Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Special Name for A Special Boy

We have had a name picked out for a son for many many years now. We have never changed or wavered from this name. It is a name that is known, but not too common. There are very few people who knew the name we had chosen. For many years, as our friends and family would announce their children into the world we would breathe a sigh of relief as the name we had chosen still remained "ours".

On the day we saw our boy's face for the first time, we both knew that this would be his name, but for some reason I was still a little scared to share it with others - maybe we had kept it to ourselves for so long it felt like telling someone our secret, maybe I did not want people to judge or dislike the name because we love it so much, or maybe saying this name made him become more and more real, and I am afraid to fall too hard for him before he is legally our son.

But as the weeks have passed, saying his name has become more and more comforting and natural. His name is a part of our daily conversations and we love talking about him by name.

Seth is the name we call him and it means "Appointed One." His birth names will be his middle names and we will share these names after we pass court.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Tag Team

Before I start this post I need to first include a disclaimer that Chad is THE most amazing dad and husband anyone could ever ask for - he is dedicated, loving, affectionate, compassionate, and so much fun - he can make Sara and I laugh and laugh and laugh. This post pokes fun of his silly side.

"Stop that you guys."
"Someone is going to get hurt."
"I'm not getting involved in this, sort it out yourself."
"If you guys make a mess, you have to clean it up too."
"Don't do that in the house, you might break something."
"Don't start that now, it's bedtime soon."

These are some of the voices of THE mom I often use when Sara and Chad get going on their playing. As much as I love watching them play, I sometimes feel like a single parent when something gets brewing with the two of them. But in the end, nothing can make Sara laugh better then a silly joke, game, or prank by Daddy.

However, there is one particular activity they do together that I just cannot give "the mom stamp of approval". This activity is a fairly recent one, like within the last 6 months or so, and it has now turned into a regular event on our living room floor.

It's wrestling...and not the competitive sports kind.

These are a few of things I have heard coming from my sweet baby girl's mouth (all heard from Chad originally) when a match gets going:

"Daddy, prepare for hurt!"
"Daddy there's a bird behind you, look that way...(CRASH)"
"Do you want to go to the hospital or the grave yard?"
"NOOOO, not the meatball."
"Mommy!!! Daddy is not playing fair."

I sit back watching this take place right before my eyes, shaking my head, and occasionally warning them about the potential consequences of their game - but most of the time I end up laughing along with them. I know I shouldn't, my mama brain knows better, but sometimes they are just too hilarious not to crack a smile.

Come on, just look at Chad's face, tell me these aren't hilarious (click on the pictures to make the collage bigger):

(thanks Ruth for the collage lesson)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good News Bad News

Whenever I am asked the question "Do you want the good news or bad news first?" I always ask for the good news first - softens the bad news most times. So here it is, the good news-bad news about our dossier and court...

The good new: Our dossier is FINALLY on its way to Ethiopia! Which is certainly a relief. Let's just hope it arrives safely (Did I just jinx myself?).

The bad news: Ethiopia court is no longer issuing court dates during closure; in fact, you had to have filed before the closure to get a court date, so in the end we never had a chance anyway. We have also been informed that we will not know our court date until at least mid-October (that is still another month from now). And to top it off, our agency files for court as files arrive at their Ethiopian office, not according to referral date, so we are officially at the bottom of the pile right now.

I'm trying to find the good in this bad...but I just can't seem to.

I promise that my next post will be a bit lighter (I have an idea brewing for one about Chad and Sara - stay tuned).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Still no court date in sight.

We are two months post referral and we still do not have a court date. I am apprehensive to even complain about this, given that there are so many others with far more significant concerns and my guilt quickly sets in with "Well, at least we have our referral..."

But I have to look at this in relative terms - what this point in time means to me and stop comparing myself to everyone else. So I am not going to feel guilty (well maybe a little, it's human nature) about feeling sad about not having a court date. I see the picture of a beautiful boy and I dream of when I can call him "son" - anyone would. I have kept my distance from this little man - a coping mechanism, I presume. I keep him in a dream-like place, not yet ready to make him real.

