (the magical one that brings home Baby N). You should all know you're responsible for this massive three ring binder currently sitting on our dining room table! We've printed & filed all those fabulous tips you've suggested along the way. Said binder...will eventually be condensed to a simple journal to accomodate carry-on luggage requirements.

The missing link...approximately three to six months ago there was a self-described overly organized mother-in-waiting who planned her family's in-country spending by preloading a corrugated expandable file; each section labeled M-F with each day's funds in its allocated slot. Who was this? and where can I print your amazing travel tips?

Hopefully there is another control-freak out there just like me who printed, filed and/or bookmarked this tip. And whomever you may be...I thank you in advance!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Candle and a Care Package

A candle was lit last night in honor of Heidi and Mark who we've all showered over the past few days with tips, poems and a potpourri of congratulations as they departed today for Ethiopia. Over the next two weeks they will soak in the country of their twins as they compile their story through images, conversations, tears and much joy. We're all awaiting the image of all four of them together...finally!

Along this journey they will make a pitstop at Baby N's crib to drop a care package, possibly grab a video snippet and steal a quick minute for some much needed little hugs on our behalf. The current care package includes a few items that were chosen based solely on their comfort level. They seem like very soft & cuddly lounge wear which will come in handy for all children after Baby N who will wear them. Once these items go into the care centers, they stay there so we wanted to ensure we sent items that will benefit all. The teething ring is self-explanatory, as each picture of Baby N shows major signs of teething. Hopefully this is good on the gums.

Lastly, the giraffe. This guy is a gift from Nana and has been in our bedroom for months, soaking in our smell. It's now stuffed into a ZipLock baggie and on a plane to Addis where BN will play with it and begin to smell our scent. Nana was especially smart on this purchase by showing up with two giraffes; one for the current trip and one to remain here for BN to have upon his arrival in his new room.

And the bear suit is just, well - adorable.

Another traveling mother offered some hugging for our little guy with a picture. When sending it to us, she described it as 'salve for a waiting mama's heart'...indeed. I couldn't describe it better.

When Kai & I receive these emails from traveling families, my heart races as I see them appear in my inbox. They feel like that missing little bulb in a string of holiday lights that make all the rest light up; like we were a dwindling, twinkle-weakling headed for the end of holiday rubbage. Suddenly, we have more life than ever before and are sparkling our little hearts out.

Hopefully on some level, Baby N understands that two crazy people are here waiting for his arrival and he will know someday that random shots of his chubby little cheeks were the fuel for these crazy people as they waited for him.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Inhale...Exhale; Repeat

Yes, she's addressing the elephant in the room folks.

So far, so good - nothing to see here yet.

I'm sure I'll have the required time and energy one needs for a good 'ole fashion meltdown, should we be in this situation a week or two from now.

For those not privy to the FBI list and scratching your heads in wonder, let me fill you in...
There is an unofficial list (the FBI) that approximately 1/2 the families with our agency have volunteered to sign on with that enables us to track each other's progress through the various stages of bringing our children home. It's an amazing tool that gives a small-town feel to this vast nationwide community. You cheer the others on as they finalize their paperwork, receive their referral phone calls and so on. I can't imagine going through this process without this list and the amazing group of women who accompany it. To try and describe the friendships I've made through this little 'ole excel spreadsheet would never do justice, as they are beyond friendships. These women are now sisters and part of our family. What in the world did adopting families do before the internet? (that's for another post, another time)

So yes, that elephant...

Scrolling from the top of this list (chronologically) through to the families who received their referrals a month after us, there is only one empty blank. We are that blank. All other families have had their paperwork submitted and have received court dates. As of Friday, our paperwork still hasn't been submitted. *stomach flipping*

Many have asked how we're doing, while I'm sure others are secretly thinking 'Well, THAT can't be good'. Believe me, if I was on the outside looking in, I would be thinking the same thing! Our caseworker has been awesome and keeping communication open with Belay, who assures us all is fine and within the expected timeframe. This reassures me for a minute, until I view the list again and that lonely little blank morphs into a seizure inducing neon blinking Golden Nugget casino sign flashing "Uh-oh Uh-oh". Yes, a solution would be to stop viewing the list - but I can't. So much is happening so fast with other families right now. These are families we've traveled this journey with from the beginning. I'm not about to miss this part! This is the time to celebrate.

So to recap, we're not nervous yet. We're currently still in a place to beat the clock for the inevitable rainy season. (we need to pass court before the courts close for rainy season in August or we don't travel until they reopen in early October). That's what all the fuss/rush is about here.