Nothing about this journey seems fair, no matter where you are in the process - it is not fair that families have to wonder if and when a referral will come, it is not fair that some people wait longer then others, it is not fair that parents randomly receive visas no matter how long (or short) they have been waiting to hold their baby, and it is not fair that we can't dive right into the love we want to feel for a beautiful boy and swallow the excitement whole.

Court re-opens in less than two weeks and our dossier is STILL in Ottawa, it has not even made it to Ethiopia yet. And yes, I am pissed that everyone with July and now August referrals will all have court dates before us. And this will become even more real when all these families start travelling and we are not. We have been informed that at this point our court date will likely not be until November, that is over 4 months post referral!

So that's my rant - a bit selfish, maybe. But I needed to get it out. I generally try to stay positive and look at how far we have come, instead of how much further we have to go, but sometimes it's hard not to hope for better days - and I know everyone can relate to that, no matter where you are on this crazy ride.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Enkutatash 2003

Happy Ethiopian New Year
Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar - the year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days and 6 days in leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar and the New Year is celebrated on September 11th each year.

Enkutatash means the "gift of jewels". When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels.

The festival has been celebrated each spring and marks the end of the rainy season. New Year's Eve is spent feasting and partying. On New Year's Day, the house is decorated with yellow Meskal daisies and girls armed with a kabero drum, go from house to house singing a special Enkutatash song. Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards or a traditional bouquet of flowers.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A laugh at my expense

A couple weeks ago I was at a week long training session. There were about 20 people in the training with me, of whom most I did not know. The room that we were in had one side full of floor-to-ceiling panel windows ,with the last window being the door out to the reception area. One the first day, at the first break, I decided to top my tea up with hot water. I headed straight for the door, full force, full speed, on a mission, no one could stop me...


I walked straight into the window (next to the door). It was the loudest sound I think I have ever heard and I had 20 sets of eyes starring at me - I didn't do any damage to anyone or anything, besides my ego, but there was tea running all the way down the window and my head had a little buzz-on for about 30 minutes afterward.

All I could do was laugh at myself - what else could I do? I was so embarrassed. Everyone kept asking if I was OK, while trying to hold back their own laughter. And once everyone confirmed that I was indeed OK, they all erupted, taking their cues from my laughter. It was a pleasure to add a bit of comic relief to the week and to your day! Besides, if you can't laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?

Friday, September 03, 2010

We just "clicked"!

I had a chance to spend last weekend with Janice, from Ottawa!!! Just us girls - her boys were away camping and I left my gang to fend for themselves back in Winnipeg.

We just "clicked" - online (for many months now) and in person too!! Get it??? - Just "clicked"! Chad loves telling people that "Laura is going to meet someone she met online." He loves the reaction he gets. But for me, it was the next logical step in the friendship we have been building over the past couple years. Besides (as Rana has already assured me), who better to trust, visit, or stay with, then adoptive parents - we have all had more checks/tests/assessments than anyone else on earth - criminal, medical, child abuse, fingerprints, psychological, etc. - who could you trust more? Well, besides the fact that we are all a bit crazy, but at least we are all safe!

We spent the weekend doing LOTS of girl stuff and having LOTS of girl chats. Our conversations went something like this: adoption adoption adoption family adoption adoption adoption kids adoption adoption adoption life adoption adoption adoption shopping adoption adoption adoption books adoption adoption adoption reality TV adoption adoption adoption celebrity gossip etc... And while we chatted all weekend long...

We shopped (for our babies and ourselves)...

We went for lunch and pedicures (while drinking wine)...

We went for dinner with Amy and Lyse...

Amy recently brought her beautiful daughter home from Ethiopia and Lyse recently brought her handsome son home from South Africa. We talked and talked and talked even more about adoption - what a wealth of knowledge - I absorbed as much as I could in the few hours we had together. Thanks for everything Amy and Lyse!