I would say an accurate description is pending-nervousness. The call that either gives an update, a paperwork confirmation or a court date will obviously wane this pending state. No news at all...will likely raise our level to "I think it's time to be nervous."

Ahhh, the wait continues. I thought waiting for our referral was going to be the hard part, but heard from families that this part is a bit rougher. Waiting for court has been a much different kind of wait. It has brought a sense of calm because we can now see our little guy each day on our refrigerator. He's no longer the 'unknown'. The hard part though? We can now see our little guy each day on our refrigerator!

Inhale...Exhale; Repeat

Saturday, May 15, 2010

You're Invited to a Shower Today...

...and tomorrow and the day after.

Please celebrate with us in sending Heidi off to Addis in style by sharing your advice, tips and lighting a candle. Heidi has been a one-woman support system for so many of us, while enduring her own journey to her wonderful boys. That journey takes it's final turn on Tuesday as Heidi and Mark fly off to Ethiopia.

Please stop by, drop a comment and join the party!

Also celebrating this weekend is this lovely lady who received her referral and has seen the image of her BEAUTIFUL little boy!

Lots of love to my girls!!!

Okay, I'm writing this while traveling and am sure to lose my connection at any moment so off I go.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy M Day!

I think I know more mothers this year than I've ever known in my life!!!...and that's a very good thing.

And in that group, I include my mothers-to-be blog buddies. I say this because anyone on the Paper Chase tab, Wait List tab, the Referral tab and particularly the Court Date (waiting to travel) tab of our unofficial-adoption-world-tracking-spreadsheet is a MOM in my opinion. If you're on any one of those lists, you're probably armed with more knowledge and readiness than is ever expected of a new parent. Happy Mother's Day to YOU!

My birthday was last week and because Kai is one of THE best gift givers, I asked him well in advance to please pass on a material gift, considering the bigger things happening right now. He obliged, suggesting a simple dinner after work which I immediately agreed to. Did I mention his choice in restaurants is especially perfect too? :)

So, we sit down to some amazing tapas and the best Malbec in town and then my best friend hands me a card marked simply with a "T". It's a scrapbookworthy card if you're 16 and the hottest guy in school dropped a card by your locker anonymously. YES, it's that good ladies! You know why? He included a coupon. Now, don't frown on the coupon card just yet. It's my first, but it's the best evAH! You see...six nights later, I'm still being pampered for a birthday that happened last week. I have a week of not cooking, cleaning AND I get a foot rub each night. I must say he set the bar pretty high because I have felt so pampered each night, which is a pretty good place to be after 15 (almost 16 years). And he starts this morning by talking about Mother's Day next year and what we'll be doing. The wheels are already in motion for his gift.

So why the purple flower on a zebra print ottoman? Well, because that's the N plant. (I just typed his name in error and deleted it) It's the plant that I will diligently work on, as my green thumb leaves much to be desired. It is what represents a good reflection post next year when we will be celebrating Mother's Day as a whole family. Hopefully I can maintain that plant long enough to have a sentimental post next year. Should something happen to it, I'm noting now that it's no reflection on anything other than...I have a really tough time keeping plants alive but I have hope :)

A special note to the mom's making this post very awesome grandmother, my mother and my mothers-in-law,
Kai & I couldn't ask for a stronger, more supportive group of women to have on our journey. We thank you all for your unique role in our process to BN and the special role you will all play in his life. This also includes the lovely aunts :) We're all so fortunate to have him in our lives and for you as the role models you'll be.

We love you!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Double The Fun

Baby N's paperwork has not been completed by his orphanage, therefore was not available to be submitted to court in time for the ticking clock of the new law. We're one of the first families to fall under the new law going into effect on Monday and will be traveling twice.

It's like a cloudy film was peeled away yesterday when our caseworker called, allowing us to finally see the next few (and final) steps on our journey to BN. Those steps include:

Over the next few days/weeks:
* BN's orphanage is responsible for compiling his docs from various local agencies (comparable to the paperwork Kai & I gathered to create our dossier last year)
* orphanage hands over paperwork to Gladney
* Gladney submits BN's paperwork & our dossier to court, requesting a court date

Two-Four weeks later:
* court date is issued

Three-Six weeks later:
* court date happens (we appear in court & stay in country for one week)
* once we pass, BN's passport & travel docs are being prepped for his flight home

Two-Three weeks later:
* we travel to bring BN home :)

This timeline is a very rough estimate with a few key factors to note. Nothing is put into motion until the orphanage presents the paperwork. And… Court dates are expected to be a bit backlogged due to yesterday’s rush of agencies scrambling to get their cases submitted by deadline.

So, the dirt…many have asked how we’re doing. Well, we’re turning this into an adventure and will soon see where it takes us on our way to & from Addis. Through the numerous budget airlines offered outside the US, it’s a great resource for saving some dollars while seeing a new corner of the world. It’s not for everyone, but we’ve done it on various trips, LOVE it and will be doing it again.

The number one issue, following the financial aspect, that caused anxiety among many families upon hearing the new requirements was “How will we ever be able to get on the plane and leave our child(ren) behind?”

I've got no positive spin for that one, folks. It’s not going to be easy. The other eye-popper for me was hearing that while in-country on our first trip, we’ll see BN at court and then at some point, spend about an hour with him at his care center. I was planning to hunker down at his care center for most of our week in Addis. oof. Bring on the ‘ugly cries’!

I think our new camera will become our best friend and perfect distraction on trip #1. By having a week in Addis, we’ll become explorers; taking every opportunity to capture the reality and future memories for BN . From his home area, the locals, the landscape and everything in between - we’ll be working on his story through pictures of his home country for his baby book.

We are very much looking forward to the remainder of our journey and very fortunate to be standing in these shoes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Today is the Deadline

Today is the final day for paperwork to be submitted to the courts in Ethiopia if families are to fall under the previous law and travel only once. Considering the time difference, all decisions have most likely been made and caseworkers will be reaching out to us today.

As of Monday, 5/10, families adopting from Ethiopia will be required to be present for their court date; requiring travel once for court and then returning a few weeks later upon their passing of court to pick up their child(ren).

Speaking as one of the families teetering on the edge with a 50/50 shot of falling onto either side of this new structure, I honestly don't care on what side we land. I just want to KNOW. After all the recent updates of Baby N, the pictures, the status reports, etc....I just want to go get him.
I spoke to our caseworker earlier this week and she confirmed that she’ll call on Friday with our news. Yes – something concrete. (the control freak/planner in me is kicking into overdrive – ha!) It’s peculiar how your needs and security fluxuate during this process. Knowing we’ll hear a firm decision from her today makes today a little bit calmer than yesterday.

The best part of this? Ethiopia is being proactive to protect their children.

In other news...(and what this is all about)
This lady will be celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday as the amazing mother of her twin boys. Congratulations to Heidi & Mark on passing court yesterday!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

tick tick tick...

nephew Theo on the kaiPhone

tick tick tick
A world away a baby boy unknowingly waits
A world away his parents can not sleep
Ups and downs, a roller coaster, the unexpected. The journey of the P.A.P.
You've grown in our hearts and we're no longer waiting to love you

Some days fly by with constant thoughts of who you must be
Others drag as we don’t have a clue
We don’t know you. You don’t know us. We’ve yet to meet.
At what point did we become family?

Did you know you’re in charge now? Yes, it’s true
Everyday is consumed with thoughts of you, talks of you and simply you
People you’ve never met ask about you. People we’ve never met ask about you
We’ve made new friends because of you and through you, they're now family

When life changes this big, one prepares to wait
And while we wait…
There are hurdles, hoops and walls to master
And when I think I’m going to burst…I now do

I can because this wait is temporary
When it ends, we’ll be holding you
And you can then digest us, as we have you for so long
This wait will soon end and we will all be stronger and ready

A world away you're peacefully and temporarily adjusted
A world away a new room and home full of love await you
And many, many open arms ready to give you everything
Now would be a good time for this wait to end

if you like it, we'll say it's mine
if you don't because there's no rhyme or reason, we'll call it 'author unknown'

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vocal & Bouncy

LOVING these updates from Baby N's caretakers in Ethiopia! (and thanks to Lori for the amazing photo) I know I said I wouldn't be posting anymore images of him, but how could I not share this?

I got a big case of the LOLs and the warm & fuzzies when I read yesterday's update that stated Baby N is 'vocal & bouncy' and has a 'wide gummy smile'. And apparently he's very social. He's six months old - ha!

The warm & fuzzies quickly turned to a butterfly'ish stomach flip when I read next that his caretaker is working with him on standing up. Nooooooooooo. That's what we're suppose to be doing. As we await a court date, my plan to remain as ambivalent as possible is slowly going out the window with each update that comes our way. I want him home NOW. In the meantime, I will take a deep breath and regain my sanity, knowing there is no better place for Baby N to be right now while he also awaits our court date. His level of care could not be better.

We're only days (four) away from finding out if we travel once or twice. If we don't have a court date by Friday, we'll be traveling twice. Other families awaiting big news...Heidi's court date is tomorrow!!!! and Emily's referral should be ANY minute now.

Come on court passings, referrals and court dates!!!!