I also had a chance to spend an evening with a few of Janice's closest girlfriends. What fun and what a great group of gals she has to lean on. I also met a few of her neighbors - and when we pulled up in the car next to one of her neighbors for the first time, Janice rolled down the window and her neighbor immediately said "Hi Laura!! I swear I'm not a blog stalker!" ;) It was so cute and I loved her enthusiasm.

It was ALL F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

I think Janice would say the same, but it was actually quite eerie how many things we had in common - style, views, interests, and life in general. Man, I wish we lived closer. Can't wait until next time...

Thanks Janice - love ya!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Our First Miracle

September 1, 2004 is the day Sara came into our lives forever. This is my story of Sara's arrival.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004 will mark the day that changed my life forever. Prior to this day I had known nothing but disappointment along the road to become a parent. I never thought that I would ever know such joy as I did that day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004: My phone rang in my office at approximately 1:00pm. "Hello, Laura?" - "Yes?" - "Are you somewhere you can talk? – “Yes?” – “We have a birthmother who would like to meet you.” – “What what what what????” I really don't remember much about the next 20 minutes. Thank goodness, I was madly writing everything down. Our caseworker did not tell me that Sara was born until towards the end of our conversation and despite everything I was told about keeping our feet on the ground, it all vanished once I heard “the baby is born…it is a girl…and her name is Sara” - I never thought that love could overcome me so quickly. Although my head knew that nothing was decided or definite, my heart was committed instantly.

Of course, there was no work getting done for the rest of the afternoon. So, I wandered down to a nearby department store and picked out a pair of pink booties and baby card. Back at my office, I printed out the following words, each in large print, on separate pieces of paper - "If - you - could - have - one - wish - what - would - it - be?"

I left work a bit early that day (I figured they would understand). After I got home, I set each word at the front door, up the stairs, down the hall, and into our spare room (Sara’s room)...and waited and waited and waited. What was only about 10 minutes seemed like FOREVER before Chad arrived. I stayed in the room with the door closed when he came home.

I have never heard Chad move that fast in his life – in the door, up the stairs, down the hall, bursting into the spare room. In front of him were the pink booties. I came around the corner and handed him the card…but of course, he already knew that we had got “the call”. The card read, "It's a girl...and her name is Sara." We both just held each other and cried. At first Chad was a bit confused about the whole "baby…girl… Sara…already born" thing, so after I explained that, yes indeed we have a baby girl named Sara who was two months old, we began crying again.

We decided that since we only had about a week before Sara would be home that we would not tell our family or friends about our big news until her arrival.

The best words to describe the days leading up to Sara’s arrival are "numb" or “surreal” – almost like a dream (that you never want to wake from).

We did not sleep AT ALL that night. We would be lying in bed at night and one of us would say "You awake?" and the other would reply "Yup, wide awake." This continued each night for a week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004: Back to work, but not much getting accomplished. We decided not to tell anyone at work until after we met our birthmom. We called each other back and forth all day long, just checking to see if in fact this was all real. No sleep that evening either.

Thursday, August 26, 2004: "Match meeting" with birthmom. I wish I had taken more time to remember that moment – it was so overwhelming that I can hardly describe the feeling – a combination of fear, excitement, self-consciousness, doubt, disbelief, joy, and humility. During this meeting, we saw pictures of Sara for the first time - that moment is truly indescribable. Our birthmom also had no hesitation in letting us know that we were to be Sara’s mommy and daddy.

We posted her picture everywhere around the house. No sleep again that night.

The Weekend, August 27-29, 2004: This was the BUSIEST weekend of the entire year, with a wedding and my parents’ 35th anniversary celebration. All I wanted to do was sit at home, gaze at Sara’s picture and just take it all in. We walked around in a dream-like state that whole weekend. And STILL no sleep.

Monday, August 30, 2004: "Details meeting", where we discussed with birthmom about Sara's name and the details of the placement. We also found out that we would be meeting Sara the next day at her temporary placement home. Do you think we slept that night?

Tuesday, August 31, 2004: We had to drive an hour outside the city to where Sara was staying. As we walked in the house, her caregiver said, "She is still sleeping, she should be up shortly." - So I'm thinking 'are you kidding me? I am
not waiting another second' and slowly started moving my way to the room where she was sleeping. Chad and I both walked in the room and Chad began to cry uncontrollably (funny thing is that Chad does not cry easily, so when he does, I seem to go into protective mode and did not cry much in that moment). We just stared at her at first, almost afraid to touch her. I nudged Chad, and as he picked Sara up and held his precious daughter for the first time, I began crying too. We spent about two hours with her that day holding, feeding, changing, starring…

That evening we went shopping for a few baby supplies and because we wanted to keep her arrival top secret, we drove all the way across the city to shop, so we would not bump into anyone we knew. Even still, as I placed everything into the cart, Chad was the lookout.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004: Gotcha Day, a day we celebrate every year as a family. We spent the whole day with her at her temporary home, just being a family. Later that afternoon, our caseworker, birthmom and Sara met us at our home and she was officially placed with us. After everyone had left and we were finally left alone with our sweet precious baby girl, we laid in our bed, with Sara in the middle, alone for the first time as a family, and just took it all in.

Later that evening, we headed to my parents - they were expecting us, as we had told them that we might drop by to say hello. We walked into their house unnoticed. We could hear my dad on the phone and my mom watching TV. We stood in their front room for a few minutes, waiting for my dad to get off the phone. However, when it became apparent that he would be awhile, we decided to walk straight in. As I walked around the corn with Sara bundled in a pink blanket my dad started babbling to the stranger (his insurance broker) on the phone saying something like "daughter... baby... adopting... here with baby... call you back..." My mom carefully took Sara from my arms, whispered to her “We have been waiting for you my sweet girl”, and kissed her gently on the cheek – as my dad still stood in absolute shock.

Next, we headed to my younger sister's home, following behind my parents car. She and her husband were painting the outside of their house. We parked the car a bit down the street (by the way, in all the excitement we forgot to strap Sara into her car seat on that ride - we started as such great parents!). Now, if you knew my younger sister, you would know that she is wild, emotional, and a bit unpredictable at times, so as we were walking up the street with Sara, my mom was trying to lure the paintbrush from her hand. Too late - she spotted us, carrying our pink bundle. And in the middle of her front lawn, she fell to her knees and began crying hysterically. It was exactly what I expected from my younger sister...it was perfect. Her poor husband was in the backyard and (said afterwards) was scared to come to the front.

Next, over to my older sister's house, following with us again was my parents and my sister and family. My older sister’s husband and son were home, but she was out. So we all just waiting for her to arrive home. You have to know that at that time my grandmother was 92-years-old and not doing very well, when my poor sister saw all our cars in the driveway she immediately thought that grandma had passed away. But when she walked in the door, I was standing in front of it with Sara. Ironically, my older sister is quite the opposite of my younger sister, more laid back, strong, and steady. But she could not even control herself in that moment.

Thursday, September 2, 2004: The next morning, at about 6am, after our first night of sleep after eight days, with our babe between us, we headed out to Chad's parents, who live about 1.5 hours out of town. When we arrived at their home, they were still sleeping. While Chad held Sara, I was banging banging banging on the door, until Chad's mom finally came. As we walk inside, she asked us repeatedly "Whose baby is this?", "Chad, whose baby is this?" and each time Chad replied, "Mom, she is our baby."

September 21, 2004: Even though we felt quite confident of our birthmom's decision, on the evening the 21st day (in MB, this is the day Sara became ours forever), our family and friends came to celebrate with us and we popped a bottle of Pink Champagne.

And we have been celebrating Sara's arrival ever since. To this day still, one of us will say "I still can't believe it" and we always know exactly what the other is referring to. I don't think I will ever get over the arrival of Sara - I never want to.

Happy Gotcha Day to my precious Princess Sara.